|A pen(ny) for your thoughts|
By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist
-- R-Dub's NFL Proverb No. 198
Taking the points seems so obvious, but if you spin it a little bit, know how and where to tweak it, you can really start to knock something down.
A simple System? Play all six-point-or-more dogs. With certain caveats:
First, throw out your Cutesy-Darling Game. Your Cutesy-Darling Game is the one involving a team you like to play, or a team you root for, have an emotional investment in, a game you really want, in your soul. Throw that one game out, if it's among the six-point favorite games, and play the rest.
Problem is, there aren't that many six-point dogs any more, owing to that highly thrown blanket. So, we advise you take any 5½-point dog as well.
In Week 6, there were five games with teams that were 6-point favorites or more. We added two games in which teams were 5½-point dogs. The dogs were Baltimore (plus 7 at Indy), Houston (plus 7½ hosting Buffalo), Green Bay (plus 5½ at New England), Atlanta (plus 5½ at New York Giants) St. Louis (plus 9 hosting Oakland), Cincinnati (plus 6½ hosting Pittsburgh) and Cleveland (plus 7 at Tampa Bay). Let's say your Cutesy-Darling Game was the Ravens vs. the Colts, or the Raiders vs. the Rams. In the latter case, any NFL team getting nine at home is not one you want to bet against, especially in a Mother-In-Law Game (any playoff game in a best-of-seven series where a team is going home after going down 0-2; or any NFL game involving an 0-5 or worse team, especially one including an angry Field Marshall Faulk).
I tossed the Ravens game out before kickoff, never looked back, went 4-2. If you'd discarded any game involving teams from the state of Ohio, you'd have had a perfect 5-0 week. Even throwing out Raiders-Rams, a perfectly good Mother-In-Law Game, you still go 4-2. You're the new Schwam.
Terrell Owens, WR, San Francisco 49ers: "Scream at Jeff Garcia, wave my arms at Mooch, mug for TV cameras, what else can I do to draw attention to me? Look, a Sharpie pen! I know! I'll tag the Seahawk at midfield with a mustache and a black eye! No! I'll embarrass my friend Shawn Springs!"
Shawn Springs, DB, Seattle Seahawks: "That's just T.O. He doesn't mean any harm. Not much. Made fun of me in front of my friends, on national TV, showed me up, rubbed it in like he was seasoning barbeque ribs, but he's not obsessed with being the center of attention. Sure he isn't. He's not the most pitifully insecure athlete alive. No, really, he's not ... like hell he's not. What am I saying to me? I respect T.O. Too bad he doesn't know how to respect back. Don't think that way, Shawn. You're bigger than that. You need to be bigger than that on the other side of the field, and town, from T.O. But I'm weirdly drawn to being his friend. I'm more nuts than he is. I'll change my name to Jude Springs, because I am the new patron saint of lost causes."
John Mobley, LB, Denver Broncos: "How'd I miss that ball? How'd that last-second pick go right through my hands, over to Dedric and just stick to him like that? (deep sigh) Put it in God's hands. Better His than mine."
Mike Vanderjagt, PK, Indy Colts: "(lining up potential game-winning FG) This ... to beat Tiger ... for the win ... at the U.S. Open ... Vanderjagt, over the putt ... he eyes it ... he strokes it ... it's in the hole! It's in the hole! Ohmigod, David Faherty, listen to that crowd (open-mouthed hiss imitates crowd noise and he runs around celebrating made game-winning FG)!"
Brian Billick, coach, Baltimore Ravens: "I'm amazed, I'm in awe of the officials, for their ability to succinctly screw me over to keep me from being so great. Getting my drift here, or do I have to get Ray Lewis to draw you a picture? Does flaring my nostrils make me look tough and authoritative?"
Steve Spurrier, coach, Washington Redskins: "Smoot! Smoot! Awwwww, shoot Smoot! Haze-lit ain't blitzing as much as I thought ... Awwww, Patrick, don't tho' that in there like 'at! Awww ... special teams! Catch him, catch him! Aww. Dang, we are so slow! Next year, 'stead of good ol' boys, gotta stock up on fast ol' boys... Aw ... un#&%&!believable ..."
Patrick Ramsey, QB, Washington Redskins: "Ohhh, doctor ... even my eyelids are sore. Somebody get a crane. Somebody lift me out of this wreck."
Jim Haslett, coach, New Orleans Saints: (gives Spurrier dismissive limp-handshake before robustly embracing ex-Bills teammate Bruce Smith) "Yeahhh. Feels good. Damn good. Welcome to the NFL ... you all."
Rodney Peete, QB, Carolina Panthers: "Kill shot coming. Uhhnn! Whoa. It's all good ... and concussed. Hey, Tim Couch. Want sympathy and respect from the fans? Ha-ha. I'm married to Holly Robinson, got three sweet kids with her, make a phone-number wage. I really need the fans to respect me."
Joey Galloway, WR, Dallas Cowboys: "I am so bad. I am so fast. I nick up so easy. My muscles are built different. They must make allowances for that. I should not have to practice. Difference between me and Marvin Harrison, I'm bigger, faster, more talkative, he catches five or six more balls a game."
Jim Fassell coach, New York Giants: "Why would the in-laws come to visit this weekend, of all weekends? Well, I'm not going out. I don't care. Don't even ask, Hon. I look at your face right now and all I see is Ron Dayne."
Willie McGinest, LB, New England Patriots: "Why, when you say we can't stop the run, does everybody cut their eyes at me? Oh, it's my fault now? It wasn't my fault in February. What's changed? Me? Besides me, I mean."
Red McCombs, owner, Minnesota Vikings: "P-r-i-l-o-s-e-c. Do I have a prescription? Ask Mr. Benjamin Franklin here if a need a prescription."
Jerome Bettis, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: "I like it when I can get all this body mass rolling downhill before I draw contact. Let's go wide more; I know, it seems so ridiculous, but let's try to think out of the Bus here."
Anonymous person known as Lorenzo Neal, Position Withheld, possibly fullback though, Cincinnati Bengals: "I'm no bum. But we are. We are gutless, godforsaken, poster children for Ben-Gay. Our game plans are a joke; the only thing more disheveled than our spirits is our management. Leaving all of that out, what you have left is a pretty good football team."
Tim Couch, QB, Cleveland Browns (batting eyes at Jon Gruden): "You are such a great coach. ... I respect you ... but where do I belong? Chucky, I hang on your every word. Butch? Butch is ... Butch. Let's talk about us."
Jerry Rice, WR, Oakland Raiders: "Did everybody else on the team turn 40 today too? Ball slippin' outta Rich's hand all day. It bees like that sometime. Miss Wood. 20 got ate up by Ike and Torry ... last round-up ... hate it too."
Marshall Faulk, RB, St. Louis Rams: "Next question."
Mark Brunell, QB, Jax'ville Jaguars: "Career? Take mine if you want. I'm just a bluesman named Blind Staggers. I wrote a song. Want to hear it? Goes something like this. Oh, Baby, you up and left me, and took all the Tylenol."
Mark Boerigter, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: "Gonzalez vacuums coverage away. Man, I can get used to this. Two TDs. Who's the Man? Can tell from how Vermeil looks at me that he loves me. I'll encourage him. It's not leading him on. It's his choice to love me or not. All's far in love and ball. xoxo$$."
Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," with Spike Lee, "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."