Meat Loaf swept the pair of regular-season meetings against Jerry Cantrell, but the Alice in Chains guitarist is determined to leave his fantasy football opponent singing "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad" after the championship in the Alice in Chains & Friends Fantasy Football Charity League.
"What makes me nervous, of course, is the fact he has beat me twice, and he's capable of putting up 130, 140 points a game," Cantrell said in a phone interview Thursday. "My team, I've had a couple of good scores above 100, but I think my average is probably in the 90s on a weekly basis. I think over the season I've got to be just under 100 or something like that. … His team potentially can totally blow me out in points without a doubt."
This third meeting, which takes place over the final two weeks of NFL games, also has Meat Loaf nervous.
"Never like the odds of beating a team three times," Meat Loaf, who is playing for The Painted Turtle charity, said via e-mail.
Cantrell posted the following on the league's message board earlier this week after the matchup was set:
Posted: Dec 22, 5:30 a.m.
JC Aroma Of Tacoma
Well, well, well, Cantrell versus Muteloaf. It's been great having you in the league for the competition, Meat. Feels good to have finished the season ahead of the ringer.
You beat me both times we played so the odds are probably against me. … I'm used to that. Then again, maybe I'm due. We shall see.
Thank you all once again for being so generous with your time and all the great stuff everybody threw in for the auction. Hope we can do it again next year. All of you at ESPN, thank you for making this possible. We smoked Matthew Berry last time and torched Jay Harris this season. Give us a challenge next go round, eh? Draw!!!!!!
Cantrell's JC Aroma Of Tacoma won the regular-season title and Meat Loaf's Hell In A Hand Basket was the highest-scoring team, so it's a matchup many had expected. The Aroma barely got past Scott Ian's Fear And Loathing 225-213, and Hand Basket knocked off Kenny Wayne Shepherd's Team Re-Domination 157-125 in the semifinals.
Besides good scoring production, Cantrell was fortunate that Fear And Loathing had to deal with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' concussion.
"Yeah, that probably saved me, you know," said Cantrell, whose charity is Autism Speaks. "They made some moves the last couple of weeks to take a run at me with the playoffs, really nice moves and just fell a liiiittle bit short. And Aaron Rodgers being out definitely helped, you know.
"But that first week. Dwayne Bowe totally disappeared on me the last few weeks, and he kinda showed some signs last week and started to come back. It was a close match, but like all the moves I did, too, I don't think I've left too many points [on the bench]."
This week, Cantrell is starting Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman over Atlanta's Matt Ryan despite the Falcons QB's unbeaten record at home.
"Josh Freeman has been one of the steadier quarterbacks in the league, and it took me a while to kinda actually trust him," Cantrell said. "I was going back and forth with those guys, and I made that trade for Ryan to be able to have a decent quarterback after I lost Romo [Cowboys QB Tony, who had a season-ending injury Oct. 25]. And [Jets quarterback Mark] Sanchez totally just crapped out, and I kinda felt that coming, and you know what, I think he did OK. And it was time to cut that loose."
Potential injury problems for Meat Loaf's impressive collection of running backs are causing some lineup headaches as Houston's Arian Foster, Cleveland's Peyton Hillis and San Diego's Ryan Mathews are listed as probable as of Sunday morning.
Earlier in the week, Meat Loaf replied, "No, you go with who got you here," when asked about sticking with Foster and Hillis, the No. 1 and 2 fantasy running backs. But as of Sunday morning, Hillis was on his bench in favor of Jaguars running back Rashad Jennings.
And Meat Loaf is sticking with Ravens QB Joe Flacco over Giants QB Eli Manning, saying, "I traded for Flacco, he is my guy."
Cantrell had dubbed his rival "Muteloaf" earlier in the season because he was dominating opponents but not responding to message board posts while he was working on "Celebrity: Apprentice." But after recently concluding a British concert tour, Meat Loaf responded this week:
Mute Loaf here !!
Posted: Dec 23, 4:40 p.m.
Hell In A Hand Basket
My season comes down to one player!!
Re: Mute Loaf here !!
Posted: Dec 23, 6:20 p.m.
JC Aroma Of Tacoma
Hey, Meat, would that be Foster, Johnson or Hillis? Good luck, man.
Re: Mute Loaf here !!
Posted: Dec 26, 2:16 p.m.
Week 16 is the week!! Jerry had the right picks!!
Participants in the Alice in Chains & Friends Fantasy Football Charity League will each put one valuable item up for auction after the season. The league champion will get to designate which charity receives the proceeds of the auction.
Weekly updates on the Alice in Chains & Friends Fantasy Football Charity League, trash talk and interviews with the owners are being published in ESPN.com's The Life and Music sections throughout the season. Members of the league also have dropped by for occasional chats on SportsNation.
Here is a recap of the first-round playoff games and a look ahead to the final-round matchups, which take place over two weeks:
Alice in Chains & Friends Fantasy Football Charity League final regular-season standings
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Place of birth: Shreveport, La. Age: 33 Fantasy football experience: 1 year Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts
Personal: Shepherd cut his musical teeth opening for The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, The Eagles and Van Halen.
Place of birth: Tacoma, Wash. Age: 44 Fantasy football experience: 6 years Favorite team: Seattle Seahawks/Pittsburgh Steelers
Personal: Lead guitarist Cantrell's legacy with Alice In Chains includes 16 million albums sold, 21 Top 40 singles and seven Grammy nominations.
Place of birth: New York Age: 46 Fantasy football experience: 1 year Favorite team: New York Giants
Personal: When Ian isn't playing guitar for Anthrax, he's schooling amateurs at the poker table.
Place of birth: Abilene, Texas Age: 46 Fantasy football experience: 11 years Favorite team: Dallas Cowboys
Personal: Paul, who formed Pantera with his late brother Dimebag Darrell, plays drums for Hellyeah the way Ray Lewis hits people. In other words, hard.
Place of birth: Bayonne, N.J. Age: 43 Fantasy football experience: 1 year Favorite team: New York Giants
Personal: Wylde landed the job of lead guitarist and co-songwriter for Ozzy Osbourne at the age of 19 and later founded Black Label Society.
Place of birth: Dallas Age: 62
Personal: Legendary singer aka Michael Aday has been just as successful on your TV and film screens as your radio.
Place of birth: Whittier, Calif. Age: 41 Fantasy football experience: 1 year and the AIC&FFFCL reigning champ Favorite team: No favorite, but "I do like to watch the Carolina Panthers every Sunday, especially to watch my boy, Jordan Gross [left tackle], play."
Personal: One of two non-musicians in the league, Willig spent 12 years in the NFL with six teams.
Place of birth: Seattle Age: 46 Fantasy football experience: 1 year Favorite team: Seattle Seahawks
Personal: Before playing bass for Velvet Revolver, McKagan spent 13 years with Guns N' Roses, so he's ready for anything.
Place of birth: San Fernando, Calif. Age: 44 Fantasy football experience: 7 years Favorite team: Oakland Raiders
Personal: Before playing bass guitar for Alice In Chains, Inez was rocking arenas with Ozzy Osbourne.
Place of birth: Norfolk, Va. Age: 45
Personal: Harris is the weekday co-host of the 6 p.m. ET "SportsCenter" and has been with ESPN since 2003.