Posts

Divisional Playoff Trash – One Way Out Version

I must sincerely, and profusely, apologize for my negligence, carelessness, recklessness and, in general, sins of all varieties that resulted in the physical, emotional, and galactic damages resulting from THIS HIDEOUS NIGHTMARE! There is only one way out of this weekend for teams whose quest is the SuperBowl (just win baby) and there is only one way out of the, admittedly fair, doghouse I am in. Say yes to the Allman Brothers, and NO to Brady Pron, the overly joyous musical video.

So that nobody has to traumatize themselves with said offending Tom Brady Porn Video again, ever, in the history of humanity (or at least until I piss Marcy off again), here is what the itinerant, but knowledgeable one had to say there:

Pats, Packers, Ravens, NOLA. That’s who I’m taking.

Read more

Trash Regurgitated

Okay, I am going out on a limb here and moving trash up in the queue until tonights game, and any afterbirth, is over. Then either Marcy or I will return it to the bottom of the barrel where it was rescued from! Mostly, I wanted to post up this wonderful Norman Rockwell image, because it represents the greatness that is America!
.
.
.
.
.
.
THE BCS sucks, but it has a literal monopoly on major college football. It operates with the blessing of the NCAA, yet serves as a giant restraint of trade upon NCAA member schools and to the virtual exclusion of those schools which are not fortunate enough to have already bought their way into the six “BCS Conferences”. The single premise justifying this infernal setup has been that the BCS formula results in a true national championship between the two truly top teams and the best lineup for the four “BCS Bowls”, the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange.

The lineups for the games have never been necessarily that great though and, although much of the time the championship game seems to have the right two teams, it has certainly been nowhere near consistent in that regard. Friday and Saturday night blew it all to shit. First, Oklahoma State, the number 2 BCS ranked team got got beat by a very mediocre Iowa State. Then number 3 Oregon got licked by Tommy Trojan and Oklahoma got the RGIII treatment from Baylor. BOOM! The BCS rankings are in shambles, the nation is looking at another putrid rematch of that pitiful 9-6 LSU/Alabama game from earlier in the year and no telling how crappy the four named bowls will end up. There is even growing talk that the weak sister of the poor, Notre Dame, should be given a BCS bowl berth; which, although providing absolutely shitty football, always is a moneymaker.

Please, make it all stop. Now. This is the one place where I would be happy to have the idiots in the US Congress intervene. Go to it boys. End. This. Madness. Now!

Oh, hey, a shout out to Gulf Coast Pirate’s Houston Cougars, who ran up another big win against SMU to move to 11-0 for the year and will try to make it 12-0 with a season closing win over Tulsa. The Cougars deserve a nice BCS berth, they are exciting to watch. And, under protest, must also mention the confounded Wolvereenies, who actually looked competent on both sides of the ball in a big, really huge, win over Nebraska. This Brady Hoke may be the right guy in Ann Arbor, and residents/former residents there should thank the nice folks in San Diego!

On to more pleasant things where every team has the the option to play the games to win the games and take their chances in the playoffs. The NFL. Going to open the discussion with Cincinnati at Baltimore. The Bengals may not have won against the Stillers, but they sure held their own, as did rookie QB Andy Dalton. But they get another smash mouth perennial playoff division opponent today in the Ravens. Both teams are playing great defense and have competent, but far from flashy offenses. Like with the Stillers, look for the Ravens to win, but could really be a great game. Sheriff Ed Reed, meet Duelin Dalton. But in Duelin’s favor today, one cat he will not be meeting is Ray Ray Lewis, who, as Marcy commented, hasn’t missed a game in almost a Favre. But the Ravens still have Terrell Suggs and Reed, and that is a lot.

Bolts at Bears may well be the best game – potentially anyway – on the schedule this week. The Bears are clicking, the Bolts are hurting; but this is the time of year San Diego usually pours it on. Also interesting again is Carolina at Kitties. Can Cam shaft the Lions? Detroit has really fallen back to earth and one of the huge reasons has to be the nearly complete absence of a running game without Jahvid Best. Detroit should win this, but I dunno. The Iggies go visit the Gents in the “meh” game of the week, although I suppose Philly could open the door some for Dallas if they knock off Eli. Oh, and the ‘Boys are at the Skins where Sexy Rexy is baaaack. Grossman does give Washington the best chance to win (also best chance to implode), but hard to see that they have anything for Dallas at this point.

Oh, and the CheesePack tries to stay undefeated against the Buccos. Go Pack Go!! Don’t you just love the Little Jets Whiner?!

Well, there is a lot to discuss even though this is a football only Trash week, so get to jawing.

Jets, Pats & Other Pro Trash

I promised new Trash for the NFL Sunday slate, and dammit I’m gonna deliver. Plus a certain Ms. Wheel is just dying to predict the Jets, Jets, Jets are gonna whup up all over the Patsies. And who am I to deny the forum for that? So buckle up for takeoff Wheel pilots!

In all seriousness, the Pats in New Yawk, er New Joisey, is really the most interesting game of the week for several reasons. There is the conference rivalry, the fact it really may determine the conference champion, the whole Bill Belichick/Jets tension from long ago, and the fact that both teams are in a way weaker posture than they figured to be and are desperate for some street cred. Frankly, the latter may, shockingly, apply even more to Bieber and cohorts than the Jets at this point; even the invincible Pats offense is looking like it is missing a couple of cylinders lately. And, say what you will about them, the Jets have firmed up the backbone and Revis Island is gobbling up ground again. You all know the players by now (except Bill Bel sent Fat Albert Haynesworth packing to TB), so no need to go through that again. I have no idea how to call this one, but am excited to see what happens. It is the Sunday Night Football game, so we all get to watch together.

Damn near as good, ought to be the old time Black & Blue Division match between the Lions and Bears. This one is at Soldier Field and, believe it or not, Cutler and Da Bears have been very solid of late. When Cutler can stay on his feet, and is not being an idiot, he is very good and so are the Bears. Detroit has the line to put the sometimes Jello Jay on his ass though, and they better if they want a chance to win. Make no mistake, the Lions need the win, because they have the Packers twice, Chargers, Raiders and Saints left on the schedule. Not a piece of cake from here on out. This will be a real good test of where Matt Stafford, MegaTron and the Boy Named Suh are.

Also in the first rate category is Giants at 49ers. Good Eli has been prevalent of late (of course he always beats the Pats), and the Gents have looked mean. But next to the mercurial Cheeseheads, the Niners have been far and away the most consistent NFC team this year. Again, another great test heading into the final stretch of the year. We will learn a lot about San Francisco; if they pull out another win, then they really are legit.

Saints at the Dirty Birds in Hot’Lanta also shapes up to be a very good game. New Orleans has not been very good on the road this year, and Atlanta can be a tough venue. Stillers at Bengals is yet another tell tale matchup. I was a little shocked Pittsburgh did not dispatch Baltimore last week, so how they bounce back on the road in Cinci will be a good measure. Also be interesting to see how the so far unflappable rookie Andy Dalton holds up against the Steel Curtain. Good times await!

Honorable mentions this week go out to the Bills at ‘Boys and Tebows at the Chefs. Also the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but it will be over by the time anybody sees this, unless you are up very early in the morning (if you are, tune in to Speed TV, Abu Dhabi is a nice circuit).

Prepare for takeoff! By the way, I saw the tour, and indeed maybe the exact concert if that is Pauley Pavilion, the video above was taken from in 1976. It was completely killer.

It’s A Great Football Weekend Charlie Brown

The St. Louis Cardinals are your 2011 World Series Champs, and man game 7 sure was a big letdown after the scintillating game 6. But now it is on to football and Formula One, where the heart of this blog truly lies. And Charlie Brown has more than the Great Pumpkin going for him this weekend, there is absolutely great football too.

Let’s start with the NCAA. Perhaps the most interesting game is tonight’s matchup of the Stanford Tree visiting USC’s Tommy Trojan. The Tree is 7-0 and 6th ranked, but the Trojans are an under the radar 6-1, and the only loss being to ASU in Tempe, which is nothing to be ashamed of. Andrew Luck is all world, and they are even letting him call some of his own plays tonight ala Peyton Manning. Matt Barkley is no slouch either though, in fact his stats are a near match with Luck’s. The difference really is, surprisingly, that Stanford has a far superior running game to the Trojans, who are usually known for that. USC is also weaker in the D-secondary. Those two factors should provide a win for the Tree, but it should be a good game and USC has the potential for a big upset here if Monte Kiffin can coach up the Troy defense beyond expectations.

Another late game, Clemson at the Ramblin Wreck of Georgia Tech also looks to be quite good. Clemson and star QB Tahj Boyd have been a real surprise this year. Tech (along with South Carolina later) is one of the few remaining obstacles between the Tigers and a legitimate shot at the BCS Championship game. I have a hard time believing it, but I think that just may happen and they start the push tonight by edging out Tech. The other game to keep an eye on is Baylor v. Oklahoma State. OSU is 3rd ranked and an offensive powerhouse, but Baylor and their mad good QB Robert Griffen III have some juice too. If this game were in Waco, I would smell upset; but it is in Stillwater, so OSU should prevail. Honorable mention games are Boomer Sooner at Bill Snyder’s Kansas State and the on a roll Spartans of MSU at the Cornfuskers.

It is also a fine slate of games in the pros, headed up, of course, by the TEBOWL! That’s right, any game Tim plays in IS the TeBowl. Sunday’s version involves the Deetroit Kitties coming to meet Baby Jesus at Mile High. Kitties are smarting from two losses in a row and need some steam heading into next week’s game against the Bears. But Stafford has a bad ankle and the running game is hurting without Jahvid Best. The Lions should win this, but they better get down on one knee and Te-Bow in prayer they do. The real top game is, of course, the Patsies at the Stillers. Bieber v. Big Ben. One shaky defense versus another suddenly shaky defense. Both teams have superb passing games and solid enough running games to get the job done. So, it comes down to the D’s. This would normally be a gimme for Pittsburgh, and indeed their passing defense is still somehow top rated in spite of other cracks in the Steel Curtain. But Tom Brady owns the Stillers and Bill Bel has had a bye week to coach up his defense. Bieber wins another tough game. Honorable mention to ‘Boys at Iggles and Skins at Bills.

Oh, I want to mention one little piece of schadenfreude lost in last weekend’s bender, the debut of the new super duper coaching staff member for the woebegone Indianapolis Colts. Yep the ‘ole Cheatin Sweater Vest himself, Jim Tressel (Photo Credit to NBC sports via SportsByBrooks screencap). The Vest worked his usual magic in helping the Peytons to a hard fought 62-7 not-quite-victory.

Also on tap is the inaugural Grand Prix of India. Qualifying went off very early this morning, with Sebastian Vettel taking his 13th pole of the year. Dude is just too good and his equipment is superior to boot. Vettel is followed by WEbber, Alonso and Button on the starting grid. Hamilton was fast in qualifying, and would have been P2 but for a 3 spot penalty for his assholey driving in previous competition. I got my first look at the course during the qualifying. Looks like a fast and possibly interesting track, but fairly ugly surroundings. We shall see after the first real race. By the way, in some stunning F1 news this week, our old buddy Chris Christie has helped lead an effort that has resulted in F1 coming to the streets of New Jersey. This could really be a fun setup done right. Credit where due.

Alright, let’s rip this joint; trash er up!

Taking Back Wall Street Trash Talk

Well we are a little late getting started on the trash talk this weekend, I apologize about that. I have been fixated on the Anwar Awlaki scenario and, today, the Occupy Wall Street effort. In honor of the citizens trying to take back the Street in New York, this week’s music is by Jimmy Cliff; you can get it if you really want it. But, you must actually try.

That, folks, is what is meant by the term “a democracy, if you can keep it”. The people still have the power, the people still have the vote; but they must have the information, and they must have the desire to exercise their power. Our friends and colleagues at FDL, via Kevin Gosztola, are doing great work covering the protests. And, if you have seen what I have on Twitter, it really appears to be something significant starting to form in the Big Apple. I am told about 400 people have been arrested; let’s hope they are replaced by 4,000 others.

Quite frankly it is a rather lackluster day in college football, the only 2 games I really had my eye on are Nebraska at Wisconsin, and 13th ranked Clemson at 11th ranked Virginia Tech. The Clemson game is already over, with the Tigers laying an unheard of whipping on Frank Beamer and the Hokies in Blacksburg. Not so for the Badgers however, the Cornfuckers are in Camp Randall right now with the Huskers up by a point 14-13. The rest of the game should be something fun, and the quarterback for Wisconsin, Russell wilson is really a special kid.

On the pro end of things, it is really not a very enticing slate of games on tap. Seriously there are like three games worth watching. The first is the Stillers at the Texans. Normally, this would be an easy call; but Pittsburgh has not settled in yet this season, and Houston has a fine team and is at home. That is a pickem. The second decent tilt, and maybe my most anticipated game, is Deetroit at Dallas. The Kittehs are THE hot team this year, and Suh is gonna be Romo rib hunting. But the ‘Boys are a little tougher than people think, and are at the JerryDome. I am leery of this, but am still going to go with the Lions. The other game tomorrow of interest is the Pats at the Black Hole to visit those nice Raider chaps. Darren McFadden got a bit nicked up in his huge day against the Jets, Jets, Jets last week, but looks good to go tomorrow. Marcy smells a Rayduhs upset here. So do I. Honorable mention to the Jets versus Ravens on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. It’s in Baltimore, gonna go with the home team there.

Lastly, it is October baby. Reggie Jackson time! and playoff baseball is in full swing. Unless the game is at Yankee Stadium, in which case it is in full swim. Tampa Bay just clocked the Rangers behind 22 year old rookie sensation Matt Moore to open the series, but Texas is up 7-3 in the 7th inning tonight. Oops, Eva Longoria just hit a three run tater to bring it to 7-6. Rays are like butter. On a roll. Diamondbacks got freaking smoked by the BrewCrew today in game one of the NLDS. Arizona has the youngest team in baseball and has been on a great run this year, but still may be a year and another starting pitcher away from being serious contenders. Never count out Kirk Gibson though, and the DBacks are Gibby’s team through and through.

Emptywheel’s Famous Trash Talk: Es Caballos de los Muertos Edition

Hey there sports fans, I love ya! Y’all got your swerve on? Because we have week three of the NFL on tap, not to mention the end of the MLB season and, if you are talking the biggest event worldwide, the Singapore Grand Prix. so there is some meat on the table.

If the F1 Driver’s Championship was not already effectively in the capable hands of Sebastian Vettel, and the Constructor’s Championship again to Red Bull, I would surely open with the F1 Circus. But, both of those are true, so we shall begin with NFL fuutball. There are just a slew of great games this week but, really, how could you start anywhere other than with the greatest rivalry in the history of pro football?

That would, of course, be the Packers and Bears. The Cheeseheads return to Soldier Field where they won the NFC Championship last year. Expect the action to pick up where it left off. The Bears can’t protect Jay Cutler for shit, but when he has time, dude can throw the ball. Matt Forte is way underrated, he is an elite back in the league. And Brian Urlacher and the D always comes to play. The loss of Nick Collins, the Pack’s star safety, will really hurt an already porous secondary. It is tempting to take Da Bears for the upset. But I can’t do it.

Another legendary rivalry on tap is the Cowboys and Redskins. Skins are surprisingly solid with Sexy Rexy Grossman at QB and former Cardinal Tim Hightower slamming the run. But if Tony Romo and his ribs can stay on the field, the ‘Boys also have a running game with Felix Jones and that should be enough to win a close one on Monday night. Giants and Eagles is yet another rivalry game, and has many of the same considerations in that the outcome may depend on Mike Vick staying on the field. If he does, it is hard to see how the Gents win.

Okay, mom made me promise to do a couple of things and, really, it will be a pleasure. First the Read more

Trash Talk: The NFL Season Begins Packers & Saints

It’s Here!! It seemed like it may never happen the way things looked in the spring and early summer but, unlike those mopes in Washington DC, the NFL and the players figured out what needed to be done for the long term, and got it done. Not some freaking kick the can down the road for a couple of months, or pass the buck off to a “Super-Committee” of bribed up asshole politicians, but a comprehensive and fair agreement for the next ten years. The Congress and Executive Branch in DC could learn a few things from our mindless sports pastime.

There are a couple of other updates I would like to get out of the way before we get down to business. First, in the biggest news of the day – and this is going to break Marcy’s heart – Peyton Manning is in a world of hurt. Manning had a cervical fusion operation today, and will be out 2-3 months. I would not bet against Peyton returning this year, but I find it unlikely. Unless the Colts are looking good for the playoffs late in the season, why would you put him out there? The surgery sounds very serious, and anything involving the spinal column is that, but it is fairly common actually. I have seen several personal injury clients through the process in the upper cervical area, all with good results and very little effective reduction in motion range. He will be back; just maybe not this year.

Secondly, good old Henry Waxman is again reaching his unneeded long hairy arm into the world of professional sports:

Today Rep. Henry A. Waxman sent a letter to National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players’ Association urging them to put in place human growth hormone testing (HGH) procedures for the players without further delay. Despite agreements to test and impose penalties for HGH use, the NFL and the Players Association have failed to finalize HGH testing procedures in time to begin testing before tonight’s start of the 2011 season.

Here is the full letter. Waxman had no basis to be sticking his hand in the sports pie as head of House Oversight, and only slightly more as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. I guess the NFL is commerce but, really, that is a little thin; with all of the concerns in this country and Washington DC, this is not among the top of them. What really pisses me off is that Waxman is out there making a stink about this crap and, from what I am told, still pushing buttons behind the scene to maintain the prosecution of Roger Clemens.

What the Oh So Honorable Mr. Waxman, nor even any of his lesser staffers, manage to find time for is to discuss the issues behind the DOJ colluding with admitted felon obstructor of justice Scott Read more

Trash Talk With Stevie Nicks

Hello mothers, hello others; welcome to The Wheel, brothers. So, we are kind of in the ether, the no mans land, the void and vacuum between the end of basketball and the start of football again.

Yeah, yeah, that little soccer interlude was somethin, there is the comforting coo of baseball (well, unless you are a Dodger fan) and the big NFL lockout surrounding the draft was spectacularific and all that jazz.

But, other than the F1 Grand Prix Circus, ain’t none of it means jack shit without the sugar plum Pro Football Fairy dancing in the graspable future. And, now, we have it.

We did a fair amount of jabbering about the initial free agent signings last weekend and, yes, somehow stodgy old Bill Belichick and the Pats seem to have scooped the tabloid news. Go figure. Well, except, of course, the Iggles. Andy Reid, apparently freed up from worrying about his errant sons, has gone all ape shit. You know they still have the juju in them to sign Favre or Terrell Owens.

I don’t have a ton to throw out, other than to open the floor up for discussion. Well, okay, maybe one thing. Friday night, I watched something on ESPN called “Year Of The Quarterback”. They had a proposed new rating system to take the place of the admittedly complex and somewhat screwbally NFL Quarterback Ratings Formula. Which always struck me as somewhat suspect when Chad Pennington could rate above Brett Favre. Of course, now that Pennington is again gone to injury, Favre may be the only hope for The Fish.

I think Miss Marcy may wander in and add some material to this post, and heck I might add some later too; but I do not have a ton else to add right now.

The music this weekend is courtesy of Miss Stevie Nicks. The first video you may think was a Fleetwood Mac song (as it was indeed one of their most famous hits). But, huh uh mofos, Rhiannon was very much a Buckingham Nicks song before both of them joined up with Fleetwood Mac. As is Cathouse Blues, the second video. Stevie was, and still very much is, from Phoenix. She went to Arcadia High School (as did wonder Woman Lynda Carter and some dude named Steven Spielberg) where my daughter is about to start her junior year. If you find fault with all this local nostalgia, blame Jason Leopold, who started it by buying up some some Japanese masters of early albums by yet another very local in proximity artist named Alice.

WhaddaYaGonnaDo?? Rip this joint, that’s what!

[Errata – As Rosalind points out, Nicks’ Arcadia may actually be Arcadia High in California, although there are people around here who have said it is the Arcadia here. Stevie was born here though and her dad lived right here in Paradis Valley until he died a few years ago. Lots of Arcadia Highs out there, maybe she went to all of them!]

SuperBowl XLV Trash Talk

As of post time, it appears SuperBowl XLV will still be played in Reykjavík Texas despite the spate of injuries to innocent plaintiffs, er fans, from ice falling off of Cowboys Stadium. SuperBowls should be played in reasonable and warm climates, not the frozen tundra of Texas. As Dallas born and bred Stevie Ray Vaughn knows, the Texas Flood will give you the blues; just think what the ice storm they have been suffering the past few days will do.

Now the thing that has most fascinated me from all the usual build up hype this week is the discovery that, apparently, all stud Packers quarterbacks are Vikings, whether at the start of their career or the geezerly end. Who knew?

Despite my Geezer based flirtation with the Vikings, and despite living in a city with a semi-pro football team known as the Cardinals, I have been a lifelong Green Bay Packer Cheesehead. I read a biography of Bart Starr when I was maybe eight years or so old and a kid, even ones in places with no teams, had to “have a team”. Mine became the Packers, and the deal was cemented for a lifetime when, at Vince Lombardi’s express demand, the Pack drafted Travis Williams from Arizona State and he had a breakout year his rookie season in 1967, setting the rookie record for kickoff returns, including two in one game against the Cleveland Browns. The Cardinals may be here now, but I am a Cheesehead for life. And I am still waiting for Phred to send me my damn cheesehead she promised years ago. This is in contrast to that “other blogger” here at Emptywheel, who lives equidistant from the Packers, Bears and Lions and seems to want to claim all of them.

The game itself looks to be fantastic. Two original NFL teams that bring their lunchpail to the field. And, in that regard, it is notable that both teams come from the heart of the American workforce, people that make things and do things, and are supporters of American labor. From the Alliance for American Manufacturing:

This year’s Super Bowl presents a special match-up: two teams named for the local industries that support their diehard fans. The Steelers emerged from Pittsburgh’s steelmaking foundries, while the Packers honor their sturdy meatpacking industry.

Both teams are understandably proud of their hometown fans and the work they do. Both Green Bay and Pittsburgh were built on manufacturing, and are the respective epicenters of paper and meatpacking, and of the steel industry, in America. Both cities have suffered heavy manufacturing job losses, but some paper production remains in Green Bay, and Pittsburgh still retains a steel presence. Both Green Bay and Pittsburgh also enjoy a loyal following built on the middle-class, blue-collar jobs supported by these industries.

The video above of Packers AJ Hawk and Mason Crosby is refreshing. It is good to see top flight NFL players standing up for the incredibly important, but too often ignored, principle that the United States needs to renew its ability to actually make things as opposed to the craven churning of financial products that seems the focus of “business’ these days.

To get back to the game, both teams have excellent defenses with genuine stars and studs from the line to defensive backfield; they bring it all game long and make big plays when it counts. Green Bay appears to have the more explosive and superior offense, but I am not sure that is really the case. The Steelers can make big plays and chew up yardage in a hurry when the need to; it is just that their preference is to grind it out and eat up the clock. They are very good at that. Although the Pack seems to have found a solid running game with James Starks, but you would still have to give the edge there to Pittsburgh with Rashard Mendenhall.

Both teams have a few nicked up players, but the only major issue on the injury front belongs to the Steelers who will be without Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, who went out in the AFC Championship game with a high ankle sprain. This could pose a few problems for Big Ben, but he has played on the run all year anyway from a somewhat leaky offensive line; he should be able to cope just fine.

The rest of the story you all already know from the discussions and Trash Talks throughout the playoffs. These teams are who we thought they were, and that is how they are gonna play Sunday. So, let the trash talking begin! Go Cheesers!

The Final Countdown: Championship Sunday NFL Trash Talk

Yep, that’s right folks, it’s the Final Countdown. No, I am not talking about the sudden exit of the narcissistic scold Keith Olbermann from MSNBC, the news will go on just fine without him, and MSNBC will undoubtedly continue to funnel an endless supply of slime through our teevee sets. No, I’m talking about the battle for berths in the SuperBowl. And a couple of really great matchups are on tap. Packers/Bears and Steelers/Jets. There is no way to say any of the four are here by fluke, they earned it and deserve to be playing on Championship Sunday.

First up is the Black and Blue Division throwback grudge match between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. Titletown versus the Monsters of the Midway. Hey, this just reeks of football the way it was designed and meant to be played. The ghosts of the gridiron will come for this one. Halas, Lambeau, Lombardi, Butkus, Sayers, Starr, Nitschke, the list is endless. At 181 games, it is the longest and most storied rivalry in the history of pro football, with 21 NFL Championships between the two (Green Bay 12, Chicago 9) and four SuperBowl crowns (GB 3, Bears 1). Even better, the game won’t be played in any pansy assed dome. Nope, real dirt, sod and grass with heap load of wind and cold. Gonna be a scorcher, with the temperature expected to spike at 20 degrees, wind chill down to 10 with wind off Lake Michigan and possible lake effect snow. Booyah. Perfect.

We saw a preview of the conference championship between these two in the last week of the regular season, with the Pack eeking out a hard fought 10-3 win that they had to have to get in the playoffs at all. But Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and friends have been on a serious roll since then, with convincing wins over Philadelphia and Atlanta. Oh yeah, and it is not just Charles Woodson any more, Tramon Williams has risen from undrafted obscurity to be a big game difference maker. The Bears come in as the number two seed, but are a little harder to gauge as they had bye and an absolute blowout of Seattle last week. But I have to admit, the Bears are better than I gave them credit for. Their defense is once again tough and aggressive, Urlacher is healthy and playing with abandon and Jay Cutler has seemingly matured into a consistent quality pro quarterback. Despite being at home on Soldier Field, I think the two defenses cancel each other out and it comes down to leadership on offense. On that front, I will take Aaron Rodgers and the Pack for the win.

The nightcap features the Jets and Steelers in the Big Ketchup Bottle. Another game in the elements and on natural ground. From PFT:

In Pittsburgh, weather forecasters are predicting single digit temperatures on Sunday evening when the Steelers and Jets face off at Heinz Field. That could mark the coldest playoff game in team history; the temperature dropped to nine degrees in 2005 when the Patriots beat the Steelers.

Awesome. That’s only about 65 degrees less than where my seats for the game are located. The Jets are somewhat remarkably in the conference championship game for the second year in a row and in both years of the still nascent career of Mark Sanchez. You have to give the kid some credit, and a heavy helping to Rex Ryan too, he has really coached them up. They have an attitude and win, lose or draw, that is their character and they roll with it. The brash Jets are the buzz in the air, but the team on the other side of the ball just shows up and does what they always do. Bring their lunchbucket and get physical. Big Ben isn’t exactly Joe Montana stylish, but he is a load, is tough as nails, doesn’t quit and has a proven knack for the moment and big games. Rex Ryan isn’t the only guy who can coach up a defense, Dick Lebeau has been wreaking defensive havoc in the NFL since well before Ryan was born, and he clearly is not done yet. The Jets have the buzz, but the Stillers have the goods. And Troy Polamalu, Big Ben and Hines Ward. That’s a winning formula.

Get the beer, heat up some hot toddy, ready the chips and dip, cause whoa nelly we got a couple of real barnburners today. Here is a little pep talk for the occasion. Let’s get it on! Oh yeah, and to Mr. Olbermann, don’t let the door hit you where your head is on the way out.

[Editors Note: I sincerely apologize for the link in the first paragraph to The Final Countdown, now that nasty bit of big hair 80’s trash earwig music is going to be rattling around your brain, killing perfectly good gray matter, like it has been mine ever since yesterday.]