Sunday, January 31, 2010

Revis, Beatles, Favre

I want to say something here that I've been thinking about for a while.  I know the Jets are out of the playoffs, so we don't have to hear about it anymore, but I have a plea for the NFL announcers next year: please please PLEASE stop talking about Revis as the best corner in the league.  The nickname "Revis Island" is one that he gave himself, and, while he's good, he's not as good as everyone made him out to be this past year.
They would always put up graphics of what Revis had done against some of the "top" receivers this past year (I say "top" because Torrey Holt was on that list...and his best days passed him by a while ago).  The Jets played the Saints once last year, and yet, magically, Revis shut down 4 receivers (all four receivers had less than 75 yard receiving in the game).  At the same time!  Do you know what that means?  Well, it really just means that Brees spread the ball around.  What it didn't say was that the Jets had other corners who played well...and they also put a lot of pressure on Brees.
The announcers made a big deal out of Revis shutting down receivers last weekend.  Do you know what I saw? I saw Revis get a number of passes completed to the man he was covering.  I also saw some of the worst tackling attempts I've ever seen (on two different occasions, Wayne caught a pass in front of Revis, turned around and ran at Revis...only to have Revis take a step to the outside, give a half-hearted A-Rod slap at Wayne, and fall down).  Nothing from the announcers.  They didn't mention that Revis was covering Wayne.  In fact, they said the middle linebacker was covering Wayne.  
I'm not saying that Revis isn't a good corner...I just think that stats have been monkeyed with to make him seem better than he was.  And, once the analysts noticed that he was good, they wouldn't shut up about him.  It happens all the time.  Last year, it was Asomugha.  Before that, Champ Bailey.  Again, it's not that these guys are bad...they're just not as great as we're supposed to believe they are.  I have seen Bailey make a ton of terrible plays, and yet it was never mentioned.  Revis was the same way this past year.  Revis benefited from a strong front four, which didn't give the opposing quarterback a whole lot of time to look for an open receiver.  Next year, we'll be led to believe that someone else is the best corner in the history of the NFL.
I'll get off my soapbox now.

Glad you dig The Beatles.  "I Am the Walrus" is one of my all-time favorite songs.  The next time you listen to that album, make sure you do this: listen to "A Day in the Life", and listen to the end of that song loud.  The strings and horns are going nuts, and, just when you don't think you can take it anymore, it ends on a strong piano chord that resonates for several seconds.  Just a powerful piece of music.

Look...I still don't hate Favre.  I just can't do it.  In fact, I feel a little bad for him that he's taking the brunt of the abuse over their loss.  Was that last interception terrible?  Absolutely.  Should he have run?  It's easy to say yes...but we don't know how bad his ankle was hurting.  Maybe he thought he couldn't get enough yards for a field goal attempt.  He had an open receiver on the sideline that he should've hit...that would've been the best bet.  Throwing against the grain into the middle of the field was a bad decision...no doubt about it.  But he wouldn't have been put in that situation if the Vikings didn't have that terrible 12 men in the huddle penalty.
Plus, that field goal was no gimme.  Sure, it would have given them a shot to win right there.  Still, that was a 50+ yard field goal for a kicker who isn't exactly a spring chicken.  A field goal attempt is always better than an interception...but no one can say that, if they would have attempted that field goal they would have won (especially with all the erratic kickers we've already seen in the playoffs this year).
Also, let's not forget all the fumbles.  Those are points off the board...and a couple of them were huge.  If they could have cut down on the fumbles, the Vikings would have won that game.  
We talked about the difference between close games and blow-outs...that difference is that, in close games, one play could have swung the game.  That interception is a glaring play, because it came at the end.  But let's not place all the blame on Favre.  Those fumbles really killed the Vikings.
And if he wants to come back for next year, I think he should do it, and I think he should be able to do it without any mockery.  He showed that he can still play, and play at a high level this year.  Sure, he didn't have his best game in the Championship game.  But I doubt the Vikings would have made it that far with Jackson at the helm.  As long as Favre doesn't do the retire/unretire thing again, he can take as long as he wants.  If he wants to come back, the Vikings should be happy to have him.

Does an artist's personal life influence how I view them?  Honestly, it depends on how much I like the artist to begin with, and how big their transgression is.  I love Beck.  When I found out that Beck was a Scientologist, I was a little disappointed, but it doesn't mean I'll stop listening to him.  I never was the biggest R Kelly fan, so, when all the stuff about his personal life came out, I didn't really care.  I think it's messed up...but, since I never listened to him anyway, it didn't affect me at all.  Ditto Chris Brown.  I'm sure there's some situation that would affect how I felt about a musician, but I don't know that I've come across it yet.  Unless the music starts going downhill (*coughMichaelJacksoncough*), I'll keep listening. 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Vince Carter and Jay-Z

Orlando pulled out a tough win against Boston last night. The Celtics lead for a good bit of the first 3 quarters and then Orlando rallied back. The game was strange in the sense that Orlando, the home team, shot 40 free throws to the Celtics 18, and I don't feel like there was home cooking involved. We drove to the basket and when you do, you get fouls called. The Celtics were content with settling for jumper after jumper, and with good cause. They hit 12 three pointers on the night and Rasheed Wallace started hot. Wallace is one of the few players in the league that I want to hit his first two or three shots. If he hits those, there isn't a shot he won't take...most of them outside of the three point arc. Dwight played another excellent game, even if his numbers won't show it. He finished with 19 points, 10 boards and 4 blocks in 32 minutes, which is a pedestrian night for him. He also went 3-10 from the free throw line. Yet it was when he scored his points that was critical. During the 4th quarter he scored 11 points, including 9 in a row during one stretch. It reminded me of the old Lakers teams that would just throw the ball into Shaq time after time and let him operate. He got the ball against Kendrick Perkins, probably the best Dwight defender in the league, and went to work. Sweeping hook shot with the right hand from 7 feet out. Turnaround hook with the left from 11 feet out. Another hook with the right from 11 feet away. You can see his confidence grow with each shot and I'm loving it. I only wish this Dwight made an appearance during the Finals, but better late than never. The Celtics switched Kevin Garnett onto Dwight for a critical possession but it didn't matter. He felt KG out and spun him out of his shoes for a quick layup. Another great game for him and he did it against Perkins-KG, the toughest duo of defenders he will face all season. His confidence should only continue to grow from here.

Exhibit #453 on why KG is not the same as he was before his injury: Late in the game, we went to a huge lineup with Dwight at center, Marcin Gortat at power forward and Rashard Lewis at small forward. This lineup usually fails because it crowds the lane for Dwight and Gortat doesn't have enough range to spread the defense. Also, Lewis is too slow to defend most three's but not Paul Pierce, perhaps the only star in the NBA with no muscles. It especially doesn't work against the Celtics because KG is one of the few PF's in the league that can hound Gortat on defense and punish him on offense. Not anymore. With Dwight's new post game and Gortat's improved range (he banked a 15 footer in after his man left him alone), KG got all he could handle and Gortat played him to a near statistical draw. KG: 6 points, 7 boards, 0 blocks. Gortat: 6 points, 8 boards and 3 blocks. I can't stress it enough how much old KG would have dominated. That's why Boston was always a terrible matchup for us. The 1 in-4 out scheme Stan Van Gundy runs can be thwarted by a PF that can defend Rashard Lewis and make him pay on offense, a matchup tailor made for Kevin Garnett circa 2008. This KG looks like Chris Webber in his 76ers day. Couldn't be happier.

I hadn't mentioned Vince Carter yet for a reason. Henry Abbott, who does excellent work at TrueHoop, detailed it perfectly here.

"I took four pages of notes during last night's Celtics loss to the Magic. Mostly it's really boring stuff. But there's one thing in all caps, and underlined: VINCE CARTER SUCKS. "

That's the opening line. It's one thing to say a guy had an off night or is playing through a slump, but it's another to outright decree that he sucks. And he's absolutely right. The other day you asked me why don't I like Vince Carter. Abbott puts it in much better words and uses much less profanity than I would to say basically the same thing: Vince Carter sucks. It was no coincidence, that in the time he was on the bench, JJ Redick helped lead Orlando back, and we almost lost the game as soon as VC checked back in. He had Rasheed Wallace, who's been eating well in Boston to say the least, one on one and failed to drive past him. Twice. He collided with Matt Barnes late in the game and you would think he fell victim to an assassin's bullet. Barnes hopped right back up and got back on defense. Things like that happen every game. I can feel myself getting worked up so I'm going to put the keyboard down and let Abbott take it from here.

Have you heard about all the talk of Jay-Z being a part of the Free Mason "secret society"? There are a hundred YouTube videos like this one, which point out all of the symbolism in his songs/videos that tie him to the group. I ask that to ask this: Does a celebrities personal life affect your opinion of them? I've argued this many a time and I personally don't care about their private life. It's exactly that: His or her life. I don't care what Chris Brown/R. Kelly/Michael Jackson does in their private life, as long as once they get in the booth, put on their pants and make gold records baby. Not to say I condone domestic abuse, urinating on the underaged or alleged molestation, but it's none of my business. I don't know if Jay-Z is a free mason. Don't care. I don't look to Jay-Z for a way to live my life, I look to him for good music and as long as he provides me with that, everything is square between he and I. Does a celebrities personal life/religious or political views/allegiance to secret society/propensity for urinating on the youth of America have any effect on how you feel about them?


Just because this picture makes me laugh.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My take on The Beatles

The Cats fell to the Gamecocks yesterday, and much to everyone's surprise, the sky did not fall with them. I think this loss came just in time because the team was beginning to believe it's own hype. The #1 ranking, the pre-game call from Barry Obama and the massive hype around campus will get to an 18 year old's head. It happens. Credit Devan Downey for a Kobe-esque performance (30 points on 9 for 29 shooting) and a SC team full of guys that wanted it more. Downey has killed us since he has been at SC. You can't simulate the kind of quickness that he has and some of those shots he hit were amazing. A friend said it best, "Sometimes you beat the cocks. Sometimes the cocks beat you." Demarcus Cousins put in another great performance with 27 points, 12 board and 3 blocks, and his draft status has to be shooting through the roof. I've gotten some crazy looks when I say this, but it's true: If this UK team is winning a championship this season, it goes through Demarcus Cousins, not John Wall. Wall disappears for stretches during the game and tried to turn it on too late. I heard a rumor that Patrick Patterson missed the team bus and watched the game from his hotel room, but I guess the 5 points he's credited with didn't score themselves. He doesn't demand the ball enough. Cousins is a black hole, but he demands the ball, gets it and is very efficient with it. Patterson just doesn't demand it when the game is on the line. Call it Kevin Garnett syndrome. UK has #23 Vandy next in Rupp Arena, so they won't have much time to "sulk" in this loss.

In case you were wondering, yes I was happy to watch Brett Favre go down in flames. Picture perfect. You don't have to admit it to me, but you smiled inside when he threw the pic. I know. Hopefully this will convince the old man to fade into bolivian, and not give it another try next season.

I really can't call the Super Bowl yet. The Saints seem like a team of destiny...whatever that means, but they looked just a little too happy after the NFC championship game. It took 5 fumbles, 2 picks and overtime for them to beat Minnesota at home. I always try to catch the celebrations of teams winning the semifinals to see who looks just a little too happy to be there. Last year, Orlando went crazy after beating Cleveland in the Conference Finals and took turns posing with the trophy. The Lakers refused to touch the trophy because they had their eyes set on the title. The series was all but over there. The Colts didn't go as crazy from what I saw. Drew Brees has a chance to cement himself as the defining figure of New Orleans. Peyton Manning has a chance to cement himself as the greatest quarterback of all time. Not sure, if I can buy into that just yet but his numbers and 2 rings will be hard to look over. For all his playoff shortcomings, he's looked good this year and he annihilated the Jets. He went on a stretch during the third quarter that was almost surreal...until you remember he does it almost every game. I'm leaning towards the Colts, but I won't make an official pick just yet.

I will predict the Pro Bowl though. I predict no one will watch it because it's a terrible event and should be abolished.

Over the last 5 games, I've seen Dwight Howard have one of the better stretches I've ever seen from him. He followed up his 24 points-12 boards-3 block performance against the Lakers with these beauties:

-32 points, including 16-24 from the free throw line, and 11 rebounds in a win against the Pacers. He had no blocks but he shut down Roy Hibbert, who embarrassed him in their last meeting. Howard said Hibbert's 26 points, 8 boards, 4 block performance would not happen again and promptly held him to 3 points, 2 boards and a night of foul trouble.

-19 points, 15 boards, 2 blocks...in only 26 minutes of play in a win against the Kings. He went 11-12 from the free throw line.

-He was held to 10 points in a win against Charlotte, but more than made up for his lack of scoring with 20 rebounds and 7 blocks.

-Two nights ago, a 27 point, 15 board, 6 block effort was wasted in a loss to the Grizzlies. A 9-11 showing from the charity stripe was rendered moot.

In that stretch he's averaged, 22 points, 15 boards and nearly 4 blocks on 59% shooting from the field and 74% shooting from the free throw line. 74%! It's all for naught though because we are 3-2 in that same stretch.

Vince Carter must go. I know I spoke out against Tracy McGrady earlier in the year, but I heard rumor of a Vince Carter/Marcin Gortat to Houston for Tracy McGrady and his expiring contract. I'd do it asap. McGrady will be giving almost exactly the same numbers/effort that Carter is giving and would be a free agent at the end of the year. Houston gets a young big man to go with their young guards in hope of continuing a surprising season for them. We'll even throw in Vince Carter on the house. Don't thank us, Rockets. This deal needs to be done before the Rockets GM gets hold of any Vince Carter tape. With McGrady's money we sign Joe Johnson who would create mismatches similar to the one's Hedo Turkoglu used to. Johnson is so much bigger than the SG's trying to defend him and he likes to take the big shot. He's never played with a big man like Dwight and I'm praying it happens this offseason.

I finally listened to the Beatles...and I really enjoyed it. I listened to it on shuffle over the course of a few days and was off to a slow start and then I drew "Blackbird", "I am the Walrus" and "Eleanor Rigby" in a row. "I am the Walrus" is probably my favorite track of all the ones you sent me. There were a few I couldn't get into, but even then, they weren't terrible. I'm convinced. I will stop making light of the Beatles and their contributions to the music world.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Close Games vs. Blow outs

To answer your question, I would much rather lose in a blowout than a close, down to the wire game. I take you back to this summer and the NBA Finals. In Game 1, we lost by 25 points...and it wasn't even that close. In Game 2, we lost in overtime after Courtney Lee couldn't convert a tough alley-oop at the end of regulation. After the blowout, I could take solace in the fact they we were soundly outplayed. No tough breaks, no shady calls, no star treatment. Just a solid thrashing. Not to mention Kobe scored 40 in that game and there's not much you can do when one of the best players of all time is in the zone. Sometimes your team shows up ready to play...the other team is just better. As I said during the Finals, Dwight Howard wanted to win the title just as much as Kobe Bryant did...Kobe is just better than Dwight at this point, and so are his teammates. Game 2 was a tough pill to swallow. Like you said, you constantly replay the game in your mind and what happens if one thing goes the other way. We got great performances from our Big Three: Rashard Lewis (34 points, 11 boards, 7 assists), Dwight (17 points, 16 boards, 4 assists, 4 steals, 4 blocks) and Hedo Turkoglu (22 points, 6 boards, 4 assists), and still came up short. Game 2 is the one I'll have trouble ever getting over because that was the beginning of the end.

Speaking of the Magic and Lakers playing roundball, they squared off last night. Dwight Howard played the best first half of basketball I've ever seen from him: 18 points, 9-12 FG, 6 boards and a block. He got his customary dunks and close shots and then he decided to let a 14 foot jumper fly...and banked it in. Then he let a 17 foot jumper fly...and banked it in. It was enough to make Tim Duncan blush. He later unleashed a beautiful running hook. Doug Collins had just been talking about how he's seen Dwight take and make those shots with ease in practice, but he was reluctant to try them in the game. I hope this game gives him the confidence he needs, because if he can hit those with some consistency, it's all over. LeBron is a fantastic player but he doesn't affect the game at both ends the way Dwight can when he's on the game and we'd be a tough team to beat.

So, Dwight dominated in the first half, so of course we went back to him in the second half, right? Wrong. He went the entire third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter without so much as a shot attempt. To be fair, the team was on fire in the start of the third quarter, but once the shots stopped falling, there was no reason to avoid Dwight. Our strategy went back to "Let me find my shot first. If that's not there, I'll force a terrible entry pass into Dwight". We need a true point guard in the worst way because it appears Matt Barnes is the only player who makes an effort to get the ball inside as soon as he gets it. To no surprise, we lost the game and spoiled another good performance by Dwight. He finished with 24 points, 10-13 FG ( That's right, one FG attempt after halftime), 12 boards, 2 blocks and only one turnover. To our defense, it's hard to play when the other teams starts 5 grown men and you're stuck with 4 grown men and Vince Carter.

I want to hate the Jets, but I can't do it. They play our exact style of football and they are far superior at it. I want to hate Rex Ryan, but I can't do it. He coaches exactly the way I wish Marvin Lewis would. I love going for the 4th and 1 with the game on the line. Marvin Lewis wouldn't do that in a million years. I don't know if they'll make it past the Colts but I certainly wouldn't count them out. That running game can keep Peyton Manning off the field, and that defense will make him work. He didn't look great in that Ravens game and I can see him trying to squeeze some passes into Reggie Wayne, who will be all alone on Revis Island. For the sake of a good Super Bowl I hope Indianapolis wins, but I can't count out Mark Sanchez and the Jets. I thought I'd never type that last sentence. Ever.

Thanks for the Beatles stuff. My e-mail has been on the fritz so I just received it not too long ago. I haven't listened to it yet but I'll get on it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Playoff Losses

Sorry for my absence.  Last week's game took a lot out of me.
It brought up an interesting question, though (one that, between the two of us, we should be able to come up with an answer for): is it worse for your playoff team to lose a close game or to lose in a blow-out?

The Close Game.
They fought hard, but, in the end, they still lost.  That Packers loss was crushing.  I couldn't get to sleep, because different scenes from the game kept coming into my head.  With a game that close, I was left thinking about a number of plays that, had they gone another way, could've swung the game in the Packers favor.  What if Rodgers hadn't thrown an interception on the first possession?  What if Driver hadn't fumbled on the second possession?  What if the defense had been able to force another turnover?  What if Rodgers had hit Jennings on that bomb in overtime?  What if the facemask on Rodgers had been called on the last play of the game?  With a game that close, all it takes is one play to go differently.  I agonized over every negative play.  If only one of those plays had gone differently, the Packers would have won (especially if Rodgers had hit Jennings in overtime...that definitely was game over).

The Blow-Out.
It's tough to watch your team have a great season, make the playoffs...then lay an egg.  On the one hand, you're not agonizing over every play, because there's no one play to point to that would have changed the outcome of the game.  You know for a while that your team is not going to win, so you're able to make some sort of peace with their loss.  You're not happy, but, by the time the game is over, you've already conceded a loss for a while.  However, it kills you that your team didn't show up and fight hard in the biggest game of their season.  You question everyone: is this the right coach?  Can our quarterback handle the pressure?  Why couldn't our defense get any pressure.  And so on, and so forth.

So...what do you think?  Is it harder to suffer a loss by a close game or by a blow-out?

I'd like to recognize my Packers here.  After falling down 17-0 early in the game, they fought back and made a game out of it.  As my brother said, "It's not often you score 45 points and lose."  Our offense was not the problem here: our defense needed to make some plays.  Still, I know we have a good defense.  Next year will be our second year in the 3-4 (our first year gave us the #2 defense, and ranked us first overall in takeaways), so we should be better.  We have a lot of great defensive players (Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews Jr., Johnny Jolly, Cullen Jenkins, BJ Raji, Nick Barnett, AJ Hawk, Nick Collins, etc.).  Rodgers is a fantastic quarterback.  By the end of the year, he was getting the ball out quicker than he was at the beginning of the year (there were times that he could have gotten it out quicker, but, overall, he improved in that area as the year went on).  Our offense line improved as the season went on.  Grant and Jackson are a great pair in the backfield.  Our receiving corps is ridiculous (Finley became a beast by the end of the year).  We've got a good team, and I'm extremely excited for next year.  Congrats Packers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I've got the Playoff Blues

It's so rare that I get to toot my own horn, so cover your ears for a second. Back when the news first broke of Blake Griffin's fractured kneecap, I told anyone that would listen that there was no way he'd be out for the 6 months they said he would. I fractured my kneecap many a year ago, and I could barely walk straight 6 months later. I couldn't imagine playing basketball at the highest level on it. He'd need at least a season to get that knee in working order Today? Vindication. I hate that this happened to Griffin because he's a great talent and seems to be a good guy, but it may be the last correct prediction I have of 2010. I couldn't let it pass by. Best wishes to Blake Oden...err, Griffin.

How does Lane Kiffin keep getting great jobs? Check out this resume`:

Age 25- Hired as an assistant to the Jacksonville Jaguars after working one year as a Graduate Assistant at Colorado State.
Age 26- After one year with the Jags, he's hired as USC's tight ends coach. He later works his way up to offensive coordinator of the Trojans, led by Leinart/Bush/White, who won two titles under his helm.
Age 31- Hired as Head Coach of Oakland Raiders, despite no head coaching experience.
Age 32- Fired by Al Davis for lying over the course of millenniums, decades, years, months, hours, seconds and time.
Age 33- Hired to lead a Tennessee team with nowhere to go but up
Age 34- Hired to lead a USC coming off an awful season.

How does he do it? I guess it goes to show that hard work does pay off...for other people.

I can't blame Kiffin for jumping to a better job in a different conference, but something has to be done about coaches jumping ship. Kiffin and USC should lose 5 scholarships this season. Calipari and the Cats should be down 2-3 scholarships for jumping ship. I don't know if that's the answer, but something has to be done.

Have you heard about what the NFL is doing/considering doing? I can't find a link, but apparently the final eight teams left in the playoffs, will not be able to splurge on free agents. They will only be able to sign their own guys, or replace those guys if they left. I love the idea to keep the rich from getting richer, but this is in the wrong sport. This should be done in baseball. maybe you can't do it by how far a team makes it, because it would screw the Rays and Rockies of the league who make it into a World Series. Once a team's payroll hits 100 million, or 110 million dollars, they can't sign big name free agents. Again, I don't know if my suggestion is the answer, but surely something can be done to stop the Red Sox from signing Mike Cameron and John Lackey to do spot duty for them.

Speaking of America's pastime, the Reds signed Cuban ace Aroldis Chapman. I heard about Ramirez a couple of years ago, but never looked into him much because I knew there was no chance of Cincinnati signing him. I couldn't be happier to have been wrong. I love this deal. Absolutely love it. Maybe it works out, maybe it doesn't but it shows that we're trying. That's all I ask. I liked the Rolen deal because it showed we were trying to make the playoffs...I just wish it had been done three weeks earlier. Here's how this situation plays out in a best case scenario:

-Chapman matures in the minors over this upcoming season.
-This year, if we can stay healthy, we maybe push for a wild card spot. If not, we win our customary 72-78 games. Either way, hopefully we finish poorly enough to get rid of Dusty Baker
-Harang and Arroyo come off the books after this season. That's 25 million bucks from those 2 guys alone. Hopefully they re-sign for less, maybe they walk. Either way, that leaves us with a rotation of Volquez-Cueto-Chapman-Bailey-Harang/Arroyo/Owings. Not too bad at all considering that none of those first four guys will be over 27 years of age a year from now.

Worst case scenario:
-He's actually 36, not 21
-Dusty Baker decides to throw Chapman for an unprecedented 376 innings this year
-We ship him to New York/Boston to be a fifth starter.

Either way, I love the deal. What else were we going to do with that money? Bring Edwin Encarnacion back home? No thanks.

Now for with the woeful efforts of the Packers and Bengals from last weekend. A tough way to lose indeed, but Green Bay has nothing to worry about. They have an elite QB in Rodgers, young talent around him on offense and that defense will have another year in the 3-4. You guys are in great shape for the future. Rodgers isn't the best QB in the league, but you can argue that if you're starting a franchise and need a QB, he's the pick. He's young enough at 26, and has immense talent. I hope he doesn't let you down the way Carson Palmer let me down.

The Bengals-Jets game was abysmal. I can count on one hand the number of Bengals that showed up to play: Cedric Benson, Leon Hall, Jon Joseph and Domata Peko. The rest were mediocre, the coaching was laughable and Palmer was terrible. I don't know if Marvin Lewis is the coach for the job. Blowing both challenges within the first minutes of the game is inexcusable. I appreciate what he's done for the Bengals but I'm beginning to think he has a touch of Rich Brooks in him. He'll take you from laughing stock to respectable, but he's not the guy to take you to that next level, but back to Palmer. Each of his first six throws were too high and even the ones he completed were nothing to be proud of. He had good protection against a bevy of blitzes from the Jets and he just couldn't deliver. I can't put into words how disappointed I am. For years, I argued that he was an elite quarterback and the game against the Jets would prove it. He'd carve them up and stake his claim as an elite QB in the league. Didn't happen. Now I don't know where he falls, and I gave it a lot of thought. Here are the guys I'd definitely take ahead of Palmer: Manning, Brady, Brees, Rivers, Rodgers, Favre, Warner, Eli Manning(!), Romo, Roethlisberger. Even after that, one could argue for McNabb, Schaub, Orton, Campbell, Sanchez and even Cutler, over Palmer. He's just not the same guy he used to be. Maybe it will come out that he was battling a crippling injury all year, but he might not have much time left. I'd give him one more year before I start thinking about drafting a QB to groom as his replacement. Oh how that sentence hurt to type.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Playoff Picks and Captain Jack Speaks

This is going to sound like I made it up, but I can't find a link supporting it so you'll have to believe me. While watching some sports show on ESPN14, they were talking about the Gilbert Arenas situation and a quote from blog favorite, Stephen "Stacks Jack" Jackson popped up saying, "Even I wouldn't bring a gun to an arena...and I'm Stephen muthaf@&#in Jackson!" Ok, I made the last part up, but the first part is true. Shouldn't that be the prosecutions only argument?

"Your honor, Stephen Jackson disagreed with the actions in questions and we feel..."
* Bangs gavel* "Say no more"

A lot has been said about the Arenas situation, but one thing I haven't heard is how this could make Washington a big player in the 2010 Free Agent Sweepstakes. Say Arenas is convicted in Washington and his contract is voided. That's 16 million off the books. There has already been talks of trading Antawn Jamison to Cleveland for Zydrunas Ilgauskas and his expiring contract (Which would make Cleveland terrifying). At the season's end, Washington would have over 40 million dollars in expiring contracts. Not to mention they still have the talent of Caron Butler...unless they want to ship him to Orlando and complete the cleaning of house. Either way, they'd have $40 million dollars, an All-Star in Butler, and a high lottery pick (John Wall maybe?) to throw at any free agent. Not a bad situation.

The Pacquio-Mayweather fight appears to be off and I'm devastated. This was boxing's last chance to compete with the MMA/UFC crowd and they failed. If I understand correctly, the fight fell apart after Mayweather and crew insisted on random blood testing leading up to the fight, in addition to the standard urine testing. Pacquio refused initially but eventually gave in to the blood testing. However he wanted the last test to be around 30 days before the fight. Mayweather wanted it to be 14 days. Pacquio said something about it would sap him of energy. Mayweather laughed and the fight was no more. A lot of people say Floyd insisted on this because he knew Pacquio would back off and that Mayweather looks bad. I disagree, and say what does Pacquio have to hide? A blood sample leaving you weak for a fortnight? Mayweather would endure the same, so shouldn't it cancel out? Either way, boxing fans have been robbed of what could have been a great fight. Now, Pacquio has already signed on to fight Josh Clottey. Only days after the biggest fight of your life was canceled, Pacman and his camp don't wait to see if tempers die down and things can be settled. They immediately scheduled an inferior opponent. Something's not adding up with Pacman.

Alabama won what turned out to be a decent game. I wanted them to win, but I still hate that Colt McCoy went out on the first play. Not only is the championship tarnished in UT fans eyes, but McCoy spent 5 years getting ready for that day and was out after the first series. You have to feel bad for that guy. I don't know how much difference it would have made because Alabama was running the ball at will. The scary thing about Bama is that most of their guys could return next year. Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Julio Jones will back on offense. They could lose a couple of guys on defense, but I'm sure they will be fine. 4 straight National Titles from the SEC. Joker Phillips has his work cut out for him.

Now for some playoff picks.

NY Jets @ Cincy- Make no mistake about last week: The Bengals played their starters, and they tried to win. They just got smashed. I won't say they gave it 100%, but they definitely were trying to win the game for the first half, and couldn't. Now this week will definitely be different because we have three big starters in Ced Benson, Domata Peko and Chris Crocker coming back. The Jungle will be at a small roar and scared as hell that Carson Palmer gets up after his first pass attempt. If he gets up, pandemonium will ensue. This is the best possible matchup for Cincy and we have to take advantage of it: Stack the line and dare Sanchez to beat us deep. If he does, they deserve to win, but I don't think he can. This is a huge game for Carson Palmer. For years, his place among elite QB's has been questioned and an argument could be made for him anywhere between #3 and #12-14. He's been waiting over 3 years for another crack at the playoffs and he won't let this one slip by. The Bengals come out strong playing hard for Vikki Zimmer and Chris Henry and take care of business. Bengals 21, Jets 16

Philadelphia @ Dallas- What a great game this ought to be. If Cincinnati can't win the Super Bowl, I want the Eagles to win. I like McNabb and would love to see he and Mike Vick hold up the Lombardi Trophy as PETA cried. Vick likes to fight the animals and surely McNabb eats his fair share of them. If they get past this game, I think they can do some damage. I just don't know if they can get past this game. Dallas' defense has looked fantastic and their offense is always solid. I also think the Tony Romo choking in the playoffs is a bit overstated. 3 years ago they lost on the fluke fumbled snap. That's not going to happen again. 2 years ago they lost to the same NY Giants who went on to win the Super Bowl. Those are his 2 playoff losses, and he played reasonably well in them. Cowboys 28, Eagles 24

Baltimore @ New England- I just can't see the fuss around Baltimore. They beat one playoff team all year: San Diego...in Week 2. They beat Chicago, Detroit and Oakland just to get in to the playoffs and now people are crowning them as a sleeper. The Pats losing Welker will hurt them, but the Ravens get burned downfield and Welker does most of his damage underneath. I'm not sold on Flacco, and I'm not picking him on the road. New England 27, Baltimore 14

Green Bay @ Arizona- This could quietly be the best playoff game all weekend. Warner has been incredibly up and down this season and my fantasy team is a testament to that. Rodgers has been rock solid all year and your boys come into this game one play away from an 8 game winning streak. Green Bay shuts down the run, but the Cardinals don't run. Charles Woodson (who doesn't get nearly enough pub as one of the top 3 corner's in the league) vs Larry Fitz should be a great battle, but I don't know who handles the Boldin/Breaston combo. I'm split on this one, I think GB has the better team but they are on the road and you never know what you get in a guy's first playoff start. I don't think it will get to Rodgers, but maybe he does start holding the ball a little long. On the other hand, the team that's on a run into the playoffs seems to almost always win a game or two. If I'm not mistaken, a win by GB would set up Minny-GB III, which could be epic. I'm going with your boys just out of hope of seeing Favre-Rodgers one more time. Packers 33, Cardinals 27

Just once in your life, wouldn't you love to be able to do this?



Consider the fact that he wasn't running full speed and somehow still managed to get over two rows of cheerleaders, a row of fans and still land on the press table. I haven't heard nearly enough mention as to what an amazing athletic feat that was. I almost think professional athletes and I are the same species until I see moves like that or this gem by Reggie Bush.



Saturday, January 2, 2010

Playoff time is here and both of our teams are relevant!

You beat me to posting the idea by Simmons. I loved it. I thought it was a great idea and it was a win-win for everyone. The Jets know they have to play a great first half to essentially win the game and keep their playoff hopes alive. Curtis Painter and the gang know they only need a decent half of football. The Indy fans know to go crazy in the first half to keep things close before Peyton came to close the game. A great idea all around.

I predicted Cincy would beat Florida, but that was before the Urban Meyer situation...not that it would have mattered. The talent difference was too great. I watched most of the game with a bunch of people so I didn't hear the announcing but as soon as I saw Brian Billick, I knew it would be dreadful at best. I like your idea of an announcer free game. Say you get the game on CBS, channel 3. CBS-HD is channel 203 and CBS-Sights & Sounds is channel 303, or whatever. This could work. Have the occasional text pop up for "Holding, offense, 15 yards, 1st and 25" and things would be perfect.

The Cats handled the Cards today in a game that was closer than it should have been. John Wall overcame a subpar first half with a great second half to finish the game for UK. DeMarcus Cousins had his 4th straight double double with 18 points and 18 rebounds. When the guy is on the court, he's a force. He's the one player on UK, Wall included, that you never forget is on the court because he's always doing something. 10 times this season Cousins has played less than 20 minutes in a game. He's had 5 double doubles in those games. His minutes have been limited all season because of foul trouble or emotional overreactions, but he will be key from here on out.

Picks.

Buffalo over Indy- So many questions to be answered in Buffalo this offseason. There's been some talk of bringing Charlie Weis in as Head Coach. Fitzpatrick or Edwards? That Owens guy is a free agent. Marshawn Lynch had an underwhelming year and has had his troubles with the law. Whew, I'm glad I'm not in charge in Buffalo!

Cleveland over Jacksonville- For some reason, Cleveland has been playing inspired ball the past couple of weeks. Combine that with Jacksonville being out of the playoff race and I can see the Browns getting a win.

San Fran over St. Louis- San Fran finishes what seems to be their 6th straight 8-8 season. At least the Rams get to look toward to next year and a team headed by...Sam Bradford?

Pittsburgh over Miami- This week in a Steeler's linebacker says something ridiculous: Lawrence Timmons demands a showdown with the 1985 Bears to prove who the baddest team of all time is.

NY Giants over Minny- Eli and his Giants are awfully good at spoiling great seasons. Shocking stat of the year: Eli Manning is 120 yards and 3 TD's away from a 4,000 yard, 30 TD campaign. Wow. By the way, Adrian Peterson's fumbling issues are officially too big to look over anymore, right?

Tampa Bay over Atlanta- I haven't picked a Bucs game correctly in over a month. I give up.

Carolina over New Orleans- In the 4 games Matt Moore has started, he has thrown 20, 33, 30 and 20 passes. In the games of 30+, D'Angelo Williams had a combined 19 carries after battling injuries. Get that team healthy next year and tell me Tim Tebow can't go 13-20, 150 yards and rush for a couple of first downs every game. Tebow did wonders for his draft stock with his annihilation of Cincy.

Houston over New England- If the Pats win, they get San Diego in the second round. If they lose, they get Indy. I think they'd rather see Indy again.

Chicago over Detroit- Say Cutler is sitting at 29 interceptions on the season and the game is out of hand either way, doesn't Lovie Smith have to send him back on the field to go for 30?I say yes.

Baltimore over Oakland- Throw the game winning touchdown one week. Don't play the next week as your replacement's replacement throws 3 interceptions. When will Jamarcus Russell catch a break?

GB over Arizona- Arizona could still potentially get the #2 seed if things break right for them. I can't see that happening and they will likely have to face the Pack in the playoffs, so why show them anything?

Washington over San Diego- Jason Campbell's swan song as a Redskin. Mark my words: If Daniel Snyder lets Campbell walk in order to chase Bradford or Jimmy Clausen, he will regret it big time.

Tennessee over Seattle- The past couple of years, people have said if Matt Hasslebeck stayed healthy, this team would win games. He missed 2 games this year, and Seattle still sucks. I wonder if TJ Houshmandzadeh got the "Wish you were here!" postcard Marvin Lewis sent him. Here's to hoping Chris Johnson gets the 130 yards he needs for 2000.

Philly over Dallas- If Philly wins this game and gets the second seed, they win the Super Bowl.

Denver over KC- That 6-0 start was the worst thing to happen to Josh McDaniel's. If he had gotten to a 9-7 season after anything but that, he'd be loved in Denver. Still Denver has cap space and a lot of draft picks after the Cutler deal so they are in great shape for the future.

Cincy over NY Jets- Cincy actually does have something to play for. If we win and NE loses, we get the three seed, and potentially another shot at SD. I'd much rather see them for a second time than Indy. The beauty is that the NE game will be over by the time we play, so we know how much to show. If we lose, we get the Jets again next week in Cincinnati. Hopefully this win-win situation will play itself out without any injuries.

I'm watching Orlando play the Bulls as I type and it's sickening. The Bulls are up 15 and Vince Carter just hurt his ankle. I've never seen a player go down as much as Carter. I really hate to make light of an injury but he goes down for an extended period of time at least once a game. We're shooting 10-30 from three point land the and Bulls are quadruple teaming Dwight Howard. Seriously. Dwight just had two people on him, took a dribble and the other three Bulls collapsed on him, he kicked out to Jameer Nelson for a WIDE open shot, and he bricked it. Story of the night. Dwight started hot in the first quarter, with a nice drop step and a good looking hook, and since then the Bulls have collapsed. We can't buy a bucket yet we keep shooting three's. Apparently the part of the floor between the paint and the three point line is hot lava. Jameer Nelson looks a step behind on offense and three steps behind on defense. Derrick Rose is eating him alive. Dare I say, we miss Rafer Alston???

NFL Picks, Simmons, and The Sugar Bowl

Ah, week 17.  Along with week 1, this has to be the hardest week to predict games.  Who will be playing their starters?  Who will lay an egg at the worst possible time (think of the Cowboys/Eagles or Chargers/Broncos games last season)?  There could be some incredibly boring games (Indianapolis/Buffalo) and some incredibly good games (Eagles/Cowboys).

Before I get to the picks, I'd like to pick up a point that Bill Simmons made this past week.  Now, you know my growing hatred for Simmons...it has been well-documented.  But he made a great point in his column this past week.  There has been a ton of backlash due to the decision to sit the Indy starters in the second half against the Jets last week.  Simmons' point was this: sit them in the first half instead of the second half.  At the beginning of the second half, bring in your starters.  Chances are, it will be a close game at the half, and the the team will probably be down.  This will allow the starters to stay sharp and try to come back in the second half of a game, which they will probably need to do at least once in the playoffs.  Also, the fans won't feel cheated, because they'll probably see an exciting second half.  Everyone wins.  The starters still only have to play a half, but it's the more important half.  I think this is a brilliant idea, and I hope that teams start doing this.  Thanks, Simmons.

I have to give a shout-out to the Gators, for killing the Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl.  The Gators just had too much talent for the Bearcats.  Congrats fellas.
I do have to say this, though: the game was on Fox, and was called by Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick.  They were terrible.  It was obvious that they hadn't watched a college game all year.  The only things they talked about were Tim Tebow, Urban Meyer, Tony Pike, and the Saints game they'll be calling this weekend.  The action on the field was an afterthought for them.  By the second half, they were talking over officials, barely mentioning what was happening on the field, and rehashing the same tired points they had been making all game.  I've listened to some terrible games in my life, but this was one of the worst (which is surprising, because I normally like Brennaman).
It led to this question (which I've been thinking about for years now): why can't stations have an option that allows you to watch a game without any announcers whatsoever?  I was watching a Reds game a couple of years ago.  They had some audio problems, and the announcers cut out for 2 innings.  All I could hear was the crowd, and the noises on the field.  It was glorious.  Barring an Enberg or Michaels game, I would do this for every game every week.  Aren't we technologically advanced enough to where this could become a reality?  My brother says that Direct TV has a station that shows hockey games like this sometimes...they call it "Sights and Sounds".  Let's make this happen for next season...please?

Now, on to the picks:

Buffalo over Indianapolis - Indy will only play their starters for the first half, which gives us another half of Curtis Painter (I felt so bad for that guy last week).  Add that to the fact that it should be ridiculously cold in Buffalo for this game, and I see the Bills winning.  Even though the Bills are boring, they'll win this game.

Jacksonville over Cleveland - I know the Browns have been playing better, but, with the turd of a quarterback they have back there (Quinn or Anderson...it doesn't matter), I just don't see them winning this game.  Not in the cold.

San Francisco over St. Louis - Sure, the 49ers have looked pretty good this year, but this game really comes down to the Rams doing their best to lose this game.  Number 1 pick, here they come!  (So they can overpay and set their franchise back another 5 years.)

Miami over Pittsburgh - It's not going to matter if the Jets and Ravens lose...the Steelers will lose a heartbreaker here.  Better luck next year.

Minnesota over New York Giants - Sure, the Vikings have not looked great recently, but they're playing for the #2 seed here...and the Giants defense is a mess.  This may be a high-scoring affair, but the Vikings will come out on top, courtesy of a big day from Peterson and Harvin.

Atlanta over Tampa Bay - The Falcons win this to get them to 9-7.  It's not much, but it's something (it will be the first time in franchise history that the Falcons will have back-to-back winning seasons).  I expect the Falcons to have a great year next year, and they'll show why against Tampa Bay.

Carolina over New Orleans - The fact that the Saints won't be starting Brees or Sharper doesn't really matter.  The Saints run defense looks terrible, and the Panthers run offense has been killing people (Matt Moore hasn't looked too bad, either).  The Saints will go into the playoffs on a 3 game slide...never a good thing.

Houston over New England - The Patriots have very little to play for, and the Texans need to show everyone that they are (once again) a dark horse playoff pick next year.  This win will also give the Texans their first winning season in their franchise history.  Baby steps, fellas...baby steps.

Detroit over Chicago - Do you remember how good the Bears looked last week?  Yeah...you won't see that this week.  I'm really hoping Cutler will get to 30 interceptions in this game.  He only needs 4.  C'mon Jay...I believe in you.

Baltimore over Oakland - The Raiders have looked pretty good against the AFC North this season (beating the Bengals and Steelers), but they won't win this one.  The Ravens need this win to get into the playoffs, and their intensity will show that.  Congrats Baltimore...you're looking at a first-round playoff loss.

Green Bay over Arizona - Who cares that the Packers don't really have any to play for?  They'll win this game, even with Rodgers, Driver, and Jennings playing less than a half.

San Diego over Washington - The Redskins had been playing pretty well until the past two weeks.  They'll roll over here, and the Chargers will enter the playoffs on a ridiculously hot roll.

Tennessee over Seattle - I want you to watch the first highlight in this clip.  It's the best way I can explain this pick.  (For the record, this is one of the worst interceptions I have ever seen.  And no, his arm was not hit in any way.)




Philadelphia over Dallas - The Eagles are the better team. Simple as that.

Denver over Kansas City - Before the season started, I predicted the Broncos would end the year 8-8. When I told some Broncos fans about this, they told me I was crazy. "4 wins is all we can hope for." With a win here, the Broncos will finish the season 9-7...and their fans will be crushed, because they will have missed the playoffs. Sports are so strange sometimes.

New York Jets over Cincinnati - There's something so ridiculous about the Jets sneaking into the playoffs because they're facing two teams with nothing to play for in their last two games. Let me ask you a question: since Week 4, have you watched a Jets game and said to yourself, "Now that's a playoff team,"? I know I haven't. They'll be bounced out of the first round with such force, Rex Ryan may well cry himself to death.

Happy New Year.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Arenas vs. Crittenton

Locker room gun fight!

I love this story so much I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant.