When it comes to “rings,” Brady is obviously ahead, but when it comes down to actually passing the football, the question is not so simple. These two quarterbacks are among the finest their sport has ever seen, but both have unique strengths and tendencies.
The NFL trade deadline usually comes and goes without much fanfare, because most GMs are risk-averse scaredy-cats who can’t admit past failures. Your fantasy league, however, is likely full of courageous, calculating risk-takers who aren't beholden to the demands of a fan base, resulting in an exponentially more exciting trade deadline.
With the trade deadline in many fantasy leagues set for this week, here’s a quick guide to wheeling and dealing like a champion.
• WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals: Considering there are four top-flight defensive backfields (Rams, Titans, Seahawks, 49ers) looming on Arizona’s schedule, it’s a safe bet that Fitzgerald will end his season on a quiet note. With Fitzgerald coming off one of his best outings of the year, this is the perfect time to trade him.
This is our reward. For everyone who kept the faith through weeks of Titans-Rams and Ravens-Browns, the days of meaningful, excellent football are finally here. Along with the underappreciated marquee game of the week, we have a pair of hugely important, season-defining matchups to boot. Carolina–New England, San Francisco–New Orleans, and Kansas City–Denver would probably have been the best game from any of the past four weeks. Some might say it’s too much all at once. I disagree. To get you fully prepared, we decided to break down the (possibly) deciding matchup from the weekend’s three best games. Enjoy, everybody. We deserve this.
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about the New England Patriots and the coach who won't let them fail.
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS — You've seen the headlines splashed across the front page over the past few days. A player from the Miami Dolphins is accused of harassing one of his teammates with racial slurs, threats to defecate in his teammate's mouth, threats of bodily harm, and everything in between. Now? It's national news.
Richie's not so Incognito anymore, is he? This big ol' ox sure looks like a moron.
I'm all for a little harmless hazing because tradition's tradition — if we forget where we've been, then who knows where we're going — but this went too far.
This was cruel and unusual.
Now football's in the crosshairs again, with a thousand mainstream critics ready to tell Mom why she should convince Dad to take away little Timmy's pads and cleats forever. Of course. That's Page 1 in the media playbook these days.
But before we run a go route to hysteria … can we call an audible?
Forget what's wrong for a second. Let's talk about what's right.
Happy Halloween! While you’re out trick-or-treating, I’ll be inside watching Bengals-Dolphins, mourning Giovani Bernard’s sad failure to launch. I thought we’d be talking about him as a fantasy stud by now, but Marvin Lewis remains stubbornly committed to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Lewis, bless his heart, probably still uses the Zune he bought in 2006. Some flowers were never meant to bloom, I guess. To cheer you up, here is a picture of Bill Belichick and his wife:
Anyway, there's a lot to cover this week, and I can’t bear to think about Bernard’s untapped potential any longer, so let’s dive right into the Week 9 preview. Oh, and pray for Bill’s wife while you’re at it.
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.
Enrico Fermi is in town for a wedding. He has got a bunch of plans but he asks if he can watch football with me on Sunday. I tell him to meet me at 10, at Ye Rustic, my place of business. I'm there at 9:57. They've got the Bengals/Bills game on the TV in the back corner, the one that's blocked by a pillar if you don't choose your seat right. The only open seat at the bar with an unobstructed view of the TV is the one Janet saves for her plus-one, so I take a booth that's big enough for five people.
The old jukebox is gone. The new one is a glowing LED slab bolted to the wall by the front door, one of those touchscreen models that looks like a giant Zune and beams down 3,600 new releases from Skynet every week. I haven't checked but I'm assuming it has that feature that you can pay an extra dollar to have your song play immediately instead of waiting out the queue, an option I find ideologically repellent. I spent my 20s sitting in bars waiting for my songs to come on and so should everybody else. Letting somebody cut the line because they've got an extra dollar to blow is dictionary-definition antidemocratic. Might as well institute a policy that you can pay a buck to opt out of the rule about not spitting in other people's drinks.
In case you were busy cheering Matt Schaub's ankle injury because that's the only way to fill the pit of sadness that lives in your chest, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
New England handed New Orleans its first loss of the season as Tom Brady's last-minute heroics gave the Patriots a stunning 30-27 comeback victory. "Well, that's the best comeback this city will see for a long time," Brady said after the game. "I mean, I hate to use the word untoppable, because I don't think it's a real word, but I'm positive this win will prove to be the most untoppable win this city has ever seen. Everyone might as well just take the rest of the day off from caring about Boston sports, because it cannot possibly get better than this — hold on, let me just flip over to the Sox game, and yeah, see? They're down four in the eighth inning. As I was saying, untop— whoa "
David Ortiz's eighth-inning grand slam set the table for another miraculous Sunday night comeback in Boston as the Red Sox evened up the ALCS at a game apiece with a 6-5 walk-off win over the Detroit Tigers. Ortiz's fifth go-ahead or game-tying hit in the final two innings of a playoff game tied him for third all time on the list with former teammate Manny Ramirez Jason Varitek Johnny Damon Kevin Millar Dave Roberts Kevin Youkilis? Who is it? Um Trot Nixon? No? Gosh. Dustin Pedroia is still on the team, so it can't be him. Oh, duh, Nomar. No? OK, long-shot guess: Curt Schilling? Obviously not. Well it can't be J.D. Oh, you have to be kidding me. Really? J.D.? No, I won't do it. I won't type his whole name. The only people ahead of him on this list are Bernie Williams and Pete Rose? It's too weird, though I guess he has an unfairly bad reputation given his contributions to the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Red Sox. Plus, it was such a big weekend for all three of those teams you know what, fine: J.D. Drew. Ortiz and J.D. Drew are now statistical equals when it comes to clutch postseason performances.
In case you were busy signing with the Vikings in order to guarantee a Super Bowl ring, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
The Pittsburgh Pirates are a game away from the National League Championship Series after Pedro Alvarez powered them to a 5-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. "Don't say anything," said Pittsburgh superfan Willie Langdon after the game. "Just no one say anything. This isn't happening. No one talk about this." When asked if he was excited, Langdon yelled, "Shh, shh, shh. No. Not excited. Why would I be excited?" before whispering under his breath, "You shut your damn mouth before this whole damn thing falls apart. It's built on Popsicle sticks and Silly Putty, and if you crush this dream I'll crush you."
Today's the day, Tony Romo thought to himself as he sat on the bench, helmet in his hands, feeling a feeling: pride? He was almost sure it was pride. He glanced at the scoreboard. 48-41. He looked at the field; his team's defense was outmatched. Didn't matter. Don't think about being a hero, don't think about being a hero. You become a hero by being a hero, not by thinking Be a hero. Also, maybe the defense will keep things together. Maybe. So just think about anything else. Like why do humans feel pain? Huh, that's a brain tickler. Think, Anthony, think why do humans feel pain?
As it stands now, the Tom Brady–Peyton Manning rivalry feels like a colossally rigged episode of Chopped. While Manning has received an assortment of first-rate ingredients with which to cook, Brady is forced to make chicken salad out of a spare tire, some stones, a rabid gerbil, and Rob Gronkowski’s bloodied forearm cast. This sucks for Brady, of course, but it makes for some incredibly entertaining television, especially when Brady single-handedly elevates that chicken shit into something passably gourmet. Sunday night in Atlanta was one of those times.
I’m not saying the NFL takes itself too seriously, but there’s this video called "Bledsoe to Brady: The Hit That Changed History" on its website. There’s no question that when Mo Lewis leveled Drew Bledsoe in 2001, it changed the course of one professional football team’s immediate future, but history?! C’mon, man!
It also changed the future of Tom Brady. He quickly evolved into one of the most successful and most tactically proficient passers in the league’s history. Over the past decade or so even those who spend their free time stabbing Brady voodoo dolls have to admit that when Brady and the Patriots offense are firing on all cylinders it's one of the great sights in sports. Well, that’s not happening so far this year, and even the biggest Pats fans have to admit that these last two games have been tough to watch.
Week 2 awards, Week 3 waiver-wire advice, and a flying pig to boot.
Michael Vick had an incredibly productive game on Sunday, and his stats don’t begin to tell the story. While a line that includes 428 yards, a 63.9 completion percentage, two passing touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown is certainly nothing to scoff at, it’s veritable chump change compared to what Vick left on the table.
@ChrisWesseling That's even conservative. Counted a potential 69-yarder (just out of bounds), 79-yarder (drop) and 37-yarder (penalty).
The three plays listed above — a would-be 68-yard touchdown that DeSean Jackson caught with his right foot slightly out of bounds; a 37-yard touchdown to Jackson that was nullified because of a penalty on tackle Lane Johnson; and a would-be 79-yard touchdown that Jackson juuuuust missed — all could have easily gone the Eagles’ way, turning a defeat into victory and Vick’s 33-point fantasy performance into a 40- or even 50-point day.
Regardless, it’s more clear than ever that Chip Kelly’s coaching can bolster his offensive personnel's fantasy value, largely because of the sheer amount of plays Kelly tends to run per game. More plays mean more chances to gain yards and score points, and not surprisingly, the Eagles are third in the NFL in points scored and second in total yards through two weeks.
Of course, more plays also mean more chances to get injured, and the most salient takeaway from the Eagles-Chargers game was that Vick got "shaken up" by Chargers defensive end Jarius Wynn late in the fourth quarter, triggering a Nick Foles appearance. Granted, Foles’s one play (an incompletion) was mandated by league rules, but it was surely a sobering sight for Vick owners, who would have to be a remarkably na´ve bunch not to believe they’ll be seeing a lot more of Foles as the season progresses.