30 January 2008

Crime and Punishment

The WaPo, although light on the football coverage these days since the Skins are out of it (we are getting wall-to-wall Coach Controversy Coverage, of course, but that's a topic for a different post), reports that Captain ME! is being forced to repay the majority of his signing bonus, a total of $1.725 million, of which he still owes and will now be forced to pay nearly $800,000. OK, failure to perform, sure, but what about compensatory damages for our pain and suffering? And by "our," I mean the fans. That punk owes me a check!

Or, as Ex-Navy Cheesehead put it in alerting me to this news:

To the Tune of the Eagles fight song:
"Eat s_it TO,
Pay the Eagles dough-re-me."

Okay I'll stop now. We can add verses later.

HEE!

PS - best wishes for a speedy recovery to PTI commentator and WaPo sports columnist Michael Wilbon, who suffered a mild heart attack yesterday. Get well soon, Knucklehead!


22 January 2008

2007 Conference Championship Recap

Patriots over Chargers: it quickly became clear, to me at least, that the NFL, the officials, and/or The Powers That Be had decided that their very favorite, bestest thing ever in the world would be a Patriots/Packers Super Bowl. And the officiating reflected that. I don’t think it was so bad that it actually threw the game to the Patriots, although they looked far less than brilliant, and I think it would have been a lot closer had TPTB not so clearly wanted the Pats to go to the show. Again.

The Chargers inflicted significant casualties until they were too weak to continue (and bonus points if you got the BtVS reference). But with the majority of their first team offense injured and the officials seriously disinclined to call any penalties on the Pats, the Chargers managed to hang in there, on the strength of Nate Kaeding’s leg, for at least the first half.

In the end, the Patriots proved too much, but they did not escape unscathed. Rocks Brady might just actually be hurt. Or he could be faking. Or it could be a ploy to discombobulate the Giants. I hate that guy.

Also, it was like Phil Simms had taken Xanax before calling the game. "Sigh. And Quentin Jammer intercepts Tom Brady. Yawn.” Could somebody get homeboy a shot of espresso, stat?

Thank heavens Fox will be broadcasting the Super Bowl. Or maybe not. Does that mean we’re going to be stuck with Troy Aikman and Joe Buck? A fate worse than death.

Anyway, on to the NFC…

Giants over Packers: this game was almost thrown by the bad officiating. And by the fact that Lawrence Tynes is no Nate Kaeging. Nor is he a Jeff Feagles. But Eli Manning has morphed into freakin’ Dan Marino (speaking of, has anyone but me noticed that Danno looks a little spaced out these days?). And Tom Coughlin seems to have turned into warm, fuzzy Wade Phillips (only WITH a playoff win).

Speaking of, Shoegal sent me this link which is hilarious, not least of which because we finally have proof: Hitler was a Cowboys fan. It makes sense - he was evil, they’re evil, it’s a natural match.

Anyway, despite the best efforts of TPTB to produce a nice story of Favre and Brady at the Super Bowl and the passing of the torch or some shit, the Giants outplayed the Packers on a bitterly cold night in Green Bay, and the sports bloviators were denied their happy ending. Get over it. And frankly, Giants fans (with the exception of Jeremy Shockey, who thankfully has been MIA for about a month now) are way less obnoxious than, say, Cowboys fans.

As Deadhead Skins Fan and I were discussing last night, the NFC East rules once again. She feels that we’re now the top division in the NFL. I argued for AFC South, but that NFC East is clearly the best division in the NFC. This is not particularly good news for us, as we were walking away with the division for most of the past decade, but ah well.

PS to Peyton: I’m bummed, too.

17 January 2008

2007 Conference Championship Picks

Packers/Giants: Duh! Packers.

Patriots/Chargers: Sigh. Patriots.

I just want to point out - and Chef Spouse can back me up - that I've been calling a Pats/Packers Super Bowl since before the playoffs started. I was just wrong about some of the steps it took to get us there.

Seriously, the only way either of these teams loses this weekend is if the team bus falls through some sort of rift in the space-time continuum and they suddenly find themselves in a post-apocalyptic world of the 24th century (because I've always figured that the dystopian future projected by Blade Runner, the Matrix, etc. is far more likely than the "Everybody get together - Try to love one another" future projected by Star Trek), thus missing their respective Conference Championship games. But that's not very likely, now, is it? No, it is not.

14 January 2008

2007 Divisional Weekend Recap

In attendance: Tall Drink of Water Cousin on Saturday night, Shoegal and Ex-Navy Cheesehead on Sunday. Chef Spouse missed all but the fourth quarters of the Jags/Pats and Giants/Cowboys games due to a downtime. I know – what kind of crazy client schedules a downtime during the playoffs? That’s un-American. Fortunately, I TiVoed the games.

Menu: I was feeling inspired. Saturday, I made osso bucco and risotto Milanese. Sunday, I made shrimp and andouille gumbo. Hey, I never said Chef Spouse was the only one who could cook…

Packers over Seahawks. Two Snow Bowls already this season, and with the conference championships going through Green Bay and Foxborough, we could have two more. Anyone have the weather reports for next Sunday yet?

This game was the Tale of Two Ryan Grants, he of the early fumble fingers that awarded 14 points to the Seahawks, and he of the strong come back, to the tune of over 200 yards and 3 TDs. Guess he was feeling guilty. Or worried that his teammates would bust a cap in his ass if the Packers lost.

After the first 4 minutes, the Seahawks were outplayed in absolutely every possible aspect. I’ll bet the Packers even had fluffier sideline towels, a toastier heated bench, and better flavors of Gatorade.

Of course, all the talk now is about Mike Holmgren retiring, which truly would be the end of an era. But his coaching line lives on, in all those guys who look oddly like him, like, oh, AR.

Patriots over Jags: Sigh. Damn evil Bill Belichick and his devil-soul-selling ways. They never take a single down off, and that’s how they kill you in the second half. You know, and possibly the cheating.

Chargers over Colts: YOWZA. What an amazing game on the part of the Bolts. Sure, the turnovers were not Peyton’s fault - we’re back into the "sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good” territory, from the perspective that the Chargers were both, while the Colts were merely good, but were highly unlucky.

But I don’t even know who the hell the Chargers are playing at this point. LT, Philip Rivers, and Antonio Gates are all injured. They must’ve imported a bunch of guys from the CFL…during halftime.

You know the world has gone topsy-turvy if I can write the words "Hiring Norv Turner is starting to look like a stroke of genius” when I’m not trying to be funny.

Unfortunately, things do not look good for the Chargers for next week, because I think they may have left it all on the field Sunday. All. ALL. ALL. But realistically, nobody’s going to beat the Pats anyway, so that was a good choice on their part. I hope they enjoy the hype, attention and praise this week. They earned it.

Giants over Cowboys: DOUBLE YOWZA. Who would’ve thought ELI Manning would be going to the Conference Championship game while PEYTON sits at home eating Bugles? You know the first thing Eli did when he got back to the locker room after the game was to speed-dial Peyton and be all: "How you like me NOW, bee-yotch?”

Given that the Chargers had already scooped up all the remaining CFL players during the early game, I’m guessing Giants defensive secondary coach Pete Giunta was on the phone to Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown by early in the second quarter: "Who’ve you got that can come over and suit up, like, RIGHT NOW? It’ll be OK – Sam Madison is here coaching up our remaining guys on the sideline. He’ll catch your guys up on our playbook when they get here.” That or there’s some guy in the Giants locker room with a box labeled "Misc. Player Spare Parts” muttering under his breath, "OK, I have a torso. I have two arms. I have a head. I have 5 left legs and no right legs. How can I have no right legs? What the hell am I supposed to do with 5 left legs? Hope we have extra left shoes…”

Did you notice Tonyboy was crying at the end of the 4th quarter? Brought back fond memories of end of their last regular season game and the end of their wildcard game last year. You know, maybe that trip to Cabo wasn’t the best idea in the universe. At least not for a QB who has yet to win a playoff game. "I know Broadway Joe, and you, sir, are no Broadway Joe.” Did you notice Captain ME! was crying in his post-game (crocodile tears, no doubt)? What is it with these guys and crying? Did they get a group rate on some Iron John men’s encounter group or something?

Much like the Chargers, I suspect the Giants may have left it all on the field as well. Which probably means they’ll get avalanched by the Packers next week. (Notice my clever snow pun there? Nice, huh?) But I think Coughlin’s getting his extension. Wonder what Tiki thinks now? How’s that crow taste, homes?

11 January 2008

2007 Divisional Weekend Picks

Packers/Seahawks: I’m a repeat offender on underestimating the Seahawks. Yeah, they dominate their division every year, but their division is TERRIBLE. How hard could that be? How good could they actually be, right? You know now that I think about it, there’s another team that fits that profile: the Patriots. Hm. They might be better than I think they are, but the Seahawks are not the Patriots. And, just as those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, I’m picking the Packers.

Giants/Cowboys: Two teams with young QBs prone to cracking under the pressure of big games. I think there will be two deciding factors: the Giants Sacking Machine and Captain ME! No Captain ME! and/or the G-men pressure Tonyboy heavily? Giants. Captain ME! plays and/or Osi Umenyiora has an off day? Cowboys. Anyone know where JSimp will be? I heard she’s been banned. The Cowboys site reports that Captain ME! will play Sunday, and we in Philly know he’s definitely a fast healer. Based on that, I’m calling Cowboys, but this one really could go either way.

Colts/Chargers: Peyton Manning + AP Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders + a healthy Marvin Harrison = "Have a nice trip back to San Diego, you losers.” Colts.

Patriots/Jaguars: Look, they may have gone 16-0, but their four close regular season games – two to teams that didn’t even make the playoffs – prove that the Patriots are not, in fact, superhuman. IF the Jags can get pressure on Rocks Brady and IF the Jags can shut down Randy Moss and IF David Garrard can return to his regular season careful ball-handling (as opposed to this new devil-may-care, interception-prone Playoff Persona I am not loving), the Jags could pull off the big upset. I know the stats are not in my favor – Belichick is 12-2 in playoff games with the Pats – but I’m calling Jags as my upset pick of the week. Good luck, guys.

09 January 2008

2007 Wildcard Weekend Recap

It was the weekend of two comebacks that almost were, one game that never was in question, and one game that never should have been in question. And I picked 3 out of 4 correct! Go me!

Seahawks over Redskins – After the wild end to their season and everything the team’s been through, I was hoping for a storybook ending, with Todd Collins in the role of Jeff Garcia, circa 2007, and the "Ole Joe’s just TOO old” comments being put to rest. And after getting completely outplayed for 3 quarters, the Redskins started the 4th quarter with a near-miraculous comeback. But alas, it was not to be. When Sean Suisham missed that chip-shot field goal, Chef Spouse and I looked at each other and said the same thing: "That’s it for the Skins.” Todd Collins turned into Jeff Garcia, circa 2008, and it just went downhill from there. And then Joe up and quit, but I’ll write more about that this weekend.

Jaguars over Steelers – The thing that’s amazing about this game is that Big Ben threw about 4 kajillion picks and it STILL came down to a nearly last-second Josh Scobee field goal to win it. So what’s the lesson? Are the Steelers better than I was giving them credit for? Are the Jags worse? Are they just really well-matched teams vis-à-vis the style of football they play? All questions will be answered this weekend, as the Jaguars face the Patriots in Foxborough.

Giants over Buccaneers – This game was never in question, at least not after the first quarter. Obviously, Lil Eli has thrown off his playoff jitters, and Tom Coughlin’s job is safe one more week. I have to point out that practically the entire football pundit world chose the Buccaneers, while I correctly picked the Giants. How does better record in a tougher division NOT register with these guys? This one wasn’t even a hard call. Jon Gruden didn’t seem too upset – I suspect he expected to lose the game – but he really needs to try to find a longer-term QB solution in the off season. And a longer-term wideout solution, ‘cause Joey Galloway’s 36. And a longer-term running back solution, ‘cause Cadillac Williams has a little ongoing problem that rhymes with "blinjuries.”

Chargers over Titans – How on earth were the Chargers shut out in the first half? This game should never have been in question, but it was for the first 30 minutes. The Chargers pulled it together for the win, as everyone expected they would, but I think their ride ends here, because they looked SORRY. The only reason they won is that Vince Young has a mental block against playing 4 continuous quarters of good football.

04 January 2008

2007 Wildcard Weekend Picks

Redskins/Seahawks – Skins. Hot, hottie, hot. Also, the Seahawks may have completely dominated their division for the entire current millennium, but seriously, how hard is it to dominate the Rams, Cardinals, and 49ers? More will be noted about this issue in the annual "Let the Beheadings Begin” post next week.

Giants/Buccaneers – Giants. I just have a hunch that the Annual Collapse Express will show up NEXT week. This year, it’s obviously a local.

Jaguars/Steelers – Jags. Speaking of hot hottie hot. And the Steelers, sadly, are not nottie not.

Titans/Chargers – Chargers. Doesn’t matter how Vince Young is feeling, the Titans will not get past the Chargers.

Yes, I realize that I'm picking 3 of the 4 wildcard teams, which seems statistically unlikely at best, but I do have reasons that at least make sense in my own little head for picking them.

Of course, given who I thought would be in the playoffs this year versus who’s actually in the playoffs, you really shouldn’t listen to what I say. Or at least I won’t be held responsible if you lose money based on my craptacular advice.

03 January 2008

2007 Post-season Preview

In which our heroine considers the success (or lack thereof) of her pre-season playoff picks, and offers her equally-likely-to-be-dead-wrong thoughts on the teams who’ve successfully advanced to the post-season.

Back in August, before an agonizingly slow recovery from an ACL tear and a distracted head coach led to an 8-8 season, I blithely posted my best guesses for divisional winners for all the world to see – and mock me about now, 4 months later.

(pre-season 2007) AFC Picks
East – Jets
North – Steelers
South – Titans
West – Chargers

(pre-season 2007) NFC Picks
East – Eagles
North – Bears
South – Saints
West – 49ers

A few comments are in order. Jets? Was I on crack? Given the rest of my picks, the answer seems clear: Yes. Yes, I must’ve been enjoying a variety of controlled substances and/or been heavily medicated when I picked these teams. I was right about the Steelers and the Chargers, and at least the Titans are in the playoffs, although by that logic, I hardly could’ve gotten the AFC South wrong, since 3 of the 4 teams are still in it. But wow. I did not get a single pick in the NFC correct. Not only did I muff all my NFC picks, none of my picks even made it as wildcards. Good thing I didn’t put any money on this…

On to the teams who are actually still playing.

AFC

Titans – The Titans are clearly outclassed in this group. There’s a reason that wildcard teams usually don’t survive the first week of the playoffs.

Jaguars – Move along, nothing to see here. Return to your regularly scheduled obsession with the Pats. In the meantime, the Jags are the team nobody wants to face in the playoffs. And they go into the playoffs SMOKIN’ hot. Look out, y’all.

Steelers – The Steelers, on the other hand, do no go into the playoffs smokin’ hot. They’re not even pleasantly warm. Still, good on Mike Tomlin winning the division as a really young (really cute) rookie head coach. I think their ride is going to end this weekend, but that’s probably OK – Tomlin doesn’t want to peak too soon.

Chargers – The Chargers were, by the end of the season, the team I though I’d see at the beginning of the season. But they have a major handicap heading into the playoffs – Norv!

Colts – Move along, nothing to see here. Return to your regularly scheduled obsession with the Pats. In the meantime, Marvin Harrison is finally feeling better, and the Colts just might manage to pull off a repeat.

Patriots – The thing about the Pats is that they never take a single series off. You could see it mostly clearly in the close games they had: Colts, Eagles, Ravens and Giants. The margin of victory in all four games was 3 points or less, and all four could have gone either way. The difference maker? The Pats never check out for even a minute. But evil has to pay the piper eventually, right? RIGHT?

NFC

Redskins – Speaking of going into the post-season on a hot streak, check out Todd Collins’ numbers. The Skins have fire in the belly, which has been missing since long before Ole Joe showed back up. I’m not sure how long it’s going to last, but at least they have momentum going in.

Giants – I can’t help it. Even after their strong season ender showing against the Patriots, I keep expecting the Giants to fall apart at any moment. And they have a history of poor playoff performance under Coughlin and Lil’ Eli. I suspect they just delayed their typical second half of the season collapse, and it’ll show up any second now.

Buccaneers – The Bucs squeaked into the post-season on the backs of a very weak division. I do love me some Jeff Garcia, but I don’t see them getting very far. I wonder what’s next for Jeff? I hope good things, whatever he decides.

Seahawks – You know, I never think the Seahawks are going to be any good, and they always manage to surprise me. This year’s no exception. But I think the big fish in a weak division thing is going to bite them, too.

Packers – Wouldn’t it be nice for the Pack to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl? I mean, there’s no way an NFC team wins, but after breaking every QB record known to football history, that would be a nice way for Vicodin Boy to end it. HINT. HINT.

Cowboys – Speaking of teams that look likely to collapse, I know the game against the Skins on Sunday was meaningless for the Cowboys and critical for the Skins, but it is still the case that the Cowboys first team looked pretty damn pathetic. And they lost two out of the last three. And one of those losses was to an Eagles team everyone had pretty much given up for dead. And the win was over the Panthers, who, let me remind you, spent a good chunk of the season starting Vinny Testaverde at QB. Short version? They may be the top seed in the NFC, but I don’t think that’s going to matter.


01 January 2008

2007 Week 17 Recap

Eagles at Bills, Sunday, December 30, 2007

In attendance: Just Shoegal. Steelers Transplant and Steely McMeow were out of town for the holidays, and Ex-Navy Cheesehead was helping a friend prepare for a family wedding.

Menu: Grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup! Yum!

First of all, Happy 2008, Eagles Fans! Anybody make any interesting resolutions? Continuing my tradition of only making fun resolutions, this year, I’ll be buying skates and attempting to become Minor Meat and possibly join a team for the DC Rollergirls. I have the BEST roller derby name EVER chosen, but it’s top secret for now (don’t want it to be snatched up by someone else). Wish me luck!

We had a strong showing against the Bills, and indeed over our final 6 games – 3 wins and 3 losses to playoff teams in very close games. As I mentioned last week, McNabb seems to be regaining his Pro Bowl form, he and the receivers seem to be getting on the same page finally, and our young defensive corps seems to be coming together nicely. Special teams is still an issue, with Akers looking less sure this year and our return game still up in the air, but Sav Rocca seems to be adjusting to American-rules football well. And of course West36 had a record breaking year (thank heavens the Front Office in their wisdom already has him locked up). Hopefully Big Red can get his personal life straight in the off-season and regain his focus. There are definitely questions going into the off-season, and I hate that our guys will be watching the playoffs from their couches, but we had a strong end to a shaky season, and sometimes that’s the best you can do.

As I’d hoped, we finished the season at .500, one of only two conferences in which all 4 teams were at or better than .500, AFC South being the other. Notice anything else about that? NFC East supplied 3 of the NFC playoff teams for the second year in a row, and AFC South supplied 3 of the AFC playoff teams. Are these two divisions emerging as the dominant divisions in their respective conferences? With all the league’s parity-inducing elements, it is hard to maintain quality year after year, so I’m hesitant to say yes, but I’ll definitely give it a strong maybe.

In other divisional notes, AFC East, AFC West, and NFC South each had only one team above .500 – the divisional winner. Are the Patriots a good team? Undoubtedly. But do they also benefit from a soft schedule? Oh HELL yes.

Around the rest of the NFL…

Pats over Giants. Well, the sports bloviators wasted all their asinine hypothetical football comparisons during the regular season. What’s next? "2007 Pats versus the 1980 US Olympic hockey team” – "2007 Pats versus the Harlem Globetrotters” – "2008 Pats versus Muhammad Ali” – "2007 Pats versus Godzilla, Mothra, Alien AND Predator”. I can’t take it (but the smart money is on Godzilla et. al.). Please, God, let the Pats lose their first playoff game.

Falcons over Seahawks: Um, Falcons? It would’ve been a lot smarter to lose this game and improve your draft position. That is all.

Bears over Saints: Memo to Lovie Smith – that Kyle Orton kid doesn’t seem too bad. You might want to give him a shot at the starting QB position next year. Just a thought.

Browns over 49ers: I was wrong about the Browns on two counts. They DID beat the 49ers, but they DID NOT take the final AFC Wildcard spot. Still, Romeo Crennel really managed to turn that team around, finishing 10-6. The Steelers might have to watch their backs next season if the Browns can hang onto Derek Anderson. Start filling up that convoy of dump trucks with cash, Lerner family.

Packers over Lions: Even though Mike McCarthy decided to rest most of his first team after the half, the Lions still couldn’t pull it together to win a game that was meaningless to the Packers but might have helped them save a little face. Way to just roll over and die, guys.

Texans over Jaguars: Is this the first time the Texans have finished at .500? Not bad, considering this is only their 6th season. Better luck next year – y’all are going to need it in your division.

Panthers over Bucs: Aw! They let Vinny take the final snap! Isn’t that nice? If you want to have a second career before you qualify for Social Security, though, you better get a move on.

Bengals over Dolphins: Well, duh. When we were kids and all the aunts, uncles and cousins used to gather at my grandma’s for New Year’s (before my generation of the family grew up, moved away, married, started families, etc.), the cousins used to play a game of touch football in Gram’s backyard while waiting on the pork and sauerkraut to be ready. And we could’ve beat the Dolphins. And there were only 6-8 people playing, depending on if any of our dates and/or uncles joined in. Enjoy that #1 pick, Fins! Whoever you choose should work out, since y’all need help at EVERYTHING.

Jets over Chiefs: This game went into OVERTIME? Why bother? Seriously. Just call it a tie and get the hell out of there. I’m sure the 27 fans who actually stayed until the end of the game would've really appreciated it.

Ravens over Steelers: It was nice of Mike Tomlin to pull his starters and let the Ravens end their dismal losing streak. But it wasn’t enough to save Brian Billick’s job. More about that later this week.

Skins over Cowboys: HA! I TOLD Y’ALL THE SKINS WOULD WIN! Also, the Cowboys first team looked REALLY bad. Do I smell an end of season collapse coming on? Maybe the Packers will get to go to The Show this year after all.

Cardinals over Rams: Did anyone even watch this game? I include the zebras who were assigned to officiate and both teams' coaching staffs.

Broncos over Vikings: Not that it mattered, since the Vikings gave away control over their own destiny with that stupid loss to the Redskins last week, but talk about late season collapses. Everyone keeps talking about how the Vikings want to trade for D-Mac. Um, that’s lovely, but there’s been no indication by Jeff Lurie, Joe Banner, Andy Reid or Big 5 himself that he’ll even be available, so doesn’t that seem to be putting the cart before the horse? I know y’all need some help at QB, but unless Brad Childress has some magic wand he can wave (and if he does, why didn’t he use it to make Tarvaris Jackson better?), that doesn’t make it so.

Chargers over Raiders: See, the Raiders were smart. Not that they could’ve won this game, anyway, but they really didn’t even try from what I could tell, thus improving their draft position. Of course, they’ve been drafting high for the past several years, and it doesn’t appear to be helping them at all, but it seems unlikely to hurt, and you never know when you might get lucky and pick the next Adrian Peterson or Ben Roethlisberger, right? Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Titans over Colts: Wait – the Colts actually HAVE a number 2 QB?!? Who knew? Also, Pam Oliver should be fired immediately due to that ridiculous, "Vince Young’s not hurt – he’s just pouting” comment. What a moron. But Jeff Fisher might want to think about letting Kerry Collins take some snaps when they face the Chargers this coming weekend, because he looked a hell of a lot better than Mr. Young, pouting or not.