Megan Fox Ushers In the New Year; Picks Winners.

New Year's Resolution: To Be Reincarnated as that Zipper.

Well, here we are.  It’s a shame the end of the football season coincides with back-to-back holidays, because I don’t think the last two weeks of Pick ‘Em have really gotten their just due, but so be it.  Certainly don’t want to trade in Christmas.  Honestly, you can have New Year’s.  This year, we’ll come down to the final week of the regular season to crown a champion.  If there’s a tie, maybe we’ll use the playoffs as the tie-breaker.  I’ll be trying once again to go 11-0 in the playoffs, but for the actual season long contest…this is it.  Been a great year all around.  Endless thanks to the guys who did the picking, and to everyone who comes here to check out the blog.  Another year, another 1/2 million words smarter thanks to me.  Let’s close this nonsense out…

BIG DUB H:  Record, 41-35-4

I need a 5-0 week to win this thing.

Green Bay -10 vs. Chicago:

The Bears keep saying the starters will play the entire game. The line suggests otherwise. I believe the line.

Seattle +3 vs. St. Louis:

I don’t care who the quarterback is for Seattle. Can you really lay points on the road with a rookie QB trying to win a division title and a spot in the playoffs? Plus everybody is in love with the Rams and I usually hate everybody.

Tampa Bay +7.5 @ New Orleans:

The Breesus made some strange mistakes on Monday night and he got away with it. I expect him to continue to make mistakes except this time I’m not so sure his team will be able to recover. Following an emotional win the Bucs are in a prime spot to come out flat. Did you see the Saints celebrate like they won the friggin Super Bowl? Speaking of Super Bowl, this is Tampa’s and they will have a great shot to win this thing.

Washington +4 vs. New York Giants:

Let me get this straight. The Giants killed the Redskins earlier this year, Rex Grossman is the starting quarterback, the Giants have to win if they want a shot at the playoffs, the Skins season is over, and yet the line is only 4? Something smells awful about this game and it is not Eli’s pathetic 24 picks. Washington will win this game.

Miami +4 @ New England:

The Patriots have nothing to play for while the Dolphins are playing for their head coach. And if the coach is gone, a lot of them will be playing to keep their jobs. The Dolphins have historically not been the best matchup for the Pats. Toss in the fact that Miami is 6-1 on the road this year and I will gladly take the points.

That’s how you go 5-0.

***

GROSSY: Record, 39-37-4

Minnesota (+3.5) @ Detroit.

It’s a tough week to pick games.  I don’t know which teams are going to try.  Have they been trying all year?  It seems like Minnesota hasn’t given up yet.  Why?  I have no idea.  I guess Leslie Frazier has captivated the boys.  Most importantly, their defense looks revived, which is what will carry them to this win.  The Lions have already exceeded expectations.  Time to lose one to remind their fans that they still stink, and will probably stink again next year.

Miami (+4.5) @ New England.

The Pats will probably sprint out to a nice 10-14 point lead and then it’ll be time to yank everyone but the waterboy.  They may run the Wing-T with Gronkowski and Hernandez.  I have no idea.  What I do know is that Tommy won’t be in there.  Who is the back up?  Paging die-hard Pats fans?  Hoyer?  Who?  The Dolphins will stumble into a cover here.  They might even win and save Sparano’s job.  Support the ‘Stache!

New York Giants (-4) @ Washington.

The Giants have a shred of hope left for the playoffs.  And by that I mean they have virtually no chance, but any Eagles fans should be pulling hard for them.  Green Bay would be very bad news.  Muy mal.  I have to think there are different degrees of packing it in, and Washington will hit rock bottom on Sunday.  Not even the feisty heroics of the Sex Cannon will allow them to compete with a team with a little something to play for.  Eli comes up just short of 30 picks and the Giants win by a TD.

Green Bay (-10) vs. Chicago.

Dance in the streets Chicago.  Hopefully you were celebrating from the moment the Eagles messed themselves on Tuesday night, because the next time you win a game, it’s going to be September.  Maybe October.  In some ways it’s actually sad…another kick in Chicago’s tender area, but in other ways, it’s pretty hilarious.  Green Bay should be a high-wire TD explosion in this must win.  Watch in fear Birds fans.

San Francisco (-6) vs. Arizona.

How can I stay away from the Niners in the year when their lines made absolutely no sense.  I feel like if they were hosting the Pats next week, they’d be laying 3.5.  It’s an amazing thing.  No terrible team has ever been favored more often, I’d be willing to bet that.  Here’s a “thank god Singletary is gone, let’s go have some fun,” type of win.  Of course it helps that the Cardinals are in town and will probably be rolling into SF with one eye toward their flights departing home.  Why pick such a nothing game?  Well, it could decide the DA Fantasy Championship.

***

KRAFT: Record, 43-36-1

St Louis -2.5 over Seattle- And the worst division champ of all time…..part of me is actually rooting for a Seattle Seahawks 7-9 with Charlie Whitehurst as QB in the 1st round of the playoffs, but that can’t possibly happen, right?  Roger Goodell must have spoken with David Stern to figure out a way to fix this game, right?

NY Giants -4 over Wash- Sexy Rexy gets sacked 11 times, Washington cuts Donovan officially at halftime, and the mock drafts with Terrelle Pryor begin in Washington….It is great to have these guys in the NFC East, they just don’t have a clue.

TB +8 over NO- This game means more to TB than NO, so i’ll take the points.  Sean Payton is 0-4 in week 17.

Minnesota +3 over Detroit- I don’t bet against Joe Webb on the road.

Pittsburgh -6 over Cleveland- Pitt can lock up a bye with a “W”.  No excuses, just get it done.

***

JCK: Record, 41-37-2

Pats (-4) vs Miami. – Brady may be getting his hair curled by halftime but Brian Hoyer still might be better than Henne.

Philly (-3) vs Dallas -

SD (-3) vs Tebow

Texans (-3) vs Jax.

Giants (-4) vs Fore-skins

***

NICHOLS: Record, 44-35-1

Need a big week.  Not sure it will happen with these picks.  Not a great week.

Panthers +14.5…The Falcons will win at home, no doubt, but I don’t see them going hog wild on the Panthers despite the ability to cover this spread.  Carolina always plays hard against ATL no matter how much of a lock they are for the first pick of 2011.  So, that being said, the Falcons win but in an unusually close game b/w two teams at polar ends of the conference.

Pats -3.5…Dolphins are decent on the road.  Pats are untouchable at home.  I’d take the Pats with anything less than a 10 point spread.  This could bite me in the ass given the Pats stranglehold on the AFC and the desire to rest some key players, but even if the rolled out JCK for QB they’d still cover this spread.

Bears +10.5…This game could be close or either team could run away with it – I just never feel good about it – except for this year.  Both teams have a lot to play for and will play some good ‘ole hard-nosed football and it will be close.  The home team Pack get the W but not by 10.

Giants -3.5…I think I may be 50/50 with my Giants picks this year.  I’m confident that this pick will come thru.  Giants need this for their annual wild card spot which they seem to play for (I guess it’s more fun than actually winning the division).  Big Blue wins by 6.

Rams -2.5…I can’t believe I’m picking St. Louis, and I can’t believe it’s the Sunday night game, but unfortunately it may be the most meaningful game of the weekend.  I have no doubt that St. Louis can muster up enough energy to take this game by 3 and hit .500.

***

Reminder to the DA Finalists to get your picks in by Sunday morning.  That should do it, hopefully we’ll get the rest of the picks in sometime this weekend.  Everyone be safe tonight, and we’ll back on Monday with the regular blog schedule.


Quick Hits From Wi-Fi-Ville.

 

Nothing Says America Like Free Wi-Fi.

 

Here I sit, drinking my venti, extra foam, caramel, mochachino, pounding my keys with authority and wondering how long my battery will last.  Of course, that isn’t exactly what I am drinking.  I sternly looked at the chick behind the counter and said, “Can I get like a medium iced tea or something?”  It’s about as coffee shop as I can get.  But, hunkered down amongst the Virginia horse farms, one must adapt.  So before I head north for the New Year, I knew I had to check in, get my internet fix and hit you all with a couple quick posts before the final Pick ‘Em post of the regular season, coming this Friday.  Since time is of the essence, we’ll do quick thoughts:

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings:

  1. Nichols 44-35-1
  2. Kraft 43-36-1
  3. Dub 41-35-4
  4. JCK 41-37-2
  5. Grossy 39-37-4

As you can see, we are looking pretty good for staying above .500.  Kraft trimmed Nichols’ lead by one game with a nice 4-1 week.  It will likely come down to those two to decide this thing.  We’ll skip the picks of the week this week to save some time.

Eagles.  What the Bleep?

What to say?  I sat in awe as the Eagles refused to block any Minnesota Viking early on.  It still looked like the Eagles would squeak out an ugly one, but the hits piled up on Vick, the turnovers mounted, there was no sense of urgency and the Eagles took a much deserved loss.  The spin has started.  The loss gets them rest.  Wake up call.  The circumstances dictated a flat performance.  All of that is garbage.  The Eagles don’t need a week to rest.  They need a clue.  Maybe both, but another non-intense week against Dallas isn’t exactly what I would prescribe for this team.  Right now, if Green Bay rolls into Philly in the opening week of the playoffs, I’d prepare myself for the nightmare scenario.  Can’t stop their offense, can’t block their pass rush.  That’s a formula for an Eagles loss.

What a Sunday Night Game!

Love that the Seahawks/Rams got flexed into Sunday night.  That is just perfection for the NFL.  How to highlight a division where 7-9 could get the job done.  The question now is whether or not to root for the Rams.  They are probably the less embarrassing team, and 8-8 is certainly more visually appealing to the NFL than 7-9, but wouldn’t 7-9 be fun?  The thought of the Seahawks, with maybe Whitehurst at the helm, hosting the Saints?  That’s just something I think we all need to see.  Go Teal!

Read a Great Book:

Got some books for Christmas.  The first one I finished was called, “Born to Run.”  It is by Christopher McDougall. McDougall was in pursuit of a band of World’s best distance runners, the Tarahumara Indians, who live in seclusion deep in Mexico’s Copper Canyons.  In his quest to find out more about these legendary runners, McDougall encounters an incredibly interesting group of ultra marathoners.  He weaves all of their stories into a build-up for a huge race on the Tarahumara ‘s home turf.  It’ll open your eyes about running, challenge some long-standing perceptions, and entertain the whole way.  Even for someone who isn’t anything close to an ultra-marathoner.  I think it was well worth checking out.

All for now…

The Derek Anderson Finals.

 

The Man the Became a Movement.

 

After an incredibly long semi-final clusterbang, the DA Fantasy Football finals are ready to get underway in week 17. Obviously, for the final, we will give DA his due in being the true inspiration behind this league.  I certainly remember reflecting on that historic Monday morning last year when I said to myself, “He did what?  And the score was what?” DA’s greatness or in this case ability to play atrocious quarterback cannot be summed up by mere statistics.  Don’t get me wrong.  He has the numbers.  2 of 17 passing in that historic Buffalo game.  That still shocks me.  Against Tampa in ’06 he went 10 of 27 with 4 picks.  He was a stalwart in his own league this year.

It is more than all that, though.  It is the feeling that DA instills in a fan base.  This is a man who was run out of Cleveland for Jake Delhomme.  He was a man who was so atrocious in Arizona he was pushed aside in the line-up by not one, but two, no-name rookie quarterbacks.  Playing in perhaps the worst division in the history of the modern NFL, DA was incapable of holding off Max Hall and John Skelton.  Can you even fathom the despair and hopelessness you must feel when he takes the field?  And, it has become a beast that haunts DA.  If you saw his press conference after the laughing incident, you know this is a broken and tired man.  He’s baffled by his own ineptitude.  He looks in need of second career.

I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him.  You can only be this bad for so long, and eventually it will catch up to you. Even at the quarterback position in the NFL, a position only about a dozen guys can hold down, there are limits to the amount of damage you can cause.  DA is approaching that limit at breakneck speed.  What a couple of years it has been, though, right?  Aren’t we the lucky ones?

Right before Tom Watson chipped in to beat Jack Nicklaus at the 1982 U.S. Open, Jack Whitaker was doing a post round interview that basically amounted to a premature discussion of his victory.  Speculating about what would have been a record 5th Open title, Whitaker opined, “Jack, it’s a pleasure to be in your time.”  Pure poetic class, and I can’t help but feeling the same way about DA.

So, the Finals:

The Match-Up:  Team Motorboat vs. Neckbeards and Codeine.

How they Got Here:

As I said, the Semi-Finals were a complicated affair.  Minnesota’s inability to stick with a starting quarterback, blizzards, having internal debates about the rules…it was some high drama.  For the five people involved (probably not).  In the end, I think the deserving guys came out on top.

Team Motorboat cruised into the final.  He built himself a nice lead in the first half of the semis, and then hammered home the decisive victory on Sunday.  He saddled up Matt Hasselbeck and benefited from his early injury and bonus yards.  He also got a nice solid performance from Troy Smith.  As we know, it god so bad in SF, that the Niners couldn’t bear one more week with Mike Singletary.  While Motorboat had a slow burn going, BK swung for the fences, but came up short.  He was done in by the Jets defense.  Even with a pick-6, Jay Cutler could only manage single-digit points against them.  John Skelton’s inexplicable 0 INT performance left BK unable to make up the gap from week one, and Nichols moved on.

In the other semi-final things were a bit tighter.  Neckbeards started the week with a five point lead, but the tide appeared to turn on Thursday when Jimmy Clausen blew up in Pittsburgh.  Clausen threw for just 72 yards and put up a whopping 38 points.  Advantage: Slop Jocks.  Luckily for Neckbeards, they had an ace in the hole and his name was Kerry Collins.  The most underrated stat in DA Fantasy in the incompletion.  2 of 17 remember?  Well, Collins crafted a brilliant 14 of 37 performance.  In the end the total was a final’s clinching 48 points.  With Mark Sanchez unable to provide much help, The Slop Jocks needed touchdowns and accuracy out of Joe Webb to have a chance.  His pedestrian win was good enough for a couple of points, which set-up Neckbeards for the finals showdown with Team Motorboat.

3 Putt DA of the Week:

There were some choices here.  I thought about Mike Vick.  Ryan Fitzpatrick was dreadful, but that was a nothing game, a blowout from the opening whistle.  Jimmy Clausen was terrible and Eli threw 4 interceptions in what amounted to a playoff game.  But, in the end, I think I have to go with Collins, because of what his performance meant to the league.  While the other guys were doing regular season work, Collins was under a conference championship game type spotlight.  Well played, Kerry.

Tell Me What I Missed

Probably the least amount of football I’ve seen in a weekend since about ’86.

So, I’m going to come back with a post on wednesday with the usual recaps, but in the meantime…fill me in.

What happened out there? Eli and Sanchize were pick machines?

The Chargers dropped the ultimate stink bomb?

The Patriots look completely untouchable?

How much did it actually snow in Philly? Are they serious with this Tuesday junk? Isn’t Glee on Tuesdays?

Will an NFC West team get to 8-8?

How’d your fantasy playoffs go? I lost again!

Talk amongst yourselves. I’ve got to get back to the Christmas cookie buffet.

All I Want for Christmas: Winners.

Gisele Claus.

All right, just wanted to check in and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  While I’m at it, I’m going to go ahead and make my NFL Pick ‘Em Selections for the week.  I’m not sure when/if the other will make their picks on this holiday weekend, but we’ll see what happens.  If I don’t get a chance to say it again, thanks to everyone who came to the site this year, read, contributed, told a friend, whatever.  Appreciate it, and hopefully we’ll have another year’s worth of good times in 2011.

GROSSY:  Record, 36-35-4

 

New Orleans (+2.5) @ Atlanta.

Try, try again.  I thought the Saints would win as road dogs last week, and they didn’t.  This week, I’ll go right back to the well.  Are the Falcons really a 14-2 team?  They’ve been getting a lot of credit for things like going into to Seattle and not having a letdown.  Well, Seattle is awful  This loss will soften the blow for Atlanta fans when the Falcons collapse in the playoffs.

Jets (+1) @ Chicago.

My only hesitation here is that it is the second straight road trip for the Jets and they’ve got the lingering foot fetish controversy.  I’m going to put that aside and call them simply the better team in this spot.  The Bears won’t be able to throw it, but that doesn’t mean Cutler won’t try and subsequently throw about 3 picks.  In a low scoring stink bomb, take the point.

Raiders (+3) vs. Indianapolis.

So, the Colts beat the Jags and they’re great again.  Pretty sure in the history of the NFL no team has ever gotten anywhere by beating the Jags.  The Colts are still waiting to be put out of their misery.  They remind me of Jason Gore leading the US Open after three rounds.  Well, their Sunday is coming, and they’re about to shoot 84.  The feisty Raiders should win outright.

Washington (+7) @ Jacksonvillle.

This is just a combo pick with the argument above.  The Jags could win this game, but I certainly am not going to lay a full touchdown.  Not when the Sex Cannon proved himself as a garbage time/backdoor cover QB last week.  No one breaths offense into a broken franchise like Rex Grossman.  Prepare for a last minute drive that cuts it to 28-24.

Baltimore (-3.5) @ Cleveland.

I’ll walk blindly into this one.  Tough divisional game.  The Ravens are hated with a burning passion in Cleveland.  But, sometimes you just have to pick the vastly better team in these scenarios.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Browns have a secret pact to tank the last two games of the season just to get the intolerable Mangini fired.  Maybe Holmgren will bring in “Mooch” next year and they can trade for Kevin Kolb.  Heaven.

***

BIG DUB H: Record, 39-34-2 (This Week, 1-0)

  1. Atlanta (+2.5) vs. New Orleans
  2. Minnesota (+14.5) @ Philly.

JCK:

Cowboys (-7) @ DA’s House.
Chargers (-7.5) @ Cincy.
Texans (-2.5) @ Little Baby Tebows.
Pats (-7.5) @ Argos.
Ravens (-3.5) @ Browns.

Five Road Favorites? Yep Merry Christmas.

KRAFT:

Tampa (-1) vs. Seattle. Seattle stinks at home. They stink on the road. Hasselbeck has 8 T0s in his last 2 games. When Pete Carroll is daydreaming of John David Booty, that’s a bad sign.

Jets (+1) @ Chicago. Jets can clinch a playoff spot with a win. They’ll come to play.

New England (-8) @ Buffalo. The Pats won’t come out flat two weeks in a row. They’ll drop kick Chan’s boys 31-13.

Detroit (+3.5) @ Miami. Miami apparently sucks at home. Detroit is my cover machine for the last 3 weeks. Start pining for Bill Cowher.

Green Bay (-3) vs. NY. This is basically a playoff game at Lambeau. Rodgers is back for Green Bay, unfortunately Eli is under center for NY. Maybe the Manning face will be frozen in place after his 3rd pick to Charles Woodson and Tom Coughlin’s head will explode on the sideline. A Manning free playoffs would be a great Playoff gift.

NICHOLS:

Ravens (-3.5) @ Browns.

Indy (-3.5) @ Oakland.

Tampa (-6.5) vs. Seattle.

Giants (+2.5) @ Green Bay

Falcons (-2.5) vs. Saints.

The NFL’s Holiday Weekend.

 

I say Deer. You say Headlights.

 

Phil Jackson spoke out this week on his distaste for playing on Christmas, and for once I kind of agree with the guy.  I’m trying to think of how many NBA games I’ve watched in my lifetime on Christmas day.  I guess the idea was to do what the NFL does with Thanksgiving, give people something to watch while they wind down, but you can’t compare the NBA and the NFL.  And, you can’t compare Christmas to Thanksgiving.  Christmas could certainly stand alone without any game to prop it up, and I have a feeling if they stopped playing basketball all day, no one would much notice.  If they stopped playing football on Thanksgiving, I’d expect mass rioting and hysteria.

The NFL is actually getting in the mix this year with a prime time Christmas game.  The only problem is, they have Dallas at Arizona.  Maybe this wasn’t a terrible game when they made the schedule, but now it is a putrid bomb that will be watched only for fantasy purposes (regular and DA).  And, what do we think about Dallas playing on Thanksgiving and Christmas?  The players must love that.  I’m not sure what the NFL is doing with these NFL network games.  I think if they really want to sway people toward the channel, they’re going to have to put an occasional decent game on Thursday and now Saturday night.  The Thursday game is Pittsburgh hosting Carolina.  With the way the Steelers’ offense looks, there is only one word to describe that mess, and it is…unwatchable.

Sunday will be the big day as always.  Let everyone storm the Malls to return their sweaters and sit back and watch the regular slate.  It’s all about clinching playoff berths these days, and having a rooting interest in teams you usually wouldn’t care about.  Case in point,

The Eagles fans will be all Rex Ryan-ed up this week.  The Jets go to Chicago in a game that is big for both teams and a handful of others around the league.  The Eagles should get by the Vikings with no problem and once that happens, their only target will be the number 2 seed in the conference.  Standing in the way is Chicago with their head-to-head win.  If the Jets can pick up another tough road win, it’ll put the Birds in position for a 1st round bye.  It’ll also wave goodbye to middling 8-6 AFC teams that were holding onto a shred of hope.  The Bears have clinched the division, and we’ll have to see if they have enough to continue on to home field.

Also Sunday, the Giants and Packers play what amounts to an elimination game.  It’s absolutely must-win for Green Bay, who will get Aaron Rodgers back after he missed Sunday with a concussion.  The Packers have slipped from Super Bowl contender to wild-card fringe at 8-6, and they’ll need to take care of business in the last two games to sneak into the playoffs.  The Giants are obviously in need of a bounce back.  There’s some questions about whether or not the loss to Philadelphia deflated them for the remainder of the year.  I don’t really believe in that, not in the NFL.  Teams bounce back and play good games when you least expect it.  That doesn’t mean going into Green Bay will be easy.  If the Giants lose they aren’t done, but they go from controlling their fate to needing a ton of help.

The most watchable game of the week for a casual fan might be Monday Night’s Saints and Falcons game.  The Saints still have an outside chance to win the AFC South.  The Falcons, who are so deadly at home, are looking to lock down home field throughout the post-season.  It’s another respect game for Atlanta, who has run off a long winning streak without getting swamped by hype.  This will be the toughest test in their dome all year, and I’m sure plenty of people are expecting Atlanta to lose this game.  That is actually my gut feeling, an Atlanta loss.  I’m probably still overrating the Saints, but this is what people do.

There aren’t many other good games on tap for this weekend.  The Colts have the Raiders and the Jaguars face the Redskins as they hash out the AFC South championship, but other than that just a lot of teams (KC, SD, Baltimore) needing wins against inferior competition.

We have at least one Thursday Pick for You:

Big Dub H: Record, 38-34-2.

Pittsburgh (-14) vs. Carolina.

Will sent this pick on Monday to jump on the line, and rightfully so, it has gone up to 15.  There will be a regular pick post tomorrow.  I’m not sure if we’ll get all the picks in, but mine will be up and then the rest will show in the comments, or wherever.

*Reminder to DA people about the game tonight and Saturday.

I’m not sure if that will be the final post for the holiday.  At the least we’ll be keeping up with Pick ‘Em and fantasy results, but not sure how many general posts we’ll have between now and the new year.  Guess we’ll have to see what kind of stories pop up…

 

Christmas Movies.

 

Todd and Margot.

 

What does it take for a movie to truly be a Christmas movie?  Does it have to solely be about the Christmas spirit? Because if that is the case I’d take Disney’s animated version of A Christmas Carol.  Is there another version of that? That’s the original, right?  Does it have to be feature length?  Because if not, I’d take How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Everything you need in a neat little 27 minute package including the Roast Beast.  Then of course there are movies that are set during Christmas, but don’t necessarily have anything to do with the holiday in particular.  I’m thinking, Trading Places, movies of that nature.  I guess everyone has their own criteria, but if I was giving a rundown (leaving out the short and animated classics above), I’d go like this:

1.  Christmas Vacation.  It’s not even a contest despite me seeing a website this week that ranked it as the 23rd best Christmas movie.  If I wasn’t in the holiday spirit, I would have fired off a scathing email.  This movie has it all, but first and foremost it remains hilarious every single time.  It’s the most quotable holiday movie, it’s the easiest to relate to, and it has an impeccable attention to detail (I’d point your attention to Eddie’s dickey in the Egg Nog scene).

2.  Bad Santa.  I love Bad Santa.  If it means admitting I like Billy Bob Thornton, then so be it.  This movie is hilarious, and has perhaps my single favorite line in Christmas movie history, “Sh*t in one hand and wish in the other.  See which fills up first.”  There’s something about an alcoholic Santa with a heart of gold that really warms me up during the holiday season.

3.  A Christmas Story.  I don’t have the love for this movie that some people have.  I know the marathon that TNT, or whatever station, shows every year is a big hit.  But, when I do decide to watch a bit, I always find it incredibly entertaining.  I mean, Ralphie is just an all-time, all-timer.  I might think about bumping one of the first two, but I fear that this is a movie that will eventually feel just too obsolete.

4.  Home Alone.  When I was a kid I probably would have ranked Home Alone among my top-5 funniest movies.  The physical comedy was right in my wheel house at that age.  I’d laugh myself to tears.  At this point, there may be one or two instances where the gags feel a little corny, but it’s still a great flick.  The huge family, all minor characters are handled so well, and the concept is perfection.  John Hughes, two of my top-4.  Decent writing career that guy had.

5.  Elf.  Elf is maybe an every other year Christmas movie for me.  There are one or two  too many lulls to rank it any higher. But the highs are incredibly high.  Will Farrell is hilarious and Zooey Deschanel is great as well.  Plus, this movie has given me the fodder for a million “Buddy Elf” jokes every time I see someone with an item slightly too small for their person.

6.  Love Actually.  BK’s favorite movie of all-time checks in at number 6 on my list.  It starts for me with Bill Nighy as Billy Mack and his quest for Christmas number one.  But, from there you’ve got Hugh Grant’s hilarity, Keira Knightley being all pretty, a great performance by the familial burdened Laura Linney, on and on.  Perhaps the best endorsement, it’s obscenely long and can hold my attention all the way through.

7.  Scrooged.  Here’s one I need to go back and watch.  I remember being entertained by Bill Murray in this one back when it originally came out, but it doesn’t seem to get the replay love on cable that other holiday classics get.  I remember it being quite provocative, but these days you could probably be more titillated at a Wawa.  For it being slightly ahead of its time, though, number seven.

8.  Fred Claus.  I don’t know too many people who like Fred Claus, but I actually find it quite entertaining.  I guess I’m just a sucker for Vince Vaughn.  I know he’s doing the same thing over and over again, but isn’t there something comforting and Christmasy about that?  Plus, Elizabeth Banks in her elf costume.  The glue that holds the film together.

9.  The Muppet’s Christmas Carol.  You have to enjoy the entire Muppet’s movie catalog.  They take Manhattan, and here they run through their adaptation of the Scrooge story.  I’m not sure what my deal is here, but as you can see I’ll take just about any other option over the straight telling of the Dickens classic.

10.  The Santa Clause.  I think there are some huge fans of this movie out there.  Perhaps they feel the same way about Tim Allen that I do about Vince Vaughn.  Don’t get me wrong, I watched Home Improvement like everyone else, but this is just an above average flick for me.  Also, points deducted for the never-ending line of money grabbing sequels.

There you go.  Top 10.  I’ve already seen Christmas Vacation this year.  And the Grinch.  Might be time to dust off that Bad Santa DVD.  Who knows?

Trying to Enjoy Vick One Game at a Time.

 

Vick's Real Hurdles are Still to Come.

 

It’s a been a tough year for Michael Vick’s predecessor.  Donovan McNabb, who I still think would be considered the best Eagle quarterback ever, has had a nightmare of a year in Washington.  His declining skills and Washington’s messy state as a franchise has landed McNabb on the bench behind Rex Grossman, an unthinkable position at the start of the season.  Added to that are the secondhand shots McNabb takes with every success Michael Vick has at quarterback. One of the themes in the local sports media of late has been revisionist history.  To listen to some fans tell it now, Vick is better than McNabb ever was, McNabb never led a comeback, and Donovan has generally morphed into Trent Dilfer in people’s memories.

It is hard to blame the fans for jumping so enthusiastically onto the Vick bandwagon.  He is by all accounts having an MVP type year.  But what is it about Vick that causes such a powerful reaction that not only lauds him, but diminishes the feats of McNabb?

1.  First, Vick is simply not Donovan.  McNabb, the further removed he gets, continues to fall out of favor because more and more fans realize they were sick of his routine.  His welcome was completely worn out.  He was like an old pair of tennis shoes.  You didn’t realize how uncomfortable they had gotten until you put on the new pair.  In addition to that, Vick’s drastically different personality and demeanor on the field is a constant reminder that McNabb is gone.  Vick is confident.  He’s tough.  He looks intense.  McNabb’s competitiveness was always buried under a goofy smile.  Michael Vick would never run out-of-bounds and then pick up a phone on the sideline in the heat of the game.

2.  Secondly, Vick is benefiting from lowered expectations.  When the Eagles traded McNabb there was the belief that 2010 would be a type of rebuilding season for the Eagles.  Optimistic projections had them winning 9 games.  And, looking at the defense, it appears most people were correct in their assessment that the team had weaknesses.  What couldn’t have been predicted is Vick’s ability to cover up the flaws on this team.  It is easy to forget now, but Vick not only didn’t do much of note in 2009, he looked mediocre at best in the pre-season.  No one knew what to expect when Vick came in the very first game of the season, and so by getting the Birds to 10-4, he’s completed a minor miracle.  The difference of course, is that during the McNabb years going 10-4 would hardly create much buzz at all.  It had become old hat.

3.  The last thing Vick brings to the table is something almost intangible.  I don’t know if I’d call it hope, or belief, but whatever it is the guy makes Eagles fans a lot more confident.  Donovan’s McNabb’s accumulated failures, despite some good results, left everyone feeling lukewarm at best when he was called upon to lead a game winning drive.  With Vick, at least for now, it seems he’ll do whatever he needs to do get the job done.  He also hasn’t had that first taste of real failure that haunted Don and left a bad taste in the fans’ mouths.  The comeback Sunday was amazing and historic, but I’m sure all the fans weren’t surprised that Vick was capable of pulling it off.

The point of all this is to bring attention to how much fun Eagles fans are having this season.  A long string of winning seasons sounds great, but the yearly playoff disappoints slowly wear people down.  It gets to the point where the only game that mattered all year was the NFC Championship game.  Did they win that?  If not, it felt like Groundhog day at best and at worst just a giant waste of time.  Vick has returned the Eagles to true appointment viewing, no matter who they play.

For everyone’s sake I hope it stays that way, because the truth is, Vick really hasn’t done anything yet that Donovan didn’t do while he was here in Philly.  Like I said, a 10-4 start wasn’t a reason to celebrate in the McNabb years, but now it is.  I wonder how long this honeymoon will last.  Could it survive a 1st or 2nd round playoff loss, or would  that just be more of the same for Philadelphia fans?  I hope it can.  First, because Eagles fans don’t know for sure they’ll have Vick in 2011 and also it feels good to have a clean slate.  The longer the excess baggage, the type McNabb piled up over the years, stays away…the better.

The Christmas List.

Awwww....Santa Puppy.

I was walking down my hallway the other day and I heard someone behind a door say, “Santa sent all the letters back this year.”  Now, this was just a snippet of conversation.  Perhaps the woman was joking, or perhaps she was dosing out a bit of recession reality to a confused toddler.  I’m not sure, but the fact is, even if the chances are slim that Santa Claus is out there reading letters, you don’t know for sure unless you send one.  So, just in case, if I was writing to the large fella this year, I’d ask for the following sporting gifts:

1.  Please do not allow the Phillies starting rotation to have a nickname.  R2C2 makes me sad.  Any pun using the word “Phour,” makes me sorry I can read.  I’m not sure why Phillies fans aren’t content with, “Holy bleep, we have 4 great starting pitchers.”  They have to be named.  Nicknames arise organically, like Cliff “Mother Lovin” Lee.  I don’t know how many times this has to be pounded into our head.  I thought once something was on Seinfeld, people understood phour-ever.

2.  I’d like you to eradicate kickers from  fantasy football.  I wasn’t even burned by a kicker this year, but there is nothing in the fake sports universe that confuses me as much as having a fantasy kicker.  It takes a game which is already governed to a certain extent by luck and throws in a total wild card.  And, don’t tell me you can predict kicker production.  We all know that’s complete bullcorn.  Actual real life football players are annoyed by their kickers.  Why do we have to suffer?  Call Yahoo, ESPN, and anyone else, let’s make it happen.  Apologies to David Akers.

3.  I’d like Brett Favre to throw one final TD pass.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t personally care about Brett Favre and I think the way he keeps leaving games in a tangled mess of limbs after throwing yet another pick-6 is oddly appropriate. But I’m afraid unless Brett gets his own personal curtain call, the one he envisions, we will never be rid of him.  Surely this is why he was playing last night.  There was no other explanation other than Favre didn’t like that final taste in his mouth.  Now, he’s gone out on a bad note again.  Trouble.  So, heal him up, and whoever Minnesota plays in week 17 let’s see Favre throw a TD and somehow avoid his last throw being a turnover.

4.  I want football teams to cultivate their own TV announcers.  Every team can be assigned two guys, I don’t really care who they are, but they should be homers.  Football is the only sport where you can’t get a good homer broadcast on television.  There is nothing, nothing more painful than watching a Flyers game on a national channel and not getting the biased whining about the officiating, the natural uptick in excitement when the Flyers are on the rush.  It’s amazing what it adds to the games.  Watching the Flyers play the Canadiens in the playoffs on Versus was a gosh dang nightmare.  And, I’m growing tired of the whole Joe Buck/Troy Aikman, “Goooooo Dallas” routine.  Maybe it’s in my head.  I don’t care.  Hometown announcers.

Stocking Stuffers:

  1. Let the Lakers destroy the Heat on Christmas
  2. Keep the Vikings in Minnesota
  3. Kevin Kolb never takes another snap for the Eagles
  4. Tiger Woods wins by March 1st
  5. No Lockouts
  6. A watchable Super Bowl (Read: Anyone but the Jets)
  7. A left-handed reliever for the Phils not named Mike Zagurski
  8. A serviceable putting stroke for this guy

 

Quintana and O’Brien Cause Trouble in the Semis.

A Fitting D.A. Honoree for this Week.

Before we get into the NFL Pick ‘Em standings and what have you, I thought I’d lead with the DA news.  It is, after all, DA playoff time and that is front page type news, not something to bury in the depths of the sports section.  Before we get to the high drama and controversy, let me introduce this week’s D.A. from history.

I’ve been surprised at how easy it was to come up with bad QBs from the past to feature this year.  There were the obvious choices, but it seemed like every week something happened that triggered a memory of awful QB play.  Whether it was Joe Namath or Ty Detmer, there was always a back story.  This week, obviously that back story is the first Miracle at the Meadowlands.  The Eagles improbable win on Sunday was either the 2nd or 3rd incarnation of that miracle, but who was the man behind that first bit of history?  Everyone knows Herm Edwards returned the fumble, but Joe Pisarcik was under center that day.  Was he D.A. worthy?

Well, of course he was.  I don’t know if he wins one for that specific game or not, but when you talk about someone with a career QB rating of 53.9, he’s going to have some bad games thrown in there.  One of the ironic things about Pisarcik’s career is that after he stunk up New York for a couple of years, miracle included, he actually came to Philadelphia as a back up.  He’d throw less than 250 passes in five years, but he did manage a 6/5 TD to INT ratio while in Philly.  A slight upgrade from his 18 TDs and 43 Picks as a Giant.  When picking his best D.A. game there was nothing that really jumped off the page at me.  He was a steady burn, never doing something awesome like throwing 6 INTs in a game, but in the end I came up with the following gem:

On October 29th, 1978 Pisarcik and the Giants rolled into New Orleans to play Archie Manning Face and the Saints.  The Giants stormed to a 17-7 lead, thanks in part to a defensive touchdown and Larry Csonka, but then Joey P got to work. He’d eventually play himself right out of the game, but before he did, he left an unforgettable stench in New Orleans.  He was 5 of 15 passing for 69 yards and 3 Interceptions.  It added up to a nice QB rating of 9.4.  And the man behind the miracle would have piled up over 45 DA fantasy points.

Ok, on to the results of the semi-finals.  The games were not without some intrigue.  The Brett Favre/Webb horror show really put us in a bad spot and exposed some gaps in the D.A. rule structure.  The bottom line is, I extended the semi-finals to two weeks to try to keep it as fair as possible.  More fun for everyone!  Let’s see how the 1st week panned out:

Neckbeards and Codeine take slim lead on The Slop Jocks (-2) to (-7).

This game typifies the week that was in D.A.  There was a lot of star power on the board, but most of those names didn’t come through.  The results weren’t terrible, they just weren’t dynamic.  Take Rex Grossman who actually led the way in this contest for Neckbeards with a single point.  He threw 2 picks, fumbled, was sacked 5 times, and threw a ton of incompletions, but he erased that all with 4 TD passes.  Elsewhere for Bri, Jimmy Clausen game managed his way to (-3 points).  For the regular season champions, The Slop Jocks, it’ll be back to the drawing board after getting victimized by Chad Henne’s 33/45 day (-5.5 points).  Drew Stanton, thanks to a win in OT, wasn’t much help.

Team Motorboat Follows Skelton to 42.75 to 27.25 lead over BK.

This game featured the really one true D.A. performance of the week, and that was John Skelton.  Skelton’s Cards lost a horrific game to the Panthers, and he did nothing.  It was just the kind of general blah performance you love to see in DA, and in the end it added up to 31 points.  To compliment that, Team Motorboat tapped the up and down Matt Flynn for 11.75 points.  Flynn threw 3 TDs, but also had a nice pick-6 and a feast of incompletions.  For BK, he had the pleasure of getting Tim Tebow in his debut, but the Broncos only let him throw 16 times and Tebow managed just 11 points.  To round out the scoring, the re-injured pick throwing machine Brett Favre managed 16.25 points in his limited action.  A nice 15.5 point cushion for Nichols headed into part-2, but hardly insurmountable.

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings:

  1. Nichols 41-33-1 (This week, 4-1)
  2. JCK  39-34-2 (This week, 1-4)
  3. Kraft  39-35-4 (This week, 1-4)
  4. Big Dub 38-34-2 (This week, 3-2)
  5. Grossy 36-35-4 (This week, 3-2)

The “Cindy-Lou Who” Pick of the Week:

Well, as you can see in the standings, we had a bit of a shake up in the pick ‘em race.  I’d still say it is anyone’s game (except for me), but Nichols took advantage of an untimely down week by both JCK and Kraft to take a 2 game lead into the final weeks.  In step with that, I went straight to Nichols’ 4-1 week to look for something that needed highlighted.  It jumped right out at me.  The Raiders over Denver.  Not sure how this one slipped through my fingers.  We just saw the Broncos get absolutely throttled by the Cardinals, they were starting Tebow, in Oakland.  Yadda, yadda, yadda, they got blown out.  Easy as pie.

The “Matt Dodge Hang Time” Awful Pick of the Week:

I went back and forth here a little bit.  In the end I decided to go with Kraft’s pick of Jacksonville.  There are two reasons for this.  First, Kraft is the number one proponent on this blog of Jacksonville being a joke of a franchise.  I bet there is someone out there in the shadows that comes here solely for his Tony Boselli jokes.  That’s why I come…Also, after what happened to Kraft last year I think it would be fitting if he turned around and won it all this season, so I am going to give him yet another one of these trophies to add to his collection to try to light a fire under him.  And, this game needed some mention just for the sheer pain caused by the onside kick return TD cover/backdoor whatever you want to call it.  Painful.

How are those Common Folk Doing?

I’m pleased to announce that I am going to put an official end to this part of the blog.  Perhaps we’ll check in from time to time, but after going 2-3 this week, the public has settled in right around .500 like everyone else.  Nothing to see here.  Let’s move on.

3PT D.A. of the Week:

Hey, Golden Boy.  Yeah, you, Golden Boy.  Hitting the wall, fella?  I’m talking, of course, about Sam Bradford who has spent the majority of the year being everyone’s darling.  He deserves some praise to be sure.  He’s made a big difference in St. Louis.  They could even win that horrid division, but Sammy B. hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in 3 weeks.  The Rams are 1-2 over that stretch, and Bradford’s rating has gone steadily down each week.  After a month or two of very solid play we’ve hit a bit of a speed bump.  Is he worn out?  Has the league seen enough tape on him now?  Is it just a rookie blip?  It’s nothing to be too concerned about if you are a Rams fan (are there Rams fans), but you get no free passes here.  Especially on a mediocre D.A. week.  Bradford’s 2-INT, 22 incompletion performance was more than enough.  Anyone in the semis would have loved his 43 points.