Sunday, January 31, 2010

What a waste of a perfectly colored logo!

Why oh why couldn't the Broncos have made this Super Bowl...How good would that Orange and Blue patch look on a Broncos uniform. They'll be meaninglessly contrasting on the Saints and Colts uniforms. Oh well, maybe when the Super Bowl Logo is White and Royal Blue, the Broncos can made the Super Bowl. Then the Colts will know what it feels like to have a Super Bowl logo that is a perfect match for your team but not get to wear it because you didn't actually make the Super Bowl...Oh the revenge will be sweet.

By the way, I still want the Saints to win it all. Even if their uniforms clash with the logo for the game. Go Brees and company!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Vertically Striped Radio - Episode 36: Pork is apparently an Aphrodisiac


Craig was joined by Face Ventura and The Whale as we discussed a ton of NFL topics ranging from Brett Favre and the epic NFC Championship game, to the Super Bowl, to the Rooney Rule.

We discussed racism, and ironically, I neglected to put Ed on the air. I saw him on the line, but got interrupted and never got back to him. Sorry, Ed. I didn't mean to neglect you.

We also talked a bit about the NHL 94 tournament that is going to be battled between members of the message board community. We talked over rules, and I talked a little bit of smack regarding how I would win the whole thing.

I finished with the Vertically Striped Music recommendation which was the song "Kids" by MGMT.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Ed Abides: A Fresh Batch of Edisms

I can neither confirm nor deny that this is a picture of The Ed. But there is a chance that this is what he looks like. There is also a chance that this is some random dude who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, I can't be sure.

The Ed

Sometimes there's a man, I won't say a hero, cause what's a hero? But sometimes there's a man. And I'm talkin' about The Ed here--sometimes there's a man who, well, he's the man for his time and place, he fits right in there--and that's The Ed, in Las Vegas. Sometimes there's a man, sometimes there's a man who--Well, I lost my train of thought here, but aw hell, I've done introduced him enough...

Okay, so I haven't posted any new Edisms in awhile, but I've saved up quite a bit of them, and figured that in these dark and troubled times as the NFL season is just about over and the specter of a long horible offseason is before us, well, I figured we could use a little Ed wisdom.

The last time Vertically Striped Socks did a story on Ed (or "The Ed" as he is often known) was back in May of 2009. If you missed that story, and need a little bit of background on this interesting man from Vegas, you can read that story here:

If you're up to speed on The Ed, then you know what you're in for. So without further ado, I present to you another batch of Edisms, fresh and piping hot from the oven for all you kids...

This one pretty much sums up The Ed's philosophy on life:

"As long as I know what I’m sayin’, It don’t matter what I’m talkin’ about."

The Ed is a huge Colts fan, here are some of his recent Indianapolis related thoughts...

"The Colts gonna win it all, man. Listen. It’s a forgiven conclusion." "The Colts defense is a lot better now that we got rid of that god dang devil, Tony Dungy, trying to run it."

"You gotta feel sad for the Colts cause for some unknown reason these people still think that Tom Brady is better than the Peyton Manning. And we all know that's a fabrication of elushinations."

Craig Dodge: "How much longer is Peyton Manning going to play?"
Ed: "He'll play 'til he's 57, probably."

"The destiny is that Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of all time, and people, he got to get at least two to verify it. Three will superfy it. And the fourth one he gets will triple dipple try it. And that’s all I’m sayin’."

Yeah, it's safe to say that Ed is convinced that the Colts are going to beat the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV and win it all. He's not even worried about it. Another thing he doesn't even worry about is talking about other people...Here are some more Ed quotes where Ed let's people know the situation in America when it comes to his friends and acquaintances on the message board.

"First of all, you’re a Veginarian, you don’t even eat no food! You’re always sick, you always got problems, you always busy. I’ve never seen somebody who don’t eat meat who’s busy and always sick. That’s three unbelievable combinations, that’s like a combination platter at Taco Bell, it don’t even make sense."

"This guy makes rhymes that don't even rhyme. I've never seen a poem kid who don't even know how to make nothing rhyme. "

"He had no competition, every entry form we sent back had his name on it. It was a unonimous selection."

"It take me 9 hours a day to update this stuff (FYI, "this stuff" is a wide array of games which Ed runs for the kids on, and then don’t no one even care about it. They just sign up like God dang munchkins, man."

"You’re like a god dang Canadian Football field. Too many yards, man."

"You cry all the time, man. You’re like 2nd down and 36."

"Him and his Dad went to a Father-Son picnic, and his Dad took a stuffed animal."

"The (message) board is chalk full of haters, all these kids from Haiti."

"Look, this kid knows what he's talking about, Face Ventura. (Ed says as he reads a message from a message boarder with the screen name Face Ventura congratulating Ed for the Colts winning) "Congrats Ed." Now see, that kid knows what he's talkin about, that kid is always on time for school. He'll make sure people got lunches, he'll make sure that people got their clothes ironed and pressed. Every. Single. Time. He don't fool around."

"He afraid to call in, cause he don't even know how to dial a phone, he's so scared. "

"These guys always got, like a, conspiracy theory, Like Number 1-9, when he lose his shoelaces in the mall. He think the guy who's the security guard took em, and I'm like, 'No, he didn't do nothing.' "

"Man, this kid, The Whale (A message boarder with a screen name of The Whale, not an actual whale.), he does a lot of things for that kinda species, you know. He goes out and feeds fishes, and he goes out and buys fish tanks for other cities that don't got em."

"Why do you like hockey so much, what, you got a winter coat of somethin’?" (Ed doesn't understand the appeal of hockey as a sport.)

As much fun as it is to hear Ed talk about other people, some of his best lines come when he's talking about himself:

"This guy has a vendella against me, He’s got to, there’s no other choice about it. I don’t know if it’s somebody that’s jealous of me and my good looks or me and things that happen in America that go down when people got on sweaters."

"I just found a nickel right here on the ground! Ah, I found two of em. Heh, A quarter, A quarter and a nickel. That’s 44 cents!"

"It was a long Stupedulous altitude of different arrays of things for me to do."

"I don’t wanna hear no gripin, no cryin, no airplane flyin."

"The people talk all kinds of stuff about me and say, “Aw, man, you got pillows on both sides of your bed.” And all this stuff like that."

"Santa Claus got Rudolph and Donner and Blitzen and Mary Jo, all the reindeer. I don’t got those."

"They afraid to say it to my face, that’s why they don’t call in. They probably think they’ll catch a cold when they talk to me, cuz I’m sick, but I’m not gonna contagious em."

"These guys always get mad when I'm right, and they know that I'm always right. I'm usually right over 100% of the time."

Then of course, there are the times when I have no idea what Ed is talking about...sometimes those are some of The Ed's best moments:

Ed: "I’m super deluxe mad at this point."
Mike Dell: "Why are you so mad, though, The Ed? It’s just competition, you know, what’s wrong?"
Ed: "No No No No, there’s no competition when I’m the champ. Listen, They already know that I’ve set, I’ve set the pattern for this whole rotation of the earth and then they go around and act like that they run a Taco Bell or some stuff like that, you know? They act like light sockets don’t even got switches on em, you know? That’s how they act, sometimes."

"You don't know what the heck go on in the Philippines, I don't, You don't, People who run airlines, and people who make stop signs don't."

"No one knows what can happen, you know, it's like going down a one-way street three different directions. It's uncharted territory."

"System needs Defragipitation. That’s what it say on my computer."

"Sometimes if you get a black pen and you try to write in blue ink, it don’t always work."

"It's all in the scheme of things, man, in America. When you look in the sky and you turn it to the degrees of the what you want it to be, that's what happens."

Yup, The Ed Abides. I don't know about you, but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there, the Ed, takin' 'er easy for all us sinners.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Vertically Striped Radio - Episode 35: Like 101 Dalmatians, only more dogs.

It was the eve of Conference Final Sunday in the NFL. My 2 year old son, Luke, made his debut on VSR and picked the Vikings and Saints to win this weekend. He's lived through TWO Super Bowls, so he's very good. Face Ventura and The Ed both called in to also weigh in on the games. Face and I agreed on one thing above all, we don't want Brett Favre to go to the Super Bowl.

We also reconstructed the terrible Top 10 Pop Culture dogs list from the American Kennel Club, and made improvements so vast that the list grew from 10 to 20.

The Vertically Striped Music Recommendation was Sky Blue Sky by Wilco.

NFL Weekend Preview: Conference Championship Weekend

The Saints and Vikings clash in Louisiana in the more anticipated Championship game, we'll have to see if it lives up to it's billing as the better game.

This is officially the home stretch. Only two games this weekend, and the winners go to the big game with the Roman numbering system. This is the most painful weekend to lose, because ultimately you're forgotten, but the sting of losing hurts the most when you were thisclose to making the Super Bowl. So clearly, a lot is at stake here. This is one of my favorite weekends of the sporting calendar, as the games are so important, and often they are very good. Hopefully we get two good games, but I'm doubtful, as the Jets are prominently involved in one. I don't know what it is about Gang Green, but whenever the Jets play, the games take on a sloppy, sticky feel, as if the entire football game has been doused with maple syrup or something. I want the Jets to win because the underdog story is fun, but the Super Bowl will be better if the Colts are involved. As for the NFC, no matter who wins, we should get a good Super Bowl rep, so hopefully that means the Saints...because, well, Brett Favre. Here are the results that I divined from my clearly cloudy crystal ball:

New York Jets at Indianapolis:
Is anyone else struck by how ridiculous it is that the New York Jets are one of the last four teams still playing? This team has certainly has been lucky, having the last five field goals attempted against them all be missed is bizarre, and the fact that they weren't down by twenty at halftime against the Chargers is crazy...they were getting destroyed in that game, only the Chargers somehow kept getting just stopped by the Jets. I guess that's the whole point of playing defense, but some serious luck was involved.

Well, the luck ends this weekend. Matt Sanchez has not been playing all that well, perhaps you can win one game or maybe rarely even two with a subpar quarterback, but I don't think you can win a championship with a quarterback who was widely considered to have potential that he has clearly not yet reached. The defense is good, and the running game has been solid, but if the Jets are somehow able to win, they might be the weakest team to ever reach the Super Bowl.

Contrast the Jets with a team that hasn't lost a game in which they clearly tried to win since last year's playoffs. The Colts are strong, Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks of all time, and the Colts suffocated a team from Baltimore last week that is the mirror image of the Jets. The Ravens had a questionable quarterback, a great running game, and a strong swarming defense...and they lost 20-3. The Jets are in for a similar fate.

I'm cheering for New York, because Rex Ryan is terribly interesting and who doesn't like a fat boisterous coach. Plus the idea of the chaos that would ensue as the Jets faithful try to figure out a world where their team is actually in the Super Bowl appeals to me...we could potentially see some Jets fans heads explode with confusion. Sadly, I don't think it's meant to be. Not even close. Colts 33 Jets 13

Minnesota at New Orleans: This game to me is a coin flip, and is there any doubt that this game is the more anticipated contest of the weekend? Although both of these teams kind of stumbled to the finish in the regular season, the idea that the momentum you bring to the playoffs took a major hit last week, as despite both teams bringing very little "Mo" into their first postseason contests, they both dispatched their first round foes with ease. The Vikings throttled the Cowboys, and the Saints easily eliminated the Cardinals. So now, unlike the AFC, the two teams in the NFC that looked like the class of the Conference for the lion share of the regular season will be battling for the NFC spot in XLIV, which is how it should be.

The Vikings defensive line is scary when it gets rolling, and they were rolling against Tony Romo and the Cowboys last week. The Saints offense will rely on Drew Brees making quick smart decisions, which he is pretty good at doing. The Vikings offense also looked good, although Adrian Peterson has not been quite as good as advertised this year. Of course, he was advertised as making blind men see and turning water into he may have been slightly over-hyped.

Long time readers will know that I have a dislike of Brett Favre, so that clearly colors my Vikings predictions. I don't want the Vikes winning, and that is only because of Brett. The franchise has great and long-suffering fans who have lost four Super Bowls and deserve their share of happiness, but I just don't want that happiness to be delivered by Favre. The Saints have never been any further than they are right now, and it would be fun to see the people of New Orleans relish in a Super Bowl. They would certainly celebrate appropriately...especially since I get the impression that the Saints mean just a little bit more than they should to the city. (A fact which I really enjoy and endears Saints fans to me, by the way.) This game is very close, I could see it going in any direction. I can see either team winning by blowout, and I can see either team winning a close game. I'm hoping for the close game, since there have been precious few of those in this postseason, and I have a feeling the early game will continue the tradition of crappy postseason football this year. Since I have no feel for who will win, but I have a definite rooting interest, I'm going to go with my heart. Saints 31 Vikings 28

My Picks Scorecard:

Last Week: 2-2
Regular Season: 161-95
Playoffs: 4-4
Playoffs Against the Spread: 3-5
Year to Date: 165-99

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Powerlines: Week 19 NFL Power Rankings (Heading into Conference Championship Weekend)

As the season nears it's end, this means this is our penultimate stranger on the train, plus she's wearing purple.

We're down to the Final 4, and somehow the Jets are still playing. There are only 3 real games left until the offseason, which is a depressing thought. Still...the season is reaching it's exciting climax, let's hang on and hope that the final three games are better than the postseason has been to this point. Here is where the power lies among the few that remain eligible for a championship.

1. Colts – This team is winning it all. Granted, the last team I said that about just lost to the Jets, so it’s not like I’m rock solid on these things, but the Colts are going to hoist their second Lombardi trophy in a few weeks. They just beat a better version of the Jets called, “The Ravens.” Do I think the Jets will be able to take them? Nevermore. Indy’s defense is stout, their offensive weapons are insane, and did I mention a guy who wears number eighteen? The Saints or Vikings might be able to give them a game, but you have to believe that it’s the year of the horseshoe.

2. Saints – New Orleans certainly proved that just because you end a regular season on a slump doesn’t mean that you are not still capable of laying wood to somebody. The Saints obliterated an Arizona team that apparently had decided during this playoff run that playing defense was beneath them. The Saints offense appears to be instantly back on to it’s crazy pace, and there is a legit chance that the Saints could participate in their first Super Bowl.

3. Vikings – The NFC Championship game is a legit tossup. Brett Favre appears healthy and ready to roll, and the Vikings defense absolutely steamrolled the Cowboys offense on Sunday. Their game against the Saints on Sunday is far from easy to call, and I will not be surprised if they are able to go into the Superdome and crush the hearts of Cajuns everywhere. Adrian Peterson has not looked up to his superhuman standards of late, but he’s still a spectacular talent, and as much as it pains me to admit it, Number 4 has totally raised that Vikings team to another level. I’ll be cheering against them because of Favre on Sunday, but I like the rest of this team, and certainly Minnesota deserves a chance at glory.

4. Jets – My mind has had several days to wrap itself around the concept that the Jets are one of the four best teams in the NFL, but I can’t do it. This team is not that good, they just got hot at the perfect time. This is a team that lost to the Jaguars got swept by the Dolphins and even fell to the Bills for crying out loud. If they hadn’t been kissed by the NFL scheduling fairy, they might not even have made the playoffs, a month ago they could only muster seven points against a very suspect Falcons team, and yet, here they are in the AFC Championship.

I may doubt their pedigree, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not cheering for the Jets to win. Rex Ryan is everything that I could wish for in an NFL coach. First of all, he’s ridiculously fat, which is always a plus. Second, he is prone to let his emotions lead him to making bold if not completely ridiculous statements, such as saying that the Jets were obviously out of the playoffs two weeks before they went ahead and clinched or declaring that the Jets should be favored against anyone they play. Third, there is just something fun about a braggadocios underdog going farther than he should. The fact that New York is in the playoffs is ridiculous, the fact that they have won two postseason games and are now in the AFC Championship is insane, and should they somehow win one more and unleash a hoard of unwashed Jets fans upon South Florida? Well, that would be sublime. So yes, Virginia, I’m rooting for the Jets. The fact that I think they stand about a snowball’s chance in Delhi doesn’t mean that I won’t be cheering on Gang Green.

Here are some lovely parting gifts for our losers:

-Chargers: Nate Kaeding sure picked a terrible time to have the worst game of his career. The Chargers dominated the entire first half and they should have been up by twenty at the break, but a combination of bad breaks, bad luck and bad kicking had them only up by seven. The Jets just kept hanging around until suddenly they were ahead, and then suddenly they were up by ten. They held on at the end, and suddenly and improbably, the Chargers season and their eleven game win streak thudded to a halt simultaneously. The craziest thing about this is that San Diego then immediately extended Norv Turner’s contract through 2013…because when you have a coach with a history of sucking and collapsing in the playoffs with a team that has superior talent, you need to make sure you lock that guy up long term!

-Cowboys: All those nice things I said about the Cowboys after they took care of Philly in back to back weeks were noticeably absent from that abortion of an effort which they put forth in Minnesota. Tony Romo looked horrible, but it’s hard to look good as a quarterback when you’re constantly running for your life. The Minnesota defense made the Cowboys offense non-existent, and the Cowboys defense couldn’t return the favor to Brett Favre. Now, even as Wade Phillips has been brought back for another year, one has to wonder if the Cowboys actually turned the table on their late season failures or if they just matchup really well against the Eagles. Either way, Dallas is the NFC mirror image of San Diego, right down to the retread overmatched Head Coach.

-Cardinals: If you’re going to win in the playoffs, averaging giving up exactly 45 points per game is probably not going to carry you long term. Now the Cardinals must face the looming prospect of trying to get back to this point again possibly without Kurt Warner who sounds like he may be leaning towards heading out to pasture. With that (lack of) defense, and suddenly Matt Leinart being under center, the short-lived window for the Cards may have just been slammed shut in the Superdome on Saturday.

-Ravens: The Ravens are getting older on defense, Joe Flacco’s glorious rookie year ran into somewhat of a sophomore slump, and while this team is still good, they were obviously too limited to be able to take down the Peyton Manning express. There is still hope in Baltimore for the immediate future, but Ray Lewis’ crew may be getting too long in the tooth to continue to remain among the AFC elite. Plus, this team is just too dumb as currently construed to win it all. Cutting down on stupid mistakes will be a key thing to work on during their offseason.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Vertically Striped Radio - Episode 34: Hippos on the loose in Eastern Europe

MJ Amory made his triumphant return to VSR on this show, and said what's up and regaled us with stories of being cursed at while cheering for the Broncos in Philly. Face Ventura also showed up to share despite being very nervous about the Cowboys-Vikings game on Sunday.

The Ed dialed in on two different occasions and broke news that The Dave is being courted by radio stations in both Atlanta, Georgia and Boise, Idaho along with reprimanding Craig for not thinking the Saints-Cardinals blowout was a good game...and apparently Craig is like a Canadian Football Field...Yeah, I have no idea either.

We also discussed the American Kennel Club's list of Top 10 pop culture dogs, and vowed to right the wrong of The Baja Men's "Who let the dogs out" being in the top 10 by creating our own better list of top 10 dogs over at

Finally, the Vertically Striped Music Recommendation was Sufjan Stevens' "Illinoise." I played "Casimir Polaski Day" to close.

Friday, January 15, 2010

NFL Weekend Preview: Divisional Weekend

The Cowboys and Vikings hook up in Minnesota for what is anticipated to be the game of the weekend.

Arizona at New Orleans – ( Line: Saints by 7) When you think of the Saints, you think of scoreboards that spin like they are part of a pinball machine, high powered offense running teams off of the field, and that is what they were, but what will be interesting to see is whether or not they can get the Ferrari revved up again after playing like the past month didn’t even matter. (To be fair, it didn’t.) There is bound to be a little rust on the Saints, and they are going up against an team that dropped 51 on a solid Packers team last weekend. Yes, Kurt Warner qualifies for the Senior discount at McDonalds, but while he may be old, he is certainly not rusty. He played one of the more outstanding games I can remember any quarterback having against Green Bay, and if any team has the firepower to match the Saints…it’s Arizona. This game seems much closer to me than the point spread of a touchdown in favor of the Saints would indicate. I’m going to give a slight nod to the Saints, but I will not be surprised in the least if Arizona finds a way to win this game. I’m going to predict that the Cards keep it close, but fall just short of the home team in a game that is lower scoring than most expect. Saints 27 Cardinals 24

Baltimore at Indianapolis – ( Line: Colts by 6.5) On March 29th, 1984 the Colts abandoned Baltimore in the middle of the night bound for Indianapolis because they feared that the State of Maryland would pass a bill allowing the state to seize control of the team from owner Robert Irsay declaring eminent domain. The city of Baltimore was left without an NFL franchise for 11 years, and to this day if Baltimore residents learn that your last name is Irsay there is a slight chance that you’ll take a beating. Now, of course, that story is ancient history, and many of the players who will play in the game on Sunday weren’t even alive yet; but you know the fans who had the Colts ripped from them would take an extra measure of pleasure in eliminating the Colts in their first postseason game.

The Ravens are a strange team, early in the season their defense looked suspect, but Joe Flacco was running an offense that was firing, and they were winning. The aging defense has since put it together pretty well, and against the Patriots on Sunday, they looked like world beaters. However, Joe Flacco completed only four passes on the day. The Patriots couldn’t stop Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, so the Ravens decided that they wouldn’t even bother throwing the ball. Baltimore was staked to a large early lead, and pretty much coasted to the finish in Foxborough. The Ravens are good, but they will probably need Flacco to look like a legitimate NFL QB this weekend, and I don’t know if he can do that right now, which is going to make it tough on Baltimore.

The Colts lost their last two regular season games, which were entirely meaningless to them and to be fair they barely put forth any effort at all. Much like the Saints, we will see whether or not that rest is going to be a problem for the Colts or not. I think they may struggle a little bit early, but I just keep looking at the quarterback matchup and I can’t see Flacco outdueling Manning. That huge disadvantage for the Ravens is enough to make me think that the Ravens just aren’t going to be able to win. Colts 27 Ravens 14

Dallas at Minnesota – ( Line: Vikings by 2.5) The Cowboys are rolling, Minnesota limped into the playoffs, Brett Favre has a recent history of falling apart in the late season and playoffs. The Vikings offensive line has been dreadful over the past month and a half, Adrian Peterson is a stud, but even he has had some struggles recently. The Vikings strike me as the stereotypical bye team that flops out of the playoffs in their first game. Tony Romo has been great lately, the Cowboys defense is playing at a ridiculously high level and despite the fact that Wade Phillips and his elastic neck skin will be coaching the Cowboys, I think Dallas advances on to the Conference Championship.

By the way, I have a huge grudge against Brett Favre, so all of my Vikings predictions need to be looked at through that prism. I let my disgust with Favre color my predictions, so if the Vikings slaughter Dallas…I’m blaming Brett Favre for clouding my vision. I’m blatantly and loudly cheering for the Dallas Cowboys…especially since they helped me win a bet last weekend. (The bet was for pride and avatar power, not for money, but I was still very pleased that they won.) Cowboys 33 Vikings 30

New York Jets at San Diego - ( Line: Chargers by 7) - I do think the Chargers win at home against the Jets, but there are a few red flags for their playoff opener. The Chargers were 20th in the league against the run, and they are going up against the top ranked rushing offense in the league this season. Plus, the Jets had the top rated pass defense in the whole league, and all the Chargers do is pass. San Diego’s running game was ranked 31st in the league this year. The Jets strengths matchup pretty well against the Chargers, which makes the Jets far from the ideal matchup for San Diego, but I think their overall talent level is high enough to carry San Diego to a win. Plus, Mark Sanchez is going to need to complete more than the 12 passes he completed against the Bengals to carry the Jets past the Chargers. I just don’t know if he has it in him. Chargers 38 Jets 19

My Picks Scorecard:

Last Week: 2-2
Regular Season: 161-95
Playoffs: 2-2
Playoffs Against the Spread: 2-2
Year to Date: 163-97

Awesome retro logo or proof that Craig has lost his mind? Wait, you're both right!

1960's Broncos
Originally uploaded by socnorb777
See this simple logo? It's a logo that the Broncos used on their helmet from 1962 to 1967, and I've used it's inverted form as an avatar for years, but I have not been able to find it in a white background, orange horse form. I've looked all over the internet, to no avail. So I decided to take matters into my own hands. I took the original logo and with the help of Microsoft Paint created the logo you see here.

This simple logo probably took me an hour to complete, and it's still not perfect. However, I cannot spend any more time on it or I risk allowing my OCD to take over my life. Plus the logo is already pretty good as currently constructed. Clearly, I have issues.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Powerlines: Week 18 NFL Power Rankings (Heading into Divisional Weekend)

For some reason, I love this guy's face and round owl glasses. I'm going to miss the strangers on the bus pictures when the NFL season finally ends!

We enter the divisional round with the actual possibility (however unlikely it may be) that the New York Jets could host the AFC Championship game. While that is unlikely, here is how the NFL power is divvied up in my humble opinion amongst the 8 teams who are alive and remain.

1. Chargers – San Diego has rolled off 11 straight wins, and they have looked pretty unbeatable in doing so. The NFL is completely a toss-up this postseason, but if I had to put my money on one team to win it all, I would cast my lot with the Chargers.

2. Colts – After opening the season with fourteen straight wins, it has to be a little disheartening to lose the last two…even if you were playing scrubs. It’s nice to be hot entering the playoffs, and the Colts are more likely to be rusty than hot, as by the time they kickoff on Saturday night they won’t have faced any real action in about a month. If those two final meaningless games taught us anything about Indianapolis, it’s that without Peyton Manning…this is not a good team. There is no injury that could happen in the entire NFL postseason that would as devastating as Peyton going down would be for the Colts. Perhaps that is why he is the MVP?

3. Cowboys – The Cowboys defense is swarming and the offense is also looking very solid. Tony Romo and Wade Phillips have finally gotten the no-playoff-win monkey off of their backs, and I would say that Dallas has an excellent chance at advancing to the game that uses Roman numerals. The quick strike Dallas defense has to be ecstatic to be heading to the fast track of the Metrodome for Round 2.

4. Saints – New Orleans slumped to the finish, but with the playoffs upon us, I think that they get their offense rolling again rather quickly. I hope they do find their grove, because there are few teams in the NFL that are more fun to watch than the Saints when they’re rolling. The Superdome is going to be rocking on Saturday afternoon.

5. Cardinals – How ironic that the deciding play of their overtime game with the Packers came on defense, when it appeared that the whole concept of playing defense seemed to be out of style in the desert on Sunday. Seriously, there were 96 points scored in that game! I was certain that whoever won the coin flip was going to win the game, and yet somehow the Cardinals defense finally made a play in the 5th quarter to keep the Cardinals alive in the postseason. The NFC Champions are still kicking, but if they’re going to keep rolling in the playoffs, they are going to need to get the defensive side of the ball figured out pronto. They are not going to win very many more playoff games in which they give up 45 points. Oh, and Neil Rackers…you might want to get some practice kicks in this week. Rackers dodged a major bullet on Sunday. If the Packers had gone on to win, Neil would be a massive playoff goat for honking a 34 yard field goal at the end of the 4th quarter that would have won the game in regulation. 2009-10 has had more than it’s fair share of missed kicks in clutch situations. Seems like in the past 10 years, that kickers were practically perfect in big situations…up until this year when it seems like they’re more likely to miss than to make. Not sure what’s going on there, but it’s interesting.

6. Vikings – Minnesota is 2-3 in their past five games, Brett Favre has looked less like the franchise savior of the early season, and more like a 40 year old man trying to play quarterback in the NFL. Perhaps he regains his early season glory and leads Minnesota to previously unseen glory, but I’m hoping that this downward trend continues, and the Vikings whimper out of the playoffs on Sunday against a Dallas Cowboy team that has been very good lately. Super Bowl hype is annoying enough already without having Brett Favre thrown into the mix to make it even more unbearable. Hopefully “America’s Team” does America a solid and puts the Vikings down quietly this weekend.

7. Ravens – The Ravens defense was hyper-aggressive against Tom Brady on Sunday and took down the Patriots with relative ease. The defense and the running game floored New England and kind of masked the fact that the Ravens can’t throw the ball at all. Sunday was the ultimate throwback game on offense for Baltimore. They ran the ball 52 times and only threw 10 passes. It was like watching Oklahoma in the 1970’s. Joe Flacco quarterbacked the Ravens to a massive 34 passing yards while completing only 4 passes the whole game. Somehow it worked, but I have a feeling that the Flacco is going to need more than 4 completions to beat the Colts. Flacco is reported to have hip and quadriceps injuries, so the passing game may really struggle against Indy. The defense looked insanely good against the Patriots, and will have to have an encore performance in Indy if Baltimore is going to have any chance at all.

8. Jets – Rex Ryan feels like his team should be favored the rest of the way through the playoffs until their inevitable Super Bowl win. I enjoy Rex’s candor and bravado, however, I doubt his convictions prove true. The Jets, much like the Ravens, won their game through a solid rushing effort and stout defense. Sanchez did much more than Flacco this weekend, but he still only completed 12 passes, and the Jets also went heavy on the run, having 41 rushing attempts against only 15 pass plays. They’ll have a chance in San Diego, as they matchup decently against the Chargers, but they’ll need to do more than they did against Cincinnati’s rather poor offense if they want a chance at advancing to the AFC Championship game.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good-bye!

Packers – When they won the coin-toss, I felt like they had won the game as well with the NFL’s way of doing overtime. Green Bay can hold it’s head up high knowing they have a great offense to build upon with an outstanding quarterback that has proven it was a good idea to force out Favre, some dynamite wideouts, Ryan Grant carrying the ball solidly, and Jermichael Finley playing tight end exceptionally well. The defense and offensive line need a little work, but overall the future look bright in Wisconsin.

Patriots – Tom Brady looked really hesitant on Sunday, his throws were off with alarming regularity, and he proved that he just will not run anymore no matter how much open field he has in front of him. Add to that a defense that looked old and unable to stop anything, and a team that was not able to stop the force of momentum once the Ravens got rolling, and you have a Patriots team that looked really vulnerable and weak on Sunday. I’m trying not to smile too widely as I type this. I don’t know that the Patriots dynasty is over, but I’m hoping that it’s trending that way.

Eagles – Man, these guys have to hate the Cowboys. That game was briefly close, including a brief shining moment by Michael Vick, but by the time halftime rolled around. The Eagles were as good as done. The running game isn’t as important as it used to be in the NFL, but it seems like it would behoove the Eagles to at least TRY to develop a tiny bit of a ground game. McNabb looked dreadful on Saturday night, and the Eagles had nothing to fall back on, and just like that, the McNabb-Reid duo falls short of their goal yet again.

Bengals – The Bengals had shown signs of weakening for almost two months now. There was nothing surprising about the fact that they lost, and despite having a very solid season, Cincinnati’s season still ends with a bit of bitterness. I would really hope that someday the Bengals actually can go on a postseason run, just for novelty’s sake. Still, this result isn’t completely unexpected. They are, after all, still the Bengals.

Monday, January 11, 2010

LaDainian Tomlinson proves that goofy videos aren't just for the 80's - The Electric Glide

Words cannot even describe how delightful I find it that in the modern age something this delightfully dorky can be released by a football player. I can't imagine that LdT will be pleased with himself in 20 years when he looks back on this glorious "Electric Glide." I however will remain delighted!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Vertically Striped Trophy

2009 was the Year of the Llamas!

On the message board I took part in a 16 team fantasy football league this season. The order of the draft was determined by pulling names out of a hat, and I got the 16th out of 16 picks. Somehow my Vertically Striped Llamas were able to sneak into the playoffs by being the 8th seed out of 8 teams that made the playoffs...but then I went on a crazy hot streak and beat the three best teams in the league back to back to back to win the league. We took down Mike Dell's "Earl Campbell" squad in the first round, then banished Jerry Fairish's "Independent George" to the postseason, and in the Championship Game, Michael Martin's "Seppuku Samurai" succumbed the the power of the Llamas.

To the victor goes the spoils...and we said at the beginning of the season that the 15 teams that lost would send the winner gifts.

I have already received 3 gifts. StreetDreamer83 (Matt Sullivan) sent me a large stack of Denver Broncos Football Cards from the late 80's and early nineties. And in a move that obviously scored big points in my book, he included 8 John Elway cards.

Major Minority (Andrew Tobey) sent me a gift box that included 3 G-Unit Bandanas (A goofier gift for me, I cannot imagine), A stack of sports cards (that include Broncos cards, Nuggets cards, Rockies cards, and a few random Seattle Mariners), a Steve Carlton autographed baseball, and a nice pair of The North Face fleece gloves. Quite a generous gift box that was topped off with this note which I present in its complete and unedited form...

Dear Craig Dodge,

First of all, congratulations on winning our farce of a fantasy football league. Out of all the lucky SOBs in this world, you were by far the luckiest. But hey, It's better to be lucky than good right? But I'm not bitter at all. In fact, I'm greatful that my computer froze right before my pick and they selected Tony Gonzalez for me, rather than my H.S. associate Ray Rice. (For the record, I would have waited and picked Vernon Davis as my TE if I didn't have Ton Gon. I know it's easy to say that, but in the fine print, taking this prize means also taking my word. It's the law.) I'm greatful because this taught me humility. I no longer know I'm the greatest, I just think it. So thanks for that.

With all due respect, yours is a true Cinderella story. Not so much the underdog emerging victorious, but the fact the winner is a real bit...umm, (sunshine.) Keep in mind, I said with all due respect. If I would have everyone that you would have won the league at the begining of the year, they would have laughed long and hard. Your story is about as believable as Love and Basketball. Which, by the way, they should make a sequel where Omar Epps makes as much coaching a HS team as Lathaan makes in the WNBA. Also, his team draws a bigger crowd.

Anyway, with all seriousness, I'm glad you beat MJMartin. If anyone besides me had to win this league, I'm glad it's you. I enjoy VSR and all your contributions to the message board. I enclosed a true bevy of prizes for you. Some G-Unit bandanas, some gloves, some sports cards, and an autographed baseball. Enjoy! You now have material for the White Elephant Gift Exchange!


Andrew Tobey
I enjoyed his letter almost as much as his gifts...I guess you have to know Major Minority a little to get why that was flattering...

This is pretty cool...

...but these made me even more happy. I needed a new pair of gloves.

Then of course...the glorious trophy!

Proof of my exploits...My very own fantasy football trophy. I'm more excited than I probably should be.

Custom engraving cost Jerry an additional $2.20, but I think it was money well spent!

Then of course, I have received the awesome league trophy from Jerry Fairish. The photos of it are above, but the trophy has a feature that could only fully be experienced through video. I offer big thanks to my fantasy football compatriots. Please enjoy the multimedia trophy experience below in all it's spinning glory!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vertically Striped Radio - Episode 33: The Shame of a Yankee Hat.

Episode 33 was the Vertically Striped Party Line. Face Ventura and The Whale both hopped in and helped us discuss the first round of the playoffs in the NFL and we all decided that the Cowboys were the best bet of the weekend...which I REALLY hope we're right about.

I then had to clear the air by admitting that I wore a Yankee hat back when I was a freshman in college. The photographic evidence had surfaced on Facebook this week, and I needed to clear the air and apologize. I'm not sure I'll ever get over the shame...I'm day to day.

Jerry Fairish, big Yankee fan but otherwise a good guy, called in and challenged me to a bet involving our avatars on I took the Cowboys in their game against the Eagles. I will have to keep the photo of me in a Yankee hat for a month as my avatar if I lose. Jerry will need to post a photo of him in a hard hat climbing a ladder if he loses. Needless to say, I'm STRONGLY cheering for the Cowboys!

The Ed called in towards the end of the show to share his thoughts to fix football...because it's apparently in trouble.

The Vertically Striped Music Recommendation was "New Wave" by Against Me!

The controversial photo in which a much skinnier me is wearing a Yankee hat. I'm not proud of this photo, but I can't live a lie and say it didn't happen. I'm in a very strict rehab program, we're going to get through this together.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

NFL Weekend Preview: Wildcard Weekend

Packers versus Cardinals is one of three rematches from last weekend in the Wildcard round.

New York Jets at Cincinnati – ( Line: Bengals by 2.5) I feel like Vizzini in the “Princess Bride” trying to discern whether the Jets or the Bengals contain the Iocane powder. “On one hand, the Jets have a rookie quarterback and got lucky with the schedule or else they would never have made the playoffs, So I can clearly not choose the Jets in front of me. On the other hand, the Jets have a ton of confidence after just lambasting the Bengals only days ago, so I can clearly not choose the Bengals in front of you. Of course, only a great fool chooses a rookie quarterback on the road in the playoffs, I am not a great fool, so I clearly cannot choose the Jets in front of me!” Cue the Man in Black, “So you’ve made your decision then?” Me: “Not remotely! Because the Bengals come from Cincinnati, as everyone knows, the Cincinnati Bengals are entirely populated with criminals. And criminals are used to having people not trust them, as the Bengals are not trusted by me. So clearly, I cannot select the Bengals in front of you! (Truly I have a dizzying intellect.) If you think I’m just stalling right now, you’re absolutely right, although I don’t think that the teams are going to give anything away in the next few days leading up to this game so I choose…“What in the world can that be!” Okay, so I am clueless on this game. I have no feel at all for what I think is going to happen in this game but I’m taking New York. Truth be told, I hate both of these teams, and I’m playing the Jets on a slight hunch. Although, I suspect that the Bengals and the Jets both contain Iocane Powder. Jets 17 Bengals 14

Baltimore at New England – ( Line: Patriots by 3) No Wes Welker, a Tom Brady who is not completely healthy, a Randy Moss who may or may not care, a Bill Belichick that has been roundly criticized for being unorthodox…it feels like the Pats are ripe for an upset. The Ravens played them close earlier this year in New England, and surely Ray Lewis and company are not going to be intimidated going North into that environment. This FEELS like a game that the Ravens could pull out. However, I just have a gut feeling that the Pats are going to make a little bit of noise this postseason. It feels like a game the Ravens could win, but won’t due to their propensity to do stupid things. Plus, as sketchy as the Patriots have looked away from Foxborough (their only road wins this season were against the Bills and the Buccaneers, and the Bucs game was a neutral site) it is worth noting that they are undefeated in Massachusetts. The very human Pats still have enough magic to win a first round game and I think they will. Patriots 23 Ravens 13

Philadelphia at Dallas – ( Line: Cowboys by 4) The Eagles had everything to play for this past Sunday in Dallas, had they defeated the Cowboys they would have earned the 2nd seed and a bye in the NFC. With everything to play for, they still got waxed 24-0.The Cowboys throttled them in every way, and while clearly the Eagles had a bad game…perhaps their hot finish was more of a mirage than an actual impressive streak. In their late season six game win streak they beat a bunch of teams that were either sorry teams all year or who were slumping to the finish. The Bears, Falcons, Redskins, Giants, 49ers and Broncos were not impressing anyone late in the year, and so I feel like the Eagles are somewhat of a paper tiger. The Cowboys have already taken down the Eagles twice this season, and I see no reason why they don’t do it a third time. The Cowboys finished with a three game win streak against the Saints, Redskins and Eagles…a more impressive set of victories than the Eagles to be sure. Tony Romo has caught fire, and the Cowboys just seem ready to finally win their first playoff game since 1996. Cowboys 37 Eagles 20

Green Bay at Arizona – ( Line: Pick) This is the third game of the first round that is a rematch of the final game of the season. The Packers absolutely destroyed the Cardinals 33-7 on Sunday, but unlike the Eagles who had something to play for, Arizona was locked in to their position, and had zero reason to put forth an effort. They played an extremely vanilla game, and I think that there is every reason to believe that this contest will be much more competitive. Kurt Warner should play longer than just the first quarter, and I feel like Arizona is going to try this time…call it a hunch. However, even though I think the game will be much more competitive, I still think the end result will be the same. Aaron Rodgers is rolling, the defense has been pretty good lately except for one game in Pittsburgh, and I just feel like Green Bay is primed to move on. The Cardinals had their insane run last year, and I don’t think lightning strikes twice in two years in the NFC. The fact that I picked the Packers to win it all doesn’t hurt either when it comes to my final prediction. Random thought while picking this game: Pack or Cards sounds an awful lot like Pack of Cards…I have no idea what that means, though. Packers 30 Cardinals 23

My Picks Scorecard:

Last Week: 9-7
Regular Season: 161-95
Playoffs: 0-0
Playoffs Against the Spread: 0-0
Year to Date: 161-95

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

Powerlines: Week 17 NFL Power Rankings (Heading into Wild Card Weekend)

I shouldn't laugh, because I stick my tongue out when I'm concentrating too, but man is that funny.

Alright! The preliminaries are complete, and it's time to get down to the serious business of crowning a champ. Here is how I see the power lying amongst the teams that have qualified for the postseason: (I just lumped all the eliminated teams into groups, no point in ranking them now.)

1. Chargers – I am becoming more and more convinced that the Bolts are going to win the whole shebang. This is an abundantly talented team that has rolled off 11 straight wins, and has no fear of going in to Indianapolis. I don’t see anyone in the playoffs that I envision beating them with the possible exception of the Patriots...who may just be their first playoff opponent. Man, I love the playoffs.

2. Colts – Despite being the best team for the majority of the year, there is something karmically wrong with the way they ended the season just not caring at all about dropping their final two games. Perhaps they bounce back, but perhaps they don’t. The fact is that in less than two weeks either the Bengals, Jets or Ravens are coming to town, and the Colts had better be ready to roll.

3. Cowboys – To completely lift the moniker of “team that folds”, they probably need to beat the Eagles in the playoffs. They soundly thumped Philly in the season finale which was significant for both teams, and I feel like they win the sequel as well. They have already beaten the Eagles twice, and I don’t think winning the third is far fetched at all. If they can get past the Eagles, I very much like the Cowboys odds of taking out the Vikings.

4. Saints – Such a strange dynamic going in to the playoffs in that the NFC top seed has lost three straight and the AFC top seed has lost two straight. The Saints appear to have peaked too early, as they haven’t looked the same since they railroaded the Patriots. Can they get their groove back in time for the playoffs? One thing is certain, this team is the one that most of America wants to win it all.

5. Packers – The Pack is white hot, and they get to go run with the Cardinals in the desert for the second straight week. If the Eagles find some way to beat the Cowboys, and the Pack can once again shuffle the Cards… do you realize what that would mean? Yup, the NFC divisional round would be Saints-Eagles in the bayou AND Favre-Packers III. What a wonderful playoff weekend that would be, and we haven’t even mentioned the possibility of Bengals-Colts and Patriots-Chargers. I’m giddy with the possibilities!

6. Vikings – That’s right, I’ve put the Packers above the Vikings and the 40 year old quarterback. Sure, the Vikes swept Green Bay which is why they are enjoying a bye this upcoming weekend, but Minnesota has slumped to the finish, and the Pack have surged. I’m just praying we get to see this match up one more time, and that the Pack can finally take down Brett when it matters most.

7. Patriots – Yes, the talk a few weeks ago when Belichick went for it on 4th down, and the Pats fell in Indy was all about how New England was finished. However, I would not want to face this team right now. You may not like Belichick, but he is the best coach in the playoffs by a ridiculous margin. Seriously, look who is coaching the rest of these teams…Norv Turner, Jim Caldwell, Wade Phillips, Sean Payton, Mike McCarthy, Brad Childress, Andy Reid, Ken Whisenhunt, John Harbaugh, Marv Lewis and Rex Ryan. Anyone on that list give you any sort of confidence that they can trade x’s and o’s with Bill? Yeah, me neither. The Patriots are lying in the weeds. They aren’t the favorites, nor should they be, but they are scary.

8. Ravens – Baltimore may have been one of the last teams in, but they definitely belong in the postseason. Their game against the Patriots next week should be excellent, and I have them as an underdog to be sure, but an underdog with bite. I will not be shocked in the least if they emerge from Foxborough victorious.

9. Cardinals – They can’t do it two years in a row, can they? They played a game against the Packers on Sunday where they had something to play for and they were bombed by a 33-7 score. I won’t say it’s impossible that the Cardinals come from nowhere as we saw them do it last year, but I think the Packers are a terrible matchup for the Cards.

10. Eagles – For all the talk about how hot the Eagles were down the stretch…if you look at their schedule, you’ll quickly see that it was Downy soft, and not only that, but they didn’t win a single game that they shouldn’t have. Seriously, their most impressive wins are against the Broncos, Falcons, and Giants. They only played four games against playoff teams, and they lost all four. I don’t feel like Philly will be in the postseason for very long at all.

11. Bengals – This may be another team that peaked too early. They could have improved their playoff position with a win last week, but if they had won they would have had the Texans instead of the Jets…and getting the Jets is probably better for them, so I don’t feel like their no show last night against New York was a horrible thing for them. The thing I would worry about is that they are now facing a Jets team that is all kinds of confident that they can beat them, and they haven’t beaten anyone stronger than the Chiefs or Browns since the middle of November. The Bengals-Jets game is clearly the worst game of the Wild-Card weekend to me.

12. Jets – Is this a solid team that is peaking, or a mediocre team that benefitted from playing two good teams late that had nothing to play for. The Jets have to be kissing the scheduling gods in that they got to play the disinterested Colts and Bengals teams, but now lets see how they do on the road against teams that care. I can see New York moving on from the first round, but only because they get to face a limited Bengals team that looks somewhat declawed. They will not advance any further than the divisional round, if they can even get there.


Good, but not quite good enough:

Texans – Best season in franchise history still has them looking in from the outside of the playoffs. They haven’t been around enough long enough to develop a rival, but they can’t be too happy with the lack of effort the Bengals showed last night in a game that would have put Houston in the playoffs.

Steelers – A great team most of the year, done in by a five game skid against many crappy teams. Not much of a title defense from Pittsburgh this year.

Dolphins – Decimated by injury, they still hung in there. Against the Steelers on Sunday, they were down to essentially their fourth string quarterback, and STILL had a shot at the end. (By the way, did you see the hit that Pat White took? OUCH!)

Falcons – A very quiet 9-7 season in Atlanta.

Good start and then fell apart:

Broncos – A great 6-0 start foiled by an absolute embarrassment of a 2-8 finish. At the end, this team just really proved that they didn’t belong at the big boy table.

Giants – They looked great, and then they looked mediocre, and then they looked miserable. The G-men played like they were Cinderella and midnight was week 11. From that point on, they pretty much played like pumpkins.

Jaguars – I didn’t really want to put the Jags in this category, as in my opinion, they were always fairly subpar, but the fact is that they were 7-5 at one point, and in an excellent position to make the playoffs. Their four game losing streak collapse to end the season showed that the football gods can be just. This team finished exactly where they should…at 7-9, just slightly below average.

Surging at the end, but from too deep a hole to matter:

Titans – The anti-Broncos: They looked hopeless at 0-6, losing the final game of that skid by an embarrassing 59-0 score, but they then went on an 8-2 run to pull even as an 8-8 team that would have possibly made the playoffs if the season were just a week or two longer.

Panthers – The Panthers surge to 8-8 coincided with Jake Delhomme sitting due to injury. That is not a fluke. Jake had an abysmal season, and Matt Moore should open 2010 as the Panthers starter if they don’t bring in someone else.

Browns – After looking like one of the worst teams ever through twelve games, something clicked in Cleveland. The Browns finished the season on a bit of a roll…amazingly going out on a four game win streak and salvaging a modicum of respect for Cleveland football with the final four games.

Bad, but occasionally frisky:

Raiders – Yes, the Raiders only won five games. The real story of this season for Oakland is the level of the teams that they beat: barely beating Kansas City is no great accomplishment, but taking down Denver, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Philly isn’t too shabby.

Bears – The Bears finish 7-9, but apart from being the Vikings and Steelers, the rest of their wins were against mostly crap teams such as the Browns, the Lions (twice), the Rams, and the Seahawks. Hardly a murderer’s row. If the Bears want to be good in the immediate future, Jay Cutler will need to play a LOT better.

49ers – The Niners had some good wins, including thumping the Jaguars, sweeping the Cardinals, and outlasting the Bears. However, they finished at 8-8 since they let far too many games slip. They weren’t really bad, but they weren’t really good either. They were mediocre, which is evidenced by their ho-hum 8-8 finish. Their most interesting game of the year came early in a September game where they were very close to beating Favre and the Vikings, but were victimized by a tremendous throw by Favre and an even better catch by Greg Lewis in the final seconds.


Seahawks – The Hawks were a trendy pick to rebound from a poor season in 2008, and while they did improve, I think the pundits were looking for more than a one game improvement. They also get the award for most boring team to watch, as only three of their games were determined by less than double figures all season. The only thing interesting that Seattle pulled all season was breaking out the infamous snot green jerseys for a game against the Bears in September. Wow, were those ugly.

Bills – Another ho hum season in Buffalo (and Toronto), the Bills finished out of the playoffs yet again, and completed the entire decade without so much as sniffing a postseason berth. It’s not easy being a Buffalo fan, and they have my pity.

Redskins – Apart from beating the Broncos, and playing a game where they SHOULD have beat the Saints…the Redskins were atrocious this year. Washington was totally justified in firing head coach Jim Zorn, which they did less than 24 hours after the season ended in a move that surprised NOBODY!

Chiefs – A very bad team, but if there is anything good to take from this season for Kansas City, it looks like they have found a legit superstar at running back in Jamaal Charles. That man is impressive. I still can’t believe this ragtag group came into Invesco Field and thumped the Broncos in the season Finale, but they sure did.

Buccaneers – The Bucs managed three wins from a roster that is exceptionally light on talent. That can almost be considered overachieving, but I don’t think they feel that way in Tampa right now.

Lions – Can a team have massive improvement, and still only win two games all year? I don’t know if it’s possible, but this year’s Lions are as close as that will ever come to happening. I don’t think a 2-14 team can ever feel good about itself, though.

Rams – The Rams were just a dreadful excuse for a football team, and it’s appropriate that they finished the season being quarterbacked by a guy named Null.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Broncos Gameday Recap: Game #16 - vs Chiefs

Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs put the final embarrassing nail in the Broncos season this afternoon.

As the curtain closes on the 2009 Broncos season, one thing is abundantly clear. The aberration was the 6-0 start, not the 2-8 finish. The Broncos finish the season at 8-8, but in truth they are much closer to the 5-11 teams of the world than they are the 11-5 teams. This horrible loss also completed something that doesn't happen often in the NFL. The Broncos won all their divisional road games, and lost all their divisional home games...Seriously, how often does something like that go down in the NFL??

The crowd thinned out some towards the end of the 4th quarter.

The final chapter of this year was an embarrassing thud of a game against a team that had previously only managed to win three times in the other 15 games of the season, and never as convincingly and easily as they managed on the Field-Turf of Invesco Field this afternoon. One thing I didn't think possible was that the best player on the field played for Kansas City...Jamaal Charles may just be the real deal for the Chiefs. Definitely he looked ridiculously dynamic for them this afternoon.

One of three interceptions thrown by Orton...and the only one not returned for a touchdown.

The fact that the Broncos managed to hang in this game for as long as they did spoke more to the low level of the Chiefs than anything the Broncos were doing. The fact that it ended up being a 20 point blowout was justice, as the Broncos played with all the enthusiasm and excitement as cottage cheese. The final scoreboard read 44-24, but it easily could have been a thirty or forty point drubbing at the hands of a real team. Perhaps mercifully, the Broncos were kept out of the playoffs, as if they had headed to New England or Baltimore next weekend, the resulting carnage would have been beyond embarrassing.

Positives: (Not that there were many)

Gaffney had a monster game, sadly no one else in blue matched him.

Jabar Gaffney: In a game full of non-efforts...Jabar was amazing. His 14 catch 213 yard effort was partly the result of there being no other credible NFL receivers suited up for Denver, and in large part due to the tendency of Kyle Orton to lock onto one receiver and just keep on going to the well. It probably goes without saying that if Jabar Gaffney is your best player on a given day...the odds of you not winning are off of the charts, but I don't want to rip Gaffney for being one of the few Broncos on the field who looked like he gave a crap. Good job, Jabar.

Brandon Lloyd: For a guy who was only playing in his second game of the season, Lloyd sure made some big plays, hauling in four passes for a very solid 95 yards. It helps that the KC secondary is atrocious, but still...not bad for a guy who had only been in uniform with the Broncos for 8 days, and therefore hadn't picked up the stink of failure just yet.

I don't agree with the calls for McDaniels head, but I understand the sentiment.

Mitch Berger: I know for a long time I was pinning the whole collapse of the Broncos on Berger, as the curse of Brett Kern ravaged the Broncos. I still don't think they should have dropped Kern from the roster on the bye week after going 6-0, but Mitch played a pretty solid game. Averaging over 40 yards a kick, and pinning the Chiefs inside their 20 on three different occasions. I couldn't in good conscience rip the punter today, and really, he was the second best Bronco in uniform today. So sad.


The Broncos defense made Jamaal Charles look like Barry Sanders in his prime.

The run defense: Okay, allegedly the Broncos were trying to stop Jamaal Charles and the KC running offense, but I'm going to go ahead and say they weren't trying very hard. Charles had 259 yards rushing on only 25 carries, for an unholy 10.4 average yards per carry. When your running back is averaging enough yards to pick up a first down every carry, there is barely even a reason to throw the ball. All in all, the Broncos were outrushed 317 yards to 84, which is the reason that they lost.

Knowshon continued his late season slide into mediocrity Sunday versus KC.

The run offense: If we're going to spend a first round pick on a running back, it would be nice if he looked better than some bum you can pick up on the waiver wire. For the past month or two, Knowshon has been exceptionally ordinary.

The likable, but limited Kyle Orton goes down.

Kyle Orton: I like Kyle, but he is ridiculously limited. He'll never be able to put a team on his back and lead them to victory. He has an alarming tendency to lock on to one receiver and pretty much ignore everyone else.

Orton will be seeing Derrick Johnson in his nightmares...Johnson had two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Although Kyle doesn't throw a ton of interceptions, late in this season, he was throwing far too many to make up for the rest of his limitations. Tossing 3 today was another big reason that the Broncos lost.

Josh was the toast of the town at 6-0, at 8-8...not so much.

Josh McDaniels: Earlier in the season, his play calling seemed dynamic and unpredictable...during the latest four game losing streak, nothing he called worked, he abandoned the running game entirely (not that I don't understand that a little, the O-Line has ceased opening holes), and his arrogance which when the Broncos were winning was tolerable is now less so.

With Scheffler and Marshall inactive by coach's decision, the less sure handed Daniel Graham was out there trying to make plays.

His bizarre move to alienate the best player on the team (Brandon Marshall) and their best tight end (Tony Scheffler) a few days before the season ended left the Broncos painfully short on pass catchers. We were left with Brandon Stokley, Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Lloyd and the blocking tight end Daniel Graham as the biggest threats. The Chiefs weren't overly worried, obviously. Now it appears that the Broncos will probably part ways with Marshall, and the talent cupboard is looking pretty bare.

Bronco Country has turned on Josh McDaniels.

The good feelings that were flowing so freely earlier in the season have now morphed into a nasty taste in the mouths of Bronco fans. He's back to looking not so good, which tends to be the default offseason mode for McDaniels...and hey look, today starts the offseason.

Final Thought:

A season that started out promisingly has dissolved into yet another middling finish for the Broncos. Since going 13-3 in 2005, the franchise has played .500 ball over the past four years. The Broncos records over the past four years...9-7, 7-9, 8-8, 8-8. This lukewarm, middle of the road football is not too much fun. It feels like Denver is about to bottom out for about three years or so and actually really suck for the first time in a long time, and that this 8-8 season did nothing but delay the rebuilding by a year. Of course, this is the NFL, where things can change quickly, but the vibe in Denver is far from positive.

Let us know completely lose perspective, though. I did predict a 3-13 season for Denver, and to be fair to the boys, they raised our hopes with the fast start, but finishing 5 games over what we expected is an accomplishment not to be sneezed at. There is still a lot of work to do, and that work starts now. The Broncos have to figure out how to run the ball effectively and stop their opponents from running the ball. They need a punter, and it appears that they will soon need some wide receivers. Oh, and they need a real NFL quarterback. Orton is a fine stop-gap for a year or two, but he cannot possibly be the long term solution if the goal is to become a viable contender for a championship.

Let us wash out our mouths of the taste of this horrible ending, and remember that the offseason is where dreams can be built. This post ends our Broncos game coverage until August, but I remain a Broncos fan. Through thick or thin...or though just being a very average team...Go Broncos!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

01-02-2010 - Happy Palindrome Day!

In honor of today's date being the same backwards or forwards, I thought I'd post a few palindrome songs for your enjoyment. The first is Bob by Weird Al where the lyrics are all palindromes, and the style in undeniably Bob Dylan. The second is They Might Be Giants...I Palindrome I, from their stint on Letterman.

Vertically Striped Radio - Episode 32: Setting fire to the Yule Goat

Vertically Striped Radio began 2010 by reminiscing about 2009. The Whale and Face Ventura helped me with a Magnificent 7 list of the Seven biggest stories in Sports, the Seven biggest stories in the News, and the Seven biggest stories for the Shek Republic on

We also went back to the summer of 2008 for a great moment in the history of Blog Talk Radio to hear Mike Dell of the LCS Hockey Show expound about how there was no way the Red Wings would get back to the Stanley Cup Finals...which of course, they did.

Finally, we had the Vertically Striped Music Recommendation of The Avett Brothers album "I and Love and You." which is an album I have become obsessed with this week. Flat out great music.

What the heck was going on in the sky in Norway last month?

I'm not even going to pretend like I understand what's going on here, but there are WAY to many reports of people seeing this. Obviously something was going on. The "official" story is that it was some Russian Missile test launch gone wrong. That story just doesn't pass the sniff test, though. Something funky is going down in Norway. It also happened around the time Obama was about to show up in Norway to accept his Nobel Peace Prize. Nutty stuff, so wonderfully weird.