Sunday, November 30, 2008

This One's on Cable.

This game came down to two plays: the fake field goal and the 4th-and-3. You get 6 points out of those plays and the game is over. I mean, what a bunch of crap.

By the way, I hate the Raiders right now. Last week, I expected them to get blown out, and what happens? They put up a 31-10 beat down in Denver. I get all excited, thinking to myself, "Hey, they may have turned a corner. Let's get some."

But then they go out and lose to crappiest team not named "Detroit" or "St. Louis."

And now, once again, the Raiders are losers.

In Honor of Chris Johnson, #37

What is in a row is the two weeks he's been a baller. That INT just tied the game.

"Should be 9-3, coach."

That's the text message I got from Dan after the 4th and 3 overthrow. Between that and the inexplicable fake field goal, we're down 10-3. But Jammy and DMC are playing well, which has also been the subject of numerous text messages. If we can cut out the inclination to put too much mustard on on the hot dog, we'll be okay.

Sent from my iPhone

Dan's Picks - The Sweep

Sllaacs can be forgiven for thinking the Raiders lost to the Chiefs at Arrowhead this year. But it just feels like last week's win in Denver was the first of the year. Nancy Gay (predictably) said what's in the back of all Raider fans' minds about this home game against a team the Raiders destroyed earlier in the season that comes one week after their most complete and satisfying game of the year. But I say Cable keeps them focused and they avoid a "letdown." Raiders 31-20.

As it turns out, the Bills aren't as good as we thought they were. I could actually see the Niners beating them, but probably not in the cold Buffalo weather. Bills 27-21.

I'm not sure what's up with the Packers, and after dropping the Carolina defense (yes, this is a Fantasy Football statement) in disgust over their blowout at the hands of Atlanta, I'm shocked to learn that the Panthers are 8-3. Going with the Packers to win at home, 35-28.

And the Jets - wow. This season has to put Brett Favre over the top for the Hall of Fame. (Yes, that's a joke). Denver will lose 31-21 and keep the Raiders mathematically alive for the AFC West crown. I'd love to see someone win it at 7-9.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sllaacs Picks - 2 in a row for the Silver and Black!

The Kansas City Chiefs are garbage.  The only reason they beat Oakland in the first matchup this year is because the Raiders are cursed.  Tomorrow will be different, the Raiders will beat the hell out of the "Chefs", 35-17.  JASR throws for 200 and 2 TD's.

San Francisco will probably play a decent all around game against Buffalo, but let's be real here: Buffalo is the better team by far.  The Bills will beat the Forty-Niners 28-17.

Green Bay will beat Carolina by at least 14 points.  Let's go with the Packers 33-16 over the Panthers.

Favre will handle the Denver secondary without too much difficulty.  I will take the N.Y. Bretts over the Broncos and super-armed Jay Cutler, 24-13.



Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Hangover Picks

So, Lance gets a new job. Jerry breaks down the Tennessee rumors. That seems to me like a much higher profile position than I expected him to get. I was thinking more like a lower-tier Pac-10 job. Anyway, good luck with that, buddy. If you thought working with Al was weird, at least he doesn't have a Body Farm in Alameda. At least that we know of. By the way, Mary Roach wrote an excellent book called Stiff that gives the Body Farm its own chapter.

You know what? I'm feeling optimistic this week. I don't know if this has less to do with the Raiders thumping Denver last week or the fact the Chefs are really, really bad. But I think we win one this week, and match last year's win total a week earlier in the season. Raiders 34, Chiefs 17.

As my father in-law informed this evening at dinner, the Buffalo Bills have the biggest offensive line in the National Football League. "You know John, I got into an argument with that goddamned nephew of Adeline's, old Ron, when he tried to tell me Dallas had the biggest line in the league. I said, 'Bullshit, Ron. Buffalo's line averages 332." You know what, I looked that shit up, and he's right. 332.2, to be exact. Anyway, the 9ers pass rush is not that great. So Buffalo wins, 28-13.

The Packers got their asses whupped in New Orleans last Monday night. This week, at home against Carolina, I think they win. 24-19.

So, for the last game, I'm picking Denver to continue their suckage against the Jets this weekend. 48-14.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy 2009, Warriors Fans!

I saw this at Lucky's in Daly City this afternoon. I almost bought it
for Sllaacs.

John's Picks

I guess every day really is like Sunday.

I haven't blogged this week for a variety of factors: I was busy, it took a long time to recover from after my Lawyer's wedding, the hard drive on my Mac crashed and so I'm pretty much computerless around the house.

But most of all, I was just too depressed about the state of the Raiders to really get worked up.

Even the drama is gone now. Remember the week Lance was fired? The Raiders sucked, but they were interesting. Fascinating, even. Al came out of his cryogenic chamber and gave a press conference for the ages.

The 49ers sucked, too, but they were boring. Mike Nolan walked around in a suit and talked a good game but his teams turned the ball over and couldn't tackle anyone. Then he was fired, Mike Singletary was hired, and he dropped his drawers in a locker room at halftime, shit-housed JTO, and now they're most fascinating team of BARFF.

So Jim Fassel wants the job. Jim Harbaugh could have it if he wants it.


Anyway, the picks:

The last time the Raiders won a football game in Denver, it was November 2004, in the snow. Earlier that year, I had gone to see the Broncos destroy us 31-3 in Oakland. Today it's just sunny and cool. While I think it will be closer than the Monday Night Debacle (see the parallel?) of 2008, the Broncos are still winning. I just hope it's close. I have no heart left to rip out. 28-10. (Although Jerry comes up with 10 reasons the Raiders can win. Sigh.)

The 49ers vs. Dallas. Dan, I enjoyed your description of the 1990s Cowboys dynasty. I read the first 30 pages or so of Jeff Pearlman's book, where Michael Irvin stabbed that dude in the neck. Crazy. Of all the things I've read about the Raiders teams when they were good, nobody ever stabbed another teammate with anything other than the occasional, accidental boner, when crossing swords. The 49ers (who coincidentally, and speaking of swordsmen, also employed Charles Haley), were much more disciplined and had much greater coaching continuity. But today, the Man who's #1 on the Professor's list will beat the 49ers in a thriller. 38-29.

As for the other games, I like GB on the road vs. NO. Gut feeling. 31-28.

The old Titans vs. the New Titans. Where are the Teen Titans when you need them? I bet Sllaacs knows. Anyway, Tennessee has to lose eventually; it might as well be today, in a low-scorer, 17-14.

Dan's Picks

Part of me really does want to pick the Raiders this week. McFadden and Burgess are back. Champ Bailey is out. The Denver weather is beautiful. Per Randy Cross, Tom Cable proclaimed this the best week of offensive practice all year, claiming not a single JaMarcus pass touched the ground. But I've been burned before. Broncos 27-20.

As for the front end of the BARFF double-header on local TV today, I suspect that the 49ers will run into a revitalized Dallas team who will win, 31-24. TO was featured on this morning's NFL Gameday Morning blaming all his troubles on Jason Garrett. That's always a sign things are headed in the right direction for a team. As Howie Long says, the last 13 Super Bowl champs all have one thing in common: No TO. All of that may not back up my pick but it does back up the relatively close score at Texas Stadium.

Ok, on to the good games. I am a big believer in looking at a team's record and trying to imagine seeing it printed the next week if they win or lose. Tennessee is 10-0. Maybe they could be 11-0. But then they play Detroit, Cleveland, and Houston. That would put them at 14-0. Unlikely. Jets will win, 29-25. Of course this means the Jets will be 8-3, but if you substitute "Favre" for "Jets," it becomes easier to believe.

And the Packers look like they awoke last week to see that they were below .500 and decided they were done losing for the year. New Orleans continues to surprise me with their ability to lose despite Drew Brees's gaudy fantasy stats. Green Bay wins this matchup, 35-21.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Was Shanahan Right?

I have long maintained that Mike Shanahan, with his beady eyes and small mouth that rarely moves, is closely related to Satan. He is well known for having taken over a talent laden (LA) Raiders club from legendary coach Tom Flores in 1988 and running it into the ground while trying to change a "Just Win Baby" culture that gave players the benefit of every doubt and bred a locker room completely lacking in self discipline. The culture clash was summed up by Howie Long's complaint that Shanny did not allow players to sit on their helmets on the sideline. When combined with a mediocre record this gave Al plenty of cause with which to fire him.

On Wednesday, Mike Shanahan showed a previously undisplayed ability to speak the truth when he said of CLOAK man-crush Nnamdi Asomugha, "He is the most underrated football player, to me, that I have ever been around. For people not to talk about him as the top corner in the me, is a crime."

Cynicism set temporarily aside, Shanahan's ability to tell the truth opens a large can of worms and reminds me of a comment that a despondent Unk made when I visited him in Kingsburg in October:

"Maybe Shanahan was right."

Originally dismissed as the bitter ramblings of my Raider mentor still waiting for this team to show him some signs of competitiveness, perhaps it deserves consideration today. If in the face of the current housing meltdown we can question the validity of claiming a fundamental right for every American to own a home, surely we can question the Raider approach to player discipline in year six of an arguably worse meltdown of Raider football.

Fittingly, as I sat down to write this entry, my lovely wife was reminiscing over one of her favorite teams of all time, the notoriously undisciplined 1990's Dallas Cowboys. As the NFL Network show told stories of Michael Irvin missing the team flight to away games, I wondered how they managed to become so successful. Three reasons immediately leapt to mind:
  1. Talent (i.e., good personnel decisions)
  2. On-field leadership
  3. Coaching continuity

That we are only in year six rather than year twenty of a Raider meltdown is owed to a short, simultaneous visit by the above three points to Alameda in the late 1990's / early 2000's.

So was Shanahan right? I'm going to go out on a limb and say yes and no. Discipline certainly helps when every team is closely matched and looking for every edge to win each week. But discipline will never be a part of the Raider culture as long as Al Davis is alive. Therefore, we'll continue to pine for that uncommon combination of talent, on-field leadership, and coaching continuity that has eluded us these past six years. Two good offseason hires could go a long way towards making that a reality. (Read: Hope; also, Delusion).

As for this week's comments, do we believe that Shanny will avoid 21 tomorrow or do we worry that he's prepping to make a free agent run at Nnamdi? In a double entendre that only with him might I believe was intentional, Nnamdi said, "He’s lying. He’s coming for me."

Friday, November 21, 2008

NFL Picks from the Cloak

The Niners won. Gotta love that, especially with the Raiders dropping one in such painful fashion last Sunday. With Cable making all the calls on Offense, he is certainly giving Al Davis no reason to lift the "Interim" from his title at the end of the season, and more of a reason to give Cable the title of "Failed Interim".

San Francisco @ Dallas:

Dallas should, and will, win this game. Maybe San Fran puts up a good fight, but probably not. Dallas over the Forty-Niners 38 - 14.

Oakland @ Denver:

Shanahan loves these match-ups, and if Al Davis wants to keep stiffing Shanny over the money he stills owe him, then Shanny will just bury the hell out of the Raiders every time they meet, there is no exception here. Denver over the Raiders 24-7.

Green Bay @ New Orleans:

I gots to go with the Saints at home in this game. New Orleans over the Packers 28-17.

N.Y. Jets @ Tennessee:

Let's see Brett take his act to Tenny and hand the undefeated Titans a shit sandwich.
Jets over the Titans 27-24.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

John's Picks

Live from the Universal Hilton, with a hangover, I'm picking:

Raiders 3, Miami 37.

49ers 27, Rams 24.

Cowboys 19, Washington 26.

Packers 28, Bears 17.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dan's Picks - Dead Money

Sadly, "dead money" is the only reason why Javon Walker's injury matters. And here I am in Denver, where the locals are feeling playoff-bound thanks in large part to the likes of Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal.

Mr. Optimism is also dead. I have that Art Shell feeling. Probably a topic for another time, but I am actually contemplating it being worse this year. During the Art Shell year, I just stopped watching because I knew it was hopeless. I'm approaching that point now, and it has become clear that Al Davis learned nothing from the Art Shell fiasco after all. When will he run out of excuses?

With that in mind, as our two "busts" return, Miami should handle a reeling Raiders team, 22-8. The year since the Raiders' last trip to Miami feels like ten. Good quote from our now second-best player: "I don't have any answers of why we suck right now." Maybe Baldinger can draw it up.

I'm with the 49ers this week, and only 85% because the State of Misery rivals the Bay Area BARFF-fest this year. And I guess by being out of town I've missed how Singletary went from being this year's Denny Green to one of the top five most beloved Bay Area sports figures. San Francisco, 20-9.

Despite last week's "Adrian Peterson is now a superstar so he can force the coach to take a dumb risk and go for it on fourth down then he fumbles and basically loses the game for them only to have them squeak out a win when the Packers kicker misses a makeable last second field goal and so everyone gushes over his stats anyway" Packers loss, I am picking with my heart again and going with the Pack over the Bears. My heart is 1-0 and my head is 0-1 this week after the Jets beat the Patriots, so let's go with it: 26-19 Packers.

Another classic rivalry: Dallas at Washington. My wife is 25% Cherokee and has been a Cowboys fan all her life. Tonight I went to dinner with her Grandad, who used to be a Tom Landry crony. But for entirely unrelated reasons I'm going to pick Dallas, 25-16.

All the talk of Pale Faces (incidentally, mine is a bit red today after golfing in the sun on a partially snow-covered course) reminded me that I've never actually seen Sllaacs's face, although I understand he looks something like a guy who argued against Obama on YouTube.

Perhaps someday we will see Sllaacs cheering on the Golden State Golden Eagles?

Sllaacs Picks - Javon Walker is out, so what? There's actually an NFL team called the "Redskins"!

Does it really matter that Javon Walker is out for the rest of the season?  Hell no.  There is no one to throw him the ball anyway, and if there was, there is no one to block for the thrower to throw it  ("it" being the football).

ESPN ranks Shawn Hill 16th in the NFL among QBs.  Better than David Garrard, Jason Campbell and Jeff Garcia.  Of course, no Raiders QBs located in the top 25.

Speaking of the Oakland Raiders; they will go to Miami to face a rebuilding team on a five game winning streak.  Notice how the Dolphins were garbage over the last few years, but have a very good looking present as well as future.  The Raiders have neither and will lose 25-13 to the Miami Dolphins.

St. Louis @ San Francisco:

An even more winnable game than the Seattle game the Niners lost.  The Forty-Niners really should blow out the Lambs, especially with Stephen Jackson staying home.  San Francisco over the St. Louis Rams, 24-6.

Chicago @ Green Bay:

Beautiful annual match-ups between these two squads continue.  I'm going to take Chicago on the road in the upset here, division rivals and all - in a 28 - 27 nail-biter.

Dallas @ Washington:

I generally ignore the offensively named sports teams like the Redskins and the Indians, (not the Warriors of course, that ain't offensive, is it?) but I always root for the 'Skins in the games against Dallas, because in the real life battles between Cowboys and Indians (Native Americans), it turns out that the "Red Skinned Savages" are the good guys, defending their homeland from the invading "Pale Faces".  

By the way:  The fact is, I am not a Native American nor do I represent them, but Native Americans in the media have stated that the names are offensive, so there you go. 

And a lesser known fact:  The Sousa's and Dan, are Pale Faces.  
Washington Redskins (offensive name already acknowledged) over the Cowboys 34-24.

P.S.  You should really click the media link above and read that article.  I find it fascinating, just how much our Judicial System considers offending the remnants of the vanquished Natives, when weighed against the potential financial losses of losing "the Brand"  that the Washington NFL franchise has built for 36 years.  After all, the "Indians" are the losers, and the "Cowboys" make the laws.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Uncle Chris the Fireman vs. Uncle Andy AKA Chucky Breadhead

After a rest stop chelada, Chris tries to fist Andy.

Rest Stop: Lebec

Spark it up.

Road Blog: Javon Walker

On the road to LA for my lawyer's wedding. Heard about Javon, and it
made want to puke like my brother did out of the window of Kia after
he drank from a can of Diet Coke into which I had put a cigarette butt.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ostler: Lincecum and the Top 5 Most Loved and Hated Bay Area Sports Figures

First of all, I didn't know that Tim Lincecum was an emo kid. In that knit cap he looks like the dude from Fallout Boy who married Tony Romo's Girlfriend's sister.

Second, Ostler's reference to Fader Nation is a potentially HOTW-worthy, except that it's tough to get worked up about that right now.

Al Davis as most hated Bay Area Sports figure? It still seems to me like York would jump him, because he's both incompetent and boring. It's always better to interesting than boring, isn't it?
Finally, CLOAK-designated Man Crush of 2008 being compared to Barry Bonds works and it doesn't work. Yes, I understand the intentional walk analogy and the implication that Nmamdi is even more talented than Barry at his peak. But Barry Bonds is a fucking prick. Nmamdi is thoughtful, articulate, and as Joe Biden might say, clean, too. He does belong in the Top 5 most beloved Bay Area Athletes; granting Lincecum #1, Nmamdi's got to be #2. If you throw in his days at Cal, he's also the longest-tenured Bay Area Athlete on this list.
Whatever Al Davis does, he has to find to stop running the Raiders into the fucking ground, if only to make signing a long-term deal attractive to Nmamdi.
We flat out need him.


Sllaacs and Dan have hit upon an interesting concept without a good acronym: The Bay Area Football Debacle. Dan suggests BAD, which is pretty good, but I miss the F. So here's an idea:

Bay Area Raiders Forty-Niners Football, or BARFF.

Seeing as the football being played on either side of the Bay makes fans of both teams want to Puke, the "debacle" part is implied in the acronym BARFF.

And, you can take BART to BARFF.

Oh, and since Sllaacs was thoughtful enough to give us Nancy Gay on Al emasculating Greg Knapp, he's Kawakami on the 49ers Monday Night Game:

Mike Martz took time out of his usual ignoring of the media on Tuesdays to reveal that he too thought the 49ers’ last play was from the 1/2-yard line. And Martz said he only figured out the 49ers were at the 3 1/2 when Mike Nolan called and told him so this morning.

PROBLEM: Hey Mike Martz and Mike Nolan… the ball actually was at the 2 1/2. Really. Go back and check. You got it wrong TWICE, star off-coor.

Once when it happened and you called the wrong play and then many hours later, after your former coach (favored coach?) called to tell you. Wrongly.

It was NOT at the 3 1/2 or the 1/2 or whatever half-witted thing you thought it was or still think it was or are arguing still that it was. It was at the 2 1/2-yard line. Please memorize that.

This is unbelievable. My head hurts at the 49ers’ incredible ability to not see things clearly, then argue with anybody who did see it clearly, then babble about it later.

Is there nobody up in that booth who can tell the difference between the 1/2-yard line and the 2 1/2?

Does Mike Nolan know what he’s talking about, even when he’s sitting on his couch?

Should he be calling Martz? Should Martz be saying that Nolan is the only guy “smart enough” to watch it on TV replay and call him… with the wrong info?

Geez. Jed York really has this ship cruising.

More Lincecum, more Raiders

As an A's and Niners fan, I think the opposite of Sousa most of the time, but in this case, I don't hate Tim Lincecum...  yet.  The way the Giants and their fans are drooling over this kid will make me hate him in no time.   Meanwhile, it looks like the A's are going to grab Matt Holliday and  Rafael Fucal, and once again field a better team than S.F. 

How bout those Warriors last night?  Nellie is still The Man, and Stephen Jackson is the best leader on any Cali professional sports franchise not named the Lakers or the Sharks.

Last but not least: Al Davis is at it again - that is, making the tough calls:

Davis strips Knapp of duties

It was widely reported Tuesday that Raiders interim head coach Tom Cable stripped offensive coordinator Greg Knapp of his play-calling duties. Not quite. Numerous Raiders sources confirmed that managing general partner Al Davis was the one who told Knapp he no longer would call plays this season.

Cable was responsible for calling the plays in Sunday's 17-6 loss to the Panthers at the Coliseum.

"Knapp just happened to be the next in line to be a scapegoat," said one source, speaking on the condition of anonymity but eager to clarify who stripped the play-calling duties from the offensive coordinator.

Under Davis' orders, Knapp had been calling plays since shortly before head coach Lane Kiffin was dismissed Sept. 30.

The horrendous performance in a 24-0 loss to the Falcons at the Coliseum on Nov. 2, in which the Raiders gained 77 yards and collected three first downs, apparently prompted Davis to make this move.

Knapp - whose Raiders contract expires at the end of the season - responded to a text message inquiring about his demotion this way: "Gotta run. Have a great Veteran's Day."

E-mail Nancy Gay at


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cy Young

I interrupt this year's installment of the Bay Area Professional Football Debacle Challenge (I think a good acronym for that would be BAD Football, but I really can't be bothered to massage the words to make it work) to say congratulations to Tim Lincecum, 2008 National League Cy Young Award winner. As a Raiders-Giants fan, it is often hard to believe that my teams were blowing their respective league championship games earlier this very decade. The fall has been painful, with very few bright spots.

Tim Lincecum is a bright spot, and he's only 24. Nnamdi Asomugha is a bright spot. He's signed only through this season...

Oops - this was supposed to be a positive post. It is nice to see recognition given to a West Coast team that didn't come close to the playoffs. Perhaps the same will be in store for Nnamdi come Pro Bowl time.

The Niners on Monday Night: Not Bad, but definitely weird

I have never seen such strange whistle-blowing and reversing of calls in an NFL game in my life.  What kind of sherm did those refs smoke before the start of the fourth quarter?  At least they got the calls right in the end...  I think.  A hard loss for the Niners, a heartbreak even - if they were a good team with the game having implications of making the Playoffs.  
The Niners could have nailed down a nice feel-good victory yesterday, but the Ineptitude of the Inept showed up in time to put S.F. in its' place.   Shawn Hill is clearly a QB to give a few more starts.  He looks good in the pocket and he can make all the throws.  Vernon finally looked like Tony G, if only for one play.  The last 40 seconds of the game?  All I could say was: "wow".

More efforts like the game last night will produce better results, of course - but I don't think the Niners necessarily turned any corners.  Arizona took about 12 penalties in this game on defense - and that is horrible.  Those penalties against Arizona are as much a reason for the Niners being in that game as anything else.

Does the Sunday performance of Andrew Walter mean that JaMarcus is clearly not a bust?  Sllaacs says No.  We've bared witness as Walter put up numbers like he did Sunday in seasons before.  The Raider offense as a whole does suck, but Walter sucking it up is no barometer for JaMarcus.  Until further notice he is "JaAlex SmiRussell".   JASR, for short.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ron Curry has Checked Out

Lowell Cohn has a post unlike anything I've ever read. Ronald Curry helped himself to the press room buffet before the game.

He was inactive.

The menu sounds gross.

Coop: Worse than Art Shell Year.

Jarrod Cooper is on Dan's favorite post-game show (by the way, the Raiders lost, although congrats to Seabass on breaking Blanda's record). He just said that he's in contact with a lot of guys in the locker room, and that what he's hearing is that it's worse than 2006, because at least then there was some consistency. Consistently bad, but it was consistent. When O'Donnell asked about the Harbaugh rumors, he said, sure, Harbaugh's a great coach, and Al Davis loves him, but Al loved Lance Kiffin when he hired him, too. If nothing else changes, Harbaugh doesn't stand a chance.

By the way, Kawakami thinks JaMarcus should tank along with the rest of the Raiders good players, and scoops Sllaacs by coining the phrase, "blown to alexsmithereens."

1st Quarter: Could Be Worse

Watching the Raiders intermittently on the RedZone Channel is funny. They cut away from the end of the exciting GB/Minn game to show Johnnie Lee Higgins fumble the opening kickoff. It took a surprisingly 1:36 seconds or so for the Panthers to score.

They next showed us Nmamdi's interception. We were then told that Walter threw it right back to the Panthers.

The next highlight they showed was of Tommy Kelly getting a face mask penalty. What was funny was Andrew Siciliano's narration. "We were told this week, after DeAngelo Hall was let go, that maybe Tommy Kelly would be next. Well, he's still here. And he's turning heads. For 15 yards, in fact."

Anyway. 7-0. Whatever.

Pre-Game Thoughts: Do I Even Care?

I'm not sure that I do, but we have a blog that needs to be updated, so let's give it a shot.

JaMarcus is not playing today. Andrew Walter is. Jerry Mac goes through a scenario in which Walter plays well, the Raiders win, and are then left to decide what happens next week in Miami with a (presumably) healthy JaMarcus. It's not pretty.

Nothing against Andrew Walter, but seeing him get killed, week after week, during the Art Shell regime, made me excited for the Raiders to draft JaMarcus in the first place.

I exchanged text messages with Dan, who is in Denver, and he asked, "If Walter plays, is that a good thing?" Honestly, I don't know. I guess we still have a shot at the playoffs, since every other team in our division sucks almost as much as we do. But for sure, the "JaMarcus is a bust" talk will accelerate. Even worse, the thoughtful birthday present my brother got me will land me on the front page of

One other thing. I was running to the store to get some beers for the game, which I will be watching incrementally on The Red Zone Channel. I was listening to Greg Papa and Tom Flores discussing the release of DeAngelo Hall, when Papa said, "One thing that people may not know about the Raiders, that we see every day on the inside, is that if you don't play well, you will not be here very long." That's a paraphrase.

Anyway, all I could think when I heard that was, really, Greg?


Sorry Dan, for bringing those guys up. Enjoy your trip.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Escape from the Bay: Dan's Picks

What is most amazing about professional football in the Bay Area is its bottomlessness. Every time we think it can't possibly get worse, it does. As a Raider fan, I must tip my hat to the 49ers for their ability to keep pace in 2008. They are actually in this ballgame in terms of pathetic play, roster instability, wild stories in the press, and overall laughingstock status.

So for a second straight week, I will be away from the Bay on Sunday - this time in Denver, where the Rocky Mountain News is declaring an "Erie Resemblance" between Cutler's Thursday night comeback and those of Elway in Cleveland years ago. Speaking of Elway, how many playoff games has Shanahan won without him?

But I digress. Mustering all of my optimistic powers, I can only bring myself to say that the 49ers look as bad as the Raiders. Oakland will lose decisively against Carolina this week, 27-7. McFadden probably won't play, JaMarcus might not, and Chris Johnson will. But why bother with analysis? The Raiders look like they've quit, and Al is sending all the signals that 2008 has been scrapped, which is really more realistic than demoralizing, if you ask me.

The 49ers will lose decisively against the Cardinals, 35-20. I can get on board with Warner for the Hall of Fame. The test is whether you were the best at what you do at some point during your career (check) and whether you can sustain greatness over a number of years (suddenly looking possible - a hiatus is forgivable). Oh by the way, Lester Hayes very obviously fits this criteria.

Green Bay at Minnesota. Having grown up in the region and with a soft spot for the Packers, I love these Black & Blue matchups. As our missing contributor Dobolina can attest, Viking fans are generally very annoying. This rivalry, while not the Packers-Bears classic, can therefore be particularly contentious. Favre always had a way of blowing games in the Metrodome, but he's busy winning the AFC East, so I'm going with the Pack in a narrow victory, 24-21.

Pittsburgh looks solid, no matter who is at QB. And solid is not what describes Indy this year. So I'm going with the Steelers, 20-17.

And the Eagles are hot and need this win to keep pace with the Giants. Eagles 17-16.

Meanwhile, we will try our best to look forward to a future promised to DeAngelo Hall when he was cut. According to Steve Wyche: "Hall said Davis told him the Raiders are about to get rid of other players to clear money in order to acquire better linemen on both sides of the ball and address other areas of need -- like locking up Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha."

Let's save the obvious question, WHO ON EARTH WOULD SIGN IN OAKLAND?? for another day.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Things to do During the Blackout.

Maybe God loves the Bay Area after all. The Raiders game is blacked out this week (by the way, love the porno-style music and graphics on the Raiders report; Carl Steward even rocks the 'stache). So what should Raiders fans do now that they can't watch their beloveds get debacled on TV (yes, that's counts as my pick: Panthers 31-3)? I have some suggestions:

  • Stay indoors and make some babies. It worked for the freaky-deaky Dutch. Maybe, 4 or 5 or 6 years from now, when the kids are born in nine months are old enough to savvy what's going on, the Raiders will be worth watching again.
  • Protest the passage of Proposition 8 with the gay Raiders fans at Velvet.
  • I was going to say watch one of the other games, but the only one worth watching at the time is the Pittsburg/Indy game, which I'll get to eventually.
  • Read a book. I recommend The Second Stranger: A Green Matter Tale, by our very own Sllaacs. It narrowly lost in balloting for both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award to Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. That book is pretty good, too.
  • Write a compare-and-contrast essay. Topic: who wrote a more vicious takedown of Al Davis this week, Tim Kawakami or Bill Simmons? Your essay should be under 250 words. Post it in the comments section, and we'll give a shout out to the winner next week.

Any of these would be time better spent that watch the Raiders this Sunday. And I didn't even get to JaMarcus not playing because of tendinitis in this knee.

As for the 49ers playing on Monday night? I bet we can guarantee that Singletary's drawers will stay up. But the Niners are who we think they are, and they will lose. 38-14.

Pittsburg vs. Indianopolis. Steelers are the class of the AFC right now, and I don't think it's close. I know, Tennessee is undefeated. But their quarterback is named Kerry Collins. So, Steelers win, 24-17.

Packers vs. Vikings. I like Green Bay, 24-21.

New York Football Giants vs. Philly. I'm going to pick Philly in this one, in the hopes that Donovan blows up my fantasy stat sheet. Eagles win 27-26.

The Niners on Monday Night - Kurt Warner for MVP?

And to think, I had this penciled in as a Niners win before the season started.  Kurt Warner: Hall of Famer?  Sllaacs says yes.
As for whether or not JaMarcus is a bust yet, Sllaacs says no.  The Raiders are certainly on the slippery-slope to making him a bust though.  There is also the chance that JaMarcus is a late-bloomer and will take more than one full season to show his true skills on a regular basis.  With the vast improvements made by Alex Smith from his first full season to his second, the idea that JaMarcus could look like a totally different QB next season is not far-fetched.  It took Washington's QB Jason Campbell about 5 seasons before he performed like a starter on a consistent basis.  Just like the Niners should have not traded Tim Rattay, the Raiders should have made an offer to keep Dante Culpepper as the starter and eventual backup if they wanted to win a few while having to go through the growing pains that occur when breaking in most young QB's.

This week's picks:

Carolina @ Oakland:

The biggest questions for Raiders Fans should be: How will JaMarcus play?  Will he look good in this game, or will he do a 2-for-13, 3 picks type of thing?  Will he breach 100 yards passing?  Will the Oakland Raiders score a TD at home this week?
The question regarding the Raiders winning or Losing?  They will lose.  24-6.

Green Bay @ Minnesota:

Every NFL fan loves these Black & Blue Division matchups.  The pack should play well in Minnesota, and win this - the biggest game of the season for both teams so far.  Packers will beat the Vikings, 30-20.

Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh:

I see several interesting games on Sunday, but I find Peyton Manning facing the Steelers' Blitz with the season virtually on the line to be the most intriguing.  Colts will beat the Steelers' 24-16.

San Francisco @ Arizona:

The Niners vs. Kurt Warner on Monday Night.  The Niners will be more efficient on offense with Shawn Hill, but they actually need the athleticism of Alex Smith or JT O'Sullivan to beat a good team, that's right, a good team like...  Like the Cardinals.  No amount of pants-dropping from The Interim will make the Niners good this year.  Arizona beats S.F. 35-20. 

P.S.  The Giants/Eagles game should be the best played game of the week.  It doesn't count for our picks here at The Cloak, but I like Donovan McNabb in this game.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

More on Baldy; Donkeys Win.

This is just gross. I had a manager one time who had a pinky like that. It was disgusting. He was always coming up and giving people (women, usually) shoulder rubs. And when they'd look down, you could see them shudder. Then he'd gurgle this pervy laugh he had, and it completed the picture. I bet Baldy's got a pervy laugh too. And he's probably also a sexual harasser. Everybody knows people with deformed pinkies are perverts.

And whaddya know, the game just ended, and Cleveland, with Brady Quinn under center, almost just beat the Donkeys. Brandon Marshall caught the game winning 6, which helps my fantasy prospects this week. He then told the most ridiculous story I've ever heard about his planned TD celebration in honor of Barack Obama's election the other day. I'm sure the video will be available soon, but the story included references to John Carlos/Tommy Smith 1968, bi-racial Americans, I think, and something else stupid. But to his credit, he scrapped it because the game was too close and he didn't want to be penalized. He may have also realized it was retarded.

Quinn's performance will just add gasoline to the JaMarcus haters fire. I can't defend his performance, so I won't. But Lowell Cohn has an interesting take on it here.

Here I was hoping that the Broncos would win the division at 4-12.

HOTW: Baldy

Yes, chiming in with a Hater of the Week award, even when it seems everyone's a hater this year. One must really distinguish oneself in these times, and Brian Baldinger has done so with this gem:

"The quarterback can't play. He's a bust. Darren McFadden is a bust. He won't stay healthy in this league. He's had only one good game. They have drafted poorly. They are easily scouted. The defense plays schemes that don't make sense. They play the ends out wide, and play the safeties too deep. Al Davis always believes that you have a deep safety, but Atlanta exploited that with Michael Turner. And to just see how bad Russell is, you have to look at what Matt Ryan did in that game. Russell just doesn't know what he is doing."

While John will protest, I can almost let the Russell comments go. JaMarcus is the quarterback, was the #1 pick, is in his second year, and hasn't looked good lately. But declaring McFadden a bust? That's just crazy. It is something a blowhard throws out there off the top of his head when he's hosting an online chat session.

Turf toe is a bad injury to have in the NFL. It's one of those that tends to ruin an entire season, but allows the player to limp (literally) through most of the games. I'm no doctor, but it doesn't seem to be a chronic injury or something from which you can't fully recover. To declare McFadden a bust after he's had the bad luck to have two turf toe injuries is dumb.

The "easily scouted," "schemes that don't make sense," "ends out wide," and "safeties too deep" comments are intriguing. Would be nice to see it broken down intelligently with Sterling Sharpe, though.

Bill Williamson Talks Raiders on ESPN

Following up on Dan's excellent post from yesterday, the only thing I can really say is that at least people are talking about the Raiders again. I still don't think the weirdness of the Kiffin firing can ever be topped, but if what Williamson is saying is true, and Javon Walker, Tommy Kelly, Kwame Harris, Gibril Wilson, and Gerard Warren are all cut during the off season at the latest, then it's clear that perhaps the denial that Alameda's been mired in for the last 5 years may finally be fading.

We can only hope. It's come at a great cost: 2nd and 5th round picks for Hall. Plus all that Salary Cap money in the guarantees to Walker. Especially after Al could have just let Javon retire and it would have cost him NOTHING.

But sometimes lessons are expensive. There is a good core of players here. I'm not trying to sound like Tom Cable, but I think there really is a foundation to build on here. JaMarcus, Nmamdi, the Linebackers, Run DMC. And didn't Super Mario play pretty well in Buffalo?

So the weirdest thing of all may just be Al Davis looking himself in the mirror and understanding that he's made some atrocious moves in the last couple of years, and taking action, no matter how embarrassing or drastic, to finally, actually remedy things.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nnamdi Plays the Timmy Role

There was a time when John's main man would stand up to Al Davis when things weren't going the way he thought was right. Tim Brown had the "moral authority," you might say, to do so.

The only man in the Raiders locker room with that authority today is Nnamdi Asomugha, and it appears he is letting Al know he doesn't like the way things are going, particularly as it relates to DeAngelo Hall being cut. One might argue that Nnamdi is the reason it happened, but with his locker tagged with the words, "Franchised forever!" here are some of the things he had to say (as seen on NBC Sports):

"There's some things that have been going on - some shakeups - that I just haven't agreed with."

"I'm not allowed to speak on it because we're just supposed to shut up and play."

According to a report from John Clayton, Al showed up at the offices in Alameda the other day with a list of 10-15 players who are not performing up to standards. Creeping Death has indeed begun his journey through the Raider locker room.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


DeAngelo Hall is cut.

Is Javon next?

Bill Williamson agrees with Dan that Nmamdi's a must-sign.

At least this happened.

Schefter You Diabolical...

Al Davis's old buddy Adam Schefter is at it again. Now he blogs that DeAngelo Hall's release from the Raiders is imminent.

Eight games, $8 million, a second rounder, and countless (well, maybe someone counted but I did not) times torched by a range of NFL wide receiver skill levels. If this goes through, it would have to surpass Javon Walker as the worst signing of all time.

Three good ways of interpreting this, courtesy of Mr. Optimism:

  1. Nnamdi Asomugha becomes an absolute MUST SIGN, without any thought of, "Well, we are spending a lot on CB already..."

  2. By avoiding throwing good money after bad, The Raiders might actually reallocate that money towards someone who can play

  3. Perhaps Hall's comments in the AJC the other day that he's going to go out and be himself and get a few penalties is in direct contrast with Al's sudden realization that what the Raiders need most of all is discipline

Yeah, I couldn't get through that third point without laughing, either.

Kawakami: Harbaugh is Next Coach if he Wants It.

Tim Kawakami has a long blog post about Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh and his love of Al Davis and the Raiders.

Jerry quips: "Don’t know who Tim’s source is, but I’m going out on a limb and guessing it’s not John Herrera."

You know what? It seems like Harbaugh's a good coach. If he wants to be here, and Al can get some help in the front office, I guess it's better than eating a turd sandwich.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Every Day Is Like Sunday

The dreary catchiness of the edited NFL ad version of that song rings in my head every week, the relevance of Johnny's explanation to this Raider season reinforcing its power in my head.

It's depressing.

Desperate for a reason to keep watching this year - beyond the obligation I have to our four loyal readers - I may have found it co-anchoring sports news tonight with Raj Mathai: Nnamdi Asomugha. The fact that he has not yet been voted as a starter at the Pro Bowl is beginning to look a lot like the fact that Lester Hayes is still inexplicably absent from Canton.

Warren Sapp, continuing his hate-him-and-love-him relationship with me, had some incredible things to say about Nnamdi on NFL Network. And suffering through Raider "highlights" tonight it seems that Nnamdi's stop for a 7-yard loss was one of the only high points of the game. So I'll watch for Nnamdi.

And there will probably be quite a few more depressing Sundays.

Giving Up

After JaMarcus threw the interception in the endzone, I just couldn't watch anymore. So I figured Lily could watch her favorite show.

I wish all kids shows were as smart as "WordGirl."

I just wish the Raiders were this smart. Instead, they're the Butcher.

They're still dumbest team in America.

Minus 2 Yards of Offense

That's what we had at halftime.

"I'm in dispair"

This first quarter is some of the worst football I've ever seen the Raiders play.

We can't tackle.

We can't hit.

He can't rush.

We can't pass.

Watching the Raiders play today reminds me of a joke:

This guy is throwing a party. He wants the party to have a theme, but he wants to do something original, because he's been to way to many Pimp'n'Ho/Cowboy Up/Tart'n'Vicar/Toga parties. So he tells people to come dressed as an emotion. However they're feeling that day, that's how they should dress.

So the yellow coward is there, the green with envy person, the so-angry-I'm-Red guy is in the house. You've also got the depressed lady dressed in black.

After a while, the doorbell rings. The guy opens his door to see two men. One of them has a pear into which a hole has been cut and his thumb inserted. The other guy has his dick in a cup of tapioca pudding.

"Whoa, fellas," the host exclaims. "I don't know what you thought, but this is not that type of party. You're supposed to come dressed as an emotion."

"I'm in dispair," says the guy with his thumb in a pair.

And the pudding guy says, "And I'm fucking dis custard."

Art Shell Bad

I'm afraid we've gotten there. Ever get the feeling that Al fired the wrong coach?

It would just make too much sense for the Raiders to put Mike Vick on the team. At one point my least favorite player in the NFL was Warren Sapp. The Raiders promptly added him to the team. Then Randy Moss was my least favorite. Voila, Moss to the Raiders. Since the Vick drama, and as a person who has twice been on the receiving end of pit bull attacks (Maya absorbed all the pain and the emergency vet visits and surgery), Vick has been my most despised NFL player.

From my perspective, the Raiders are paying for the sins of putting degenerates like Sapp and Moss on the team. They haven't been good since those signings. If Vick joins the team, it might be enough to push me to fan hiatus. I never thought it possible, but that was the visceral reaction to Johnny's post. It isn't like I need this frustration in my life.

Michael Vick

The MediaNews papers are all full of "What if" stories about the possibility of Michael Vick joining the Raiders if and when Roger Goodell reinstates him after he gets out of prison.

I guess these stories were inevitable, with the Falcons in town and so many of Vick's former teammates and coaches now with the Raiders.

I always thought, in the immediate aftermath of Vick's arrest/conviction/sentencing, that people who said, "Well, now Vick's ready to be a Raider" were stupid and lazy. They were falling back on that whole "criminal element" stereotype that's been a part of the Raiders since the 70s (and yes, I'm well aware that there's no small amount of that stereotype that's been cultivated by the Raiders and their fans).

Corkran's article and Monte Poole's column focus mainly on the football possibilities, with some quotes from DeAngelo Hall, Justin Griffith, and Ashley Lelie enthusiastically endorsing bringing Vick to the Raiders. Hall even offers to re-do his contract.

I have to admit that the fantasy backfield scenario, with JaMarcus standing back there looking at McFadden on one side and Vick on the other, is intriguing.

But there's only one way it work if Vick came to the Raiders:

Jarrod Cooper.

If the Raiders put Cooper on the staff (as a special teams assistant, community liason, whatever) and assigned him the main role of mentoring Michael Vick, it could work. Included in that mentoring would have to be taking him to the shelter and helping him clean out cages, patch up rescued dogs, etc. People in the Bay Area love dogs, and his first game at the Coliseum would be guaranteed to see pickets from the SPCA, PETA, and, since this is the Bay Area, probably the ALF.

But Cooper could help smooth all that out, and Vick could show his remorse is sincere.

Sllaacs Picks - Very Late. Who are the Niners playing?

I've never liked the Bye Week in the NFL.  Add more games, I say.  Let there be a 2-man QB rotation for every team and have them play 22 games per season. Let every coach drop his pants to prove a point, let the Niners win tomorrow...  Oh, yeah.  Bye week.  And maybe Sousa is right - the NFL is just not exciting enough to me anymore, and that I am not hyped up for the Home Team Bye Week.

Atlanta @ Oakland:
The Falcons are pretty good, with a true rookie QB who is playing above expectations.  Russell may want to take notes.  The Raiders staff might also want to take notes.  The Falcons will come and handle the Raiders much as they did S.F. Falcons win 35-13.

Green Bay @ Tennessee:
The Titans are 7-0.  Pretty impressive that Kerry Collins is - he is steady and underrated.  I will go with the Titans, picking AFC over NFC this time - Titans over Packers 23-17.

Dallas @ N.Y.  Giants:
Easy pick here.  Giants will take care of business at home.  N.Y. over Dallas 30-13.

Pittsburgh @ Washington:
 The Steelers play tough ball, and the weather shouldn't give either team an edge - but I like Washington better at home 20-14.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dan's Picks

Checking in from Arizona where I'm missing out on my favorite event of the year: Fall Back. Arizona doesn't believe in changing the clocks, but I suppose I can still get that extra hour of sleep because the games will just start an hour later.

I've lost touch a bit since the win over the Jets - I'll blame too much work and nursing my injured wife back to health - so I'm not going too deep with the analysis on these picks. Not that paying attention helped earlier in the season.

I want the Raiders to win and will pick them, 24-21 in a sloppy affair. I applaud Johnny's tie pick, and since no one is keeping score, it shouldn't cause us many problems. The Raiders will give up a lot of running yards but their own attack - even without McFadden - should return. And DeAngelo Hall plans to pick up a couple of penalties but perhaps he'll also return an INT for a touchdown. In recent years it's become fashionable to call that, "Pick Six."

I also want the Packers to win, so I'll pick them 31-27 on the road. Classic letdown game for the Titans against a rested Pack.

Kristy wants the Cowboys to win, but I'm picking the Giants 28-20. At this point it's a mismatch.

And probably a lot of people want the Redskins or Steelers to win, but I'm picking the 'Skins, 17-14.