Blood on the Gridiron: Moss, Crocs and NFL Picks Week 5
New England Patriots
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I don’t know what surprises me more: The fact that the New England Patriots traded Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings, or that the majority of local fans and media believe the trade is the beginning of the end for the 2010 Patriots. It’s worth mentioning that at least one well-known media personality believes the opposite.
The Sports Hub’s own Michael Felger has been a notably outspoken critic of Moss for years and deserves credit, along with co-host Tony Massarotti, for at least attempting to put the Moss trade in perspective while everyone else seems to be headed towards the Zakim, Bourne, Sagamore and Calvin Coolidge bridges.
The sky is not falling in New England. Calm down, everybody.
I have not witnessed such mass hysteria around here since…I don’t know when. I cannot believe that the Pats trading Moss the Vikings means that they’ve given up on the 2010 season. This is not going to “torpedo” the Patriots offense, and can we please put a stop to all this talk about a “bridge year?”
One local online poll had almost 70 percent of voters saying they “hated” the Moss trade. Conversely, a similar online poll run by a national sports behemoth had 85% of voters stating that the Patriots will make the playoffs without Moss.
Look, I’m as much of a homer as the next guy. I loved watching Moss play for the Patriots. The Brady-to-Moss connection was good for over 50 touchdowns and 3,900 yards receiving in just over three seasons in New England.
What’s not to love about that? It’s entirely possible that we may never see a wide receiver as talented as Moss come through Foxboro again.
But the Patriots are a “team first” organization. I don’t know how many times Bill Belichick said the word “team” in his Thursday press conference, but it was a lot and the message was clear.
The success of the Patriots is, and will be, dependent upon how they perform as a complete team.Not as individuals that make up a team- that’s baseball- but a team that communicates openly and honestly, and works together toward a common goal.
After the Patriots’ dominating performance against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1, Randy Moss dedicated his post-game press conference to himself. It was some of the most selfish and un-Patriot-like behavior I have ever witnessed.
In his Thursday introductory press conference in Minnesota, Moss probably used the word “business” as many times as Belichick used the word “team.”
I understand this is a business, Randy. We all do. But when did organizational success and personal financial success become mutually exclusive? Both business and team success are built on the principle that everyone will work together (although someone clearly forgot to mention this to Wall Street two years ago).
When an employee is focused on his or her own individual gain above the organization’s goals, then the company is the one that suffers. At this point it, becomes the obligation of the team leaders to address the situation and, in some instances, remove said individual so everyone can focus on the goal and not be poisoned by the toxicity of one person.
So please, spare me with the “His teammates loved him” garbage. Randy Moss was a team captain in 2009 and if his teammates really “loved” him, they would have made him a captain again in 2010. They didn’t.
Tony Massarotti had an excellent observation during Wednesday’s broadcast. Mazz pointed out that the Patriots were a veteran team and perennial Super Bowl contender when the team traded for Moss back in 2007.
It stands to reason that departed players like Rodney Harrison, Teddy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour could no longer be counted on to help manage a volatile personality like Moss, and that added to this year’s distractions.
The 2010 Patriots are primarily a young team hoping to become perennial Super Bowl contenders in the near future. Moss was a veteran on this team until Wednesday, and it would appear that he could not be expected to live up to the example of leadership established by the aforementioned Patriot greats.
NFL Predictions Week 5
Last Week: 4-2
Kansas City Chiefs (+7 ½) at Indianapolis Colts: If there are two teams in the NFL everyone is wondering about, it’s the Chiefs and Colts. Are the Chiefs for real? Is there 3-0 record a fluke? How will they fair in their first legitimate test since a Week 1 thumping of San Diego? Conversely, are the Colts as mediocre as their 2-2 record suggests? Are the Colts Super Bowl contenders? The Indianapolis offense is ranked 2nd in the league in points scored but they’ve been bitten by the injury bug and have lost to a mediocre, albeit up-and-coming, Texans team and the lowly Jaguars (don’t let the Jag’s 2-2 record fool you. They were 7-9 in 2009 and will be lucky to win seven in 2010). The Chiefs are coming off a bye week and are ranked 2nd in the league in points allowed. I like Romeo Crennels’ track record against Peyton Manning and I like Charlie Weis’ chances against a defense ranked 23rd in the league for points allowed. Prediction: Chiefs
Green Bay Packers (-2 ½) at Washington Redskins: It would seem that the presence of Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb have helped to stabilize Washington franchise. It’s ironic that with wins over Dallas and Philadelphia and losses to Houston and St. Louis they seem destined to become more like their Jekyll and Hyde Redskin predecessors. The Packers are legit despite injuries. They have one of the best young quarterbacks in the game and, even on the road, should be able to handle the Redskins Prediction: Packers
San Diego Chargers (+5 ½) at Oakland Raiders: If there is one thing you can say about Philip Rivers, it’s that he knows how to beat up on the little guys. Rivers, whom I continue to believe is one of the most overrated QBs in the NFL, has never lost to the Raiders since becoming San Diego’s starting QB in 2006. That’s a perfect 8-0, by the way. Oakland has to be one of the worst managed professional sports franchises in the world. Certainly they are the worst managed pro sports team in America. Since their 11-5 AFC Championship campaign of 2002, the Raiders haven’t won more than 5 games in a single season. From 2003-2009 they have won exactly 29 regular season games. By comparison, the Chargers have won 71 regular season games and the Patriots have won 87 regular season games during the same time period. The Chargers come into the game with a 2-2 record and losses to Kansas City and Seattle. But this is the Raiders we’re talking about. Prediction: Chargers
New Orleans Saints (-6 ½) at Arizona Cardinals: Two teams that seem to be headed in polar opposite directions. The Saints, as expected, are atop their division with a 3-1 record. Their only loss came from a last second FG/heartbreaker on the road in Atlanta. The Cardinals are near the bottom of the league in almost every significant statistical category but they’ve managed a 2-2 record with wins at St. Louis and at home against the worst team in professional sports. They’ve got too many questions, a good coach and a quarterback that is unproven, not to mention not very good. Prediction: Saints
Tennessee Titans (+6 ½) at Dallas Cowboys: If there is one thing you can count on from this blog it’s that I will consistently pick against the Cowboys and/or Jets (though the Jets did add to my win column last week). It’s difficult for me to go against a team coming off a bye week, especially one stacked with outstanding on-field personnel, but it’s the Cowboy’s off-field personnel that continues to give me pause. Wade Phillips does not exactly instill confidence but, then again, I’d be nervous too if my boss was constantly shadowing my every move from sideline to locker room.
The Titans will have their hands full against Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Jason Whitten and Dez Bryant and their secondary is banged but safety, Michael Griffin is playing smart and aggressive football for Tennessee on defense and special teams. Griffin’s 28 solo tackles through 4 games is a not only a team-high but it puts him on pace to double his previous season high (53 solo tackles in 2009).
Highly-touted former OSU Cowboy, Bryant has yet to make an impact (or score a touchdown) with the Cowboys which begs the question; why would a team with two deep threats at receiver use their first round draft pick on a deep threat receiver with character issues? This isn’t going to be Bryant’s breakout performance, either as former Texas Longhorn, Griffin is probably awaiting the opportunity to introduce himself to former OSU Cowboy, Bryant. Tennessee is ranked in the Top Ten in both points scored and points allowed (meaning they don’t give up a lot of points to their opponents). Prediction: Titans
Monday Night Football: Minnesota Vikings (+4 ) at New York Jets
Minnesota is 1-2 and coming off a bye-week. They have held opponents to 38 points in those three games and haven’t allowed a single team (Saints, Dolphins and Lions) to score more than 14 points in one game. The Vikings defense is currently ranked 2nd in the league in points allowed but there is a significant disparity between the team’s offensive and defensive numbers. The Vikings offense has yet to click and hasn’t scored more than 10 points in a single game this season (ranked 30th in points scored) despite boasting Pro Bowlers Adrian Petersen, Brett Favre and Percy Harvin.
Of course, the Vikings took a very significant step towards addressing their offense woes this week by adding WR Randy Moss. Moss will give Favre the deep threat he’s missed in Sydney Rice’s absence. The timing of the Moss trade could not have come at a better time for Favre as several media outlets are reporting on a Deadspin.com story that Favre sent sexually explicit text messages to a Jet’s employee when he was the QB in New York during the 2008 season.
Favre won’t be wearing Crocs or texting Moss on Monday Night and even though Moss has been dogged his entire career by criticism that he only plays up to his ability when he feels like it, something tells me he’s going to be up for this game.
These guys are professionals but they’re also human. If Moss is ready and Favre isn’t too distracted by the alleged controversy and or too bothered by his ankle and right elbow – he’s currently listed on the Viking’s Injury Report as “FP” or full participation in practice – this could be a very interesting Monday night match-up in the Meadowlands.
The Jets are 3-1 and ranked in the top ten in the league for points scored and points allowed but the Vikings have too much to lose this week. A lot of “buts,” I know. Prediction: Vikings
*Note: My weekly NFL picks are strictly for entertainment purposes. I don’t bet on football but obviously you’re free to do whatever you damn well please. As always, thanks to CBS Sports for providing me with great websites for research and the odds used in this blog. I’m not getting paid to write or shill here, folks, I truly like CBS’s frequently updated NFL Odds page. Check it out: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/odds