Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ranking the NFL - Week 16

This week, the rankings will be centered on those teams which are still alive in the playoff chase.

RAVENS: As evidenced by their win over Pittsburgh, the Ravens are still playing for the first week bye in the playoffs. Woe be to Buffalo this week (or any week during the Winter season).

CHARGERS: As if the Chargers don't have enough offensive weapons already, wide receiver Vincent Jackson is starting to come on during the last month of this season. With 5 catches for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Seahawks, Jackson had a statement game. If he can stay healthy, Jackson will become one of the premier receivers in the NFL over the next few years.

PATRIOTS: You have to admire the Patriots for not falling into the Jacksonville trap. They played the Jags tough. The Pats look playoff-ready.

BEARS: Brian Griese finally got to a meaningless game.

SAINTS: The Saints are still the most dangerous team in the NFC. They are still young, but they play with a lot of heart. My gut feeling is they will do well in the playoffs.

TITANS: Six wins in a row? Their last loss came to Baltimore? If the Titans make it to the playoffs, call them "Cinderella".

EAGLES: How good are the Eagles? In the last three games, they have beaten all three of their divisional opponents. On the road. In December. Can you say "clutch"?

COWBOYS: What the heck was that? If the Cowboys beat the Eagles, they clinch the division. The Cowboys are pretenders.

BRONCOS: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! I love games in Denver in December, don't you?

COLTS: I like it when I make the prediction of Tony Dungy being fired after this season, only to see the Colts come out and stink up the place against the Texans. Keep up the good work Tony. You're making me look like a genius.

BENGALS: Does the name "Brad St. Louis" mean anything to you? He might end up with his namesake after he botched the long snap that cost the Bengals the game against Denver.

CHIEFS: You have to love the K.C.-Jacksonville game this weekend. Lose, and they are out of the playoffs. Win, and they have to wait and see what happens in other games. One of the few week 17 games with some drama.

JAGUARS: I know the Jacksonville fans are down on David Gerrard after he fumbled away the game against New England. But the Jags are really a more dangerous team with Gerrard. If not for him, we wouldn't even be talking about a close game with New England.

GIANTS: The Giants coaching staff has pulled off a maneuver worthy of "The Three Stooges": Tom Coughlin has replaced offensive coordinator John Hufnagel as offensive play caller with QB coach Kevin Gilbride. Much like replacing Curly with Shemp, expect the hilarity to continue. As I have pointed out in two previous posts about Hufnagel and Gilbride, neither of these clowns should be allowed anywhere near an offense.

PANTHERS: Only 10 points against Atlanta? That is NOT playoff-calibre.

JETS: If the playoffs started today, the Jets would either be in Indianapolis or New England. Can you say "one and done"?

FALCONS: They need to beat or tie the Eagles in Philly in order to have a chance to make it to the playoffs. Jim Mora, I hope you have your desk cleaned out.

SEAHAWKS: Here is a hypothetical scenario for you: If Seattle loses to Tampa Bay this week, they will be 8-8. While they have already clinched the NFC West, they would NOT EVEN be a wild card team in the AFC.

RAMS: It is scary to think this team is still in the playoff hunt. The Rams are the proverbial equivalent of the ugly girl in the corner at the school dance. She is hoping some of the pretty girls will drop dead or get sick or just leave, so some of the cute boys will ask her to dance. Sadly for Ram fans, the dance would be called off if the NFL were that desperate.

Pick the NFL Winners - Week 16 Results

Sorry for the light blogging this week, but I'm on vacation!

Anyway, the results from last week's "Pick the NFL Winners" are:

joe gibbs - 9
David Stefanini - 8
Robert A. George - 8
EdMcGon - 7
J. Mark English - 6

In the only game that someone named "Joe Gibbs" won this week, Joe Gibbs is our winner!

By the way, if you followed his advice and "bet the house" on the Redskins this week, I can only hope you don't live in a cold climate.

This will be the last "Pick the NFL Winners" for the season, but we will be back next week with a very special "Pick the NFL Playoffs".

R.I.P. Gerald Ford

Things are more like they are now than they have ever been.” - Gerald Ford

When I read the above quote from Ford, I was reminded of a quote from my Uncle Pat:
"I feel more like I do now than I did a little while ago." - Pat Patton

They don't make pithy sayings like they used to.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Best Packer Quarterback

When I did my post about "The Best Quarterback of All Time" back in September, I was not expecting to still be getting comments on it in December, but I am.

One thing that struck me in the comments was people claiming Brett Favre as the best of all time. But I don't even consider him the best Green Bay Packer quarterback. That would be Bart Starr.

Using the same criteria I used to determine the best quarterback of all time, Starr is very close to Favre, even considering the different eras in which they each played. Starr's numbers are on the left, with Favre's numbers as of last season:

Completion Percentage: 57.4% vs. 61.5%
Average Gain per Attempt: 7.85 vs. 7.04
Touchdown Percentage: 4.8% vs. 5.2%
Interception Percentage: 4.4% vs. 3.4%
NFL/Super Bowl Championships: 5 vs. 1
Average Rushing Yards per Carry: 5.3 vs. 3.5
Passer Rating: 80.5 vs. 86.0

Those are similar numbers considering the different passing nature of the eras involved. The yards per pass attempt explain a lot. In Starr's era, the passes were generally thrown farther than in the "west coast" era of Favre. This also explains why Favre's completion percentage was higher, although Starr's 57% completion percentage was the NFL career record when Starr retired. Finally, with Starr typically throwing the ball farther than Favre, Starr naturally threw more interceptions per attempt.

But for a true comparison on game management, let's add fumbles to interceptions per game. Favre turned the ball over 1.57 times per game. Starr turned the ball over 0.93 times per game.

But the number that stands out is the championships, where Starr holds a 5-1 advantage. Adding in the facts that Starr was a better runner and game manager than Favre, and Starr is clearly the better Packer quarterback.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Christmas Angel

My boss emailed me the following story. We don't know who wrote it originally, but it is a true Christmas classic. Enjoy:

Christmas Story for people having a bad day....

When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce
toys as fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the
pre-Christmas pressure.

Then Mrs Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to visit, which
stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that
three of them were about to give birth and two others had
jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where.

Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the
floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys
were scattered. So, frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of
apple cider and a shot of rum.

When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drunk all
the cider and hidden the liquor. In his frustration, he accidentally
dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces
all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found the mice
had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom, just then the doorbell
rang, and irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there
stood a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.

The angel said very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't this a
lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to
stick it?"

And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rosie vs. Trump

It is not often you will see me take an interest in a verbal spat between two celebrities, but the war of words between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump is too intriguing for me to ignore.

The whole thing started with the recent Tara Conner scandal, where a 20 year old Miss USA pageant winner goes out drinking in New York. Yawn.

Trump owns the pageant, so he decided to forgive Conner's indiscretion and let her keep her crown. Considering Trump's own personal indiscretions of the past, the least we can say is he is NOT a hypocrite.

Regardless, Rosie O'Donnell decided to go off on him during her show, "The View", which was aired Wednesday:
"[He] left the first wife – had an affair. [He] had kids both times, but he's the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America. Donald, sit and spin, my friend."

Rosie went on to compare Trump to a "snake-oil salesman on Little House On The Prairie. This is not a self-made man." She also said he went bankrupt, which Trump correctly denied. (Back in the 90's, Trump threatened personal bankruptcy before his creditors arranged a financial bailout. However, his business did file bankruptcy.)

Trump fired back:
"You can't make false statements. Rosie will rue the words she said. I'll most likely sue her for making those false statements – and it'll be fun. Rosie's a loser. A real loser. I look forward to taking lots of money from my nice fat little Rosie."

I won't go into the "who's right/who's wrong" aspect of this. Rosie said some things about Trump which were true, and she also said some things which were technically inaccurate. But I also think she was unnecessarily spiteful and mean to Trump.

While Trump is not "Mr. Warm and Fuzzy", he is a successful businessman who has seen his share of ups and downs. Trump should be applauded for what he has accomplished over the years. He has made mistakes, but he has also overcome them.

One can question his personal ethics, but at least Trump is not holding other people to standards which he does not hold himself. As for his business ethics, he is no Ken Lay, which is good. He has made many bad business decisions, but also many good ones. Considering his current wealth, it is safe to say his good decisions have outweighed his bad ones.

So why attack Trump? I caught some footage of the show over at, but I couldn't tell if Rosie was saying ANYTHING about Tara Conner. It seemed like more of a rant against Trump. Her point seemed to be "how dare Trump sit in judgment of anyone". However, considering Trump owns the "Miss USA" franchise, isn't he ultimately responsible for it? If not Trump, then who?

The truth is Rosie has no clue about business, nor does she want to understand it (as evidenced by her history of business failures, which you can see in her Wiki). She sees "Donald Trump the man", conveniently ignoring "Donald Trump the businessman". A businessman has responsibilities, which is a concept foreign to Rosie's liberal elitism.

When Trump "forgives" Tara Conner, he is not "absolving her of sin". He is making a conscious business decision that Conner's personal activities have not damaged his business.

By tearing into Trump, Rosie is, in effect, saying "how dare he make a business decision about one of his employees".

For me, the whole Rosie vs. Trump situation comes down to liberal elitism vs. capitalism. While Rosie used some truths in her arguments, the fact she was attacking Trump in this situation proves her stupidity.

(Hat tip to for the quotes)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pick the NFL Winners - Week 16

As usual, we are not picking the Thursday game, so everyone has time to get their picks in before Saturday. But aside from a few cheeseheads and Tarvaris Jackson's mother, does anyone really care about the game between the Packers and Vikings? I think not.

All for pride, no money.

Here are the picks from last week's co-winner, yours truly (my picks in red):

Kansas City at Oakland: The Raiders proved last week that they are mailing it in.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh: The only issue here is whether the Ravens decide to coast into the playoffs. All things being equal (and they never are), the Ravens should win easily.
Carolina at Atlanta: The last time these teams met, Steve Smith was not playing. This could get ugly.
Chicago at Detroit: Da Bears should be able to sleepwalk to a victory in this one.
Indianapolis at Houston: The scheduling gods are brutal. Forcing the Texans to play the Colts twice in a year?
New England at Jacksonville: While I still think New England is better than Jacksonville, the Jags have a tendency to upset better teams (and then lose to a lousy team next week).
New Orleans at N.Y. Giants: Remember after Hurricane Katrina, when the Saints played their "home game" against the Giants, in the Meadowlands? I wonder if that memory of that will get the Saints up for this game.
Tampa Bay at Cleveland: If you have to watch a game between two teams not going to the playoffs, this is the one to watch. Whichever one of these teams wins is the one to watch for improvement next year.
Tennessee at Buffalo: The battle of the also-rans.
Washington at St. Louis: This is a pick-em.
Arizona at San Francisco: The only reason to watch this game is Frank Gore. Aside from LT, Gore is the best running back in the NFL.
Cincinnati at Denver: If you can only watch one game this weekend, I recommend this one. Well, maybe the Philly-Dallas game too.
San Diego at Seattle: Will Phil Rivers show up, or does it even matter? With LT running the ball, the Chargers could stick a uniform on John Hadl.
Philadelphia at Dallas: Are the Eagles for real?
N.Y. Jets at Miami: Much like most people in New York, the Jets are going to Miami for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ranking the NFL - Week 15

RAVENS: The Ravens got a little scare when Steve McNair got hurt. Even though they still won with Kyle Boller, it was only Cleveland they beat. If this were the playoffs, and the other team were the Chargers, Boller doesn't win.

CHARGERS: In all the LT hoopla, did anyone notice that Phil Rivers stunk up the place? Just in case you missed it, Rivers was 8-23, 97 passing yards, and 2 interceptions. That is NOT playoff caliber.

BEARS: I bet Rex Grossman (339 passing yards and 2 touchdowns) wishes he could play the Buccaneers every week.

COWBOYS: The ONLY way Terrell Owens returns to Dallas next year is IF the Cowboys win the Super Bowl. This is a good team, but that is still a BIG "if".

COLTS: If the Colts don't make it to the Super Bowl, and they won't, what happens? Tony Dungy gets fired. Who replaces him? Monte Kiffin, the Buccaneers defensive coordinator. It makes perfect sense. This team needs a great defensive coach, and Kiffin is one of the best. Kiffin is also the master of the "cover two" defense, which the Colts run (poorly).

BENGALS: I hate to admit it, but I found myself agreeing with Joe Theismann at the end of the Colts-Bengals game: The Bengals ran too much too early in that game. Carson Palmer seemed out of sync the entire game.

SAINTS: Just when we are ready to beatify the Saints as the best in the NFC, they go and lose to the Redskins. The Media was beating up the Colts last week for their run defense (or lack thereof), but they need to look at the Saints, after giving up 161 rushing yards to a team whose best running back is Ladell Betts.

PATRIOTS: The Texans were the proverbial bug on New England's windshield this week.

BRONCOS: Don't read too much into the fact that Jay Cutler looked better than Matt Leinart in the Broncos-Cardinals game. Remember the defenses each of them had to face.

CHIEFS: R.I.P. Lamar Hunt.

PANTHERS: The Panthers better get Jake Delhomme back soon. Their playoff chances are starting to look like an old litter box.

STEELERS: Just when you think it is safe to be a Steelers fan, winning five of their last six...[cue the theme from "Jaws"]...they get Baltimore this week.

TITANS: Have you noticed no one is talking about Jeff Fisher being fired anymore?

EAGLES: I am beginning to wonder if the Eagles will go farther in the playoffs with Jeff Garcia instead of Donovan McNabb. This is not to say that McNabb is a bad quarterback, just that Garcia seems to run this offense just a bit more efficiently.

REDSKINS: Is this team showing us something for next year, or is their win over the Saints just a mirage?

GIANTS: They have won one out of their last six games. To you Giant fans out there, even if they manage to squeak into the playoffs, do you REALLY want to see them humiliate themselves on a playoff stage?

BILLS: Since their bye week, Buffalo has lost to two teams: Indianapolis and San Diego. They have beaten their other five opponents. But unless they can pull off an upset in the last two games against Tennessee and Baltimore, this will be as high as they go in the rankings. Until next year...

JAGUARS: Even though the Jags are firmly in the Wild Card race, I cannot say they should be. A team that is only 2-4 in their own division does not deserve a playoff berth.

DOLPHINS: Miami's combined scores from the last two weeks: 21-21. They beat New England 21-0, then lost to Buffalo 21-0.

BROWNS: The Browns-Bucs game this weekend is actually an intriguing matchup of underachieving teams with tough schedules.

JETS: This team does NOT deserve to be in the playoffs. Especially not in the AFC.

FALCONS: Jim Mora's "joke" about leaving the Falcons to coach the University of Washington was received by Atlanta fans with a collective "don't let the door hit you on the way out".

BUCCANEERS: The scheduling gods have no mercy on the Bucs. Even when they get an easy game like Cleveland this coming weekend, they have to actually play in Cleveland. As a Raider fan, I can't stand the Bucs, but even I am starting to feel sorry for them. Sort of.

VIKINGS: You know things are bad when quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is getting playing time.

49ERS: If the 49ers win out, and the Seahawks lose their next two games, the 49ers will win the division. The Seahawks next two opponents are San Diego at home and Tampa Bay on the road. On the other hand, the 49ers should beat Arizona this week, but Denver next week will be the make or break game. I won't predict the 49ers over Denver, but I will say the 49ers deserve a playoff berth more than the underachieving Seahawks.

SEAHAWKS: This is a playoff team? I think not. They will lose their next two games to give the 49ers a shot at the playoffs.

RAMS: Steven Jackson's combined rushing and receiving stats: 370 rushing attempts plus receptions, 1916 combined yards, and 10 touchdowns. That is the end of the good news for the Rams.

Ok, no more comments on these teams. They are just bad. Deal with it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Christmas Thought

"Christmas is a holiday that persecutes the lonely, the frayed, and the rejected." - Jimmy Cannon

During this holiday season, please keep this thought in mind. If you know anyone at all who is without, or separated from, their family and friends this Christmas, invite them over.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rating the Rookie Quarterbacks

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Jay Cutler has only played two games so far this year, but the results have been pretty good for a first year NFL quarterback, especially considering they came against two strong defenses in Seattle and San Diego.

So how do Cutler's first two games (27-51, 331 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions) stack up against the first two games of the other three rookie quarterbacks starting this season? Better than Vince Young (24-50, 218 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions), but worse than Matt Leinart (46-77, 485 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception) or Bruce Gradkowski (45-75, 409 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception).

However, the real flaw with Cutler has been fumbles. In two games, he has fumbled five times, only recovering one of them. Of the other rookies, Vince Young came closest with two fumbles in his first two games (recovering neither of them).

Speaking of Young, while he might make the highlight films more often, it has actually been Matt Leinart who has been the most productive of the rookie quarterbacks. With 56.2% of passes completed, 2171 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 2 lost fumbles, and a 73.9 passer rating, Leinart is the not-so-shining star of this group.

But rookie quarterbacks, take some consolation in Peyton Manning's rookie numbers: 56.7% completed, 3739 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, 28 interceptions, 3 fumbles lost, and a 71.2 passer rating.

But if you REALLY want to feel better, take a look at Hall of Famer, 4-time Super Bowl Champion and 2-time Super Bowl MVP Terry Bradshaw's rookie numbers: 38.1% completed, 1410 passing yards, 6 touchdowns, 24 interceptions, 3 fumbles lost, and a 30.4 passer rating.

What does all this prove? That rookie quarterback statistics are overrated.

(Hat tip to and

R.I.P. Peter Boyle

"Whatever we lose, we'll get back." - Peter Boyle

I hope you were right Peter. You will be missed.

(Hat tip to

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pick the NFL Winners - Week 15

Sorry about last week folks. It was a busy one.

But back by popular request (ok, one person asked about it), we are picking up with our usual "pick the NFL winners". Only your pride is at stake, since I will announce the winners and losers next week. We will NOT be picking the Thursday night games, in order to give people plenty of time to get their picks done.

Without further ado, my picks in red:

Dallas at Atlanta: Even though Atlanta's defense is getting healthy, I cannot see them putting a can of whoopass on Dallas like New Orleans did.

Cleveland at Baltimore: In real life, what do ravens do to brownies?

Detroit at Green Bay: Expect a lot of frozen paws on the Lambeau tundra.

Houston at New England: They say everything is bigger in Texas. But when you take them to New England, they get REALLY small.

Jacksonville at Tennessee: Both of these teams are coming off huge wins. After losing to Houston twice this year, I just don't see the Jags taking the Titans lightly, even though the Jags already beat them once.

Miami at Buffalo: Another tough game. Take the healthier Bills team at home.

N.Y. Jets at Minnesota: Intriguing matchup of two teams that started strong but have recently cooled off. While the Vikes still have the best run defense in the NFL, the Jets strength is passing. The matchups work for the Jets.

Pittsburgh at Carolina: If Delhomme plays, the Cats win.

Tampa Bay at Chicago: Wouldn't it be cool if the Bucs won this game? Then Gruden woke up...

Washington at New Orleans: The Skins don't have a prayer in this one.

Denver at Arizona: Welcome to the Jay Cutler "coming out" party.

Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants: I have a hunch that Jeff Garcia has the Giants defense for lunch.

St. Louis at Oakland: The Battle of (previously) Los Angeles teams. If the Raiders are going to beat anyone, it will be the Rams. Assuming the Raiders don't mail it in...

Kansas City at San Diego: Payback for the Bolts.

Cincinnati at Indianapolis: Carson Palmer has been studying Peyton Manning for a few years. I bet Palmer has had this game circled since the schedule came out.

UPDATE: There are THREE winners this week:

EdMcGon - 10
David Stefanini - 10
J. Mark English - 10

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ranking the NFL - Week 14

RAVENS: The best team in the NFL. San Diego and Chicago may have better records, but they also have flaws not present with Baltimore. Chicago cannot win a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman. San Diego has already lost to Baltimore.

CHARGERS: Add in one more factor for the Chargers: No Schottenheimer-coached team has ever been to a Super Bowl. Although I will add this is the best team Schottenheimer has EVER had.

BEARS: Time to give "Da Bears" some love. Grossman was not bad against the Rams. If he can play that way every week, they have a great shot at making it to the Super Bowl, although I still cannot see them beating either the Ravens or Chargers.

SAINTS: It is easy to tell who the Media wants representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. While I can appreciate the urge to see New Orleans doing well, I like this team for all the offensive weapons they have. Adding Reggie Bush to this team was a sin.

COWBOYS: The Saints exposed Tony Romo, just when the Media was ready to anoint him the next "Peyton Manning". Although I do have to wonder if Terrell Owens' birthday party last week was a distraction.

BENGALS: Another week, another DWI (Deltha O'Neal). At this rate, we may have to call Marvin Lewis "Scarface".

PATRIOTS: Shutout by Miami? At least it should put a temporary halt to the "watch out for New England in the playoffs" chorus.

COLTS: Their run defense is ready for the glue factory.

BRONCOS: Look on the bright side, Jay Cutler: You get Arizona this week. Truth be told, Denver did not look that bad against San Diego. They just got steamrolled by the "LT for MVP" train.

CHIEFS: How do you evaluate a team that gets rolled like a drunken bum by the best team in the NFL (Baltimore)? Now they get to play the second best team in the NFL (San Diego). The bad news is they beat San Diego earlier this year. Remember the old saying about paybacks...

PANTHERS: I'll give the Panthers a pass this week. Having to start Chris Weinke is a valid excuse for losing.

SEAHAWKS: How does a team beat Denver one week, then lose to Arizona the following week? Anyone who thinks the Seahawks are going back to the Super Bowl this year better wake up and smell the birds burning.

TITANS: When asked what he was thinking when he ran for a 39-yard touchdown to beat the Texans in overtime, Vince Young said, "...I felt like my mom was chasing me with a belt."

GIANTS: The G-men are getting healthy at the right time. Or is it a case of too little, too late? They might beat the Eagles this week, but I cannot see them beating the Saints in two weeks.

JAGUARS: Don't ignore the Jaguars running game. Against the Colts, Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew looked like Barry Sanders and Walter Payton.

DOLPHINS: The Dolphins still have issues, but it is clear their defense knows Tom Brady all too well. Definitely better than Brady would like.

STEELERS: Just when you think you will never hear Frenchy Fuqua's name outside of an old NFL Films movie, Willie Parker goes and breaks Fuqua's team rushing record (set in 1970). With all the great running backs the Steelers have had over the years, it is amazing this record has lasted as long as it has.

BROWNS: Is anyone giving odds on the Browns drafting a quarterback next year? The only way they don't draft a quarterback is if they either trade for one or sign a free agent.

BILLS: Note to Anonymous, who suggested I had the Bills and the Jets rated too low: You were right on one count.

JETS: I cannot believe I had to defend ranking this team below Cleveland last week.

FALCONS: Unfortunately for the Falcons, they get Dallas on Saturday night. And Terrell Owens' birthday was LAST week.

BUCCANEERS: Next stop on "The Jon Gruden Farewell Tour": Chicago.

EAGLES: Donovan who?

REDSKINS: I love the rumors about the Redskins trading Clinton Portis after this season. The Iraq Study Group's recommendations on Israel have a better chance of happening.

VIKINGS: I see the Vikings won their "homecoming game". It was nice of the Lions to let them play it in Detroit.

RAMS: If you want to know what is wrong with the Rams, it is their defense, which gives up a league leading 5.8 yards per play.

CARDINALS: Arizona is quietly becoming respectable. They have won three of their last four, with (GASP!) the Seahawks as their latest victims. If they beat Denver this weekend...

PACKERS: Brett Favre, don't think beating up on the 49ers means you can play another 10 years. Unfortunately, with games against Detroit and Minnesota coming up, you might sincerely think so before the end of the season.

49ERS: Just when you think Frisco is improving, they lose to Green Bay. They made Brett Favre look 10 years younger.

TEXANS: You have to feel sorry for the Texans. Previously, they were getting beat over the head with "how can you pick Mario Williams before Reggie Bush?". Now they get "how can you pick Mario Williams before Vince Young?". With their game against New England this week, will we hear "how can you pick Mario Williams before Laurence Maroney?"

RAIDERS: Moss? Moss? Has anyone seen Randy "Ferris Buehler" Moss?

LIONS: I have heard that Matt Millen's job future is tied to Rod Marinelli's success. Unfortunately for Marinelli, his job future is tied to the success of Millen's draft picks.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Daily Dose of "Pearls before Swine"

Is it just me, or does Rat appeal to the little cynic in all of us?

(Hat tip to

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Defending the NFL Rankings

I appreciate critics. They keep me on my toes.

In my Week 13 NFL Rankings, I received an anonymous comment:
These rankings are laughable. 49ers and Browns average with the Jets? Buccaneers better than the Bills? Do you watch football?

Legitimate questions (except for the "do you watch football?", but I will let that one slide).

So how can the 5-7 49ers and the 4-9 Browns be ranked alongside the 7-5 Jets? Quite simply, who have the Jets beaten? Tennessee (5-7), Buffalo (5-7), Miami (5-7), Detroit (2-10), New England (9-3), Houston (4-8), and Green Bay (4-8). Except for New England, that is a lot of mediocre competition. It should also be noted that the Jets lost to New England the first time they played this year, so it is actually a split series.

Who have the Browns beaten? Oakland (2-10), N.Y. Jets (7-5), Atlanta (6-6), and Kansas City (7-5). When you consider the worst team Cleveland lost to was the Steelers (6-7), and the worst team the Jets lost to was Cleveland (4-8), then they deserve to be ranked closely, at least on paper. With the Browns win over the Jets, that puts them at least one slot above the Jets.

Who have the 49ers beaten? St. Louis (5-7), Oakland (2-10), Minnesota (5-7), Detroit (2-10), and Seattle (8-4). While the 49ers are comparable to the Jets, I must confess that ranking them ahead of the Jets was a subjective move on my part based on what I have seen of both of them this year. The Jets strike me as a team with a mixture of aging (read: over-the-hill) talent and young talent. The 49ers are almost ALL young talent. The difference is the 49ers have the more talented young players. When the 49ers click on all cylinders, they rock. When the Jets click on all cylinders, they get it done.

Within the specific groupings (Elite, Good, Average, and Bad), I confess there is a certain amount of subjectivity, although I do try to use as much objective criteria as possible. However, between the groupings, I try to keep it on an objective level.

With that in mind, let us look at the Bucs (3-9) and the Bills (5-7). The Bucs have beaten Cincinnati (7-5), Philadelphia (6-6), and Washington (4-8). The Bills have beaten Miami (5-7), Minnesota (5-7), Green Bay (4-8), Houston (4-8), and Jacksonville (7-5). The rankings of both these teams come down to the best teams both have beaten: Cincinnati and Jacksonville.

The Bengals are a good team getting better as the season has progressed. Their victory over the Ravens (9-3) showed they are for real. On the other hand, the Jags are floundering. The best team they beat was the Drew Bledsoe-led Cowboys (8-4), and that was the first game of the year. I think it is safe to say the Jags would lose to the Romo-led Cowboys.

Would the Bucs beat the Bengals if they played again? I would say no, but I also would not have expected them to beat the Bengals the last time.

Another thing to consider between the Bucs and the Bills is to whom they both have lost. For the Bucs, the list is impressive: Baltimore (9-3), Atlanta (6-6), Carolina-twice (6-6), New Orleans-twice (8-4), N.Y. Giants (6-6), Dallas (with Romo, 8-4), and Pittsburgh (6-7). As for the Bills: New England-twice (9-3), N.Y. Jets (7-5), Chicago (10-2), Detroit (2-10), Indianapolis (10-2), and San Diego (10-2). While they both have had tough schedules, the killer for Buffalo was the Detroit loss. How can you take any team seriously when they lose to 2-win Detroit?

I stand firmly behind my ranking of Tampa Bay above Buffalo. However, I will grant you that I might have been a bit harsh putting the Jets below the 49ers, but not the Browns. Regardless, all three teams are merely "average" teams, and I stand firmly behind that categorization.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Iraq Study Group Report

My thoughts on the Iraq Study Group's Report:


In the Executive Summary, one of the Group's recommendations is:
Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively.

The first thing that leaped out of the page at me was "their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq". Exactly what interest is that?

If you read the report itself, it seems to contradict the Executive Summary on this point:
U.S., Iraqi, and international officials also commented on the range of tensions between the United States and Iran, including Iran's nuclear program, Iran's support for terrorism, Iran's influence in Lebanon and the region, and Iran's influence in Iraq. Iran appears content for the U.S. military to be tied down in Iraq, a position that limits U.S. options in addressing Iran's nuclear program and allows Iran leverage over stability in Iraq. Proposed talks between Iran and the United States about the situation in Iraq have not taken place. One Iraqi official told us: "Iran is negotiating with the United States in the streets of Baghdad."

...Like Iran, Syria is content to see the United States tied down in Iraq.

Back to the original question: How is the U.S. supposed to "engage them constructively"?

This is where the "New Diplomatic Offensive" comes into play.


Catchy phrase. What it means is use diplomacy to get all of Iraq's neighbors to create a "Support Group" to work towards a stable Iraq. (For the complete detail, read pages 50-58 of the report).

While the Iraq Study Group (ISG) came up with some intriguing negotiation "carrots" for dealing with Iran and Syria (page 51), I question whether Iran and Syria will see them that way. Especially when we get to recommendations 13-17, which have the U.S. getting more involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The Syrians will especially like recommendation 15 (pages 56-57), which is a list of things we should demand from them.


The Isaeli part of the "New Diplomatic Offensive" is probably the weakest part. It is filled with great ideas that never worked in the past. How many politicians and diplomats have tried to solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue? Fortunately, they did not give weightings to the importance of each recommendation, otherwise the Israeli recommendations would have to be given a "pie in the sky" rating.


Much to the chagrin of the peacenik moonbat fringe on the Left, which has been saying for years that Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism, the ISG Report says:
Iraq cannot be addressed effectively in isolation from other major regional issues, interests, and unresolved conflicts. To put it simply, all key issues in the Middle East -- the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq, Iran, the need for political and economic reforms, and extremism and terrorism -- are inextricably linked.

I guess it is safe to assume the moonbats will ignore the ISG Report since it doesn't match their world view.

There is also more bad news for John Kerry and Jim Webb. The ISG Report says an immediate withdrawal is a bad idea:
The near-term results would be a significant power vacuum, greater human suffering, regional destabilization, and a threat to the global economy. Al Qaeda would depict our withdrawal as a historic victory. If we leave and Iraq descends into chaos, the long-range consequences could eventually require the United States to return.

Finally, the ultimate insult is saved for Nancy Pelosi. Just a week ago, San Fran Nan had this to say about one of President Bush's comments referring to Al Qaeda in Iraq: "But the 9/11 Commission dismissed that notion a long time ago and I feel sad that the president is resorting to it again." The ISG Report explicitly refers to an Al Qaeda presence in Iraq, performing acts of terrorism there. (On a side note, the 9/11 Commission did NOT dismiss the notion like Pelosi said.)


The ISG Report also says "staying the course" is a bad idea, as well as sending more troops (pages 38-39). Neither of these ideas solve the sectarian strife in Iraq.


Finally, the ISG Report (page 39) rejects splitting Iraq into three regions:
Because Iraq's population is not neatly separated, regional boundaries cannot be easily drawn...A rapid devolution could result in mass population movements, collapse of the Iraqi security forces, strengthening of militias, ethnic cleansing, destabilization of neighboring states, or attempts by neighboring states to dominate Iraqi regions.

The report does add that if the situation were to move in this direction, then the U.S. should "manage the situation" to avoid negative consequences (i.e. ethnic cleansing).


There is a long portion of the ISG Report dedicated to actions that need to be taken inside Iraq. Most of it is fairly common sense, which surprises me that more of it has not already been implemented. Things such as the Iraqi government negotiating with the various sectarian groups ("Hello?! McFly!").

There is also a good idea about setting milestones for the Iraqi government. If their government does not accomplish certain goals by certain milestones, the U.S. could withdraw certain amounts of support, such as economic or military support.


On pages 76-77 of the ISG Report is a section entitled "Restoring the U.S. Military". If anyone thinks Donald Rumsfeld didn't screw over the military, this section puts a big exclamation point on that fact:
The U.S. Military has a long tradition of strong partnership between the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense and the uniformed services. Both have long benefited from a relationship in which the civilian leadership exercises control with the advantage of fully candid professional advice, and the military serves loyally with the understanding that its advice has been heard and valued. That tradition has frayed, and civil-military relations need to be repaired.


One of the most brilliant ideas from the ISG Report is to utilize the U.S. Department of Justice to train the Iraqi police forces (pages 81-83).


There are some other sections in the ISG Report dealing with subjects such as economics and intelligence gathering. If you want to read them, help yourself, but they are not particularly interesting or earth shattering compared to the rest of the Report.


The "New Diplomatic Offensive" is a bit too idealistic for my tastes. If Condi Rice can pull this one off, give her the Nobel Peace Prize for the next ten years.

That said, I like the ISG Report overall. It has a lot of good ideas which make you wonder what our country has been doing over in Iraq the last three years.

As Captain Picard would say, "Make it so."

(Hat tip to Robert George over at Ragged Thots for posting the links to the Washington Post copy of the Executive Summary and the report itself)

Hope for Islam

Are you familiar with the name Jamal Miftah? He is a Muslim from Pakistan who is currently living in the United States. He wrote a letter to the editor of the Tulsa World. Below is the text of that letter (taken from Neal Boortz's website):
Because of lack of knowledge of Islam, Muslim youth are misguided into believing by the so-called champions of the cause of Islam that the current spate of killings and barbarism, which has no equal in the recent civilized history, is jihad in the name of Islam. They are incited, in the name of Islam, to commit heinous crimes not pardonable by any religion and strictly forbidden in Islam....

Even mosques and Islamic institutions in the U.S. and around the world have become tools in [Al-Qaeda's] hands and are used for collecting funds for their criminal acts. Half of the funds collected go into the pockets of their local agents and the rest are sent to these thugs.

They are the reason for branding the peaceful religion of Islam as terrorism. The result, therefore, is in the form of Danish cartoons and remarks/reference by the Pope.

I appeal to the Muslim youth in particular and Muslims of the world in general to rise up and start jihad against the killers of humanity and help the civilized world to bring these culprits to justice and prove that Islam is not a religion of hatred and aggression.

I appeal to the Muslim clerics around the world that, rather than issuing empty fatwas condemning suicide bombing, they should issue a fatwa for the death of such scoundrels and barbarians who have taken more than 4,267 lives of innocent people in the name of Islam and have carried out more than 24 terrorist attacks on civilian installations throughout the world. This does not include the chilling number of deaths because of such activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is well over 250,000.

I appeal to al-Zawahri and his band of thugs to hand themselves over to justice and stop spreading evil and killing innocent humans around the world in the name of Islam. Their time is limited and Muslims of the world will soon rise against them to apprehend them and bring them to justice.

Just when you see something like this, then the other shoe drops: Mifta was banned from his mosque for this. Fortunately, he was reinstated after a small Media firestorm over this (the full story here), but it still leaves a bad taste that he would have been banned in the first place, and whether the mosque reinstated him just to get the Media off their backs.

In the interest of fairness, according to a Tulsa World article:
Mosque spokeswoman Sheryl Siddiqui said the matter should have been quietly resolved, but because of the media and the Internet, "It's had such legs."

The story was carried by local television and radio stations and spread nationwide on the Internet.

"This was not about the article; it was about a disturbance in the mosque," she said. "We agree with most of his article, except the one statement that American mosques support terrorists.

"Our mosque does not, and I don't know of any that do," she said.

Even if you only consider that part of Miftah's letter, is that reasonable cause for banning him from the mosque? It is not like mosques in other countries have not had links to terrorists: the London train bombers had links to radicals through a mosque (link here). Perhaps Miftah should not have mentioned the U.S. mosques specifically?

Frankly, this is a smokescreen to avoid the main thrust of Miftah's letter, which is that Muslims should be condemning terrorism, to the point of issuing fatwas "for the death of such scoundrels and barbarians". Muslims should surround and support Miftah.

Neal Boortz said it best:
Now there is one Muslim I would be proud to have as a neighbor and count as a friend.

Thanks to Jamal Miftah, I have hope for Islam.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ranking the NFL - Week 13

We have reached the time of year when teams start playing differently: Some teams play better than they have been, while others start playing worse. How else do you explain the Colts losing to the Titans?

RAVENS: Splitting the series with the Bengals is more of a positive sign for the Bengals than a negative sign for the Ravens. However, the Colts loss leaves the Ravens as the best team in the NFL by default. Their victory over the Chargers earlier this year looms large.

CHARGERS: A test of character for a good team is to win close games against bad teams like Buffalo. On the road. In December.

COWBOYS: I'm a believer. With Tony Romo as their starting QB, the Boys are 5-1. I won't call them "elite", but they are clearly the best team in the NFC.

COLTS: I don't think anyone really believes the Titans are better than the Colts. However, I think the Colts' loss shows they have some glaring weaknesses.

PATRIOTS: This week Detroit. Next week Joey Harrington. Somewhere, the scheduling gods are having a chuckle.

BENGALS: Splitting games with the Ravens is a positive sign that the Bengals are coming around. Of course, they face their toughest test this weekend against the Raiders. I have heard the NFL is arranging special security for this game: They will need to protect the fans from all the prisoners on the field.

BEARS: I get a laugh from all the pundits who think the Bears should start Brian Griese instead of Rex Grossman. As a longtime Raider fan, Griese was my favorite Denver quarterback. No matter how close the game was, Griese always found a way to choke against the Raiders. I am not saying Grossman is great, but I am saying Griese will break your heart (unless you are rooting for the Bears' opponent).

SEAHAWKS: It is a bad sign when your defense gives up two touchdown passes to a rookie quarterback in his first NFL game. Seattle won, but I wouldn't smoke a cigar over it.

BRONCOS: Jay Cutler looked like a rookie. But have faith Denver fans. He showed some potential. Next year is looking better. You didn't honestly think Shanahan switched to Cutler because he thought Cutler gave them a "better chance to win this year"?

SAINTS: ARGH! I can't do it! Reggie Bush against the 49ers, 168 total yards and 4 touchdowns. Mario Williams against the hapless Raiders' offensive line, 2 tackles and no sacks. I bet the Texans are hoping Bush blows out a knee soon.

CHIEFS: Will the real Kansas City team please stand up? Was it the "Chiefs" team that beat the Broncos last week, or the "Chefs" team that lost to the Brownies this week? It doesn't get any easier for them in the next two weeks, as they have the two best teams in football coming up, with the Ravens followed by the Chargers.

PANTHERS: The Panthers are now 0-3 against the NFC East, with the Giants coming up this weekend. I am beginning to wonder if I didn't give Jake Delhomme too much credit in my recent "Best of the Worst Quarterbacks" post.

TITANS: To all the so-called football geniuses who thought, and still think, Vince Young would/will never be a great NFL quarterback, I say: Eat his dust. I predict by his fifth season, if not sooner, he will be considered among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Ask the Eagles, Giants, and Colts what they think of Young.

GIANTS: It looked like the Giants got a major dose of Pepto Romo. Even though the final score was close, the Giants did not deserve to win.

49ERS: The 49ers game was sort of like the 2000 Presidential Election. Although the final score of 34-10 didn't leave room for (Frank) Gore to ask for a recount against (Reggie) Bush.

STEELERS: These guys are still playing? I thought they had already conceded the rest of the season. Although the Buccaneers are just bad enough to have told Pittsburgh, "no thanks, YOU take the win."

BROWNS: Just when I am about to write this team off, they pull off a huge win over the Chiefs. Romeo Crennel, you da man! This team looked ready to implode after being shut out by the Bengals last week, but Crennel pulled them together this week.

JETS: Against teams that begin with a "C", the Jets are 0-2 (Chicago and Cleveland). Against the rest of the NFL, the Jets are 7-3. Fortunately, they are not scheduled to play Cincinnati this year.

FALCONS: Don't feel so good about the win over the Skins. Over the last five weeks, the Dirty Birds are 1-4.

BUCCANEERS: Tampa Bay has won three games this year, by a combined total of 6 points. Oakland has won two games by a combined total of 20 points. How did these two teams make it to the Super Bowl a couple of years ago?

REDSKINS: The 2007 NFL Preseason has come early to Washington.

JAGUARS: I liked what I saw from quarterback David Gerrard. If the Jags could surround him with some talent, especially at wide receiver, he could be very good, although I don't see him becoming great.

EAGLES: Maybe Jeff Garcia isn't so bad after all?

DOLPHINS: On the losing side of the Jags-Dolphins game, Joey Harrington looked ok, but the Dolphins definitely missed Ronnie Brown.

VIKINGS: With one win in the last six games (against Arizona), "YO HO!" is becoming "yoohoo".

RAMS: Speaking of teams mailing it in...I know the Cardinals are not respectable, but you would think the Rams would actually make an appearance. Losing 34-20 means they sent St. Louis University.

BILLS: On the bright side...oh heck, there is no bright side. Just because the Bills played a close game with the Chargers doesn't make them suck any less.

PACKERS: In the post-game press conference, after getting plastered by the Jets 38-10, Brett Favre said he didn't know what happened. Brett, I will tell you what happened: You got old and the Packers got too young.

TEXANS: In a game otherwise know as "The Reggie Bush Consolation Prize", the Texans beat the Raiders.

RAIDERS: In the Brady Quinn Sweepstakes, the Raiders are running neck-and-neck with Detroit at 2-10. Thank you Houston!

CARDINALS: If someone lays down on the road in front of you, and you floor it as you drive over them, does that really mean your car is running well? After the Cards beat the Rams, QB Matt Leinart said the Cards were getting better. Riiiiight...

LIONS: Ask the average fan who handles personnel decisions for the Lions, and everyone will say Matt Millen. Now ask them who does it for the Patriots, and you will most likely get a collective shrug. Yet who is better at it? If you said Scott Pioli, you are either a football lunatic like me, or a Patriots fan. Regardless, let us give praise where it is due, since the Pats beat the Lions. Mr. Pioli, you are doing a darned fine job.

UPDATED: With the results from the Monday Night game.