24 January 2011

2010 Conference Championship Recap

Packers over Bears: As (I) expected. Two good halves of football were played Sunday. Unfortunately, they weren't by the same team. The Packers looked unstoppable for the first half. And then Jay Cutler went down, Todd Collins played like, well, Todd Collins, and they handed the game over to rookie Caleb Hanie, who had never taken an NFL snap. "OK, kid, here's the situation. It's f-ing freezing. We're in the NFC Championship game, down by 14 points to a division rival. The fans are out of it - we think they may actually have been cryogenically frozen by the stadium conditions at this point - our starting QB is hurt and our backup QB is a mess. Good luck!"  Surprisingly, the kid did pretty well - better than Jay Cutler was doing, at any rate. How hurt was he? I can't say, but it was the NFC Championship game. Moving on, Matt Forte had a good game. And the Bears D came alive in the second half. But with a rookie under center, it just wasn't enough. And the Pack are going to Texas. Think they can win it all? Well, not if they play like they did in the second half yesterday.

Edited Tuesday, January 25 to add: an astute reader pointed out that Hanie's not technically a rookie. I should've come up with the better term for "newbie," but what I was trying to stress was: how many games had he started before Sunday? Answer: zero.  

Steelers over Jets:As (I also) expected. The thing is, if the Jets' receivers could catch a ball or the Jets' defense could've tackled ANYONE, this game could have gone completely differently. It's a different kind of football than Eagles fans are used to - actually, that's the case with both teams here - with a QB managing the game with a strong defense and a strong ground attack, when his main job is to not make any big mistakes. And Mark Sanchez can totally handle that. And the Jets have gone to the AFC Championship game - and lost - both of his first two years in the league. That's something that's quite familiar to Eagles fans. Sigh. Reading Gang Green Nation sounds really familiar - lots of looking on the bright side, lots of "we had a great season," lots of "we're contenders," lots of "other teams fear us now," etc. That's familiar to Eagles fans, too. Whatever. Show me the Lombardis. Oh yeah - that would be the Steelers all over. Sigh again.

21 January 2011

2010 Conference Championship Picks

Packers at Bears: These are well matched teams. The Bears look terrific. Mike Martz has got the Jay Cutler attitude problem AND interception problem under control. Brian Urlacher seems rejuvenated, and Julius Peppers is playing great. He played great in Carolina, too, of course, it's just that the rest of his was a mess. Charles Tillman creates turnovers the way American Idol creates crap one-hit-wonder pop stars. Matt Forte provides a significant ground attack, which helps keep Cutler from trying to do too much. And two words that strike fear in the heart of every special teams coach in the NFL: Devin Hester.

On the other hand, the Packers are heading for their 3rd road game in a row. They're the #6 seed, and they just pulled off the big upset win over the Falcons a week ago. Their issues with injury this season have been well documented, well, everywhere. And they're playing a divisional rival, which is always just that much harder.

But I'm still picking the Packers. And not just because they took out an Andy Reid team in the first round of the playoffs for only the second time in his 12 seasons as head coach. Aaron Rodgers is on FIRE and not only can't you stop Clay Matthews, you really can't even hope to contain him. Donald Driver and Greg Jennings are going to have to play a lot better than they did on January 2, though.

Jets at Steelers: The Jets are looking surprisingly good at this stage, too. Mark Sanchez seems to be over his sophomore slump from earlier in the season. The secondary combo of Revis and Cromartie is as good as it's supposed to be. Santonio Holmes has his playoff face on, making "Did I just see that?" catches every time you turn around. LaDanian Tomlinson is playing like he's 21, not 31. Jason Taylor, too.

Wait - is Troy Polamalu playing? Yes? Steelers.

20 January 2011

Sunday Schedule: Sunday, January 23, 2011

Can you believe it's Conference Championship Sunday already? Where did the 2010 season go? Seems like just yesterday I was at checking out the talent at training camp and getting ready to kick into high gear here at StN.  Now? Only 4 more games and we close the book on 2010. And with the NFL labor situation looking increasingly bleak, we might be seeing our last football for quite a while. Too bad the Iggles couldn't pull out the miracle run this year - they might've gotten to reign as Super Bowl champs for two years.

Anyway, the games this weekend are:

3 pm: Packers at Bears
6:30 pm: Jets at Steelers

Menu? Chef Spouse is pulling out all the stops - ribs, mac-n-cheese, and collards. Soul food heaven, baby. Bring something that will go with, and we'll see you Sunday!

17 January 2011

2010 Divisional Weekend Recap

I did a lot better on my picks this week. Just sayin'.

Steelers over Ravens: So, you know, the Ravens were up 21-7 at halftime. And they were getting to Big Ben so much it was like they had a few extra guys out there. But they had no counter for one unassailable fact: Troy Polamalu was playing. OK, he didn't have a big game or anything, but he's like Kryptonite for other teams. Mistake prone game on both sides, with a total of what, 5 or 6 turnovers? But in the end, the Steelers at home were too much for the Ravens. Again. Also, a little tip to players on both sides? Even if the whistle has blown (which it hadn't on Saturday), cover up the ball. Apparently, everyone but Cory Redding missed that week in football school.

Packers over Falcons: I feel a little less bad about losing to the Packers last week now that, if I had to guess, they're going to the Super Bowl with a reasonable chance to win it. Why? Aaron Rodgers is on fire. ON FIRE. 48-21 makes the game look closer than it actually was. The Pack never punted. Not once. Roll that around in your head for a minute or two. And the Falcons started the game well. Unfortunately, they exhausted all their scoring magic in the first 10 minutes. I barely watched the second half, in common with the Falcons "fans," who all headed for the exits by the third quarter. I know your team was getting whupped, but it's the playoffs, man. Sit down and watch it! Even if the Packers do put in their backup QB. Oh, the humanity!

Bears over Seahawks: Did you know that was Jay Cutler's first playoff game since high school? I'll bet you did, since they mentioned it about every 10 seconds. Nothing like starting off with a softball pitch right over home plate, to mix my sports metaphors for a minute. 35-24 also makes it look a lot closer than it was. I'm pretty sure the Bears' starters all left the field to start the celebration in the locker room before the start of the 4th quarter. That's the only explanation I can come up with for 21 points by the Seahawks in the 4th.

Jets over Patriots: This was the surprise of the weekend. I know a lot of people think Rex Ryan is an obnoxious loud mouth. Personally, I think he's hilarious, and the Ryan/Sanchez combo is far preferable to Big Cheater Bill Belichick and his pretty-boy dunderhead QB Tom Brady, at least in my world. Also, Bill? Buy a shirt with sleeves. You look homeless. Tom Landry is turning over in his grave, buddy.

13 January 2011

2010 Divisional Weekend Picks

The Eagles may be out of it at this point, but I'm still soldiering on with the blog. And the picks. 

Ravens at Steelers: These two teams are really evenly matched. Both 12-4, both similar style - grind it out on the ground, tough defense, Great Big White Guy quarterbacks, from tough, blue collar cities that are passionate about their teams. This could finish 7-6. Every inch will be contested, every point hard fought...oh wait. Is Troy Polamalu playing? Yes? Steelers.

Packers at Falcons: I'm only picking one road team this week, and despite Mattie Ice's success in the Georgia Dome, it's the smokin' hot Packers. So now you know how the rest of the picks are going to turn out.

Seahawks at Bears: The Seahakws won't be able to bring 65,000 home fans with them to Chicago. And I don't think Jay Culter's going to throw 5 picks. And even if he does, it might not be enough anyway. Bears.

Jets at Patriots: Rex? I don't like Tom Brady and Bill Belichick either, so I'm feeling you, but that payday loan's come due. Pats.

Sunday Schedule: Sunday, January 16, 2011

Well, the Eagles are out of is, but that means we can all relax and enjoy the games without having a coronary every 10 minutes. Hey, I'm trying to look on the bright side here, people!

Anyway, as usual for playoffs, there are games both days, but we'll plan to do the big party and cooking on Sunday.

Saturday games:

4:30 - Ravens at Steelers
8:00 - Packers at Falcons

Sunday games:

1:00 - Seahawks at Bears
4:30 - Jets at Patriots

Chef Spouse is going to make gumbo. He was planning to make it in honor of the Saints' 2011 playoff run. Since that came to an early and abrupt end, he's making it in honor of the fact that it's carnival season. Also, Biker Nick and his gf are planning to join us! And if I gt inspired, I might make us beignet for dessert. Anyone have an Abita connection?

10 January 2011

2010 Wildcard Weekend Recap

Eagles v. Packers, Sunday, January 9, 2011

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

Menu:  cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese, plus shrimp and crudites for snackies from the gang and yummy desserts courtesy of Shoegal. And bourbon. LOTS of bourbon.

Stud of the week: Seriously? There isn't one. I can't think of a single player who didn't make at least one major mistake yesterday. 

So the 2010 season was bookended by losses to the Packers. Can I get an "F that!"? I think I can.

I was right about the 3 road teams pick - I just messed up WHICH road teams. Oy.

This was the game of almost - the Eagles almost had sacks and picks and field goals and big catches and tackles and 2 point conversions and almost broke big runs.


But they didn't.

I really don't have it in me to recap the game, other than to point out that if David Akers made even one of the field goals he missed...if Brent Celek didn't inexplicably go out the back of the end zone, negating the 2 point conversion...that last pick never even happens, because Andy knows they can take the 3 and go to overtime.

At least the guys went down swinging. 

So here's the thing: back in August, I predicted the team would go 6-10 (or maybe 7-9) and be at the bottom of the NFC East. They way overperformed my expectations. Even getting to the playoffs was definitely icing on my cake, as was another NFC East championship.

Looking to the offseason, the Front Office needs to lock down our QB situation. My guess? Trade K2 for a high draft pick - there are plenty of teams with high first round picks who need quarterbacks, and no, I don't think that's an unreasonable ask - and sign Mike Vick to a deal that would've been a lot fatter had they signed it a month ago. The FO also needs to pick up another corner back to play opposite Asante Samuel. Because it sure as hell ain't Dimitri Patterson. I hear a guy named Nnamdi Asomugha might be available - maybe you've heard of him?  And if they're going to stick with Mike Vick at QB - and I think they are - they need to do something about the O-line, because he seriously will not make 16 games at this rate. Akers seems to think he won't be back in Philly, and his contract is up, but I don't see that happening. Good kickers are not so easy to come by, right Mike Vanderjagt?

But really, Andy Reid said it best: very few teams can completely retool the way the Eagles have in the past two years and still get to the playoffs both years. The future looks good. As long as we can stop this emerging trend of losing in the first round of the playoffs at 2.

In the rest of the matchups:

Seahawks over Saints: OK, as bummed as we all are over the Eagles loss, it's not shocking. Two 10-6 teams, evenly matched, popular vote, bloggers, and professional sports commentators pretty much splitting 50/50 on predicting the winner - it could've gone either way. But the defending Super Bowl champs losing to a 7-9 team in the wildcard round? WTF? I totally attribute this win to the Seahawks 12th man. And the Saints played like they'd all taken the Nyquil Drew Brees has been shilling for prior to the game. Anyway, I don't guess the Bears will take Nyquil before next weekend and the Seahawks don't get to bring ALL their fans to Soldier Field with them, so I'm guessing their freaky playoff run will end, but in the meantime, seriously, Saints, WTF? Best line? On Twitter: "Marshawn Lynch just stiff-armed Tracy Porter into Puget Sound." I hope they fished him out for the flight home.

Jets over Colts: Great game. Also, how weird is it to watch a team that's mostly about "run the ball and don't make the QB do anything too hard where he might screw up and blow the game for the team"? I wonder what that's like. Also, perhaps the Colts should pick up an ACTUAL head coach and an ACTUAL offensive coordinator? Peyton seems to be a smart guy, but asking him to be the QB, the OC and the HC all at once seems like too much, you know?

Ravens over Chiefs: This was the only game that really sucked. Not that it was unexpected, but still - Chiefs' fans? It's the FREAKIN' PLAYOFFS, which your team hasn't sniffed in years. SIT YOUR ASSES DOWN AND WATCH YOUR TEAM LOSE. That stadium was EMPTY mid-way through the 4th quarter, and that is just unacceptable. It's the PLAYOFFS, man!

06 January 2011

2010 Wildcard Weekend Picks

Saints at Seahawks: Unfortunately, the Saints are down to their last running back. Fortunately, it's Reggie Bush. Unfortunately, he hasn't exactly been having a brilliant season.  There's no time like the present to turn that around, Reg. Saints. Not least of which because then we can all put the shame of having a 7-9 team in the NFC playoffs behind us.

Jets at Colts: Rex Ryan's mouth may be writing checks his team can't cash, but I'm pretty sure he'll be able to swing a payday loan at least for this week with "17 Colts on IR" as collateral. Jets.

Ravens at Chiefs: Lots of sports commentator talk about how well the Chiefs match up with the Ravens and home field advantage and Todd Haley this and Matt Cassel that and what a great season Jamaal Charles has had and the Chiefs' great offensive line and rookie safety Eric Berry (who, you might remember, I wanted the Eagles to draft). Whatever. Ravens.

Packers at Eagles: I don't see the Birds going deep into the playoffs this year - not that I wouldn't love to be proved wrong - but (stop me if you've heard this one before), the Eagles are overly dependent on quarterbacking pizazz, and that's not exactly an on demand kind of thing. It's also a highly vulnerable asset. And, with a collective age (other than Akers and Vick) of about 12, they're prone to rookie mistakes. I do see them clearing the Packers at home, not least of which because the starters have had two weeks to prepare, but I think that might be as far as it goes this year. The team has the youth and the talent to remain a strong contender for several years. I'm pretty sure this just ain't our year, but it IS our week. Eagles

Wait - I've picked 3 road teams. Clearly I'm wrong about at least one of those picks. Then again, on the NFL Network earlier this week, Kurt Warner picked all 4 road teams. Which doesn't mean we're not both wrong, but at least I'm in good company.

2010 Wildcard Weekend Schedule

We'll be watching football both days (well, actually, we'll miss at least part of the early game Saturday due to a wedding - I know, I know who schedules a wedding during the playoffs?), but we'll do our weekly party on Sunday, since that's when the Eagles play.

Here's the schedule:

Saturday, January 8

4:30 pm  - Saints at Seahawks
8 pm - Jets at Colts

Sunday, January 9

1 pm - Ravens at Chiefs
4:30 pm - Packers at Eagles

Chef Spouse is planning to revisit favorites during the playoffs. Up this week: cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

04 January 2011

Annual Humiliation Post

aka, The Post Where I Detail How INCREDIBLY Wrong My Pre-Season Playoff Picks Were.

And make fun of myself in the process.

Picks for the playoffs versus who actually got there:

AFC East

I picked: Dolphins
Actual winner: Patriots

I claimed to have a "good feeling" about the Dolphins. Clearly, that was the booze talking.

AFC North

I picked: Ravens
Actual winner: Steelers

Hey, at least the Ravens are in the playoffs. Unlike the Dolphins, who may end up firing their head coach. But that's a post for another day.

AFC South

I picked: Texans
Actual winner: Colts

Ah Texans. I wish I could quit you. I have to point out that I did have the Colts as a wildcard.

AFC West

I picked: Chargers
Actual winner - Chiefs

OK, yeah - but raise your hand if you saw THAT coming.

AFC Wildcards

I picked: Colts and Jets
Actual wildcards: Jets and Ravens

So overall I got 3 out of 6, but with some seriously messed up seeding.

NFC East

I picked: Cowboys
Actual winner: Eagles

YAY! Love to be wrong on this one! I do have to point out that, had K2 started all year, I think my 6-10 or 7-9 prediction would have come true. And the Giants would've won the division. I was also wrong about the Redskins going at least 8-8 with Donnie Mac. Then again, he didn't start the full season. I'm not saying he would've definitely gotten them to .500, but I'm not saying he wouldn't either.

NFC North

I picked: Packers
Actual winner: Bears

But the Pack are one of the wildcard teams, and were a sexy Super Bowl pick back in September, and I didn't go THAT crazy.

NFC South 

I picked: Saints
Actual winner: Falcons

But it came down to the final week, and both are in the playoffs, so again, not so wildly off.

NFC West

I picked: 49ers
Actual "winner": Seahawks

The bloody Seahawks. Who are 7-9. No, I don't plan to let this go, at least until the Seahawks are out of the playoffs.

NFC Wildcard

I picked: Falcons and Vikings
Actual wildcards: Saints and Packers

So again, looking at all 6, I had 3, just in the wrong positions.

Wow - I got to .500 this year. In the NFC West, that's more than enough for a home playoff game.

03 January 2011

2010 Week 17 Recap

Eagles v. Cowboys, Sunday, January 2, 2011

In attendance: Shoegal, the triumphant return of Ex-Navy Cheesehead, Chef Spouse and me

Menu: brats, saurkraut, homemade soft pretzels, brussels spouts - have to ensure good luck in the New Year, after all!

Stud of the Week: Chad Hall. Pipsqueak had a great day, even scoring his first TD in the NFL. He even managed to jump up into the stands with a little bit of a boost from his team mates. Feel good story for sure.

So the Cowboys' entire first team (other than QB Stephen McGee) managed to beat the Eagles' practice squad, plus some guys they signed in the parking lot during pre-game tailgating. I think maybe one or two starters were out there, only by virtue of having no one else left to back them up. And the Cowboys won by one point. Uh...congratulations? I guess?

Remember how at the beginning of the season a bunch of people (including me) thought the Cowboys were going to dominate? Talk about going out with a whimper. The practice squad seriously gave the Cowboys a run for their money, and had it not been for the DeMarcus Ware TD off the Anthony Spencer forced fumble that came about because K2 was holding the ball out on a tray for him, we would've won. There was a fair amount of "Good job...uh....who IS that guy?" going on in my living room.

Anywho, on to the Packers! And let's hope Vick doesn't go down, because Kolb did not look brilliant. Somebody tell Clay Matthews the game is on Saturday, OK? At Lambeau?

Around the rest of the NFL...

Pats over Dolphins: Seriously, why would you play your starters?

Jets over Bills: The Jets didn't need their starters to whip up on a bad team. Just sayin'.

Ravens over Bengals: Think TO will be playing anywhere next year? He seems to think so, but homie is mostly delusional, so that's not reliable.

Steelers over Browns: And Eric Mangini's been fired. How many does that make this season? 4?

Raiders over Chiefs: The Chiefs weren't going to do better than the #4 seed. And apparently, the Raiders might get a new QB next year: Donovan McNabb. He and Jason Campbell are bros, so that should work out. And they can both kick back and talk about how glad they are to be the hell out of DC.

Lions over Vikings: Next year, Lions. Next year.

Falcons over Panthers: So during the 4 pm games, we were talking about who we'd want the Eagles to face in wildcard weekend. "Can I pick the Panthers? I want the Panthers." Yeah, no.

Bucs over Saints: Well, the Bucs did what was in their power to try to get to the playoffs. It wasn't enough. Odd loss, though.

Texans over Jags: Yeah, the Jags gave up.

Giants over Redskins: Whatevs. They'll both be watching the playoffs from their rec rooms, accompanied by umbrella drinks.

Chargers over Broncos: Same as above.

49ers over Cards: Wow. The 49ers kicked the Cards' asses. What lit a fire under them all of a sudden? Head coach gets fired, all of s sudden no one is safe?

Packers over Bears: I think this is a good thing for the Eagles. I definitely didn't want to see the Giants again this year, and it does lend a nice symmetry to the season, with the Packers coming back to the Linc next week. Hopefully with a different outcome.

Colts over Titans: Raise your hand if you think the Colts are going down to the Jets wildcard weekend. Me. I have my hand raised.

Seahawks over Rams: OH. MY. GOD. The West was won by a 7-9 team. I think the Seahawks should voluntarily cede their playoff spot to a better team. The fact that the 11-5 Saints have to travel to Seattle to play a 7-9 team is just NOT acceptable.