Thursday, November 20, 2014

NFL Week 12 Picks: Recovery Or Self-Delusion

TESTIFY!
Surviving in the NFL is, I think, kind of like being a closer in baseball. You have to get past the terrible games as quickly as possible, tell yourself the winning lie that it was just bad luck or the wrong day, and that you are really going to be fine, when in reality, of course, 31 of 32 teams aren't going to be.

And sure, there are teams that know they aren't good enough. Hell, the Raiders were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs before they finished eating their Halloween candy, and when you work in Oakland, where fandom requires cosplay, that's even more bitter. But the vast majority of NFL teams are on the knife edge of good enough and talented enough and lucky enough, so much so that a handful of turnovers or officiating calls can decide games, more than line play or schemes or all of the other factors.

(A small aside: this is one of the reasons, I think, why more and more teams are going to fast tempo offenses and games. If I can get more plays in the game, maybe I get another possession or two to happen, and maybe I'm able to take some of the variability of the game. It also points to why so many big spreads have been covered, and why individual games at night have been dogs. If you get up on, say, the Eagles, you're going to have a good chance to go up by more, and soon.)

So I'm going to pretend last week's spread nightmare didn't happen, what with the Giants coughing up untold opportunities to cover that +4 spread despite a turnover-happy QB, or the Steelers and Titans combining to drain the clock and ruin the cover, or how the Panthers took their foot off the gas and settled for the long figgie of loss at home. It's all gone now, along with any hope that the Eagles could make it to the Super Bowl with those corners, or that anyone can stop the Patriots (dear God in hell, can someone please stop the Patriots).

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

KANSAS CITY (-7) at Oakland


The Raiders have lost 16 straight games, and they don't seem that terrible, do they? QB Derek Carr has been able to avoid sacks, RB Latavius Murray and the WRs appear to have natural ability, and they just don't seem to be comedic in the way that terrible teams are supposed to be comedic. And yet here they are, 0-10 and getting closer and closer to history, without any really close calls to victory. Against a Chiefs team that has snuck their way into first place in the tough AFC West, they'll play tough and not cover a tolerable number, mostly because RB Jamal Charles is unfair, and RB2 Knile Davis is nearly as good as Charles. Also, the Chiefs might outscore the Raiders just on defense.

Chiefs 27, Raiders 17

CLEVELAND (+3) at Atlanta


Ready to hear an ungodly amount of words about WR Josh Gordon? You will... but honestly, you also probably should. Getting a true WR1 in the system might totally change the way the Browns are seen right now, which is to say, a nice story, defense and running game that will be DOA in a first-round playoff, mostly because they are surfing on the back of a week schedule. I think they are more than that, and even if they aren't, the Falcons can make you look like that way. In all kinds of a hurry.

Browns 26, Falcons 24

Tennessee at PHILADELPHIA (-11)


Every ingredient of blowout is present for this one. Clearly better team, at home? Check. Unequal rest? Yes, as Philly got the extra day over Tennessee, having lost at home on MNF. Rookie QB going into hostile territory? Mais oui; QB Zach Mettenberger hasn't ever stepped into a place like Philly before. Very pissed defense and special teams with scoring ability? Check and check. Tennessee's best hope at winning involves ball control, and the Green defense doesn't lose on middle runs. Add in the need for QB Mark Sanchez to ring up some numbers, and this is a game where you won't see the starters in the fourth quarter.

Eagles 41, Titans 24

Detroit at NEW ENGLAND (-7)


Wow, I hate giving this many points away. Detroit is just the kind of team, physically, that shows up in New England and ruins their lives in the playoffs, and the Pats won't be able to run to margin the way they did against the Colts last week. Detroit also needs the game something fierce after losing in Arizona, especially with the Pack looking like the NFC's new Big Bad. But CB Darrelle Revis can make WR Calvin Johnson as invisible as anyone, the Pats are too good at defusing pass rushes with screens, and the Lions haven't been a great road team for, well, ever. The home team covers late.

Patriots 31, Lions 20

Green Bay at MINNESOTA (+9.5)


Another potential blowout, but the Pack haven't been so good on the road, and some slight regression to the mean has to kick in at some point. I look for the Packers to grind this one out with RB Eddie Lacy and relative conservatism, and the Vikes to stay close with the home crowd and some exposure of the over-amped Packer defense. (You can't just move LB Clay Matthews to MLB and fix everything, can you?)

Packers 28. Vikings 20

Jacksonville at INDIANAPOLIS (+14)


Kind of the AFC version of the above game, with the noted difference is that the Colts are coming off a loss and angrier, along with facing a team that's more apt to turn the ball over. The Jags will get some points up, and maybe even sack QB Andrew Luck a bit -- the defense gets tot he QB, which is about the only thing they do well -- but eventually QB Blake Bortles will TAInt it up, and the Colts will cover the number.

Colts 41, Jaguars 24

CINCINNATI (+1) at Houston


Which Bengal team shows up this week -- the road club that stomped a mud hole into the Saints, or the home team that was utterly incompetent against the Browns, in a game where they could have seized the division? It's really more about the defenses they face, more than their own weirdness... but the fact that WR AJ Green looks right again gives me a lot of hope, as does the continued emergence of power RB Jeremy Hill. As for the Titans, they look better with QB Ryan Malett, but the way of such things is rarely smooth. And this secondary is still pretty bad.

Bengals 26, Texans 20

NY Jets at BUFFALO (-4)


This one's pretty simple: I think the Bills can dominate the game at the line level, and QB Michael Vick isn't going to be able to make enough plays to sustain drives. Buffalo's also going to be able to get the ball to WR Sammy Watkins, and the last time that happened, it wasn't good for Green. Add in the tough home field and elements, and this will be sloppy. The Jets don't do well with sloppy.

Bills 20, Jets 13

Tampa at CHICAGO (-5.5)


The 2-8 Bucs are alive in the NFC South "race", and they have a WR rookie stud in Mike Evans, who tore the Slurs apart last week in an improbable win. It gets harder in Chicago, where road teams generally don't do all that well, especially when they have porous secondaries.

Bears 27, Bucs 17

ARIZONA (+6.5) at Seattle


I've carried the water for the defending champs for a long time, and there are reasons to like them here. Home game, they are in real danger of missing the playoffs with a loss, Red doesn't really need the game and using QB2. But Seattle's passing offense hasn't been able to sustain drives, and won't be able to against these quality corners. This strikes me as a 3-point game, not a 7-point one.

Seahawks 24, Cardinals 20

St. Louis at SAN DIEGO (-4.5)


Hell of a win last week for the Rams, who shocked the world by taking out Denver at home... but home is home and road is road, and while the Chargers are beat up and seem vulnerable, it's hard to see how the Rams are ready for actual prosperity. Neither of these teams are going anywhere, but the Chargers are good enough at game planning to hide that, at least against a sub .500 team at home.

Chargers 24, Rams 17

Miami at DENVER (-7)


How quickly things change, eh? Short of an injury to QB Peyton Manning, this line changed a ton with last week's results. And there are good reasons to like the Fish here, not the least of which is longer rest and a solid defense... but altitude and winter weather are great equalizers, and Miami isn't going to be able to sustain drives in the passing game. Finally, this: Manning hasn't become Manning by failing to recover from poor games.

Broncos 28, Dolphins 17

Washington at SAN FRANCISCO (-9)


Should the Slurs bench Bob Griffin for Colt McCoy, or any other QB that gives them a chance to win without post-game interviews that appear to throw his teammates under the bus? Well, if winning games were really the thing that the Slurs should be doing right now, no... but the plain and simple fact of the matter is that the only thing left for this canker of a franchise is to figure out if Bob can overcome adversity and keep the job for more than some nice games in his rookie year. He'll get no favors from a Niners team that needs the game, knows that home field has not been kind and won't sleep on this, and has an offense that isn't suffering from overconfidence.

Niners 27, Slurs 16

DALLAS (-3) at NY Giants


This week's SNF game pits Big Blue, owners of a scary long losing streak that only survived last week through ridiculous play-calling and poor luck. They get a rested Dallas team that is getting the easiest schedule in the NFL this year -- seriously, a late season bye, Thanksgiving at home, "road" game in London against a terrible Jags team -- and as Dallas ratings are winning ratings for the NFL, my conspiracy antennae are up.

As for the game in question, Blue's too beaten up in the secondary, turnover-prone on offense, and not likely to get to QB Tony Romo and knock him out. But if they do... that's how they'd win this one.

Cowboys 27, Giants 20

BALTIMORE (+3) at New Orleans


I'm officially appalled by the NFC South, and actively rooting for the division champion to go 6-10, or something equally absurd. The Saints are missing WR Brandin Cooks, have a gimpy TE in Jimmy Graham, protection issues for QB Drew Brees, and Brees might not be all that great any more, either. Add that up to a defense that doesn't scare any one, and you are just left with home field at night. Against a rested Ravens team that needs the game to win an actually competitive division, that's not enough.

Ravens 31, Saints 23

Last week: 3-10

Year to date: 78-79-2

Career: 566-579-41

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Throw Me Low Smoke

Occasionally, life just gives you great opportunities. Tonight was one.

My company, through reasons best left undiscussed because that's a whole 'nother post that isn't really about what you come to this blog for, sponsors a table at an annual charity auction and banquet held by Major League Baseball. Normally we're able to fill that table with execs, clients and the like, and said folk get to meet and greet the players and ex-players. They are mostly hustle and community spirit award winners, as well as local MLB dignitaries. This year, the table was light, so one of our sales guys made me an offer: come on up and fill a seat, so we don't look bad. No worries, I'm there.

At this year's event were all kinds of notables from the recent and less-recent past. Wade Boggs, Brooks Robinson, Clint Hurdle, Josh Harrison, Ron Darling, Al Leiter and more, hosted by Gary Thorne, held at a really nice space in the southern tip of Manhattan. Everyone in the room can more or less buy and sell me, and everyone in the room (especially the players) is up to 2X my size. I've got nothing to sell, and I'm just here to do a solid for my company...

But, well, there's one guy on the list of dignitaries that fascinates me. Jim Bouton.

If you don't know the name, you really should. Bouton is the writer of "Ball Four", a seminal work of American journalism, and no, I'm not over-hyping it. Bouton's frank, candid, hilarious and touching story of what it was like to be scuffling along at the back end of pitching staffs post-injury in the awakening '60s made him persona non grata in baseball circles for a really long time...

But time heals, Bowie Kuhn ain't around no more, and MLB has just come to grips with the fact that Bouton's book grew the tent of baseball fandom. It also made me, in my teens, want to be a sports writer, and realize that you could be smart and like the game, even if you didn't go into full math nerd and sabermetric your way to obnoxiousness. (For the record, I see a place for all of that stuff, but if that's the only thing that keeps you watching baseball, you really need to go try derivatives or the bond market or something else where you can get all of that unfortunate meat out of the way.)

A side word first: in general, I do not believe in meeting your heroes. There's only one way for that interaction to go, usually, and it's not happy. As a 16-year-old, I got the chance to interview Kurt Vonnegut after he wrapped up an NPR interview, and as the author bemusedly went on auto-pilot for my too earnest questions, then shuffled his way out of the room before his PR handler could even make the cut motion, it was a hard thing to get over. I also have had experiences with musical celebs from helping to run a trade show, and gigging with my own band, that weren't always great. It's generally better to let the work live in your own mind, rather than press your luck with a personal experience.

But, well, um... Jim Bouton. The funniest, coolest and most real athlete to ever tell his own story. The guy who invented Big League Chew, which I inhaled as a kid? The guy whose sequels I read, who always seemed awesome in interviews, and the guy who basically predicted "Bull Durham" by reporting what his manager said to him during a visit to the mound. ("Throw him low smoke and we'll go pound some Budweiser." The Seattle Pilots were not overthinking things, folks.)

Hmm. Maybe after a drink or two to steady the nerves.

Another aside: I'm not a slam dunk at parties. I have social anxieties that I generally have to get over, either with determination or a little booze. I've got a bit of a muddled voice that can be hard to parse, and I'm the size of a middle schooler. You can, and would, overlook me, and I'm OK with that, much of the time. I stay out of a lot of fights, and try not to get on too many nerves. (Oh, and I also drink maybe once a month, and never to real excess, because, well, my late father was an alcoholic and a real mess, so I check myself from having Real Fun pretty quick.)

I wasn't exactly sure what Bouton looked like at this point in his life, and I'm not the kind of guy to just burst my way around the room asking for names... but then my sales guy tells me that, Whole E Crap, he's the celeb at our table. And no one at my company knows his backstory, and dammit they should, so I even have a reason to engage. And I do, and Bouton's warm and open and caring and Whole E Crap, Jim Bouton and I are just talking like guys.

It turns out that Bouton is as sharp as ever, generous with his time, thrilled to meet people who want to talk to him about his work as a writer, and still as genuinely subversive of the powers that be in MLB as ever. He delights in 50-year-old stories where he pranked a teammate, which reminded me of a 15-year-old story of doing that to a boss, and we're freaking kin. I thought I was going to fall on the floor trying to hold in the laughter as Thorne duly recited Bouton's statistics as a pitcher, steadfastly refusing to mention his book, as he went around the room to tell us who was who at all of the tables. And now my man is whispering snarky profanities in my ear, and I'm engaging with him, writer to writer, and it's like I've just made an immediate and great friend who I've kind of known for decades, but have just never had the chance to speak to.

So, in summation...

If you haven't read "Ball Four", do it.

If you get a chance to meet Jim Bouton, do that, too.

And if you want to buy the first baseball I've ever asked anyone to autograph, ever in my whole life...

It's not for sale.

Thanks again, Jim.

Monday, November 17, 2014

FTT Off-Topic: The Eldest And The Future

My kid's first professor
Not sports, you've been warned.

My eldest is 14 and a high school freshman. Like many such creatures, she's worried about what college and her life will be like, because planning everything out is something that people do, and not knowing where she will be or what she will do is intolerable.

I get that. So I jumped the gun by more than a wee bit, and took her to my college this weekend.

Why so soon -- literally years before the other kids? Well, my college is Syracuse University, and I don't really enjoy driving in snow, so making a drive up in deeper winter was not high on my list of priorities. She's also a gymnast, and has meets on two of three weekends in November, so yesterday was really the only day that was going to work.

Which was a bit of a large problem, in that it was the day after my every three-week Friday night poker game, which can run as late as 4am... and we were due in Syracuse, a 4+ hour ride, at 8:30 am. Things got done a little earlier than usual, so I was able to get an hour nap before getting her and a friend in the car for the ride up, but still, yeah. Tough grind.

A few words about Syracuse: I'm very conflicted about my time there. I got two degrees in three years, and have had a lucrative career as an adult with part of what I learned there as a base... but I also graduated with over $40K in debt (in 1990), despite working constantly throughout my time there. I worked 70+ hours a week while also taking a full course load, and I stole food and rang up credit card debt, and it was just nothing but struggle. The school also increased tuition by double digits every year while doing things like paying an ad agency several million dollars for a new logo, rather than let the kids learning such things take a shot at it for free. It's also something like $60K a year, so absent some absurd scholarship action or wildly happy moments in my professional life, it's not that feasible a place for her to go. She knew all of this going in, and that this was going to be a sales pitch. But it was also going to be a little bit more.

My school knows something about selling... so what they did instead of the usual tour of buildings and talks with teachers and students was to give their guests a couple of sample lectures, following a visit to individual colleges with your majors inside the main. The first bit was with kids from the school of education, in that my kid's first instinct for a profession is teacher; that was OK but middling. And the second session was with Professor Stephen Kuusisto, a blind man and the professor of disability studies, who you see pictured above. The professor is an expert on the changing definition and subject of how the defined disabled are integrating with society, and he's absolutely aces.

It turns out that the modern definition of disabled is purely an invention of the Industrial Age, with scary government and economic forces promoting the subjugation. That such people were employed once, and then not any more, and then eventually murdered by eugenics monsters, and even prosecuted if they just showed their face in public. (The last part? In America. Recently.)

And the magic is that my kid is getting it, understanding the vast majority of the vocabulary and concepts, and the scales of how she isn't smart enough to be on this campus, or that she wouldn't be able to understand what's being discussed... are just falling away. Next session wasn't as interesting, but my kid is as with it from an intellectual level. Then we have lunch in a residence hall, and the idea that you have to live off-campus? Fading. And so on, and so on.

We're a long way away from completing the process, and the money terrifies everyone involved. But the future has been seen, if not at my school than somewhere else, and that was so worth the pain and trauma involved in all of that driving, on that little sleep. And hopefully, I'll get to the point where my kid isn't applying to dozens of schools, having massive freakouts and a crisis in self-confidence.

Next, we'll work out visits to some other schools -- my wife's alma mater is West Chester, Rutgers and Princeton are close and relatively solid, I worked at Penn once and think it might be a good place for her, and I've got friends at Hofstra and North Carolina, and there are other ideas as well.

We've got plenty of time.

Especially when the future is no longer is filled with uncertainty and fear.

A good day.

Top 10 NFL Week 11 Takeaways

The last 9-1 Cards Team Was Pre-Color
10) After giving up 50 points in back to back weeks, Chicago held the Vikings to 10 first downs and 13 points, proving that if Bear Fan just boos long enough, everything will be all right

9) JJ Watt scored on the signature highlight of the week that didn't involve Mark Sanchez and a "Yakity Sax" soundtrack

8) If the season ended today, neither the Seahawks or Niners would make the playoffs, as neither has been well, very good this year

7) Someone has to win the NFC South, though the teams involved in that division truly beg to differ

6) Denver was held to 7 points in a road loss to the Rams that Jeff Fisher will use to remain employed for the next three years of sub .500 football

5) Bill Bellichick and the Colts made scrub RB Jonas Gray a star with 38 carries for 199 yards with 4 touchdowns, leading to a huge waiver wire rush and fail when he gets five carries next week

4) With QB Eli Manning having already thrown four picks against the Niners at home, the Giants called four straight passes, three of them fades, on first and goal from the 3 with five minutes left... leading to pick number five and the loss

3) Carolina's Ron Rivera played conservatively for a long field goal late against the Falcons at home, which was, of course, missed for the critical play in a 2-point loss

2) The Raiders have now lost 16 games in a row over the past two seasons, and are only 10 more straight losses from taking out the 1970s Yuccaneers as the most futile franchise in NFL history

1) Arizona beat the Lions behind all kinds of shady officiating and shakier quarterbacking, and the franchise is 9-1 for the first time in 66 years, with a 3-game lead in the division with six games to play

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Eagles - Packers Takeaways

Welcome To Pretender Land
> K Cody Parkey nearly fell during the opening kickoff, which was foreboding

> Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers saw no reason to focus on CB Cary Williams, since CB Bradley Fletcher was also found so very wanting

> Yellow did not bother with a running game for much of the day, because, well, um, why not

> K Mason Crosby, possibly the only Packer to not have a good day, drew in a 22-yard figgie, which is hard to do

> On Yellow's first sack. QB Mark Sanchez was taken down helmet to helmet by DT Latroy Guion, who turned RG Matt Tobin into a turnstile

> On Green's first down, Sanchez overthrew the covered RB Darren Sproles without a lot of pressure, the first of many huh decisions on the day

> There was no pass rush for Green during the part of the game that mattered

> Snap and fumble and big loss for 14 is a Yellow gift

> QB Aaron Rodgers to TE Andrew Quarless to convert 3rd and 18 redefined easy in our time

> On a 3rd and 10 to somehow get off the field, the Yellow QB hit TE Richard Rodgers for another easy one, and we were all reminded how losing LB DeMecco Ryans matters

> When the secondary blitzed, they didn't bother Rodgers at all, either

> Lacy through overmatched defense for 10 as CB Brandon Boykin is down, and this is looking like men against boys so far

> Rodgers continued the surgery with a throw to WR Davonte Adams, simple six yard slant and score, and Fletcher gets a friendly fire face mask as well as the TD against

> Polk puts it on the ground, but STer Brad Smith saved this from earlier garbage time with a recovery

> On 2nd and 7, Yellow declined a holding penalty, because they correctly just wanted to get to the third down conversion fail faster

> PR Micah Hyde with the return score made sure that all facets of the team got beat today

> STer Josh Huff with the whiff on that, and he's having a fairly tragic rookie year

> After 13 minutes, it was Yellow 17, Green 0, and over

> Under the heading of glimmers, Sanchez to Sproles for 16 on a well-done screen was pretty, and he also led McCoy perfectly for 18 at the end of the first quarter

> As soon as Fox cited the impossible to sustain small sample size red zone work by Sanchez, I knew that was going away, too

> On 3rd and 2, Sanchez got destroyed by LB Clay Mathews, who didn't bite on the run fake at all

> I suppose it was good that Sanchez was able to finish this game

> Parkey from 33 connects, so he didn't, for the most part, join in the suckage

> Parkey with another stumbling kickoff and tolerable outcome

> Yellow ran play action, as if Rodgers needed more time, for another 22 to Cobb

> There was a batted ball is the first half, so I can confirm that the Eagle defensive line did exist in this game

> Packer WR Randall Cobb out-toughed Williams for 11, which is a little disturbing when you remember that Cobb is a smurf

> Rodgers to Nelson for a 27 yard TD could not have been any easier for Yellow

> Nelson is just way better than Fletcher, or anyone else who plays CB for Green

> 24-3 Yellow, with Rodgers at 232 yards in less than 20 minutes of game play

> Just FYI, the single-game record for yards passing in a game is Norm Van Brocklin at 554, so yeah, the pace was not good

> Fox confirmed that Green Bay is better than any other place to watch football, eat meat, or be white

> I've seen every play from scrimmage this year, of course, and that slow left sweep has never worked

> 3rd and 6 and time for a sack is Sanchez missing Matthews, open and deep, and that's on the WR, too

> Lacy for 6 on a screen, and yeah, that was into a blitz, so even the play-calling stank

> Rodgers was actually sacked and fumbled on a play by DE Vinny Curry, but the room service hop let Yellow gain back much of the yards

> On 3rd and 7 from the gun, Rodgers hit Cobb for 13, as the WR left Fletcher's underwear on the ground

> Rodgers took a timeout, mostly because he looked incapable of stifling laughter, then ran for 16 for something new to do

> Rodgers used a lot of clock between plays, so as to not make the blowout too extreme

> Lacy scored through Fletcher to make it 30-3, and my laundry fought more after the whistle than before

> Sanchez had many issues with snaps in this one, which is not exactly new with him

> Even on a 3rd and 12 to convert with TE Zach Ertz, Sanchez left yards on the table with a relatively poor throw

> Foles to Matthews for 40 was nice work by both ends, and could have had 15 more on a late QB hit

> Sanchez pumps and misses Matthews, 18 seconds left in the half

> Slow tempo, Sanchez shakes off a sack, then overthrows Cooper, not very open in the end zone

> 3rd and 10 from the 10 with timeouts left is slow tempo and a near grounding

> So much for the Sanchez is Red Zone Magic meme, and RT Jason Peters got owned

> Parkey connected from 33 to make it 30-6 at the half

> A third down conversion to Maclin got the WR 26 fighting yards, so he didn't give up in this one

> The fumble to end that drive took out any cheap source of dignity or comeback

> That's equal parts a high handoff from Sanchez, and the RB paying too much attention to reading the coverage, so Sanchez got the turnover more on reputation than reality

> Rodgers with the deep ball to Nelson, but Fletcher separates it, and that's a nice play by the CB, which we should recognize, given its relative rarity

> A long clock after the bomb failed should have been a delay flag, and was finally grounding against Yellow, with CB Brandon Boykin ending the play by engaging in patty cake with Rodgers

> On 3rd and 22, the Green defense did get off the field, proving it was in fact possible to do

> Sanchez from the gun double pumped on the screen, but LB Clay Matthews ended it anyway, and that was one of many moments of bad comedy for the QB

> Sanchez throws it away on big coverage, and Yellow is now rushing few and making him by exact, which you will see a lot of in the future

> Sanchez missed an open Ertz, bad overthrow from a secure pocket, and yeah, he's still Mark Sanchez

> Jones with a weak kick, and we've got 28 minutes of garbage time ahead

> Rodgers from the gun shakes off pressure, then gets 16, and he's just unfair

> Rodgers with his first bad throw of the day, but it's safe and out of bounds

> Williams stopped RB James Starks on a screen, and yay, moments of defensive competence

> I did see Connor Barwin on the field today, just in case you didn't

> Sanchez to Celek for 10, good pocket, then McCoy for 5, not quite quick enough to get past S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who is down after the play ends

> The rookie S left under his own power, and for once, Eagle Fan can't really be all that grumbly about takes to stop tempo

> Huff drops a catchable ball, and yeah, he's keeping Brad Smith and Jeff Mahel employed

> LB Julius Peppers with the TAInt and Lambeau Leap, and yeah, he's still Mark Sanchez

> On the TAInt, Sanchez was flagged for a 15 yard clip, which I've never seen in 40 years of watching football

> If you wondered about seeing if QB Matt Barkley could be any worse, or why the last 21 minutes of this required the use of QB1 and RB1, you were not alone

> Maclin for 7 as Yellow looks fighty for turnovers

> McCoy for 13 on small pride by the OL, then Sanchez to Cooper for 14 off play action

> Sanchez misses Cooper, open in the end zone, and nope, neither of these guys are good enough, scheme be damned

> Sanchez to Ertz for 6, then misses Sproles, crazy open on the wheel route, could have been a score against the LB

> 4th and 4 as Yellow's crowd gets loud, and Sanchez hits Ertz for 22; small amount of hope that the TE is coming alive again

> McCoy for 4, then Maclin for 4 on slippery screen

> 3rd and 2 from the 10 is a screen to Matthews, and the rookie WR shows excellent strength with the straight arm for a score

> Not S Morgan Burnett's finest hour, but Matthews does have beast-like tendencies

> Kelly did not go for the onside kick while down 26 with 17 minutes left, because, well, he knew there was no point

> Max clock and Lacy for 6 and 5 and 37 and yeah, so much for the defense being able to stop the run, even when it's an obvious play call

> Rodgers throws one away on good coverage, then converts on 3rd and 10 for the 45th time today, this one to Lacy, who beasts his way through the Eagle defense for a 32-yard score

> After the touchdown, Yellow threw a bucket of confetti on Green while whistling "Sweet Georgia Brown"

> 46-13 Yellow after 45:20 of play, so, um, yeah, this isn't good

> McCoy for 6, Sanchez misses the covered Sproles on a what are you doing throw, then throws a terrible back foot pick against pressure

> You can safely end those Sanchez Renaissance memes now

> Crosby missed from 50, and honestly, the score could have been a lot worse today

> Kelly did what he could for the fantasy players of America

> Sanchez with the comedy snap fumble for the leisurely Yellow defensive score, and that one's going on the Benny Hill highlight reel, too

> C Jason Kelce has had problems with snaps since coming back from injury, and it's nice that Green is making sure this one is as bad as humanly possible

> Matthews went for 36 on a 3rd and 12 for the least relevant 100 yard yardage game ever

> Maclin ended the drive with a 20-yard score, so not as if Green quit out there

> Packer Fan lives to yell Kuhn, for some reason

> Flynn to Cobb for 12, and it looks like the WR snuck on to pad his numbers

> Cheap shot by LT JC Tredder on LB Trent Cole with 4 minutes left is a little telling

> Jenkins with a punt block as the Green ST pads their numbers, 5th of the year

> RB Chris Polk gets 3 as McCoy's fantasy owners curse a blue streak, then loses 2 on the stretch play that hasn't worked all year

> Sanchez to WR Brad Smith, drops a good ball at the 2, and yeah, he's not exactly pushing Huff for playing time

> Fourth and goal is Polk on the right side stretch for fail, just to make Yellow's defensive day complete

> Kneeling ends it, and my laundry is 7-3, but with nearly no chance of a first round bye, since they keep losing head to head against teams they might be competing with for slots

> That's the most points allowed in 42 years for my laundry, and a thorough beat down in every aspect of the game, on national TV

> Next week is a bounceback game against the putrid Titans, but honestly, it's kind of hard to care when the ceiling of your laundry has been shown so clearly