NFC West: Ryan Succop

The St. Louis Rams' decision to try an onside kick to open their game against Detroit backfired when the Lions recovered and drove to a field goal.

The move seemed like an unnecessary risk against an 0-4 Lions team looking for a spark (easy for me to say with the benefit of hindsight).

Did the failed try affect the outcome? That's a tough sell after Detroit dominated so thoroughly during its 44-6 victory. Teams that failed to recover their own onside kicks had a 3-2 record over the last decade before Sunday.

In looking at every onside attempt to open a game since 2001, I can see where the Rams got the idea. Spanguolo was with the Philadelphia Eagles when Andy Reid opened games with onside kicks.

Philadelphia and Buffalo are the only teams in the last 10 seasons to recover their own onside kicks to open games. The Eagles drove to a field goal on their opening drive. The Bills lost a fumble on their second play.

The chart breaks down each of the eight onside tries to open games since 2001. Thanks to Keith Hawkins of ESPN Stats & Information for providing the information via Elias Sports Bureau.

Gridiron Challenge: 2009 champs

January, 5, 2010
Longtime NFC West Gridiron Challenge leader "Steak for Dinner?" will have company across the table at the imaginary championship banquet.

Burty's Boys outscored the carnivorous one 146-117 in Week 17 to finish in a first-place tie out of 2,245 entries. Both had 2,230 points. I'm trying to find out whether Bill Polian forced "Steak for Dinner?" to rest any starters in the final week.

Either way, great job.

The regular-season portion of the contest is now over. You'll need to sign up for the playoff version to keep competing.

This was my first experience in a Gridiron Challenge league and my first fantasy football team since about 1994 or 1995. It was lots of fun. My team put up 127 points in Week 17 to finish with 1,961 points, good for 257th place and the 94.4 percentile. I'll take it.

Some of my comments from last week apparently became bulletin-board material for one of the other competitors.

"If all goes to plan," I wrote, "I'll jump past Crabtree's Folly, among others right ahead of me in the standings."

All Crabtree's Folly did was score a league-high 184 points last week (see second chart). Well played.