Dante's Inferno and Virtues of NFL

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Welcome back to the Pregame Flyover, your chief source of NFL disinformation.

Before we apply the NFL injury report to this week’s schedule of games – and declare which contests will Probably be worth watching, which games will be of Questionable worth, of Doubtful worth, and of no worth – we’d like to introduce our new correspondent, Dante Alighieri, author of “The Divine Comedy.”

We recently realized that the NFL itself is a divine comedy of sorts, with respective players, coaches and fan bases moving between various levels of hell, purgatory and heaven. Rather than visit these places ourselves, we dipped into our freelance budget and hired Dante, a veteran travel writer. He’ll be making the regular rounds, telling us in his inimical style about the new arrivals in hell, purgatory and heaven. 

Take it away, Dante.

HELL

I spy a player who looks like Marmalarde,

Throwing the ball like he is playing shotput.

It’s not PC, but he looks like a retard. 

PURGATORY

Sanchez, Fitzpatrick, Tannehill and Brady,

Staring at the standings, they’re all 3 and 3.

Tannehill’s wife: Where’s that hot little lady? 

HEAVEN

There he sits, proud, haughty and full of pleasure.

In brown and orange, diarrhea colors.

He’s waving a W, that first win a treasure. 

 

THE SEVEN NFL VIRTUES

Continuing with this week’s religious theme, we’d like to recognize those coaches, teams, players and fans who best exhibited the seven cardinal virtues.

Chastity: Indianapolis Colts. Did you expect that we’d honor Tim Tebow? Come on, his team at least found the end zone, unlike the Colts.

Temperance: Norv Turner. Definition of temperance: “moderation in action, thought, or feeling.”

Charity: Pittsburgh Steelers defense. They allowed the Titans’ offense to score 26 points.

Diligence: Juan Castillo. It’s hard work for an offensive line coach to pretend he’s a defensive coordinator for 22 games.

Patience: Kansas City Chiefs fans. No banners have yet been flown demanding the start of the Ricky Stanzi era.

Kindness: Me. I’d like to point out that the Jaguars can still go 12-4 this season. 

Humility: Rex Ryan. He told reporters Wednesday, "If it's just between Bill Belichick and me, he's going to win that battle, I recognize that.” The topic was coaching in this Sunday’s matchup between the Patriots and Jets, not which man can look like more of a hobo.

 

The Four Teams Who’ve Never Played in a Super Bowl

From time to time we’ll check in with the four teams who’ve never played in a Super Bowl, to see how their prospects look for reaching the title game this season.

Texans: They were undefeated going into last week’s Sunday night matchup against the Packers, and the team seemed primed to show the world what they were all about. The Texans got throttled by Green Bay, but they’re still on target to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl because the AFC sucks.

Jaguars: Watching “Tom Coughlin: A Football Life” on the NFL Network recently, I was reminded that the Jaguars actually reached the AFC Championship Game twice in their first five seasons in the league. In retrospect, this gave unrealistic expectations to the dozens of Jaguars fans in this country.

Browns: In any other year, I might have picked the Browns to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. But it just happens that I stopped huffing paint, so my judgment is gradually improving.

Lions: Wouldn’t it be great if the Lions faced the Texans in the Super Bowl? Not only would that be a matchup of great offenses, but it’d leave the Jaguars and Browns as the only teams who’d never played in a Super Bowl. Alas, Cleveland and Jacksonville cannot square off in the big game, which is good because holy crap would no one watch that.

 

The Weekly Best

The Weekly Best writers are suspended without pay this week, after they spent last Saturday partying with Steelers nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu. 

Best wise up: Weekly Best writers.

 

This week in fantasy-football name changes

Is your fantasy team bringing shame to your family? Do you want to do something drastic, like trade Cam Newton for Greg Zuerlein? Sometimes all your team needs is a good name change. Here are some timely suggestions, particularly for you owners who are clinging to “Real Men of Genius.” It’s not 2007 anymore. Get trendy, you humps!

The Low-Information Voters

The Ghosts of Pittsburgh’s Offense Line

Americans for Pussy Riot

The Children of Cromartie

Jay Feely, You Suck

The Yankees without Jeter

Binders Full of Women


Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out

Just as the NFL puts out an injury report on the likelihood that certain players will suit up each week (Probable, Questionable, Doubtful or Out), we rate the NFL schedule on the likelihood that games will be worth watching. Because let's face it, you can't watch them all.

 

Probable Game of the Week: Washington at New York Giants.

A week ago I would have picked the Ravens-Texans game for this slot, but then half of the Ravens’ defense went down with injuries and the Texans got exposed by the Packers as a team that will get drawn-and-quartered by the NFC come Super Bowl time. The Baltimore-Houston matchup is unique in that it features the only two AFC teams with winning records - but that doesn’t make it more interesting than RGIII’s first trip to MetLife Stadium. 

Will he rush for 200 yards? Throw a touchdown pass and create a new meme

In this week’s segment of Giants-defensive-lineman-who-runs-his-mouth, Jason Pierre-Paul said RGIII better not run at him.

Don’t bring it to my side,” Pierre-Paul said. “Go the other way.” 

OK. And what if he does go the other way? What say you then, JPP?

“Trust me, we chase quarterbacks all time. We turn and run to the ball, no matter what. He may get past us and zoom right past us, but trust me we’re right behind him. You’ve got to respect that, too. It’s not all about the speed. We’ve got guys, all 11 guys that can run to the ball very quick.

“You’d be surprised. Very surprised.”

I love surprises! When do we get to watch this thing called football? I can’t wait!

It should be noted that the Giants have the third-best offense in the NFL, and that Eli Manning and his squadron of salsa dancers sashayed all over San Francisco last week. The Redskins’ 27th-ranked defense is nowhere near as good as the Niners defense, and it’s a safe bet that DeAngelo Hall will be featured prominently in the postgame highlights. 

(Other games receiving votes: Cardinals at Vikings; Ravens at Texans; Pittsburgh at Cincinnati; Detroit at Chicago.)

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Questionable Game of the Week: Jets at Patriots.

In years past this would have qualified as the Probable Game of the Week, but that was back when the Jets had a top-five defense and the team didn’t hitch its offensive wagon to the star of Santonio Holmes. It’s amazing how a team that hasn’t played in a Super Bowl since 1969 – back before the moon landing was staged by Stanley Kubrick – can generate the amount of press that the New York football Jets do. 

When Rex Ryan arrived on the scene, I loved his confidence and bombast, if only because it pissed off fans of the Giants and Patriots, two fan bases that pride themselves on the class and dignity that supposedly waft off their teams like some high-priced cologne. Not all their fans are like this, of course. Just the ones with tongues.

Jets fans get a lot of grief, most of it deserved, but at least they have enough self-awareness to know they’re heathens. Not all of them, of course. Just the one I’m friends with. 

So, what can we make of this game? Well, the Patriots and Jets are both 3-3, but New England’s three losses have been by a combined four points, while the Jets have lost by a combined 57 points, including a humiliating 34-0 loss to the Niners. The Patriots are ranked No. 1 in total offense, but their defense is ranked 22nd, raising the possibility that Mark Sanchez might look like an acceptable quarterback in this game. He’s not. And neither is Tim Tebow. But Tebow is at least interesting to watch (“Which team will he throw it to this time?”), while Sanchez’s main attribute is that he’s better than Tebow. 

This is one of only two games taking place at 4:25 p.m. EDT. The other is the Jacksonville-Oakland game, which will be watched closely by degenerate gamblers. It’s always hard to predict the outcome of intra-divisional rivalry games like this, but I’m not afraid: Pats 52, Jets 0.

(Other games receiving votes: Dallas at Carolina; Packers at Rams; New Orleans at Tampa Bay.)

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Doubtful Game of the Week: Tennessee at Buffalo

I missed seeing the Music City Miracle in 1999 because I was waiting in a bathroom line at a bar in Vermont, desperately trying to hold my water while some lollygagger took his sweet old time in the bar’s only latrine. The screams of bar patrons – “Go, go, go, go!!! – let me know that something momentous was going on in the game, but unfortunately their exhortations did nothing to speed up the bowel movement of the guy hogging the head. 

The Music City Miracle was Buffalo’s last postseason appearance, which is both sad and distinguished. I mean, does your team’s last playoff appearance have its own catchy name? Well, it does if you’re a Buffalo Bills fan.

(Other games receiving votes: Browns at Colts.)

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Out Game of the Week: Jacksonville at Oakland.

Since this is one of only two afternoon contests (Jets-New England is the other), Jacksonville and Oakland players will only have a choice of two games to watch. Sorry, Jaguars and Raiders players, you get stuck with the same options as everyone else.

Cameron Martin has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, ESPN.com, Yahoo! Sports, and CBS Sports. Send your ideas to cdavidmartin@yahoo.com.

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