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Sunday, Sunday

Spain
Playoff football. Nothing like it.

Needless to say, I loved the morning game. I was rooting for the Ravens to win, but I won't pretend I ever expected anything like the whuppin' they put on the Patriots. It's always nice to see Evil Little Bill get elimimated, so we can be treated to another one of his mumbling monotone press briefings, where he says nothing at all. (Win or lose, I much prefer Rex, who shows signs of being an actual human being, with emotions and a sense of humor and everything). It would have been a much closer game if Welker had not been injured, doubtless (I actually kind of like Welker, though he killed the Jets the last time we played the Pats. It still baffles me why the Dolphins traded him to New England for a bag of old socks, just as it puzzles me why the Raiders would give Randy Moss to New England for one of EVil Bill's old sweatshirts. Must be some sort of evil power) -- but the way the Ravens were playing, they would still have won. Brady looked... dare one say it... mediocre.

The afternoon game was... ah... exciting. And unexpected. I really expected the Pack to handle the Cardinals easily. This is same stuff Arizona pulled last year : winning a sub-par division with such erratic and uninspired play that no one took them seriously, only to come alive suddenly in the post-season. Anyway, Warner played an amazing game. Rodgers was very good too, once he settled down, but those passing stats of Kurt's are mind-boggling. I have to give the Packers credit for an amazing comeback. They looked dead half a dozen times, but just kept kicking dirt off their faces and clawing back out of the grave. And the ending had as much irony as it did drama.

All in all, great football entertainment, though somewhere in the distance I can hear the wails of weeping cheeseheads. An all-time record for scoring in the post-season, I hear. From my point of view, the wrong team won. I guess the Pottsville Maroons will have to wait another week for their curse to kick in.

That being said, I have to take issue with the commentators who are called the Arizona/ Green Bay shootout a "great game." That it wasn't. Exciting, yes. Entertaining, definitely. Good football? No. Neither team brought a defense. Up and down the field, up and down, up and down, pitch and catch. On the rare occasion where a defender actually defended against a pass, he'd get flagged for illegal contact or pass interference. It was a basketball game, is what it was. The sad result for decades of fiddling with rules to give the offense every advantage. Myself, I think they've gone too far, and wish they'd go back, if not to the rules of 50s, at least to those of the 70s. Let the cornerbacks defend, goddamn it.

These rules changes make it almost impossible to compare players from different eras, at least by using stats. The stats for modern players are grossly inflated.

Anyway, the Cardinals go on, the Pack goes home, the Patriots are done... and now the Jets have to face the Chargers, while the Ravens get the Colts. On paper, the Jets don't have much chance against San Diego, but as this weekend's games have proved, anything can happen.

What would be really cool would be if the Jets and Ravens both won. Long odds, I know... but if it happened, Giants Stadium would host one more NFL game before being demolished. The AFC Championship. And wouldn't THAT be cool?

Hey, a boy can dream.

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axechucker
Jan. 11th, 2010 12:57 pm (UTC)
Playoffs! PLAYOFFS?
I'm gonna say it now so everyone hears me: the hated Dallas Cowboys are gonna take the whole thing. That D is simply monstrous right now, and Romo only makes mistakes when he's pressured, and no one is even getting close enough to breathe on him.

Vikings / 'Boys: I have a feeling Favre (who has NEVER beaten Dallas in a playoff game) is going to get pounded. Dallas wins handily.

The Cardiac Cards will go in and outgun the exposed Saints--with their running game. Cards win.

The NFC Championship Game will rekindle visions of Staubach vs. Hart, but once the ball is kicked off Kurt Warner is going to wish he had Jim Hart's thick body and stumpy legs, because Ware is going to pretzel my ex-Ram. Cowboys to the Super Bowl.

AFC... This is even easier. The Ravens can't beat the Colts, period. The Colts stop the run, and I don't see the Delaware Fighting Hen who quarterbacks the Baltimore team stepping up and winning it with his arm in a shootout. Look for some second-half fireworks from Peyton Manning. A Manning-to-Timberlake touchdown might even happen, it'll be so ugly.

I will be rooting hard for the Jets; not because they are my favorite author's team (by my calculations GRRM's significant shadow only buys them a +2.6% interest increase on my part)... but they don't need the extra motivation on my part when playing any team quarterbacked by Cry Me A Rivers, the worst sore loser (and the worst sore winner) I think I've ever seen in professional sports. Well, in football. I HATE me some San Diego. The hate got so bad this season we rooted for the Raiders over them.

Anyway, doesn't matter. The Jets are toast. You can only go so far with a rookie Q.B. "Go get 'em next year, kid."

(I loved in the press conference following the game how Sanchez gave Pete Carrol hell for jumping off the University of Spoiled Children ship and swimming to Seahawk shores. Hey, playing in New York, you need a sense of humor.)

San Diego will again go into Indy and win. Because that's what they do.

Dallas beats San Diego in the Super Bowl. If you want me to actually watch that game, you'll find me in the pantry with a gun in my freaking mouth.

Kill me now.
cvmguy
Jan. 12th, 2010 03:01 am (UTC)
Re: Playoffs! PLAYOFFS?
Why do you give the Ravens no chance? They lost to the Colts 17-15 after missing a potential winning field goal in November. And that was with an injured Terrell Suggs AND Ed Reed. I believe this one will be a lot closer than you're predicting.
bbeitel
Jan. 12th, 2010 08:07 am (UTC)
Re: Playoffs! PLAYOFFS?
Ok...back to earth now.

Dallas at Minnesota: On offense, the Vikings just have too many weapons for the Cowboys over-achieving defense to contain. Ware is a great pass-rusher, but can be exploited in the run game. Adrian Peterson will run over, around and through the Cowboys all day long. Once A.P. gets revved up, Favre can use play action passing and screens to further slow the pass rush. Watch for quick passes and short crossing routes to Rice, Shiancoe and Berrian. By the 2nd Quarter, Percy Harvin will be wide open on the slot post, since the Safeties will collapse on the short routes. Yes, the Cowboys offense is potent, but they will not be able to run on the Vikings. Barber is usually only good for 3 yards and a cloud of dust anyway, so cut that in half. Felix Jones doesn't get enough carries to be a big factor. Basically, Romo will have to try to win with his arm against the best pass rush in the NFC. Sorry, Dallas, your playoff run is likely over. Vikings 31, Cowboys 17.

Arizona at New Orleans: Part of me wants to say that this will be a repeat of AZ/GB with a ton of points on both sides. Problem is, the Saints have a defense. I like Warner, but the Saints secondary may be the best in the NFL, and they have a very sporadic running game. If the Saints play anything like they did the first 13 weeks of the season, this should be a relatively easy win. If the team that lost their last three shows up, it's going to be time to bring out the sacks again in Aints land. Saints 34, Cardinals 28.

Baltimore at Indianapolis: This game comes down to one player: Ray Rice. If he blows up Indy's suspect run defense, it's going to be a long day for Peyton & Co. The Ravens are a ball control team, and if they can keep Manning from picking them apart, they have a good shot to pull an upset. Indianapolis is the worst 14-2 team I've ever seen, having pulled out several wins in the waning minutes before giving away their final two games to "rest" the starters. Yes, I'm picking an upset. Ravens 27, Colts 21.

New York Jets at San Diego: Man, who would have seen this game a few weeks back? If the Jets defense plays well, this could be a really close, low-scoring game. If not, the Chargers get another bye week (sorry George). The Jets need a big game from their running backs to have a shot. My fear is that Sanchez will make too many rookie mistakes. Chargers 21, Jets 10



apmullaly
Jan. 13th, 2010 07:53 am (UTC)
Re: Playoffs! PLAYOFFS?
Why all the hate on Rivers? From all reports he's no problem in the locker room, no problem in society, nice married family man with a few cute little kids. He's personable in every interview, willing to talk about the game he plays with passion and gives intelligent answers.

The only thing I can think about is that somehow you think his on field persona fits your "crybaby" comment. My question is when. The most famous incident was in the game against Cutler. I think history has shown Cutler is actually the bigger whiner (and by far the bigger loser) in that exchange. Cutler whined his way out of Denver and sits moping on the Bears (who used to be my favorite NFC team) postseason failure.

Or perhaps you didn't like him talking back to the Indy fans who cheered when he was knocked out of the playoff game 2 years ago. (And I thought Indy fans were nice unlike Philly or Giant fans.) So what if he talks to opposing defenses, so did Steve young and Dan Marino and John Elway and so does Brett Favre and gee what do you know Peyton Manning. Hell, even young Sanchez showed up the Raiders by eating a hot dog on the bench (which is actually very funny.)

Rivers is a passinate player who is really coming into his own. He's shown a ton of heart playing on two damaged knees in the AFC championship 2 years ago and I, for one, am truly glad he's a San Diego Charger.

Sorry, GRRM: GO BOLTS!

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George R.R. Martin
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