Lions 40, Packers 10
Over Thanksgiving, Lord Kelvin and Niels Bohr ask me what I think Kurt Cobain would be doing if he were alive today. I'm weirdly super-prepared for this question because I've spent an afternoon writing 47-Year-Old Kurt fan fiction because of this picture. In my 47-Year-Old Kurt story, 47-Year-Old Kurt is retired from performing, divorced, living in Seattle, a little chubby from the Paxil, halfheartedly producing records. 47-Year-Old Kurt doesn't hear from Frances much. 47-Year-Old Kurt won a Grammy in 2004 for a King Buzzo spoken-word album he played some feedbacky guitar on. 47-Year-Old Kurt tweets out suicide-hotline numbers around the holidays but doesn't really "get" Twitter.
In case you were busy foolishly enjoying the company of friends and family this holiday season without a television on in the background, here's what you missed in sports over the holiday:
In one of the most stunning endings to a football game in recent memory, Auburn shocked Alabama in the Iron Bowl, winning 34-28 on a 109-yard field goal return for a touchdown as time expired. "No regrets," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said after the game when asked about his late-game management, "I thought to myself, What's the worst that could happen? And the answer was that the kick could hit a child in the head, creating a trauma that the boy would bury deep into his subconscious. This trauma would then only rear its head again when the boy had grown, fueled by his hate, to become governor of Alabama, and he would then decide by gubernatorial decree to make football illegal. But then I decided that, rightly I might add, that would be impossible; if anything could provoke a coup in the state of Alabama it would be the abolition of football. So I made the right decision, I just got a bad result."
In case you were busy confusing Jimmie Johnson, Jimmy Johnson, and a turkey sandwich, son, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
Peyton Manning overcame an injured ankle and Kansas City's vaunted pass rush as the Broncos handed the Chiefs their first loss of the season, 27-17 in Denver. "Well, when you think Peyton, you think mobility," said Broncos interim head coach Jack Del Rio after the game. "So, it was definitely tough to deal with being forced to keep him in the pocket. But somehow, god bless him, he managed."
Indiana lost its first game of the NBA season as Derrick Rose's return sparked his Chicago Bulls to a 110-94 win. "D-Rose is going to make me broke," said Chicago fan Jesse Wilkerson while purchasing a brand-new Rose home jersey. When asked why he was buying Rose's jersey now, Wilkerson replied, "Look, if the guy's gonna play soft and miss games, I'm not going to not burn his jersey." Wilkerson, who once cried at a party at the University of Illinois when someone accidentally spilled his Corona Light, then added, "That's what fans do to toughen up their favorite players. Men gotta be tough, but they also have to be loyal."
In case you were busy regretting your attempt to introduce that exchange student living in your home to the joyful simplicity of America's pastime, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
A weird weekend in the World Series left the Cardinals and Red Sox knotted at two games apiece, after Saturday's game ended on an obstruction call that handed St. Louis a 5-4 victory, and Sunday's game closed with a Koji Uehara pickoff in Boston's 4-2 win. "What a weekend!" declared MLB rules aficionado Peter Greggsman. "The only way it could have been better is if one of these stadiums had been a dome, so we could get some catwalk interference in there." Greggsman's demeanor then darkened, before he added, "The real tragedy though is that the World Series can't end on an infield fly call. No game can." Greggsman then pounded his fist on his Hardball Times Baseball Annual and cried to the heavens, "Oh founders of baseball, you've cursed us with the possibility of perfection, yet made it as impossible to witness as a local game without digital cable! Damn you apocryphal Abner Doubleday! Damn you straight to the fictional hell you belong in!"
Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson amassed 329 receiving yards, the second-most in NFL history behind former Rams receiver Flipper Anderson, as Detroit came from behind late to stun the Dallas Cowboys 31-30. Meanwhile, back at his New Jersey home, Anderson cracked a bottle of champagne as the game ended. Not because his record was preserved; that would be incredibly tacky. Who would do that? No, he popped a bottle of champagne because it pairs well with the panko-crusted halibut he whipped up for his wife as a special Sunday treat.
The following trade offer hit my inbox on Sunday morning: James Jones for Reggie Wayne. Given that all proposals are bound to tilt slightly in favor of the person proposing the deal, it seemed fair enough. I considered countering, but the combination of Jones's knee sprain and my bullishness on Indy's offense ultimately resulted in a flat-out rejection. Wayne tore his ACL 12 hours later, so apologies for sounding a bit disenchanted with the 2013 fantasy season. Between HOYER THE DESTROYER's untimely death, Tom Brady's increasing irrelevance, and the Wayne debacle, this has been a difficult year.
Of course, misery loves company, which is why I'm soliciting your fantasy horror stories for next Tuesday's Halloween-themed post. Leave them in the comments or tweet them to @mattborcas, and I promise to deliver the spookiest football column ever. Well, aside from today's, which recommends Peyton Hillis as a waiver-wire pickup and is thus impossible to top on the scariness scale.
As we near the halfway point of the 2013 NFL season, the teams and lineups we expected to see trotted out on the field this season are now shells of their former selves. The Falcons are already down seven starters from the guys they would have expected to be in the starting 22 in July. Of the 32 quarterbacks who were expected to start on the opening day of training camp, 12 have been benched or suffered an injury that has caused them or will cause them to miss time. If you can start the same guys who you were expecting to suit up over the summer, you're the exception, not the rule.
Every team has some veterans that they can plug in as competent backups, but every team also has a few spots where they're absolutely, positively screwed if their starter was to go down with an injury or suffer a dramatic decline in his performance. Others have found a diamond in the rough who has come out of nowhere to emerge as a viable starter at their position. In either scenario, there are now players on virtually every team who have risen out of professional obscurity to get meaningful NFL reps.
On any given Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday), your NFL Run & Shootaround crew will be gathered around multiple televisions, making inappropriate jokes and generally regressing to the mean. Catch up on all the NFL action right here.
Come As You Are
Robert Mays: When the Colts traded for Trent Richardson, part of the collective shock came from how unprecedented the move seemed. Without considerable extenuating circumstances, teams don’t give up on 23-year-old first-round picks. From the Browns’ side, it really was a deal that was almost unheard of, but not for the Colts. They’d done this before.
Anyone who watches Hard Knocks will remember the scene from last summer when Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland called Vontae Davis into his office and informed his fourth-year cornerback that he had been traded to the Colts for a second-round pick. Davis’s reaction wasn’t surprising, given what we knew about him at that point. Taken 25th overall by Miami in 2009, Davis was one of the more physically impressive cornerbacks you’ll ever see. Brother of famed pre-draft workout star Vernon Davis, Vontae was a 5-foot-11, 205-pound, 4.5 corner who looked like he could handle 20 carries a game if a team were so inclined. His issues in Miami had more to do with the other side of things. He struggled with maturity, with the day-in, day-out call for consistency of the pro game. When Ireland told Davis he’d be headed to Indianapolis, Davis’s first response was that he wanted to call his grandma. He was polite, he was gracious, but at 24, he was still a kid.
Exactly one year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were 1-5 just starting a welcome bye week. Three days earlier they’d been embarrassed by a previously 1-3 Buccaneers team, 38-10, with 31 of those points coming in the second half. Kansas City was losing by an average of almost two touchdowns, with a pair of quarterbacks that had thrown 11 combined interceptions and a defense that had allowed 183 points. They looked like the worst team in the league, and after 16 games, they were.
Today, the Chiefs are 6-0, and somehow it isn’t all that surprising. The offseason saw the sort of turnover expected of a two-win team. Replacing general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel were John Dorsey, card-carrying member of the Ted Thompson School of Team Building, and Andy Reid, who’d won his share of games in Philadelphia. With five returning Pro Bowlers, a trade for Alex Smith, and the introduction of more-than-capable leadership, Kansas City became the preseason sleeper that was actually anything but.
The unexpected part of this Chiefs season isn’t that they’ve beaten Jacksonville, Oakland, Tennessee, Philadelphia, the winless Giants, and the Cowboys (at home). It’s how they’ve done it. Kansas City’s offense is what it was going to be — an exercise in competency with a little Jamaal Charles sprinkled in — but I’m not sure who could have imagined the defense would look like this.
I don’t know about you, but I often find fantasy football to be an endless well of disappointment. Injuries, surprise benchings, and Mike Shanahan tend to make this impossible to avoid. Metaphorically speaking, I sometimes feel like I’m just trying to throw the ball away and live for another down. Then my pass gets intercepted and I sob uncontrollably.
With that in mind, we might as well embrace the disappointment. What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, right? It’s about time we held fantasy football’s most heinous underperformers accountable, and grouping them into one easy list of shame is a start. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the All-Disappointment Team. Please try to contain your tears.
Fantasy Football All-Disappointment Team (So Far)
QB: Colin Kaepernick RB: Ray Rice RB: Trent Richardson WR: Julio Jones WR: Roddy White TE: Zach Sudfeld
What is reality? I think Bill Belichick asked that at a press conference once, and it's a question I've been pondering mightily regarding Philip Rivers. In the corporeal sense, sure, I'll concede that he's real but is he actually fantasy's third-best player?
Chargers coach Mike McCoy has worked miracles before, but we're now beyond the season's quarter point, and this is usually when miracles start to die a slow and painful death. Mirages melt away, Lil Bow Wow loses his magical sneakers, and the Eagles call on Nick Foles to replace an injured Michael Vick.
For the record, I believe in Rivers, Jordan Cameron, Bad Eli Manning, Giovani Bernard, Kansas City's defense, and, of course, HOYER THE DESTROYER. On the flip side, I doubt the long-term viability of Michael Vick, Fred Jackson, DeMarco Murray, Julius Thomas, and, of course, Eddie Royal. What are some of your hot takes? Feel free to share them in the comments, but remember: The only way to determine whether reality's really real is with the passage of time.
We’re not even a quarter into the season, and it seems like almost every starting running back has suffered an injury. I’m reading Stephania Bell’s blog as avidly as I read Harry Potter back in the day, and I was a Harry Potter freak. What’s more, outside of four or five elite guys, the running backs who are still healthy are mired in maddening committees. It’s truly outrageous, and in some way, Mike Shanahan is surely to blame.
Anyway, with so many backups suddenly becoming hot commodities, I’ve power-ranked the best of the bunch into one convenient list. Enjoy!
Backup Running Back Power Rankings
A random list I felt like making.
1. Giovani Bernard, Bengals. I won’t rehash my thoughts on Gio, but I'll say that it’s strikingly obvious just how much more effective he is than BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
In case you were out accidentally revealing that you named a loved one Cosmo, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
The Dodgers clinched the NL West title with a 7-6 road win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, before angering the Diamondbacks' organization by celebrating in the pool at Chase Field. "You can't have a pool party at our pool and not invite us," said disappointed Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, as he stood in a pair of bright blue bathing trunks holding two pool noodles. When asked why he had two noodles, Goldschmidt hung his head and said softly, "One for me, and one for a new best friend." Goldschmidt then exploded, saying, "His name is Yasiel, and now that's never going to happen, is it? Is it?"
Despite Kansas City's failures in clock management and third-and-short situations, the Chiefs moved to 3-0, prevailing over a sloppy Philadelphia Eagles team, 26-16, in Thursday Night Football action. Which is to say that on the binary football scale of "Andy Reid" to "Not Andy Reid" by which all football games can be judged, the game scored an "Andy Reid."
Am I crazy or is this our first entertaining Thursday-night game, like, ever? Even if it's difficult to think of "The Andy Reid Bowl" being anything other than a plastic bowl overfilling with beef brisket and BBQ sauce, let's figure out how Skunk of the Week can bizarro-improve to 0-3 this season.
The Case for Philly Covering: It's impossible to prepare for Chip Kelly's nutty offense in four days Kansas City's 2-0 record is actually "we killed the horrific Jags in Week 1, then barely beat the mediocre Cowboys at home in Week 2” Michael Vick is strangely frightening to wager against in night games, for no real reason whatsoever far too much of Kansas City's playbook seems to be "What about a designed rollout for Alex?" the Chiefs have punted 16 times (tied for third-highest in NFL) and tallied 10 points and nine punts in two second halves they've had three drives all season of more than 50 yards can they score 30-plus points to keep up with Philly? and doesn't Reid's return to Philly HAVE to produce a sloppy, disjointed game that Reid's team blows in the final few minutes?