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Playoffs and Layoffs: Black Monday for the NFL

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“It’s not whether you win or lose, but who gets the blame.” Blaine Nye

After 17 weeks, 256 games and 11,985 points scored the NFL regular season ended last night when Dallas Cowboys’ Quarterback Kyle Orton was intercepted by Brandon Boykin.  That pass ended the Cowboys playoff hopes and season and sent the Philadelphia Eagles to the playoffs as champions of the NFC East.

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It was an exciting end to the season. The season went down to the wire for the Eagles, the Green Bay Packers who came from behind to stun the Chicago Bears to take the NFC Central and the San Diego Chargers who swiped the last AFC Wild Card when Baltimore and Miami lost.

The playoffs are now set. The Wild Card round will feature the AFC South Champion Indianapolis Colts (11-5) play the number 5 Wild Card seed Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) and the AFC Central Champion Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) face off against the number six seed San Diego Chargers (9-7). In the NFC the Eagles (10-6) will square off against the number six seed New Orleans Saints (11-5) while the NFC Central Champion Green Bay Packers (9-7) will face number five seed the San Francisco 49ers (12-4). The AFC West Champion Denver Broncos (13-3)  AFC East Champion New England Patriots, NFC South Champion Carolina Panthers (12-4) NFC West Champion Seattle Seahawks have first round byes.

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Among the teams left out of the playoff picture from last season are last year’s Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons.

As good as some teams were some were very bad and with badness went pink slips. As legendary coach John McKay said of his Tampa Bay Buccaneers years ago: “We stunk. We blocked bad; we were terrible on defense and our kicking game made up for it by being absolutely horrible. I saw nothing that delighted me, we ran on the field fairly well.”

Kansas City Chiefs vs Washington Redskins

But the bigger news today are the firings of coaches. Since Sunday night five coaches had been fired. The pink slips started Sunday night with the Cleveland Browns (4-12) who fired first year head coach Rob Chudzinski, that moved surprised many observers. The firings began in earnest this morning when the Minnesota Vikings (5-10) fired Leslie Frazier, the 7-9 Detroit Lions fired 5th year coach Jim Schwartz after a late season collapse. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) fired their Head Coach Greg Schiano and General Manager Mark Dominick. Lastly the controversy ridden Washington Redskins who finished a dismal season at 3-13 fired the highly paid Mike Shanahan despite still owing him another $7 million dollars. Washington owner Daniel Snyder will be looking for his 7th Head Coach since 1999.

Some player’s like Washington’s fullback Darrel Young blamed themselves for their coach’s demise. Young said “We failed a Hall of Fame coach. It was a lack of execution by the players this year.”

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Not counted among the Black Monday casualties was Houston Texan’s head coach Gary Kubiak who was fired December 6th. The Texans who had made the playoffs last year finished the season 2-14, the worst record in the league. The Texans had lost 11 games in a row after winning their first two of the season and had been pre-season favorites to get to the Super Bowl.

The Redskins and Texans were both so bad this year that John McKay’s statement on when the Buccaneers had lost their record setting 26th straight game: “Three or four plane crashes and we’re in the playoffs.”

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Other coaches could still be fired, rumors are swirling about a number of others but one who seems to be safe is Cowboy’s Head Coach Jason Garrett who still has the public backing of GM and Owner Jerry Jones. However it is expected that several assistants will be let go. Likewise Rex Ryan of the Jets has survived. Oakland Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen could be gone soon, he has not been offered any contract extensions and finished with a 4-14 record in 2013. Rumors also swirl about Miami Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbon after a disappointing fish to the season.

So things will be interesting both on and off the field for the next month.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Craving a Hamburger: Pulp Fiction and a Less than Inglourious Wild Card Weekend

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Vincent: All right, well you can walk into a movie theater in Amsterdam and buy a beer. And I don’t mean just like in no paper cup, I’m talking about a glass of beer. And in Paris, you can buy beer at MacDonald’s. You know what they call a…a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don’t call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese?
Vincent: They got the metric system, they wouldn’t know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is.
Jules: What’d they call it?
Vincent: They call it a Royale with Cheese.
Jules: [repeating] Royale with Cheese. What’d they call a Big Mac?
Vincent: Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it Le Big Mac.
Jules: Le Big Mac. What do they call a Whopper?
Vincent: I dunno, I didn’t go into a Burger King. But you know what they put on french fries in Holland instead of ketchup?
Jules: What?
Vincent: Mayonnaise.

I don’t know about you but there are times when I am susceptible to cravings for certain kinds of food or drink.  Sometimes it is the smell, sometimes a visual clue and often it doesn’t matter if I am hungry or thirsty when a craving begins. It so happens that this craving coincided with the NLF first round playoff weekend, commonly referred to as the Wild Card Weekend.

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After returning from a poker game with my buddies from the local bar that I eat at I returned home to dinner with my little dog Molly and the Wild Card games.  Well, compared to past seasons where the Wild Card games were wild and exciting, this weekend was not the best NFL playoff football that I have ever seen. The games were not that exciting. In fact the game between the Packers and Vikings was so boring that I fell asleep watching it. I woke up at the end of the 3rd quarter and seeing the score decided to put a movie on my DVD player.

I decided on the Quentin Tarantino classic Pulp Fiction. This is one of my favorite films and I always find it quite entertaining. In the early part of the movie the characters played by Samuel L Jackson (Jules Winnfield) and John Travolta (Vincent Vega) bust in on some guys who ripped off their boss Marcellus Wallace.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIvUGUzR9N0

During the interaction Jules notices that the men are eating breakfast and this is where the craving part comes in. The young men are having hamburgers. I love hamburgers. In my continuing effort to eat right I don’t have them often but once in a while I want a hamburger. A good hamburger.

Jules: Looks like me and Vincent caught you boys at breakfast, sorry ’bout that. What’cha havin’?

Brett: Hamburgers.

Jules: Hamburgers. The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast.

[Jules grabs Brett’s burger and take a bite of it.]

Jules: Uuummmm, this is a tasty burger. Vincent, you ever try a Big Kahuna Burger?

Vincent: No.

Jules: Wanna bite, they’re real tasty.

Vincent: I ain’t hungry.

Jules: Well, if you like burgers give ’em a try sometime. Me, I can’t usually get ’em myself because my girlfriend’s a vegetarian which pretty much makes me a vegetarian. But I do love the taste of a good burger. Mmm. You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France?

Brett: No.

Jules: Tell ’em, Vincent.

Vincent: Royale with cheese.

Jules: Royale with cheese! You know why they call it that?

Brett: Because of the metric system?

Jules: Check out the big brain on Brett! You’re a smart motherfucker. That’s right. The metric system. What’s in this? [pointing to the cup of drink in front of Brett]

Brett: Sprite.

Jules: Sprite, good. You mind if I have some of your tasty beverage to wash this down?

Brett: Go right ahead.

[takes a long sip of the drink]

Jules: Aaah, that hit the spot. 

When I saw the hamburger on Brett’s plate and Jules taking a bite of it I got a craving. A wanted a hamburger and I wanted one now. However, it was late and the only place to get one at that hour was the McDonalds Drive through about 5 miles away. I resisted the craving, at least for the moment and got through the night without one.

We fast forward to today. Another day of not so great football. So after the first game between the Colts and Ravens I went to my hang out here on the island, Rucker Johns for a burger and a couple of beers while watching the next game between the Redskins and the Seahawks.

The game didn’t hit the spot but the burger and the beer did. Hopefully the games next week will be more exciting and competitive. But come Sunday I just may have another beer or two and another burger over at Rucker Johns. Until then it will be back to my salads coupled with decent physical fitness activity.

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However, the comments in the film about the McDonalds “Royale” brought back memories. It is not just in France that the McDonalds burger known in this country as the Quarter Pounder is known as the Royale. It is also known as that in Germany, where I first encountered it in 1984. Yes it is known as the Royal in Germany because there too, like France they use the Metric system. Despite that the Hamburger Royal is a treat when the delicacies of Europe grow old and one desires something from America. The cool thing is that in Germany you can get a beer with your Hamburger Royal Value Meal. Were we so forward thinking in the country, but as the French say c’est la vie.

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Speaking of Germany tonight I am watching another Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds. Until tomorrow “Oooh, that’s a bingo!”

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A Weekend of Surprises and Not : Packers Lose, Colts Win and Kim Jong-Il Dies; Tebow finally Loses and Padre Steve keeps on Trucking…

Packed away

Wow what a Sunday….

The Green Bay Packers who had not lost a game for a year lost to the lowly Kansas City Chiefs who had just fired their Head Coach on Monday.  It is actually fascinating because Kansas City started a Quarterback that had never started in the NLF prior to today and we facing a team that is the odds on favorite to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.  It looked like that the Pack had a clear path to a perfect season and the playoffs.  They will be in the playoffs but it possible that they could lose their home field advantage.  I don’t think that is likely but stranger things have happened.

Not to be outdone the winless Indianapolis Colts who were coming close to being the second NFL team to go 0-16 in a season defeated the Tennessee Titans today. I was expecting that they had a great chance to tie the 2008 Detroit Lions for that seemed the impossible nightmare for any team.

The late Kim Jong Il above and son and new Dictator for Life Kim Jon Un below

To make things even weirder today North Korean Dictator for Life Kim Jong-Il died today, or actually tomorrow if you are in Korea. State media staid that he died on a train from a heart attack induced by “physical and mental fatigue.” I would guess that this was due to overwork at one of his notorious orgies with Scandinavian actresses but that is just speculation, maybe he was just trying to figure out his new Facebook profile page but I digress.  Of course I could be wrong and “Team America” got him. Kim will join his pals Moammar Ghadafi, Saddam Hussein and Ossama Bin Laden on their eternal vacation on the Lake of Fire. I hope that he brought his asbestos water skis. He will be replaced as Dictator for Life by his son and self appointed heir Kim Jong-Un who is know by some as the Un-Kim.  The younger Kim is in his mid to late 20s and must be a pretty sharp guy and military genius because his dad promoted him to the North Korean Equivalent of a Four Star General. Knowing this the South Korean government has placed its military on “Extra Special Chaos in North Korea alert.”  All kidding aside this is not a good situation. We have a young man insulated from any real reality now in charge of a rogue nation with a starving population, a big army and lots of nukes.  If it wasn’t reality it would make a great episode on South Park.

Finally the magic of Tim Tebow ran out today against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  It was a good battle but the Tebow and the Broncos turned the ball over in critical situations and the Patriots not only took advantage of every break but made their own. Yet it was a classy game. Two decent men quarterbacking NFL teams behaved with class during and after the game.  The Patriots with the Ravens losing are now in control of home field advantage in the AFC playoffs.  Raiders blew a 13 point lead in the 4th Quarter and lost to the Lions and thus the Broncos remained even with the Raiders for the AFC West lead as San Diego made up a game on both by knocking off the Ravens.

As far as Padre Steve, it was a day of travel followed by fellowship with friends at Gordon Biersch followed by doctors appointments for her tomorrow before making the trip back. Of course our little dog Molly is enjoying the long rides and trips through drive thru restaurants.  Tomorrow evening Molly will be sweetly telling me every time that she thinks that she needs to pee or take a walk down to the beach and back.  Life is good when you are a cute little dog.

Anyway, have a great final week of preparation for Christmas or whatever holiday that you celebrate or even those that you don’t.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Another Wild “Wild Card” Weekend

Marshon Lynch runs for a spectacular touchdown with Matt Hasselbeck following

Well what can we say; it was another wild “Wild Card” weekend that defied predictions and expectations.  As my regular readers know I am not a big football fan being it is not the one true religion of the Church of Baseball, however since it is mildly interesting I do occasionally watch it just so I can converse with those that are faithful followers of that heretical sect. Despite the fact that I don’t follow it religiously I do know a lot about the sport just as I would as a Priest study other denominations.

This weekend was a wild one with a shocker, an upset, a blowout and a hard fought battle decided by crappy field goal kicking.

The Shocker: Seahawks 41 Saints 36: I like chaos in footfall and tend to cheer for the underdogs just to see chaos happen.  I was not disappointed.  Yesterday as I continued to recuperate from the crud that has been kicking my ass I laid on the couch and watched the Seattle Seahawks beat down the heavily favored Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. I think that this was the big story of the weekend. The Seahawks who won the NFC West with a losing record were double digit underdogs at home to the reigning NFL Champs. Never before have I seen a team so disrespected and with good reason even get into the playoffs. However, I wanted them to win and was overjoyed with the hurt that they put on the Saints. The score was 41-36 but it did not seem that close despite heroic performance by Saints Quarterback Drew Brees.  The Seahawks were 10 point underdogs at home facing the defending Super Bowl Champions and they pulled the biggest post season upset that we have seen for some time. Final score Seahawks 41 Saints 36.  I love an upset.  The lowly Seahawks who have nothing to prove will travel to Chicago to play Da-Bears in the Divisional match up.

Nick Folk and the Jets celebrate after his game winning field goal against the Colts

The Upset: Jets 17 Colts 16: The Colts were favored but Rex Ryan and crew finally defeated his personal nemesis Payton Manning and his Indianapolis Colts in the closing seconds of Sunday’s game. The Colts have always dominated the Jets or had Manning steal the game in the closing minutes causing Ryan to remark that this game was “personal.” Once again it looked like Manning was following the same script and that Ryan and his Jets would go down to defeat but it was not so.  With the score 14-13 Jets Manning took the Colts into Field goal range to set up a 50 yard field goal by the future hall of fame kicker Adam Vinatieri to put the Colts up 16-14. With only 53 seconds left it was up to Mark Sanchez and crew to get the job done and Ryan trusted Sanchez and crew to get the team into position to win. Antonio Cromartie returned the kickoff 47 yards and Sanchez took the Jets to the Colt 18 in five plays to set up the winning field goal. The remarkable thing about the play to set up the field goal was that Ryan and his offensive coordinator listened to Wide Receiver Braylon Edwards for a pass play instead of a safe run which they favored. Sanchez connected with Edwards to set up Folk and win the game. It was a stunning blow to the Colts who expected to win at home.  Ryan who had talked about the game being personal was gracious in victory “We’ve been in some close ones this year, but to come out and pull this game out against a great football team, against a great quarterback, it was a Herculean effort…I mean really, I’m just thankful for the men I coach. Thankful for the two backs we got, that pounded it in there. Thankful for that coaching staff. Thankful for Nick Folk, and I’m thankful that I finally got to beat Peyton Manning.” The Jets now travel to Foxborough to play their Eastern Conference rival and nemesis the New England Patriots.

Joe Flacco led the Ravens to a 30-10 win over the Chiefs

The Blowout: Ravens 30 Chiefs 10: The Ravens went on the road as a wild card to face the AFC West Champion Kansas City Chiefs.  The Ravens were favored but the Chiefs did keep the game close through the first half but in the second half the Ravens’ defense strangled the Chiefs’ offense allowing only 25 yards in the final two quarters. The Ravens controlled the ball on offense for 41 minutes and 44 seconds with Joe Flacco throwing for 248 yards with 2 touchdown passes.  The Ravens’ defense held the Chiefs’ to just 8 first downs and forced 5 turnovers.  The Chiefs were simply overmatched, outgunned and outplayed.  The Ravens will now head to Pittsburgh to continue their rivalry in the AFC Divisional playoff.  For the Chiefs it was their 7th consecutive playoff lose dating to 1994.

The end of Michael Vick’s magical season

The Battle: Packers 21 Eagles 16: Michael Vick’s magical season came to an end on Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers. In a game marked by tough play the Packers led 21-10 with 8:50 left in the game and Vick engineered a 13 play 4 minute 48 second 75 yard drive to make the score 21-16. The Eagles failed on a two point attempt abut managed to get the ball back with 1:45 left in the game on their 34. Vick brought them back to get the ball down the field to the Packer 27 when with 33 seconds left he threw an interception in the end zone which ended the Eagles’ season.  Aaron Rodgers ran the Packer offense well and the Pack finally produced a running game.  Vick did not have a bad game throwing for 292 yards and a touchdown while running for 33 and a second touchdown. The game was decided by two missed field goals as Pro Bowl Philadelphia kicker David Akers missed from 41 and 34 yards.  The Packers move on to Atlanta to play the Falcons in the Georgia Dome where Atlanta has dominated this season.

Once again the Wild Card round did not disappoint and it will be interesting to see what surprises take place in the Divisional Playoff games this week.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Favorite Super Bowl: Super Bowl XXIII Joe Montana and the Drive

Note: Though this is an essay about a great Super Bowl tonight the Saints took home the Lombardi Trophy as they defeated the Colts 31-17.  I have included a post script at the end of this article about the Saints’ historic win.

As anyone who knows me well or reads this site knows I am not a football person. God speaks to me through baseball, and despite its popularity football to me is somewhat interesting but not in the same league as the one true religion, the Church of Baseball of which I am a member of my local parish, Harbor Park in Norfolk Virginia. Despite this disclaimer I will watch the game though not with the same level of attention to or interest as I will baseball.  Now does not mean that I am ignorant about the game for I have played it in High School and grew up in a family of fanatical Raiders and 49ers fans.  I am a 49er fan through thick and thin lately mainly thin but back in the day of Saint Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Bill Walsh they were the dominant team in football.  The had previously won two Super Bowls, Super Bowl XIX where they defeated Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins 38-16 and their first Super Bowl, Super Bowl XVI in which they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21.

Super Bowl XXIII played in Miami’s Joe Robbie Stadium on January 22nd 1989 featured a classic rematch between the 49ers and the Bengals. The Bengals coached by the freewheeling and ever colorful Sam Wyche and quarterbacked by Boomer Esiason had won the AFC with a 14-5 record.  Esiason was the NFL Most Valuable Player throwing for 3,572 yards and 28 touchdown passes with only 14 interceptions.  He had a league leading passer rating of  97.4.  He also rushed for 248 yards.  The Bengals had a top notch team with six Pro-bowlers including future Hall of Fame Offensive Tackle Anthony Munoz.  Finishing the season at 12-4 the Bengals went on to defeat Seattle and Buffalo to advance to the Super Bowl.

The 49ers coached by Bill Walsh had already won 2 Super Bowls.  This would be Walsh’s last game as the coach of the 49ers and a year that they went 13-6 including the win in the Super Bowl. The 49ers had started the season slow going 6-5 before Montana led them to wins in 4 of their next 5 games to end the season at 10-6.  They then defeated both Minnesota and Chicago in very lopsided games to advance to Miami to meet the Bengals.  Montana completed 238 passes for 2981 yards and 18 touchdowns. He would be aided by future Hall of Famers Jerry Rice, Roger Craig and Defensive Back Ronnie Lott.

The game was one of the closest Super Bowl in Super Bowl history and bucked a trend of blowouts that had marked many of the Super Bowls of the 1980s.  With the game tied 6-6 with under a minute left in the 3rd Quarter following a 49er’s field goal Cincinnati kick-off returner took the ensuing kick 93 yards for a touchdown and a 13-6 lead.  The 49ers then came back to tie the game with a 4 play 85 yard drive featuring a 31 yard pass to Rice, a 40 yard completion to Craig and finished with a 14 yard touchdown strike to Rice to tie the game 13-13.  After an exchange of possessions which included a missed 49 yard field goal attempt by the 49ers the Bengals took possession at their 32 yard line.  In a 46 yard 10 play drive the Bengals kicker Jim Breech hit a 40 yard Field Goal with 3:20 left in the game.

http://niners.fandome.com/video/109180/XXIII-Super-Bowl—The-Drive/

The 49ers were penalized on the ensuing kick-off for an illegal block in the back took possession at their own 8 yard line.  It was at this point that Montana, Rice and crew would launch a magical drive that would go down in the annals of NFL lore as simply “the Drive.” Like “the Catch” against the Dallas Cowboys that ended that 1970s dynasty it was a defining moment for the 49ers which would forever place Montana and Rice as well as an unlikely hero named John Taylor in the made Super Bowl history in a game that NFL.com in 2006 named as the number one of the top ten Super Bowls of all time.

Montana entered the huddle with much on his shoulders.  Apart from the scoring drive at the beginning of the quarter the Bengals defense had played the 49ers tough bending but not breaking.  With the crowd roaring Montana looked up from the huddle and pointing to the stands said to his offense “Hey isn’t that John Candy?” to calm his team. In the ensuing drive Montana befuddled the Bengals defense throwing inside routes to Craig, Rice and Tight End John Frank and mixing in solid rushes by Craig to reach the Bengals 35 yard line. Montana then threw an incompletion and the following play Center Randy Cross was flagged for an illegal man downfield penalty which put the 49ers with a second and twenty at the Bengal 45 with just 1:15 left.  Montana brought the 49ers back quickly hiting Rice for 27 yards before he was brought down at the Bengal 18. Montana then hit Craig for 8 years to the Bengal 10 with 39 seconds left. Montana capped the drive with a 10 yard strike to John Taylor in the end zone for the winning touchdown.

Rice who had 11 receptions for 215 yards and scored a touchdown was the Most Valuable Player. Montana passed for a Super Bowl Record 357 yards going 23 of 36 and two touchdowns. On the final drive “Joe Cool” went 8 for 9 for 97 yards.  It was an amazing performance. The following year Montana would lead the 49ers to their fourth Super Bowl victory in which the 49ers went 17 and 2 and destroyed the Denver Broncos by a score of 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV at the Louisiana Super Dome in New Orleans.

Drew Brees with Lombardi Trophy (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Post Script” Since I am ending this post with the 49ers victory in New Orleans tonight in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami where 21 years ago Joe Montana worked his magic.  In tonight’s game New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees led his team over the favored Indianapolis Colts by a score of 31-17.  Brees picked apart the Colt’s secondary and was ably assisted by a stingy defense that after allowing the Colts an early 10-0 lead dominated the Indianapolis offense.  The victory is especially sweet for the Saints and the city of New Orleans which until now had never won a major championship.  The Saints who for many years were the doormat of the NFL being so bad at times that they were knows as the “Aints” and their fans would wear paper bags over their heads at their home games.  With the devastation of the city in by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and suggestions that the team be moved to another city the Saints helped provide inspiration as the city recovered.  It is a great story and congratulations to the Saints.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A “Wild” Wild Card Weekend

Though I am not a member of the heretical Church of Football but rather a member of the one true Church, the Church of Baseball, I do pay attention to what happens in this aberrant sect.  This weekend was the “Wild Card Weekend” where the teams with the best records that did not win a division title faced off against each other and the division title winner in each conference with the worst of the divisional winners.

I do not have any dog in the fight except for whoever is playing the Cowboys.  I don’t consider me to be a “Cowboy hater” but I cannot be considered to be a Cowboy fan having suffered through Cowboy hubris living as a foreigner in the Republic of Texas, though serving as a sworn member and officer in that Land’s National Guard being a member of a unit with its heritage going back to the Texas Brigade of General John Bell Hood.

Rookie QB Mark Sanchez Leads the Jets over the Bengals (AP photo)

This weekend featured four games.  In the first game the New York Jets under coach Buddy Ryan defeated the Cincinnati 24-14 Bengals for the second straight week in Cincinnati after having shellacked the Bengals last week to secure a playoff berth.   This was not really a surprise to me because the Jets after an inauspicious start to the season where almost anyone with half a brain figured that they stood no chance of even having a winning season and that Ryan would be a former head coach by now turned things around and finished the season as one of the hottest teams in football.

Tony Romo and the Cowboys Broke their Playoff Drought against the Eagles (AP photo)

In the monstrosity known as Cowboy’s Stadium where the scoreboard is bigger than Eritrea the Cowboys clipped the Eagles wings for the second straight week.  In fact they made the Eagles who had entered the playoff never having lost an opening playoff game under Coach Andy Reid. The Cowboys won their first playoff game since 1996.  The Cowboys much like the Jets had been pronounced dead after losing to San Diego and heading into their traditional December depression. This time Tony Romo and Coach Wade Phillips led the Cowboys to a 34-14 win over the Eagles sending Donovan McNabb home to eat soup with mom.

Now neither of these games were a surprise to me after the previous week where both the Cowboys and the Jets had made the Bengals and Eagles look bad.  Now it is true that both the Bengals had nothing to gain in the final game of the season, but even so they were flat and the Eagles first lost the division last week and were booted from the playoffs Saturday.

Ray Rice had 159 Yards against the Patriots (AP Photo)

Today’s games were certainly entertaining, unless you are a Patriots fan.  In the first game today the Baltimore Ravens dominated the Patriots with a crushing rushing attack and devastating defense led by veteran linebacker Ray Lewis 33-14.  The Ravens made the Patriots who had one of their most uneven seasons of the past 10 years look bad.  Tom Brady, who was probably cursed by the Grand Master Pastor Reverend Marc of the Amazing Grace Baptist Church who had labeled Brady a sinner bound for hell on their website had a terrible day. He went 23 of 42 attempts for a mere 154 years with three interceptions. Baltimore Running Back Ray Rice rushed for more yards by himself than Brady passed for. So the Patriots pass into off season oblivion while Bill Belichick commented “All of us that participated in the game are accountable for our performance and I don’t think anybody felt very good about it, players, coaches, anybody.” The Patriots looked really bad like they did not even belong on the same field as the Ravens.

Kurt Warner and his Offense Celebrate against the Packers (AP Photo)

In the final game of the Wild Card Weekend we were treated to a truly “wild” game.  The Arizona Cardinals defeated the Green Bay Packers who had defeated the Cardinals in the last game of the regular season 33-7 by a score of 51-45 in overtime.  This was an offensive display seldom seen in the playoffs; the most points ever scored in an NFL playoff game and possibly was one of the most exciting playoff games ever played. Kurt Warner led the Cardinals attack and the game was decided in the first series of overtime when Cardinal Karlos Dansby returned a fumble by Green Bay Quarterback Aaron Rodgers 17 yards for a defensive touchdown. The teams combined for 1024 yards of offense and 96 points.   The Packers go home.

Next week the Cardinals will venture to the Bayous of Louisiana to play the Saints in the Superdome.  New Orleans is favored but I would not count out Warner and the Cardinals.  The Ravens stay on the road to venture into Indianapolis to play Peyton Manning and the Colts. The Colts are favored but have played very flat since resting their players in week 15 and giving up the chance at a perfect season while the Ravens have played like a team possessed.  Moving on to Sunday Dallas will venture to the northlands to play the Vikings in the nation’s loudest venue the Hubert H Humphrey Metrosexual Dome in what could be the last game of any kind played there unless the Vikings win and the Saints lose forcing Arizona to go north.  The Vikings stumbled into the playoffs while the Cowboys are hot.  The game could certainly go either way but I think that the Vikings home field advantage might with a strong offensive and defensive performance might be what the Vikings need to send the Cowboys home.  In the final game the Jets wing their way to the west coast to play the Chargers who have remained hot all year long.  While the Jets could pull an upset I will go with the Chargers to shoot down the Jets.

My picks for what they are worth.  I think that the Cardinals by 3 in a shootout in New Orleans and the Colts by 7 the over the Ravens despite a hope that the Ravens will pull the upset.  In the Sunday games I take Brett Farve and the Vikings over the Cowboys by 3 and the Chargers over the Jets by 7.

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Padre Steve’s Thoughts on the BCS and the NFL

The Crimson Tide “Rolled” over the Florida Gators to reach the BCS Championship

Well the long wait to see who will compete in the BCS Championship and it looks like we have the Alabama Crimson Tide up against the Texas Longhorns.  The Tide won their SEC championship in a walk over the overrated Florida Gators.  The Gators who have not been dominant this year and struggled in a good number of games despite being undefeated before yesterday didn’t look like they belonged on the same field as the Crimson Tide.  The Gators conference opponents excluding the championship game were a combined 44-40 and their division opponents were 30-30.  Exclude the three sacrificial lambs and this is not a dominant team.  The fact that as reigning National Champion they had Florida International University (FIU) of the Sunbelt Conference as their next to last game before the SEC Championship speaks volumes to me about the school as they ran up the score on the hapless FIU 63-3.  Schools from the PAC Ten, the Big 12 and even the Big 10 don’t put schools like that in their schedule that late in the season.  Sorry Florida has no class in picking three teams from either the Sunbelt or Big South on their Schedule.  They deserved to lose.

Boise State: The Team the Big Teams Won’t Play

Texas and Nebraska played one hell of a game, Nebraska came up big and I thought should have won the game.  I think that Texas has the better team but Nebraska played well enough to win. I have no dog in the fight between Texas and Alabama and I expect that it should be a great championship game. Alabama was definitely far more deserving of being in the BCS Championship Game than did Florida.

As far as the rest of the BCS games they are in a sense meaningless except to the teams involved because none can produce a National Champion.  I personally think that the NCAA needs a true playoff system the fact that so many people, the NCAA, the Polls and the Bowl sponsors and the schools themselves have so say due to the money involved that is unlikely that such would ever happen.  I think a 16 tourney would do wonders for the NCAA but what do I know.  As it stands now teams from the “middle” conferences will never get a true shot at an NCAA title despite having superior teams’ because the big conferences, big universities and their powerful backers in the media will never allow it to happen. That sucks for teams like Cincy, Boise State and TCU, all undefeated and regulated to playing in bowls that will not allow them to be considered for the national championship.  At least the NCAA Basketball tournament and the NCAA Baseball World Series give teams from other conference a fighting chance to compete.  Until then the current system promotes a fascist and undemocratic system where the true manta of “any given Saturday” will never be tested in a championship game.  Simply put the way the NCAA runs this show is pathetic.  Why not introduce a tournament? Simply put it is money and the vested interests of big conferences who due to financial remuneration will never allow their conferences to be really put to the test.  The big teams refuse to play teams like Boise State in the regular season because they could lose. Thus Florida plays Florida International, Charleston Southern and Troy rather than halfway competitive teams that might just beat them.  Florida played just 2 ranked teams the entire year and lost to one of them.  I did have cause for rejoicing this year as “Troy Tech” better known as the USC Trojans despite beating my Alma Mater UCLA finished 6th in the PAC 12.  They are such an arrogant school and I love to see them lose, unless they are playing Ohio State or another overrated Big 10 team in the Rose Bowl.  Hell I even root for Notre Dame against Troy Tech. Pete Carroll runs a dirty show and likes to run up the score when there is no cause to do so.  He has no honor and I hope that USC sinks to nothing. That may not happen anytime soon, but life isn’t fair and there is always hope.  I’m not a San Francisco Giants fan because I like what happens to my team.

The Immaculate Reception

Now time to skewer the NFL.  Most teams in the NFL would have to be terrible to even be good. I long for the days without replay.  Back in the old days there were plays that were historic because they were blown calls.  They helped build rivalries and actually motivate fans. My dad was a rabid Oakland Raiders fan back in the day. The Raiders of that time were no stranger to on the field controversy.  The “Immaculate Reception” of Franco Harris helped spur the Steelers to greatness.  At the same time it motivated the Raiders and the rivalry was historic.  The same is true with the “Immaculate Deception” of the Raiders against the Chargers.  Fans of other teams can probably recall similar instances in their team’s history.  Today I watched the Redskins lose to the Saints.  The Saints no doubt are the best or one of the best teams in football. However they got lucky today, a missed chip shot field goal and some creative timeouts that led to ungodly long replay delays doomed the Redskins.  I personally think that the NFL’s anal insistence on trying to get every call right hurts the game.  I think that replay reviews should be limited to 30 seconds and the reviewer only have access to full speed replays.  If they can’t figure it out then well humanity strikes again. The fact that there is an unlimited amount of time, extra views and the ability to go frame by frame if needed takes that away, it is artificial and unnatural. Vince Lombardi and the other greats would find it embarrassing. Once again I could have cared less who won the game because I don’t like either team.  I just think that the NFL is afraid of real controversy and has forgotten that life isn’t fair.  Human beings make mistakes and since referees are human they will make them too. It sucks if is your team that loses because of a blown call, but that is part of life.  It means that there is real motivation to go get the bastards next year.

See the video of the Immaculate Deception:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUuOqUIHBZc

Today in the NFL was cool because a bunch of the “bad” or underdog teams won.  In fact they beat the “good” read “overrated” teams.  I loved it that the Raiders beat the Steelers and that the Dolphins beat the Patriots and the “Fork stuck in them” Giants handed the Cowboys ass to them.  I love mayhem.  Since with the exception of the Colts, Saints and the Vikings who lost to a good and underrated Cardinals team, there really are no exceptional teams in the NFL.  At least in the NFL unlike the NCAA the “bad” teams get a crack at the “good” teams. Yes Cleveland will always be with us and Detroit too, but once in a great while they surprise someone.

However, all this said it is what it is. The big conferences, bowl sponsors and media will crown who they want as national champion and the NFL is hell bent on trying to make everything fair.  Yes there are some legitimately great players and some outstanding teams in college football and the NFL but the systems that they are part of are ruining the game.

Will people agree with me on this…maybe more than I think, but I know that if there are partisans of Troy Tech and Florida out there who read this post that I may get flame sprayed by them, however, I just say look at the facts.  Facts don’t lie.  Yes my teams all suck this year. Thankfully this is merely a game to fill time in the cold winter and not the one true religion of Baseball, the Church of Baseball of which I am a member in good standing at Harbor Park Parish.  Only 4 months and 2 days to opening day at Harbor Park.  Thanks be to God.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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