Saturday, October 3, 2009

18 comments Bill Simmons Power Polls It: 2009 Version

I had put up a Bill Simmons post from last year with a similar title to this post but that is why I put "2009 Version" beside it, so that makes it a new title. It hasn't been the best week for me regarding creative titles, but titles are merely to catch the audience's attention, I am sure I already have everyone's rapt attention just based on the fact I have posted something (I am kidding of course). I know everyone reads like 10% of what I write looking for key words to comment on, but that's not going to stop my epic posting. Never.

Everyone set your lineups for the Fantasy Football games this week and if you forgot to make your college football picks, well you still have time for the night games to make your picks.

Bill Simmons has a power poll that he has posted for his weekly NFL column. Normally I would make fun of his knowledge in regard to NFL football, but I can't do that while he is beating me at picking NFL games. Let's see if his power poll is better, more more accurate, than Peter King's Fine Fifteen.

At media day for the Lakers this week, reporters asked Lamar Odom why he married reality star Khloe Kardashian so quickly.

"I've been in L.A. for 10 years," Odom explained to a local radio show. "I've never had a problem meeting women. … Whether a woman works at Burger King or she was a model that we all know by name, it never was a problem. But I finally met the one that I knew if I had lost her, it would hurt the most."

It would probably hurt the most because there is a 32% chance Khloe Kardashian could actually beat up Lamar Odom. She's not the most uh, ooooooo, ummmm..................womanly woman I ever seen in my life. In fact, she has the whole "man in a woman's body" going for her. Apparently this is enough to seduce both Rashad McCants and Lamar Odom, so go figure.

This season feels much more logical. Nine teams stink. Eight teams have a ceiling of "lucky to sneak into the playoffs." Eleven teams range from "Well, we can't write them off yet, but I certainly wouldn't bet on them" to "Yeah, I could see them making a Super Bowl as long as these 15 things happened." And four teams definitely have "The Look," as Mike Lombardi calls it.

It is amazing to me how much Bill Simmons thinks knows about every team three weeks into the new season. Last year at this time, we all thought the Buccaneers would be in the playoffs and the Jets would give Brett Favre another chance to be in the playoffs and be a hero to sportswriters everywhere. Also, Arizona was clearly not a favorite to do anything in the postseason, much less make the postseason, at this time last year.

I also find it interesting how Bill seems to think this year is a more logical year, less than a month after writing a column talking about the NFL has reached the "Tyson Zone." I don't know how much it speaks to his ability to predict when less than a month ago he thought this was going to be a wild and crazy NFL season.

In fact last year, around this time, in his power poll, Bill Simmons had the following teams in the following power poll slots:

26. Miami- made playoffs and won the AFC East

24. New York Jets- almost made playoffs, they were knocked out the last week of the season

21. Atlanta- made playoffs

18. Arizona- played in the Super Bowl (though to be fair, no one saw this coming)

16. Pittsburgh- won the Super Bowl

15. Carolina- won the NFC South

14. Minnesota- won the NFC North

13. Baltimore Ravens- made the AFC Championship Game

10. Tampa Bay- missed playoffs

9. Green Bay- missed playoffs completely and it wasn't even close

8. Jacksonville- ditto

7. Buffalo- ditto...again

5a. Denver- only almost made the playoffs because they were in a crappy division, but still didn't make it

1. Dallas- missed the playoffs

So, as you can see it's pretty damn hard to see in the future. So take Bill's power poll results with a grain of salt or take it seriously if insist on being wrong later.

30. Tampa Bay

If you're scoring at home, an overwhelmed rookie head coach who fired his new offensive coordinator two weeks before the season, then named someone the coach himself recently deemed a "career backup" and "my Jason Garrett" as his Week 4 starter, is hoping to turn things around with a team that's currently a league-leading $30 million under the 2009 salary cap.

They are one of the worst teams in the NFL, but I don't think part of the reasoning is because they refuse to spend their entire salary cap. It would make sense to spend the money but it also makes sense in a rebuilding phase, like the Bucs are, to save the money to spend on players that will actually help your team and not spend money just to say you spent some money...just in case next year isn't a cap less year and they have to fit any excess spending under the cap. They still stink of course no matter how much money they spend, so why not stay way under the cap?

When did Josh Johnson become a career backup? He's 24 years old and was drafted in 2008. His career has consisted of one year where he was a I guess in theory the title is correct but very misleading.

26. Carolina
25. Miami

Something that never would happen if Julius Peppers was still alive: The Panthers (12-4 last season) have a chance to break the record for biggest drop in win total from one season to the next. According to Elias, here are the current leaders: '94 Oilers (12 to 2); '83 Niners (13 to 3 in a strike-shortened season); '02 Bears (13 to 4); '99 Falcons (14 to 5).

I think everyone who reads this knows I am not a homer when it comes to my favorite teams. This is a bullshit ranking for Carolina. If Bill Simmons really had a clue about what he was talking about in these rankings I would be angry, but I am not. Due to the fact Bill hasn't watched every NFL team this year (which isn't his job, so I don't criticize him for this) I think he over/under ranks teams based solely on their record. To break the record for biggest drop in total from one year to the next the Panthers would have to go 1-15 this year. That's not happening. The odds of them matching the '99 Falcons and going 4-12 aren't good either. I think he is slightly underrating them a little bit by even suggesting they could break these records for futility from one year to the next.

(Personal story coming, skip to the paragraph below if you would like: I am starting to panic because I am not in a panic over the Panthers start to this year. My friend who lives in Charlotte spent the better part of the MNF game texting back and forth with me and we were texting the same stuff to each other about how who sucks and what the problem with the team is. It was one of those situations where I had to edit my text because he had just sent me exactly what I was going to text him. The key point is that we were completely agreeing with each other on what the problem with the team was and whose fault it was. He seems to have completely written the Panthers off for the season and thinks Fox's job is in jeopardy. Then I was eating dinner the other night and told my fiance, "I am not that worried about the Panthers, they are bad, but I don't think they are THAT bad this year. It's still a long season, I don't think I am worried about them." She responded by saying, "You aren't worried about them? I am. Jake stinks and they look horrible." Throw in the fact the Charlotte Observer said John Fox would be fired at the end of this year and Jake Delhomme should be benched and how can I not be in a panic? How can I be in total agreement with someone about the team's problems, which are HUGE problems for an NFL team, and be the only person not worried about the Panthers this year? I worry about my favorite teams, that's what I do best. Why am I not worried? Am I that deep in denial?)

I get tired of making excuses for them (and other teams like Pittsburgh and Tennessee) and saying they are playing a tough schedule, but if they lose to Washington or Tampa Bay over the next couple of weeks, then I will stop talking about the schedule and acknowledge the Panthers stink this year. I really think the 12-4 record last year was misleading because they played the NFC North and the AFC West, so they had games against Detroit, Kansas City, Oakland, and Denver. Last year the Panthers were a 9-7 team posing as a 12-4 team and this year they are a 7-9 team. They aren't #26 in the NFL bad though.

...and neither is Miami #25 in the NFL, though they took a huge hit when they lost Pennington.

As for the Dolphins, if you're 0-3 and looking at the Chad Henne era, the Tyler Thigpen era or going full-time Wildcat with Pat White and at least keeping opponents and fans on their toes every week, wouldn't you go with the Wildcat 100 times out of 100?

I am not ashamed to admit this but I like Tyler Thigpen. He played pretty well in a shit situation last year in Kansas City and then didn't get a fair chance to win the starting QB job this year. When he learns the playbook and Miami ends the year going 7-9 don't say didn't hear it here first. Ok, maybe 7-9 is a bit optimistic but I think they will at least go 6-10.

It's really hard to argue with Bill's results in his power poll because you don't really know how these teams are going to end this year. That's why I find power polls useless.

16. Chicago

I watched all three Bears games and still can't figure out if they're half-good, kind of good or even a teensy bit good.

I vote for kind of good.

(FYI: Don't forget, this could end up being the Season of Simmons. Through three weeks, I'm 20 games over .500,

See, this is why I can't beat him in the ESPN pro football pick 'em league. He is having a career year. I knew I wasn't that bad at it, I am just up against Bill Simmons when he is having a career year (That's my excuse, because I think if I can't beat Bill Simmons then that means I couldn't beat his wife either probably since she consistently gives him a run for his money and the 5% sexist part of me would be embarrassed by this).

my sleeper is 3-0 and I wrote the best Reverse Jinx column of my career last week.

Ouch...I just pulled a muscle patting myself on the back for writing this post. I knew I was right. Bill can be so predictable at times.

11. Green Bay
10. San Diego
9. Pittsburgh
8. New England
7. Philly

Wouldn't be shocked by anything from 7-9 to 12-4 for any of those five.

You definitely never want your teams that go from #7-#11 in a power poll, all of whom should be playoff teams in theory, to possibly go 7-9 this year. I guess that is my main confusion about power polls. Is this a list of who Bill thinks are the best teams in the NFL right now or are these the spots where Bill thinks the teams will end up? Because he is doing a certain amount of predicting since he has Pittsburgh #9 when they are 1-2, so it can't be where he thinks they are now, but then if this is where he thinks they end up at the end of the year, it doesn't make sense for him to include any team he sees going 7-9 in the power poll in spots 7-11 of said power poll.

6. Minnesota

The fan side of me loves what's happening with the Vikes. The cynical side in me wonders if Favre is rope-a-doping the fan base for 11 rounds before punching them right in the protector's cup, then kneeing them in the chin as they keel over and kicking their limp body in the kidneys for good measure.

See? I am not the only one who doesn't think highly of Brett Favre or how I think he is going to end the year...and yes, when I am bragging I agree with Bill Simmons about something you know I realize I have bashed a player a little bit too much.

(You're right, you're right, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's see the Jets win one game in which Mark Sanchez has to make some do-or-die fourth-quarter plays. Not saying he can't … just saying we need to see it once.

Ok, this is how I feel about Sanchez also. This is getting weird. If Bill starts going off on a 3 paragraph description about how Julius Peppers has no trade value or starts talking about how going for it on fourth down isn't always the best idea, I am going to start thinking I need to disagree with him just to make myself feel better.

From 2003 to 2005, Brady was Russell and Manning was Wilt. Things switched briefly when Indy won the Super Bowl. Brady seized it back with the Eff You season. If the Helmet Catch doesn't happen, not only does Brady become immortal, but now the Pats are opening up on Thursday night and we never see Bernard Pollard in Week 1. Nope. They lose the title and Brady gets wiped out in Week 1. From that point forward, Manning became Russell and Brees became Wilt.

This is one of the biggest reasons I hate "what if" scenarios, because the writer of such scenarios can write whatever the hell he wants to write and make it all be fact...because it never actually happened. So Brady's knee injury would never have happened if David Tyree's "lucky" Helmet Catch never happened. There is always a reason Bill's teams have things happen to them and it is never completely their fault.

Then Bill pimps "30 For 30" which he was involved with. This is a tough choice for me because I don't want to support anything he is involved with, but I do love sports so I feel like I should watch.


Martin said...

I actually thought this was one of Bill's better columns. I disagreed with some of the placements and thought that a few of his reasonings were out of whack, but generally, fairly accurate observations for someone who is trying to write a humoristic column about the NFL Power Poll. It's only week 3, so I'm totally willing to cut some slack. Now week 12, that's a different story, then I'm a hard ass.

You aren't in denial about the Panthers, you're in acceptance. You know they aren't that good, think they will go 7-9, and so far, they are playing to your level of expectations. How can you worry about a team not making the playoffs that you don't think is going to make the playoffs? It's just you mentally shrugging your shoulders going "They are what they are". The fact your fiancee says things like "Jake stinks and they look horrible" makes her a total babe in my book. That's a keeper there Ben.

Bengoodfella said...

It wasn't a bad column but I think power polls are useless and take every available chance to mock them apparently. I know, I know, he is trying to be funny I guess. Maybe I take him too seriously. I think the NFL is much college football in that it is almost pointless to rank teams a few weeks into the season. I am probably too hard on sportswriters who try and do a power poll early in the year but its not one of those things you can even use a good explanation for why a team is where it is placed since there is no really that much data.

I think I am in acceptance about the Panthers. I think I given up on them already to be lieu of them showing some signs of life this year. I will watch the games but I won't have high expectations. I hate that feeling though. She is a keeper but she is probably also saying it just to see if she can cause me to be in denial. She got to witness the 6 turnover disasterpiece in January against the Cardinals so she has thought he stinks for a while now. Most of the people in my life enjoy watching me worry about my sports provides amusement.

Fred Trigger said...

I always wondered what would've happended to the rajun cajuns career if Kasay hadnt kicked it out of bounds and the panthers went on to win. I mean, if the panthers win, Delhomme is easily the MVP, because his numbers that game were far superior to Bradys. Now he is just known as an average QB, but he played his ass off that game. I guess I'm playing the what if game. I guess you could do the same thing with the tuck rule game, because if that call hadnt held up, brady is the goat of the game.

Bengoodfella said...

I don't know. That's a tough question. Delhomme really played well in the 2nd half of that Super Bowl. What's interesting is that he had a great year in 2004 without Steve Smith the entire year. So he showed enough talent just to keep everyone hanging on and then makes us all look stupid for believing he is a good quarterback.

If the Panthers had won, he may seen as a Brad Johnson type who managed the game well.

Martin said...

Ok, someone choke these announcers. Not to go all TMQ, but if you are the Chierfs and you are down 14-3 at the 2:00 warning in the first half, go for it on 4th and 4 at the 50. The announcers are going "Oh no, you need to play the field position game!"

No, no, no! Your team is losing by almost 2 touchdowns, there is no "field position" game with 2:00 left at the 50. You punt, they get the ball, you don't see it again unless they score...sux 2 be U. Give your team a shot at a field goal at least, since it's most likely your sorry ass is going to lose anyway, go out on your shield, not on a punt from the 50.

Bengoodfella said...

Also, the Ravens went for it on fourth and one on their own 40ish yard line and were stuffed. Needless to say they on and lost the game. I wonder if TMQ agrees with the decision to go for it since fortune favors the bold!

If you are the Chiefs and you are playing the Giants you need to go for it there simply because they are probably going to blow you out and you have to take chances to stay in the game.

Martin said...

And did you notice, the Giants got the punt, and came down and got the field goal. When you are less talented, you gotta take some chances, but it was the announcers going "field position game" who really got to me...frigging Moose and Siragusa are terrible.

Bengoodfella said...

I didn't actually get that game on Fox or CBS. Anytime the Panthers don't play I am forced to watch the Cowboys and Redskins play in my area. I do have some thoughts about Josh Johnson and Jason Campbell they aren't very good.

On CBS I always get the Patriots games. Pretty much no matter what it seems unfortunately I didn't get to see that game, but I do know if you are down 14-3 to the Giants and you are on the 50 you have to be aggressive to beat them.

Martin said...

And what an absolute crapfest that Fox has for it's games next Sunday. Vikings-Rams is their #1 game, with I think Cowboys-Chiefs being the 2nd. The late game should be good, 49rs-Falcons.

Bengoodfella said...

I know. I saw that too. There is a good team playing a crappy team in nearly every game. The best game just from looking at it on paper is Washington-Carolina. Otherwise you have a good team against a crappy team in each one.

Sucks for Fox.

Martin said...

And for the "Sometimes don't give that 2nd effort" files...the Steelers punt return guy just has the ball taken away from him for a San Diego touchdown. If he had just fallen down as soon as he was grabbed, or had fair caught, or let the ball just hit the ground and be downed, they would have been better off. The Steeler offense has been dominant all night, don't be a hero, just play smart.

Al Michaels, bless you for pointing out that the returner would have better served the team by not trying to return the point. Ball security is paramount at this time...amen brother!

RuleBook said...

I have to give Cris Collinsworth credit for what he said at the end of the game. He said that they needed two scores, so maybe they want to gain 20 yards, kick the FG, then get the onside kick and throw a hail mary.

This is the right decision. When there is little time on the clock, and you have no timeouts, you can't win on a last second FG realistically; you will have to end the game on a touchdown with a hail mary of sorts.

I was at a football game this weekend in which my team was down by 10 with 20 seconds left on the clock. We had no timeouts, and we were at the opponents 30. I was screaming for the coach to kick the FG, but he kept trying for the TD. My team scored the TD, but only as time expired, so they still lost. If they had kicked the FG with the 20 seconds left, they could have had a chance at the onside kick and a hail mary. Going for the TD first is dooming your team. Not enough coaches seem to realize this.

For another example, think Seahawks in the Super Bowl. They were driving near the end of the game down 11, but kept going for the TD, and ran out of time, though they were in FG range with 30 seconds left on the clock.

Martin said...

Yeah, that's actually a gamer move for Madden and other football games. Simmons has brought it up a couple times over the years on why are coaches and teams so stupid about this. If you have to have a FG and TD with an onside kick, then just get the FG out of the way as quick as possible. I think most coaches keep thinking of the FG as the last ditch long range effort, when in reality, it is the shorter range of the two last ditch options.

Bengoodfella said...

I think a lot of coaches think going for a field goal first is bad strategy for some reason. They seem to be afraid the other team will score and they will be even further behind, but if the other team scores then the game is out of reach anyway. I guess the other fear is that the field goal will be missed.

At the end of the game the clock is not your friend and you have to put up as many points as possible in as short a time as possible. There's no point in wasting clock going for a touchdown if you can potentially go for a touchdown with a shorter field. Though it all goes to hell if the field goal is missed.

Anonymous said...


No need to worry about Simmons beating you at football picking. He had an atrocious week and has reverted to form. So feel free to criticize him as much as is warranted.

P. S. Love you blog.

Bengoodfella said...

Thanks for liking the blog. I would like to go back to criticizing him as much as I can except I had an horrible week at picking games too. I think I did a little better than him. It just doesn't feel right to not pick at him so I think I may continue doing that again.

I think he is going to come back to Earth now on his picks and I will be able to say what I like again.

Anonymous said...

Simmons made a real jerk of himself for criticizing the HBO documentaries in Neil Best's column. Said they weren't exciting and relevant for today's audience and specifically criticized the Ted Williams episode.

So what does his 30x30 open with? The story of a 20 year old hocke TRADE! He also got screwed by the extra innings in the Twins-Tigers game.

Mike Francesa got all over him about this and Simmons said he wanted to call in and debate him, but it's against ESPN rules. He is some rebel, huh?

Bengoodfella said...

Simmons criticized the HBO docs on his Twitter the other day also. It's hard to do a documentary that is really modern anyway since it requires a lot of history to take up the full hour. I don't have HBO so I haven't seen any of their docs lately. I did DVR the King's Ransom thing and will at least give it a shot.

I am not criticizing Bill but he can't start criticizing HBO for their docs because ESPN has some of the 30 for 30 docs that are fairly old as well. Just google "30 for 30 espn schedule" and you see they are doing docs on the USFL, Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes, and on the Colts moving to Baltimore in it's not exactly modern. Of course I don't expect it to be because it's a documentary.

Bill is just trying to differentiate what ESPN is doing from HBO when they aren't as different as he wants them to be.

I had heard Mike Francesca had gotten all over him on this but I hadn't heard exactly what he said. Of course Bill can't go on his radio show because ESPN won't let him...even though you would think ESPN would want to publicize the 30 for 30 as much as possible outside of their own network.

I hate that about ESPN. They will take newspaper talent from all over the country and put them on ESPN shows but they won't let any of their talent go on any one else's show. It's one of the many reasons I hate ESPN and I think they are going to have trouble in a few years. They have gone from reporting the news to actually deciding what news is made and it's going to come back and bite them in the ass I think.