Tuesday, September 30, 2003

WEEK 4: We're (technically) #1 (again)!

Washington 20, New England 17.

After yet another cardiac Sunday for Redskins fans, the Skins did just enough to best the Patriots. Sure, the win over New England wasn't the blowout it should have been. And yeah, Washington has won its three games by a grand total of eight points. And I'll even concur that the Skins cannot continue their commitment to thoughtless penalties. And let it be said that Washington has yet to establish itself as a feared force in the NFL.

But we're 3 and 1. You know who has a better record than us? I'll tell you: Minnesota (4-0), Denver (4-0), Indianapolis (4-0), Kansas City (4-0), Carolina (3-0), and Seattle (3-0). That's six teams out of 30, with Tennessee equaling the Skins' record. My point? Despite our silly slipups, questionable play calls, and occasionally porous defense, we're in the upper echelon of the NFL. We're sittin' in the good seats, watching the preseason favorites (Rams, Bills, San Francisco, Oakland) struggle to stay over .500. The view's nice from here. Plus the stadium staff brings you your food.

And yep, Redskins fans are full of themselves, even though our reign over the NFC East is by virtue of New York's bye week. Who cares?

I didn't get a chance to see much of the game beyond highlights, so instead I'll run through a few NFL results from Week 4...

Kansas City 17, Baltimore 10. Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark. After holding down Priest "Marshall Faulk" Holmes and the league's most prolific offense, the Ravens' weaknesses were exposed in just under two minutes. In that time three crucial events occurred: (1) Baltimore kicked off but had to redo the kick because of an offsides penalty; (2) Dante "Headin' to the Hawaii" Hall took the re-kick to the house; and (3) Kyle "Waiver Wire" Boller chucked his third interception. Coach Billick should have his special teams squad--and Kyle Boller--running laps around Owings Mills.

The Ravens remind me a wee of the Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. Everybody knew that His Airness was going to score, and score a lot. Opposing teams didn't worry about that so much as limiting the other players on the floor, knowing that Jordan couldn't (or shouldn't) score 60+ points alone. Every team that Baltimore faces should take the same approach: let Jamal Lewis get his 100 yards and a touchdown...but look Kyle and the Ravens receivers in the eye and dare them to win the game.

Tennessee 30, Pittsburgh 13. What in the name of Moses did Steve McNair eat for breakfast? For those who missed the stats line, here it is: 15 of 16, 161 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions. Those are Madden NFL numbers against the well-regarded Steelers defense. And this was after dislocating a finger, breaking a hip, and losing an eye last week! I exaggerate, but this kid McNair has returned to the "Air McNair" the league game-planned for when he came into the league. Now, though, his dangerousness is less in the yards he throws for and more in his ability to make the impossible possible. For my money, he's the best active QB in the game. (I know Peyton Manning also had a PlayStation moment against New Orleans, but Manning pales next to McNair's consistency, toughness, and accuracy.)

Atlanta 3, Carolina 23. Not much to add here, except that the Panthers are still slept on in the eyes of pundits and prognosticators. Their D is fearsome and their offense gets it done old-school style by running football all day and mistake-free passing. I love the Redskins' offense and our record, but I sure miss the 300+ rushing yards Mr. Stephen Davis has put up this season. Oh yeah--Atlanta is in deep, deep doo-doo now. I feel for these guys, because they were one of the early bandwagon teams; you know, the one that everybody follows though you have no particular ties to the team. Michael "Coverboy" Vick may return (probably at 85% strength) to a team that's so far below .500 that they are no longer in contention.

Sentinals 103, Young Avengers 108/ Damage, Inc. 108, Tha Hitmen 86. In steely fashion my two Fantasy Football squads--the Avengers and Damage--both put up 108 points to improve their records to 3-1. The Young Avengers earned their points behind the Panthers defense (39 points), Mike Vanderjagt (19 points), and Joey Harrington (20 points), barely holding off the Sentinals power team of Rich Gannon and LaDainian Thomlinson (34 and 39 points, respectively). Damage, Inc., named after the sleeper Metallica 80s anthem, put it down on my very own brother Roy's Hitmen squad. Everybody on my team scored, from Marvin Harrison (26 points) to my sleeper WR Bobby Shaw (11 points) to my other sleeper WR Tai Streets (10 points). The amazing part of the Damage, Inc. win is that, after four weeks of playing, I still have no idea how points are scored. I just earn 'em, baby.

NEXT UP: Washington at Philadelphia. I don't like the Eagles. They're ugly and their mother dresses them funny. Nonetheless, I'm worried about this game, particularly after Philly beat the improved Buffalo Bills squad. Every year the Eagles manage to steal a game from the Skins in frustrating fashion. It might be Donovan "Chunky Soup" McNabb scrambling for a 65-yard touchdown, or James Thrash having an unbelievable, unrepeatable day against Fred Smoot. Washington has great momentum, and every reason to further their reign in the East. Heck, the Eagles are even going to lose safety Brian Dawkins for the game. I dunno what it'll be, but I get bad vibes from this game. Makes my toes itch. Skins win by two, 30-28.

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