Friday, December 31, 2010

Giving It Away

There's a week left in the NFL season, and in all likelihood, two games in the Eagles' season, and as I stare down the barrel of a cold winter and all that implies -- shoveling, shivering, and over-preparing for a baseball draft that's three months away -- well, it's time to remember why we watch sports.

We watch to lose.

We lose time, and money, and patience and blood pressure points and dignity. We suffer untold indignities and the jealousy of people we disdain, for the occasional payoff that's more relief from misery, rather than pure joy. And the joy is taken quickly, since there is always another game, and rare definitive moments where you end things plainly and irrevocably well.

By the way, the same thing goes for playing poker.

But here's the thing that I got from shivering at the Linc on Tuesday night, knowing that everyone in my sphere of influence and friendship were going to razz me for causing the loss... I didn't have a bad time. I was out, at a game, with a really good friend. I got to spend four hours thinking really hard about something that doesn't really matter, with complete and total distraction form work and money worries. I couldn't clean anything, write anything, work on any household project or wish I was anywhere else. And honestly, how often is that set of conditions true for you, and shouldn't you always be happy when they do?

Before my kids were born, when I had time and the illusion of disposable income, I played golf. It never quite got to the level of obsession, but I probably played 50 rounds over a couple of years, and on the right (i.e, short) course with a hot putter, I could break 90. More often, I was in the 100-110 range, and something worse than that, because there was never a round where every club in the bag was working. But there was also never a round where I really regretted going, even when the greens fees cost too much, or the round took forever due to crowded conditions, or I just stunk it up and lost a dozen balls. Because even when things starting going badly, I'd remind myself that I was playing golf. And that's supposed to be fun.

Like going to games, or watching them, or writing about sports.

Win or lose. Or, much more likely, lose. And if you can't take that, or want to pretend that it's not going to happen to you... find something else to watch.

As for me... well, my football laundry is doomed. My fantasy team is going to bubble. My baseball team is a fraud, and my basketball team is, at best, on an entertaining treadmill. And no one is pointing a gun to my head and making me care. So let's play.

Top 10 takeaways from UConn's Women's Basketball team losing

10) Stanford, the team that beat them, was the last school to take them down in 2008, so, um, there's that

9) If you can name any of the current players for either team without a blood or dating relation, you have a problem

8) UConn's male basketball team can go back to being called the Huskies now, rather than the Male Huskies

7) Coach Geno Auriemma gets to use up his 15 minutes of fame faster than expected

6) ESPN can go back to showing this sport 10X more than its viewers wants, rather than 100X

5) The sport now actually has a rivalry that isn't roans versus bays

4) Stanford's recruiting efforts to get a big boost, since there were very few reasons to go to the school before

3) Auriemma gets to go back to screaming at his players, whining about the refs, and in general, behaving like every other coach on the planet

2) Some truly degenerate betters just lost the use of their thumbs

1) America can now go safely back to ignoring women's basketball

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top 12 reasons why Tucker Carlson thinks Mike Vick "should have been executed"

12) Part of an under-ground ring who watch gladiator slave men fight to the death, and really wanted to see Vick compete in that arena

11) Secretly favors capital punishment for thousands of crimes

10) It's a slow "news" day over at Fox "News" Channel

9) Since Barack Obama recently came out in favor of Vick's second chance, he's contractually obligated to find something wrong with that

8) Just wanted to be part of the long-standing tradition of right-wing blowhards to say something asinine about a star black Eagles QB

7) Carlson's brand of old-school indulgence Christianity only gives second chances to corporate sinners

6) Tucker, like many other bow-tie wearers with bloodlust issues, is a closet Giants fan

5) Carlson's original attack was to be on the Eagles for having a commitment to renewable energy, but the check from BP bounced

4) Still hoping for a rematch against Jon Stewart, and thinks this might be his chance

3) Has the pure conviction and guts necessary to offend both of Fox's black viewers

2) Really annoyed that his bet of the Eagles to cover the spread against the Vikings didn't work out

1) Missed the waiver claim on Vick in his fantasy football league, and lost his nerd league as a result

NFL Week 17 Picks: Enter The Tenties

This week marks the actual start of the second decade of the new century, as well as the 50th year anniversary of the last Eagles team that ended the year with a playoff win. It's also the first time that we can start thinking about a new decade name to generalize the era in a simplistic and superficial way that won't actually work, but will allow for lazy writers and producers to refer to the era in a way that will make us all think, "Oh, that time when we all got used to a lower standard of life. Woo!"

I realize this is unduly downbeat, especially considering that this picks column went 11-5 ATS this week, pulling the lifetime mark back over .500... but considering that we were 11-3 before the home favorites dogged it on Week Night Football, even a solid week gives me a good case of the snarls. There's also the fact that with a week left in the season-long fantasy points league, I'm right where I always am -- smack dab on the bubble, with a better than even chance of not getting my money back, but also having a poor draft position for next year. I'm just a big old ball of happy about all of this, of course. But what the hey, maybe I pick better when I'm angry.

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

Carolina at ATLANTA (-14.5)

The only happy moment from last night's wildly frustrating MNF game for this Falcons backer was reading the Bad Tooth's Twitter feed, where he puled hard for hours about how bad a pick he had made. In a home loss by three points to the defending Super Bowl champions, in a game where your sure-handed power running back fumbles at the one. Honestly, how many more Boston teams have to win championships until this mind-boggingly spoiled only child drops the woe is me attitude? So at least I got to enjoy his misery.

This week, with the #1 seed still on the line and RB Michael Turner looking for redemption, against a team that never actually started trying this year, against a QB that will never start another game in the NFL... well, let's just say the Falcons have a bye. They just will have to play through it.

Falcons 31, Panthers 10

PITTSBURGH at Cleveland (+6)

If RB Peyton Hillis weren't worn out, I'd really like the Browns to cover this number. It's a division game with a hated adversary, and the Browns' passing defense and offensive line are both quality units. But they won't be able to avoid mistakes in the passing game, and Steeler Nation will do their level best to ruin the Browns' home field advantage. When you add in the extra rest for the road team, and the fact that their last game was a rollover against the Panthers, I think they make the number. With a hard sweat.

Steelers 21, Browns 13

MINNESOTA at Detroit (-3

The Vikings come in with an utterly unexpected road win against the Eagles, and get a thoroughly banged up Lions team in a game that should not be televised, and probably won't be seen outside of the local markets. Minny will have a better chance if they start rookie QB Joe Webb, who will have a much better chance of avoiding the Lions rush than ancient drama queen QB Brett Favre. I'm hoping that since the game won't be on Big TV, His Favreness will stay away after the last concussion. But you never know.

In any event, RB Adrian Peterson looked manly last week, and the Vikings defense will compete. The Lions have had a nice year, but they are still two years away.

Vikings 24, Lions 20

OAKLAND at Kansas City (-4)

Nothing to play for with the Chiefs, who should bench the starters and take a de facto bye week against their irrelevant rivals. Since it's a home game, there's a reasonable chance that the Chiefs avoid that, but even if they do, the Raiders have a power running game and enough playmakers to make the number. But honestly, if I were a Chiefs Fan, I'd be hoping for a lot of QB Brodie Croyle to give starting QB Matt Cassel a better chance to recover from his recent appendectory. I'd also be sending the Bengals a thank you card for taking out the Chargers, and to Chargers management for hiring Norv Turner.

Raiders 26, Chiefs 24

Miami at NEW ENGLAND (-2.5)

The low number reflects the fact that everyone expects the Patriots to sit their starters in a big way, and the Dolphins have been a surprisingly good road team this year. But the thing about the Patriots is that they don't actually like to be predictable, and they also don't lose at home, no matter who they start. I'm also really not thinking the Dolphins are in any mood to do anything but arrange tee times after they've had their season ruined by terrible QB play.

Patriots 27, Dolphins 17

Tampa Bay at NEW ORLEANS (-8)

The Bucs need this game more than the Saints, but they just aren't healthy enough to compete, and the Saints are still dreaming of a home playoff game. But even if they don't get one of those -- and with the Falcons playing the Panthers, they won't -- they will be moved to give their fans a nice last look at the defending champions.

Saints 34, Bucs 17

Buffalo at NY JETS (-1)

Nothing to play for but pride and momentum for the Jets, which means they have more to play for than the Bills. The real danger here is if backup QB Mark Brunnell looks better than starter Mark Sanchez, not that anyone but the most reactionary Jets fan would want to go to an ancient rag-armer. In other words, all of them.

Jets 24, Bills 16

CINCINNATI at Baltimore (-9.5)

A nice end of the year from the Benglas, who have popped two in a row once WR Terrell Owens was carted off. They've also done quite well against the Ravens, with RB Cedric Benson having much more success than expected against the stout Ravens line. Since Baltimore needs the game to improve playoff positioning, the world expects them to come out and crush in this game... but with WR Anquan Boldin being MIA for the second half of the season, they just aren't that explosive. Cincy will cover, but not win.

Ravens 28, Bengals 20

San Diego at DENVER (-3.5)

Who cares less? I'm giving in to the Jebus Tebow Train here, as the rookie has been productive, and given the Broncos enough of a threat to wake up the running game. I also think that there's something going on here -- a cult, perhaps? -- that will combine with the home crowd to give the Broncos the nod. Charger Fan might prefer a return to wild fires or murd slides than Norvalicisous.

Broncos 24, Chagers 17

Chicago at GREEN BAY (-10)

The game of the day... until the Eagles spit the bit against the Vikings, giving the Bears an effort-free bye, and causing the remaining Giants Fans who still wanted to see their team make the playoffs (not many of them at this point) to ramp up the hate. The Bears will mail this one in to their hated rival, rather than risk exposure to what might be a (much) better team right now. This one won't be close, and the Packers will also be resting starters in the second half.

Packers 31, Bears 10

Tennessee at INDIANAPOLIS (-10)

Rising once again are the Colts, who have spent the last month defending the run well (the bastards) and getting a semblance of a running game together. They actually need the game to clinch the division and their playoff spot, not that there will be any drama involved in that, since the Jaguars no longer have QB David Garrard. One more solid week will have loose observers thinking that the Colts are back. They aren't, but it will take another week to learn that. (Oh, and if this isn't the last game of Jeff Fisher's remarkably long career as the Titans' head man, it's just his job for life.)

Colts 34, Titans 17


I couldn't be more confident about this game, for one big reason: Eagles QB Kevin Kolb is actually very good, and the team as a whole will not spend two straight weeks stinking up the joint, even if there is nothing on the line. Eagles coach Andy Reid has a great track record for recovering from crush games, because he rarely if ever holds his own players out to dry in public, preferring to take the heat for himself. Against a mobile but not that mobile rookie QB Stephen McGee, with a locker room filled with players who are suddenly doubting themselves and not looking forward to hosting a terrifying Packers team, they'll need a pick me up. And the Cowboys will provide it.

Eagles 34, Cowboys 24

ARIZONA at San Francisco (-6.5)

Finally, the wort playoff contending team in modern history -- the Mike Singletary 49ers, who ping-ponged between terrible QBs while wasting defensive talent -- is out. This week, sans useless coach and in front of a home crowd that actually chanted this year for David Carr, they'll host the similar train wrecky Cardinals, who at least look like a team this month. To think, if they had just went for Donovan McNabb, Jason Campbell, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shaun Hill or a dozen other properties, they'd have double-digit wins and December off to lie in the weeds for a 5th seed. Criminal.

Cardinals 24, Niners 20

NEW YORK at Washington (+3)

The Giants need the game and start a turnover machine. The Skins don't, and start a bigger turnover machine. I'll go with the club that can get after the QB more, and try to forget how I thought that both of these teams were going to win 10+ games and get into the playoffs this year.

Giants 31, Redskins 20

Jacksonville at HOUSTON (-2.5)

Two of the more disappointing teams in the league, in that both of them could have saved us from another Peyton Manning postseason, but didn't. With Texans Fan supposedly on the verge of protests for the head of lame-schmuck coach Gary Kubiak, I'm looking for the home team to put a big number on the board, with RB Arian Foster continuing to be one of the best values this year in fantasy football. And yes, if I had simply pulled the trigger on him in my league, I definitely take down money, and maybe even the crown. So much hate. (And getting back to this game? The Jaguars are starting Trent "Captain Checkdown" Edwards at QB. Don't be stingy in your road bet against him, folks.)

Texans 34, Jaguars 16

ST. LOUIS at Seattle (-1.5)

The only game on the docket that NBC could flex for guaranteed playoff goodness is NFC West Kom Oh Dee, where the home Seahawks can qualify for the post-season with a losing record by just getting past the visting baby Rams. St. Louis has hopes on the health, or lack thereof, of Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck. It's not like Hass is actually any good, but his backup, Charlie Whitehurst, is just terrible, and it's not as if the Seattle run game or defense can carry the mail alone. I'm looking for the Rams, the only team in the NFC West that anyone can even feel remotely good about, to take it down. (And maybe even scare their road favorite in next week's playoff game. For about 1.5 quarters.)

Rams 25, Seahawks 16

Last week: 11-5

Year to date: 112-115-15

Career: 393-392-25

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Am Shiva, Destroyer Of Teams, And On Some Level, That's OK

I warned you all, didn't I?

Tonight in South Philly, I took my tale of witnessed woe with my football team to an unconscionable 0-4 in the Andy Reid Era. He's 118-67, for a winning percentage of just under 64%, in games I don't go to. He's 48-24-1 in the last four years, which is when I've gone to games, for a winning percentage of 66%... and 0-4 in the games I've been at. That's 0-2 at home and 0-2 on the road.

How bad has it been? I can tell when it's coming before the game even begins. Tonight, I wound up taking the wrong route to my friend's house (I-95, which was slow and go and added 45 minutes to my trip, instead of going south through New Jersey). Then I got caught in an accident that cut I-95 past the stadium down to one lane, leading to a dive and dash to the game that made us a few minutes late overall. On the way over, I went too early for the chemical heat insoles, which stopped working at peak efficiency in the second half. (I am old, and will do whatever I can to be warm now. It's sad.)

We then wound up getting pressed like salmon into a security guard pat-down, where the mild-mannered Five Tool Ninja had to get confrontational with a shoving lummox. As my man said, "Football games can be idiot magnets." And the idiocy was only amplified when we got to the seats.

I try to find small moments of charity in my day to day life, especially in public. There's just no point in being Angry Guy in public, especially when you have Shetland Human status; it's better to just try to be invisible. I'm too old to throw down with fools, and have a wife and daughters. But the guys in the row behind us tonight? Moved, I was. Tempted as well. But resisted.

Here's what vexed me so. Tweedle Dee was a guy who was either drunk enough to impersonate a Tourette's sufferer, or well, just a Tourette's sufferer. He said "HOE-GUNNN!" at least a hundred times in three hours of game time tonight, in the frequency of about five times a minute. Whether this was a wrestling or Hogan's Heroes homage, I'm not sure. Other things that were said about 100 times tonight where "I WILL END YOU", "TAKE A KNEE", and "SUCK MY (WITHHELD)". I'd like him to die. Slowly. With acid involved, and a gag. Then, we can start adding value.

At no point were these bon mots relevant to the game. At no point did anyone else in our section encourage him, or even crack a smile. At no point in the evening's monologue did he not find himself hysterical. I'd have rather been trapped in an elevator with hungry vermin. It speaks much to the Ninja's quality as a person that we still actually had something approaching, but not quite reaching, a good time.

His partner Tweedle Dum, by and by, might have been a worse human being, but slightly easier to be near. His mantra was to speak in about 70% profanities, none of them interesting or related to the game, and half of those devoted to a rather strong interest in anti-Semitism. I don't know if he thought I was a member of the tribe and just wanted to try to get me to leave, or if a someone had done him wrong, or what. All I can say is this: as soon as I heard these guys, I kind of knew, in the pit of my stomach, that my team was going to play like crap tonight, and that these guys were a strong reason why.

Philly Fan takes a lot of undeserved grief in this world. Having watched sports in a couple of dozen media markets, there's nothing that happens in these stands that doesn't happen in New York, or Boston, or Chicago or Detroit or Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Oakland... and as the Internet and easy travel continues to make regional differences less important, that's not going to change much. Most of the people in our section were good fans, rooted hard, stayed late, and didn't seem too bent out of shape as a smoke and mirrors team got exposed.

But then you have nights like tonight, when the crowd votes Randall Cunningham over Donovan McNabb and Ron Jaworski for favorite QB in team history -- really, the guy with no playoff wins or shot at the Hall of Fame is favored over the guy with the most playoff wins in franchise history and legit Canton case -- in a text message battle. And a section is held hostage by guys that would get tossed from any decent bar, but not from a game of people who paid triple figures and more for seats.

Some nights, you get what you deserve. And the crowd and team deserved nothing more than scorn... and me as well, for thinking that the Vikings were so bad that even my bad mojo could be overcome.

Not so much.

And on the off chance that either of those guys were bummed out by the loss tonight, you are very welcome. Please don't breed.

As for me, there's one thing that I'll keep with me from this game for good. It's not a good thing. But maybe I can torture the Ninja with it more than me.

(clears throat for dramatic tension)


Top 10 Eagles - Vikings Takeaways

10) David Akers isn't right. At the tail end of his best year as the best kicker in franchise history, he's lost a lot of leg. Kckoffs are no longer making the end zone, and his 54-yarder into no win at the end of the first half, which could have taken the momentum back after the disaster defensive touchdown, looked at least five yards shy from where I sat. Combine that with the bad out of bounds mistake, and you've got failure from the part of the game that you rarely have failure. If there's something wrong physically, or a week off can help, he should sit next week against Dallas.

9) Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has a lot to answer for. To be very fair, the defense didn't cost the team the game tonight, or at least, they weren't the primary cause. But on the key third down, even with a timeout, there was no pressure on emergency QB Joe Webb, who had all day to find an open wideout for the conversion. I understand that Webb is mobile and that you don't want to give him a chance to make a play with his legs, but a vanilla zone with a questionable secondary against a poor offensive line and inexperienced QB on the road... well, let's just say the game demanded more from him there. And like everyone else in green, he didn't deliver.

8) In seven out of the last 8 quarters, QB Michael Vick has been Atlanta Mike -- inaccurate downfield, and loose with the ball. Combine that with the shaky game in Chicago, and we have more than proven that he's not the MVP. And if you are worried that he's just coming back to what he always was... you are not alone.

7) This is very sour grapes indeed, but had this game been played when it was originally scheduled -- Sunday at 1pm -- I think the Eagles win it. For no other reason than because RB Adrian Peterson, who was bigger than his numbers tonight in that he gave Webb a security blanket, wouldn't have made the game. So, thanks NBC. And thanks, NFL. Sigh...

6) When you talk a total team loss, don't miss the fact that the crowd was never a factor in this game, either. The crowd arrived late due to traffic and security issues, never really roared for the defense, and sold way too many seats to people wearing purple jerseys. They also left pretty early in the fourth, considering what the team did in a game where they were outplayed a week before. (I've got specific issues with the guys in my section, which you can read elsewhere on the blog.)

5) There's no getting around it -- playing on a Tuesday night is weird. Ever since ESPN took over the Monday Night franchise and ran it into the groud with bad announcing teams and worse matchups, and the NFL Network upped the ante on both of those bad factors, playing during the week has lost all cachet. On a weeknight, with most of the crowd fighting traffic and work schedules to get to the game with no big tailgating vibe, it felt like a preseason game. And Green played like it.

4) Give it up to Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. A day after taking down Peter King on how punting the ball out of bounds isn't as easy as it looks, he controlled the Eagles return game with... punting the ball out of bounds, or at least, damn near close to it. Matt Dodge, he ain't, and he helped his team a lot tonight.

3) The Cursed One, Eagles TE Brent Celek, was highly active tonight, with 10 catches for 97 yards... and yet, I'm still kind of hating his game. Drops are still all too common, he didn't get out of bounds to manage the clock well, and when he's getting this many looks, you know that the guys who can do things after the catch -- specifically WR DeSean Jackson, who only caught 2 of 12 targets tonight, not that Vick gave him a lot of help -- are not. And the TE TD tonight wasn't his, but rookie Clay Harbor, who did a nifty toe tap in the back of the end zone for the first quarter score.

2) As bad as Green played tonight -- and Vick could have easily had a half dozen turnovers had the Vikings secondary simply caught freely available balls -- the play that changed everything was the fumble at the end of the first half that's returned for a touchdown. Had Vick simply sat down on that play and the Eagles go into the locker room up 7-0, the Vikings don't get the boost they need to fight hard in the third quarter. It's a simple game; if you believe you can win, you do. If you don't, you don't.

1) If Kevin Kolb starts this game tonight for the Eagles, they win. I don't mean to demean the efforts of Vick; there's no way they win the division without him. But tonight, he throws one pick (an arm punt, to be fair), puts the ball on the ground for pure disaster twice, missed many open men and would have turned it over six times. He also didn't seem nearly as quick on the ground. And with next week against the Cowboys now meaning nothing, we should see a lot of Kolb and the other backups. It could have more to do with 2011 then anyone could have thought a week ago.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top 10 NFL Sins

Commit any of these, and woe be upon you, NFL Player!

10) Running uphill. Since no NFL field is on an incline, this is impossible, but the importance of running downhill is still stated in just about every telecast. That's because no human being can accelerate without the benefit of an altitude change.

9) Going east-west. Only cowards and showoffs do this, of course. If you go east-west, it must mean that you shy away from contact, think that you are faster than you are, or have Communist tendencies. No good person has ever gone east-west.

8) Failing to manage the game. This QB-only infraction basically means making a turnover while young or black, usually when on the run or throwing the ball in an improper fashion. In this moment, you will also commit the unpardonable sin of angering your coach, who certainly does not encourage that sort of behavior, and has to be angry beyond all human patience. Why do you vex your coach so, game managing failure?

7) Lacking ball skills. No one has ever actually defined what ball skills are, at least in relation to activities beyond pornography, but you need to have these things. Luckily, ball skills only seem to exist for secondary players on balls in the air. Kind of like how leadership skills only exist for quarterbacks and middle linebackers.

6) Merely liking the game, as opposed to loving it. Players who make six and seven figure salaries would, of course, play the game for free and risk concussion and long-term disability, but only for love. Any player that cares about money first, or admits to this, must be drummed out of the league, for fear that his mind cancer spreads.

5) Being unlike a coach on the field. I'm not sure why you would want a coach on the field, given that coaches are generally 20 years and 50 pounds past their athletic prime, and were rarely if ever very talented even at their peak, but according to most telecasts, you really want to be like that guy. I keep waiting for some ambitious special teams gunners to bring their own challenge flag, headset or play calling sheet out there with them. It's a sure way to make the Pro Bowl.

4) Having a motor that operates for less than sixty minutes. Football games generally last for three and a half hours, and have less than twenty minutes of actual game time, less than half of which is spent on the field for any offensive or defensive unit... but sixty minutes is the magic amount for everyone, regardless of overtime, blowout, preseason or Super Bowl. No other time amount is acceptable.

3) Knowing the score. Don't even think of showing any knowledge of the importance of the game situation if you play on the line or have tackling responsibilities, since that might cause you to ease up or save your body for a more important situation. Since we, as finite human beings that could die at any moment are watching, players must be willing to crush themselves or their opponent into dust. Or, at the very least, pretend. Real hard.

2) Showboating. If you enjoy DeSean Jackson's antics in addition to his productivity, you are a bad person. Feel bad about yourself. Since everyone who plays the game the right way hates that kind of thing, you have to as well. And if only DJ could learn to see the error of his ways, we can all love him without reservation. You know, as if he were just like 98% of the rest of the league.

1) Disrespecting the media. After all, the media is the representatives of the fans, and are true and accurate mirrors of the public, since we all make media-level salaries, and have people apply makeup to us before we pontificate on camera. So when you don't take their questions seriously, or don't give them a quote or answer questions after a difficult loss, that just means you are not fulfilling your obligation as professionals, and don't care about the fans. It's all the same thing.

If I've missed any, please add them in the comments...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Congratulations to the Eagles, and We're Doomed

Let me just get this out of the way first: Andy Reid has now won his division in half of his seasons as the Eagles' head coach, and has made the playoffs in 9 out of 12 seasons. Considering that the only time that he's missed where the year when he took over a moribund franchise with a rookie Donovan McNabb, then again in 2005 and 2007, it's been a pretty great year here. It's also the first time they've won the division since 2004, and with the Cowboys and Redskins in disarray, and the Giants possibly spiralling into chaos in a turnover-filled December, this might be the first of many. Health permitting, the young offensive core of skill players could be running things in the NFC East for a long time, and the defense is talented, if erratic. No one who roots for this laundry can call this year anything but a success. They were supposed to be a .500 club; instead, they still have a shot to be the #1 seed, and will be no lower than the #3.

Now, having said that, they are clearly doomed. Here's why.

Point 1: By moving the SNF game, what would have been a pretty easy game against a no-longer-caring Vikings team gets harder. RB Adrian Peterson and QB Brett Favre, who were both likely to miss a Sunday game, could both return. Which gives the moribund Vikings a full complement of weapons, along with a healthy WR tandem of Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, and a quality TE in Visanthe Schiancoe, along with a QB who has always been good at getting the ball to that option. What would have been a walkover might be anything but.

Point 2: With the move to Tuesday, the Five Tool Ninja now has a free ticket for the game that he's graciously offered to me. The Reid Eagles are 0-3 with me in their physical presence, with each loss being a meaningful heart-breaker. So count on this game going right into the dumper, folks. It's a lock. (Oh, and I also took them in this week's picks column. The only way I could put this one more in the dumper is if I wear my Donovan McNabb jersey, the one I boght just before the NFC Championship loss. Yes, Don was 0-2 in the playoffs when I owned that. It's more or less kept me from ever getting another jersey.)

Point 3: Even if the Eagles do somehow get past my potent losing mojo and the Vikings, they'll then have to turn around on short rest and deal with the Cowboys -- once again, a realtively easy opponent that could be anything but, since Dallas will be playing to save head coach Jason Garett's job for 2011, and will come in wih three extra days of rest, having played last Saturday night in Arizona. Dallas was just a three point loser two weeks ago, and while their defense is a train wreck, they can rush the passer, and they'll also pull out all of the stops for a spoiler moment. Since the Bears will be playing the Packers at the same time, there's little chance of pulling the starters. Which means that we're looking at a club that's already down four defensive starters in the last few weeks getting two full games of work in the cold. Let's just say that I'm not counting on them suddenly getting healthy.

Point 4: Let's give Green a pass on these last two games. After all, the Vikings and Cowboys have been out of the playoff hunt for a long time for a reason, and Green does have freakishly exciting offensive weapons. But with the Bears coming through today in Chicago against the Jets, they have the bye -- and even a potential top seed -- in their sights, against a Packer team they know like the back of their hands. There's no way that the Bears are going to want to end their year with anything but a win, which means that Green gets the 3 seed. And a downright dangerous wild-card team, from the grab bag pile of Saints, Packers, Giants and Bucs. And while there's still a million permutations possible, the most likely of those is the Saints come to town.

Which is to say, just about the worst possible opponent possible, really. (The Packers might be scarier, but if they win, you'd expect the Eagles to get a bye.)

New Orleans isn't scared of a pinball game. They also aren't bad in the cold, and could finally have healthy running backs by the time of a playoff game. They have past playoff success against Andy Reid (remember the Jeff Garcia game), a defense that takes the ball away, and the pedigree of being past Super Bowl champions. The Eagles would be a favorite, but not by a lot, and a loss wouldn't be unexpected.

Point 5: Let's give Green one more pass, and a wild-card weekend win, even against the possible defending Super Bowl champions. Assuming form holds, this puts Green back in Chicago against a rested Bears team... and, well, the same folks that physically dominated Green a month ago in a game that was only close due to a late fade. There's also this very distressing fact: Michael Vick has never beaten the Bears. Chicago would have to be a four to seven point favorite, and with their offense hitting hard the past couple of weeks, along with extra rest, that's probably right.

Point 6: Push this one step further, and give Green a win in Chicago. After all, Reid's an experienced playoff coach, and Bears QB Jay Cutler doesn't exactly strike anyone as a playoff juggernaut field general, what with the pick issues. So behind Door Number Three is... Atlanta, in all likelihood, who just have to take care of business at home with a bye the week before, then do the same for the right to go to the Super Bowl.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan is ungodly successful at home, with wins in 18 of his last 19 starts. Assuming that Atlanta hosts the NFCC, that number will have gone to 21 in 22, since the Falcons will have won their last two games at home, plus the divisional game. Home playoff teams in this game win 2/3rds of the time, and when it's a dome game, with crowd in full roar, that assignment gets crazy hard. Give Falcon Fan a chance to howl down the gretest enemy in the franchise's history, with a power running game, a Hall of Fame tight end, and solid lines...

Well, Philly did take this Falcons team apart in Philly early in the season, in what was, easily, the worst game of the year for the Dirty Birds. Ryan's never been on this kind of stage, and while he's done everything he's been asked to do this year, he really does seem more like a game manager than a guy who wins a shootout. And it's not as if the Eagles fear a fast track, or an optimal setting where the deep ball is in play.

Which finally takes us to the final pitfall, and the river card that won't make anyone in the tri-state area happy. The Patriots await, with a head coach that has done Reid before and repeatedly. And they don't even look like they'll have a hard road to get there, given that they'll play just two home games against a sudden paucity of great teams in the AFC.

In the past month, Pittsburgh has lost safety Troy Polamalu and got torn apart by the Pats at home. In the past month, the Jets were absolutely eviscerated by the Patriots in the statement game of the year. The Colts don't scare them, and unless the Ravens channel their 2009 selves, especially in the secondary, there isn't a club that should stay with them. Given how fundamentally flawed the Green defense is, it's hard to see how Dreamboat Brady and Company don't put up 40 against them.

So, doomed. Less so if they somehow work out a bye with a Bear stumble, but all that does is take them from three games in which they will be solid underdogs to two. And I'm not even mad about this, really.

Here's the point where I've gotten to with football, and maybe this is just all too telling for an Eagles fan that has never ended his year with a playoff win... I watch the game for art now, and moments, only. DeSean Jackson can put up years of numbers and big plays, but the signature play has been achieved with the punt return that tore out the Giants' hearts. Vick can and will do more, but the play that will define him for me is that jailbreak safety blitz where he blinks out of existence for the whiff, then makes 35 yards where every other QB in the league would have made a grease stain on the turf.

And well, any year in which my laundry wins the division is a good year. Even if they are doomed, with the weather and the media and the civil authorities all conspiring to bring the doom home.

Besides, God doesn't love us enough for the first Eagles' Super Bowl championship ever to come in Dallas, right?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Top 10 reasons why the Eagles-Vikings game was postponed

It's more than just the snow, kids. As always, FTT has the inside story.

10) Philly mayor Michael Nutter wanted to make sure he never had a better job than his current gig

9) NFL commissioner Roger Goodell just can't resist screwing with the Vikings' schedule

8) NBC wanted to remember what it was like when people cared about what they showed on Tuesdays

7) Eagles looking to raise the difficulty rating with the potential of three games in twelve days, the last of which could be hosting a playoff game against the defending Super Bowl champions

6) By postponing the game, the league gives cranky old men a fresh new reason to point out why the world is going to hell in a handbasket

5) Allowed the Eagle players a nice full day off to enjoy watching the Giants gift-wrap the sixth division title of the Andy Reid Era

4) The league didn't want the pristine reputation of Philly Fan sullied by the potential for a few bad apples throwing snowballs

3) The (very) late game ranks up the potential for legendary whining about fantasy league championships

2) Part of the league's sinister plan to put games on every damn night of the week

1) Like everything else involving the NFL, it's all about Brett Favre

Top 10 NFL Week 16 Takeaways

10) Flexing the Eagles to the SNF game into a game-postponing blizzard cost the team rest before Week 17, a possible first round bye, and one more week of Favre Media Shiva

9) Fox was forced to take Niners-Rams seriously, since one of these teams is required by league law to lose in the playoffs

8) The Bears and Jets combined for 72 points, nearly all of them on fantasy league benches

7) Anquan Boldin followed up on last week's two yard effort with a whopping fifteen, just in case any of his fantasy owners hadn't quite gotten the hint that he sucks

6) Jacksonville broke the heart of both of their fans by losing at home to Rex Grossman

5) CBS devoted airtime to Jim Belushi and his spawn yelling on the field, because it turns out that celebrities with field access can be fans, too

4) Brodie Croyle played in a Chiefs win and the Lions won back to back games on the road, giving end of the world types more signs that it's Showtime

3) Chad Henne proved, once and for all, that the Dolphins need a new QB

2) Arizona and Dallas played one of the more entertaining games that no one saw, since no one gets NFLN, watches either of these teams when they don't have winning records, or is awake that late on Christmas

1) The Jets qualified for the playoffs despite losing, setting up any number of Victory In De-Feet NYC tabloid style headlines

Top 10 NFL Week 16 Ad Questions

10) Is Coors Light the last people on earth to still call Barry Switzer a coach?

9) Why does Acura want to associate their car with elf urination?

8) Does Burger King really sell a lot of chicken sandwiches to people arranging a two guy / one girl threesome?

7) Don't the soda delivery guys have better things to do than arrange supermarket displays?

6) If aliens came bearing weak beer, wouldn't you want to know more about their, well, abilities before rushing off to mate with them?

5) Do all of Microsoft's customers have developmentally disabled children, and if so, don't I want to avoid their products?

4) If a Pizza Hut promotion is the highlight of your life, shouldn't you just kill yourself immediately?

3) How does the deprivation of teenagers who are learning how to drive sell hamburgers?

2) If singing an insurance company's jingle grants wishes, how is it possible that no one wishes for, well, sex?

1) Given that Christmas was yesterday, why are so many advertisers unprepared to switch their ads to reflect this?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Top 10 NBA Christmas Takeaways

10) Orlando's Stan van Gundy seems to think that his base salary of $4 million a year isn't enough to justify working on the holiday

9) Despite the holiday wishes of tens of millions of people on the day of their Savior's birth, LeBron James had a triple double, rather than a fatal case of spontaneous combustion, followed up by an eternity of underworld torment

8) The Blazers and Warriors also played on the holiday, but since it was really late in the day in the Eastern time zone, it was substantially less blasphemous

7) The Knicks won a physical home game against a good Bulls team, and it wasn't even 1995

6) In what can only be called a Christmas Miracle, Hedo Turkoglu dialed back the clock to when he wasn't entirely useless

5) Kevin Durant scored 44 points on 14 of 20 shooting, because unlike the other superstars in the league, he's doesn't hate Baby Jebus

4) Shaquille O'Neal followed up on his Boston Pops appearance by fouling out in allegro

3) Amare Stoudemire Grinched Derrick Rose, not that Rose will admit it

2) Carmelo Anthony took the day off due to travel difficulties in going to the half dozen Eastern teams that he's supposed to be getting traded to

1) Dozens of NBA cheerleaders gave us all the gift of a Yule log

Friday, December 24, 2010

Under House Arrest And Too Close To A Casino

So this Christmas, I'm just not feeling the spirit. I'm also starting to think it's not going to happen.

My original plan for the holidays was to avoid the usual stay home, clean, and eventually visit the relatives to exchange gifts to each other's children and eat too much routine... by driving coast to coast with the family to visit people we know and, um, go someplace warm. I'm 41 now, and increasingly not good with the cold. It's been 4.5 years since I lived in California, and my body has not adjusted. My home is 55 years old and despite my best efforts, not great on the insulation. So I can either run the heat hard or shiver. And since no one else in my family seems to have a problem with the shivering, shiver I do.

But that didn't work out for several reasons, not the least of which is the money.

I've also been depressed by, well, living where I do. It's halfway between New York and Philadelphia, halfway between work and family, halfway between two things that don't overwhelm me with wonder and desire right now. The house we bought is now worth about 75% of what we paid for it, and since we bought with no money down, we have no actual ownership of it. Which means that even if a new employer that's out of the area were to offer me a gig, I couldn't take it, unless it also came with a ludicrous bonus to cover the housing shortfall.

So I don't really go anywhere, or do anything. And a a couple of months ago, Parx Casino in Bensalem, not more than a half hour away from my home, opened up poker tables. I've been twice, and gotten felted on both occasions. The place has now added dozens of tables, which means the wait for a seat should be less... which does not, of course, change the fact that I don't really have the cash, or the track record of making bank at the place.

There's also the fact that I should be spending time with the family, right? Decorating the tree, putting up decorations, wrapping presents, inventing goofy traditions and just being Dad and all... but, um, why this week more than any other? Christmas has become so politicized, so over-the-top, so pressure-packed that it doesn't even feel like the same holiday I celebrated as a child. In my twenties, Christmas became attached to my first marriage, then my second. In my thirties, we had a child, and the holiday became new again... but my eldest is ten now, and there's nothing that we're going to do this year that's new, or novel, or even all that interesting.

And sure, that's Grinchy, and sad, and... economically viable? A small moment of discipline during a season of excess? Really just whatever I want to tell to myself. But it's very hard to see how spending time at the tables right now wouldn't make me the Worst Dad Ever, or how you avoid meeting the most degenerate players in the world if you play that close to the holiday. So I guess I'll go decorate and do, and pretend to be in the mood until I actually am. It is, I suspect, what parents have done around the holiday more often than not...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In Not News, I Hate The NFL Network

Tonight in Pittsburgh, the Steelers took care of business against the Panthers in one of those weekday night games that exists just to remind you that the NFL hates you. Adding to the hate is the fact that the game was only available locally to the Pittsburgh and Charlotte markets, and my cable provider doesn't get NFLN. And hasn't for all five years of the life of the network.

I own the Pittsburgh defense in my roto leagues, one of which is going down to the wire, and rules that wins count for the defense. So I really was interested in tonight's game, even in the garbage time, since the Carolina offense is terrible and all.

When you don't get NFLN and want to know what's happening in the game, you can do what I do... monitor the game on a game update service (I use Yahoo StatTracker, since my league is there), and cue up the video cast. Which is, basically, a sports studio event with braying analysts that mete out "live look ins" to the game as if they were spooling out quarter doses of methadone at the clinic.

Tonight, since the game was out of hand early in the third quarter, you got even fewer look-ins than usual, since clearly no one should be interested in the final minutes of a blowout... unless, well, you own the freaking Steeler defense, and need the team to avoid giving up garbage time points. So NFLN's coverage tonight, with sideline analysts chatting about Not Game while the game that they aren't showing you is going on right behind them, but not in a way that you can tell what's going on?

Redefines maddening in our time, really. (And the live look ins have copious amounts of Joe Theismann and Matt Millen, and are behind the Web feed.) If there is a Hell, its fires await for the people who make this online product, and run this network. (And yes, I want my cable provider to just cave in and get this damned thing already. They should have the cash from that whole Fox Armageddon thing, right?)

Oh, and one final point. Panther coach Jon Fox, who kicked a field goal to avoid the ignominy of a shutout in tonight's game when down big? You can go to hell, too. At this point in the Panther season, I can safely say that the performance of my fantasy team is more important than your real one, in that my fantasy squad has more people who root for it than the Panthers. Go for the touchdown and fail like a man. It's not like you're going to have a job in another two weeks either way...

Top 10 future developments from RexFootGate

10) 2010 Jets offically designated as Gawker Media's favorite NFL team ever

9) Door now wide open for Eric Mangini's Cleveland Steaming, Mike Singletary's Castro Shuffle, and Pete Carroll's Seattle Rain videos

8) Headline writers for NY tabloids go on full foot alert for this week's Bears game

7) Thousands of Jet Fans try to say, "I don't care, we beat the Steelers" without developing a facial tic

6) Tom Brady's model wife to release a matching freaky video, since Ryan claimed a few weeks ago that he had so much in common with him

5) Jets' fan base expands while somehow becoming less sordid

4) Female alums from Southwestern Oklahoma State University to experience a sudden surge in popularity

3) Tom Coughlin and Matt Dodge to send the Ryans and Deadspin a very generous Christmas gift for such generous timing

2) Cleveland media to search the Web for freaky videos of Rob Ryan, if only to discover fresh new levels of depression

1) Weekend NFL preview shows to profess to be above the story while, um, mentioning the story

Week 16 NFL Picks: That's It, We're Cancelling Christmas

As a parent, you make idle threats. It's just what you do, really; if you were to follow through on every pronouncement, you'd either be the most uptight prick on the planet, or speak to them less than five minutes a day. And for the week to two weeks before Santa Jebus Brings The Loot, your kids will become, fairly often and fairly routinely, horrible with the pressure of it all.

Either you've got the young'uns who snap from the surveillance of The Elf Who Knows Too Much, or the overcompensation efforts of the older kids who are trying to make everything Just So... Maddening. And you wind up saying, or at the very least thinking with all of your heart, that it's all so not worth it. Especially if, um, your gambling efforts haven't gone all that well, and your seasonal shopping desire isn't everything you'd hope it would be.

I'm reasonably certain that, absent a major economic crisis or borderline personality disorder, no one ever *really* cancels the gifting, no matter how beastly your kids have been. The stakes are just too high, since this kind of thing is just going to give the kids way too much ammo for later in their contest to pin all of their problems on you. So it's a bluff you can't make, or if you do, one that you will regret. Just like many of this year's picks!

Last week, we went .500 on the button... so as far as my kids know, the holiday is toast, short of some kind of miracle. (Shh, don't tell them that all is fine. I enjoy their overly-good behavior.) But now that we've got the desperate prayers of small children riding on the line, that's got to change my luck. And give me the cash I need to secure my World's Greatest Dad mug.

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

Carolina at PITTSBURGH (-13)

Oh, Troy Polamalu, why have thou forsaken me? Just when it seemed like my overplay for the Pittsburgh defense was going to take me to fantasy cashout, the defensive MVP had to go down with an injury, and the historic Achilles' heel of the Pittsburgh D/ST -- kickoff coverage -- had to rear its ugly head. The result was the first-ever loss to the Jets in Pennsylvania, an open door to the previously DOA Ravens to take down the division, and a back-door playoff clinch where losing now might mean winning later, since the first wild-card team will get a road favorite shot against the AFC West team, while the #3 division winner will get the same Jets team that just won.

But on the other hand... Carolina is truly, truly terrible, and you have to think this Steelers team is going to take out some frustration in the routinely dog-tastic TNF game. The only thing the Panthers can do is run the ball, and that's something the Steelers stop, even without the Polamonster. It's also (long past) time for the Steeler offense to look competent, or the Heinz Field crowd to crack QB Jimmy Claussen like a walnut.

Steelers 27, Panthers 10

Dallas at ARIZONA (+6.5)

Is the Dallas defense so bad that they can keep even the Cardinals in the game? After watching them give up the second most QB fantasy points in Week 15 to Rex Grossman -- Rex Grossman! -- and the middling Skins skill players, I'm thinking yes. Besides, it's a road game, and the Cowboys are way too interested in pounding the rock these days to make a big cover comfy. I'm looking for the back door here.

Cowboys 24, Cardinals 20

NEW ENGLAND (-8) at Buffalo

Buffalo has to be looking at that SNF blueprint from the Packers game and thinking that they can avoid clowntime... but two straight sleeping jobs from the Evil Empire rarely if ever happens. Besides, the Bills are turnover-prone, feeling too good about themselves after last week's figgie-miss gift win against Miami, and facing a Patriots team that still needs the game to clinch the division and the #1 seed. This one won't have much drama, unless you count QB Tom Brady's attempt to stat his way into the MVP race as drama.

Patriots 34, Bills 14

NY JETS at Chicago (-2)

Two teams that routinely cost me money, neither of which should be alive for long in the playoffs, with gaudy won-loss records based around the mastery of poor teams. I like the Jets here because I think the Bears are the bigger paper tiger, and because Rex "Foot Fetish" Ryan is a stone cold genius at creating spectacular distractions that cause his teams to rally up. Besides, I'm dreaming of an Eagles bye for Christmas, and this is how it would happen.

Jets 20, Bears 17

BALTIMORE (+3) at Cleveland

Let's take a small moment here to discuss my growing and immense hatred for WR Anquan Boldin, who went from borderline #1 WR and the free agent grab of the off-season to... well, an unplayable sack of crap that has murdered my fantasy team while still making WR Derrick Mason -- aka the oldest wideout ever, and a constant source of cheap numbers for the team that's ahead of me -- fantasy relevant. Boldin has become the player that I hate more than anyone else in the league. And now that he's on my bench, count on him to go for 100 yards and 2 TDs this week.

Back to the actual game... RB Peyton Hillis has slowed down noticeably in the last few weeks, which might be just something that has to happen when you run the way he does, or when you are the only consistent weapon on the team. I still think the guy is a long-term asset, but maybe the Browns should sit him down for the next couple of games, especially since he's had fumbling issues. (And this has nothing to do with the fact that the guy who owns Mason also owns Hillis. No, none at all.)

The Ravens need the game and appear to be rounding into shape. The Browns, not so much. Moving on.

Ravens 24, Browns 13

Tennessee at KANSAS CITY (-4.5)

Hell if I can figure out this Titans team. After two months of quitting, they take the Texans down by two touchdowns, with ancient QB Kerry Collins getting RB Chris Johnson enough room to move for the first time in forever. This week should be harder, as the Chiefs are still in the driver's seat in the grading on a curve AFC West, and home field is real in Arrowhead again. I'm seeing a back to sleep moment for Jeff Fisher's charges, and at some point, someone in the media might notice that Fish might not be that great. (Oh, and everyone who employs Randy Moss this year regrets it, and I'm still trying to figure out why the Titans pulled that trigger.)

Chiefs 20, Titans 13

San Francisco at ST. LOUIS (-2)

It's the easiest blog fill in the business this year: pule about how bad the NFC West is. But that doesn't mean it's inaccurate. It's one thing if there are four bad teams; that happens. It's quite another when there are four bad teams that aren't fun to watch. The Niners play musical bad QB, the Seabags can't travel, the Cardinals waste Larry Fitzgerald, and the Rams? They have no WRs that would play on special teams for a good club, yet alone to catch passes. With the Niners going back to Troy Smith, and the Rams having the home-field advantage, I'm hoping that the least loathsome option finally puts Mike Singletary out of our misery. To think that a team with this much talent on the lines is going to lose this division is just ridiculous.

Rams 24, Niners 20

Detroit at MIAMI (-4)

Can the Dolphins ever win a game at home? They should taken care of business last week, but trouble in the red zone and faulty kicking betrayed them. Meanwhile, the Lions were winning their first road game in late-season in, well, forever, as they took advantage of a decimated Bucs team. This week, I'm looking for the Fish to finally put it together and win going away, just to torture their fans with What Might Have Been. Besides, the Lions aren't ready for back to back road wins yet.

Dolphins 31, Lions 17

WASHINGTON (+6.5) at Jacksonville

Rex Grossman on the road, and I'm going with him? Yeah, I'm not right in the head, but neither are the Jags, who blew their chance to end the Manning Menace last week with a meh running effort on the road in Indy. Now they need to win out and hope for help, and when Jack del Rio's team has that much on the line, they tend to come up small. I think they win, but only because Rexy blows it... but that they will also spend 55+ minutes making their theoretical fans sweat over it. Besides, they couldn't keep Donald Brown from running all over them, so what happens when Ryan Torain gets the rock?

Jaguars 24, Redskins 21

San Diego at CINCINNATI (+7)

Speaking of teams that can't handle success, here come the Chargers, with two straight blowout wins and the presumed division for the taking -- and yes, if you think you've already seen this movie before in the South with the Colts, well, you have. So why do I like the DOA Bengals to cover the number? Because when the team lost WR Terrell Owens last week, they returned to 2009's form as a run-first power club, with RBs Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott combining for nearly 200 yards on the ground, and keeping QB Carson Palmer from showing the world his TAInt. That won't go as well against a Chargers team that can stop the run, but it will help the home team keep things close enough to cover.

Chargers 28, Bengals 24

HOUSTON (+3) at Denver

Tim Tebow's debut last week in Oakland wasn't obviously awful, so the temptation is to give in and predict big numbers for him this week at home against the super-soft Texans secondary. But when you dig deeper into the numbers, you see that Tebow did his damage early, and that his touchdown pass to WR Brandon Lloyd was much more on the wideout than the throw. This week against the Texans, his numbers will be better, but not nearly enough to overcome the Gary Kubiak Vengeance Tour, as the Texans' head coach auditions for a gig that he'll need in another week or so. There's just no reason why a team with the talent that the Texans have can't ever get better than .500.

Texans 30, Broncos 17

INDIANAPOLIS (+2.5) at Oakland

Oakland's got a puncher's chance in this game, but only if they can run the ball for over 200 yards, avoid turnovers, and collect a pick or two from QB Peyton Manning... but it's just hard to see how the Raiders can put together a game plan in a must-win December game against the sure Hall of Famer, even with meagre weapons. When push comes to shove, the Raiders will need QB Jason Campbell to make plays, and his whole history shows that just doesn't happen.

Colts 24, Raiders 21

New York at GREEN BAY (NL)

Probably the best game of the day, and the one that should be flexed into the night game, except for the fact that America demands to see the real MVP. I digress. Both clubs are coming off losses, but that's where the similarities end. New York blew a three-touchdown lead halfway through the fourth quarter at home to throw away any real chance to win the division -- yeah, I know, I'm still amazed by that as well. The Pack lost with honor in New England with backup QB Matt Flynn showing Detmer levels of gumption, and sadly, a similar amount of competence in the two-minute drill. They also ran the ball with something approaching competence, which was really the most surprising thing about the game.

Historically, the Giants are a dangerous road team... but Eli Manning is also a mediocre and INT-prone December QB, and I'm counting on the Pack running game to be just good enough to keep the pass rush from teeing off all game. There's also just the worry that when you suffer a loss like what happened to the Giants last week, it just doesn't shake off. Especially in December.

Packers 30, Giants 20

Seattle at TAMPA BAY (-6)

The original notes on this pick had me giving it to the Seabags, as I thought the game was in Seattle. But now that a commenter has pointed out my mistake, I'll go with the home favorite and terrible road dog. Look for RB Legette Blount to put up numbers, and QB Josh Freeman to put up numbers. Besides, QB Matt Hasselbeck has reached the stage of his career where picks are to be expected.

Bucs 24, Seahawks 17

Minnesota at PHILADELPHIA (NL)

Let's just face facts; the world wants to see this Eagles team, and can't get enough of QB Michael Vick's brand of football. The ratings for the games have just been off the charts, and last week's Houdini act against the Giants just adds to the mystique. The flex move to the night game is a big win for a club that might have otherwise slept through a game against a beaten-down opponent with major issues at QB, OL and defensive secondary. But under the lights, with another chance to make that next contract stratospheric? Not exactly a likely snoozy time moment for either Vick or WR DeSean Jackson. And against an offense that might be starting a rookie wideout in Joe Webb, it's not as if Vick and Co. aren't going to have a lot of chances to make this into a pinball game. The only thing that's going to keep this from being an embarrassment is that Eagles coach Andy Reid is going to call the dogs off in the second half to try to limit exposure to injury.

Eagles 41, Vikings 17

New Orleans at ATLANTA (-

The best game of the week is the final MNF game of the year -- and how will you live without this announcing crew for nine months? I can feel my seasonal depression rising already -- will see the Falcons lock down the #1 seed in the NFC against a Saints team that blew their chance for drama by spitting the bit last week in Baltimore. While the NFL punditry has been quick to honor the game manger plus skills of Falcons QB Matt Ryan, the real credit belongs to the line and defensive play, which has been a credit to the team's drafting acumen.

As for the Saints, they might not even really want to win this game, since the greatest reward for any playoff team this year is the #5 seed, which gets to be a clear touchdown favorite on the road against the NFC West. That #6 seed against the Bears or Eagles, in the cold? Not so much.

Finally, this game... it's not encouraging, for the Saints chances, that their field goal kicking remains troublesome. Or that Ryan's got that end-of-game thing down.

Falcons 27, Saints 24

Last week: 8-8

Year to date: 101-110-15

Career: 382-387-25

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Top 10 Final Favre Scenarios

With Monday's apparent concussion giving rise to yet another national media opportunity to eulogize the Only QB That Matters, we're left to wonder just how many more melodramatic moments we've got left in the ride. Pick your favorite, or provide your own in the comments...

10) Last Monday, laying face-down on the frozen collegiate turf of a replacement yard in what turned out to be a blowout loss

9) This Sunday night on the road in Philadelphia, since that will be on national TV and all

8) In Detroit for Week 17, which would give him 300 starts and a reasonable chance at leaving with a win

7) Next August, when no NFL team is willing to hire him for an eight-figure payday while taking the summer off

6) Next November, when the cold weather proves less than helpful to aging bones

5) Next January, when he can go out on his own terms, by ending some new team's (pick a West team, damn near any West team) playoff appearance with a pick

4) Last January, when the adoring media revises history to have Bretty going out on top after a last-minute comeback win over the Saints, followed up by a win over the Colts

3) Five years and five hundred days of headlines from now, when even the national media has tired of him

2) Thirty years from now, when he finally gives up his plush TV gig, having taking his inevitable place in NFL society as the new John Madden

1) Never, ever, ever, since his consciousness will be imprinted into computers for eternal life as a football avatar, and downloaded into donor bodies, so that we will not have to face life without him

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top 10 reasons why Tom Coughlin spent 2.5 hours alone in the dark after Sunday's loss

The Giants' coach volunteered this to the press. (No, I'm serious. Consider it a cry for help.) Anyway, here's what the man was up to. With soundtrack!

10) When he's in the dark, he can't see the face of the guy who didn't prepare his special teams for an onside kick

9) He's Catholic, and needed that long to recite the penance required for all of the times he took the Lord's name in vain

8) Just wanted to treat himself for a job well done

7) Didn't want anyone to see how much he was shaking, shaking, shaking

6) He preferred sensory deprivation to the SNF telecast (and may have a point)

5) Delayed but natural reaction to this year's season of "Survivor" being over

4) Only way to keep himself from calling WFAN with a fake accent to blame Eli

3) With all of the lights off, no one can see the truly disturbing outfit he wears for the ritual scarification, or his special Giants Crown Of Thorns

2) Best place to repeat his soothing peaceful mantra of "I still have a ring"

1) Concentrating on what he'll do after a win, when he spends 5 hours alone in the dark

Vick Me

As part of the groundwork in writing the blog, I check out a lot of sites and sources. One of these is the NBC local affiliates for New York and Philadelphia, where you get a much greater cross-section of fan and commenter than you do in the rest of Blogfrica. It's a nice grounding moment, really; stay in the sites that just touch expert level fans long enough, and you'll be in the warm cocoon of people who hate enough color commentators, and never realize that it's you who are the outlier. But I digress.

On the NBC sites for Philadelphia, as the Eagles have made their improbable way to the top of the division despite a struggling offensive line, a historically incompetent red zone defense, and a coaching staff that still can't be trusted with a timeout or replay challenge... well, the temptation to just let your guard down and enjoy the Vick Era has become kind of overwhelming.

But not for everyone. Or even, it seems, a majority of the people reading the posts.

For everyone who thinks that Michael Vick has gotten a pass far too quickly for his crimes, I point you to the commenters on these pages. For everyone who thinks that Philly Fan cares only about winning and would embrace any individual who gets them a football championship, I point you to these pages.

(And by the way, if there is any single person in America who's entitled to hate on Vick more than anyone else, it's Falcons Fan. Having this guy looming in your playoff picture, with a possible NFC Championship home loss after last year's clowning, would set my teeth on fire if I were rooting for that laundry. This assumes, of course, that Atlanta Fan exists. Moving on.)

There are better NFL players than Vick. He's tentative when he commits an early turnover, injury-prone, able to be taken out of his element with pressure, and on the wrong side of 30. There is no greater candidate for ruining your fantasy team next year when you go for him with the top pick in the draft (and you will, and will have to), and I'm quite afraid of what will happen to my franchise when they open up the vaults and put down a nine figure contract offer to lock him up for the rest of his playing days.

Which they more or less have to do, now that he's saved their season and made them a Super Bowl contender in a year where the defense is green, battered, and in transition, and the entire roster is filled with Not Quite Ready For Serious Trust Players.

But after three months of MVP-level heroics, without any real moments of backslide or public comment that should give anyone any pause, any news story or column just brings the hate. The same hate, of course, that you could have written years ago, when the stories were fresh, and before Vick served his time and went back to work.

I have no idea, of course, if Vick's rehabilitation is genuine. I don't even know if he's that much better of a player than he ever was. He never had a plus WR in Atlanta; in Philadelphia, he has two, plus better guys in the multiple WR sets. I don't know if he's better at looking off receivers; he seems to fixate on guys at the start of plays and just execute to them. I don't know if he's actually faster than he once was, but in the fourth quarter of that Giants game, he damned sure seemed it.

But I do know that his detractors haven't gone away, haven't changed their tune, and haven't lost an iota of the hate that they've had all along for him. And I'm left to wonder, well, three things.

1) Would skepticism for his rehabilitation be in the same general rate if Vick were white (um, well, no)

2) If he's the first Super Bowl winning QB in Eagles history, does that get him clean enough for a national ad campaign and/or nearly universal forgiveness (note, haters, that I'm not saying that it should), and

3) Doesn't the fact that he's leading the world in Pro Bowl voting, and no worse than the #2 pick in current MVP balloting (behind only Dreamboat Brady, of course), change anyone's opinion, or just convince the haters that all NFL fans and players are scum?

Finally, there's this. Vick's crimes, while reprehensible and remarkably stupid, are not the worst thing that an NFL player has done. They just aren't. Battering spouses is worse, killing people is worse, being nearby when people are killed is worse, and drunk driving to the point of more human deaths is worse. Vick's crimes were simply unique, and touched on a hot button that's true but nasty; we value the lives of pets more than adult humans, because the pets are more like children, and of a greater utility to us. And we're not real good about that, because it makes us look shallow and wrong, because, well, it is.

Which is an awfully long way to go for the following... I love watching him play. He's an artist more than a football player. For the explosiveness that he brings to the game, the ball security is pretty good. His teammates love him; his opponents do, too. (And that former bit has been true even last year, when he was a shell of himself; the Eagle bench always erupted whenever he did anything of value.) For the fans that hold him at arm's distance, or haven't enjoyed this Eagle year as much as if Kevin Kolb had guided them to their current record -- which would be absolutely impossible, given the line's issues, by the way -- well, I just feel bad for you.

You are missing a hell of a ride. Maybe even one that lasts for 5 to 6 more games and ends with the most unlikely comeback story of all time. Maybe one that just ends with an injury, or a day of frustration like the first 52 minutes of that Giants game, or just the team getting outscored because the defense is as bad as it has ever been since the last days of the Ray Rhodes Era.

But after Sunday, Vick owes us nothing. He deserves the new contract, even if it turns out badly for the team. Because he gave us a memory for the ages, and the fresh knowledge that, for the first time in our history, we are rooting for a team that's never really out of a game.

And, well... I just can't hate on a guy that gives me that. And if you enjoy watching football more than feeling morally superior, I'm betting you can't, either.

Top 10 reasons why the L'il Brett Investigation has taken so long

NFL Grand Wizard Roger Goodell has taken months to get the Brett Favre / Jenn Sterger matter resolved. What's the real reasons behind the hold-up?

10) Was thrown by the double N, and the fact that the woman's last name is the backwards spelling of Regrets, for like, months

9) Didn't want to deter anyone from the purchase of Favre Streak Memorabilia

8) Had to take care of putting games in Toronto and London, but not Los Angeles, first

7) Spent several weeks comparing the cell phone photos of L'il Gray Brett to matters that were more close at hand

6) Would rather spend time not getting a labor deal done to avoid a nuclear winter lockout

5) Those Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl negotiations took much longer than expected, in that he had to keep convincing others around the league that he was seriously considering hiring the Black Eyed Peas

4) Every time he meant to rule on it, James Harrison would hit someone

3) Drafted Ryan Grant and Randy Moss in his fantasy league, so he's been really busy working the waiver wire

2) Needed to weigh in on the utterly shocking development of someone from the Bill Belichick coaching tree getting into trouble relating to the videotaping an opponent's practice session

1) Knew that if he just waits long enough, Favre would either go away, or have his media geishas take care of it

Monday, December 20, 2010

Top 10 reasons the Giants are keeping Matt Dodge

After the ending to Sunday's incredible collapse, it looked like Giants coach Tom Coughlin was going to choke rookie punter Matt Dodge with his bare hands for punting to the Eagles' DeSean Jackson, setting up the latest Eagle crush win in North Jersey. Today, he gave the rookie a vote of confidence by saying that he still had the job. As always, FTT has the inside reasons why.

10) Can't walk away from the investment that the team made in Dodge, who cost them a seventh round pick

9) Coughlin really hates the other Matt Dodge, who's a journalist in Portland, Maine with a nearly useless Twitter account

8) Doesn't want to look like he's running a Redskins-level organization

7) Jeff Feagles no longer has the strength to stand upright in pads

6) Too many Giants fans own Dodge's jersey, seeing how he comes from that East Carolina juggernaut

5) Upon further review, Dodge had nothing to do with the Giants' failure to anticipate an onside kick, or in giving up the other three touchdowns in the last seven minutes

4) The home where Sean Landeta lives doesn't have phone service

3) Feels that Dodge needs to help them lose another game before it's OK to fire him

2) Did enough teaching on national television by tearing Dodge a new orifice

1) It's against his religious beliefs to terminate a guy just before Kwanzaa

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Top 10 reasons why Geno Auriemma is bitching

The big caveat: No, I was not paying attention to women's college basketball. But The Truth sent this link along of the UConn women's basketball coach playing the gender card, so here's the list for all of the rug mun... excuse me, carpet snac... well, all of you folks who care about such things. Let's just get to the list before I lose all of my advertisers, OK?

10) Worried that his athletes will be tested for Lasix

9) Because bitching about getting attention for breaking a men's record is just so, um, helpful to the cause of equality

8) Getting a bit unhinged after years of not being able to complain about the refs

7) Wanted to make sure he didn't become too likable

6) Offended that anyone would think that any of his players has ever been in a kitchen, or indoors

5) Looking to make "the miserable bastards that follow men's basketball" even more miserable, as if watching women's basketball wasn't bad enough

4) Knows that any sport where one team wins 88 straight games is a sport without meaningful depth, competitiveness, or reasons to watch, so he's got to invent some PR

3) Needed to do something to keep his players focused on this season, rather than of the premium apples and oats that await them in the WNBA

2) Knows that once the streak is broken, he'll go back to being just slightly more important to Connecticut sports than the New Britain Rock Cats

1) It's his time of the month

Top 10 NFL Week 15 Ad Questions

10) Why would anyone choose the camera that Ashton Kutcher uses?

9) Does anyone else notice that those styrofoam pads make Peyton Manning look even, well, less manly than usual?

8) Hasn't the Sprint doctor who is treating the football player with the shattered knee neglected his treatment for long enough?

7) Has any child ever been happy with getting a Hess vehicle as a Christmas present?

6) Why does BMW want to make their customers look like spoiled douchebags, other than, perhaps, a desire to tell the truth?

5) Is any cell phone "hot", other than when it's malfunctioning or stolen?

4) Has any single human being ever made the decision on which car to buy from a youth football sponsorship?

3) Aren't the Corona girls getting tired of ducking all of those errant footballs?

2) If you are staring at the walls until the pictures blink, shouldn't you stop drinking alcohol?

1) If being at the Olive Garden is like being back at the kids table, isn't that a de facto admission of child abuse?

NFL Week 15: Top Ten Takeaways

10) It only took the Bengals four months to figure out that they win by running the ball, and having less Terrell Owens in their lives

9) The Cowboys nearly lost to Rex Grossman, and the Redskins actually lost to Jon Kitna

8) Houston took a very big step towards finally getting rid of Gary Kubiak

8) In a shocking development, the Colts took control of the AFC South behind a big day from Peyton Man.... zzz...

7) Matt Cassel returned and resurrected Jamaal Charles' fantasy value, along with the Chiefs' playoff hopes

6) Miami continued their utterly inexplicable run of home-field disadvantage

5) Detroit more or less ended Tampa's playoff chances with a road win, and it's actually OK if no part of that sentence made any sense to you

4) The NFC West went 0-4, ensuring that the division "winner" won't be over .500

3) Tim Tebow started a game in Oakland and wasn't any worse, really, than Kyle Orton would have been

2) Pittsburgh's defense proved that Troy Polamalu really is the only thing standing between it and utter mediocrity by losing to the Jets at home

1) DeSean Jackson added to the growing list of NFC East teams that he's clowned on the goal line

Top 10 Eagles - Giants Takeaways

10) Michael Vick's biggest mutant power might be the fact that he's still fast after three hours of getting pounded

9) While I appreciate wanting to compare DeSean Jackson's game-ending touchdown to the Miracle at the Meadowlands play, watching DJ return a punt for a touchdown really isn't all that miraculous

8) By this year's standards, 31 carries for 100 yards counts as a great game for the Eagles defense against the run

7) If Giants' special teams coach Tom Quinn and punter Matt Dodge are still employed after this, it's only because Tom Coughlin's rage has made him no longer capable of forming complete sentences

6) At some point, the Eagle defense has to get through a game without multiple injuries

5) In case you are counting, and Lord knows I am, that's six straight wins over Big Blue

4) Brent Celek might be the biggest feast or famine football player on the planet

3) On some level, it's fun to beat a team with 8 minutes of good football, particularly when you can read blogs of their fans wailing

2) Real Eagles fans still want to rip Andy Reid apart for not challenging Jackson's "fumble" in the fourth quarter

1) I could watch Angry Tom Coughlin for hours, days, weeks, years really

Eagles - Giants Diary: Did That Really Just Happen?

The Giants win the toss and get it back to the 30; short kick and good blocking for Blue. RB Brandon Jacobs dances for a yard with holding; that's good all over. First and 20 is Jacobs again for two, and the Green run defense looks good so far, with MLB Jamar Cheney making the stop. QB Eli Manning misses WR Mario Manningham on a fly against CB Asante Samuel, and while it was close, it was also nearly picked. 3rd and 18 from the gun sees Manning miss Manningham again, and that's a tidy three and out. Samuel doesn't quite look as quick as necessary, but any three and out is a good one. PR Jeremy Maclin gets nothing after a 49 yard punt from rookie P Matt Dodge, and Green will start at their own 29.

With everyone looking for a big play on first, Vick can't get it to WR DeSean Jackson, and takes a shot for his trouble. On second from the gun, Vick scrambles and throws back across his body for a pick; bad patience, bad OL execution, and the ball is returned to the Green 42. Woof. Really bad start to the game for the offense, which is rare this year.

Manning finally gets a ball to Manningham for six yards. They do the same thing with WR Hakeem Nicks for the first. Manning takes a terrible sack that takes Blue out of figgie position, and LB Moises Fokou makes a monster play there. The drive ends with a Blue punt.

Green's drive begins with an out to Maclin, and then a big run from RB Shady McCoy to near midfield. Two middling runs sets up third and four, and Vick from the gun has an easy one to McCoy batted down by DE Jason Pierre-Paul. Big play from Blue there, and the punt from Sav Rocca is muffed forward, missed by a half dozen players, and recovered by Blue. Dammit, that would have been huge. We're halfway through the first, and neither offense is looking very comfortable.

A give to RB Ahmad Bradshaw is caved in by Fokou for a loss of four. This might already be Fokou's best game as a pro. They try it from the gun on second, and Cheney stops it after a three yard gain. Third and 11 is a big chance to get off the field fresh, and Manning from the gun ruins that by connecting with Nicks for 22. That's huge, and the replay shows movement, but the flag doesn't come out. Bradshaw for three yards on a short dump and crush. Manning goes to Nicks, who drops a floating easy one; was wide open on CB Dmitri Patterson. Third and seven is another big deal, and Manning from the gun gets pressured despite a 3-man rush, and hits Maningham on the sideline out for the first. Woof. Bradshaw loses three on a crush job from DE Juqua Parker; the line is doing the job so far. Bradshaw gets six up the middle on Blue's best run of the game. Another big third and down, this one in figgie range, and Manning connects with Manningham for an apparent touchdown. Post-whistle fight ensues, and the touchdown stands. So much for Samuel helping the secondary; the line got to the QB again, but Patterson whiffed on the stop and go, and it's Blue 7, Green 0. Very frustrating drive; the defense was better on many plays, but never on third.

Short kick to KR Jorrick Calvin is given to WR Riley Cooper on mild trickey; no real advantage gained. The offense has really got to get going here; so far, Vick is 1 for 4 for 5 yards and a pick on two possessions. From the gun on first, he gives it to McCoy, who only gets a yard. Fox replay shows that Blue's Chris Snee is a dirtbag; shocking. Vick takes a checkdown to RB Jerome Harrison for six yards, as it looks like he's getting a little tentative on the downfield throws. Third and three is an out to WR Jason Avant, who can't bring it down, and that is a three and out. Not Helpful. Rocca's punt goes out of bounds at the Blue 30; meh. This day is going very badly so far, on a lot of levels.

As Joe Buck pimps the lack of Blue running, Jacobs gets a dozen yards on an easy run, like I couldn't predict that coming. Have I mentioned how much I hate the Fox announcing team? Manning misses an open TE Kevin Boss on a wild high throw; the TE could have gotten that. Nicks gets two as Patterson handles the bubble screen. Third and eight sees Manning's ball tipped at the line by DE Darryl Tapp, and S Quentin Mikell collects it for a great pick. Green ball at the Blue 45, and Eli is bent. Aw, my heart bleeds.

Vick scrambles left, gets a bunch, and 15 is added on a clear late hit that Blue Fan hates. That's the quarter, and the second will begin with Green at the Blue 19.

Vick has time and McCoy for five. The RB gets it again, but only a yard up the middle, as S Antrell Rolle comes up in coverage nicely. Third and four from the gun sees a Blue blitz that's totally unprepared for, and the sack sets up K David Akers from 34. He squeezes it in, and it's Giants 7, Eagles 3. Not very impressive offense on third down especially, so far.

Akers to the six, and KR/RB DJ Ware gets it to the 26; the K is not quite getting it to the end zone today. Bradshaw for five to the right, and the running game is looking worrisomely better for Blue now. He does it again for the first, with lots of room now. They do it again for nine, and this is the game I was worried I'd see. Manning to FB Travis Beckum for the first, and they are in Green's side of the field now. Slow play to Jacobs gets a yard. Time of possession is 2-to-1 Blue as Jacobs loses three on a run blitz; he was almost clear for a lot on that one. Third and 12 is a figgie or more down, and Manning from the gun hits Nicks (of course) for the conversion. That's 15 yards and yet another monster third down conversion; the Eagles can't win this game if they can't get off the field on those plays. Manning to Manningham, the corner slips, and that's a touchdown. Horrible play by Patterson, and the worrisome Green secondary is showing up small. 14-3 Blue with 8:17 left in the second quarter, and if Vick doesn't turn things around in a hurry, this game is going to get out of hand.

Calvin to the 26 to start things. McCoy for four. Vick from the gun to Maclin for five, as the QB throws away from an obvious edge blitz. Third and one from the gun sees Vick keep it for a nine yard run, and the first Green conversion; DE Justin Tuck with the borderline hit. Harrison for three. Vick from the gun on second and seven goes for a McCoy screen that's over before it begins; loss of one. Third and seven with five minutes left in the quarter sees the QB from the gun with time from a blitz, but he runs right into Tuck for a resounding sack. The QB leaves limping, and that's just bad all over. Rocca's punt comes back for a 23-yard punt, a season-long for Blackmon. With 4:11 left in the half, there is officially nothing encouraging about this day right now. Oh, and my fantasy teams are flatlining, with four out of five starters shut out so far. Joy all over.

Manning to Nicks, who drops on pressure from Patterson. Jacobs for two on second and ten, setting up another back-breaking third down conversion from Manning. I wrote that before the play actually happened, such was my level of confidence, and from the gun the QB chooses WR Derrick Hagan for 16. I can pretty much shut this game and diary down, unless Blue makes a mistake.

Jacobs for four, lots of room now. Manning tries a terrible idea to Nicks, and Patterson drops what should have been a pick. Third and six for a figgie at least -- more given how bad the red zone D is -- is a screen to Bradshaw, cotton soft easy. That's the two minute warning, and the next play that the Green defense makes on third down will be the first, right?

First down is a give to Bradshaw, who hurdles for four. An out to Hagan is another first, and at this point, I'm just hoping that Blue gets something to Boss, who I own in a fantasy league; that's how little hope I've got for this game. Of course, I don't have much hope for that team, either. From the gun, Manning takes Manningham for four yards, and it's another post-whistle fight. S Nate Allen is down, and Manningham is hopping; this game just keeps getting better. After the commerce, Manningham is OK and Allen is not; he's carted off with a knee problem, and we can pretty much stick a fork in this season. Second and six from the gun is Manningham for three yards. Seven of eight third down conversions? Nope, because Manning tried Boss, aka the only Blue weapon that can't come up big today. K Lawrence Tynes connects from 25, and it's Blue 17, Green 3 with 48 seconds left in the half. The Eagles have two timeouts left as Troy Aikman fellates a defense that has been atrocious on third down. Someone hit him in the head again, please.

Calvin gets crushed at his own 17; woof. From the gun on first, Vick makes one blitzer miss and gains two ugly yards; clock runs. Maclin catches the ball, then fumbles, and it's disaster all over. How the Eagles don't call time on the Vick scramble, or how this isn't an incomplete given how the ball was moving... oh, what the hell. Reid has to call time to force the booth review, and Buck is clearly lobbying for the play to stand, despite the fact that it will mean a blowout game. With nine seconds left in the half, this is the difference between at least 3 Blue points, if not 7. Fox now going for the incomplete overturn, but it stands as called. Why the hell not, really? Why the hell not.

Two timeouts for Blue gives them a shot at seven. Manning from the gun goes to Nicks for the easy out and touchdown, and we can pretty much end the idea that Patterson can play football at a high level. It's Blue 24, Green 3, and if Reid wants to run the white flag and play QB Kevin Kolb in the second half and just run it, that might be a better idea. Along with releasing Patterson.

Cooper returns a pop up kick, and Vick takes a knee to avoid another sack, and that's the half. Four first downs in the first half for the best offense in the league, and it just feels like a finesse team being exposed here.

Starting the third, Calvin to the 27; Allen won't return. Vick with time but no interest to the WRs; McCoy for four. Second down pass is batted down, and terrible body language from the Green offense. Third and six is more or less the game, and from the gun, Vick has a long checkdown, a fake to the inside handoff, and a jailbreak sack for Tuck. This team has quit, so why haven't I? Rocca's punt is taken back to the Blue 40. This one's over.

Jacobs for a yard, as DE Trent Cole still cares. Manning from the gun gives to Bradshaw for 8, as the RBs start to run through disinterest. Third and one is a give to Bradshaw, and the defense eats it. Surprising. Three and out for Blue, and the Hodge punt is fair caught by Calvin at his own 8.

McCoy for 11, followed by post-whistle fight #5. These never get tiresome. Vick slips while giving to Shady for three. Vick to FB Owen Schmitt for six yards, but this play never happened due to an illegal formation. Even on the plays Vick completes, it looks bad. Second and 11 sees Shady fight through contact to get five yards. Clock's running, which is the trouble when you can't pass the ball worth a damn. Third and six has Vick connect with Avant for 18 and a first, as the line does the job and the ball is delivered well. Wonder of wonders. A screen to McCoy gets five as C Matt McGyln whiffs on a block. From the gun on second, McCoy goes for 12, and it's in Blue's side of the field. From the gun, Vick gives to McCoy for positive yards, but the play comes back on a Cursed Celek hold. No catches for DJ; thanks for noticing, Fox. A laser to Maclin for five, into double coverage; nice catch by the WR. Second and 15 is a Blue blitz and miss to Maclin; it just seems like any time Blue blitzes, it works. Third and 15 from the gun with 21 minutes left is pretty much do or die; Vick has time, but misses Avant high, and the WR wasn't open anyway. Rocca's punt is downed at the 15 with post-touch silliness. A flag for an illegal touch ruins that, too, so Blue gets it at their own 16.

S Kurt Coleman with a nice stop on Bradshaw for a two yard loss. Manning hits Manningham on a cross, and the WR inexplicably fumbles it; wow, what a mistake. Replay might overturn it, because we have all day to look at it, given that it's a Blue mistake... but Green snaps it finally at the 25.

Vick for 13 on a scramble. From the gun on first, he takes Avant for four yards. Blue blitzes, and for once, it's picked up, as Maclin slips open on a throwback cross for the touchdown. There was no one near him at all, and we might have a ball game after all. Giants 24, Eagles 10.

Akers to the 8, and Ware runs through a lot to the 34; not helpful. Jacobs drops an easy screen as Blue Fan starts to get antsy. Nicks takes 11 on an easy slant, and Sims and Coleman knock each other out. Gosh, that's helpful, especially with Allen out. Jacobs for no gain; 18 minutes left. Manning with all day, but Sims knocks down a try for Jacobs. Third and 10 from the gun is a blitz and toss to Hagan, and Samuel wrestles him down a yard before the sticks. Dodge's punt is taken by Calvin to the 26, and it's a game, I guess.

Vick to rookie TE Clay Harbor, who falls down and rolls for four yards. 16 minutes left. Vick to DJ for 8, and that's his first catch of the day, and a first down. McCoy for two as Blue blitzes; telling. End of three quarters, and it's 24-10 Giants, but with small green shoots of hope. I guess.

False start on Cursed Celek. Second and 13 is batted down, as the Blue pressure is dialed up at will. Third and long is a big damned deal, and Vick from the gun goes for Maclin deep, but the ball is underthrown; would have been six with a deeper ball, but the defensive line pressure prevents anything like that from happening. Rocca's punt ends with violence and 49 yards of field position change. Had the ball to Maclin just been longer, this would be a very, very different game right now. Sigh.

Manning to Boss, who gallops for 36 yards as Patterson falls again. Woof. Bradshaw for five as Blue just needs to avoid turnovers at this point. Manning's pass is tipped, and Manningham can't bring it in; nice play by Fokou. Manning gets pressure and throws it away, and that's the end of the drive, as the Dodge punt just leaks into the end zone.

Under 13 minutes left and 80 yards to go to make things interesting. Vick gets it to DJ for 30-plus yards, but the WR loses it as he goes to ground, and it's ruled a fumble. It looks like it should be overturned, as he's clearly touched on the way to the ground. Reid needs to challenge... and somehow does not. Holy crap. Holy freaking crap, Andy, you bloated sack of garbage, how do you not challenge there?

Jacobs for five. Manning to Boss for fifteen, as Fox shows us the replay that we'll be seeing for the rest of the day. Unreal. Jacobs for seven, and this one is beyond over at this point; Fight #7 happens, which never gets tiresome. Toss to Bradshaw, stopped by Sims for three. Third and two with under 11 minutes left, so Manning from the gun draws Cheney on an offsides. Just a horror day of mistakes for Green, really.

Jacobs for a few; Fight #8. Nine minutes left. Jacobs for a few more. Third and four as Aikman tries to excuse Reid; no, that won't wash. From the gun, Manning to Boss for the clinching touchdown, and it only took three quarters for Blue to remember that Green can't cover the TE. Giants 31, Eagles 10, a four TD day for Manning.

Calvin to the 25, and we're into Stat Padding Time. Vick from the gun to Maclin for 10, then hits Cursed Celek for a touchdown. Whiffed tackle and coverage, and even the Cursed One can get in when the WRs block like that. 65 yard score to cut it back to 14 with 7:28 left, and while I'd love to have hope for the miracle... well, the defense is still the defense...

But somehow Blue sleeps on an onside kick try, and Akers does it perfectly, with Cooper collecting it easily. Wow, that should never be that easy. Green ball at their own 43.

From the gun, Vick hits DJ, who jitters for 13 and a first. Vick somehow escapes a jailbreak sack and goes for huge yards up the middle, and that's just unreal. 35 yard run. With six minutes left, Vick misses DJ at the pylon on pressure. Second and goal from the gun has Vick keep it and go down for a loss. The flag is on Blue for offsides, which helps a ton. From the gun on second, Vick's pass is knocked down, fourth time today; I'd like to see McCoy in the backfield here, please. Third and goal from the gun is a Vick QB draw, and that goes for a score. Wow, what a Blue collapse in the last few minutes, and what a save for Vick's fantasy owners. Akers hits the PAT, and it's 31-24 with 5:28 left. What a turnaround, and I never tire of Angry Tom Coughlin.

Akers to the 10 on a hop, and Ware takes it back to the 35. The defense needs to come up with a stop here. No, really. Manning on a back shoulder to Manningham; perfect and a first. Bradshaw for seven and into Green territory with under five to go, and I'm not liking the defense's chances of giving the offense one last shot. Bradshaw for two, and the defense takes their first timeout. Third and a yard is a very big play; no, really. From the gun is an odd choice, but the long slow toss to Bradshaw gets the distance, and that's another back-breaking third down conversion. Four minutes left.

Bradshaw for a few to the left as the Eagles use their last timeout. Blue moves to make things a little brighter. From the gun on 2nd and 11, Coughlin stays conservative with a Bradshaw give for two. Third and nine with the clock running and the game on the line. Manning from the gun is blitzed, and has to throw it away; the game will continue. Coleman with the heat, and Eli is furious with his WRs for not breaking off the pattern. Dodge's punt is caught by Maclin at his 12, and Green has three minutes and 88 yards to go to force as unlikely an overtime as you have ever seen.

From the gun on first, Vick has time and an open Celek, but the pass is low and away; dammit, that could have been an awful lot of yards. Second and 10 from the gun sees Vick miss DJ short under pressure. 2:50 left, not that the clock matters that much now. From the gun, Vick goes left and gains the corner for a 33 yard run, and that's just immense. How he can be that quick at this stage of the game, after so many hits... yeesh. Vick aborts a telegraphed screen, and takes Avant for 13 and a first. From the gun, Pierre-Paul bats down another ball. Second and 10 from the gun with 2:07 left sees Vick react to a blitz with a run up the gut for another huge gain; this one is 22, and gets the ball to the Giants 20 yard line at the two minute warning. The QB now has 130 yards on 10 carries, and the timeout right now seems like a huge break for Blue, seeing how Mutant QB is just faster than anyone else on the field right now. Wow.

Vick to Celek for seven yards over the middle. Plenty of time at this point, really; 90 seconds left. From the gun, Vick hits Maclin, who spins the CB into a ball and walks into the end zone. Great block by McCoy, and in the last six minutes, the Eagles have scored 21 unaswered to tie it. Akers does the honors... and did Green leave too much time on the clock?

Blue with three timeouts and 76 seconds on the clock, with Akers not doing much on distance. An onside kick would be Pure Balls and Crazy... and no, that doesn't happen. Ware on yet another poor kick gets it to the Blue 37; Not Helpful At All.

Manning has time, but misses Hagan as a blitz doesn't quite get there. From the gun on second, Manning misses Boss and is nearly picked by Mikell. Damn, that was close. Third and 10 is massive, and Manning is sacked, finally, by DE Trevor Laws. Since the Eagles have no timeouts left, this is not the worst outcome for Blue, but Dodge has to punt with 14 seconds left, and DJ back, for the first time today, to return it.

And... oh. My. God.

Dodge's punt is a line drive. DJ fumbles it, then goes up the middle, straight up the gut, getting a massive block. He dawdles on the goal line for fun, then throws the ball into the stands as everyone in Philadelphia goes crazy. Coughlin chews out Dodge, Giants Fan throws up in his mouth, then spits it up into the face of the guy that's throwing up next to him.

Fox plays the Herman Edwards footage. I'd compare it to the Brian Westbrook steal, too. And there are no words, really. I just laughed at my screen for a solid minute, and was heard by everyone in my house after working the game in professional silence for three hours.

Good God.


There are no words. Other than pure sheepishness for thinking this was over, and integrity in keeping the diary the way it is.

And as I'm trying to finish the diary, the NY HD feed that I'm watching asks me to texxt a vote for Giants Player of the Game. Might I suggest Dodge?

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