Friday, December 15, 2006

Week 15 Picks and Musings

Okay football fans, we’re at the most important time of the NFL season. The time when every play is crucial, every call vital, every pass has us on the edge of our seat. It’s playoff time!

I know the “real” playoffs don’t start for another three weeks. No, I’m talking about the “fantasy” playoffs. The one real football geeks care about.

Admittedly, I was a late-comer to the whole fantasy football craze. I always found the guys who were into it to be eerily similar to that group in high school that would huddle in the back of the cafeteria to play D&D. I thought it was crazy to spend all that time preparing a mock draft, tracking stats, and setting line-ups. To me, it was for people so miserable in their own lives, they needed to concoct an alternate reality that allows them to be Giants GM Ernie Accorsi, including the bad toupee.

This all changed for me when my friend Nick got me to sign up last season. It was like taking the red pill from Morpheus. The matrix came down and the whole world became clearer. I realized two huge things. First, watching football on Sundays is incredibly more fun when you care about so many games and players. And second, my life is indeed miserable.

My Sundays are frantic as I channel surf from game to game while clicking through stats online. I don’t care if the Ravens win or lose, I’m just screaming for McNair to throw the ball to Heap. I’m pleading for the Jaguars to settle for a field goal because I have Josh Scobee. I am praying Hasselbeck throws a TD but not to Jackson because my opponent has him. I am hooked, with line and sinker.

I’m far from alone in this crazy, carpel tunnel inducing behavior. A whopping 20 million other Americans share this passion. It’s comforting to know that you are not on your own in your lunacy. I now know the camaraderie Trekkies feel.

But just like other compulsive additions, the jones I get from Sunday is no longer enough to sustain my high. The Thursday night game is just a tease. I need more hits from the fantasy pipe. Nino Brown, help me! I need my fantasy football crack!

Well the answer to my prayers comes from a most unlikely source, soap opera fans. Specifically, SOAPnet, the 24 hour channel dedicated to all things soap opera. They have come up with the Fantasy Soap League . The league is just like fantasy football, but instead of drafting players, you draft characters and soap opera moments. You get points if your character says certain lines or gets in certain “soapy situations.” Examples of point scoring moments are getting amnesia, getting stood up at the altar, or discovering you have an evil twin who fathered your wife’s baby while framing you for the serial murders that have killed off half the cast. That last example is the equivalent of your defensive back getting a sack, causing a fumble, recovering that fumble, and returning it for a TD all in one play.

While I’m not a fan of these shows, it dawned on me that football is sort of a soap opera. It has farfetched story lines, over the top characters, and plenty of crying (especially for us Dolphin fans).

So just like the brilliant scientists who invented peanut butter cups, I thought “hey, these are two great obsessions that would taste great together.” So I propose a brand new fantasy football league, the Fantasy Off-field and Off-season League aka F.O.O.L. This league covers all the things that happen between the actual games. You draft players, coaches and teams and get points every time they say or do certain things.

Here are a few examples of how some of the scoring could occur:

You get points if a coach or players says the following:

“We are going to give it 110%.” = 2 points
“They just out played/out coached us.” = 5 points
“We came to play.” = 7 points
“No one respected us.” = 10 points
“I thank God for the win.” = 12 points
“I’m not blaming the officiating but…” = 15 points
“I know I’ll get fined for saying this but…” = 20 points
“I’m not one to point fingers but….” = 35 points
“We are not taking the Raiders lightly.” = 50 points
“We suck.” = 75 points
“Tom Coughlin is a jerk.” = 100 points (only 2 points if said by a Giant player)

You can score points if a player or coach has the following happen:

Gets a DUI = 5 points
Fails a drug test = 10 points
Blames a failed drug test on asthma medicine = 15 points
Gets arrested = 20 points (extra 10 points for felonies)
Gets in a fight = 25 point
Gets in a fight with a teammate = 35 points
Tries to pass a gun through airport security = 50 points
Gets a girl pregnant that’s not his wife = 100 points
Get a teammate’s girlfriend pregnant = 300 points
Gets the coach’s daughter pregnant = 500 points
Botches a fake suicide attempt = 1000 points

I calculated the scoring based on this criteria and concluded that the Cincinnati Bengals would be the LaDainian Tomlinson of this league.

You might think I’m off my rocker with this idea, but mark my blog, you will be playing it by the start of next season. And while you will be tempted to draft Terrell Owens, go with my sleeper pick, Peyton Manning. After one more season of blowing it in the playoffs, he’s going to go off like Joan Crawford in a closet full of wire hangers.

Now, on to the picks. Last week, I started strong but faded in the backstretch to finish 10-6 and 2-3 on my star picks. For the season I am 98-95-6 and 27-30-1 on my star picks.

Here are my picks and my predictions on how points will be scored in my new FOOL league.

*Dallas -3 at Atlanta: 10 points by Bill Parcells for telling reporters “I wish I had 53 Terrell Owens on my team,.. along with 53 snitches to watch him”

Miami at Buffalo –1: 75 points by the Dolphins for admitting to bugging telephone calls between J.P. Losman and his therapist.

Tampa Bay at Chicago –13.5: 10 points by Lovie Smith for saying “I’m sticking with Rex Grossman until the end” with a straight face.

New York Jets at Minnesota –3: 100 points by Minnesota Viking players for getting arrested for assault while attending the team sponsored Fight Against Abuse charity auction.

Cleveland at Baltimore –11: 35 points by Kellen Winslow Jr. for wrecking on his stationary bike.

Houston +11 at New England: 75 points by Bill Belichick for talking for 15 straight minutes without making one coherent point.

*Pittsburgh –2.5 at Carolina: 15 points by Joey Porter for making Steve Smith cry by calling him a racially insensitive term for Swedes. No, Smith is not Swedish, he’s just very found of their meatballs.

*Washington at New Orleans –9.5: 1 point by Drew Brees for dedicating the Saints win to the people of New Orleans. (I think they would take a Saints losing streak if they got electricity in return.)

Jacksonville at Tennessee +4: -5 points for any Jaguar player who fails to say at least once this week “every one is disrespecting us.”

Philadelphia at NY Giants –5.5: 7 points by Tom Coughlin for blaming Eli Manning for losing the opening coin toss. “Why would you call tails in that situation?”

*Detroit at Green Bay –5: 25 points by Brett Favre for saying “ I feel like a rookie out there!” This will follow a 4 Int game in which he played like a rookie.

Denver at Arizona +3: 5 points by Jake Plummer for every time he says this week “It’ll be great to be back in Arizona. Think they'll let me stay?"

*St. Louis +2.5 at Oakland: 100 points by Randy Moss for booking 13 tee times for the off season before the end of the first quarter.

Kansas City at San Diego –9: 95 points by Shawne Merriman for testing positive for steroids again. Bonus 50 points for blaming it on bad lettuce at Taco Bell.

Cincinnati at Indianapolis –3: 20 points for the Cincinnati player who gets arrested this week. A 10-point deduction when it turns out it was only for misdemeanor shoplifting.

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