Wednesday, January 28, 2015

NFL Uniform Rankings

A good way to kill some more time before Super Bowl XLIX... one man's take on all 32 uniforms.  I welcome all assaults on this list and what I messed up!  I grouped them into tiers because in all honesty, if you asked me this in six months I probably wouldn't be able to exactly duplicate the list but I would have definitive groups of what are best and worst.

Tier 1 - Nike's abortions

32. Jaguars
31. Bucs

The decision on which uniform sucked a larger peen was pretty tough.  Do I select the Jaguars who have an awful set of colors that don't go together in black, teal, and gold or the Bucs who took what was a great uniform in red & pewter and turned it into the present joke that it currently is?  Ultimately I can't get past the two tone helmet of the Jags which is such a shitty look.  I honestly think this might be an inside job by the Jags owner to make the team sooooo sucky and soooo ugly that he can push aside all (any?) of the Jacksonville fans then move them to London.

30. Seahawks

The Seahawks uniforms to me seem like Oregon's in that they are polarizing.  You are either a total knob who loves bright colors and lame patterns or you have eyes that work.  I will give this to the Seahawks, they were the first squad to embrace the Nike toolbag design while coupling it with a very successful team on the field.  For my list and my opinion however.... these suck.

Tier 2 - Ohio's Uglyness

29. Bengals
28. Browns

Did you know that Paul Brown was an iconic Cleveland Browns coach who later founded the Cincinnati Bengals?  He basically was a part of the Brown's bland/shitty orange & brown scheme and thought they were so awesome (?) that he brought pretty much the same look to Cincy.   In 1981 the Bengals changed to the look that we all know them as - the stupid bengal striped helmet.  Either way, this state possesses some ugly ass unis.

* Note I THINK the Browns are redoing their unis for 2015.  However, since Nike is designing them, that will likely move them backwards into the Jags/Bucs/Shawks category.

Tier 3 - Go back to the drawing board

28. Titans
27. Falcons

These two uniforms pretty much represent what was edgy/cool around 2000.  Wow the Titans have two tones on the shoulder!!!  Is this hockey??? Pick a blue and run with it!  One blue!  And the flaming T logo is lousy too.

The Falcons have some OUTSTANDING throwbacks when they wear the Red Helmet with the black simple jersey.  A move back to this would probably vault them into the top 10.  Go back to it!!!!!!

Tier 4 - My favorite show can say this better than I.

25. Panthers

Oh the 1990's where teal ruled the world.  The Panthers, Jaguars, San Jose Sharks, Florida Marlins, Pistons, Jazz, Hornets, and so many other teams embraced this very 90's look.  Most of the teams got the memo that the era is over but Carolina might need to click that link above again.

Tier 5 - So-so redesigns.......

24. Vikings
23. Dolphins

While not my favorite uniforms, the original Vikings and Dolphins uniforms from the Fran Tarkenton/Larry Csonka time were pretty decent.  They each took on a unique color pallet.  The Vikings wore purple with yellow trim while the Dolphins rocked the Floridian Blueish/Greenish & Orange.  Each team then reworked their uniforms wicked crappily and were right to make a change.  While the new unis are.... ok (maybe?)  Outside of the Miami all whites at home they are mostly average at best.

Tier 6 - They are ok, sorta... I guess????

22. Broncos
21. Ravens
20. Texans
19. Cardinals

The Broncos changed their unis in 1997 and my initial reaction was that they were the ugliest things on the planet.  Since then I've softened my feelings and even kind of like the road look.  I'm not calling for throwbacks here since those light blue/orange John Elway unis were ugly as fuck.  I do like the recent nod to the orange history but why do they have to go traffic cone-fluorescent ass-hunting gear-need my fucking sunglasses to watch the game-orange????

The Ravens have an ok look, it is at least unique (purple/black).  I think they can ditch the shadowy numbers and gold trim.  Meh.

The Texans have the quintessential wimpiest most conservative uni design ever but coming from a red state filled with fat white guys who like to play it safe it makes sense.

The Cardinals unis have some potential, the red really popped in SB 43 but there is just way too much going on in the sleeves and sides of the jersey.  Simply man, simplify.

Tier 7 - C'mon go back to your throwbacks full time!!!!

18. Rams
17. Eagles
16. Patriots
15. Lions

I really just wanted to group the Rams in this category, their present uniforms blow.  They tried to ride that greatest show on turf crap into some slick new design when in fact their yellow/blue look - the road uniform especially - were already a thing of beauty.  A potential move back to Los Angeles gives me hope that the Rams will do the right thing.

The Eagles are also rumored to be going back to the Green/Silver classic look that Randall Cunningham made famous.  That too would be a strong upgrade over their ok/decent/not terrible design they presently wear.

I don't even think I have to mention how ridiculously awesome the Pat-Patriot throwback uniform and logo are.  Some people say it is synonymous with the sucky years and it is hard to argue that.  However, the NFL has also recently nixed wearing most throwbacks on account of teams needing to wear the same helmets every week (supposedly that will help fight concussions??? I know sounds like a load of crap to me too).  So we can't get those beautiful red unis sprinkled in 2 or 3 times a year.  Do we want to see the flying elvis and a uniform design that is a B at best or these?  Cmon!!!!

The Lions look hasn't changed a whole lot, they just made the numbers look stupid and outlined everything in black.  No need, go back to Barry's uni.

 Tier 8 - Juuuuuuuuuust a cut below the best

14. Chargers
13. Bills
12. Saints
11. Giants
10. Redskins

Dear Chargers, Powder Blue + Numbers on the White Helmet = #1.  The Navy Blue has only submarined the franchise.

The Bills 2002-2010ish uniforms were so fucking ugly.  They finally fired Stevie Wonder and went back to a look that is very reminiscent of their old AFL days (and murdering RB days).

If the Saints ditch the black pants and just rock the gold they would be top 10.  But the gold/black together, a thing of beauty, and also an outstanding logo.

The Giants changing back to their original unis in 2000 was a solid move.  They even unveiled white pants at home in 2012 or 2013.  Go with this full time!

Let's set aside the naming controversy in Washington and just take a look at colors that go together beautifully.  The maroon/yellow (I don't call yellow, gold FYI) design is an outstanding look.  The only thing Dan Snyder has done right in his ownership tenure is rock the yellow pants full time.

Tier 9 - The Classics

It should be painfully clear at this point that I like traditional uniforms and teams that don't need to fuck around with their design just so some dorky 15 y/o kids buy the unis.  A billion bonus points if I watch NFL Network and see the Ice Bowl Green Bay vs Dallas then turn to Fox that afternoon and see the same two teams with the same two uniforms.  These top 9 are more or less how I feel at any given time so don't get your panties wrinkled if you don't quite agree here cuz there is a case to be made for all nine.  If any of these nine teams play one another you are in for an aesthetically pleasing 3 1/2 hours.

9. Jets

I know we hate the Jets but their decision to go back to the Broadway Joe look over their bland green helmet era was genius.  Their all whites are definitely the best look and the all greens threaten to move them back into the 20's with shit bags like the Titans and Bengals.

8. Chiefs

A nice simple classic design that has pretty much stayed the same since the team moved to Kansas City. There is not much more red on this list so if it's your color the Chiefs vs any of the top tier teams is a nice sight.  Their best look is the white uniforms with red pants.

7. Cowboys

The Cowboys can be a bit of a polarizing set of uniforms to uni enthusiasts.  They generally wear their whites at home and because most other teams go color at home the Cowboys wear white 90% of the time.  The white uniform, while a classic, is a little goofy in that the jersey blue doesn't match the helmet blue and their pants are like bluey/silvery in color.  The "road" uniform is sharp like a mothafucka.  All the blues match and the pants aren't a weird color.  The logo/helmet are probably the best in the league.

6. Packers

Do green and yellow really go together all that well??? Eh, nah not really.  Are these uniforms a mf'ing classic?  Yes.  Lombardi, Starr, Lambeau Field, all the championships... the Packers logo/uniforms are just as big a part of all this history.  The home uniform is their best look.

5. Colts

Now since that dweeb Peyton Manning is gone we can really get back to focusing on just how classic and clean the Colts look is.  Outside of their despicably cowardice midnight move from Baltimore to Indy this is a franchise with a ton of history but always the same great look.  The home blues, and the lack of having 25,000 colors - blue/white, that's it - makes this a top 5 uniform.

4. Bears

While the Bears colors are a bit weird - navy blue and what.. is that orange? pinkish orange?  brown? - they definitely match the image of a tough, hard nosed franchise with a killer defense playing in that muddy shithole Soldier Field.  I can practically see Mike Ditka, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, and Walter Payton any time the Bears are on.

Note:  Jay Cutler throwing 100 picks and sulking reminds me of none of the above, but just work with me here.

Sometimes the Bears try to be stupid and wear Blue on Blue or an Orange Jersey but really their simple home/road combos are equally outstanding.  One last thing, the Bears were the original unique numbering font team.  Any team without blocky fonts owes this innovation to the Bears.

3. 49ers

The Red and Gold 49ers colors are a thing of sheer beauty.  Couple that with tons of super bowls and success and you have a top 3 uniform.  It hasn't been all great, though, from 1996-2008 the 49ers went all shadowy/blackish stupidness.  Is it any coincidence that when they went back to the classic look they began having success again?

Their best look is unquestionably the home reds.  

2. Steelers

The black and gold (yellow)  is a ridiculously nice look.  Just donning this uniform instantly makes you a tough ass bastard who plays ferocious defense (or it makes you a rapist qb).  Like the Boston Bruins, I like the white uniform best but both home/away are great.

The ridiculous pinstripe throwback makes me wanna vom my tits off for days but thanks to our aforementioned helmet rules we aren't able to see some much nicer classics.

1. Raiders

Hey the Raiders may suck, they may cheat, they may have had a crypt keeper looking unlikable mothafucker owner who burned every conceivable bridge.  They may have fans that really ought to be in prison rather than allowed into society, but gah-damn they got nice uniforms.  Talk about an identify (pre-horrible suckage).  Silver & Black.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Real Key to SB XLIX

Enough with deflated balls.  Hell, lost in all this is the deflated balls of the Seahawks secondary who all turned from 5th round picks into superstars.  Let's discuss the real key for the Patriots... the achilles of their whole 14 year run... 4th quarter defense.

In victory and defeat alike, the Patriots 4th quarter defense in big playoff games has generally been leaky mcgee.  As someone who has made a wager or two in his life, the 2nd half of NFL games - 4th quarters in particular - are bananas.  Whether it's offensive desperation, defensive fatigue, coaches making adjustments, lousy situational play, or tightened sphincters, every team is affected to some degree.

Let's take a trip down memory lane... we'll venture into memories both wonderful and terrifying.  Did I say wonderful?  I meant that time you had 71 panic attacks but it worked out in the end and you collapsed to the ground thankful the Patriots won.

* Yes some of these stats are cherry picked. Yes I didn't include some games where the Pats won and the D was fine.  Nonetheless, you will see the trend.

SUPER BOWL XXXVI - Patriots vs Rams

Score entering the 4th quarter:  Patriots 17 - Rams 3
4th quarter:  Rams 14 - Patriots 3

Adam Vinatieri kicked a late 3rd quarter figgie to put the Pats up 17-3.  The Rams then, after doing nothing all game, took the ball and went on a 17 play 77 yard drive that ate up seven minutes and pulled them within a touchdown.  They were aided by a 4th and goal holding call on Willie McGinest that wiped a Patriots TD off the board.  Sadly it was the right call and the Rams scored two plays later.

The next drive the Pats went three and out punting back to the Rams with 7:44 left.  The Rams held the ball for another 4 minutes but had to punt back to New England.  ANOTHER three and out for the Pats and by this time the defense was GASSED.  The Rams tied the game in three plays.  The Pats would obviously go on to win but only had the ball 4 mins 30 seconds of the 4th quarter.  The spectacular defensive performance ran out of steam.

SUPER BOWL XXXVIII - Patriots vs Panthers

The Panthers three 4th quarter drives:  Touchdown, Touchdown, Touchdown

Super Bowl 38 was a pretty crazy game.  The over/under was 38!!!! My fellow addicts know that today, even if you get Browns - Cardinals (Lindley Cards not Palmer Cards) the O/U is still 40ish.  The first 27 minutes were scoreless.  Then before the half TD, TD, TD, FG.  Pats 14 - Panthers 10

The third quarter?


The 4th quarter was 19-18 Carolina (slew of missed/made 2 pt conversions).  Were these teams knocking the shit out of each other and the flood gates opened?  Did the Pats suffer a rash of 4th quarter injuries?  Did Jake Delhomme catch fire?   Basically... yes, yes, and yes.  The Pats went from best pass defense of the past 30 years to a total dumpster fire.

Sidenote:  Imagine playing squares on this game?  0-0 (great numbers) won the 1st quarter, 4-0 (great numbers) took the 2nd and 3rd quarter, then 2-9 (about as bad as it gets) took the game.  We all know that the guy who runs these at work gives himself and his buddies all the 7-4, 1-0 combos, but here's to the dorky older lady you tried to sabotage.  Two and Nine baby!!!

Super Bowl XXXIX - Patriots vs Eagles

Super Bowl 39 really doesn't belong on this list, BUT the Eagles 2nd to last drive is worth noting.  With the score 24-14 the Eagles took the ball at their own 21 with 5:40 remaining.  They then proceeded to go 59 yards in 3:40 seconds in the most head scratching, non-urgent drive in the history of the NFL (we later learned McNabb was honking in the huddle and couldn't call plays).  So now it's the 2 minute warning with Philly on the 30.  Make them keep dinking and dunking!  Next play, Donovan McNabb 30 yard TD to Greg Lewis.  Somebody didn't GTFB!!!!

The supremely coached Patriots went on to recover the onside kick as drawn up and punt the ball down to the Eagles 4 after three straight runs.  McPukey went on to throw a game ending pick.

2006 AFC Championship Game - Patriots vs Colts

2nd half score:  Colts 32 - Patriots 13

Despite the grotesque beat down the Colts gave the Patriots in the 2nd half, 15 of those Colts points came in the first ten minutes of the 3rd quarter.  The final 20 minutes of the game were a back and forth affair.  Pats TD, Colts TD, Pats FG, Colts FG, Pats FG.

With 2:17 remaining from his own 20, Manning led a 7 play 80 yard drive that took 1:15.  The Patriots never made a single play on this drive.  They did strip Reggie Wayne (who recovered his own fumble) but on that same play Tully Banta-Cain got called for roughing the QB.

When the defense was needed most, it crumbled big time.

Super Bowl XLII - Patriots vs Giants

Points allowed during the first 3 quarters:  3
Points allowed in the 4th quarter:  14

I don't think we need to rehash this one.

2010 Divisional Round - Patriots vs Jets

4th quarter points allowed:  14

Yes, the Patriots were behind all game and yes they were playing catch up, BUT the Patriots did have this game at 14-11 at the very start of the 4th quarter.  Just get a stop, get the ball back to Brady, and ride that momentum.   Wheellllllpppppppppp, the Jets INSTANTLY completed a short dump off pass to Cotchery for 58 yards.  The Patriots then got the Jets into a 3rd and 4 from the 7  but a Sanchez to Holmes TD put the Jets in front 21-11 and that was ball game.  The D, again, could not come up with a play late in a playoff game when they needed it.

Super Bowl XLVI - Patriots vs Giants

After the gut wrenching Welker drop the Pats had to punt back to the Giants.  17-15 lead, 3:46 on the clock, ball at the Giants 12.  Needing only a field goal, the universe knew the Patriots were porked the moment Welker dropped his pass.  It would just be a matter of will it be...

... a Giants FG....
OR.... a Giants TD...
AND... how much time will Brady have left

The first play was a tear drop from Manning to Manningham for 38 yards.  This allowed the Giants to really attack the third point of bleeding the clock and giving Brady no time to work with.  Another fourth quarter defensive failure.  This one, to me, felt the most predictable of any of the above.  At least in the other ones I could delude myself into thinking the defense would make a play.

2012 AFC Championship Game - Patriots vs Ravens

2nd half score:  Ravens 21 - Patriots 0

This game falls more into the category of the Jets game where you basically got your ass kicked all over.  Nonetheless the defense was worn down and got completely owned by Baltimore in the second half.

So this brings us to Super Bowl XLIX.  Distraction bull crap aside, this looks like another tight game that is going to be decided in the fourth quarter.  Is this defense different?  Can we take any confidence from the defense's play late in the Ravens game or did Flacco just throw one up for grabs when it wasn't necessary?  Are these just a small sample of games that we cannot draw conclusions from or is BB's bend but don't break defensive strategy more prone to get slapped in the yam bag come the 4th quarter?

I'd be shocked if we don't find out on February 1st.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Wild Card Weekend Picks

Growing up as a kid Wild Card Weekend was fun enough, you may get some good games, but all you were watching were the lambs that the 49ers, Packers, Cowboys, Steelers, Broncos, or Bills were going to slaughter the following week.  Hell, I use to always defend the 1985 Patriots, who got smoked 46-10 in the Super Bowl, by saying 'hey mothafucka say what you will about them but they won three road games to get to the Super Bowl.'  This really holds no credence any more cuz someone does that every other year now - 2005 Steelers, 2007 Giants, 2010 Packers.
**Sidenote** Check out the turnover stats in the 1985 Patriots playoff run.

Patriots 26 Jets 14 - Patriots 0 Turnovers (TO), Jets 4
Patriots 27 Raiders 20 - Patriots 2 TO, Raiders 6 TO
Patriots 31 Dolphins 14 - Patriots 2 TO, Dolphins 6 TO
Bears 46 Patriots 10 - Patriots 6 TO, Bears 2 TO

That's 28 combined turnovers in four games!!  Jesus Christ were the playing games with a bar of soap?
These days it's very likely that we are watching a team who is Super Bowl bound this weekend.  The Wild Card round of playoffs was introduced in 1978.  Here are your Wild Card teams who made the Super Bowl:

* 1980 Raiders - Won Super Bowl
* 1985 Patriots - Horribly Slaughtered
* 1992 Bills - Horribly Slaughtered
* 1997 Broncos - Won Super Bowl
* 1999 Titans - Lost Super Bowl
* 2000 Ravens - Won Super Bowl
* 2005 Steelers - Won Super Bowl
* 2006 Colts - Won Super Bowl
* 2007 Giants - Won Super Bowl
* 2008 Cardinals - Lost Super Bowl
* 2010 Packers - Won Super Bowl
* 2011 Giants - Won Super Bowl
* 2012 Ravens - Won Super Bowl

From 1978 to 1996 - 19 seasons, 3 Wild Card Super Bowl teams, 2 murder victims and 1 title.  7.9% of Super Bowl teams are WC and 5.3% of Super Bowl winners are WC.

From 1997 to 2012 - 16 seasons, 10 Wild Card Super Bowl teams, 8 of them won, the other two lost in the final seconds of the game.  31.3% of Super Bowl teams are WC and 50% of Super Bowl winners are WC.

Who this weekend is going to begin a Super Bowl run?  The most obvious candidate is the 49ers but the 2012 Ravens have taught me not to write off anyone entirely. Looking over these eight teams I would put the likelihood in this order:

Extremely Unlikely:  Chargers
Very Unlikely:  Saints, Packers, Colts, Chiefs
Crazier things have happened:  Eagles, Bengals
Quite Plausible:  49ers

... we'll see.

So here is a breakdown of every game and my predictions against the spread.  Picking against the spread is brutal and essentially I am likely to just go .500 if I were to put money on every game.  The key here is picking and choosing what we will put our money on (well monopoly money cuz of course gambling is illegal).  At the end of this I will put my money where my mouth is and we'll see if we can make a few bucks in the playoffs.

I'm taking lines from as of 7:00 AM Thursday 01/02.

11-5 Chiefs @ 11-5 Colts (-2.5)  O/U 46

We get to start with the game I feel least confident about.  The Chiefs are 2-5 after starting 9-0 while the Colts have been playing better of late but have been all over the place this season.  They have beat the Seahawks, 49ers, and Broncos but got smoked by the Rams, Cardinals, and Bengals.   The Colts are 6-2 at home while the Chiefs are 6-2 on the road - they lost at Denver and at SD although they should have won that with their 2nd stringers.

These two teams just met in week 16 at Kansas City where the Colts, with the help of 3 KC turnovers, won 23-7.

So Indy just played in KC where they won, Chiefs 2-5 of late, Indy a ton of big wins.  So why do I get the feeling that KC is going to win this?

I feel that there is usually one game per playoff weekend that does not go to form.  The 2008 Cardinals and 2012 Ravens have taught me to not just dismiss a team that bumbles down the stretch.  I think that Alex Smith will play a turnover free game, Jamaal Charles will make one or two real big plays, but the key will be if Justin Houston or Tamba Hali can play and are effective.

These teams have met three times in the playoffs with the Colts winning all three.

1995 Divisional Round: Colts 10 - Chiefs 7
2003 Divisional Round: Colts 38 - Chiefs 31
2006 Wild Card Round: Colts 23 - Chiefs 8.

The Pick:  Chiefs (+2.5) 23 Colts 20
Any Bets to Consider?  I am going to pass on this game.  A gun to my head I would include the Chiefs in a two team 6 pt tease and take 8.5 pts.  I think this will be a one score game either way.

11-5 Saints @ 10-6 Eagles (-2.5) O/U 53.5

Ah my beloved Saints.  Oh wait, I hate the Saints.  I can't stand dome teams who, when placed outdoors, let alone in bad weather, fold like tents.  In typical Saints fashion they are great at home and blow on the road.

Home:  8-0 34 PF 15.6 PA
Away:  3-5 17.8 PF 22.4 PA
**Sidenote** Unless you get great value, stay away from Drew Brees in your fantasy leagues.  He's a loser's bet.  You have to blow a first or second round pick on a guy, that if your fantasy playoffs puts him on the road, will surely let you down.  Week 15 @ Carolina Brees turned in 281 yards 1 TD 2 INT's.  If you MUST pick him check out his week 15 & 16 schedule and pray those are home games.  Otherwise have a Plan B and don't be a pussy about benching him!  He is a stat collecting indoor QB!!!  Give me Rodgers or Manning over him for early round FF purposes.  If Brees somehow falls to the 3rd, 4th, 5th round, then yes clearly grab him.
The only thing the Saints are good for are teaser bets when they play at home (tease the over line down 6 pts - provided the opponent has a competent offense - and give the Saints 6 more pts, then sit back and collect).

The Eagles come into their wild card game having won 7 of the past 8 games.  I still don't love the defense all that much but Nick Foles doesn't make mistakes while Shady McCoy and DeSean Jackson can rip off a huge play at any moment.  I feel that this is a team that if they can get some playmakers on defense, will be heard from in the next few years.

These teams have split their two prior playoff matchups:

1992 Wild Card:  Eagles 36 Saints 20
2006 Divisional Round:  Saints 27 Eagles 24

The Pick:  Eagles (-2.5) 31 Saints 24
Any Bets to Consider?  Keep your eye on the weather.  We know it will be cold but if it's windy and snowy then Eagles -2.5 is a solid bet.  Also the O/U has come down from 55 to 53.5.  I always find it interesting where the public's money is going.

9-7 Chargers @ 11-5 Benglas (-7) O/U 47

All the things I just did to belittle the Saints on the road I am going to do to pump up the Bengals at home.  Did you know that along with the Saints and Patriots, the Bengals were also 8-0 at home this season?  We already discussed the Saints home resume and let's be honest about the Patriots, ugly wins, improbable wins, dramatic wins, and downright insane wins.

The Bengals haven't needed the dramatics.  As a matter of fact, they have been thrashing teams at home of late.  Last 5 home games:

10/27 - Bengals 49 Jets 9
11/17 - Bengals 41 Browns 20
12/8 - Bengals 42 Colts 28
12/22 - Bengals 42 Vikings 14
12/29 - Bengals 34 Ravens 17

The only pause here is that the Bengals have blown donkey balls in the playoffs under Marvin Lewis (0-4).  Andy Dalton has 0 TD's 4 INT's and a QB Rating of 48.6 in his two playoff appearances.

The Chargers, are downright lucky to even be in the tournament.  The Chiefs rested their starters, missed a potential game winning field goal, and (surprising to no one) the refs horribly dicked up a call that probably put San Diego in the playoffs while keeping Pittsburgh at home.  Nonetheless, all you need is an opportunity.  The 2011 Giants are aware of this (1:35 mark, a catch here puts them outta the playoffs).

But let's be real here, Phil Rivers & co. are the same old Chargers.  I don't see this game being very close.

The one and only time these guys met in the playoffs it was the coldest game in NFL history.

1981 AFC Championship Games:  Bengals 27 Chargers 7

The Pick:  Bengals (-7) 34 Chargers 21
Any Bets to Consider?  I like both the Bengals and the over in this game.  If this line falls to 6.5 I'd like the Bengals even more.

12-4 49ers (-2.5) @ 8-7-1 Packers O/U 46.5

You won't find a bigger Aaron Rodgers fan than I.  I've already watched the play of the NFL season about 83 times.  4th down and 8, 46 seconds left, season is on the line, Julius Peppers charging at you... ah no problem, I'll just dodge him, roll left, and flick a 50 yard strike for the win.  Who else in the NFL makes that play??? Maaaaaaybe Russell Wilson, that's it. (Not to mention I won 140 monopoly dollars on my Packers futures bet too :) )

That being said, this Packers squad isn't very good.  Over their last 10 games the defense has allowed 31, 27, 27, 27, 26, 40, 21, 36, 38, 28.  Woof.  Rodgers and Cobb will help.  Being home will help.  But man, what a crappy draw.  The 49ers have won six straight games.  They lost to the Saints before that on the bull shit roughing the passer call and they lost to the Panthers 10-9.  Those tough losses, aside they have won 11 of 13.  It is likely they are 1a to Seattle's 1 in the current power rankings.

The Packers defense also THOROUGHLY sucks against Kaepernick.

Last season's divisional round game:  17-31 263 yards 2 TD's 1 INT, 16 rushes 181 yards 2 TD's
Week 1 this year:  27-39 412 yards 3 TD's

The last three meetings between these two have been very high scoring (all 49ers wins) 30-22, 45-31, 34-28.

The forecast Sunday is suppose to be super cold but I have not heard of much snow or wind in the forecast.
These two teams play all the time in the playoffs:

1995 Divisional Round: Packers 27 49ers 17
1996 Divisional Round: Packers 35 49ers 14
1997 NFC Championship Game:  Packers 23 49ers 10
1998 Wild Card:  49ers 30 Packers 27
2001 Wild Card:  Packers 25 49ers 15
2012 Divisional Round: 49ers 45 Packers 31

The Pick:  49ers (-2.5) 30 Packers 20
Any Bets to Consider?  I really like both the 49ers and the over.  The Packers D is horrible and Rodgers is good enough to hang for a half or even three quarters.

Putting My Monopoly Money Where My Mouth Is

$55 to win $50 on two team 6 pt tease:  Bengals -1 & SF/GB Over 40.5
$20 to $50 on two team parlay:  Cincy/SD Over 47 & SF -2.5

I ain't touching Saturday and will be all over Sunday.  ATS I'll probably end up 2-2 but hopefully above I can take home 2-0.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Peyton Manning Myth, Part 1

*Note this will need to be broken into several parts cuz I get wordy when shitting on Manning*
The title is pretty clear.  There is a myth that surrounds Peyton Manning.  The point of writing this is to explain that the way you think of Peyton Manning and the way he is portrayed is largely a load of crap.

The myth is in no way shape or form Peyton Manning's fault.  He just simply plays the game and does his thing year in and year out.  I have tremendous respect for his professionalism, preparation, and ability.

Before explaining the myth and providing mountains of evidence to support my case, let me state the following points:

  • I am not saying Peyton Manning sucks.  
  • I am not saying he isn't worthy of many of the accolades he receives.  
  • Peyton Manning is clearly a first ballot hall of famer and a top level QB of all time.  
  • I think Peyton Manning the person is an impeccable role model and outstanding human being.  
  • If a clone of Peyton Manning could be drafted by the Patriots when Brady retires I would be doing back flips.

Now to the myth. If you tune into the worldwide leader, any national broadcast, pregame show, network, or even just talk to the guy sitting at the bar, they treat Peyton Manning like he is this being meticulously created by God to play the quarterback position better than anyone who has walked the face of the earth.  They speak of his knowledge of the game.  They are amazed by his ability to play the role of offensive coordinator at the line of scrimmage then make the perfect throw to capitalize on his analysis.  He has all the numbers, he has all the awards, his team wins 12+ just about every season.  His records go from single game, single season, to career records.  There has never been nor will ever be another like him they tell ya.

And shit when it's week 4 and he's whooping up on the Jaguars, Chargers, or Bengals it is hard to argue with them.

There is this one little flaw to his resume and these people know it and are forced to mutter to themselves when his team fails again in January.  But worry not, because when next September rolls around and his team starts 6-0 every writer, network, broadcaster, and bar fly will wax poetic about the great Peyton Manning like that one little thing doesn't exist.  It's like that episode of South Park where Kenny (Mysterion) reveals to the kids that he dies all the time but comes back to life.  They are absolutely perplexed by this news like they have never once seen him die.

There are a lot of things that perpetuate the Peyton Manning myth.  First off, he is sort of close to the "perfect" quarterback.  At least the case can be made in terms of his make up. A human computer who can read any defense and make any throw... except of course for that one little thing.  You want him to be this mythical perfect quarterback sooo badly and you have enough evidence to kinda sorta talk yourself into it and make your case.

Sadly the little thing isn't little at all.  It's a deal breaker, but we won't start there.

Part 1: The Catch All Award Winner

Peyton Manning's shelf is loaded with awards.  It is inclusive of, but not limited to, five NFL MVP's (2013 is coming), a Super Bowl MVP, and most recently the 2013 Sports Illustrated sportsman of the year.  It is this last award that sent me over the edge.  I then read Bill Simmons response to a question as to why in the hell he was named sportsman of the year over David Ortiz:

SG: The problem is that they already wrote the Sportsman of the Year story in early November, when they wrote about David Ortiz, the 2013 Red Sox and the 2013 Boston Marathon. They couldn't run it back. And since there wasn't another logical pick, they went into "let's just pick a decent candidate who's due for a cover story from us," and they landed on Manning while hoping he eventually breaks the touchdown record to justify it.

This explanation affirmed what I have thought for a long while, Peyton Manning is the 'Catch All' choice to win awards.  I blow at programming and rules based things but even I know that you always create a rule at the end which is a 'catch all.'  Just in case you missed anything, this rule will capture your value.  If no candidate really sticks out for the award, we'll just hand it to Manning.  Chances are he had a good enough season to justify our choice and shit, he's a great dude so I feel ok if he wins.

Sports Illustrated awarded Manning the catch all sportsman of the year nod and I'm hear to tell you that NFL writers have awarded Peyton Manning with several catch all MVP's.  Manning was the NFL MVP in 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, and will be in 2013.

I will not argue 2004 nor 2013 whatsoever.  In those seasons Peyton Manning is the NFL MVP.

Hmm, how to approach this should we go chronologically or most egregious?  Let's go egregious.

In 2009 we have four MVP candidates.  A, B, C, and D.  Naturally they are all quarterbacks because the NFL MVP has long been the "top quarterback award unless a running back has a season so good we simply can't ignore him."  That's not Manning nor any quarterback's fault.

A - 4202 yards 33 TD's 7 INT's 107.2 rating 68.4% completion
B - 4500 yards 33 TD's 16 INT's 99.9 rating 68.8% completion
C - 4254 yards 28 TD's 9 INT's 104.4 rating 65.2% completion
D - 4388 yards 34 TD's 11 INT's 109.6 rating 70.6% completion

All four Quarterback's teams won at least 12 games and earned a bye.

This is awfully close, right?  Just eyeballing it I think you have to go A or D.  B is the worst of a very good bunch... too many INT's and the lowest rating of all.

At the very least a close vote, right?  Nope.  Wasn't close. (These are not listed as A, B, C, D below but instead in order of how many votes they received so pay attention to the letter so you can match it up above.)

A is Brett Favre.  He got 1 vote.
C is Philip Rivers.  He got 2 votes.
D is Drew Brees.  He got 7.5 votes.
B is Peyton Manning.  He got a whopping 39.5 of 50 votes.

Sadly by 2009 the Peyton Manning myth was an utter freight train.  When in doubt just vote for the cyborg created by God himself.  What a joke, right?  As I said earlier, eyeballing it we had to go A or D.  Well that year Favre turned into a sour ball bag distraction towards the end of the year.  So therefore your 2009 MVP is Drew Brees.

2003 and 2009 are tied together in another way.  Now you remember earlier how I said the MVP can go to a running back if they force you to vote for them, right?  Like say, maybe, a 2,000 yard season?

Here is a list of your 2,000 yard seasons in order:

1973 - OJ Simpson 2,003 yards - NFL MVP
1984 - Eric Dickerson 2,105 yards.  Dan Marino is named MVP.  I will allow the greatest single quarterback season in NFL history to edge Dickerson here but wow crazy year to have to vote.
1997 - Barry Sanders 2,053 yards - NFL Co-MVP
1998 - Terrell Davis 2,008 yards - NFL MVP

I'll stop right there.  What the writers also have as a rule is that if you rush for 2,000 yards BUT Peyton Manning is on the ballot you probably won't win.

2003 - Jamal Lewis 2,066 yards on 10-6 playoff bound Ravens receives 5 MVP votes.  He loses out to co-MVP's Peyton Manning and Steve McNair (16 votes each).  Manning threw for 4,267 yards 29 TD's 10 INT's with a rating of 99.0.  I guess Lewis's season 2,000 yard season was not good enough to beat out Manning's 9th best year.

2009 - Chris Johnson 2,006 yards on an 8-8 Titans team.  He also set an NFL record for yards from scrimmage.  He received zero votes as the four QB's I mentioned above got them all.  I guess with the Titans being a mediocre team I can buy that much.

Since we are talking 2,000 yard rushers let's just touch upon 2012 as well.  This one is very much in our memory banks, right?  Adrian Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards and carried a sad sack of shit Vikings team to 10-6 and a playoff berth.  Shit, 19.5 votes STILL went to Peyton Manning.  People can't help themselves, it's Peyton Manning!!!!

Player A - 4,659 yards 37 TD's 11 INT's 105.8 rating 68.6% completion
Player B - 5,038 yards 41 TD's 16 INT's 97.2 rating 63.5% completion

Player A is 2012 Peyton Manning who received 19.5 MVP votes.  Player B is 2011 Matt Stafford who received 0 votes and this season is the poster boy that quarterback stats cannot be taken seriously anymore.  My fucking gahd!!!!!

2008 was a trickier year.  There really was no great candidate in a mediocre year for the league.  Well, shit, we know what happens when there is no good candidate, right?  Captain Catch All to the rescue!!!!!

Peyton Manning led his second place Colts with 4,002 yards 27 TD's 12 INT's and a 95.0 rating.  Look it's a nice year but that's it, nothing more.  Hell it's a down year for Manning.  Here is how the year stacks up for Manning

His 11th best season in TD's.  13th best in yards.  9th in rating.

So who should have won?  I have Manning definitively behind two players.  One is Kurt Warner - 4,583 yards 30 TD's 14 INT's and a rating of 96.9.  Warner brought the Cardinals to their first division title in 684 years (estimated) and later to their only Super Bowl.  The other is Chad Pennington.  Pennington, who is wildly underrated for a noodle arm by the way, turned the 1-15 Dolphins into 11-5 division champs.  Although his numbers don't pop, he was MVP worthy in my eyes, 3653 yards 19 TD's 7 INT's and a 97.4 rating.   Let's also remember Pennington was throwing to Marvin Harrison,  Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Joe Addai... oh wait, that's right he had no weapons.

I personally go with Pennington.  The voters?  Pfff.  Manning in a runaway.  When Peyton Manning has his 11th best season in TD's that yells MVP.  Got it!?!?!

Manning - 32 votes, Pennington, Michael Turner - 4 votes, Adrian Peterson, James Harrison - 3 votes, Phillip Rivers - 2 Votes, Chris Johnson, Kurt Warner - 1 vote.

If you do not know who to vote for people I want you to always just pencil in Captain Catch All.

So now the next time Bob Costas has to stop for a second to jizz down his leg when talking about Manning's 5 MVP awards you will be educated enough to know that three were simply catch all's because of the Peyton Manning myth.

This is already getting lengthy as hell but I do want to point out that Manning even won a catch all Super Bowl MVP.  Nobody on the Colts had a slam dunk MVP game so we already know what voters do in that case.  Here were your candidates.  Manning, then the two superior choices.

Manning 25-38 247 yards 1 TD 1 INT
Dominic Rhodes 21 carries 113 yards 1 TD
Kelvin Hayden 1 INT 56 yards, game clinching TD


Monday, October 29, 2012

Ranking the 32 NFL team's Quarterbacks (Quarterback situation for the crappy ones)

Throughout the year I've been keeping ranks on the top 10 QB's at the present moment.  I have been inspired to *try* and rank all 32 teams.  I can't make it the top 32 QB's as some of the lousier teams have quarterback situations.  If there is a team on the list where I legitimately have to evaluate the backup quarterback then chances are you are in the bottom third of the league.  

Some of the questions I asked myself were:

Can he drag a sorry team to be competitive by himself?
Can you at least win with him even if he's a caretaker?
With the game on the line would I be stunned if he came through?
With the right team, no extremes - we aren't talking about 85 Bears or 2000 Ravens defense, could you win a Super Bowl with him?
What's the future for this team at QB?

The last question didn't factor into my right now rankings but will give you a sense of what direction that team is headed.  You will also see that 1st and 2nd year starting QB teams aren't very high yet.  It doesn't mean I think they suck, we just have to wait and see since there is not a large sample size of games to go on.

I made a list, confined in a few opinions and have tweaked the list to a point where I feel good about it for now.

32. Kansas City Chiefs - The Chiefs quarterback situation is absolutely positively wretched.  Matt Cassell is not a starting caliber quarterback and will be released following this season.  Brady Quinn is nothing more than a mediocre backup.  How they didn't make a play for Peyton Manning is stunning.  I doubt Manning would have gone there but for gahd sake give it a try.  The arrow here can't go any lower but Matt Barkley or Geno Smith will more than likely be a Chief in 2013.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars - Blaine Gabbert's abysmal pocket presence doesn't give much hope to the Jags having a long term answer at quarterback.  He does have a very strong arm unfortunately on the list of must haves for a quarterback this simply isn't that critical.  Jeff George, Drew Bledsoe, and Billy Joe Tolliver had hoses.  Chad Henne is nothing more than an average backup.  I want to say the Jaguars needle can only go up but they should think about drafting a quarterback early if they get a chance to compete with Gabbert in 2013.

30. Cleveland Browns - Brandon Weeden has had a couple of ok moments and he definitely has a very strong arm, but what the hell are the Browns doing drafting a 29 year old rookie when the team is very very far from contending?  Colt McCoy proved the past two seasons that he is not a starting caliber quarterback. The Browns have recently changed owners and GM so I really have no idea what direction they are going in.  Like the Jags and Chiefs I'd suggest snagging a QB early in the draft if the right guy is there.

29. New York Jets - Coming into the season I would have given Sanchez more respect for his past success. However, Sanchez is regressing in a big way.  At this point I'd suggest Rex Ryan turns the season over to Tim Tebow.  I would expect ridiculously ugly games similar to the Broncos last year but you'd turn a 6-10 year into maybe an 8-8 one.  The Jets need to ditch Tebow if they aren't going to go to him and bring in some serious competition for Sanchez.

28. Arizona Cardinals - This is the slightly less poor man's version of Kansas City.  Kevin Kolb and John Skelton are marginally better than Brady Quinn and Matt Cassell.  Kolb has poor pocket presence and has been historically brittle.  Skelton nuts up a bit more but is simply not very talented.  The needle here is pretty much status quo until Kolb emerges as what the Cardinals think they traded for two years ago or they acquire a new quarterback.

27. Seattle Seahawks - The Seahawks have an intriguing QB situation but ultimately a fairly crappy one.  Yes Russell Wilson seems like a great guy and a leader but he doesn't quite have the tools or size to be a pro bowl caliber quarterback.  Then they spend all sorts of money to get the top free agent (not named Peyton Manning) in Matt Flynn but instead turn the offense over to their 3rd round rookie.  More alarming however is that Flynn couldn't beat out Wilson for the job.  The Seahawks have an outstanding defense and home field advantage but shoddy quarterback play will keep this a .500 team.  I suppose the arrow can only point up but I'm just not sure how much higher they will ultimately get as currently constructed.

26. Tennessee Titans - If Matt Hasselbeck wants to hang around another few years then in my mind that is an excellent BACKUP quarterback to have.  I was certainly intrigued by Jake Locker last year but his poor accuracy and inability to stay healthy thus far are reasons for concern.  The Titans should absolutely stick with him and the arrow should be pointing up as he gets more experience in the league.

25. St Louis Rams - After a very strong rookie season where Sam Bradford was rookie of the year, it's been mostly turd salads since.  The Rams did get a HAUL in trading last year's #2 pick to the Redskins but I think the argument can at least be made that they should have just drafted Robert Griffin.  The argument for Bradford is that he has NOTHING around him.  The next two or so years where the Rams cash in all these draft picks will be telling if Bradford is the solution.  Right now the arrow isn't really pointing up or down.

24. Miami Dolphins - Before Dolphins fans have a conniption the arrow is more than likely pointing up.  Thus far Ryan Tannehill has been pretty good for a rookie.  They've been in every game thus far this season except for the Texans game week 1.  I would have argued that Matt Moore should have started the year while Tannehill learned for a season.  I can say with confidence that Moore is the best backup quarterback in the league.  Note:  I can't say this with confidence but for the sake of this article I can.

23. Buffalo Bills - Ryan Fitzpatrick is the type of quarterback who can put up ok numbers, win you a few games, tantalize you into thinking playoffs is a possibility then crap all over himself in an ugly blowout loss.  Fitzpatrick is simply a .500 quarterback at best unless he's surrounded with elite talent.  The Bills love to draft 1st round running backs but one of these seasons they should throw their chips in on a quarterback.  I give them credit for aggressively trying to build their team but under center they need to get better.

22. Philadelphia Eagles - We've hit our first team with a quarterback whose arrow is pointing straight the eff down.  Mike Vick's days in Philly are officially numbered and perhaps his career as a starting quarterback is as well.  With Vick's contract bonus that kick in this offseason, it basically assures that he will be released following this year.  The Nick Foles era will soon be starting which most likely means the Eagles have not yet bottomed out in these rankings.

21. Minnesota Vikings - Christian Ponder intrigues me but I wonder if his ceiling is that of Alex Smith, caretaker extraordinaire.  Ponder is a sneaky good athlete and is surrounded by some intriguing young talent in Harvin, Peterson, and Rudolph.  I do think you can compete with Ponder on his current growth rate but with good coaching I expect more from him than middle of the line quarterback play.  His arrow should continue to point up.

20. Carolina Panthers - This season Cam Newton has been a complete and utter mess.  In his career as a starter he is 7-16.  I know as a fantasy football player Newton has immense value but this is real life.  Newton's tremendous athletic ability will only carry him so far.  Until he improves his crappy attitude and leadership skills, a porous win/loss record will more than likely follow him.  HOWEVER, I do think this is rock bottom for Newton.  With a stronger, disciplinary coach and skilled offensive coaches, Cam Newton can guide the Panthers to success for years to come.  The needle has crashed and burned in my opinion so now we will see if he can dust himself off and get better.

19. San Diego Chargers - For all his career we've watched Philip Rivers throw a football like he's tossing a shot put.  Nonetheless year after year he threw arguably the best deep ball in the NFL and enjoyed a good measure of success.  The past two seasons Rivers arm strength seems to have dipped noticeably.  Those deep shot put tosses are now being underthrown and picked off.  He's only 30 years old but I certainly am beginning to think we've seen the best of Rivers.  At the very least, if he can't throw the deep ball as well anymore then Rivers will need to reinvent himself in some capacity.  The needle has probably bottomed out but I don't think Rivers will reach top 10 QB status again either.

18. Oakland Raiders - Carson Palmer was arguably the toughest quarterback for me to rank.  I certainly don't think he's worth all the draft picks the Raiders forked up for him but at the same time, that steamy mess that is the Raiders clouds one's vision of what Palmer is as a quarterback.  Palmer is absolutely positively mediocre.  I would expect many of the younger quarterbacks on this list to leap frog him in the next year or two.  That being said, with the right team around him, Palmer could lead the Raiders into the playoffs.  Moving forward the Raiders will want to address their quarterback position pretty soon.  Maybe instead of drafting blazing fast wide receivers with early picks they will go QB.

17. Cincinnati Bengals - Raise your hand if you predicted Dalton to be the most successful of the 2011 rookie quarterbacks thus far.... (crickets chirping).  The Red Rifle may not have the most natural talent of this bunch but his maturity and leadership should be commended this early in his career.  I also think it will help him tremendously that he's began his career winning games and reaching the playoffs.  I'm not sure if Dalton will ever be a top 10 quarterback but he should become a consistent starter for many years.  The arrow points a little bit up.

16. Dallas Cowboys - Tony Romo is the ultimate trick or treat quarterback.  I'm getting the sense that the national opinion on Romo is that he's a bum/choker and that the Cowboys are going to need to move on from him.  I would argue that the problem in Dallas is Jerry Jones.  Jones likes to meddle and run his team.  This includes hiring a soft coach he can beat around and drafting players to create a buzz.  As a result he has a coach who can't lead men while making brutal coaching gaffes, and has a soft team incapable of closing games.  Both Wade Philips and Jason Garrett have been a disservice to Romo.  I'm no Romo fan or backer, but I feel his talent level could have been maximized better away from the circus that is the Cowboys.  All that being said, if the Cowboys continue to flop again this year there will be changes.  We know Jerry Jones isn't going to fire himself or back off.  The reality is that in Dallas you can't win consistently with Romo's up and down play.  This arrow points down.

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Josh Freeman's career through four seasons has been a bit of a roller coaster ride.  In 2010 he turned in a gem of a stat line with 25 td's to just 6 int's yet in 2011 he played like a used ball bag throwing 22 interceptions.  Like many of these guys I've commented on, coaching has a great deal to do with realizing their potential.  Under Greg Schiano thus far Freeman has looked much more like the 2010 version.  With the right team around him Freeman can lead a team to the playoffs and his arrow points up.  I would say his ceiling is that of a borderline top 10 QB.

14. San Francisco 49ers - Alex Smith is the ultimate caretaker quarterback.  Surrounded by an excellent team, Smith was an overtime away from going to the Super Bowl last season.  While some may argue that many to most of the quarterbacks below Smith could have done the same with this team, I would like to remind you that he led the 49ers to not one but TWO game winning drives against the Saints last January.  Having an excellent coach in Jim Harbaugh allows Smith to get the most out of his ability.  More than likely we've seen the best Alex Smith can do making his arrow flat lined for now.

13. Chicago Bears - Smokin' Jay Cutler is 23-9 as a starter the past three seasons.  Although his body language is epicly poor, the Bears do play hard for Cutler.  He has an absolute cannon and can make any throw you require.  Even if Cutler will never be a top five quarterback you can win with him and the Bears nearly made the Super Bowl in 2010.  I'm not sure if Cutler's pouting will always be overlooked by his teammates but for now he is more than viable to remain starter in the windy city.

12. Baltimore Ravens - I go back and forth on Joe Flacco just about every week.  However the fact of the matter is Flacco has won five playoff games and was a Lee Evans dropped pass away from reaching last season's Super Bowl.  Although I think Flacco will never truly be elite you can absolutely win with him.  I'm not sure though if Cam Cameron is the coach to lead the Ravens offense to its highest level of success.  I think Flacco has the ability to crack the top 10 but for now his arrow will continue to meander week to week.

11. Indianapolis Colts - Having watched the Colts through the first half of the season you can totally understand why they sucked so hard for Luck last season.  As excellent as Manning is do you want to surround a previously injured 36 year old quarterback with an aging, hole filled roster or turn the keys over to a 23 year old stud who has the tools to be your next Manning?  It was a no brainer and Luck may reward the Colts with a wild card berth in season one.  This is besides the point though as Luck should enjoy a great career where his potential is to become a top five quarterback in the NFL. 

10. Detroit Lions - Matt Stafford has all the tools to be an elite quarterback.  I'd argue that the only quarterback with more physical gifts is Aaron Rodgers.  Stafford throws ropes and has the tightest spiral you'll see.  However early in his career he was extremely injury prone.  Additionally he's off to a rough start in 2012.  While he probably opened the season as the #6 or 7 QB, Stafford does remain in the top 10.  His arrow is flat lined for now with the ability to move back up to that 7ish area or meander back into middle of the road territory.  Nonetheless the Lions have their man for the foreseeable future.

9. Washington Redskins - The Redskins swapped their first round pick in 2012 with the Rams in addition to giving them two more first rounders and another 2nd round pick.  All this was given up in order to draft Robert Griffin.  Although they paid out the ass, I feel that the Redskins won this trade.  The NFL has simply turned into a quarterback league.  After years of Jason Campbell, Mark Brunell, Gus Frerotte, Patrick Ramsey, and many others, the Redskins had simply had enough.  Griffin has thus far demonstrated the athletic ability of both Mike Vick and Cam Newton but with much more guile, poise, and maturity.  RG3, like Andrew Luck, is destined for perennial top five status.  In the nation's capital they could give a shit about  who gets elected president, they get to watch Griffin play the next 12+ years!

8. Houston Texans - Matt Schaub has very quietly turned into an upper echelon quarterback.  For those who think he's simply a better version of Alex Smith I do remind you that he threw for a league leading 4700+ yards in 2009.  Schaub doesn't put up the gaudy numbers anymore because the Texans don't ask him to.  Remember, football is about winning, even if it's at the expense of us fantasy owners.  The Texans formula to win is great defense, an excellent running game, and Matt Schaub's ability to strike downfield in play action.  For the Texans' fan sake I would have liked to have seen Schaub get his playoff legs last year but injuries will delay that until this year where we'll find out if he can meet their Super Bowl aspirations.  Schaub should be plenty good for the next three to five seasons.

7. Atlanta Falcons - Even though my contemporary David Glassman doesn't believe in Matt Ryan nearly as much as me, I do have to point out that Ryan is 50-19 in his NFL career.  The Falcons had never been over .500 in consecutive years in their franchise history.  This year they are on their way to doing that for a fifth straight year.  The red flag on Ryan's resume is his 0-3 playoff record where his teams have been outscored 102-47.  His career passer rating is 90.1 while his playoff rating is 71.2.  In addition, two of his three losses were home games.  However, this is the first year where the Falcons aren't going to rely on a fat, old, worn down RB come playoff time.  They have turned the keys 100% over to Matt Ryan and the passing game.  I do think this is the year he wins a playoff game but until that happens and happens consistently, Ryan can't get much higher than his current position.  

6. New Orleans Saints - Drew Brees will help owners win many fantasy leagues nationwide but unfortunately it isn't going to be a great year in New Orleans.  Bountygate and Goodell's sanctions have cost Brees his head coach/offensive guru for the entire 2012 season in Sean Payton.  As a result Brees, although putting up gaudy numbers, hasn't been as sharp particularly in late games.  Nonetheless Brees is only 33 years old, plays in a dome, and should be very effective for another five plus seasons.  I'd expect that he won't fall much further than this in 2012 but that he can reclaim top three status in future seasons.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers - Shhhhh, we need to be very quiet.  Nobody can know that Roethlisberger is sporting a 14-3 TD/Int rate and a rating of 101.4.  Although the Steelers defense may be aging a bit, its quarterback has been outstanding.  Roethlisberger has always played above his raw numbers by extending plays and throwing the best deep ball in football (now that Rivers stinks).  I also feel pretty dirty having used the words 'raw', 'extending', and 'deep ball' to describe Roethlisberger.  I'm not sure if nationally Roethlisberger will ever get his due as a top two or three quarterback but another Super Bowl win coupled with strong playoff performances would put him there for me.  At 30 years old Roethlisberger will continue to be a great quarterback another five plus years.

4. Denver Broncos - Peyton Manning is completely back.  Quite frankly I no longer care if his arm strength returns as Manning has proved he doesn't need it to have success.  He leads the league in passer rating at 109.0 and provided his health holds up should break many of that cock smoker Brett Favre's records.  I'm certainly pulling for him to do so.  I can definitively say that Peyton Manning is the greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history... I can, Patriots fans.  Unfortunately his post season resume doesn't match his regular season brilliance.  Manning, though, has motivation out the arse.  In no particular order, the Colts traded him, many suggested he should retire, most said his arm was too weak when he came back, his brother has one upped him in Super Bowl titles, and Brady separated himself further in the all time rankings with another Super Bowl appearance.  I think Manning will be effective another two or three years and the NFL is better off for it.

3. New England Patriots - If you include the playoffs Tom Brady's career record is 145-44.  Until Brady came along Bill Belichick was nothing more than a borderline head coach more than likely a lifetime defensive coordinator.  Until Tom Brady came along the New England Patriots were an up and down but mostly bungling franchise.  At this juncture, even at 35 years old, Brady is still in his prime (even if it's possibly the end of his prime).  If his skills were to deteriorate some, Brady relies on his noggin more than anything else and is a player I do think could be effective into his early 40's.  Some of you may think I'm hard on him but the reason is simply this...  The 2001-present New England Patriots are in the neighborhood of greatest team runs in NFL history.  Tom Brady is in the neighborhood of the greatest QB in NFL history.  The Brady-Belichick duo is in the neighborhood of top duos in NFL history.  As a fan, I'm a selfish cock sucker.  I don't want in the neighborhood, I want the best.  I hold these Patriots against the 60's Packers, 70's Steelers, and 80's 49ers.  I hold Tom Brady against Joe Montana, Otto Graham, Johnny Unitas, and Bart Starr.  I hold the duo against Montana-Walsh, Starr-Lombardi.  There is work to do for him to reach that.  So if some of you get pissy that I don't tongue his balls at every turn, well sue me.

2. New York Giants - If the ball is on your own 8 yard line with 2:51 remaining in the game down by 4 in a playoff or must win game I absolutely want Eli Manning over any other quarterback in that situation.  The reason is that with him I don't have to say, well, is it outdoors and crappy out?  Are you playing at home or on the road?  Is the defense he's playing against elite?  How has he played the previous 57+ minutes?  These questions do not matter whatsoever with Eli.  You are going to get a completely unphased, unafraid, stupid but for his own good quarterback.  Eli may have the occasional regular season stinker where the Giants get smoked at home by some shmuck team but when stakes are high he is at his best.  Manning is 31 years old and I'd argue just now hitting his prime.  He should be plenty good the next seven plus years.

1. Green Bay Packers - Talent-wise Aaron Rodgers is so much better than the rest of the league it isn't funny.  The Packers dumbness in coaching and Rodgers toeing the assured/arrogant line are the only things that could hold him back.  I would bet anything that Rodgers will retire a top 10 and probably top 5 all time QB.  He should win a few more MVP's.  I believe Rodgers will reach a couple more Super Bowls while winning at least one more.  He's only 28 years old and will remain the class of league for atleast five to seven more years if not longer.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Let's Take a Deep Breath

Fact, the 2012 New England Patriots are a flawed team.  Their defensive backs are an utter mess, Belichick's game management has been spotty and arrogant at best, and they close games about as poorly as any team could.

However, and I write this for my own therapy too, there are many reasons to remain positive.

Patriots reasons....

  • The Patriots are young.  This is the youngest team in Belichick's 13 years in New England.  Young teams notoriously have a tough time closing games and winning tight games.  I'll take you back to the 1993 Patriots.  This team started 1-11 losing games by a score of 19-16, 17-14, 10-9, 9-6, 13-10, 17-13, 6-0, and 17-14.  The 93 Pats then figured it out as they went on to win their final four games then rode that momentum into 1994 where they went 10-6 and made the playoffs.

    You want a more recent example?  The 2010 Detroit Lions started 2-10 losing games by a score of 19-14, 35-32, 28-26,  23-20, 14-12, and 24-20.  They then ripped off four wins to close the year and rode that momentum into a 10-6 playoff season in 2011.

    Do you think a young team with Tom Brady, several key veterans, and Bill Belichick coaching can gain similar momentum in a quicker time frame by figuring out how to win close games?  I do too.
  • Josh McDaniels will figure out how to best use his offensive weapons.  It's his first year coaching this specific Patriots team.  The play calling may still be maddening at times but it will get better.
  • After dishing out money to Gronkowski and Hernandez, they HAVE to begin getting utilized better.  Those contracts indicate that these two guys is what the Patriots are building around.  Hernandez has been hurt and Gronkowski is far too talented to stay on his current pace of an 80 catch, 900 yard season .
  • Chandler Jones has been a beast.  No reason to think he won't keep that up.
  • The one part of Belichick that drives me nuts is his arrogance.  It's like he wants to do things differently so that NFL Films can wax poetically about how much of a genius he is.  You know what kills arrogance and breeds humility/humbleness?  Losing.  Get back to better clock and game management, Bill.
  • The Patriots have lost two NFC games.  These mean less than dick when it comes to end of the year tie-breakers.
  • It's not like the Patriots are getting smoked.  They've lost three games by a total of four points.  They could be similarly flawed yet 6-0 and I wouldn't be typing this up.
  • The secondary CAN'T play worse.... right?

AFC East reasons for optimism....
  • Although I do think the entire AFC East is feisty enough to beat the Patriots any Sunday and I truly don't see any of these teams as door knobs, the division is still not very good.  I see the Jets, Dolphins, and Bills as teams that will win in the neighborhood of 6 to 9 games.
  • The Patriots will win 10 games.
AFC reasons for optimism......
  • The AFC stinks.  If Denver beats San Diego tonight then the only teams above .500 will be the Texans and Ravens who are both 5-1.
  • Have you watched the Ravens?  That defense is getting very old.  They have won games by the score of 31-30 and 31-29.  Oh and the lost Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb for the season yesterday.
  • Not to mention T-Sizzle is still out.  The Ravens are flawed.
  • Aaron Rodgers shredded the bijesus out of the Texans at Houston on SNF.  So much for that great defense.
  • Do Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak scare you?  Me either.
  • Who else is in the AFC?  Denver?  Manning, albeit still a genius, has a noodley arm and his defense stinks.  San Diego? Pfff, I won't waste my breath.  The Steelers?  You can't rule them out but they are 2-3 with no running game and an aging defense.  The AFC East we discussed isn't there yet and the AFC South minus Houston is garbage.  The Raiders, Chiefs, and Browns are total door knobs.  The Bengals?  They lost to the Browns!
  • Seriously, the AFC stinks.
NFL reasons for optimism....
  • Getting through the NFC playoffs will be an utter gauntlet.  Giants, Bears, Packers, Falcons, and 49ers are all legit teams to win the super bowl in 2012.  They will have to beat one another to make it.
  • I'd argue the Eagles, Vikings, Seahawks, and possibly the Cardinals or Cowboys will be in contention and WOULD make the playoffs in the AFC.
  • The last two Super Bowl champions were very flawed and had uneven regular seasons.  The 2010 Packers were 8-6 at one point and only made the playoffs thanks to the Eagles miracle win against the Giants.  You know what happened then?  They played their best football in the playoffs rolling their way to a championship.  I have a high school friend who's a Packers fan.  What do you think he'd say to me if I said to him, "Hey you may have won Super Bowl XLV but your team was flawed and you only made it cuz of that Giants-Eagles game."  He'd say, fahk you, we won the Super Bowl.  Then he'd watch his SB DVD.

    The 2011 Giants were actually outscored on the season.  They scored 394 points and allowed 400.  They went 9-7. Statistically they are by far the worst Super Bowl champion ever.  * Side note, statistically they were, but as an actual SB winner, they were not the worst, hell to the no. *  They lost twice to the shitastic Redskins.  They had a stretch where they lost five of six games.  I have a friend who I played flag football with who likes the Giants.  Do you know what he'd say if I told him, "the Giants were flawed and statistically the worst super bowl champion ever."  He'd say fahk you.  Then he'd rub it in my face that they've beaten the Patriots in two super bowls.  Then he'd go watch his SB DVD.
  • And let's say the Patriots remain flawed and happen to make the Super Bowl anyway due to the stinkyness of the AFC.  From that point you just have to win a single game even if it's against a better team.  And you know what?  If Wes Welker holds onto the ball then the 2011 Patriots would have played out just how the 2012 Patriots could play out.  A good team with many flaws winning a championship.

    It ain't about the style points people so let's allow the season to unfold.... except I will still post on fb incessantly each week how we are porked.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Brooklyn Nets.... Really?

Really, the Brooklyn Nets?  That's the next hopeful super team?  The Nets?  Of all the great franchises Dwight Howard could try to land on, he wants to join up with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson to bring the historic Nets franchise their first NBA Crown?

It started with the Boston Celtics pulling Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett together.  At the time this seemed organic - three veterans teaming up via trades to make a push for a title - but little did we know this would become the new NBA.  The young guys of the league took notice.  Why wait until you are 32 years old to make this move?  After all, this is a league with a handful of contenders (that's being generous), about six to eight teams who can top out in the second round of the playoffs, and finally another 15 or so who just flat out suck and are waiting for their break - either through the lottery (Sonics/Thunder), or in the case of a sweet city, a free agent who wants to bring his services there (New York/Los Angeles).

While the young players took notice of what the Celtics did, other teams had to take notice.  And by teams I mean ownership.  You have to land/possess that true superstar and fight your balls off to lure his pals to team up.

Obviously the Heat took this strategy to a, very clearly premeditated, extreme.  James, Wade, and Bosh teamed up guaranteed a billion titles, blah blah blah blah blah.  You know the story.  This was undoubtedly the most effective super-team creation due to the sheer talent and youth of these three players.  What it has now created is even more wannabes.  I don't particularly like it but at the same time I really can't blame players/teams for going in this direction.  If you don't try to go super team then your options are to either take lots of time and energy to carefully put together a team like the Spurs, Pistons (earlier 2000's), or Pacers. OR ruthlessly tank, gather a ton of picks, and expiring contracts in hopes of pulling off a nasty trade or luring a free agent.

There is one caveat though for getting free agents.  Your city better be desirable.  Sorry Minnesota, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Portland, Toronto, Cleveland, Washington, Charlotte, Denver, Utah, Golden State, and New Orleans.  You guys are all doomed to suck unless you go the Sonics/Thunder route and win a franchise changing player in the lottery.  THAT BEING SAID, don't fuck it up with incompetent management.... Cleveland..... otherwise your free agent will head to a more desirable city to join up with another superstar.  If he doesn't leave through free agency then he'll probably try and force a trade.... Denver.... so that he can play in a more desirable city with another superstar.

So where does it leave us?  It leaves us with the New York Knicks trying to slap together Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony while (last year) hoping to lure Chris Paul.  It leaves us with the Los Angeles Lakers all but having Chris Paul to team up with Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum.  And now it supposedly leaves us with the fucking NETS being a desirable team to piece together our next super team.

Now any of us with half a brain know that the Knicks aren't contending for shit.  We also know that a team of Dwight Howard and Joe Johnson as two of your best three players is about as mentally tough as an overtired 5 year old girl.  Nonetheless, the stars of the league have made it very clear where THEY want to form their team.

Is it San Antonio with the best coach in the league and tons of wily vets?  Nah, too low key.
Is it Detroit with lots of great history and a reputation of tough teams?  It's cold and crappy there.
Is it Boston who has the most championships and impeccable tradition?  Eff that I'm not going to get seen enough there...

Nope.  Trade me to the NETS!!!!!