Thursday, November 18, 2010

Game On?

I've decided to become a producer of content again; sports content specifically.  The NFL season is in full swing, yet I feel like an outsider. The Broncos suck, every team has at least two losses, and my three fantasy teams are owning (a combined 22-7-1... yes there was a tie). But for the life of me I can't figure out why I am more interested in the Rockies inquisition into getting Justin Upton than I am in the Broncos regular season.  I wait seven long months between the Super Bowl and the start of the regular season, yet now that it's here I feel indifferent. You know that first Sunday when the CBS football theme music comes on?  IT'S THE BRONCOS, IT'S THE JAGS, AND IT'S NEXT! Chills... Where has that gone? I have two ideas. (1) The NFL Redzone channel is a sure sign that there is a god. The channel tosses you from game to game so you can keep up with the happenings of the day in real time, all with zero commercials. In the meantime, the Broncos game (or whatever game may be on at the time) is playing over on a channel that breaks to commercial every five minutes and I feel like I'm missing out if I'm watching Redzone.  This so called grace from God Redzone channel has numbed me to the point at which it's all I care about. My passion for the Broncos alone has been spread out over the entire NFL.  (2) Reason number two is certainly something evil: the mute button. With two TV's in my main room, the main programming goes on the jumbo screen while the "auxiliary" programming goes on the tube TV... on mute.  Lately, the Broncos have gotten moved to "auxillary" while something deemed more important goes on the main TV.  Watching a game on mute removes you from the action... you glance away and miss something important (wait, we just had the ball, WTF just happened?)  It's like being forced to watch the Seahawks every weekend... them again? NOOOO!  Bonus reason: the Broncos suck this year (and the NFL as a whole, really. Where's the hitting?); there is no team identity so there is no reason to feel connected to them.

Ramble ramble ramble... I hope you follow.

I've been picking games on ESPN.com this season and I've been doing awfully against the spread (like 2-11 last week). New strategy this week: pick the games, then submit the opposite. Here's my backwards picks:
BENGALS (-5.5) over Bills
Lions over COWBOYS (-6.5)
PANTHERS (+10.5) over Ravens
JAGUARS (-1.5) over Browns
STEELERS (-7.5) over Raiders
Redskins over TITANS (-7.5)
Cardinals over CHIEFS (-7.5)
VIKINGS (+3.5) over Packers
Texans over JETS (-6.5)
Falcons over RAMS (+3.5)
49ERS (-3.5) over Buccaneers
SAINTS (-11.5) over Seahawks
PATRIOTS (-3.5) over Colts
Giants over EAGLES (-3.5)
CHARGERS (-9.5) over Broncos

Eww... remember that all these picks are opposite of my initial gut reaction. I have to change something up!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

MLB Playoff Podcast

Okay okay, the podcast is back. Guess what? They're still playing baseball! And the playoffs are starting! And, oh crap, the Phillies are stacked.


Click here to listen to the podcast!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Copa de Monde (The World Cup)

Every four years all eyes in the world are glued to the TV for a jawdropping month. This summer's World Cup hopes to be one of the greatest tournaments ever played.  The massive amount of coverage that ESPN is providing is staggering considering soccer is always viewed as the "other" sport in the United States. Four years ago I got hooked on the World Cup. I got hooked on the games on TV, the underdogs like Ghana and Trinidad & Tobago, but most of all I got hooked on 2006 FIFA World Cup for the Xbox 360. The endless tournaments with friends were the highlight of my summer that year. But now its 2010 and I suck at FIFA. So now I'm in it for the real life games. The buzz for Team USA this year is off the charts. Just about everybody I ask would feel legitimately pissed off if Team USA didn't do well. Coming off a disappointing 2006 World Cup campaign in Germany, Team USA looks to show the world that it can compete on the largest stage. The super bowl of American soccer comes on the initial weekend. USA vs. England. Yankees vs. Redcoats. George Washington vs. King George III. It is on. Will the world be shocked if the game ends in (gasp) a tie!? Probably not since one-third of soccer games end in draws. Will the world be shocked if England defeats the United States? Probably not since England is a contender to win every World Cup while the United States often have felt lucky to qualify. But the most unlikely of outcomes is what will happen... An American victory. Sorry England, we already saved your ass in World War 2, you owe us. An American victory over England will no doubt cause a riot in the streets of London, and may cause a comparatively mild celebration in the United States. But remember kids, this game means nothing to the United States if they can't defeat Albania and Slovenia in their ensuing matches. Unlike the actual Super Bowl, the US has a chance to redeem itself within a week if they fall to the once mighty English.

Some thoughts:
So I'm not going to pick an official winner just yet. I want to look at a few teams and assign a feeling associated with them. Basically, it's my fairly uneducated soccer mind trying to grasp each team.


Brazil: The number one team in the world is playing in this tournament's group of death. If they can squeeze past Portugal and Ivory Coast, they will undoubtedly make it to the next round. The fourth team in this 'group of death' is North Korea. Now I know that the World Cup is supposed to promote good sportsmanship with the players and fans, but I am animately cheering against North Korea. They don't deserve it.


Honduras: Have you seen this? 



Uruguay: There's always a country playing in the World Cup where you have to legitimately ask yourself, "Wait, they're a country?" Uruguay is that team. Yes, I know they have won two championships before, but I guarantee that the average American has no idea where Uruguay is (apologies to my South American reader).


Netherlands: Once Robin van Persie gets hurt, their tournament is over. And it will happen.



Chile: My darkhorse pick. There's a thing that goes: no northern hemisphere team has won a tournament played in the southern hemisphere (something to do with the type of grass they play on... so I've heard). I see no reason for this pick, just a hunch. 


Italy: First round choke... PLEASE? How about we see Slovakia and New Zealand advance from Group F? Who needs a soccer-dominated society to win???


Spain: The front runner not named Brazil. They'll be a difficult team to beat; that is, until the US gets a hold of them.


United States of America: Sam's Army baby! The US is the leading nation in terms of ticket sales for the World Cup. This has to say something about sports in the US. If you're good, we'll support you 100%. 


Nigeria: They could get a good draw for the round of 16 if they advance from group B. Hey, one African team needs to do well, right? It's their home continent.


That is all for today. Let the world see that the US can win the biggest tournament ever with a few MLS stars, a few English Premier League starters and a dude named Jozy. 




Friday, May 14, 2010

Rainout

The past week has been a frustrating, water-drenched week for the Colorado Rockies.  In fact, the presence of so many rainouts (now 3) has allowed people to stop and think about the team. So here's my thinking... The rainout is the perfect metaphor, literal or figurative, to how the Rockies season has gone so far.  When the rains come, the common thought is that the team will just take care of business just the same as they would have had the game been played, but procrastinate a bit. Basically, the Rockies are saying, "we might just be average now, but just wait till later when we're good."  Ah yes, they'll just hope the first half of the season is rained out so when it comes to crunch-time, there will be more opportunity to make up lost ground.

I've read some stuff about how the Rockies ownership needs to pony-up and buy some better players so the team can make a serious run at the World Series. I don't get it. They're beating the same drum every single year, regardless of the position or makeup of the team. Hello!? The Rockies have made the playoffs two of the past three seasons. Maybe give some credit to the ownership and GM who have constructed a successful business model. So once the team fulfills its goals, its then time to follow the same-old shit every other team has done through history? No... sports are not that simple. Unless you can purchase a pay-as-you-go-plan (the Yankees), you have to construct a foundation, and build from that, not change your previously successful business model.

Now is it possible that the team the Rockies management tries to construct just tend to be slow starters. With every good thing comes a bad thing, with every example comes a counter-example, for every ying there is a yang. So let's say the Rockies like to draft players that have good athletic prowess and have good raw talent. And let's say that these kinds of players tend to need more coaching and guidance than the average player. So wouldn't it make sense that these kind of players might take more time to develop during a season than the average guy? Essentially the Rockies have built a team that needs to be retaught and reminded about how to play the right way for the first two months of the season. But once they figure it out, they are able to put everything together and launch themselves up in the standings. That's my theory.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rockies Treading Water

Nearing the end of April the Rockies have a fairly solid 11-10 record. They're treading right around .500 but have to fight to stay there until the team regains its health. Coming into the season, the team was touted for its depth. With new injuries to Jorge De La Rosa, Jason Hammel and Brad Hawpe, (and 3 key players on my fantasy team... all in one weekend!? WTF!), in addition to the demotion of Chris Iannetta, The Rockies have some serious holes that this depth needs to fill. They have some questions, but they have some answers.

Questions for the Rockies:
Will Clint Barmes learn how to hit?  After watching most of every Rockies game this year, I have trouble racking my brain to come up with any quality at bats Barmes has had. Granted any professional player is going to run into a ball, but Clinton (my name for #12) continues to swing at low and away sliders and 'cover' the plate by swinging at pitches 3-feet out of the zone. Todd-Father covers pitches that could be called for strikes; Clinton covers pitches that could be tallied as wild pitches. But Clinton has positives: he's still solid on defense, and isn't afraid to take one for the team.

Will Chris Iannetta earn his contract? The guy touted to posses a great arm, call a good game and have the Hammer of Thor as a bat is now riding the bus in triple-A. I don't know what his deal is. He hit the first walk-off home run I have ever witnessed in person, yet can't read the location of a fastball out of a pitchers hand. Jim Tracy thinks it's in his head, and I hope so. But then again, Miguel Olivo is looking sharp.


Answers for the Rockies:
Cha-cha-cha cha cha-cha cha cha cha-cha cha TULO... now featuring a good April! Watch out Mr. Pujols, you may not earn all the first-place MVP votes this year (don't get me wrong, The Machine will win, machines always win). I fear the day when Tulo finds his home run stroke, and single handedly picks the Rockies up during a time where their pitching may begin to struggle (the bullpen looks fantastic, but I want to wait and see if their stellar ERA is inflated by cleaning up Jason Hammel's frequent blow-up starts) with a bunch of young guys coming in to fill the holes. Anywho, Tulo is hitting .325/.374/.458 (average/on-base/slugging). His slugging numbers should improve as he continues to crank out doubles and starts bashing more homers. 

Ian Stewart is quietly having a tremendous start to his season. With a batting clip of .310/.398/.594, he has clearly listened to the guidance of hitting coach Don Baylor. Apparently he has shortened up his swing coming into this season, but my untrained eye still sees a guy who has a looping, swing for the fences type swing. Whatever his swing looks like doesn't matter, so long as he hits the ball hard.

Cargo batting 5th? If the Rockies want to play little EY at second base while Barmes figures out what he's doing, I am a big fan of seeing CarGo in the 5-hole. Obviously this is Hawpe's spot in the order when he comes back, but CarGo can mash the ball from this spot in the order. Does he ever seem to have a bad day?
 
above: is he back?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

And we're off... enthusiastically

The next six months will be a blur. As all baseball seasons progress, the fan enters three levels of enthusiasm. To start, we have the April hype. This stage involves fantasy drafts, opening day sellouts (even in Pittsburgh) and outlandish expectations for every team. Once we progress a couple weeks and start to notice trends, some will make outlandish predictions. There will be random teams and players that surprise us and writers will proceed to write them in (opposite of write them off). But we fans can't help ourselves... Carlos Gonzalez has a .533 batting average and an OPS of 1.133; MVP! MVP! Let's look at the standings on May 1, 2009 and see if we can grasp where the season was at at that point. Four-of-six division leaders on that date (Blue Jays, White Sox, Mariners & Marlins) missed the playoffs. The Rockies were in last place in the NL West, and the eventual AL West champion Angels were 4-games under .500. As far as I'm concerned, April is just an extension of spring training. But is that going to stop be from attending a bunch of Rockies games this April? Hell no! The point is that what happens in April doesn't really matter, but it is great to have baseball back.

The second level of enthusiasm is when the calender officially turns to summer. Hockey and basketball have crowned their champions and the general sports fan starts turning towards baseball. And for the Rockies, this means that they will finally kick it into gear and play to their potential. This is the time of year people start using phrases like "potential MVP candidate" and "this guy was in double-A to start the season and now he's raking in the majors." The transition into summer is appreciated by many fans because they can go to night games wearing a t-shirt and flip-flops. And yours truly appreciates it especially in 2010 because he can spend $6 for a beer at Coors Field. Summer has become my favorite time of year specifically because of baseball. It's like a friend that is there every single day to keep you company. Sometimes they make you mad. Sometimes they make you happy. And sometimes it's raining outside so your friend can't come over and play.  You start to depend on having a baseball game on TV or the radio every day... baseball, my anti-drug.

The third level of enthusiasm comes comes at the end of the season, obviously, and contains all the jubilation of the playoff push and playoffs themselves. At the end of the season, I have people telling me, "Oh, I thought the Rockies sucked this year." My reply is usually, "No, we were solid all year, have you even been watching?" Many people don't understand the satisfaction of making the playoffs after you have been watching the team the WHOLE year. When the Rockies clinched last year, I felt like I had succeeded as a fan. I stuck with the team through an underwhelming '08 season, then saw them flourish in '09 (and don't ask me if I jumped on the bandwagon in '07, I was before. I've kept tabs on the Rockies throughout there existence, and became a religious fanatic in 2006. Yes, only four years, but you have to start somewhere, okay!?). The routine in September borders on insanity for many fellow baseball fans. I check the standings every hour just in case I misread it the last time. Then clinch day comes; it comes for all teams in some form... the clinch of playoffs, or the clinch of elimination. Happiness mixed with sadness. Where did the season go? That's all for now. GO ROCKIES!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

MLB and Rockies Preview Podcast

Listen up! In this week's podcast, we three -myself, Kieran and Brewster- attempt to make complete sentences to explain our joy entering the 2010 baseball season. An extensive Rockies conversation is near the end, so I won't feel hurt if you fast forward to the good stuff.


or click here

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Man's Best Friend

The following is kind of a ramble: I'm capturing a snapshot of my thoughts on the Rockies entering Opening Day...

BASEBALL! ROCKIES! TULO! COORS FIELD!  My best friends are back and it's fantastic. The 2010 Rockies season is projected to be the best season in Colorado Rockies history. ESPN analyst Buster Olney picked the Rockies to win the World Series over the Yankees in his blog. This is unprecedented territory for baseball in Colorado. What has changed? For the first time in the franchise's history, there were players that have diminished their previous roles of being regular starters in order to sign with the Rockies with the promise of winning (notably Jason Giambi and Melvin Mora). It's one thing for a guy to say that he is excited about the championship prospects of a team. It says there is something special in the air when players are flocking to a previously unknown team in order to potentially win a World Series. Things have changed. But I still feel like the Rockies are Colorado's little secret. Granted many experts are picking the Rockies to win the NL West, but as a fan I still see that their arguments are transparent, and don't carry much tangible evidence. You can hear the words come out of the analysts mouth and it's nice, but it doesn't seem genuine. They're just sticking to the trend, the norm, yet I still get the feeling many people still have not watched the team play for any extended period of time. I still get the feeling that people outside of Colorado (and even some within Colorado- there are two seasons: Broncos, and Broncos draft season) are a bit confused that the Rockies are actually good. There are numerous comments on message boards I read describing how the Dan O'Dowd and the Monforts are running the team into the ground, and have only recently figured out how to run a major league team. Actually guys, it takes a long time to rebuild a franchise from the scrap heap it was left in in the early 2000s. Gen-R wasn't some silly public relations gimmick. It produced a number of all-star caliber players and laid the groundwork of how to run a team. Ha! It worked, suckers. Now Colorado has its own team championship caliber team to call its own. The Rockies are a team a fan can grasp on to. The players are homegrown (8 of 9 opening day players will be homegrown; the odd man out is Carlos Gonzalez, acquired in the Matt Holliday trade) and have championship aspirations, so who's to say Mr. O'Dowd is a bad GM? HUH?

Bold predictions:
1.) Troy Tulowitzki will finish 2nd in MVP voting at the end of the season to Albert Pujols. While second place is just the first loser, the MVP belongs to Fat Albert, it's a fact.
2.) Jeff Francis will get hurt. The overlooked Greg Smith will take his place and win 10 games. Kieran- you're shaving your head, damnit!
3.) Franklin Morales will break ankles with his breaking ball. The over/under is 10.5. I will literally bet money on this.
4.) I'm stealing this one: (no pun intended, I read this somewhere else and thought I'd share it) Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez will combine for 100 stolen bases.
5.) Yorvit Torrealba will be batting in the 4-hole for the Padres after they trade Adrian Gonzalez.
Not so bold predictions:
1.) Eric Young Jr. will replace Clint Barmes at second base by the All-Star break.
2.) Seth Smith and Jason Giambi will be the most feared pinch-hitting duo in major league history. Not that there are many feared pinch-hitting duos in history...
3.) The Rockies rotation is the best 1-5 rotation in the NL. It's not a prediction, it's a fact.
4.) Dodgers suck.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bracket Buster

The podcast is finally back! Me and Kieran pick our bracket for the tournament. Children will weep. Mothers will cry. Upsets will be celebrated. It's on!


or click here

Monday, February 22, 2010

Olympic Hockey Spirit

I've been watching every bit the Winter Olympics over the past ten days and I have to say, the fringe sports are starting to wear on me. While I can actively watch (and actually enjoy) men's figure skating, the primetime ice dancing is turning me away. But what is this lazy sport on the non-HD NBC news channel? It's CURLING!!! But wait. I'm not going to waste time writing a blog about curling. (Curling is easy to pick up on. There are four simple rules:  (1) Get as many of your rocks closer than the other teams' rocks. (2) The target is called the 'house'. (3) The captain is called the 'skip'. (4) John Shuster of Team USA sucks.) But this blog is not about curling.

It has been my pleasure over the past week to become reacquainted with hockey. While I have been following hockey since roughly 1996, I have lost the passion I had as a young hockey-playing Avalanche fan. Here's a very brief history of my relationship with hockey... Quebec Nordiques come to Colorado and win the Cup immediately. City of Denver falls in love with the team. I want to play hockey. I watch the Avalanche religiously as a kid, but then once I get older, BAM! LOCKOUT! I've tried to phase back into the game, but I can't regain the same die hard passion I once had. So what I'm getting at here is what Olympic hockey has done to open my eyes again. It's all-star teams playing meaningful games with no commercial breaks. Very similar to the NHL playoffs in overtime, huh? I have always thought that if the NHL could somehow someway mimic the environment and intensity of the playoffs throughout the regular season, then they could be the best professional game of all the major leagues. We get a glimpse of that during the Olympics. The best players, with national pride on the line, playing in the most meaningful tournament. Now that's playoff drama.

Here's a few of the things I've picked up on...
NHL sized ice gives the NHL players more of an advantage than they have in past Olympics. In the past, NHL players would have to adjust to travelling to another country as well as a larger ice surface. This year, it's a short travel time to Vancouver, and a minimal adjustment period to the Olympic style. While it is a disadvantage for the European-based players, they aren't necessarily the premier players who decide the outcomes anyways. It's a little harsh, but if they were wouldn't they be playing in the NHL?

No commercial breaks... kind of...  Any sport without commercials is fantastic. It allows for the game to keep its flow. The players stay focused, the fans stay on the edge of their seat. But NBC still finds a way to squeeze in 30-second commercials here and there. It's an offsides on Slovakia! Hurry, get that commercial rolling before the faceoff!

NBCs coverage, or lack there of... I'm sure the 20 people that have MSNBC in HD were thrilled to watch the USA vs. Canada game with a crystal clear picture. The premier hockey game of the tournament is on the Keith Olberman channel... huh? Anyways, this is a pro-hockey column, not an anti-NBC column. I will stop there.

With that said, I can't wait for the elimination rounds of hockey. USA! USA! USA!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Winter Olympics, eh!?

Me and Kieran are chillin' like Apolo Ohno in this weeks podcast. We touch on our love of fringe sports and share our ideas in improving the biathlon. Later, Kieran shares his revolutionary idea to make the NBA All-Star game better. Remember: always avoid the penalty lap of shame.


or click here

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Your first 2010 NFL Season Predictions

The double-zero decade of the NFL ended with a bang as Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints put a beatdown on Peyton Manning's legacy, and now we're in store for an equally unpredictable 2010 season. So it's as good of a time as any to make some very early fearless predictions for the 2010 season in the NFL.

Darrelle Revis will be on the Madden cover. While Brees is a trendy pick for this, it's not like EA Sports to pick the most obvious player. While I've given on playing Madden for the most part, (due to certain circumstances during my high school playing days) I believe that the video game passing attack has been refined to a tee. Who was the last cornerback pictured on the Madden Cover? Trick question. It's never happened.

Matt Leinart will be in the MVP conversation. I will conditionalize this prediction by saying that he will be a fringe candidate, but with those weapons surrounding him, all Leinart needs to do is party a little less and concentrate on football. He also needs to realize that he doesn't exactly have the weight of the world on his shoulders while playing in the NFC West.

Jay Cutler will lead the NFL in passing yards, touchdowns and interceptions. His double chin will also realize its full potential.

All those shenanigans about the NFL entering a lockout will disappear. Brett Favre will be the primary reason for this.

Super Bowl XLV in "North Texas" will be played during a freak snowstorm in Texas. Luckily Jerry Jones built that nice stadium with a roof.

Touchdown celebrations and props will still be frowned upon. But the fist pump will take the league by storm. I mean, did you see all the excessive fist pumping by the Saints' sideline during the Super Bowl. The J-Shore strikes again.

Unfortunately, the gun-issue will rise again in 2010. It's crazy how the when guns come up in the NBA the league is viewed as a league full of punk criminals (Gilbert and friends), but when guns come up in the NFL, the only person to be shown in negative light is the gun-wielder himself (Plaxico). What's the difference here? The NBA takes a public relation hit while the NFL remains unscathed.

Josh McDaniels will regain the hearts of Bronco fans. But then he'll rip it right out just like in 2009. 8-8.

Bill Simmons will see Avatar, and he will like it.



Congratulations to the Saints and the city of New Orleans. I was planning on being a supporter of the Saints during the Super Bowl, but after watching much of the pregame shows, I was hooked as a die hard fan for the day. The Drew Brees saga can finally be appreciated. The man had his throwing shoulder torn to shreds, and was outcasted to a franchise that had never tasted success. Four years later he's a champion.

Super Bowl pick conundrum: I picked the Saints at +5.5, but had the Colts winning by a small margin. I would have won in Vegas with this pick, but I don't feel as if I can take any credit for a correct pick. I will take a loss for the Super Bowl.
Playoffs picks: 6-5

Thursday, February 4, 2010

SuperCast One

The football season is coming to a close. But there's still time for one more podcast for Spen and Kieran. Contents include: Super Bowl XLIV, the Winter XGames and Kieran's NBA plan.


or click here





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Monday, February 1, 2010

The Super Bowl Picks Column

Most football picks columns pick a winner and a loser. That's why it's called a picks column, right? Sure... But here's what I'm doing for Super Bowl: picking both the Colts and Saints to win. Well not really, but I'm going to give the top three reasons why each the Colts and Saints will win on Sunday (then I'll pick the winner just to be official). 


Why the Colts will win:
1.) Peyton Manning. The four-time MVP is becoming the one of the greatest quarterbacks we have ever seen. While watching a game of one of the great QB's, there are times when you think to yourself, "he's not that good." I mean, Mark Sanchez can outplay Peyton Manning for a half. But viewing his career as a whole, you can see that he is that good. Manning is going to be able to tear apart the Saints' 26th ranked defense.


2.) Defense?! Yes, defense! When you least expect it, a team renowned for its offense may actually win with defense. It goes without saying that all NFL teams have playmakers on their roster. There's a reason some guys are in the NFL: they're freak athletes with a will to compete. The biggest reason that the Colts defense cannot be overlooked is that they showed up in the stretch run of '06, capping off the season with a Super Bowl victory over the Bears. They've done it before, and they can do it again. 

3.) Because this game will play out just like Super Bowl XLI. Thankfully the forecast for Sunday in Miami predicts no rain. It would be a shame if the high powered offenses of the Colts and Saints were slowed by any weather issues. I don't necessarily like the scenario of a crappy Super Bowl; especially when the two teams playing are so highly touted. But it can happen. A grind-it-out game that was over before it started; blah! We've been spoiled by two tremendous Super Bowls the past two years, but it's football, the game could be a flop. The Colts always win boring games.


Why the Saints will win:
1.) Offensive firepower. I'll see your Pierre Garçon and raise you a Robert Meachem. The Saints have the ability to keep up with the Colts offensively. So far, the Colts have played two defensive running teams, and handled both fairly soundly. The Saints are a different breed. This time, the Colts can't feel vindicated when punting the ball for field position. If the presence of the Saints' offense on the sideline forces the Colts' offense to press too hard, then the Saints have a chance. 

2.) Touchdowns not field goals. The Saints have to remember one simple mathematical equation: 7>3. While it's no revelation that putting the ball in the endzone is better than kicking a field goal, I give the Saints a slight advantage in terms of their ability to put the ball in the endzone. Their offense is more dynamic and creative, and that creativity is paramount near the goal-line.

3.) The Saints will get the ball last. If the Super Bowl ends up being the shootout we are hoping for, then the Saints best chance is to end up with the ball last. This enables them to score without a rebuttal from the Colts' offense. 

Side notes: Both the Saints and Colts have won in Miami this season. The Colts defeated the Dolphins in week 2, and the Saints defeated the Dolphins in week 7... If this game is decided because an kicker misses a couple field goals, the NFL may need to rethink the policy on personal fouls on kickers (they may deserve to be personally fouled).


With that said, my official pick is (with line included):
Saints (+5.5) over Colts


Colts win 28-24, Saints cover.


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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Get Your Movie On

Super Bowl preview coming next week... I'm taking a bye week.

Since Avatar came out I've thought a lot about movies. Movies are something that unite people around the world. They allow us to escape into a world beyond our imagination. They allow us to have conversations about why certain things happen. They allow us to view the real world in a different light. But I want to get at why. What does it say about us when we allow ourselves to escape our real world so frequently? Are movies merely an art and entertainment, or do they allow us to process thoughts we would never be able to process otherwise? Perhaps they do, or perhaps humans have been conditioned to need constant interaction with some form of media. Whatever way it is, it's how we are... so let's roll with it.

The Ultimate Question:
Every movie has the same premise. It starts with a simple question. What if? The form to which the filmmaker answers this question is what's called a genre. I've listed five... (1) There's drama: what if we push human emotion to the extreme? (2) There's romance: what if an unforeseen series of events leads to two people to meet up?...and they fall in love? (3) There's comedy: what if we make fun of our everyday lives in a way that makes people laugh? (4) There's action: what if we create a hero that represents all that is noble and turn the world against him? (5) And there's sci-fi: what if we push the limits of imagination and create a world where some crazy stuff happens? It's all pretty simple, right? Well, not so much. The best movies all do the same thing. They plant ideas in the viewers head; they start discussions. Those ideas branch out into more ideas and discussions and more ideas and discussions...

Ideas spread ideas
So the inspiration for me to write this particular blog was to explore the types of discussions that stem from movies; especially the movies that have a profound impact on the audience. And if you think I'm just trying to explain why Avatar was totally awe-inspiringly awesome, then you're right on. But I like other movies too. I'll focus on my top-five. Here it is: Avatar, The Dark Knight, Star Wars, The Matrix and Wall-E. What do we learn from these? We learn just how far imagination can take us. We learn what a hero is. But what we discover for ourselves is beyond what we see on the screen. It's the thing that manifests itself inside you. Everyday we see something in our lives that reminds us of an image from a movie. We make a connection. You see a beautiful sunset over the mountains, and you can almost make yourself believe you're on Pandora. But you see images of trash piling up, and you hear about how carbon emissions are destroying the atmosphere, and you think, "aww, crap... we're going to need Wall-E to clean up this mess." But why is it that only movies help in providing this profound response? We feel more connected to the fictional, yet scientifically possible, world of Pandora than we do to the wasteland of Iraq. If you've seen Avatar, and you love it as much as I do, ask yourself whom you understand better: a Na'vi or an Iraqi? I can say that I don't completely understand why an Iraqi thinks or acts the way he does. He has been thought years of warfare and trauma, but I can't identify with that; I don't See like they do. But hey, I can identify with a fictional race of ten-foot tall blue aliens. They plug into their world and appreciate the rhythm of nature. That's what we strive for; the ability to connect with our world in some way and come to some sort of spiritual conclusion to life. That's why Avatar clicks. I can even say kaltxí tsamukan (hello brother). See the difference here? We identify better with movies than we do with other peoples. It's kind of eerie, yet true.


Imagine... Pandora

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NFL Conference Championship PODCAST

This is a momentous podcast. Three people join me (Kieran, Brewster, Sean) as we discuss what went down in last the NFL playoffs last week as well as our predictions for the conference championship games. And who is Tyler Flanagan!?


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Monday, January 18, 2010

What was Supposed to Happen?

How does one of the best weekends the NFL has to offer turn to crap?  Home team domination. Traditionally, the divisional round of the playoffs is a spectacle.  Teams hot off a wild card victory matching up with teams cold off a bye week.  Not so much this year (Jets/Chargers was the only good game, we'll get to that). Consider this column to be an explanation as to why the Cards/Ravens/Cowboys/Chargers lost. Here's what was supposed to happen...

Cardinals vs. Saints
The real playoff Cardinals were going to go to New Orleans and play a competitive game. Kurt Warner was going to show us once again that we underestimate him, and he was going to torch the Saints defense. The Saints were going to struggle to find their groove after what essentially was two straight bye weeks (many of the Saints' starters didn't play in week 17). This game was supposed to be a copy of the Ravens/Patriots game last weekend after Tim Hightower took the first play from scrimmage 70 yards for a touchdown. Whoa! The Cards have a running game now! Nope. Discounting the initial play, the Cards massed 31 rushing yards. Not the balanced attack that can keep defenses guessing. So what did happen was Reggie Bush. Bush seemingly found his potential all in one play. His 46-yard touchdown was vintage college style Reggie Bush. He broke the ankles of the defenders by going laterally, then sprinted past their mangled bodies into the endzone. What did happen was a Saints offense running more efficiently than a Prius. Over 50% on third downs, a balanced passing and running attack (32 pass attempts, 247 yards; 34 rush attempts, 171 yards) and zero turnovers.

Ravens vs. Colts
The Ravens were going to dominate with a punishing run game, and an equally punishing defense. Ray Rice was going to chew out the clock and keep Peyton Manning off the field. And Manning was going to continue his trend of losing after a bye. What did happen was a classically boring Colts win. No one part of the game stood out. No one play stood out. Indy just had more points at the end. As fans we left the Saturday portion of round two wanting more. Our football fix was not filled. Sunday had to be better. It was... by default.


Cowboys vs. Vikings
The Cowboys were going to prove that they are not the same playoff chokers that they have proven to be the past 14 years. Their defense was going to continue on it's dominating stretch, and Tony Romo was going to take care of the ball. Then Brett Favre to Sidney Rice happened. Turnover. BAM! Turnover. BAM! Game over.

Jets vs. Chargers
Okay here we go.  I put everything I had behind the Chargers. Regrettably, I jumped on their playoff bandwagon, again, and was proven wrong, again. At what point in the game did either team look really good? The Jets were relatively solid on defense the entire game, and their offense put the ball in the endzone when they had the opportunity. But I am convinced that missing a field goal costs a team more than just three points. It's a big momentum swing toward the defending team. The Jets gained confidence knowing that they stopped the Chargers on third down. They gain momentum when Nate Kaeding missed his first field goal. The Chargers psyche is shaken to the point where they press too hard; they get nervous. The Jets ate this up.
But here's what was supposed to happen. The Chargers, on an 11 game winning streak, finally click in the playoffs and kick out the upstart Jets. Why should the Jets be taken so seriously when they've barely beaten anybody. The Bengals were a fringe playoff team; the Colts gave up in their week 16 game. Needless to say, do you think if the Jets win at Indy, there will be conversation about how Indy should have played their starters to the end and put the Jets away for good. We've seen it before: a team rests it's starters against a team fighting for the playoffs, and ends up getting beaten by that same team in the playoffs. It happened to Cincy.  When you have a chance to knock your opponent out, you do it. Underdog's thrive on this.

Wal-Mart is always hiring, Nate.


Round Two picks: 1-3. Playoffs: 4-4

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Put Your Dukes Up, it's Round Two!

Competitive banter is in the air as I invite Kieran and our old friend Brewster back on to the podcast.  We break down each NFL divisional round match up, as well as that big, formerly lovable teddy bear known as Mark McGwire.


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What a goofball...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Analyzing the wild card winner's chances of making a run...

We have learned from past that wild card weekends cannot be overlooked. Nearly every year we see the a Super Bowl bound team come from the wild card round.  This can be simply attributed to the fact that some teams find their groove in playoff victory.  The bye-week teams are resting their bodies, but their in-game football minds can fade.  Playing every weekend allows teams to stay sharp at the most important time of the season.  But hey, there's a reason the one and two seeds are in the position they are in.  They have proven through the regular season that they are solid teams that should be able to cope with a week off and potential loss of an in-game edge.  But which teams gained the needed momentum to top a bye-week seed with a road victory?  Let's look at each wild card winner to find out who might be able to make a late, upsetting run to the Super Bowl.

Jets:
A dominating victory over the Bengals shows that the Jets didn't just waltz into the playoffs to get beaten in the first round.  Had the playoffs been held in November, I bet the Bengals would have looked a lot better, but they were just another team that didn't enter the playoffs on a high note.  Mark Sanchez surprisingly played a lot better than his USC counterpart Carson Palmer.  Darrelle Revis, not so surprisingly, dominated Chad Ochocinco. The Jets are a worthy foe for the Chargers next week.  The premier match up will obviously be the Chargers offense versus the Jets Defense.  Unlike the Bengals, the Chargers have a deep receiving corp that will prove much harder for the Jets to suppress.  We saw a number of teams jump out to big leads in the wild card round.  The Chargers can score points in bunches, while the Jets have to meticulously rush the ball down the field.  If these teams play ten times, I would say the Jets would win three.  The Jets have to control the pace of the game, then they'll have a chance. Another note: can NBC snag some better announcers for the non-showcase game? Tom Hammond sounded like he was at gunpoint, and would get shot if his decibel level got too high.

Cowboys:

Another dominating victory over the Eagles. Tony Romo no longer looks afraid to be in a game being played in December or January. The defense looks hungry.  The team isn't distracted by off field issues that have plagued them in the past.  Honestly, is this the quietest the Cowboys have entered the post season in recent memory.  Trying to figure out the 'Boys is usually like taming a wild animal, but this year they seem to have their stuff together.  A solid defense, a dangerous running attack and a confident quarterback.  Sounds like a playoff team poised to make some noise.  Which brings up next week's match up with the Vikings.  Both teams have a similar pedigree: scary defense, good running attack, veteran QB. On paper these teams look similar.  But the hot hand belongs to the Cowboys.  Although the Vikings are playing at home, I refuse to believe that homefield advantage matters much in the NFL anymore.  Perhaps it matters when the Detroit Lions travel to Minnesota, but not a veteran squad like Dallas.  But watch out, Jared Allen (above) is cah-razy!

Ravens:
The Ravens are one of those teams that sneaks up to you.  They're old school. We glorify the pass happy teams, yet overlook the in-your-face, running teams. The Ravens are dangerous because they have nothing to lose.  Did you see Joe Flacco's stat line in a victory against the Patriots? 4-for-10, 34 yards, 1 int, and a 10.0 QB rating.  Atrocious! But look who's in the second round. The Joe Flacco lead Baltimore Ravens everybody! They sported a 5:1 run to pass ratio against the Pats. In the 2010 NFL, that is unheard of. Up next is the Indianapolis Colts. Indy, notorious for early playoff exits, has to defeat it's kryptonite in order to advance. The book on defeating the Colts: keep the ball away from Manning, and own time of possession. Granted this doesn't always work, (see week 2; Colts at Dolphins, Dolphins held the ball for over 45 minutes and lost) but it is the prevailing strategy nonetheless.  I say the Ravens win this match up four times out of ten.

Cardinals:
Uht-oh! They're back!  Find me a better wild card game than the Cards/Packers thrilling 51-45 overtime game. Offensive showcases don't happen every day. That was special. I can't find a reason as to why the Cardinals are a good playoff team. The fact is, however, that they mosey though the regular season, then collectively decide to turn it up in the playoffs.  There are teams historically that you can say are playoff winners and losers (Notable winners: Ravens, Jets, Panthers, Eagles, Steelers.  Notable losers: Jaguars, Broncos, Chiefs, Dolphins. I'm probably missing some, but you get the idea); meaning they always 'seem' to advance, no matter what their record   It took the Cardinals a long time to become a playoff franchise.  Maybe they're just one of those playoff winners, but they were just late to the party. They're an average running team and have a pourous defense.  But they have a proven winner in Kurt Warner.  Next week's match up at New Orleans may prove to be another offensive explosion.  Do not bet against Warner!

Don't be surprised if any of these teams advance. Momentum is a silly thing this time of year. Watch out for Ray Ray.


Wild Card picks: 3-1; Overall 58-39-2

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wild Card Weekend of Fun

It is time for another podcast.  In this week's edition, Kieran and I discuss each wild card game in the NFL this weekend, as well as our favorites for Super Bowl XLIV.



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Last week's picks: 6-8-2; Overall 55-38-2

Picks from the podcast:
Jets over BENGALS.  This  is most likely going to be a sloppy, defensively dominated game.  Jets win because their defense is a little better.  I don't like either team to win, but I like the Jets to not lose (make sense?).

Eagles over COWBOYS.  Last time the Cowboys swept an opponent in the regular season, then met that team in the playoffs? 2007; Cowboys lost to the Giants on their way to the Super Bowl.

Ravens over PATRIOTS.  The Ravens might be the biggest underachievers this season.  I look for them to vindicate themselves as contenders and give some trouble for the Colts next week.

CARDINALS over Packers.  As good as the Packers have looked lately, I'm not going to pick against Kurt Warner in the playoffs.  He proved to many people wrong last year, and may continue to do the same.

Notice a theme? All these teams fly.  Birds and planes baby!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Week 17- Bad Attitudes

The League:
It's the final week of the regular season, and it is clear that what we knew about the NFL one month ago is no longer relevant.  The best teams entering December were clearly the Colts, Saints and Vikings.  The Colts' leadership is in question.  Why did Jim Caldwell wait until week 16, in a game halfway through the third quarter (in a game his team was winning) to finally make a real coaching decision.  Peyton Manning runs that team, and Caldwell had to know he would stir up some controversy.  The best teams in the playoffs are the ones that are the quietest.  Heard anything in the news about the Eagles or Chargers lately?  The Saints offense, once perceived as unstoppable, is sputtering to a halt.  After a blistering 13-0 start to the season, New Orleans has lost two games in a row (both at home).  The Cowboys loss was excusable, Dallas needed that game desperately.  But blowing a 17-0 lead to Tampa Bay? Really?  Not to mention they had that game won pending a last minute field goal from their idiot kicker.  Nope... shanked again.  And how are the Saints combating this recent trend of losing?  Sitting the starters for the finale, of course!  One bye week isn't enough, apparently they need two to be as rusty as possible for a divisional playoff showdown.  The Vikings have cruised to the NFC North title behind a fairly easy schedule (.423 opponent winning percentage in 2009; 2nd easiest).  But when put to the test in December, the Vikings have potentially fumbled their way out of a bye week in the first round.  But this year was supposed to be Brett Favre's year, right!?  2009 was Favre's year, not 2010.  Happy New Year Brett.

Broncos:
But my most favorite thing about the end of the season is that coaches finally have the guts to do what they really want.  Why not burn as many bridges as possible en route to another late season swoon?  Broncos coach Josh McDaniels doesn't care about the contract status of receiver Brandon Marshall or tight end Tony Scheffler, that's not his business.  But the two players apparently have been complaining about their injuries, so McDaniels believes that the best option is to sit them.  While I believe most fans are okay with a coach sitting a player due to injury, I know that most fans are not okay with that coach personally calling that player out in a press conference.  The aura of McDaniels is fading for Broncos fans.  Is his best option really to call out his best offensive player before a must-win game? Probably not.  Nonetheless, the team is in position for a winning season and possibly playoffs; something completely unexpected before the season started.  And whatever happened to the Broncos throwbacks?  I have noticed many of the other old AFL teams wearing their throwbacks much more often than the Broncos have.  Am I blinded by their beauty, or am I one of the few who actually likes the yellow-ish puke/ dirt brown colors?


Week 17 picks:
Home teams are in caps


Colts (+8) over BILLS
PANTHERS (-7) over Saints
Jaguars (+1) over BROWNS
Eagles (+3) over Cowboys
Bears (-3) over LIONS
TEXANS (-7) over Patriots
DOLPHINS (+3) over Steelers
Giants (+8) over VIKINGS
Bengals (+9.5) over JETS
49ers (-7.5) over RAMS
Falcons (-2.5) over BUCCANEERS
Packers (+3) over CARDINALS
BRONCOS (-10) over Chiefs
RAIDERS (+10.5) over Ravens
CHARGERS (-3) over Redskins
Titans (-6) over SEAHAWKS

So... if these picks hold, then the Broncos are going to the playoffs baby!