Week 6 Picks

Sorry for being absent lately—we are in the process of buying a beautiful home with a big recreation room. From that room, I’ll be a football watching/blogging fiend J

Here are my (mostly) uneducated picks for Week 6!

-- my picks in pink --

San Diego Chargers @ St. Louis Rams

Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans

Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles

Detroit Lions @ NY Giants

Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears

Miami Dolphins @ Green Bay Packers

Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers

NY Jets @ Denver Broncos

Oakland Raiders @ San Francisco 49ers

Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings

Indianapolis Colts @ Washington Redskins

Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Wildcat Offense: Sounds Scary!

All season I keep hearing sports commentators talk about the WILDCAT OFFENSE. They keep mentioning it, and they act like it’s something special, so I figured I’d better look into it.

Here’s what I’ve found:

There isn’t a quarterback!

I was STUNNED when I learned this. I thought you couldn’t play football without a QB, but it turns out you can if you use this offense. Normally, the ball would get snapped to the quarterback, who would handoff or pass the ball. With the wildcat offense, the quarterback sits on the sidelines and watches the ball get snapped (in some cases) directly to the runningback. The runningback can run the ball, hand it off to another player, or throw it. Since there isn’t a quarterback playing, teams can sometimes put in an extra offensive lineman, making the defense weaker than when playing against a normal offense.

It’s confusing- to the defense AND to me!
I’ve been reading and reading about this, and it turns out the wildcat offense can do just about anything. The scenario I described above is just one option. Other times, they might leave the QB in to play as a receiver, or the runningback will throw the ball instead of the quarterback. But the versatility of the wildcat offense is what makes it so successful—the defense has a hard time defending against something so unpredictable. They never know whether the ball will be handed off, passed, rush, or thrown deep. And a defense that is confused equals an offense that can SCORE. Basically, the only thing you can count on with the wildcat is that the ball will not be snapped directly to the QB. Everything else is up for grabs.

It’s something old, something new, and something borrowed. But it’s not blue.

The NCAA has been using this offense for years, and the NFL used to use it as well, but over time phased it out. But, in 2008 the Miami Dolphins became famous with the wildcat offense, when they won their divison in a dramatic way (note: their division includes perennial favorites the New England Patriots). They ended up losing in the first round of the playoffs, but 2008 is remembered as the revival of the wildcat. Now, in 2010 it is not uncommon to see many NFL teams switching to the wildcat on any given game day.  This explains why the commentators talk about it so much: it’s being used all the time.


1)   It looks like this:

2)   Ball not snapped to the QB
3)  It’s a big deal

Gals, that’s the best I could do. The wildcat offense is complicated and can be used in a variety of ways. I just couldn’t get it all into a blog post.

Got any wisdom to contribute to this topic? I’d love to hear it!

Week 3 Pick'ems

UPDATED: I picked 9 of 14 games correctly. My husband picked 10 of 14 correctly, so I lose again (0-3 for the season so far). I'm getting better each week, so I still have hope.

Here are my (mostly) uneducated picks for Week 3!

-My picks in pink, correct picks are bolded-

Tennessee Titans @ NY Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cincinnati Bengals @ Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens

Dallas Cowboys @ Houston Texans

San Francisco 49ers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints

Washington Redskins @ St. Louis Rams

Philadelphia Eagles @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Oakland Raiders @ Arizona Cardinals

San Diego Chargers @ Seattle Seahawks

Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos

NY Jets @ Miami Dolphins

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears (I hate this because I LOVE the Bears)

The Most Basic Rule of All

Girls, I didn’t know I needed to write this post until today. I thought everyone knew The Most Basic Rule of All, but apparently some people do not.

Here’s where I went today:

This is Neyland Stadium, home of the Tennessee Volunteers. You can enjoy college football with 102,459 of your closest friends. It’s the third largest football stadium in the U.S.

Out of 102,459 people, you are bound to find a few you dislike. And I found one lady right beside me that I definitely disliked. All through the game she kept a running football commentary, but it soon became obvious she knows less about football than I do. In fact, she knows less about football than most people (side note- If you don’t know anything about football, that’s okay. I’m cool with that. Just don’t pretend you do know a bunch of stuff when you don’t).

Here’s what happened: The opposing team challenged the referee, saying that the Tennessee Volunteers had 12 men on the field during an important play.

THE MOST BASIC RULE OF FOOTBALL: At any time during the game, you must have 11 players, and only 11 players on the field. If you have more, it is a icky penalty. 11 players, that’s how many are on the field for each team. Put that in your heads girls! Now you know!

This woman didn’t know The Most Basic Rule of All. But she pretended she did by loudly exclaiming, “Oh, hell, they BETTER HAVE HAD 12 players on the field!!!”

Um, annoying lady, no. 12 players on the field would be a penalty and would be a horrible thing. You have officially committed a FOOTBALL FAIL. Better luck with The Most Basic Rule of All next time.

Despite the annoying know-it-all lady’s running commentary, the Tennessee Vols managed to win the game in double overtime, 32-29. GO VOLS!

Week 3 Look Ahead

This year I made the incredibly poor decision to compete with my husband. We are doing “straight pick’ems”—this means we each just pick the winner of each game, and whoever picks the most games correctly wins. So far, I am 0-2. I have got to step it up this week!

Here are my thoughts for the upcoming week:

A Notable Game:
Dallas @ Houston

Dallas is probably the biggest disappointment of the season, based on their 0-2 record. They certainly haven’t lived up to the pre-season hype. Houston is the complete opposite—they weren’t expected to get far at all, but they are 2-0 with a win against Peyton Manning and the Colts. These teams aren’t in the same division, but a win by Houston will put them squarely on top of their division; Dallas’s corresponding loss would plummet them into an 0-3 hole. There is a lot on the line for both teams!

A Player To Watch:
Michael Vick

Are you familiar with Michael Vick? He was a college star at Virginia Tech, and continued to be notable as he moved to the NFL. And then it was discovered that he was a huge asshole. He was breeding and fighting dogs. I HATE HATE people who hurt dogs. Vick ended up in jail. He deserved it, in my dog-loving opinion. Anyways, he has returned to the NFL as the back-up QB for the Eagles. After the starting QB was injured last week, Vick had a stellar performance in a victory over the Detroit Lions. Here’s the question: can he repeat it against the Jaguars?

Rooting for the Underdog:

Seattle Seahawks

As a girl, I reserve the right to pick teams based on anything—from their outstanding offensive line to their team colors and cute QBs. So this week I’m rooting for the Seahawks. My reason is this: I spent 3 years living in Washington State, so I like the Seahawks. The End. They are expected to lose to the San Diego Chargers, but I hope they can find a way to pull out a win!

Which team do you always secretly root for? 

Playing it safe

I’ve been watching football for most of my life, but I only recently figured out the job of the safety. You’ve probably heard of the safety, but do you really know what he does? I sure didn’t!

Here is what I’ve learned:

First, this player is a member of the defense. He is keeping the end zone “safe” from the opposing team’s offense. Make no mistake; these guys are ready to tackle anybody in their path.

Second, they line up at the very back of the field. They are the last line of defense against a crazy good running back who has the end zone in his sights.

See them in the back boxes?

Sometimes they line up slightly differently, but you get the idea.

Third, they can come in two different varieties: the STRONG SAFETY and the FREE SAFETY. Sometimes the offense will line up with more hard-hitting players on one side of the field. The strong safety is bigger and better suited to defend this half of the field. The free safety is on the other side, and will usually go back to cover a sneaky receiver who has made his way downfield. Here is something to be aware of—while there is usually a free and strong safety, there doesn’t always have to be. Sometimes they each just pick half of the field to defend.

Enough technical muckety-muck! Let’s see some of these safeties!

Ronnie Lott: Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2000

This guy is a classic—he played for the 49ers for 10 seasons, and finished up his career with the Raiders and Jets. He had 100+ tackles in five different seasons and snatched 63 interceptions during his career. I’d say his spot in the Hall of Fame is well deserved.

Troy Polumalu: Pittsburgh Steelers, 2000-present

You’ve definitely noticed this safety before because of his long crazy hair! (that and his 2 Super Bowl Championships with the Steelers!) He’s a strong safety for the Steelers, and he has racked up 22 interceptions and almost 500 tackles so far. I’d hate to be facing him on the field. Since he is only mid-career, we’ll probably get to watch Polumalu for several more seasons. BONUS: We share a birthday!

Have you ever wondered what a safety was? Do you have a favorite safety you want to give a shout out to?

Everyone's Gotta Play by the Rules

The NFL is constantly changing the rules of the game. Now, a field goal will always be worth 3 points, and a personal foul will always result in a 15 yard penalty. Those rules won’t change.

But here is a rule being hotly contested this week:

N.F.L. Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1: Going to the ground. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

What does all this mumbo jumbo mean? Basically, if a receiver catches a pass, but drops it upon his fall to the ground, it’s an incomplete pass.

This rule ripped the heart out of the Detroit Lions this week in this infamous clip:

If you had your eagle eyes on, you saw that Calvin Johnson caught a pass from the Lions QB, Shaun Hill. Then, as he went to the ground, he let the ball drop.

Next thing you know, the referee had declared the pass incomplete, and denied the game-winning touchdown for Lions—all based on N.F.L. Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1.

What can I say? That’s the rule, gals. Did Calvin Johnson have possession of the ball? Absolutely. I think he just figured the play was over, dropped the ball, and got up to celebrate VICTORY.

But he let it drop a little too soon, and the Lions lost on the most questionable ruling of the day. I think Calvin Johnson will hold onto his passes a little tighter for the rest of the season, or at least until the NFL decides to change the rules again.

For more about the Ground Rule Controversy (a continuing theme from the 2009 season), check out this article from the New York Times:


And to the Detroit Lions, I wish nothing but the best as they continue their season and attempt to break their 21 game road losing streak. Sorry that the rules gotcha this time, Detroit!