Saturday, November 14, 2009
FRO's NFL Performance Rankings-Through Week 9
By Jon Wagner, Sr. Writer At-Large Football Reporters Online
While there are many power rankings out there based as much on hype, expectations, and too often, unrealized and inaccurate projections, at Football Reporters Online, we prefer to rank NFL teams on what's actually happened, taking into account only how teams have performed on the field and who they’ve played. At F.R.O., you won’t find yet another power ranking that doesn’t tell you much. Instead, here are the F.R.O. NFL Performance Rankings:
Through Week 9:
#1 SAINTS [8-0]: New Orleans is averaging 37.9 ppg and has won 7 games by double digits.
#2 COLTS [8-0]: 16-0 for the 2007 Patriots? How about 17 straight regular season wins and counting for Indy?
#3 STEELERS [6-2]: After a 1-2 start, Pittsburgh has won 5 straight to keep pace with the hot Bengals.
#4 VIKINGS [7-1]: Minnesota is positioning itself well for the playoffs, already at 5-0 in the NFC.
#5 PATRIOTS [6-2]: All those defensive defections? No problem. New England is allowing just 14.4 ppg.
#6 COWBOYS [6-2]: Dallas didn’t impress much in its 3-2 start, but has played very well since.
#7 BENGALS [6-2]: Cincinnati is looking like the comeback team of the year after a 4-11-1 season in 2008.
#8 BRONCOS [6-2]: After a 6-0 start, Denver has come crashing back to reality losing twice by a combined 58-17.
#9 CHARGERS [5-3] : After a 1-3 start, San Diego is heating up, going 3-0 since as the defense has stepped it up.
#10 CARDINALS [5-3]: Arizona should be a little better. The Cards are 4-0 on the road but just 1-3 at home.
#11 EAGLES [5-3]: Philadelphia has as inconsistent as any team, but remains in the playoff hunt halfway though.
#12 FALCONS [5-3]: Atlanta is 5-0 against teams with non-winning records, but 0-3 against winning teams.
MIRED IN MEDIOCRITY:
#13 TEXANS [5-4]: After a 2-3 start, Houston has played much better going 3-1 since, taking Indy to the wire.
#14 GIANTS [5-4]: Big Blue has gone from the NFL’s elite at 5-0, to four straight losses and trying to find itself.
#15 BALTIMORE [4-4]: Baltimore won three, then lost three, crushed Denver at home, but then lost at Cincy.
#16 JETS [4-4]: Gang Green started 3-0, but has gone 1-4 since, seemingly a myriad of different ways to lose.
#17 BEARS [4-4]: Chicago didn’t lose at home until last week (3-1), but has just one road win (1-3).
#18 PACKERS [4-4]: Minnesota (0-2 vs. the Vikings) and a bad loss at previously winless Tampa has cost Green Bay.
#19 JAGUARS [4-4]: Narrow three-point wins over the lowly Rams and Chiefs have kept Jacksonville alive for now.
#20 PANTHERS [3-5]: After an 0-3 start, Carolina went 3-1 and looked great, but just for a half, in New Orleans.
#21 49ERS [3-5]: It’s all fallen apart for San Francisco, which has lost four straight after starting 3-1.
#22 DOLPHINS [3-5]: Miami began 0-3, but has become very competitive with the wildcat and Chad Henne.
#23 BILLS [3-5]: Starting just 1-5, Buffalo surprised the Jets and Panthers on the road, but lost to Houston at home.
LOOKING TOWARD THE 2010 DRAFT:
#24 SEAHAWKS [3-5]: Seattle was down 17-0 to Detroit last week before rallying to barely stay alive… for now.
#25 TITANS [2-6]: After 6 losses including a 59-0 embarrassment, Tennessee has finally awoken with a pair of wins.
#26 RAIDERS [2-6]: Oakland beat Philly and was competitive twice against San Diego, but has been bad otherwise.
#27 REDSKINS [2-6]: Washington has yet to score over 17 points, and has only narrow wins against two bad teams.
#28 CHIEFS [1-7]: Kansas City took Dallas to OT but has lost twice to Oakland by identical 13-10 scores. Enough said.
#29 RAMS [1-7]: Despite a win in Detroit and road losses by just 2 and 3 points, St. Louis has been outscored 221-77.
#31 BUCCANEERS [1-7]: Throwback uniforms and Josh Freeman at QB ended the NFL’s longest losing streak at 11.
#30 BROWNS [1-7]: St. Louis has company. Cleveland has been outscored 209-78. The win was ugly, 6-3, at Buffalo.
#32 LIONS [1-7]: Detroit has allowed under 26 points just twice while failing to score 20 points in half its games.
“FRO’s Favorite Five”
Frankie’s Favorite Fantasy Picks
By Frankie Underwood, Senior Fantasy Writer at www.footballreportersonline.com Email questions and comments to Frankie@footballreportersonline.com
Donovan McNabb should be back to form this weekend in San Diego. San Diego can not cover tight ends and they tend to get into shoot out games. McNabb’s top Philly wide receiver DeSean Jackson was held in check last weekend and his ego will not allow it to happen again. The Chargers are ranked middle of the pack in both passing TDs allowed and interceptions.
New England RB Laurence Maroney gets to face an Indianapolis defense that has been unbelievably injury plagued this (and most) season. Indy has given up 6 rushing TDs this season and allows just less than 110 rushing yards per game. Maroney has finally started to live up to his first round draft selection, but only after all the retread backs fell by the way side. Maroney has scored in three straight games and this should be the fourth.
I have a feeling that Minnesota WR Sidney Rice gets back in his fantasy owners good graces this weekend. The Vikings are coming off of there bye week and will be hosting the lowly Detroit Lions. Those Lions have allowed 19 passing TDs and an average of 263 passing yards per game. Rice trailed off last game against the Packers and hasn’t scored a TD since week four. This weekend against either P. Buchanon or W. James Rice’s 6ft 4 frame should be a nice target for Favre.
Monday Night Football, the Baltimore Ravens TE Todd Heap against the Cleveland Browns ¾ defense. Baltimore is coming off a tough loss to Cincinnati and Cleveland is coming off of their bye. Most times these factors would point me towards a Cleveland win, most times. Cleveland still doesn’t now how to run their defense and Baltimore will be looking to get back into the playoff hunt. Heap and WR Derrick Mason should be able to steadily gain short to medium yardage all game long.
The Dallas Cowboys defense should have open season on Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers this weekend. The Packers offensive line has preformed like a sieve, allowing pass rushers through with ease. Unfortunately for the Packers the Dallas pass rushers have finally started performing up to expectations. Dallas has 20 sacks on the season and most have come in the last few games. The Dallas defensive backs have also started to pick off some passes and the special teams have started making plays.
Last Weeks Favorite Five
Matt Hasselbeck – 329 yards 1 TD 1 INT, Not too bad.
Ryan Grant – 96 yards 1 TD, again not too bad.
Malcom Floyd – 29 yards, sorry. But stick with him.
Kevin Boss – 17 yars and 1 TD, wanted more yardage, but the TD saves it.
Green Bay Packers – 1 INT and 1 Sack, sorry again.
NO ROOM FOR ERROR AS THE JETS SECOND HALF BEGINS AGAINST JAGS
by TJ Rosenthal for Football Reporters Online
Watch T.J.'s Video Preview here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xf9vWinctQU
Coach Rex Ryan was right when he said earlier this week that this Sunday's battle with the Jacksonville Jaguars is essentially a playoff game. Both clubs are 4-4 and may need the head to head tie breaker at season's end against each other to gain what appears to be the Jets only reasonable path to the postseason; a wildcard berth.
The Jets arrived at 4-4 by falling from the top of the mountain. Once 3-0, two losses to the hated Dolphins combined with an expected loss to the undefeated Saints and an unexpected loss to the then woeful Bills, have changed the mood in Florham Park. This stretch has, for the time being, grounded Gang Green's early season dreams of a magical run through 2009. The Jets trail the first place Patriots (6-2) by two full games and are just 1-3 in the division.
For the Jags, 4-4 is a welcome place considering the club's 1-3 start.
Coach Jack Del Rio's club will look to make it four out of five on Sunday while the Jets, coming off of their week nine bye week, hope to avoid a slide that has sunk them into the quagmire that envelops a host of other AFC clubs fighting for those precious few post season invitations.
If the Jets hope to be playing playoff football in 2009, they'll need two things to happen. First, rookie QB Mark Sanchez will have to protect the ball as he has done over the past two games, unlike the previous three prior, that included a dismal five interception performance. Secondly, the Jet defense, a unit that was poised to become one of the top units in the NFL before the season ending injury to NG Kris Jenkins during the OT loss to Buffalo, has to create turnovers, field position, and points.
Running back and Special teams All Pro Leon Washington is also gone for the year, thanks to a broken foot suffered out in Oakland. Rookie RB Shonn Greene filled in beautifully against the hapless Raiders with two TDs and 149 yards, but fumbled on a play that Dolphins DE Jason Taylor took back for a key TD in the 30-25 loss to Miami two weeks back. A game that still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Jet players and fans thanks to Ted Ginn Jr's improbable two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the third quarter. Greene will need to be a factor if the Jets want to continue their place atop the NFLs best rushing teams.
Jacksonville's pass defense is ranked 23rd in the NFL. Sanchez and prized acquisition, former Browns star WR Braylon Edwards may be able to get loose on Sunday. Second year TE Dustin Keller had 76 yards and a TD in the 30-25 loss to the Fish. Provided that WR Jerricho Cotchery, hampered by hamstring issues over the past month is healthy, this may be the first time that this current WR corps is working on all cylinders in '09. Add speedster David Clowney into the mix after the departure of slot WR Chansi Stuckey to the Browns ,and perhaps the Jets, a team that possesses the league's number eight rusher in the NFL in Thomas Jones, can provide some quick strikes and scores via the air at the Meadowlands
To beat the Jaguars you have to stop Maurice Jones Drew, the quick bulldozing running back who leads all NFL rushers with eleven TD's. WR Mike Sims-Walker is blossoming into one of the leagues best at 16 yards per catch. Jets CB Darrelle Revis will have his hands full as the Jets aim to pressure QB David Garrard with their new rotation at nose guard of Mike Devito, Howard Green and Sione Pouha. Drew is also sixth in the NFL in rushing yards so attention must be kept on him at all times.
On paper, the blueprint week in and week out these final eight games for the Jets will be simple. A ball controlled ground and pound game plan on offense that strikes when the opportunities are there, combined with an attacking defense looking to create the turnovers and drive ending sacks that have eluded them so far. This despite the constant pressure on quarterbacks, and a physical aggressive presence that has helped redefine the unit's personality since the departure of former mundane head coach Eric Mangini.
This week's challenge against the Jags kickstarts that blueprint, as the Jets look to become a consistent mistake free, opportunistic club, that backs up the tough talk it has come to be known for.
THREE KEYS TO THE JAGUARS GAME:
TURNOVERS: The Jets must keep them to a minimum and start to create some themselves. The offense, which may led by two rookies in Sanchez and Greene from here on out, will undoubtedly be aided by big plays made by special teams and defense. An element that LB Bart Scott, a former Raven, admitted was key to both Baltimore and then rookie QB Joe Flacco's success in 2008.
THOMAS JONES VS MAURICE JONES DREW: The team with the lead running downhill in the fourth will be in the driver's seat. Thats because Drew is sixth and Jones is eight in the NFL in rushing this year. The back with more yards on Sunday will be the back on the winning team.
MIKE SIMS-WALKER vs DARRELLE REVIS: Again the Jets will call on "Revis Island " to slow down a top flight wideout. Keep Walker quiet and the Jags quick strike ability becomes seriously hampered.
FRO's FAVORITE FIVE
Top Five NFL Moments - Week 9
by Jon Wagner, Sr. Writer-At Large, Football Reporters Online
#5: RIVERS SHOCKS GIANTS
It was the type of mid-season drive that can change a season for both teams, and depending on what happens in the remainder of the 2009 season, it just may. The Chargers had come to the Meadowlands with a 4-3 record, winners of two straight after a very mediocre start to their season, looking to gain on Denver in the AFC West, and also keep pace in the very competitive AFC wild-card picture. The Giants meanwhile, were looking to get back on track after following a 5-0 start with three consecutive losses. So, a big game for both sides, and a bigger finish for San Diego and quarterback Phillip Rivers. Five years after being traded from the Giants for Eli Manning, Rivers got revenge on both, with a brilliant two-minute drill to win the game. Bouncing back from an interception that looked to seal the Chargers’ fate on their previous possession, Rivers and San Diego caught a big break when the Giants couldn’t score after a first-and-goal at the Charger 4-yard line, and New York had to settle for field goal. Rivers took advantage, completing 6 of 8 passes, taking the Chargers 80 yards in 8 plays, in just 1:44, throwing hid third touchdown pass of the game, an 18-yarder with just 21 seconds left, to upset the Giants, 21-20.
#4: CINCY ‘D’ RIPS RAVENS
In a big AFC North showdown, the Bengals, normally know in past years for their offense, have stepped up the defense this year, and they were all about the ‘D’ in beating the Ravens, 17-7. Shutting out Baltimore over the first three quarters, Cincinnati finished the game with six sacks, while forcing three turnovers, and allowing just 215 total yards. Instead of letting the Ravens tie the Bengals at 5-3, a game behind 6-2 Pittsburgh, the Bengals’ dominant defensive performance allows them to play the Steelers for first place next week, with both teams at 6-2, while Baltimore fell back to .500 at 4-4.
#3: TURNER TURNS IT UP
Atlanta running back Michael Turner was turned loose against Washington and he made the Redskins pay with a game-high 166 yards on just 18 carries, for a 9.2 ypc average. He also rushed for two touchdowns. His second came in the fourth quarter, on a 58-yard run, just 1:42 after Washington made it a game at 24-17, early in the fourth quarter. Turner accounted for all but 15 of the Falcons’ 181 rushing yards in helping Atlanta get to 5-3 at home.
#2: WARNER’S HUGE TURNAROUND
Talk about a change! Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner threw five touchdown passes one week after throwing five interceptions, in the Cardinals’ 41-21 win in Chicago. Warner led first-half drives of 81, 74, 70, and 86 yards the first four times Arizona touched the ball, with all resulting in touchdown passes. The Cardinals built a big 31-7 halftime lead on the strength of those scoring drives, and Warner finished the game 22 of 32 for 261 yards, and this time, no interceptions.
#1: IN THE OLD THREADS, THE BUCS STOP LOSING
I know a lot of people don’t like them, and I do like the new threads, but I still have a soft spot for the old light orange Tampa Bay uniforms and the old logo. The Buccaneers might like them better this season now, too. It took wearing their throwbacks, giving 2009 first-round pick, quarterback Josh Freeman his first start, and comebacks from 14-7, 21-14, and 28-17, but Tampa Bay finally got their first win of the season and broke the league’s longest losing streak, which stood at eleven games, dating back to least season. Freeman was only 14 of 31 for 205 yards in his NFL debut, but he threw just one interception and three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter to rally the Bucs to a 38-28 victory. Tampa Bay also had a blocked punt returned 31 yards for a touchdown which tied the game 14-14 in the second quarter, and iced the game, returning a touchdown 35 yards with 35 seconds left.
What’s wrong with the Baltimore Ravens?
by J.P. Fox for Football Reporters Online
To go from AFC Championship to a 4-4 start in the next season could be pretty depressing to the fans of a certain NFL team. Well, that’s exactly what has happened to the Baltimore Ravens. People who look at how the Ravens’ 2009 season has unfolded halfway through could say that this team could realistically be 6-2 If things had fallen their way. Saying this could be misleading, because through 8 games, any team could be 8-0 If things had “fallen their way.” But really, this Ravens team has not had the best of luck thus far in a long NFL season. Let’s take a look at how the Ravens have gone from one game away from the Super Bowl and NFL elite to a .500 team.
Baltimore was off to a hot start when they started 3-0 with one of those wins coming on the road against the San Diego Chargers. The following game, the Ravens were down by six with the ball, at Gillette Stadium In New England, poised to score the go-ahead score with time running out. On a fourth down play, quarterback Joe Flacco targeted Mark Clayton only to have Clayton drop a perfect pass, giving New England a chance to kneel the rest of the time out. A play or two before, Derrick Mason dropped a touchdown in the corner of the end zone. If either of those balls had been caught, It would have been a go-ahead touchdown or a fourth down conversion to keep the drive alive. That loss dropped the Ravens to 3-1. The next week, the Ravens lost another close game against the Cincinnati Bengals, 17-14 at home, to fall to 3-2. The Bengals’ Cedric Benson, rushed for 120 yards, which was the first 100 yard rusher against the Ravens in 40 games.
Now going on the road against the Brett Favre-led Vikings was a real test for Baltimore. The game was within reach when the Ravens lined up for a game-winning field goal with only a few seconds left. Only kicker Steven Hauschka missed the attempt wide-left to send the Ravens to three straight losses. With the team now at 3-3, their next game was a tough one at home against the 6-0 Denver Broncos. Joe Flacco completed 80% of his passes to lead the Ravens to a 30-7 win. Coming off of a game like that, you would think Baltimore would come out firing on all cylinders against the Bengals, who they had lost to at home In week 5. Only the Ravens came out flat with Joe Flacco throwing two Interceptions and losing 17-7, to drop both games against their AFC North rivals.
With the team now at 4-4, everybody that Is curious about this team would start wondering what exactly is wrong with them. With a game-winning field goal against the Vikings sailing wide left, and two crucial dropped passes in the final minute against the Patriots, the Ravens just aren’t finishing games in which they should have or could have won. Looking at something that is running through my mind, the Ravens used a three-headed-monster last year In the running game with La’Ron McClain, Willis McGahee, and Ray Rice. Starting this season, the Ravens used McGahee and Rice exclusively. McGahee had 5 TD’s In the teams’ first 3 games. Since then, 0 TD’s and 11 yards in 5 games. Rice has stepped up as the lead back with 5.3 yards per carry and 4 games with 75+ yards. Joe Flacco is close to exceeding his statistics from last year with 12 TD compared to 14 all of last season.
But here is the thing, the Ravens lost defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to the Jets, when he became their head coach. They also lost linebacker Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard to New York, as well. Perhaps the loss of those three cornerstones of a defense has affected the team. But not so fast; the Ravens still rank 9th in the NFL in points per game given up on defense. But on the flip side, they are 19th in the NFL In pass yards allowed. The offense Is becoming the strength of the team, as opposed to previous years. When It comes to points per game, total yards per game, pass yards per game, and rush yards per game, the Ravens rank 9th, 10th, 10th, and 13th, respectively in each category. It’s hard in sports to say “what if”, but I’m sure the Ravens and their fans are floating around those words when they start talking about games earlier In the year that have resulted in their 4-4 start. A missed field goal and a few dropped passes are the difference in .500 and being tied in first place with the Bengals at 6-2.
The NFL season is a long road for any team. Halfway through, with the team 4-4, anything can happen. They made the playoffs last year at 11-5 but with almost the same amount of losses this year In 8 games as they did last year in 16, it might be time to hit the panic button. But really, I don’t expect the Ravens to do that. They have games against Cleveland, Detroit, and Oakland. Those are games that this team should win, with the way those teams are playing right now. A game apiece against Green Bay and Chicago are roadblock games. But then again, two games against Pittsburgh, and a game against Indianapolis are going to be real tell-all games. With 8 games remaining, like I said, anything could happen. Down the stretch, If the Ravens want to make the playoffs again, they will need to prove that the loss of Rex Ryan hasn’t changed this teams’ defensive attitude and the offense will have to keep up the balanced passing and rushing attack. We’ll see what happens the rest of the way.
What to Make of Week 9-By David Ortega for Football Reporters Online
Chambers has a new home
It did not take long for Chris Chambers to go from the unemployed to starting in Kansas City. Almost as fast as he was released by San Diego was Chambers claimed by the Chiefs. Once he cleared, the team released wide receiver Bobby Wade and Chambers was quickly inserted into the lineup. Following his impressive debut as a Chief, their is great room for improvement. Chambers only caught three passes and was only targeted four times. It just makes you wonder what might happen once he and his quarterback are in sync.
Broncos Offense has lost its air
It does not take a rocker scientist to see the Broncos offense has no passing attack. The days of the dink-and-dunk are over in the Mile High City if you can not go downtown. The Broncos' passing attack ranks amog those with the fewest big pass plays. In the last two weeks, although the offense has racked up 373 yards in the air, their longest pass play has been a 23 yard toss to a tight end. In the two games the offense has only scored 10 points. Unless Orton and company ignite a little life and get the passing attack off the ground, no air will mean no wins and few fantasy points.
Looking Under the Microscope
The Chiefs offense could be on the rise with the arrival of some needed hands. With the acquisition of Chris Chambers (3 catches, 70 yards) and the emergence 1st year receiver Lance Long (seven receptions), and add stud receiver Dwayne Bowe the Chiefs would appear to have their passing attack in place. If these three can develop some chemistry and consistency, quarterback Matt Cassel could suddenly rise from the doldrums of the fantasy doghouse as evident on Sunday; 262 passing yard and two touchdowns. With the Raiders up next, look for Cassel to continue his rise.
More Fantasy Notes
Both Cardinals running backs Tim Hightower (75 yards) and Chris Wells (72 yards) ran the ball extremely well on Sunday. Two things can be taken from this account, both backs will see plenty of work going forward and the Bears run defense can be had (allowing 119 yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry).
Another notable from Sunday was Packer's running back Ryan Grant. The Pack's ball carrier kind of gets lost in the shuffle playing in the shadow of the team's potent vertical game. On Sunday Grant rushed for 96 yards on 21 carries raising his season total to 621 (ranks 9th in the NFL). This season Grant is averaging just over four yards a carry with four rushing touchdowns.
The N – Files, Volume III: Cash & Carry
By Michael – Louis Ingram Associate Editor/Scouting Director- Football Reporters Online/Contributing Writer-BlackAthlete.com
PHILADELPHIA (BASN): (later - same evening)
N-Files Glossary: UPS (Ultrasonic Pulse Scanner); BIG UPS (Bilateral Integrated Ghost Ultrasonic Pulse Scanner);
RATs (Residual Audio Templates); MAUS (Mobile Analog Uplink Source)
RBG (Red Black Green, aka Reparations by Graduations); MAMA (Modified Analog Masking Apparatus)
The crowd at Bob & Barbara’s was bustling, but a bit subdued, given the end of the workday.
A popular watering hole with the locals in Center City, many a question was asked and problem solved over liberal applications of “the Special” – a shot of Jim Beam and a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
Butch, the resident psychologist and potent potables pusher, failed to notice the four Black men wading through the crowd to the back tables…
But his ears did pick up shortly after hearing the first few chords of Fishbone’s “When Problems Arise.” Turning toward to the digital juke box, a voice hollered over the din. “Gimme a beer and tomato juice, please.” As Piper walked back toward the tall brother with the horn-rimmed glasses, Butch broke into a smile.
“Piper – what’s goin’ on’ baby”?” as the two shook hands. “Where’s your crazy ass cousin Mike? I thought he and the other Sports MCs was gonna come down and do another podcast.”
“Well, Wendell’s down South right now, and Chris is teaching as far as I know. Are you still listening to “The Batchelor Pad?”
“Oh, yeah – those two brothers and your cousin are really gettin’ in that ass,” laughed Butch. “So – I’m running low on tomato juice; only you and Mike order that shit when you come in here. Ask for something else.”
“Okay,” smiled Piper. Nodding slightly toward the back tables, his tone lowered. “How about a pizza, four beers and some privacy for starters - it would be greatly appreciated.”
Butch paused, then turned toward the bar - “Jackie, pass me the wheel, please.” An attractive, middle-aged dark brown woman reached down beneath a section of bottles and tossed a huge metal ring in Butch’s direction. He caught the ring – a huge key chain – with his free hand, the other still puffing on a cigarette. “Not bad, huh – Eagles should sign me up right now. Come on.”
Following Butch, the two men walked the length of the bar and slid left as Piper gave the ‘hi’ sign to his colleagues. “Oh, brother man, please,” laughed Piper, “unless you’re gonna run the rock, don’t give Andy Reid another excuse to throw the damn ball.”
The men stepped up to a metal door, which opened up to a private dining area and six small tables. “The pizza’ll be here in 10 minutes, and the first round of beers is on me.”
“You are the best, Butch. I put in $20 of tunes in Jukezilla, so that should keep things hummin’ for a while,” said Piper as the others began to sit down. Butch then pointed toward the corner table. “There’s a volume control knob next to that speaker, if you need to quiet things down – and don’t worry about privacy – the only person coming back here will be me,” as he turned and closed the door.
The four sat down, and Executive Director Mack McClain spoke. “Gentlemen, I know it is starting to get cold outside, but based on the information you have turned in, MAMA’s hot - and cookin’ up some intriguing stuff.
“From Agent Wheelwright’s diligence, the data from Vegas was very telling. The ghost images on the printouts showed major action on Denver, and I mean huge plays. So many whales were placing so many high five figure and low six – figure bets, if Captain Ahab had seen it, he would’ve said, ‘Fuck Moby Dick.’”
The laughter was momentarily intermingled with Butch’s reemergence into the room, with beers and pizza placed on the table as McClain continued. “I heard the MAUS playback on the ride down, and I agree with Agent Piper’s hypothesis – Washington’s overall talent was far superior to Denver’s that year – but their inner redneck got the better of them in setting the line for Super Bowl XXII. Williams and Washington were three point underdogs, so a lot of Denver Bronco cash got sucked up like an industrial strength Hoover in Vegas.
“The RATs were doing some pretty good squeaking themselves; we picked up some good latent audio. A lot of resentment afterward – a lot – but clear indications that the sore losers believed Vegas had missed the boat on ascertaining the odds,” finishing the thought with a hearty swig of his beer.
Several bites and another round of brews later, each man gave an account of where they were that day and what happened after the victory. “Okay, Agent Piper,” mused McClain, “we got some smoke and some fire – where do we go with this?”
Piper’s ears picked up as the first strains of Grover Washington Jr.’s “The Sea Lion” creaked out over the speakers. “Well, Chief – I’m guessing going further back may not be the best move right now. Williams’ Super Bowl win is like a demarcation point. The common thread everyone in mainstream media wanted to push is how successful trends are copied; having said that, we didn’t see teams in the league busting down the doors to bring Black quarterbacks on their rosters, even if for merely cosmetic reasons.
“My thinking on this is with our knowledge of the power grid and the range capability of the BIG UPS and RATs, we couldn’t get enough information to put together a solid composite on Warren Moon.”
“Warren Moon?” Queried Agent Buchanan, “how do you connect the dots with Moon & Williams?
“Moon wasn’t a quarterback that lucked up into a championship game. He came down from Canada with a fistful of rings that he earned under center, not holding a clipboard - five consecutive championships. Of course, they didn’t validate it here, but he wasn’t the first to come down from Canada – he was simply the first one they couldn’t ignore.”
“Yeah,” piped Buchanan, “but what about Joe Kapp? He was Mexican.”
“Yeah, he was – but the League wasn’t concerned with that. He was Anglo enough in appearance to suit them. And Chuck Ealey and Condredge Holloway had already won Grey Cups up there – but the League wasn’t going to allow them to get a shot at QB down here. My Eagles brought Pete Liske down from Canada after he played half-ass for the Calgary Stampeders, but he stunk up the joint once he got here.
“Besides, in Moon’s case, his man Hugh Campbell came down from Canada to take a position with the Houston Oilers, almost as if to smooth the way for Moon to start without any, shall we say, ‘front office politics;’ but because of the uncertainty in getting ghosts from Canada, I’m thinking the closest connect to Williams and any conspiracy is right here in Philly.”
“Ah ha – you’re talkin’ Donovan McNabb, huh?” said Agent Wheelwright.
“No, Wheels – we’re talkin’ Randall Cunningham,” said Piper. “The ‘Ultimate Weapon’ used to rock this city; but they never gave him the tools to finish the job and follow Williams to the Super Bowl.
“Gentlemen, I hate to be an old fart here, but duty calls, and I need a further de-briefing on all this before I head back to RBG Central,” said McClain. The four men got up to leave, with Agents Piper & Wheelwright heading out the door.
As Piper was introducing Wheels to Butch, McClain pulled back on Agent Buchanan. “A moment of your time if you please, sir,” as the door closed; Buchanan stood, a tad perplexed.
“Craig, we go way back, brother; we came out of Academy together. The thing I have always admired about you is when you hit on something, it’s never a ripple – it’s a tidal wave.”
“What’re you talking about, Mack?
“When you asked Digital Donna to place that BIG UPS in Pittsburgh, the images were sparse at first, and it looked like we weren’t going to get much of anything. But Donna then re-set the scanner for 1988; and we ended up with reams of information regarding SB XXII.”
“Out of Pittsburgh?” said Buchanan. “That’s buck wild! They weren’t even in the mix with the…betting?” Buchanan paused as he caught up to the thought initially running in his head. ”Ohhh shit, Mack.”
“Oh, shit, indeed. You’re feelin’ me, Craig. It wasn’t just Pittsburgh. Every major urban center, every part of the country threw down action on that game. Piper’s just scratched the surface of this; the betting in Vegas was one thing – but the illegal action was probably increased tenfold on a dollar to dollar basis.
“We then followed up with a couple of well placed RATs, and we picked up fascinating audio streams – people putting deposits on houses, auto purchases, college funds started; one stream even included a dozen people who won over $30,000 after the game after pooling their cash into one large bet; and the vocal patterns would seem to indicate most, if not all of the voices – were Black.
“It wasn’t just the money bet, Craig – this was a Joe Louis moment! John Elway was the ‘Bum of the Month’ – and he didn’t even have a clue.
“When Williams had that kick – ass second quarter, it brought the ‘trickle – down theory’ – from the suburbs to the ‘hood.”
Agent Buchanan nodded affirmatively, his mind racing as he took the weight of McClain’s words. “Just about everything I’ve already said to you I will likely repeat in some form to the other agents after full de-briefing,” McClain sighed. “But, Craig – you are gonna have to be very careful when you return back to your home base. There was a significantly strong overture of backlash encompassing the area where you live.”
A knock on the door prompted Buchanan to back away and grab the knob.
“Craig, “as McClain grabbed his arm. “Watch your back, brother.”
To be continued…
Copyright Michael – Louis Ingram 2009