Annual Kevin Kolb “Trade” Debate.

The Eagles are going to use the franchise tag on Michael Vick. It means Vick will earn about 20 million in 2011 assuming there is a season and assuming there is still a franchise tag in the collective bargaining agreement. This, aside being great news for Vick’s creditors, is no surprise. The price seems steep for one season, but it gives the Eagles another year to look at Vick without making the commitment of a long term deal and even bigger signing bonus. It’s the least possible commitment, should we coin the term, “LPC”? It rules football. What is the absolute minimum we can do for a player? If this was baseball, Vick would have his long term deal (possibly from the highest bidder). Hell, if it was hockey, he’d have some ridiculous 14 year contract, but in the NFL it’s all about that LPC.

And, that is the same reason the Kevin Kolb trade rumors leading up to the draft will likely be pointless. The bulk of the money in the Eagles’ half-hearted extension for Kolb was doled out last year. For 2011, Kolb would be a bargain for a decent kicker, for a QB…he’s an absolute steal. The Eagles are under no obligation to give him more money and they are under no obligation to move him to give him a chance to start. The only thing they will do is shop him.

But, what does that mean, really? What do the Eagles think Kolb is worth vs. what would another team be willing to give up? I hate to say it, but the best thing Kolb has going for him is his low salary figure. Last year there was some mystery around Kolb’s game, his ceiling was high according to some. The work he did on the field this year I can’t imagine helped his cause too much. Kolb looks to be settling into the serviceable category. You could do worse than Kolb, but it’s hard not to think that ultimately he will be a dead end. Even if he did work out, his salary would balloon starting in 2012.

The Eagles will be perfectly happy to keep Kolb. An inexpensive backup who they know well? It’s a great situation for a team to be in. Because of that, the Birds will likely set the price obscenely high for Kolb (like they did last year), and it could very well kill the market. There’s a big difference between someone being “available” and someone being likely to be moved. Kolb is available. If some team went brain dead and offered a package centering on a number one pick, the Eagles might listen,but don’t expect a Don McNabb deal to push K-squared out of town. If Ed Wade was an NFL GM, he’d probably ship 2 first rounders to Philly without blinking an eye, but I doubt the Eagles are going to get that lucky.

So, I’m sure trading Kevin Kolb is going to be one of the top off-season stories for the Eagles. There will be rumors, there will be theories and arguments, but the guy is more than likely going to stick around. In fact, the only way I see the Eagles making a move is if they really think Kolb doesn’t have it, or of they really think Vick can be durable year after year. Neither of those sound plausible. The way my predictions have been going around here lately, Kolb will probably be dealt tomorrow, but in the meantime I’d ignore all Kolb trade stories until the word “traded” actually appears in a headline.

The Last Football Monday Until…

I don’t know about everyone else out there, but I am in denial. I know this is the last week of football this season, but what I don’t want to think about is the large Andy Reid in the room. The NFL labor issues could force the start of the 2011 season closer to 2012. Is that what that doomsday movie was about? That makes more sense than whatever Darren Daulton and company were talking about with the Mayan calendar.

You probably won’t hear too much about it this week. The NFL will want everything to be business as usual as we build up to the country’s biggest sporting event. Today we can rehash the awful Pro Bowl (nice job AFC quarterbacks), then we’ll have media day, we’ll get odd stories, if we’re lucky someone will miss curfew. After that we’ll be pounded with history for a couple days until it is finally time to see if the game and the Clydesdales can live up to expectations. There will be little talk of the lockout though, no reason to tarnish this prefab extravaganza.

And as a fan, I have to say that this is how I want it to be. I don’t want to know the gory details, just show me the product on the field. This is the time of the year that I am ready to let football go anyway. I can watch some hockey. I can shift from hot stove to Grapefruit League boxscores. I can forget about football until the draft, but will you be able to forget this year, or will you be wondering about a possible lockout?

I’m not sure where it comes from, but I just have this faith the deal will get done. Like I opened with, it could very well be denial. Maybe I think the NFL isn’t stupid enough to ruffle the feathers of their golden goose. Could the NFL survive a lockout? I’m sure they could, but it’s never a good business plan. We’ve gone a long time since a labor issue has disrupted an NFL season, and since then the league has only become more dominant on the sports landscape. Why risk that?

Maybe I think the players can’t afford to be locked out. The owners are coming from an uncommon position of power. You might be able to convince me that some NBA franchises are in financial trouble, but the NFL is a license to print money. The management side is so strong that the casual observer would find them unbreakable. The players will surely realize this and swallow whatever medicine they are given. 18 games? Yes, please.

Before this last season started the talk of a lockout was that it was inevitable. It was going to happen. Get ready for it. But, since then there has been some cautious optimism, and I have latched onto that. Maybe I would call it common sense more than anything else. No matter who has the upper hand the two sides need each other and they need to be playing games.

If it does come down to a lockout I know a couple things for certain. One, we’ll manage. It will be painful at times, but Sundays could end up being a lot more productive for some people. Some might have to latch onto a college team or take up adult league kickball, but we’ll find something to do. The other thing I can say for sure is that this time around I would have the players’ backs. I don’t want it to get to this point, but if it does, you have to side with guys who are already getting screwed, right? That’s my position anyway.

So, six days away from America’s biggest sporting spectacle, I’d encourage everyone to drink it in a little more this week. Savor every mind numbing story. Just in case…

Power Cords, Snow Surrender and the Lost Buffer Zone.

I guess I have to start with an apology. I’m sure most people weren’t expecting a pick or a lovely lady today, but I was going to throw one up anyway…maybe even pick the Pro Bowl. Surprise! But, the power cord for my computer is currently just outside Richmond. Virginia and I am not. So, all that valuable research I put into selecting the proper picture ends up being for naught. I also don’t even know the line for the Pro Bowl, so the whole segment is really trashed. I’m not sure why it is the case, but I am incapable of leaving my sister’s house without forgetting something. Pair of gloves, charger, the power cord. I could explain them all off as extraordinary events, but the real truth is I am probably just disorganized.

You win, snow. I wasn’t even around to have to dig out of this one, but the aftermath alone is enough to make me dream of warmer climates. Actually, the cold isn’t that big of a deal, but the unrelenting string of “snow events” has got to go. I think there has been snow on the ground since Christmas and after that foot and a half I’m sure we won’t see grass until March. I know this is commonplace in many areas and I’m really not concerned with other people’s snow stories or snow toughness. This one is all about me. I’m tired of the snow, I’m tired of the idiots saying, “so much for global warming.” It was only a few years back that we got about six inches all winter. Let’s go back to that.

Jeff Fisher got canned, which of course eliminates the guy Andy Reid could point at when people asked how he still had a job. Fisher’s tenure was even longer and less successful than Big Red’s, and I imagine being buried in Tennessee had a little to do with his longevity. Nice friendly market. Like Jerry Sloan in Utah. I think Andy is now the most senior head man, but he still doesn’t have a Super Bowl. I guess the only person left to point to now is Bill Cowher.

The power seems to be slipping from Andy fingers lately. I guess it could all be coincidental, but he doesn’t seem to have all the control anymore and his job looks like it could be on the line next year…something I never thought would happen. Immediately after Fisher was let go there was speculation he could end up here as the defensive coordinator. That’d be great for the team, but maybe bad news for Andy. Fisher is the kind of coordinator you hire to eventually take over as head coach. Looks like it was just another rumor, but with every passing week and month it looks like the protective shell around Andy Reid is getting chipped away. Incidentially, that protective shell, if you were wondering, is made out of candy.

In closing I’d like to extend a big middle finger to everyone who doesn’t clean the snow off the roof of their car. I hope you get buried under an avalanche of tickets. Just so you know, I don’t feel like engaging evasive radar while I am driving behind you. Get in touch with reality, or at the very least I hope you get stuck in a ditch.

All right everyone, taker easy, Go Tiger, go NFC, go Charlie Sheen, I’ll see everyone (probably still in text only form) on Monday.

Happy Pro Bowl Week.

The Whole Thing Just Screams Awkward, Doesn't It?

There’s no point in ripping the Pro Bowl. Everyone knows the game is a total joke. On the spectrum of All-Star games, where not a one carries weight, the NFL version is easily the most pointless. I think my least favorite part of the Pro Bowl is that it skews career stats. He made 6 Pro Bowls…ok, how many of those were as a 7th alternate? The one saving grace was that the game was held in Hawaii, but they even messed that up last year. Overall, it’s a terrible concept and a terrible game that has to hold everyone over until the Super Bowl. Only that…the Super Bowl doesn’t always give you much of a game either.

Many of the Super Bowls in my viewing lifetime have been miserable affairs. Blowout doesn’t even begin to describe some of the Buffalo and Denver debacles I witnessed in my Super Bowl formative years. There was actually a time when I thought the most exciting thing about Super Bowl Sunday was getting to drink as much soda as I wanted. It was either that or the Bud Bowl. I’m not sure. You wonder why the Super Bowl needs all those ridiculous props and square pools? It’s because the game can very often be terrible. That said, the game has taken some positive turns in recent years with some upsets and good finishes. Some of my Super Bowl highlights over the years…

1. Pats/Rams. The Rams were an old school NFC prohibitive favorite. I was still getting over Drew Bledsoe not playing. One of my favorite QBs of all-time had saved the AFC championship game, but the Pats stuck Brady back in there for the big one. The real memory of this game, though, is that I received multiple calls from JCK, who was in attendance. As the time ticked down, JCK said he was roaming the concourse, looking for someone still selling beer. Then he blurted out that the Pats were going to win. My response? Dude…go back to your seat and watch the damn ending.

2. Steelers/Cards. Obvious bonus points for watching it in Jamaica, but this game illustrates a classic Super Bowl point. You’ve got to pick a team. Usually, it’s the underdog. So there we were (JCK, BK and myself), rooting pretty hard for those Arizona Cardinals. There didn’t seem to be much hope for a game, but Warner and company showed. When Arizona scored what was almost the winning score…we exploded. Of course, then Pittsburgh scored, the Cards lost, and we were over it pretty quick. It was a good last hour, though.

3. Ravens/Giants. This game is memorable for me for a couple of reasons, but I mention it because it was my only Super Bowl pool win. We had a bunch of people over to our apartment and collected some cash for a pool that included guessing the MVP. I happened to hit it, but so did several others. I think I got my money back, which as I stated above is my best performance ever. Of course this won’t stop me from hitting a square pool this year, see if I can do any damage with my usual 2/6.

4. 49ers/Bengals. This was the first Super Bowl I remember watching that was a decent game. My first Super Bowl ever was Bears/Pats…mess. Others seemed to be a race to see how many points the Broncos could fall behind by at halftime. Bengals/Niners was a bit different. I’m talking about Niners/Bengals part two by the way. This wasn’t the best Niners team, but everyone assumed they’d win big thanks to Montana and NFC dominance. The Bengals gave them all they wanted until Montana hit Taylor on the final drive. It was a great game, and one that made me believe in great quarterbacks.

5. Colts/Saints. That ending. That Manning-Face. Poetic.

Others worth mentioning:

Eagles/Pats. Did Donovan puke? Hard to say. The pinnacle of Eagles clock management.

Niners/Chargers. For how bad the Chargers were. I mean, wow. You think of how good some recent Charger teams were and this is the one that made the Super Bowl.

Rams/Titans. Because some close games you still don’t care about. Ugh, awful.

What were your favorites?

Comeback Week.

 

No Nadal Slam.

 

Well as all my tennis people probably know, I’ve been Nadal-ed up for quite some time.  Whether I was actually rooting for Nadal, or simply against Federer is hard to say, but in very small tennis circles I called Nadal sweeping the final majors last year and was expecting a Nadal Slam this week in Australia.  For those of you that don’t know, the Australian Open (a big tennis tournament) is being played as we speak.  Or, maybe not, because it’s the middle of the night there, but the winners will be decided this weekend.  Nadal lost in the quarterfinals, ending his quest for 4 straight major wins, and now the door is open for Roger Federer to return to his winning ways.  If someone aside from these two wins tennis tournaments…I’m not aware of who they are.

This isn’t necessarily a tennis post, though.  I don’t want to make that kind of history.  It’s more of a general reflection. More than a year ago here I made a post comparing Roger Federer to Tiger Woods.  I was asking who was more dominant.  It is hard to compare across sports, but those two guys were the most reliable bets going.  Unquestioned number ones, perhaps each the best ever to play their sport.  Fast forward and both have been derailed to varying degrees for much different reasons.  We all know what happened to Tiger.  He hasn’t won in over a year.  Federer remains near the top of his game, he was just nudged slightly to the side by a streaking Rafa Nadal.  In terms of dominance, they’ve both lost quite a bit of footing.   This week, I am predicting it will partially come back.

The Federer prediction is not really going out on a limb.  He’s already in the semi-finals.  In fact, maybe the only reason I am mentioning it is so I can put a little jinx on him for tonight.  I’ve had a pretty powerful hex going lately (note Syracuse).  In actuality though, I expect him to win the remaining two matches and defend his Australian Open title. It’ll shift consciousness back to the Federer vs. Nadal in the present instead of wondering whether Nadal has a chance to outshine Roger in terms of overall legacy.  For Tiger, the prediction takes a little more heart.  Even when he was on top of the world he lost more than he won.  And now, he’s just another guy on tour (in some ways).

Tiger’s week started with a dose of reality.  Thanks to his unusually low finish on the money list, Tiger did not get his usual preferential tee-time in the Pro-Am.  Tiger has gotten the early time he liked so consistently that I wonder if he even knew how the slots were assigned.  He complained about his time.  He complained about playing the North Course instead of the South (he would get changed to the South).  If you are wondering why I am detailing Tiger acting like a spoiled brat, it’s because I guarantee you that Tiger feels disrespected.  And also, imagine the ego it must take to ask to switch your Pro-Am time and course?  For Tiger’s golf game, ego is a good thing.

Torrey Pines as I mentioned last week is Tiger’s personal playground.  He’s made a habit out of winning there.  It has become the traditional first stop of his year and he usually starts fast.  Some guys knock the rust off with the first few events, Tiger always came out of the gate expecting to win right away.  I think that is the mindset he’ll have this week.  A year removed from the controversy that softened his game, he should be entering this season as close to the Old Tiger, mentality wise, as anything we’ve seen since Fall of ’09.  Against a slightly less than world-class field, I’m flashing back to the old days and installing Tiger as the prohibitive favorite.

By the end of the weekend, I think we’ll be hearing about Tiger and Augusta, or Tiger how long it will take him to get back to #1.  What starts tomorrow with a tee time alongside Rocco Mediate and Anthony Kim I think will end on Sunday with Tiger raising the trophy.  Roger should have one too, and then the old friends can text each other, or film a new Gillette commercial.  It’ll be just like old times.

 

A Quick Anecdote

I’ve spent the last couple of days surrounded by members of an extended family I do not know that well. Unfortunately the event that brought us all together was my Grandfather’s funeral. My Grandfather lived 98 years, but even with that staggering total it was a little hard for me to believe he was no longer around. In the memories I forged as a young child, my Grandfather was a larger than life figure, nearly invincible. We would visit Pawleys Island, SC every summer and my Grandfather would be out patrolling the ocean with me, looking over the flailing 8 year old that still couldn’t swim. If he had told me then that he could walk straight across the ocean to Europe, I probably would have believed him. This was a man that often ate cake for breakfast with no consequence. It was very easy to buy into what he said.

As I got older, my trips to South Carolina became less frequent, and seeing as how there were members of my Grandfather’s family that I wouldn’t see when I was down there anyway, there was a definite level of unfamiliarity in the crowd despite us all being related in some way. When this happens you never really know what to expect. The small talk can veer off in any direction.

We were doing a lot of piggy back story telling. Someone would share a story, and then the next person would take a tiny piece of that story and then relate something of their own. By the end of that tale you might have forgotten why you were on that topic in the first place, but someone was always ready to step in with the next story to keep the conversation going.

You need people to share in this scenario, and while I think I spin a decent yarn, sharing is not really my forte. Luckily, plenty of other people had problem stepping up to the table. We had been talking about things military, and from there someone mentioned a base in Virginia where the Army trained most of its cooks. With those general topics in play, my colorful great uncle thought of a story he could tell. Allow me to relate it to you…

My great uncle had been in the Marine Corps. He said their meals were so regimented that they knew what they were getting for dinner based on the night of the week. On Sundays, they had bologna. While I took a moment to think about how awful a dinner bologna would make, my great uncle added:

“You know in the service the guys called bologna, horse c*ck.”

I suppose now would be the time to say we were in a mixed crowd. No children, but plenty of women present. My sister sat there, mouth slightly agape in amazement. I started laughing. Pretty hard. What else was there to do? My great uncle didn’t blink. Just forged ahead.

He told us all that on one Sunday night his base was visited by a group of commanding officers. A small number of people on the base got chosen to eat dinner with the VIPs. When they got to dinner they didn’t find the usual fare. Instead there was a nice steak dinner. Before everyone started eating, one of the officers announced that the whole base was enjoying that same dinner that night. The men cheered and then went about enjoying their steaks.

After dinner and back among the rest of the men, someone asked what the other Marines had for dinner that night. The answer,

“Horse c*ck. It’s Sunday. What else would we have had?”

You’ll notice that the above story can be told using the word bologna and the point still gets across. There was no particular need to add that detail, but given the chance to let everyone know what Marines in Korea called bologna…why not?

So, what’s the moral of this 2nd hand anecdote? Well, the beauty is in the details and sometimes a little appropriateness needs to be sacrificed for accuracy. It was a moral my Grandfather knew well.

The Public Team Super Bowl.

I am out of town for a couple of days and I didn’t get to watch the conference championship games like I normally would have. Of course I saw enough to know that my picks went 2-0, fending off a pair of backdoor cover attempts. Clinched a winning post-season, which after my regular season feels about as good as picking up a participation trophy. Anyway, some thoughts on the games, from what I saw, and if anyone out there wants to enlighten me, they can have at it.

This came up while getting occasional game updates in the car today…Todd Collins? How? Why? Obviously the Bears were in some trouble with or without Cutler, but I don’t understand Collins. They saw what he could do this season, and yet there he still is as the back-up. The best thing that can happen when Collins is on the field is he gets hurt. Anything else is costing you points or field position. I didn’t really see Caleb Haine, but at least a heartbeat out there? Probably doesn’t matter, but how do you hamstring yourself with Collins in the back-up role?

Did Rex Ryan take this loss worse than his players? I saw him after the game, and he looked crushed. Just devastated, thinking about tears. Ryan is a loudmouth, and maybe needs a tad of perspective, but he certainly cares. I think he likes coaching the Jets more than the players like playing for the team. What’s his value as a coach? It is hard to say definitively. I think he’s gotten about as much as you can out of the last two years…neither of those teams were good enough to win the Super Bowl.

Now that we have the game that I said I wanted out of this final four…are we really ready for it? These are two of the most successful franchises in the history of pro football. The Steelers have won 6 Super Bowls. Six Lombardi trophies. Note there is no Andy Reid trophy. Is everyone ok with this rich getting richer scenario? I guess I am, because it produces what should be a pretty good game and I still have something to complain about. Talk about the best of both worlds.

Quickly…

How much time is wasted in NFL games? If they snapped the ball before 2 on the play clock for the first 3.5 quarters maybe you’d get another possession or two and we wouldn’t have to see the uninspired hurry up with 5 minutes left.

Fourth and goal and LT up the gut? Really, NY?

I think Namath was probably rooting for the Steelers. If the Jets win another Super Bowl, everyone will realize Broadway Joe wasn’t that good.

I was going to give Dub some serious heat for his Bears nonsense, but I do have to admit he picked the Steelers/Packers at the beginning of the year. But, if there was an “Enough already with the Bears” awful pick of the week, he would have gotten it. Hopefully he can at least admit the Bears stink now and stop trying to bastardize my one good college football theory.

Syracuse is 0-2 since I pegged them as National Champs. You’re welcome. Nice game for ‘Nova.

The AL East is compiling a 2004 All-Star team. Great additions. Andruw Jones bet: average or homers plus 200. So if he hits 17 homers, will he hit .218 or better? Also love that Cashman came out and basically said, don’t blame me when Soriano sucks.

Ok, that’s it. Happy Monday everyone.

Doutzen Kroes Knows the Final Two.

 

Watch out for Frostbite.

 

Wanted to mention a few quick things before I get to the picks.  There are only two games this week anyway.  Pretty sad thought that we are down to the last three games of the NFL season.  Seems like yesterday that Kevin Kolb got face planted into concussionville in week one.  So, before the picks, two observations.

I saw a car in front of my building yesterday that had one of those things that block the sun across the windshield.  This struck me as odd on any number of levels.  First, have you seen a lot of these lately?  Isn’t this a failed experiment? They have to be the most unwieldy invention of all-time.  You have to do the spin/fold, or however you dismantle those things.  It’s like trying to get an air mattress back in the bag.  Not happening.  And, I think they probably don’t help that much.  Last I checked, sun didn’t just come through the windshield.  Also, if you park your car in the sun on a hot day you can do about whatever you want to the thing…you are going to burn your tail when you get back inside. Put all that aside, though.  It’s freezing outside.  Are you trying to cool your car down from 28 to 26 degrees.  It was the kind of thing that made me want to wait for the person, see what was up, but then I realized that anyone rocking the sun shield in January is obviously out of their mind.

Second thing I want to talk about.  Residual speed trap damage.  There is a dentist’s office not far from where I live.  On a few occasions I have driven by and seen a police car in the lot with its lights flashing.  This causes my mind to wander. What is going on in that office?  Some type of underground nitrous scheme?  Dentists can be odd cats.  So, anyway, the other day I am driving and the mystery is solved.  I see the speed trap set up right near that location.  An unsuspecting motorist zips by, the cops hit the flashers and the most reasonable place for the offender to pull over is in this dentist’s parking lot.  Wouldn’t this bother you if you were this dentist?  Sure, I eventually put it together, but up until then it was the dentist who always had the cops outside.  Not the first place I’d take my teeth.  Just another reason speed traps are garbage.

On to the picking….

Grossy: Playoff Record, 4-4

Green Bay (-3.5) @ Chicago.  I’ve got plenty of reasons for this one.  Ranging from completely unsubstantial, “it seems like Green Bay’s year.”  To the painfully obvious, “Did you see Aaron Rodgers against Atlanta?”  I’m going to ride the hot team here despite the warning signs.  The thing that makes me comfortable about Green Bay is that their defense can bail out the offense if it happens to not score 30.  The Eagles couldn’t do that.  The Pats couldn’t.  Falcons couldn’t.  I think the Packers can.  So, since they can win ugly, or outscore Chicago, I have to take them.  Also the Bears are terrible and annoying.  Have you heard Gale Sayers recently?  Chuck Bednarik syndrome.  Dorsey Levens is the difference, Pack by a TD.

Pittsburgh (-4) vs. New York.  I guess because the line seems too high?  Or maybe I figure if I take both favorites, one is bound to win?  A lot of signs point to the Jets in this game, and so my only real argument is that I am going the other way.  Wait.  Who am I kidding here?  You want Mark Sanchez?  You can have him.  I still don’t think he can win this game. In fact, I think he’s going to make a very costly mistake.  New York is going to try to keep him from ruining everything, but they aren’t going to be able to run the ball.  Cue Sanchez, cue the sailing interception, and cue the chorus of, “Black and Yellow, Black and Yellow, Black and Yellow, Black and Yellow.”  It might be a quasi-garbage cover like last week, but it’ll be another cover.  Sorry, Rexy.

KRAFT: Playoff Record, 4-4

Green Bay (-3.5) @ Chicago. Aaron Rodgers looks like a robot right now slicing through opposing defenses. I know this is a divisional game, and the Bears D is good, but I can’t see how their offense is going to score against a defense that held down Philly and Atlanta on the road. I don’t like the Packers, but I have to say they would make a much better Super Bowl team than the Bears.

Jets +3.5 @ Steelers. I hate the Steelers, and it seems like the Jets have a magical run going. Similar to the Bears, I see the Steelers having trouble to score. They don’t run the ball and most of their big plays seem to be from Big Ben breaking away from a sack. I think they struggle to move the ball consistently and Dirty Sanchez makes a couple big throws and the J-E-T-S make the Super Bowl. Two weeks of Fireman Ed pub.

On The Limb: One of These 4 Teams Will Win Super Bowl.

 

No.

 

I guess I have mixed feelings about the conference championship games.  The match-ups never quite turn out how you’d like them to, but certainly they could be worse.  For my money, Ravens/Jets and Falcons/Bears would have been worse than what we have this Sunday.  The build up to the games has been a slow burn.  Maybe the networks don’t know what to do if they can’t promote Brady or Manning?  But, there are certainly storylines.  Here are some disjointed reasons to watch/things to look for:

Bears vs. Packers:

Chicago’s Biggest Advantage:  Their awful playing surface.  If anyone has ever played golf on that one random warm day in January you can imagine the conditions at Soldier Field.  It’s a green spray painted mud pit.  And, you’re welcome for that tough guy football/golf analogy.

Green Bay’s Biggest Advantage:  They have the better team and the better quarterback.  A decent place to start in a post-season game.

Chicago’s Most Overrated Player:  Charles Tillman.  Tillman as far as I know is a good corner.  But, sometime over the last couple weeks after shutting down Mike “Crème-Filled” Williams he’s become Deion Sanders.  He’s going to get burnt at least once.  Mark it down.

Green Bay’s Most Overrated Player:  James Starks.  I’m thinking 9 carries for 29 yards.  The announcers love Starks. It’s almost to the point where they are making up words to describe him.  He’s got explosivisity.  He’s got that burst factor.  Nope.

The Wild Card:  Cutler.  Cutler could keep this game close.  He could throw four interceptions.  The problem with Cutler has always been his bad games are unbelievably bad.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually think Cutler can hold it together for one more game.  If he doesn’t, though, hide your eyes.

Reasons to Root for the Bears:  You like the AFC, you’re hoping SNL brings back the Super Fans, you want to watch Super Bowl Shuffle highlights for the next 2 weeks, you want Obama to be fired up about the game, Chicago hasn’t won anything in 7 months and they could use a break, green and yellow don’t go together unless you are John Deere.

Reasons to Root for the Packers:  You want Chris Berman worked into a lather, you’re still mad at Chicago about the Flyers, you don’t want to see Refrigerator Perry interviewed, you want to watch more than just the commercials on Super Bowl Sunday, you want Rodgers to complete the excommunication of Favre, you like cheese.

The Vegas Line:  Packers (-3.5). O/U: 43.5

Steelers vs. Jets

New York’s Biggest Advantage.  D-Line vs. O-Line.  The Jets mangled a pretty good Pats unit last week.  If the Steelers have one glaring weakness, it is their offensive line.  They are ravaged by injuries, Big Ben has been improvising all year.  Get ready to hear, “the battle up front” 1.3 million times.

Pittsburgh’s Biggest Advantage:  Heinz Field.  In some ways this looks like a total nightmare of a match-up for the Steelers, but at least they have the house that 57 varieties built to fall back on.  Nice home field advantage, impossible to kick field goals and the Jets already won there this year.  There has to be some anecdotal stat about losing twice at home to the same team.

New York’s Most Overrated Player:  Santonio Holmes.  This is a little bit of a cheap shot by me, but I’m not entirely sure that Holmes isn’t just a right place, right time kind of guy.  He’s starting to remind me of Robert Horry, meaning he’s very annoying.  If you were building an NBA team, Large shot Rob would have been way down your list of priorities, just like Santonio.  He covers the last 15 yards of an 80 yard drive and gets all the credit.

Pittsburgh’s Most Overrated Player:  Mike Wallace.  Leave the WR’s alone, huh?  Wallace’s real name is Burnell Micheal Wallace III.  You know every time I see “Micheal,” a little part of my brain dies, but this is supposed to be about football.  Wallace is extremely fast, and he has the potential to be a great receiver.  To listen to announcers and analysts you’d think he had 110 balls for 1600 yds and 18 TDs this year.  Right now, he’s mostly a big play threat.  Relax.

Wild Card:  Troy Polamalu.  Or, I guess I should say, Polamalu’s health.  As a proud owner of Pittsburgh’s defense in fantasy football this year, I can say confidently that a healthy Polamalu makes difference.  He didn’t seem 100% against the Ravens.  I know the Steelers have great linebackers, but the one with the beautiful hair holds it together.  If Polamalu plays well, the Jets are going to have trouble scoring enough points to win.

Reasons to root for the Jets:  Because Steelers fans are everywhere and enough is enough, you want to experience the marriage of Rex Ryan and Media Day, you have a time share on Revis Island, Big Ben still creeps you out, Joe Namath interview potential, you want the Yankees/Giants NY fans to be tortured.

Reasons to root for the Steelers:  You don’t believe Namath guaranteed sh*t, you support the fat coaches don’t win Super Bowls theory, you want to go to your Steelers bar in Portugal, you want to further lessen the legacy of Bill Cowher, it’s anyone but the Jets, because you want Joe Banner to further explain that whole, “gold standard,” thing.

The Vegas Line:  Pittsburgh (-4). O/U: 39.

 

Some Thoughts to Save the Golf Season.

The Gulbis/Johnson "relationship" Was on the Right Track.

So, the PGA Tour season is only two weeks old.  Isn’t it a bit early to say that it needs saved?  I don’t think so.  So far this year’s winners have been Johnathan Byrd and Mark Wilson.  Two very fine players who wouldn’t get recognized in a Golf Galaxy let alone if they were just walking down the street.  The fields to start the season are generally poor, and most big names will actually make their debut this week in Abu Dhabi, but a week away from Tiger’s debut things already seem a little sluggish.  Here are some ideas, conventional or otherwise that could at least keep golf from losing its existing fans.

1.  A tabloid romance.  Notice I didn’t use the word “scandal.”  The biggest story of the year so far has arguably been, are Dustin Johnson and Natalie Gulbis dating?  She was in his gallery, he said he was single.  Sounds like it could eventually fizzle out.  DJ didn’t seem too fond of the spotlight, but it got plenty of people talking about golf.  If one of the PGA’s young, single players got involved with a female celeb or athlete I think it would be great for golf’s publicity.

2.  A foreign villain.  Golf is going global.  There is no denying that.  Each year it seems like less American names are on the leaderboards in big events.   For some golf fans the foreign players don’t capture their interest.  Is that the problem of those fans?  Probably, but it’s the truth.  The majority of the foreign stars seem like good guys.  They love to use Twitter, and that is all well and good, but what the golf public could use is someone to root against.  Essentially, the PGA Tour needs an Iron Sheik.  Don’t you think if one of these guys came out and said, “American Golf is Dead,” it would create some interest?

3.  Tiger F*cking Woods.  Tiger starts his season next week in San Diego.  He has a long winning streak at Torrey Pines.  He hasn’t played there since he beat Rocco in the U.S. Open playoff, but for all people say about his game fitting certain courses, Torrey is really his pet.  The former number one looked pretty sharp at his own event last month before losing a playoff to Graeme McDowell.  We need to put an end to the, “Tiger hasn’t won in 14 months” stories and stir up some, “Tiger leaves the field a whimpering pile of mess,” stories.  I watched Tiger for a few holes when he played in Philly last year and the golf was mediocre by tour standards, but he was still the most captivating guy on the lot by nine miles, and that’s not going to change.

4.  Microphones everywhere.  The PGA Tour has started dabbling with the idea of mic’ing up some players during tournament rounds.  Love it.  I don’t care if they need the bleep button, and I don’t care if they only get two or three usable clips a telecast.  It can’t hurt.  What a lot of people don’t realize is there are some funny and interesting guys on Tour.  I mean, law of averages says at least a few in 175 players have to be amusing, but I think it could build some fan bases.  I read some golf blogs and occasionally they’ll have a diary or a guest post from a PGA Player.  It is almost always someone you’ve never heard of, and yet it is almost always quite interesting.  Invariably you’ll end up seeing comments about how readers are now going to follow the author’s progress.  I think the same type of thing could happen with the microphones.  Golf is a pretty easy sport for the amateurs to relate to.  They should exploit that.

5.  Some type of new format.  Match-play doesn’t interest anyone.  The stableford scoring system is too extreme.  In general, the PGA hasn’t had much success with this idea, but that doesn’t mean it should be killed entirely.  I have to admit that I’m not overflowing with suggestions here, but I’d like the idea of seeing something like a larger version of the 3-Tour Challenge.  Another thing I think would be great, but would never happen…if the network found a group to follow during their Tuesday game.  Tuesdays are the gambling day on Tour.  Get 4 hours of footage and cut it down to a clean 1/2 hour before the final round on Sunday.  You see the guys in a totally different light, see them playing for their own money, I think it would be amazing.  But, I’m sure no one would agree to do it, and the PGA Tour would have a heart attack if they were associated with gambling.

6.  Kill the Celebrity Pro-Am.  This is the golf equivalent of the Slam Dunk Contest.  I promise.  At the very at least these events need a massive overhaul.  No one wants to see Huey Lewis hit one off the planet on the 14th at Pebble for the 20th straight year.

7.  Streamline and simplify the rules.  No one likes a rules discussion.  Casual fans don’t understand it.  I wrote a post a while back claiming golf was too hard.  It is, and that applies to the rules as well.  Not only are the rules too intricate, but now you have rules junkies watching everything on slo-mo DVR looking for a violation they can email the PGA about.  While that is great for that very tiny portion of the viewers, it is a nightmare for everyone else.  As a golf fan I feel like an idiot trying to explain golf’s incorrect scorecard rules and things of that nature.  So he shot 68, but he signed for 67 and he could have fixed it but he already left the scoring tent?  Come on.  Lets break away from some traditions.  After all, golf doesn’t exactly have roots as a game of the people in this country.  Use some common sense.

So, that’s it, off the top of my head.  A lucky seven.  Feel free to add your own.  Cheerleaders, dance teams, one mulligan per round, whatever you think might be good.

That’s my list for now.