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Posted: Friday October 10, 2008 10:14AM; Updated: Friday October 10, 2008 1:22PM
Dr. Z Dr. Z >
NFL MAILBAG

Z mailbag (cont.)

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Eli Manning and his older brother Peyton have the same number of Super Bowl titles.
Eli Manning and his older brother Peyton have the same number of Super Bowl titles.
Travis Lindquist/Getty Images
Dr. Z's Mailbag
Dr. Z will answer select user questions each week in his NFL mailbag.
Name:
Email:
Hometown:
Question:

• "What do you think about Donald Trump promoting the Jets' Coaches Club, $25,000 personal seat licenses, which will go on auction Oct. 19?" asks Artie of Forest Hills. I think they deserve each other. If ever I had any doubts about this ripoff, they're answered now.

• "Peyton Manning's on the decline, Eli's on the rise, which one is better?" asks Barbara of White Meadow Lake, N.J.

Peyton.

Damien of Brooklyn challenges my manhood, or at least my reputation as a trouble maker. The NFL has openly legalized holding, he says, or at least that's what the Indianapolis Star says. Holding calls only will be reserved for players in position to make a play, he says. The Colts' Bill Polian, ever ready to give his offense any edge he can, wins again.

"The NFL is doing despicable things to its once glorious game," Damien writes. "Are you going to take action?"

You bet I am. The very nerve. Which way'd they go? A quick call to Greg Aiello, the NFL's publicist.

"Stay calm," he says. "Nobody's allowing anything. Polian was just speculating about what they should do."

You hear that, Damien? The panic is over. Keep me informed on further developments. Eternal vigilance, that's our cry.

Jonathan of White Plains, N.Y., and I thank you for the nice things you said, has two questions:

Q: How is the Dolphins Wildcat different from the single wing?
A: The single wing had a tailback, a fullback a blocking back and a wingback. The wildcat looks more like a shotgun.

Q: What exactly is a nickel defense?
A: A linebacker leaves, a DB, designated the nickel back, replaces him, in passing downs.

Cavon of Philly, noting the proliferation of "diva" wideouts, in other words, me me me guys in the Terrell Owens mold, wants to know who were the divas in the old days.

Honestly, I can't find T.O. types in the history books. Oh, I guess the Packers' Sterling Sharpe wanted the ball as much as anyone, but my gosh, the great catches this guy made. Irvin and Keyshawn whom you name, wanted the ball, sure, but they were great competitors and blockers, who earned everything they got.

• What common denominators do you see in the bad teams, asks Keith of Winnipeg. A reluctance to work hard. A desire to get away with everything they can. Inferior talent, naturally, but I don't think you're after that. In the really bad teams I've covered, a feeling that it's time to pack it in when they get 10 points or so behind. The cure? Probably an overhaul at the managerial level. They're the ones who let it reach that point.

Mike G. of St. Louis asks the following: "How is it possible that there are more winless teams than undefeated teams? I thought we were in the 'Age of Parity.'" There's no such thing. In some years teams are closer, in other they're farther apart. To get perfect mathematical parity after five games, you would have to have two clubs showing a zero in either wins or losses, 10 showing one victory or loss, and 20 either 3-2 or 2-3. What we have now are six teams showing a zero in either W's or L's, 11 in the one win or loss category and 15 at 2-3 or 3-2. So this season, so far, is more tilted toward the extreme, less toward the ordinary.

I hope this answers your question, although to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure I understand it.

• My little "cold, colder, coldest" throwaway line about Buffalo drew a stormy response from Kevin O'Neill, Buffalo TV reporter. First of all, Kevin, I want to commend you for your loyalty to a meaningful, no-nonsense city. Secondly, what are you, nuts or something? I was just playing around, grasping for a closing line. I must admit, though, that when we were up there in February, and Linda got stuck to the car and the Fire Department had to hack her loose, thoughts of the severe cold crossed my mind.

Will of Bloomington, Ind., wonders why he's noticed so many helmets flying off -- at least in the highlight films. Man, this is a head-scratcher. Off the top of my head, I'm having trouble finding a reason. Maybe they ought to quit while they're ahead. Or head for safer helmets. Before matters really come to a head.

• From Jason of Houston -- "I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I am a Texans fan; please pray for me."

Our father, who art in Houston...

Don, a Dolphins fan from Ashburn, Va., is annoyed the Dolphins' Wildcat has occupied so much notoriety about his team that people treat other, more significant aspects lightly. Such as the defense. Absolutely. I agree. When I did that little bitty piece on them in the latest magazine, I ended it with, "They can play some defense, too, you know." Given the space constraints, I'm afraid that's the best I can do.

• From Phil of Cincinnati. "I noticed you mentioned Pivo. What is your favorite Czech beer? Have you ever tried Becherovka?"

The Redhead is begging to answer this one. "Have we tried it?" she says. "You betcher Ovka."

• Two-part question from Matthew of Cary, N.C.:

1. Is there really a home field advantage for most football teams?
Yes. A long trip will disrupt a team's schedule, and noisy fans will make it harder to run a no-huddle, hurry-up offense.

2. How do you reflect that edge in your picks?
I don't have to. The edge already is reflected in the betting line. Sometimes, though, it's helpful to go back through the records and find a place where a team always seems to do well as a visitor, such as Europe for the U.S. in World Wars I and II.

 
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