Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday's Starting Five

1. Ronnie Brown. He did everything yesterday. He ran. He caught. He threw. He even flew. Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown did everything you could ask a football player to do and he did it well as his side throttled the defending AFC champion New England Patriots up in Foxboro, MA. Everyone thought, or at least Vegas tried to make everyone think, that last week was when the Pats would begin their post-Brady descent. However, it seemed that some combination of Jets offensive ineptitude, Pats' us-against-the-world post-Pollian high and the not-enough-time-to-panic offensive transition kept the Belitrain on the tracks for four more quarters of football. Regardless, Brown knocked that train off the tracks yesterday. He took several direct snaps from the single wing formation and ran wild. Oh, and, it should be noted that Dolphins QB Chad Pennington was 17 for 20 for 226 yards.

2. The Buffalo Bills. Ladies and Gentlemen, these are your AFC East leaders after Week 3 of the 2008 NFL season. The best team hailing from New York may be located somewhere that hail wouldn't be too shocking: Buffalo. The only New York football team to actually play in the Empire State came back late against a surprisingly feisty Raiders team for their third win in three tries. They've got an offense stocked with young skill players (Trent Edwards, Marshawn Lynch, Roscoe Parrish and Lee Evans), a solid if not spectacular defense, dynamic special teams and a great, under-rated home field advantage. As a Jets fans, this is the AFC East foe who would cause me the least angst by taking the division. Which, I guess, is sort of an endorsement. So, it's another case of that ol' saying the team I hate less than my enemy is not my friend but I don't mind then taking a playoff spot. You know. That chestnut from the sea.

3. J.T. Barnum O'Sullivan. The fortunate son at the center of the Frankfurt Galaxy before NFL Europa went the way of Lehman Brothers has gotten the San Francisco 49ers off to a surprising 2-1 start to the 2008 campaign. The 31 points O'Sullivan (with some serious help from RB Frank Gore) hung on the lowly Lions may appear a Barnumesque hoax a few weeks down the road but for the time being I know three people that are totally psyched about it.

4. The Philadelphia Phillies & The Milwaukee Brewers. "You're welcome," says Mets General Manager Omar Minaya as his bullpen continues to put wind into the sails of the wrong ships. The less than amazin' bullpen gave up four runs in Sunday's loss to the Braves, squandering a decent-not-great effort by Mike Pelfrey. The Fightins are so confident they've already been selling 2008 NL East Division Champion shirts. While I'd like to see this end up in El Salvador with those 19-0 shirts I am inclined to agree.

5. The Houston Astros. They may not be doing well in the standings but they are standing (3.5 back in the Wild Card) up for themselves in the press. Which is worth something. Perhaps not a playoff berth. But something. The Astros were hosed by the powers that be -- meaning God for sending Hurricane Ike through their backyard and then MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for sending the team to play a key "home" series against the Cubs in Milwaukee -- and they are letting the world know that they know it. The club was on a tear heading into last weekend, having won 14 of their last 15, when Ike wreaked havoc on their hometown and their schedule. Set to play a key three-game series in Houston with the NL Central rival Cubs, the teams were dispatched to Miller Park in the Brew City for the trio of games. Unfortunately for the 'Stros, Miller Park is much, much closer to Chicago (only 81 miles) than Houston and the contests were de facto home games for the division-leading Cubbies. Houston was swept "at home" by the Cubs in Milwaukee, including being no-hit by Carlos Zambrano. NL MVP candidate Lance Berkman told the Houston Chronicle that "Major League Baseball has always valued the dollar more than they do the individual, the players and their families."

Benched. Any Fantasy Football League Manager Who Left Ronnie Brown on the Bench. Yeah, he is a Dolphin. And he was facing the Patriots. But odds are you drafted him high-ish in your league. According to his average fantasy draft position was 38.1. Which means you probably weren't starting anyone better ahead of him, unless he dropped in your league or you took running backs with your first three picks. Por ejemplo, a fellow in one of my leagues started Jets RB and kick returner Leon Washington over Brown this week. And, yes, he is a Jets fan.