29 January 2009

2008 Super Bowl Schedule

The party is on, it starts at 5 pm Sunday, February 1, and Chef Spouse is preparing to prepare a Tex-Mex feast. Wear your yellow & black, bring something yummy to eat or drink to share, and come prepared to cheer the Steelers to victory!

28 January 2009

2008 Super Bowl Picks

The Steelers and the Cardinals face off in Super Bowl 43 (or XVIII, since the NFL inexplicably keeps insisting on using Roman numerals). I was so hoping for an all-Keystone state matchup, but it was not to be.

You know how they say that offense wins games, defense wins championships? The Cardinals' D has been playing a lot better during the playoffs than during the regular season, and their O sure is hot. But the Steel Curtain is ranked number 1 or 2 in every single defensive category, and their O has finally shown themselves to be capable of putting up points in the post-season. Assuming Groceries manages to stay ambulatory, although now that I think about it , Byron Leftwich makes a perfectly acceptable substitute, if it comes to that.

I don't think it's going to be a high scoring game, and I do think it will be a close game, but I don't see the 9-7 Cardinals beating the Steelers. No way. I'm picking the Steelers to officially become the championship-winningest franchise in history in just about 4 days from now.

23 January 2009

2008 Conference Championship Recap


Eagles at Cardinals, Sunday, January 18, 2009

In attendance: Shoegal, Chef Spouse, Ex-Navy Cheesehead, me, and Bitterness & Regret

Menu: Shoegal's gravy was delish, Ex-Navy Cheesehead brought great wine, and Chef Spouse's homemade pasta brought it all together. Of course, who really cares? Sigh.

Stud of the week: Had to be Peanut. Can you believe the Eagles web site does NOT have a picture of him making that insane catch that put us ahead - briefly - in the 3rd quarter? So no Peanut in his moment of glory, but he was DEFINITELY the Stud of the Week.

Where was our much-vaunted defense for the first half? Seriously - were those the cheerleaders in their uniforms (once you get the pads and helmets on, it's hard to tell)? Yeah, I know it's freakin' hard to cover Larry Fitzgerald. Call me crazy, but wouldn't a double team be in order? And how to we manage to SHUT DOWN Brandon Jacobs and then let the Edge run all over us? Really, this entire game came down to the fact that we were down 24-6 at the half, and that's mighty deep hole to try to climb out of. And I don't buy that the problem was that JJ was up in the booth - he was up in the booth during the Giants game, too.

Speaking of cilmbing out of the hole, people are complaining about McNabb, as usual. Sorry, but Big 5 was not the problem. Hell, he was nearly the solution. Yeah, he had a few bad throws. He also had - once again - a bunch of receivers dropping a bunch of shit they should've caught.

When David Akers missed that 47-yarder at the beginning of the second quarter, I had the feeling of impending doom. Has anyone other than me noticed that as goes Akers, so goes the team? Missing that FG, then the extra point, then us having to go for 2 and not getting that either totally changed the outcome of the game, not least of which because our final drive required a TD.

Oh, and let's talk about the final drive and the AWFUL officiating. So apparently, you can knock down a receiver anywhere on the field at any time and it's JUST FINE - as long as the intended receiver is an Eagle. I know that only bad losers complain about the officiating as the reason for the loss. And the first half mess was ALL on us, even with the bad calls. BUT COME ON! HOW DO YOU NOT CALL THAT? It was our last chance. OUR LAST CHANCE.

Of course, that was only an issue because, once we took the lead after an amazing offensive assault in the 3rd quarter, the defense couldn't hold. Again. And allowed the Cards to chew up 8 minutes of clock and score the go-ahead TD.

So what's up for our beloved Iggles next (other than watching the Super Bowl from their couches...again...)? I think we need some help on the Oline for our ancient guys. Yep, Runyan, I think you're out. Reggie Brown? Gone. LJ? Gone. I'm on the Brett Celek love train. The D? Young linebackers, aging secondary. Is Dawk back? He had a weak early season and then brought it in the second half, but he just can't cover the young receivers. I think he needs to retire and assume Hugh Douglas's old Bad Assador mantle, because he's still the heart of the D. D-Mac's back unless he wants to be gone, as is Reid and his rapidly dwindling coaching staff. He's a victim of his own success. I love Westy, and Buck's been coming on strong, but we need a young back. But without an Oline upgrade, it's pretty pointless.

Sigh. Here's hoping for a good draft. And (say it with me) THERE'S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR.

Steelers over Ravens. Well, duh. Are there ANY undamaged Ravens after that game? They pretty much had to extend halftime so they could give the Ravens' cart its 3000 mile servicing. Sooner or later, Joe Flacco's rookie-ness was going to bite him. And that happened at around 10 minutes into the fourth quarter, when (who else but) Troy Polamalu picked him off for 6. The only amazing part of this game was that Ben Rothliesberger DIDN'T sustain another concussion. It was the slug fest we all anticipated. And the outcome was as anticpated as well. It's not that easy for the 6 seed to get to the show after all.

On to the Super Bowl. Without us. Again.

18 January 2009

Don't Do Me Like That

Sure, McNabb had a few errant throws. And we had drops. And the D didn't seem to realize the game had started until we were down 24-6. And even with that, we still almost pulled it off.

EXCEPT FOR THE F$%^ING OFFICIATING.

9 million offensive holds for the Cards and not one is called? SURE!

Pass interference allowed against Jason Avant on a key third down? NO PROBLEM!

And then, the capper - HOW THE HELL WAS THAT NOT PASS INTERFERENCE ON THE 4th-and-10 TO KEVIN CURTIS?

Gee, I guess it's FINE to knock down receivers ANY DAMN PLACE YOU WANT TO.

There's more I could cite, but I'm frankly WAY too pissed off now.

And to add insult to injury, I've had to listen to that tool Troy Aikman for the past three hours, which has pretty much driven me into shooting spree territory.

I'm pretty sure the Steelers are going to win the AFC, but either way, I hope the AFC team DESTROYS the Cardinals. I don't mean in the "we beat you" way - I mean in the "we're out of body bags" way.

16 January 2009

2008 Conference Championship Picks

I'm calling it now - TURNPIKE BOWL!

Eagles/Cardinals - E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!

Steelers/Ravens - Steelers

Let two weeks of smack talk begin, Steely McMeow and Steelers Transplant!

15 January 2009

2008 Conference Championship Schedule

For my local peeps:

It's all Sunday this weekend, and with the Inauguration about to descend upon us too, everybody should bring their pjs, because you could get stuck here!

3 pm - Eagles/Cardinals for all the (NFC) marbles
6:30 pm - Steelers/Ravens

Menu: Shoegal is making her legendary two-day homemade gravy (that's pasta sauce for those of you who didn't grow up right), and Chef Spouse is making homemade pasta to go with. Yum!

12 January 2009

2008 Divisional Weekend Recap


Eagles at Giants, Sunday, January 11, 2008

In attendance: the regular crew (Shoegal, Ex-Navy Cheesehead, Chef Spouse), plus a good friend of mine who's now in a joint MA/JD program in Boston, Darth Snark (I'd totally rule the universe with her), and boyfriend, Morimoto Hutz, Esq.

Menu: Margaritas, guacamole, margaritas, fajitas, margaritas, macaroons, margaritas, tequila shots, and margaritas. Lots of margaritas. Oy. This morning. Also, I'm still hoarse.

Stud of the Week: Who but Big 5 can return from the dead, avoid a sack on 3rd-and-20, complete the pass to Jason Avant (who else?), pick up the first down, and come up with an awesome sideline dance? It's time. It's all 5.

(Akers was pretty studly, too, setting the record for consecutive post-season field goals and then breaking his own record on a day when the home kicker struggled. Wind? F the wind! McNabb's in on that, too, and Lil' Eli clearly doesn't have Big 5's big cannon of an arm.)

What a game, what a game, what a game. The playoff beards are working, yo! Chef Spouse even has one. And he's not the beard-growing type, aka, it's pretty patchy. But he's wearing his patchy with pride!

15 yard penalty for goofin'? Whatevs! I'm happy to see my boy happy, whatever it takes. And after the year he's had....

Guess what? The QB sneak works when your QB is a beast like Big 5.

LJ? You're gone, homes. Brett Celek is an up and coming stud.

Who stops Brandon Jacobs on 4th and INCHES? Yes, Brandon, there's room on the bandwagon for you, too.

Akers with the tackle on the opening kick off return. Our kicker does not punk out and fake-attempt-but-just-barely-miss the tackle. Multiple black belt, mo-fos!

And how big was that offensive lineman Kevin Curtis tackled? He had his own area code. And yet our wideout takes him down.

Spagnuolo, you are not yet the master. Yes, that lesson yesterday was free. EXCEPT FOR THE COST TO YOUR PRIDE. Championship caliber D in Philly these days? I think so!

Or you can read what the team is saying over at Bleeding Green Nation.

How can you not love Dawkins, who was too emotional to even talk to Sal Pal after the game and then APOLOGIZED for it in his press conference?

Huge props to Westy, too. No, he did not have a big game. He drew ALL the coverage so everyone else could have big games.

Yeah, the Cards are hot for sure, and I'm not too enthusiastic about facing Larry Fitz next week, but this is starting to feel a little like destiny.

Around the rest of the NFL...

Ravens over Titans: Kerry Collins looked like, well, Kerry Collins. And so many Titans went down that I think at one point they were playing a tight end at cornerback. It's probably a good thing they lost, because they are now totally out of players. There was some sketchy officiating, but that's been the case throughout the season. And the Ravens were owed after their second game against the Steelers in the regular season. But how awesome would it be to face the Ravens in the Super Bowl and get some payback?

Cardinals over Panthers: Raise your hand if you saw THAT coming.

[crickets]

...

I don't think I've ever seen anyone lose it as badly as Jake Delhomme after his 9 millionth pick. I seriously thought he was going to punch a ref or start eating the grass. And where was Steve Smith? Did he forget his cleats or something? And how was Larry Fitz open on EVERY SINGLE PLAY? Was he magically invisible to the Panthers' defenders?

Apparently, the bye week, not so helpful. Unless of course, you're the Pittsburgh Steelers!

Steelers over Chargers: "We prepare to play in all weather." Yeah, sure, but if you're from San Diego, there's no way you're prepared for 70K screaming maniacs waving Terrible Towels in the snow. But I'm in agreement with every other football blogger in the universe: the Ravens and Steelers are going to beat the crap out of each other Sunday, to our ultimate benefit.

And, to Tony Dungy, only good things, man. Class act all the way.


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09 January 2009

2008 Divisional Weekend Picks

Eagles/Giants - oh man, I may be crazy, but I'm picking us to win. Chef Spouse convinced me. It's all him.

Cardinals/Panthers - Cardinals. SIKE! Did you not read my wildcard recap? The Cards have gotten their asses kicked pretty much every time they've come east, and the Panthers are 8-0 at home this year. Panthers. Which means we'll be seeing them in Carolina for the NFC Championship next week.

Titans/Ravens - Ravens. Fear the Reed. I do.

Steelers/Chargers - Steelers. The Chargers are pretty hot right now, but I don't think they can put the Steelers out.

08 January 2009

2008 Divisional Weekend Schedule

For my local peeps:

Saturday 4:30 pm game (Ravens/Titans), we'll be at home but again, not making a big deal of the food because we have a party to go to Saturday night. What is up with all our friends not respecting the sanctity of the playoffs? Anyway, we're going to be recording the Panthers beat down of the Cardinals to watch Sunday morning.

So the Sunday schedule is:

10 am ish - watch the taped Cards/Panthers game
1 pm - Eagles/Giants. IT'S ON!
4:45 pm - Steelers/Chargers. Should be a good day for PA!

Menu: at Ex-Navy Cheesehead's request, Tex-Mex day, complete with MARGARITAS.

05 January 2009

2008 Wildcard Weekend Recap


Eagles at Vikings, Sunday, January 4, 2008

In attendance: Chef Spouse, Shoegal, and me

Menu: Chef Spouse made Shoegal's requested grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup. And the fabulous homemade guacamole of course.

Stud of the Week: You know it HAS to be Jason Avant. Plenty of guys came up big when we needed them - Asante, the entire D, special teams, Peanut, BWest, Akers, Sav, Big5, AR - but Jason hauled in tough catches for 3 critical first downs on 3rd and long in the second half. Good job, Jason!

What an exciting game! Thrills, chills, spills, like 7 lead changes, injured stars, over 700 yards of offense, a spark plug of a running back who had a breakout night...

Why, yes, I am talking about the Colts/Chargers game. BWest had a great night, too, but I think a star is born in Darren Sproles. And I think LT is a free agent this spring. Hm - aging star who's past his prime and will want way too much money? I'm guessing he's coming to DC next.

Our guys? Grind it out win. Not pretty, not sexy, not a shoot out, not an OT thrilla. But a big win. And, as Berman pointed out on SportsCenter this morning, we're playing with house money. And AR's never been 1-and-done in the playoffs. And McNabb's never lost his opening playoff game. I'm sorry, but that's just crazy.

HUGE props to AR for sticking with the run until Westy broke a big one. HUGE props to Asante for coming up with a big play right when we needed it. HUGE props to DMac for staying calm in the pocket even when things weren't going our way. HUGE props to our D for virtually shutting down Adrian Peterson. HUGE props to David Akers for hitting a clutch 51 yard field goal. HUGE props to Sav Rocca for some excellent punting in a game where field position was critical. HUGE props to this week's stud, Jason Avant, for some clutch catches. And how many tackles did Trent Cole have? 14? 38? 127? Our guys stuck together, they played together, and they came to W-I-N.

And of course the downside of a run-heavy team is that, if you get behind late in the game, it's really hard to throw your way out of it. Which is exactly what fell apart for the Vikings after BWest turned a little nothing screen pass into a 71 yard TD run. You know, 'cause that's how he rolls. Loved the block Peanut threw for him, too. "I can't push you out of the way, but I can make you have to push me out of the way to get to Westy!" Also? TJack? You're the QB. Just GET OUTTA THE WAY, homes.

Good breakdowns from Inside the Iggles and goeagles99. And as the Inquirer points out, what was up with the zebras? Finally, if you're having trouble keeping up with the playoff beards, Philly.com can help you out. Personally, I voted forAR for best facial hair, but Jeff Lurie's looking pretty good, too.

So I finished 2-2 for the weekend, but at least I got the important game right.

Cardinals over Falcons. Hm. Rookie of the year and coach of the year go down to the wily (and yummy) veteran at home. The only way the Cards get to stay at home is if they beat the Panthers in Carolina this weekend and then face us for the NFC Championship. Not gonna happen. Oh, we might get to the conference championship, but there is NO WAY the Cards go to Carolina and beat the 8-0 at home this season Panthers. And am I only only one who's noticed that Larry Fitzgerald looks like a jazz musician? Not that that's a bad thing. Just kinda unusual.

Chargers over Colts. Damn! Sproles is a lightning bolt for that team. What happened to Peyton and the Colts? MVP goes down. Also, Mike Scifres is a punting genius. Why he is not in the Pro Bowl is a mystery to me. Next year? Maybe no Tony Dungy. That's not a good sign.

Ravens over Dolphins. Sweet Jesus, I do not want to see the Ravens again in the playoffs. Ed Reed gives me nightmares and I'm not even a football player! Also, NO votes for Harbaugh for coach of the year? NONE? Whatevs....

02 January 2009

2008 Wildcard Weekend Picks

Eagles/Vikings - Eagles. Come on! Of course we win this game. The Vikings barely beat the Giants' scrubs with the divisional title on the line. The dome thing kind of sucks, but at least there will be PLENTY of Iggles fans there.

Falcons/Cardinals - Both NFC Wildcard teams will win this week. You heard it here first.

Ravens/Dolphins - that was one hell of a turn around, Norv. It ends this week. Ravens.

Colts/Chargers - IF LT is feeling OK, the Chargers *might* win this. But I don't think that's going to happen. Colts. Both AFC Wildcard teams will also win. You heard it here, uh, first.

Chef Spouse is with me on the Eagles, Falcons, and Ravens. He's undecided on Colts/Chargers at this point.

01 January 2009

2008 Wildcard Weekend Schedule

For my local peeps:

Saturday, we will be watching Falcons/Cards at 4:30 pm, and everyone's welcome, but we're not planning anything much in the way of food because we have a party to attend that evening. So, yes, we will be recording Colts/Chargers to watch Sunday morning before the Sunday games. Anyone revealing the outcome before we watch it will be shot! (Not really, but I will be supremely pissed off at you.)

Sunday, we'll start the day around 10 am with viewing the recorded Colts/Chargers game from Saturday, then we'll have Ravens/Dolphins on at 1 and our game with the Vikings at 4:30. Then we collapse from all the excitement (and hopefully from joy at our win over the Vikings).

Food is still TBD. Requests?

Let the Beheadings Begin!

First of all, Happy New Year, y'all!

The beheadings started early this year, with Rams coach Scott Linehan fired before the end of September in favor of Jim Haslett, Mike Nolan getting the boot in week 7 in favor of pants-droppin' Mike Singletary (who will keep the job at least for now), and that wacky Al Davis tossing Lane Kiffin over in favor of Tom Cable in week 4. And Mike Holmgren had told EVERYONE he was retiring before the season even started, which is probably a good thing, because after going 4-12 in the craptacular NFC West, he'd probably be out on his ear anyway.

And then there were the traditional first Monday of the post-season firings. Romeo Crennel and Rod Marinelli, sure. The Browns WAY underperformed this year, and, to paraphrase Rod, you can't go 0-16 and expect to keep your job. But Eric Mangini? That seems precipitous, particularly given the revelations that have since come out about Brett Favre's injured throwing shoulder. "Injured starting QB" usually does not lead to "playing in the post-season."

And then there was yesterday's bombshell: Mike Shanahan's out of Denver after 14 years and after missing the playoffs for the third straight year.

So now we're all sitting around wondering when the next shoe will drop, so to speak.

Bills' owner Ralph Wilson swears that Dick Jauron's still his guy even after their flatline after mid-season. Jerry Jones swears that Wade Phillips is safe, too, but I wouldn't lay any money on that. Dan Snyder said the Zornmeister was safe, but that was before Mike Shanahan became available. And Jon Gruden seems safe, too, even though the Bucs threw away their chance at a post-season with both hands in month of December.

AR has secured his position for at least another year thanks to our last-minute snatching of the final NFC wildcard spot, although it's doubtful he was ever really in danger, despite the many fan voices (mine included) calling for his head after the Ravens game. Likewise Norv Turner after the Chargers roared back to steal the division right out from under the Broncos, and Brad Childress thanks to the Vikings hanging on to the win the division by the skin of their teeth.

And of course, the three kick-ass rookies - John Harbaugh, Tony Sparano, and Mike Smith - are good to go. TO THE PLAYOFFS, bee-yotch! But it will be interesting to see if any of them suffer The Curse of the Peyton - you know, when a new-ish head coach can never again live up to the glory of his first year's success after the other coaches start figuring him out.

Around the rest of the league, it's a safe bet that any team that made the playoffs isn't switching head coaches (unless they're a top seed and go 1-and-done, so watch out The Curse of the Schottenheimer Tom Coughlin, John Fox, Jeff Fisher, and Mike Tomlin), and I'm pretty sure the Krafts aren't going to dump Bill Belichick, even though the Pats are going to be sitting home in January.

I'd be surprised if Sean Peyton, Lovie Smith, Mike McCarthy, and Gary Kubiak don't remain in New Orleans, Chicago, Green Bay, and Houston respectively, at least for the 2009 season.

I'm pretty sure Marvin Lewis and Herm Edwards are in BIG trouble, though, and Jack DelRio might want to watch his back, too.

So football fans, who do you think will be fired? More importantly, who DESERVES to be fired?