The Bucs Cut Out Their Heart Today

February 25, 2009
My team lost its heart today.  Photo from TBO.com.

My team lost its heart today. Photo from TBO.com.

You know, I really shouldn’t be surprised. It happens every single year in the NFL. Some veteran player, some face of the team, gets whacked going into free agency. Fans are left wringing their hands and wondering why and teams are stonefaced and “it’s business” about it. They don’t call it the Not For Long League for nothing. Jerry Rice went to the Raiders. Joe Montana was a Chief. Legends go on, usually don’t live up to our memories, and fade into the sunset. I’ve seen it happen. I really didn’t think I’d see it happen with Derrick Brooks.

It’s not like the Bucs haven’t done this before. They let Sapp & Lynch go with nary a qualm. And at the time I wasn’t that bothered. I understood the business of it, the money being a big part of it, their ages being another. Lynch got the last word by having a few more productive years in Denver. Sapp didn’t really kill in Oakland, but now he’s on TV where he’s always belonged, so all is well there. They were part of the Big Three in Tampa; Sapp was mouth, Lynch was the brain and Brooks was the heart. I could live without the mouth. The brain was good but could be replaced. The heart though? I just can’t imagine this team without him.

In their press conference today, new coach Raheem Morris and GM Dominik emphasized over and over that this move was not about age or money. Um. Okay. Well it damn well better not be about money, since we were already $55 million under the cap. Now we’re $65 million under it, and that money damn well better get spent and spent wisely. I’m not going to support a team that’s just about cutting cost. I’d root for the Marlins if I were about that. I want a team that goes that extra mile and tries to win. I don’t know if releasing these players is about winning. It doesn’t much feel like it now.

Derrick Brooks played for the Bucs for 14 years. He went to the Pro Bowl 11 times. He was defensive player of the year in 2002. His skills may have diminished in recent years, I can’t deny that. But his smarts didn’t. His heart didn’t. A big part of Derrick’s excellence wasn’t his speed, it was his intelligence. He could read plays with the best of them. He anticipated where that ball was going to go and he got there. I watched him chase down players like Michael Vick, who should have blown by him. That intelligence is still there, he still reads that field as well as anybody.

The way they spoke, it sounds as if the Bucs are changing their style of defense. Maybe Derrick wouldn’t fit in anymore. Maybe it’s better for him that he’s on the way out and can find somewhere else where he’ll fit in. In a day or two I may feel that way. Today I don’t though. Today I feel like my team let my favorite player down. He’s given them everything, he stood by them through several shitty moves and this time he’s on the other end of it. It’s hard to digest that.

I was not overly thrilled with the regime change last month. It wasn’t that I disagreed that maybe a change was needed, but I had a bad feeling about the veteran players on the team. Sure enough, that feeling was dead on. I wish I had been wrong. I don’t usually like to be wrong but this time out I would have taken it gladly.

Regardless of how I feel, there’s nothing I can do about it. The Bucs have made their choice and we all have to stand back and see what comes next. They avoided using the “rebuilding” word but that’s what they’re doing. Maybe in a couple of years that’ll pay off. Right now it sucks. I don’t see why Derrick couldn’t have finished his career with the Bucs. He could have been more coach than player at this point. Maybe that wouldn’t have made him happy. Wherever he ends up, I will continue to support him. He was the player that brought me to the Bucs (along with Dunn, another casualty of today’s blood letting) and I will follow him wherever he goes.

According to the Bucs, today wasn’t about money. It wasn’t about age. It would have been nice if it could have been about heart. But it’s business. It’s always business. Sometimes it just shouldn’t be.


Just Call Me The Commish

February 23, 2009
Watch out Finchem, I'm gunning for your job!

Watch out Finchem, I'm gunning for your job!

While watching my daily dose of PTI (Pardon The Interruption for the non-ESPN watchers) last week I was astounded when Wilbon & Kornheiser welcomed their guest for 5 good minutes.  He was introduced as Timothy Finchem, the commissioner of the PGA.  Did you know that the PGA had a commissioner?  Have you ever heard that name before?  I honestly had no clue there was a Commissioner of Golf, or why they’d even need one.  I guess to manage the money but seems an accountant could do that well enough.  It fascinated me and I got to thinking, could there be any better job than PGA Commissioner?  I’m sure the guy makes great bank and has few headaches, right?  That got me to comparing the various sports commissioners and weighing which job was better.  Hence this blog.  I’m not going to include the BCS Commissioner because being the commissioner of a league that lets computers decide its champion is a thing of shame, not to be glorified in a blog by me.

So, from worst to first:

MLB Commissioner:  Do you think Bud Selig is having any fun these days?  His biggest star admits to doing steroids, Congress continues to cast a baleful glare in his direction, two of his former biggest stars are getting ready to go on trial for steroids and lying to Congress, the All Star game decides home field advantage in the World Series…that’s a whole laundry list of problems.  And the fact that Selig turned a blind eye to the problems in baseball coupled with his kowtowing to the player’s union for years and years makes this job rather unappealing to me.   Not to mention just waiting for the hammer to drop and other names to come out.  I get an ulcer just thinking about it.  Nope, I wouldn’t want to be Bud.

NHL Commissioner:  I had a hard time placing this one.  On the one hand, hardly anybody watches hockey so you kind of get to exist in a vacuum.  Nobody really knows if you suck, because nobody really cares.  But that has to affect profitability, right?  The fact is they have been unable to find a star with drawing power.  Wayne Gretzky left and I don’t think the sport has been the same.  I’ve heard some not so pleasant things about Gary Bettman’s reign as commish, but I also heard that he improved the game somewhat with that OT shoot-out business.  The simple fact is, I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup, but at least I know his name.  He lands at #4 simply because his sport is pretty irrelevant.  Oh, and it’s too long for my taste, they crown a champ and it feels like they’re back to playing a month later.  Minus points for that.

NFL Commissioner:  Ahh Roger Goodell time!  The NFL is the #1 sport in America, so the job would appear to be the best of all of them when it comes to that factor.  Profits rise every year (unless you’re Detroit) and the league enjoys a lack of public scrutiny when it comes to things like steroids and drug testing.  This is because they have had stringent tests for years, although one suspects that the players are smarter than the tests.  Nobody cares like they do in baseball though, we just wanna win!  The reason this job is not the most appealing is because of the outside elements you have to deal with as commish.  The Pacman Jones’ of the world, if you will.  With each team having 53 players, it only takes one per team to create a lot of strife.  Dealing with the Mike Vicks and Plaxico Burress’ of the league would not be fun.  Nearly weekly someone is getting in trouble for something, be it drugs or DUI or shooting yourself in the thigh.  Points deducted for the troublemakers and the sheer number of people you’re dealing with and NFL Commish falls to the 3 spot.

NBA Commissioner:  I don’t watch the NBA, but I know who David Stern is and I could pick him out of a lineup.  I could pick him out because he scares me.  I would finger some other guy for the crime and hope that Stern would reward me in some way.  Basketball players are apt to fall into the same kind of trouble as football players are, pot smoking seeming to be the chief no-no they get nailed with.  But there are far fewer players to deal with here, so there’s less to worry about.  Hell, the #1 or #2 star in the league was charged with rape years ago and that affected nothing.  Points are deducted here because the NBA remains only the #3 sport of the big 4, with no signs of ever moving up the list.  Despite having some stars with name power, Lebron and Kobe, they’re still not MJ or Magic or Bird.  Your random person doesn’t care.  So Stern only gets #2.  I hope he refrains from hurting me!

PGA Commissioner:  Yep, that’s right, the guy I’ve never heard of, Tim Finchem, gets the top spot.  Think about it, who’s the league troublemaker?  John Daly right?  And everyone STILL loves the guy.  Nobody wants him punished, they want to sit down and have a beer with him.  Sure, you have Sergio take the occasional spit into a cup, but if that’s your biggest problem then you’re sitting on gold.  Your biggest concern is to make sure Tiger Woods is happy, right?  He was on PTI to celebrate Tiger’s return and what it means to the PGA.  Your #1 superstar is never going to get arrested for beating a woman or doing drugs.  He’s the ultimate family man and world ambassador.  Stern and Goodell would laugh at Finchem if he ever called them to complain about any of Daly’s silly acts.  Timmy gets to sit back and count his coins and maybe play a round or two of golf.  Tough life.

So there you have it.  There’s no better commissioner’s job than that of the Tim Finchem’s.  I’m aware that I have no idea what kind of administrative coordination these guys do, I’m sure it’s involved and whatnot but I still figure the PGA dude has it the best.  So, I’d like to throw my hat in the ring.  I’m running for PGA Commish.  Watch out Finchem!


Nole’s Notes

February 4, 2009
Nothing brings out the manlove like winning the Super Bowl.  Photo from Getty Images.

Nothing brings out the manlove like winning the Super Bowl. Photo from Getty Images.

Now that the NFL season is officially over, I guess I have to turn my attention to other sports.  I’ll be honest with you, other sports do not entrance me the way football does, but I do pay attention to headlines and major happenings for the most part.  So I’ve decided to do a weekly Notes Blog wherein I discuss the major sports happenings of the week.  It will be football, baseball, tennis, hockey, basketball, whatever strikes my fancy.  Without further ado, let’s hit it!

  • Today is national signing day for the college recruits.  Well, most of them, for some reason some of them don’t commit today and commit several weeks from now.  So why have a deadline?  I really don’t get that.  Anyway, today us college football lovers get excited about all of these random people we never heard of before and get depressed over missing out on other top recruits.  I hope on espn.com and seminoles.com to find out what my Noles are doing and where they’re rated and who we’ve got and who we might get.  I get rather obsessive about it and refresh every half hour or so.  And today I ask myself why?  I don’t know these kids.  I don’t know anything about them other than somebody slammed 5 stars next to this guy and only 3 next to that guy.  Doesn’t really mean they’ll kick butt on the field, I’ve seen many of the top recruits flame out over the years.  But still, I care, and I get excited!  Go Noles!  We did land the top DT in the nation apparently, which pleases me, as well as high rated cornerbacks and safeties and a kicker.  All positions of major need so I’m content.  So, hope you’re having a blast college football gurus, may your school land those top recruits and may everybody decommit from USC and UF just because I hate them.
  • So everybody’s all up in arms about this Michael Phelps marijuana smoking picture.  Some of the morons in the media blasted him for letting his picture get taken.  Hello, I don’t believe he knew it was.  Also, he is a 23 year old and he will do the occasional stupid thing.  That’s what happens in the early 20’s.  He admitted it, which was pretty stand up of him, because I saw the picture and it really didn’t even look that much like him.  I’d have gone with the lie personally, but then I happen to be an accomplished and awesome liar.  Now apparently the police are thinking of charging him.  Can you charge someone for a picture?  I mean, you may as well hit myspace right now and get your warrants ready.  What a bunch of bull.  Leave him alone, lesson learned, moving on, get in the pool and win some more gold medals in 4 years.  Thanks, buh bye.
  • Apparently indictment records against Bonds were released this week and lo and behold, he tested positive for steroids.  This is GROUND BREAKING NEWS.  I was not aware of this information!!!!  I mean, I know he doubled his size right in front of our very eyes a couple years ago, but I assumed it was natural.  He was probably hitting Taco Bell and McDonald’s every night.  I can grow to twice my size very easily when I do that and I’m not on the roids!  Truly, I am sick of this story.  Get a trial going or don’t, I really don’t care anymore.  I am tired of Barroid and want him gone.  It doesn’t matter if he goes to jail or just goes home and counts his money and throws baseballs at passers by from his bedroom window.  Just go away!
  • Roger Clemens, the same goes to you.  We know you did roids, you know you did roids, why are we all still talking about it?  Government, put up or shut up.  We’ll see if the vengeful media punishes Roger and Barry or if they usher them into the hall of fame with their not very valid we don’t know when he used argument.  If you’re going to keep Big Mac and Palmiero and others out, you keep those two out too.  Period.
  • Kobe broke the scoring record at Madison Square Gardens the other night, got 61 there I guess.  That’s cool I suppose, not as cool as the 81 he got a couple of years ago.  It appears that nobody will ever beat Wilt’s record which is a shame, I live to watch records fall and I would actually tune in to a basketball game if there’s a possible scoring record on the line.
  • What was going on in Pittsburgh on Tuesday?  I’ve seen some clips of the Super Bowl celebration party and that was the quietest damn crowd I’ve ever seen.  What, #6 is just passe now?  Ramp up the celebration, peeps!  Bring the energy, it’s cold out there so you should be yelling and whooping it up!  Perhaps William Gay’s retarded rap song stunned them all into silence.  I could understand that.  The record execs will not be knocking down your door Willie.
  • Manny Ramirez remains unsigned and the Dodgers are getting a little bit tired of him turning down their rather large contract offers.  Albert Pujols of my St. Louis Cardinals is pushing for my spendthrift owners to get off their butts and bring him there.  At first I was horrified by this idea but then I thought of the beauty of having and Albert/Manny combo at 3/4 and I decided I could suck it up and deal with the Manny drama.  Do it!  Do it now, Cards!  It’s not like you’ve bothered to do anything to improve the team this off season, so there should be some cash lying around for Manny.  Albert with keep him reigned in, I have faith in that!
  • I guess there was some epic tennis this past weekend.  Can’t say that I watched, but Federer/Nadal round 2938293 or whatever it was was a long battle that drained them both.  Nadal came out the victor and Federer had a heartfelt teary speech.  Nadal came back with his own honoring Federer.  Awesome display of sportsmanship.  Serena won again as well, go Williams Sisters.  I don’t follow the sport but I do follow them and I love that she’s still winning at an age when most tennis chicks are retiring.
  • The Cardinals offensive coordinator is interviewing for the KC job.  He and Pioli have a history together so that’s a pretty good possibility.  If he goes that will probably be good for the Cards when it comes to retaining Boldin, but who can say what it means for Warner?  Haley’s done a great job with that offense and deserves another head coaching job.
  • I didn’t do a Super Bowl commentary, by the time I thought about it I was immersed in Heroes blogging and Days drama and Idol in Hollywood, so the opportunity slipped past me.  But I will say that was the best Super Bowl I’ve ever seen.  I know it was quiet in the 3rd quarter but since I knew that AZ could score quickly I remained riveted.  Worked out well all in all.  My heart was broken for the Cards, that had to have been a major gut punch to lose; but the football fan in me was thrilled with the last minute TD by Santonio Holmes.  Gorgeous play, fantastic game.
  • There should have been a longer review of the Warner fumble at the end of the game.  I hate to have a game that good end somewhat questionably.  No matter where you fell on was it or wasn’t it, you have to agree it should have gotten more than cursory glance in the booth.  I would have loved to see Warner get a shot at the end zone with Fitz and Boldin waiting.

So those are the big things on my mind this week.  I hope you liked this format, I’ll be happy to stick with it if people like it.  If it seems like I’m just talking to myself I’ll call it quits, because I talk to myself all the time and I could save myself some future carpal tunnel treatment if ya’ll don’t like it.  Let me know!


Super Bowl Prediction

January 29, 2009
Which WR will be the difference?  Photo from Getty Images & US Presswire.

Which WR will be the difference? Photo from Getty Images & US Presswire.

Well I’ve had a week and a half to try to decide which way I was going to go for my Super Bowl winner and I still don’t feel good about it.  But it’s time to get it out there anyway, so I’ll talk it through with you and see if I stick to my guns with the winner.

My head says, “Steelers, you dummy, pick the Steelers.  Defense wins championships.”  And that old adage is definitely true, we’ve seen it with the Ravens and the Bucs and the Giants and the Patriots in recent years.  The Steelers have one of the best defenses in the league, there’s no argument about that.  The Cardinals defense has been porous at times during the season but they’ve really picked it up in the playoffs.  They’ve picked everything up in the playoffs though.  Still, defensive edge goes to Pittsburgh.

Since we talked defense, I guess we should talk offense now.  Who has the advantage here?  Both QB’s have been to the Super Bowl and both have won one.  I’d give Arizona a slight edge in wide receivers, well actually it might be a really big edge if Hines Ward doesn’t go or isn’t 100%.  Larry Fitzgerald has been a beast and there’s no reason to think that Pitt is going to shut him down.  They might limit him compared to some other teams, but he will make some plays.  Pittsburgh gets the edge in the running game, though AZ has been pretty good there in recent weeks as well.  As for QB?  I like Warner better than Big Ben but the fact is they’re both just as capable of throwing crippling interceptions as they are throwing game winning TD’s.  They’re both scary to bet on.  Offensive edge to the Cardinals.

Another way is to go with the hot team.  Who’s hotter?  Both of them have rolled through the playoffs, so I really can’t distinguish there.  Pitt has the overall better record against better competition.  Arizona’s best wins have been in the playoffs, while Pitt has faced off with Baltimore three times and come out the winner, not to mention taking out the Chargers, another really hot team.

Coaching?  Both coaches have all of 2 years head coaching experience, though Whisenhunt was a coordinator at least with the Super Bowl winning Steelers.  Tomlin has a ring as the Bucs defensive backs coach.  Whisenhunt has the advantage of knowing the Pitt system rather well, seeing as he was there, but I’m sure Tomlin’s people have changed things up some.  I’d call coaching even.

X factors:

The Steelers have been here before.  They know what this game is like, they know the hoopla heading in and they know how to deal with it.  The Cardinals are almost entirely new to games of this magnitude.  Warner has been there before, Edge has dealt with the playoffs year in and year out, but that’s about it.  Can Warner get the rest of the team as focused as they need to be going in?  I’m sure that he’ll try and distractions will be kept to a minimum, but there will be some.

Big Ben.  Ben has lived for a couple of years now knowing that his team won the Super Bowl despite him, not because of him.  He turned in one of the worst QB performances in a big game that I’ve ever been unfortunate enough to see.  I honestly hated the Steelers for at least a year after that Super Bowl, because it was such a terrible game that it offended my senses.  So, this time out, Ben has to prove himself.  These Cardinals are not nearly as inept as those Seahawks were and he’s going to have to actually make some plays to win.  Will he step it up and get it done?

The “nobody believed in us” team.  The Cardinals have had the fun of playing the whole postseason as the team that everybody was picking to be one and done.  You may recall reading those very words from me a few weeks ago in my first playoff prediction.  Everybody sneered about how terribly they were playing down the stretch and what a crappy division they played in.  They used that each and every week to help motivate them, as these things seem to, and each week they’ve come out on top.  They’ll be singing that tune leading up to this game and if they win, we’ll be hearing it as they dump champagne and beer all over one another.  It’s a powerful motivator, silly though it might be.

So…with all that to consider, which way do I go?  Go with the gut and say the Steelers or go with the heart and pick the Cards?  Going into this week I fully intended on putting it on the line and picking the Cardinals.  There’s something that feels good about them, something that feels right.  The Warner story, Larry Fitzgerald showing his awesomeness both on and off the field (if you have not heard that young man give an interview, I beg you to listen to one, what a humble, good man he seems to be), Edge earning his ring, the team that nobody believed in achieving the pinnacle of their sport…that’s the thing I would love to see happen.  But do I think it will?  Every day that gets closer to the game I find myself leaning toward Pittsburgh, the team I know, the defense I trust.  When in doubt you go with the defense.  Sigh.

Alright, it’s time to man up (or woman up in my case) and make my pick.  So I’ll commit…Steelers by 3.  Special teams, which I did not discuss, makes a difference and Santonio Holmes sets up a couple short fields for Pitt.  So the head is winning out over the heart, but this is one pick I hope I actually get wrong.  Happy Super Bowling to you all, have some wings and beer and nachos and whatever else for me!  And go Cards!  (I can’t help it, I gotta root for the underdog this time!)


NFL Championship Game Predictions

January 16, 2009
Can Fitzgerald Dominate Again?  Photo from the AP.

Can Fitzgerald Dominate Again? Photo from the AP.

In keeping with my stellar .500 record in the playoffs, I fully expect to go 1-1 in this weekends games.  Which team will be my win and which will be my loss?  I have no idea, but I’m hoping I can get at least one of em right for you this week!  Maybe both, maybe neither, that’s the fun of this prediction game.

So who had Philly vs. Arizona in the NFC Championship game?  Anyone? Whomever did probably made a bundle in Vegas, so kudos.  I honestly have no idea how that game is gonna turn out, it’s the one I predict I will miss no matter which way I go!  Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh looks to be a heck of a battle and I’m really looking forward to that.  Without further ado, on to my picks!

Arizona over Philly: That’s right, after weeks of doubting them I’m finally going with the Cardinals.  I fear they will repay me for this by laying an egg, but I do have my reasons here.  Firstly, Westbrook continues to be rather beat up; I don’t doubt that he’ll play but I do doubt his effectiveness against that suddenly attacking Zona defense.  Kurt Warner scares me a bit, he’s due for a crappy game but with Boldin back and Fitzgerald being his awesome self, I imagine they can bail him out of a bad throw or two.  Edge seems to have found his legs and the awesomely named Hightower gives them youth and fresh legs at the running back position as well.  I have always loved McNabb and it wouldn’t surprise me if he pulled out another game but I’m going with my gut and taking the Cards.  Don’t disappoint me boys!

Pittsburgh over Baltimore: This is the game I’m most confident about though I question myself as to why exactly that is.  Yeah, Pitt has beaten Baltimore twice this year, but both were by 3 points and one was controversial with that TD that may or may not have been.  I have no doubt that this game will again probably come down to a field goal.  The reason I lean toward Pitt is because Baltimore is severely beaten up coming into this game.  How many of their players got knocked out of the game last week?  4? 5?  Some will play, some won’t but you gotta expect this game will be as hard hitting as their Titans game was again.  Ben is the wild card here, I don’t trust him not to make some stupid Favrian throws but I also don’t think Flacco can go through yet another game without an error.  He has to be a rookie sometime doesn’t he?  Of course every time I watch him I curse the Ravens for taking him a couple picks before the Bucs turn, I totally wanted us to get him and I feel justified in my liking of him now.  Surely his performance shows just how awesome my opinion is, right?  Hehe Thought so!  I like Pitts defense to pressure young Joe and make him make just one or two mistakes too many.  Should be an awesome game though.

So that’s how I see the playoffs finishing up.  Arizona vs. Pittsburgh.  Fascinating match up.  We’ll discuss that in a week or two if it comes to pass.  I hope you all have enjoyed this wacky NFL season as much as I have.  At least it’s always remained interesting.  I’ll be back soon to discuss the Super Bowl.


Playoff Predictions Divisional Round

January 9, 2009
Will Ed Reed lead his team to victory again?  From the AP.

Will Ed Reed lead his team to victory again? From the AP.

I took my time this week to get my picks in.  Time for heavy thought and deep contemplation of each teams strengths and weaknesses.  I compared rosters and intangibles.  Then I remembered who I was and threw that out the window and decided to just wing it like I usually do.  This week I shan’t be taking all road teams, lesson learned.  Thanks for reminding everyone that you’re a rookie, Matt Ryan, after weeks of fooling the masses.  Thanks to the football gods for having Indy lose the coin flip in OT.  Something really must be done about the overtime system, I get not why the league continues to balk at tinkering with that one.  Oh well, those picks were my bad and I own up to them.  On to the picks!

Baltimore over Tennessee: I’ll be honest, I have no idea how this game is gonna go.  It’s probably going to be one of those 6-3 games and whomever has the ball last will win.  It’ll be a slugfest and a lot of fun to watch if you like defense, as I do.  I’m going to presume that Ed Reed will get at least one interception that helps turn the game, since it appears that he does this weekly these days.  Tenn wasn’t playing their best football down the road and we’ll see if their time off has helped them to right the ship or not.  I’m going with Baltimore because they impressed me last week.  Now watch Flacco remember that he’s a rookie and cost them the game.

Carolina over Arizona: I would LOVE to get this pick wrong.  Arizona rose up and made me pay for picking against them last week, so maybe this week I can inspire them to overcome their road woes to defeat Carolina.  They did play them earlier in the year and jumped out to a big lead on them but then gave up said big lead and lost in a heartbreaker.  These things seem to happen with Carolina for some reason.  You can never say that they’re done in a game and you can’t trust them not to lose one they should win either.  I hate Carolina.  But, as long as they’re smart and keep Delhomme from throwing too many passes they’ll be okay.  He is the one liability they have, the one guy that can foul up and cost them a game when it matters most.  So, Zona, get after him and try to cover Steve Smith and you have a hope and a prayer.  Just a small one though.  Carolina, big.

NY Giants over Philly: This game will be fun to watch, divisional opponents, don’t like each other, tons of history, etc.  And everyone is pointing out that Philly beat the Giants in NY a few weeks ago, which is quite true.  Of course, at the time NY was reeling from the Plaxico “have gun, say hi to the thigh” situation that happened shortly before.  Losing Plax has hurt the Giants, they don’t have a WR that stretches the field the way he did.  But they do have Brandon Jacobs back and healthy, which makes a big difference.  Philly did what they had to against Minny but Minny is not the Giants.  I think it’ll be a close slugfest of a game but that Eli will pull it out over McNabb.

Pittsburgh over San Diego: I’m very torn on this game and I nearly went the other way, but I really like Pittsburgh’s defense more than any other group in this game.  Pitt’s offense is alright, Ben is coming off his concussion and we all know he can throw a stupid ball or five in every single game.  San Diego’s defense is nothing to write home about and their offense is better than they were earlier in the year but Pitt’s D will key on Sproles and challenge Rivers and his receivers to beat them.  Gates is still awesome but banged up as usual and the rest of the WRs have their moment but aren’t worldbeaters.  I prefer Hines Ward to any of them any day.  I think Pitt wins via the turnover.

So that’s what I see happening this week.  We”ll see if we can improve on our 2-2 performance at the very least.  I’ll be back next week but til then, enjoy the games.  Football season is quickly drawing to a close and we’ll all be missing it very soon.


Playoff Predictions & Awards

January 2, 2009
Brett the Jet left his team upset! Photo from the AP

Brett the Jet left his team upset! Photo from the AP

I guess it’s time to focus on the NFL playoffs, seems like it’s been weeks since I thought about the NFL, but it’s only been a few days.  I guess that’s what happens when you live blog college football for hours on end!  But I’m still in love with the NFL, even if my moron team managed to choke their opportunity to participate in them away.  I’ll start with predictions for this week and then bestow some special awards in celebration of the 2008 season after that.

Wow, we’ll work through this together but I honestly think I might be taking all road teams in the playoffs.  This frightens me more than I can say, but let’s see how it works out, maybe I will talk myself out of somebody.

Atlanta over Arizona: I’m sorry but the Cardinals have not shown me anything to inspire me to consider picking them to win a playoff game, whether they’re at home or not.  They’ve lost to just about every quality team they played; Dallas excepted but I could argue about the “quality” of that team anyway.  Atlanta is a darn good team, much better than I gave them credit for most of the year.  Matt Ryan was the deserving rookie of the year and he might well get some votes for MVP, I couldn’t argue against those who did vote for him.  I expect a heavy dose of Michael Turner to wear down the Arizona defense, such as it is.  If Warner makes mistakes, as he’s prone to do, Arizona is done.

Indianapolis over San Diego: The only team hotter than the Chargers in recent weeks was Indy.  It’s like they came out of nowhere and Manning remembered he was Manning and the rest of the league just laid down before them.  The team that looked old and lost suddenly wasn’t anymore.  Amazing what a franchise QB can do for you, huh?  As to the Chargers, they’ve been impressive in recent weeks but their defense still gives up way too many points for my taste.  I look to Manning to carve them up and waltz out of SD with a victory.

Baltimore over Miami: Yes, this pick scares me.  But Baltimore dominated Miami early in the year and they’re playing just as well as Miami is.  The Dolphins have made me pay for picking against them every time, so I have no confidence in this pick, I just like what I’ve seen out of Flacco (some may remember that I wanted him to be a Buc, sob!).  Pennington and the Fins are a great story but my gut tells me the end is here.  Ugh…I know they’ll prove me wrong!  Oh well, good luck Miami, perhaps I have brought it to you by not believing.

Philadelphia over Minnesota: After I watched Philly destroy Dallas last week, I knew there was no way on earth I was going to pick against them in round one of the playoffs.  They got a favorable match up against Minny too, I don’t see Tavaris Jackson fairing any better against that blitzing D than Romo did.  McNabb seems to be playing with new fire as well, no reason not to think that won’t carry over for another week.  Things get different when Carolina and the Giants hit the mix next week, but for now I say Philly wins, easily.

So that’s where I see the playoffs going this week.  All road wins.  I am royally frightened, but at least I’m taking chances right?  Sure…why not?  Okay, on to the special awards I wanted to highlight.

Worst Performance By A Backup: Tie between the immortal Sage Rosenfels vs. Indy and JP Losman against the Jets.  Both killed their teams with untimely turnovers and ultimately set the playoff stage down the road by sending Indy on it’s winning streak and costing the Pats a playoff spot down the road.  Way to go Sage & JP, you did make an impact on the NFL this season!

Best Performance By a Backup: Kerry Collins, Tennessee.  He took over the team and led them to the #1 seed in the playoffs.  You really can’t ask for more than that.

Worst Drama: The Brett Favre Saga Part 1, retiring, unretiring, trade rumors and finally ending up on the Jets.  I don’t think I went one day without hearing his name for a few months over the spring/summer.  It was insane and annoying and I’m already bracing myself for this year’s version.

Best Drama: The Brett Favre Saga Part 2!  This one hit yesterday, starting the year off on the hilarious note that the Jets players felt he should have been benched in their final game and that he held himself separate from the team all year.  Doesn’t sound like Brett has any friends in that locker room!  That makes Part 3 of the Sage, retire or return?, all the more compelling.  Will Brett want to return to a team that doesn’t want him?  Will we have yet another trade watch?  For once I am actually intrigued by Brett’s off season doings.

Best Suspension: Adam “Pacman” Jones  I love the new commish and his heavy handed approach to things.  The fact that Adam was dumb enough to get drunk and get in a fight when he knew he was being watched like a hawk, well it shouldn’t surprise me but it did.

Biggest Collapse: So many to choose from but I’ll bestow this one upon my Bucs.  They just needed one win in their last 4 games and they’d have been playoff bound, but no, couldn’t be bothered to do that.  Kiffin’s departure, once a sign of doom to me, is now nothing but a shrug the way that defense played in those games.  I don’t know what happened but I do know I didn’t like it.

Most Disappointing Team: This one kinda has to go to Dallas doesn’t it?  I mean, I know I predicted them to go to the Super Bowl and I was sure not alone.   Maybe instead of acquiring all stars Jerry Jones will work on forming an actual team, instead of a bunch of individual jerks?  Eh, maybe not.  Oh well, he can continue to not win then!

Best Moment: 0-16 baby!!!  I know, other people would pick out some wonderful moment, but for me, it was seeing history made.  I couldn’t love Detroit and Marinelli and Millen more if I tried.  Thank you for giving me a little history!

MVP: Gotta go with Peyton Manning here.  He took a team that was pretty much left for dead and drove them all the way to the playoffs.  I gotta think that nobody really wants to play them either.  Honorable mention to Adrian Peterson and Matt Ryan here as well.

LVP: How can you have an MVP without celebrating a least valuable player?  After much thought, and a little help from Crunk, I decided to bestow this award on David Gerrard.  The Jags were supposed to be a major postseason player but they floundered all year.  Gerrard got his big contract and failed to produce at all.  He did have a lot of injuries on O-line to contend with but the Jags should still have been better than they were.

Best Hands: Braylon Edwards.  Every time I saw that guy, he was dropping something.  Then he got snippy and claimed that Cleveland fans didn’t like him since he was from Michigan.  Um, they liked you fine when you were earning your way into the Pro Bowl last year by actually catching the ball, jackass.

Best Benching: Has any team benefited more by losing their starting QB than Tennessee has?  Vince Young losing his mind, or whatever it was he did, led to Tenn turning to Kerry Collins and earning the #1 seed in the playoffs.  It really doesn’t get much better than that…it’s like Bledsoe to Brady without the injury.  Plus we all got to watch Vince on the sidelines and wonder if he was going to do anything crazy.  It was a win win situation.

And finally, it’s time to name my Douchetard of the Year Award.  He’s been prominent on this listing, and I spoiled it in another blog, but the DT of the Year is Brett Favre.  For holding us hostage with his will he or won’t he? retirement; to unretiring; to orchestrating a trade to the Jets; to losing several games down the stretch and missing the playoffs; to the locker room drama that is just emerging…Brett Favre is the most deserving player by far.  The drama that swirls around this guy is just astounding to me, and as I said earlier, we’re not done yet.  I would hope that it would drive him to retirement but then we’ll still be watching for the unretirement, so why bother?  Brett Favre, congratulations, you are my first ever DoucheTard of the Year award.  Keep it up and this award will bear your name for all future winners to admire and enjoy!

Well that’s my look at the playoffs and my look at the year that was.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and look forward to whatever 2009 brings!