Tackle Football Recap Part 2

I’ve changed the name of our recap so as to not leave our NFL brothers out in the cold.

Looking back at my picks from last week all that I can say is… wow.  Just wow.  I took a bath.  Of the $2000 fake dollars wagered, I managed to recover only $100, and that one was hardly a comfortable win.  At this rate I’m going to have to hit up the fake loan shark to keep the fake bookie from breaking my knees.  Perhaps my weekly picks shouldn’t be considered good advice, but rather harbingers of doom.  From this moment forward, bet the exact opposite of what I say as if your life depended on it… you’ll be a wealthy guy or gal.

But that’s old news.  Now on to the new old news.  These are the rock-solid observations I’ve come across while glued to the television for most of the weekend:

Collegiate Tackle Football Recap:

1.  East Carolina is the real deal.  Back to back wins over VA Tech and West Virginia would be an impressive stat for even a national powerhouse, so for East Carolina it’s downright astounding.  I managed not to destroy anything or sob into my journal after the final seconds ticked away, not because I wasn’t crushed but because ECU clearly deserved to win.  The Pirate defense thoroughly shut down the Mountaineers and Patrick Pinkey was fantastic in the pocket, picking apart the WVU secondary with the ease of a five year old girl rearranging her teddy bears.  Skip Holtz appears to have arrived, and with no clear-cut juggernaut in their way it’s easy to assume that these guys will run the table in 2008.

2.  Ohio State is on the verge of collapse.  The Buckeyes struggled to get anything going in the first half against the mighty (ha!) Ohio Bobcats.  The ‘Cats, led by what could be the worst passer in the entire NCAA, held the Bucks in check for as long as humanly possible… before either their defense couldn’t stand or both teams realized who they were.  Either way, Ohio State looked flat and unable to make anything happen on the offensive side of the ball.  With USC looming on the horizon it’s going to be a bad weekend in Columbus.  Thankfully the game is at USC, saving the great frothing masses from utter humiliation in their own back yard.  Speaking of Ohio State…

3.  Penn State is the best team in the Big Ten.  Sure, Ohio State, Illinois and Wisconsin look good, but the class of the conference is located in Happy Valley this year.  Daryll Clark and Evan Royster were fantastic against the Oregon State defense, and speaking of defense, State’s was pitch-perfect even missing a couple of starters.  When this team really gets rolling and starts to get its act together they should steamroll the (as usual) overrated Big Televen.  I, for one, am thrilled by this development, as Joe Pa can’t possibly have too many good years left in that body.  But what the hell do I know, I’m the same guy that overlooked the awesome power of DUKE last week.

4.  Juice Williams could be a fantastic NFL running back.  With Pat White’s best days (apparently) behind him, the “Most Exciting Player” torch has been passed to Illinois QB Juice Williams.  As a passer, he’s not exactly fantastic (like Pat White, Tim Tebow, et al), but on the ground the guy is lightning in a bottle.  He’s a one man show back there, causing defensive coordinators to pull their ever-graying hair out in giant tufts.  I can’t see Juice having tremendous success as an NFL passer, but at 6-2 (233 lbs) he could be tremendously effective in the backfield.  Watch the draft next year, as Juice falls to the later rounds only to be scooped up by New England and turned into the next Ladanian Tomlinson.

5.  The excessive celebration rule needs some serious work.  By now I’m sure that you’ve seen the downright tragic ending of the BYU/Washington game.  By now you’ve complained, cursed the refs and muttered something about “Mormon Voodoo” under your breath.  Unfortunately I’m going to go slightly against the grain here and make an unpopular point… they made the right call.  According to the rules, throwing the ball “high into the air” constitutes excessive celebration, and despite the fact that Jake Lockler wasn’t doing any track poses or bringing out any props, the ball DID get thrown high into the air.  Now, just because I agree with the call doesn’t mean that I’m advocating the rule.  The official rule is vague, outdated and ridiculous.  This isn’t a brutal facemask penalty or a horse collar tackle, this is an excited kid caught up in the moment.  That kind of bullshit penalty should NEVER play into the final outcome of a game, it strips the heart and soul out of college football… which is the only real reason that you’d be watching a BYU/Washington game in the first place.

National Tackle Football League Recap:

1.  The Patriots could be screwed.  Tom Brady is out for the year, I repeat… Tom Brady is out for the year.  In most other years, this injury (while a nightmare scenario) wouldn’t have necessarily been the end of the world.  Last year their division was total garbage, and even with Matt Cassel at the helm the Patriots would still have found a way to dominate.  However, this isn’t last year.  The Bills are up, The Jets look fantastic and the Dolphins are slowly but surely putting something together.  The Pats are a loaded team, but they’re also an aging team.  Without Brady leading the charge, it’s hard for me to believe that they’ll steamroll the league this year.  I hereby pick the Jets to win the division, Patriots sneak into the playoffs as a wild card team.

2.  Despite the presence of the Cowboys, Philadelphia wins the NFC East.  The Eagles looked absolutely amazing against the Rams, and this is without Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown.  Donovan McNabb, if he can stay healthy, may force me to eat my words and accept that he really is capable of getting it done, as it takes a special talent to make Hank Baskett and rookie DeSean Jackson look like pro-bowlers.  Brian Westbrook was his usual God-like self, the defense stifled any attempt by St. Louis to do anything, and with a healthy Curtis and Brown, McNabb may have the best receiving corps this side of New England.  If the ship doesn’t sink (and it probably will), we’re looking at one of the elite teams in the NFL.

3.  After a long gestation period, Reggie Bush is about to be born.  We’ve all been waiting, counting the minutes and hoping that sooner than later we’ll see the Reggie Bush that we’ve been expecting.  My friends, this is the year.  Granted, the Tampa defense isn’t exactly San Diego or Minnesota, but they’re good enough to be impressed when Bush explodes for 164 total yards and a score.  The Saints have the keys to the kingdom this year, if they can just make it work.  The offense and defense are ready to win a title, and the explosiveness of players like Bush, Colston, Meachem and Patten give Drew Brees enough options to keep any defense in the NFL off-balance.  The Saints will crush the NFC South, very possibly landing in the conference championship game.

4.  The Bears are better than we could have possibly imagined.  The aging defense, the rookie backfield and Cowboy Kyle Orton… any reasonable person would have expected Chicago to be languishing in the basement of a very strong division.  However, if one thing seemed to be apparent in opening week of the NFL it was “reasonable people have no place in this league.”  The Chicago defense stomped Indy into the dirt, Orton appeared to be a poised and capable quarterback (WHAT!?) and Matt Forte exploded for 123 yards and a TD.  Chicago’s defense made Peyton Manning look like Eli Manning, leaving Indy fans scratching their heads and wondering what happened.  Well, cheer up Colts Nation, at least your new stadium rocks!

5.  Superstars are coming out of the woodwork.  Michael Turner, Willie Parker, Matt Forte, Brandon Jacobs and Thomas Jones.  What do these names have in common?  They’re the top five rushing leaders from week one… and likely late round picks or undrafted free agents in nearly every fantasy league on earth.  There are three Philadelphia receivers in the top ten for receiving yards.  Chad Pennington, Kyle Orton, Trent Edwards and Matt Cassel have higher QB ratings than Peyton Manning.  If you average out the Offensive and Defensive rankings (provided by ESPN), the top five teams in the NFL after week one are (in order):  Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York Giants, Atlanta and Buffalo.  Granted, it’s only the first week of play, but if anyone in the world claimed to see that coming they were either confined to a mental institution or practicing the dark arts.

So, here we go.  The game is under way, and week one hasn’t even wrapped up!  Tonight we’re looking at the annual Monday Night Football double-header.  Will Peterson explode or can Green Bay keep him in check?  Will Aaron Rodgers exorcise the ghost of Brett Favre?  Will Selvin Young run wild on Oakland?  Will Darren McFadden earn his monogrammed track suit?  So many questions, all soon to be answered.

And let’s hope that next week my wagers are a little less embarrassing.

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One Response to “Tackle Football Recap Part 2”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Juice Williams needs to change his (nick?)name. How can anyone be the Juice these days, unless you’re looking for the real killer?

    I think the real wager this week is how many weeks Hole in the Wall lasts on Fox? Seriously, has there ever been a more inane idea for TV show?

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