Sunday, September 30, 2007

How do you make a bad team feel worse about their season?

Make their uniforms look like they have been soaked in a horrible mustard/urine blend!

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

A post not about college football.

I figure with Steve at the Purdue game, and plenty of recent posts on football, and many, many sources for college football commentary out there today, I might as well mention a rumor thats been bugging me lately. It's catching a lot of traction lately around the internet.
The rumor is that Johan Santana will be traded this offseason, specifically to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. First off, this was a rumor first introduced by the CBS station out in L.A. so it isn't jut wild speculation. The trade seems to actually be fair for both teams, as Matt Kemp would make an immediate impact at the top of the order. He's batting .332 this year for the Dodgers with 10 homers and depending on what is done with Torii Hunter this offseason. Kershaw is one of the premier pitching prospects in the game, and could easily be spun for a needed veteran. If Santana is gone, we have both players for 6 years at least before they are eligible for free agency, and in the mean time, we'll pick up 12 million dollars in salary space which could be spent on both Justin Morneau and a veteran presence to put somewhere in the lineup. Other rumormongers think Barry Bonds would be a good fit, but why do we need another lefty? Additionally, with the prospect of both Santana and Hunter on the way out of town, it seems like we would need someone with a little more charisma.
But thats neither here nor there. The point is, if the Twins are convinced they can't resign Johan Santana, I think this is one of the better options out there. The key would be to use the money saved on a quality free agent or two.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Hockey's Here!

At 11AM, locally, the NHL season officially gets underway. To commemorate this occasion, I present you with this video of Kevin Stevens and Brian Trottier of the Pittsburgh Penguins heckling Brian Bellows of the North Stars during the Stanley Cup Finals of 1991. Before you watch the video, you should probably check out the transcripts below if you are wary around naughty words. A lot of naughty words (at least 13 in a 30 second clip). Hockey players now use witty banter like this in several different languages!

Stevens: Bellows! Get off the [expletive] ice, you [expletive]

Stevens: Bellows, you must be really hurt. Get off the ice, you [expletive]
Trottier: Oh yeah, you're the best
Stevens: No problem gettin' off the ice. Get off the ice, you [expletive]. [expletive] --
Trottier: You're the [expletive] best, Bellows!
Bellows: (inaudible)
Stevens: You lay on the ice like a world class --
Trottier: You're a superstar!
Stevens: You lay --
Trottier: You're the [expletive] best, Bellows!
Stevens: You lay on the ice like a little -- Lay on the ice like a broad, Bellows! You, [expletive]!
Trottier: You [expletive] woman!
Stevens: You little [expletive] puke! Get up, [expletive]
Trottier: Lick my [expletive] [expletive]. [expletive]!

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Boiler Up

We're a little distracted here at the Times. Our usually pristine journalistic focus is a little rattled by this coming Saturday and Notre Dame. Generally, we keep a pretty even keel on stuff like this, but this week, we were a little rattled by these two posts. First, from Her Loyal Sons, a Notre Dame blog. Next, the response from the excellent Purdue blog, Boiled Sports. The posts themselves are rather combative, but the arrogance pervasive in the comments is rather indicative of why we Boilermakers hate Notre Dame. Back to more partisan (hah!), diverse posts tomorrow. Maybe.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why I Hate Notre Dame

As Ryan mentioned a few days ago, I'm a graduate of Purdue University. Purdue grads tend to dislike Notre Dame for many reasons. First, they are located in the same state, and no, Notre Dame fan, Purdue is not located in West Lafayette, PG (for Pearly Gates). Second, they play each other annually in football in what has developed into a pretty good measuring stick game early in the season for both teams over the past 10 years. Purdue fans get a little more excited for this game than Notre Dame fans, especially when they can potentially knock off a team that gets as much national attention that Notre Dame does. Purdue fans also have a problem with Notre Dame's arrogance that exists on many levels, whether it is their so-called superior education (Purdue is comparable or better in many majors), affiliation with the Catholic church, or the fact that their tuition is so high it almost forces them to be so arrogant to mask how stupid they are for going there in the first place. Now, I'm not from Indiana, so the in-state rivalry doesn't mean much to me. I also don't hate Notre Dame just because of the fact that I went to Purdue. This is a hatred that's existed since my childhood. Let's take a trip back to my grade school days in the early 90's.....

I'm from a southwest suburb of Chicago that is dominated by Catholic parishes and is predominantly Irish in ethnic background. I'm also Catholic, but my nationalities are Italian and Polish. The street we lived on was infested with die-hard Notre Dame fans, one of which actually went to college there, even though we were about 100 miles away from South Bend. Why were they such huge fans? Well, because they were Irish! And Notre Dame is the Fighting Irish! Also, the local families were so competitive with each other that it seemed like a lot of actions that were taken were an attempt to raise their social status, instead of help the community. Being the great Catholics that they were (even the alcoholics, abusers, and adulterers at home) it was natural to have God's team, Notre Dame, as the team of choice. They didn't just love Notre Dame, but they forced it down your throat...Notre Dame merchandise being worn everywhere, ND flags waving outside houses...hell, even my grade school fight song was set to the tune of Notre Dame's. A visit to a neighbor's house usually involved being forced to talk about the development of Ron Powlus, and being asked how it could be that I never visited "The Campus" as they called it with an arrogant tone. Keep in mind that maybe 2 people in my whole suburb actually went to school there, and not many more went to ANY college. Being Italian and Polish, and with my family not having a social status identity crisis, I didn't feel obligated to cheer for a college in a small town in Northern Indiana. With my apologies to Holden Caulfield for stealing his outlook on life, I eventually got sick of the arrogance and phoniness of these certain people in my neighborhood and the love they shared for Notre Dame was tied to my disgust with them.

So, with the basis of hate for Notre Dame laid out in my childhood, there are a lot of other factors that have enhanced my hatred for the Fighting Irish over the years. First, their nickname and logo and the fan base that loves it so much is pretty laughable. Notre Dame is French for Our Lady, which refers to Mary, mother of Jesus. French. There is a famous cathedral in France called Notre Dame. The University was founded by priests from a congregation in France. So why are they even called the fighting Irish? I didn't care to read the whole story, but apparently it has something to do with one of the presidents of the school being a part of an Irish brigade from New York during the Civil War. What a great reason to give the team that name with all of its history tied to France, though I guess the Fighting French would be kind of an oxymoron. Also, why is "Fighting Irish" not considered derogatory like the Fighting Illini of Illinois? For many years, the Irish community has faced the very negative stereotype of hanging out in pubs, getting drunk, and starting fights. So what did they pick as their logo? A drunken leprechaun with his fists up ready to fight. If I was Irish, I would probably be offended by this, but my neighborhood embraced it. That would be like if there was a University of New Jersey Shooting Italians and the logo was a mobster eating pizza and holding a machine gun.

Next, let's get into Notre Dame's scheduling practices. They're always touted for having such a "tough" schedule, because they play USC and Michigan, and maybe occasionally a Penn State or Florida State. But they always schedule some of the absolutely worst programs in the nation where there is no way they could lose (unless they are as bad as they are this year). For example, this year they play Navy, Duke, Stanford and Air Force (who are better than the 3 previous, but still a service academy). They usually fill out their schedule with teams that traditionally range from terrible to just below average such Army, Rutgers (absolute garbage until recently), Boston College, Pittsburgh, Michigan State, Purdue, Syracuse, and BYU. Speaking of Purdue and Michigan State being some of the "easy" games for ND, they recently decided that they will no longer be playing those teams every year to make room for some other schools they agreed to play, which is an interesting coincidence with both programs showing improvement and no longer being complete pushovers over the past decade. Sure each conference will have their crappy programs *cough* Indiana *cough* too, but no conference game, especially on the road, is a guaranteed win. Notre Dame has the luxury of hand picking as many cupcakes as they want instead of 3 or 4 for the conference teams.

I have two more quicker points. First Charlie Weiss is an arrogant jerk, which makes him perfect to coach this team. Also, according to Ballsiest, he looks like Sloth. I wonder if his transformation surgery was actually disguised as "stomach stapling." He makes this team easier to hate, especially after the respectable Ty Willingham coaching ND before him. Also, Notre Dame apologists like the bring up the "high standards" that Notre Dame has for its student athletes, as if they turn down blue chip prospects because they don't meet the usual standards for acceptance to the school. That's just a load of crap. A few years back there was a report floating around with the average ACT/SAT scores of incoming freshmen football players by school, and Notre Dame was in the middle of the pack. The top scorers on that list were some of the worst programs around at the time, such as Duke, Stanford, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt. It's impossible to have a national championship caliber team without bending the admission rules for certain people, and all colleges do it. The ones that don't are the ones that finish 2-10. I will say though to Notre Dame's credit by the looks of this year's team they might actually be near the top of the test score ratings nowadays.

I probably have more reasons to hate Notre Dame that didn't come to mind as I write this, so this might need to have a part 2 some day. All I have to say is I'm excited to see the Boilers march over the Irish this Saturday at Ross-Ade. Boiler Up!

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Twelve's a Crowd

If it seems like we've had our mind on football a lot lately, it's because we have. It's Notre Dame week,. and it's always thrilling to throttle some arrogant pricks from a private school. Just ask the Mighty Ducks. Or Steve.
But I'm not full of that much vitriol tonight (check back tomorrow), so I wanted to explore an issue surrounding Notre Dame and the Big Ten. Especially recently with the introduction of the Big Ten Network (evil), the conference has been looking to add a 12th team in order to set up a football championship game, in which they would rake in a ton more money. They want to add a school in a major market in order to draw in more TV viewers, but from a competitive and traditional standpoint, that seems difficult. So what are we left with? I have a few ideas to get the Big Ten their silly conference championship game.
First, let's squash the two previous rumors. Notre Dame isn't coming to the Big Ten. They have a TV deal and a tough schedule every year as it is. They don't even come close to needing to play in a football conference. Besides, the idea of them having a shot at the Rose Bowl makes me a little queasy. The other school (that I haven't mentioned yet in this post) that has been rumored is Rutgers. Rutgers is located in New Jersey, but hardly has the attention of the New York City area. Additionally, they don't have any history of on the field success and would generally be fodder for the elite teams year in, year out. So lets look at a few realistic options.
The first is to poach one of the elite teams from the Big East, like West Virginia or Louisville. Both have a fairly stable history of successful football programs and would be a good spoil to Ohio State and Michigan. But therein lies another problem. If you have 12 teams, you're going to want to split the Big Ten into two divisions with the winner of each in the conference title game. You add Louisville or West Virginia, you're left with divisions that look like this:
West: Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue (?)
East: Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan St. Indiana (?) West Virginia/Louisville

First off, this is a good way to split up a rivalry between Purdue and Indiana, but how do you move another team from the east to the west? And would Indiana ever win another football game? Probably not.
So we move on to option two, which is a little more feasible. Poach from the Big Twelve, which would ironically put the Big Twelve at eleven teams and the Big Ten at twelve. The best two choices there are Iowa State, which already has a rivalry with Iowa, and Missouri, which already plays Illinois every year. This makes a lot more sense with our division layout. You've then got this:
West: Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa State/Missouri
East: Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue.

That makes a little more sense, geographically, but the east is still much stronger than the west. This hasn't really ever been a problem for the SEC, but I can see why Indiana may not be so happy about this reallignment.
There is of course, the option of going to the weaker conferences, like the MAC, and adding a team like Northern Illinois, which would fit well in the west. The Huskies are usually competitive and are probably the best football school in the immediate Chicago area. Win-win! an even more remote possibility is adding a 1-AA school like North Dakota State, which is probably better than at least a third of the Big Ten this year anyways. I would love to see Michigan play at the Fargodome. And lose, of course.
The last option I can think of is to boot a team out to get the even numbers. Right now, I have to believe that Minnesota would be optimal for removal from the Big Ten. They don't recruit well, they don't travel well, they aren't a good basketball school either when winter rolls around, they are further from any school than any other school in the conference. And, oh yeah, they're terrible.
Any other ideas? Let me know down there in the comments.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Power Ranks: Week 3

I'm back again with the latest power ranks following the week 3 games. The shocking #1 from last week, the Houston Texans, got toppled by the #2 Colts, who took a commanding hold on the #1 position. The Texans, however, only sank to #4. Patriots fans everywhere will still probably be upset with them remaining at #5, but right now they are still a victim of their weak division and ice cold opponents so far. If they wind up going 16-0, they'll raise up the me. On the flip side, the AFC South has started off so incredibly strong that all 4 teams are ranked in the top 8. The biggest gainers this week were Jacksonville and Philadelphia, who both ousted undefeated teams in impressive fashion. Denver, Chicago, and Arizona took the biggest falls this week. The Bears beatdown at home by the Cowboys was the obvious reason for their fall, but Arizona's was mostly from coming up on the short end of a lot of teams being bunched up. So, here are the new ranks with their gain/loss from the week before....

1. Colts - 92.06 - +1
2. Steelers - 84.35 - +2
3. Packers - 82.63 - Even
4. Texans - 75.44 - -3
5. Patriots - 74.03 - Even
6. Cowboys - 73.27 - +4
7. Titans - 65.12 - +4
8. Jaguars - 64.11 - +9
9. Ravens - 57.22 - +5
10. Panthers - 56.90 - +3
11. 49ers - 56.77 - -5
12. Redskins - 56.61 - -4
13. Lions - 54.89 - -6
14. Buccaneers - 53.23 - +7
15. Seahawks - 51.98 - +5
16. Eagles - 50.12 - +8
17. Broncos - 48.78 - -8
18. Bengals - 41.25 - +1
19. Giants - 40.85 - +6
20. Bears - 39.52 - -8
21. Vikings - 39.04 - -5
22. Browns - 38.89 - -4
23. Chargers - 38.06 - -1
24. Cardinals - 37.78 - -9
25. Raiders - 35.64 - +4
26. Chiefs - 35.51 - Even
27. Jets - 29.23 - +1
28. Rams - 23.27 - -5
29. Bills - 15.08 - +1
30. Saints - 14.44 - -3
31. Falcons - 14.23 - +1
32. Dolphins - 12.70 - -1

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Monday, September 24, 2007

One jerk's comeuppance

You know how when there was a kid at school who was mean to you, you're mom told you not to worry about it, because that kid would never make anything out of himself, and that you were tougher than he was and all sorts of platitudes and cliches? And then that kid went on to high school and became popular because he was good at sports but he was still a jerk and your mom said that someday people would see through him and he wouldn't be popular anymore? And then that kid went on to become a professional athlete, and even become famous for being a hothead? And then when that kid finally got his comeuppance, everyone came to his defense, because it "wasn't his fault" that he got hurt, and that the umpire provoked him? Well, that kid was and is Milton Bradley. Jerk.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Two perspectives on the same win

The one thing Steve and I share in common is our affiliation with Purdue University. Other than that, our respective teams don't line up at all with each others. Twins-White Sox. Colts-49ers. Wild-"What the hell is hockey". And so on. Well, anyways, we both naturally caught the Purdue - Minnesota game last night. I was sitting in the Minnesota student section while Steve was sitting comfortably on a couch in Indianapolis. Lo and behold, we BOTH have notes from the game. First mine, then Steve's.

Before I left for the game, I made a stop at church, mostly to atone for my sins, just in case I was beat to death in my Purdue gear at the Metrodome. Naturally, a couple all in their Minnesota paraphernalia sat right next to me, and I could hear them whispering under their breath the entire time. During the Lord's Prayer and the subsequent handshakes, they looked dismayed having to touch me. This would be a fun night.
The first thing I noticed was how ridiculous the Minnesota gold looks. It's yellow, friends. And putting that yellow on their pants made their legs look as though they were made out of candy corn. It's not intimidating.
Speaking of not intimidating, the Gophers defense may be one of the worst units I've ever seen in person. The defensive line is atrocious and the linebacking corps is depressing. The secondary is merely bad. Amir Pinnix at running back is still a decent talent, that didn't change, and if the Gophers are willing to let him carry the load for a while, they might be able to stay competitive against the Northwesterns of the world, but gracious, that is a terrible defense. I would like to say that it has a lot to do with how good Curtis Painter and Dorien Bryant are, but really, it has more to do with the complete lack of team speed.
Just a microcosm of the incompetence of the Gophers. After Cliff Avril scored a touchdown on his interception return, two cheerleaders were dropped, which was quickly followed by Goldy the Gopher's t-shirt launcher losing pressure, and he had to start chucking them into the bleachers (Goldy had the best arm on the Gopher's squad). The Gophers are completely ill equipped to having a team.
Oh, yeah, by the way that blocked field goal was the funniest play I've ever seen. You only get the end of the play in the video here, but trust me, it was fantastic. But because this was a play that, if converted, would have kept the Gophers in it, which is, indeed, worrisome.
The most powerful part of the day for me, however, was my departure from Minneapolis. It was my first time downtown since August, and I had not yet seen the site of the 35W bridge collapse. It's haunting to see something like that which you see on TV so much and associate with such tragedy. In two years, I wonder what life will be like on the University of Minnesota campus, with the bridge a reconstructed memory and a new stadium on campus.


Ok, now it's Steve checking in with his take on the game. I agree mostly with Ryan's take on the action on the field itself. I'm sure I'll get into this more as the season goes on, but Brock Spack is a total idiot and needs to be fired immediately...actually he should have been fired about 8 years ago. Purdue gets into the shootouts that they do because of his extremely soft defensive schemes. They are almost always running a prevent-style defense with a zone coverage where they let receivers catch balls over the middle all game long. Watching on TV, there were several plays where you couldn't even see ANY of the defensive backs in the picture before the ball was snapped because they were playing so far back. I think the only thing that saved Spack in the past was the talent that Purdue had on defense, and now there are a long list of those players enjoying successful NFL careers. Purdue currently is saddled with non-threatening defensive linemen and DBs that can't tackle or catch, which makes for some pretty frightening moments when a ball is caught over the middle and a bunch of guys who can't tackle are standing 15 yards up-field because they were told to stand there instead of cover receivers.

Now, on to the TV coverage of the game. I didn't catch any of the announcers names but the coverage was hilariously bad. Before the game, the color guy mentioned about 10 times (and about another 15 during the game) that he had Purdue ranked in his TOP 5 OFFENSES (everything he said sounded like shouting). He never mentioned who the other 4 were or what kind of validity his list had to begin with. He also did a weather forecast style breakdown of the offense before the game where he stood in front of video of the team looking completely clueless and trying to jump out of the way of images of Dorien Bryant catching passes. During the game, he also liked to say guys were "HELL OF A PLAYER" only for the play-by-play guy to agree saying they were a "heck of a player." The starting lineups were interesting to say the least. Joe Mauer did the Minnesota intros, which makes sense, but for Purdue they got JI.....JIM THOME to do it. When I think Purdue, I think Jim Thome, but he hit a homer there earlier in the day so I went along with it.

The shining star in all of this was the girl that did the sideline reporting. She got the most out of her Minnesota experience and went to all kinds of lengths to provide information for the game. After nearly getting run over by the marching band before the game, she went on to have all of these special reports. She actually filmed footage of herself helping the grounds crew after the Twins game by pulling out bases and flattening the pitchers mound. Then she mentioned how she called up Drew Brees, where I'm sure after asking, "who the hell are you and how did you get my number?" gave her some insight on Purdue's team this year. She then had some on-location footage where she filmed herself at the I-35 bridge and later at the construction site of the new Gophers stadium (complete with token hard hat). I'm kind of hoping she does a game at Purdue one day so she can have an in depth interview with the guy that waters the grass and maybe film some footage of her dancing with the transvestites at the Neon Cactus, then getting hit on at Triple X at 3:30 AM. As a season ticket holder for Purdue, it would be worth missing a game for that....

Friday, September 21, 2007

A glimpse at naming brilliance.

The NHL season is fast approaching, and in fact, the beginning is only 8 days away. This, of course, means that teams have to start paring their rosters, which meant that some players had to be sent to Houston to start the year. The real story in this is that Houston is going to be stacked with some awesome names. Let's review in a list countdown type of format, the best names Houston will be seeing.

7. D Maxim Noreau: A little bit Russian in the first name, a lot bit French Canadian in the last.
6. D Frederic St. Denis: Wow. That really sounds like a good, athletic name doesn't it? Of course, there is a precedent for sanctified names in the NHL, with Martin St. Louis doing all right for himself.
5. F Morten Madsen: Who names their kid Mort? Seriously! That's so awesome that I can't even begin to talk about it.
4. G Barry Brust: See above. It was either patent attorney or computer programmer for Barry here. He took what was behind door number three. I just find the name Barry on anyone younger than about 45 to be absolutely hilarious.
3. D Clayton Stoner: People pointed to this name last year and said Ha! it's a marijuana joke! But because he's old news and the fact that there are two ethereal names joining the Aeros this year, Stoner drops like a rock. Ha!
2. F Moises Gutierrez: This just sounds like a name that any baseball sim would have come up with in season 34 in dynasty mode. There's no way this could possibly be a real name. Or so I would think, if it wasn't for the fact that he's playing in Houston this year.
1. F Cal Clutterbuck: Oh. Oh my. I...uh... Oh boy. This is definitely going to be a name that leads to Dan Terhaar's eventual suspension, I suspect. By the way, Cal looks rather upset by the fact that his name is Cal Clutterbuck. You've got to be proud to be Cal Clutterbuck, Cal Clutterbuck. The name doesn't get old.

Adventures in Real Estate

It turns out, as reported by the Pioneer Press, via MLBtraderumors, Johan Santana has found himself a new bungalow in the Bearpath neighborhood of Eden Prairie, Minnesota! Does this mean Santana will be sticking around these parts for the next several years? Who knows? But if he does, I hope it leads to some awesome parties with he and Torii Hunter!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Computerized NFL Power Ranks

As Ryan mentioned in "Changes," I, Steve, will now be helping out the Times. To give a little history behind all of this, way back in January 2005 we had an idea to start up a sports site, which we called Is It Sports? For a little over a year, it gave Ryan a chance to showcase his writing abilities, while I acted as a counterpoint and showcased my mediocre html skills. Eventually, I wound up getting some writers block and didn't have the time to make web pages and new links for all of Ryan's posts, and that's when he decided to create the Victoria Times blog. I eventually migrated over here as well, creating a new Is It Sports? but I rarely made new posts. So now we're back writing together again, but only this time Ryan doesn't need to wait a month to get his post up while I'm searching for pictures of ostriches.

So I'm starting off with what I think I do best: statistical analysis. I came up with a computerized NFL power ranking formula that factors in record, recent success, momentum of opponents, strength of division vs. non division opponents, and a few other factors to see who the numbers say is #1. My favorite part about this I haven't tested this at all on past results so I have no idea how this will turn out. I'm thinking as the season goes on, this will either turn out to be stunningly accurate or a huge joke, nothing in between. I'll start off by posting all 32 teams in order. This early on, with winning %'s all being either .000, .500, or 1.000, the ranks will be more or less tied to record, but that will change as the season continues. By the looks of who #1 and who #32 are, after 2 weeks, your 2007 NFL MVP is.....Matt Schaub! I was as stunned as you probably are to see the Texans topping my original list, but its not too far fetched this early on. The AFC South is 4-0 outside of the division and the Texans have put up some pretty solid offensive and defensive statistics so far. Most people would probably agree that the Patriots have been the most dominant team so far, but this early in the season, they are being hurt by the fact that the other 3 teams in their division are 0-2. To equate this to college football, think if the BCS made the Sun Belt champions #1. This can change though, and as more stats pile up throughout the season the teams will hopefully find their right place. So without further are the Week 2 ranks and scores (out of 100):

1. Texans - 90.83
2. Colts - 90.50
3. Packers - 85.48
4. Steelers - 80.58
5. Patriots - 76.17
6. 49ers - 72.52
7. Lions - 72.28
8. Redskins - 65.38
9. Broncos - 64.40
10. Cowboys - 63.19
11. Titans - 59.38
12. Bears - 57.20
13. Panthers - 55.93
14. Ravens - 54.98
15. Cardinals - 51.88
16. Vikings - 51.73
17. Jaguars - 51.27
18. Browns - 51.21
19. Bengals - 50.95
20. Seahawks - 49.48
21. Buccaneers - 46.27
22. Chargers - 45.50
23. Rams - 32.68
24. Eagles - 31.17
25. Giants - 28.65
26. Chiefs - 21.69
27. Saints - 21.63
28. Jets - 20.75
29. Raiders - 20.24
30. Bills - 15.75
31. Dolphins - 12.06
32. Falcons - 12.04

So this weekend we have 2 big games based on these ranks: #1 Houston vs. #2 Indianapolis and #4 Pittsburgh vs. #6 San Francisco. I guess only time will tell to see how these ranks work out, but when the Texans play the Packers in the Super Bowl, don't say I didn't tell you so.

A stunning correlation

The guys at Bugs and Cranks have done some research and have came to an astounding realization. I wish I had Excel so I could present this in some sort of line graph. In any case, the facts are out there for anyone to see, and in fact, are almost a little too obvious. In years in which O.J. Simpson has been arrested for a felony, the World Series has not been played. This does not bode well for the rest of the season.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Departed

Terry Ryan has left the Twins, and as much as I was on his case, I don't particularly want to see him go. In retrospect, much of the problems in recent years were not his doing, but rather that of an indifferent ownership, one, if you'll recall, volunteered the Twins for contraction. See, the first part of Ryan's plan pretty much went as it was supposed to. The second part, the one that required a little bit of backing from the owners collapsed entirely.
The first, which involved making timely trades and acquiring serious prospects, went off without a hitch, as Chuck Knoblauch, Eric Milton and most notably A.J. Pierzynski were moved in order to pull in some top flight prospects. Now, many GMs have caught on to Ryan's plan, and trades have been much harder to come by for the Twins staff lately.
The second part of the plan, the one where the Twins maintain their excellence, is where Terry Ryan failed to get the support he needed. In order to keep performing well, you need to keep your top players, something which Carl Pohlad hasn't demonstrated a willingness to pay for. In the absence of keeping your top players through their prime, another good strategy would be to trade for quality veterans or signing free agents. Again, both of these tactics cost money, and Pohlad wouldn't loosen his purse strings.
Now with several pending free agents and players seeking extensions, will the Twins remain competitive? Are they going to spend money and support new GM Bill Smith's quest for a quality squad? Well, Justin Morneau doesn't seem to think so. Johan Santana hasn't for some time. And if Ron Gardenhire is anticipating putting Nick Punto in the starting lineup every day again next season, that can't bode well. In fact, the only person really with an optimistic view is the Twins Geek. I wish I shared his optimism.
I have a feeling that the Twins and fans are in for a long, cold winter as they anticipate their future.

(apologies for the horrendous paint job)

The NFL Review isn't going anywhere

Unfortunately for you, getting rid of my disjointed NFL reviews is not among the changes that will be made. Instead, you will get me paint fume inspired rant on various games I was actually able to watch over the course of the weekend. Aren't you lucky?

During the Colts-Titans game, every time they would hand the ball to Chris Brown, I would hear "Wall to Wall" and a DJ saying "Chris Brown". Am I the only one? Additionally, seeing Lendale White brought back memories of Keith Jackson calling his name during the 2006 Rose Bowl. Definitely the most exciting name in the league. Too bad Marvin Harrison can't be named Lendale White as well, because he actually makes exciting plays, and really, I can't think of a more boring name. I hope to see more of the Titans on TV this year. Anyways, The Colts beat the Titans and I couldn't be happier.

Any cause for optimism in the Minnesota Vikings camp was quickly expunged as Tavaris Jackson threw 4 interceptions against the Detroit Lions. To be fair though, the Vikings were destined to lose this game, as was further evidenced by John Kitna's miraculous recovery. After watching the Vikings now for two consecutive weeks, I'm happy that I'm working next weekend.

I really can't say enough about the Bears-Chiefs game. For the second straight week, the Bears put me to sleep for a much needed nap. Thanks Chicago! What I can surmise, however, is that the Bears are a lot like the Vikings, with a bad quarterback, a decent running game and a strong defense. The difference is that the Bears have a bad quarterback with experience and Devin Hester. Boy, I can't wait to see the first Bears-Vikes contest!

There was a brief time last week when everyone seemed convinced that the Patriots were winning because of their cheating ways. (By the way, what is it with Belichick and cheating anyways?) No no, the Patriots win because they have great players at every position. It helps that they played Norv Turner, who is a crappy coach. I wish we could go back and wipe out all of their wins because of cheating, but really, the Patriots have a higher level of talent than pretty much everyone. I hate them so much.

I think I'm going to have to admit that I screwed up on my picks. The Eagles look horrendous thus far. Of course, their loss to the Redskins shouldn't tell me a whole lot, because the Skins are never as bad as I want them to be. Even still, I'm not sure I want the Cowboys to be this much better than the best of the league.

OK, so I'm not writing the NFL review next week. But Steve is. So like I said. Not going anywhere.

Monday, September 17, 2007


A lot is said about the "voice" of a blog these days, which is essentially the tone a particular site takes, as well as the scope of their coverage. At least, that's my interpretation of the term. I've taken great care to tailor the "voice" of the Times to my dear readers. I try to avoid using naughty words, having a limited scope, or a devotion to any particular cause, even though the sites linked to are very successful with what they do. It works well for their sites, but again, they are not me, and theirs are not my readers (although if they are, thanks!).
I think this works for my readership, which is growing rapidly, thanks to several people, including, but not limited to Deadspin, Ballhype, Nyjer Please, and Barry Melrose Rocks (with whom I'm in a fantasy hockey league. We have a draft tonight. I'll keep you posted), and it has occurred to me that with my increasing readership, it may be a good idea to have something out there for my readers every day. Since that kind of workload would probably kill me if I wrote something as lengthy as I usually do, I'll be doing 3 things. First, I'm eliminating the Week in Review columns, and instead commenting on those little items as they happen. Second, I'm going to have a lot more little, posts, while keeping the same number of full length posts, like yesterday's Big Ten post. Third, I'm adding writers. I have one for sure, Steve, who I think I have mentioned before. There is another surprise in store that I'll reveal when all the kinks are worked out.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Will anyone win the Big Ten this year?

Ah the Big Ten. Is it as bad as people think? Well, yes. After this past week, I think we determined that the Big Ten is dreadful. But hey, at least they will put a team in the Rose Bowl, right? Right? After three weeks, I think I'm pretty much ready to assess the state of the Big Ten, who the pretenders and contenders are. Since I like ranking things, I will do the very same right now.

1. Ohio State: The Buckeyes are the boring pick, of course, but the Big Ten is a boring conference this year. They lost their quarterback, and even though he won the Heisman last year, it's hard to say that they really and truly lost a whole lot. They are a running, defensive team. Kind of like the Vikings, but executed well.

2. Penn State: I get the impression that the Nittany Lions and their faithful always have a good perspective on their season. If they're 9-2, then great, 9-2! Never mind that they may have lost to Minnesota and Bowling Green, its still a good season. Frankly, any season that Joe Paterno doesn't have "old person" problems on the sideline should be a good season, but PSU should do pretty well this year.

3. Purdue: That is a scary offense isn't it? 300 yards against Central Michigan. IN THE FIRST QUARTER! Out of control my friends. Oh, and Dorien Bryant, who sounds like a he should be in the new Terminator movie, is the best thing to happen in my life since I discovered Chips Ahoy! chewy. Every other team in the Big Ten seems fairly impotent offensively, and while the Boilers may not have a good defense, they should be able to out shoot most of their opponents this year and earn an unlikely berth in the Capital One Bowl (if Penn State makes the BCS). And anyone that linked over from Deadspin, I should probably tell you. I went to Purdue, so I make comments on the women because I know the women. Besides, the women that are attractive can get kind of stabby.

4. Wisconsin: Teams have little hiccups like the Badgers did against The Citadel. It happens. Their defense will certainly come around, as they have too many upperclassmen for that to be a concern. And they did smoke Washington State. Yeah, Wisconsin is going to be fine, as much as I don't want that to be the case

5. Illinois:
In case you weren't watching early in the day, Lou Holtz thinks that Illinois could be a sleeper team in the Big Ten. I'm not so sure. They are still rocking a sophomore QB in Juice "Don't Call me O.J." Williams, and they wear entirely too much orange for me to take them seriously. Even so, they'll meander into some bowl or antoher this year, and their road win against Syracuse makes me confident in that.

6. Michigan State: If the Spartans had beat their mediocre Big East opponent on the road, I might have different opinions about Michigan State. I really haven't seen them do much of anything yet this year, so it's tough to truly opine on them, but they also lose points for having a new coach and generally being forgotten in the Big Ten every year.

7. Michigan: Bwaaaahahahahahahhahah! Michigan is TERRIBLE! Ha! Well, their defense is brutal and their offense is injured. Everyone delight in how BAD the Wolverines are.

8. Iowa: Before I moved, I got Weird Iowa Channel, which would show old University of Iowa sporting events, Iowa High School sports and a show called "Cy-Hawk Talk" which featured a couple of guys talking about their respective schools. It wasn't bad. They had a guy that looked like Will Ferrell, and another guy who said that the Cyclones would beat the Hawkeyes. Low and behold. A sure sign that the Hawkeyes may not be so good this year.

9. Indiana: Indiana could very well pull off a few upsets this year. They've played better than they usually do this year, and are certainly playing for the memory of their former coach, Terry Hoeppner who passed away during the offseason. They might be able to find three wins over the course of the rest of the season to add to the three they already have and get invited to a bowl game. Wouldn't that be a nice, feel good story in which the cameras would spend way too much time focused on the student body? I think so.

10: Northwestern: Yeah, Wildcats? Duke is good at basketball, not so much at football. You can't talk yourself up after losing last week. They did beat Nevada though, so good for them!

11: Minnesota: The Gophers could very well be among the top half of teams in the Sun Belt. Maybe. Tim Brewster inherited a pretty awful squad from Glen Mason, but at least Mason was able to get some effort out of these guys. Just a bad team.

Of course, my Big Ten rankings mean nothing. I just like ranking things. It would make more sense if I had the Big Ten Network, I'm sure.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An NFL review, backloaded with pictures

Well, we're back live with the NFL season and my Tuesday NFL recaps. Did you all notice that I slipped in a lengthy week in review yesterday? I hope so, and I hope you comment. Comments are my blood.

First, I want to mention my postseason predictions, which I admit were slightly changed after the season opener. We'll start with the NFC as we did with the previews.
The NFC looked even worse than I thought they would this weekend, and I really don't think there is any good reason to say any particular team will do well this year. So, there's really no reasoning behind any of my picks, because all the teams are fully capable of choking the season away.
In round 1 Seattle wins vs Dallas in a rematch of last years debacle. Carolina wins at Philadelphia thanks to a couple successful long pass plays in an otherwise boring game. In the second round Seattle will win at New Orleans, because New Orleans has no defense and Carolina will use the same method they did against the Eagles when they go to Chicago. Seattle is going to get to the Super Bowl over Carolina because they simply have more big game players than the Panthers, and are playing at home.
The AFC is a little easier to decipher. There is a clear hierarchy to the teams, and any upsets will truly be upsets. I have Denver defeating San Diego in the first round, more because of Norv Turner than because of the Chargers or Broncos talent. After watching Cincinnati play Baltimore, I was convinced that the Bengals looked a lot better than they actually are. I'm taking the Ravens at home. In round two, that will pit Denver and New England. This won't even be close. In Indianapolis, I'm going to take the Ravens, because by that point I suspect Joseph Addai to be broken. In New England, I'll take the fresher Patriots.
We'll see New England and Seattle in the Super Bowl, where the Pats should win by about 100. Randy Moss will be the MVP of the Super Bowl and perhaps the season. Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson will be the rookies of the year for their respective leagues. So that's that.

The Colts-Saints season opener was a few days ago at this point, but let's bring something up. The Saints offense looked awful. Reggie Bush isn't the life changing force he's made out to be. Even in college he was surrounded by the best, and he has a good squad in New Orleans. Well, not so much the defense, which was destroyed also. Oh well.

The Vikings sure looked good eh? Well, their defense played well against a Joey Harrington led offense. Harrington for the record, is better than people say he is, but still. It was a new, terrible offense, and the Vikes scored a whopping 10 offensive points against what should be a poor defense. This game presented more problems than it solved, despite what you may have been led to believe. Among the problems presented? Tony Boselli isn't quite ready for the broadcast booth.

Allegations are, and evidence indicates that the Patriots were stealing signals from the Jets. The Patriots have a good enough team that they shouldn't need to do that, but I'm glad they did it against the Jets, who deserve to be cheated against. They cheered when their own quarterback was hurt! That's just scummy. Boo Jets. You are now my least favorite team.

The San Diego-Chicago game was almost unwatchable. Now, the Bears are generally tough to watch anyways, but they don't always necessarily induce the opponents to be as shaky as the Chargers looked. No no, I think that can be attributed to going with a stupid looking helmet. Maybe a little because of their bad coach.

So let's see. Jimmy Johnson, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin are all gone from Dallas. Bill Parcells is gone. So why is John Madden still obsessed with the Cowboys? It must be Jerry Jones. In any event, Eli Manning is out for a month, meaning Jared Lorenzen is going to be the starting quarterback. I'm terribly excited at the prospect of a fat guy from Kentucky taking a prominent role in the New York sports scene.

Let's go through this one. The Ravens lost the ball about 15 times, Carson Palmer had a few big plays, and the Bengals went out and.... won by 7? That's it? In the words of Denny Green, they are who I thought they were. If you want to crown them, crown their asses. The Ravens let them off the hook. That's me saying that the Bengals are susceptible to a team with a pulse.

Speaking of the wonderful Denny Green, his old team, the Cardinals had a lot of penalties, didn't they? Just what a team with a history of disorganization and losing needs. A lack of discipline! Good luck Arizona.

Monday, September 10, 2007

NFL Preview, AFC East

Holy crap! It's football in less than a month! You know what that means? That's right! It's time to lose most of my baseball fan readers by doing a whole lot of preview posts! 9 of them, to be exact! With even more exclamation points! ! !!!!

The AFC East has recently been the Patriots and everyone else. No reason to believe that it will be any different this year.

New England Patriots: The beauty of getting this preview up a week into the season is that I'm able to say without a doubt that this is the best Patriots team I've seen. Maybe ever. Keep in mind, the Patriots have three rings in the past 10 years. I can't think of a flaw they have. At least Randy Moss is there, so this may turn into an interesting team yet. Additionally, there are countless Tom Brady has several children on the way now.

Buffalo Bills: I would have had the Jets up here, but after watching them get decimated, I can't do that. The Bills are going to struggle late in the season though, as they are relying on Marshawn Lynch at running back, and rookies just never keep it up throughout the season. He'll breakdown in Week 13 and so too will the Bills. I must admit though that J.P. Losman is a better quarterback that I would have ever thought. I mean, the only other quarterback to come out of Tulane was Shaun King. (And I must extend my best wishes to Kevin Everett and his family while I'm on the subject of the Bills.)

Miami Dolphins: Oh yeah. The Jets looked so bad, I dropped them from 2nd to 4th. The Dolphins have a couple big play threats, and Ronnie Brown could finally break out. The offense isn't really the story though. A veteran defense will likely be what keeps the Dolphins in games. And don't mess with the kicker. Laces out!

New York Jets: Everything about the Jets is wrong right now. The quarterback is out. Thomas Jones won't be as good without a compliment (he hasn't succeeded as a single back anywhere else) and the defense is less than average. I'm sure the Jets fans won't mind a rebuilding year. New Yorkers are generally pretty patient.

So the Patriots should win this division without it being close. Unless Randy Moss goes insane. Championship preview tomorrow.

Veterinarians are bad people.

In the past few days, I've been pretty active, getting out there and doing all sorts of stuff really. I played a few games of real live (touch) football on Saturday, and I still can't cross my legs without lifting one over the other. Sunday I watched football. A lot of football. Best day in months. Then today, the dog and I took a trip to the vet. Don't worry, she's all right, save for her ear infection, arthritis and sprained knee. Ok, maybe she's not so all right. But anyways, at the vet, the dog and I were in the exam room, waiting for the doctor to come out and tell us what the deal was. I was reading the November 2005 US News and Wold Report, while she was flipping through the pamphlet on proper teeth care. I could hear the assistants chit chatting away about their weekend, and I realized that they were all talking about one of their hunting trips. I have to say, i was a little alarmed. Maybe vets aren't actually animal lovers, but rather, they just like to play God with our four legged friends. Man. Veterinarians are bad people. Something my dog would have certainly agreed with when they had a thermometer in her butt.
I digress. Let's review the week.

ITEM ONE: A few highlights in the world of college football. Minnesota got Tim Brewster his first win as coach in a dramatic overtime win over Miami. That would be the one in Ohio, not the one in Florida that's actually known for it's football. I think this makes the Gophers about the 6th best team in the MAC, right behind Central Michigan.
My favorite part of the early season is people realizing just how useless preseason polls are. Hawaii nosed Louisiana Tech, Michigan got throttled again, Boise State lost at Washington. LSU destroyed Virginia Tech in the Tragedy Bowl that everyone was uncomfortable watching, while Wisconsin got lucky against UNLV. Cal and Ohio State struggled with their opponents, while Georgia went ahead and lost to South Carolina. Auburn lost to South Florida and Texas A&M took overtime to beat Fresno State. Clearly, there are some things out there that still need to be sorted out. For my money, LSU has looked like the best team in the country thus far.

ITEM TWO: After two dominant performances against Eastern Illinois and Toledo, I would say that Purdue is going to be better than I expected this year, and with the way things are shaping up with the Big Ten, they could be contenders for the conference title, but they are having some problems with their top wide receiver. You see, Selwyn Lymon was out with a few friends this past summer, when he got into an altercation which resulted in his being stabbed in the chest, puncturing his lung. There were charges against Lymon and his accomplices, with Lymon receiving charges of battery, drunk driving and what he is presently being suspended for, minor consumption. The assailant is not being charged, as she was acting in self defense.
That's right. She. Lymon was trying to pick up this young coed, apparently, and perhaps he got a little too handsy (he is a wide receiver after all) and she did what any young lady in duress would do, she stabbed him in the freaking chest. Think about that. She got all the way to the lung which suggests that she was strong enough to cut through the ribcage to get there, or she was already so proficient with the knife, which, if she was carrying a blade instead of, say, mace or a whistle I imagine she was, that she knew to turn it to get between the ribs. Which means she probably has had cause to use the knife before.
Yeah, it's stuff like this that led to my not dating much in college.

ITEM THREE: Baseball is becoming depressing for me. The Twins are out of contention, and they are talking about what will be done for next year already. All the scenarios talk about people being traded or otherwise signing with other teams, and I'm kinda getting bummed out. I miss the days of Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek staying with the team for their careers. Why do we need to tell our youngsters that Torii Hunter is now a member of [INSERT TEAM HERE]. Why can't we just think of the children? Won't someone think of the children?

ITEM FOUR: The Vikings looked like they were going to get blacked out locally. Does this make any sense? I mean, isn't all the money from TV anyways? So why do that to your advertisers for the sake of 1200 tickets? I don't get it. Especially since they weren't going to show another game in the time slot. I'll never understand the blackout rules. (Oh. Yeah. I'll get that AFC East Preview up tonight.)

ITEM FIVE: Free plug for another site on the interwebs. The Dugout is doing their farewell tribute before they move to the wonderful world of the AOL Fanhouse. Read it, it's good. The Meadowlark is bored in the Kansas prairies.

ITEM SIX: Six Items! Ok, contain yourselves. I'm going to direct your attention to Europe for a moment. The UEFA Champions league, something I wish was done with, say, hockey, is starting very soon, like, a week from tomorrow. It takes all the best European club soccer teams and has them play in their own World Cup formatted tournament. Its championship game is second only to the Super Bowl in terms of viewership, so I feel as though I should probably mention it, especially since I find it interesting. So there. Go Rosenborg!

Six items, with an NFL preview still to come tonight. Aren't you lucky?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

NFL Preview, AFC South

Holy crap! It's football in less than a month! You know what that means? That's right! It's time to lose most of my baseball fan readers by doing a whole lot of preview posts! 9 of them, to be exact! With even more exclamation points! ! !!!!!

The AFC South produced last years world Champion and is a very intriguing division this year. Intriguing, however, is not a synonym of good. Of course, all four teams here could make the playoffs in the NFC.

Indianapolis Colts: It's easy to pick the last years Super Bowl winner to win their division, and I'm all about taking the easy route, so that's what I'm doing. Nothing has really changed with the Colts, as it hasn't for the past 5 years or so. If they can execute, they can do anything they want. That's the key though, they didn't execute when it counted before last year, so I don't think we can necessarily pencil them into the big game yet. We'll go ahead and give them the AFC north crown though.

Tennessee Titans: People have been saying the Titans can't compete since they don't have a defense. Well, that doesn't stop the Colts, does it? The difference is between the wideouts and the offensive scheme, which is less developed than what the Colts boast. They have three running backs that are all right, and the odds of one of them breaking out this season seems pretty good. They should get second pretty easily.

Jacksonville Jaguars: They cut their starting quarterback days before the season started. What? I don't see how they can possibly be successful when the organization is making decisions like that. Their defense is the best in the division though, which really isn't saying a whole lot.

Houston Texans: I've been thinking that the Texans were on the verge of breaking out for some time now, but this offseason they took a few steps back. Never, ever sign an aging running back. It never ends well. They have a few assorted talented players, like Damico Ryans, Dunta Robinson, Andre Johnson, but they won't do much this year.

The Colts are the only playoff team out of this division.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

NFL Preview, AFC North

Holy crap! It's football in less than a month! You know what that means? That's right! It's time to lose most of my baseball fan readers by doing a whole lot of preview posts! 9 of them, to be exact! With even more exclamation points! ! !!!!!

I leave that "It's foot ball season in less than a month!" part in there mostly to remind me that I'm lazy and it's taken me this long and I still haven't finished. I'll whip up a another feature length post to the AFC tomorrow, incorporate the AFC East into the Monday WIR and slip in my championship look with the Tuesday NFL Recap. Sound good? It should, because I'm in charge here.
OK then. Many are calling the AFC North the best in football, and I can live with that. I would personally say the AFC East and the NFC West could give them a run for their money, but the North is pretty good, and they have the one team for everyone to pick on and get their wins against. Unfortunately, I don't believe the race in the North will be particularly close. Maybe for that second wild card spot. We'll see.

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens have been remarkably consistent since Brian Billick arrived in town. Even though he is a brilliant offensive mind, he has left his offense pretty much comatose or the past 10 years while ensuring that his defense remained intact, and it has paid off. There are some offensive players there, of course, but none that really strike fear in the hearts of anyone. Ed Reed will probably get more touchdowns than Todd Heap this year. No matter, because their 13-14 wins will garner another division title, and maybe a Super Bowl berth.

Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer should have a functioning knee again, which will mean that Chad Johnson will be back to his old antics. They don't have a defense. Like, at all. Unless you count Chris Henry's attorney, of course. But this potent offense isn't quite refined enough to completely overcome their defense. The Colts at least had a good pass rusher and a solid secondary. I'm at a loss as to what the Bengals have to offer on that side of the ball. Even scarier, I think this is the year Rudi Johnson suffers a devastating knee injury.

Pittsburgh Steelers: I really don't like the Steelers offense. I mean, I think these guys are going to be painful to watch offensively. Well, compared to expectations. I think Willie Parker is wildly overrated without Jerome Bettis there for a change of pace, and Ben Roethlisberger hasn't really proved to me that he can be the quarterback for an explosive offense. Which is good, because the Steelers don't have the receivers needed for an explosive offense either. Pittsburgh usually has a good defense, but the departure of Joey Porter can't help. A good team, but not one of the top two teams.

Cleveland Browns: Someone should tell Romeo Crennel that when someone refers "taking the Browns to the Super Bowl", nobody is thinking about football. But what they are thinking about is pretty much on par with the team.

Ravens and Bengals in the playoffs. That's it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

NFL Preview, AFC West

Holy crap! It's football in less than a month! You know what that means? That's right! It's time to lose most of my baseball fan readers by doing a whole lot of preview posts! 9 of them, to be exact! With even more exclamation points! ! !!!!!

It's time to pop over from the NFC (AKA the inferior conference) to the AFC (AKA the good conference). We'll start in the west, which should be pretty cut and dried this year. Two teams in the playoffs. Two teams definitely not. Let's move on.

Denver Broncos: I am certainly going against the grain here on this one. People getting paid to analyze the division have the Chargers as the top team here. That's probably a good pick, but I think the Broncos may have what it takes to get over the hump. They have a better defense than the Chargers, particularly in the secondary, and though they don't have the playmaker the chargers do in Ladanian Tomlinson, they have a consistent ground attack and added a veteran to take advantage, something they didn't have last year. I don't trust Jay Cutler at quarterback, but the receivers are better than they are in San Diego. Look at the Broncos to surprise a few people this year, like, say Trey Wingo.

San Diego Chargers: In my Broncos preview, I pretty much summarized the Chargers too, I suppose. Let's add a couple little factors. Philip Rivers, in my mind is overrated. The hemorrhage that was the coaching staff could totally bring this team down, especially since they went with Norv Turner, thinking that was the best option. Additionally, their new uniform is rather ugly.

Oakland Raiders: Ooh, yes, this is a saucy pick too. Yes! Saucy! I read an interesting statistic the other day that said the Raiders were the 5th best defensive squad in all the land last year. Or something like that. I'm just pulling stats out of the air. However, it is true. The Raiders have a playmaking defense that may just keep them in games. Their offense is terrible though.

Kansas City Chiefs: Similar to the Raiders this year, except without a defense. And a worse quarterback. Their running back is good.

No matter how the Broncos and Chargers finish, they will both make the playoffs. It's easy when you have the Raiders and Chiefs to deal with for a quarter of your season.

My sleep schedule is totally wrecked.

So, for Labor Day I met some family up north in a cabin on Girl Lake. It was great, except that I got up there late last night. I got to sleep in the cabin, which was nice, and seemingly better off than most of the rest of my family, who were all in tents outside. Or so it seemed. I was on the path from the front door to the bathroom, and apparently my family has some of the smallest bladders out there. So it was a rough nights sleep, especially when so many woke up at 7 this morning. I got home around 7 this afternoon, and I planned on taking a nap. The nap lasted until 10 this evening, hence why the WIR post is so poorly timed. Sorry.

ITEM ONE: The college football season is off and running. The big story was Appalachian State winning at Michigan, thereby destroying any hope for a title run from Michigan, likely demoralizing them for the rest of the year. This opens the door for Wisconsin, who appears to have the strongest team in the Big Ten now, after manhandling Washington State. Their defense did look a little shaky at times, a whole that could be exposed. The Ohio State is also going through some growing pains this year, as all of their skill positions are being refilled. Could this open it up for a team with a returning quarterback and an improving defense? Like Purdue? Dare I dream? Of course not. It's probably going to go to Ohio State. F'in Buckeyes.
Back to Appalachian State for a minute though. Is it possible that this is the worst possible outcome for the school? Small schools get pad to get thrashed, and they stop getting money when they start winning those games. It's definitely hurt the MAC, and in the mean time, there are still plenty of teams like Idaho that can be doormats. Too bad for ASU, in a way. I suppose.

ITEM TWO: Speaking of demoralizing, it's tough to be a fan of Minnesota sports of any kind right now. The Gopher's football team choked away a victory against Bowling Green Saturday, ushering in the Tim Brewster era. All the enthusiasm he's had can't win you football games if you don't have the players to make it happen. The same memo needs to be sent to Vikings fans, who are depressingly optimistic. Usually I derive a bit of glee watching the Vikes get decimated because I enjoy seeing stupid decisions backfire, but for whatever reason, the fans this year are so oblivious to how bad the team is going to be, it makes me sad. And the Twins. Ugh. I don't want to talk about the Twins. When the guys giving tickets away on the radio acknowledge that the season is pretty much over, you know it's a bad sign. But apparently, Purdue has hope, so I'll be OK.

ITEM THREE: My own personal hell this weekend: All of my family members getting Raspberry Beret stuck in their heads. Just those two words though. Ugh.

ITEM FOUR: So, here's a bad idea. Let's say that you have a sports conference that has a huge contract with broadcast networks to show your games to all of the possible fans. Now, go ahead and make your own network and put the games on it while not getting a contract with any cable companies, then don't even make the games available for local networks. Is that an idea that will drive people to get DirecTV or pressure their cable provider, or will it drive people away from your conference, and keep fans away from games? Are you listening to any of this Big Ten?

All right, that wraps up my very late Week in Review. I'm going to go try to listen to songs that aren't about hats.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

NFL Preview, NFC East

Holy crap! It's football in less than a month! You know what that means? That's right! It's time to lose most of my baseball fan readers by doing a whole lot of preview posts! 9 of them, to be exact! With even more exclamation points! ! !!!!!

The NFC East may be the most overhyped division in all sports. They get the most attention on Fox every year and they are depressingly mediocre and have been the past couple of years. (I think I've mentioned now that every team in the NFC is mediocre, and I think that's a very efficient summary.) It definitely has something to do with "East Coast Bias" but then again, Dallas isn't quite on the East Coast. I'm not sure I entirely understand.

Philadelphia Eagles: People getting paid to do previews seem to be putting their eggs in the Cowboys basket, but I'm not sold. We'll explain the Cowboys thing later, but the Eagles have a quarterback, which can't be said about most of the teams in the NFC, and if they can use Brian Westbrook effectively, their offense should overcome their weak receiving corps. The defense won't be as strong as it's been in recent years after losing Jeremiah Trotter, but Takeo Spikes should ensure a still decent set of linebackers to keep offenses honest. Actually, you know what? I like the Eagles this year. If Donovan McNabb can avoid injury, then I am fully on their bandwagon.

Dallas Cowboys: How often does it happen? The Cowboys find a guy that has a couple big games, and they crown him the next king of the Metroplex. Tony Romo recently took the throne from Quincy Carter, but it won't last. The botched extra point last year was the first chink in his armor. His weaker arm and slow recognition would be the others. His taste in women is fine. His running backs are pretty wobbly, with Julius Jones never reaching his potential and Marion Barber drastically underused. The coaching staff is all new, and frankly, if Bill Parcells couldn't straighten this team out, I don't think Wade Phillips can either.

New York Giants: There is certainly a dropoff from second to third in this division. The Giants didn't get any better this offseason and lost one of the best running backs in their history, as Tiki Barber is now rubbing shoulders with Matt Lauer. The defense will get a huge boost from Michael Strahan, but it will take a while for him to get into game shape, if he ever gets there this season, seeing as he skipped most of training camp. Tom Coughlin doesn't have the respect of the team, and this is a nightmare waiting to happen.

Washington Redskins: The 'Skins have a cohesive unit, led by a respected coach, and they have two decent running backs in Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts. Sounds like they should be finish better than the Giants? Well, let's look at what the G-men have that the 'Skins don't. Talent. Skill. Rather important.

The Eagles and Cowboys will make the playoffs out of this division, making everyone comment on how great the NFC East is again. Well, until the Panthers and Seahawks smoke them, respectively, in the first round.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

NFL Preview, NFC South

Holy crap! It's football in less than a month! You know what that means? That's right! It's time to lose most of my baseball fan readers by doing a whole lot of preview posts! 9 of them, to be exact! With even more exclamation points! ! !!!!!

There is really no better way to honor the beginning of college football season than to look at the NFC South, I think. Or something.

New Orleans Saints: I would really love to shake things up in this division and put someone else on top, because I'm not as in love with the Saints as many people are. The "doing it for the victims of Katrina: feeling has ebbed. They would easily drop out of the top spot, however the rest of the division is painfully mediocre. Their receiving corps is led by a second year, 7th round draft pick and a running back. They have the quarterback to get the ball there in Drew Brees, but not the targets. Their running game is dependent on Deuce McCallister, because if they can't get things going between the tackles, they won't get it going around the ends with Reggie Bush. The defense also isn't the top flight unit most premier teams have. The squad is flawed, to be sure, but not nearly as flawed as the other teams in the division.

Carolina Panthers: The sooner Carolina figures out their quarterback situation the better. If Jake Delhomme figures out that he still has at least two great receiving options, as well as three running backs in Deangelo Williams, Deshaun Foster and even Nick Goings that are capable of breaking off big gains every once and a while, all the better for the offense to mix things up. If he doesn't, and he didn't last year, maybe David Carr will step in. If he isn't permanently scarred from his time in Houston, and that's a big if, Carr could definitely lead this offense. The defense is above average, but there are still a lot of holes, like in the linebacking corps, for example, and that will bite them in the butt, especially against the Saints.

Atlanta Falcons: Did you hear? The Falcons have some quarterback problems, as they are starting Joey Harrington who people have no faith in, despite the fact that he's been surrounded by total crap his entire career. Why are they starting Harrington when the world so clearly hates that option? Well, again, in case you hadn't heard, the Falcons previous starter, Mike Vick is going to be out for 2-5 years, depending on a judges ruling. People seem to think this will completely sink the Falcons, but I'm not sure why. They've always been a running team and still have two pretty good backs in Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood. Their receiving corps got a little better with the addition of Joe Horn. No no, the thing that will sink the Falcons is the atrocious defense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Now here is a team that wishes they had Joey Harrington. Or they will after Jeff Garcia realizes he can't play with a terrible team and reverts back to Cleveland Browns Garcia. John Gruden should begin preparing his resume. The Bucs had a good run.

The Saints will make the playoffs, the Panthers may nab a wild card spot if they can sort their QB situation out. They all start playing in a week!