Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Great Paper Storm of 2008!

Preschoolers and paper shredders are a volatile mix. This is what happens when it goes wrong. I couldn't get too mad at them, though, because it was just too darn funny. Thankfully, shredded paper doesn't stain anything, or ruin carpets. Plus it had a kind of "Walking in a winter wonderland" holiday vibe to it, so it was sorta fun.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Making a Pilgrimage to the Football Mecca...

As a sports fan, there are certain stadiums and/or events that you want to get to at some point in your life. In fact, that may be a post that I create here sometime of places and things you REALLY need to see if you're a sports fan...If you are an NFL fan, as I most certainly am, generally at or near the top of that list is Lambeau Field for a Green Bay Packers game. The history, the fact that the whole town is just barely over 100,000 in population yet they support an NFL franchise, the Ice Bowl, the green and yellow uniforms, the fact that it is the only publicly held sports franchise in America, the statue of Vince Lombardi, the fact that football just FEELS more important there...it's an enticing package.

Well, I was able to convince my lovely wife that a pilgrimage to Green Bay, Wisconsin in late December was a good idea. Despite the fact that the high temperature forecast was 27 degrees, and that there was a 50% chance of snow, she willingly piled into the car at 7:15 AM this morning at her mother's house in the Chicago suburbs and trekked the 215 miles north to one of the colder places on earth. Amazingly, there were tickets available on Ticketmaster, which I could NOT believe. Even though the Packers were eliminated from playoff contention some weeks ago, I was always lead to believe that getting a ticket to a Packers game was about as easy as finding a golden ticket to the Wonka factory. Apparently, if the Packers are 5-10 going into the final game of the year and playing a winless team, it's not as difficult.

Wisconsin was very cold, but I've sat through colder Broncos games in Denver, and I was prepared with very warm clothes. Lambeau was awesome, as advertised, (If you have the means, I highly recommend it) and I had the bonus of being able to witness history being made, as the Lions put the finishing touches on their historically awful 0-16 season. All in all, it was a very fun day, and despite the fact that I had to travel in a car for about 7 hours today in order to make it happen, it was still TOTALLY worth it. Check that one off my bucket list!

Only a very understanding and awesome wife would agree to travel with you to a place as cold as Green Bay in December. This is just such a wife. Guys, if you find one like this who is willing to put up with your stupidity...grab on and NEVER let go!

I found something admirable and pitiable about the way this Lions fan was bravely sitting in the bitter cold in Wisconsin with his hard hat on backwards to endure the final humiliation in a winless season. There is loyalty, and then there is this kind of loyalty with pretty much zero upside, it's kind of inspiring and yet also sad.

This just in...the Lions are not very good.

However, Lambeau Field is truly a national treasure.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Best Commercial EVER!

This cracks me up. I work with the girl in this commercial. Her name is Molly Kennedy, and she should probably stick to her day job. I only posted this commercial because it is so bad that it is good, and so I can tell Molly that her work is immortalized on the internets, because I know if I made a goofy commercial for local access television, I would want it permanently on the net for posterity. Plus, THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS! :)

Love ya, Molly. If I had a vote for the local commercial Emmy's, you would DEFINITELY get my vote!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Powerlines Week 16

The NFL is getting down to crunch time, and it's starting to make a little more sense from week to week. There are your teams with a chance to win it all...My short list is Carolina, Pittsburgh, Dallas, New York Giants, Indianapolis, New England and Baltimore. You have the playoff first round fodder: Broncos, Jets, Vikings, Cardinals, and Bucs. You have the plucky teams who fall just short: Falcons, Texans, Saints, and Dolphins. And of course, you have the teams we have known are TERRIBLE all season long, Bengals, Browns, Lions, Rams, Chiefs and Raiders. Here is my weekly attempt at ranking them from top to bottom.

1. Panthers - This is based off of more than just their shellacking of the Broncos last Sunday. They have a swarming defense, two stallions at tailback, and the best wide receiver in the NFL, Steve Smith. Their glaring weakness is at quarterback with Jake Delhomme, and quarterback is not the greatest place to have your biggest weakness, but Jake at times rises to the level of adequate, which may be all they need. I am ready to declare my pre-playoff Super Bowl pick. Panthers and Steelers, with Carolina winning a close game.

2. Steelers - Was the ball in the end zone when Santonio Holmes caught it? Did it break the plain? Who cares? I think the Steelers were going to win that game regardless...the real controversy that is overlooked in the wake of the close call on the goal line is what in the name of Vince Lombardi was Ben Rothlisberger doing spiking the ball on first and goal at the four when there was almost a minute left. Did he want to raise the degree of difficulty for the Steelers by giving the Ravens time after they scored and creating a situation in which he had only two downs to get into the end zone rather than three? That was perhaps the most head scratching play in the NFL since last season when the Broncos ran a draw play on the goal line against the Packers with only one time out and down three on Monday Night Football that likely cost them a chance to win. Fortunately, the refs bailed Ben out by reversing the call on the field, or else we may have heard more noise about just how terrible a call that was to kill the clock.

3. Giants - Is there anything scary about the way this team is playing ball over the past two weeks? Half a month ago they looked like an unstoppable bohemoth, and now I could easily see them losing in the first game of the playoffs.

4. Titans - They have been at or near the very top of the rankings for so long, but I feel much more comfortable with them here at number four. No team with Kerry Collins playing a significant role should be a favorite to win it all.

5. Colts - Peyton Manning is re-establishing himself as the top Manning in the league. This Colts team would not even be sniffing the playoffs without his contributions. The powers that be say that this year's MVP race is too close to call, but not in my book. The award should be shipped to Indiana.

6. Cowboys - One thing that may be lost in the soap opera in Dallas is that this team is becoming scary good on defense while all the attention is being placed on the Terrell Owens drama. I think all of this negative attention will likely rip apart the team, but I also could see them raising the Lombardi Trophy in February if they can keep it together. This weekend's Texas stadium finale against the Ravens is HUGE, and not just because it is the final game for the stadium with the stupid hole in the roof.

7. Ravens - I didn't believe in the Ravens earlier this year, but I do now. The crazy thing is that there is an excellent chance that they miss the playoffs altogether, while significantly worse teams like the Broncos and Cardinals should make it.

8. Patriots - Pray that the Jets and Dolphins win this weekend, and somehow the Patriots are kept out of the playoffs. Not just because I'm tired of the Patriots and want Belicheck to go away,
but also because...Okay, so it's mostly because I just want the Pats to just go away.

9. Vikings - This is a significantly flawed team that just keeps winning. I still don't believe in them, even as they continue to solidify their standing as the best team in the NFC North. Their Defense and Adrian Peterson are both quite good, but at some point their horrible situation at quarterback and their horribly incompetent coach WILL cost them. I keep thinking this is the case, at least.

10. Buccaneers - I think that loss against the Panthers on Monday Night Football has sent this team into a bit of a tailspin. They may still make the playoffs, but I think they have been exposed as a non-contender.

11. Eagles - Donovan McNabb and company have really put it together recently, but they need to keep winning AND they need help just to have a chance to show they are for real. I say they fall short of the playoffs this year, but I could be wrong.

12. Falcons - I want this team to make it just because I think they are fun and a great story. They have a Tampa Bay Rays type vibe about them. No one expects anything from them, they are young, but they are also pretty darn good and could surprise people if they are able to make it to the playoffs. I don't think they follow the Rays and make it to the championship round, but they are definitely likable.

13. Saints - They seem to have found another gear in the past month, but they may have found it too late for it to mean anything this season.

14. Dolphins - They hold their own fate in their hands for the division title with two weeks to play. Pretty good for a team coming off of a 1-15 season, eh?

15. Broncos - The Panthers exposed just about every single weakness and wart on the Broncos this year. The truth is that they are just not that great, and they are so banged up that it's hard to see the Broncos doing much this year. I can easily see them collapsing to the point that the Chargers still win the AFC West, although, I am hoping that they are able to beat the Bills this weekend to keep that from happening. Although, it is obvious that this team will be the weakest in the AFC field should they actually make the postseason.

16. Texans - Gary Kubiak's team seems to be very good at playing great when it is too late. They look like world beaters now that they have no chance for the playoffs.

17. Jets - Brett Favre looks very much like an aging quarterback right now, and the Jets look very much like a team looking for a soft place to fall.

18. Chargers - Everything was going so swimmingly in the first 55 minutes of this game for both the Broncos and my fantasy team. Then Phil Rivers (whom I was playing against in the semi-finals of my fantasy league) starts going nuts and suddenly the Chargers win keeping the Broncos from clinching the division, and I am in a big hole in my fantasy game. Fortunately, I was able to come rushing back and win my fantasy game. Hopefully, the Broncos are also able to come back and clinch the division.

19. Cardinals - Really? We have to have this team playing a postseason home game? Between them and the Broncos, Roger Goodell really needs to look at the way that teams qualify for the playoffs. There is no way that the Cards and Broncos should be looking at hosting playoff games, and yet, the Cards definitely will, and the Broncos should.

20. Bears - They still have a shot at the playoffs, but I don't think they get there.

21. Jaguars - This team really needs to change it's uniforms. Teal is an abomination.

22. Packers - What can I say about the Packers? I am in shock that they have gone into freefall mode, and I can easily see them losing at home to the Lions to both solidify the sadness of their first post Favre season and to keep the Lions from making it to winless on the year.

23. Redskins - Losing to the Bengals? Really? Remember a few months ago when there was noise that they might be able to win the NFC East? Seems like such a long time ago.

24. Bills - The third team in a row in my rankings that has completely fallen apart in the second half. Everyone is roasting Dick Jauron for throwing the ball with a lead right before the two minute warning. Leading to JP Losman fumbling the ball and costing I actually don't mind the call, but the problem I have with Jauron is forgetting that his quarterback was JP Losman and THEN making that call. If you don't have a turnover machine at quarterback, the reasoning for going for a pass in that situation is acceptable. If you have Losman behind center, there is no WAY you should make that call. Hopefully this team can do the right thing and be terrible in Mile High this weekend so that the Orange and Blue are able to clinch. I do NOT want to see them trying with nothing to play for. Take a page from the Jaguars, and STOP TRYING!

25. 49ers - Coach Crazy should be able to finish the season on a two game winning streak and solidify his job position as permanent head coach in San Francisco. He has a fairly easy final two games with the Rams and the Redskins.

26. Chiefs - Thanks for nothing, Kansas City. The first time in eons that I am earnestly rooting for your team, and you go and blow a huge lead at the end to cost the Broncos an easy division title clinch. Man, I dislike the Chiefs.

27. Seahawks - The good news for Mike Holmgren is that it's almost over.

28. Browns - The bad news for Romeo Crennell is that it's amost over.

29. Bengals - The Bengals blew a chance at having some nice symmetry in their final record by winning against the Redskins. They could have been 1-14-1 at the end of the season which would have looked so much nicer than 2-13-1. Perhaps they can still pull this thing out by getting another tie against the Browns and finishing at 2-12-2.

30. Rams - The most interesting thing I could think to say about the Rams is that they are the only team in the league this year with both four and eight game losing streaks AND a two game winning streak.

31. Raiders - It does my heart good to see the Raiders be this terrible. They have just set a record for the first team in league history with six straight seasons of eleven or more losses; So congrats to Al Davis on the bang up job he's doing in the East Bay.

32. Lions - Only two more losses from immortality. Man, I hope the Lions keep their eyes off the prize and finish this thing up right, but I don't trust them in Week 17 against the Packers. I can see them finding a way to blow this and beat Green Bay.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas chain letter: Feel free to play along at home.

You know those chain letter emails people send out that have questions that are all about you, and you're supposed to answer them and then return it to the person who sent it to you and then send it out to a bazillion other people? I secretly love these things, but I don't want to send them out to my friends and family and become "that guy" who sends forwards others find annoying. So I have come up with this comprimise.

I am posting this one that I recieved today along with my little quips for you to read and enjoy or to skip over in disgust. If you like to play these types of reindeer games: please copy the whole thing, delete my answers and fill in your own, and email me YOUR answers or post them in the blog comments for this post, which would be kinda cool. Then I can read my friends and families comments without being the annoying forwarding guy. Win-Win, right? No obligation, of course, but feel free to do so if you want. By the way, my email address is socnorb777@hotmail.com, in case you didn't already know that.

Oh, and I have no idea why there is no #8. I didn't edit the email as it came to me, and for some reason, it skips from 7 to 9. I really wish that it was nine that was missing, because then I could make the "Why is six afraid of seven?" joke. (Because Seven Eight Nine) But alas, 8 is the number that will soon be on milk cartons.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gift bags for the win!

2. Real tree or Artificial? For the sake of my marriage and my kids, Real.

3. When do you put up the tree? Whenever we have a chance, it just happened that we did it tonight.

4. When do you take the tree down? This year? December 24th.

5. Do you like eggnog? Do I like deliciousness? Of course!

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I'm sure it was probably video games.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Jennifer (But she's not THAT hard.) Actually, it may be my mom, because she never actually wants to get a gift.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, a Fisher Price Little People one, because I'm cool like that.

10. Snail Mail or Email Christmas cards? Blog!

11.Worst Christmas gift you ever received: I refuse to answer this question on the blog in case by some random chance the person who gave this gift to me stumbled across this answer, got upset with me, and then didn't give me another terrible gift. It's a little strange, but I delight in getting terrible gifts. I will confess that the particular terrible gift of which I am thinking I received on two different Christmases from the same people. I pray to the gods of comedy that they someday give it to me again, because if that should happen I would laugh until I cry, and that is truly the spirit of Christmas.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Three way tie: A Christmas story, Ernest saves Christmas, and Christmas Vacation. Asking me to choose between those is like asking me to pick my favorite kid. There is just no way I can do it.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? This year? I started in July.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Probably from Jennifer, but even worse she once made me a sandwich out of meat she found in a trashcan. I married her anyway, because true love is blind and also very resistant to parasites.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Steak, but that's not exclusive to Christmas.

16. Lights on the tree? Who doesn't have lights on their tree? Perhaps I just don't understand this question.

17. Favorite Christmas song? No contest, "Have yourself a Merry little Christmas." in a landslide. I love that song.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Sure, why not? I'm open to either, I just happen to be heading to Chicago this year.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all? -I swear I pulled that out from MEMORY!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? John Elway with the kung fu action grip.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas day? Whenever, as long as eventually I get to open them.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Christmas music playing ubiquitously beginning in September. Ugh.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Snowmen or Ninjas, it's a tossup.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Taquitos. (Although no one ever takes me seriously when I suggest Taquitos for Christmas dinner.)

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Peace on Earth, Good will to men. Plus a John Elway with the kung fu action grip.

Craignac the All Knowing predicts the future!

Much like the Great Carnac, I know all and see all, and then predict most of it wrong, just to throw everyone off the scent.

In my never ending quest to pretend that I know what is going to happen the day before it actually does happen, I present the final scores of tomorrow's games:

Bucs at Falcons - A good game in what is quickly becoming the most entertaining division in football. All four teams are good, and this one is important for both teams. I say home field pushes the Falcons to a close win. Atlanta 20 Tampa Bay 19

Redskins at Bengals - The Redskins playoff chances are on life support, but the Cincinnatti franchise should be euthanized. The Skins stay alive for another week in a romp. Washington 37 Cincinnati 6

Lions at Colts - I've been trying to figure out some way that the Lions win on Sunday and here is the best I could come up with: The Colts bus is struck by a semi on the way to the stadium and due to everyone on the team having severe enough injuries to be unable to play, the Lions get the University of Purdue to come up to Indianapolis for a game and the Lions barely squeeze out a win in the final minute. Barring that scenario, this game should be over by halftime. Indianapolis 38 Detroit 3

Chargers at Chiefs - Last time these two teams played was a very exciting game in San Diego in which the Cheifs were down by seven in the waning moments, they scored a touchdown and went for two, but were stopped, and the Chargers ended up winning by one in a game they easily could have lost. I think the Chiefs blew their wad on that game, and although I think they will give San Diego a decent challenge, I don't think that they will do quite enough to win. San Diego 27 Kansas City 17

Seahawks at Rams - I can't think of a single good reason to watch this game. Perhaps for fantasy purposes, but other than Stephen Jackson, I can't even think of another decent fantasy player in this game. I have NO interest in this one, other than to test my prediction skills. Seattle 16 St. Louis 13

49ers at Dolphins - With the Niners playing hard and the Dolphins in a three way tie for first in their competitive division, this is actually a pretty decent game. It means more to Miami, so I say the Dolphins get the win. Miami 24 San Francisco 17

Bills at Jets - Two teams actively trying to ruin their seasons meet up at the Meadowlands. The Bills have collapsing for a long period of time, so they are better at it by now than the Jets, although the Jets have shown a real flare for it in the past two weeks. I think Favre will find away this week. New York 27 Buffalo 16

Titans at Texans - I am sure I will regret this one, but I think that the Texans are going to make a good game of this one, in fact, here is my upset of the week. Houston 23 Tennessee 20

Packers at Jaguars - The Jags gave up on this season a few weeks ago, the Packers have still been trying, although it appears that they are done too, now. I don't think the Jaguars care at all right now, though. So big edge to the Pack. Green Bay 26 Jacksonville 10

Vikings at Cardinals - Two division leaders clash in the desert. Cards get the edge on this one from me due to playing at home on the sliding sheet of grass plus the fact that Brad Childress is terrible. Arizona 31 Minnesota 22

Broncos at Panthers - Last time I predicted games, two weeks ago, I predicted gloom and doom for the Broncos against the Jets, and my boys went on to whallop the Jets. Once again, I am feeling gloomy about their chances in Carolina based on how good the Panthers looked on Monday night against the Bucs. Carolina 38 Denver 20

Steelers at Ravens - The Steelers won in overtime in week four when they played in Pittsburgh, I see them playing to OT again, but the Ravens win it this time. Baltimore 23 Pittsburgh 17

Patriots at Raiders - The Raiders are just not good enough nor well run enough to give the Pats a game. New England 30 Oakland 10

Giants at Cowboys - Dallas either saves their season or it goes down in flames, there isn't much middle ground in this one. I predict flames. Giants 23 Cowboys 14

Browns at Eagles - Great idea, having the Browns play five nationally televised night time games, this is one stinker of a Monday night game. Maybe the NFL shouldn't schedule the Falcons a ton on high profile night games next season, just in case... The Eagles are playing well enough that the Browns should pose little threat to them on Monday. Philadelphia 33 Cleveland 17

Presenting Miss Olivia Joy Molyboga

So I guess being an Uncle means that you don't always get all the details right all the time. Okay, so I was off by a smidge with the time of birth, Olivia was actually born at 8:32 AM not 8:43, and eleven minutes is a big deal. So I'll own that mistake. But, to make up for it, here are some fresh photos of my adorable niece as pennance, which should make us square. Welcome to the world, little one. I haven't met you yet, but I'm already pretty fond of you. Can't wait to meet you in a few weeks!

One big happy family!

What a good Dadddy Marat is going to be!

I love this photo, nothing but Olivia and mommy's
enormous smile. Good times.

Grammy welcomes grandchild number 3 into
the world!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I am an Uncle!

Not just weird, Weird UNCLE!

You know how everyone has that weird uncle that they like even though he is at least 37% crazy. He is a little bit goofy, but people like to hang out with him for the most part and he is not afraid to do something ridiculous like start singing in a crowded theatre before the movie starts or start to make friends with telemarketers when they call and start asking them how their day is going and if they like banana malts? I have always felt like I would be a perfect candidate to be that weird uncle, because, let's face it. I'm a little weird, and at least 43% nuts. The only thing that was missing was the niece or nephew to make the weird uncle status complete. For the first thirty-two plus years of my life, that piece was missing...UNTIL TODAY!!

I am very pleased to announce that for the first time ever, I am officially a uncle! Jennifer's sister Julia gave birth to a 7 lb 3 oz little bundle of joy named Olivia Joy Molyboga this morning at 8:43 AM Central Standard Time. She was 20 and a half inches long, they say, and has a bunch of dark hair. I am extremely excited to meet her in a couple of weeks when I travel to Chicago, and will post pictures just as soon as I get some. I am also pleased because for the first time in my life, I'm not just weird, I'm a weird UNCLE! Congrats Marat and Julia, and welcome to the wonderful world of parenting.

Powerlines - Week 15

Craig and Skeemo in their natural environment on Thanksgiving.

Thought I'd post a few pictures to reward the non-sports fan for surfing on over before I get into the heavy-duty, skin-deep analysis of the NFL. But I saved the best photo for last...the future quarterback of the Denver Broncos...Luke "Cuteler" Dodge.

Now on to the Week 15 Powerlines...

1. Titans – Back in the saddle at number one for the time being, but I feel about as good with them at number one as I did with Alabama at number one in the polls before last weekend…I can’t really put anyone else at number one, but I’m not convinced they are staying there. Kerry Collins is still Kerry Collins, and I keep waiting for him to remember that.

2. Giants – Was that a hiccup, or do they miss the ability to stretch the field with Harris Smith? I’d still feel good if I were a Giants fan, but I’d no longer feel invincible.

3. Steelers – That defense is awesome, but Tony Romo deserves a playoff share for his role in their win against the Cowboys on Sunday. Thanks to NFL regional exclusivity lockouts, I was not able to watch the Cowboys fall apart in the final eight minutes, but I know a choke job when I follow along with one on CBS Sportsline Game Tracker.

4. Panthers – Welcome to the list of contenders, Carolina. That game Monday night felt like a Nuke Laloosh first pitch fastball…They announced their presence with authority. Steve Smith and the two headed running back and a strong defense are enough for me to believe in the Panthers as on the short list for teams that could go all the way.

5. Colts – After barely doing enough to beat the Browns last week, the Colts completed the second half of the Ohio two-step in much more convincing fashion. The Bengals were in the game right up until the national anthem.

6. Ravens – Stomping the Redskins on national TV and making it look easy. Flacco and company are not who you want to draw in the AFC playoffs.

7. Buccaneers – Falling apart against the Panthers does not invalidate a very strong season being put together in Tampa. I don’t think they have enough offense to be a serious contender once January rolls around, but with their defense playing great (at least until they gave up 300 rushing yards on Monday Night) they can put a scare into anybody. By the way, did you see that ridiculous catch Antonio Bryant made on Monday night? If not, find a highlight somewhere…that was a thing of beauty.

8. Cowboys – This team has a ton of potential and gobs of talent, but they have a knack for choking. If they can’t finish very strong, Dallas may look back at the second half of the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh as the moment that they missed the playoffs.

9. Eagles – The rest of the league is thanking Philadelphia for bringing the Giants back to earth. The talking heads are now talking about how the Eagles might be able to win the Super Bowl, if they are somehow able to make the playoffs first. This team is the perfect bizarro team for a bizarro season, two weeks ago they were left for dead after playing to a tie against the horrible Bengals and getting obliterated by the Ravens, now people are mentioning them in the same breath as the Super Bowl. No wonder my weekly rankings make zero sense from week to week, because the NFL doesn’t make sense from week to week.

10. Falcons – With only three week left to play, the playoffs are not out of the question for Atlanta. That fact alone makes the 2008 season a roaring success for the Falcons, regardless of how they finish the season. The renaissance of the Falcons so soon after the scorched earth situation of the Michael Vick dog fighting conviction and Bobby Petrino’s ignominious exit mid season last year is one of the best NFL stories of the year. This team was lifeless and soulless a year ago, and now you need to bring your “A” game if you want to beat them. My guess is they fall just shy of the postseason, but they should have a winning season this year, which is more than anyone expected from them.

11. Cardinals – These guys have already wrapped up a division championship and a home playoff game. Not that it’s been a long time for the Cards between home playoff games, but the last time that they played a home postseason game Harry Truman was president. That’s not a joke or a misprint, the last time the Cardinals played a postseason game at home was 1947 when they were the Chicago Cardinals. In the intervening sixty-one years since they have moved from Chicago to Saint Louis, and then again from Saint Louis to Arizona. So if you remember their last home playoff game, and you were twenty at the time it occurred, you are now eighty one years old. No matter how you slice it, that is a Loooooong gap between having home cooking for the playoffs. Hope Cardinals fans enjoy this game coming up in January, because at this rate it will be 2069 before they get another one.

12. Vikings – I still don’t believe that this is the best team in the NFC North, and yet, there they are at the top of the standings. I am finally showing them some respect, because they are likely going to win this division and because they are also probably better than I thought, but I can’t see their stay in the playoffs lasting too long once they are there. This team, much like my beloved Broncos, seems like a team that is benefiting from a weaker division, and will likely lose in the first round.

13. Patriots – There are no style points in NFL records, and an ugly win counts just the same as a pretty one. That said, I hope the New England faithful aren’t too proud of barely beating the Seahawks after trailing for the majority of the game. But a win is a win, and of the three teams tied at the top of the AFC East, I think they have the easiest road to winning the division.

14. Dolphins – Quite a turnaround in Miami this season, last year at this time they were 0-13 and hoping to pull out one game to avoid going winless. They did manage one win against the Ravens, and parlayed that into a team that is tied for first in their division this year. They finish with games against the 49ers, Chiefs, and Jets, which is manageable enough that they should not be counted out of the playoffs. They would be the first team to ever make the playoffs the season after winning only one game, which would be impressive. I think it would be awesome if Chad Pennington beat out the Jets for the division title for the rival Dolphins in the same season that he was cast out of New York for Brett Favre. That is definitely how I am rooting for it to end.

15. Broncos – As long as the Broncos are able to beat any of their final three games against the Panthers, Bills or Chargers, or the Chargers manage to lose just won more game against the likes of the Chiefs, Buccaneers or Broncos, then the Broncos will be in the playoffs and host a playoff game at Invesco Field. If you had offered that scenario to me at the beginning of the season, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. I don’t think that they will be able to clinch this weekend, because I think the Panthers are too good at home for the Broncos, and I can’t see the Chiefs beating the Chargers either, but I do think it will happen the following week with either San Diego losing to the Bucs or the Broncos beating the Bills. I sincerely hope that it doesn’t come down to the season finale in San Diego, because I don’t think the Broncos will win that one, and I would hate to have them fall apart like that to miss the playoffs when they appear as close as they are today.

16. Jets – Don’t you just hope that Brett Favre can make it to the playoffs so that he can do what he does best? Throw season crippling interceptions at crucial times in playoff games. I would hate to see a postseason in which he doesn’t get an opportunity to kill his team’s chances, you want a gunslinger like Favre to go out doing what he does best.

17. Saints – Pierre Thomas looks poised to fill the Deuce McAllister role of stud running back for the Saints that isn’t named Reggie Bush. Do you think that the Saints regret using such a high pick on Reggie Bush for him to essentially be a high paid third down back?

18. Bears – They will need to win out and get some help if they want to make the playoffs, and I don’t think that they are consistent enough to do it. They need to draft a good quarterback if they want to move back into the elite in the league. The Kyle Ortons and Rex Grossmans of the world aren’t going to get it done.

19. Packers – This is the best 5-8 team in the league, talk about a team that is snake bit. They should be contending, but they can’t get their defense off the field when it matters most and that has cost them any chance at a special season. Their last best chance was at home against Houston last weekend, and in typical Packer fashion, losing on the last play of the game in a game they should have won. You can talk all you want about the pressure that Aaron Rodgers is under, but if your defense can’t keep teams from rallying in the last minute, it’s hard to blame the quarterback for that. They should be better, but the fact remains they have lost five of their last six ballgames.

20. Redskins – Despite having a stretch when they won six of seven games, the Redskins are crumbling under the weight of a rough schedule. They have lost four of their past five, which is understandable when those losses have come to powerhouses like the Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers, and Giants. The season ends more gently than it has been lately with games against the Bengals, Eagles and 49ers, but with a 7-6 record in the NFC East, the die is pretty much cast against the Redskins playoff chances. Plus they haven’t exactly been looking very strong lately anyway, and with Clinton Portis ripping his head coach Jim Zorn, Skins fans shouldn’t hold much hope for the final three games.

21. Texans – Too little, too late. After stumbling out of the starting blocks, Houston is finally starting to look like the team that many expected to have a breakout season, but the best they can finish is 9-7, which while it would qualify as the Texan’s finest season to date, 9-7 probably
won’t earn any playoff spots for Houston.

22. Chargers – Their playoff hopes are on life support, but they have clinched the title of “2008’s most disappointing team.” I don’t want to count the Bronco division titles before they are hatched (especially with as shaky as the Broncos can be at times), but it would appear that the leading preseason pick for the Super Bowl is going to finish with a losing record. I never would have believed it if I hadn’t watched it unfold all year. I’d like to send out a special note to Antonio Gates. You, Sir, are on notice! Scoring zero fantasy points for me during the fantasy playoffs is a surefire way to get your butt benched for the remainder of the fantasy playoffs. My Floppy Llamas deserve better than that from the tight end position, and I expect better from you, Mr. “Unanimous Best Tight End pick in the draft.” Lucky for you, the Llamas were able to come together as a team despite your poor performance to make it to the second round, but I am going to need some production this week. We are one win away from the fantasy Super Bowl, and every man needs to pull his weight so at the end of the season you can be called, “Champion.”

23. Bills – This team seems to be following the path of last years Lions team. Start out the season really strong in first place in your division, get your fans excited, then fall apart in the second half. It’s hard to remember now, but the Lions actually started out 6-2 and were in first place last year before winning just one more game and finishing 7-9. The Bills are doing the same thing this season, having started out at 5-1, and they are now 6-7, with three tough games to finish out the season at the Jets and at the Broncos before the season finale at home versus the Patriots. Between this second half collapse and seeing your team play a “home” game in Toronto this past Sunday, it’s gotta be hard to be keeping the faith in Bills country. Interesting note pointed out this week in Gregg Easterbrook’s excellent “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” column on ESPN.com. The Bills offensive output in their last three games: 54 points, 3 points, 3 points.

24. 49ers – Beating the Jets on Sunday was an impressive win for the 49ers, Coach Crazy is motivating his team well enough, that now I will be surprised if he doesn’t get to keep the job in San Francisco, which is good, because the more Mike Singletary antics we have in our lives, the better.

25. Jaguars – Call this team Rover, because they are rolling over and playing dead. Actually, to say they are playing like dogs is an insult to dogs. Effort is required to win NFL games, and Jack Del Rio’s bunch is not giving any, which is why they are losing.

26. Browns – The Browns are trying to compete with Ken Dorsey and his 37.4 QB rating. Since I do not have an advanced degree in mathematics, I don’t understand the complicated formula used to determine quarterback rankings. Plus, any system where the highest possible score is 158.3 seems weird to me, but I do know that a 37.4 is not going to win many games.

27. Chiefs – Herm Edwards doesn’t have too much talent, and he hasn’t won many games, but to his credit, his team plays hard every week and is showing definite signs of improvement. Now if Herm understood how to manage a game, the clock, and his timeouts, he might be on to something with this NFL coaching thing.

28. Seahawks – There are no such things as moral victories in the NFL, but I have to imagine that in a lost season in Seattle that the Seahawks were more proud of their close but not quite effort against the Patriots than they were of most of their losses this season.

29. Raiders – After a brief blip of competency, Oakland is back to being the train wreck by the Bay, getting buried and held to zero offensive touchdowns by the mediocre Chargers last Thursday night.

30. Bengals – Stick a stamp on the Bengals, because they are mailing it in.

31. Rams – The Rams are lucky that the Lions exist this year, in a normal season without an all time historically bad team like Detroit, this team would be a cinch for worst in the league.

32. Lions – Three losses away from the glory of a winless year. Don’t go and make a mistake like putting it together for a game and accidently winning one, you have a chance for history and each and every one of you have to not want it bad enough to make sure you go out there and continue to stink and chase history! One loss at a time, Detroit, one loss at a time.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Notes for a Monday Night

Pictured: Several key contributors to the Denver Broncos this season...

Would the guy with the Voo Doo doll of the Denver Broncos starting tailback please cut it out? With Peyton Hillis tweaking his hamstring against the Chiefs on Sunday, that makes 5 Broncos starting running backs to go down in a heap this year. I’m not a superstitious guy, but if I were Tatum Bell I would be toting around as many lucky charms as I could get my hands on.

Mike Shannahan isn't going to get many votes for coach of the year, but that doesn't mean that he shouldn't. With all the injuries, he just keeps plugging in young studs and winning. Who knew so many rookies would be making such HUGE contributions, Peyton Hillis, Eddie Royal, Ryan Clady, Wesley Woodyard, Josh Bell, Josh Barrett, Brett Kern, Spencer Larson, Jack Williams...This team is so young and at times shaky, but the Broncos coach is doing a tremendous job considering the pieces he is manuevering.

After a season crushing 0-4 start, the Houston Texans are coming around. They have gone 6-3 in their last nine games, and are looking like a legitimately frisky team. After a tough game coming up against the Titans this coming Sunday, they have a manageable final two against the Raiders and the Bears. I can see them finishing 8-8, which is impressive way to finish when you drop your first four.

And now, the final four contenders for NFL’s Most Enigmatic Team:

1. The Philadelphia Eagles: They were left for dead by nearly everyone only two weeks ago. The major story surrounding them eleven days ago as they prepared for their Thanksgiving game with the Cardinals was who would be booed worse by the Philadelphia throng, Donovan McNabb or Andy Reid. However, in their past two games they have soundly defeated two teams who have wrapped up division championships this season in the Cardinals and Giants.

2. The Denver Broncos: The Broncos are that rare team with the talent and psychological makeup to be able defeat any squad in the NFL on their good days, and lose to any squad in the NFL on their bad days. The thing that makes them a gambler’s worst nightmare is that there is no telling when they will work their magic or when they will just get worked. Defeat the Jets or Falcons on the road? No problem. Lose to the Raiders, Jaguars or Chiefs? You betcha! This is a very shaky team, with the potential to be very good or very bad.

3. The New York Jets: This team is the polar opposite of the Eagles, two weeks ago people were crowning them as the AFC team to beat after taking out the undefeated Titans and looking great doing it. Now there is an excellent shot that they miss the playoffs after getting beaten down in consecutive weeks by the Broncos and 49ers. They still lead the division courtesy of a tie break scenario, and they have a relatively favorable final three games (Buffalo, at Seattle, Miami), but that final game of the season with the Dolphins could be for the division, and you can’t forget the Patriots in the AFC East, either. No matter how you look at it, the AFC East is much more competitive than it was two weeks ago.

4. The Arizona Cardinals: They are officially the NFC West Division champs, and are going to host a home playoff game, but are they any good? They have a few impressive wins against teams like the Cowboys and Dolphins, but generally they take care of the easy games and lose the hard ones. It’s hard for anyone to say whether or not this team has any potential to win an important game, and judging by past performance, no one is giving them much chance come January, but this offense can be scary good.

Is Tony Romo beginning his third consecutive late season collapse? He is one of my favorite players in the NFL, but there is no disputing his history of not finishing seasons well. There is no shame in losing a game at Pittsburgh, but collapsing in the last eight minutes of a game to lose what looked like a sure win is downright Rosenfelsian. I was ready to mark a W in the Cowboys column when they led 13-3 halfway through the final quarter, but then Tony snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with some terrible throws and a little help from some overly conservative play calling. Dallas may look back on this one at the end of the season as the game that cost them a playoff berth.

I have been listening to the radio while at work, and I would like to make a point that one should NEVER listen to radio commercials to get good Christmas gift ideas. The ideas which have been floated over the airwaves for that “perfect gift” include lottery tickets, an electric shaver, a snowmobile, and “naming a star after someone.” These are all monumentally stupid gifts for different reasons.

-Lottery tickets: “I’m cheap and didn’t feel like spending more than eight nano-seconds thinking of a gift for you, here is a ticket with terrible odds that you will likely throw away nearly immediately after scratching it off to reveal that it is worthless…Merry Christmas!”

-Electric Shaver: “Hey Hippie! You are scruffy looking, your personal hygiene regimen really needs this upgrade. Now go get a haircut and a real job, while you’re at it.”

- Snowmobile: “I thought I’d spend a lot of money on you this holiday, but rather than using it on something you need, I got something completely pointless and stupid that you will never use.”

- “Name a star after someone”: This is easily the worst of the lot, if someone names a star after me, I can no longer be friends with that person. Seriously, that is it. You’re cut off. Naming a star after someone basically is saying, “I’m an dolt who wasted 54 dollars getting the US Patent Office to officially name some random and distant star ‘The Super-Duper
Neato Craig Star’ rather than just getting you a gift card for something that I would actually appreciate.” Seriously, if you are considering naming a star after someone, just take out your money in one hand and then get a lighter in your other, set fire to your cash and bask in the warm glow of your own idiocy. You’ll enjoy the warmth, and the person you were considering naming a star after will be just as pleased as they would have been otherwise. TERRIBLE gift! You may as well send someone a chain letter or a jury duty notice.

Monday Night Pick:

Carolina 20
Tampa Bay 17

As long as John Kasay and Steve Smith can combine to score enough fantasy points and keep my fantasy season alive tonight, I’m really fine with any outcome.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

NFL Powerlines - Week 14

Another week, another bizarre set of games and stories emanating from the NFL. Here I am with my weekly attempt to make sense of the insensible NFL. Enjoy the Powerlines this week.

1. Giants - Okay, obviously the Giants do not miss Plaxico very much, which is good since they will be playing without him for the foreseeable future. (The foreseeable future being the rest of eternity.) I do feel somewhat saddened that this episode may cost Burress his career and likely will mean he has to do some jail time. However, once you get past that part of this story, I have to say from a pure comedic standpoint this Plax escapade is easily the funniest sports story of the year; and whatever second place is on that list isn't even close. Accidentally shooting himself in the leg, trying to hide it, checking into the hospital under the assumed name Harris Smith and then claiming that the whole thing happened at an Applebees?? Seinfeld never had an episode with a more outrageous plot than that.

2. Titans - There is no better formula for getting over your first loss of the year than a Thanksgiving date with the Lions. It's hard to gauge the Titans based on their overpowering win due to the level of competition, but it is safe to say...The Titans are much better than the Lions.

3. Steelers - This is a solid team, and their defense is scary good. As long as Roethlisberger can stay healthy and avoid the brainfreeze to which he is occasionally prone, they have championship potential. The O-Line is their Achilles heel. If the defense is the Steel curtain, the O-Line is the tin foil sheet.

4. Colts - Peyton Manning is amazing, this Colts team survived a horrible early season slump, pretty much due to Manning alone, and now they are in position for a good run in the playoffs with the added bonus of more than likely getting to play the Broncos in the first round.

5. Panthers - If they win the NFC South, they'll have earned it. They finish with The Buccaneers, Broncos, Giants and Saints.

6. Ravens - They no longer just a tough defensive team, they are averaging over 30 points a game in their last seven games, and have been held under 27 points just one time in that span.

7. Jets - And this is why Jets fans are as neurotic as they are...just as the collective media begin hailing them as "Possibly the best team in the AFC" they fall apart at home to a team that was beaten down the previous week by the Raiders. On a positive note for Jets fans, no fan base is better at spelling their team's name in unison.

8. Buccaneers - It's good to know that after the clunker of a Monday Night Football matchup we just had this week, that next weeks game will be for first place in the NFC South. I have an easier time tolerating Mondays when I know I have a good game to look forward to that night.

9. Cowboys - How bizarre is it that the wide receiver causing the greatest controversy in the NFC East isn't named Terrell Owens? Tony Romo has not ended his season well the past two years, I am curious to see if he can overcome his history and send Dallas on a late season run.

10. Patriots - Funny how no one is dismissing the legacy of Tom Brady this week, after Matt Cassell and the Patriots laid an egg against the Steelers.

11. Redskins - I think they have been playing over their level most of this season, and they are finally starting to settle to their appropriate position. I will be surprised if they are able to make the playoffs.

12. Cardinals - The worst thing about these Thursday night NFL Network games are how crazy they are for the road team. Peter King wrote in his column this week about how tough this week was for the Cardinals getting beat at home by the best team in the league, and then having to try and put it all together for a road game in Philly four days later. I know everyone is down on the Cards and thinking that they are frauds, but I want to see how they respond in their next few games before I completely write them off.

13. Falcons - Matt Ryan and the Falcons are hanging tough for a playoff spot in the NFC. I don't think they have quite enough to get it done, but the fact that they are even in the conversation is one of the better stories in the league this season.

14. Dolphins - Equally amazing as the Falcons are the Dolphins who could muster only one win last year, and are only one game out of the division lead in the AFC East. There are still four games left this year, and the Fins have already won seven times as many games as they did all last year. Part of me hopes that they can find a way to finish strong and win this division, just because worst to first stories are always fun.

15. Broncos - The Broncos have lost their past three home games and won their past three road games. I don't believe that there is a team that there is a more enigmatic team in the NFL. They look like contenders by taking out teams like the Falcons, Bucs, Saints, and Jets, but also have fallen apart against the dregs of the league like Kansas City and Oakland. Their defense is terrible, yet they seem to be playing better after losing all of their starting linebackers and (arguably) the best defensive back in the league. Anything can happen to the Broncos, and I refuse to be surprised. They could win their division with a 7-9 record, they could go 11-5 and win the Super Bowl (although I am not holding my breath for this one), they could fall apart completely and somehow miss the playoffs despite having a three game division lead with four games to play, they could start a linebacker at fullback, a quarterback at cornerback, Matt Prater could lead a two minute drill to win a playoff game...NOTHING would shock me regarding this team at this point. I refuse to be surprised anymore.

16. Vikings - Life is going to get a lot tougher the last quarter of the season, as Roger Goodell has just suspended the heart of their defense with drug suspensions for the Williams boys. Losing two of their best defensive players and having to continue to be coached by an unspeakably terrible head coach may cost the Vikes, but they have Adrian Peterson and a one game division lead, so they still have a punchers chance.

17. Bears - Letting the Vikings stop them on the doorstep and then promptly giving up a 99 yard touchdown to former Bear Bernard Berrian may be a season defining sequence. It's hard to overcome something like that, not impossible, but hard.

18. Saints - If they wanted to have a real shot at the playoffs, they really needed to take down the Bucs on a nasty rainy day in Tampa last Sunday. They are not eliminated, but it's going to be awfully tough to make the playoffs now.

19. Packers - Wisconsin may be pining for the days of Brett Favre, but I don't remember seeing him play defense, which is where the Packers are having the most difficulty lately. They have given up 82 points in their last two games, and I don't think #4 would be able to assist them much with that, even if he hadn't been shuffled off to New York.

20. Bills - It must be depressing to be a Bills fan right about now. This season started with such promise with the Bills winning five of their first six games, they have only won once in their past six games, and now Bills fans have to face the reality that not only is their team falling apart, but they are playing their next "home" game this weekend in what is likely their future home of Toronto. The Bills are the new Sonics, that truly is sad.

21. Eagles - Okay, so I was ready to start throwing dirt on the Eagles after their pathetic two week stretch of playing to a tie against the "football challenged" Bengals and then getting pounded by the Ravens. A stretch in which Donovan McNabb looked clueless both on and off the field, admitting he didn't realize there could be a tie and then getting pulled in the second half of the Baltimore game by Andy Reid. So how do I make sense of McNabb then coming home and playing a terrific game to lay the smack down upon the Cardinals? I can't make sense of it, and that seems to be the theme to this wacky season.

22. Chargers - A Chimpanzee could coach this collection of talent to a 4-8 record, which makes me wonder why Norv Turner has a decent chance of keeping this job when he appears to be doing about as well as a large ape would do in his position. Without a doubt, this team is the disappointment of the season.

23. Texans - Perhaps they should wear those goofy looking all red uniforms more often, if they had played with that same purpose and energy all season, perhaps they would have had a shot at the playoffs. And speaking of the Texans, I am still trying to get over losing my fantasy football game by a quarter of a point due to Owen Daniels doing juuuuuuuuust enough to keep me from winning. I literally could not have lost by a smaller margin, and it all came down to Monday night with me hanging on to a tiny lead until Mr. Daniels catches an eleven yard pass midway through the 4th quarter to seal my fate by a quarter point, and then does nothing else so I end up losing by that tiny margin. Ugh, I didn't even know Owen's number before Monday night, and now I hate that guy.

24. Browns - Memo to Romeo Crennell: When the media is reporting that you need a miracle to save your job, and that miracle will have to occur by having Ken Dorsey as your starting QB and you have games against the Eagles, Steelers and Titans, and when people describe your coaching demeanor with such adjectives as "brainless" and "comatose" I'd say that the cards are stacked against you. Good Luck, sir.

25. Jaguars - Jack Del Rio should be ashamed of the lack of effort that his Jacksonville squad displayed on Monday night. It is one thing to have nothing to play for, it is quite another to look like you just don't care, and the Jaguars could not have possibly cared any less in their game against Houston.

26. 49ers - It has been at least three weeks since Mike Singletary did or said something that could be classified as certifiably nuts. This makes me sad, as he started out with such promise. I sincerely hope that he does something interesting in the final four weeks of the season, just because the NFL is more fun when Mike Singletary does Mike Singletary things.

27. Chiefs - This team is making strides towards competitiveness, just in time to stun the Broncos this Sunday in Denver. As a Broncos fan, I am terrified of this upcoming game and the prevailing attitude that the Broncos should win easily coupled with the fact that this is exactly the type of game the Broncos have honked this season.

28. Raiders - The Raiders may be bad this season, but no one is accusing them of being boring this year. Between the Lane Kiffin soap opera, Al Davis announcing to the world that he is still quite nuts, a 76 yard field goal attempt, and that bizarre fake field goal leading to a Chief touchdown on Sunday, at least they keep it interesting at all times, as opposed to say the Rams who are bad AND boring.

29. Seahawks - It is painful to see this perennial contender sending Mike Holmgren out on such a low note. This team just does not have it this year, and the wheels came off very quickly, as they won a playoff game just last season.

30. Rams - It is hard to put a positive spin on a 2-10 start. This team at least played Miami close, which is sort of like a win to Saint Louis, right?

31. Bengals - One win and one tie is probably not enough production to save Marvin Lewis' job. This offseason could see a massive amount of head coach turnover, and I am guessing that Marvin will not be spared, nor should he be, really.

32. Lions - The Lions are playing with all the poise and confidence of a junior high flag football team, actually if they played a Junior High flag football team, I think the Lions would be a three point dog, and I'd say take the Junior Highers and give the points.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

About that Lions prediction:

Me, November 3rd...

Is it crazy that I think that John McCain has a real shot at this? Yes, yes it is crazy, but I have a feeling something wacky might happen.

So saying that the Detroit Lions might actually make the Thanksgiving game competitive resulted in the Lions having their worst Thanksgiving loss in their history. They have been playing Thanksgiving games since 1934, and this was their worst loss ever. Can you wrap your mind around that??? How bad is something if it qualifies as "the worst in Detroit Lions history." That is like "The ugliest Golden Girl in history" the whole category is bad, but it is something extra special to be the worst.

Anyway, it is in the hopes that my predictions have the same quality as the Lions football operation as I make the following (reverse jinx) prediction. The New York Jets are going to demolish the Broncos by 47 touchdowns, I cannot see a scenario in which the Broncos keep the game within fifty points. Everyone reading this blog should immediately drive to Vegas and put down their entire life savings on the Jets and give the points. Do it! Now!

Here are my predictions for the games this weekend:

49ers at Bills - In the Chris Berman Super Bowl pick memorial game - The Bills manage to build their winning streak to two games in a row against terrible, terrible teams. Buffalo 31 San Francisco 17

Ravens at Bengals - The Ravens should be a little worried about this game, because you do not want to face Marvin Lewis after an eleven day break! Okay, so really the Ravens have little to nothing to worry about, because even if you gave them three hundred days to prepare, they are still the Bengals. Baltimore 40 Cincinnati 13

Colts at Browns - The Titans clinch the AFC South if the Colts fall to the Browns...I think that the Titans have to wait one more week. Indianapolis 20 Cleveland 14

Panthers at Packers - Here is my pick for game of the week. Carolina has a great record, but they have not looked great in the past month. The Packers are better than they looked in New Orleans on Monday night. Green Bay 20 Carolina 17 (in OT)

Broncos at Jets - As you have already read above, I do not hold much hope for my beloved Broncos for this game, but lets go ahead and pick this thing "Superfan" style. New York 237 Denver -7 (Ditka will find a way)

Dolphins at Rams - Remember that brief stretch when Jim Haslett had the Rams winning back to back games against the Redskins and Cowboys, and everyone was clamoring to remove teh "interim" title from Haslett's job description? That seems like such a long time ago now, huh? Miami 34 St. Louis 3

Saints at Buccaneers - Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. Thus goes the old expression that conveniently forgets to mention the 98 Broncos or 99 Rams, we will get to see which wins this game as the Saints powerful offense and lackluster D head to face their complete opposite in Tampa with the good defense and somewhat subpar offense of the Bucs. I'm going to go with the defense this time...after all, who wants to sell tickets?? Tampa Bay 17 New Orleans 13

Giants at Redskins - Isn't it about time for the Giants to have a down game? Probably, but I don't think it comes here. New York 27 Washington 19

Falcons at Chargers - If San Diego is really going to start contending for the AFC West, this is pretty much a must win for them. Of course, if the Falcons want to make the playoffs, they really need this one too. I think the Bolts begin their "it's about time we started playing better" run to a pathetic division title in the sadsack AFC West. San Diego 33 Atlanta 24

Steelers at Patriots - I don't know who to cheer against in this game. I don't want to cheer on the Steelers, what with the fact that they have about 30 percent of the fans or more in the stadium in every road game they play, but rooting for the Patriots and Belichek is not more appetizing. Perhaps we could just hope that a giant meteor lands in the Boston area on Sunday? That seems like the best outcome to me! New England 24 Pittsburgh 21

Chiefs at Raiders - Two disturbing facts on this one...This is the second time these two teams have played this year and The Raiders have a legitimate chance at a two game win streak. Two facts which make me question my belief in a loving God. Thankfully, I will not have to watch this game, people in California and Missouri are not so lucky, and for that they have my pity. Oakland 9 Kansas City 6

Bears at Vikings - This is a huge divisional game with the winner having a leg up on taking the only playoff spot that is going to come from the NFC North. Will the man child Adrian Peterson have enough in him to overpower the horrendous coaching of Brad Childress? I say yes, this week. Minnesota 31 Chicago 24

Jaguars at Texans - If not for the might and majesty of Raiders v Chiefs, this might be the worst game of the weekend. Two teams that people expected to do much better this season, but have provided less than stellar results thus far. I can't honestly say I have much of a feeling on this game, nor do I much care about it. Jacksonville 23 Houston 20

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

NFL Powerlines - Week 13

Yes NFL Power rankings are ridiculous because it all gets settled on the field, unlike the ridiculous college system, having rankings in the NFL is pretty much useless and silly. That said, it makes for a good blog post, so here are my week 14 NFL rankings. Enjoy!

1. Giants - Okay, now that the Titans have fallen to the ranks of the unbeaten, the G Men officially take their rightful place as the best team in the land in the very important and prestigious Craig rankings.

2. Titans - Is it crazy that I think the Lions have a chance against them on Thanksgiving day? Yes. It is crazy, but I still have a feeling that something wacky might happen.

3. Colts - Adam Vinatieri has just had his picture taken to be placed next to clutch in the dictionary, it is official. If I need one clutch kick and can choose any kicker to ever play, Adam is easily my first choice.

4. Steelers - It is inexcusable that the Steelers play in the NFL in 2008 with that sad sack of a field that they have there at Heinz field. Seriously, thirty one other teams can figure out how to have decent playing fields, and the brain trust in Pittsburgh makes it look like Groundkeeper Willie is in charge of the grass. Inexcusable.

5. Jets - As someone who was sick of Brett Favre and his egomaniacal ways, I have to say I am still intrigued by this Jets team. They are playing their best football and are peaking naturally just as the Broncos are getting ready to head to the Meadowlands. I don't even know what the line is for this game, but I would take the Jets and give as many as 20 points. I fully expect that the Broncos get run in the Jersey swamps this Sunday.

6. Patriots - Can we please ease up on the revisionist historians calling Tom Brady a system quarterback? Yes, Matt Cassell has had a few good games now, but that in no way diminishes what Brady has done this decade. Let's not all lose our minds and say that it is just a result of a good system, that is crazy talk.

7. Buccaneers - Do you think John Gruden's mom ever told him when he was a kid, "Don't make that face or it might get stuck that way?" This is the best team in the league that no one is talking about. I don't think it's crazy to suggest that they pose the biggest threat to the Giants winning the NFC again.

8. Redskins - Redskins versus Giants this week is a magnificent game. I need to see how the Redskins respond to see if they truly warrant being ranked this high. They have lost two of their last three, with the solitary win being a struggle against a dreadful Seahawks team, so momentum is hardly on their side.

9. Ravens - I still need to see this team beat a good team before I begin to truly believe in them. And no, beating the Eagles and Andy Reid's quarterback roulette does not qualify as beating a good team.

10. Cardinals - I like this team, if for no other reason than the novelty of seeing a team wearing Cardinals uniforms not be terrible. Also, Kurt Warner is a stud. Has anyone ever come from out of nowhere twice in a career like this?? First he does it in 1999 for the Rams when no one sees him coming, then after several years of playing like he was too old and too slow, suddenly this year he comes from nowhere again to be a legit MVP candidate. This guy is at his best when no one expects anything out of him.

11. Falcons - Is there a better story in the NFL than the Atlanta Falcons rising from the ashes of the Michael Vick/Bobby Petrino disaster of one year ago into this frisky team that they have become? If Mike Smith doesn't win Coach of the Year for his season in Atlanta, they need to launch a congressional investigation.

12. Panthers - I have cooled on this team. They have won too many ugly games against bad teams and have been blasted by division opponents Tampa Bay and Atlanta this year in very important games. I have a feeling that they fall apart enough to miss the playoffs this year.

13. Cowboys - I already liked Tony Romo, but then I hear stories about him being a good Samaritan and helping out an elderly couple by changing their flat tire, taking a homeless guy to the movies, and randomly showing up at Dallas area high school pep rallies with Will Smith, and I think to myself. This guy is my favorite player in the NFL. He has single handedly made me start cheering for the Cowboys, an act that I would have found reprehensible just a few short years ago.

14. Bears - Kyle Orton holds the hopes of Chicagoland in his hands, and in a fitting display, I expect him to fumble those hopes. I do not believe in the Chicago Bears. Not one bit.

15. Saints - Did you see on ESPN.com's "Beat the Streak" how a guy was one correct pick away from winning the million dollars, and for his twenty-fifth pick that if he got correct he would win the cool million he made call to pick the Packers to beat the Saints this week on Monday night football. I bet it was tough to pull himself out of bed on Tuesday. Do you think the sight of the Saints logo makes him sick to his stomach?

16. Packers - Speaking of that guy on ESPN.com, do you think he will ever forgive the Packers for falling apart in the second half? My guess is that he despises both the Packers and Saints for the rest of his natural life. I know I would.

17. Dolphins - The Wildcat formation has now officially jumped the shark. Time to try the Single Wing, the Wishbone, or perhaps the Run and Shoot.

18. Vikings - The Vikings may actually pull this division out if they can avoid the wrath of Roger Goodell on all players named Williams.

19. Bills - Scoring 54 points is amazing no matter who it is against, but I need to see them play a competitive team strongly before I believe too strongly in a Renaissance occurring in Buffalo.

20. Broncos - Losing at home to the Raiders? Really? As I sat in my seats at Invesco Field I was doing my best to try to make sense of what was happening. Under no circumstances was this result something I was prepared for, and I didn’t really know how to respond other than be confused as to how the division leading Broncos couldn’t take care of the train wreck Raiders on their home turf. I am still perplexed as to how that game happened, and I refuse to place any faith in my Broncos for the rest of the season. I’ll still hope for a miracle, but by no means am I expecting great things from them.

21. Chargers - No 4-7 team has ever been favored to win an NFL division, until now, that is. Ugh. I think the Broncos still manage to hold on and win the West this year, but would I be surprised if the Chargers take it with a 7-9 record? No, I would not.

22. Jaguars - It doesn't get much more depressing than in Jacksonville, where the team was expected to contend, and they are now playing out the string with no hope and little motivation.

23. Eagles - Andy Reid has to be fired at the end of this season, right? How can a year that started out so promising be unraveling so quickly in Philadelphia. At least Philly fans have the Phillies to be proud of.

24. Texans - There is nothing interesting about this team other than Steve Slaton, so I am going to move on.

25. Browns - Brady Quinn is done for the year with a finger injury, how badly does Derek Anderson need to finish well this year? Millions of dollars could be hanging on these final five games for him.

26. Raiders - This win in Denver had to have been a freak accident. No way do they win again on the road when Jamarcus Russell only throws 11 passes. In fact, they probably don’t win another game all season.

27. Chiefs - After living for six years in Kansas, and dealing with obnoxious Chief fans who legitimately hated the Broncos, I can honestly say I take a certain level of pleasure in the suckitude of Kansas City. Letting the Bills hang 54 on them was not pretty, but they are just getting warmed up to come into Denver and win in a few weeks.

28. 49ers - Coach Crazy hasn't done anything bizarre for a few weeks now, but there mere fact that he is out there lurking in San Francisco makes me happy. I sincerely hope that the people running the Niners see fit to keep him around next year. The NFL is a more interesting place with a deranged coach like Mike Singletary prowling the sidelines seeking whom he may devour.

29. Seahawks - Oh Joy! I get to watch this team lose by thirty on Thanksgiving day. The NFL did not do a terribly good job scheduling the Thanksgiving day matchups. Titans-Lions on paper is a mismatch of ginormous proportions and Seahawks-Cowboys combined with tryptophan should make a powerful one two punch to put all of America into a post-turkey coma. Eagles-Cardinals is interesting, but only the 8 people in America with NFL Network will get to see it.

30. Bengals - Marvin Lewis needs to get in the unemployment line along with Andy Reid. This team doesn't seem to care at all, and Marvin makes beautiful choices like kicking a field goal on fourth and eight in the red zone with six minutes to go and his team down 20-7. What possible motivation could he have had for not trying for the touchdown in that situation? Terrible.

31. Rams - Can this team save us all some time and just start all of their games in the second quarter trailing 24-3. That is pretty much the result after one quarter of their games anyway, and we could all save a lot of time by not pretending that they even have a chance.

32. Lions - The dream of the winless season lives, but as stupid as it sounds, I say they are competitive on Thanksgiving.