Sunday, January 22, 2012

NFL Conference Championship Review

A fairly good Baltimore defensive effort was wasted by a terrible field goal try. I'm a former high school kicker (keep that on the down low though will you....chicks never dig the kicker) and I could not believe how bad he hooked that thing. Everything was set up for a Raven win. They kept the Pats under 24 points, forced Brady and others into turnovers and was not to be. Patriot luck is back. A touchdown catch that should have been secured by the Ravens to end the game....a missed kick in to send it to overtime....aghhh.. I can't stand the idea of the Patriots in another Super Bowl. This is a team that played mostly losing or .500 teams the entire season and post-season. They had to be giggling like school girls when the Steelers went down to the Broncos. Year after year they have almost no competition in their division, so the playoffs are almost automatic.....and it's driving me crazy.  It's up to the Giants to take these guys down. Speaking of which....

Were the defenses that good or were the offenses unusually bad?  I think it was the defense. Lots of sacks; coverages were tight. Other than a few good runs and two deep balls to Davis, Alex Smith was a bit disappointing. An no I'm not going to say it. ---I'm not. You want me to say, "what do you expect, it was Alex Smith" don't you?  But I'm giving Smith props for his year and if he played well in the season, and in his first playoff game, why shouldn't I expect it again?  But I'll admit I thought Smith blew some throws in the last few minutes. and he wasn't great. Not terrible, but nothing to whistle about.  The guy who is going to need therapy though is that back-up kick returner. Blew the game. No doubt about it. Two turnovers equaling 10 points for the Giants means he's the goat.

So now we got Eli against Brady for all the marbles. But I'm not expecting another miracle catch this time around. The Giant defense is going to have to do what the Ravens did today (make Brady average) and Eli is going to have to play much better. I think the Giants will need at least 27 points to beat the Patriots, ...more if the defense falters.

I'll check the score after the game. I never watch Patriot Super Bowl games live. I'm chicken that way. If the Pats win I won't be forced to watch ....and if the Giants win I'll happily watch the recorded game without stress. I wish I could say I'm better than that. I"m not.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

NFL Divisional Playoffs Review

Well........I guess that's why don't crown anyone in November eh?

The two most dominant teams before Christmas, the Saints and the Packers went down in flames this weekend. And I'm bummed. The tantalizing re-match between those two teams was not to be and that sucks.

Turnovers were the bane of both Green Bay and New Orleans. These are very different games (and I think outcomes) if the Saints and Packers don't give the other team essentially free points. The Giants defense was tough but the Packers killed themselves. They are going to be sick about this one all winter. They were one of the most dominant regular season teams I have seen in the last two decades of  watching football. It felt like the 85 Bears, and a couple of the Cowboy teams in the 90s. .....And now they're a footnote. Like the 07 Patriots. Except these guys didn't even make it past their first playoff game. I don't care that NY is a good team and peaking at the right time. The Packers roasted teams all season long! They didn't just get a nice schedule and win a bunch of close games.....They killed their opponents.  They should not have looked this bad against anybody. Rodgers looked rusty and so did his receivers. The defense was shaky at times (just like during the season) but without turnovers of their own (which were surprisingly absent) an no offense to bail them out, the result was bad  Lambeau loss. This is the most disappointing playoff game I've seen in a long time. Well....maybe not a long time...maybe just since Saturday when the Saints lost.

On the one hand, I've been a fan of Alex Smith since his Utah Ute days so I was happy to see him do well. On the other hand Alex just tore the heart out of one my favorite teams in the league. Brees had another killer season with nothing to show for it. Stupid turnovers and a defense that can't stop anything were a recipe for disaster. It was crazy how I sat and watched the Saints last score and said to my wife (who could care less of course) "too soon.. Too soon. They left too much time on the clock for Smith. That defense won't stop em".  Those were my words and I was calm as I prophesied. Having watched this defense all season, I knew their risk-taking style worked against bad teams and bad quarterbacks but on this day they were playing neither. I know that's weird to say about Smith. But he was "on" all day. His passes were crisp and especially when Vernon Davis was manned up, he didn't miss him. I wish them good luck against the Giants. They'll need it and a lot more of the mojo they displayed Saturday with the way NY is playing.  As for New Orleans, they had better get themselves a defense or they'll waste the prime years of Drew Brees' career. It's got to be frustrating for him to sit on the sidelines knowing that he has to match another team's offense as they score on his defense at will. He knows his offense can make no mistakes or it's over. Unfortunately for him, they did indeed shoot themselves in the foot. They've got lots of time to think about it now.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..z.............zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..huh...zzzzz. huh....oh, yeah, there was a game on earlier on Sunday wasn't there. As expected, this game sucked. The one watchable aspect of it was the defense of Ed Reed. I've a big fan of Ed Reed and his human flytrap hands. The guy is one those defensive backs that could have been a receiver. He doesn't drop much if it comes his way. Ball hawk!  The Ravens are the opposite of the Saints. Their offense is frustrating to watch and is something they never seem to get fixed. They have their spots. There have been games where Flacco has played very well. And Ray Rice has had numerous games where he has played like a stude. But do you trust that to happen against the Patriots? Even with a shaky defense and having watched two great offenses go down this weekend, I still wouldn't bet on the Raven offense getting it together. It will have to be the defense that wins the game against New England. As much as like the Ravens defense I'm not optimistic about it.

Some people actually believed this was going to give us some more Tebow magic. Not me. The Broncos have some comeback wins to be sure but when they were down 3 touchdowns in the blink of an eye you knew it was over. It wasn't a Tebow miracle that was needed, it was a Denver defensive show that should have been on the menu. But it wasn't and so we'll have to wait until next season to ride the Tebow train again. As much as I like Tim, I think the time in between will do us both some good.

I'm torn on who will win the NFC championship. It's a "pick-em" game for me but I'm leaning towards the Giants. They should meet the wicked kingdom of Belichick and Brady for the big game.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

NFL Wild-Card Weekend Review

I'm absolutely sick about the Bronco win against the Steelers. I felt like Pittsburgh was the only team that could possibly block the Patriots march to the Super Bowl.  Now the team that the Pats demolished in New England a few weeks back is heading back for more punishment. It will take more than a good game by Tebow to do the trick. Denver will need to force turnovers by Brady.

Not too surprising of a result. Dalton is a rookie and he made some rookie mistakes. Arian Foster was a beast. If he can keep healthy next year he could challenge for the rushing title.  I think this is it though for the Texans but would love to see them surprise me and a few others.

For my money this was the most entertaining game. Stafford had it right that they need to get home field advantage next year to increase their odds of going far in the playoffs. They are much better in Detroit. Still, Brees is hot and not much can slow the Saints down except themselves. It's been turnovers that have killed them in the playoffs before so they need to watch out for that in the next game. Their defense is very suspect so they'll need to continue to put up a lot of points and hang onto the ball.

Another Falcon meltdown in the playoffs. Matt Ryan is a big part of their regular season success, but he's been a huge part of their playoff disappointments as well. He just hasn't looked good when it counts.  Until he does, the Falcons will continue with the early exits in the post-season.  And how about the Falcons inability to convert "must-have" fourth and short and third and short in this game?  Atalanta needs  a lot more ingenuity on those plays. And I don't want to hear the old "if we can't convert 1 yard then we don't deserve to win" crap. That's the biggest douchebag rationalization I've ever heard. It would be more accurate to say "if your coaches are less creative in their play-calling than a block of wood" then you deserve to lose.

I'm looking forward to next week's games. By the way, DVRs are saving my marriage. Live games are still better if I can swing it and I have to be more careful to not hear the results of games but I love the digital world we live in.

Monday, January 02, 2012

NFL: Playoff Preview

 In terms of picks, I finished the season 11-5, and overall 154-98 (61%)  Not great, but not terrible either. Of course I don't pick the spread which is much more difficult. But I don't gamble so I could care less about final scores.

Some thoughts about next week. I'm bummed that the Saints aren't a 2 seed. I would have loved the potential for a championship game and rematch between the Saints and Packers. The 49ers have been great this year but I don't remember a single game where they were on TV (and they were on a lot here in the West) that I said, "I've got to see that game".  I don't have anything against them. I like Alex Smith, I like Frank Gore, I like Patrick Willis. They just don't excite me.  
 --Having said that, although the Saints were exciting and very good last year they choked to the Seahawks, so nothing is guaranteed even if Brees and company had grabbed the 2 spot this year. Thankfully there is no Seahawk type team in the NFC this year that can come in, ruin things and give us a crappy playoff championship matchup. Although the Falcons are sometimes boring, I think any of the NFC teams that can play there way to the Super Bowl would be fine with me. My preference would be the Saints, followed by the Lions, Packers, 49ers, Giants and Falcons. Initially my prediction is that it will be the Packers and the Giants in the NFC Championship, with the Pack heading back to the Super Bowl.

Over in the AFC it gets much more ugly. You've got your annual team that shouldn't be in the playoffs. This year's Seattle Seahawks would be the Denver Broncos who finished 8-8 with 3 straight terrible losses. If you didn't know the name of the QB in Denver, and you were just looking at statistics for the past 3 games, there is no way in your right mind you start him for the playoffs right? But that's the polarizing aspect of Tebow. He will start and for the sake of the quality of play for the rest of the playoffs I hope he sucks again and the Broncos go down ( I'm jumping out of the way of the lightning bolt right now). I like Tebow. I hope my 2 daughters grow up to marry a guy just like him. I just wish he could throw the damn ball.

The Chargers are the best team in the AFC West, but once again they are missing the playoffs. How is Norv Turner still a coach?  They have to be one of the most glaring underachieving groups in the past 5 years. In his first season in San Diego, Turner gave hope to San Diego as he led the Chargers to the AFC championship game. The next season they finished a disappointing 8-8. They did get  into the playoffs and upset the Colts in the first round (damn you Darren Sproles) but it was not the year they had expected. In 09 they had a great regular season but were bounced in their playoff game by the Jets.   The next year they started slow again (a trend under Turner, finished fairly strong but missed the playoffs. They do the same in 2011. Time for Turner to get the boot. The Chargers are consistently inconsistent. That's coaching.

The Bengals could definitely win a game against the Texans (who seem to be anticipating a one and done themselves) but this division should end up with New England and Baltimore in the championship game. However, I don't know that this would be a great game.   Do you trust Joe Flacco in the playoffs? I don't. If I were New England I'd load up on Ray Rice and dare Flacco to beat you. If it's a shootout between Brady and Flacco, I'll take the Hall of Famer.  I would rather see the Steelers in the championship game but I do think it will be Baltimore and the Patriots with New England going to the Super Bowl. I know I pick the Pats every year and they've blown it every year since the Super Bowl debacle against the Giants in 08,.....and I know their defense has holes everywhere,.....but Brady has looked as good as I've seen him since 07. As much as it pains me, I think Belichick and Brady are headed back to the big game. Now that fantasy season is over and Brady is no longer my fantasy QB, I can return to loathing him and focusing my time on Patriot hate, a hate that has defined my very existence since they beat my Rams in the Super Bowl. ("defined my existence" may be a bit strong....but Brady, his coach and his team take up a unhealthy amount of my negative energy that I usually reserve for evil dictators, that bald spot growing on the top of my head, Bill Maher, Nancy Pelosi, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Lebron James, the cast of Jersey Shore, and that damn little neighbor dog that keeps pooping on my lawn).   But I digress.....I will hope the Steelers can take care of business with the Broncos, upset the Patriots, beat the Ravens or Bengals and head to the big game. I like the idea of a Steeler/Saints, Steerlers/Lions or Steelers/Packers Super Bowl.