Monday, December 16, 2013

Chiefs Clinch Playoffs

Chiefs are the SECOND team in NFL history to score 35+ points in the first half in back-to-back games. The other to do it: 2002 Chiefs No other team in the NFL has scored 35 points in the first half of a game even once this season.

The #Chiefs 56 points today is the most scored in the #NFL this season.

Jamaal Charles is the first RB in NFL history to have 4 receiving touchdowns in a game.

RB Jamaal Charles recorded five touchdowns in Sunday’s game (one rushing, four receiving), becoming the first player in NFL history with at least four touchdown receptions and one touchdown run in a single game.

158.3 Alex Smith at Oakland Dec. 15, 2013
158.3 Trent Green vs. Detroit Dec. 14, 2003

1. 85% Alex Smith at Oakland (20-17) Dec. 15, 2013

Chiefs lead the league in turnover differential at +21. Seattle is 2nd at +16.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Avs Lines again

Coming into the season this is what our forwards lines were projected as:

Projected Forwards

Jamie McGinn— Matt Duchene — P.A. Parenteau
Gabe Landeskog — Paul Stastny — Ryan O’Reilly
Alex Tanguay — Nathan MacKinnon — Steve Downie
Patrick Bordeleau — John Mitchell —Mark Olver

Honestly, there have been so many different lineups, it's hard to say there are definitive lines. McLeod served a 5-game suspension, Tanguay has been out a while with an injury, Stastny and Duchene both missed a couple games. But here's my best approximation at our lines when healthy.

Actual Forwards

Ryan O’Reilly— Matt Duchene — P.A. Parenteau

Gabe Landeskog — Paul Stastny — Alex Tanguay
Jamie McGinn — Nathan MacKinnon — Max Talbot
Cody McLeod — John Mitchell —Patrick Bordeleau

Marc-Andre Cliche (13th man)

Brad Malone (14th man)

- - -

As for the defense, I was quite worried about this projection:

Johnson - Wilson
Hejda - Barrie
Sarich - Elliott
Benoit - Hunwick

Turns out we're currently 4th in goals against, though you should credit the goalies more than the defense. Still...

Actual Defense:


The top two lines are pretty set, with the bottom 4 switching around to see who takes the ice.

Chiefs Thoughts at 9-3

First up...with four games to play, the Chiefs are two games ahead of the Lions in the burger bet standings...and are currently ahead in the point differential tiebreaker +84 to +39. So it seems likely the Chiefs will hold on to that.

- - -

Going into Sunday's game, I thought the Chiefs needed two things to win:

1. Win the turnover battle by +2
2. Have more big special teams plays by +1

Well the did #2. And they won the turnover battle by 1.

- - -

Denver is really good. They're a better team than the Chiefs.

Here are my power rankings (based on who I think would win head-to-head matchups)

1. Seattle
2. Denver

3. New England
4. New Orleans
5. Carolina

6. San Fran
7. Cincinnati
8. Kansas City

9. Indianapolis
10. Philly
11. Detroit
12. Arizona

Tier four is inconsistent. They can play great or terrible. New Orleans is very home dependent. Anyways, the Chiefs are a good team.

I think these losses have actually helped the team. The offense has improved. Alex Smith has had to throw the ball and he's done a good job.

The defense hasn't been up to stopping Peyton Manning but no teams have. I think the weaknesses in the defense have been exposed and the coaches will have a month to try and address them as best as possible.

- - -

I did my above power rankings on my own. Here are the power rankings based on Football Outsiders DVOA (based on week 12)

1. Seattle
2. Denver

3. Carolina
4. New Orleans
5. New England

6. San Fran
7. Cincinnati
8. Chicago

9. Kansas City
10. Philly
11. Arizona

Pretty similar. Except they love Chicago.

- - -

If the Chiefs and Broncos played 100 times in Mile High in November, I think the Broncos win 85 of them.
If they played 100 times in Arrowhead on Sunday, I think the Broncos win 70 of them.

- - -

On the one hand, the Chiefs built a 21-7 lead and were 10 yards away from tying the game. So there's reason to be confident.

On the other hand, the Chiefs built a 21-7 lead. They got a kickoff return touchdown. And still lost.

The Broncos are not scared of Kansas City. They would rather face the Chiefs than the Patriots in the playoffs. And the Chiefs would rather face the Patriots than the Broncos.

- - -

I didn't want to get into last week, and it doesn't really matter, but Reid bungled the last two minutes of the drive against the Chargers.

Trailing by 3 points, with a 1st and goal from the 5, Reid calls a timeout with 1:28 to go, with about 17-19 seconds on the play clock. The Chargers had two timeouts.

On the next play, the Chiefs pass to the end zone and score. This gave the Chargers 1:19 and two timeouts to come down the field. The Chargers had already scored 24 points in the 2nd half, the Chiefs are missing their top two pass rushers.

I don't care that you got the touchdown. You can't give them that much time.

At least run the extra 18 seconds off. Now there's only a minute remaining.

And on 1st and goal from the 5, I give it to Charles on the ground. If he scores, great. If he doesn't the Chargers either have to burn a timeout or lose clock.

- - -

My biggest gripe with the game is against Reid. It was 21-21 in the third quarter. The Chiefs had a 4th and 2 at the Denver 42. This is a must-go for it.

Later in the game, the Chiefs were down 14, and they had a 4th and 1 from their own 29. They had to go for it. They got it. But what Reid didn't realize is that when you're playing the Broncos, your defense is not as good as you think. This is not a 7-7 game against the Browns. This is a shootout agains the Broncos. We need all the points we can get.

- - -

The Chiefs got to 9-0 by holding teams under 17 points. But the Broncos had their way with the Chiefs. Big play after big play.

Here are the plays by both teams of over 20 yards:

Pass to Moreno, 34 yards
Pass to Decker, 41 yards, TD
Pass to Decker, 42 yards
Pass to Welker, 20 yards
Pass to Decker, 37 yards, TD
Pass to Thomas, 77 yards
Pass to Moreno, 31 yards
Ball run, 28 yards

Pass to Bowe, 24 yards
Davis run, 20 yards
David TD return, 108 yards
Smith run, 26 yards
Pass to McCluster, 28 yards
Pass to Bowe, 23 yards

If you break it down a littler further...offensive plays over 30 yards:

Broncos: 6
Chiefs: 0

- - -

Anyways, it really doesn't change much. Even if the Chiefs had scored with 1:30 left, the Broncos would have come down and won it on a field goal. Even if the Chiefs had won the game, the Broncos would have owned the tiebreaker and won the division most likely.

So here we are at 9-3. The Chiefs will most likely be playing on the road against the loser of this week's Colts-Bengals game. I think the Bengals are a better, more complete team, but I might prefer to face them instead of Andrew Luck. I think the Chiefs might fare better on the outside field in the elements against Cincinnati, than getting beat by the Colts on their fast track. That said, I think all three of these teams are about even, and the game could go either way. The home team should be favorite slightly, but the Chiefs will have a good shot as long as they're healthy.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

7 hours until kickoff. I just made sour cream and onion dip.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich Returns

Previously, I've made turkey sandwiches with dressing and sweet potatoes. Well, for the last two years we didn't have the candied sweet potatoes that I needed. This year, I didn't make stuffing so the sandwich was simple. Hot turkey with some honey glaze and candied sweet potatoes. Delicious. 

But that's not the only kind I've had since Thursday. I also made one with cold turkey, honey mustard, black pepper, jalapeno slices, colby-pepper jack and mayo.

And then another one. This time I used the leftover aioli (mayo-garlic-lemon-fresh parsley) with cold turkey, black pepper and cheese.

I enjoy these as much as the hot turkey on feast day.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Turkey III

I'm pretty comfortable cooking a turkey by now. It's not that it's super difficult, but it is sort of easy to mess up. I'm always happy with my results, moist meat, crispy skin.

This year it was a 18lb bird. Which is a good size to have plenty of leftovers. Could go a bit smaller even.

This was my first time buying a Butterball. It was on sale for $23. It turned out great, but really no better than any other brand.

Make sure you thaw it about 6 days in advance.

My Method:
The night before, take out the crap, wash it, leave it in the fridge overnight exposed.
In the morning, put it in the roasting pan, rub with some oil, season with salt, pepper, chicken rub.
Breast side up, legs to the back of the oven.
Roast at 500F for 30 minutes. Then drop it to 350. For an 18lb bird, it needed an additional 3 hours at 350.
I covered the white meat with foil when I was happy with the color.
When it's done, transfer to the cutting board and cover it loosely with foil again to let it rest and retain heat.
That's it.

My carving job this year was less focused on presentation, and more focused on not carving more than I needed. Hours later, I carved the rest so that the leftovers could be as moist as possible.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

#1 vs #2 (and true nhl standings)


I've rallied against how the NHL standings are organized for a while. Well, I finally found a good resource that calculates by percentage of points possible.

LINKS:   league standings  -  conference standings  -  division standings

There's another site that doesn't do it as cleanly or well, and takes 30 seconds to update, but does have archived standings. current standings  -  archive

- - -

Two weeks ago, the Avalanche visited the Blues. At the time of the game, here were the overall NHL standings:

The Avs lost 7-3 on the road, and then lost again, part of a three-game losing streak. Those losses dropped them as low as #5 in the league:

Since then, the Avs have won 3 in a row. At home vs Chicago, on the road vs Phoenix and LA. Those teams currently are 4th, 9th and 6th in the league standings, respectively.

Which brings us to tonight. The Avs' 3 game winning streak is only bested by the Blues' 4 game hot streak. And we've got another #1 vs #2 matchup.

If you compare the above standings with the typical standings, you see why I'm so irked by the traditional method.

To make it clear, here is how virtually every media source puts the teams in order:

4, 7, 1, 3, 6, 5, 2, 8, 9, 11, 10.

Not very helpful when you're trying to find the actual order. Especially irksome when you see shit like this:

A couple more notes about the current true standings. Here's what that site has to say about the division abbreviations following the team names:

So there you go. We can see that 3 of the top 4 teams in the league are in the Central. And 8 of the top 9 teams are in the West.

One last note. 

Here are the best records for the last five 82 game seasons:

2011-12: Vancouver - 111 points
2010-11: Vancouver - 117 points
2009-10: Washington - 121 points
2008-09: San Jose - 117 points
2007-08: Detroit - 115 points

Now let's go back to the current standings. If you look at the last column, you see there are four teams that are on pace to have more than 121 points this year.

Clearly, I don't think that pace is sustainable/realistic. But I am impressed that there are that many teams winning so many games more than a quarter of the season in.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I don't really want to say too much about the Chiefs.

1. The Broncos own the tiebreaker, no matter what happens on Sunday.
2. I think the Broncos win the division.
3. The Chiefs will still make the playoffs as the #5 seed.
4. If they can get/stay healthy, they will have a decent chance of knocking off the Colts or Bengals.

nfl predictions 2013: take three

After 12 weeks, I'm updating the playoff picture:

AFC Division Winners

Wild Cards

In The Hunt

It sure seems like the Broncos and the Patriots are the only serious teams in the AFC. I'm never quite sure what I'm going to get out of the Bengals or Colts. Either one could have a home playoff game vs KC and beat the Chiefs, but at this point, I'm expecting a Manning-Brady rematch in the AFC Championship. Which would at least be a great game. As for who grabs the 6th spot...the Chargers seem like the best team, but I'd put my money on Steelers, maybe the Ravens.

1 Broncos
2 Patriots

6 Steelers at 3 Bengals
5 Chiefs at 4 Colts

NFC Division Winners

Wild Cards

In The Hunt

The NFC North is a 3-team race that could go either way. The NFC East will likely come down to the last game, Cowboys vs Eagles. I think the Cowboys finish 8-8 for the third straight year and miss the playoffs again.

1 Seahawks
2 Saints

6 49ers at 3 Eagles
5 Panthers at 4 Packers

My Panthers Calcutta pick keeps looking better and better.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Me at 30

This picture was taken today, November 22, 2013.


As of 12:20 am this morning, I have completed thirty revolutions around the sun. I have lived on this rock (which is mostly water) flying through space for 360 months.

Along the way, I have made mistakes.
I have learned things.
I have consumed a lot of food.

I have written books.
I have produced commercials.
I have created new life.

I have lived in three states.
I have traveled to nine foreign countries.
I have gained and lost weight repeatedly.

I like Palahniuk's and Vonnegut's books.
I like Fincher's and Nolan's movies.
I like Kansas City's barbecue.

I'm not afraid of heights.
Or snakes.
But I am afraid of car accidents.

I couldn't be happier with my job.
I couldn't be happier with where I live.
I have sports teams that let me down.

I have an amazing wife.
I have two fantastic kids.
I have nothing sarcastic to say about my family.

I'm a decent cook.
A pretty good dad.
And a below-average husband.

This year, I have discovered that I am not necessarily the person I thought I was.
I have the problem of settling for good enough.
I wonder who I could be if I pushed myself farther.

Overall, I am happy.
I am happy with the life I have.
I am trying to spend my remaining years, living bigger and better.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Spinning Wheels

It's a small hill, not normally something that people would notice. Cars routinely stop on this hilly stretch waiting for the light to turn green. This morning, it wasn't so routine.

I was in the left-turn lane. A few cars ahead of me started changing into the middle lane at the same time. I followed suit. I assumed there was a broken down car. Instead there was a silver sedan, spinning his wheels.

The street was icy. And the slight incline was enough to make it difficult to go from stopped to starting.

As I switched lanes, my car wobbled and slid, searching in a panic for traction. It was about the third or fourth time in twenty minutes that I wasn't in full control of my car. It was easy to see how that could have been me in that silver sedan.

I didn't have to be in that car to know what he was feeling. It's a terrible feeling. You're stuck. You have a wheel and a gear shift at your disposal, but you're helpless. Meanwhile, seemingly everyone else is passing you. Is is it because they have better tires or did you just catch an unlucky break, a patch of ice, a steeper slope?

Some days feel like that. Spinning wheels. Pressing the pedal down and getting nowhere. And everyone else is getting by just fine.

It's easy to think that if someone would stop and get out and give you a slight push that you could just get where you need to be. But the truth is that no one is coming. Because everyone has their own car to deal with. Everyone has their own places to be.

So it's up to us. We have to get out and push our own car up the hill. Or let it slide all the way to the bottom and try again.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Avs Blow Out Blackhawks

I had this idea all ready to go a week ago when the Avs played the Blues, and then they had to go and ruin it. But it fits so nicely with Colorado having their first season in the Central division. And then three first-period goals chase Crawford out of the Chicago net.

Oh and the headline for this post was stolen from SportsCenter:

Yes it was a big win. Lets look at the top ten records in the NHL at the moment (as always, calculated by points percentage):

1. Blues (1.55)
2. Avalanche (1.5)
3. Sharks (1.476)
4. Coyotes (1.476)
5. Blackhawks (1.455)
6. Kings (1.409)
7. Ducks (1.391)
8. Bruins (1.381)
9. Wild (1.364)
10. Lightning (1.333)

4 teams from Central
4 teams from Pacific
2 teams from Atlantic

That's not really the point. The point is that with the win the Avs move up and the Blackhawks move down. If the season ended today...the Blues would get the #1 seed in the Central, and Colorado would be hosting Chicago in the first round. Tasty.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Too Real

Hockey and Time Zones

This probably isn't interesting to anyone else, but the Avalanche play evening games this year that from the perspective of the Eastern time zone, start at 7pm, 7:30, 8, 8:30, 9, 9:30, 10 and 10:30.

Eastern is what's listed on the ESPN schedule, but I thought it would be interesting to break it down with local time, and Mountain time.

7pm Eastern
Games at New York, Philly, Tampa Bay, etc
Local Time: 7pm
Mountain Time: 5pm

7:30pm Eastern
Games at Detroit, Montreal, Florida, etc
Local Time: 7:30pm
Mountain Time: 5:30pm

8pm Eastern
Games at Chicago, Minnesota, etc
Local Time: 7pm
Mountain Time: 6pm

8pm Eastern
Games at Denver
Local Time: 6pm
Mountain Time: 6pm

8:30pm Eastern
Games at Dallas
Local Time: 7:30pm
Mountain Time: 6:30pm

9pm Eastern
Games at Denver
Local Time: 7pm
Mountain Time: 7pm

9pm Eastern
Games at Phoenix
Local Time: 6pm
Mountain Time: 7pm

9:30pm Eastern
Games at Denver, Edmonton
Local Time: 7:30pm
Mountain Time: 7:30pm

10pm Eastern
Game at Denver (this happens once, scheduled for NBC Sports TV)
Local Time: 8pm
Mountain Time: 8pm

10pm Eastern
Games at Vancouver, San Jose
Local Time: 7pm
Mountain Time: 8pm

10:30pm Eastern
Games at LA, San Jose
Local Time: 7:30pm
Mountain Time: 8:30pm

Local time is fairly consistent. Usually 7 or 7:30, with some occasional 6pm and 8pm games in Denver in the mix too. Mountain time varies from 5pm to 8:30. I prefer a start time of either 6 or 7pm, Mountain Time.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Chiefs are 9-1

The Broncos definitively beat the Chiefs.

They're now both 9-1. Looking at Denver's schedule, I think they win their last 4 games. Their game next week in New England is huge. And then the following week at Arrowhead, is even bigger. 

So we're looking at a Broncos team that I think will finish somewhere between 15-1 and 13-3.

- - -

The Chiefs have a number of tough games. They could beat the Broncos in KC and still finish 12-4. 

On the one hand, I think it's safe that they make the playoffs. Which is sort of crazy. 
But, you play (and watch) to win a Super Bowl. The odds of that happening go down significantly if they can't win the division. 

So it's not life or death, but I've been focused on staying ahead of the Broncos. 

Basically, they must beat them on December 1. That will put level the tiebreaker and put the Chiefs 1 game ahead. Depending on how next week shakes out vs Chargers/Patriots, the Chiefs will know in 2 weeks what kind of cushion they have. 

- - - 

Just for fun, let's assume the Chiefs beat the Broncos. What will the tiebreaker be? 

First up is division record. The Broncos would be 3-1 and host the Chargers, visit Raiders.
The Chiefs would be 2-1, with both Chargers games and a Raiders game on the road. 

I'm assuming the Broncos win both of those. 
So now, the Chiefs need to win all three of those division games just to keep the tiebreaker alive. (Yikes.)

After that, it's common games. Long story short, all games are common except Broncos vs Ravens, Patriots and Chiefs vs Browns, Bills. So a Patriots loss doesn't hurt Denver here. And in order for this to matter, the Chiefs would have to lose a non-divisional game. Entirely possible that it could be even on this factor too. 

Then you get to conference games. The only way this matters is if KC loses to Washington, it doesn't hurt them. If it gets past this, it goes to strength of victory, which I'm interpreting as point differential, which will go to the Broncos. 

It's still a little murky...but I'm guessing that even with a Chiefs victory, Denver might own the tiebreaker. It would likely come down to divisional games, as I think Denver has an easier chance of going 5-1 than the Chiefs. 

- - -

All of that said, the Chiefs still can control their own destiny. If they go 15-1, they will win the division and get the #1 seed. 

If they lose any games, it's very possible they lose the tiebreaker and will have to stay ahead of the Broncos, which means needing help (in the form of Denver losses). 

This is probably all a waste of time. KC could very well finish 11-5 (though 13-3 always seemed like the right number, to mirror 2003) and Denver could be 3 games ahead of them. 

- - -

What happened last night?

For starters, no pass rush on Peyton. The whole plan was to hit him and get him out of rhythm. Apparently, you're allowed to throw the ball quickly, neutralizing our pass rush. Manning is well suited to handle even the best pass rushes. 

Despite that, I'll take 27 points given up. I'd prefer 17. But 27 is the lowest Denver's given up and within the realm of possibility. 

Here's what's not good enough

field goal (after 1st and goal from the 2)
half expires
PUNT on 4th and 7 at Denver 41 with 12 minutes to go, down 14 points
turnover on downs
time expires

So let's add up the missed opportunities. The fumble was in the red zone, costing 3-7 points. Not converting the TD from 1st and goal from the 2 cost them 4 points. And then the punt on 4th and 7. It's not 4th and 7 from your own 23. You're at their 41. You need 2 touchdowns just to tie, and that's if your defense holds. (As it turns out, from that point the Chiefs needed 17 points to get to overtime. 12 minutes to play, you need 17 points. You're on the 41. You have to go. Instead the punt went into the endzone for a gain of 21 yards of field position. 

So even with the offense sputtering with 6 other punts, the Chiefs were a couple of plays away from getting up to 27 points. 

- - -

So you're telling me there's a rematch. Even though it was a sound defeat, I think the game in KC will be different. The Chiefs may not win. But it should be closer. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Illini. Sigh.

When you're down 12 and there's 5:30 to play the game, you need to score two touchdowns.

I don't care if it's 4th and 26. The Eagles did it. So when it's 4th and 13 you have to go for it. By punting away the ball, you're giving up.

Beckman sends on the Illinois punt unit, and two plays later, the Buckeys get a 50+ yard touchdown anyways.

I was all set to be excited about the moral victories (covering the spread, most points scored on Buckeys all year) and then the coach just gives up. What's the worst that could have happened? The Buckeys get the ball near our endzone. What's the best?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Everything was going so well.

A couple days ago, the crystal ball was pointing that Cliff Alexander would be committing to Illinois. And then last night, Quentin Snider decommits from Illinois and signs with Louisville. And now the experts are predicting Alexander to announce he's going to Kansas. The announcement isn't for a couple of hours, but I already know he's not coming to U of I.

- - -

The Avs were 14-2 and the best team in the league. I didn't care that they lost to Carolina 2-1 on the road. But going to St. Louis and playing their new division rival for the first time? I wanted that one. And they give up 7 goals. As of right now, here are the 6 teams with the best records in the leauge, calculated by points percentage: (Central Division in Bold)

1. Blues
2. Blackhawks
3. Avs
4. Sharks
5. Ducks
6. Coyotes

Well then. So the top 3 teams in the Central are the top 3 teams in the league. Followed by three teams from the other division in the West. The Avs are still in fine shape, but they play Chicago and St. Louis, both at home, in their next 5 games. Those are big games.

- - -

And then we get to the team with the best record in the NFL. You know, the big underdog on Sunday. Somehow, the Broncos were only favored by 7 against San Diego, but are getting 8 or 9 against Kansas City.

If the Chiefs win, I bet it's by 7 or less.
If the Broncos win, I bet it's by 10+. 21 wouldn't surprise me.

The Chiefs have 7 games left. The goal is to win the division.

Losing both Broncos games would put them one back in the standings and needing to finish one better. Meaning it would be very unlikely.

Winning both would put them three ahead in the standings, with the Broncos needing to finish one better.

Splitting? Then the tiebreaker becomes murky (division record, then common games, then conference games) and the Chiefs would hold just a small one-game lead. Basically, still up for grabs.

So yeah, this game is important. And no matter what, the game on December 1 will be even more important.

The Chiefs don't need to win this one to win the division. But it would sure help.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chiefs - Broncos, 1994

October 17, 1994

We'll pick up the action at 2:09:00 with the Chiefs ahead 24-21 with 1:41 to go and Elway with the ball. Even though I love getting the call right with instant replay, there's something charming about not having it. They call it on the field and that's it.

(Really crazy to think that this game is closer to the 2003 Trent Green-Priest Holmes-Dante Hall Chiefs than today's are.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SF Recap

Friday: Breakfast at Sweet Maple, visit to Matt's Uncle, Lagunitas Brewery, Sycamore, Pancho Villa

Saturday: Farmer's Market at Ferry Building, Boccalone, Acme Bread, Walk to Fisherman's Wharf, Boudin Bistro, Ghiradelli Square, Frisbee Golf at Golden Gate Park, Bi-Rite Creamery, Bourbon & Branch Speakeasy

Sunday: Bears game at Mad Dog in Fog, Hike through Buena Vista Park, Haight/Ashbury, Sandwich at Ike's Place

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Let's Just End The Season Today

Current NFL Playoff Picture:

Of course, the NHL has a new "divisional" format that's a bit more complicated. Let's work it out. (It's also tougher, since the teams have played a different number of games you need to sort by point percentages, not total standings points.)

This paints a much better picture than these standings. Here, we see the Blues have a firm hold on a playoff spot. The Avs have a better record then the Sharks, so they get to face the worse of the Western wild-cards, at the moment the Canucks.

It's kind of nice, personally, to not have to worry about facing the Sharks/Ducks/Coyotes until the conference finals, as they seem to be the hottest teams. (Yes, I know it's early. And the Blackhawks/Blues are probably just as good.)

In the East, the Lightning currently have a better points-percentage than the Penguins, so they get the Canadiens instead of the Bruins.

Overall, it's a bit strange that it's billed as divisional playoffs, and as it stands, 3 of the 8 first-round series aren't divisional. But shit happens.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Worst To First

In April 2013, the Chiefs had the #1 pick in the NFL Draft.
In October 2013, the Chiefs have the #1 record in the NFL.

In June 2013, the Avalanche had the #1 pick in the NHL Draft.
In October 2013, the Avalanche have the #1 record in the NHL. 

- - -

At the moment, the Sharks have more points, but they've played an extra game. Colorado had more points on Saturday and won yesterday. Colorado has the #1 record based on points percentage. 

For the record, the Avs were only the second-worst team in the league. A team in Florida was worse. But the Avs won the lottery. 

And the Chiefs and a team in Florida both went 2-14 last year. But the Chiefs faced an easier schedule so they earned the #1 pick. They Chiefs are 8-0 and the Jaguars are 0-8. 

Still hard to wrap my head around. 

NFL Rule Loophole

This is for the small parts department:

Peyton fumbled yesterday and he was chasing Brian Orakpro for the loose ball. Manning sort of tackled him from behind to try and prevent him from recovering it. Orakpro recovered it anyways and Washington took over.

The refs called a penalty on Manning for offensive holding. But Washington had to decline it in order to keep the ball.

I was annoyed that the penalty couldn't be enforced once Washington took over, as an "and-one."

- - -

This made me wonder if there were other loopholes. There used to be a 12 men on defense rule loophole that the Giants used in the Super Bowl, where the penalty cost them five yards but the Pats didn't get the time back on the clock. That has since been fixed where the refs are supposed to blow the play dead before it starts.

The other one I know of: Say a team has a 1st and goal from the 1, with 20 seconds left. I would instruct my defense to disrupt any passes by committing pass interference. They'll get a free first down every time, but the goal is to run down the clock to give them only one actual shot, instead of having to defend 4 passes.

Situational Football (Stafford's Play For The Ages)

With 22 seconds left, the Chiefs faced a 4th and 1 from the Browns 22, up three points.

I wanted them to go for it, thinking worse-case scenario, the Browns have the ball on their own 22, needing a field goal to tie, touchdown to win.

Best-case scenario you win the game.

I didn't want them to kick a field goal.

Worst-case scenario you have a blocked field goal, or a big return on the ensuing kickoff.

Best-case scenario you give the Browns the ball on their own 20, needing a touchdown to win.

(The Chiefs kicked the field goal and won anyways, because there wasn't much time left.)

- - -

Then I switched over to the Lions-Cowboys game. The Cowboys had the ball on 3rd down with about 1:15 remaining. The announcers starting talking about if the Cowboys hang on to win they'll be 5-3. They started talking about how it's their first winning record at the halfway point of the season since 2007.

In the moment, I thought that was a bit premature. Sure it seemed like they Lions would only get the ball back with 20 seconds left, but I've seen good returns and hail mary's work, especially to Calvin Johnson.

A play later, the Cowboys were in a similar situation that the Chiefs were just in: with a minute left they faced a 4th and 5 from the Lions 26, up three points.

The Lions had just correctly declined a penalty on 3rd down, realizing that the 40 seconds of play clock are far more valuable than pushing the Cowboys back 10 yards, even though it would make for a tougher field goal attempt.

The Cowboys choice was a little tougher because it's a 4th and 5 and there's a minute to go. They kicked the field goal and made it a six-point game.

Another reason that I don't like the choice to kick the field goals, is I'd almost rather be down 3 than 6. Of course, a 7 point lead is better. But a 6 point lead? It forces the other team to be aggressive. If the Lions were only down 3, it would have played out differently once they got to the 23. They might have taken a shot to end zone, but they would have been thinking about preserving their field goal attempt.

At any rate, that last drive with no timeouts was incredible. And the last play was one for the books, up there with Dan Marino's fake spike touchdown pass.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Good Riddance to 2-3-2

I've written about it before. And now I never have to again.

In Roy We Trust

The Avalanche played 9 games, won 8. Good for the 2nd best record in the league.

Their opponents currently have a combined record of 45-34-3.

Take away the games against the Avs, and their opponents are 44-26-3.

They're 5-0-0 on the road.

And then there's this:

Ponder, Cassel and Freeman

Let's start with some facts.

1. The Vikings QB situation is a mess.
2. In seven weeks, they've played Ponder, Cassel and Freeman.
3. The Vikings have Adrian Peterson who has been the best running back in football for the last 6+ years.
4. The Vikings made the playoffs in 2012 despite Ponder as QB.
5. The 2013 Chiefs have shown what a difference it makes to go from a Cassel-level QB to an Alex Smith level QB.

- - -

In 2009, I wrote this:

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.

AD is still in his prime and yet, the Vikings haven't found a QB. Despite that they're good enough to make the playoffs. I know it's not as easy as find the next great QB. But it's hard not to look at their current situation and think they would have been better off trying than playing Favre.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I was going to do a whole ranking of potato chip flavors, but that seemed like a lot of work.

In short, I like Sour Cream 'n Onion best. I also like Salt & Vinegar.

I don't care for Barbecue or Original.

Best Record in the NFL

In April 2013, the Chiefs had the #1 pick in the NFL Draft.
In October 2013, the Chiefs have the #1 record in the NFL.

- - -

I don't think the Chiefs are the best team in the league. I'd put the Broncos, Seahawks and Saints at the top three. And lump the Chiefs in with the Patriots, Colts, 49ers and Packers. So they're a top 8 team for me.

They'll make the playoffs.

But because of the Broncos being in their division, it's a strange dynamic. I wrote about it last week, but they're either looking at getting a bye or playing a wild-card game on the road. It really doesn't matter what record the Patriots or Colts end up with.

- - -

The script for this game was very familiar. Chiefs offense scores a few touchdowns, but Chiefs defense does the rest.

In the 2nd quarter, the Chiefs take the lead on a 3rd and 1 touchdown run by Alex Smith:

Ah the classic, fake to no one! I can see why that worked so well.

In the 3rd, the Texans trailed 10-14 but had 1st and goal at the 1.
QB sneak stuffed.
RB tackle for loss.
Incomplete pass.
Field goal. Texans still trail 13-14.

The teams would exchange field goals and the Texans trailed 16-17 entering the 4th quarter.

Texans 4th quarter drive #1 ends with a Flowers sack on 3rd and 9. Punt.
Texans 4th quarter drive #2 ends with a Houston/Hali sack on 3rd and 8. Punt.
Texans 4th quarter drive #3 ends with a Hali sack on 3rd and 4. Punt.
Texans 4th quarter drive #4 ends with a Hali sack on 2nd and 10. Forced fumble, recovered by Chiefs. Victory formation.

And that's after the goal line stand. FOUR TIMES the Chiefs offense put the onus on the defense: "hey can you not allow them any points on four chances, because we're done for the day."

That's not going to be good enough against top teams. But we've played 7 games and won them all.

And then this happened:

It's still totally realistic to think that the Broncos will finish at 14-2 and the Chiefs will be 12-4 or 13-3. But it would be quite lovely to win the AFC West and send Denver on the road.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

FRIES, Ranked

This was a bit strange. Because I didn't want to get into the weeds of ranking Wendy's vs Burger King vs McDonald's, but there are some places that have unique fries. And I thought it would be helpful when judging say, waffle fries, what I'm actually thinking of.

8. Steak Fries

These are usually bland and limp. If they're crispy they're not that bad. This will be a trend.

7. Potato Wedges

These have a tendency to have to much potato (the correct ratio is key). But usually they have a good seasoning or fried coating, so they're okay.

6. Waffle Fries (Chick-fil-A)

This is was mostly the inspiration for this list. Mrs. Hoagie Central loves waffle fries. They are never crispy enough for me. I had some yesterday fresh from the drive-thru and there was no crunch. They are soft. I don't get it. I think if they just cooked them a bit more they might be better.

5. Thin Cut (Steak 'n Shake)

This is the one fry on the list that gets the ratio wrong by having too little potato. In my head, Steak n Shake fries are even thinner than all the pictures on the internet. Crispiness, check. But it's all fried, no potato.

4. Crinkle Cuts

I admire the idea. Create more edges for more crispiness. The problem? I think they're always just a bit too thick. Too much potato. Maybe if these people talked to the Steak n Shake people, they could compromise.

3. Classic

McDonald's is always sort of the gold standard. And they're good for sure. But there are two that if I see on a menu, I'd order instead.

2. Sweet Potato Fries

Maybe there's still a novelty factor, but these are usually crispy, have the right amount of potato, and have more flavor too.

1. Curly Fries

A-ha! These are fun, but more so, they're crispy, with a great potato ratio, and they're usually seasoned quite nicely too. Arby's, you're doing something right.

Predicting the AFC Championship Game

It seems very likely that both the Chiefs and Broncos will make the playoffs. I was hoping that if the Chiefs meet the Broncos it would be in the AFC Championship, as opposed to the divisional round. Denver is the biggest dragon to slay, I'd hope that would be worth a Super Bowl berth.

But it probably won't happen.

- - -

The most likely scenario at this point would be the Broncos get the #1 seed, and the Chiefs get the top wild-card, #5.

In that case, the Chiefs path to the Super Bowl would be something like:

@ Ravens/Bengals
@ Broncos
@ Patriots/Colts

That's no fun. (It's also the same if the Chiefs fall to the #6 spot)

It would be possible for the #6 to upset #3. Perhaps Dolphins over Patriots. In that case, the Chiefs would face:

@ Ravens/Bengals
@ Colts
@ Broncos

If however, the Chiefs could win the division, that changes everything. If the Chiefs get the #1 seed, they would most likely face

vs Broncos
vs Colts/Patriots

or in the case of a #6 upset

vs Dolphins
vs Broncos/Colts/Patriots

That, of course, would be ideal.

If the Chiefs get the #2 seed, the Broncos couldn't be #1. So the path would likely be:

vs Patriots
@ Colts or vs Broncos

- - -

It's entirely possible to play the Broncos in the AFC Championship, but not that likely. And reaching the Super Bowl will be much easier if the Chiefs could win the division. Those two games against the Broncos are going to be huge.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Arrowhead Is Back 6-0

Here's what you need to know about the Chiefs beating the Raiders and improving to 6-0.

The Chiefs offense, once again, didn't play well. This was Alex Smith's worst game as a Chief. 14 of 31. 128 yards. 4.1 per attempt. Yikes. But no picks.

The only good thing I can say, this offense has yet to play it's best game. If they can figure something out by January, that would be nice.

The Chiefs defense is legit. 10 sacks. Second-most for Chiefs ever. This year's Chiefs team has been great at putting games away in the 4th quarter. Time-killing drives. Comeback touchdown drives. And now this...

With 7:20 to go in the game, the Raiders were only down 7-14. They had a first and 10 at midfield. The game is on the line.

Holding. 1st and 20.
Sack. 2nd and 32.
Delay. 2nd and 37.
Sack. 3rd and 48.
Incomplete. 4th and 48.

The Chiefs went 3 and out.

So the Chiefs D comes back out and gets a pick to set up a game-clinching field goal.

And then the Chiefs D comes back and gets a pick-six.

In 5 out of the Chiefs 6 games, they've had a defensive/special teams touchdown. Reminiscent of the 2006 Bears (the Bears are who we thought they are) who won games that they had no business winning, thanks to their defense. That team lost to Peyton Manning in the playoffs. (Though it was the Super Bowl.)

Points allowed per game:
Chiefs: 10.8 (1st in the league)
Broncos: 26.3 (24th in the league)

Defensive Takeaways:
Chiefs: 18 (1st in the league)

Turnover Margin
Chiefs: +12 (1st in the league)

Arrowhead Is Back. It is, once again, officially the loudest stadium in the NFL. Also, the loudest open air stadium in the world. But I don't care about that. I think now it's going to be a thing for a bit between Seattle and Kansas City. Seattle has a more sound-resonating stadium. KC has more seats. Whatever. Both are tough places to play.

What I do care about:
3 delay of games on the Raiders.
3 false starts on the Raiders.

That's the definition of a home-field advantage.

- - -

There were 5 scores in the game. Let's look at them.

Raiders: 78-yard touchdown drive. 39-yard touchdown slant pass. 

This was similar story to the Giants game. The Chiefs allowed 1 big play and that was it. The Raiders never made it to the red zone.

Chiefs D also 1st in the league for fewest opponent red zone attempts and worst opponent red zone TD percentage.

Chiefs: 55-yard touchdown drive. 7-yard touchdown run. 

It was 7-7 at halftime.

Chiefs: 23-yard touchdown drive. 2-yard touchdown run. 

Chiefs interception starts them at the Oakland 23.

Chiefs: 14-yard field goal drive. 33-yard field goal. 

Chiefs interception starts them at the Oakland 29.

Chiefs: 44-yard pick-six.

Another Chiefs interception. All their second half points came off turnovers.

If you compare total yards for scoring drives:
Raiders: 78
Chiefs: 55+23+14=92

All of a sudden that 24-7 victory margin is deceptive. The Chiefs D scored points and set up the points.

Here's your playoff pictures:

HOW TO: Barbecue Cheeseburger Quesadilla + Homemade Fries

I made both of these yesterday, but didn't take pictures of the fries. And neither is that complicated to truly warrant a "how to," but that's my tag for recipes. 

Barbecue Cheeseburger Quesadilla

two small flour tortillas
one cooked, seasoned burger
Gates bbq sauce (extra hot if you have it)
sour cream on the side

Assembly: put cheddar and bbq sauce on the inside of both tortillas, slap the burger in the middle. I used my panini press. Delicious. 

Homemade Fries

I finally found the secret to making good fries at home. 

Cut your raw potatoes into fries, 3 or 4 medium potatoes. Rub them with olive oil, then cover with plastic wrap in a big bowl, and microwave for 5-6 minutes. Then season nicely and cook for about 35 minutes at 440 degrees. Choice.