So the NFL final four is set, and to no real surprise, we will see Seattle face San Francisco, and New England will take on Denver...BRADY VS. MANNING....Again! Well all you Manning lovers, Brady has won 10 of the 14 meetings they've had, and he's going to take another one...Why am I so sure of this? BECAUSE I SAID SO! Oh, sorry, sometimes I just get stuck in Dad mode...Anyways, because Brady is better...He owns Peyton...Because the Patriots are better...Because no matter who is injured on their squad, they will find a way to beat you...Look what they did Saturday...All the sudden, they were the NFL's best rushing team, pounding the ball down the Colts' throats all night...Total dominance...Who knows what wicked plan they'll pull out for the Broncos...Who cares, they're gonna win...It's Monday, and you're getting "The Lock of the Week" already!
So who will the Patriots be facing in the "Super Bowl" per me? Well, that would be the team I signed my fandom to at the beginning of last year, the Seattle Seahawks...So, no matter how much it pains my wife, and her family, and the many Gabbers that hail from New England, I'll be all in with the Seahawks....
-Moving on to college football...Penn State, the home of child rape cover-ups have hired their second coach to follow in the evil footsteps of Joe Paterno, after Bill O'Brien took the Houston Texans job...Next to try to erase the stains left by Sandusky, Paterno, Spainer, McQueery, and all those fucking assholes is James Franklin, formerly of Vanderbilt...Nothing like Penn Rape hiring a guy who was accused of covering for some of his players who had raped around campus, to help re-establish their reputation! They guy was "cleared" by Vandy, but come on...Do you really want a guy with that hanging over his head, when your school has been through what PSU has been...What dummies!
-Speaking of dummies...The Baseball Writers Association made their picks for the Hall of Fame, and as usual, they were fucking idiots...No 100% vote for the likes of Maddux and Glavine..."Ruth, Cobb, Mays, no one got 100%!"SO FUCKING WHAT...That doesn't make it right...It just makes you stupid! And shorting Craig Biggio by 2 votes...Fuck that...Dude has the numbers, and clearly wasn't 'roided up... Four gold gloves, 3,060 hits, damn near 291 home runs, and 414 stolen bases, 668 doubles, and 55 triples, 1844 runs, and 1175 RBI...Damn good numbers there for a Catcher turned Second baseman...
I also think Tim Raines, and Mike Piazza should have gotten in...Piazza has the 'roids cloud held over him even though there has never been anything that has implicated him, except for the era that he played in...But as a catcher, Piazza's numbers are there...But for some reason catchers get overlooked by the HOF...Do you know how many catchers are in the Baseball Hall of Fame?
But the biggest news about the HOF voting was Dan Le Batard of ESPN, who has also been a baseball writer in Miami gave his vote to Deadspin to let the public give their imput on who he should vote for...over 30,000 people voted, and he filled out a legit ballot based on that...His ballot did not include Jacque Jones or JT Snow...Unlike a few other ballots...Yet, Le Batard was stripped of his vote for life, and banned for at least a year from the Baseball Writers Association...I thought this was ridiculous....Then I watched Keith Olbermann, and he pointed out just exactly how disgustingly full of shit the BBWA is....
Well, don't those guys look stupid!?!
That's it...I'm trying to fight off a bug...But this weekend I did try to start getting ready the OLYMPICS...
And, I've been wondering about my son's future in FOOTBALL....
While waiting in anticipation of the full season trailer for Game of Thrones Season 4...
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
In the lead up to last night's playoff game between the Patriots and Colts, there were more than a few pundits who thought the Colts would win this game.
And while I had no illusions that Indy was going to roll over and play dead for New England, I thought anyone picking the Colts outside of their hometown newspaper reporters were utterly insane.
And it turned out that I was a bit more on the money than usual. The Colts didn't roll over and play dead, but they got their collective butts handed to them nonetheless.
The final score of 43-22 doesn't really do justice to how the Patriots dominated this game.
It was a game where Tom Brady was essentially a game manager. I don't know if the game plan included planning around the forecasted crappy weather, but Brady was just 13-25 for 198 yards last night. There were no TD passes and no INTs.
Instead he spent most of the night handing off to a battering ram run game led by LeGarrette Blount's (pictured below) 166 yards and 4 TDS (including a 73 yard scamper that broke the Colts back). The yardage total tied a team playoff record held by Curtis Martin and the four touchdowns are a new team playoff record.
But Blount wasn't the only object of trauma used against the Colts last night. During the rotation of backs in the game, Stevan Ridley (pictured below) got his chance to shine. The yardage total of 52 yards might not be all that impressive but his two rushing TDs were a nice additional bit of scoring. The six rushing TDs by the Patriots are now tied for second in playoff history.
And while the tendency is to overlook an important part of establishing any kind of run game, a big shout out has to go to the Patriots offensive line. They did give up two sacks of Brady, but otherwise, their job was magnificently performed as the opened up holes in the defense for the run game to burst their way through.
The Patriots defense was a bit rough in the first half of the game. Giving up 22 points means you won't grade out as an A plus but Colts QB Andrew Luck passing for 331 yards on the evening were mitigated by the four INTs picked up by the Patriots (two by Alfonzo Dennard). Also, between the score of the game and the fact that the defensive line shut down the Indy run game (69 net yards), Luck HAD to be throwing the ball a lot.
Luck (pictured below) is going to be a big star in the league, I think that much is obvious from how his first two seasons have gone. But last night showed that he has a ways to go before he is the king muckety muck in the AFC. While they survived his three INTs the previous week in their comeback against the Chiefs, Indy's luck ran out when he followed that up with four picks this week. Turnovers will come back to bite you in the ass sooner or later.
So the Patriots put on a power run and smack you in the mouth defensive performance last night and head off to their third straight AFC title game next week. They don't find out if it will be Denver or San Diego until later this afternoon, but if they can continue to play this kind of football, they can continue to be the most surprising edition of themselves in a number of years.
BOSTON COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Women's Basketball - The Eagles picked up their 7th win a row with a 70-63 win over Virginia Tech. They had a 13 point at one point in the second half only to let the Hokies climb back to within 2 points at 65-63 before finally putting them away. It was freshman Kelly Hughes (pictured below) that hit a big 3 point shot with 26.2 seconds left that helped ice the game. Hughes finishes with 12 points in all.
Kristen Doherty (pictured below 1st) had 16 points as did Nicole Boudreau (pictured below 2nd). Katie Zenevitch finished with 13 points and 9 boards.
With those seven straight wins, I had hopes that going into their matchup with #2 Notre Dame that they would give the Irish a game. Alas, it was not to be as the Eagles got crushed 95-53 to end their run of victories and leave them at 10-6 on the season.
Doherty (pictured below 1st) had 13 points, 5 assists and 5 steals to lead BC. Zenevitch (pictured below 2nd) scored 11 points and grabbed 7 boards. She topped the 1,000 point mark for her career. Lauren Engeln scored 10 points but turned the ball over 6 times.
By the way, next week I'll be headed up to Conte Forum to see the women's team take on North Carolina.
Men's Basketball - The men's team was on the road to play Virginia Tech yesterday afternoon. The game was on TV so I postponed my plans to go out and run some errands so that I could watch the game.
And I got to see a pretty decent ball game. It wasn't pretty by any means, but the Eagles ended up coming away with a 62-59 victory. They are 5-11 on the season but the win is their first in 3 tries this season in ACC games.
Lonnie Jackson (pictured below) led the team with 17 points and 6 boards. Olivier Hanlan finished with 14 points. Ryan Anderson had a hard time finding his stroke yesterday. He ended up with 6 points but made up for the lack of offense by grabbing 11 rebounds.
The best thing for the Eagles was seeing Dennis Clifford (pictured below) on the court. He's been out for the majority of the season with chronic knee problems. But yesterday he gave them 21 minutes. His numbers were a respectable 6 points and 6 boards, but more importantly he gave them some size on the court and solid defense.
Just a quick update. I was in a College Bowl Pick 'Em over on Yahoo. I finished 5th overall in yet another example of my total mediocrity in fantasy sports this season.
Hartford - The Hawks rough season continued as the team dropped a 61-57 decision to Stony Brook. They are now 4-11 on the season. The loss dropped them to 1-1 in America East conference play.
Cherelle Moore (14 points, 6 rebounds) and Amber Bepko (12 points) led the team
Missouri State - In their Missouri Valley Conference opener, the Lady Bears squared off against Wichita State and got their heads handed to them by the Shockers 98-68. The loss ended their four game win streak.
The game was close in the first half but the rout was in the second half. The Bears shot 57.1% from the foul line and just 2-13 from three point range.
Bry Snow had 19 points and 7 boards to lead MSU. Kenzie Williams and Tyonna Snow finished with 18 points apiece.
The Bears bounced back on Friday night with an 85-56 win over Bradley. The big win saw all 12 players score for Missouri State led by a career high 16 points from Katie Palmer (pictured below)
Bry Snow had 13 points to go with career highs in steals (4) and blocks (3). Kenzie Williams scored 11 points, which is her 13 straight game in double figures. Tyonna Snow hit for 10 points.
Tennessee - The Lady Vols picked up two more wins this week. But one of those wins came tough while the other was a strong blowout.
Against Georgia, Tennessee won 85-70, but not before nearly blowing a 27 point lead after Georgia went on a 21-0 run from the 7:20 mark in the second half to just under the 2 minute mark. Ariel Massengale led the team with 28 points and Isabelle Harrison finished with 18 points and 10 boards. Meighan Simmons added 11 points.
In their game against Ole Miss, Tennessee rolled to a 94-70 victory. Massengale (pictured below 1st) was again the leading scorer for the game. She finished with 23 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Harrison had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Andraya Carter (pictured below 2nd) had 14 points and 6 boards. Simmons tallied 12 points and Cierra Burdick had 7 points to go with a team high 9 boards.
The team is now 12-2 on the season.
I dropped the Celtics down from the top of the post this week to slightly mix up the order of things and because they've continued their losing skid over the last week and it is mostly painful to watch. It has been four more losses for Boston as they dropped to 13-24.
They got blown out 119-96 by the Thunder with Avery Bradley and Jeff Green scoring 19 points. Kris Humphries added 14 points.
Before the Nuggets game, the team traded Courtney Lee to the Grizzlies for guard Jerry Bayless. Lee has been unhappy with his role on the team and while he didn't make a pest of himself about it, the move is probably best for all concerned. The problem is that Bayless wasn't exactly lighting it up in Memphis. He was hitting just 37.7% of his shots before the trade.
To make the numbers work for the salary cap, the Celtics sent a 2nd round draft choice to the Thunder for Ryan Gomes but he was waived immediately in a strictly financial move.
And then there was that Nuggets game. So to speak, because the Celtics got run out of the building 129-98. Green had 17 points to lead the team's offense. Brandon Bass had 15 points and 7 boards. Before fouling out of the game, the seemingly forgotten Vitor Faverani had 10 points and 5 boards.
On the road, Boston got 24 points from Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley but came away from their game with the Clippers with a 111-105 defeat. Bayless added 11 points in support.
On Friday night, the game was much closer and intense. The Warriors still ended up prevailing over Gang Green though when Stephen Curry hit a jumper over Kris Humphries with 2.1 seconds left. Final score 99-97. Green had 24 points and 11 boards and Humphries scored 16 points and grabbed 14 boards. Jared Sullinger came off the bench for 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The seven game losing streak has the club in a free fall and I'm at a loss to figure out what might help them get back on the winning side of things.
BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
There's been a lot of kvetching back and forth over the Dan Le Batard story this week. He's the Florida sports columnist who gave his baseball Hall of Fame voting ballot to the Deadspin.com website so the fans could vote for who they thought should be in the HOF.
This is in direct opposition to the rules of voting for the HOF and while the majority of people I have read online over the last few days support what Le Batard did, I find it to be just another case of Le Batard being a gigantic penis as he always has been when I've seen him on TV.
If you don't want to vote, don't vote. If you think the process of selecting who goes to the Hall of Fame is flawed, work to fix it. But don't go around being an ass about things. You will get support, but only from like minded people rather than converting those not already on your side.
For his crimes of journalistic integrity, his membership in the Baseball Writers Association of America was suspended for a year and his Hall of Fame voting privileges were permanently yanked.
I'm in the minority opinion but I say good riddance to bad rubbish. Now if only ESPN and his home Florida newspaper would stop polluting the airwaves and print newspaper with his self serving pinheaded ways.
Music - The new Adrenaline Mob CD Men of Honor isn't due out until February 18 but you can check out the lyric video for the song "Feel The Adrenaline" below.
Books - I finished reading the Hank Phillippi Ryan thriller The Wrong Girl this past week. I loved it and I'm already eagerly anticipating the next book in the series.
Of course, I also picked up some new books to grow my "to be read" pile a little more. I got two books from Laurie R. King called The Pirate King and Garment of Shadows. The books tell a tale of an older Sherlock Holmes and his wife Mary Russell. This series has been a marvel since the first book The Beekeeper's Apprentice and though I'm behind in my reading of the books, they are always highly anticipated.
The other book I picked up was the science fiction novel by David Weber called A Rising Thunder. It is the latest paperback release in his Honor Harrington series. This is another series that grabbed me from the first book and never let go. He's continued the main series, but Weber has had two spinoff series as well as a young adult series to go with it. There's a comic series coming out soon and I believe there will be a movie at some point too.
Happy Friday, Gabbers. (Yeah, that picture sure is a nice creepy way to start the day! 70's sex symbol there...kind of like when I went to Youtube to show my daughter what "Moves Like Jagger" meant by showing her Mick & David Bowie singing and dancing in "dancing in the street" video...scarred that poor girl for life and ruined the song for her!) Had myself a nice break over the Holidays but am back to the grind of way too much work and hard at work at the writing front. No time to dilly-dally (I’d freeze in place with the hideous cold weather outside all this week!).
NFL PICKS: DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF ROUND:
Saints 24 at Seahawks 25
Seattle at home is a beast. I thought the Eagles would sneak past the Saints last week, and it was a close game decided at the end. It was a considerable monkey off the back of quarterback Drew Brees in getting past that road playoff/cold weather outside game. The Saints are not likely to light it up in Seattle with the 12th man cranked up an extra few decibels in the playoffs.
Seattle, as hard as it is to believe now based on the 2013 regular season, lost on the road in the playoffs to Atlanta last year. The Falcons jumped out to a 20-0 lead then let the Seahawks go ahead 28-27 with less than a minute to play. At that time, the dominant Seattle defense laid an egg and let the Falcons march into field goal range to win it with a last minute field goal. If Seattle spent the past two weeks sitting around reading their press clippings, it could open a door for a Saints shocker, but I just do not see it this week.
Colts 17 at Patriots 24
In the Boston area, a lot of writers have already written off the Colts. Yes, losing wide receiver Reggie Wayne was a key blow, but that comeback win last week against Kansas City was a thing of beauty to view. Kansas City had the game won. Over. Done. Pack your bags and head to the airport to fly to New England over. Then the Colts went into their shotgun, no-huddle three-and four wide receiver sets. The Chiefs countered with some lazy zone coverages and suddenly it was a ballgame again.
It was a tough call as to if the Chiefs blew the game or the Colts won it. The Chiefs had been ravaged by injuries throughout the game and had Junior Hemingway (who?) in for wide receiver Donnie Avery and Knile Davis (I forgot the Razorback back was on a pro roster!) in for star running back Jamaal Charles. Despite that, coach Andy Reid got all pass happy in the second half and seemed to forget he could run the clock down by calling running plays and improve his team’s chance of victory.
Well, Bill Belichick is a bit smarter than Reid. Also, when the Chiefs defense lost cornerback Brandon Flowers it was suddenly the “watch T.Y. Hilton abuse Dunta Robinson” show in Indy. Throwing to Hilton at Robinson in the second half, Hilton was four receptions on four targets for 64 yards and a touchdown...a perfect 158.3 QB rating for Luck when he attacked that matchup.
I’m not calling a blowout this Patriots offense is not going to put up 40 or 50 points a game anymore, but I expect New England to execute the offense and force a few key turnovers to win a close, hard-fought game. Winning big and winning easy is a regular season kind of thing….at this point, the teams are too tough and too closely matched in talent to have a blowout.
49ers 19 at Panthers 16
This game is a coin flip. They played a great game earlier in the season in week 10 (won by the Panthers 10-9). San Francisco’s offense was in a funk at the time without top wideout Michael Crabtree. Carolina was at the peak of their prowess. That said, both offenses just plain stunk. It was a classic defensive battle with two strong squads beating the crap out of each other.
I’m excited for this game on Sunday afternoon (why 49ers fans in Cali have to watch at 10AM is ludicrous, but Manning in the 4:45pm game Sunday is ratings gold for CBS). I think the 49ers offense is clicking and should jump out early to take the crowd out of the game. I think the final will be close, but the game will be a long, field-position punt fest after San Francisco gets up by two scores early. The Panthers will come back fast and furious, but expect San Francisco to have one more defensive stand to hold on and lineup the AFC West rematch with Seattle next week in the NFC Championship Game.
Chargers 31 at Broncos 34
Let me be clear: I am rooting hard for the Chargers and a home AFC Championship for New England. That said, I keep replaying this game in my head and cannot see the Broncos choking at home in the playoffs. Yes, Peyton Manning has eight one-and-dones on his resume in the playoffs, but this team has too many weapons on offense and do not have to face the Ravens defense.
I figure that the loss of Von Miller will be something that bites the Broncos in a big moment in the playoffs, but I just cannot see it happening against the Chargers. Yes, the Chargers spanked the Bengals, but that was the Bengals! Yes, I hate the Bengals. That is true. But the defense was weaker due to some injuries and Andy Dalton is just not a top-flight NFL quarterback who can win a playoff game. I obviously overcompensated my Cincinnati Bengals hatred by giving them too much credit.
Yes, I have no doubt that Peyton Manning is someone who can be beaten in the playoffs, but that is true of any passing offense. Like New England against the Jets and Ravens in the playoffs in years past, the referees let defensive backs play and that separation between the teams shrinks considerably. Sure, Manning could blow it...but he saves that for next week.
* * *
As always, there’s plenty of Hal B. online this week. My first part of the key matchups for the Patriots vs Colts game is up at MusketFire.com here with part two due up on Friday night or Saturday morning.
My article at Cover32.com looked at who deserved the regular season “Game Ball” for the Pariots. New content will be up some time today as well (usually after 9AM) looking at the Patriots - Colts matchup with a different twist as well at http://cover32.com/patriots/.
Finally, I was back on H4TV’s blogtalkradio on Monday talking NFL and BCS Championship football (link is not available, sadly), but I am back in the swing of baseball at last. Last night I was on the H4TV MLB Access show talking Hall of Fame Inductees, Steroids, Free Agents, Hot Stove, and forcing the conversation towards the Red Sox whether anyone liked it or not!
As always, I’ll have another game preview on Saturday afternoon before the playoff game for the Patriots on Cover32.com and the instant analysis shortly after the game concludes at MusketFire.com.
All right, Gabbers, that’s all from this corner of the Internet. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great Friday--stay warm, stay dry--and have a super weekend, all!
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the New England Patriots must feel quite flattered.
Examples galore abound. Sean Payton's affinity for the Patriots' system has been known for a long time. Various facets of New England's method of keeping a contender on the field in the salary cap era have been widely copied by other NFL teams. Nick Foles, the league's leading passer, has a motion eerily akin to Tom Brady's. Why? The Eagles and Patriots had joint practices this past summer, that's why. But sometimes the love affair gets a little dirtier.
General Managers have been spirited away. Thomas Dimitroff, the Patriots' head of scouting, went to Atlanta as GM and has been fairly successful. Scott Pioli, however, proved a disaster in Kansas City. But we digress... this is really about coaches.
After their third Super Bowl, New England's coordinators famously left town to pursue new ventures, Charlie Weis for Notre Dame and Romeo Crennel for Cleveland. Weis' short tenure at ND began with promise as he took the Irish to two bowl games, but after that the Irish began to sink. He was fired in 2009 and went to the Chiefs as OC. KC responded with a 10-6 season. But Weis deserted the Chiefs for Florida as OC, where his team flopped. He then hopped to Kansas where he remains, his record so far abysmal and the school perhaps wondering why they did what they did to Mark Mangino. Ya think?
Crennel has had infrequent success since leaving the Patriots. His tenure with the Browns produced one winning season in 2007, among several losing efforts. When the team again nosedived he was fired, going to Kansas City. That move produced no fruit either.
Eric Mangini was pulled away from his job as DC by the Jets in one of the more famous defections. Apparently acrimony over his departure swelled into Mangini ratting out his old boss for using video cameras from the wrong locations in the stadium. The offense was laughably absurd in an age of minicams spread all over every stadium, but Mangini's accusation targeted an archaic NFL rule and Goodell was forced to punish Belichick. More significantly, the New York press yellow-journalized the issue into the spygate and asterisk stories that still, amazingly, draw comment despite the fact that Belichick's team went 17-1 after losing their 'advantage'. Mangini, for his part, left New York under less than cordial circumstances for Cleveland, and was fired from there also eventually. His star appears to have faded to the point of nonexistence as nobody wants to hire a potential rat.
Josh McDaniels, New England's current OC, left for Denver after the 2008 season to become head coach. His tenure was marked by conflict with Jay Cutler, six straight wins to open his first season, and then disaster. He was fired after his second year, returning to New England to reclaim his old job as Patriot OC Bill O'Brien left for Penn State.
Speaking of whom... O'Brien walked into a hornet's nest at PSU, though he had a couple of moderately successful seasons for a school whose program was feared poisoned by scandal.
And here we are at the end of the 2013 season. McDaniels is reportedly talking to the Browns and some other teams for possible head coaching jobs again, leaving New England fans wondering why Bill Belichick keeps hiring a transient. Bill O'Brien has been hired by the Houston Texans to replace Gary Kubiak, and his first move was to pick up none other than Romeo Crennel as his DC. His OC remains undetermined at this writing, leaving some speculation as to whether O'Brien might want to assume such duties himself with perhaps an assistant.
And with the history behind us, we can ask the questions. Why do teams constantly raid New England's staff? Is it a good idea?
The clear answer to the first question is that it's because the Patriots have done so well. But there's an undercurrent to it. During New England's run of Super Bowl wins, Weis and Crennel were widely credited for the success. Clearly, Cleveland and Notre Dame felt they were bringing the winning magic with them. Belichick's role was underestimated, and it continued to be underestimated as his underlings continued to be hired away. Not one has, so far, produced what he was brought in to produce --- a championship. In fact, it can be said that random hirings have produced as good results as they have. Maybe better.
That answers the second question. So far, it's a resounding 'no'. Only Belichick is Belichick. It is what it is.
All of which brings us to the present and to the unseen future. Will O'Brien revive the Texans? That Crennel should be able to handle a capable defense seems without question. That's what he does best. That O'Brien can turn loose what ought to be a more dynamic offense seems equally as likely. One would think that his first priority, after a speech to the media in which he underlined the opinion that most of the pieces were in place already in Houston, might be local and national hero Johnny Manziel --- perhaps Teddy Bridgewater? --- to build a legacy around. But already, Texans' owner Bob McNair has told the media that Houston 'might be open' to trading away the #1 pick presumably to acquire a multiple-pick bonanza to fill holes and add depth. It's a great tactic.
But it seems to fly in the face of the dynamic O'Brien offensive strategies of the past. For now, it leaves a mystery --- is this something agreed to after consultation with the new coach, or is it a meddling owner signaling that O'Brien has walked into his second consecutive hornets' nest? Only time can answer that. For now one must assume everyone's on the same page.
As for McDaniels, he and Bob Stoops are reported to be the Browns' next candidate to gain legendary stature by turning around a legendary but unconscious franchise. McDaniels' first try at coaching was an instant success, followed by a persistent disaster. That was in Denver. This is Cleveland. No deal has been cut yet, but the money will not be on McDaniels reviving the franchise.
There are high hopes for O'Brien though. His situation should be better, and his odds of becoming the one long-term ex-Patriot coaching star seem brighter than usual. But he has a long history of alumni failures to buck.
Will these moves bring the Texans the sustained success that many feel they should have achieved long ago, or will they prove once more that success in New England doesn't necessarily translate elsewhere? It may be the most interesting new-regime story of the 2014 season.
The Patriots faced off against the Indianapolis Colts in Foxboro today. In a hard fought battle on both sides, the Pats prevailed 77-52. Ok, the Pats played Buffalo today and won on a substantially less interesting score, but my daughter killed me playing Madden. She spent 4 years on the varsity softball team, so you’d think she would’ve learned something about sportsmanship, but with a minute left she was still giving me the onside kick…of course recovering…and driving for the score. Anyone else may have taken a knee or something. Humiliation, really. That said, I wound up scoring something like 20 points in the last minute-thirty or so. I’m not really sure where that offense came from, but I’m pretty upset it wasn’t apparent before the wheels completely came off my wagon.
Now, this was a win-or-go-home game…and the Packers wound up winning by 5. Makes you wonder what may have happened had the Bears been paying attention. It’s hard to say that one play made all the difference, but it’s probably better to say the coaching made all the difference on that play: Rodgers paying attention and telling his receiver to run, Marc Trestman apparently hasn’t spent time on those fundamentals. THAT one play illustrates why you have to pay attention to the nuances – and illustrates why the Bears are playing golf.
Similarly, I giggled my ass off this week reading the Cowboys signed Jon Kitna to replace Tony Romo for a win-or-go-home game. Now, I know, Kyle Orton is the starter, but I mean Garrett signed a 41-year old guy who admits his career is over and hasn’t been waiting around for a call – he’s been teaching Algebra for christs’ sake. He last played for the Cowboys 2 years ago and “knows the playbook”…assuming the playbook hasn’t changed any…and that he can like, remember something from 2 years ago. Hard for me to imagine Jason Garrett remaining the Dallas coach beyond Sunday – Kitna was signed over more…traditional and perhaps game ready candidates after texting Garrett and a 30 minute phone call. As an aside, Kitna is donating his $53,000 game check to the Tacoma area school where he’s teaching – must be a ploy to get tenure.
Speaking of coaches not likely to be coaching beyond Sunday, Browns Coach Chudzinski is reportedly out of a job after one season…but that was in some dispute until about 9:15 Sunday night when NFL.com confirmed it. I’m sure Beeze will have a few things to say about the situation, but I can’t help but having my say here too: he won 4 games – perhaps should have been 5, if the Pats hadn’t gone all Bullwinkle Moose and pulled a big ass rabbit out of their hat - with a team that was 5-11 last year, a QB carousel not of his making. Fact is, this could be a very good team if they could just find that quarterback. So…why not just ditch the first year guy and start over again? I’m pretty convinced the Cleveland franchise really just doesn’t want to win. At all. Ever. Fire the first year coach because ownership “soured” on him over the last few weeks because of “accountability” issues with the players? Seriously? Cleveland, you do deserve better ownership.
In other coaching news, Rex Ryan is staying in New York. Good grief. This actually kind of makes me happy...as a Pats fan, I'm very happy.
The Chargers were a last second field goal away from the showers, and Pittsburgh improbably heading to the playoffs when Ryan Succup’s FG attempt clanged off the uprights. Here’s the thing though – Kansas City’s second stringers took this Chargers’ team to overtime, building their experience and confidence and making San Diego look like the very weak playoff team they’re bound to be. Pittsburgh needed to win, and have three more teams lose…and that almost happened. Remarkable really.
Manning again set all kinds of records – most points by a team in a season, touchdowns, yards – but it will remain to be seen just how that translates to the playoffs. Earlier this year I was convinced the Broncos would not be beaten, and I was wrong, but in my view Manning still has something to prove this year. Brady came 2 minutes away from a perfect 19-0 season, but lost the Super Bowl. The 1998 Minnesota Vikings didn’t even make it to the Super Bowl. The Broncos defense is suspect, and the NFL playoffs have not been kind teams predicated on a dominant offense. Manning has been a one man Madden highlight reel.
As we head into 2014, I look favorably upon 2013. I know I’ve had some personal ups and downs, but more ups than downs and that for me makes a good year. It’s easy to color the entire year with the last two months, but taking the whole 12 months into account, it really hasn’t been bad. I hope you can say the same about your 2013 and wish you a nothing-but-positive 2014.