NFL Divisional Playoffs In Pandemic Trash Talk

Greetings to all fans, whether you are scoring at home, or alone in isolation. It is pretty remarkable that the NFL has made it this far without blowing up from Covid. Yet here they are down to four games this weekend, and most of the teams are pretty healthy and ready to go. So, let’s get to it.

First up is the Rams at Packers. The Rams allowed the fewest points in the league this year. The Packers scored the most. No signs of snow by reports, but it will be around 32º with light to moderate wind. The Packers know how to play on the famously frozen tundra, but their record of never, or at least rarely, losing at Lambeau in the playoffs does not have the lock it once had. They can be had at home. The Rams were pretty high on young John Wolford at QB, but he is out for today and Jarred Goff is back in the saddle, bum thumb and all, and Blake Bortles will back him up. The Pack defense is certainly not on the level of the Rams, but they are solid. If Rodgers is Rodgers, the Pack should win, but this is probably a lot closer than folks would expect.

Second game up for Saturday is Ravens at Bills. This may well turn out to be the best game of the weekend. Both teams have young QB’s that can run in addition to throwing, and given the weather in Buffalo, that will likely be necessary. When it comes to passing though, the edge would seem to go to Buffalo with Josh Allen and Stephon Diggs, the best receiver in the NFL this year. Curiously, Baltimore has made running back Marl Ingraham a healthy scratch. That is weird as this is exactly the kind of game Ingraham is made for. It is close, but a majority of the experts, both on local sports talk radio, and on TV, seem to favor the Ravens to win this. So do the odds makers. I’m not so sure, and will very tentatively take the Bills in a close game.

Early game Sunday is Browns at Chiefs. The Brownies are a great story this year and are playing with some swagger. They are not the Browns of the last 25 years. The Chef’s defense is not nearly as good as Cleveland’s. On the other hand, KC has the once in a generation wizardry of Patrick Mahomes, a dual headed monster at RB with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. And, of course huge weapons in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. They will, however, be without Sammy Watkins to take attention away from Hill. This could go any number of ways, but I am not going to bet against Mahomes and Andy Reid. Nope, no can do.

The coda on the weekend’s games is the battle of the Geezer QBs. The B boys, Brady and Brees. You know who they are by now. They have never met in the playoffs. During the regular season, the Saints owned the Bucs. In fairness, Tampa Bay finally gelled down the end stretch of the regular season and is playing much better now, and has also integrated Antonio Brown into their gam much better. With Chris Godwin and Mike Evans (both a tad nicked up, but ready to play), that is one hell of a set of receivers. Oh, and there is that Gronk guy healthy and ready to rumble at TE. Saints have the outstanding Alvin Kamara at RB, and Bucs have Fournette and Ronald Jones. By a slim margin, most of the experts, including Vegas, favor the Saints. They are at home, but without the usual crowd advantage that would portend. I have no idea how it will go, so will simply call it a tossup.

Music today by the incomparable Thin Lizzy. Man, I miss those boys. But rock and roll and tilt a cold one.

NFL Playoff Football Is Back, And We’re Gonna Get In Trouble Trash Talk

It has been a hell of a fun first few months week of 2021. So, with no further adieu, lets get to the ball. A nearly unprecedented SIX games in one weekend (there was that one weird strike season, which doesn’t really count). And, there really are no bad matchups on tap. Away we go!

First up is Indiana at Buffalo. The Colts seem a better team than their 11-5 record, and Phil Rivers can still chuck the ball. They have weapons on both offense and defense. But, dang, the Bills have looked like a serious Super Bowl contender all year. And, while Rodgers may be the MVP of the league, to my eye, Josh Allen was pretty close. The Bills are at home for a rabid and great fan base that has been dying for this since the mid-90’s. And the Wagon Circlers have weapons too, including Stephon Diggs, arguably the leagues best receiver this year, a fair, if not great, running game and a very good defense. Expect the Colts to be good, but the Bills to win. And that would be a very good thing for the City of Buffalo and their long suffering excellent fans.

Second up for Saturday is LA Rams at Seattle Squawks. This is a harder call. Rams first string QB Jared Goff is “questionable”, but expected to play (but for how long with a recently broken thumb on his throwing hand?). Jamal Adams, the Seahawks safety that is one of the best is in the same boat. It is not the same without the 12th Man fans in Seattle, but, despite a rough patch, the Squawks seem to be gelling. And then there is those Russell Wilson and DJ Metcalfe dudes. They are pretty good. Seattle wins.

The Saturday Night Game is Tampa at the Washington Football Team. WFT is on the clear rise under Riverboat Ron Rivera, they are better than you think, and on both sides of the ball. Young Chase Young and the superb DC D-Line are going to try to spook and hurry the old man Brady. The rest of the WFT defense is really good as well. But this is the first time Brady has been defended this way, and Tampa has a very talented defense as well. All pro receiver Mike Evans is nicked up, but will play, as will Ronald Jones. WFT is nicked up, but the most relevant one is QB Alex Smith. His entrance turned their moribund season around after Dwayne Haskins. If Smith can play, and play well, this could be an upset. Not gonna bet that, but that may be the X factor. Still will take the old man and the Bucs.

Okay, and here we go with the Sunday games.

First up Sunday is Baltimore at Tennessee. I have no real idea what to make of this one. Tennessee is good, and made it to the AFC finals last year. They have Derrick Henry, and that is one powerful weapon. But the Ravens have been rushing the heck out of the ball over the last five games. Sure, there is Lamar Jackson, but it is more than that. By a tiny margin, think the Ravens are better on D, but only a tiny amount. Am still inclined to go with the Titans at home.

Second comes Bears at Saints. This, on paper, is the least interesting game of the weekend. It is probably Drew Brees’ last year. The Aints are at home in the Dome. Nawlins will, apparently have both Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara on the field. Sorry, not sure how the Bears and Trubisky have a real shot here.

Lastly, Brownies at Steelers. For a short period, it really looked like Pittsburgh was in the doldrums and Cleveland would do the unthinkable and take the division championship. But the Steelers righted the ship and won out over Cleveland for the title. Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield (watch out for Mayfield on play action, he is really good) are maturing and growing quite nicely. And the Cleveland defense is pretty good. But this is still the Stillers, and the Browns will be without head coach and chief play caller Kevin Stefanski because of Covid. That seems rough. Have to take Big Ben and Pittsburgh at home, but this could be a great game.

A lot of people are saying they want a revolution. John, Paul, George and Ring have one for you. Rock it up.

Thanksgiving Day Cheer

Okay, the football gods did not smile on fans today. Texans at Lions and Washington Football Team at Cowboys is about the worst schedule the NFL could put up. There was a Steelers and Ravens game for the night slot that would have been interesting, but, alas, it was rescheduled to Sunday because of the Coronavirus. Blecch.

But, hey, there is a lot else to be thankful for. Especially here, thanks to all of you. And so we are thankful for all of you!

Also food. Mrs. bmaz is cooking up some great grub, and I know there is some awesome looking stuffing, some turkey (not the turducken I requested, but it will be fine). That, and that some part of it involves some of my personal stash of bacon from Zingermans (thanks Marcy!), is about all I really know. There is Blueberry Crumb Pie from the Rock Springs Cafe (as good of pies as you will ever taste), and vanilla bean ice cream. Some nice red wine, and that will do it.

What are you folks eating and thinking about? Have at it! Music today is the classic Wasted Words by the Allmans. Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving folks. May you have a joyous one, and stay safe.

Goodbye Earl Trump

“Well, the weeks went by and spring turned to summer
And summer faded into fall
And it turns out he was a missing person
who nobody missed at all”

Listen, this has been really over since mid Wednesday morning. Am not sure how long The Arizona Republic has called this race, but pretty sure it has been at least a day or more. Even if the drama happy cable networks won’t acknowledge it.

But even MSNBC and CNN are chiming. So, it is really over. Goodbye Earl Trump!

Some good college football on today. ASU at USC starts it off. Houston at Cinci could be interesting. Best game could be Gators at the UGA. But the oxygen in the room goes to…..Clemson at The Golden Domers. Having Taylor Lawrence out puts a large dent in this, bet Clemson can still put up a fight.

I’ll be back in a bit with the pros.

The Chicks with Goodbye Earl.

Last Trash Talk Before The Election

Welp, we have almost made it to November 3. As I type this, there are less than 72 hours to the opening of the polls for Election Day. The long national nightmare will be very far from over, irrespective of which candidate wins. But, and this is important, the relentless onslaught of annoying campaign commercials, mailers in your mail box and robocalls calls and texts will be over, and that will be a huge relief. I don’t trust the polls, especially the national ones. State polls are a far better indicator, but even those are fraught these days, but they are far more important because the electoral college is what really matters, and that is state by state. Polling is hard now. The saw about cell phones skewing polling is really true. Some people, including me, won’t answer them for rando callers. It also skews more urban. So, who knows what the ground will look like on Wednesday November 4, we shall see!

There is one other bit of unfortunate news, Sir Sean Connery has passed. Here is a great obituary from the BBC. Everybody knows the various Bond movies, and they were all great in their own way. I’d like to focus on some of his many other notable roles. He won an Oscar for The Untouchables. But his work was every bit as spectacular in The Wind And The Lion and Hunt For Red October, not to mention as John Mason in The Rock (a fantastic flick). And let’s not forget his portrayal of William von Baskerville in The Name of The Rose, also spectacular. What are your favorite roles and lines, here is a list? RIP Mr. Connery.

On to the games. In the NCAA, there are not a ton of really promising matchups. Texas at Oklahoma State could be one. OSU is pretty solid, and has a very decent defense. Watch out for OSU this year. Most of the national focus is on Ohio State at Penn State. Clearly the Buckeyes have to be favored, but you never know against PSU at home. Boston College is at Death Valley to play Clemson, who will be without star QB Taylor Lawrence because of a positive Covid test. I will still take the Tigers, but no Lawrence is a big wrinkle.

In the Pros, all eyes are on Scribe’s Steelers at Baltimore, and that is a tossup. If they get any contain whatsoever on Jackson, which is not easy, I’d pick the Steelers. But that is a huge if with the reigning MVP. Saints at Bears looks pretty interesting, as does Niners at Squawks. The SNF game is Dallas at Eagles. Ugh. MNF has Tampa Bay at Giants. That also looks to be an ugh.

Lastly, F1. This weekend is the “Emilia Romagna Grand Prix”. No, I do not know exactly what “Emilia Romagna” is, that is new to me. It apparently is a region of Italy with Bologna as the capital. What I do know, however, is that this marks the return of F1 to the Imola Circuit, also known as the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the home of the former San Marino Grand Prix. It has not hosted F1 since 2007, there have been many renovations and upgrades in the meantime. The circuit looked quite fast in qualifying, where Bottas nudged out Hamilton and Verstappen for pole. Pierre Gasly did a great job to place P4 on the grid. The two McLarens placed P9 and P10, continuing their resurgence. Should be fun.

Okay, that’s it for today. Kind of a traditional Presidential election thing around here, music is Elected by Alice. Go out and vote. Biden is not perfect, no candidate ever is, but he is light years better than Trump. Cast yer ballots, mine is already in!

Ten Days To Go Trash Talk

Yesterday was the Scaramucci point; i.e. eleven days to go. Now it is ten, and it all is getting to be overwhelming. A perfect time for some Trash, as Trash was always about giving a release from the daily drudgery. Off we go!

Am still of the opinion that trying to play college football during the pandemic was a bad idea. But playing they are. In that regard, let’s talk about Wisconsin, who put on a show last night. Once we discussed the new whiz kid on the Badgers’ block, and it was Russell Wilson. He turned out to be all that, at Wisconsin and then in the NFL. But last night was ridiculous. First time redshirt freshman starter Graham Mertz merely completed 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns in the Badgers’ 45-7 win. That is pretty good.

In the pros, after a Covid announcement by the Raiders, the NFL and NBC suddenly flexed the SNF game to Seahawks at Cardinal, purporting it to be to address Covid concerns. That is a joke. If Covid were the meter, you would give the Raiders more time, even if hours to comply and play. Just hazarding a guess here, but maybe the NFL and NBC figured Russell Wilson versus Kyler Murray was a better game and draw, and did not have potential to be cancelled at the last minute. If so, that was pretty much a smart play.

The Bucs at Vegas is still a must watch if available to you. Steelers at Titans is still the real game of the day. I’d normally take the Steelers with Big Ben back to normal. Would not bet a cent on it though, the Titans, Vrabel and Tannehill, are on a fair roll, and then there is Derrick Henry. This will be a fun game. Look too to Bears at Rams. Seems kind of ho hum, but is an important game.

This weekend is also the Portuguese Grand Prix. Now it has been a while since there was a Portugese, but there is a real history. Of course the Mercs of Hamilton and Bootas have to be favored. It is kind of a crazy looking circuit for the new iteration of F1 though. Could be interesting!

Today’s music is by Bruce. When he says no surrender, he means it. Listen to him, think about the time old message, and GO VOTE to make sure the Trump Train leaves the station. Enjoy Bruce at his rocking best.

Tuscaloosa Gets The Birmingham Blues

Part of the lack of consistent Trash has been aversion to NCAA “opening”, knowing what would happen. The NFL pros had/have a shot, but even that has not been easy. Colleges? Anybody that has spent time on a college campus knew that would be a tough pull. So…..

Nick Saban is a Trumpian hero that magically slays the Covid and can coach the most important thing in the world, a belligerent SEC game. What a jerk. That said, UGA at Bama is close to a national championship game as you will get prior to any supposed BCS Championship.

Bill Bel had an interesting start to his coaching career. He was always that guy, and it is interesting reading.

As to the Pros, they are holding on. Barely. The Tennessee Titans has a huge COVID scare that seems to be slightly smaller than first advertised. The Titans are actually a pretty well run organization, so that is not surprising. But what a warning shot, along with Cam Newton and Gilmore in Boston. Playing football, with giant team roster numbers, and even bigger administrative staffs, was always going to be harder than the NBA, NHL or even MLB.

The AFC alone lost steals the day Sunday. I’ll take the Pats over the Donkos in Gillette, but that is not overly easy, Baker and the Brownies in Pittsburgh is the game to really watch. Green Bay at Tampa Bay is the other one to watch. Whether you are a fan or not, that is two of the best QBs ever tilting at each other.

Okay, a story about the Trash music attached hereto. Long ago, I went to a Charlie Daniels Band concert in Phoenix. It was really good. So, one of my first summers in Santa Monica, I was just kind of driving around. Drove by the Civic Center and saw that the CDB was playing. So found a place to park and bought a ticket. It was absolutely great, as the CDB was back then. Later, I had an opportunity to talk to Daniels via email. He was stunningly smart, even if we disagreed about most everything. His politics were not mine, but he was great. This was before even Twitter. RIP Mr. Daniels. The Birmingham Blues are close enough to Tuscaloosa. So is Caballo Diablo.

What A Week Trash Talk

Since the period where there was no sports to trash talk about, and this turned into a music blog, it has been hard to get back into the normal trash groove. Let’s try to get back to it, because everything else is botched up.

The NBA has actually been pretty good in their bubble, but not that many are watching as normally would. Ditto for the NHL and MLB. For all the clamor to get sports “open” from all kinds of preening politicians, maybe that is okay. Sports are great, but there is a problem going on in the world.

The NFL is also back, and initially without much drama. That worm has turned. The Tennessee Titans had a full on Trump White House like outbreak. The Saints had a scare that, so far, seems to have abated. But then, as they were preparing to make the already perilous trip to Arrowhead to meet the Chiefs, the Patriots’ Cam Newton has tested positive for Covid. That’s a problem, both for the Pats and the league. The first three weeks went quite well, but the inevitable has arrived. The Covid has arrived, and not just as to the Trump crew. King Roger (h/t Scribe) we have a problem. It is sad in a way, because Newton’s reclamation in New England was one of the really good stories in the NFL so far.

On a more somber note, Bob Gibson has passed. He was simply one of the best athletes in history. He did not just star in baseball, but was also a Harlem Globetrotter. If he had played in the NBA instead of MLB, he might have rivaled Elgin Baylor. He was that good. But MLB it was, and what a career. Read this great story.

Here is the Gibson stat line from just 1968. Keep in mind, this is just ONE season.

.112 ERA
34 Starts
28 Complete Games
13 Shutouts

Yep, that is pretty good.

Music today by Johnny Rivers. No, he did not write all his songs. But neither did Elvis. Johnny Rivers was great. With a hat tip to the Dodge City Cowboy Band.

NFL Sunday Trash Talk

I mostly boycotted NCAA football yesterday, and got busy with an absolutely insane F1 race from Italy. It is the Tuscan Grand Prix, celebrating Ferrari’s 1000th F1 race. But is is a shit cookie cutter circuit, and the course is WAY too narrow. It is nuts, eight cars have already crashed out, and there has been safety cars out and two, TWO full red flag suspensions of the race.

Anyway, after the Chefs cooked and BBQ’d the Texans on Thursday, today brings a full slate of games.Brady and the Bucs have a very tough opener with the Saints. Probably can’t win it, but we will start to see how they are going to look. Cards are choking on the Santa Clara air to play the 49ers.

Eh, it is a new year for everybody. Discuss!

The Fabulous Emptywheel Music Blog: Setting The Scene

Okay, alright, enough of that live music stuff. This weekend, off another suggestion by Emptywheel Roving Reporter Rosalind, let’s do music documentaries! These are her remarks:

Music Documentaries (NOT films of live concerts). In 2019 there were several docs I watched that hit the music EW demographic sweet spot, including:

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice
David Crosby: Remember My Name
Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool
Boy Howdy: The CREEM Magazine Story
Mr. Jimmy – story of a Japanese guitar player who takes his Jimmy Page hero-worship to a whole nother level
Echo In The Canyon – Laurel Canyon music scene, 1/2 OK interviews w/various musicians, 1/2 self-indulgent concert featuring Jakob Dylan performing boring versions of the originals.

The Gordon Lightfoot and Miles Davis docs are ones I would never have thought to seek out and sparked a whole new level of appreciation for the two. The footage of their early musical lives is really something.

Rock on.

The Linda Ronstadt one is truly fabulous. I’ll have to look for the Gordon Lightfoot one, but have always loved him. Heard Carefree Highway long ago, and that sits awfully special to people here that actually drive on the Carefree Highway (yes, it really exists).

I’d like to add one music documentary to Rosalind’s list: Super Duper Alice Cooper. It is truly fantastic. You may think “eh, I dunno, that’s crazy”, but it is really good and, I think, available streaming online. And, yes all crazy, but those were the times back then, it “was” crazy.

Also, because this will invariably morph into the greatest music documentaries ever, let me throw in a couple of Scorsese classics: The Last Waltz and Shine The Light.

So have at it, whether music, the NFL draft or whatever. This weekend’s scene setting music is…..You Set The Scene by the incomparable Arthur Lee and Love.

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