Monday, November 28, 2016

Mile High Magic: Chiefs 30, Broncos 27 (OT)

I was dreading this game.

Chiefs came into this game 0-6 on NBC's Sunday Night Football. They've struggled against the Broncos, building a 7-game losing streak that was finally snapped last year in Denver. The Chiefs were banged up. Dee Ford out, Maclin out. Peters coming off an injury. Houston in his second game back after year-long surgery/rehab process.

Broncos were 3.5 point favorites at home and that seemed low.

- - -

The game opened with 8 punts. From a Chiefs perspective, I thought based on how bad the offense looked, it was a miracle that this game was still tied. It could have been 20-0 easily. But Justin Houston showed up and was dominating their RT. These looked like two Super Bowl defenses in the first quarter.

The game turned on a Norwood muffed punt. Just not the one everyone paid attention to. On a 4th down from the KC 36, Colquitt boomed a punt. Norwood can't handle it, recovers and is downed inside the 5. Two plays later, the Chiefs get a strip sack in the endzone, recovered by the Broncos. The Chiefs players didn't seem to realize the ball was loose and didn't make a good effort to get it. There was a chance to get 7 points, not just 2. But the ensuing kickoff was turned into points by Tyreek Hill. After having two returns called back by penalties earlier in his rookie season, this was the first one that counted. 9-0 Chiefs with the offense having done nothing.

Twist that the safety was better than a defensive touchdown would have been.

9-3 at the half and it feels like points are at a premium.

In the 3rd quarter, the Broncos muscle out a touchdown drive that included a 4th down QB sneak that he just barely got. The Chiefs respond with a scoring drive of their own, ending with a 4th and 2 field goal from the Denver 17. Except wait...there's a penalty on Denver. Chiefs take points off the board and continue the drive. Tyreek Hill runs it in and still in the 3rd quarter Andy Reid smartly goes for 1, making it 16-10 Chiefs.

Not too long later, Norwood muffs another one and KC's Winchester, who just lost his father, recovers the ball. But credit to the Broncos D, they forced back to back 3 and outs. The muffed punt cost Denver 50 yards of field position. But it didn't matter as they found Sanders for big plays and took the lead 17-16.

The Chiefs can't respond but pin them deep inside their 5. I was paging Marcus Peters for a pick. And then I realized another safety would give the Chiefs the lead. On 3rd and 11 from their own 3 and 4 minutes left, the Broncos complete a backbreaking first down.

With 3 minutes left, the Chiefs are out of timeouts. 3rd and 2 from the Broncos 24. If they can pick up the first down, they can run out 2 minutes of clock. If they don't the Chiefs have plenty of time to drive for a field goal.

And then...Siemian lofts a pass up. The KC corner Gaines is still looking back at the QB as the Broncos receiver is hauling in the ball. Touchdown. 23-16 pending the extra point. They could have gone for two and pushed the game out of reach. But they make it an 8-point game. Based on how their defense had played, it seemed smart.

3 minutes to get 8 points. No timeouts.

On 3rd and 10, Kelce just gets the nose of the ball to the line to gain. At 2:01, Smith just gets the snap off and picks up 13 yards before the 2-minute warning.

The Chiefs get down to the 14 with 35 seconds left. Need a touchdown but have no timeouts. All of a sudden it's 4th and 10 from the 14. On 4th down...dials up a pass to Tyreek Hill who gets out of bounds with the first! Amazing.

12 seconds left. 3 yards away. Have to throw it. Slant to Hill. Who catches it. But then. Oh no. The clock is running. The ref calls him down at the one-inch line. The clock is running. They can't get a play off. This is how it's going to end. Except.

With one second left on the clock, the replay booth buzzes. The refs whistle for a review. If the clock expires, I don't know that they can review it. One second left. In review it shows that Hill's knee was down and the ball wasn't in the end zone yet...but he didn't have firm control yet. By the time he's holding on to the ball, he's sitting in the end zone. I've seen enough to know that calls like that can sometimes stick with the call on the field. The good news was this was a SNF game which means extra camera angles. They reversed it. Touchdown Chiefs.

And after all that, they have to go for 2.

Against a defense that has stopped them all day. And Smith rolls out and throws it to a guy who never catches it except this time. 24-24.

And after all that, we're going to overtime.

As it turns out, giving up that touchdown with 3 minutes left was probably better than a 3-yard gain and letting them run out the clock.

It would have really sucked to do all that and let the Broncos win in OT. Even a tie would have been better. The Broncos get all the way down the field but the Chiefs red zone defense holds strong. Both teams exchange field goals.

By the time the Broncos get it back at 27-27, there's only 4 minutes left.

Broncos cruise to the KC 44 with 2 minutes to go.
Run. No gain.
4th and 10 from the KC 44. Punt? Go for it? Kick a 62-yard field goal?

Even five yards would have made it an easy call. Defense there when you need it most.

I was happy they went for the field goal attempt. Even though I would have been happy with a tie. I wanted the win.

The kick was wide. They never showed if it had the distance.

Now Chiefs are in business.

1 minute left. At mid-field. Pass to Hill. Pass to Kelce. Holy crap.

5 seconds left. Time for a 34 yard field goal to win.

And the announcer mentions how the Broncos blocked the Saints extra point. And I realized there's no downside to them trying to jump the line and block this kick. Get the timing wrong and they just have to kick it again. But they don't.

The kick is up's going right for the upright. Goddamn. It hits with the loudest DOINK I've ever heard. Game of fucking inches.

The holder thought it was no good. But the kicker waited for the signal. It's good.

30, 27.

When was the last time you saw it hit the upright and go in? It was that kind of night.

When the game came on, I said I was dreading it. But something was different about this SNF game. Mike Tirico was in the booth for Al Michaels. You can believe in whatever you want. But the Chiefs are 0-6 on SNF with Al Michaels, 1-0 with Tirico. (Yes, I realize that means that The Curse of Al Michaels lives on.)

Both Tyreek Hill and Justin Houston played their best at the best time. The team that played against the Bucs last week or the Texans in week 2 couldn't have stayed on the field with Denver. But this team showed up in a big way.

Most people agree that the AFC West is the best division in football.
For the Chiefs, that's 8 straight wins against divisional opponents.

This creates a 2 game winning streak against the Broncos. One more game this year: Sunday Night, Christmas Night in Arrowhead.

The Chiefs have a 5 game winning streak against the Chargers. Chiefs end their season in San Diego.

And a 4 game winning streak against the Raiders. The next time they play? In 10 days in Arrowhead. I'll be in the stands. Good chance winner of that game holds first place.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

An email that changed my life

A brief backstory: In March 2010, I started applying for jobs in Denver. Brit and I were sick of Chicago. We were ready to raise a family and wanted to do that in Colorado.

And then on my birthday, 6 years ago to the day, I got this email. At the time I was writing dog food coupons and had a portfolio of fake ads. I had never done a TV spot or a voiceover recording session. This was a real ad agency that did real magazine ads, commercials and billboards.

I flew out for an interview on 12/2/2010. On Christmas Eve, we found out we were going to have our first child. I remember laying in bed in O'Fallon over Christmas Break, praying that I would get this Karsh Hagan job and we could move to Colorado.

On 1/3/11, I was told that I didn't get the job.

I stayed in touch and in May, Brit and I planned a trip out to Denver for a week in June. On May 31, I got another email from Matt. The guy they hired hadn't worked out. They wanted to interview me again. I was already going to be there anyways. Perfect timing. Interviewed on June 6th. Accepted an offer on July 6th. Started on July 28. Harrison came into the world a month later.

- - -

Today is my last day at Karsh Hagan. I was there for 5 years, 4 months. When I took the job it was actually a slight pay cut from Chicago. But boy has it been worth it. Six years ago, I was on a path to write brochures and liquor store displays for my whole life. That's a career of working to pay my bills, not to make anything that got me excited.

At Karsh Hagan, I won an award in every award show they had, 2 shows a year, for 5 years. I made national TV spots, amazing print ads, everything I had always wanted to do.

In my time at Karsh Hagan I was promoted to Senior Copywriter. And now I'm leaving to become an Associate Creative Director. The same title that Matt had when he emailed me six years ago.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Premonitions That Mean Nothing

Had a dream about next week's game that is way, way too optimistic. Going to record it anyways.

Chiefs 36, Broncos 24. Demaryius Thomas fumbles twice.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

Race Intersecting The Results

I started a much different post. And in the process of writing, one theme kept bubbling to the surface. So I'll start with this instead.

- - -

There have been reactions surrounding race on both sides.

Here's an article explaining the Trump vote was not because his supporters are racist, but because they felt unheard and left behind. And here's a #NeverTrump person talking about what it feels like when people generalize Trump supporters as racist.

And Michael Moore who predicted a Trump win this summer, nailed it. Particularly with the Rust Belt feelings on their economic future. 

On the other side, it feels different. Two days ago, I outlined my hopes and my fears for a Trump Presidency. My most pressing fear was not personal safety. But for some Americans, their first thought upon hearing Trump won, is what effect it will have on policing in this country. Or worried that their Mom, an American for 30 years, might not be able to enter the country, when she returns from foreign travel.

And then you look at the numbers.

And it's like, this is the president that white people wanted. But he's now the president for everyone.

There are other numbers to look at, of course.

So these are all insights into what white voters were thinking. They're not thinking, I'm racist and sexist. They're thinking they want change in Washington. They want change on trade. They aren't happy with how the country is doing. And basically, they don't trust either candidate, so they're voting, somewhat reluctantly for the person that can bring about change for them. That all makes sense.

But then there's people like me. Who can't believe people view Trump as even a plausible candidate. When you launch your campaign with the idea that the Mexicans coming to the United States are criminals and rapists. When you want to ban an entire religion from entering the country. When you say a Mexican judge can't be fair. When you rant about how bad the inner cities are ask them what do you have to lose?

"Poverty. Rejection. Horrible education. No housing, no homes, no ownership. Crime at levels that nobody has seen. You can go to war zones in countries that we are fighting and it's safer than living in some of our inner cities that are run by the Democrats."

When you're openly racist and misogynist, that's a non-starter. It's as if a NFL team chose their new head coach by a fan vote, and the only two choices were Mike Mularkey and a fan in the 2nd row yelling that Mexicans are rapists. I'm not super happy with Mike Mularkey. He sucks. But I'm not going to vote for the racist outsider, even if he promises free barbecue in the tailgate.

Trump supporters will say what about Hillary, she's terrible for all of these reasons! Deleted emails! Look, both candidates have skeletons in their closets. 60+% of the country thinks neither candidate is honest and trustworthy. But only one is openly bigoted, and not just that, but has centered rallies and plans around that bigotry.

I thought this passage from a high school teacher in Pennsylvania represented what a lot of people are feeling. (Emphasis mine.)

My struggle is this: I have been taught and fully embrace that my job is to make a safe space for kids to share their viewpoints. Whether or not I agree is so unimportant that I don’t even take it into consideration. However, a long time ago, this election became no longer a political choice but a moral one. Everyone who voted for Trump is not racist, but everyone who voted for Trump had to decide that racism was not a dealbreaker. So how do I allow kids to stand up and tell their peers that misogyny, racism, and xenophobia are ok? They are not; our school diversity statement, (which I wrote!), says it’s not, and yet in order to honor my students’ viewpoint, do I have to bite my tongue? Everything about my teaching career tells me to listen, accept, and invite other students to engage with those ideas.

This was echoed by Hasan Minhaj in the video I linked above:

"Open racism should be a dealbreaker...what (Trump supporters) are telling me is, "Hey I don't hate you, I just don't care about you."

- - -

And then you see what happens on Day 1 after the election.


And here.

So that's why people are protesting. Because something that seems plainly unacceptable is now reality.

- - -

And now I get to the place where I was originally going to start...

The country has spoken.

(It doesn't matter that as of this writing Clinton maintains a narrow popular vote lead. Trump got over 300 EC votes. The results weren't close.)

And at this point, it doesn't even matter what the people of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and so many other states were motivated by. Trump is our 45th President.

The country got together and had to decide what to put on our pizza. The only toppings available were onion or mushroom. (All the good meat toppings suddenly vanished.) I voted for onion. The majority of the country voted for mushroom. Now we all have to eat it. Based on what I know so far, I don't think I'm going to like mushroom pizza for the next four years. I also don't think it's going to taste good for the people that voted for it, yet I believe they'll say they like it.

I'm not here to blame anyone.

No matter who you voted for: Clinton, Trump, 3rd party, or if you didn't vote at all...that's your right and I can just hope that you're happy with your decision.

At this point, it's time to see what we've ordered. Hopefully it's great for all Americans.

But there's one thing that will be difficult to swallow.

This is a president elected by white people, opposed by non-white people. If a Trump presidency does things to help White America and hurts non-White America, then we've got a serious problem.

No matter how much we may not want it, Trump is our next President. And all 318 million of us are counting on him to do a good job and make this country stronger, safer, more financially secure.

He promised to Make America Great Again.
Even if I think it's already great, it's up to his administration to deliver.

Harry Reid, Senator of Nevada, shares his views. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

This Is What America Deserves

I read a comment this morning that struck me. 

It was the can't be worse than Obama part.

It's enough to make me feel like I'm crazy. That I'm on Shutter Island. Do we not remember the W presidency as a not so great time that ended with a housing crisis and a Great Recession? Where Obama had to come in and bailout the auto industry in Michigan and surrounding areas?

That by almost any measure I can think of we are so, so, so much better off than in 2008? Am I crazy? Why do people think Obama has done a bad job?

- - -

I wrote this last night before I went to bed:

Before people forget, as of November 8, 2016, America was really great.

The economy was solid. Not as strong as it could be, but an incredible bounce back from the housing crising and recession/depression that W left. The gap between rich and poor is a problem, but efforts to raise the minimum wage are an attempt at progress. The middle class has rebounded, at least somewhat. 

People generally feel safe. Yes, there are shootings. Gun violence is too high. But still, I think most people feel safe. 

According to Wikipedia, our current war efforts are listed as Pakistan, Afghanistan and the War on ISIL. So not at peace, but still it seems like mostly airstrikes, and much less military conflict compared to the War on Terror that defined W's presidency. 

We were becoming more inclusive as a country. Gay marriage finally became legal in June 2015, country-wide. 

I think it's important to remember where the country was at this point. Because we sure don't know where it's going to be in 4 or 8 years. 

- - -

Stephen Colbert, who I love and respect, ended his show by talking about how we can get back to our lives and forget about politics, and unite about what brings us together.

As if this is about being hurt that "my guy" didn't win. This isn't a football game where I'm upset about my team not winning. This is about what happens moving forward.

Look, if Trump does a great job, I will be incredibly happy. I hold no personal grudges. I want him to make the country stronger. 

If he gets rid of Obamacare and creates a system that makes healthcare more affordable and accessible, particularly for the working and middle class, I will sing his praises.

If he can reduce gun violence in America, as he harped about how bad it is in Chicago and other inner cities over and over, I would be thrilled.

If he can grow our GDP, reduce unemployment beyond historically low levels, help the factory workers in the Midwest, make our economy thrive, that would be awesome. I would be pumped about a Trump presidency.

If he wants a smaller government, without affecting the American quality of life, I'm for that too.

If he reveals that he was only saying racist, misogynist, hateful things to get elected and then becomes an inclusive President that protects the rights of all Americans, that would be super great.

If he can make our schools stronger, college more affordable, all hail President Trump.

If he makes the country better, I'd vote for his re-election in 4 years.
If he makes the country better, this is what America deserves.

I'm filled with fear because I believe he won't do any of these things. 

Based on the campaign he's run, I expect him to repeal Obamacare without having anything in it's place. I'm afraid of healthcare becoming more expensive and less accessible.

I expect him to cut taxes to benefit the wealthy.

I expect him to blow billions on a Wall without actually accomplishing anything.

I'm afraid our economy will stutter and stagnate. I'm afraid the Midwest factory workers will not see any improvement.

I'm afraid his presidency will embolden the racist movement in this country, creating a culture of danger and fear.

I'm afraid that gay marriage will get overturned.

I'm afraid of what will happen to the Supreme Court. I'm pissed off that the Republican Congress didn't meet upon Merrick Garland for 237 days, a dereliction of duty, and it's going to work! This could have lasting effects on the country for the next 30-40 years.

I'm afraid that the country is going to be significantly worse off in 4 or 8 years.
And if that happens, this is what America deserves.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Final Election Prediction

I'm sticking with my prediction from a week out. 

I don't think anything's really changed and I figure I get bonus points for calling it a week early, eh?

Nate Silver is trying to ride my coattails!
I had these states a week ago!

Good Timing or Bad Timing?

Coming in to Week 9, the Chiefs were missing Alex Smith, Spencer Ware, Jamaal Charles, and Maclin was banged up. Charles is out for the year, but the others, possibly just need one week to get healthy.

The Chiefs had a home game against the Jaguars. It's the easiest game on their schedule.

The question was is this opponent Good Timing or Bad Timing?

Reason Why It Might Be Good Timing
If you can beat the Jaguars with Foles and Charcandrick West, it's the perfect timing for your guys to be hurt.

Reason Why It Might Be Bad Timing
With a healthy roster, Chiefs win this over 95% of the time. If the injuries cost the team the game, then it's horrible timing to waste the easiest game on the schedule.

So for me, this was more than just one game on the schedule. This was a big swing. Either we fortunately get a win that we otherwise couldn't with a depleted roster or we waste a game that we'd otherwise always win.

- - -

On the first drive, Maclin gets injured and is done for the day.
In the 4th, Kelce gets ejected for throwing his towel like a penalty flag toward the ref.

Hey Kelce: When your team is missing literally ALL their offensive weapons, and yet your defense has gifted you a 9 point lead and you're driving for a touchdown that would basically clinch the game, maybe DON'T get ejected?

Without the Kelce penalty it would have been 3rd and 4 from the 12. But instead he's ejected and it's 3rd and 34 from the 42. The Chiefs would use a screen pass to set up a field goal and salvage 3 points, but a touchdown would have really helped.

- - -

Yards were 449-231 Jags.
First downs were 25-10 Jags.
Time of possession was even.
Jags averaged 6 yards a carry, Chiefs 3.

So yeah, it wasn't exactly pretty for the Chiefs on either side of the ball.

Here are the Chiefs scoring drives:
23 yards
5 yards
5 yards
25 yards
38 yards

Here are the Jaguars scoring drives:
88 yards
61 yards

The stat I didn't mention that turned the game into a Chiefs win:
Turnovers: 4-0.

The Chiefs first three scores (TD, FG, FG) all came after Jaguars turnovers. It was the only way the Chiefs could score. Their fourth score was set up by a punt return to the JAX 30, another field goal.

The last Chiefs scoring drive came after a missed Jags field goal, starting at the KC 44. KC couldn't really move the ball or stop the Jaguars from driving up and down the field.

- - -

Foles played worse at home vs the Jags with a week to prepare, than he did on the road vs the Colts being thrown into the game with no warning.

- - -

After the whole Kelce incident, it was 19-7 Chiefs with 10 minutes to go. With 8 minutes left, it appears that Ivory crossed the plane. But ruling on the field was a fumble and Chiefs recovery and there was not definitive proof to overturn it. This video explains the ruling. At the time, it was like well, The Chiefs would still be winning, whatever.

Following a Chiefs 3 and out, the Jags march down the field and get a TD to make it 19-14 with 4 minutes left. Hey turns out that fumble/touchdown was super important!

Following another Chiefs 3 and out, the Jags march down the field again. They have a 1st and 10 at the KC 39 with 3 minutes to go. (Hey Kelce: Remember when the Chiefs are going 3 and out and you almost cost us the game?)

The Chiefs D made a fourth down stop and now everyone on the offense owes the defense a burger.

- - -

Here is the turnovers by game, and whether they won or lost. In this list, turnovers are bad (giveaways).

KC 1, SD 0. Win
KC 3, HOU 2. Loss
NYJ 8, KC 1. Win
KC 2, PIT 0, Loss
OAK 2, KC 0. Win
NO 2, KC 0. Win
IND 2, KC 0. Win
JAX 4, KC 0. Win

The outlier is the very first game, where the Chiefs pulled out a miraculous comeback after being down 24-3, late in the 3rd. Otherwise...turnovers are football. Look at the 4-game winning streak they're on. The Raiders, Saints and Colts all won yesterday. But the Chiefs beat them all comfortably because of turnovers.

- - -

Here are your current playoff standings.

At this point, it really looks like the AFC West is sending three teams. Which means a 2 seed with a bye and a home game, a 5 seed with a road game and a 6 seed with a road game.

So it would be pretty nice to get that 2-seed. With the Raiders on bye, if the Chiefs win this week, they move up to that spot, since we already beat the Raiders.

With that as the goal, every game on the schedule becomes incredibly tight and important.

Going on the road to Carolina is not easy no matter how much they've struggled.
Both the Raiders and Broncos lost to the Falcons, the Chiefs still have to go to Atlanta. Two games against the Broncos.
A thursday night game against the Raiders, that I'll be at!
A rematch against the Chargers to end the season in San Diego.

Plenty of tough games. The Chiefs need to be healthy, because they can't beat anybody else the way they played yesterday.

Sitting at 6-2 through 8. If they can go 6-2 in the back half, get to 12-4, I think that wins the division.

Right now, I'm guessing the Chiefs lose in Atlanta and Denver. Another loss and 11-5 wouldn't surprise me. 10-6 would be a little disappointing, but still gets a wild card probably.

- - -

Although the Patriots are so good that does it even matter? They would need some injuries of their own to bring them down to the level of the rest of the AFC. (Note: I'm not rooting for injuries. Just being realistic about where they're at.)

Although this was the first year I've ever bet on the Chiefs to make the Super Bowl, so who knows?

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Election Prediction: One Week Out

I'll update this if I think something's changed by Election Day, but I'm feeling pretty comfortable with this prediction. Well, maybe not Florida. Crap.

NFL Mid-Season Breakdown

In the AFC, it's actually nice and clean at the moment.

1-loss teams

2-loss teams

3-loss teams

If the season ended today, those are your 6 playoff teams, 4 division winners plus two wild-cards from AFC West.

There are two more teams at .500, the Titans and the Bills. Totally possible for either one to make a run, but they're 2 games back in the wild-card race. Titans could try and pass Texans, but seems unlikely at this point.

I don't completely trust the Raiders, but to get to 6-2, 5-0 on the road, is a nice accomplishment. Big win in OT for them.

- - -

It's not as clean cut in the NFC.

1-loss teams

2-loss teams

3-loss teams

Falcons are sitting pretty atop their division. Which leaves Packers, Giants, Eagles and Washington fighting for 2 playoff spots. The Lions are the other .500 team, so they could get in there as well.

At this point, I'm guessing both Vikings and Packers make it to the playoffs. I think the Seahawks, Falcons and Cowboys are safe as well. I like the Eagles to be the 6th seed over Washington and Giants, but who knows?