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The Ferringo NFL Report Saints Rise Up In Face Of Adversity

I'm a native New Yorker, and I've been a Mets fan all my life. They've had several phenomenal moments in my lifetime - including a World Series title. But by far, bar none, my favorite Met moment will always be the first major sporting event in New York City after the September 11th attacks. Trailing rival Atlanta 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Mike Piazza epitomized the spirit of a city and a nation when he crushed a game-winning, two-run home run to straightaway center. In the grand scheme of things it was meaningless - a silly play in a silly game - but at the time it meant everything.



I bring this up because that's instantly what I thought of as John Carney kicked the game-winning field goal to lead New Orleans over heavily-favored Carolina on Sunday. On the anniversary of 9/11, which still echoes throughout this country, the Saints stared down the horrors that Hurricane Katrina left in her wake - death and destruction on a biblical level - and triumphed in a way that lifted their faithful followers out of the darkness, if even for just a few fleeting moments.

I know the Saints have been thoroughly rewarded and praised by the media for their effort (which is still miniscule compared to that of the rescue workers piecing together their home) but what they did on Sunday transcended sports. It did so in a way like nothing I've seen since Piazza's home run. It showed an entire state, and an entire nation, what people are capable of. In doing so, they showed us all a little something about ourselves.



That being said, the show must go on. And did it ever this opening weekend. OK, so this is how The Ferringo Report is going to work - I'm going to use this space to analyze the weekend's games, and toss in some nonsensical ravings and lunacy of my own. Then on Thursday I'll be giving you my weekly Power Rankings, some injury updates and previews of the upcoming week's games, and then, just for kicks, I'll throw in one free pick.

Enjoy, and don't forget to tell a friend.

- Quote of the week that summed up media/fans complete overreaction to Week 1 results (compliments of the Fox commentator calling San Fran's upset of St. Louis, after Michael Adams' game-sealing interception): "That might be the most important play of the 49ers' season!"

No kidding. Especially since their season is only three hours old. Relax boys.

We have 20 weeks to go. That's longer than most of my relationships have lasted.

- Yes, I was That Guy that drafted and started Willie Parker on my fantasy team (I won by 50+ points by the way).

Incidentally, the Steelers looked outstanding. I have to admit that I was a bit worried about them, but they physically dominated Tennessee like they were a high school band.

Pittsburgh is just a tough, nasty bunch of badasses. They still need to get healthy, and will have a tough division to battle in, but don't count them out of the Super Bowl mix just yet.

- Have you ever known what the right thing to do is, know it without any doubt, but do the wrong thing anyway? Like that time your friend's ex-girlfriend came over to your place to "talk" about what a jerk your friend was. You knew you weren't supposed to hook up with her - even though your boy bragged about cheating on her, after he bragged about how good she was in bed - but you did it anyway.



From a gambler's perspective, that's what I did this weekend when I included Minnesota and St. Louis in about 80 percent of the bets I made this weekend. I broke my own rule of not betting on either of these teams no matter how seemingly juicy the line.

As a result, I broke even on a weekend when I should have cleaned house (the Kansas City game and the Jacksonville games might have been the Locks of the Year).

But I vow never to make that mistake again. I have a general rule never to bet on St. Louis and New Orleans.

Minnesota is now firmly in that tempting-yet-maddeningly-inconsistent group. I'm on the verge of throwing Oakland in there, as well as Green Bay and Denver. I won't say never, but it's going to be very rare.

- Run the ball and play good defense. Run the ball and play good defense. Run the ball and play good defense.

That's what wins in the NFL. There were six quarterbacks that threw over 40 passes in Week 1 - Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Mark Bulger, Trent Dilfer, Kerry Collins and Jake Plummer. Their teams went a combined 0-6.

- Miami proved exactly what we thought about them. They're going to be good enough to compete, and good enough to shock a few teams. But don't think they're going to the playoffs.

And I don't care what the 49ers did. They're still a four-win team.

- It's pretty difficult to man two remote controls for two TV's, each with the Sunday Ticket, while trying to satisfy 10 people wanting to watch five different teams.

However, I think I performed pretty well.

The new Sunday Ticket channel that features eight games at once is tough to get used to, in part because the pictures just a little too small if you don't have an 80-inch TV. However, over the course of the season it will prove invaluable.

- New England is still a juggernaut. I just don't see more than three teams beating them this season.

And that's IF three teams beat them at all. I mean, it's going to take a Herculean effort to outplay this club. I'm betting them to win every weekend.



- The Raiders play calling reminds me of how my college roommate, J-Meyer, used to play Madden. He would just drop back and heave the ball down the field hoping for a penalty or a touchdown. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time it was just garbage. They're still the same old Oakland team - talented, but too sloppy to beat good teams in tough spots.

- How about Ray Lewis waving the American flag and hugging servicemen before the Colts/Ravens game? Yeah, because nobody represents the American Dream (and our shoddy legal system) like Ray-Ray.



- Remember when Mario used to get star power on Super Mario Bros. and become ridiculously fast and totally indestructible? Well, that's what Carolina's Steve Smith looks like on the field.

- Even though a sandwich of pepper jack cheese, pepperoni, and Ritz crackers covers three of the four food groups, eating about 25 of them doesn't constitute a healthy meal.

- Get on board with Jacksonville.

Seriously. As long as Fred Taylor is healthy, they are going to be a very, very good team. If they just had one physical, bruising back to spell Taylor, they would be a mirror image of the Carolina team that went to the Super Bowl a few years ago.

Also, Jack del Rio is going crazy on offense. We're not talking put-an-axe-in-a-room-with-53-bloodthirsty-mutants crazy this time.

We mean the good crazy. The Jags were employing four-and five-receiver sets. They had defensive tackles lining up as tight ends. Matt Jones is "Slash" on steroids (he had two carries, two catches, and was 1-for-1 passing).

I like them going gadgets - especially early in the season - because now teams have to spend extra time preparing for their trickeration. However, I can't help but wonder if they're doing it out of some sort of desperation?

- Why I Hate My Favorite Team (Week 1): The Bears are on the Redskins 34-yard line in the middle of the fourth quarter, trailing 9-7. They just need like 12 more yards for a chip shot field goal and the lead. What happens? False start.

False start. False start. Sack for ten-yard loss. Third-and-38 is something you don't see every day. It was like watching a Pop Warner game.



- In 15 games this past weekend, the team that won the turnover differential was 11-2-2. That isn't any amazing revelation, but I think people take that stat for granted. Don't forget to research how teams are doing in that category before you make your picks.

- If San Diego misses the playoffs by one game they'll have no one to blame but themselves.

Antonio Gates was still serving a team-imposed suspension resulting from a nasty contract dispute. The team suspended Gates because he held out, but then turned around and gave him everything he wanted in his contract. Huh?

Well, in what was the best game of the weekend, San Diego found itself down by four to Dallas with under a minute to play and facing first-and-goal from the seven.

This is precisely the situation when Gates is most valuable. But he was in street clothes. The result: incomplete pass to McCardell, incomplete pass to Peele, incomplete pass to McCardell, incomplete pass to Parker.

Who else was missing from that role call? How about no touch for LT, which I didn't understand at all.

- Last night Mike Vick once again proved why I think he's not an elite quarterback. Yes, he was the most athletic player on the field and made some really big plays. He finished with 224 total yards, but he was sacked four times, threw an interception and had three fumbles (two lost). The last fumble occurred while they were in field goal range and nearly cost them the game.

Also, Vick will be out by Week 6 if Greg Knapp keeps calling designed running plays for him.

- "Special teams can win games early. For whatever reason, it takes a few weeks for most organizations to get their special teams in order.

Don't be surprised to see more big plays than usual in the first few weeks." The Giants proved me a soothsayer. They had a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD and a 52-yard punt return for a TD against Arizona, leading to their 42-19 romp.

- Dagger-Through-the-Heart Play of the Week: I have Minnesota in two teasers getting 6.5 points at home.

They're down 17-14 and Tampa is just trying to run out the clock after a Culpepper INT near the goal line. On third-and-six, the Viking let Cadillac Williams break a 71-yard touchdown run because they have absolutely no pride and absolutely no heart. It was like getting kicked in the nuts while watching your girlfriend cheat on you with the guy who just ran over your dog. Only worse.

But again, that's why you don't bet the Vikings.

- My fiancé, commenting on ESPN "analysts" who were "reporting" on the pregame fight that got Jeremiah Trotter and Kevin Mathis ejected before Monday Night's game: "They're like a bunch of high schoolers gossiping in the lunch room." Hilarious. And true.

- One last shout to the city of New Orleans. Au revoir.

Your team is making you proud.

Questions or comments for Robert? e-mail robert@docsports.com.



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.Doc's Sports Handicapping Service
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By: Robert Ferringo



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