Monthly Archives: January 2010

On the fence

I have a confession to make: I’m torn on who to root for this year in the Superbowl. Usually, there is at least one team that I can’t stand playing in the big game every year which makes my decision easy. But with the Colts Saints Superbowl only 10 days away, I’m having trouble trying to find an enemy to cheer against.

The Colts: The best team this decade without the accolades. It’s a sin that Roethlisberger has more Superbowl victories than Manning. Even worse, Eli has the same amount of rings as his brother. In a just universe, that shouldn’t happen. A great regular season would always end up with a postseason loss to the Patriots or a head scratcher of a victory that the Colts should have dominated (Mr. Vanderjagt, I’m looking in your general direction).

In addition to Manning, these players deserve their due. Reggie Wayne: Can he replace Marvin Harrison? Frankly, he has looked better this season. Dallas Clark: Great tight end who applies to the Brent Celek theory and is just as likable (props to Whiskas for that one). Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie: Who? Nobodies at the start of this season, they are respectively 2 and 3 on the depth chart and a huge reason for the Colts success this season. Addai?Freeney? Mathis? Former Eagle Hank Baskett? A solid group of respectable players (Baskett is a novelty and I have to give him a shout out because we are facebook friends. He was also the solution for everyone who bought a Mitchell Jersey. Duct tape and permanent marker work wonders.).

The Saints: The New America’s team? Why not? How can you cheer against these guys/ this city? A long, pathetic history of losing and no name quarterbacks culminating in a devastating hurricane that destroys the region. Tom Benson was on the verge of moving the team to a new city because of the destruction. How does the team respond? They take a chance on a QB that people said wasn’t worth the risk. A new coach comes in and changes the culture. Late round draft picks become house hold names. They return to the SuperDome on a Monday Night game in front of a national audience and dominate. They help resurrect a tattered region and a dying franchise. Now they are in their first SuperBowl in team history and have one of the most feared offenses in the league. No one expected this; if you said you did you are lying to yourself. The good story keeps getting better for Saints’ Fans.

So what is a football fan to do: Cheer for the greatest QB this era to solidify further his greatness? Or hope that the feel good story this past 3 years can have a happy ending? All I know is that I am not the only one with this dilemma and people will be content with either team winning. And unlike Superbowl XLII, I won’t be cheering for the stadium to implode.

-FredEx

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Unreliable

Has anyone else noticed this year, especially this years football postseason that kickers have been extremely unreliable. I feel like I’ve never seen so many missed FG’s in my life, and I’m not counting anything over 55. Any kick a kicker takes over 55 yards is probably a situation at the end of a half, including the end of the game, or an extremely desperate situation. Here’s 3 games this year that have been affected by poor kicking.

  • AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Ben Hartman, kicker for East Carolina University had probably the single worst kicking game in at least the last decade against Arkansas (I’m just assuming I didn’t look it up). His first miss was from 45 yards. This was in the 1st quarter, and seemed to not matter that much at the time. He then made one from 33 yards in the 2nd quarter. Feelin’ alright he’s 1-2 at this point not bad seemingly shook the miss off. With 1 minute remaining, he missed a 39 yard field goal. Right when he missed I thought “Oh, wow, that’s gonna bite them in the ass.” Turns out, that didn’t necessarily do it. Still tied at 17, he got another shot at the 39 yarder. This one was going to happen as time ran out. What do ya know, he missed, again. 1-4 at this point and he has at least cost his team a regulation victory. Onto overtime we go. Arkansas gets the ball first. Their kicker, Alex Tejada, knocks down a 37 yard field goal. Great for ECU, all they have to do is score a touchdown, or at least it will be an easy field goal attempt, and you can’t miss 4 in one game right? Absolutely wrong. This game ended in a missed 35 yard field goal attempt.
  • Outback Bowl. We all know who won this game, our beloved Auburn Tigers. My boy, Northwestern kicker Stefan Demos saved the game for the Tigers. His first miss was a PAT. It was blocked. His next miss was from 48 yards, a FG. Not necessarily a terrible miss, 48 isn’t really a given lets be serious. Auburn practically handed the game to Northwestern late in the 4th quarter. Setting my boy up for a makeable 44 yarder from the middle of the field. This was for the win and to break Northwesterns 61 year bowl winless streak. He missed, badly. Bummer dude, we go to OT, yet again. Technically, Demos only went 0-2 on FG’s, so you’re wondering why I’m still going. In Northwesterns OT possession (which may or may not have been the longest overtime possession ever both in time and plays, again I didn’t check that) Demos comes in to tie it at 38. He lines it up, he misses. Oh wait, roughing the kicker, not game over. Let’s face it, Demos got his shit rocked, backup kicker comes in for the next play, another FG attempt. We all know this because we’re all huge Tiger fans, but to remind you, they faked the FG, got tackled at the 1 or 2 or something. Auburn wins. Thank you Stefan Demos and War Damn Eagle.
  • AFC Divisional Playoffs: New York Jets at San Diego Chargers. San Diego’s pro-bowl kicker Nate Kaeding had one of the best kicking seasons I can remember only missing 3 FG attempts the entire year. In the first half of the game, Kaeding missed a 36 yard attempt. Ok, so he’s gotta get the playoff jitters out, he won’t miss again. His next attempt, he gets a free pass from me. You can’t actually fully expect a kicker to make it from 57 yards. Any kick over 55 is really just a bonus if it goes in, in my opinion at least. Now were in the 4th quarter, game winding down, Chargers down 10 points to the Jets. They need this FG, a 40 yarder, to make it a 7 point game with about 4 minutes to go.  Wide right. Kaeding moves to 3-9 career in the playoffs. Chargers eventually lose the game 17-14.

Believe or not, kicker is probably the 5th or 6th most important position on a football team. They score the most points on the team most years (if they REALLY suck they don’t). As Eagles fans, we are pretty lucky to have David Akers. Excluding a couple years, he’s been a sure bet inside 45, and he’s just as good in the playoffs. Okay, we’re spoiled, now we just need a quarterback who can do the same. Appreciate your kickers, football fans, especially if they’re good.

War Eagle,

Bronco

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Brett Favre’s Interceptions Affect Me Personally

Oh, Brett. It’s taken me a while to get over your interception on Sunday that, once again, lost the NFC Championship for your team. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t care less whether or not your team won Sunday, but did it have to end like that?

Throughout this season I have been happy with the success of Brett Favre. I got excited that, maybe, since he was playing so well at 40 that when the season ended, he could finally leave it all behind. But of course, he had to throw that ridiculous cross-field pass on his back foot, possibly without actually looking at the field. Now we all get to listen to an off-season filled with questions concerning number 4’s possible rerereturn. As I think of the unbearable banter to appease point god Tony Riali that I will witness, I realize that the consequences of that, again, ridiculous pass are nothing compared to two years ago.

It all started on that fateful night where the Packers lost to the Giants. Imagine, Brett Favre doesn’t throw that interception. The Packers win that game. Brett Favre makes it back to the Super Bowl.  If that happened, Favre would have had much less of a reason to return. He wouldn’t feel the need to redeem himself after throwing an interception like a jackass. Favre would go on to the Super Bowl, then into retirement as a lifelong Packer, and I would have welcomed Spring with no talk of Favre’s return, or a…a…Giants Superbowl win. For the past two years I could have been hearing about important football stories, like Freddie Mitchell’s conviction that he is going to play in the NFL again, or whether or not Maurice Clarett is making any friends in prison. But no, I dream of such delights. Instead, I am surrounded by New Yorkers who, even though their team couldn’t make the playoffs this year, refuse to shut up about that game and that goddamn catch. I am forced to watch reports that Favre is “leaning” towards retirement for the third time.  All of this, because of what, a Brett Favre interception. Well no more! I refuse to let Favre’s interceptions continue to ruin my life. This is the last I will speak of him, or his inability to find a receiver with under 2 minutes to play. In the Soap Opera that is the NFL, I can’t wait until they finally kill off this character.

note: The author of this article will be setting up a support group for those who have been affected personally by a Brett Favre interception. Requests to join said group can be sent to whydoesbrettfavredothestupidthingshedoes@help.com

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Highlight of the Week

This is the best highlight of the week, probably the best college basketball game this season.

With Love,

Bronco

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NFC Championship Preview: New Orleans Saints

Anyone who has praised the New Orleans Saints this year would be wrong to not start with the offense. The offense is what wins them the games. What makes the offense go? Pro-bowl quarterback Drew Brees.

This offense averages over 400 yards per game, 272 passing, and 131 rushing. The offense is extremely effective and balanced. They run when they need to, they pass when they need to. Drew Brees is both the leader on the field and off the field. Who’s the big player after Brees, though? Game by game it changes, Marques Colston has over 1000 receiving yards, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, Jeremy Shockey, and Reggie Bush all had over 40 catches this year. Meachem and Colston were tied for the team lead in touchdowns with 9. Bush had the worst year of his career yet, but made up for it big time last week with 5 rushes for 84 yards (one being a 46 yard TD) and also a punt return TD. Pierre Thomas is the leading rusher with only 800 yards. On the surface, you’d think the Vikings, having arguably the best RB in the league in Adrian Peterson would have a serious advantage running the ball. Not so fast. The Vikings essentially run the ball with only Peterson and Chester Taylor(Percy Harvin with 135 yards is the 3rd leading rusher). The Saints, however, run the ball with 3 different players. The aforementioned Thomas, also Mike Bell and Reggie Bush. The Vikings top 3 rushers combined for 423 attempts and 1856 yards. The Saints top 3 have rushed 389 times for 1837 yards. If you ask me, I’d say the Saints rush game is something more to pay attention to than the Vikings. Here’s my logic. A wider arsenal of rushers means less carries for each which means late in the game one of them isn’t going to have too many carries that day and is going to be fresh, unlike the defense.  Also, 2nd leading tackler, E.J. Henderson, on the Vikes d is out.  Rookie Jasper Brinkley out of South Carolina is going to start in place of Henderson.

Drew Brees has over 4388 pass yards and has thrown for 34 touchdowns in 514 attempts. That’s about 8.5 yards per attempt, and a touchdown every 15 attempts. An average of about 30 passes per game, look for Brees to throw 2 touchdowns against the Vikes d.

My x-factor isn’t on the Saints offense though. He’s on the defense. Safety Darren Sharper had 9 picks this year and 3 TD’s. He’s also 3rd on the team in tackles with 71. That being said, the reason he’s the x-factor isn’t his current pro-bowl year, its his years from 1997-2004 with the Packers and current Vikings QB Brett Favre. Just practicing against Favre for those years could prove to be a huge advantage for the Saints defense.

My prediction: 34-21 Saints.

AFC Prediction: 24-14 Colts

War Eagle,

Bronco

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NFC Championship Preview: The Minnesota Vikings

Season Summary: The Vikings took the NFC North Division crown after a 12-4 season which secured them the number 2 seed and a first round bye in the playoffs. The Vikings have been the source of controversy ever since the start of the off season. The constant back and forth with Brett Favre coming out of retirement or not coming out of retirement made everyone in America who wasn’t from the Minneapolis area nauseated. Long story short, he came back and with his help propelled the team to an 11-2; only bested by the almost perfect Saints. In the divisional round, they took care of Dallas rather convincingly and now set their sights on what all football fans hope to be a shootout in the Superdome.

Offense: Ask any overpaid, captain obvious ESPN personality and they will tell you that Brett Favre is on the Vikings. Favre has taken the Vikings O to one of the best in the NFL, but we hasn’t done it alone. Adrian Peterson, in his 3rd year in the league, rushed for over 1300 yards and 18 touchdowns to take some of the pressure off the passing game. It wasn’t anything like his 2008 campaign, but it didn’t need to be. Teams figured out early that the Vikings have too many weapons to just focus on one area of the offense and has contributed largely to their success. A talented group of receivers also helped the transition easier for # 4. Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, who is in his rookie season, have been causing problems in the secondary for the opposition. It bodes asking the ever puzzling question: Does a QB make a receiver great? Or Is a QB great because of the receivers around him? Ask McNabb what he thinks about that one.

Defense: The defense, in my opinion, is the reason why the Vikings have been so dominant this year. In the regular season they were the number 2 rushing defense and 6th in overall yards per game. You can attribute those numbers thanks to the front 4; held down by Ray Edwards, Pat and Kevin Williams, and my favorite, Jared Allen. This defense has a swagger and after last weekend’s performance when they stopped Dallas’ hot streak, it is hard to root against this unit. One weakness? Secondary. 19th against the pass during the season. Their only saving grace was the fact that they led the league in sacks with 48, again a nod to their focus on trench warfare.

Special Teams: Ryan Longwell, good dome kicker that doesn’t have to worry about the elements this week. 26/28 during the regular season; 2/2 last week.  I’m sure the only way you hear about him is if he misses the kick to win the game for the Vikings.  The punt game: who cares?  If a wry punt is the biggest play in this game, everyone will be very disappointed.

The Vikings win this game if…: They make Brees uneasy in the pocket.  Plain and simple.  I don’t see the Saints run game posing much of a threat to the Vikings, but every time Brees drops back to pass it could be 6.  A hurried throw is just as good as a sack in my book and could render the Saints potent offense worthless.  They do that and the offense will have their way with the Saints D and Minnesota will go back to the SuperBowl for the first time since 1977.

Prediction:  It’s a close call, but in the end I will have to go with the Saints.  What is one, reoccurring fact about all of Brett Favre’s playoff teams?  He is the reason why they lose.  In his last 12 postseason games as a Packer, his passer rating averaged out to a 77.8.  There is no margin for error in this game either; 2 wasted possessions in a row could be all the momentum that Brees and Saints need to take over.  28-17 Saints move on to Miami and Brett Favre pisses us off for an entire offseason.

Oh, and Colts win a boring 21-10 game in the first matchup.  I just have a feeling about that one being a less than stellar Peyton Manning performance.

If the Vikings do win, this is why:

-FredEx

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The New York Jets: They Make No Sense, But Man Are They Fun To Watch

Sunday, November 22, 2009.  The New York Jets are fresh off of a 31-14 drubbing at the hands of the New England Patriots in which rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez threw 5 (five) interceptions.  That’s right, he threw the ball to the other team on 5 different occasions during the course of the game.

After a quick start, it seemed as though NFL reality had caught up with the Jets and their rookie quarterback and rookie Head Coach Rex Ryan.

Fast forward almost a month to the day, December 20, 2009, and you see the Jets drop a painfully ugly game to the mediocre Falcons who were missing their star running back Michael “The Burner” Turner (who only ran for about 2,000 yards the previous year, no biggie).  In one of the most inept offensive performances you will ever see, they dropped the game 10-7, with the only touchdown coming off a defensive turnover and a completely mishandled 2-minute drill costing them an opportunity at a win.

In his press conference following this game, Rex Ryan declared the season over and said that it was a shame his team would have to wait until next year to make the playoffs.

Then something crazy happened—or more appropriately, a number of crazy things happened.

First, the Colts decided to wipe their collective buttcracks with the pages of the football history books by taking out their starters—including the best quarterback of our generation Peyton Manning—and putting in their reserves—including some rookie whose last name is Painter and went to Purdue.  Staring at the opportunity to complete an undefeated season, the Colts decided instead to bend over for the rest of the game and let Peyton leave early to do another commercial with Justin Timberlake (who by the way might be the best celebrity spokesperson duo out there—legitimately funny, overexposed and they know it, some of the biggest megastars in their respective fields, and just damn nice to look at if we’re really being serious about it) while the Jets got a win that would ultimately lead to them re-defining the notion of “backing in to the playoffs.”

Then, probably more importantly (though without that BS win the Jets’ season is over so this transformation means nothing), the Jets remembered that they should stick to doing what they do well and nothing else, and that sticking to their plan would win them games.  They started running well, kept locking down on defense, and stopped letting the Sanchise throw them out of games.  His pass attempts plummeted faster than Brady Quinn on Draft day, and all of a sudden the Jets were in games.

The key for the Jets as they take on a Colts team that presumably gives a lump of butt nuggets this time out is to slow the game down.  If you’re like me and you sit at home all day watching SportsCenter and wondering whether Josh Eliott is a complete douche or if he just plays one on TV, then you saw Mark Schlereth talking about the Jets needing to take 4 possessions away from the Colts in this game.  Now if you’ve forgotten, Mark Schlereth won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos.  (Oh wait, you mean that doesn’t have to come up every single time his name is mentioned?  Man, someone should tell him that.)  But seriously, I thought the possession point was a good one made by Schlereth, and I think the Jets are ideally built to do just that.

Why do I think that?  Because the way you take away possessions in a football game is through tough, blitz-happy defense causing the other team to hand you the ball and control of the time of possession to keep the other offense on the sideline.

The Jets do a great job of mixing up blitzes and of not showing too obviously who is coming, so Manning’s infamous audibles may very well be neutralized (at least to a degree), and the havoc caused by the blitzes should theoretically create some opportunities for turnovers.  Time-of-possession-wise, the Jets’ offensive plan is to run it, run it, and run it some more and then let the Mexican take over within the 30 just to create some drama.  Simply stated, against a sub-par rush defense in Indy, time of possession should be a strength for Gang Green on Sunday.

Then again, after that Pats game put them at a bleak 4-6, and when they couldn’t move the ball on offense against the Falcons, everyone thought they were destined to miss the playoffs in a big way.

Just goes to  show you that theoretical sports predictions are about as useful as Braylon Edwards going across the middle of the field:  if things happen the way they’re supposed to, you’re really more surprised than impressed.

PREDICTION: Jets 26-20

NFC pick (not that you care): Saints 38-24

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