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Thursday, September 4, 2008
Going to the no-huddle for Week 2

By Bill Simmons
Page 2

This probably won't work and I don't care: For the first time in 12 years of writing this Friday column (and probably the last), I'm writing my weekly picks in semi-coherent, pseudo-Ramblings form. Don't try this at home. Anyway …

Titans (+1) over BENGALS
I have very few rules in life, but this is one of them: If one of my fantasy guys has the phrase "police hostage negotiators" on his player profile page, then I'm immediately waiving that guy and picking up someone else.

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Lemme sum up the Chris Johnson era for you after one week: My buddy Stoner has three kids (including twins), travels all the time and had Johnson buried on his bench. Hoping to catch him napping, I offered T.J. Houshmandzadeh (a third-round pick in our East Coast draft) straight-up for Johnson. Maybe 20 minutes later, I got the automated "Your trade offer has been rejected" e-mail back. Chris Johnson is good.

My Chad Ocho Cinco question of the week: On the CBS "live scoring" fantasy page, it lists him as "C. Cinco." I like the way that looks. So can we just call him Chad Cinco and skip the "Ocho?" Or is it like a Brian Austin Green-type thing in which he wants us to say all three names every time? Personally, I'm ready to go a step further and call him "Chaz Cinco." What's interesting is that I reached my saturation point with Cinco about nine months ago -- you know, where you become so tired of an athlete that you could see footage of him catching a baby that was thrown from the sixth floor of a burning building and you wouldn't care because you're so burned out on him -- but now, I feel completely re-energized by the name change, although I still think he should have gone a step further and become "World B. Ocho Cinco." Chaz Cinco totally works for me. I could never be burned out by someone named Chaz Cinco.

VIKINGS (+2) over Colts
All right, I'll ask: Is Peyton Manning sleeping in the same bathtub of plaster Dan Marino used from 1995-1998?

I'd like to personally thank the Colts for a building a state-of-the-art football stadium that sounds as dead as every other state-of-the-art football stadium and willingly giving away two or three victories per season. Does Kyle Orton stroll into the Hoosier Dome and win on a Sunday night? In a million years?

Prediction: Adrian Peterson rushes for 530 yards in this game. You heard me: 530 yards.

Hey, did you notice how CBS kept running ads for its show "The Mentalist" on Sunday? That's a Hollywood trend that started with "The Closer" and has now become an acceptable hook for a show: Just call it "The (Fill in a Noun)" and you have a show. That's what A&E did with "The Cleaner" -- as soon as I saw the first promo, I was convinced the network execs came up with the title before they came up with the premise, and when I finally watched the show, that theory was confirmed. Anyway, Tarvaris Jackson needs a nickname and I vote for this one: "The Complicator." Can't you hear Greg Gumbel reading this promo coming out of a timeout:

Coming up tonight on CBS: The 2008 Vikings look like a Super Bowl team. Unfortunately, The Complicator has other ideas. Tarvaris Jackson stars in an all-new episode of "The Complicator," tonight at 8 p.m.

BEARS (+3) over Panthers
Move over Mike Shanahan, there's a new "I hate fantasy guys" sheriff in town! How could Lovie Smith and my No-Dining-Room Bears keep Matt Forte a secret like that? How? How could they do that? Like they didn't know he was their best back from the moment he showed up in camp? Then the Bears-Colts game starts and Madden slyly says something like, "Yeah, they love Matt Forte, he's been their guy from Day 1." Really? That was just cruel. I would have picked the Panthers just out of spite this week, but they haven't covered a home game as a favorite since 1965.

All right, can we hire scientists to explain the weird phenomenon in which Muhsin Muhammad suddenly becomes competent again just because he's wearing a Carolina uniform?

Congratulations to Kenny Lucas for replacing Stephen Davis as his generation's "Hey, that's the dude who got punched in the face!" player.

FALCONS (+7) over Bucs
Really? Brian Griese giving seven points? Thank you! Thanks so much! You're too kind.

Hey, I don't know if you've seen Jeff Garcia lately, but he has become Boggs from "Shawshank." They were dead ringers for years and years, but now, with Garcia's hairline receding, they might have surpassed Mike Tomlin and Omar Epps as the No. 1 celeb/NFL lookalikes. It's amazing. Unfortunately, we've reached the point of his career that Garcia is being wheeled out on a stretcher as Morgan Freeman says, "Last I heard, he was eating meals out of a straw."

Speaking of movies, this Pacino and DeNiro movie is like imagining an NBA team that had Bird and Magic on it … and yes, I mean, Bird and Magic right now, at the ages of 51 and 48. But you know what's funny? I'd absolutely buy tickets for Bird and Magic, and I'm absolutely going to see the Pacino and DeNiro movie. So there.

Saints (PK) over REDSKINS
Reason No. 437 why I could never announce an NFL game: After Fox cut to Kim Kardashian celebrating Reggie Bush's go-ahead TD in a luxury suite last week, I definitely would have made a joke like, "It's nice to see her with clothes on!" or "Guys, we should cut back again in about 15 minutes to see if she's taking on the whole suite."

That reminds me, Brian Billick … effective color analyst! How did we not see this coming? The guy carried "Hard Knocks" seven years ago! Anyone who allowed reality cameras to tape him reading Rick Pitino's "Success is a Choice" while lounging on a hammock was destined to become the next Cris Collinsworth. Eight years from now, when he's interviewing 4-foot-9 gymnasts at the 2016 Summer Olympics, you won't even think for a second, "Why the hell is Brian Billick interviewing 4-foot-9 gymnasts?" Just wait.

On the flip side, here's my impression of Dan Dierdorf if he were a veterinarian giving an update to a distraught family whose dog was hit by a car:

Bills (+5) over JAGUARS
Last week, I thought the Jags would win the Super Bowl. This week? I think they'll finish 7-9. Last week, I was making jokes about Matt Jones trying to sniff the 40-yard line. This week? I was pumping my fist when I landed him on the waiver wire of my West Coast league. Last week, I thought the Toronto flirtation would kill Buffalo's chances to become a 2008 sleeper. This week? Well, I still think that. But they're winning this game.

Random airplane note: I caught "What Happens in Vegas" on a Continental flight this week and realized about 30 minutes in that the movie had tied the record for "Most 'Jump The Shark' moments" in one movie: Ashton Kutcher, Cameron Diaz and Vegas itself. The previous record holder? "Boat Trip" with Cuba Gooding Jr., Horatio Sanz and gay cruises.

Packers (-3) over LIONS
Reason No. 783 why fantasy football drives me crazy: You only had to watch an hour of that Pack-Vikes game before you realized, "Dammit, I should have had Greg Jennings, Ryan Grant, Donald Driver and Aaron Rodgers three rounds higher."

The late, great George Kiseda once wrote that Walt Bellamy was "The skeleton in the 20,000-point club." We'll be saying the same about Jon Kitna and the 30,000-passing-yards club next year. In fact, I'd like to be the first.

Here's something I've been thinking about a lot lately: With any job, you're going to have your ups and downs. At some point, you have to decide whether the downs outweigh the ups to the point that it's not worth it for you to have that job anymore. You could call it a satisfaction/misery ratio. If that ratio swings past 20/80, it's time to go. Well, if you're Matt Millen and everyone in Detroit thinks you're incompetent, openly despises you and spends every waking moment pining for your departure, at some point wouldn't that reality outweigh Millen's salary as well as any fun he could ever have running a football team? He's probably afraid to pick up a newspaper or turn on the radio. He probably spends every dinner wondering if the cook hawked a loogie in his entree. He probably walks through the stadium on Sundays with his head down. And on top of that, his team is awful. You could say his satisfaction/misery ratio is at 5/95 right now. So why wouldn't he quit and go back to TV? What's he waiting for?

Giants (-8.5) over RAMS
Scott Linehan is so bad, NBC just added him to its fall lineup.

Poor Dane Looker. I haven't seen anyone this over his/her head since Terri Seymour.

SPORTS GAL'S RANT

My friend Robyn makes delicious pies. If you live in the L.A. area, you can buy them from porchpies.com. I am giving her that plug because she recently nicknamed Bill "The Illuminator." Bill has a rare talent for illuminating issues that are sitting right there, only the average person never notices them. For example, Bill hates "The Hills" and thinks it's scripted, but somehow ends up around the TV every time I'm watching it. Last week, I (we) was (were) watching the episode where LC and Audrina were arguing about their deteriorating relationship. So the Illuminator says, "The real problem here is that both of them are pursuers and not pursuees."

Of course, he stole the pursuer/pursuee theory from me, but he was right. I have always said that female friends are "pursuers" or "pursuees." I am a "pursuee." You have to pursue me to be my friend. I don't like planning things or calling people, I'm bad at returning e-mails and will absolutely let four months pass without you hearing from me. That's why I usually stay in touch with "pursuers." They are the ones who like to plan everything and be in charge. Pursuers plan Vegas weekends or baby showers; pursuees just show up. The problem is that two pursuees can't be friends because neither of them ever calls the other one! Like, Bill always gets mad that I don't hang out more with my friend Lynette (we both love music and we're both easy-going), but she's even harder to chase down than I am. I wish there was a Web service (pursuer.com?) that could organize lunches and buy concert tickets for us. Then I'd see her more!

Back to Bill: As he was pretending to surf the Internet and not watch "The Hills," his head popped up as Audrina and LC were crying and he made the pursuer/pursuee analogy. The Illuminator strikes again! Audrina is actually worse than a pursuee -- she's a pursuee diva, someone who needs to be pursued, but only on her terms. If you're inviting her to a biker bar or a concert for a band with skanky groupies, she is very available. If you're having a b-day party, she might show up with her skank posse, or she might not. Poor LC needs to find more Fembots who wear black cocktail dresses, walk three feet behind her and hold her hair as she's throwing up. I love Lo and I think LC is OK, but the truth is, I could only be friends with LC, because Lo and I would always forget to have lunch.

Here are my Week 2 picks: Ten +1; GB -3; KC -3.5; Ind -2; WAS (PK); Chi +3; NYG -8.5; Jax -5; Atl +7; Sea -7; Zona -6.5; NYJ -1; Den +1.5; Cle +6; Bal +4.5, Phi +7. Last Week: 7-9.

You'll see NBC give Ben Silverman a vote of confidence before you see the Rams score 30 points this season.

(And with that, we conclude our new running feature, "NFL jokes that pseudo-fans who work in the Hollywood industry can understand.")

New request for the Football Outsiders guys: Can you please keep track of every "I can't believe that wasn't picked" throw by a quarterback? I want to see if Eli Manning would just lead the league in this category, or whether he'd actually double the total of the second-highest guy. Just curious. Yes, I'm still bitter.

Niners (+7) over SEAHAWKS
The whole J.T. O'Sullivan thing is so much more fun until you've actually seen him play. Then it's not fun. It's a little chilling, actually.

What's happening with Seattle right now is nothing short of historic. After I ran the "It Could Be Worse" e-mail in the All-Brady Mailbag on Tuesday, the distraught Seattle e-mails started pouring into the point that I nearly made an iPod playlist called "Depressing Grunge-Era Songs" just to read them. (That would be a cool playlist, right? You'd definitely have "Would," "Black," "Dumb," "Them Bones," "Black Hole Sun," "Rape Me" and maybe even a Sonics-related remake by the Screaming Trees called "I Really Lost You.") I'm not rooting for a 4-12 Seahawks finish and back surgery for Matt Hasselbeck to finish off the single most depressing season for a city in the history of professional sports, but the scenario is definitely in play and we'd be fools to ignore it. So, um … yeah. I'm taking the points.

Dolphins (+6.5) over CARDS
Vince Young and Matt Leinart are turning into Bizarro Bird & Bizarro Magic, aren't they? How much damage needs to happen before the 2006 Rose Bowl is tainted to the point that ESPN Classic can't even show it anymore?

I'll go this far: Greg Camarillo is like the "Prefontaine" to Wes Welker's "Without Limits."

When you think about it, there's no better QB for the 25-yard, pseudo-Hail Mary lob pass into the end zone than Chad Pennington, namely because he throws every pass like that.

Question: Could the Cards finally win the NFC West? I can't see them finishing better than 7-9, which means that, "YES, THE CARDS CAN WIN THE NFC WEST!" Can we really just blindly say that Seattle will rally for the umpteenth year after everything you just read four paragraph ago, as well as the fact that the living members of Mother Love Bone are starting at receiver for the Seahawks this weekend? Don't count out those frisky 7-9 Cardinals.

JETS (-1) over Patriots
Note to everyone trying to talk themselves into the Matt Cassel era (including three of my friends): Just stop it. Stop. Stop right now. Even if the Patriots finish 10-6 and 11-5 and make the playoffs -- and I think there's a good chance -- there will come a point when the Weak Link QB (whether it's Cassel or rookie Kevin O'Connell) has to make a few plays, on the road, in either Pittsburgh, Jacksonvillle, Tennessee, San Diego or even (gulp) the Meadowlands in January. And that's not happening. So stop. Please.

That reminds me: Spygate happened in the Meadowlands a year ago nearly to the day, causes the Patriots to shift into "Eff You" Mode, generates enough bad karma that Brady's ACL and MCL finally paid the price … and now we're back at the Meadowlands again as the Jets have a chance to grab the AFC East torch from the Pats. That's just weird. You have to admit.

(One thing I forgot to mention in the all-Brady mailbag: The startling similarities between Brady's injury and Madden 96 when you could intentionally injure quarterbacks after the whistle and hear their knee crack as Pat Summerall said, "Uh-oh, there's a man down.")

Ravens (+4.5) over TEXANS
Would you rather have three guys named Slaton, Walter and Schaub doing your taxes or trying to cover five points at home against a Ravens defense that looked rejuvenated against Cincy last week? I thought so.

Most disturbing NFL ad of the week: The one in which the woman at the airline counter turns around and has a face on both sides of her head. I think she just replaced Felicity Huffman in "Transamerica" and the three-breasted lady from "Total Recall" as the most disturbing potential hookup of all time.

You know, I enjoyed Joe Flacco's work last week -- his teammates responded to him and so did the fans. But he needs a nickname. Joe Flacco makes him sound too much like a chef. Couldn't you see him starring in "Cooking with Joe Flacco" or "Joe Flacco's Barbecue Extravaganza" on the Food Network? So that got me thinking … couldn't his nickname be "The Chef?" For one thing, again, he sounds like a chef. As far as I can tell, nobody in sports has ever had the nickname "Chef" before, and it kinda makes sense for a quarterback since he's the one who has to cook all the ingredients, so to speak. Plus, we've only had one other "Chef" -- the Chef from "South Park" -- and that couldn't have worked out any better. So that's my vote: The Chef, Joe Flacco. But I'm willing to hear any and all suggestions.

CHIEFS (-3.5) over Raiders
Yeah, um, I kinda wish I had remembered the whole "Al Davis tried to fire Lane Kiffin, who tried to fire Rob Ryan, only nobody got fired, and now they're all awkwardly working together with an extremely raw quarterback" thing before I grabbed the points against Denver last Monday. So, yeah. Anyway …

Sad statement on Brodie Croyle's career: When Damon Huard replaces you after an injury and everyone agrees the team just made an enormous leap offensively.

Chiefs fans want you to know Sammy Morris blocked Bernard Pollard into Tom Brady's knee, even if the replays don't back this up even remotely. Whatever. But after watching the play another 75 times, it dawned on me that Sammy was more to blame than Pollard for the 2008 Patriots season going down the tubes. Sammy, why are you going low on Bernard Pollard like he's a 345-pound defensive lineman? And if you want to go even further, if Kevin Faulk hadn't decided to get high at a Lil' Wayne concert, he wouldn't have been suspended for Week 1, he would been playing that down, he would have pancaked Pollard, and my man Brady would still be playing now. Did you ever think Lil' Wayne would be directly involved in the murder of a Patriots season? My head hurts.

BRONCOS (+1.5) over Chargers
Congrats to Shawne Merriman for having "Lights Out For Merriman" replace "Houston, We Have a Problem" as the most ubiquitous NFL-related headline of the season.

Here's how good Eddie Royal was last week: I called my buddy Gus (allegedly a die-hard Broncos fan) and berated him for not tipping me off about Royal for fantasy purposes. I mean, this was almost a friendship-ender. "I didn't know!" he kept saying. "Nothing happened in the preseason to tip this off!" Well, it must have been a miracle -- a nondescript second-round pick woke up last weekend and improbably turned into a combination of 2001 Troy Brown, 2004 Deion Branch and 2005 Santana Moss.

Question: Did Jay Cutler walk into a barbershop and say to himself, "My helmet always messes up my hair, anyway … can we make it look like I always just took off my helmet?"

Speaking of Jay, I joked in last week's NFL preview that "Any time 'Our QB should be better this year because he's finally treating his Type 1 diabetes' is your best reason for making the playoffs, I can't pick you to finish higher than 7-9." That led to a few readers who either have diabetes or know someone with diabetes e-mailing to say they were disappointed that I made fun of diabetes just for a laugh, which immediately got me excited -- since that clearly wasn't the case -- and secretly hoping the whole thing would snowball and ESPN would ask me to apologize, creating my dream scenario of me standing up for a harmless joke and the depressed state of comedy in general, eventually getting suspended because the American Diabetes Association was protesting me in Bristol, then having our ombudsman write a post about me to cap things off. That didn't happen.

So let's clarify this once and for all …

This is not a joke about diabetes: "Any time 'Our QB should be better this year because he's finally treating his Type 1 diabetes' is your best reason for making the playoffs, I can't pick you to finish higher than 7-9." It's a joke about the Broncos having low expectations this season.

Steelers (-6) over BROWNS
If Pittsburgh doesn't cruise to the No. 1 seed in the AFC, then I don't know anything. That's a good football team.

I don't know what happened, what sequence of events led up to it, how we arrived at this specific point … all I know is Romeo Crennel gave up the Art Shell Face and actually turned into Art Shell. Good news for our wallets.

All right, let's go to Bob Costas for more info about Sunday night's game …

Eagles (+7) over COWBOYS
Not only am I muting my TV for this one, I'm turning my head every time like I feel there's a chance they might cut to Jessica Simpson in a luxury suite.

Five words: Ten wins for me, guaranteed.

Four words: DeSean Jackson, breakout game.

Three words: Donovan McNabb, rejuvenated.

Two words: Almost done.

Last word: I'm only 150 pages into "Boys Will Be Boys," Jeff Pearlman's thoroughly enjoyable opus about the 1990s Dallas Cowboys (incredible that nobody tackled this subject yet), but you need to purchase it right now just for the extended section about Charles Haley and his penis. I'm not kidding. Go buy it right now. Just do it. Buy the book right now. Spend the 17 bucks and buy it. Just buy it. I would never steer you wrong on a book. I predict that more than 200,000 fantasy-team names will involve the words "Charles" "Haley" and "penis" next season.

Last Week: 6-10
Season: 6-10

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. For every Simmons column, as well as podcasts, videos, favorite links and more, check out the revamped Sports Guy's World.