How'd I do so far in week 3? Let's take a look.
• 1) I want to pat myself on the back. I predicted Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook as co-MVPs of the Eagles-Lions game, but McNabb as the undisputed Offensive Player of the Week. Westbrook got 3 TDs and 221 total yards. McNabb got 381 passing yards, 4 TDs, no INTs. My prediction for Westbrook's stats were a bit short, but I had McNabb's TD/INTs right on the money, and my yards were off by 7. All I got wrong were his completions/attempts; which I overestimated on both, and that's what's truly amazing about McNabb's performance. He got all those yards on only 26 passing attempts. That's a 14.7 YPA! Tom Brady has been putting up easy MVP numbers so far, and he's "only" averaging 10.1; he didn't break 10 at all last season, and neither Brady, Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, nor Drew Brees have ever gotten so high a figure. A+ for me, even though the score was off.
- 2) Fungushnitzel, you may use mustard. He said he'd eat his shorts if the Steelers put up 34 on the Niners, as I had predicted. My final score was off by a combined 7 points, not bad at all. But as I predicted in the comments, one TD was defensive. Another was on special teams. My MVP was Willie Parker, who got the yards (I was only off by 5), but not the TDs. With no other dominating performances, I'd have to say that was correct. Another A+.
- 3) New England-Buffalo went pretty much as predicted, except worse for Buffalo. If the Bears' injury report is a novel, the Bills' is The Grapes of Wrath. The only thing I did wrong was picking someone other than Brady as the MVP (though my pick Maroney did break 100 yards). For that, I knock myself down to a simple A.
- 4) In Kurt Warner's "Remember Me?" game, I had the score almost perfectly with 12:02 to go in the fourth. Then Arizona scored 10 more points, and Baltimore needed a last-second field goal to win it. My MVP, Chris McAllister, led the team with the 6 tackles I predicted, but he didn't get those 2 INTs. The real MVP would have to be Corey Ivy: 5 tackles, a sack, FF, FR, 2 PDs. Close enough for a B+.
- 5) After their showing last week, I was surprised how few people picked the Browns to beat the Raiders - I thought my 7-pick Oakland victory was a little outside the box. But the lack of respect was well-deserved. More points were scored than I predicted, and the MVP was probably the resurgent LaMont Jordan, but Kirk Morrison did get his 3rd INT as predicted. Also B+.
- 6) I had a startling realization last night. While I hate the Cowboys on principle, I really don't hate any of their players. Romo, Barber, and Ware are all guys I like a lot and want to see succeed (and Romo's looking like maybe the best QB in the conference right now). I don't even hate Owens - he thoroughly entertains me when he's in a good mood. Maybe my wannabe journalism is causing me to be far more impartial than I ever was. Anyway, I had a Cowboys win over the Bears, which I underestimated in the score department. Roy Williams wasn't close to Game MVP-I'd give it to Anthony Henry. Just a B here.
- 7) And then there were three games that were much closer than my prediction, but the pick was correct. Both also lacked a clear MVP. The first was Colts-Texans, which I daresay Houston would have won if Andre Johnson had been healthy. Schaub looks as good as advertised. I had the Colts by 15, they won by 6. Addai was the fantasy MVP, but 73 yards on 3.3 YPC isn't that good. Manning was solid, but when your name is Peyton Manning, you need 300 yards to be MVP. Marlin Jackson had 12 tackles, but when a CB gets tackles, it means that a lot of the time, their guy caught the ball (I didn't see the game, so I can't be sure who he tackled, but I'm guessing at least 6 of those were on the guy he was covering). So I'd have to give it to Gary Brackett, I guess, with 7 tackles, a PD and an INT at the Colts' 3 yard line. My pick, Reggie Wayne, did lead the Colts in receiving yardage, but not by enough to get the honor. I get a B-.
- 8) The second was Jets-Dolphins, which turned out to be won by a field goal, not the 13 points I'd predicted. I predicted the Kerry Rhodes pick, but the problem is I had him down for another one, as well as 4 more tackles. He certainly wasn't the game MVP. Given the lack of eye-popping stats on the Jets, I'd actually give my first Game MVP to a losing player, Ronnie Brown, who kept Jesse Chatman touchless in a convincing attempt to further prove that I'm not psychic. Another B-.
- 9) The third was Panthers-Falcons. I laugh at anyone who is suddenly saying that Joey Harrington has what it takes; all he proved is that he can have one good game against a team who's been decidedly average so far. And he still didn't win. I made the obvious Game MVP pick in Steve Smith, who ended up getting shut down for once. Way off. Instead, it'd have to go to DeShaun Foster, who ran a very good game. For having Smith's yardage totals off by 160, I get a C.
- 10) I was generally correct in saying that "Seattle doesn't have the secondary to stop Chad and T.J., and they don't have the offensive firepower to outscore [Cincinnati]." Chad and T.J. got 279 yards combined, and Seattle didn't win in a shootout. They won by holding Rudi Johnson to 0.5 yards per carry, and getting a couple of INTs off of Palmer, who I had as the Game MVP. The quote of the week sums up the attitude of co-MVPs Brian Russell and Deon Grant, who each got a pick and combined for 12 tackles and 3 PDs. "They gave us this money ... but we haven't done nothing. So I said, ‘Let's turn it on." It was a close game, so I'll go easy on myself and take a C-.
- 11) The combined score of Kansas City-Minnesota was almost 4 times what I predicted-which was still only 23 points. As I figured, Larry Johnson was completely dominated, getting only 1.8 YPC. But some good passing from Damon Huard to Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe put enough points on the board for the Chiefs to win it, thanks to Minnesota's offensive ineptitude. MVP: Jared Allen, with 8 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 PDs, and a FF. I'll give myself a C- here, because my only fault was underestimating Huard.
- 12) Also close, but no cigar: the frustrating Skins-Giants game. I do have to say, with a bit of bias, that Derrick Frost has to be one of the best punters in the game. Of the top 10 in average yardage, only Andy Lee of San Francisco has a lower average return. Frost is true to his name - he consistently puts frost on the ball with amazingly high kicks. But that's small consolation when your center gets called for consecutive penalties on a last-minute drive, and you can't make it 5 yards into the end zone on three plays. The Giants did a good job containing the Skins' receivers, only surrendering one of the many big plays I predicted, and that one was all Campbell and Moss - the coverage was pretty decent. In a defense-happy week, Mathias Kiwanuka was the Game MVP with 2 sacks, 7 tackles, and a FF. It was a 1-TD game as predicted, so I get a D+, which is better than Casey Rabach gets.
- 13) I had San Diego's score exactly right, but Green Bay's was off by 17. My Game MVP, Shawne Merriman, didn't pull a single solo tackle, and of course, the Chargers lost. Easy choice MVP is Favre, who now shares the career TD record with Marino. D+ for me.
- 14) It seems nobody wants the AFC West crown, with only the Raiders playing above expectations. Denver stunk it up against Jacksonville, whose run defense is back to its normal self after giving up a mystifying number of yards in week 1. My MVP, D.J. Williams, didn't have a bad game, but wasn't close to even being the best on the losing team. The true MVP might be Garrard, who showed the mobility Leftwich never had. No one on defense got more than 4 tackles or had a hand in more than one turnover, and no one broke 85 yards rushing or 45 receiving. So yeah, I'll give it to Garrard. And myself a D.
- 15) And my stinker of the week, Tampa Bay's annihilation of St. Louis, which I had going the other way by seven points. Fantasy owners: bench Marc Bulger; the guy is hurt after getting battered in weeks 1 and 2, physically and psychologically, and won't heal unless he sits for a few games. A healthy Bulger DOES NOT throw 3 picks. Who the hell is Earnest Graham? The game MVP (with all due respect to Barrett Ruud) thanks to 2 TDs on 9.4 YPC, but other than that, we may find out in the coming weeks.
Tonight I've got Tennessee by two, outlasting the emotional advantage of New Orleans at home. We'll see how that goes.