Sunday, September 06, 2009


Steelers v. Titans kicks off the season this Thursday, with a full slate of games set for Sunday.

RUMPOLE'S SUICIDE POOL IS BACK: To play send us an email with your pick for this week. If you want the Steelers or the Titans make your pick before Thursday, otherwise before Sunday.
The rules are simple: Pick one team to win every week. No point spread. But when you pick that team, you can't use them again for the rest of the year. It's not as easy as it sounds.

A few random thoughts: Vince Lombardi's three rules to building a winning football team were not : 1) Have a strong defense; 2) Have a strong run game; 3) Fire your offensive coordinator the week before the season begins.

What in the world were Tampa Bay, The Bills and The Chiefs thinking? If you're a fan of those teams you cannot be happy right now.


AFC EAST: Only issue is who will finish last- the Bills or the J..E..T...S?
Cheaters, Fins, Bills, Jets- although the battle for last will be close.

AFC NORTH: Another tough battle for last in this division between the Clowns/Browns and the Bungles/Bengals. The Bungles were the second to last team to sign their first round draft pick (after offering him less money than last year's pick from the same slot) and once signed, the rookie promptly broke a bone in his foot.

The real race is between the Super Bowl Champs and the Ravens. These teams are mirror images of each other. A tough, bruising defense that not only shuts you down but physically pounds you. On offense both teams like to run the ball and have big tall quarterbacks that love to go deep. The Ravens have the better running game, but the Steelers have the more explosive offensive and a slightly younger defense (how OLB Lamar Woodley last to the second round two years ago?). The Steelers edge out the Ravens again, but we wouldn't at all be surprised to see another Steeler/Raven AFC Championship game this year. Steelers, Ravens, Browns, Bengals.

AFC SOUTH We, and we alone told you at the start of last year that the Colts would not win the division and might not make the playoffs. The Titans have the best coach in the NFL and a well rounded team with a deep deep running game. However the Titans over spent for FA/WR Nate Washington, who was never going to be more than the third WR for the Steelers. The WR position remains weak for Tennessee.

The real question is how much better are the Texans? Can they break out and challenge for a wild card spot? . Not with Matt Schaub as their QB!

The Jags are a beaten team. They can't sell out, their ownership is bailing, and no matter what the coaches do, the players know the ship is sinking.

Titans, Colts, Texans, Jags.

AFC WEST (a/k/a "Chargers and the rest"). The Chargers will not lose a game in their division. They will go 6-0 and that will give them an inflated record. They will not be as good as their record. Repeat after Rumpole: "The Chargers will not be as good as they seem."

Why? 1) They have one of the two worst coaches coaching a contending team (Wade "Vanilla" Phillips of the Cowpokes being the other). Norv Turner is just not an NFL caliber head coach.

The rest: Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders. The Raiders and Chief will struggle to win 4 games and the Broncos will find life after a hall of fame coach (Mike Shanahan) is not nice. It's more dangerous to be a coach on the Raiders than a team playing the Raiders. (The Raiders head coach broke the jaw of the D-coordinator earlier this year in a spirited disagreement about the rotation of the weak side safety for run support.)

NFC EAST. This is a tough division. Very competitive. The Gints still have the core of their Super Bowl team. The Eagles are poised for a run to get McNabb a SB. The Cowpokes will disappoint because Wade Phillips is not an NFL caliber coach and is a figure head the owner can control, and the Redskins will never realize you can't just throw money at a problem and get to the Super Bowl.
Eagles, Giants, Cowpokes, Skins.

NFC NORTH: Once you put the Lions last, then what? We actually liked the Vikes more before they brought back Brett "way overrated" Favre. Da Bears will be competitive, think Denver north plus a better QB (the Bears and the Broncs swapped QBs in the offseason, and the Bears got the better of that trade.).
Packers, Vikes, Bears, Lions.

NFC SOUTH: This year the Falcons show they were not a fluke last year. They have a good team, a superior running game, and their QB is the real deal. But that running game for the Panthers, wow! They just keep drafting great runners in the mid-rounds. And what does Rumpole always say: Defense and running wins championships. The Saints also bring some real firepower. In many ways this division is as competitive as the NFC East.

How to figure this division? Start with last- the Bucs. A team in disarray, evident by firing their O-coordinator this week. Then the Saints- best QB on a mediocre team. Still think the Texans blew it by passing on Reginald Bush? Then...the Panthers. I know I know, they have all the goods like we said. But the Falcons just have "it". This is a feeling here, nothing more. Falcons, Panthers, Saints, Bucs.

NFC WEST: What is it with the Western divisions? They have the worst teams in both leagues. Who told you at the start of last season the Seahawks were done and wouldn't make the division? Who told you the Cardinals would win the division before the first snap last year? Who made you thousands of dollars picking against the Seahawks again and again at the start of the season before the rest of the public realized what we knew? We did! Now the secret is out. We have other secrets for this year, but you'll have to wait until next Sunday.

Cardinals (best coaches in the Division, although Warner is getting older, although he might be a vampire...) 49'ers. On the way up. Just not there yet. Seahawks (because they're not the Rams) Rams (because they are.).


AFC Championship: Steelers vs Ravens.

NFC WILDCARDS: Giants, Vikes, Panthers.

NFC Championship: Eagles v. Packers.


Steelers v. Eagles. A Pennsylvania Super Bowl.

And your WINNER? ...hmmm. Careful students of the game remember the team that gave the Steelers their worst beating last year was the Eagles. The Steeler O-line could not solve the Eagles blitzes. This will be a great game!!


Anonymous said...

Engaging in pre season prognostications has to be the most useless exercise in sports. But it is almost the most fun. I remember growing up in the 60's and getting the spring training issue of the Sporting News and religiously perusing the baseball predictions. And then in August, buying every magazine I could that had NFL predictions. And let us not forget the annual Playboy pigskin preview for both college and the NFL. This industry is like a second marriage: a triumph of hope over experience. The fact that the crystal ball gazers are always wrong is irrelevant. I know no one and I mean no one who ever went back and fact checked any one else's predictions at the end of the season. To do so would take away the fun. I cannot figure it out but there is something in the sports' fans psyche that hungers to do something that is 100% prone to error: sitting down (hopefully after a few too many spiked beverages) and deluding yourself that you can scientifically analyze the outcome of 450+ football games and accurately predict the result.

civil war buff said...

Rumpole- give it to me quick and straight- what went wrong at the Battle of Chancellorsville?

Rumpole said...

I'm in an airport about to board a plane. I have to be quick. Chancellorsville was called Lee's perfect battle. Outmanned more than 2-1 he executed two perfect maneuvers 1) Knowing The North's Plan by Commanding General Joe Hooker, to outflank him and come from behind, he left a small force in the field commanded by Gen. Burkside at Marye's Heights (I think from memory here) to occupy opposing Gen. Sedgwick. Lee then sent the rest of his army to confound Hooker's plan of a double envelopment of Lee's army. Lee had sniffed out the plan based on what he saw the opposing forces do, plus he had the instincts that he would have done the same thing Hooker was trying to do to him if their positions were switched.

Thus General Lee acted in direct contravention of one of the most sacrosanct rules of war- do not divide your army when facing a superior force. And yet, Lee did this and pulled it off brilliantly.

Lee sent the majority of his army west , under the command of Stonewall jackson to meet up with Southern General Anderson who was about to be attacked by Hooker.

Hooker's attack was through what was called the wilderness and it petered out quickly. Hooker lost faith in his plan and basically in mid-battle changed plans and ordered his army to take up defensive positions around Chancellorsville. Hooker had been under Burnside when the Union army was slaughtered at Fredricksburgh by Lee's defensive positions and now Hooker decided to make Lee with his smaller army attack him.

Lee quickly sized up the situation and accepted the bait as it were. Again Lee went against conventional military wisdom and split his army again into two groups. For the second time in a week Lee would split his army against a superior force. Jackson flanked Hooker's defensive positions from the west after a 12 mile march, while Lee commanding Longstreet's division flanked from the east attacking Union General Sedgwick, who as we shall see sort of saved the day for the Union.

Several Union mistakes contributed to Lee's army getting total surprise, but in the time I have here I can only comment on this. At Hooker's right flank, which was attacked by Jackson after his long march, Hooker had an abysmal General named Howard protecting his extreme flank. Howard posted no sentries, had little structure in his army, used no natural landscapes to assist in defending Hooker's flank, and was totally unprepared for Jackson's assault.

Jackson attacked between 5:30 and 6pm after marching all day. Howard had two cannons facing the woods where the attack came from. 4,000 of his untrained and ill prepared troops were captured without firing a shot.

With Hooker's flank exposed on one side, Lee had the advantage. On the other side Lee did not fare as well and Union General Sedgwick held his lines fast to repeated attacks. This allowed Hooker to retreat his army across the Rappahonnock river that the Union armies were nestled against. Sedgwick took his army across the river too, and the Union had been defeated again.

HOWEVER- The General Lee relied on most-Stonewall Jackson was shot late in the evening twice by his own troops when he personally advanced beyond the lines after defeating Howard. It was friendly fire as Jackson was returning to camp. Jackson lost his arm and died of infection two weeks later. Lee commented that he felt he had lost his right arm.

This was arguably Lee's finest hour- and yet shortly thereafter he would make terrible mistakes at Gettysburgh and lose and retreat to Virginia and lose the war. One could argue that Lee's loss of Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville set the stage for Lee's blunders at Gettysbugh and the loss of the war.

Chancelorsville is a phenomenal battle for anyone interested in military history and tactics to understand. Lee's maneuvers are still taught and studied today at West Point.

FAKE JAY white said...

Rumpole, you old fool. I will personally be sitting in Landshark hodgepodge stadium on in February at the Super Bowl yelling "And that's another Miami Dolphins FIRST DOWN!!!!"

Anonymous said...

You can keep your pro
football. Its all about the Canes. u wouldn't understand.

Fins Fan Forever said...

to 8:52, me too. And give Rumpole credit for going out on a limb and calling it how he sees it.

But last year, his crystal ball must have been playing tricks on him:

In 2008, he had the Fins finishing last in the AFC East.

He had the Jags winning their divison (they finished last). He also picked the Titans for third and not only did they win the division, but they finished with the best record in the AFC.

He did pick the Steelers to win their division. But he had the Ravens third and they made the playoffs.

He was dead on in the West with the Chargers and the rest of the teams.

In the NFC, he nailed the Giants at first, but had the Eagles finishing last (they came in second and made the playoffs).

He picked the Packers to win their division; they finished third. He also said that the Lions were "on the rise"; (they finished 0-16).

He picked the Saints to win their division; they finshed last. And he had the Panthers "going nowhere fast"; they won their division and had the best record in the NFC. He also said of the Falcons, "woof woof" and picked them last. They made the playoffs.

He did nail the Cardinals in the West.

All four of the teams he picked for the Championship games: Jags, Pats, Packs, and Saints; none of them even made the Playoffs.

So, prognosticating is tuff; but at least he is willing to do it. I like Rumpole's weekly bets and will stick with him until I lose my shirt.

My predictions for the Championship games:

Pats v. Ravens
Vikings v. Falcons

Fins Fan Forever

Anonymous said...

Rumpole at Sunday, September 06, 2009 10:20:00 AM

At airport and have to keep it quick? Really!

Anonymous said...

U just dont understand. Shannon is OUT. The raw talent of the Northwestern Bullicanes aint gonna cut it. Need some beef from Pahokee to win.

Tebow is God.

Rumpole said...

8:30 am, granted SAS has a terrific first class lounge with free internet service. So I was quite comfortable.

Anonymous said...

i thought it was net jets or nothing?