Emptywheel’s Famous Football Trash Talk Thread

Hello there sports fans and fanettes. You have probably been wondering what happens to the New England Patriots if Tom Brady is injured or out. The second string is a pretty severe step down; for those scoring at home, or even if you are alone (shameless rip off from Keith Olbermann), Brady’s backup is Matt Cassel, a perfectly fine chap, and by all accounts a good quarterback. But he is no Tom Brady.

Well, here at Emptywheel, we have the same phenomenon. My name is bmaz, and I am no Emptywheel. Most of you know me; and for those that don’t, well, please don’t be scared off. This will not be the only thread; there will be substantive thread as well, if, and as, called for. If you see breaking news that is important, or have something critical for discussion, please ante up. I have noticed in the past the absolutely incredible talent that frequents this site, and TNH before it, tends to dissipate when Marcy is away. The group I know and love, and that is all of you (crikey, even the house troll I suppose), is too good, and works too well together, for that to happen. I will do my best to at least be a marginally competent guest host, but its no good without all of you; so have at it.

With the pleasantries thus out of the way, lets get down to business. It is crunch time in the NFL:

Looks like the weather may be a bit dicey in the greater Beantown area. Are the the Pats going to need a work furlough crew of convict snow plow drivers; or is Belichek going to hang a 75 point runup on his ingrate student, Mangini?

Did you know there was a game tonight between the Bengals and 49ers on the NFL Network? Do you even get the NFL Network? For those answering yes to these two questions, hey Mr. and Mrs. Dilfer and hey Mr. and Mrs. Palmer.

Will Brett Favre make his 251st straight start against the Rams in St. Louis? Is this record more astounding than Cal Ripken’s streak of 2,632 games? My take – of course he will, and it just might be.

The best of the rest appears to me to be the Browns v. the Bills. These are both up and coming teams that are coming on at the right time of the year and look to be pretty solid for the future. It really was a brilliant move for the Bills to scoop up Willis MaGahee in the draft when everybody else was spooked by his collegiate injury. Where in the world did Derek Anderson come from for the Browns? (Hint: Beavers are involved). Did anybody know about this guy before this year?

Will Neil give us another of his pre-game pigskin prognostications that are literally so good they could be scripts for John Facenda of NFL Film lore?

What games are you interested in, who you got in them and what do you have to say? Don’t be shy, if you don’t know football, or don’t care about it, that is just fine; lob out anything you have and are interested in, whether it be other sporting events, getting punked on FISA (Is that like deja vu all over again, or what?) or, for that matter, nuclear physics (Hey, Schrodinger’s Cat made a recent appearance). The pub is open; step on in and trash the joint.

Update: BooRadley reminds that although the Bills did make a great draft selection in Willis MaGahee, but they shipped him out to the Ravens. The current Bills running back is Marshawn Lynch, drafted out of Cal, and who is also pretty darn good.

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  1. PJEvans says:

    I have to admit, I’m a die-hard Niner fan. (I remember Bill walsh’s first season. I also remember the season before that: I figured it couldn’t get much worse under Walsh than it had been that season (2-14 … *sigh*).)

    On the other hand, there’s lots of nice tight ends to look at on the TV (snickering). And I don’t have to assume the officials have been bought, even if the ref is a zebra.

  2. BooRadley says:

    Great post bmaz, thanks.

    LVSC (Las Vegas Sports Consultants) have the Pats a 24 point favorite. Most of the other bookies are at 21 points.

    Vegas also only has the Ravens a three-point favorite over the Dolphins in Miami. I think a lot of people may be very interested in this game, because iirc, no NFL team has ever gone undefeated in a season.

    I think you make a great point about Favre’s streak.

  3. BayStateLibrul says:

    Here are the stats, but I’m worried about an upset…
    All close games, and if Jimmy the Greek was breathing, he’d tell
    ya to be careful…

    The long-range weather forecast indicates that snow could be a factor Sunday. If that’s the case, the Patriots would have history on their side, as they are 9-0 all-time in snowy games in Foxborough:

    Dec. 4, 2005 — 16-3 win over the Jets
    Jan. 16, 2005 — 20-3 playoff win over the Colts
    Jan. 18, 2004 — 24-14 playoff win over the Colts
    Dec. 14, 2003 — 27-13 win over the Jaguars
    Dec. 7, 2003 — 12-0 win over the Dolphins
    Jan. 19, 2002 — 16-13 overtime playoff win over the Raiders
    Dec. 4, 1983 — 7-0 win over the Saints
    Dec. 12, 1982 — 3-0 win over the Dolphins
    Dec. 10, 1978 — 26-24 win over the Bills

  4. BooRadley says:

    I’m on a diet, so I want three diet cokes and two orders of Nachoes, extra cheese. Tell the guy up front to sit down, he’s blocking my view.
    OT, wordpress, or whatever FDL runs now, may have cut into your statement about Willis M. IIRC Bills traded him in March to the Ravens for third and seventh round draft choices.

    • bmaz says:

      Oh, no! You are right! Bills now have Marshawn Lynch; who is ripping it up too. They did make a really smart move on MaGahee though. See, I told you I could screw this up….

  5. bonjonno says:

    Hey bmaz. glad you got the sub gig.

    I’m a Pack fan. Favre seemed washed up years ago. What happened? I think he likes all the young blood on his team.

  6. BayStateLibrul says:

    bmaz, glad you were called in to do the play-by-play.
    Great post.
    Your’ve a fine lawyer, writer, and sportsman.

  7. BooRadley says:

    Fair warning, I know a lot of people who lost money gambling. I don’t know anyone who has won consistently.

    FWIW, Link to Vegas Insider, all the major bookies. It has the point spread and the over/under (gambling on the total number of points that will be scored).

  8. Neil says:

    Did someone say football trash talking? Boo-ya. Count me in!

    We’ve got the D3 national championship game on the ESPN teevee right now. Mt Union may stage a comeback to win it’s 10th D3 national championship in 13? years. They’re down 3 at the beginning of Q4. They’re playing Wisonconin-Whitewater.

    …be back momentarily to join in the fun.

    • phred says:

      Neil — The Warhawks (that’s UW-W, not Mt. Union) are in the championship?!? How’d it go — my brother graduated from there, he’ll be pleased as punch.

      • Neil says:

        …the Warhawks built a 17-0 lead and held on to win 31-21.

        The Warhawks took it to them and didn’t let up. Mt Union got within 3 in the 4th quarter. Story on D3football.

        Congratulations Cheeseheads, grads, and Phred. (Phred, think your brother was watching?)

        • phred says:

          Thanks for the update Neil — I’ve been in and out all day, so I missed the game. I have no idea if my brother was watching, I’ll have to ask him… Go Warhawks! Good for them : )

  9. Neil says:

    Will Neil give us another of his pre-game pigskin prognostications that are literally so good they could be scripts for John Facenda of NFL Film lore?

    Absolutely I’ll contribute, I appreciate the compliment and I hope to live up to the billing.

  10. wavpeac says:

    Bmaz,

    There is no football at my house tonight. We are having a big fire in the fire place after a nice snow fall this morning. However…we did just finish a dinner of hot wings…sans the wings…hot breasts…(but that didn’t sound right. My husband hates the wings, but loves the sauce : )Anyway…complete with bleu cheese and celery sticks.

    I wanted to support you in your football thread…but all I can contribute is a football dinner. It was pretty good…if you like hot…breast nuggets…fried. (not my favorite meal) But I didn’t have to cook!!

    Now to snuggle in front of the fire…and watch movies with my kids. Have a great evening and great post…sort of…for a post about football. I look forward to more posts ahead…and was thrilled to see that you would be filling in.

  11. BooRadley says:

    Heard a rumor that the skunkbears Michigan is going after Lane Kiffen, currently coaching Al Davis’ Oakland Raiders.

  12. prostratedragon says:

    Football fan here, though the Bears are one Chicago thing I’m a specific fan of, being from there and all. Too bad about this year, eh? You’d think maybe management would see at last the error of their “X is just one guy, we can still succeed without him” personnel style, what with the whole offense going the way of the buffalo —or is that maybe the way of the hibernating bear— after Thomas Jones was let go. But I doubt it. And of course, Jones doesn’t play defense.

    Did you know there was a game tonight between the Bengals and 49ers on the NFL Network?

    Oh, NFL Network. I was wondering when those Saturday games in Dec. that I used to enjoy were going to start.

  13. randiego says:

    hey – where’s all the trash talking??

    My own San Diego Chargers are playing Marcy’s Detroit Tigers tomorrow! I’m looking for Philip Rivers to throw a complete game, but he needs to watch out for Magglio Ordonez!

    • bmaz says:

      You Bolts are in for a world of hurt; the Lions have “Ten Win” Kitna. Rivers is crying, Tomlinson is moping and sulking; but buck up, you do have Norv Turner…..

      • randiego says:

        Nice, now that what’s I’m talking about!! Some trash talking!

        clbrune – I know what you’re talking about. The Chargers are tough to watch and feature a few wins that should have been losses. Nobody talks more trash about our coaching staff than me. I fully expect to lose in the first round of the playoffs.

  14. JimWhite says:

    I’m not much of a fan of the pro game, but love college ball. It’s been great around here lately, with the National Championship last year and now the Heisman, but maybe they are going just a bit far in Tebow-mania:
    http://www.gainesvillesun.com/…..14029/1033

  15. prostratedragon says:

    hey – where’s all the trash talking??

    Well, it’s December, when nights are long and much truth has been revealed. And the faithful here seem to have some unfortunate preferences …

    You’d think we could get someone for the ‘Boys to mix it up with the Packer fans up there. [MTS, you out there?]

    According to some radio jawers, Foxboro should have sleet/rain and very high wind gusts at game time, but probably no snow.

  16. prostratedragon says:

    bmaz, I noticed on an earlier thread that you denied “Buford” without even needing to be asked. I happen to have relatives at some remove or other who have that as a family name. They also have the custom of first-naming boys with the distaff surnames.

    No further comment necessary, just noticing that, of all the handles one would not want to be stuck with, that one came up.

  17. bmaz says:

    Buford was the worst name I could come with starting with B off of the top of my head (not much room on the top of the head, what with the point and all…); but, thankfully, it is not connected to me in any way.

  18. dipper says:

    Do you even get the NFL Network? For those answering yes to these two questions, hey Mr. and Mrs. Dilfer and hey Mr. and Mrs. Palmer.

    You are one funny guy, bmaz, and I love to read your comments, even when you are serious. Good job!

  19. Loo Hoo. says:

    bmaz!!! I’m not much of a sports fan, but I’m a fan of yours in the comment threads here at EW’s shop.

    Congratulations on your frontpageyness!

  20. clbrune says:

    I don’t do trash talking–I’m a Seahawks fan, and I spend all my time trash talking my team Aside from a few exceptions, this team is perennially within one game of 0.500 (plus or minus). In fact, their division championships are commonly at 9-7.

    I love when they win, but they make it hard to have high expectations (…you know…like having hope that Democrats will do stuff like “stand on principle”, “stand up to a 30% favorable president,” “Take a stand for the constitution.”)

    As a Seattle fan, I root for the ‘Hawks like I hope for Democratic leadership: I’m pleasantly surprised when they come through–even when they SHOULD come through!

    • bmaz says:

      “In fact, their division championships are commonly at 9-7.”

      This is hilarious to to football fans here in the home of the Cardinals. The Cardinals have had exactly one 9-7 season since they came to Arizona 20 years ago; it was the only time they have been above .500 during that period.

  21. KenMuldrew says:

    Football in December is crazy enough, but when people are talking about 10 inch snowfalls and football in the same breath??? That’s nuts!! The natural order of the world allows hockey and curling to take over at this time of year. So stop trying to pretend that you live in the tropics.

    While Emptywheel is undoubtedly the Portia of our chambers, Bmaz gives us the personnas portrayed by Leo McKern and John Houseman rolled up into one. Congratulations on making the front page. Now raise some hell while you’re there, and forget about sports that take place on grass for cryin’ out loud…

  22. ProfessorFoland says:

    The weather here in Boston is going to be disastrous tomorrow. Here’s the Foxborough forecast:

    A wintry mix of precipitation in the morning will transition to rain and freezing rain mixed in the afternoon. Temps nearly steady in the mid 30s. Winds ENE at 20 to 30 mph. 1 to 2 inches of snow expected.

    Though the local TV news tonight was showing 40-60 MPH winds…

    So if it were me I’d give the points and take the under. It’s easy to see a 17-0 game, but the much-hyped 60-minutes-of-hell 77-0 thrashing seems unlikely.

    I was also going to link three football sites that I think the sorts of folks who hang out in the EW football thread might like:

    1. footballoutsiders.com : these guys take every play and compare the outcome to the spectrum of outcomes of NFL plays in similar situations (down and distance) to form a team performance average. For binomial-statistics-oriented reasons, this is a much smarter thing to do than looking at the score.

    2. footballcommentary.com : William Krasker has written a dynamic programming model which he uses to evaluate controversial gametime decisions. He rarely does them anymore, but reading back through the archives is really fascinating, and he has a number of articles summarizing results. “Controversial” decisions tend to be ones that change the likelihood of the outcome by 1-5%. I don’t think I ever saw one above ten percent, which indicates that in a lot of ways, football is a highly-tuned sport.

    3. Random Walker Rankings: Professor Peter Mucha of UNC put together a ranking model of college football that consists of two elements: coin-flipping (virtual) monkeys, and a single tunable parameter. The parameter controls the relative weight of strength-of-schedule and W-L record. Once chosen, network graph theory gives an elegant method of organizing the random monkey choices into a ranking system. One of the computer guys (probably Massey, but I can’t recall for sure) was once asked, “How many computer polls should be included in the BCS rankings?” His answer, correct in my view was, “One. We should decide what we want the rankings to reflect, and have one system that reflects that.” (Of course, one problem is that people generally want the rankings to do too many things, which is also a problem with voting systems.) This system is very elegantly simple with essentially no assumptions, and if I had to pick only one, it would probably be this one.

    Maybe next week I’ll dig out the Leavitt bookies-take-positions economics paper

  23. BooRadley says:

    If you’re going to bring up curling, Alyssa Milano weighs in on the Mitchell report. No, I’m not kidding.

    FWIW, I think Seattle is just a salary cap casualty. Walter Jones and Sean Alexander are sliding, understandably because of age.

    What Belichick and Pioli have done in NE is extraordinary. I think they’ll be good next year too, but if they don’t hit on their San Fran 1st round draft choice (and even if they do), it’s unlikely they can maintain. IMO the Colvin injury was devastating. How much longer can Vrabel play at such a high level? There aren’t many 32 year old linebackers around. NE has been continually drafting at the back of each round. Over time that takes a terrible toll on any roster.

    • bmaz says:

      Went to read the Alyssa Milano link; ended up viewing it instead (very nice fashion slideshow there). Must go back to actually read her view about the Mitchell Report. Kinda forgot that part….

  24. BooRadley says:

    Prof Foland, excellent links, thanks.

    If I was reading Vegas Insider accurately, the strong betting trend is that the Pats won’t cover.

    • ProfessorFoland says:

      If I was reading Vegas Insider accurately, the strong betting trend is that the Pats won’t cover.

      Thanks, I didn’t know this site! The “Betting Trend” is pure gold if you actually want to place money (you can see what position the bookies have taken.) They must hate games like Pats-Jets, the line’s been all over and they know someone is sitting there gunning for the middle. Tampa-Atlanta (e.g.) is a more normal situation, the betting has consistently been on one side of the line.

      For entertainment purposes only, I’ll point out that you can still get -14.5 for the Pats at half.

      (And above naturally I meant take the points–I’m sure missing the edit! Clear from context I hope.)

      I think there’s a fair chance that the Pats defense will outscore the Jets offense; and a much-better-than-even chance of at least a draw on that count. (The trash talk version of this is: the Pats defense has scored more touchdowns than the Jets’ #1 and #3 receivers combined.)

  25. Peterr says:

    Will Brett Favre make his 251st straight start against the Rams in St. Louis? Is this record more astounding than Cal Ripken’s streak of 2,632 games? My take – of course he will, and it just might be.

    Cal was great, but he didn’t have several 300 pound opponents lusting after him every time he stepped onto the field.

  26. radiofreewill says:

    bmaz – I’m a fan of your commentary, and have learned a lot of Real Law 101 from you over the year, too! Thanks for that, and congrats on making the front page – well deserved!

    Should be a great home stretch for Football Season and a fine time for Law Talk, too!

    Principles will win in America, if Principled Americans stand up and lead the way.

    I’m with bmaz!

  27. BayStateLibrul says:

    Shit, is this a bad omen?
    I dreamt of Dick Cheney last night…
    Prediction: the team wearing the best cleats will win at Foxborough…

    Can the Jets “bump and bang” Moss?

    Btw, just lit a match to my Globule (after reading the Sports Page)

    They have endorsed McCain and Obama…

    My line up is Edwards, Dennis K and Dodd.

  28. nomolos says:

    A little poor weather and EW backs out of the game… whats that all about! Thank goodness bmaz can come in and drive FDL to the goal line.

    I am sick today so will not be at the game some poor sods are in my seats getting cold wet and miserable meanwhile I have to sit in front of the wood stove while watching the game. Tis a tough life.

    Pats should win today though I think it will be a “two yards and a pile of sleet” kinda game. Pats 13 jets 3

    • Neil says:

      “two yards and a pile of sleet” kinda game. Pats 13 jets 3

      Sorry to hear you’re sick. Chest cold, sore throat, a little fever? I had it the weekend after Thanksgiving. I also had by brother’s kids and I was sick as a dog. Fever and 6 hours of sleep on mom’s couch, ugh. I made my way back to Boston that Monday and convalesced for a week. That weekend my lungs started to fill with a wee bit of fluid… called the doctor Monday. Say her Wednesday, by then her cough was worse than mine! I’m better now. You too!

  29. pdaly says:

    Hey, bmaz,

    Good to see you running things in EW’s absence.

    Last night I discovered that I get Comedy Central with my basic cable package (or maybe I’ve been paying all these months for something more than basic?). Found this animated polical cartoon show “L’il Bush.” (My apologies to all of you if this is old news.) The currnet Bush administration are portrayed as kids run amok in the world trying to impress the current WH President (Bush’s father). Cheney is protrayed as a kid with pervasive development disorder–he is mostly nonverbal and runs off on his own to create havoc. The pacemaker scar is a nice touch.

    I will have to check whether the football game will show up on my TV. It’s starting to hale in the Boston area. Glad I don’t have tickets today.

    • Neil says:

      Found this animated polical cartoon show “L’il Bush.” (My apologies to all of you if this is old news.)

      I watched it for the first time last night too. Lil’ Cheney got stuck inside Barbara Bush’s abdomen after having sex with her. Poppy takes her to an abortion clinic. They get Cheney out with forceps but he wont let go of Babs lower intestines. It’s too funny.

  30. 4jkb4ia says:

    Bret Favre showing up will be the only remarkable thing about the game. I expect to have the TV turned off by 2:00.

    Thank you, good and kind people, for saving John Cole from any more non-Steelers-related comments.

  31. BooRadley says:

    FWIW, Brady is having as good a year as ANY NFL QB has EVER had. His guards are pretty good, his left tackle is ok, his right tackle is below average. Maroney, his rb, has only scored two TD’s.

    FWIW, Brady, because of his impeccable mechanics, throws a “heavy ball.” That means his throws have more rotations than other qb’s and it’s that “rifling” which allows them to cut through the winds. It’s a lot tougher for receivers, however, to catch those balls in the cold and the wind. I’ll especially be watching how Moss does in these condtions.

  32. emptywheel says:

    I’m still here folks!!

    The snow is labrador-chest deep, but the roads in Philly, where I was headed, are covered with ice, and there’s blizzard in between.

    So I’m just going to curl up for a day and watch some football….

    • Neil says:

      So I’m just going to curl up for a day and watch some football….

      Hurray! Glad to hear it. It would be insane to drive in this slop.

      I just got in from shoveling for 90 mniutes. We got 6″ of light powder, which turned to sleet arounf 9AM. It’s pretty much rain now. The winds aren’t as heavy as predicted… maybe that comes later.

  33. Rayne says:

    I wondered if you were leaving, EW. 25-35 mph winds and 14 inches of blowing snow would have required a very BIG Honda.

    Wonder if my stepson’s going to make it out of MI today? he’s got a flight originating in GRR, connecting in DTW, heading to a nordic destination — it’s not looking good from my window. I can’t see more than a half mile right now.

  34. emptywheel says:

    Gotta say, now that I’ve resigned to watching football at home rather than listening on teh road, I think the game of the day is the Jags Steelers game. Of course none of us will get to see it bc we’ll be watching the Pats Jets game.

  35. bmaz says:

    Uh oh. The Headmistress is now challenging my pick for “best of the rest” game. See, already I have created issues. Actually you may be right EW. I thought about that one, but I kind of thought the Steelers will win easier than they are being given credit for. Of course, the heat of the desert may be getting to me. How many inches of snow you guys got up there, and does that include the ice and sleet?

  36. Quzi says:

    bmaz…

    I like the trash talking. Not so much a fan of football these days — too buzy chasing a 4-year-old and working too many hours at my IT job.

    I’ve always come to EW and the crew here for the unfettered truth. Hope to check in more often. And I’m looking forward to reading your threads, bmaz! You always make me think and laugh — great combo.

  37. BayStateLibrul says:

    Just back from shoveling. Beer thirsty? I have to wait at least
    to 1PM…
    Latest from Foxboro/Foxborough/or the old Schaeffer Stadium

    “TE Benjamin Watson just went through the paces, testing his injured left ankle in front of the team’s medical/training staff. It appears he is a game-time decision today.

    As workers removed part of the tarp on the field, they left just enough space for Watson to cut back and forth, and work on exploding out of a three-point stance. Watson was wearing gray sweatpants and a gray sweatshirt, with a hood covering his head as rain/sleet continues to fall.

    Now it’s just a matter of seeing if he felt good enough to play today.”

  38. emptywheel says:

    bmaz

    Oh, I think they’re both going to be interesting. And FWIW, both will be affected more by weather than the Pats game, if my road watch is any indication. It’s STILL snowing in Cleveland (don’t know when it started), so there may be quite a bit of snow for that game. And as for Pittsburgh (which must be paying its grounds crews triple wages by now), it was supposed to be raining then freezing than snowing.

    Fun stuff.

  39. BooRadley says:

    Tom Brady compared to Brett Favre by a great football reporter

    “St. Louis – Dick LeBeau stood almost mute late last Sunday afternoon, a blank expression played out on his hawk-like features.

    No coach in the National Football League has ever given less quarter or been more competitive than LeBeau, but on that bleak day in Foxboro, Mass., the 70-year-old defensive mastermind had more than met his match and he knew it.

    New England’s 34-13 destruction of the Pittsburgh Steelers was in no way an atypical performance by quarterback Tom Brady. But watching Brady tear apart LeBeau’s No. 1-ranked defense clinched beyond the shadow of any doubt why he deserves to win the most the valuable player award, the offensive player of the year award and any other award out there for being the pre-eminent pro football player in 2007.
    [edited for fair use]

    Today at Edward Jones Dome, one of the other two legitimate awards candidates will be in action. That would be the Packers’ Brett Favre, who is having one of his greatest seasons. Young Tony Romo of Dallas also deserves to be in the conversation.
    Favre has been spectacular

    Favre has managed his game probably better than ever before. Other than a Thursday night in Dallas, Favre’s diligence in executing coach Mike McCarthy’s wishes and game plans has been reminiscent of the way Peyton Manning and Brady have been playing for years.

    Even to be mentioned in the same breath as Manning and Brady in terms of game management is a tribute to Favre. It’s quite clear that he has taken note of how the younger stars play and has tried to incorporate some of their discipline and control into his own game.

    The results have been spectacular, to say the least.

    Favre is completing 67.3% of his passes, a career best. His passer rating of 98.7 is within range of his record 99.5 from 1995. And he has driven the NFL’s youngest team, one coming off an 8-8 season, and moved it within three victories of a 14-2 regular season, which would be the best in club history.

    Now Favre will receive support for MVP and offensive player of the year. Some of those writers voting for Favre will cite his overriding role in what they regard as the Packers’ almost completely unexpected success in comparison to Brady, whose Patriots were picked by many to win the Super Bowl after major off-season acquisitions.

    [edited for fair use]

    In a magnanimous gesture late last month, Favre all but conceded the MVP race to Brady.

    “I think I’m playing well, my game totally, but Tom, it’s just unbelievable,” said Favre. “I think his play now, regardless of who he’s throwing to, is as good as anybody who’s ever played the game.”

    [edited for fair use]

    By Belichick’s estimate, LeBeau blitzed on 90% of passes last week. Nobody has a larger volume of blitzes and a more creative, time-tested blitz package than LeBeau, who brought the 3-4 defense to Pittsburgh in 1992 that remains intact today.

    Granted, the Patriots’ offensive line, expertly tutored by Dante Scarnecchia, was like a stone wall in the second half. But it was Brady, more than the blocking, who foiled the Steelers’ vast array of five-man blitzes by reading, reacting and continually finding the open man.

    “Coach LeBeau called one of the better games he ever called,” John Mitchell, the Steelers’ defensive line coach since 1994, said Thursday night. “We were all over (Brady) and he made some great throws. You let him stay back there and set his feet, he will pick you apart. We’ve played him six games now and he’s gotten better every time.”

    Brady’s 70% completion mark, his four touchdown passes and 125.2 rating all looked so ridiculously easy against a great but suddenly emasculated defense.

    Then you remember what happened at Lambeau Field in November 2005, the last time LeBeau competed against Favre, and you realize anew that it’s almost impossible to look this automatic against a “Blitzburg” defense. On that day, LeBeau coaxed Favre into just enough bad passes and reads so a team quarterbacked by Charlie Batch still could win, 20-10.

    [edited for fair use]

    Send e-mail to [email protected]sentinel.com

    • emptywheel says:

      Boo

      I edited it. I can also just delete the whole thing and you can try again.

      I was partial to the LeBeau stuff–I really though LeBeau would beat Brady.

  40. BooRadley says:

    Oooops.

    I was trying to post excerpts of the above Brady/Favre article, so I wouldn’t violate copyright. It’s from the pay site at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and I accidentally hit submit.

  41. FloraLegium says:

    Just registering my support for Bmaz’s “frontpageyness.” Thought of you when I was in Tempe for a Legal History conference — all those Sun Devil fans clogging the streets, the canons going off for each TD, and the relentless, annoying electric guitar busker outside the Mission Palms hotel — can ya do something about that guy? Otherwise, it was an Education. Though I’m an inveterate East Coast sports fan, I’ll be rooting for your Sun Devils in the Holiday Bowl.

    • bmaz says:

      Hey Flora, glad you enjoyed your stay! Other than the annoying stray musician, it is a pretty cool scene down in old town Tempe for the ASU games eh? Sounds like you didn’t get to see inside of Sun Devil Stadium; that is a shame, it is a beautiful field. What conference were you at and where? At the Mission Palms?

      • FloraLegium says:

        It was the American Society of Legal Historians conference, at the lovely Mission Palms hotel. Though I spent a good deal of time in the ASU library trying to finish a paper for another gig. Still — I was awed by the scale of the place. And, of course, impressed by the football, including the evident devotion to Pat Tillman. Couldn’t help but wonder if that had a potentially progressive edge. . . .

        • bmaz says:

          Sounds like a cool conference. All sides of the spectrum here had a thing for Pat; he was a great guy and an over achiever that made very good both as a collegiate player at ASU and as a pro with the Cardinals. I used to live by the Cards training facility in South Tempe and used to ride my bicycle over to the nearby deli for lunch. Tillman was famous for riding his bike everywhere, and he would wheel into the same deli regularly. We sat and ate lunch together 3 or 4 times; he was remarkably bright and thoughtful, and a very complex thinker. A tragic loss.

  42. Neil says:

    Who here gets the Jags – Steelers game on the teevee and can keep us informed? I’m working on my Jets-Pats comment, ready soon…

  43. Neil says:

    If the national weather service named nor’easters the same way they names hurricanes, the weather at The Razor today would have its own name, and although NOAH doesn’t name nor’easters, it will be a factor in today’s game.

    From kickoff until about 3pm, there is an 80-100% chance of freezing rain, 32F temperatures and 23mph winds. After 3 it lets up… well barely, with a 60% chance of rain, steady winds over 20 mph and 33F temps. So what’s the bottom line on the foul weather at The Razor? Cold and snow is weather the Pats know how to play in but COLD RAIN and WIND is something else altogether.

    The Pats quick strike long ball may be grounded. You remember the long pass problems against Baltimore? Yes, now add freezing rain. The long ball over the top to Moss has been a big advantage in games the Pats dominated and games they needed a comeback to win. Today, it may not be available.

    The short passing game is a stand in for the Patriots ground game. Last week at the end of the game, the Pats drove the length of the field, starting on their own 1-yard line, completing 13 passes 9 in a row, many of which went to Wes Welker. We’ll know early in the game if that offensive package, the short passing game, is available or if it’s grounded too. I think it’ll be available and I think we’ll see a lot of it.

    During the season, Belicick tapes a ten-minute bit on a one-hour weekly Patriots talk show hosted by Mike Lynch on WCVB Ch5. Bill (age 52) had an interesting comment this week to the effect that on Monday and Tuesday, when the coaches determine the game plan, they don’t always know what the weather will be on Sunday. If this was a sincere comment and the Pats coaches game planned for cold and dry, they may be going with plan B today, which may not be the offense and defensive package the coaches thought would be the most effective taking away the Jet’s strengths an attacking their weaknesses. Then again Belichick rarely gives anything away so it may be a little misdirection. The “Feeling Is, http://www.boston.com/sports/f….._this_one/ “>Belicick really wants this one.

    The Pats need a short passing game because they have not run successfully for four quarters with the under-performing Maroney and versatile nine-year veteran Kevin Faulk. Look for Brady to pass to big targets and small ones, short and over the middle. Look for them to test their running game with a few new wrinkles. If it works, they’ll lean on it. In heavy weather, power running (leading with pulling guards and tackles) mixed with misdirection (counters and traps) can enable an offense to run and get first downs. What’s interesting here is that that the power running game is hard to do out of the shotgun with one back.

    The 3-10 Jets want nothing more that to knock off the undefeated conference archrival Patriots. The Jets are not as bad as their record. In fact, the Jets BEAT THE STEELERS four weeks ago.

    The Jets have shifty and explosive backs in Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. If the Jets line can continue to open holes, these guys will find them. WRs Laveranues Coles (ankle) and Jerricho Cotchery (finger) will gut it out again. The Jets run a wide open offense and they love gadget plays. They’ll snap the ball to running back Washington in the shotgun with Pennington in the slot and run it to Pennington’s side: It’s the old single wing! We’ve seen lesser offenses run on the Patriots’ defense. Look for the Jets to gain a lot on the ground but the Pats defense to stiffen near the goal line… again.

    We see from the article Bmaz posted above that Brady has carried the Pats on more than one occasion this year:

    Brady is approaching perfection on a near-weekly basis. The Patriots have holes. Brady, who basically has none, is carrying his team. And it’s fascinating to watch it unfold.
    [snip]
    From this perspective, Brady has made Randy Moss the success that he has been in New England, not vice versa. Moss still drops too many passes (seven of 123, according to STATS LLC), he still rounds off routes and he still one-arms balls inside.

    Brady had to adjust to Moss, an inherently undisciplined player thrust into a highly disciplined operation. The fact that Brady did adjust and was able to take advantage of Moss’ unparalleled deep skills is a credit to him.

    Could this be the perfect storm? A Jets ground game that scores 28 Air Brady grounded? No, I don’t think so. I pick the Pats by 16.

  44. freepatriot says:

    1866 times is a charm

    the Tampa Bat Buccaneers just had the FIRST kick-off return for a touchdown

    only took 31 seasons

    now I’m beginning to believe that New England and Miami can complete their own versions of “The Perfect Season”

    • emptywheel says:

      Wow. That is news.

      Report from the Steelers Jags game: Polamalu is back, and has had two great D plays to end drives already (and one overpursuit to leave a big hole). The field is full of divots, but not like the Cleveland game which looks like the real snowbowl today.

  45. freepatriot says:

    out of respect for the cheeseheads in attendance here, I’ll refrain from mentioning how bad the Cowboys beat the packers

    all I have to say is that rematch between the Pats and the Cowbowys in the Superbowl is gonna be awesome

    too bad you cheeseheads will be watching basketball by then

    what, it’s a TRASH TALKING thread, I’m supposed to be pissing people off …

  46. bmaz says:

    By the way EW, you are not alone. Thanks to the fact that the hapless freaking Cardinals are playing in New Orleans, that game is on here and no others are allowed to be on against it. Is there anybody out there that wants an NFL team in their city? I would sure like to give you the Cardinals…..

    • FloraLegium says:

      My favorite bumper sticker from the early ’90s, seen in Atlanta: “Go Braves. And Take the Falcons with You.” Surely that could be altered to fit local circumstances. . . .

    • PJEvans says:

      There are politicians in LA who would take you up on that offer. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to convince the rest of us that we should pay for the fancy stadium and the parking structure that the NFL thinks are necessary (and wants all the revenue from).

      As one of my friends says, no team means no blackouts! (At which point, the person arguing for the pro team goes, ‘Yeah, you have a point there’ and makes a fast escape.)

  47. Neil says:

    Pats Punter Hansen made a bad play.

    After mishandling the snap, he bobbled the ball again, and then decided he’d try to kick it (left-footed) into the oncoming rusher (instead of side-stepping the rusher first.) The Jets rusher just grabbed the ball and trotted into the endzone. 10-7 Pats. BIG break for the JETS. They may even start to play like they could win.

  48. freepatriot says:

    how about a little “Hot Stove League” discussions ???

    anybody notice that the Oakland A’s fulfilled their destiny by trading away another star Pitcher ???

    so Dan Haren joins this ignominious list

    Dan Haren, Mulder, Zito, Giambi, Tejada, McGuire, Conseco, Henderson, Fingers, Odom, Hunter, Bando, and REGGIE FUCKING JACKSON

    and a lot more (just in my lifetime)

    welcome to Oakland, home of the only Major League “Farm Team” in the world

    • freepatriot says:

      on that list above, I forgot Huddy

      Hudson Mulder and Zito

      anybody ever rooted for a team that had a starting pitching lineup like that ???

      no ???

      then you didn’t have to watch as they were traded away either

      oh well

      I wonder how these six new kids are gonna do

      maybe a few of em will be good enough to trade away …

      Doh !!!

      • bmaz says:

        Not quite as good, but Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Miguel Batista was not bad. Watch out for the Boston rotation next year….

  49. bmaz says:

    Freep – As a Diamondbacks hometown fan, thanks for Dan Haren; if he could consistently keep his era around 3 in the American League(which he did), he ought to do just fine in the National League. Kind of excited about that.

    PJ – A few years back, when the Cards were griping about having to play in Sun Devil stadium (a beautiful stadium, they just didn’t like not controlling the revenue) and were trying to force a new stadium, we actually thought they might move to LA. A lot of us old time native types were not all that broken up at the prospect of them leaving, mostly because of, as you noted about LA, the impact on TV viewing.

  50. bmaz says:

    Polamalu is a stud. Don’t know about Rodriquez’s graduation rate etc., but he seems like a really decent chap and clearly can coach and recruit with the best of them if you consider what he has accomplished in West Virginia of all places. something about Les Miles rubs me the wrong way.

  51. phred says:

    Hey Kids — what have I missed??? Sorry for being late to your debut party bmaz. Don’t know if you have heard, but we’re having a bit of weather out this way, so I had a 3 hour date with our snowblower and a shovel. But, Brett just threw a spectacular TD pass and I’m ready to trashtalk ; ) Go Pack! Ok, off to peruse the thread and catch up…

  52. emptywheel says:

    It also looks like I made the right decision on the drive. Watching the AFC today make it clear I would have been driving under the tail end of this snowstorm all the way to Philly, where their ice storm would have taken over. It jsut started snowing seriously in Pittsburgh.

  53. 4jkb4ia says:

    I thought Rodriguez denied it!

    (I will enjoy WVU’s discomfiture, although Pitt will not win a single additional game)

    • phred says:

      Hi Boo — nice to be here. I really really mean that — much nicer here in the comfy chair watching the Pack and gossiping with friends than toting shovels full of wet heavy snow.

      Good catch bmaz. Mr. phred is under the weather, poor guy, so he got off shoveling duty both on Friday and today. I’m telling you he owes me big ; ) Although, a little less big after the very nice lunch he fixed for me. Normally, it takes the two of us a little over an hour to get things cleared, on my own, I’m a lot slower. Anyway, you’ll be pleased to know I was thinking of you in toasty AZ, probably with a garage with no snowblower or shovel — no idea what that would be like ; )

  54. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Oh, help!! What was EW thinking of?!!

    Bmaz at the tiller??!
    ;-)))

    Gave up on football after the refs were so appalling in that Superbowl where they screwed the Seahawks with sh*tty calls. I suspect those refs are now moving the telco immunity through the US Senate — on behalf of Cheney and all the drug cartels and offshore money launderers who want ZERO transparency. (Jeezus, one almost wonders if the same genius minds behind Enron and BCCI have their fingers in this FISA bill…?)

    Leave it to Congress to cover illegal spying by the telcos, and then neglect to fund FBI anti-fraud investigators.
    Bu$hCo, Tax Evaders, and sleazoids = 47,000,000
    Citizens = -1,244,008

    Reading the Sun NYT; pleased to note that the FISA article by Lichtblau, Risen, and Shane actually explains some ‘basic technical background’ for the issue. At least their readers will have a basic sense FISA is related to the shift to digital; that’s progress.

    Expect to get punked on FISA.
    Evidently, not enough Congresscritters or their staff read that Sun Research document that pow wow linked to a few weeks back over at TNH. Judging from today’s new, the Senate is missing the fundamentals on the security issues raised in that Sun document.

    Prediction: the Senate will throw a FISA Hail Mary to Bushie, ignorant of the financial, business, or personal implications. Telcos will cheer themselves silly in the prime seats along the 50 yard line.
    Oh gawd... I can’t stand to watch 8(((

    Y’all get back to the chips and beer and hope you are cozy, wherever you are!

    Bmaz… Will you now become insufferable?
    Bad enough that you’re a Sun Devil — now you’re a Full Fledged Poster!? What’s the world coming to…?!… ;-)))

  55. phred says:

    Brett just set the all-time passing yard record. The camera cut to a guy in the stands holding a sign that said “Sorry Dan”. Nice. I got in just in time : )

  56. emptywheel says:

    I’m sure Brett was holding off. I think the snow in WI is lighter than what you guys got in MA. But he had to make sure folks were watching.

    Meanwhile, here in MI, the satellite just went out.

    • phred says:

      Yeah, Brett’s just thoughtful that way : )

      Sorry to hear about your satellite, we’ll try to keep you filled in. Which game are you watching? Maybe you can get it on the radio.

      By the way, sorry the weather messed up your holiday plans, a little shoveling is a bit of an inconvenience, but I’m not missing out on anything.

    • phred says:

      bmaz, reminds of a trip I took once to San Diego in March. I thought the weather was balmy and went for a walk on the beach in shorts and a t-shirt, while all the locals were in sweaters. The beach patrol actually pulled up along side me in their jeep to ask where I was from — they were freezing.

  57. masaccio says:

    I’m watching Titans/Chiefs, Titans up 23-17 on an icy grass field. This game shows that along with everything else that has gone bad in the US, the quality of announcers has sunk to all-time lows. Now I know that the pool is diluted because so many games are on tv, and I know Nashville and KC are small markets, but really, I can see the game better than they can.

  58. emptywheel says:

    I was watching the Steelers Jags–even rooting for mr. phred’s team, in spite of the fact that I like them both. But, as I’m sure you know, they Steelers are down.

    • phred says:

      BSL — I take it the red flag didn’t pan out for the Jets, I see the Pats won 20-10. What happened? Did the Jets actually pose a threat?

        • bmaz says:

          Things have been getting progressively closer for the Pats. Now they have to scrape against the Jets. By the time you run into Brett and the Pack in the SuperBowl, the gig may be up. I understand that Favre has a few records to his credit. Beating the same team in the SuperBowl 11 years after you first beat them in the SuperBowl would be a nice addition to his collection….

          Uh oh EW, I think “Ten Win” Kitna might have meant Ten Losses.

          Cowpokes gonna need another Romiracle if this keeps up…

  59. masaccio says:

    Titans up 26-17. Playing without Haynesworth. The idiot announcer just allowed as how the Titans are trying to put this game on ice. Without a hint of humor (the field is icy, and the players are unable to cut).

  60. freepatriot says:

    Pittsburgh is commin back

    and I got a big pot of stew on the stove for all you poor frozen east coasters (can you smell it ???)

    54 degrees, hazy skies, and I’m watching another game (kinda my own private football game) going on in the street out in front of my house (the big kids are beating the little kids REAL bad)

  61. phred says:

    Pack goes to 12-2 on the season with a 33-14 win over the Rams. And, umm, Favre’s RECORD SETTING GAME — boo yah!

  62. phred says:

    O.M.G. — Baltimore’s kicker just missed an OT field goal (for the first time in his career). Miami is still alive…

  63. BooRadley says:

    I’m happy for the fish. Nick Satan Saban figured out they had no talent and skidaddled for the Crimson Tide. It’s painful for the current coaches, players, and front office, but this is the way you rebuild in the NFL.

  64. BooRadley says:

    bmaz, you run a spiffy little joint here. The broken peanut shells are getting real deep under my table, but the clientele is first rate. You might have to think about a cover charge to keep the riff-raff out.

  65. emptywheel says:

    Eh. I imagine Indy’s going to kick the shit out of Oakland. So the only question is, can Philly give phred’s Packers some help?

    Oh, and did someone say the Lions are playing? Really? That’s nice.

  66. BooRadley says:

    LT scored and put the Lions down early, 7 – 0.
    Dungy went with play action on fourth and a foot on the one yard line. Still 10 – 0 Colts.
    Philly and Dallas still scoreless.

  67. BooRadley says:

    Eh. I imagine Indy’s going to kick the shit out of Oakland.

    FYIW, Colts only dressed three wide receivers. Robert Mathis, the other DE, after Freeney is also hurt. I think the Colts will win, but Oakland likes to run the ball and the Colts have problems stopping it.

    • phred says:

      Yep, and who really really needs a vacation ; ) Still, Miami looked pretty happy today. Good to have something to smile about after the season they have had…

      Glad your TV is back. I’m channel hopping, hoping Philly will put a chink in the ‘Boys armor for me, but not holding my breath…

  68. bmaz says:

    Iggles are playing the Cowboys pretty well. Romo has his new girlfriend Jessica in the stands; apparently he has been oogling her all day and not looking for Owens. Ah, two throws in a row to Patrick Crayton; who I might add, has turned into a nice little receiver.

  69. Neil says:

    I gotta go out and shovel again before it freezes up overnight (21F by tomorrow) but maybe I’ll wait until the Q4 ends to see if the Boyz can beat the Eagles. That’s the only game on here in bean-town with cable w/o the a la carte sports package and/or NFL Network. What’s going on with the Colts and Raiders?

      • Neil says:

        I took your advice Rayne. We’re in for a hard freeze tonight. Woe to those who waited to shovel the walk or dig out the car.

  70. phred says:

    Ok, I am holding my breath — anyone else watching the Eagles? Less than 3 minutes left and they just intercepted Romo and the Eagles are up 10-6. I can go without air for 3 minutes, can’t I???

  71. bmaz says:

    The Romiracle doesn’t seem to be shaping up today. Romo throws an interception with 2:50 left in the game. Iggles ball on their own 45.

  72. bmaz says:

    First down over the middle for the Iggles! Who are the Cowboys last two games? They still need another loss if the Pack are to have any hope for home field.

  73. bmaz says:

    Crikey Rayne, that sounds too fucking cold. What with the real estate collapse and all, there are some good deals out here in the desert. The desert always needs more Rayne…..

    • bmaz says:

      Your rookie running back Adrian Peterson is a man among boys; you’re doing fine up there. Urlacher has a bad back, which means the Bears defense has a bad back, Vikes should be running wild on them.

  74. freepatriot says:

    yo phred. I never read money ball, but I’m familiar with the concept

    the A’s have been selling off their talent for 100 years, so we can’t just blame Billy Bean

    when you’re an A’s fan, you experience a lot of conflicted emotions. I still like Charlie Finley, for jebus sake

    at least we win a World Series once in a while …

    • phred says:

      freepatriot — I really like the A’s, and I wasn’t endorsing the Cheapskate’s Guide to Baseball, just mentioning it. I remember they made a big deal about it up here in Boston, the home grown talent and all that (which has clearly paid off for them with Pedroia and Ellsbury), but that didn’t stop them from having the highest payroll in Major League Baseball, after our pals down in NYC, of course ; )

      Oh, and free, sorry, ahem, about your ‘Boys. (Ah hah hah hah hah — gotta learn to suppress that gleeful cackle ; )

  75. bmaz says:

    Are there any members of the Todd Collins fan club out there?

    Thanks again for Dan Haren. Paired with Brandon Webb at the top of the rotation, he should work out real well here.

  76. bmaz says:

    Is anybody else having problems with the site? It is acting very flaky for me when I try to get in, move between threads or post a comment……

  77. emptywheel says:

    I’m having troubles with everything, what with a new computer that doesn’t want to load printer drivers, the damn satellite going off and on like a Christmas light, and the networks.

    But I thought it was just me…

    • bmaz says:

      Ed I had a hard drive go out some months back and lost all my old email stuff, so I don’t have your address anymore. Send me something at my google mail bmaz22 at gmail dot com

  78. freepatriot says:

    fyi, I’m a big Todd Collins fan

    I was the only person to pick Washington in the pool

    how bout them Redskins

    (I know they’re politically incorrect and all that, but we’re talking about money here)

    (ducking, running,counting money …)