Thursday, January 28, 2010

radio calls: vikings vs saints

Fixing NFL Overtime

I don't have a huge problem with overtime in the NFL. The college system is exciting, but is artificial and takes out the element of punting and field position. Plus, starting in field goal range is silly. I like the element of sudden death. It's manly, but is a little unfair that it's too easy to win with a field goal now. So it's a small problem. Using ideas researched from here, here are some interesting proposals.

- - -

College system, but each team starts from 50.

Pro: Completely balanced, and teams have to fight to even get in field goal range.
Con: Could drag on in a multiple overtime game, and does feel artificial.

Continue the game where the 4th quarter ended.

Pro: Keeps the flow of the game.
Con: Teams with the ball would play for overtime, and take the fun out. Why kick a field goal with 40 seconds left and give the ball back when you can let the clock run out and kick on the first play of overtime.

Current rules, but each team guaranteed a possession.

Pro: Solves the stated problem easily.
Con: I suppose the team that gets the ball first still has an advantage of getting a field goal first, after both teams score on their opening possessions. Pretty good though.

First team to get 6 points in OT wins.

Pro: Fair yet rewards a sudden death touchdown on opening drive.
Con: Can't think of one.

Right now the rule is first one to score. Why not have it be first one to score 6? If the team that gets the ball first scores a touchdown they win. If they kick a field goal, the other team has a chance to get a touchdown and win. If they only get a field goal, and lose due to a second field goal, at least they can say they had the ball in overtime with a chance to win.

Is there anything wrong with this that I'm missing? Which one is your favorite, including the current system?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

XLIV: Part One

This is the only photo I have of any two helmets. I created this image for the start of the 2007 season. There was a 1-in-528 chance that I would be able to use this for a Super Bowl matchup. (Burnsy, check the math on that one)

- - -

Since Peyton joined the Colts, they are 2-2 against the Saints.

In '98, Peyton lost in overtime to Danny Wuerffel. But when the 1998 Saints had Wuerffel and Lamar Smith AND Cam Cleeland playing at the top of their game, who could stop them?

In 2001, the Saints beat the Colts by 14. Because you cannot stop Aaron Brooks, you can only hope to contain him. Joe Horn (remember him, he was the guy that pulled the cell phone out of the goalpost!) had 148 receiving yards. Fucking Joe Horn.

Aaron Brooks was still running the Saints in 2003 when they got blown out. The yardage was close but the Saints had 4 turnovers.

- - -

But the only game with any relevance was in 2007, opening night. The Colts were coming off their Super Bowl win and hosting the first game. Brees had two picks and zero scores and it wasn't close.

Most of the key players were already in place, even Colston, who still feels like he's just broken out. But the Saints hadn't clicked yet, especially this year is the first year they've had a defense that could carry them. And yet, they are still reliant on turnovers. They couldn't beat the Bucs in week 16 when Tampa held on to the ball. If that Colts can protect the football, they should win easily, right?

- - -

For what it's worth, I at least predicted that the Colts and Saints would both be playoff teams. Although my Super Bowl pick was Pats over Packers. At least they both made the playoffs as well.

My Super Bowl futures picks were better than my preseason picks. I put $38 on the Colts at 11/4 which would equal 104.50 and a whopping $4.50 profit. Or if the Saints win, my $36 bet at 3/1 would net me $108.

- - -

A month ago, some idiot wrote an article about how the Colts should have kept their starters in the game and not lost to the Jets in week 16. No not that one, this one. I stand by my decision to play to win the game. But after seeing the Colts roll to Super Bowl XLIV and seeing Wes Welker and the Pats' playoff hopes go down in week 17, it's really, really hard to be upset at the Colts for what they did.

They didn't have a perfect season. But they're healthy and in the Super Bowl, and that's what matters.

- - -

Addendum, one more note, again provoked by Easterbrook. According to this article, championships are won in the trenches. But haven't we heard in the last couple years how important elite wideouts are, citing how Brady improved once he got great receivers in 2007? And haven't we heard recently how the Pats loss this year could be blamed on the fact that their best back in Laurence Maroney? And what about all the fuss about how teams with a weak secondary get exploited, and how Revis is the key to the Jets fantastic defense? And of course how linebackers are the strength of a defense, especially that you need a great "front seven"?

And time and time again, not only is quarterback the most important position, but in today's pass-first game, you HAVE to have an elite QB?

So to sum up, to win have to have great players at every position.

And yet, sportswriters will continue to pump out columns about how this position is what really win rings. Please. What I'd love to read, is a column about what you DON'T NEED to win a Super Bowl. That's about the only helpful thing left to say.

Oh and I guess I didn't mention it, but I think this postseason proved that you need a clutch kicker as well.

Monday, January 25, 2010

penultimate game of 2009

With 9:30 to play in the 4th quarter, it looked like the Saints couldn't lose.
With 1:06 to play in the 4th quarter, it looked like the Vikings couldn't lose.

So how did we get to overtime and who deserves the credit and the blame?

- - -

With just over a minute left in the first half, the Vikings were punting it away. At this point there had been zero turnovers.

Both teams had scored two touchdowns, and had punted three times already. The score was 14-14 and I thought that the first team to give up points off a turnover would lose.

And on the fourth Vikings punt, Reggie "goat" Bush muffed it and gave the Vikings the ball ten yards away from the endzone. And on the 4-yard line, Favre and AD screw up the exchange and Fujita is right there to pounce on it. Ooooooooh, Fujitas! (handoff turnover = lost 7 points)

Halftime 14-14

Saints get a big kickoff return and run it in to take their first lead. (Vikings D gives up touchdown, but special teams allowed a short field)

On the next drive Peterson fumbles but Minnesota recovers it and AD later scores a touchdown.

Tied at 21.

After a Saints punt, Peterson fumbles again but makes a great play to get it back. On this drive, Favre throws a pick on 2nd and 8 from the Saints 34. (Favre turnover = lost points)

After year another Saints punt, Harvin has it stripped which leads to a Brees-Bush TD catch. (Vikings D gives up touchdown, but offense allowed a short field) (Harvin turnover = lost drive + Saints points)

The Vikings regroup and drive again into the New Orleans red zone. This time Berrian has it stripped. (Berrian turnover = lost 7 points)

Saints punt yet again, the Vikings hold on the ball long enough to score.

Saints punt once more. (Seriously, don't blame the Vikings defense. They shut down the Saints in the second half).

Vikings move the ball down the field with plays of 10, 20, and 14 yards to get into field goal range: on the 33 with 1:06 remaining. As someone rooting for the Saints, my only hope was that they would be stupid enough to just run the clock out and hope for a 50-yard field goal.

After two runs that look like they are running the clock out and gain no yardage, they get a 12 men in the huddle penalty. And then Favre blows the game with a pick. (Bad play calling + penalty + Favre turnover = lost points and chance to win)

In overtime, special teams allowed a 40-yard return. The Vikings D ends up allowing 39 yards on the drive. If their special teams had gotten the kickoff to the 20, the Saints can't kick from there.

Of course that last drive did contain a defensive holding call, a 4th and 1 with a questionable spot, a defensive pass interference call, a clutch catch by Meachem pinning the ball against his thigh, and a clutch field goal from a guy who's 23!

- - -

So for everyone who's hating on AD's "three fumbles". One was a handoff, so I think he splits the blame with Favre (it was officially assigned to Favre) and the other two were recovered and didn't affect the game. The Favre picks, and the Berrian fumble took Vikings points off the board and the Harvin fumble gave the Saints free points.

But after all that, the Vikings D kept them in the game and Minnesota had the ball in field goal range. And that's when Minnesota put on the brakes. If they kept moving it, they wouldn't have gotten Favre into a 3rd and 15 situation where he had to force it. I think ultimately the blame comes down to coaching.

- - -

Plus you have to give credit for Payton for knowing when to punt (last drive in regulation) and when to go for it (overtime). It worked out and now they're headed to Miami.


And then we get to Brett Favre. Who had a meeting with the Vikings to say I'm staying retired. Then WHY THE FUCK DID YOU HAVE A MEETING? It makes no goddamn sense.

Someone on M&M joked that the reason Favre told the Vikings "no" was because he knew he would be sharing the news cycle with Manny and he wanted to wait until he would be the only story.

And seriously, the Vikings are better off without him. Every team in the NFL is. All of the experts who think the Vikings would win the Super Bowl with Favre are living in the 1990's.

No one will win a Super Bowl with Favre. It will only delay the development of an actual quarterback of the future.

- Hoagie Central - May 8, 2009

The biggest mistake is that this hurts the Vikings. Their Super Bowl hopes in the next couple years just took a nose dive. They need to find a quarterback solution that will help them throughout the prime of AD. This is going to waste a year or two and I don't think I'm being hyperbolic when I say this could waste Peterson's Super Bowl window. I know the Vikings can't win one with Favre, so this is just pushing back their timeline for possible success.
- Hoagie Central - August 18, 2009

- - -

2007 NFC Championship

Brett Favre throws an interception in overtime that sets up the game winning field goal for the Giants. The Giants go on to win the Super Bowl over the favored Patriots, who almost went undefeated. That interception, his second of the day, was Brett Favre's last throw as a Green Bay Packer.

2009 NFC Championship

Brett Favre throws an interception in the 4th qtr that sets up the game winning field goal for the Saints. The Saints go on to win the Super Bowl over the favored Colts, who almost went undefeated. That interception, his second of the day, was Brett Favre's last throw as a Minnesota Viking.

- - -

Also, in his last game as a New York Jet, in a game they needed to win to make the playoffs, Favre threw three interceptions. Not counting his last play that included a lateral and a penalty on Favre for an illegal forward pass, Favre's last throw as a New York Jet was an interception.

- - -

So my preseason anti-Favre comments were mostly proven wrong. It's hard to tell the Vikings, who were a play here or there away from being in the Super Bowl, that they shouldn't have gone after Favre. He played great this year, and cut down on his interceptions. So again, I was mostly wrong about him.

Except that technically I was right. Favre did not help them win a Super Bowl this year. And instead of developing Tavaris Jackson or drafting a rookie and developing him or getting a free agent that will be here for their team's window, they've got a QB that could quit and try and come back in August.

The thing is this Vikings team is ready to win now. Their window is open, but it never stay there for long. So on the one hand I understand going with the guy that gives you the best shot now. But you have to consider this list:

Brady, E. Manning, P. Manning, Roethlisberger.

Those are the SB winning QB's for the last 6 years. "Your best shot" doesn't matter if it's not good enough.

For example, the Raiders could go with Russell at QB or they could bring in 46-year old Vinny Testaverde. Now Testaverde might be the Raiders best shot at winning the most games in 2010. But he's clearly incapable of leading them to a SB win. So it's not their best course of action. Either they should try and develop Russell or bring in someone who they could develop who could be good enough to win the big one.

My point is that just because Favre is an improvement, you have to believe that he can win a SB at 40 to bring him in. I didn't think he could. Minnesota did. And the reason I didn't was that he was prone to throwing interceptions and is vulnerable to late-season collapses.

This late-season collapse just took a biiiiiiiiiit longer than I expected.

earth foods update: day 16

I love squash soup.

That's something I didn't learn until a week ago. I made my own using a can of organic puree (added 2 cups of chicken broth, seasoned with cinnamon and cumin and a touch of heavy cream at the end). SO GOOD. Who knew? I paired with some of the chunks from the chicken I roasted earlier in the day, even dunking the chicken in the soup. I wish that I had discovered this before the holidays, as it would be a perfect (and easy to make) addition to a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

The picture got blurry because I turned the flash off, so I could capture the color.

And last night I ate something that wasn't from the earth for the first time in over two weeks. I had a Fresca. It was after the Saints won and I figured there's no calories, there's just a little bit of Aspartame. Whatever.

So I've been weighing myself once a week through this. The first week I lost 4.5 pounds. Last week I lost 2 pounds.

For the first week, I think it was a combination of how much I was eating prior to this, so my body was used to burning a high number of calories. Plus, there probably was an initial shock of a lack of carbs/sugar/unnatural ingredients.

I guess I'm almost more surprised that I continued losing weight eating ribs and homemade fries, and burgers and nuts and juices. All of those things are natural, yet aren't low-calories.

I think this is probably the easiest "diet" to lose weight. You get to eat foods you like, and I never had to say "I'm out of calories for the day, I can't eat anymore." If I'm hungry at night, I have some nuts or dried fruit or juice. Of course, you do end up eating less just because there aren't that many options. Once pop-tarts and peanut butter and bread are off limits, you just close the cupboard and say, alright that's enough food for now, I don't know what else to eat.

picks recap

I purposefully didn't post my picks for last week's games, so as not to tip my hand for fantasy. Although all of us went all in on Saints/Colts so it didn't matter.

So yeah, I picked the Colts and Saints to cover.

Conference Round
Straight Up: 2-0
With Spread: 1-1

2009-10 Playoffs
Straight Up: 4-6
With Spread: 4-6

Prior to this week I was doing better using the spread, but now they caught up. And with only one game left, I'm guaranteed a losing postseason for both categories.

Also, I tried to imagine what the Super Bowl line would be. I figured on a neutral field, the Colts would be favored but not by more than a field goal. I thought about Colts -2, but figured that people would be rooting for the Saints so I thought the line might open at Colts -1.5.

It opened at Colts -5.

fantasy update

Burnsy is on the cusp of his first fantasy title...or is he?

Let's check it out the standings with remaining players to break it down.

Burnsy 340: Brees, Manning, Bush, Addai, Henderson, Clark, Stover, Colts D
Stevo 333: Brees, Manning, Bush, Addai, Colston, Clark, Stover, Saints D
Swag 324: Brees, Manning, Henderson, Clark, Colts D
Me 322: Brees, Manning, Bush, Wayne, Colston, Shockey, Stover, Colts D
Swag Dad 322: Brees, Manning, Bush, Wayne, Garcon, Clark, Colts D
Harlan 321: Brees, Manning, Bush, Addai, Garcon, Stover, Clark, Saints D
Mark 314: Brees, Manning, Thomas, Addai, Garcon, Stover, Clark, Colts D

First off, Swag can't pass Niraj and everyone has Brees and Manning.

Burnsy 340: Bush, Addai, Henderson, Clark, Stover, Colts D
Stevo 333: Bush, Addai, Colston, Clark, Stover, Saints D
Me 322: Bush, Wayne, Colston, Shockey, Stover, Colts D
Swag Dad 322: Bush, Wayne, Garcon, Clark, Colts D
Harlan 321: Bush, Addai, Garcon, Stover, Clark, Saints D
Mark 314: Thomas, Addai, Garcon, Stover, Clark, Colts D

I'll start with Mark. Comparing to Stevo, he's got Thomas/Garcon/Colts D vs Bush/Colston/Saints D and he has to overcome a 19 point deficit. And compared to Burnsy, he's got Thomas/Garcon vs Bush/Henderson and a 26 point deficit. I don't see it happening.

Harlan compared to Stevo has Garcon vs Colston and a 12 point deficit. Could happen but unlikely.

Swag Dad and Me are tied. He has Garcon and Clark, I've got Colston, Shockey and Stover. Toss up. We're both rooting for Wayne to go nuts and Addai not to do anything.

And at the top, Stevo's got Colston and Saints D vs Burnsy's Henderson and Colts D with Niraj up 7.

I think Burnsy and Stevo have the edge, but myself or Swag Dad could win.

- - -

Because this is my blog, here's my breakdown vs the top 3.

vs Niraj (18 point deficit)
Wayne, Colston, Shockey vs Addai, Henderson, Clark
I need the Colts scores to go to Wayne and the Saints scores to go to Colston. Possible but not favorable odds.

vs Stevo (11 point deficit)
Wayne, Shockey, Colts D vs Addai, Clark, Saints D
Again rooting for Wayne and against Addai and Clark.

vs Swag Dad (tied)
Colston, Shockey, Stover, vs Garcon, Clark.
Fuck you Clark!

Of course to win the title, I have to win all three of these matchups, not just one of them.

So I need points from Colston, Shockey, Wayne, and Colts D.

Rooting against Addai, Clark, Henderson and Saints D.

Fair enough.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

earth foods update: day 14

Halfway there. And I am discovering new foods.

Last time I forget to mention that for the first time in my life I tried squash soup. Now it's not that exotic, but there's just never been a point where I was going to order squash soup or make it myself. So I made it to 26 before trying a spoonful of some from the Whole Foods hot bar on Monday. It was delicious. But perhaps that's just the WF recipe. I bought some squash puree and chicken broth to make my own, so we'll see.

Another new food that I discovered last year in Florence was the red pepper. I suppose I had tasted red pepper before, but I ordered a steak that was served topped with grilled red peppers. I loved them. I wondered why green peppers are so prevalent, as pizza toppings, as fajita ingredients, when red peppers blow them away.

On a related note, my favorite hummus available in America is Sabra. What makes them visually different is they have a bit of oil and toppings on top (nuts or peppers, etc.) But the reason it's so good is the creamy, smooth texture. It just tastes really good. Of course my favorite is the roasted red pepper hummus. So last night I made a fresh grilled burger, put it on a plate, and spread a thick layer of RRP hummus. SO GOOD. You don't need anything else. No bread, no toppings or sauces. Wow.

Also, I can't get enough Dried Mango. I get some from Trader Joe's that come in slices that haven't been sweetened or preserved at all. Just dried. That with their mango smoothie, and orange mango peach juice, and I'm all in on mango. I read it's the world's most popular fruit, North America needs to get a clue!

Today I just roasted a whole chicken, since it was on sale for 88 cents a pound. There's nothing like roasting your own bird. SO GOOD. I would have taken pictures but it looked just like last time.

The other exciting development is...wait for it...oatmeal. Specifically Steel Cut Oats from Trader Joe's. I add just a bit of organic brown sugar and it's a nice, filling breakfast. It's a whole more natural than the high protein cereal bars I used to eat. Plus, a bowl is 13 cents compared to 79 cents per bar. That saves 66 cents a day, or 240 dollars after one year! Minus maybe 6 dollars, for the 3 bags of brown sugar that it uses a year.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

HOW TO: cook moist chicken drumsticks a.k.a. legs

Sure, it would be great to cook nothing but ribs all the time. But as affordable as a 8-dollar rack of ribs is, it's still 3.99/pound. That beats the $6/pound steaks and beef roasts, but what about for every day eating?

My last time in Trader Joe's I noticed they were selling all natural chicken legs for $1.29/pound! You can't beat that. But the worry with baked chicken is that it can turn out dry.

Here's what I did. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Set out your legs on a sheet of foil in the roasting dish. I happened to have some orange-mango juice, so I poured a capful of it across the legs just to get them wet. Then I added a capful of extra virgin olive oil, and rubbed each leg so it was covered.

Then I added my seasoning blend. This was a mix of my ribs dry rub, a store-bought chicken rub, and a little chili powder and cumin. This is how they looked, oiled and seasoned:

The recipe I was using as a guide said 35-40 minutes. After 35 minutes I checked on them, and they looked pretty good but I didn't want to risk it with underdone chicken. So I flipped the legs over, turned the oven off, and put them back in the hot oven for 10 minutes. (I might have just put them back in for 5 minutes with the oven still on, but I was in the middle of a board game, and figured this was just as well.)

They turned out great, and based on how moist they were, it seemed like you'd have to screw up pretty bad to get dry legs. Here's what they looked like after I took them out:

Obviously without breadcrumbs or other coating, they won't taste like fried chicken. But in 45 minutes I got delicious, moist legs that tasted like they were in a rotisserie for hours. Also, the skin was awesome. I ended up eating three legs, after I had already eaten a burger on romaine.

Next time, I might try a double batch. These 5 big legs cost less than $2.00, so it would be easy to buy and make for a small group.


So I've already showed you how to make delicious low and slow baby back ribs in the oven. This post is to show off the money shots from Ribs Round Two (Electric Boogaloo).

This time I started with the same simple bbq rub, but added my own chili powder, cumin, garlic, and a dash of cinnamon. Same technique, down to the half wet, half dry. They looked great:

Here are some shots of them cut open. As always, click for juicy ribs in HD!

As for the ribs, despite me kicking the rub up a notch, I'm not sure that I liked these any better. The rub didn't make things worse, but I'm not exactly sure why I liked round one better. It could have been just because the novelty was gone. Or since these ribs were slightly larger than the last rack, perhaps they needed a bit more time. Or maybe they could have used more time in the dry rub marination phase.

Regardless, I ate the whole rack over the course of the Saints and Colts games and they were delicious. But I'm not ready to enter these in a ribs contest or anything yet.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

earth foods update: day 11

So far, so good. I'm a creature of habit. So I've stuck with the romaine wraps for lunch, lately with organic ham slices. I made hash browns for breakfast last week, and they were good, but it didn't seem to fill me up any better than just having some juice and nuts.

For dinner it's been mostly organic burgers on romaine and oven fries. I did make the ribs on Saturday, and I've had a few chicken & rice dishes.

I've had two meals out: lunch on Monday at the Whole Foods hot bar--I had this amazing beef pepper steak, roasted potatoes and vesuvio chicken wings. So good. It weighed 1.27 pounds, so at 7.99 per pound, it rang up to 10 bucks. I think the container must have weighed a few ounces so that's a ripoff.

And then last night on the way to my writing workshop I had a Chipotle fajita bowl: rice, peppers and onions, barbacoa, salsa and lettuce. No tortilla, no cheese, no sour cream. And I didn't miss it. I mean I sort of did, but the bowl was still delicious.

- - -

It hasn't changed my mental processes yet. Driving home from the workshop at 9:30 last night, I passed a Taco Bell and saw their sign for a beefy 5-layer burrito for 89 cents. If I hadn't been doing this I would have immediately pulled in. So the challenge is a good way to eat healthier, even if my brain is still swayed by processed T-Bell.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

ps3 national championship

So I try to refrain from talking too much about fake sports, but...I can't think of a way to finish that sentence. This is the conclusion of my second season in NCAA 09 on ps3.

The first season is the 2008-9 football season. Which means the players selected in the actual 09 NFL draft are on college rosters: Stafford and Moreno are at Georgia, Sanchez is at USC, Crabtree is at Texas Tech.

So I started an Illinois dynasty. Juice is a junior, Dufrene is my junior running back, Vontae Davis is a junior, and Benn is my sophomore star receiver. They lost to Penn State but won the Rose Bowl, finishing 12-1. Because of the initial rankings they wouldn't have been in contention for the BCS championship, even if they went undefeated. But I was so good that Juice and Davis went pro, skipping their senior years.

So then I started my second season with McGee as my QB, Dufrene as a senior RB, and Benn as a junior. My goal was to go undefeated and make it to the Title Game. I did just that (although there were two instances where I had to quit games, I know I know) and was matched up against #1 undefeated Florida State. Their overall rating based on their players talent is 99. Illinois was 87.

Scroll down line by line to keep the suspense.

- - -

On my first drive I got a field goal, but they came back and got a touchdown. ILL 3, FSU 7.

Next drive, the FSU defense makes a nice interception, setting them up in my territory. Luckily, I hold them to a field goal. ILL 3, FSU 10.

I finally get a good drive going and tie it up with a touchdown.

ILL 10, FSU 10.

But I can't stop them. They have got incredible speed and talent.

ILL 10, FSU 17.

The half is winding down and I know that they're going to get the ball back to start the second half, so this is a must score. Luckily, I manage to get a touchdown.

ILL 17, FSU 17 - Halftime.

They get the ball first and go right down the field and take the lead.

ILL 17, FSU 24.

After they score they kickoff to Benn. Here's that play. Benn has only had a handful of return touchdowns all year. This is on All-American difficulty (3 out of 4) and it's really hard to break through the coverage.

ILL 24, FSU 24.

Ensuing Seminole possession, I force them to punt. And then this happens.

ILL 31, FSU 24.

That gives me the first lead since early in the game, and what a play, breaking tackles, cutting back across the field. And just when you think I've got all the momentum...they return the ensuing kickoff to the house, breaking tackles up the middle.

ILL 31, FSU 31 - End of 3rd quarter.

My next possession goes for naught, and before I know it, they are driving again. And they score a touchdown.

ILL 31, FSU 38.

There's maybe 3:30 left in the fourth at this point. And I'm thinking, they can't kick it to Benn again. The guy that returned the last two touchdowns. But they do. And he breaks it up the left sideline. He's tackled around the FSU 20, for about a 70 yard kickoff return. A few plays later and I've got a choice to make:

ILL 37, FSU 38 - 3:02 in the 4th

I've been saving this call all day. I'm going for two. If I had done it earlier, I was afraid they would just go for two and equalize. I wanted to do a rollout to the right and if it's there, run it in. Here's what happened.

ILL 39, FSU 38.

Notice how close I was to getting sacked. Wow. But they get the ball back with plenty of time. On one series I get two sacks, including one on 3rd and 15. So now it's 4th and 23. But because FSU is trailing and there's only two minutes to go, they decide to go for it. I don't agree with the logic, but I'm glad I went for two. They don't make and I take over in their territory.

I work the ball down and eventually score on a WR screen pass to Benn. Up 7, I decide to go for the jugular and go for two again. Let's end it now. I call the same play I used a minute ago and end up running for it, but get tackled at the 1.

ILL 45, FSU 38. About 1 minute to go.

Suddenly, this game was still up for grabs. They don't have any timeouts though and they get a few completions but can't get that close. The hail mary falls short of the end zone incomplete, and it's over.

ILL 45, FSU 38. Final.

playoffs check-in

Divisional Round
Straight Up: 2-2
With Spread: 2-2

2009-10 Playoffs
Straight Up: 2-6
With Spread: 3-5

And in better news:

I'm in first in fantasy heading into the last roster change, but it's close so anyone could win.* Will Burnsy get his first fantasy title?

*And when I say anyone, I'm obviously excluding Mark. He can't win.

jets over chargers, how'd they do that?

I'm writing this before listening to Simmons' podcast or reading any other analysis. I wanted to get this out before I picked up anything from anyone, and we'll see if I hit the same points as other people.

- - -

How does a team that was favored by 8.5 at home, who went 13-3, lose their first playoff game? Well, of course the missed field goals. But let's go deeper.

In the first quarter, both defenses were stopping the offenses. Kaeding did miss a 36-yarder in the first quarter. You might think that getting that first blood would have been key to shutting down a team that doesn't like to throw, but they got a touchdown a couple series later. So yes, they needed those 3 points, but it didn't hurt their momentum.

The Jets couldn't move the ball. And the first half ended with a missed 57-yard field goal attempt with 6 seconds left. You can't blame anyone for missing from that distance. But on the previous play, Vincent Jackson went out of bounds with 6 seconds and at least 5 yards of open field in front of him. Yes, you need to get out to stop the clock, but a 52-yarder is a lot more makeable.

Halftime, Chargers 7, Jets 0.

A pass interference call keeps the Jets first drive of the second half alive, and Feely makes a 46-yard field goal. (Of course it was Feely who missed three game winning field goal attempts in 2005.)

Chargers 7, Jets 3.

When the Jets get the ball back, Sanchez throws an interception and the Chargers are set up inside the Jets' 40. This is when Revis makes the incredible interception that bounced off of legs. After I had heard that Jackson's height advantage would be too much for Revis, he showed that he can shut down anyone. If that pass was completed it would have been a first down at the 20. Even an incomplete could have been a 4th down attempt, field goal, or punt to pin them deep.

Inside the Jets play for field position and with a beautiful Weatherford punt, the Jets pin the Chargers at their own 4. On second down Rivers throws another pick. Combined with a personal foul, that sets up the first Jets touchdown, a 3rd down playaction rollout. But it was the Revis interception and punt coverage and subsequent interception that set up those 7 points.

Jets 10, Chargers 7.

On the next possession, the Jets defense again stopped the Chargers with sacks. And then Greene took it to the house. So defense and running game scored there.

Jets 17, Chargers 7.

On the next drive, Kaeding misses a 40-yarder that really took the wind out of their sails. Still, they got the ball back a minute later.

The personal foul by Jackson was stupid, but proved not costly. The Chargers scored a TD before the two-minute warning anyways.

Jets 17, Chargers 14.

So you're down 3. There is 2:20 remaining so you have the 2-minute warning and one time out. This whole game has been about field position and you decide to do an onside kick. If you do that you had better get it.

After the timeouts, there's a 4th and 1 with 1:10 remaining. If the Jets were in their own territory, they would have to punt. But since they're inside the Chargers 30, they run it up the middle and get the win.

Final: Jets 17, Chargers 14.

I'm not saying those missed field goals didn't matter. But the Chargers were up 4 when Rivers threw an interception from his own 5. That was the turning point. And it was the Chargers defense, not Kaeding, who let Green run right throw them, when Sanchez was doing nothing. And it wasn't Kaeding's choice to do an onside kick at the end. (He didn't even get to kick it).

- - -

So what about my 2003 Chiefs theory?

I predicted the Chargers were safe, not because they didn't have a fatal flaw, but because I didn't think the 09 Jets were as good as the 03 Colts. Well, certainly not in the QB department, but between the defense and the running game and yes, the smart coaching, they proved they are a "good" team.

Friday, January 15, 2010

ribs note

I'll be making a slab of ribs (they're all natural!) tomorrow for the Saints game! I'll take some more shots of the finished product. Let me know if you want any other shots are notes covered.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

thursday nfl column: having a second team

The rule is you're allowed to root for another team in the other conference, as long as it's clear who your #1 team is. Really you shouldn't start thinking about this second team until your team is knocked out of the playoffs. Also, you can't ever say you'd be happy either way. If the Chiefs lost the Super Bowl, even to my NFC team, I'd be crushed.

For the longest time, I never had an NFC team. Until I married into one: the New Orleans Saints.

Now I should be clear, I wouldn't have just hopped on board with any NFC team. Bears and Lions would have been off limits. As would the Cowboys and 49ers based on having grown up when I did. For the same reason, but to a lesser extent, I would have had a hard time rooting for the Eagles, Giants, and the Packers if Brett Favre was still there. That only leaves 9 teams.

So I married into secondary Saints fandom (Brit's Dad is from Louisiana and the Saints are a fixture in that house). As I noted three years ago, the Saints are a good underdog to root for historically. In their 40+year history, they've won two playoff games. A wild-card win at the Rams in 2000 and their first home playoff win--vs the Eagles in the divisional round of 2006.

Which means that their conference championship loss at the Bears, was the farthest they've ever been in the playoffs. A win on Saturday would give them their first conference championship at home.

But can they beat the Cardinals?

- - -

I have experience in watching a team with a bye lose in the divisional round. In 2003, the Chiefs started 9-0. They finished 13-3 which means losing 3 of 7 down the stretch. In those losses, the Chiefs defense got exposed.

When the Chiefs hosted the Colts in the divisional round, neither team punted, for the first time in playoff history. The Chiefs only lost by 7, but the problem was their defense. In the playoffs, they were exposed as having a flaw too big to overcome.

So looking forward to this weekend's games there are two questions.

Who are the bye teams that got a good record despite having a fatal flaw?
And are there any teams as good as the 2003 Colts?

1. The Colts don't seem to have a fatal flaw. (Unless you want to count resting their players)
The Saints don't always play up to their abilities, especially early. Also, their defense isn't strong.
The Vikings might have been a first half of the season team.
And the Chargers might not have a solid defense either.

2. The Ravens, Cowboys, and Cardinals all seem capable of winning more games.

Based on this formula it seems the Colts are safe (because of no fatal flaw) and the Chargers are safe (because of the Jets).

But the Vikings and Saints look like it will come down to the end, and who makes the big play.

So straight up, I'll take:


With the spread:

Colts -7
Jets +8
Cardinals +7
Cowboys +3

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

huffpo did this on purpose

I mean could they have picked a CREEPIER photo?

i'm with coco

Watching his fantastic into to the Tonight Show almost makes you sad. NBC has long been sort of my favorite network from Seinfeld to Office/30 Rock. But now they're throwing away their late-night future for some asshole with a big chin.

busy day at 1 arrowhead drive

In 2003, the New England Patriots went 14-2, finishing first in the AFC. They beat the Titans, Colts, and Panthers in the playoffs, winning Super Bowl 38.

In 2004, the New England Patriots went 14-2, finishing second in the AFC. They beat the Colts, Steelers, and Eagles in the playoffs, winning Super Bowl 39.

For both of these teams, Scott Pioli was in charge of personnel, Charlie Weis was the offensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel was the defensive coordinator, and Bill Belichick was the head coach.

- - -

For the 2010 Kansas City Chiefs, Scott Pioli will be in charge of personnel, Charlie Weis will be the offensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel will be the defensive coordinator, and Todd Haley will be the head coach.

- - -

The connection for all three coaching positions is the 1997-9 New York Jets. Serving under Bill Parcells, Weis was OC, Crennel was defensive line coach, Haley was offensive assistant and then wide receivers coach.

Usually when coordinators leave a successful situation (Patriots) it's because they're moving up. It's rare to be able to hire Super Bowl winning coordinators to be coordinators. It's only because both Weis and Crennel are coming off failed head coaching gigs. Still, it almost makes you it because they see something positive in KC? Why choose the Chiefs over the Giants, for example?

- - -

Haley was an exciting hire and he's done well in 09 with the players he had, but I'm not convinced that's he's up to the standards expected now. But given the head coach we've got, it looks like we've surrounded him with as much coaching talent as we could. Now all we need is the player talent. Oh right...them.

everything's coming up illini

After their one-point win last night (highlights here) the Illini are alone atop the Big Ten Standings.

earth foods update: day 4

Four days in. I've tried describing what I'm doing to a few people, and "foods from the earth" is apparently a difficult concept to wrap your head around. I guess the best way to describe it is, "no man-made foods." Of course, since I'm not on a farm, everything that gets to me has been touched by man in some way, either via harvesting, or in the case of animals, killing the animal and cleaning the meat for packaging, etc.

Anyways I wanted to show you what I had for dinner last night:

It is sort of amazing to think that all this can be found on the earth naturally. On the left, a leaf of romaine, organic fresh ground beef burger, topped with sauteed onions and assorted bell peppers. On the right, just cut up potatoes tossed in natural olive oil and baked. Delicious.

So far it's been easy and enjoyable. I'm sort of assuming this will get harder by the end of it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

playoff thoughts

First a quick look back:

Bengals/Jets. After the Bengals strike first, the rookie QB put it on the hands of Braylon in the endzone on a deep bomb, and it goes right through his arms. Greene makes up for the drop and then Revis turns the game on a pick.

Eagles/Cowboys. The public was right, the Eagles couldn't stop fumbling or stop Felix Jones.

Ravens/Patriots. The Ravens came out running and the Pats couldn't stop Ray Rice. I like Rice. He was good at Rutgers but people doubted he would make it in the NFL (drafted 55th overall that year). Also 2009 Brady is not 2007 Brady, injury or whatever.

Packers/Cardinals. After three uninteresting games, this one redeemed the weekend. This one was 31-10 in the 3rd! And then on 3rd and goal, Jennings makes a one-handed diving endzone catch. And then a successful surprise onside kick down 31-17! A fourth and one conversion later and it's 31-24. Then it's Fitz's turn to make an amazing one-handed diving endzone grab (Jennings was a harder catch) get it to 38-24 at the start of the 4th. Then it's a Green Bay 4th and 5 touchdown to get it to 38-31. Then after the Cardinal's only punt it's 38-38! Warner's 5th passing TD makes it 45-38 with 5 to go. Then Rodgers to Jennings, it looked like it was throwing it way or going to be a pick. It was amazing. A few plays later it's 45-45. But Warner has enough time go set Rackers up with a 34-yard attempt to win...shank!

And just when the Packers have all the momentum, Rodgers fumbles on 3rd down and it's over. It's hard to blame the public or any bettor for picking this game wrong--it was so back and forth either team could have won.

- - -

Straight Up: 0-4
Against the Spread: 1-3

So I know nothing about playoff football.

- - -

Conventional wisdom was that the NFC field was strong top to bottom, but that the AFC had weak 5th and 6th seeds. So of course, the top seeds won in the NFC and lost in the AFC.

- - -

The 4 most interesting teams in the AFC would be the Colts, Chargers, Patriots and Ravens. But since the Pats played the Ravens that wouldn't be possible. A Patriots/Chargers game would have been great. But the Ravens/Colts should be good.

On the other side, Packers/Vikings would have been interesting, but I think Vikings/Cowboys is just as good. And I think Saints/Cardinals is perfect.

And forget about any classic games in January snow, all the remaining playoff games will be in domes/nice weather.

- - -

Looking forward:

Cardinals at Saints, Saturday 3:30 pm
line opened: Saints -7
must watch rating: 5/5

High-flying passing attacks facing questionable defenses. Brees vs vintage Warner. Should be fantastic.

Ravens at Colts, Saturday 7:15 pm
line opened: Colts -7
must watch rating: 4/5

Will the Ravens be able to keep running and keep Manning off the field? Will the Colts rest hurt them? I'm not as excited about this one just because I think the Colts are too good and it won't be a nail-biter.

Cowboys at Vikings, Sunday noon
line opened: Vikings -2.5
must watch rating: 5/5

Given that you get 3 points for home-field, Vegas thinks the Cowboys are better than the Vikings. Hard to argue against that. Should be a great game.

Jets vs Chargers, Sunday 3:40 pm
line opened: Chargers -9
must watch rating: 2/5

I don't think the Jets have a chance. But what do I know? This looks to be the dud of the group, but things never go the way you think they will.

earth foods update: day 2

Day 1 was pretty easy: it was a Sunday and I was home.

Around 10:30 I made eggs with bell peppers and a chipotle pepper sauce.
For dinner I had chicken fajitas: grilled chicken breasts, all natural corn tortillas and all natural salsa. (I really don't like corn tortillas, and love flour ones, but what can you do?)
In between I probably snacked on nuts or dried fruit or something but I can't remember.

Eating dinner at home is easy. The hard parts are breakfast and eating at work. I didn't feel like making eggs this morning and I don't like oatmeal. So I had some Naked juice and then packed some clementines, apple, dried mango, peanuts, and some organic sliced roast beef rolled in a romaine leaf. That list is my breakfast and lunch and has to last me to 6pm.

- - -

Last night I walked through the grocery store, and it was amazing to see how many aisles were filled with things that have been processed to some degree. Once you leave the produce/meat section, there's corn tortillas, rice and that's about it. Walking down the soda aisle was eye-opening, seeing the gallons and gallons of sugar-syrup water. I'm used to drinking about a 12-pack of diet soda a week, so we'll see how that goes by weeks 3 and 4.

Friday, January 08, 2010

earth foods update: pre-challenge

So I went to the store and looked at the bread options. Even the most organic, whole-grain sliced bread is undeniably man-made and not from the earth. This doesn't mean I'm swearing off bread for forever, but for the 4-week challenge: it's off the list. So that really is going to be the hardest challenge, what to eat for lunch without bringing bread to work.

And to answer Niraj's question from the comments...I was referring specifically to Tyson breaded nuggets/patties/dinosaur shapes in the frozen section. Grinding and forming the meat into shapes, even circles is not respectful, and the artificial breading is off the charts.

As for a homemade version, chicken breasts are fine, cage-free eggs would be fine, but the bread crumbs would be a problem. I suppose maybe you could use cornmeal under these rules, but I'm not worried about it. I like grilled chicken and peppers or whatever without needing a breading.

And I'm thinking about doing some eggs for breakfast and I like hot sauce on my eggs. While of course, bottled hot sauce doesn't come from the earth, since it's basically cayenne peppers, I'm thinking a few drops isn't breaking the rules.

(I do read and appreciate any and all comments, so don't be shy.)

playing out the bcs playoffs

What a terribly disappointing BCS postseason. The Humanitarian Bowl was awesome, as was Penn State's win in the Capital One bowl. But the premiere 5 BCS games fell flat. The best was a 17-10 win for Boise State.

But it didn't have to be like that. Here's what could have happened with an 8-team playoff.

- - -

January 1st, Friday
Sugar: #1 Alabama (SEC) vs #8 Ohio State (Big Ten)

These teams both won, but I don't think there's any doubt that Alabama would roll OSU.

Fiesta: #2 Texas (Big 12) vs #7 Oregon (Pac-10)

This one might be closer than you think, but assuming Colt McCoy was healthy coming into this game, it's most likely going to be Texas.

Orange: #3 Cincinnati (Big East) vs #6 Boise State (At-Large)

A round one face-off of undefeated teams. Based on their bowl performances, you'd think Boise State advances.

Rose: #4 TCU (non-BCS automatic) vs #5 Florida (At-Large)

TCU is a great team, but Florida had the most dominating bowl performance.

January 9th, Saturday
Semifinal #1: Sugar winner vs Rose winner (likely Alabama vs Florida)

After the way Florida showed up for the postseason, who is turning this game down? Who wins? Who knows.

Semifinal #2: Fiesta winner vs Orange winner (likely Texas vs Boise State)

Boise State already proved they can beat Oklahoma and a team from Texas in the Fiesta Bowl, I wouldn't doubt they could win this game. Look at this Final Four. It's got great storylines, a rematch, a non-BCS underdog. (Since Alabama is apparently the undisputed national champion, you could pencil them in. But which undefeated team would they play? For Boise to win the national championship, they would have to knock off 3 undefeated teams (Cincinatti, Texas and Alabama).

January 18th, Monday: BCS Championship

Even if we would end up with Alabama-Texas, it would be great. The system would have worked. All the contenders got a fair shot and you'd end up with #1 vs #2.

- - -

The way this season ended, yes we got #1 vs #2, but two teams finished undefeated, Alabama and Boise State.

Can you really say that Alabama is the clear champion? Because Boise is from the WAC? Their 07 Fiesta Bowl performance (against Adrian Peterson, mind you) showed that they can play with anyone. So let Alabama raise their crown. It's not their fault. But they haven't outlasted everyone.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Playoffs?!?! (round one)

Saturday, 3:30 (all times central) Jets at Bengals

First up is the game that no one wants to see. Not to mention we already got this game last week. The Jets dominated but that game was in Jersey and the Bengals didn't need to win that game and rested some players.

You can't feel confident with either team. The Bengals are not as good as their record. If a team like the Steelers or Texans was playing them you would jump on them. But it's the Jets with a rookie quarterback on the road. You can't win either way. Classic stay away game.

But hey, it's not my money. Bengals opened as 2.5 point favorites. It's settled at around -3. So perhaps the public isn't sold on the rookie QB. The poll is split 50/50.

Since it's like that, I'll split my picks as well.

Bengals straight up for the win. Jets +3. Cinci wins 17-15.

Saturday, 7:00 Eagles at Cowboys

Another rematch from last week. But with good teams! The line started at Dallas -4 and has stayed there. The is in favor of Dallas 62/38.

I think divisional games are always close and homefield doesn't matter. I still don't trust Romo in the playoffs.

I'm taking Eagles +4 and for the win. Eagles 30, Cowboys 20

Sunday, noon Ravens at Patriots

Hey look, these teams didn't play last week. Last time they played it was close and the Ravens outrushed the Pats. The Ravens are a good team, and did well last year, but I'm not ready to give up on New England, even sans Welker.

But the betting public might be. It opened at NE -3.5 and settled at -3. Even after 60,000+ votes, the is split 50/50 too.

I'm taking the Patriots to cover the three. Pats 31-24.

Sunday, 3:40 Packers at Cardinals

Yet another rematch from week 17. The Packers crushed the Cardinals who didn't try. Will Green Bay be overconfident?

Well the line opened at Cardinals -2.5 and is now at -1. That's a pretty big shift. And the poll is Packers 73/27. That should be a red flag. But I've bought in too.

I like the Packers to win and at +1. Packers 28-13

everything's fair game in vermont!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

foods from the earth

This post is going to be about as contrary to the previous post as possible.

- - -

The problem with words is that we have all these associations with them. So if I want to describe what's going on with me, and I know that religious is not the right word at all, then I'm left with words like spiritual awakening or enlightened or something like that. And by now, just saying one of the phrases conjures up mental imagery that isn't what I want to convey. The best phrase that I've found is the title of a book that I'm reading right now: Wisdom Walk. So that's what I've tagged this post as, and there might be more of these in the future.

I'd rather keep my actual "creator/afterlife" belief system personal, as it's not anything needs to be shared. But what I can share is some of the tangible changes and action items that I'm taking as part of this wisdom walk. (As a background, I'm currently being positively influenced by Native American/Eastern wisdom/beliefs, and meditation is a key part of both of those systems).

The first idea is based on the idea that we get energy from nature, specifically from walking the earth. It wasn't until it was pointed out to me, that I wake indoors, then walk on cement, to ride a steel train, to walk on more cement to work in a concrete building and then repeat the process home. In my everyday life, my feet never touch the earth.

And even when I do, it's in rubber-soled shoes. So one of my favorite new things are these moccasins with the soft, all-leather exterior. It's just about impossible to find moccasins without outer soles, so these were a nice find. Of course, right now in 20 degree, snowy Chicago, I'm not exactly ready to walk the earth just yet.

- - -

So the other action item is: eating foods that come from the earth. Another thing I didn't realize is how much food I eat is man-made, processed, and something people on a historical timeline aren't used to eating.

Side note: one thing that clicked for me was that eating meat is okay. Inspired by indigenous people, they ate the meat of animals, but did so in a respectful way. They always acknowledged the sacrifice of the animal's life that enabled them to survive. In short, being respectful and eating a chicken breast is okay, breaded chicken nuggets not okay.

So what does come from the earth? And what do I like, of that limited set?

Plants and animals. Plants including vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The less processing the better.

The most reasonable thing to do would be to incorporate these foods into my diet as best as I can. But that's not interesting. So I'm going to jump in with a 4-week challenge starting January 10 (which ends on Super Bowl Sunday) to eat nothing but foods from the earth. So I really need to make a list and draw the lines.

When it comes to grains, corn tortillas are fine. Pasta is too man-made. But what about bread? This straddles the line. Yes, it's from flour, which is made from earthly grains, but is it too far removed from the natural state? I think I'll have to look at the ingredients and judge it on a case by case basis.

As for sauces, olive oil is fine. Which means that I could make my own mayo, since eggs are fine too. I can use honey. And when it comes to mustard or anything else, it's just a matter of checking the label to gauge the level of processing.

Most minimally processed meats should be okay--sausage would be off limits.

Starting in January 07, I've started every day with a high protein bar for breakfast. Completely processed. I think I'll switch to nuts, cashews, peanuts, etc.

Of course the best things would be straight up plants: lettuce, peppers, apples, clementines, potatoes, sweet potatoes. And I'm sure that I'll discover new things in the next four weeks.

I'll check back and let you know how it's going.

Review: Pepper Jack Cheez-It

It goes without saying that Cheez-It crackers are superior to Cheese Nips or whatever other stupid name wants to compete with them. And Cheez-It already has a wide assortment of flavors: Hot & Spicy, White Cheddar, Cheddar Jack, Parmesan Garlic and two Duoz boxes, with two flavors in one.

But that didn't stop them from coming out with Pepper Jack!

As soon as I saw them I threw a box in my cart. But later I was thinking, wouldn't Hot & Spicy already taste like spicy cheese? how will this be different?

As you can see in this review,
the crackers do contain little flecks of peppers (or whatever they really are). I started eating them and right away I was disappointed. The flavor was okay. It was sort of generically spicy, it didn't scream pepper jack but it wasn't bad. No, the dealbreaker was the texture. These crackers were significantly harder, and the "stamped" border was very pronounced. I felt like these were even a smidge smaller than they should be. The end result was a hard, brittle unsatisfactory Cheez-It.

Or is this all in my head?

Basically since my spicy Cheez-It craving had only been teased and not satisfied, I went back and got a box of Hot & Spicy. Right away this box seemed like the crackers were bigger, and the perfect flaky texture. Of course it was crispy and not soft, but you felt like it would be easy to smash with your fingers. The Pepper Jack were so solid that they didn't have any flaky goodness.

So my verdict is if you want a spicy Cheez-It, go with the classic. Even if Pepper Jack is a more appetizing name.

Burger Bet

Winners History
2009: Dave
2008: Dave
2007: Mark

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Top Ten of 2009

312 posts for 260 weekdays. Someone must have been putting in some overtime. Anyways, here's a trip down memory lane of the best I had to offer in 2009:

Honorable Mentions:

Route 26 to Portland Videos

NFL Interconference Rivalries
I felt like this was a solid idea that got lost in the shuffle.

Tweet of the Year

A $19 Burger

Chiefs Beat Steelers

10. Sonic's Jr. Candy Sundae Is Deceiving

What made this so funny was getting all the anonymous comments from people googling sonic's jr. candy sundae.

9. An Asinine Dream

I had completely forgotten about this. Absolutley bat-shit insane.

8. Supersonic ESPY Voting

I love making and watching this videos.

7. Beach Volleyball Championship

Team USA vs. the Soviets.

6. Autopilot's Release

Not a great post, but symbolic of my self-publishing my first novel.

5. Three Sandwich Posts


4. Da Colbert Code 2009

These crack me up, and they're fun to future-blog while we're in Europe.

3. How To Series
The ribs post alone could have made it up here, but combined with roasting a chicken and homemade pizza? Wow.

2. Softball Tournament Championship
What an amazing day. Best athletic achievement of my life.

1. I love this. Can't get enough. Quoting and imitating to this day.




With two games to go in the 2009 Campaign, Jamaal Charles had gained 759 rushing yards. To be fair, he only had 145 attempts at that point, averaging over 5 yards a carry. There was talk of him getting to 1,000 yards. It seemed like a nice goal, but something that was a little too ambitious.

And then he went out and got 102 rushing yards against the Bengals. He needed 139 against Denver. He got 259.

The best day a Chiefs running back has ever had.

He didn't just get a 1,000-yard season. He got a 1,100-yard season. The first RB to ever get that many on less than 200 carries. In the history of the NFL.

So good for Charles...but what about the game itself. The Broncos started 6-0 and needed to beat the Chiefs to keep their playoff hopes alive.

At halftime it was 10-10. After a few back and forth drives, up 20-17, Derrick Johnson broke the game open with a 45-yard pick six.

Then when it was 30-24, he did it again, a interception return for touchdown, this time from 60 yards. And for good measure, Charles ran a 56-yard touchdown, his second of the day.

He finished with 259 rushing, and 2 tds, for 37 fantasy points. 4.5 more if you play with bonuses and .5 ppr.

So who gets the game balls?

Well I can't give one to Cassel because of his zero scores and the bad pick. I can't give it to the defense as they gave up tons of yards, and I won't credit Haley for having a linebacker getting two pick-sixes.


#3: Offensive Line

They've been criticized over the past few years, but they showed up today. They wanted to get a 1,000 yard rusher and they did just that. You don't have a running back set a franchise record without having a good day.

#2: Derrick Johnson

The draft pick from Texas who started the year on the bench has been making big plays all year. I don't know what Haley doesn't like about him, because he always seems to come up big. Without him, this defense could have squandered and soured the career day by Charles.

#1: Jamaal Charles

The draft pick from Texas who started the year on the bench...just had his coming out party. This guy is a star. Here are just his highlights from today. Go watch them now.

At least just to see if he can dance at the end.

Eric Dickerson set the single-season rushing mark (in a 16-game season) with 2105, coming on 379 carries. That's a tremendous average of 5.554.

Charles got 1120 yards on 190 carries: 5.895/carry.

- - -

I will give Coach credit for braving the elements on a cold day in Denver. Herm would have been in Constanza's Gore-Tex parka.

- - -

This was a nice way to end the season--to make sure that the Broncos don't make the playoffs, spoiling their good start.

(I hate the Raiders a 10, the Broncos a 9, and the Chargers about a 4. The Raiders is a nasty, bitter rivalry. The Broncos is a mutual respect but solid animosity. And the Chargers, they have nice weather and don't get to riled. They're only mildly annoying compared to the other two.)

This ensured that the Chiefs have made the playoffs more recently (2006) than either the Broncos (2005) or the Raiders (2002). And not only did we knock out Denver, we also prevented the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers from advancing to the playoffs, with an overtime win on my birthday. And the Chiefs won the burget bet fair and clear. For a 4-12 season, not too bad.

4th annual nfl picks recap

Well I've studied the effectiveness of in-season NFL predictions, now it's time to check on my preseason picks. Playoff teams in italics. My picks in black, actual standings in blue.

AFC East
Patriots 12-4
Dolphins 7-9
Bills 6-10
Jets 5-11

Patriots 10-6
Jets 9-7
Dolphins 7-9
Bills 6-10

AFC North
Steelers 12-4
Ravens 11-5
Bengals 7-9
Browns 3-13

Bengals 10-6
Ravens 9-7
Steelers 9-7
Browns 5-11

AFC South
Jaguars 10-6
Colts 9-7
Titans 9-7
Texans 8-8

Colts 14-2
Texans 9-7
Titans 8-8
Jaguars 7-9

AFC West

Chargers 13-3
Broncos 6-10
Chiefs 5-11
Raiders 4-12

Chargers 13-3
Broncos 8-8
Raiders 5-11
Chiefs 4-12

NFC East
Giants 11-5
Eagles 9-7
Redskins 7-9
Cowboys 7-9

Cowboys 11-5
Eagles 11-5
Giants 8-8
Redskins 4-12

NFC North
Bears 12-4
Packers 11-5
Vikings 8-8
Lions 3-13

Vikings 12-4
Packers 11-5
Bears 7-9
Lions 2-14

NFC South
Falcons 11-5
Saints 9-7
Bucs 8-8
Panthers 5-11

Saints 13-3
Falcons 9-7
Panthers 8-8
Bucs 3-13

NFC West
Seahawks 9-7
49ers 8-8
Cardinals 6-10
Rams 5-11

Cardinals 10-6
49ers 8-8
Seahawks 5-11
Rams 1-15

- - -

Where to start...

Division Winners: 2/8. crap.

Playoff Teams: 6/12. this is harder than it looks.

Division Losers: 3/8. hmmm.

Prediction Placement in Division 12/32 (7 in afc, 5 in nfc) The AFC West is the only division I had a good handle on, again not a surprise.

Worst Calls: Colts finished 5 better than I thought, Bears and Bucs finished 5 worse than I thought.

Predicted Records Exactly: Dolphins, Bills, Chargers, Packers, 49ers. better than I did last time

AFC East: Pretty good, didn't see the Sanchize coming.
AFC North: Not too terrible, the Bengals didn't come out of nowhere on these picks.
AFC South: I knew that all the teams would have good records, just figured this was the year the Colts can't keep it up.
AFC West: My best picks. If the Chiefs don't blow the game against Oakland in week 2, my picks are right on the money.
NFC East: Didn't know what to make of this division. Cowboys really surprised me.
NFC North: Knew the Packers would be a solid wild-card team, but I kept waiting for the Favre collapse. Apparently 3-13 was too generous for the Lions.
NFC South: I think I wanted to pick the Saints, but figured they didn't have the defense. Watching Carolina, it didn't seem like they were a 8-8 team this year, and I don't know what the hell I was thinking about the Bucs.
NFC West: Wasn't bad. I swapped Cardinals and Seahawks predicting a post Super Bowl swoon.

analyzing playoff predictions: afc

The AFC field is set:


- - -

After week 1, I had 4/6 right. I thought the Steelers were clearly in, and I projected the Jaguars as likely. The most interesting story is that I only thought 2 teams had no shot of making the playoffs after week 1: the Browns and the Bengals. If you remember week one, the Bengals lost 7-12 to the Broncos on the flukiest play ever. I figured that if you can only score 7 against the Broncos and then lose in a heart wrenching way that your season was over. Clearly that was not the case.

In week 2, I marked the Colts and Ravens as clearly in, and the Jets, Pats and Chargers as likely. That's 5/6. I also had the Steelers as likely. Bengals were still clearly out in my book.

Still 5/6 in week 3, Bengals moved up to likely out. (Similar to Bluth stock being upgraded to don't buy.)

By week 5, the only team clearly in was the Colts. I was down to 4/6 as the Broncos seemed like they had to get in.

At week 7, I thought that the Steelers were clearly in along with the Colts and Pats. Finally saw the Bengals as a playoff team. Had 4/6 missing the Chargers and Ravens.

Week 9: 4/6. The Jets and Ravens had moved down the list to the bottom of likely out. Steelers were still clearly in.

Week 11: First time had all the clearly in correct: Colts, Pats, Chargers. 4/6 with Jags and Steelers over Ravens/Jets.

Week 13: Still 4/6 without Ravens/Jets.

At week 14, 5/6 with the Broncos in, and the Jets at the bottom of the wild-card fight.

With only one week to go, I was only 5/6, backing the Steelers instead of the Jets.

- - -

The situation didn't get progressively clearer as it did in the NFC. Instead, at every point 4 playoff teams were apparent (although not the same 4 all year) and even early on, 5/6 were known.

Doing a little cumulative math:

After 2 weeks, we know 8/12 NFL playoff teams.

After 7 weeks, we know 9/12.

After 11 week, we know 10/12.

This surprises me a little. This tells me that right out of the gate, we know more than we think we do. Conventional wisdom is that two weeks is too early to judge your season, but not really. After 2 weeks, I identified 9 teams as out of the playoff race, and only 1 of those made it. I picked the 12 I thought would make it, and 8 of them did. And I picked 11 that I thought likely wouldn't make it, but had a shot, 3 of those teams did.

So of those groupings, this was my error rate: 1/9 (11%), 4/12 (33%), 3/11 (27%).

Another way of looking at, is that after 2 weeks, I could be 67% confident of a team making the playoffs (8/12), but I could be 80% confident of a team not making the playoffs (16/20). With 80 percent certainty I could have told 20 teams to stop caring about the NFL after just two games.

I won't chart each team's status but basically the Bengals were the one surprise team this year, the Jets and Ravens were the winners of the wild-card fight, and the Broncos and Steelers collapsed pretty hard.

I think the Jets are really a 7-7 team that doesn't belong there. They got to play the Colts and Bengals in their last two games, teams that had already clinched their playoff spots. If I were the Colts or Chargers I would much rather play the Jets than the Titans, Steelers or even the Texans. But now the Jets are in, and have momentum and have just of good of shot of advancing.

- - -

I won't ever do this again for the whole season, because it's fairly tedious and you don't know the point until the season's over. But it does tell me that two weeks is not too early to make snap judgments, and that mid-way through the season, you pretty much know how a team will finish. (The Titans were an exception this year, but they still couldn't make the playoffs, so what's the point?)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Pigskin Pick'em 09 Wrap

Niraj and I cleverly didn't pick all the games, making this harder than it should be.

Here's what it looks like to me:

Dave: 120/212 = Up 28 games
Matthew Berry: 134/256 = Up 12 games
Niraj: 78/151 = Up 5 games
Simmons: 125/256 = Down 6 games
Mark: 123/256 = Down 10 games
Cousin Sal: 120/256 = Down 16 games

- - -

ESPN Leader: 156/256 = Up 56 games

- - -

So the two guys who do a podcast every week about NFL gambling do worse than a coin flip? Really?

- - -

So under the $20 on every game theory, here's how it would have finished:

2009 Season
Dave = Up $560
Niraj = Up $100
Simmons = Down $120
Mark = Down $200

- - -

2008 Season
Sports Guy: 132-116-8 = Up $320
Sports Gal: 128-120-8 = Up $160
Mark 113-105 = Up $160
Dave 111-110 = Up $20

2007 Season
Sports Gal: 135-111-9 = Up $480
Dave: 116-127-11 = Down $220
Sports Guy: 117-129-10 = Down $240
Mark: 100-114-10 = Down $280

2006 Season
Sports Gal: 129-120-7 = Up $180
Sports Guy: 128-121-7 = Up $140
Dave: 129-126 = Up $60
Mark: 90-103 = Down $260

- - -

I crushed it. Best anyone's ever finished in 4 years. How good?

I got 120 right and 92 wrong. At $20 on every game I would have lost $1840 on the year. After Vegas takes their -110 commission out of my projected $2400, I would be given $2181.82.

For a real life profit of $341.82 in the first year of Brittany's new job. Coincidence?

preseason lines

Way back in July I noticed that had posted NFL lines, so I thought I would see how I would bet based on those preseason lines. I will post my in-season picks in parens, and then the Chiefs' result after that.

Chiefs +8 over Ravens (Chiefs +8.5) lost by 14

Chiefs -4 over Raiders (Raiders +3.5) lost by 3

Eagles -10 over Chiefs (Eagles -9.5) lost by 20

Giants -5 over Chiefs (Giants -9.5) lost by 11

Cowboys -4 over Chiefs (Cowboys -8.5) lost by 6

Redskins -6 over Chiefs (Chiefs +6.5) won by 8

Chargers -4 over Chiefs (Chargers -4.5) lost by 30

Chiefs +6 over Jaguars (Chiefs +6.5) lost by 3

Chiefs +1 over Raiders (Chiefs +1.5) won by 6

Steelers -6 over Chiefs (Steelers -9.5) won by 3

Chiefs +9 over Chargers (did not pick) lost by 29

Chiefs -2 over Broncos (Chiefs +4.5) lost by 31

Bills PK over Chiefs (Chiefs -.5) lost by 6

Chiefs -2 over Browns (Chiefs -2.5) lost by 7

Chiefs +3.5 over Cincinnati (did not pick) lost by 7

Broncos -3.5 over Chiefs (did not pick) won by 20

- - -

So the most important number would be how I do in-season, and I only went 7-6. Not great considering I should know this team better than the average bettor. Using the preseason pick, I was 7-9. Which makes sense. Vegas is bound to be better then me at forecasting teams months away.

What surprises me is how little the lines shifted. Even when the Chiefs were 2-7 going into the Steelers game, it only shifted 3.5 points. In other cases it moved less than a point. Basically if you had been betting against the Chiefs all year, you would have made some money.

eliminator recap

I went 15/17 in Eliminator, losing when my Chiefs upset the Steelers in week 11. At that point I had already made tentative picks for the rest of the season. Since I was eliminated, I didn't bother changing my picks once it came time for that week's matchup.

The only one that I missed the rest of the way was picking the Broncos over the Raiders. Pretty good, but there were at least 50 people that got all 17, so 15/17 isn't worth celebrating too much.

BS SB I: Championship Gear is in stock!

This is the ugliest shirt I've ever seen.