Revisiting Last Year’s (Now Hilarious) Playoff QB List.

 

Spelling Bee--#1. Playoffs--#20.

Last year around this time I trotted out a list of the top-20 quarterbacks I’d want to start a playoff game for me at that very moment.  It’s a somewhat timely thing to do.  We can start to get a pretty good idea of which QBs will be in the post-season, and the Trent Dilfer cliche aside, it’s always nice to start with a competent guy under center.  I’m sure you’ll be stunned, but I am no longer comfortable with last year’s list.  Before we move on, a look back…

The “Um, That’s Too High” Guy.

I had Brett Favre at #4.  Cute, huh?  Four at four.  This just puts into perspective how far the Vikings and Favre have fallen in a year’s time.  The Vikings were cruising at this point last season and Favre looked great.  Of course, he’d ultimately throw a backbreaking pick in the NFC Title game, but he did make the Final Four…

The “If He Wasn’t Retired, He’d Still be on the List” Guy.

I had Kurt Warner at #5.  Warner was fresh off a Super Bowl season and the Cardinals were one of the league’s most potent offenses.  Does Warner feel badly about what has happened in Arizona?  Was God ok with him hanging Larry out to dry like this?  If Warner came out of retirement tomorrow, he’d probably still make the top-20.

The “Guess it’s Time to Finally cough up Some Respect,” Guy.

I had Matt Ryan at #16 last year.  I imagine he’ll make one of the biggest leaps.  In my defense Atlanta was wallowing among the masses of the NFC at this point last year, and “Matty Ice,” was nowhere near his 2010 stats.  I also admit the nickname “Matty Ice,” makes me prone to disparaging the Falcons QB.  We’ll see where he ends up this year.

The “So, it wasn’t the Scenery,” Guy.

I had Jason Campbell at #14.  I was lulled to sleep by Campbell’s nondescript play in Washington.  I thought, this guy isn’t terrible.  The team is terrible.  He needs a change of pace.  Well, Campbell got just that.  And, I’m not going to make the argument the Raiders are loaded, but if you can’t keep Gradkow down, that about says it all.

Ok, I think that’s enough for the recap.  Check out the whole thing. I’d say 4 or 5 of the 20 guys are in a reasonable position.  Volatility of the NFL or one of my worst lists ever?  Hard to know for sure.

The New Top-20.

1.  Tom Brady (Last Year: 3).  Brady has looked 100% this year after struggling through parts of the 2009 season.  Brady fans talk about the return of his intensity, the haters claim he’s going soft with his UGGS endorsement.  I don’t care about that.  With Peyton not getting it done in the Super Bowl last year, and weighing the current state of everyone’s game, I put Tom back on top.

2. Drew Brees (Last Year: 2).  The Saints had a vicious Super Bowl hangover.  They couldn’t get in a rhythm against anyone.  Brees doesn’t look quite as sharp as he did last year, but there are still flashes where the Saints score in 30 seconds and you are reminded of why they won the Super Bowl.  Defending Champ settles in at #2.

3. Peyton Manning (Last Year: 1).  I struggled with this one a little bit.  The guy is coming off a “DA.”  But, if you watch the games, you see that Manning still makes a ton of good throws.  The Colts lack of skill at other positions looks like it is catching up with him.  If that’s making him gun shy, that’s a problem.  If it’s just forcing him into bad decisions (Favre style) then he’s still got to be one of the best if you have a winning team.  For now, I’m giving old Manning Face the benefit of the doubt.

4.  Aaron Rodgers.  (Last Year: 8).  Rodgers remains on the rise in my opinion.  He may not be hanging the stats that some people expected, but he’s had a very good year.  He can make all the throws, he’s surprisingly agile back in the pocket, but he hasn’t proven himself in January yet.  I was tempted to preemptively bump him into the top-3, but it will probably have to wait another year.

5. Michael Vick. (Last Year: NR).  Vick could be off this list next year.  Who knows?  But, right now I don’t know how you leave Vick out of the top-5.  He has a 13:1 TD to INT ratio.  He can significantly alter the outcome of a game with his scrambling.  He changes the way a team plays defense, and here in Philly he’s showing the occasional sign of being a leader.  Remember before he was in prison, Vick did make a NFC Title game appearance.  (How great is that sentence?)

6.  Philip Rivers. (Last Year: 7).  Rivers is having the statistical MVP year.  He’s doing what Brees did last year, and garnering all the Marino comparisons.  When ranking Rivers, though, you have to weigh his considerable playoff experience with the fact he’s never gotten to the big game.  For this year, number six is what I came up with.

7.  Ben Roethlisberger (Last Year: 6).  Roethlisberger is the first guy on the list that doesn’t have the eye-popping stats or some skill that completely sets him apart.  He does win a lot of games, though, and on playoff experience alone he’d be in the top-3.  All I know is that come playoff time the Steelers are going to be a tough out, and Big Ben plays a part in that.

8.  Matt Ryan (Last Year: 16).  I think this might be a tiny reach for “Matty Ice,” but maybe I am overcompensating for last year.  Is the team as a whole better, or has Ryan taken a big leap?  I think he’s definitely improved.  And, add that to the fact that he’s come up big at the end of two playoff atmosphere type games recently and I’m ready to boost Ryan into the top-10.

9.  Joe Flacco (Last Year: 13).  Flacco is a tough case.  I think he got a little too much credit early for just being the quarterback on a good team, but this year he’s played pretty well and I’m not sure people have noticed.  Just like Ryan, he’s moving toward veteran status and for a guy who has never had a ton of weapons surrounding him, Flacco has done a nice job in Baltimore.

10.  Eli Manning (Last Year: 11).  Of course it pains me to put Eli in the top-10, but I think this season Eli has proved to a certain extent that if he has people to throw to, he can be very effective.  And, even though his playoff success is limited to one good run, he still has plenty of big game experience.

11.  Matt Cassel (Last Year: NR). This one makes me nervous, but the pickings are getting very slim, very quick.  Cassel is having a big year.  Now, maybe his success is contingent on Dwayne Bowe, but the guy has 22 TDs and 4 INTs this season.  That’s a pretty good compliment to KC’s running game.  I wouldn’t want any part of Cassel long-term, but I’m not afraid to play the hot hand here.

12. Kyle Orton (Last Year: 12).  Looks like the 12-spot is the time each year I get around to including Orton.  Hard to know what to make of him.  He’s shown the ability to put up points, he doesn’t turn the ball over too much, but in Denver he’s now saddled with a terrible team.  I’m willing to bet that Orton could do better elsewhere.

13.  Sam Bradford (Last Year: 13).  Why not?  Look at this Rams team and who Bradford is throwing to.  In his rookie campaign, despite that, Bradford has 17 TDs against 9 picks.  He’s got no playoff experience to speak of, but the kid looks legit.  Getting down to this point on the list, he’s worth a shot.  Upside, people.

14.  Jay Cutler (Last Year: NR).  Cutler has rebounded somewhat from his pick-fest that was the ’09 season.  He’s still a top-10 talent, and he’s not blessed with much of a supporting cast in Chicago.  He hasn’t shown the ability to consistently overcome that, but he certainly has flashes.  Until his next 5 INT game, I’m ready to put him on the list.

15.  Mark Sanchez (Last Year: NR).  AFC Championship game last year.  The Jets are 9-2.  Why is their QB in the 15 spot?  Well, I firmly believe every other QB on this list could have done the same thing for the Jets.  Sanchez puts up ugly numbers, and really the best thing you can say about him is that he wins, and he doesn’t kill his team.  But, do we know enough to give the Sanchize credit for this yet?  I don’t think so.

16. Donovan McNabb (Last Year: 9). This is ninety-percent a courtesy.

17. Josh Freeman (Last Year: NR).  Best Career Win?  Still the Rams.

18. Matt Schaub (Last Year: 15).  Something is wrong in Houston.  Is it Schaub?

19. Matt Hasselbeck (Last Year: 19). It’s Seattle, winning any game is a miracle.

20. Fitzy.  (Last Year: NR). If you need one QB to make up a 20-point deficit against the Bengals….

*Just a note Tony Romo not included do to injury and Vince Young was also not considered due to being on IR.

 

 

Fingers Are Being Pointed at this Man.

Coach "Spo" is in Full Damage Control in South Beach.

The Heat beat the Wizards Monday night (impressive win), and before the game it was reported that LeBron James and Erik Spoelstra had a discussion that resulted with them being on the same page.  That’s all well and good, and probably will last as long as Miami can beat up on the 2nd tier teams in the league, but I want to rewind to something I saw earlier in the day on Monday.

The headline said, “Heat Players growing frustrated with Coach Erik Spoelstra.”  I assume we had to add the title, “Coach,” because there are plenty of people out there who don’t know who Erik Spoelstra is, but the Heat were frustrated with him, presumably because they aren’t 18-0.  Or maybe ESPN chose this headline to be intentionally bitter.  The Heat are ruining everything by being average.  Sooner or later football is going to end, and if we aren’t chasing 70 wins, what are we doing?  The Heat Index is ruined.  Sportscenter leads for February will need to be reworked.  Why isn’t this going to plan?  Obviously, it’s because of Erik Spoelstra.

The article went on to say that Spoelstra wasn’t letting the players “be themselves.” What does that even mean?  Apparently the coach chided the team and LeBron specifically for not being serious at a shoot-around.  You know LeBron, world class jokester.  He’s like the Donovan McNabb of the NBA.  In such a serious environment, the Heat can barely stay above .500.  They don’t like Spoelstra’s offense, and claim he’s worried about keeping his job.  The audacity of someone making 1/10 what his players make worrying about his job.  Especially when people have been calling for Pat Riley since LeBron decided he wanted to spend his prime years being part of a duo, or trio.  The sports equivalent of Will Ferrell deciding he only wants to do cameos in his friends’ movies for the rest of his life.

The nicest thing said about Spo?  Dwyane Wade said everyone is not doing a good job.  He said the coach wasn’t, but he had the courtesy to include everyone else as well.    This is an ugly cloud forming over Spoelstra’s head.  The unnamed sources whining, the overblown “bump” with LeBron, people going directly to Pat Riley and asking him everything but when he’s going to take over.  It’s an unfortunate situation to be in.  Spoelstra may be better off getting away from the mess before it taints him for good.  If he got out now, at least he could say that Miami hit the panic button and didn’t give him a chance.

With this story in mind, I thought I’d kick around what it means to be a good coach.  We’ve had this debate in bits in pieces in the comments section from time to time, but the way I see it a Coach has two realms of responsibility.  The first is game-planning/strategy/in-game decisions.  These are the things that should actually impact the game.  We’ll call this category coaching.  The other realm is managing personalities/coddling millionaires/press relations.  We’ll call that category babysitting.  Now, off the top of my head, using a 1 to 5 scale and combining the score, I’ll rate the difficulty of the big-4 coaching jobs.  The higher the score the more difficult the job.

Least  Troublesome: MLB

Total Score: 5 points (2 points for Cheerleading/3 for coaching).

I think the hardest thing a baseball manager has to deal with is their schedule.  Some might say that 162 games spreads out the focus, makes each game less important.  That’s true, but the season is a grind.  Any coach will put in long hours, but a baseball manager has 162 press conferences a year.  That’s pretty intense.  On the field, I think they can be overrated, but a bad manager can certainly cost a team a game.  But, baseball doesn’t really have “systems” or “schemes.”  You don’t have to put in an offense or anything like that.  And, relatively speaking baseball players seem not too difficult to deal with.

The NHL

Total Score: 6 points (1 for Cheerleading/5 for Coaching)

Hockey is blessed with relatively low salaries.  I think it keeps a lot of the players in check.  I’m sure you have the occasional troublesome personality to deal with, but I don’t think hockey diva is a term that would gain much traction.  Problems with players are often guys who play outside the system, or can’t control themselves on the ice, things of that nature.  Not true undermining behavior in my mind.  On the ice, the hockey coach has a tough task.  Imagine Charlie Manuel trying to handle line changes?  There are offensive and defensive systems to maintain.  And, my anecdotal evidence would lead me to believe that a hockey coaching change has turned around more seasons than in any other sport.

The NBA

Total Score: 7 points (5 for Cheerleading/2 for Coaching)

I think NBA coaches, in terms of x’s and o’s are pretty overrated.  Or, I should say that at the NBA level a great coach is too easily bested by superior talent on the other side.  I think talent drives the NBA more than the other sports, and without a significant amount of talent (at least one superstar player) an NBA coach is mostly hopeless.  On the other hand, NBA players I think have the reputation of being among the most difficult to deal with.  The Heat story tells you everything you need to know.

Most Troublesome: NFL

Total Score: 8 points (3 for Cheerleading/5 for Coaching)

I said 162 games are brutal, but I wouldn’t want 16 either.  That’s a lot riding on a single outcome.  NFL coaches are notorious for putting in hellish hours.  I think that’s a reflection what each game means.  I can’t say for sure if it is true, but we’ve been led to believe that sophistication of offensive and defensive coaching in the NFL is paramount for a successful team.  Game-planning.  That’s what football has become.  The parity in the league also magnifies the coach’s impact.  There aren’t many, if any, teams in the league that can get by on talent.  As far as dealing with the players, I think that is a tough task as well, simply because of the size of the roster.  But, the NFL coach has plenty of people to delegate to, which I’m sure helps with keeping conflicting personalities away from each other.

 

Oh, This Is Going to be Close!

Which one is JCK?

Look at the leg extension on the horse in the foreground.  Kind of scary.  And, you think pitcher’s arms bend at odd angles.  Well, we can save that debate for another day.  Right now we have to discuss what is happening in the NFL Pick ‘Em race.  It is, quite simply, too close to call.  We have another new leader as JCK took advantage of an off week by Kraft to pull just percentage points ahead.  The whole pack is separated by a measly 3 wins.  Words aren’t doing this justice, so let’s go to the standings:

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings:

  1. JCK:           32-26-2 (This week: 3-2)
  2. Kraft:         32-27-1 (This week: 1-4)
  3. Nichols:   32-27-1 (This week: 4-1)
  4. Grossy:    29-27-4 (This week: 2-3)
  5. Big Dub:   29-28-4 (This week: 1-4)

The “I am Serious, and don’t call me Shirley,” Pick of the Week:

Well, let’s see here.  Kraft and Big Dub are out.  I could use a pick me up, but didn’t do anything worthwhile.  JCK took the lead and continues to have the pulse of his home team down, but I am going to award it this week based on a fine piece of analysis.  If you can recall back to Nichols’ selections, on his way to going 4-1 (a praise worthy feat) Nichols offered the following regarding the KC/SEA game.  “No clue.  Just feels right.”  And, really, what else is there to say?  If stuff like that isn’t the reason you are coming here, then frankly, perhaps you need to find a new place to waste a few minutes a day.

The “Didn’t You Realize they are Still the Lions,” Awful Pick of the Week:

So, was I a homer?  Did Josh Freeman get his revenge on me with that terrible back door cover?  I suppose so, but this was actually requested by Big Dub on Friday, and I like to give my readers what they want.  Dub was feeling the Lions.  Feeling them almost to the point of liking them outright, and things started pretty well.  Then history, inevitability, whatever it was took over.  Detroit got their doors blown off and didn’t sniff a cover, let alone the win.  Detroit’s history of losing on Thanksgiving is so ingrained in the fabric of Americana, I really don’t see where else I can go here.

The Public are Morons Theory: Record, 6-14.

The public rebounded with a couple nice stink bombs this week (Philly and Pittsburgh), but on the whole they salvaged a 2-3 week, and you’d still be getting killed for the last month if you bet against them.  I still say there’s something here.

DA Standings and Summaries:

  1. The Slop Jocks: 8-4
  2. Team Motorboat: 8-4
  3. BK:  6-6
  4. Neckbeards and Codeine: 6-6
  5. Team Horse Face: 6-6
  6. Kraft: 6-6
  7. Dan: 4-8
  8. Eli Esses D: 3-9

Eli Esses D Loses the “Manning Bowl” 30 to 20.25; Doesn’t Care.

Last week Will tapped into Eli Manning, his namesake, and it ended his season murdering losing streak.  Well, his hopes for the playoffs were still dead, but in week 12 he made the bold play of taking both Manning brothers.  It was Peyton’s debut in DA Football, and what a debut he made.  Two pick-6s, two more interceptions and a terrible loss.  Of course Peyton piled up some yards and completions too, so all that fire power was only worth 24.25 points.  Still, it was probably the draft pick of the year.  Eli ended up killing Dub with (-4 points) and he lost to the combination of David Garrard and Brett Favre.

Team Horse Face gets Must-Win, Knocks off 1st Place Slop Jocks 52.25 to 11.75

Team Horse Face really had their back to the wall here, sitting at 5-6 and facing the 1st place team who also happened to have the #1 pick.  In some ways it came down to Rusty Smith in the 2-hole (35 points) out-playing #1 pick Jimmy Clausen (22 points), but the wide margin of victory was achieved thanks to the 15/16 slots.  DC made a pretty nice waiver claim of Shaun Hill for Thursday’s action and his 17.25 put Tim in an early hole.  Trying to make up that difference was Chad Henne, but Miami didn’t cooperate at all, and Henne laid an egg with (-10.25) points.  The Slop Jocks are still positioned nicely for the playoffs, but it was Horse Face’s day.

Team Motorboat cruises back into 1st Place Tie with win over Neckbeards and Codeine.

This was a game that was all but decided on Thursday.  Sitting in the 8/9 slot Nichols was in pretty good Thursday waiver position.  He likely would have had his pick of the 2nd round options and he decided on Carson Palmer.  He made the right choice.  Palmer was terrible as the Bengals season continues to crash and burn.  He threw up a massive 41 points, and the Thanksgiving deficit passed 50 with Neckbeards’ taking Kitna and his (-9.75) points.  On Sunday, Brian was relying on Jake Delhomme for the comeback, but possibly inspired by playing his old team, Delhomme only managed 14 points.  The result sets up Motorboat nicely for the playoffs rounds and pushes Neckbeards to the brink.

DA Comes up Big Again, Leads Kraft to a 54 to 40.25 win over BK.

This game came down to Monday night.  One of the worst prime time football match-ups in recent memory provided a nice little DA showdown.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise that on a national stage it was Mr. Anderson himself who stepped into the spotlight.  DA put up a tidy 36 points in Arizona’s loss, and combined with the strong finish from Donovan McNabb (18 points) it was enough to put Kraft over the top and stay in playoff contention.  BK missed an opportunity to move into a tie for first when Troy Smith (14 points) couldn’t match our namesake’s heroics.

The 3PT DA of the Week:

I alluded to this in the comments section Sunday night.  It was certainly a tough call.  I’ve been very firm with my two pick-6s equal a DA rule.  I think it’s fitting, but at the same time it seems to be happening a good bit.  Is it not as hard to pull off as we originally thought?  And what of Rusty Smith’s 35 points against the worst pass defense in modern times? Was that not DA worthy?  It probably was, but in the end, there’s no way to avoid giving this award to Pey-Pey.  He was dreadful, and you can argue that it wasn’t his fault, but that is part of the point.  For years and years we heard about Manning’s value, how he was practically doing it by himself out there.  Well, looks like he can’t do it by himself.  Seven interceptions in 2 games?  Oh my.  Congratulations Peyton, you beat Eli in something else this year.

No Pain, No Gain. An Anecdote.

Pick 'Em Up. Put 'Em Down.

So, I was asked this morning if I wanted to participate in a 5 mile run this Sunday.  As you can imagine, this is not a question I’ve fielded many times in my life.  It’d be like asking a known vegetarian if they were up for Nathan’s hot dog eating contest.  Some things don’t mix.  I have been sticking to my big hoss’ running guide, though.  It was enough to make me not reject the offer immediately, though I was certainly thinking that someone like me should be tackling something known as a “fun run” or perhaps 5 kilometers before 5 miles.

I like to string people along for a while, so I asked for more details.  Turns out, this running event is Brian’s Run in West Chester.  An event that started to benefit a Henderson football player who suffered a spinal injury during a scrimmage. My family used to participate in this event every year back in the early days, so suddenly I was feeling a bit nostalgic. And, up for an anecdote.

Back in the days when I was a competitive runner (ages six thru eight) I made the rounds at Brian’s Run.  At that time it was held at West Chester University and there was a 1 mile walk/run thing and then the real race was a 10K.  My pops ran the 10 K portion, but the rest of us made our hay in the short race, then we’d head back to the stadium, watch the serious runners finish and hit the awards ceremony.  It was a good time made all the more worthwhile thanks to a complimentary t-shirt or ski hat.  I wonder if I could dig up my Brian’s Run ski hat with the 80s logo on it.  Timeless.

Anyway, I’m making it all sound like fun and games, and it was for the most part (though I never scored a trophy), but there was the aftermath of my first trip to Brian’s Run.  Quite Anecdote worthy.

As I said before this was just for me a one mile jaunt.  Now, I was a pretty young hoss at the time.  I don’t know when I started, but I’m sure I wasn’t older than six for my first time out (maybe I’d just turned seven).  Now, I think I was a pretty active child, but I wasn’t a distance runner.  I’d probably walked a couple of miles at a clip at that point, but no serious aerobic training.  And, I’m not sure it would have helped either, because it wasn’t so much my lack of training that got me, it was my complete lack of a game plan.

I think there might have been a mild warning from someone in my family, “not to overdo it.”  Pace yourself, or something of that nature.  Well, at six or seven years old you have no feel for something like that.  You’d be better off saying “pace yourself” and then placing a half-gallon of ice cream in front of my face.  I was like a free-spirited puppy, recklessly running around unaware of the consequences.  I’m also very competitive, so I wanted to beat a ton of people, and this was before I realized how to customize my hobbies so that I only do things I am good at.  In short, pacing myself was not an option.  It was go as hard as you can for as long as long as you can.

It was a pretty big field for the one-mile classic and I remember trying to weasel my way up toward the front, because you know every second counts, but amongst adults and everything else there was only so much I could do.  Of course, there were dozens if not hundreds of people who were also faster than I was, but that is besides the point.  The course was just a couple of tenths of a mile out, a couple back and then finish with a lap in the stadium.  I think this only hurt me, because as I was hauling ass out toward the turnaround I saw people already headed back for home.  The only thing to do was drop the hammer.  I could have cheated the turnaround, but once a rule follower, always a rule follower.  I just started running with everything I had.

I was moving, and there is actual photographic proof of this.  They had a camera guy working the event and he captured me in the stadium in a dead sprint.  To this day, it may be the most athletic I’ve ever looked in a picture. Peaked early, but what can I say?  So, I was huffing and puffing, and I charged across the line.  I remember some people being mildly impressed with the time it took me to finish, but it wasn’t a big deal.  It wasn’t like 6 minutes or anything like that.  I was in first grade?  I’m not sure what a good time would have been, but I remember being pretty satisfied with my time.

And, I remained satisfied with it until the next morning.  I don’t remember exact details, and I don’t remember having any problems the night before, but when I woke up in the morning…someone was a little sore.  But, since I’d never really been sore before, I had no idea what that was.  I think reasonably, I quasi-panicked.  Right when I got up my legs were so tight that I found myself crawling out of my bedroom and down the hall toward my parents room.  Obviously, at the height of my concern, I did what any soft kid would have done.  I called for my mother.  My complaint?  “Mom, I can’t walk!”  And, there it is.

So, this coming Sunday, I’ll be attempting the actual race Brian’s Run.  My triumphant return 20 years later.  Hey, someone has to finish last in these things.  If you’re going to be in West Chester, come on out and holler some insults at me.  Also, I’m taking volunteers to carry me the last mile.  Please sign up in 1/10 mile increments.

Welcome Back.

Lumberg Was Here Saturday, Where were You?

I suppose before I start I should bid farewell to Leslie Neilson.  I was an appreciator more than a die-hard fan.  He always struck me as someone who would have been far more funny in person, but he’s probably going to continue to be quoted for the rest of time, and how many people can say that?

So, did everyone watch football, or did they go with the alternate programming over the weekend?  I saw two very masculine movies in the theater over the weekend.  Morning Glory (Rachel McAdams is still cute) and Love and Other Drugs (So is Jake Gyllenhaal), but I put in plenty of time with the pigskin as well.  With playoff pictures crystallizing, here’s a handful of things that stuck out over the long holiday weekend…

1.  What did everyone make of the Andre Johnson v. Courtland Finnegan fight?  Considering the intensity of the NFL it is surprising a bit, at least to me, that these scuffles don’t happen more often.  I’m sure we’ll see some hefty fines and a suspension for this one (Could Johnson miss the Eagles game on Thursday?), but aside from that I couldn’t help but think how much the scene reminded me of a hockey game.  You had Finnegan playing to the crowd for taking out the opposition’s best receiver (too bad the Titans got shut out), the helmets came off like hockey gloves, and they even got a few swings in before it was broken up.  Of course if this happened in hockey, it may have made Sportscenter for a second or two, but then again it might not have.  Maybe they should keep a little ice rink at all sporting events and let the guys go at it on skates.

2.  Can anyone explain Dwayne Bowe to me?  I’m not talking about why he’s good.  I don’t really care if he’s good or not, but what I don’t understand is why teams can’t stop him.  I don’t watch Chiefs games, but I just find it amazing what Bowe is doing in the receiving game there.  Bowe had 13 catches Sunday.  No other Chief had more than 3.  He has 13 TDs in his last 7 games.  Is this the Chiefs running game?  Can you not game plan for Bowe?  It’s not like if you double Bowe Tony Moeaki is going to kill you…

3.  I said it was going to be a big week in the NFC.  Well, the Falcons were the big winners, anyone else, I’m not so sure.  I wish I knew a Bears fan.  I’d walk right up to them and tell them that the Bears stink.  Now, if that means that the Eagles stink and the NFC stinks, that is a consequence I will take, but don’t tell me Chicago is a good team, because they aren’t. The Eagles’ defense was dreadful on Sunday.  Whether it was the hurt corners, Stewart Bradley being terrible, or just the fact they aren’t that good…I’m not sure.  But, I won’t be giving any credit to the Bears any time soon.  Chicago is still going 9-7.  I’m sticking with it.  After a couple of weeks of rising NFC momentum, the feeling has peaked.  I’m off the NFC again.

4.  It appears that when the Giants and Eagles meet again it may be the game that decides not only the NFC East title, but also the final playoff spot in the conference, meaning the loser could go home.  The Saints have 8 wins.  Green Bay and Tampa have seven.  Is anyone confident two playoff teams are coming out of the East at this point?  The Redskins probably dropped out of it Sunday losing to the Vikings, the ‘Boys are long since dead.  That leaves NY and Philly. The Giants were lucky to escape Jacksonville on Sunday, and the Eagles played their worst game in a month.  One of these teams will get to eight wins when they play again, but how much more than that is it going to take to win the division? Surely 11 wins is out of the question for both these teams.  Is 10?

5.  College taste?  Auburn somehow escaped and Boise State ends up taking the loss.  Too good a weekend for the BCS?   Too good from my perspective.  I don’t mind Boise State losing.  I heard someone say this week if these teams like Boise are tired of complaining, they should figure out a way to get themselves into a major conference.  And, while it isn’t that simple, it’s an interesting point.  Don’t you think a part of Boise State relishes this role and really is in no hurry to become just another team in the Pac-10, or whatever the super-conference will be called?  I think to a certain extent ignorance is bliss for Boise fans.  In the Iron Bowl, I thought Alabama was going to beat Auburn, and if I did a college picks post, I would have picked them, but the Tigers pulled it out and passed Oregon in the rankings.  Cam Newton update?  Who cares, let’s just see the game.  Oregon v. Auburn.  Shoot.  Out.

 

Abigail Clancy Would Like To Interest You in Some Winners*

*Not Really.

Well, not sure this post will get its usual amount of attention.  The holiday weekend has changed the flow around here a little bit, but the picks and the women of the picks are like the sunrise.  Inevitable.  We saw some mixed results on Thursday, but there is still plenty of action to come this weekend.  I imagine the selections will be coming in piecemeal if they come in at all, but I’ll give you mine and we’ll go from there.  I know you’re just coming to look at the girl by this point anyway…

BIG DUB H: Record, 28-27-4 (This Week, 0-2)

Cleveland -9.5 vs. Carolina: I promised myself at the beginning of the year I would take the Browns if and when they ever put 9 or more points on the table.

San Diego Chargers +2.5 vs. Indianapolis: Can’t wait till Pey-Pey misses the playoffs. Actually, maybe not. I like seeing him choke in the postseaon more times than not.

Green Bay Packers +2.5 vs. Atlanta: The better team getting points sounds good to me.

***

Grossy: Record, 27-24-4

Minnesota (+1) @ Washington.

Just testing out my “Phillips Theory” here.  I’ll be ready to take all the harassment that comes with this selection, but I think we may see history repeat itself here.  The Vikings hated Brad Childress.  That was the only absolute truth of their season (that and the fact that Favre should have used “stunt dong”), and having him gone is going to make the Vikings play like kids again.  The Cowboys proved your season can be done and you can still cover, let’s see what Minnesota has to offer.  Oh, and the Redskins suck.  Hard.

Baltimore (-8) vs. Tampa Bay.

Dear Josh Freeman, you may have the rest of the world fooled, but not this guy.  Go ahead and beat Carolina, beat the 49ers.  That’s great.  Again, we’re talking about lowered standards here.  This guy threw 5 picks at the drop of a hat last year.  So now all of a sudden he goes 20/34 for 231 and 1 TD and we think he’s the black Dan Fouts.  Tampa Bay is now a good enough team to beat bad teams.  What they aren’t is good enough to do is go to Baltimore and not get blown out. Their best win this year is the Rams.  Freeman has 14 TDs in 10 games.  To quote Derrick Coleman, “Whoop-de-damn-do.” Ravens need this one, and they’ll get this one.  Big.

Jacksonville (+7) @ New York Giants.

The BK special.  I imagine he expects the G-Men are going to lose this game by several TDs, so maybe the Jags can manage this cover.  I don’t hate the Giants, but this seems like a big line for them to cover against a team that can score some points.  The Giants are down to 1 WR now?  That was their strength so they still can’t run it, and my entire fantasy week is now hinging on MJD blowing up, so might as well go for the rare double.  I could see NY winning ugly, but not by a TD.

Pittsburgh (-6.5) @ Buffalo.

Oh, this looks too easy.  Blah, Blah, Blah.  Did the Patriots look too easy in Detroit on a short week?  Guess not.  Have the Bills become overvalued?  Because they beat the Bengals?  What planet are we on where this is a single digit line?  Is there going to be 4 feet of snow falling in Buffalo this weekend I don’t know about?  Honestly, this looks to me like a bigger lay-up than the Ravens last week, and that should terrify me, but I’m still high on mashed potatoes.  I’m fearless right now.

Philadelphia (-3) @ Chicago.

Time to put my limited money where my fat mouth is.  All week I hear people cry about how bad this spot is for the Eagles and how great the Bears are.  Come on.  I’ve seen the Bears play a couple of times this year and it’s not pretty.  Is their defense pretty good?  Yeah, but the Giants’ defense played all right last week.  Vick was about as contained as possible and they scored 27 in a game that could have been 40…easy.  How are the Bears going to score?  Put their receivers in Eagles jerseys so Cutler can find them?  The Bears are overrated slop, on the Acela train to 9-7.  Buckle up.

***

NICHOLS: 29-26-1 (This Week, 1-0)

Falcons -2.5…Matty Ice is 19-1 at home. Gonna be a great, high-scoring game.

Vikings +2.5…The pressure is off in Minn. No more Childress, playoffs are gone, Favre and Rice put up points.

KC -1.5… Not clue. Just feels right.

Indy -2.5… Rivers is a stud this time of year but Manning is looking to seal his post-season fate. Close game but a home win nevertheless.

***

JCK: Record, 31-25-2 (This Week, 2-1)

  1. Chefs (-2) at Seattle
  2. Steelers (-6.5) @ Argos.

***

KRAFT: Record, 31-23-1

  1. Blitzburgh -6.5 over Buffalo
  2. Jacksonville +7 over NY
  3. Philly (-3) @ Chicago
  4. Green Bay (+1.5) @ Atlanta
  5. Indy (-2.5) vs. SD

The Public Likes: (already 1-0)

  1. New England
  2. Philly
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Kansas City
  5. St. Louis

Some Thanksgiving Selections.

The One Day a Year We Miss Madden?

I’m not going to pick any games today.  I’d hate for a non-cover to ruin any part of eating dinner, but it looks like today’s action was pretty popular with our pick men here.  I thought instead of just putting the picks in the comment section, I’d give them their due and make a mini-post.  I messed it up the first time, and the picks are in the comments anyway, but let’s focus on the positive…it’s sleeting!  Anyway, hope everyone has a great time today and if the family bonding isn’t enough, here are some stone cold locks.

JCK: Record, 29-24-2

  1. Patriots (-7) @ Detroit.
  2. Jets (-9) vs. Cincy
  3. Saints (-4) @ Dallas

Big Dub H: Record, 28-25-4

  1. Detroit (+7) vs. New England
  2. Saints (-4) @ Dallas

Nichols: Record, 28-26-1

  1. New England (-6.5) @ Detroit.

Ok, that’ll do it for today, expect a regular picks post and the hottest pilgrim in the world later this weekend.

Alternate Programming.

Unfortunately, Mad Men isn't On.

Where is the gosh dang, puppy kicking TV Guide?  When was the last time you uttered that sentence?  Well maybe not that exact sentence but something similar.  If the remote wasn’t lost the TV Guide was, and then you were just screwed.  What were you going to do, flip through all 40 channels?  I have to give the “Guide” credit.  It was so penetrating that everything that listed TV shows was called the TV Guide, not to mention the prominent role it played in a Seinfeld episode.  My family rarely had the actual TV Guide.  We used the one that came in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  It was excellent.  Nice glossy cover, all the local programming (what’s on Prism?), movie summaries and an insanely easy crossword in the back.  Who needed the real magazine when you had that?  We also got one from the local paper, which was incredibly inferior.  I still get a little mad now just thinking about times I could only find the Daily Local News TV guide.

Anyway, nostalgic information gathering aside (we’ll get back to this in my ode to the encyclopedia coming next month), Thanksgiving is a very big TV day.  It’s big for one major reason, and that’s football, but believe it or not, everyone doesn’t watch the games.  With so many other options, stations have stepped up their game.  They show classic movies, run marathons, there’s even a dog show!  I’ll be watching football, but if I wasn’t, here’s a rundown, old school TV Guide style of what I would suggest checking out.  If someone is bothering you while you keep track of Calvin Johnson’s fantasy points, just print this out, hand it to them, and tell them to make themselves scarce.

11am-12pm: National Lampoon’s Vacation on Comedy Central.  True classic, and in the tradition of most great comedies, it starts much faster than it finishes.  So, catch the beginning, make sure you get at least to, “Hey, excuse me Holmes.”  Commercial Click: Cosby Show on the CW.

12pm-1pm: The National Dog Show on NBC.  A great counter to football pre game shows.  You’re watching dogs on TV?!?  You’re listening to Shannon Sharpe talk?!?  If you are lucky they won’t start with the toy group, and you can see some actual dogs.  Commercial Click: Mythbusters on Discovery.

1pm-2pm: Cake Boss on TLC.  Cake Boss is a great time.  I prefer it to Ace of Cakes.  There, I said it.  Plus, you need to start cranking up the appetite this time of day.  What better way to start salivating than to look at cake for an hour?  Commercial Click: Little Miss Sunshine on E!

2pm-3pm: Love Actually on Lifetime.  I’m not afraid to say this is a good movie.  Plus, I identify somewhat with the guy who is obsessed with Keira Knightly (nice wedding footage, stalker).  But, I feel like this will be big in the non-football crowd.  Hey, Snookums, did you know Love Actually is on?  Then they sprint out of the room.  Commercial Click: Ace Ventura on TBS.

3pm-4pm: Major League on Comedy Central.  Not watching football is one thing.  Not watching the first hour of Major League?  That’s unforgivable.  “You gotta name, or are you gonna stick with Veg-Head?”  Commercial Click: Saturday Night Live on VH1.

4pm-5pm: Roseanne on the CW.  Roseanne was an awesome show.  Hopefully these will be two episodes from early-ish years (Hey it’s the guy from the Big Bang Theory!).  Or maybe you’ll see George Clooney.  Who knows?  Commercial Click: Man vs Food on Travel.

5pm-6pm:  The Godfather Part II on AMC.  There’s a Godfather marathon on AMC.  Just so you know.  But, I don’t know if I could handle the epic with commercial breaks. Here you can catch the start of the second film.  Oscar winning stuff, people.  Commercial Click: The Office on TBS.

6pm-7pm: Storm Stories on TWC.  This is always a wild show.  Footage of floods, tornados, hurricanes, whatever your heart desires.  It’s positive reinforcement.  That’s why I live safely inland.  Commercial Click: The Evening News…stay informed, people.

7pm-8pm: Pretty Woman on USA.  Now we’re in the butter zone.  Look, it’s George Costanza!  Even a billion dollars couldn’t buy you a decent suit at this point in history, but no arguing the merits of this film.  Commercial Click: The Break Up on Lifetime.

8pm-9pm: Iron Chef America on Food.  You know, to satisfy your competitive juices.  This show always fascinates me even though I’d probably eat about 1.3 percent of the dishes.  But there I’ll be watching, BATTLE: SQUID!  It’s a compelling show of creativity.  Commercial Click: Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on ABC.

9pm-10pm:  Modern Family on ABC.  It’s a re-run, and it’s only on for a ½ hour, but who cares?  Watch it twice.  It’s the best show on TV.  Go into your On Demand machine and squeeze 3 episodes into the hour if you are really feeling full of yourself.  Commercial Click:  Elf on USA.

10pm-11pm:  David Hasselhoff Roast on Comedy Central.  I’ve never seen this, but it has to be absolutely classic.  Hopefully Shooter McGavin will be there.  An hour of Baywatch and Germany jokes, yeah, I’d be interested.  Commercial Click: Arrested Development on IFC.

11pm-Midnight:  Sportscenter on ESPN.  Um, how else are you going to know what happened in the football games?

So, that’s it.  If you are up past midnight on Thanksgiving, you are my hero…but, I also feel a little sad for you.  Everyone have a good holiday, and you’re welcome for not having to buy a TV Guide.

Monster NFC Week.

 

Time to Thin the Herd?

 

 

I think people are coming around on the NFC.  The conference that gets no respect is just throwing raw numbers at the critics.  Six teams at 7-3 or better looks pretty good on paper.  If you ignore the NFC West, maybe this isn’t such a bad conference.  Of the NFC’s top teams, it seems like most of them have a big match-up this weekend.  The top-6 could either further separate or come back to the field a little bit.  The games…

Saints v. Cowboys:  It starts on Thanksgiving with this game that looked to be unwatchable just a couple of weeks ago. I think New Orleans could win this game in a blowout and no one would bat an eye, but the fact that you maybe take a moment’s pause in regard to the Cowboys tells you a lot.  I don’t think people trust New Orleans is back and they don’t trust Dallas is dead.  Maybe we’ll figure it out Thursday.

Bucs v. Ravens:  Still like Josh Freeman?  The Bucs won’t be expected to win this game.  Are we expecting 13-3 because they can rough up the Niners?  There aren’t many teams in the league that would go into Baltimore and win, but Tampa needs to put in a showing here.  The expectations for the Bucs are so low that beating anyone is looked at as a miracle. Here’s a game where they and the entire NFC could get some real credibility if they challenge  Baltimore.  I have a sinking feeling they’re going to get blown out.

Bears v. Eagles:  Battle of the letdowns?  I’ve heard the last couple of days how bad a spot this is for the Eagles.  I agree it isn’t a great spot, but what about the Bears?  Are you comfortable with them getting to 8-3?  Both of these teams are in good position now, but they could also both spiral right out of playoff contention as the schedule toughens up.  I don’t see that happening to Philly, who has the better quality wins in this match-up.  I said after Sunday’s games that there aren’t many defenses (if any) in the league who can stop a team like the Eagles.  The Birds get contained maybe, but who on the Bears is going to help them keep pace?  By the way, pretty disastrous tie-breaker implications if the Birds lose this one.

Packers v. Falcons:  Easily the game of the week.  The Falcons have the best record in the NFC and most consider them the best team in the conference.  They certainly could be at home in the dome, but they do have that troubling throttling at the hands of Kevin Kolb on the resume.  The Packers have been crushing inferior opponents of late, but going on the road in Atlanta is a huge step up in competition.  It’s a great QB match-up, and I’d like to give the edge to the Packers, because of the way their defense is playing, but I think this one might be too close to call.  A Falcons win sets up them for a 1st round bye, and affirms their top-ranked status.  If the Packers win, they probably take over the top spot and open up the first round byes to all the contenders.

Other NFC Action:

–The Phillips Theory Game:  If Minnesota rolls into Washington and crushes the ‘Skins, expect in-season firings to spike in popularity.

–The Enigma game:  The Jags and Giants seem like they can blow out any team or get blown out at the drop of a hat.  Which way does this one fall?

–Ultimate NFC West Stink Bomb:  Cards and Niners on Monday night?  You’re welcome, ESPN.  This game is a pick ‘em, which I think is Vegas’ way of saying, “who knows, who cares?”

DA Rankings:

  1. Carolina
  2. Rusty Smith*
  3. DA
  4. Pigpen
  5. Fitzy
  6. Favre
  7. Campbell
  8. Troy Smith
  9. Freeman
  10. Kitna
  11. Hill
  12. Palmer
  13. McCoy
  14. McNabb
  15. Schaub
  16. Cutler

 

Iron Bowl Could Submarine BCS Tranquility.

 

Just A Couple of Friendly Neighbors.

 

I think the Iron Bowl was the first rivalry game I was aware of, something about it always being on Thanksgiving weekend is a memory I have going all the way back to my budding sports fan days.  I rooted for Auburn.  Charles Barkley factor?  I can’t be entirely sure.  Of course, now I don’t particularly care about either team and the entire weekend is flooded with so-called rivalry games and they all have their names like “Civil War,” or the Battle for Uncle Chester’s Suspenders.  Makes me a little nostalgic for the days when it was Iron Bowl/Skins Game/Turkey.  Maybe the two teams are to blame.  There haven’t been too many Iron Bowls that had a big impact on the BCS.  They let a lot of other teams creep in and steal some thunder.

I think I’ve mastered the college football season.  I caught a couple of big games here and there, and now with two weeks left, I am present and accounted for.  It’s time to watch some conference title games, and time do a little prep work so I at least know who is on the field for the national title.  As contenders in major conferences slip away, it has felt like we’ve been pointing toward Oregon vs. Auburn for the National Title for a while.  Standing in the way, aside from the potential asterisk that is Cam Newton, is Alabama.  The defending national champions have two conference losses, but will play to ruin Auburn’s season and possibly get themselves through the BCS back door.

I’d be terrified of ‘Bama if I had anything to do with either Auburn or the BCS.  Auburn gives up too many points for my liking to be considered one of your traditional SEC powers, the type of teams that have been piling up national championships lately.  The way they can out gun a team like they did Georgia a couple of weeks ago makes for great viewing, but I think it makes them vulnerable a little bit as well.  To my mostly uneducated eyes, I think ‘Bama is going to be able to score plenty of points.  Of course, if the Tide pull off the upset, it will send the BCS standings into a state of uncomfortable flux.

Auburn is already guaranteed a spot in the SEC title game, but if they lose this weekend, they’ll drop in the polls behind the unbeaten non-BCS All-Stars, TCU and Boise.  I imagine they wouldn’t drop below behind 1-loss LSU, who they’ve beaten, and is completely shutout of the picture.  Even so, if the Tigers fell to #4 (and where do you rank ‘Bama in this scenario?), that doesn’t give the BCS a nice and tidy 1 vs. 2 match-up.  I’m sure they’d still love to square off Oregon against Auburn, but I don’t see how’d they get away with that.  The non-BCS schools and the Big-10 champion would riot.  So, if it has to be Boise or TCU, which one will get the nod?  And, if Oregon were to lose as well sometime before the end of the season, then how ugly does it get?  Would the fans accept Boise vs. TCU for the national title?  Because, I sure as hell wouldn’t.

Oregon and Auburn is the game I’ve settled on in my mind, and so that means that I’ll have to revert back to my Barkley fan ways and pull for them this weekend.  It also means there is probably no chance of that match-up happening.  Would a six-team BCS 1-loss cluster bang and two undefeated non-BCS schools finally blow things up enough to get a serious change and a result on the field?  Probably not, but it’d give everyone something to complain about all Bowl Season.

My preferred National Title Match-Ups:

  1. Auburn vs. Oregon.  The Paul Westhead Game.  First team to 60 wins.
  2. Auburn vs. TCU.  If one big teams goes down, I’d prefer it to be Oregon.  Auburn’s has the brutal  SEC schedule, and I see some type of dark humor in sticking it to Boise yet again.
  3. Boise vs. Oregon.  To listen to the collective crickets east of the Mississippi and hear people talk about “World Series level ratings.”
  4. Boise vs. TCU.  Let’s just completely invalidate the entire thing.
  5. Stanford vs. Ohio State.  Not possible, but prototype college QB vs. prototype pro QB gets my attention.