NFL spread sheet: Lions, referees stinking it up

NFL spread sheet: Lions, referees stinking it up

NFL spread sheet: Lions, referees stinking it up
By LARRY JOSEPHSON

OMG!

Did you see what the Giants did to the Ravens? Had that been done a few hundred yards away from the stadium, the East Rutherford police would have run out of cruisers to take the Giants into custody.

Two hundred and seven yards rushing. Through a Baltimore defense that has lived on its ability to control the line of scrimmage and dominate at linebacker. You know it was a bad day for the Ravens when they were taking Motrin on the way to the locker room at halftime.

The Giants hit the Ravens with so many lefts on Sunday that by the third period Ray Lewis & Co. were begging for a right. Did Brandon Jacobs go down even once on first contact?

Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward each had more than twice as many yards rushing as did any of Baltimore’s running backs, though Ravens QB Joe Flacco did have 57 on the ground while being chased by angry men in blue shirts.

The Giants have it all right now. They are healthy, which not many teams can claim. They have a killer running attack, excellent line play, a quarterback who doesn’t spend his off days in traction, a focused coach. They’ve won their last two at home by a combined 41 points. Yada, yada, yada.

New York is positively obliterating the line with a 7-2 record ATS (against the spread) and is a 3.5-point pick Sunday at Arizona. The rest of the schedule has no reachable Par-5s, but the way the Giants are playing right now, a first-round playoff bye looks like a certainty.

Lions are a perfect 10

Sarah Palin was daydreaming through sixth grade geography class 32 years ago when the last winless team roamed the NFL landscape and now the 0-10 Lions are 62.5 percent of the way toward catching those vaunted 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

For the Lions it has been, to paraphrase high school coaches calling in their games to the local newspaper, “a total team effort.”

The Lions rank last or next-to-last in rushing yards, rushing yards allowed, points allowed and overall yards allowed. And Detroit will be a heavy dog in at least four of the final six games, starting with Sunday (+9) at home against Tampa Bay.

To make things worse, there are rumblings in the city that with the economy in the gutter it will be hard for the Detroit area to continue to support four pro teams in four different stadiums.

Let’s do the math:

The Tigers have a deep pockets owner and went to the World Series two years ago.

Three years ago the Pistons won the NBA title and they contend every year.

Red Wings? There’s a reason they call Detroit Hockeytown.

That leaves you know who.

Some advice for the Lions: Say “adios” to Daunte Culpepper after the season (he won’t accept a backup role in 2009), make a run at free agent Matt Cassel, then have a long talk with Jon Kitna and see if he’s down with being a backup.

Take your own No. 1 pick (probably No. 1 overall) and trade down, hopefully getting another No. 1 plus one or two mid-draft picks. Use those picks, plus the No. 1 you got from Dallas in the Roy Williams deal, to beef up the defensive front and linebacker spots. If the defense is better (can it get worse?), your offense will get improved field position and be, by that yardstick alone, better. If you have trouble moving down with that overall No. 1, call 1-510-864-5000 and ask for Al Davis. 

By the way, another Detroit loss and Tennessee win will set up an 11-0 vs. 0-11 game on Thanksgiving.

Heavy dogs keep covering

Double-digit dogs continue their amazing run. The +14 Lions covered and made a modest run at Carolina and the +10 Raiders made the Dolphins sweat before losing by a pair. The Bengals get 10 at Pittsburgh on Thursday and the Raiders return to the trough Sunday, getting 10 at Denver.

Terrible beat

Warren Buffett will give his Social Security number and private savings account information to a Nigerian e-mail scammer before Steeler bettors forgive the referee for the blown call at the end of Sunday’s game.

The whistle blew when it shouldn’t have, negating a fumble return/TD by Troy Polamalu and preventing a Pittsburgh cover. San Diego, meanwhile, comes home for three straight (Indianapolis, Atlanta and Oakland) and to catch Denver, the Chargers will probably have to win those three, plus beat Denver in Week 17 at home.

Buffalo continues to head south

In mid-October the Bills had the AFC East under lock and key. Now this.

Maybe Buffalo has just found its true level as a .500 team, but the turnaround has been stunning. Even if the 5-5 Bills can figure things out, they are already saddled with an 0-3 division record and it looks like some kind of tiebreaker will be necessary in the AFC East.

The Brownies’ win at Buffalo takes the pressure off, but Cleveland still has the look and feel of a 6-10 club which is less than the sum of its parts and will be dodging snowballs before the season is over.

Career change for Wiggins

Jermaine Wiggins was a decent tight end for several teams in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and even picked up a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots in ’01. Wiggins sat out last season but now is in training on the West Coast to be a mixed martial arts fighter.

Wiggins is a tough cookie, but he turns 33 in January and as best we can tell there is no senior division in that sport.

Slow, slower, slowest

It must gall defensive genius Bill Belichick that the Patriots can no longer stop teams when they absolutely have to. Problem is, except for rookie Jerod Mayo, the back eight are slower than Easter Island statues and all the scheming in the world won’t change that.

The Pats will have had a few extra days to get ready for Miami (Dolphins -2). Betting this one is difficult given the Pats’ refusal to give out information about injured players and everyone on that team seems to be hurt, but the winner will be in the hunt to the end and you can probably put the loser in a crock pot until the 2009 opener

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