Monday, November 30, 2009

thankgiving leftover sandwich

Back on June 5th, I dreamed up the ideal Thanksgiving leftover sandwich:

And then I came across this page of layered Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches. As I said before I'm usually a simple leftover sandwich guy. But if I were to think about such things, I wouldn't be a fan of cranberries or mashed potatoes on mine. Instead I would go with turkey, dressing (aka stuffing, but we don't stuff ours) and a little bit of brown sugar sweet potatoes. Mmmm.
So on Black Friday, while everyone else is crowding into Best Buy, I was making this:

(click for HD!)

I started with a generous layer of white and dark meat turkey. The middle layer is stuffing, this one of the cornbread variety. The top layer is roasted sweet potatoes, with a noticeable lack of brown sugar sauce. I thought about putting mayo on it, because of the turkey, but ending up going without condiments because I didn't think it would jive with the other layers.

The result? It was a warm, delicious endeavor. It was plenty moist and didn't need condiments. It was in fact better than just a plain turkey sandwich. The only thing that it was missing was the brown sugar sauce. Maybe next year.

rocky's photo session



home field advantage

It's good to be back after a week of using computers on the road. Internet Explorer is terrible. It doesn't underline misspelled words, the simple editing functions in Blogger like bold and italic just don't work, and it takes 3 seconds to open a new tab. I want that new tab now!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

playoff picture

This will become more clear by Tuesday morning, but here's how I see things right now.

Mark will win and clinches a spot with 8 wins. Doyle is in based on two-game lead and head-to head records.

Kirat and I will win. That puts Kirat at 7, Niraj at 7, and me at 6. Edit: Boss will also be at 6.

So...

Kirat 7
Niraj 7
Dave 6
Boss 6

Kirat and Niraj play each other in week 13, putting that winner at 8 and in. But both Kirat and Niraj own the H2H tiebreaker over Boss, eliminating him anyways.

If two teams split their head-to-head, does it go by overall points next? If so, it would seem my only path would be to beat Mark, hope that Niraj beats Kirat, and that I can pass Kirat for overall points. It's a lot to ask.

At this point it seems that Mark, Mac, and Niraj are in. And it's me vs Kirat for the last slot. Did I miss something?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

three touchdowns? i'll take it

Illinois Football +21 over Cincinatti $50

#1 vs #2

Hypothetically, is it possible that the two best teams in the country are in the same conference?

Yes.

In the eleven BCS National Championship Games, there has never been a intra-conference title game. But could there be? And should there be?

- - -

In the case of 2009, the top two ranked teams are Florida and Alabama. They have been ranked this way for most of the season. Are they the two best teams in the country? The people who are in charge of voting for the top teams seem to think so. So why is it impossible for them to play for the National Championship?

- - -

There exists a belief that when one team loses, it must fall in the rankings. But since there must be a victor between Florida and Alabama, does that necessarily mean that both teams are not the two best teams in the country? I say no. Logic dictates that if you pair the two best teams against each other, just because one wins, that doesn't mean that these are not the two best teams.

And yet Texas is licking it's chops at #3 because it is confident that there will not be an all-SEC title game.

My argument is not based on these teams specifically, but rather on the concept that losing in a #1 vs #2 matchup means that you are not worthy of keeping that ranking.

- - -

Of course, that doesn't mean you should automatically keep that ranking either. Obviously, if either Florida or Alabama wins by three touchdowns, it's fair to say the loser cannot hang with the top teams in the country. But I don't think it requires a 7OT game to say that the two teams we thought were the best before are still the best.

I am aware that there are other factors at work when selecting the title game participants. There is the belief that in lieu of an actual playoff, that the schedule is a de facto playoff. While seemingly convenient, this is ridiculous. Some conferences play conference title games, some don't. You're rewarded more for losing early instead of losing late. And a team like Texas gets rewarded because they don't have a team like Alabama to play against in their Big 12 title game. If this is a de facto playoff system, it stinks.

- - -

What about a couple years ago when Michigan and Ohio State were #1 and #2. If they weren't scheduled to play each other in the regular season, were they not supposed to meet in the Nat'l Championship? Or what if the SEC didn't have a Conference Championship this year?

Furthermore, the Saints could very well lose to the Patriots this upcoming Monday night. Does that mean that the Saints are not the #1 or #2 team in the league? Are they still not deserving of a Super Bowl spot?

- - -

Chances are Alabama will lose to Florida by 17 and this will all be moot. But if we think these are the two best teams now, I don't see why they might not be the two best teams even after the SEC title game.

thanksgiving slate

Lions at home are a double-digit underdog.
Cowboys at home are a double-digit favorite.

Would it kill them to give us a competitive game on Thanksgiving? (And no I don't even get NFL network on the road, so I'm stuck with just the two early games).

Over the last 5 years: Detroit is 0-5, Dallas is 4-1.

The last game to not follow this trend was Denver over Dallas in 2005, 24-21 OT.

And yet for Pigskin Pickem, I'm taking the points with the Lions. Why? Because I hate getting picks right. I'm laying the Cowboys because I hate the Raiders.

playoff picks: week 11

AFC

Clearly In
Colts
Chargers
Pats

Likely In
Steelers
Bengals
Jaguars

Likely Out
Texans
Broncos
Jets
Ravens
Dolphins

Clearly Out
Titans
Bills
Raiders
Chiefs
Browns


NFC

Clearly In
Saints
Vikings
Cardinals (only because of their division)

Likely In
Cowboys
Packers
Eagles

Likely Out
Giants
Falcons
Bears
49ers

Clearly Out
Seahawks
Bucs
Panthers
Rams
Lions
Redskins

- - -

A little moving around. The Broncos are who we thought they were! Earlier it looked like there were an abundance of solid teams that deserved the playoffs, but after seeing the Giants, Falcons, and Packers play stinky, I'm not even sure there are 5 playoff worthy teams in the NFC.

How great would it be for the Titans to start 0-6 and then finish 10-0? Definition of team that no one wants to play in the playoffs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

board: week 11

The Board Completed Bets
Week 5: Mark wants Bloopy +20 (+3)
Week 6: Mark wants Boss +20 (+17.5)
Week 6: Mark wants Niraj -15 (-37.5)
Week 6: Mark wants Himself -25 (-26)
Week 6: Mark wants Savan +7.5 (+7.5) push
Week 7: Mark wants Doyle +12.5 (-5.5)
Week 7: Mark wants Swag -12.5 (-61)
Week 7: Mark wants Savan -20 (-11.5)
Week 7: Mark wants Boss +32.5 (+18.5)
Week 11: Mark wants Forsett over 7.5 (18)
Week 11: Mark wants AD over CJ (CJ)
Week 11: Mark wants Andre J. over 18 (15)
Season: Mark wants Delhomme over Flacco (Flacco)

Weeks 5-15: Mark wants Kevin Smith over Westbrook (Smith)

Mark is up 9-4, with only 4 active bets.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

chiefs game balls: first of Haley era

I started the Chiefs Game Balls series in 2007, the point being to celebrate the wins during the rebuilding era. The Chiefs went 4-12 in '07 and I wrote posts for every game. Last year, they went 2-14 and by the time they beat Oakland to get to 2-10 I didn't think the team's effort was worth it.

This victory was the third of the season, but the first two were ugly wins over the Redskins and Raiders, games where neither team really deserved to win.

The last time I gave out game balls was 9.29.08: KC was 1-3 coming of a victory over Denver.

- - -

The Steelers were 9.5 favorites at Arrowhead. They've beaten the Chargers, Broncos, and the only team to beat the Vikings. These are still the defending champs and they've got the fans that travel the best. This is not a team like the Redskins or Raiders.

I read the theory that the Chiefs followed the Bengals blueprint for beating the Steelers. They did not. The Bengals played solid defense and played them close throughout, splitting the time of possession. The Chiefs gave up over 500 yards and got dominated in T.O.P. (44min-22min) The Bengals only forced one turnover. The Chiefs forced three turnovers, only giving up one. The big similarity was that they both got kickoff return touchdowns in the first quarter.

So how did the weak Chiefs beat the Steelers?

- - -

Hon. Mention: Matt Cassel 15/30, 248 yards, 2 td, 0 int, 1 fumble

These are typical Cassel/KC QB numbers. But we improved in one big area: 3rd down conversions. Up to 40%, down from our previous lows. He made the right plays at the right time, including a double move deep ball and even when throws a pick or fumbles, he never makes you doubt that he is THE quarterback for the Chiefs.

Hon. Mention: Jovan Belcher. Who? Rookie linebacker. He made the play that set up the winning drive. With the Steelers having a 3rd and 2 from the KC 35, a overtime field goal is moments away. And then Belcher comes up with a game saving tackle, pushing the Steelers back to the KC 38. On 4th and 5, they could have tried a long field goal, or went for it, but they punted.

Hon. Mention: Andy Studebaker. Who? Basically rookie linebacker in for injured Vrabel. Gets two interceptions and half a sack. Might have gotten a game ball if he had stayed along the sideline taking it to end zone. He cut back in and got tackled inside the 10, and the Chiefs only got a field goal.

#3: Chris Chambers


This is his third game with the Chiefs. He grabbed two 4th quarter TD's in a loss to the Jaguars and had solid games in back to back wins. He caught the over the top deep ball for a 47-yard gain to setup the Charles game-tying touchdown. And then in overtime he caught a ball over the middle and got all the yards after the catch setting up the game winning field goal.



#2: Jamaal Charles

The Chiefs scored three touchdowns. One was Cassel to Pope. The other two were Charles. Starting the game with a kickoff return and sending the game to overtime with a touchdown reception, he made the plays that made everyone forget about Larry Johnson and kept us in the game.

#1: Todd Haley

Along with Pioli, he got rid of LJ and got Chris Chambers. He designed the new Charles TD play this week and called all the right plays at the right times. This is his first signature win and it feels like, for the first time, that the players have really bought in and the team is going in a solid direction.

- - -

More good pictures:

Chambers with the fingertip grab on the overtime catch and run.





fantasy update: 2 weeks to go

Wild week. I'm on the road, so I'm blogging without my home-field advantage. It's a little rough but I'm playing through it.

The two biggest fantasy scorers of week 11 were in the same game, the game of the year. And they were both on waivers. The Lions got down 24-3, making Brady Quinn look like Joe Montana. Actually that's not true, his receivers were so wide open, Brady Quinn looked like a Jugs machine throwing the ball up and letting his receivers navigate the open field. But the Browns made a fatal mistake: You DO NOT challenge Matthew Stafford. He will destroy you. Except for those interceptions and that safety.

But the ending was spectacular. With over 30 yards to go, Stafford ran around and let the clock run out and threw it to the end zone for an interception. But wait, flag on the play and that means two of the best words: Untimed down. 1st and goal from the 1, no time left, and you're down 6.

Stafford to Pettigrew and it was tight window to win the game. Nice job Lions. You beat the Browns.

But back to the fantasy leaders, it's full of surprises: Ricky Williams, Eli Manning in November, Brett Fave in 2009, Terrell Owens. Wes Welker puts up 29.5 WITHOUT a touchdown. Snelling for 21.5, Forsett for 18, Bernard Scott for 17.5.

- - -

So in our league with only 2 games to go, we've got 3 teams at 7-4, 1 team at 6-5, and 4 teams at 5-6. (And two teams at 4-7, more on them later.)

Next week it will be easy to project scenarios. Right now I'm assuming the 3 teams at 7-4 will make it in. Kirat at 6-5 plays Harlan and Niraj, and controls his own destiny. But one defeat and he would get passed by just about anyone that wins their last 2 games, based on his weak points scored. There's really no way I can make the playoffs, but I'm pretty pleased that I've gone 5-2 over the last 7 weeks, although I'm surprised I'm still in 8th place.

- - -

At the other end, based on points scored and record, Matt has a stranglehold on last place. To be eligible not for last, he either needs to get to 6 wins, or get to 5 and hope that Harlan stays at 4. Basically he needs to win more than Harlan. Looking forward to next week, when I can construct win and you're in scenarios.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

an unbelievable birthday present

9.5 point home dog and I took the Steelers. In fact, I took Pittsburgh as my Eliminator pick. The Chiefs have trouble beating Oakland, no way they could hang with the defending champs.

- - -

The Chiefs cut Larry Johnson on November 9th, 2009. With him on the roster, the Chiefs were 1-7. Johnson averaged 2.7 yards a carry.

Since then the Chiefs are 2-0. Last week Charles had 117 offensive yards and a rushing touchdown. This week Charles had 66 offensive yards, a receiving touchdown to tie the game in crunch time, and a kickoff return touchdown to start the game. He's averaging 4.9 yards a carry on the season. Larry Who?

- - -

This is the first win of the season that deserves a full breakdown with game balls. Plus, I'm going to watch all the highlights I can and provide some commentary. And hey, congrats to the Lions as well. Not too many times Detroit and KC both pick up a win.

Friday, November 20, 2009

me, me, me

I proofed the Sports Guy's Friday NFL Column.

Screenshot from when the column originally went up:

Hmm. Looks like one of my favorite soundbites got messed up. Here's the current article:


All better. But how do I know that it was me and only me?

That twitter screenshot is from 12:46 CST. Searching on twitter for any tweets sent to Simmons since the column went up reveal that I'm the one that tweeted the correction to him.

Between inspiring the Deadspin Hall of Fame, debating BCS playoffs with Bomani Jones and Dan Shanoff, and proofing Simmons' column, I'm a regular who's who of interacting with sports personalities.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

new age girl

I heard this song in 1994. I was 11. I liked it a lot, but didn't realize there were any sexual references. I was 11.

Between the crystal necklace and being a vegetarian, this song from the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack was very prophetic.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

France is in the World Cup

but shouldn't be.

racism in real-time

On the internet, circa 2005, imdb forum comments were the place to go when your brain wanted to die.

They were then surpassed by youtube comments as the lowest form of internet life.

However, there is a new winner. Trending Topics on Twitter. Yes, the person who sees that something else is popular and has to add their idiotic two cents to the topic.

And that's how you end up with situations like this:



the constancy of take home pay

Despite a steadily earning salary, my take home pay remains remarkable constant. Hmmm. As time has gone on, there have been more and more taxes and more and more pre-tax subtractions. Here's a summary with numbers removed to protect the innocent.

Mainly though, I'm visual learner, I'm a stat nerd, and I'm really into making charts in excel. Again this is only for take-home pay, not salary.


A couple interesting observations:
  • At the beginning of 2007 I got a raise. But after I upped my 401k contribution and added a dental plan, I was actually making less than before.
  • You can see the jump from Associate Copywriter to Copywriter was a substantial one. And yet a Copywriter with a significant 401k and health and dental insurance makes about as much as an Assoc. Copywriter with none of those things.
  • I'm not sure how my Fed. tax withholding got lowered, and I didn't noticed until I made this chart.
  • Since my CTA pass only gets taken out of every other paycheck, it makes the chart look funny.
  • I decreased my 401k only to the company match level because Roth IRAs are the way to go.

illini highlights/thoughts

Illinois over SIUE, 96-69

Illinois beats Northern, 80-61

So in last night's game we had 4 players with 29+ minutes:

Paul & Richardson (freshmen)
Davis & McCamey (juniors)

And then 5 players with 9-19 minutes:

Keller (senior)
Tisdale, Cole, Legion (juniors)
Griffey (freshman)

So far, we have a 9-man rotation. Not sure how Jordan will fit into the mix.

So looking forward, 2010 season should be way better, with incoming star freshmen and not losing any major players.

2011 we might take a hit as we're losing 5 of our current 9 players. We'll have a solid junior and sophomore class, with a freshmen class to be determined.

2012 should also be strong, assuming that Paul and Richardson don't leave early, Richmond, Head and Leonard are as advertised, and we get some support from recruits. Obviously this is jumping the gun, but when you have two elite recruiting classes in a row, it stands to reason that when the first are senior, the second are junior, you could be talking Final Four run.

"put me in coach"

Last night I had a dream:

It began inside the Kansas City Chiefs locker room. We had apparently just lost another game. It did feel like about week 9 in the season. I see Coach Haley. He's not happy, but he's not furious.

I start to follow him down a hallway. I go up to him and ask him how he's doing. Something about how we really haven't been able to connect because the season's been so busy. I sort of faux-introduce myself, as if to make a clean start. I say to Haley, "Hi, I'm Jamaal."

It's at this point that I realize that although I have my 5'8", 166 white body, to Haley I am Jamaal Charles. We continue walking down the hallway, reach the end, and reach the field. This is not Arrowhead Stadium, but a much smaller stadium, like a high school field. I look up at the clock and the score is 21-27. We are losing. There are about 40 seconds left.

I'm not sure if there was a fumble or something, but our team gets the ball back with about 16 seconds to go, on our on 20 or so. Coach and remark that maybe we'll be able to win this one yet, without taking notice of the fact that we were in the locker room before the game was over. I ask him if he wants me to go in, and says sure.

It is this point that I reveal that every other player of the field, was a Pee Wee football player. And not like middle-scholars that are big for their grade, these guys aren't over 4 foot tall.

Despite not wearing a uniform, and in fact wearing jeans, a white t-shirt and regular sneakers, I line up wide left. On first down our quarterback throws a terrible pass incomplete over the middle, before I had even really started my route. There's now 13 seconds left and it's 2nd down and about 80 to go for the touchdown.

Coach Haley barks out some complicated play. There were a lot of 'Z's in it. This time I line up slot left. I see a lot of movement, so I take off out of my stance, but then look back and see the ball hasn't been snapped. So I get back in formation, and am staring at the ball now. No flags were thrown. (At this point it is very important to note that I have no idea what the play call is going to be. This is all in my dream, and yet I am a receiver and I don't know what play call my subconscious has picked out for me.) So I'm looking at the ball intently now, and I immediately see that the snap was fumbled. I run towards the ball, absorbing hits along the way. The ball is on the ground and I noticed that most of the players on the field are running down the field, running routes or dropping into deep coverage. That's when I figure it out.

Haley called for an 80-yard playaction fumblerooski. I pick up the ball and am about to be tackled, so I lateral it to the quarterback. The opposing player who was about to tackle me turns to go after the quarterback. The QB sort of pitches it back to me and I pick it up after a bounce or two. (That probably should have been called an incomplete forward pass but there isn't a whistle). So now I've got the ball on my own 25 or so, on the right side, and every other player is running down the field. So I start running, trying to hide the ball, crossing the field diagonally. I get to about the opponents' 30-yard line and there are two players in yellow who are now trying to tackle me. (Picture AFL-Broncos unis). I could try and take the angle I have to the left pylon, but I'm afraid that I could get pushed out of bounds.

I cut back toward the hashmarks, getting the defense going that way, and then I spin and cut back toward the left numbers. This time with more separation I've got a pretty good path to the endzone. I do a stiffarm on the second tackler and get by him. Now I'm at about the 15 and I see there are about 3 opponents standing on the goal line, looking like they're playing Red Rover.

I know the clock has expired and I think I can make it, so I run straight up the field, right at the defense. And then, me as Jamaal Charles, playing against a bunch of Pee Wee shrimps, I dive up and over the defense, with two hands on the ball, crashing into them. I just scored the winning touchdown.

All we have to do is quick the extra point. At this point Adam Cobb shows up. I tell him to line up on the right corner of the formation, I'm on the left. I'm counting our blockers to make sure we don't get a penalty, and I count at least 15. I'm trying to tell 4 people to run off the field and we get a delay of game penalty. We try and regroup at the seven yard line. People are getting set. The play clock is again ticking down. I'm yelling "hike, hike!" We hike it, the kick goes up and through.

And then the Ref throws his flag, and calls delay of game again. That we didn't get the hike off in time. And he's right. We reset again and this time we hike it in time but the kick is low and no good.

27-27 tie.

So my brain does the most logical thing it can, and turns the football field into a basketball court, and we are going to play a 5-minute overtime period of basketball. I tell Adam "no flashy stuff, no stupid alley-oops, no turnovers. Let's get this win."

Both teams have two possessions, and each team commits two turnovers. Terrible passes. And for absolutely no reason, the ref blows his whistle and says the game is over. It's a tie.

I walk off the court/field with Coach Haley talking about the game. I say, "It's a shame because it's the first time all year that I felt like we've had the personnel advantage." This is obviously a reference to the 2009 Chiefs team and how they've been outmatched in every game.

This was a good dream.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

fantasy update

If the season ended today:


We'd have a rematch of the War Across the Shore, plus 3 Illini teams represented.

- - -

Here's the breakdown of the standings/records, with scoring rank in parens, draft position in brackets.

Doyle 7-3 (3) [2]
Burnsy 6-4 (1) [4]
Mark 6-4 (2) [1]
Kirat 6-4 (6) [6]
Savan 5-5 (4) [5]
Swag 5-5 (5) [8]
Boss 4-6 (7) [3]
Dave 4-6 (8) [9]
Matt 4-6 (10) [7]
Harlan 3-7 (9) [10]

Conclusions:
The schedule has even it out pretty well. Biggest schedule loser is Savan, only scored 20 points less than a 7-3 team, right now he's 5-5 and on the outside looking in. Biggest schedule winner is Kirat. He's in the bottom 5 of points scored and is tied for first in Illini and currently slotted in the playoffs.

And now, to make it perfectly clear if there was any doubt, I am a stat nerd. Here is a chart showing correlation between draft position and points scored.

Complete with linear trendline, and slope equation shown in the lower left. We see that there is a -20 slope. What does that mean? On average, in our league so far, for every draft slot deeper you are, each team is scoring 20 points less on the season, than the team before. With ten teams, that works out to an average of 200-point disparity between the team that got the first draft slot and the team that got the 10th.

- - -

But wait...correlation does not equal causation. This doesn't mean that the reason these teams are scoring the way they are is because of their draft slot. There a lot of factors at play here, including that Mark made an excellent trade for Chris Johnson, Burnsy nailed a bunch of sleepers late in the draft, etc. Another explanation would be that Matt and me just aren't any good, and we happened to be #7 and #9, bringing the average down.

But just for fun....it is interesting to compare the 1st round draft results with the above chart.

1 Adrian Peterson, Min RB Burnsy Sucks Cock
2 Michael Turner, Atl RB Doyle McPoyle
3 Matt Forte, Chi RB Team Like A Boss
4 DeAngelo Williams, Car RB Mark is a Vag
5 Steven Jackson, StL RB Team Vagnasty
6 Maurice Jones-Drew, Jac RB Team Kid-Iron
7 LaDainian Tomlinson, SD RB Team Bloopy
8 Larry Fitzgerald, Ari WR CHI-Ville SwagaLICIOUS
9 Andre Johnson, Hou WR Sweaty Bratwursts
10 Drew Brees, NO QB Get Gully Harlan

The obvious disappointments have been Forte and Tomlinson. Plus, while Brees isn't a bust, he's currently 4th among QB's, not exactly warranting a first round pick. Those 3 picks might seem to explain the outliers on the slope chart.

The Board through week 10

The Board Completed Bets
Week 5: Mark wants Bloopy +20 (+3)
Week 6: Mark wants Boss +20 (+17.5)
Week 6: Mark wants Niraj -15 (-37.5)
Week 6: Mark wants Himself -25 (-26)
Week 6: Mark wants Savan +7.5 (+7.5) push
Week 7: Mark wants Doyle +12.5 (-5.5)
Week 7: Mark wants Swag -12.5 (-61)
Week 7: Mark wants Savan -20 (-11.5)
Week 7: Mark wants Boss +32.5 (+18.5)

Mark is up 7-1, with only 6 active bets. Hmmm.

Active Bets
Dave: Tom Brady 224 vs Mark: Drew Brees 207
Dave: Pierre Thomas 98 vs Mark: Kevin Smith 97
Dave: Steve Slaton 104 vs Mark: Steven Jackson 140.5
Dave: Flacco 149 vs Mark: Delhomme 80
For weeks 5-15*, subtracting Westbrook's lowest, Dave: Westbrook 33.5 vs Mark: Kevin Smith 39
Kirat will make the fantasy playoffs: Dave: Yes, Mark: No

- - -

*All bets are through week 15, the end of our fantasy regular season.

recapville

Burnsy officially lost Eliminator by picking the Broncos, who lost to the Redskins, mostly due to Orton's injury. Orton! I'm still going strong towards that ESPN prize, and I've mapped out the rest of my season picks, and surprisingly there aren't too many times that I have to pick a team I'm not sold on.

Behind 48 points on tie-breaking point differential, and now one game in the Burger Division, the Lions path to victory is doubtful. I think they've got the tougher schedule and need to outpace the Chiefs by two wins.

My Simmons-style NFL picks went 4/5, putting me up $60 this week, for a total of up $90.
Invested: $200
Currently: $290

- - -

Board and Fantasy posts to come...

Friday, November 13, 2009

friday nfl column

Between the loyal readers and writer of this site, we root for the Bears, Lions, and Chiefs. After losing to the 49ers, Chicago now has a losing record of 4-5. Certainly that is a better record than the 1-7 of Detroit and Kansas City. Or is it?

And no, I'm not talking about draft picks. I've long since wised up about rooting for losing for draft picks in the NFL. (In the NBA, even with the lottery it makes sense, because of the salary structure and the impact that a James or Howard can provide. But it in the NFL, where you take on such a huge salary for a player with no guarantee of success, top picks are arguably a detriment.)

No, I'm wondering if rooting for the 4-5 2009 Bears is worse than rooting for than 1-7 Kansas City Chiefs?

The only argument is pretty simple: The Chiefs don't get your hopes up. Any meager hopes we did have were lost in week 2, losing to the Raiders at home, due to the absolute worst clock management and stupid penalties and giving up big plays. To the Raiders.

From that point on, I've still been rooting for the Chiefs every week. And sure it stings when they lose, but I know what to expect. When we took the Cowboys to overtime, it hurt. And to come just short in a comeback vs. the Jaguars sucks. But we really didn't have any business winning those games. And when we did win a game, even though we didn't necessarily deserve to win that one either, it felt amazing.

Mostly, I'm not even thinking about trying to make the playoffs. So when we lose, it's not soul crushing. I'm rooting for wins to try and win the Burger Bet, which as important as it is, is only $10 bucks out of my wallet (or $19) and I'll be able to move on easily. (For the record, only the AFC North is as close as the Burger Standings, and since there are only two teams in the Burger Standings it's amazing that it is close. )

On the other hand, if you were rooting for the Bears this year, I don't think you could help but be hopeful. Chicago was 3-1, after beating the Steelers and the Seahawks at Qwest Field. Newly-acquired star quarterback Jay Cutler seemed to be settling in, it was just a matter of time before Forte found his groove, and the playoffs seemed within reach.

But since the bye week, they've gone 1-4 with their only win being an ugly victory over the Browns. They've been blown out by Arizona and Cincinnati, and then last night in a 10-6 loss to the Curse of Crabtrees, Cutler throws 5 picks. With 5 good opponents left on their schedule, a disappointing 7-9 finish seems quite likely.

Meanwhile, in the nation's barbecue capital, if the Chiefs could get wins against the Raiders, the Bills, the Browns, and maybe one against the Broncos, that would put them at 5-11, and a better than expected 4-4 down the stretch.

Hell, even if the Chiefs and Lions both get to 3-13 and the Chiefs win on tiebreaker point differential, I'll be okay with this season. It's not great, but I never allowed myself to get sucked in.

Then again, maybe this is all just sour grapes from a guy who's watching a team with one win.

And on that note, let's get to the Week 10 picks…

In week 8, I picked the Colts, and against the Titans and Rams. While picking against the Rams sounds like a good idea, it's not a sound strategy when that means you're picking the Lions.

I'm still up $30 on the year.

Invested: $200
Currently: $230

Whenever I have a terrible week, I take a week off because I feel stupid. But now that pesky humility has worn off and I'm back for more, $20 on each:

Saints -13.5 over Rams

That's a lot of points in the NFL. Fortunately, St. Louis is more of a CFL team.

Bengals +6.5 over Steelers

I feel like this game is a toss-up. Divisional game, two great teams, should come down to the wire. The only thing I'm afraid of is Pittsburgh breaking a 17-17 tie with a touchdown in the final two minutes to win and cover.

Chiefs +1.5 over Raiders.

Not confident on this one. But in the first game since we cut Larry Johnson, I feel like the karma gods should help us out. Plus, it's the Raiders.

Chargers -2.5 over Eagles

I feel like the Eagles are due for another "we didn't show up" game.

Ravens -10.5 over Browns

I think Cleveland is actually the worst team in the league. They beat Buffalo 6-3 in week 5. I think the Ravens unleash some frustration.

- - -

Obviously, this was following the Simmons formula of friday NFL columns. It is not unnoticed that I wrote this for free, and Simmons wrote his for an enormous sum of money. Being perfectly objective, I think this is about the same as an average Sports Guy column. Obnoxiously focused on only the team I care about and stupid personal gambling notes of little interest to anyone else. Of course, mine is 800 words and his is 4500.

tracking my weight over 3 years

To the best of my notes, here is my weight tracked since I got married. (I think throughout college I hovered around 180. I don't have any actual data, but I don't think that it would be that interesting. In this chart you can see that I've marked the actual data points and the lines in between are just linear connections. Any long lines without points could very will be missing wild fluctuations.


Interestingly, the biggest peak and valley came within four months in 2007, from the start of foodasfuel 1.0 to the end of it. And then I allegedly tried over the next year and a half to lose weight, but it didn't really take until 2009. So I'm calling that period foodasfuel 2.0 (for real). That one took place after our trip to Italy, and the first one happened after our trip to Paris.

It's actually not as bad as I guessed, I never got back over 180, so for the last 2.5 years I've weighed less than I did at my wedding. Obviously, I'd like to stay long-term around 155, but that's easier said than done.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

illini basketball 09-10 preview

Over at fightingillini.com I just happenned to see that Illinois Basketball just signed a top-10 recruiting class (incoming fall of 2010). Recurits ranked as high as #4 by ESPN. Great. So I thought I'd take a screenshot and throw it up here to see how we look a couple years from now.


Cool. But what about now? So I had to do a little digging, but turns out last year we signed the #8 recruiting class:
Sounds good. I tend to not start thinking about college hoops until mid-Februrary or so, but this looks promising. But that page was from a year ago, so I thought I should take a look at a box score from the last exhibition game to see if our team looks as advertised.

So sorting by minutes played:

McCamey, G, 6'3" Junior
Davis, F, 6'9" Junior
Richardson, G, 6'3" Freshman (P-town!)
Tisdale, C, 7'1" Junior
Jordan, G, 6'1" Junior (who left and came back)
Paul, G, 6'4" Freshman
Keller, F, 6'7" Senior

So we have two freshman who got significant minutes last week. Also, Griffey played 10 minutes; Bertrand didn't see action.

- - -

Next year's star recruits:

Richmond 6'8" wing
Head 6'4" guard (Luther's brother)
Leonard 7'0" center

So next year we should allegedly have 3 elite (top-75 as recruits) guards, 1 wing, and 1 center. Sounds good on paper. They play games on paper, right?

- - -

The best preview I can think of would be Vegas odds.

To Win Big 10 Championship

* Iowa +3000
* Northwestern +2000
* Indiana +2000
* Penn State +1500
* Wisconsin +1200
* Illinois +1200
* Minnesota +1000
* Michigan +500
* Ohio State +500
* Purdue +200
* Michigan State +175

So Vegas thinks we're a middle of the pack team this year. Okay. I guess I can't argue, but I wouldn't mind putting $25 down in the hope of winning $300.

Maybe I'll try and keep an eye on this team, seeing if Paul and DJ are the real deal.

The 09-10 Illini tip-off the season tomorrow night vs SIUE. A conservative prediction: ILL 256, SIE 11.

- - -

Oh yeah, and just to keep track of it, here is the stupidly early Bracketology:

Oh no, we're trending down!

Projected Big Ten 2010 Tourney Teams:

Wisconsin (10)
Minnesota (6)
Illinois (5)
Ohio State (4)
Michigan (4)
Purdue (2)
Michigan State (1)

What do you know, that looks remarkably similar to the Vegas odds.

late night ratings

TOTAL VIEWERS

NBC “Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien,” 2.5 million viewers
CBS “Late Show,” 4.3 million viewers
ABC “Nightline,” 4.0 million viewers
ABC “Kimmel,” 1.7 million viewers
NBC “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” 1.4 million viewers
CBS “Late Late Show,” 1.9 million viewers
NBC “Last Call,” 0.8 million viewers
Comedy Central, 11 p.m. ET, “The Daily Show,” 1.5 million
Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. ET, “The Colbert Report,” 1.1 million
Adult Swim, 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET, 1.8 million
Adult Swim, 12:30-1:30 a.m. ET, 1.1 million

I found these pretty surprising. Who watches Nightline? And I'm surprised the difference between the Tonight Show and Comedy Central isn't a lot bigger.

the best frozen burgers

Stockman & Dakota, six ounce premium angus beef burgers. I already went through a box of the blue cheese burgers, so they're not pictured. I haven't had the sweet onion yet, I did buy those because the calories I believe are around 380--Jalapeno & Cheddar is 450, and Bacon & Cheddar is 480, I think.

Thick, juicy, and they turn out great on the Foreman, forming a nice crust on top and bottom.

foodasfuel™ serving suggestion: You don't need any bread or bun to enjoy this burger. For last Sunday's game vs Jaguars, I made this Jalapeno & Cheddar burger, complete with fresh cilantro shavings and a tequila lime salsa. You can see the cheddar bursting out of it. Talk about a flavor explosion. And talk about plating!

(Click for burger in HD!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

11.11.09

Haven't checked-in in a while. As you can see my weight has been up and down. I was good from May 5th (after the release of Autopilot) to mid-July (when we got the keys to our Oak Park townhouse.) Between moving and grabbing fast food, trying new restaurants (and ice cream shoppes), and the start of football season, I gained a lot of weight fairly quickly.

However, ever since Brittany went to Hypnotherapy training I've been back on the train. She's been eating better, I've received some hypnotherapy sessions to work on some of my food issues, and I've gotten back into enjoying cooking, a hobby that fell off in the hustle of moving/adjustment period.

For chart nerds, you can see that when I'm losing weight, I record my weight often, resulting in more data points for a smoother, more accurate chart. When I'm gaining, I don't weight or write it down, resulting in long periods of straight lines. I do know I was 167.5 on 9/1 and 174 on 10/15 and it's hard to say at what rate I gained it.

It feels good to be classified by the U.S. Gov't as normal, and not overweight.

So in an effort to do something positive for the future me, here are some healthy meals that I've been enjoying lately:

  • Probably the healthiest meal that is still delicious is Chicken Fajitas. Lean chicken (I use Trader Joe's frozen breasts cooked on Foreman), small wheat tortillas (Mission makes 80 calorie ones that are really good, and salsa.
  • Also with chicken and salsa, instead of a tortilla, you could use cilantro-lime-rice.
  • I love Trader Joe's Kansas City BBQ sauce and that on grilled chicken, or even the prepacked tubs of pulled pork is still pretty healthy. I saw a mention of BBQ pork quesadillas, so I think I'll try serving some pulled pork on a Mission tortilla (although it's good enough just to eat by itself on a plate).
  • I'm still on an Italian sausage kick, and cooking two on Foreman is easy and delicious.
  • I love my homemade pasta sauce, and I've gotten back into Angel Hair. My favorite brand of pasta is Barilla, and they have a good 51% whole wheat variety that doesn't taste wheaty. Earlier this week I made a delicious no-prep chicken parmesan: 1 chicken patty topped with sauce, crushed red pepper and parmesan-romano, served with a side of angel hair. Mmmm.
  • I still love Moroccan chicken (I made some last week without almonds, but with craisins and pine nut couscous. The almonds/pine nuts are key for that satisfying crunch.
  • I haven't made any spicy-sweet paninis lately, just because I haven't seen any roasting chickens on sale, but I really should. Those sandwiches are so good.
  • I've been making sweet potatoes in the microwave, with some brown sugar. Tastes like fall.
  • I love the Trader Joe's cooked turkey breast. I just bought a BBQ pork roast, some pork carnitas for my tortillas, and I should try their rotisserie chicken.

(Overweight line determined at BMI of 25.0 for my height of 5' 8.5")

playoff picks: week 9

We're over halfway there. What do we know at this point?

AFC

Clearly In
Colts
Steelers
Pats

Likely In
Chargers
Bengals
Broncos

Likely Out
Texans
Jaguars
Jets
Ravens

Clearly Out
Dolphins
Titans
Bills
Raiders
Chiefs
Browns


NFC

Clearly In
Saints
Vikings
Cardinals (only because of their division)

Likely In
Cowboys
Falcons
Eagles

Likely Out
Giants
Packers
Bears
Seahawks
49ers

Clearly Out
Bucs
Panthers
Rams
Lions
Redskins

- - -

Right now I've got 6 teams firmly in and I've got 11 teams with no chance. So that's 15 teams fighting for 6 spots. Just as a reminder, the point of this feature is not to show anything about my talent as a predictor. This is to look at the playoff field at the end of the year, and analyze when each team was where. And to extrapolate when is to early to judge teams during the season, etc.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

nat'l championships for big ten teams

Michigan: 7 (most recently 1997)
Minnesota: 6 (1960)
Ohio State: 5 (2002)
Illinois: 4 (1927)
Michigan State: 3 (1966)
Penn State: 2 (1986)

according to College Football Data Warehouse

*for what it's worth, Illinois is one of 5 schools to lay claim to a Championship in 1951.

1st Annual War Across The Shore results


Final Score
Mark: 251
Niraj: 249.5

Unbelievable. Needing 17 to tie, Brandon Marshall puts up 12 in the first half, and then is stuck on 17 for most of the 4th quarter. And then in garbage time, Marshall gets one more reception to seel the deal. Couldn't have been closer.

- - -

So yes, that means that Mark gets to smack Niraj one time in the face with a Chipotle burrito.

chicago bbq list

Inspired by yesterday's burger list, and the fact that the board bet is $10 worth of BBQ, here's my list of BBQ to eat.

Fat Willy's Rib Shack, 2416 W Schubert Ave
Smoque BBQ, 3800 N Pulaski Rd
Twin Anchors, 1655 N Sedgwick St

Previously in Chicago BBQ Reviews:
Carsons, eat-in, Chicago (2/7/09): A-
Smoke Daddy, eat-in, Chicago (5/23/09): B+

Monday, November 09, 2009

War Across The Shore canceled

Due to unforeseen budget cuts, this year's War Across The Shore has been canceled. Perhaps we can do it next year.

Update: This was just a joke to piss off Mark.

chicago burger list

Right when I moved to Chicago in 2005, I found this article in the Tribune listing the top 5 burgers: (burgers I've had in bold)

Chicago Tribune, 2005

1. Rosebud
2. Naha
3. Park Grill
4. Select Cut Steakhouse
5. Paradise Pup

Then I found Chicago Mag's top 30, and noted that I had only been to #14 Hop Haus, #24 Paradise Pup, and #27 Five Guys.

And just now in preparation for this post, I found a Tribune photo gallery from this year.

1. The Grafton
2. Hot Chocolate (#2 on Chicago Mag)
3. Sola
4. Capital Grille (#13 on Chicago Mag)
5. Top Notch (#8 on Chicago Mag)
6. Sweets & Savories
7. Paradise Pup (on all three lists)
8. Rosebud/Carmine
9. Burke's Primehouse (#9 on Chicago Mag)
10. Schoop's
11. Labriola Bakery
12. Kuma's Corner (#3 on Chicago Mag)

Plus, here are the unlisted burgers that I've already had (there may be some I'm forgetting):

The $19 Rockit Burger
Goose Island (Burger Bet 07)
Gaslight (Burger Bet 08)
Grand Lux (with short ribs)
Hop Haus
Five Guys
Milwood
Boston Blackies

- - -

So all of that said, here's my new list of burgers to have, based on critical acclaim, yelp reviews, descriptions, pictures, and proximity:

The One I've Heard The Most About
Kuma's Corner, 2900 W Belmont

Steakhouses (and near my work)
Capital Grille, 633 N St. Clair
Primehouse, 616 N Rush (went 12/4/09)

Wicker Park & Upscale
Hot Chocolate, 1747 N Damen
Duchamp, 2118 N Damen

Under $10
Flub a Dub Chub's, 3021 N Broadway
Marc Burger, 111 N State (7th floor, Macys)

Suburbs
Labriola Baking Company, 3021 Butterfield Rd, Oak Brook

how .5 ppr affects our league

Hopefully this isn't too hard to read. The middle, top layer is our league's top ten rb/wr. On the left is the top ten under ESPN standard scoring, and you can see those numbers peeking out on the right side as well.

(click to read)

Conclusions:
  • Mojo does get a boost of 6 points relative to AD, but they're still 1 and 2 in both scoring systems.
  • In standard leagues, there's only 1 WR in the top ten. Our league has 4.
  • I feel like Wayne and Jones are quietly having top-6 seasons for MAC.

Here is the draft positioning relative to their current standings.

Peterson (1)
Jones-Drew (6)
C. Johnson (13)
Rice (64)
Wayne (22)
Jones (39)
Jackson (57)
A. Johnson (9)
Smith (undrafted)
Benson (116)

This sort of blows my mind. AD was slotted right, and then Jones-Drew was talked as top-5 back. And my Andre Johnson pick was solid. But this goes to show you that you can find value anywhere in the draft.

Burnsy with the steals of Rice and Jackson. Just imagine if he hadn't taken T.O in the third round.

what better way to celebrate a running back that averaged 2.7 yards a carry?

out with the shit, in with the new

He gone. As a fan, I was offended by his off-the-field actions, specifically using "that" f-word and calling out the coach. You don't do that.

However, I'm also equally offended by his on-the-field actions. 138 carries in 7 games: 358 yards, 0 tds. 2.7 yards/carry, 51.1/game, 2 fumbles.

(Sure you could blame the terrible O-line, but look at Charles's numbers: 29 for 152 (5.2 yards/carry) which would place him among top 10 running backs with 6 attempts per game, as much as DeAngelo Williams).

How bad is 2.7 yards a carry? No running back has ever, EVER averaged 2.7 yards per carry as a starting running back in the NFL. This is the worst season for a starting running back ever.

- - -

Larry Johnson started this season 432 yards away from being the all-time Chiefs leading rusher. (While passing stats have exploded in recent decades, I think that rushing leader stats still carry significance.)

It seemed inevitable that LJ would surpass Priest Holmes. In fact, even in 7 games he should have been able to do it. To pass him with 138 carries, LJ would only have needed to average a modest 3.13 yards a carry, which would still be last in the league.

But he's gone now with 358 yards this year, 75 yards shy, and now he will never pass Holmes. Here's the Chiefs' leading rushers:
(via the excellent Pro Football Reference)
On fewer carries and in fewer games, Holmes racked up more yardage and (most importantly) more touchdowns and yes, even fewer fumbles. So thanks, LJ for choosing week 7 to blow up.

That way, I don't even have to run your picture. Instead I can run a picture of a Chief that still doesn't get enough credit.

Just for fun, here are the Chiefs' active rushing leaders:

- - -

By the way, here are the infamous tweets that started this whole thing (tweet about Haley not shown):

What's interesting to me, is "still richer then [sic] u [sic]" and "U [sic] don't stop my checks"

Edit: (via)
His contract calls for him to receive a per-game bonus of $62,500. Since he won’t be available for the Jacksonville game, he will also lose that money, so his total ticket in money-lost for his use of slurs on his Twitter account and in the team’s locker room will be $330,147.

So what will happen to his checks in the future?

If signed on waivers: New team pays 2.1 million salary and $500,000 roster bonus.
If signed after waiver process: Chiefs pay 2.1 million salary plus he gets (smaller) contract from new team.
If not signed: Chiefs pay 2.1 million salary.

Basically, LJ is entitled to the remainder of his salary, whether it's the Chiefs paying it or a new team. But after that? I doubt he ever gets more than the league minimum, and those tweets may well have stopped his big NFL checks for good.

War Across The Shore: Final Day Update

I never would have guessed, based on the previous fluctuating totals, that the WATS would come down to the wire like this.

Mark was ahead by 9 points, coming into this week. Niraj currently is finished with a 26-point lead for this week.

Which means if Brandon Marshall gets 16.5 or less: Niraj smacks Mark.
If Marshall gets 17.5 or more: Mark smacks Niraj.
If Marshall gets 6.5 or less, Niraj gets to smack Mark twice.

Here is Marshall's history:

1@Cin


4
2Cle


5.5
3@Oak


14.5
4Dal


17
5NE


22
6@SD


6.5
7BYE


-
8@Bal


4
9Pit


?

It looks good for Niraj, but it's not out of the question. In fact, Denver is at home and the last two home games, Marshall got 17 and 22. ESPN has Marshall projected to get 13.5. This one will be a nailbiter.

(Also, if Marshall manages to get exactly 17, I think the only fair tiebreaker, is compare next week's scores head-to-head.)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

why you should always take the ball in the 2nd half

Of course, the ball is more important in the 2nd half.

But furthermore, at home, when the game starts that's when your crowd is the loudest. They're ready to go, the game is tied, they're ready to yell. By starting on defense you can encourage your crowd to start yelling. If you put your offense on the field first, you're telling your crowd to quiet down, potentially at risk of taking your crowd out of the game. Conversely, on the road, by starting on defense you can force the home crowd to quiet down.

Friday, November 06, 2009

tradewatch™

Week 5 on:
Mark got Chris Johnson:
5Ind


4
6@NE


14
7BYE


-
8Jac


40

Swag got Steve Smith 2.0 and Addai
5Oak


8.5
6@NO


6
7Ari


8
8@Phi


10

5@Ten


18
6BYE


-
7@StL


12.5
8SF


13

My guess is that both teams are pleased with this trade so far. Addai's been surprisingly solid, but Chris Johnson is a rare guy that can put up 35+ on any given Sunday.

- - -

Week 7 on:
I got Jacobs
7Ari


15
8@Phi


11

Stevo got Manningham

7Ari


6
8@Phi


0

I needed running backs and Manningham's been hurt. 15 and 11 are not amazing numbers, but they helped me out when I need them.

- - -

Week 7 on:
Stevo got Ricky Williams

7NO


28
8@NYJ


7

Mac got Roddy White

7@Dal


14
8@NO


20

For all the hype about this trade, it's not a ripoff yet. To be clear, I always thought White was the better player, but think that veto should not be used if Stevo believes he is making his team better.

- - -

Hypothetically from Week 3 on, trade was rejected by Stevo:

I would have gotten Forte

3@Sea


13
4Det


22
5BYE


-
6@Atl


5.5
7@Cin


6
8Cle


25

total = 71.5

Stevo would have gotten Braylon

3@Bal


4.5
4Cin


0
5@Mia


14.5
6Buf


5.5
7@Oak


1.5
8Mia


15

total = 41

I was right for trying to buy low on Forte, Steve was right for rejecting the trade. A shame that Braylon couldn't have had his good weeks in 3 and 4, and then Forte saved his good weeks til after that, maybe I could have gotten him eventually.