May 19, 2019 / by 

 

TT: Are You Ready For Some Football??

Yep, it is that time of year again; football season is upon us. Not to mention that we are about to enter the stretch drive in MLB and the long summer break is over in F1. It has been a long week, starting with the IG Report release and ending with services for the Lion, Ted Kennedy. So, take yer shoes off, have a cocktail and let’s have some fun.

NFL: Well, here comes another season, and it looks to be a doozy. Seriously, so many teams have got people back, have added key parts, and gained exciting rookies through the draft; there is simply a lot of excitement all across the league. The following are some random highlights as I see them at this early and somewhat unclear vantage point. Let us start off with the team I predict will win the Super Bowl, and that would be the:

New England Patriots: This pains me a little because of the natural inter-blog rivalry. And hey, my local professional football team was actually in the Super Bowl more recently than the Pats. No matter. Listen, the Pats were 11-5 last year with no Tom Brady all season, no Roidney Harrison and a rushing attack led by Sammy Morris. Oh yeah, and they sported a quarterback that had not started a game since high school. Harrison is gone, but they now have the closest thing to Joe Montana as far as cool (and with a better arm) I have ever seen back in the saddle and raring to go, and they have added Fred Taylor, a back that can still run wild if you don’t run him down with overwork. And I still love the Law Firm. The defense looks healthier too. Oh yeah, and that Bill Belichick guy. and someone named Moss, Randy. The Pats are not the sexy darlings of the moment, but they don’t care. They are the best coached team in the league and they have Brady back. Look out.

Some quick hits on the rest of the AFC: I wonder how the Fish will make use of Pat White; I think the kid is a winner. The Bills have TO, but I just don’t see them going anywhere. The Jets are a tough call. They really could be pretty tough if they run (love rookie pick up Shonn Greene, getting him and Sanchez in the same draft may make them the winners) and protect rookie Mark Sanchez, who is an awesome talent and great kid.

The Stillers are gonna be there at the end. You add up Big Ben, Hines Ward and the defense, plus the Pittsburgh savvy, and you know they will be there. Baltimore Ravens with Flacco and Ray Lewis too. The rest of the AFC North ain’t happening; sorry Cleveland and Cincy (who knew Ochocinco could kick?). Indy and the older Manning look to battle the Titans in the AFC South, although Houston is a real sleeper, watch out for them. The AFC West? Forgetaboutit. The Bolts are the only team worth mentioning, and they still have Norval Turner coaching them. The Rayduhs are the best of the rest (believe it or not).

Cardinals, Packers or Vikings: Yeah, yeah I know, I am homering here. The Cheesers have been my team all my life, the Cards happen to have taken over my town and I love Brett Favrey. So shoot me. I honestly think it will come down to one of those teams. Laugh at the Cards; heck I made a cottage industry out of it for the better part of two decades before I met you all. You know the period since then, and they so deserved it. But attitude and winning are contagious and self perpetuating, and the Cardinals have way more of that than people think. If Kurt Warner, Boldin and Fitzgerald stay healthy (Boldin has issues with this; already has a hammy twinge), and Beanie Wells stays healthy and pounds the ball (he is down some weight and looks awesome except for the ankle sprain), the Cards defense looks like the crew it was down the playoff stretch last year of better. They may not win the NFC, but if not, it won’t be because they aren’t capable.

Same thing with the Vikes. Forget about Favre; Minnesota was loaded for bear under the radar already. It’s the defense silly, and they have what looks like a great one all through the positions. And Adrian Peterson. Percy Harvin is Dave Meggett from the old Parcells Giants’ teams, except faster; watch out. The Packers are very under the radar and very good. Aaron Rodgers had a heck of a year last year and has looked way improved this preseason; receivers too. Defense looks much improved; if their running game returns with Ryan Grant – look out. Da Bears are improved greatly by Cutler, but Mike Brown gone, he was such a presence even when hurt – is bad for the defense and Urlacher is another year older and more battered. The Lions I think will be much better, but that only means 3-4 wins or so I am afraid.

Saints and Falcons will battle it out in the NFC South; slight edge to the Saints I think. Carolina slightly better than the Bucs; but neither amounting to much. In the West, it will be a fight between the 49ers and Seattle behind the Cards (unless Kurt Warner gets taken out) and the Rams still hurting.

Lastly, the NFC East. This conference is loaded for bear and volatile. They are all good teams. The Gents got Eli Manning, and now they have Osi Umenyiora back; that is literally huge. Battering ram running backs return. But they are gonna miss Plaxico. Bad. Philly looks great; and they really picked up some help in the backfield for Brian Westbrook, and their receivers are scary. How Vick fits in with team cohesion is going to determine how far they go. The Skins are also scary; if Jason Campbell plays like a solid NFL quarterback, they will be very good. So will the ‘Boys. Tony Romo ought to be focused with no Simpson and no TO. Dallas defense looks solid as does their running game with the return of Felix Jones to mate with Marion Barber. Recievers are an issue though, I am not sold on Roy Williams and he just got hurt a little. The winner of this division will play, and lose to, the team remaining between Arizona, Minnesota and Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game.

College Football: I am tired, Marcy is getting anxious to talk Pats, and there are too many teams to run through. Who ya got and why? Extra prize to anybody that beats Jim White to praise the Gators! After hiring Alberto Gonzales, I dunno how much leeway we can give the new Mrs. RanDiego and Texas Tech…..

F1 Circus: This weekend is the Belgian GP at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Rubens Barricholo won the European GP last weekend and the point race is tightening up with Button still up by 18 but fading and Rubens, Vettel and Webber gaining as a group fast. Spa is a great circuit and this should be a fast and good race.

That is it folks. Hoop it up and tear the place down. Get yer mojo and swerve back on; it’s game time!


Pre-Season Trash Talk: SpyGate, the Twitter Edition!

I’ve been meaning to put up a Friday trash talk for some time. I tried to convince bmaz to do it. But ever since his man Brett Fav-ruh said no to the Vikes, bmaz has been pouting. And while I hope that Fav-ruh un-retires around mid-season, so bmaz will get out of his funk, on the off-chance that the Kitties are on a resurgance this year, I’m happy that Fav-ruh declined to move back to the neighborhood.

And then I was going to write to note the passing of Jim Johnson. He will be missed

I thought about doing a pool–enter your guess and win a hubcap!!–about whether and where Mike Vick might try to mend his ways. I’m surprised, frankly, that Al Davis hasn’t picked him up–they might enjoy each others’ company.

But what finally signaled that it’s time to start trashing again is the latest spying scandal in football: players Tweeting during pre-season. The big scandal, of course, is that the pre-season favorite, the San Diego Super Chargers, are feeding their players "nasty food." A secret it cost Antonio Cromartie $2500 to spill.

Cromartie said he was pulled out of a meeting by Twitter cop/head coach Norv Turner and notified that he was being fined. Cromartie also was a given a letter that spelled out the fine.

The fourth-year pro had a good laugh over the matter, but said he’s going to be more careful. Still, he’s not going to stop tweeting.

He also thinks the fine is a bit excessive.

"But other than that, I mean, I ain’t going to take back what I said," Cromartie said after practice Tuesday afternoon. "I said what I had to say. But at the end of the day, I mean, I got fined for talking about nutrition and that. I can’t really say too much else.

"I just thought it was harmless. It was just me talking about the food and stuff. I took it as a joke. But other people took it as a different kind of way."

Cromartie thinks the mole occupies an office somewhere in the team’s executive suite.

Between Cromartie’s leaking of important secrets and Shawne Merriman’s insightful tweets (his most recent as of this posting? "Wow"), I figure this is just enough distraction to keep the Bolts out of the Super Bowl (leaving room for the resurgent Pats). 

Let me just make this clear to my buddy BillBel, though. It is NFL policy: no tweeting during games, no tweeting from the stands. So please don’t get caught doing something stupid in the middle of a Jets game. ‘Kay? 

And with that, I open up the first offical Pre-Season Trash Talk thread…


NFL Entry Draft Trash Talk

Alright you mopes. There you were buggering up EW’s nice threads, demanding to talk football. Can’t blame ya there. The Motor City Kitties have a new QB, and a good one I think. And now the NY Jets Jets Jets do too, having traded up in order to go full Sanchez.

Trash it up and keep Marcy’s nice substantive threads clean will ya? Thank y’all.


Pat Tillman's Super Bowl

When the Arizona Cardinals take the field tomorrow, the most famous Cardinal will not be with them. 

I speak, of course, of Corporal Pat Tillman, who left the NFL after 9/11 to serve in the Army Rangers. Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. For months after his death, he was used as a propaganda tool to glorify Bush’s failed wars. The exposure of the truth behind Tillman’s death has since turned him into a symbol of the duplicity of the Bush Administration, the fight for the truth, and the futility of the war itself.

Shortly after his death, the Bush Administration (already campaigning for the 04 election) pointed to his sacrifice. Karl Rove waxed, "How does our country continue to produce men and women like this." On May 1, 2004, Bush again focused on Tillman’s sacrifice in a speech at the White House Correspondent’s dinner.

The loss of Army Corporal Pat Tillman last week in Afghanistan brought home the sorrow that comes with every loss, and reminds us of the character of the men and women who serve on our behalf. Friends say that this young man saw the images of September the 11th, and seeing that evil, he felt called to defend America. He set aside a career in athletics and many things the world counts important: wealth and security and the acclaim of the crowds. He chose, instead, the rigors of Ranger training and the fellowship of soldiers and the hard duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Corporate [sic*] Tillman asked for no special attention. He was modest because he knew there were many like him, making their own sacrifices. They fill the ranks of the Armed Forces. Every day, somewhere, they do brave and good things without notice. Their courage is usually seen only by their comrades, by those who long to be free, and by the enemy. They’re willing to give up their lives, and when one is lost, a whole world of hopes and possibilities is lost with them.

This evening, we think of the families who grieve, and the families that wait on a loved one’s safe return. We count ourselves lucky that this new generation of Americans is as brave and decent as any before it. (Applause.) And we honor with pride and wonder the men and women who carry the flag and the cause of the United States.

Not only did Bush invoke 9/11 in his statements in spite of DOD insistence that there was no support for such a statement, but he neglected to mention that DOD had already determined that Tillman was killed by friendly fire, a heroic but pointless sacrifice that perhaps better embodies the stupidity of Bush’s wars.

As Tillman’s brother Kevin testified,

April 2004 was turning into the deadliest month to date in the war in Iraq. The dual rebellions in Najaf and Fallujah handed the U.S. forces their first tactical defeat as American commanders essentially surrendered Fallujah to members of Iraq resistance, and the administration was forced to accede to Ayatollah Sistani’s demand for January elections in exchange for assistance in extricating U.S. forces from its battle with the Mahdi Militia. A call-up of 20,000 additional troops was ordered, and another 20,000 troops had their tours of duty extended.

In the midst of this, the White House learned that Christian Parenti, Seymour Hersh and other journalists were about to reveal a shocking scandal involving mass and systemic detainee abuse at the facility known as Abu Ghraib.

Then on April 22, 2004, my brother, Pat, was killed in a firefight in eastern Afghanistan. Immediately after Pat’s death, our family was told that he was shot in the head by the enemy in a fierce firefight outside a narrow canyon.

In the days leading up to Pat’s memorial service, media accounts based on information provided by the Army and the White House were wreathed in a patriotic glow and became more dramatic in tone. A terrible tragedy that might have further undermined support for the war in Iraq was transformed into an inspirational message that served instead to support the Nation’s foreign policy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

[snip]

There was one small problem with the narrative, however. It was utter fiction. The content of the multiple investigations revealed a series of contradictions that strongly suggest deliberate and careful misrepresentations.

We appeal to this committee because we believe this narrative was intended to deceive the family but more importantly to deceive the American public.

[snip]

Revealing that Pat’s death was a fratricide would have been yet another political disaster during a month already swollen with political disasters and a brutal truth that the American public would undoubtedly find unacceptable. So the facts needed to be suppressed.

An alternative narrative had to be constructed. Crucial evidence was destroyed including Pat’s uniform, equipment and notebook. The autopsy was not done according to regulation, and a field hospital report was falsified.

[snip]

This freshly manufactured narrative was then distributed to the American public, and we believe the strategy had the intended effect. It shifted the focus from the grotesque torture at Abu Ghraib and a downward spiral of an illegal act of aggression to a great American who died a hero’s death.

I raise Tillman today because, as his mother Mary pointed out in an interview last spring, no one has yet been held accountable for turning Tillman’s death into a propaganda fiction.

And there is just—the bottom line is, no one has been held accountable for anything. There have been people that have had some slaps on the wrist for doing certain things, but—and some people have just been scapegoated.

[snip]

I would like someone to be held accountable. I’d like for them to discover and try to discover who was involved with this cover-up. It’s a horrible thing that they did. And I think that if people don’t see that, it’s very sad, because it means that we have been numbed to all the lies and deceptions that we’ve been faced with during these last eight years.

Tomorrow there will be other heroes wearing red–undoubtedly Spidey Fitzgerald, maybe, if he can elude Pittsburgh’s blitzes, Kurt Warner. And, I suppose, it’s appropriate that we get a fresh face like Fitzgerald to represent Arizona this year. It’s a new year, a new President, there’s much talk of looking forward.

But we should never forget the heroism and fight for truth that Pat Tillman and his family have come to represent.

* [Update] Yes, the transcript I linked to does say "Corporate." I checked the Internet Archive for a few days in 2004, and there was no transcript posted of the speech on Whitehouse.gov.

Update: wanted to include this from bmaz:

Earlier this morning, Marcy posted this serious and wonderful piece on Pat Tillman, and the Super Bowl he is missing. Unfortunately, it has turned somewhat, and predictably, into a knock down drag out on conspiracy theories and acts, I would like to return for a moment to the subject of her post, namely who Pat was, and what he did, which is why the answers his family seeks are so important in the first place.

First off, Pat gave up a large contract with the Cardinals to join the Army after 9/11. That is well known and part of the lore. What you should also know is that the contract offer could have been much bigger than that, but Pat was willing to take less money than he was worth on the open market to stay with the Cardinals because he believed in their redemption and he loved the community of Tempe and Phoenix. He had grown roots here from his four years at Arizona State and was determined to see the Cardinals through the transformation into a winning team. The contract he walked away from with the Cardinals was for about 3.6 million; he had turned down previously a 9 million dollar multi-year contract with the St. Louis Rams, right in the middle of their Super Bowl years, in order to stay with and build the Cardinals in what he considered to be his home at the time. That is the kind of man that Pat was.

Pat didn’t give a damn about money and the trappings of celebrity. Years after already being a high paid and wealthy NFL star, you would still find Pat traversing the streets of Tempe on his bicycle, looking like a hippy with his long hair and book bag. This was literally how he would go to work every day at the Cardinals training center in South Tempe. Pat was an avid reader. Of everything. He loved politics and world events, and there was nothing he loved more than spirited discussion of the same, whether it was current events, WW II, or ancient European battles. And he could discuss all intelligently, deeply and passionately. Pat knew business and marketing as well, that was his major at ASU and he was brilliant at how he understood, and could see through, the forces at work in our economy.

Pat was an iconoclast. He was his own man and would back down from nothing, and no one, if he thought he was right. This is what made him an odd fit for the military. He had every ounce of the heroism, valor, trust and honesty that the military has always purported to stand for, and then some. But he was not a yes man and was trained, from my estimation since birth, to question authority, especially if it was malignant and wrong. I believe this may have caused a rougher ride for him in the military than most would have expected, or would suspect even now, from the outside, and almost certainly played a huge role in how his death was handled, irrespective of how his death occurred. LabDancer spoke the word in comments:

Pat’s death was caused by our side; our side covered that up, employing things our side knew were untrue; our side used that same cover to distort, turn and pervert the story of his death into a symbol aimed at promoting a falsehood: that Pat died pursuing a myth our side knew for a fact he’d personally determined beforehand to be a lie – meaning that, in end, our side rendered an obscenity from Pat’s death. That’s more than enough to earn him the status emptywheel submits as his due.

That is right on the money. It is also what motivated me to write this, the use of Pat is, at this point, not just by the Bush Administration for their glory, but by the contra for theirs as well. From being a player who loved football as a game, Pat has become the football in the game. That is wrong, very very wrong.

As you may surmise here, or as some may recall from discussions at The Next Hurrah long ago, I had the privilege of knowing Pat Tillman a little. I did not know him well, but well enough to get the measure of the man he was. I used to live a little less than a mile from the Cardinals headquarters and practice facility in South Tempe. On days when I worked at home, I used to ride my bicycle to a little deli, Capistrano’s, between my house and the Card’s facility. It was there that I met Pat, who also stopped in on his bicycle, and had a few long lunch conversations with him. He was everything he has been made out to be and more. He was twenty years younger than I, but you would never know it. He was such a deep and diverse thinker that he was almost the antithesis to the world as we currently know it.

The nation, and the world, lost a lot with Pat Tillman’s death. When we talk about the type of people we need to foster and grow to lead into the future, he was a prime example. That, to me, is why his loss stings, and lingers, so deeply. Pat’s family, the nation, and the world deserve the answers to what happened, it is, and remains, important. But, above and beyond all else, what people should be taking away is not the dickering over the mechanism and coverup of his death, although that is important; but more importantly, the facts and honor of his life, beliefs and hopes. Honor and fight what he stood for, and what he wanted the country to stand for, that is what he would want.

And, as you watch the Super Bowl tomorrow, remember Pat and his beliefs; for he, of all, should have been around to see the day. 


Super Bowl 43 Trash Talk: The Red & The Black

This is it baby, the big finale. All the marbles come down to these two: One Red. One Black. One will leave with the Lombardi Trophy in hand, the other with the regret of the world’s biggest runner-up percolating in their gut for the entire off season, maybe for the rest of their lives.

Parting is such sweet sorrow; nevertheless, with this game will come the end of another season of football trash talk here at Emptywheel. Yes, we occasionally whip out a trash talk without football (March Madness and the start of the F1 Circus are certainly possibilities), but it isn’t the same without the pigskin in the air.

What a season it has been, from the tantalizingly close to perfect season by the Pats that came just a few points short to Good Eli and the Gents in Super Bowl 42, the entire complexion of the 2009 season inexorably changed with the loss of Tom Brady in the first few minutes of this year. For eleven games Brett was Favre and all was magical; then it wasn’t. The San Diego team looked like the Clippers for the first twelve games, then they caught lightning and were Chargers on into the playoffs where they again went Norval. When it was all said and done, it was the Stillers and the Cardinals, yes the Arizona freaking Cardinals, left standing. And, thus, here we are.

Who are the Arizona Cardinals’ fans? I’m not quite sure, but I appear to live in the town that houses almost all of what few there are of them. Oh, and even here I have not noticed the whole town being painted red and buildings redecorated in team colors and insignias like it was purple for Barkley and the Suns in 1993 and the Diamondbacks in 2001. Da birdz de rojo get no respect I tell ya. And if all that were not bad enough, now That One is climbing on the dogpile,

Q. The Steelers or Cardinals, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I have to say, you know, I wish the Cardinals the best. Kurt Warner is a great story and he’s closer to my age than anybody else on the field, but I am a long-time Steelers fan. Mr. Rooney, the owner, was just an extraordinary supporter during the course of the campaign. Franco Harris was campaigning for me in Pittsburgh. So —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Coach signed up with you, too.

THE PRESIDENT: Right, Coach Tomlin was a supporter. So I — you know, I wish the best to the Cardinals. They’ve been long-suffering; it’s a great Cinderella story. But other than the Bears, the Steelers are probably the team that’s closest to my heart.

Jeebus. Oh, and Vice-That One (D-MBNA) too. How special. Freaking frontrunners. Well, on that lustrous note, lets get down to business:

THE RED – The Cardinals? The Arizona Cardinals?? Good golly Miss Molly how did the NFC end up with the Cards as its representative? I mean, seriously, wasn’t everyone sure the NFC East was the best conference in football? What happened to that? Romeo of Dallas still has the bimbo jinx, ever plumping, girlfriend, TO is whining again, and all of the Giants’ receivers are in the gunshot wound clinic. The Packers probably could have been in the hunt if Ted Thompson hadn’t have traded the entirety of the team’s balls to the Jets. Bears and Vikes still don’t know what a quarterback is. And, so, hailing from the lowly NFC West, here come the Red Birdz! Gotta love it.

Hey, why not? Kurt Warner has got to be the most unappreciated two time league MVP, Super Bowl winner and MVP on the planet. Well, he is back. He really needs a certain kind of offense, with wild ass receivers and a back that can catch the release out of the backfield, but, hey, give him that and he is deadly. Turns out that the Cards have this spidey man dude, Larry Fitzgerald. And Anquan Boldin (who will be fine for the game by what I hear) and Steve Breaston are pretty darn good too. Like Nixon and Elvis, the Edge is rested and ready for these playoffs and he is playing for his future as a featured back in the NFL, watch for him to prove his worth with a big performance. The real reason the Cards are still here though is their defense, which has come on late and strong. Antrelle Rolle, Adrian Wilson and the Rookie, Dominic Rogers-Cromartie have given the already underrated line and linebackers some deep protection, and it has made all the difference in the world. If the Cardz stand a chance, it will be because their defense rose to the occasion, not the supposedly vaunted offense.

THE BLACK – Contrary to the Cards, we know how the Stillers got here. They slugged it out in death cage battles with every team in their path, and possess one of the most impressive defenses I have ever seen. Certainly didn’t hurt the Steelers that the Titans beat and pummeled the Ravens before narrowly losing, leaving the Ravens with not enough left in the tank for the Stillers. Before we move on, how about a shout out to Chad Pennington and the Fish; awesome effort this year. Tuna + Fish – who knew they went together so well?

The Steelers look pretty scary if you ask me. They were still beating top notch competition when Fast Willie Parker was slow and out; now that he is back you have the full offense. Big Ben is a better passer than people give him credit for, he just isn’t asked to be Dan Marino in the traditional grind it out Pittsburgh offense. All Ben does is win, and he will put the team on his shoulders when he has to. But, of course, the heart and sould of the Stillers is the defense. You already know about the Polynesian Wrecking Ball Troy Polamalu, but don’t forget Ryan Clark, the guy who about decapitated Willis Magahee. James Farrior has been solid at linebacker for a long time, and his pal on the outside backer spot, James Harrison, well no less than Tony Dungy thought he ought to be the league MVP over Peyton Manning. That is pretty high praise, and deserved too, Harrison is very good. And all coordinated by Dick Lebeau, another former Detroit Lion who has gone on to win Super Bowls with the Steelers (there are a lot of those).

So, there is my rundown, with some input from Marcy, please add yours in comments. Well, now for the hard part. And for that, I am going to stay consistent. I have made and laid my bones throughout the playoffs on one simple contention: The Cardinals suck, no way can they win. No way I gonna quit while I am ahead and the devious plan is working. Stillers baby!

[I would like to thank NewtonUSR for the video mix above, it was a special request and he really came through. If you want a little hard hitting theme music, check out The Red and The Black, that is where the concept for the post came from]


Trash Talk – Getaway Week

The Phoenix Suns once, thrice actually, had a coach named Cotton Fitzsimmons. A wonderful man, and a great coach (10th winningest coach in NBA history actually). Cotton was a diminutive man with outsized character; he may be one of the only men in history that could consistently put Charles Barkley in his place, and it was with such charm that Chuck loved him like a father. Anyway, Cotton had this theory that it was always important to win "getaway games". And Cotton defined getaway games as the last home game before a big road trip or the last game before the playoffs. He always wanted to roll into tough situations on a positive note. Smart man.

Well, this is the last week of the regular season in the National Favre League, and for those teams headed to the playoffs, or trying desperately to get into the playoffs, we got some getaway games. Eli, Coughlin and the Giants showed what it meant last year to play hard on a getaway game in the last week, even when you are already in the playoffs and it won’t affect your seeding. Even though they lost to the Patriots, they played their hearts out and left every ounce on the field. What they gained from that effort propelled them all the way to the Lombardi Trophy. Oh, and don’t miss today’s video, it is some excellent getaway music.

Fish at Jets and Pats at Bison: Let’s be honest, this is all one big game, and it is going to be for all the marbles. If the Dolphins win, they win the East and they are in the playoffs; if they lose and the Bills beat the Pats, the Jets are in. If the Jets win and the Pats win, the Pats are the East champs. Even if the Dolphins win, the Pats can get in as a wildcard if the Ravens lose to Jacksonville. The Jets get in as a wildcard if they win and the Pats beat Buffalo, so long as the Ravens lose. I really, and I mean really, hate to say this, but I think the Dolphins will beat the Jets, the Pats will beat the Bills, and the Ravens, being the home team, will beat the Jags. This, sadly, means that Brett, the Jets and the Pats all go home. Totally sucks, but that is how I see it; the Fish and Ravens win getaway games.

Donkos at Bolts: The other bare knuckle brawl for all the marbles is the Denver boys going to the beach to visit Randiego. Having spent some time in graduate school at Boulder, I am a bit of a Broncos fan, and I have always admired Mike Shanahan. I am again really sad to report that I think the Bolts will win this getaway game and head into the playoffs with as much steam as a weak kneed 8-8 team can muster. Then Norval Turner will show just what kind of coach he is and promptly lose to a wild card challenger.

In the rest of the games, Giants win a close one over the Vikings in Minnesota; Panthers beat the Saints in N’awlins; Lions end their season of historic incompetence in the home of the Green Bay Packers; Rams lose in HotLanta to the Falcons; Bears succumb to the Texans in Houston; Titans make it close, but get kicked by the Colts in Indy; Browns get rolled by Big Ben and the Steelers; Raiders get walked off the plank by the Buccos in Tampa Bay; Chiefs beat the hapless Bengals in Cincy; Cowboys scalp the Eagles in Philly (and that could be an ugly scene); Redskins lose in a close game to the up and coming 49ers in Frisco; Seahawks go back to their losing ways and give the Cardinals a getaway victory at home, and with it, only the second winning season in the more than twenty years the bumbling birds have been in Phoenix. Then, like Randiego’s Bolts, they show their true nature and become fodder for a wildcard challenger

Here is the complete playoff picture and calculations from Fox Sports, because this is really what is important at this point:

NFC EAST

New York Giants
Giants have clinched NFC East division title, first-round bye and homefield advantage throughout NFC playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys can clinch playoff spot with:

1. Cowboys win.

Philadelphia Eagles
Eagles can clinch playoff spot with:

1. Eagles win AND Bucs loss AND Bears OR Vikings loss.

NFC NORTH

Minnesota Vikings
Vikings can clinch NFC North title with:

1. Vikings win, OR …
2. Bears loss.

Chicago Bears
Bears can clinch NFC North title with:

1. Bears win AND Vikings loss.

Bears can clinch playoff spot with:

1. Bears win AND Cowboys loss AND Bucs loss.

NFC SOUTH

Carolina Panthers
Panthers have clinched playoff spot.

Panthers can clinch division title and first-round bye with:

1. Panthers win/tie, OR …
2. Falcons loss.

Atlanta Falcons
Falcons have clinched playoff spot.

Falcons can clinch division title and first-round bye with:

1. Falcons win AND Panthers loss.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buccaneers can clinch playoff spot with:

1. Buccaneers win AND Cowboys loss.

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals
Cardinals have clinched NFC West title.

NFC eliminated teams: 49ers, Lions, Packers, Rams, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks

AFC East

Miami Dolphins
Dolphins can clinch AFC East title with:

1. Dolphins win.

New England Patriots
Patriots can clinch AFC East title with:

1. Patriots win AND Dolphins loss.

Patriots can clinch playoff spot with:

1. Patriots win AND Ravens loss.

New York Jets
Jets can clinch AFC East title with:

1. Jets win AND Patriots loss.

Jets can clinch playoff spot with:

1. Jets win AND Ravens loss.

AFC NORTH

Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers have clinched AFC North title and first-round bye.

Baltimore Ravens
Ravens can clinch playoff spot with:

1. Ravens win.

AFC SOUTH

Tennessee Titans
Titans have clinched AFC South division title, first-round bye and homefield advantage throughout AFC playoffs.

Indianapolis Colts

Colts have clinched playoff spot.

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos
Broncos can clinch AFC West division title with:

1. Broncos win/tie, OR …
2. Chargers loss/tie.

AFC eliminated teams: Bengals, Bills, Browns, Chiefs, Jaguars, Raiders, Texans

That’s all folks. Please litter and trash appropriately!


Trash Talk – Prime Time Edition

The penultimate week to the regular season schedule in the National Favre League is upon us and, as many of you have already discovered, the hostess’s team is playing the janitor’s team. Yep, bmaz’s Arizona Cardinals (I don’t really claim the losers, but they are my home team) are visiting Marcy’s gridiron heroes, the Patriots. Apparently there are other games being played too. But, before we get to that….

Did you know that Brett Favre got more votes in Minnesota than Coleman and Franken? Yep, it is true. Has to be true, I saw it on that whiz kid Nate Silver’s site, and the dude has been right on about everything else. Nate says Brett cleaned out teh "Lizard People" too (I guess that means he beat Richard Shelby, Bob Corkass and friends, the "lizard liars"). Okay, so it was for President that Favre beat Coleman and Franken, and it was just a write in, but Brett Favre kicked their ass! Just like he is gonna do to the Seahawks Sunday!

Well, now that we have covered the Minnesota Election Trash, let us get back in our normal groove. By popular request, this week’s musical selection is from The Tubes, a pretty cool two song set (Prime Time and TV Is King) from some German TeeVee show patterned after American Bandstand or something. In their prime, The Tubes were an outrageously good band and put on a wild live show.

And now, for the games.

NATIONAL FAVRE LEAGUE: Well, as previously mentioned, there appears to be an American football contest going on up in New England. And, yes, EW is already beating me and the hapless Cardinals down. Go figure. Listen, first off, I didn’t pick these losers, they came here against my will. I actually participated in an effort to beg Jerry Colangelo, then owner of the Suns (later the Diamondbacks too) to start an expansion team here. But nooooo, the pissant Cardinals wanted a new stadium in St. Louis and was using Phoenix as leverage to get it. The fuckers in St. Louis called their bluff and they freaking moved here. Arrrggghhh! Oh well, they are all mine now. Lucky me. The Patriots, on the other hand, since the turn of the century, have turned into Lombardi’s Packers. They are big, bad, ruthless and good.

The Cards have no running game, rely on a precision passing attack featuring an ancient, fragile Kurt Warner who has small hands and can’t throw with a glove on. New England is not currently particularly balmy; you do the math, it ain’t looking real good. Oh, and the Cards have already clinched the National Conference West and didn’t even bother to mail it in last week against the Vikes. The Pats have Kevin Faulk, the Law Firm, Matt Cassel, Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Oh yeah, and Marcy is already promising that Richard Seymour is going to crush Warner. This isn’t good, Matt Leinart can’t even play in the sunshine, much less the tundra. Um, I may be lame, but I am not stupid; I am taking the Pats.

Ravens at ‘Boys: Well, the Cowboys sure dismantled Bad Eli and the Giants last week. Bad. Ray Lewis and the Ravens have a mean defense and Falcco has played well, but Dallas is playing for their lives and Tony Romeo, TO and Jason Witten got a taste of cohesive victory, and I think they will do it again. Chris McAllister being out for the season removes a shut down corner from the Ravens, and in this game, that is enough wiggle room for the ‘Boys.

Stillers at Oilers: Masaccio’s Titans, although still with only two losses, seem to be sliding fast enough that you would think they are Oily again. Big Ben and the Stillers just keep winning tough and ugly. But win they do. Albert Haynesworth is out. Albert is huge, and so is his loss. That is going to open enough running game for the Steelers to take a little more heat off of Roethlisberger than he has had lately. That is enough; Steelers roll the Titans in Tennessee.

Panthers at Gents: This is actually a huge game. Both teams are going to be in the playoffs, but this tilt is critical to seeding for home field. It is hard to pick against the Giants, especially at home. But the Panthers are on a roll and the Giants are not. Brandon Jacobs will play, but is hurt; D’Angelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are not hurt and are flat out killing people. i am not sure about this, but I am prowling with the Black Cats.

Jets at Hawks: Bet you didn’t know this, this is the battle of the running Jones. Running backs Thomas Jones of the Jets and Julius Jones of the Seahawks are brothers (Julius is the younger). Thomas Jones has been money this year and you can run on the Hawks. Matt Hasselbeck is out, and Seattle will be QBd by Seneca Wallace from Iowa State, and he has played very well lately. But Seattle has squat for receivers other than Deon Branch, who is healthy now, but has had a slow, injury filled season. One wild card here is that it is Mike Holmgren’s last game in Seattle, so there will be that emotional aspect. The other wild card is that it will be inclement weather, may even snow; that favors the Jets I think. The Jets do not travel well to the west coast. Not at all. This game is a toss up because of the Holmgren factor.

Cheesers at Da Bears: The Monday Night Game is the age old black and blue Norse division tradition of the packers and the Bears at Soldier field. Bad weather. Snow. Cool, who could ask for more (unless, of course, it could be for Favre to be on the field here in a GB uniform where he belongs). Te Pack have terribly underachieved this year. Aaron Rodgers has played very well actually, but they really miss the swagger that left with Number 4. Bad. Based on the records, and where the game is played, you would think Da Bears will win. That is what you would think; me, I’ll take the Cheeseheads.

Brownies over the Bengals (man do they suck). Saints send the Lions to 0-15. Fish over the Chiefs, but I don’t feel great on this one, Chiefs could upset. Niners at Rams, who the hell cares, I guess one of them has to win. Bolts at Bucs; eh, I think the Frightening Bolts streak is over; Buccos carve em up. Broncs beat the Bison, and the Texans clock the Raiduhs. Iggles claw the Skins (can Zorn keep his job with quick draw Snyder?). And last, but not least, the Vikes beat the Dirty Birds in Minnehonka. Gotta love the Falcons, but they are fading now.

That is the run down for this week. Mix a toddy and get yer picks in. Oh, and trash it up!


Trash Talk – The Axe Starts To Fall Edition

I’m snakebit. Am driving down the road Saturday afternoon listening to NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me when the first crushing blow occurs. The guest is CIA head honcho Michael Hayden, and the interview is actually superb. Seriously. Then I realize the dude has a great sense of humor; another blow to my world. Now comes the clincher; Hayden is from Pittsburgh and is a lifelong diehard Steelers fan. The host asks him what he thinks of Bill Belichick secretly taping other teams (Hayden is non-plussed by this) and then asks "Well, we know the NSA has secret tapes of everything, surely you must have some of the Patriots’ practices and plays, have you ever thought about covertly sending them to the Steelers"? Hayden quips back "Naw, the Steelers don’t need to cheat to whip the Patriots!" Now, between laughing my ass off and trying to grab my phone to obligatorily call Marcy and prick her with this nugget, I nearly run off the freaking road. Then, in all the inordinate joy of relating this wondrous story to EW, I blow by a photo radar setup. Go figure. Still, it all seems worth it.

Okay, enough hilarity; time to get down to business. Three weeks left in the season, it’s go time baby. There are teams that are going to solidify their hold on a playoff position, and there are teams that are going to start falling victim to the axe. Here’s the rundown:

Steelers at Ravens: Yep, the game of the week is the Chief Spook’s Stillers against the Baltimore Not Colts. Both teams are on strong late season rolls, and they have the top two defenses in the league with Pittsburgh number one and the Ravens number two. Rookie Joe Flacco has been excellent and the Ravens are uncharacteristically scoring a lot of points. Even though the Ravens have Ray Lewis, it is really hard to go against Ben Roethlisberger. But I’m going to. Ravens win at home.

Giants at Cowboys: In Dallas, Jerry Jones has finally got the sideshow freak circus he has been angling for all these years. As Condiliar would say, "Who could have imagined?" Yeah, well, they are going to have to take time off from the carnival to play Eli and the Gents, who have a little theater going themselves. I may be bat shit crazy, but I think the ‘Boys will win.

Broncos at Panthers: Another tilt where both teams are coming on strong at the end of the year. Denver certainly has the better quarterback, but Jake Delhomme has a knack for winning, and the Panthers can flat out matriculate the ball down the field on the ground. D’Angelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are probably the best tandem RBs in the league (the Titans’ Chris Johnson and Lendale White are a real close 1A there). I think the Panthers’ defense is better than the Broncs though and Carolina wins at home.

Vikings at Cardinals: Whoo doggie, that Adrian Peterson is something. The Cardinals could have drafted him, but passed him up. Yeah, I know, how shocking; a stupid move by the Cards. Who’d a thunk it? Well, the Vikes aren’t real clean there either, they could have used a real quarterback and, strangely, thought that Tavarius Jackson was it. Oops. Creaky old gus Frerotte is hurt and is doubtful; very bad news for the Norske. More bad news: Kurt Warner isn’t hurt, and neither are Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Cards win and send the Vikes back north worse for the wear.

Buccaneers at Falcons: Man, the Falcons have had a magical season considering the disarray they were in last year. Matt Ryan looks like the real deal and Michael "The Burner" Turner is a speedy bowling ball on wheels. The Falcons have palyed with focus, skill and heart all season, and their record shows the results. But Jeff Garcia flat out quietly wins games when it counts and the Bucs historically have the Dirty Birds’ number. They will again. Tampa Bay wins on the road.

Bills at Jets: Well the glowing promise that Brett and the Jets showed mid season has been wearing off fast lately. The wheels are getting real wobbly after a loss to the Niners last week in Frisco. But the Bills are feinting on the couch even harder; in fact, they just have not been the same since Trent Edwards conked his head against the Cards a couple of months ago. Marshawn Lynch hasn’t been running well lately either. Brett and the Jets, Jets, Jets get their mojo back and beat the Bills.

Lions at Colts: This here game is what I would call "Teh EW Special". It’s got her kittycats AND the really evil Manning brother. Let’s see here, hmmm Dan Orlovsky or Peyton? I think the Colts have a slight edge at QB. Aw, hell, the dolts have an edge everywhere and will dispatch the Lions to Oh and 14.

Rams bounce the Seahawks, Fish flip the Niners, Cheeseheads salvage a little respect and beat the sinking Jags, Marcy gets what she really wants and the Pats obliterate the Raiders, Texans have been cowboying up lately but not enough to fend off the Titans, Iggles claw the eyes out of the Brownies (and probably seal Romeo Crennel’s fate), Skins scalp the Bengals, and last, and really kind of least, the Bolts and Chiefs sputter to a 0-0 tie.

That is it for this week folks. It is getting cold out, suck up a few hot toddies, get yer swerve on and pitch some trash!


Trash Talk II – Waiting For The Sunday Games

Well, I was going to add this to the main trash talk thread, but you folks gossipped up the joint right nice, so I decided to post it as a Part Deux. This version will be for the NFL Sunday games and some F1 news of significance.

National Favre League: It is another week of mostly unexciting matchups, even though many teams have effectively must win games. The game of the day is pretty easily the ‘Boys at the Stillers. Romo v. Rothlisberger; TO versus Hines Ward. Dallas has regained their swagger since Tony Romeo returned; Pittsburgh has just been gutting it out with tough fundamental football every week. Both teams have issues at running back Marion Barber is very questionable for Dallas and Fast Willie Parker is probable for limited duty for the Steelers. I have been trying to figure out who is going to win this game, and I have no idea. You all will have to tell me what is happening, as, thanks to the pissant worthless Arizona Cardinals, the game will not be shown in Arizona. I guess they are afraid people would watch other teams than them if given the choice; they are right.

The Falcons at Saints looks like a fun tilt too. Drew Brees has been literally ripping it up this year passing. Seriously, Brees is on a pace to break Dan Marino’s single season passing yardage record. But the Saints have been uneven, to say the least, and, at 6-6 need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Dirty Birds are a shocking 8-4 and rookie QB Matt Ryan is playing like a seasoned pro. Since the game is in Nawlins, the Saints should win at home. Except the Dirty Birds have Michael "The Burner" Turner, and that and a conservative Matt Ryan will keep the ball out of Brees’ hands and garner a win.

The Sunday Night game of Redskins at Ravens looks interesting too. Both teams have excellent defenses, but I give the nod to Ray Lewis and the Ravens here. Not to mention the Ravens have Ed Reed, who has rather quietly had a career that is of Hall of Fame quality; the man is just flat out tough nuts, and he always plays. Coach John Harbaugh has rookie QB Joe Flacco on a short and conservative leash, but i have just never warmed up to Jason Campbell, especially in big games. Clinton Portis is hurt, but is a stud and is going to play. I’ll take the Ravens at home.

In other games, there will be enough Good Eli for the Gents at home to take out the Eagles. The Colts will continue the March of the Mannings and continue the lost season for the Bengals. The Packers will rope the Texans in Green Bay, although it should be close. I will predict right now that next year the Houston Texans finally break out nad make the playoffs; they are getting better. The cute pick of all the prognosticators has been that this is the week that Deetroit finally wins their first game, at home versus the Vikes. I don’t think so, "Yo Adrian" Peterson is going to run silly on the Motown Kitties. As Kanye West would say, "Richard Shelby hates Detroit. So do the football gods. Bears bag the Jags and the Titans take the Brownies. The Pats will stew the Seahawks, Broncos trample the Chiefs and Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown and teh Fish will grind down the Bills. Those aforementioned worthless Cardinals will beat up on the Rams in the Big Toaster in Phoenix. And, in the penultimate game in the rundown, the MNF game of Bucs at Panthers could be pretty interesting. Both teams have veteran QBs that can win tough late season games; both have good defenses. The running game for Carolina has been superb lately, but Cadillac Williams is back for Tampa Bay. No clue here; it is a pick em.

Hey now, you didn’t think I would leave out Brett and the Jets did you? Of course not. The Bretts are visiting the Niners up in Frisco. The 49ers have been playing better and with a lot more emotion under Mike Singleterry, and should play tough; but the Jets need this win to keep a game ahead of the Pats and solidly in the playoff picture. J E T S Jets, Jets, Jets.

Formula One: Yep, like I promised, there is some fairly earth shattering news from the F1 Circus. Honda is withdrawing and will not challenge in the upcoming 2009 season. Next time you here Richard Shelby or some other union busting neanderthal idiot bloviate about how great the Japanese manufacturers are doing, just remember that Honda was forced to pull out of literally the biggest automotive showcase in the world because of financial concerns. From the Financial Times:

Honda announced on Friday that it would withdraw from Formula One, a startling pullout that has its origins in the dismal state of the auto industry and that is likely to have huge repercussions on the high-profile global racing circuit.

A glum Takeo Fukui, the chief executive officer of Honda, made the announcement at a news conference in Tokyo.

He called the company’s withdrawal from the series "a difficult decision" caused by the worldwide economic gloom and "the quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry."

"I offer my sincere apologies," he said, "to everyone involved."

Honda has struggled badly this year, battered by weaker sales and a stronger yen. November sales, for example, were off 32 percent from a year earlier.

"Honda must protect its core business activities and secure the long term," Fukui said. "A recovery is expected to take some time."

For those of you that don’t know F1, or are just casual fans, this is just jaw dropping. There have already been questions about the status of Toyota’s fledgling F1 program, but the factory works has indicated that it is staying in. But, as to Honda, wow. Just wow. As recently as a year ago, the head of Honda Motorsports was saying the company would spend whatever it would take to win the F1 crown and they were thought to be chasing a top driver, perhaps Fernando Alonso from Renault or young Bruno Senna, an up and coming star and Aryton’s nephew, for future campaigns. All gone now. Sad.

The remnants of Team Honda, but in need of new engine support, may well be bought up, the current rumor is that there is heavy interest out of Dubai, and make a run yet in 2009. But with the season starting on March 29 in Australia, it is going to be extremely hard to get get an engine package (presumably from Ferrari) and test it out sufficiently to be competitive early in the season, if at all. But in order to fill the grid, I sure hope someone runs what is left of the works for 2009.

The bad news for motorsport does not end with Honda either. Team Audi has announced that it is withdrawing from European endurance racing including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Audi is withdrawing from the American Le Mans series as well. Audi has long been dominant, a gold standard, in closed wheel endurance racing. This, while not of quite the level of Honda leaving F1, is still mind numbing.

The Republicans, with bellicose jackals like Richard Shelby, have plied their precious unregulated free market financial innovation trickle down happy horseshit to the catastrophic demise of not just this country, but the entire world. Thanks for the memories you soulless pukes.


Trash Talk – Recession/Depression Era Edition

The economic crisis is starting to really intertwine with the sports world in many ways. For instance, CC Sabathia, a stud workhorse and the best pitcher on the MLB free agent market, can only find two teams, the Yanks and Sawz of course, to even talk to him about the contract he wants. The Padres, not long after opening their edifice Petco Field, appear in worse straits than the automakers (attention Mrs. Randiego, you picked a bad time to throw your lot in with the local sports homeboy). The global financial meltdown/crisis is so bad it is even causing grief and thinning of the ranks in the biggest sporting league in the world, Formula One. And, worst of all, talk about yer depression, today we have to deal with those damn dirt thieves, Freepatriot’s Boomer Sooners. Yep, the Sooners and Tigers are goin to Kansas City baby! They got some crazy little women there I’m gonna get me one!

That’s the low down and dirty, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

NCAA: First up is the SEC Championship from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Alabama versus Florida. I wonder if Jim White will be watching this one? Barely in the national polls when the season started, Alabama now sits atop them undefeated and untied. Florida, well everybody knows about the chompin Gators and Tim Tebow. Florida’s offense is the irresistible force to Nick Saban and the Tide’s immovable object defense. But, you know, Florida can play some dee-fence this year too, and there is no way the boys from the Tide pool down there in Richard Shelbyland can score with the Gators. The swamp creatures are gonna roll the Tide flat.

Next up, we have some Tigers versus some dirt farmers in the Big 12 Championship from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. This is a rematch of last year’s game where teh Okies rained on Mizzou’s parade big time. From ESPN.com:

By entering this week No. 2 in the BCS rankings, Oklahoma (11-1, 7-1) beat out Texas and Texas Tech for a spot in Saturday’s game and a chance to win a third consecutive Big 12 title game. All three schools finished tied for first in the South Division and the Sooners advanced on the conference’s fifth tiebreaker — BCS rankings.

Oklahoma moved past Texas in those standings, even though it lost to the Longhorns earlier this season, by putting up 60-plus points against ranked teams in the past two weeks. The Sooners demolished then-No. 2 Texas Tech 65-21 and defeated then-No. 11 Oklahoma State 61-41 last Saturday.

Let’s stop right there a second. Really, is there anything more pernicious in sports that the fucking BCS? If so, I am hard pressed to figure out what it is. It is hard to tell what Obama really has the juice to accomplish in this mixed up, messed up world, but if he can get rid of the BCS and get a limited playoff for major college football, he will be a success. Okay, back to regular programming.

Sam Bradford has torn ligaments in his non-throwing hand against Oklahoma State and will play against Missouri with a soft cast. This might make him more fumble prone and may affect the way he sets the ball for throws. Chase Daniel and Jeremy Macklin are a powerful duo, but are coming off of a very stale performance. If Bradford coughs up a couple of fumbles, and Daniel and Macklin bust out of the doldrums, this could be a close game offensively. Big "if" though, and the Sooner defense is way stouter than Mizzou’s. Oklahoma walks away with a win here.

UPDATE 1: As Gunner reminded me there is also the Duel in the Desert tonight. It may not be as well known as several famous rivalries, but it really takes a back seat to none as far as hatred, rivalry and passion. Arizona and Arizona State. They play for the Territorial Cup, and it is literally the oldest such rivalry game in college football, dating all the way back to 1899. The Devils have had an off year, but they have ben coming on strong as of late, and the Cats have been schizophrenic again under Mike Stoops (Bob’s not particularly bright little brother). The Devils are going to win this one even though the game is in Former Fed’s home turf of Tucson.

There is also the USC- UCLA game. Like ASU-UofA and USC-Notre Dame, the game has just lost a lot of it’s luster in recent years. I think Rick Neuheisel is the right guy for the Bruins and will get them back to prominence soon. But this year, USC is going to hammer em.

YET TO COME: I want to go ahead and get this up so we have a place to banter, I will add in the NFL material and an auto tie in a little later.

Trash it up guys and gals!

Copyright © 2018 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/football/page/27/