31 December 2009

2009 Week 17 Picks

Win and in. Well, actually, we're already *in* but the seeding is still open. And there are other ways to the #2 seed. But the simplest way, the one I like best, is win it & get it.

I'm not saying that it's going to be easy to beat the Cowboys. Not by a long shot. They seem to have mastered their December woes, pulling off decisive wins over the Saints and Redskins in the last two weeks. Tony Romo is settling down behind the biggest offensive line in football. Their offense is clicking well behind Romo-favorite targets Jason Witten and Miles Austin. On the other side of the ball, Jay Ratliff is a big threat up the middle, and we just lost our center for the season. That neck injury doesn't seem to be bothering DeMarcus Ware too much, either.

On the other hand, we're playing pretty well too, with a 6 game winning streak. And most of them have been close games (OK, we *made* some of them close games when they didn't have to be). Which, you'll notice, we've learned how to win, even though we have a bumper crop of rookies and sophomores on our team. That's good practice for the playoffs, since you don't get a whole lot of blow outs once the crap teams are out of the picture.

If our O-line can protect McNabb - or he can scramble - well enough to allow some big pass plays to develop (because there are just too many options to cover if Big5 can avoid pressure for a few seconds)...

If we can open up some holes and get some good running out of Weaver, Westbrook, and McCoy...

If our D can force a few turnovers...

If special teams has at least an average day...

If we can go hard for all 4 quarters....

It's ours. The win, the #2 seed, the bye, the home game. It's ours.

And even if it's not, it's not disaster, as it's damn hard to beat a team THREE times in one season.

My prediction? An Eagles win, and potentially a heart attack for me while watching.

Need more convincing? Here's what Tommy has to say:

Make things simple if you want. We've won more games on the year. We've got a longer winning streak. We're the number three scoring team in the league. We have an elite offensive and STs weapon in DeSean Jackson. We have a QB who tends to win in December and January. We have a good FG kicker. We have a coach who knows how to win.

We're the better team right now.

Colts/Bills - Well, I *would* pick the Colts, but those punkasses are all resting, so I'm picking the Bills. So there.

Saints/Panthers - Looking at the way these two teams have played in the last two weeks, I'm doing something crazy and picking the Panthers. I know, I know - a month ago, unthinkable. Now? The Vikings and Giants are not exactly slouch teams, and the wins were decisive. Apparently, Julius Peppers has been eating his Wheaties, and the Panthers should have been starting Matt Moore all season.

Jaguars/Browns - Speaking of crazy picks and playing better and all that stuff, I'm going with the Browns. Yeah, the Jags are still technically in the playoff picture, but they'd need an even bigger miracle than we got at the end of last season to make it in. And the Browns have won three in a row. OK, two of those wins were over the Chiefs and Raiders, but they also beat the Steelers. I think they can close with a win and just maybe save Eric Mangini's job in the process, if Holmgren Claus is feeling generous.

Patriots/Texans - The Team of Destiny is also still technically in the playoff running and could spoil the Pats chances at the #3 seed with a win. Of course, the Pats may actually prefer the #4 seed so they can avoid the Chargers for as long as possible. To me, that adds up to a Texans win.

Giants/Vikings - The wheels are coming off BOTH these teams buses. Still, the Vikings know that their only hope of jumping back into the #2 seed and getting the bye week is to win - and hope. And they're playing at home, which means no cold breezes for the old man. I think that adds up to a Vikings win.

49ers/Rams - If they're smart, the Rams will drop this game on purpose to secure the #1 pick in the 2010 draft. 49ers.

Falcons/Bucs - Falcons. Or Bucs. Who cares? Oh all right - Falcons it is.

Steelers/Dolphins - This is going to be an ugly game. Both teams desperately need the win and a LOT of help to sneak into the playoffs. Fact 1: the Steelers are the defending champs. Fact 2: Polamalu's supposed to be back. Result? Steelers win. But it will be a close game.

Bears/Lions - Jay Cutler actually played pretty decently on Monday night. It doesn't matter at this point (well, at least not for the Bears), but he was not bad. Can he keep it up for two games? Nah. But it won't matter - he could hand the ball to the Lions every other play and the Bears should still be able to pull off the win.

Broncos/Chiefs - Even though the Broncos are currently sitting in the #5 spot, they don't own it. Again, they need a win and help to hang on to a wildcard spot. All they can *do* to help themselves is win, which they should do handily.

Ravens/Raiders - The Ravens should also win. And I need a super computer to help me figure out what the AFC playoff picture would look like if my week 17 predictions all turn out to be true.

Titans/Seahawks - Titans. Not that it matters.

Redskins/Chargers - Chargers. Also not that it matters.

Packers/Cardinals - This is another BIG game that could go either way with both teams with a lot on the line. I think the Packers win (I'd be sure of it if they were playing in Green Bay), and I think the two teams will face each other again next week with, I suspect, a different outcome.

Bengals/Jets - The Bengals will know before the game starts whether or not they have a chance to jump into the #3 seed. But Marvin Lewis and Ocho Cinco have promised that, no matter what, they're not resting. I think it would be totally unfair if the Jets leaped into the playoffs because their last two opponents didn't bother to bring their A games. But that may be exactly what happens. Why is this game the 8 pm game and not our game again? Yes, I know the Jets control their destiny for the final wildcard spot, but that's only because the Colts punked out last week. I hope the Bengals whup them but good.

Sunday Schedule: January 3, 2010

This is it! Last week of the regular season. Not the last week of *our* season, of course - we're going to the playoffs, as we have 8 of the last 10 years. By the way, we're tied with the Colts for most playoff appearances in the last 10 years. Even the mighty Pats are only on #7 this year. And the Colts have lost their first playoff game 4 times. We've NEVER lost our first playoff game in that stretch. Yeah, yeah, I know they have a Super Bowl. We will, too, some day (maybe this year). I'm just saying that December and January are great times to be an Eagles fan.

BTW, all the games are on Sunday this week. Big day for lots of teams, with the NFC seeding still completely up in the air, and the AFC wildcard still completely up in the air.

1 pm: Giants/Vikings
4 pm: Eagles/Cowboys
8 pm: Jets/Bengals

You know what's awesome? All 3 games have major playoff implications.

Menu: Chef Spouse checked what we made last year when we whupped the Cowboys on the final day of the regular season. Turns out we had leftover bouef bourgignon, and we can't do that this year, because we eated it already. So he's thinking ham and scalloped potatoes. Bring something to go with. And look for ribs (his second choice, but we don't have time to make them this weekend) to make an appearance during the playoffs.

30 December 2009

Congrats to our Pro-Bowlers

Six Eagles were selected to the Pro-Bowl, the most since we sent 10 in 2004 (aka "Our last trip to the Super Bowl"):
  • Asante Samuel (CB) - starter
  • DeSean Jackson (WR) - starter
  • Jason Peters (LT) - starter
  • Leonard Weaver (FB) - starter
  • Trent Cole (DE)
  • David Akers (PK)
Who's missing? Definitely Sheldon Brown, who is having a career year in his 8th year with the Eagles. Speaking of, we also have six alternates:
  • Sheldon Brown (CB) - 1st alternate
  • Donovan McNabb (QB) - 1st alternate
  • Brent Celek (TE) - 2nd alternate
  • Quintin Mikell (S) - 3rd alternate
  • Brodrick Bunkley (DT) - 4th alternate
  • Todd Herremans (T) - 4th alternate

28 December 2009

2009 Week 16 Recap

Eagles v. Broncos, Sunday, December 27, 2009

In attendance: the regular crew - Chef Spouse, Shoegal, Ex-Navy Cheesehead

Menu: sauerbraten, which turned out OK if a little dry, Spaaten Octoberfest, red cabbage, homemade soft pretzels, pizzelles

Stud of the Week: David Akers, who made a totally clutch kick to win the game. Poo-poohing a 28 yard field goal? Shaun Suisham is now a Cowboy because he couldn't make a field goal from that distance. The Saints lost this week because their kicker couldn't make a field goal from about that distance. Big shout out to Jeremy Maclin, too, who made the clutch catch that set up the field goal. And to Jason Avant. He doesn't get a lot of balls thrown his way. But every catch he makes is important. He's so clutch that when you look up "clutch" in the dictionary, there's a picture of his cute, balding self.

We have an agreement Chez Snark: when things are going badly enough that I'm swearing like a sailor and/or hitting the tequila shots, I voluntarily remove myself to the kitchen so that the rest of the people here can continue to enjoy the game. Things got so bad, between the bad officiating and our bad play, that I had to take myself UPSTAIRS. Away from TVs. Away from the game. There was much slamming of doors. It wasn't pretty.

Philly.com says we can't complain about officiating. Really? Are you nuts? I can complain. Complaint #1: taking away the Patterson TD on the Broncos first series even though Kyle Orton clearly threw a lateral. Complaint #2: the RIDICULOUS unnecessary roughness penalty on Macho Harris that basically took away Asante Samuel's pick and handed the Broncos 7 points. So a 14 point swing (between the two plays) due to bad officiating.

Can we start the "I Hate Mike Carey's Zebra Team" club? I'll be president. Even Chef Spouse, normally someone who sees only the good in people, noted that they're nit-pickers who apply it inconsistently. Look, if you want to make sure the game stays close so that the network doesn't switch games (hello, Panthers/Giants) and deny people the glory of your Mr. Roboto officiating signals, at least own up to it.

Let's see - what else? DMac was hot - then cold - then hot, including a big-time 27-yard scramble. Westy didn't have a big day, but he played and didn't get another concussion, and Dawk got away with MURDER blanketing him on a big pass play on our first offensive possession. Celek had a big day. Peanut did not. Contrary to popular opinion, it *is* possible to overthrow him. Although it's not easy. Avant and Maclin, I discussed above. Up & down day on D. The Broncos were without Eddie Royal and then Brandon Stokley got himself ejected and Buck got himself hurt. And we still needed a clutch kick in the final seconds to win the game. I expected better.

Even more bad news? Jamal Jackson's out with a torn ACL. Great. Just before the playoffs. And he was, I think, the only constant on our offensive line this year. Well, until now.

One thing to remember: we're already in the playoffs (although it sure would be nice to win the NFC East and potentially move up to the #2 spot in the NFC). The Broncos were playing for their playoff lives. They had a lot more to lose, and got a major momentum swing with 14 points in about 27 seconds. And we hung tough and won. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't nice, it wasn't nearly as easy at it looked like it would be when it was 27-10. But we stuck it out and won.

Around the rest of the NFL...

Chargers over Titans. Well, I was right about that part. I was wrong about the "good game" part. In the 3rd quarter, we couldn't take it any more and switched over to TBS's 24 hours of "A Christmas Story." "You'll shoot your eye out!" You know who has the best winning streak in the NFL? Chargers at 10. You know who has the second best winning streak in the NFL? Eagles at 6!

Falcons over Bills. On Monday Night Countdown, they pointed out that, if they can beat Tampa next week, the Falcons have the chance to have their first back to back winning seasons in their 40 year + history. Ouch.

Bengals over Chiefs. By only a TD. Yeah, the Bengals may have won the AFC North this year, but guarantee they're going down early in the playoffs.

Browns over Raiders. Did you know that the Raiders made more appearances on "C'mon Man!" than any other team this year? Did you know that about 1/2 of their appearances were a result of two defenders running into each other and letting the opposing receiver run free? C'mon man, indeed.

Packers over Seahawks. What has happened to Matt Hasselbeck? Bet TJ Housh wishes he'd gone anywhere else. How does Jim Mora keep getting hired?

Texans over Dolphins. Told you! Not that the Texans are going to the playoffs this year - yes, I realize they're not officially out of it yet, but they're out of it. But neither are the Dolphins. Man, am I bad at pre-season picking the AFC divisions.

Steelers over Ravens. OK, the Ravens GAVE that game away. It should've been about 52-23 in the Ravens favor. I would've said they'd get into the playoffs and go far, but not after this game. Ed Reed was out, but they were penalized for over 100 yards and gave away two TDs. Sad. Speaking of sad...

Panthers over Giants. Did the Giants not understand that their playoff hopes depended on winning out? What a disaster. The game was being played on one of the local networks and they cut it off and switched to Saints/Bucs because it was so bad. You know, we lost our final game at the Vet. The Cowboys lost their final game at Texas Stadium. Anyone know about the Redskins and RFK? Seems like a pattern here.

Pats over Jags. Another team that's not going to make the playoffs. Also, the Pats are getting hot at the right time. Be afraid.

Bucs over Saints. WTF? Seriously. I think the Saints peaked too soon. Losing to the Cowboys, who are playing better this December than they have in a really long time, is one thing. But the Bucs are - now - 3-12. That's just painful. OK, divisional games can get wacky and whatnot. But the Saints still should've put the Bucs away. They were playing their starters for God's sake!

Cards over Rams. Speaking of putting away bad teams...did you know that all the Rams have to do to score the #1 pick is lose to the 49ers next week? Hell, for that, throw the game. Not that anyone would be able to distinguish that from the way the Rams usually play.

49ers over Lions. Well, sure, but neither team has anything to play for, so who cares?

Jets over Colts. OK, so there's been the big continuing debate about whether the Colts should risk injury in pursuit of the perfect season, or whether they should start resting people. Obviously, Jim Caldwell decided to rest people. And the Jets are still vying for a playoff spot, so not the Colts not giving their best effort is even doucheyer. And the Colts have been down this road before - wrapping up early, resting people, going down in the first round of the playoffs. Usually to the Chargers. That won't happen this year, since the Chargers have the #2 spot in the AFC, but I'll bet that the Colts go down early.

Cowboys over Redskins. Talk about a bad game. I went to bed at the end of the 3rd quarter. The Redskins are a freakin' disaster. I thought I'd seen the worst with that dumb swinging gate play against the Giants last week. Nope. The Skins didn't win a SINGLE divisional game this year. Good luck to you, Bruce Allen. You're going to need it. Also, the Cowboys have no idea how to psych up on the sidelines. Check it out:

You want to psych up? Learn from the Master, Grasshopper:

And on MNF, the Vikings are doing everything they can to give away the game. Let's see if the Bears can pick up what they're putting down, and help us move into the #2 spot.

24 December 2009

Sunday Schedule: December 27, 2009

Playoff spot secured, now we're gunning for the NFC East and possibly the #2 spot in the NFC if the Vikings can keep screwing up. Bonus? Life-long Eagles Fan Mom and You-Two-Calm-Down-or-I'm-Turning-Off-the-TV Dad will be in town for the weekend and the game!

FNF (aka "Christmas"): Chargers/Titans

1 pm: Panthers/Giants
4 pm: Eagles/Broncos. Welcome back, Wolverine. Too bad you're going to lose.
8 pm: Cowboys/Redskins

MNF: Bears/Vikings

Menu: we'll make another go at the sauerbraten and red cabbage, and I'll whip up some more of the soft pretzels I tested out this weekend (they got the Chef Spouse seal of approval). And there will be cookies galore, because I made a few batches during the Snowpocalypse, and I'm sure the 'rents will bring some with. Someone bring us something healthy, please! And perhaps some good German beer or wine?

23 December 2009

2009 Week 16 Picks

Westy's back! Merry Christmas Eagles fans! Chef Spouse may get to hear his 3 favorite words this weekend: "Westbrook breaks free!"

Wolverine will be back, too. Miss you much, baby. Too bad your team is gonna lose.

Yes, Eagles fans, we are in the middle of our annual December romp into the playoffs. If we can pull off the win over the Broncos at the Linc this Sunday (likely), and the Redskins can pull off the upset over the Cowboys (highly unlikely, as you'll realize if you happened to see any of Monday night's disaster), we can wrap up the NFC East. You know what's funny? We could go 11-5 and be the #5 seed if we lose to Dallas on January 3 (quick, somebody knock on some goats or sacrifice some wood....wait....). In the meantime, 9-7 would win the West. No justice, man.

Anyway, back to this week: the Broncos started hot, at 6-0, had a bye, and have only won 2 games since then, losing to the Steelers, the Ravens, the Redskins, the Chargers, the Colts, and the Raiders, and beating only the Jets and the Chiefs. I can't talk smack about losing to the Raiders (sigh), but I could beat the Chiefs. All by myself. And while the Chargers and Colts are clearly very good teams, the Steelers and Ravens aren't living up to expectations this year. And the Skins? C'mon man!

What this game comes down to is that I don't think the Broncos will be able to shut down our offense - particularly at home - and I don't think they can score enough points to keep up with us. Fly, Eagles, fly!

On the increasingly-poorly-named Thursday Night football Friday night edition (Why don't they call it what it really is? Not Monday Night Football), the Chargers haven't lost in December pretty much since the powder blue throwbacks weren't throwbacks. I don't anticipate they'll have too much trouble with the Titans. But at least it should be a good game. Chargers.

Bengals/Chiefs. Bengals. Even if poor OchoCinco is too sad to play.

Bills/Falcons. Both teams are playing for nothing but pride at this point. Falcons, completing their sweep of AFC teams in New York.

Seahawks/Packers. Look for the Packers to rebound from their disappointing last minute loss to the Steelers and whup up on the Seahawks pathetic butts. Michael Wilbon recently observed that Jim Zorn will definitely get hired again after lil' Danny Snyder FINALLY fires him. Evidence? Look what's happened to Matt Hasselbeck since he left Seattle. True dat, knucklehead.

Texans/Dolphins. This should be a good game. Both teams are technically still not eliminated from the wildcard race. Team of Destiny? You bet I'm picking the Texans.

Ravens/Steelers. Ravens. Polamalu's still out, and the Steelers are NOT the same team without him.

Panthers/Giants. Think the Panthers can pull off another upset? Me neither. Giants.

Jaguars/Patriots. The Jags are also still in the playoff hunt. Won't matter. Pats.

Raiders/Browns. Really? Raiders/Browns? Ouch. Dear NFL: do us all a favor and blackout this game. EVERYWHERE. Raiders. Or whatever.

Buccaneers/Saints. Speaking of teams avenging a disappointing loss...Saints.

Rams/Cardinals. It's really not fair that there are NO other teams in the West at or better than .500. Cardinals. Who are totally feasting on an easy schedule. Again. Bastards.

Lions/49ers. Another game that NO ONE will be watching. 49ers. Which is a shame, because the Lions have really shown some stones this year.

Jets/Colts. The Colts will probably lose eventually. But not this week. Colts.

Cowboys/Redskins. I would LOVE to convince myself that the Skins can pull off the upset. Unfortunately, I watched Monday Night Football. Which means it's all coming down to week 17 in the NFC East. At least it will be exciting. Cowboys.

Bears/Vikings. Speaking of upsets I'd love to convince myself will happen...yeah, there's no way. Jay Cutler's punkosity is revealing itself more from day to day. Vikings. Damn it.

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21 December 2009

2009 Week 15 Recap

Eagles versus 49ers, Sunday, December 20, 2009

In attendance: Due to Snowpocalypse in DC, only me and Chef Spouse

Menu: In deference to Ex-Navy Cheesehead, we froze the sauerbraten and had homemade soft pretzels (which will make another appearance next week) and cream of tomato soup.

Stud of the week: It was almost the Linc grounds crew. Seriously. That was some damn fine work getting the field ready. But ultimately, I had to go with 49ers QB Alex Smith who, with 3 picks, did everything in his power to help us win. Thanks Alex!

I expected this to be a more dominating win. Not that the 49ers are bad - their whupping of the Cardinals last week showed that they're actually a pretty decent team - but I expected more of our team.

The offense seemed a little off all day. Don uncharacteristically threw 2 picks, which he pretty much never does. He overthrew Peanut, which I didn't think was possible. Although he did run for a TD for the first time in a long time. He may be 33, but he still has some wheels! AR, in a totally boneheaded move, went for it at our 29 on 4th-and-1. Weaver had a bonehead play of his own. We're out of timeouts, donkey! Save your jawing for some other time. Although, had Big5 been able to get his attention and signal him not to move, we could've snapped for a 5 yard penalty on the 4ers without him on the line. Still, big mental mistake (and Big Red clearly gave him what for on the sidelines after). He even got a shout-out on Monday Night Countdown's "C'mon Man!" segment.

Speaking of sidelines, apparently it's now OK to hit Eagles receivers out of bounds? You did see the late hit on Peanut, right? AR sure did - I'm pretty sure he rammed the 49ers defender with his shoulder in retaliation.

And we got a little pass-happy there for a while, which was making me crazy, seeing as Big5 was not having his best night. Of course, at least we have a QB who can throw the long ball in less than ideal conditions. Not that that helps us in the playoffs this year, when we'll likely be playing in some domes.

The 49ers were doing everything they could to give us the game with 4 turnovers, and in the third quarter in particular, it looked like we were trying our best to give it back. Of course, if we're going to take a quarter off, I'm glad we're choosing one of the middle quarters, rather than the fourth quarter. But it would be better to play a full, focused 60 minutes.

On the other hand, we once again found a way to win. Unlike the Saints, Vikings, and Packers. And we've secured our 8th trip to the playoffs in 11 seasons under Andy Reid. And going to the playoffs is so routine for us now that we don't even care - we're gunning for the NFC East and maybe the #2 spot (more on that below). Way too many commentators can't seem to do basic math to figure out that, in fact, we secured a playoff spot yesterday. They're still talking like we're the team that could be out of it and that the Cowboys have the East. Um, they're a game behind us, and there is NO WAY we let them win on January 3 to take the division, if it even comes to that. Catch up, dumbasses!

Oh, and the whole snowballs fracas? IT SNOWED TWO FEET. Of COURSE people threw some snowballs. Jesus! You know what happened in the Meadowlands last week? Giants fans threw BEER BOTTLES at Peanut. And there's been NO mention of that. It was SNOW. GET OVER IT.

Around the rest of the NFL...

Colts over Jaguars. They're unbeaten. They're dull. Shouldn't those offset in some way?

Cowboys over Saints. So the Saints do have feet of clay. The Cowboys also played a pretty much perfect game. In the Superdome. Not easy. Hopefully, that was their one December win this year. I still don't know what happened there. The Saints looked totally flat and didn't get a miracle this week. Maybe that's the problem? They've resorted to relying on miracles to fix their early game problems for them? Plenty of Saints fans are crying "injured players," but come on! We're playing JEREMIAH TROTTER at linebacker at this point. JEREMIAH TROTTER. We haven't seen Brian Westbrook in over a month. Don't talk to me about injuries. I say it all the time, but while it's better to be lucky than good, it's best to be both. The Saints were not good on Saturday night. Oh, and did you hear? Shaun Suisham is now a Cowboy. Guess *anything's* better than Nick Folk.

Pats over Bills. Dear Bills: head coach. You might want to look into it. Might help with those 11 penalties for 9 million yards. It's tough to win when you hand your opponents two TDs due to dumb interference calls.

Browns over Chiefs. The ONLY interesting part of this game was that Jerome Harrison broke Jim Brown's single-game rushing record. Oh, and Mike Holmgren is headed there. Dear Eric Mangini: Nah-nah-NAH-nah, nah-nah-NAH-nah, hey-hey-hey, GOOD BYE.

Texans over Rams. Dear Team of Destiny: beating the Rams by only a field goal is NOT a good sign. You're not officially eliminated from the playoff race yet, but you might as well be.

Falcons over Jets. Upsets ahoy! The Falcons, in the last month, beat the Bucs, got KILLED by us, and dropped a close one to the Saints. They're out of the playoffs. The Jets, meanwhile, were still theoretically in the run for the division. Not anymore, particularly with the Colts and Bengals coming up. Speaking of....

Titans over Dolphins. The Dolphins were also still theoretically in the run for the division. But the Titans are also playing for their playoff lives. It's amazing to me that all these 7-7 teams are still in it in the AFC. Rob Bironas and Chris Johnson are studs, though. Everyone seems amazed at the yards Ricky Williams is still putting up at running back at age 32. Seeing as he pretty much took 4 seasons off to smoke chronic, he's actually only 28 in running back years. So the yards are not so shocking after all.

Cardinals over Lions. Yeah, but they needed a Lions screw up on their last possession to carry it off. Almost losing to the Lions? Even worse than losing to the Raiders. Trust me. Speaking of losing to the Raiders....

Raiders over Broncos. Did I mention your playoff hopes are on the line? The Broncos have only won two games since their 6-0 start. Ouch. Big game next week, with Wolverine coming home in orange and blue.

Chargers over Bengals. In fiction, the Bengals would have won this one. Just like the Redskins would've won the first game after Sean Taylor died. In reality, football doesn't play favorites, even when they really deserve it, and the Chargers were the better team. Hopefully, Chris Henry will find some peace he didn't have in life. His poor fiance, on the other hand, will have to deal with what happened for the rest of her life. Sad events, and a sad loss for the Bengals.

Ravens over Bears. Remember how I was all, "Jay Cutler is the second most overrated player in football?" Who's laughing now? Maybe the Bears should try to switch uniforms with the Vikings next week so that Cutler can complete a few passes to the right team. What a disaster!

Buccaneers over the Seahawks. Huh. Didn't see that coming. The Seahawks are a hot mess right now. Paging Mike Holmgren! Oh wait....

Steelers over Packers. Everyone's all, "The Steelers have saved their season." I think that might be a little premature. It's a long way from "beating the Pack at home in literally the last second of the game on completed pass that was more lucky than good" to "defending your Super Bowl title." They're alive for at least another week, but they need about 17 improbable things to break exactly their way. And that's already happened once this decade (for us to get into the playoffs last year, in case you forgot). Groceries is back in fine form. I was chatting with a Steelers fan recently who said (I kid you not): "Oh, Ben loves to get sacked! Hee hee!" Um, I don't have enough time to explain how stupid that is.

Panthers over Vikings. Apparently, Brad Childress wanted to get Brett Favre out of there, either because he was playing badly or because he was afraid Julius Peppers was going to put Brett in a body bag. And Brett refused to be benched. And Brad let him get away with it. End of season Brett Favre meltdown in 5...4...3....2... (which means we could take the #2 spot in the NFC! Awesome!)

I'm torn about MNF - I called the Giants, and I'd rather they get into the playoffs than the Cowboys (even though it's hard to beat a team 3 times in one season), but I'd also like the Redskins to go into next week's game against the Cowboys confident, pumped up and on a 2 game winning streak. But with a Giants lead of 14-0 at the beginning of the second quarter, it's not looking too good for the burgundy and gold.

19 December 2009

If it can't be the Eagles...

GEAUX SAINTS! Beat dem 'Boys!

16 December 2009

2009 Week 15 Picks

Chef Spouse, in all his smarticity, has literally done the math and realized that, as long as we beat the Cowboys in Dallas January 3, the next two weeks don't matter. Don't believe him? Peep this, uh, peeps:

Current Standings:
Eagles 9-4
Cowboys 8-5
Giants 7-6
Redskins...wait, who?

Anyway, if the Giants win out, they go 10-6. If the Eagles lose the next two games, we go into the final game 9-6. If the Cowboys win the next two games, they go into the final game 10-5. Assuming we beat them in the final game, we would have three 10-6 teams in the NFC East. We beat the Giants twice, so they're out. We'll have split wins with Dallas. However, our divisional record of 5-1 will spank the Cowboys' 3-3.

NOT THAT I WANT TO LOSE THE NEXT TWO GAMES. Just wanted to clear that up. And I'd much rather go into the playoffs 12-4 and in the 3 seed and avoid playing the Saints as long as possible and hope that maybe they'll all forget how to play football in the interim. Or a miracle will happen and they'll go down in the divisional round. Still, it's good to know we have some wiggle room.

Particularly since the 49ers are playing for their playoff lives, too. Actually, the 49ers could still theoretically win their division. If the Cards lose their last 3 games and the 49ers can win 2 of 3, they'll actually win the NFC West, seeing as they beat the Cards twice this season. And we don't do a great job stopping the run (see below, Jacobs, Brandon). And the 49ers have this guy named Frank Gore? You might've heard of him?

On the other hand, there is NO WAY we turn the ball over 7 times on Sunday. NO WAY. And how the hell do you turn the ball over 7 times on a clear, cool night in San Francisco anyway? And I'm really hoping the 49ers left it all on the field beating a divisional rival at home. And they're coming east on a short week.

Meanwhile, the Eagles, in the past four weeks, have finally figured out something the Saints have known since September: how to win, no matter what (hey, we're a little slow). It's not always pretty, it's not always the way the you want it to be, it may result in you yelling, "Tackle! TACKLE, DAMN IT!" at the TV for 3 solid hours until it feels like your head is going to explode, you may not be able to fall asleep until 2 am afterward and still have to get up for the work the next morning, but they win. And they're going to keep winning. E-A-G-L-E-S! EAGLES!

Colts/Jaguars. All right, I swore in this week's recap that I'd stop picking against the Colts. So I guess that means I'm picking the Colts. Watch - now's when they'll lose.

Cowboys/Saints. They're playing in the Superdome. In December. There is no possible way the Cowboys win this game. Even Tony Romo's mama is picking the Saints. And so am I.

Bears/Ravens. Ravens. And look for their secondary to have a field day picking off Jay Cutler.

Patriots/Bills. Hm. I REALLY want to pick the Bills. Which is amazing, considering that TO is still there. You know, until Mario Testino calls. But all the Randy-Moss-quit-because-Bill-Belichick's-a-jerk (duh!) controversy can't be good for the Pats, right? And the Bills did almost smoke the Pats earlier this year, right? Yeah, I still can't talk myself into it - Patriots.

Cardinals/Lions. Well, that's a nice way to rebound from a Monday Night Football humiliation. Cardinals. Because, honestly, the Lions are so inept that the Cardinals could turn the ball over 7 times and still win easily. Cards.

Texans/Rams. Speaking of inept...Texans.

Dolphins/Titans. This promises to be an interesting game. Were we not playing opposite, this is probably the game I'd want to watch. I want to call Dolphins, because I want them to snatch the AFC East from the Pats, and Vince Young's still sitting out with a bum hamstring...ah, what the hell. Dolphins.

Browns/Chiefs. Wow. I *hope* this game gets blacked out, and the liquor flows freely at Arrowhead Stadium, because this is going to be unwatchable. The fans might just want to set up rad tailgating, stay in the parking lot, and watch one of the other games on TV. Chiefs. Like anyone cares.

Falcons/Jets. Another interesting matchup. Mark Sanchez, Matt Ryan, and Michael Turner are all maybes for Sunday. If the Falcons have Ryan and Turner, I think they'll win, regardless of who's taking the snaps for the Jets.

Broncos/Raiders. Bruce Gradkowski was the - very temporary - savior of the Raiders, but now that he's gone down and they're back to JaMarcus Russell, their season is O-V-E-R. How did we lose to them again? Broncos.

Packers/Steelers. I was at a professional networking session earlier this week and had the opportunity to chat with Josh and Kiersten, both Steelers fans. I was all, "What is UP with the Steelers? They're not more injured than anyone else at this point." Josh and Kiersten were like, "No Polamalu." Really? I mean, we lost Dawk, and I was sure it was The End Of Us, and yet we've battled back. (Actually, the entire team has turned over in D-Mac's tenure. Wow.) Grow some stones, Steelers. Anyway, the Packers are definitely going to win this one. I hope they get to see the Vikings again in the playoffs, and I hope they kick Brett Favre's ass.

Buccaneers/Seahawks. Man, another dog of a game. The Seahawks should be able to win this one. Not that it matters.

Vikings/Panthers. How did this end up on Sunday Night Football? The Panthers are terrible. And the Vikings continue their amazing win streak, with almost all of their opponents under .500. Whose dick do we have to suck to get that schedule next year? Vikings.

Giants/Redskins. I anticipate that this will actually be a really good game. And even though the Skins are 4-9, they've been playing a LOT better recently. Still, the Giants are playing for their playoff lives and the Skins are out of it. On the other hand, they play in Largo. Coin flip says Giants, but this one could really go either way.

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Sunday Schedule: December 20, 2009

Here we go, Eagles, HERE WE GO!

I love December. Particularly since we tend to play so well. Well, except for the 4 days a week of football - it's hard tot set aside that much time, yo! Some of us have to do Christmas shopping!

ThNF: Colts/Jags (only we won't be watching it, as we'll be at the Inn at Little Washington celebrating lucky 17)
SaNF: Saints/Cowboys (I see 8-6 in my crystal ball)
1 pm: Eagles/49ers
4 pm: Chargers/Bengals
SuNF: Vikings/Panthers
MNF: Giants/Redskins

That's a lot of games, dawg!

Menu-wise, we're going out on a limb. Chef Spouse doesn't like to experiment on guests, but Ex-Navy Cheesehead has requested sauerbraten with red cabbage, so we're going to experiment (and it's a good thing I checked out the recipe now, because we'll need to start it marinating no later than Friday!) Bring German beer.

14 December 2009

2009 Week 14 Recap

Eagles at Giants, Sunday, December 13, 2009

In attendance: Shoegal, Ex-Navy Cheesehead, Prototypical Eagles Fan, Chef Spouse - the regular crowd

Menu: grilled cheese, cream of tomato soup and VICTORY (and cheesecake)

Stud of the Week: I'm going with two this week. I can't ignore Peanut, who has now tied the record for 50 yard plus TDs in one season (8) with Devin Hester and Crazy Legs Hirsch. And there are 3 more games to go. But I also can't ignore the Axeman, who racked up 8 tackles and 1 assist, despite currently being held together with duct tape and bubble gum (seriously - I expect an arm to pop off on the field at some point).

So here's how the game went: run-run-run-score (Giants). LOOOOOOOONG pass-score (Eagles). Run-run-run-score (Giants). LOOOOOOONG pass-score (Eagles). Not exactly a defensive grind it out win. Did both teams' defenses accidentally go to the Linc? If I had a quarter for every time I yelled, "TACKLE him, DONKEY!" I...well, I wouldn't be able to retire, but I'd certainly be able to get a nice pair of shoes. We couldn't stop Brandon Jacobs to save our lives.

On the other hand, they couldn't stop DeSean. I think opposing defenses are going to have to start sending their safeties back to the end zone. "I know they're at their own 3. Back up. No farther. No, FARTHER. Look, just head for the parking lot until I yell STOP!"

I think I had about 37 heart attacks in the third quarter alone. You know that scene in the extras for "The Incredibles," with Kari the babysitter, where Jack-Jack's powers have come out and he keeps bursting into flame and she keeps putting him out? That was Chef Spouse with the defibrillator.

There was some bad officiating, of course - Trent Cole was being held ALL DAMN DAY, Brent Celek got totally mugged in the end zone and...nothing, Quintin drew some "say what?" penalties, the zebras took 3 sure points away at the end of the half, and what the hell was that whole "forward fumble" call on McNabb? When a QB "forward fumbles," you know what that is? An INCOMPLETE PASS, DUMBASS!

And the Giants did get the lead. For all of 19 seconds. Yeah, I loved that play. "OK, here's the play. Peanut, you run that way REALLY fast. You other 9 guys stay in and block." "Isn't DeSean going to get, like, quadruple covered?" "Nah - unless they're hiding Usain Bolt over there, nobody's that fast." "Break!" Although there is a downside - no rest for the weary (defenders).

Of course, when it mattered, we put together a 91-yard 8 minute drive where we never even hit 3rd down. And when it mattered, McNabb and Avant came up with a 2 point conversion to tighten the screws. And when it mattered, up 7 points with the Giants taking over with 1:31 left, our defense protected the lead. Which they've done for the past four weeks.

And I saved the best for last:

Around the rest of the NFL...

I don't mean to scare you. Um, you better sit down. And brace yourself. Are you ready? Are you sure? Really, really sure? OK, don't say I didn't warn you...

Browns over Steelers. First time in 6 years. Groceries (and he really was - he was sacked 8 times on Thursday night) has NEVER lost to the Browns. Can someone please explain to me what's going on in Pittsburgh? It's like they've all forgotten how to play football. Y'all need to burn some sage or something.

Saints over Falcons. Barely. And with the Falcons without Matt Ryan and Michael Turner again. And you never know with divisional games. But the Saints are still winning. I do feel more confident of our ability to keep up with them in the scoring department if it comes to it in the playoffs, though. And I think it might. Also, how much money does Drew Brees make? Could someone please take him to a decent barber? I know they have them in New Orleans - Chef Spouse got a great haircut there over Thanksgiving. What about Aidan Gill on Magazine? Little help?

Ravens over Lions. You know the Lions had to be thinking, "Can we just go home now, please?" at the end of the half. Actually, they're probably thinking, "Do we REALLY have to play the final 3 games?"

Packers over Bears. Is Jay Cutler a complete disappointment or what? Most picks for a Bears QB in 60 years. And locker room dissention, big time. Oh yeah, that big contract was a good investment.

Texans over Seahawks. Go Texans! Team of Destiny! Still in it!

Colt over Broncos. Oh silly me. Will I never learn? That's it - I'm picking the Colts next week, even if they're playing God.

Dolphins over Jags. Speaking of still in it, the Dolphins could still win the division, particularly with 2 of the Pats remaining 3 games on the road. Go Fins!

Bills over Chiefs. Whatever.

Vikings over Bengals. I have a theory. OchoCinco didn't do any kind of crazy TD celebration, and the Bengals lost. Coincidence? I think not. Bring on the clown cars and confetti!

Pats over Panthers. Well, sure - they were playing in Foxborough.

Jets over Bucs. Speaking of teams that are still in it, the Jets are also still in the running for AFC East. But they have a tough remaining schedule and a crazy man for a coach, so that's not helping them.

Titans over Rams. Like *anyone* is surprised by this. I'm pretty sure I could do better than 5 picks and 1 TD. Apparently, there are NO QBs in St. Louis. I talking even high school QBs. Also, is Chris Johnson a beast, or is it just me?

Redskins over Raiders. Told you. Bet they beat the Cowboys in two weeks, too. Poor Jason Campbell. Cerrato and Snyder have definitely dicked him around, and he does not deserve it. Also, now that they're down to third string nobodies, notice how they're playing better? Like a...TEAM?

Chargers over Cowboys. Ah, December. Most wonderful time of the year. I'm not positive, but I think Tony Romo may have been crying at the end. On the NFL Network's Sunday morning show, the guys were talking about the 3 most under-rated QBs (leaving aside Rocks, Peyton, and Drew Brees). You know which two were on everyone's list? D-Mac (of course) and Phillip Rivers. Berman could still be right - we could see a Chargers/Eagles Super Bowl this year. You know what else they observed? That the final game of the season is in January, which should help the Cowboys. Only they won their last playoff (aka "January") game in 1996. So I don't think that really helps them all that much.

Right now, the 49ers are up 7-0 over the Cardinals, who are not looking brilliant so far. Ouch. Second turnover. Two comments: "Alex Smith is the QB of the future." Right now in San Francisco that seems to translate to, "He'll play the second half." Also, I really wish someone would make Chuckie take a Valium before the broadcast starts. I love me some football, too, but CALM DOWN.

10 December 2009

2009 Week 14 Picks

So ever since King Kaufman quit writing for Salon, I've been looking for someone to write picks that make me laugh. I finally found him (why doesn't it surprise me that he's attached to the Rachel Maddow Show?)

Anywho, we're playing the Giants. In prime time. And once again, all the sports commentators are all about the Giants, who have apparently righted their season, eaten their Wheaties, sacrificed the goat, etc., and are now going to make a triumphal run to the playoffs.

In the meantime, the Eagles are BANGED UP. Seriously, I think Andy Reid was like: "Hey, we have a Gatorade cooler. We could slap a jersey on that puppy and throw him in at right tackle!" The sad part is that they're planning to play a tackling dummy at linebacker, too.

And yet, despite all that, Big 5 was all "At my signal, unleash HELL!" against the Falcons last week.

It's December, Bitch. Do NOT mess with the Eagles in December. Because WE WILL MAKE YOU PAY.

Giants, schmiants. Fly, Eagles, fly! On the road to the playoffs - again!

Steelers/Browns. I'm going out on a limb here and picking the Steelers. They've been struggling recently, but they aren't struggling THAT badly.

Saints/Falcons. Saints. My money's on 16-0, baby.

Lions/Ravens. OK, the Ravens are also struggling. But it's the Lions. THE LIONS. Ravens.

Packers/Bears. Packers. HAH! Jay Cutler sucks. As I believe I may have pointed out, like, a MILLION times before.

Seahawks/Texans. Texans! Team of Destiny! I'm back on the bandwagon! Also, the Seahawks suck.

Broncos/Colts. I keep picking against the Colts, and they keep punking me. Dare I pick the Broncos? Oh I dare, all right. Apparently I never learn. Broncos.

Patriots/Panthers. I'm REALLY temped to pick the Panthers. But the Pats are playing for their playoff life (and how weird was THAT to type?), and I just can't do it. Not that I wouldn't love a Panthers win, preferably because Belichick decides to go for it on 4th and 32 at the Pats 3 yard line with the Pats up by 2 in the last 45 seconds of the game, but, really, how likely is that? Patriots.

Dolphins/Jaguars. The Fins are also playing for their playoff life. As are the Jags. Should make for a good game. I won't be watching it - there are too many other excellent options in the 1 pm timeframe Sunday - but it should be a good game. I'm taking the Dolphins.

Bengals/Vikings. Are the Bengals for real? Have the Vikings been feasting on an easy schedule? We should have some answers by 4 pm Sunday. I'm picking the Bengals. With my fingers crossed. Which makes it tough to type, let me tell you. asdjpirtrt9ub,.

Bills/Chiefs. Bills. Whatever. Who cares? Did you hear that TO's becoming a model? I knew playing outside a major media market would freakin' KILL him.

Jets/Buccaneers. I'm going out on a limb and picking the Bucs to upset the Jets. Why? Two words: Kellen Clemens. Who is no Mark Sanchez. Who's not all that to begin with.

Rams/Titans. Titans. Man, oh man, are the Rams bad. The Skins are all "maybe we need to blow up the team and start over." No, you do not need to start over. The RAMS need to start over. Actually, they might want to burn the Jones Dome to the ground and salt the earth.

Redskins/Raiders. Of course, that still doesn't mean that the Skins are good. Because they're not. And they're without Clinton Portis, maybe forever. Raiders.

Chargers/Cowboys. You *know* the Chargers are going to win. So do I . I just hope they don't make Tony Romo cry. That's our job.

Cardinals/49ers. Damn it. The Cards seem to be getting hot at just the right time. Again. Cards. Damn it. Could someone pants Fitz to ease the pain? Please?

09 December 2009

Sunday Schedule: December 13, 2009

The NFC East is tighter than a rock star's leather pants, and it's Eagles/Giants in prime time, baby!

ThNF: Steelers/Browns
1 pm: Packers/Bears (but if the crowd votes for Saints/Falcons, Colts/Broncos, or Vikings/Bengals, we're willing to entertain the idea of switching)
4 pm: Cowboys/Chargers
8 pm: Eagles/Giants!
MNF: Cardinals/49ers

Menu: grilled cheese & cream of tomato soup, at Shoegal's request. Possibly accompanied by some sort of yummy baked dessert, now that my ovens are working again.

07 December 2009

2009 Week 13 Recap

Eagles at Falcons, Sunday, December 6, 2009

In attendance: small crowd - just Shoegal, Chef Spouse and me

Menu: four cheese pasta - yum!

Stud of the week: Mike Vick, who was personally responsible for 14 points. And that was a SWEET swing pass to Brent Celek, by the way. And a nice, if slightly underthrown, long pass to Reggie Brown (no, he's not in the witness protection program).

Big time honorable mention goes to Leonard Weaver, who had another big game for us (including that totally impressive one-handed grab, and too bad he's not as fast as Peanut, or he would've had two TDs, too) and to DMac, who was the picture of class - as always - about Vick's success. Sheldon Brown also gets a mention for picking off Chris Redman, going 83 yards, and taking it to the house on a bum hamstring. Maclin had a good day, too. I nominate Leonard Weaver for the role of Dorsey Levins and/or Duce Staley - the guy who can get 3 yards with half the other team hanging off him. Actually, Leonard can be Duce, and Brent Celek can be Dorsey.

Actually, lots of guys stepped up. Akers, who is leading the league in points, tied his career high 17 field goals in a row. He then missed one (aw, damn!) before making another. LOVED the goal line stand at the end of the half. YOU SHALL NOT PASS! And Asante Samuel must be reading this blog, because he actually STARTED TACKLING. It was impressive.

The zebras were doing their best to keep to keep the Falcons' drives alive - OK, I *guess* Sean Jones did hit Chris Redman in the head with his forearm, although it was clear he was pulling up, but seriously, Quintin Demps 15 yards for tackling a guy who wasn't even down yet? Really? What is this - flag football?

It wasn't perfect - Brent Celek, you MUST block better, we didn't pressure Redman as much as I'd have liked, and we had some dropped potential picks - but we DEMOLISHED the Falcons, so I can't gripe too much. Particularly not with AR likely to get an extension this week (and do follow the link - it actually made me laugh out loud, and not just the lame texting abbreviation thereof).

Around the rest of the NFL...it was bizarro week.

You know how there's one week where you literally get EVERY SINGLE pick wrong? Well, that was pretty much this week for me - I got 7 right, which for those who are good at math, means I've gotten 8 wrong - so far.

Jets over Bills. Well, OK, that wasn't terribly bizarre. But they did lose Mark Sanchez. Which given the way he's been playing recently may not be a bad thing. Who's their #2? Oh right - Kellen Clemens. Yikes.

Panthers over Bucs. I was sure the Bucs were going to snatch one. Wrong.

Bears over Rams. Whatever. What's sorry is that is was 17-9. Because the Rams are awful.

Bengals over Lions. Again, yawn. Even OchoCinco's celebration was kind of dull. OK, I get the Fiesta Bowl link, but a sombrero? That was worth a fine?

Colts over Titans. Damn. I was sure the Titans would continue their win streak. Sigh.

Jaguars over Texans. When you're featured on the Monday Night Countdown "C'mon Man!" segment, it is not a good sign.

Broncos over Chiefs. Even if the Broncos are having a late-season swoon, the win over the Chiefs was still a gimme. Matt Cassel sure was worth all that coin, wasn't he?

Dolphins over Pats. OH MY GOD! Go Dolphins! Also, did you like how Rocks threw his team under the bus after HIS interception killed their final chance to win? Um, the rest of the team may have had problems throughout the game - and the defense is certainly struggling - but YOU threw the pick all on your own, donkey.

Raiders over Steelers. I know I just said this, but OH MY GOD!!!! I don't feel so bad about losing to the Raiders now. Who knew that Bruce Gradkowski was the answer? Wait - what was the question? Also, their head coach is still an ass. Just FYI.

Saints over Redskins. You know how it's better to be lucky than good? It's best to be both - and NOT have Shaun Suisham as your kicker.

Chargers over Browns. The only thing that was surprising about this game was that the Chargers only won by 7.

Giants over Cowboys. BWAHAHAHAHA! Tony Romo actually played reasonably well. It's just the rest of the team that sucked. 31-24 doesn't really reflect how dominant the Giants were over the Cowboys. Also, Flozell Adams is an ass. PS: I love December!

Seahakws over 49ers. Who cares? Really - who cares? Do the fans even care? NFC West is so sorry. Well, except for....

Cardinals over Vikings. Wilbon mentioned in the Sunday WaPo that the Vikings have been feasting on a bad schedule. I think it may be time for famine. Also, did you see how many picks Vicodin Boy threw? LOVE! Guess who else tends to have trouble in December... And, while players are getting pantsed and all, could someone swing that on Larry Fitz? I'd love to see a little more of the Best Butt in Football.

In the meantime, we need to decorate the Christmas tree (which finally stopped dripping all over the floor, after getting it in the snow - IN THE SNOW - on Saturday), and the Ravens need to go lose to the Packers. I would point out that it would help us if the Ravens could pull out the surprise win, except we're going to win NFC East, so it won't matter!

04 December 2009

Sunday Schedule: December 6, 2009

We're down to the wire! Which means the Annual Cowboys Collapse is due, oh, about now. YAY! Sunday's games:

1 pm: Eagles/Falcons
4 pm: Cowboys/Giants
8 pm: Vikings/Cardinals

MNF: Ravens/Packers

Menu? Chef Spouse has been mum so far. So apparently, it's Mystery Menu week. Call Sunday morning if you need more deets.

03 December 2009

2009 Week 13 Picks

It's go time! December, final quarter of the season, the run the playoffs. It's on, baby!

Up next for the boys in midnight green: the Atlanta Falcons. The Eagles are hurting. Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom and I were chatting this afternoon, are we surmised that Westy is out for the season, UNLESS (until) we get in the playoffs. They're still "keeping an eye on" Peanut. We're banged up in almost all areas of our team, and we still have major linebacker issues. The only two who seem fully healthy (knock wood) are DMac and Akers (who was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for November. Congratulations, David!).

On the other side of the ball, Matt Ryan is definitely out for Sunday, and Michael Turner is unlikely. Which is good news for us. I'd feel even better if someone could lock Tony Gonzalez in a closet somewhere. The Falcons are desperate, battling to stay in the wildcard race. And they're playing at home. And they're 5-0 at home this season.

But it's December. It's our time now. Look for the Eagles to keeping rolling and keep up the pressure on the Cowboys, with a key win in Atlanta.

Jets/Bills. The most interesting part of this game is the fact that it's being played in Toronto. Why can't the NFL Network get decent games? You'd think they would have an in. Jets.

Bucs/Panthers. Bucs. Upset pick. They almost sneaked past the Falcons last week, and I think they will pull off the win this week. Not that it really matters for either of these teams. If you're not at least at .500 at this point, it ain't gonna happen, homes.

Rams/Bears. Bears. Because when you're playing the Rams, it doesn't matter how bad your QB is, he's still the best QB on the field.

Lions/Bengals. Bengals. Who are going to the playoffs. Where I think they're going to get creamed. But that's later.

Titans/Colts. I keep picking against the Colts, and I'm almost always wrong. But I don't think I will be this week. Titans.

Texans/Jaguars. OK, the Texans really *should* win this game, and I'm not even joking this time. Texans.

Broncos/Chiefs. The Broncos have definitely not been delivering on their 6-0 promise in the past few weeks, but they'll win this one, just in time to give their fans a little 2-game-winning-streak hope, just before they yank the rug out again. Next week. Broncos.

Patriots/Dolphins. The Saints have just shown us the way to beat the Pats - and get Belichick to bench Rocks Brady in the process (I still can't believe they GAVE UP with 5+ minutes left!) - be unstoppable on offense. Sadly, that is not a feat the Dolphins can duplicate. Pats.

Raiders/Steelers. The Steelers are struggling mightily - and mostly unsuccessfully - this season. But they'll be successful this week. Steelers.

Saints/Redskins. The Redskins have been playing better. And the Saints may not go undefeated this season. But they will this week. Saints.

Chargers/Browns. Chargers. Also, ouch.

Cowboys/Giants. I think the Cowboys are f-ed. It's December, Tony Romo is still taking the snaps, and they finish the season Giants, Chargers, Saints, Redskins, and us. I see them going 1-4 over the final 5 games. But *this* week is the game they'll win. Cowboys.

49ers/Seahawks. Man, is the NFC West bad. Just like last year. Only one team about .500 (Cardinals), and they're 7-4. Then again, they did the same last year, and they went to the Super Bowl. Which just goes to show that you never know. Except I know that the 49ers will win. Speaking of the Cards...

Vikings/Cardinals. Vikings. Not that it really matters, because if they can get to 8-8, the Cards will probably win their division. Did I mention that the NFC West is really, really bad?

Ravens/Packers. Much as a Ravens win would help us in the wildcard race (although I hope it won't matter because we'll win the division), I don't think they'll pull it off. Packers.

30 November 2009

2009 Week 12 Recap

Eagles v. Redskins, Sunday, November 29, 2009

In attendance: Ex-Navy Cheesehead, Shoegal, Prototypical Eagles Fan, Chef Spouse

Menu: etouffee, guac, crudities, homemade pralines (courtesy of Shoegal), prosecco (courtesy of Prototypical Eagles Fan)

Stud of the Week: Jason Avant ALMOST won it again. Right when we needed someone - anyone - to give us a spark, he did. LeSean McCoy was definitely in the running, too, after that amazing effort on the 2 point conversion. But I had to go with Eldra Buckley, who scored his first career TD to bring us within tying distance midway through the 4th quarter. Good job, Eldra!

Once again, we found a way to win. OK, you can definitely argue that it never should have been close in the first place (although the Redskins seem to have found new life in the past few weeks), but doing well in the post-season requires being able to win close games. We've needed points - we've gotten points (that may be because we finally have some skill players on offense who actually have, you know, some skills). We've needed long drives to eat up the clock - we've gotten long drives to eat up the clock (hello, run game!). We've needed our nearly linebacker-less defense to make big stops - we've gotten big stops. We needed decent clock management - we actually got decent clock management (maybe you *can* teach an old dog new tricks).

So details: I didn't like the onside kick decision to start the game. Not only did it not work, but it made me nervous right off the bat that Andy was going to try to get too tricky. Thankfully, that was the last of that. And we were clicking offensively early on. Our defense was pretty sorry, though, particularly in the 3rd quarter, when they could not BUY their way off the field, and our offense pretty much fell asleep on the field. We were lucky the Skins came away with only 7 points in the 3rd. Too many missed tackles, too many times we didn't quite get to Campbell. And special teams was not brilliant either - Rocca had another bad punt, Macho couldn't get free, and we let the Skins start with good field position far too often. Except when it counted!

The Redskins, after depriving us of Brian Westbrook about a month ago, took out two more of our top four offensive players (Peanut and Brent Celek, with DMac rounding out the quartet) - I'm just glad we're done with them for the season, as they seem to be really, really bad for our health. Speaking of Celek, you know how he missed, like, three totally catchable balls in a row? About 5 minutes later, the camera panned to him on the sideline getting his hand taped up. Sprained thumb. To go with Peanut's concussion.

Based on that, I'm having a hard time taking the excessive weeping and wailing about Juqua Parker's hard sack of Jason Campbell at the end of the game all that seriously. The WaPo was all, "He was unconscious - he lost feeling in his arms - he was drumming his fingers on the ground." Hm - last time I checked, when you're unconscious, you're NOT MOVING. You know, like y'all did to Westy a month ago. The last time I lost feeling in my arms, I wasn't drumming my fingers on anything. Was it a hard take down? You bet. Flagable? Maybe. But you know what happened when we tried *gentle* take downs earlier in the game? THEY DIDN'T WORK. And Jason Campbell is not exactly Mr. Evasive.

Of course, I probably shouldn't give the WaPo too much credit - their sportswriters were also complaining about Campbell being Mr. Checkdown and not being able to function in the West Coast offense. Um, short check down passes are THE DEFINITION of the West Coast offense. Jeez!

So we're done with the Skins - and with November - and we're sitting at 7-4, one game behind the Cowboys. And we're going into December. When we play our best - and the Boys play their worst. Just hope we have enough bodies left to get us through.

Around the rest of the NFL...

Packers over Lions. Well, sure, but Matt Stafford is still a total stud. If the Lions can't get any better, though, The Powers That Be HAVE to stop subjecting us to them on Thanksgiving. It's just cruel - there are no other games on opposite, people!

Cowboys over Raiders. Oh sure, the Raiders can pull off the upset over us, but can they cooperate and do the same to Dallas? NoooOOOOooooo. Don't worry, though. December starts tomorrow.

Broncos over Giants. Just when you think the Broncos have had it, it turns out they haven't. We were watching the game in a bar in the French Quarter (Dear NFL: either get everyone to carry the NFL Network or stop putting games on there. Unless it's the Lions. That's OK.), and there was a Giants fan at the end of the bar. It was a New Orleans-style throw-down: "You guys Broncos fans?" "No, Eagles." "Damn, man - that's worse." "Enjoy your drink - and the game." "You, too." When you're in New Orleans, you're having too much fun to be mean, even to a Giants fan.

Falcons over Bucs. Talk about a costly victory - how long will Matt Ryan be out? The Falcons manged to pull off a last minute win without him, but it was against the Bucs. And Michael Turner aggravated his ankle sprain. Good news for us - bad news for the Falcons' playoff hopes.

Bills over Dolphins. OK, maybe the Fins *are* totally screwed without Ronnie Brown. Anyone know if the Bills have a new head coach yet? Of course, after this past week, they may decide they don't really need one for the moment. And it looks like TO decided to start playing like he might, maybe, give a damn again. What a freakin' drama queen.

Seahawks over Rams. Wilbon said it best today: never pick a team being led by Kyle Boller.

Jets over Panthers. Sanchez played a little better (the Jets only turned the ball over 3 times), Delhomme broke a finger (and the Panthers turned the ball over 4 times), but ultimately I don't think it will matter all that much, since I'll be shocked if either of these teams gets into the post-season. Delhomme is probably done, Sanchez probably just needs some more time to develop, but really, whatevs.

Bengals over Browns. And the Bengals sweep the division for the first time in...ever? Yes, I think ever. Good job, Bengals. You're wreaking havoc on my pre-season playoff picks, but you just can't be against a team that comes out of virtually nowhere and surprises everyone. And has OchoCinco. Who is hilarious on Twitter - seriously, you should follow him.

Colts over Texans. Oh Texans, I still have big love for you. Even though you keep letting me down. Also, you know Peyton must be thinking, "Marvin who?" about now.

Chargers over Chiefs. I would type, "well, sure," except the Chiefs did manage to beat the Steelers a week ago. Then again, they were, like, ALL the segments on tonight's Monday Night Countdown C'mon Man segment - it looked like the freakin' Keystone Cops out there. Was the football greased, or does the Chiefs center just have no idea what he's doing?

49ers over Jags. Can someone please explain the 49ers to me? No really - we play them in like 3 weeks and I'd really like to know. Actually, as I'm checking out their record, they may be a pretty decent team - they're 5-6, but they've lost to Vikings, Falcons, Texans, Colts, Titans, and the Packers, and the worst record in that group is 5-6. Hm. Should I be worried?

Vikings over Bears. I'll say it: Jay Cutler is not an NFL caliber quarterback. I'll also say it: Jared Allen is scary. I'll also say it: Brett Favre is never, ever going to go away, is he? It's like a Dorian Gray type thing, only Favre looks his age, so he's clearly not hiding some rapidly-aging portrait in his attic. Maybe *that's* what happened to Akili Smith...? Has anyone actually laid eyes on him, you know, recently?

Titans over Cardinals. Man, are the Titans getting hot at the right time! If they can keep this up, they should see the post-season. Meanwhile, you know who else is probably not an NFL caliber quarterback? Matt Leinart. High draft picks on quarterbacks don't always pan out. Jimmy Johnson (or maybe it was Mike Ditka?) said it last night: if you're looking to draft a QB, it usually makes more sense to shop at Walmart (Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Tony Romo) than at Tiffany (too many to name).

Ravens over Steelers. Oh man, is the shiz-nit flying in the Burgh - Hines Ward is basically calling Big Ben a baby for not playing after practicing all week and not giving the team time to adjust to Dennis Dixon - who, by the way, did great and DIDN'T get sacked. Maybe ol' Groceries problem isn't the o-line - maybe it's him not getting rid of the ball fast enough and not being able to move. And the once-feared Steelers D doesn't look nearly as terrifying without Polamalu. I don't think the Fat Lady is singing yet, but she's in the green room.

The Saints are currently up 17-7 over the Pats after blown coverage led to a HUGE TD to Devery Henderson. The camera just panned to the entire Pats defense huddled up with Belichick in the center. I think he was saying, "Did I mention I could trade you to THE LIONS?" We just left New Orleans Saturday, and hot damn, do I wish I was back there tonight.

27 November 2009

Sunday Schedule: November 28, 2009

Yes, we will be back from vacation and open for bidness!

1 pm: Eagles/Redskins
4 pm: Bears/Vikings
8 pm: Steelers/Ravens


Menu: Chef Spouse is feeling very easy - very BIG Easy, that is - and says, "How 'bout some etouffee, y'all?" Bring something to go with (that doesn't require the oven, as ours is currently on the blink).

26 November 2009

2009 Week 12 Picks

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! These are going to be quick, because Lions/Packers has already started and I'm in a carb coma after breakfast at Brennan's and need to try to go for a walk or something so I have room for my tasty, tasty Thanksgiving dinner at Commander's Palace in about 5 hours.

What am I thankful for this year? Chef Spouse, my wonderful family and friends, my job, this past week's vacation in New Orleans (my favorite place in the world), and the fact that after dropping two games we should've won (I'll give us the Saints and Chargers, but there is no way we should've lost either the Raiders or the Cowboys games), we're still well in the playoff hunt.

The Redskins are resurgent, with a win over the Broncos and a narrow loss to the Cowboys. Looks like Sherm "B-17" Lewis has been good for the team, and as long as Jim Zorn's willing to lie there and take it, the team may actually improve to finish 8-8. But we're in crunch time, and one thing Reid and McNabb have excelled at over the years is pulling it together in the final weeks of the season to get us into the playoffs. We'll beat the Skins at home Sunday to keep pushing for that wildcard spot, or even our 6th division win in 9 seasons.

Lions/Packers - Packers. Even though the Lions scored first, I just don't see them pulling off the upset.

Raiders/Cowboys - I SO want to call Raiders. And they did beat the Bengals last week. And it's almost December. And the Cowboys have not looked brilliant the last few weeks. And they did lose to the Packers two weeks ago. I think I just talked myself into calling the Raiders. Particularly since Jason Witten may not be able to go.

Giants/Broncos - I SO want to call the Broncos, but I just don't think I can. You know things are bad when Kyle Orton has to come back in on a bum ankle because Chris Sims IS a bum. Sigh. Giants. Keeping the pressure on us.

Dolphins/Bills - Dolphins. They're in trouble without Ronnie Brown but they're not in THAT much trouble.

Seahawks/Rams - Ew. Well, at least the Seahawks will get to win a game. Not that you want to watch it. Really. Trust me. No watch.

Colts/Texans - Texans! Team of Destiny! Colts gotta lose sometime, right?

Browns/Bengals - You remember that whole mercy rule thing I proposed a few weeks ago? This is another game that will need it. Bengals. Who should maybe handicap themselves to keep it from being totally ridiculous. Maybe Ocho Cinco could play with his shoelaces tied together or Carson Palmer could throw from his off hand every other play or something.

Panthers/Jets - You know how the Jets aren't actually a very good team? Neither are the Panthers. But they're good enough for this. Panthers.

Bucs/Falcons - Falcons. I can't think of a single funny thing to write about the Bucs at this point. That's a shame.

Chiefs/Chargers - You know how the Chiefs shocked everyone and beat the Steelers last week? That was pretty cool, wasn't it? Hope they enjoyed the positive attention while they had it. Chargers.

Jaguars/49ers - Jaguars. Who seem to have turned their season around. Dear Jags fans: man up and buy some tickets so the games stop getting blacked out already!

Bears/Vikings - Vikings. What's the over/under on Jay Cutler picks in this game? I've got $20 on 4.

Cardinals/Titans - Talk about another team that's turning it around! The Titans have won 4 straight since their bye, but it very well might be too late already. And Kurt Warner's supposed to be good to go. Cardinals.

Steelers/Ravens - Talk about two teams that are not living up to expectations. The Steelers are struggling with injury - Roethlisberger, Polamalu, Charlie Batch - and the Ravens, well, I'm not sure *what's* going on there. The Steelers are only one game back, although the Bengals hold the advantage of beating them twice, but they are the very definition of clutch, and they're now playing for their season. I think it's going to be a nasty game, but I think the Steelers will pull off the win.

Patriots/Saints - GAME OF THE WEEK. I can't wait for this one. I think we've all realized the Saints are totally for real this year. After Monday night, I think we'll have a good sense of how far they'll go into the playoffs. And I think the Saints win this one. And I think these Saints very well may go marchin' in to Miami in February.

24 November 2009

2009 Week 11 Recap

Eagles at Bears, Sunday, November 22, 2009

In attendance: me & Chef Spouse, plus a bunch of screaming Bears fans (we were in a sports bar in NOLA)

Menu: margaritas and nachos (see above RE: sports bar)

Stud of the Game: Mike Vick FINALLY ripped a big run. This isn't the photo I wanted, but I just spent 20 minutes looking for one of him actually running during the game, and no dice. Second runner up? LeSean McCoy, who had a big game AND scored the winning TD. But I had to give Vick a little love since his entire previous 11 weeks have consisted pretty much of a few short runs, a few incomplete passes, and lots of holding a clip board.

The guys had me freaking out. This looked like one of THOSE games - you know, a game where the other team does everything they can to give it away to us and we still can't seem to pull it together to take it. Cutler consistently overthrew every single Bear on the field. Man, is he antsy these days. They couldn't get in the end zone to save their lives. OK, that's partially credit to the effort put up by our seriously depleted defense (Trot's really our best option at MLB? Really? He's like 327 in football years! Although he did manage to chase Devin Hester out of bounds...), but still. They didn't give the ball to Matt Forte nearly as much as I would've, which to me indicates problems with their run blocking. Hell, Devin Hester even got pantsed.

I love the way Tommy described the game:
Remember the movie Groundhog Day? Did it occur to anyone Sunday night
that we were living that movie out? We're trapped in a loop playing the
Bears in close games until we finally get it right and then we can move
on. In 2007 we can from behind, but couldn't protect a lead.
Last year we couldn't punch the ball in and lost 24-20.

We finally won in prime time, we finally won in Chicago, and Big5 led us to a win in the 4th quarter of a close game. Does that mean we finally get to win a Super Bowl?

A few weeks ago, Donovan was quoted as saying (I'm paraphrasing here) that while he loves working with all the young guys on offense (377 total yards? I'd love it, too), but he doesn't always know where they're going to be. Nowhere was that more evident than on DMac's scramble in the first quarter. He's running around trying to direct the guys down the field, and I'm pretty sure I heard Brent Celek yell to Peanut: "He wants you to steal second!"

We had a few white-knuckle turnovers, but I can't really blame our guys too much - Charles Tillman is a BEAST. And both Peanut and Maclin otherwise had great games, as did Macho Harris on kick returns. No juking for him - he finds whatever lane there is and HITS IT. I see some return TDs in his future.

IgglesBlog has a new favorite play, and I agree: Peanut runs straight at the deep safety, who realizes about a 1/2 second too late that it's happening, by which point Peanut's already gone. I agree. Let's do that more.

They also pointed out that, while blow outs are more fun and far less stressful to watch, that's not what our young players need right now. To go deep into the playoffs, you need to learn how to gut out close wins against teams that are as good - or maybe even better -than you. Our vets - DMac, lots of the guys on D, Akers - have been there. But too many of our skill players haven't. Seeing that they can pull out a close win in the last minutes of a game is hopefully a real character builder for them that will serve them well in January.

Around the rest of the NFL...

Dolphins over Panthers. And without Ronnie Brown, who's now on IR. Which, to be honest, is probably the end of the Dolphins playoff hopes. But at least they won this one.

Colts over Ravens. I was sure the Ravens were going to take this one. But it's pretty hard to beat the Colts if you can't get in the end zone.

Cowboys over Redskins. GAHHHH! So close! The Cowboys didn't score until late int he 4th an the Skins still had a chance to take it, but for a batted Jason Campbell pass that was intercepted. The Boys are a mess, though. And Tony Romo got nailed Sunday. And we're about to go into December. Hopefully the Raiders can pull off another upset in two days.

Lions over Browns. High scoring game, and totally butch move by Matt Stafford throwing the winning TD with a dislocated (?) left shoulder. But still, yawn. Although Mangenius looks closer and closer to bursting a blood vessel every week. And now he's suggesting that Lions players were faking injuries. Sore loser much?

Packers over 49ers. You know, if you manage to hang onto the ball for more than 40 minutes, you're probably going to win. Unless you're playing the Colts.

Jaguars over the (head coach-less) Bills. So Dick Jauron was the first coaching casualty of the 2009 season, NOT Jim Zorn (technically)? I'm pretty sure I owe someone some money. Here's how I envision the conversation must've gone between Jauron and owner Ralph Wilson:

Wilson: "So, Dick, we're thinking we need to make a coaching change."

Jauron: "What? Why?"

Wilson: "Well, you haven't won a Super Bowl yet."

Jauron: "With all due respect, it's only week 11."

Wilson: "Yeah, but hasn't Belichick won like, 2 Super Bowls already this season? And it would've been more if not for that brain cramp against the Colts!"

Jauron: "......"

Wilson: "And we got you TO!"

Jauron: "Yeah, but Trent Freakin' Edwards is still under center!"

Wilson: "....."

Chiefs over Steelers. You know, we were wandering around the French Quarter Sunday morning looking for a good place to watch the 1 pm games. We really wanted to see Saints/Buccaneers, seeing as we're in Saints country and it would be fun to be surrounded by a bunch of cheering Saints fans. We passed what was clearly the local Steelers bar and contemplated going in, but I was like, "Nah - I want to hear the Saints audio and it's going to be a total blow out." Wrong on that one, babe. They better hope Polamalu gets healthy in a big hurry, or they're going to have to write off this season. Also, Big Ben took a hard shot to the head, and Charlie Batch broke his wrist. Paging Jeff Garcia?

Vikings over Seahawks. Rumor has it that Holmgren might be thinking about returning to the Seahawks. Well, they need SOMETHING.

Giants over Falcons. In OT. Damn. The Falcons need to get Michael Turner back in a hurry or they might as well write off their season.

Saints over Bucs. OK, so back to us wandering around the French Quarter. There are plenty of bars that have the Sunday ticket, but we're passing bar after bar, and it's getting closer and closer to 1 pm, and most of them are pretty empty. Then I spot two slightly older ladies walking down the street FULLY decked out in black and gold, up to and including big feather boas and giant fleur de lys costume jewelry. "We're going wherever THEY'RE going!" I remarked to Chef Spouse. Good choice - they took us to a cozy man cave looking bar with Saints fans and good bar food and shared a bottle of champagne with us.

Cardinals over Rams. Duh. Anyone know how serious that Kurt Warner injury is? Because Matt Leinart is no Kurt Warner, and the playoffs are looming.

Chargers over Broncos. Holy crap. 3 points? Dissention on the sideline? Annual Broncos collapse? Yes, yes, and probably yes. Even Wolverine's magical powers may not be enough to pull them out of their tailspin.

Pats over Jets. The Jets, September notwithstanding, are just not a very good team.
Raiders over Bengals. When Al and Cris were reviewing the day's games on Sunday night football, they both burst into hysterical laughter when talking about this game. That's not a good sign for the Bengals. Who are still leading the AFC North, by the way, but losing to the Raiders is not a good sign. Who knew Bruce Gradkowski had it in him? Maybe the Bucs shouldn't have been so quick to let him go.

Titans over Texans. So yesterday, Chef Spouse and I got breakfast from Community Coffee, stopped by the famous Louisiana Music Factory and picked up a bunch of used CDs by local musicians, bought tickets for a benefit concert Ivan Neville is putting on Wednesday for Marva Wright, had lunch at the fab Restaurant August, spent the afternoon hanging out in Louis Armstrong park, stopped by the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone for their famous Ramos Gin Fizzes, walked over to Fauborg Marigny and caught a set by the Frenchman Street All-Stars at the Spotted Cat on our way over the hear Charmaine Neville's regular Monday night gig at Snug Harbor. Then we were able to catch the last quarter of MNF over snacks in the bar at Marigny Brasserie. Would've been a perfect day if freakin' Kris Brown had been able to knock through his stupid field goal. Oh well - can't have everything I guess. Here's hoping the Texans can knock off the Colts next week. Team of Destiny!