Monday, November 20, 2006

NFL Thoughts, Week 11

Although my wife would disagree, the time is long overdue for some self-congratulations, for I will win my pool this week, regardless of Monday night's action. I’d like to say that my victory is the product of dogged preparation and the cerebral application of lessons learned, but I don’t even do either of those things in school, let alone in real life. For instance, I’m coming up on the end of my Competitive Analysis class, taught by Professor Severinov, and the only thing I’ve taken away is how odd it is to be lectured on the finer points of succeeding in a free-market system by a man with a Soviet/KGB-style accent. If I close my eyes, it honestly sounds like the class is being taught by Ivan Drago. Though Professor S. is quite obviously a genius, in ten years from now, if anyone asks me what I learned in Competitive Analysis, I will probably respond with, “If he dies, he dies.”

Not only was it a gratifying week analytically, I also experienced some good old-fashioned visceral joy at the expense of St Louis. Seemingly nothing could go wrong for my Panthers in their one-sided triumph over the Rams—except, of course, a ton. Consider the following Carolina gaffes:

1. Three defensive off-sides penalties. This might seem minor, but I’ve always considered off-sides penalties to be an unforgivable sin when you’re playing at home, and I know at least my father will agree with me. In fact, while growing up I probably learned half of my swear word vocabulary by listening to him curse out the Giants for doing this.
2. Two, two, interceptions in the end zone. And the second was thrown by Keyshawn Johnson, in yet another horrible, overly hands-on play-call by John Fox—why does he keep trying to do these silly stunts!? Seriously, you’ve got Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson out there—just throw it to them NORMALLY, for goodness’ sake!
3. A long drive negated by a fumble giveaway on the Rams’ 5-yard line.
4. A touchdown negated by an ineligible receiver downfield.
5. An 80-yard kickoff return negated by an illegal block.
6. A Steve Smith touchdown celebration negated by him needing to vomit into a trash can (note: this didn’t really impact the game, but I hope Smith gets over his flu nevertheless).

So even though we won comfortably, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Holt and Bruce mysteriously dropped a bunch of passes, and a beat-up Rams line allowed seven sacks. We were lucky more than we were good this week, and it was either 17th century French philosopher Rene Decartes or Jeff Daniels’ character in the movie Speed who once said, “Luck will only get you so far and then it will get you dead.”

Offensive Player of the Week: It’s hard not to give it to Buffalo Bills WR Lee Evans, who caught 11 passes for an astonishing 265 yards and 2 TD’s. On the other hand, he did it against Houston in a game that was about as meaningful as a David Lynch film. So I’m going to go with RB Frank Gore, who ran for 212 yards and who has single-handedly restored the 49ers to long-lost relevance. Special Offensive Player of the Bi-Week Award to Chad Johnson, who’s gone for 450 yards in the last two games.

Defensive Player of the Week: The Bears’ Brian Urlacher bailed out his team with a critical interception in the end zone and contributed 10 tackles in a nip-and-tuck win over Gang Green. In business school, we call that “adding value” (or “creating value,” or, in some cases, “growing value”).

Gotta run! I’m sorry this week’s thoughts are shorter than usual, but my in-laws are in town, so my time to do what matters most, i.e. watch televised sports, has been limited. Instead my wife’s got me on my best behavior and engaged in activities I normally scoff at, such as socializing with others and remembering to flush the toilet.

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