Saturday, January 31, 2009

Let's get ready for some...

MMA! Alright, I know we talk about types of sports that kick balls here. So I'm going to talk quickly about a sport that kicks people's balls: UFC!

I'll be watching BJ Penn vs George St. Pierre. This battle is epic because it pits the laziest, most awesomely natural fighter in BJ Penn against a hardworking GSP training at the hardest, currently most successful MMA group in the Jackson Camp. I am pulling for BJ Penn to win because I am lazy and naturally talented. CHECK OUT THE PROMO:



BJ Penn: George, I'm going to kill you, and I'm not joking about this.

DUDE, SAMOAN GOING TO THROW DOWN.

Alright, I'm done.

Okay, just kidding. One more, Lyoto Machida vs Thiago Silva is going to be hilarious if you know how to watch it. You know how when you first watch soccer you're like wow how stupid all they do is kick the ball around no shots on goal blah blah. Watching Lyoto Machida is the same thing. He's REALLY REALLY boring if you don't know how to watch him. But if you come with the mindset that Machida is the career killer, then he is the most hilarious fighter in the world. The way he basically fights is he kicks you from far away and dodges for 99% of the round. Then in the last 30 seconds or so he turns it on and steals the round. It is funny to see him get the best fighters mad by running. Silva is a sick fighter, so this will be fun.

Kaka Ordeal

I was going to write a long article about this, but I'll just get to it. Get your money. Fuck loyalty. Loyalty, especially in sports, is bullshit. If a team offers you a ridiculous amount of money for ONE PLAYER, you take it. If a team offers you 600k a week, you take it. Ronaldinho went through the same thing. Barca was offered about 75 mil, and Ronaldinho was offered 300k a week and they both said no. Loyalty blah blah guess what? Exactly a year later, Barca sells Ronaldinho for 6.5 mil and Ronaldinho gets no payday. TAKE YOUR MONEY. The crazy cash cow only comes once.

Chelsea vs. Liverpool

I've joined a Chelsea group here in the OC. So Sunday at 7am, I'm going to be with a bunch of Chelsea fans singing and cheering for Liverpool to eat cock. OLI PORTER. EAT COCK. DO IT. WE WIN. Man U probably will win the Premiership, but SCREW IT. Now some may say, "BUT PATRICK HEHE CHELSEA HAS BEEN SUCKING ASS LATELY." Yeah? Well, even a broken watch is right twice a day.

I Guess I Should Talk About the Superbowl

As an example of how bad the times are, Superbowl ads sold for a record $206 mil. topping the list of advertisements is cash4gold.com. HAHAHHAHAHHAHAHA NFL is trying to tell me this is a good thing, but don't piss on my back and tell me it's rain.

Alright, Seriously

I'm not going to go super in-depth on each team because that's what other sites are for. I'm here to tell you who will win. Every time I've picked Arizona, I've been right. Every other team I've been wrong. I've been 50% on picking games during the playoffs, and I told you motherfuckers I'm 60%. Who will Patrick N curse for the Superbowl?

The Pitty Steelers will win the Superbowl. They are more healthy. They have a great secondary to beat up Fitzgerald. I just don't feel it this time for Arizona. A rough and tough mean team vs. a finesse team. Rough wins.

GO ARIZONA.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

1. "Lost" may never solve its mysteries, but the world of futbol seems to wrap its own mysteries up pretty quickly. Consider the mysterious case of why Robinho fled to Brazil last week. Now we know.

He allegedly sexually assaulted an 18 year old woman at a night club in Leeds 2 weeks ago. Figuring the heat would be on him, he did what a lot of people do when they are in trouble with the law, which is to run away to Brazil and hide from the law. He is hiding no longer though, as it has been confirmed he has met with police regarding the investigation of the incident.

So given this, it's award time. The winner gets this trophy I've designed:



a. Robinho sexually assaulting an 18 year old and running away to Brazil
b. Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg
c. Eddy Curry sexually harrassing his male chauffeur

Get your votes in!

2. A cadre of teams trying to avoid relegation in the Premier League were in action yesterday..

- Tottenham got goals from Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe, and Michael Dawson to cruise past Stoke for their first Premier League victory in over a month. Spurs are now 3 points clear of the 5 team pile of crap tied at the bottom of the league they were in entering the match. Stoke is still a part of said pile of crap.

- West Brom is also still tied for the bottom, as they got blasted by league leaders Man U 5-0. United got a pair of goals from Cristiano Ronaldo.

- Sunderland increased their cushion from the drop zone from 2 points to 5 with a 1-0 win over Fulham.

3. Hey let's give the Dutch league some love. 4 time defending champions PSV Eindhoven are limping along in 5th place this year, 15 points behind leaders AZ Alkmaar. Team management has deduced that since this is coach Huub Stevens' first season is in charge, and everything was great before he got there, that he's the problem. So they superkicked him in the face and fired him. Like Shawn Michaels did to Booker T here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

1. Now that David Beckham has scored a goal for AC Milan, they are all ready to pay off the LA Galaxy to keep him. Milan has said they will pay a 4.5M pound transfer fee to the Galaxy for Becks. Beckham is currently on loan from the Galaxy.

The British papers report that Posh Spice wants to stay in the US, because she doesn't want to move their kids to a non-English speaking country.

If Beckham has indeed played his last match in MLS, his much heralded stint in America ends with 5 goals in 30 matches, and can be summed up with this tune:



2. There seems to be a trend of international feuding between clubs going on. Yesterday I talked about the Arsenal-Real Madrid row regarding Arsene Wenger and Cesc Fabregas. Now you can add AC Milan vs. LA Galaxy to that.

Galaxy coach and former US national coach Bruce Arena commented on the Beckham situation by saying, ""If I had a player on a loan agreement I wouldn't be talking about acquiring that player unless I talked to the club. "

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti responded, "Milan is a serious club, a very serious club. There is no new agreement with David. The current agreement is the contract which allows him to stay with Milan until March 9." Ahahaha. So what Ancelotti is basically saying is Milan is a real soccer club and the Galaxy and MLS are a Mickey Mouse joke.

So how does MLS shake that perception? Easy. Join UEFA and go head to head against the big boys competing for the Champions League and UEFA Cups. MLS will never, ever be seen as truly a major league unless and until it does that.

3. The price of oil, like the price of just about any other asset, is in the crapper. That's bad for the owner of Chelsea, Russian oilgarch Roman Abramovich. He reportedly now is only worth 16 billion dollars..instead of the 22 billion he was worth before, so he may be looking to sell the team. A Swiss investment group has stated their interest, but insist if they purchase the club it will be a negotiated deal and not a hostile takeover.

Monday, January 26, 2009

3 Points- Kaka Rubs It In MCFC's Face

1. You've been hearing a lot of poo poo about Kaka lately. The epic saga of his almost transfer to Manchester City has been well documented here. You may also be wondering, as I have, why all the fuss and the money waved at somebody who has scored only 7 goals this year? Well, Kaka did it on the pitch this weekend, and showed why he may be worth all that sterling. He scored 2 goals and almost added a third as AC Milan bomped Bologna 4-1, moving within 6 points of the lead in Serie A.

Also notable in this match, and no I am not making this up, DAVID BECKHAM SCORED! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Meanwhile, as AC Milan closes in, archrivals Inter cling to the lead. They got a shaky 1-0 home win over a crappy Sampdoria team this weekend, a match notable only for Jose Mourinho getting ejected and forced to watch the match from the stands. Inter has a 3 point lead over Juventus, 1-0 winners over Fiorentina this weekend, and the aforementioned 6 point cushion over AC Milan.

2. Seriously, if you have GOL TV, you owe it to yourself to block out two hours next time Barcelona is on and watch them. Not only are they far and away the best team in the world right now, they may be the best team the world has seen in the last few years. They're like 72-10 Michael Jordan Bulls good. Their latest clinic was this weekend, putting la bitchslap down on Numancia 4-1, with 2 goals from Messi, and goals by Eto'o and Henry. They are awesome.

3. The top 2 teams from La Liga get automatic berths in the Champions League group round. Normally, that's an automatic for Real Madrid, but they're fighting for it this year. They got themselves 3 points clear this weekend with a 1-0 win over Deportivo, vaulting them ahead of Sevilla, who laid a stink bomb against Racing, losing 0-2.

You may remember last week that Real president hopeful Florentino Perez was all like "Yeah it'll be so awesome when I'm president and we get Arsene Wenger to coach and Cesc Fabregas on our team". As you may expect, that kind of talk requires a response from Arsenal. And it was a good one. Arsenal boss Peter Hill-Wood commented, saying, "I think it is laughable. I cannot believe that Arsene would go there for all the tea in China. He would be played around like a puppet." OH SNAP.

WEEKEND SCOREBOARD

FA CUP- 4th Round
Hartlepool United 0, West Ham 2
Torguay United 0, Coventry City 1
Kettering Town 2, Fulham 4
Sunderland 0, Blackburn 0
Wolverhampton 1, Middlesbrough 2
Sheffield United 2, Charlton Athletic 1
Portsmouth 0, Swansea City 2
West Brom 2, Burnley 2
Chelsea 3, Ipswich Town 1
Hull City 2, Millwall 0
Watford 4, Crystal Palace 3
Doncaster Rovers 0, Aston Villa 0
Manchester United 2, Tottenham 1
Cardiff City 0, Arsenal 0
Liverpool 1, Everton 1


LA LIGA
(9-4-7) Villarreal 1
(2-10-8) Osasuna 1

(17-1-2) Barca 4
(6-12-2) Numancia 1

(6-9-5) Recreativo 1
(6-11-3) Real Betis 0

(7-10-3) Valladolid 1
(3-10-7) Espanyol 1

(4-11-5) Mallorca 3
(10-6-4) Valencia 1

(6-8-6) Getafe 5
(8-12-0) Sporting Gijon 1

(6-8-6) Almeria 2
(7-8-5) Athletic Bilbao 1

(11-4-5) Sevilla 0
(7-6-7) Racing Santander 2

(9-6-5) Malaga 1
(9-6-5) Atletico 1

(13-5-2) Real Madrid 1
(9-8-3) Deportivo 0

SERIE A
(3-13-4) Reggina 0
(4-12-4) Chievo 1

(13-3-4) Juventus 1
(10-8-2) Fiorentina 0

(7-9-4) Siena 1
(8-9-3) Atalanta 0

(10-7-3) Napoli 0
(10-7-3) AS Roma 3

(9-7-4) Lazio 1
(8-8-4) Cagliari 4

(3-8-9) Lecce 3
(4-12-4) Torino 3

(10-4-6) Genoa 1
(7-8-5) Catania 1

(10-8-2) Palermo 3
(6-9-5) Udinese 2

(4-9-7) Bologna 1
(12-4-4) AC Milan 4

(14-2-4) Inter 1
(5-10-5) Sampdoria 0

PDM
(0-1-1) San Luis 1
(2-0-0) Pachuca 2

(0-2-0) Tigres 0
(2-0-0) Jaguares 3

(1-0-1) Cruz Azul 4
(0-2-0) Atlas 0

(1-0-1) Atlante 2
(0-1-) Monarcas 0

(1-0-1) Chivas 1
(0-2-0) Tecos 0

(1-0-1) Indios 1
(1-0-1) Monterrey 1

(2-0-0) Pumas 1
(0-2-0) Santos 0

(1-1-0) Puebla 1
(0-2-0) Necaxa 0

(1-0-1) America 2
(0-0-2) Toluca 2

Sunday, January 25, 2009

8 In The Box




1. The Arizona Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl. The wobegone, vagabond franchise that has brought you David Boston, Timm Rosenbach, Dan Dierdorf, and Cuba Gooding Jr., has finally done something to justify their existence.

They tried really, really hard to blow it, burning thru a 24-6 lead like it was nothing to find themselves behind 25-24 in the 4th quarter. They are, after all, the Cardinals. But the fact is that the 2 best players in the stadium were both wearing red and white, and when the Cards fell behind it was in the hands of Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald to bring them back, and they did it.

A pair of big completions to Fitzgerald set up an 8 yard pass from Kurt Warner to Tim Hightower on 3rd down to put the Cardinals ahead 30-25. A successful 2 point conversion made it 32-25.

Philly got the ball back with 2:41 left, and a chance to go right back down the field and tie it. They got into Arizona territory, but then Donovan McNabb threw 4 straight incompletions to turn it over on downs and end it. 375 yards and 3 TDs for McNabb, 1 unconverted chance to bring his team back and tie the game when everything was on the line, and prove that he is as Andy Reid said he was, "The best quarterback in the NFL."



2. If Warner and Fitzgerald were the 2 best players on the field in that game, there is no question who the best was, and the best in all of these playoffs and probably the best in the league is right now. Larry Fitzgerald has been the story of these playoffs. In 3 games he has caught 23 passes for 419 yards and 5 TDs. He's gone up against 3 different defenses and completely dominated all 3 of them.

Never before has a wide reciever just taken over a postseason like this. It's virtually impossible to do so. Teams can scheme their coverages to double team a guy, and take him out of the game. For a team like the Cardinals, it's even easier to do that because nobody respects their running game and with Anquan Boldin injured he's the only option you need to worry about in the passing game. He is literally the only threat the Cardinals have right now. And still he does this. It's the single most impressive thing I can remember seeing in any playoffs.






3. For the second time in 4 years, the AFC's representative in the Super Bowl will be the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers 23-14 win over the Ravens was the definition of a defensive struggle. The game had only 24 first downs, where by comparison the Eagles and Cardinals combined for 43 first downs. The score that salted the game away was a defensive score, a 40 yard INT return by Troy Polamalu. It was everything anybody thought it could be, and a game any football purist would love.



Chicago Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers Comiskey Park 1946

4. So there's your Super Bowl, Steelers vs. Cardinals. I know what you are all thinking. This is the first Super Bowl, or to my knowledge, major team sports championship of any kind that involves two teams that were once one franchise.

But Mr. Football, you say, what are you talking about? What could you possibly mean?

In 1944, World War II necessitated the temporary merger of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chicago Cardinals into an unholy alliance known as Card-Pitt. This was the second season in a row that the Steelers were forced to combine operations and rosters with another team, as in 1943 they merged with the Philadelphia Eagles to form the "Steagles".

Card-Pitt was really bad. They went 0-10 that year. Maybe part of that was because they had "co-coaches" with the head coaches of the Steelers and Cards splitting the head coaching duties. They were known unofficially as the "Carpets", as the opposition routinely either walked all over them or beat them like rugs.

Card-Pitt, according to then Steelers owner Art Rooney, was "the worst team in NFL history". Now, 65 years later, these two teams re-unite to give us what could be the worst Super Bowl in NFL history. Yaaaaay!




5. This story has been pretty well documented I think, but it does provide about the most interesting storyline I can come up with for this Super Bowl.

After Bill Cowher retired, the plan was to make Ken Whisenhunt the new head coach of the Steelers. However, there is a thing in the NFL called the Rooney Rule that requires any franchise looking to hire a head coach to interview a minority candidate. "Rooney" of course is the family that owns the Steelers. It wouldn't look really good for the owners of the team that are responsible for the Rooney rule to not hire a minority head coach. Depending on who you believe, the NFL League Office reminded them of this.

So, because of this, Ken Whisenhunt was now not the Steelers head coach, Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin was, and Whisenhunt left the Steelers organization to become Arizona's head coach, and took a bunch of Steelers assistants with him.

This isn't to say Tomlin did not deserve the job. He certainly did and he's proving to be an elite head coach. What it does say is the Steelers choose their leaders better than any organization in pro sports. They've had 3 head coaches in the last 35 years or so, and the 2 candidates they were down to in their last hiring process are meeting in the Super Bowl. This organization knows how to find a good head coach.



6. You would think that a group of guys who went 9-7 in the regular season and wear the uniform of a club that has been schedule filler for the better part of the last 90 years would all be huggy kissy and united in a frenzy of "nobody believed in us" love right about now. You'd think so, but you'd be wrong.

Anquan Boldin, who you will recall had his face shattered into a billion pieces earlier this year and had to have it surgically re-assembled, had a shouting match with one of his coaches on the sidelines of the NFC Championship game, and left the field without celebrating with his teammates after the game. He's a very sad panda. That and Kurt Warner has to wake up to idiotic stories about whether he or Matty Jacuzzi should be the Cardinals quarterback next year, which is about as relevant a question as whether Warner or Jake Plummer should be the Cardinals quarterback next year. Oh yeah, and the starting running back has made it 100% clear he'd rather be playing for the BC Lions than the Cardinals next year.

So, a 9-7 team where everyone wants out takes on a team who plays boring caveman football. No wonder 1/2 the Super Bowl commercials will be for ShamWow.



7. Let's see what's new on the NFL Coaching Carousel of DOOM

- The Jets new head coach is former Ravens DC Rex Ryan. If Rex's wife has a baby, he will name it "Brett". Regardless of gender. It works for both.

- The Browns have hired a new GM to go with their new head coach, Mangenius, who I have apparently maybe played basketball against once 15 years ago. The new GM is Mangini BFF George Kokinis, who was apparently an intern with the Browns when Mangini was a ballboy.

- Kansas City has fired Herm Edwards. Herm was traded to the Chiefs in 2006 from the Jets for a draft pick that turned out to be useful running back/return guy Leon Washington. Herm went 9-7 in his first season as Chiefs coach, then proceeded to rebuild the team in his image, which turned them into a hopeless 2-14 team whose best player is 50 year old Tony Gonzalez. The only thing memorable about Herm's KC career will go down as being the time he and Tony Dungy dressed up like each other and made out after that playoff game.

- The Raiders still do not have a head coach. Jon Gruden's out there. I'm just saying.



8. And finally, time for my Super Bowl Pick.

I think this will be a close game. Neither of these teams have a habit of blowing other teams out. Pittsburgh doesn't have the offense to do that and Arizona doesn't have the defense.

If you wonder how Arizona got to the Super Bowl, they did it by making the other team turn it over. Philly turned it over 3 times against them, Carolina turned it over 6 times, Atlanta turned it over 3 times, including 1 that resulted in a Cardinal TD.

What this game is going to hinge on entirely is how careful Ben Roethlisberger is with the ball. If the Steelers turn it over 3 or more times, they'll lose. Ben threw 15 picks this year, which, if you are a math whiz, is about 1 per game. So he does give it up.

In these playoffs though, the Steelers have taken excellent care of the ball, turning it over only once in two wins. So they should continue to do that. I will issue a very sissified pick, if Pittsburgh turns it over less than 3 times, which I think they can do, they will win. If not, all bets are off.

Call it 24-20 Steelers.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

3 Points- Robinho Goes AWOL

1. As I talked about yesterday, Man City superstar Robinho left the team this week. He flew back to Brazil to attend to what he says is a family matter. The club has now made their statement on this, as manager Mark Hughes said yesterday, "Robbie left without permission, he felt that he had personal things that he needed to attend to." There's been speculation that he left because he was upset about City failing to land Kaka, but Hughes poo-pooed that theory, saying, ""He has already said that himself, and he was on a plane back to Brazil when the Kaka deal was dead and buried. People trying to link the two are trying to cause a little bit of mischief."

2. Real Madrid just fired its president last week, so now the maneuvering begins amongst those hoping to be voted the new president. Just like in politics, there are many campaign promises. Among the hopefuls is former Real president Florentino Perez, who was the man who built the "Galactico" version of Real Madrid earlier this decade that saw big names like Beckham and Ronaldo suiting up for Real.

It looks like Perez is promising some big things if he's elected. One of Perez' spokespeople said yesterday, "With Kaka and (Cesc) Fabregas as players and Wenger as coach, Florentino will take Real back to where they should be". That should end up costing Real Madrid about what Obama's public works program will cost.

3. From the never ending file of Man City ridiculousness, consider they just paid a 17 million pound transfer fee for Hamburg midfielder Nigel de Jong.

de Jong has 0 goals and 0 assists this year, and has scored 2 goals with Hamburg since 2006. That in itself may be enough to say why would you pay almost 34M USD for this guy.

But, wait, there's more.

If MCFC would have waited just 4 months, they could have taken advantage of a clause in de Jong's contract that would have allowed them to purchase him for just 2.3M pounds. So basically, they are paying 30 million dollars for 4 months of a guy who makes little or no impact, in a season where they are probably landlocked in the middle of the table anyway. I mean, my God.

LA LIGA
TOP 5 (PTS/GP/GD)
1. Barca 50/19/+46
2. Real Madrid 38/19/+14
3. Sevilla 38/19/+12
4. Valencia 34/19/+11

BOTTOM 5
16. Recreativo 20/19/-11
17. Numancia 20/19/-13
18. Espanyol 15/19/-15
19. Mallorca 14/19/-19
20. Osasuna 13/19/-9

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

3 Points- Arshavin to Arsenal? You Bet Your Arse!

1. Well, maybe, maybe not. It's complicated. First off, if you don't know who Andrei Arshavin is, then you didn't watch Euro 2008. Arshavin led Russia to a surprising semi-final spot, and was named to the all-tournament team. He currently plays in Russia for Zenit St. Petersburg, Russian champs but a club that made a disappointing showing in the group stage of the Champions League. Zenit says Arshavin is worth 18 million pounds, and won't sell him for any less than that, and Arsenal is balking at that price. Arshavin wants badly to go to Arsenal, though, and he and his agent have now stated they will buyout his Zenit contract if the club refuses to sell it to Arsenal.

2. Didier Drogba, who has been benched ever since Chelsea's 3-0 loss to Man U a couple of weeks ago, has very cautiously told a French newspaper that he would be very happy to return to Olympique Marseille, the Ligue 1 club he scored 33 goals in 55 matches for during the 2003-2004 season.

He loves France and France loves him, but if he's going to go play in Ligue 1 he may as well be playing on the moon, because nobody cares about Ligue 1 outside of France, because just about every game ends 0-0.

3. Real Madrid has been fined a whopping 3000 Euros, ($3900 USD) as punishment for a group of its fans chanting about how swell they think Fascism and gas chambers are during a match against Osasuna. Wow, almost 4 thousand dollars. That's pretty stiff. I guess they may not be able to afford to buy Kaka now.

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
TOP 5 (PTS/GP/GD)
1. Man U 47/21/+24
2. Liverpool 47/22/+22
3. Chelsea 45/22/+29
4. Villa 44/22/+13
5. Arsenal 41/22/+13

BOTTOM 5
16. Spurs 21/22/-6
17. Rovers 21/21/-11
18. Boro 21/22/-15
19. Stoke 21/22/-16
20. West Brom 21/22/-17

LEADING SCORERS
1. Nicolas Anelka, Chelsea, 14
2. Robinho, Man City, 11
3. Amr Zaki, Wigan, 10
4. Steven Gerrard, Liverpool, 9
4. Frank Lampard, Chelsea, 9
4. Gabriel Agbonlahor, Villa, 9

LIGUE 1
TOP 5
1. Lyon 42/21/+13
2. Bordeaux 41/21/+17
3. Marseille 38/21/+13
4. Rennes 37/21/+11
5. Toulouse 37/21/+8

BOTTOM 5
16. Auxerre 20/21/-9
17. St. Etienne 20/21/-14
18. Sochaux 17/21/-7
19. Valenciennes 16/20/-9
20. Le Havre 12/21/-23

LEADING SCORERS
1. Andre Pierre Gignac, Toulouse, 13
2. Fernando Cavenaghi, Bordeaux 12
2. Guillaume Hoarau, PSG, 12
4. Karim Benzema, Lyon, 10
5. Michel Fernandes Bastos, Lille, 9

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Robinho Comic

This was sent to me today by a youtube subscriber. (click to enlarge):

Three Points- All Kaka, All the Time

1. Kaka is not coming to the Premiership. At least not to Man City and not now. He has officially turned down MCFC's 108 million pound offer. Man City's chairman, Garry Cook, is trying to blame this all on AC Milan, saying that they were all hot to sell him, and then pulled the rug out once they got backlash from their fans. Cook says that AC Milan, "bottled it". If anybody can translate this, please feel free. I don't speak English. I have no idea what "bottled it" means.

2. Everything is turning into a big flaming wreck at Man City. Not only did they not get Kaka, but the Brazilian superstar they do have, Robinho, is busy fending off reports that he is unhappy with MCFC, and that not getting Kaka has made him unhappier. Robinho flew home to Brazil recently. Why? Depending on who you believe, it's either because he was angry and had a disagreement with manager Mark Hughes, or because as Robinho said he had a "family matter" to attend to. Robinho is second in the Premiership with 11 goals.

3. David Beckham, you may recall, is doing a winter residency in Milan, trying to play his way back on to England's National team in time for the 2010 World Cup. He couldn't resist weighing in on the Kaka situation, and speak for his new sort-of teammate, saying, "Kak√° wants to go to Real Madrid and not to City. I think he'll become a Real player in June."

Monday, January 19, 2009

3 Points- MU'vin On Up




1. We've got a new leader in the Premiership. Manchester United got a last minute header from Dimitar Berbatov, giving them a 1-0 win at Bolton and vaulting them past idle Liverpool into the top spot.

In other Premiership action this weekend, Team Turmoil aka Chelsea got a shaky home win over Stoke 2-1. Chelsea fell behind 1-0 to the 19th place Potters, but got goals from Julio Belletti and Frank Lampard in the final two minutes to steal the 3 points.

Aston Villa kept themselves in the 4th spot, which is the final qualifying spot for the Champions League, with a 2-1 come from behind win at Sunderland. Villa was down to 10 men when English national team member Ashley Young got sent off at the 72 minute mark. But a bad challenge on Gabriel Agbonlahor got Villa awarded a PK in the 80th minute, which Gareth Barry knocked home to give Villa the win.

Arsenal stayed just a point behind Villa with an impressive 3-1 road win over Hull City. Hull got off to a fast start this season, and they are in 9th place, but despite that are only 6 points clear of relegation.



2. Mexico's spring season, known as the "Clausura", opened this weekend, and Patrick's favorite team, Club America, opened with a 2-1 win at Santos Laguna. The defending champs, Toluca (pictured above), had to settle for a 3-3 draw at home against Atlante.



3. It was a bad weekend for the top 2 teams in Serie A. League leaders Inter totally crapped themselves, losing 3-1 at Real Housewives of Atlanta, no wait, thats Atalanta. Has Kim's record dropped yet? It's the middle of January, it was supposed to be out by now. Maybe Austin Houston or whatever that producer she is working with's name is is still mixing it. Second place Juventus blew its chance to make up serious ground though, as they could only muster a 1-1 tie at those fascist bastards Lazio.

Meanwhile, in La Liga, Barca continues to look like the best team in the world. They destroyed Deportivo Coruna this weekend, 5-0. Eto'o and Thierry Henry both had a pair of goals, and Lionel Messi had a goal. Real Madrid celebrated the firing of their shitty club president by beating up on last place Osasuna. Sevilla remains tied with Real for second place thanks to its 1-0 win over Numancia.

WEEKEND SCOREBOARD
EPL
Blackburn 3, Newcastle 0
Sunderland 1, Villa 2
Bolton 0, Man U 1
West Brom 3, Boro 0
Chelsea 1, Stoke 1
Man City 1, Wigan 0
Hull 1, Arsenal 3
West Ham 3, Fulham 1
Spurs 1, Pompey 1

LA LIGA
Barca 5, Deportivo 0
Sevilla 1, Numanica 0
Villarreal 2, Mallorca 0
Real Madrid 3, Osasuna 1
Getafe 0, Racing 1
Recreativo 2, Sporting Gijon 0
Valladolid 1, Real Betis 3
Malaga 4, Espanyol 0
Athletic Bilbao 3, Valencia 2
Almeria 1, Atletico 1

SERIE A
Siena 1, Reggina 0
AC Milan 1, Fiorentina 0
Atalanta 3, Inter 1
Lecce 0, Genoa 2
Cagliari 2, Udinese 0
Sampdoria 0, Palermo 2
Torino 0, Roma 1
Catania 1, Bologna 2
Lazio 1, Juventus 1
Chievo 2, Napoli 1

PRIMERA DIVISION
Chiapas 2, Atlas 1
Chivas 3, Cruz Azul 3
Monterrey 4, Puebla 0
Necaxa 1, Pumas 2
Morelia 0, San Luis 0
Toluca 3, Atlante 3
Santos 1, America 2
Pachuca 4, Tigres 1

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I woke up so here's a quickie


Usually I'm fishing at this time, but I moved the date to tomorrow in honor of MLK Jr, who would really want me to fish on his day.

Off the site subject of football and soccer for a second, I watched UFC 93 in Ireland and while the fighting was excellent with a relatively low big name talent card, the ref and judging staff did a horrible job. Mark "Take Hits in the Face For the Takedown" Coleman, the person who made Ground-N-Pound famous almost beat shitty Shogun Rua except the ref stopped the fight before Rua was allowed to show he could finish. Rich Franklin dominated Dan Henderson in a slightly boring fight that pretty much consisted of Franklin kicking Henderson's liver for three rounds but lost in a split decision somehow. Pathetic night for the UFC staff.

I tell you who's legit though: Rousimar Palhares AKA Toquinho. Joe Rogan, who I know everyone hates but knows a lot about grappling because he trains with rubber guard originator Eddie Bravo and the 10th Planet stable, said Toquinho was the best grappler in MMA today. I thought he was an idiot for saying that, but Rogan doesn't throw out hyperbole, especially for grappling. Watch out for this guy, he's the real deal.

NFL Playoffs


I was 2-2 showing that if there was one more game, I would have been 60% wrong like I should. Fire Norv Turner. I'm bored of him. [My picks in bold]

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald is legit. I mean, wow. I'm over Terrell Owens. Yes, I have two jerseys from him, but fuck it, Fitzgerald is just, wow. I want the Cardnials to win because I feel super bad for them and with Westbrook hurt, I think they have a chance. Damn, 60% wrong. Sorry Cards.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

What a boring ass match up. Ravens got a bunch of D players hurt, but besides that these two twos play the same way. That usually means everyone should copycat their business model, but I really hope these two eat shit so no one follows their model. Now, I know what some of you are thinking: "BUT PATRIX, POWER RUNNING AND SUPER D IS NOT ANYTHING NEW. LEARN ABOUT FOOTBALL LOSAR HEHEHEHEHEHEH." These guys aren't power running like normal power running where you just shove a big back and hit people. That's fun. These guys run the ball with none of the bang and still keep the ball. Alright, I admit it. I don't know what I'm talking about. All I know is when I watch power running teams with great defenses play any other type of team, I'm not bored. But I'm pretty sure watching two of them will be BORING. I tell you one thing, though. How is rookie Joe Flacco able to do so well in the playoffs taking down vets? Easy: He played Division 1-A football. What? You don't get it? You moron. Division 1-A college football has a playoff system. And by "moron" I mean BCS.

Soccer Stuff


Kaka: Yes, he is worth the $125 mil transfer and $600,000 a week. Kaka will bring many more because he honestly is a good guy that makes everyone around him better. As opposed to Robinho, who is super selfish, Kaka is content with what he has...until someone offers him half a million a week to kick a ball around.

Ramon Calderon: As a Real Madrid fan, I am soooooooooooo happy this a-hole resigned. The only guy he promised to get and got was Robben. Man City is going to get Kaka. YOU DIDN'T GET KAKA. FIRED. This guy was scumbag 101. Oh, good move on getting Lass from Ports though. Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

Mourinho's Inter Loses to Uhhhhhhhhh: Inter lost for only the second time this Serie A season to Atalaaalalalalalalalallaalallaltlatltatatatata. Mourinho just hates it in Italy. Boring, flopping teams, shitty media, and all the stress for really no recognition because NO ONE CARES ABOUT SERIE A.

Beckham Plays in Serie A for AC Milan: Ronaldinho, Pato, Nesta, Zambrotta, Pirlo, Kaka, Shevchenko, and now David Beckham. This team is stacked and Beckham shows everyone he's actually still good. He closes down well, he pressures well, and his passing is strong. It's funny, but the only thing lacking in his game is the crossing he's known for. But the game I saw had him or Kaka be the distributor or initiator of most of the offensive charges. EVERYONE CARES ABOUT SERIE A NOW.

Chelsea's Joe Cole Out for Season: Man, FU Oli you rigging motherfucker.

Benitez Goes Apeshit: Success builds a lot of pressure, and Benitez must be feeling it because he is really talking mad shit. He shit on Sir Fergie saying he has sex with the FA all day because the FA is way too lenient on Fergie abusing the refs (for which Benitez is right, BTW). He rejected his contract offer because he doesn't want to answer to the team director. Benitez is a great coach, I mean I wish he was on Chelsea. But I think he needs people to answer to in the transfer aspect because Benitez can pick up some really questionable guys. Checks and balances are a good thing. I hope Benitez doesn't get what he wants so Oli Porter gets mad.

Last Thing: Aston Villa is run by Americans and is in the black and is 4th on the table not needing a bunch of money to do it. Word?

Friday, January 16, 2009

8 In The Box




1. If the History Channel has not convinced you that the world is ending very, very soon, consider that we are now this close to having the Tampa Bay Rays reach the World Series and the Arizona Cardinals reach the Super Bowl in a span of 3 months. If that isn't the seas turning to blood and the dead rising from their graves stuff, I don't know what is.

Of course, since it's well document that Kurt Warner is very much down with the King, that's really not a problem for him. He hooked up with Larry Fitzgerald 8 times for 166 yards and a TD, as the Cardinals shocked pretty much everybody by pounding the heavily favored Panthers in Charlotte, 33-13.

What has gotten into the Cardinals? A lot has been made about how they've shut down two teams with strong running games, which they have. I think you have to pay attention though to why they've done that. The Cardinals have been starting fast and getting out to leads, forcing the Falcons and Panthers to throw more and run less. When teams are playing from behind, you get things like the 5 picks that Jake Delhomme threw in this game. If anyone is going to beat the Cardinals, they cannot fall behind early. That's when their aggressive defense is at their best and can force turnovers, which put the game away.



2. While everything we think we know about the NFL crumbles around us, one thing does remain constant, and that's that it is virtually impossible to repeat as Super Bowl Champs. We now know the Giants won't. They completed their end of season Cowboy-esque plunge into the Hudson River by losing for the 4th time in 5 games, this time 23-11 to the Eagles. Eli Manning had a miserable game on a very windy day. He completed only 51.7% of his attempts, with a passer rating of of 40.7.

Meanwhile, the great Donovan McNabb completed 55.0% for a passer rating of 58.0. He was picked off twice and got flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone (a 2 point safety). He also got a 15 yard penalty for picking up a phone on the Giants sideline after running out of bounds and pretending to talk to someone. Probably the president of the National Jagoff Association telling him he has won their man of the year award.

McNabb's 58.0 passer rating earned him heaps of praise from Andy Reid, who said after the game, “He is the best quarterback in the NFL. I don’t think I have to say anything more than that.” Oh Sweet Jesus. All I know is you can't spell "Diva" without a bunch of letters that are also in "Donovan". Look up "sense of entitlement" in the dictionary and there's a picture of him and Joe Buck giving the thumbs up sign.



3. So that gives us an NFC Championship game of Eagles vs. Cardinals in the desert. This brings up another interesting contrast. The national media luuuuvs McNabb. One thing I keep reading and hearing about in that media is his heroic "resiliency". Resiliency because he had to sit on the bench for one half in a blowout game? Other than that he's had the media kissing his ass for 10 years, and his coach kissing his ass for 10 years. I'll remind you that in those 10 years he has reached only 1 Super Bowl, something even Rex Grossman has done. Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer have each won a Super Bowl, but Donovan McNabb hasn't. Donovan is the best quarterback whose been starting on a team for 10 years without winning a Super Bowl. You know why? Because he's the only one. John Elway's the only other guy I can think of who was in that situation and ending up winning one, and guess what, Donovan is no John Elway, so it ain't gonna happen.

Meanwhile, if you want to talk about "resiliency", I direct your attention to the OTHER QB in this game. You know, the guy who despite going to 2 Super Bowls and winning one, and winning MVP of the league twice, has been crapped on and had dirt shoveled on him by 3 different organizations, including the one he currently has led to more playoff wins in one year than they had in the 50 some years prior to that . And all of that was after he was out of the NFL and bagging groceries in between playing Arena Football in Iowa with goggles on the front of his helmet. THAT is "resiliency". I will be rooting hard for Kurt Warner and the Cardinals in this game. Do I think they will win? Sure, why not. I've already said as much in the Mr. Football Mailbag:

Dear Mr Football,

When looking at the road records of teams, it is obvious to me that Arizona will beat Philadelphia this week. Do you agree? If not, you know nothing about football.
Also, what is worse - the Chicago Bears defensive line, or the Chicago Bulls?

Rookie Monster


Dear Rookie Monster-
I agree with you that Arizona will win. Fish swim, ducks quack, Donovan McNabb loses in the NFC Championship game. It's what he does. It's what he was born to do.

On your second question, do not worry about the Bears defensive line. Rod Marinelli will save it. He is your personal savior. Now let us pray to Obama to end this cold weather.

Mr. F

Rookie Monster Replies:
I choose to pray to tim tebow, rather than obama.



4. The Baltimore Ravens caught a huge break last week. Chris Johnson was running wild against them, with 72 yards on 11 carries in the first half. Then he got hurt. Even with Johnson going down, the Titans hung 391 yards of total offense on the vaunted Ravens defense. But due in large part to Alge Crumpler fumbling on the Ravens nine yard line in the 4th quarter of what was a 7-7 game, Baltimore somehow was able to get the win and advance to the AFC Championship Game.

I was expecting more out of the Ravens in this one. They really got dominated but somehow won. The Titans had almost twice as much offensive yardage (391-211), and 21 first downs to the Ravens' 9. The Titans pushed the Ravens defense around all day, getting 16 rushing first downs. The Ravens managed only 1.7 yards per carry on offense. The Titans held the ball for 9 more minutes than the Ravens. It's almost completely defies any explanation that the Ravens won this game. Until you look at the turnover margin. 3 for the Titans, 0 for the Ravens. They took care of the ball, and in the playoffs that counts for a lot.



5. I send a huge thank you to the Pittsburgh Steelers. If they would have lost to the Chargers in what was the last game of last week's playoff docket, we would have had a team that went 9-7 hosting the conference title game in one conference, and a team that went 8-8 hosting the title game in the other conference. Seriously, when Vincent Jackson caught a TD pass at the beginning of this game to put SD up 7-0, I turned the game off, laid down, and felt very depressed about all the time I had wasted watching NFL regular season football this year. I fell into a deep, sad sleep.

When I woke up, I was happy to see that the Steelers were well in control of this game, and other than that early score it was never really close. The Chargers found out that well, maybe they do need LT after all. Darren Sproles had only 15 yards on 11 carries, and though Philip Rivers hung in there and threw for 308 yards, you really have no chance when your leading rusher gets 15 yards. For the Steelers, Willie Parker , who has been hurt and/or bad all season, finally came to and shredded the Chargers defense for 146 rushing yards.



6. The Steelers win gives us one hell of a matchup in the AFC Championship Game. Pittsburgh and Baltimore will meet for the 3rd time this year, with the Steelers needing to get their 3rd win over Ravens team that has gone 13-3 against teams that are not the Steelers this year.

As I've already talked about, the Ravens really are lucky to be here. They got beat everywhere but on the scoreboard in Nashville last week. Their defense got torn up by an offense that plays very similar to the Steelers. Willie Parker is the same kind of back as Chris Johnson, and Johnson imposed his speed on the Ravens last week. Ben Roethlisberger can beat you deep, just like Kerry Collins was able to do with Justin Gage last week. Pittsburgh looked like the best team in the AFC last week, and they will officially be that after today. Pittsburgh wins and goes to the Super Bowl for the second time in 4 years.



7. This was a very active week on the NFL Coaching Carousel of DOOM.

- Jon Gruden was unexpectedly told to walk the plank in Tampa. The Bucs lost 4 straight to end the season and missed the playoffs. They also let go GM Bruce Allen.

- And, as Patrick wrote about earlier this week in a very nice piece, Tony Dungy has stepped down as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. I think it's the best thing for both him and the Colts, and he left at the right time.



8. Out with the old, in with the new:

- Tampa moved very quickly to fill their coaching and GM vacancies. 32 year old defensive coordinator Raheem Cook is the new head coach, making him the first head coach in NFL history to be younger than me. Pro personnel director Mark Dominik is the new GM. Dominik had been in that position with the Bucs since 2001, and has been with the club since 1996. Spanning 2 centuries.

- Mangenius is the new head coach in Cleveland. Mangini this week hired his new offensive and defensive coordinators. Raiders DC Rob Ryan will be moving to Cleveland to fill that same position, while Jets QB coach Brian Daboll will be the new OC.

- Scott Pioli, who has had a huge part in building and maintaining the New England Patriots, is the new GM of the Kansas City Chiefs. Herm Edwards is still the coach, I guess, but somehow I don't think that will be the case for too much longer.

- There are now 2 NFL head coaches younger than me. Not only Raheem Cook, but new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels. He was the Patriots OC this year, and we can only hope he makes as great a head coach as his predecessor, Charlie Weis, has.

- Jim Schwartz, who has been the Titans' DC for the last 7 years, is the new head coach of the Detroit Lions. Schwartz is an interesting dude. He has been a contributor to Pro Football Prospectus, which if you don't know is analogous to the statistical analysis that is so common in baseball thru things like Baseball Prospectus. He is also an avid chess player. That and he's been a defensive coordinator for 7 years working under Jeff Fisher, who is probably the best head coach in the NFL. I am going to go ahead and call this the best coaching hire so far. And it was by the Lions?

- Steve Spagnuolo is the new head coach of the St. Louis Rams. The DC of the Giants had a huge hand in the Giants winning the Super Bowl last year, and winning the NFC East this year. Seems like another good hire, especially since the Rams big draft choice last year was Chris Long, a pass rusher. Spagnuolo has had just a wee bit of success with young pass rushers like Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Mathias Kiwanuka.

- Finally, there are still a bunch of coaches who are conspicuous by their absence from the list of fired coaches:

- Herm Edwards
- Wade Phillips
- Dick Jauron
- Marvin Lewis
- Jim Zorn

Of these guys, Jauron and Lewis are almost definitely coming back. Congratulations Bengals and Bills fans. Herm is certainly gone, while Zorn and Phillips are going to have the sword of Damocles dangled over them by their diva owners for a while.

3 Points- It's a Bird, It's a Plane..It's SuperDraft!!

1. When is a draft not just a draft? When it's a SUPERDRAFT! MLS had theirs yesterday, and the first overall pick is University of Akron sophomore Steve Zakuani. The expansion Seattle Sounders, who are owned by Price Is Right host Drew Carey, selected Zakuani, who led the NCAA with 20 goals last season. Toronto FC took Wake Forest midfielder Sam Cronin with the second pick, while the LA Galaxy went defense with Omar Gonzalez, a 6-5 defender who helped the Maryland Terrapins win the national championship last season.

2. A couple of days ago Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon, beset by his club's subpar performance and allegations of board room voting hoo ha, said he wasn't quitting. As seems to be the norm lately in the world of futbol (see Kaka, Man City), saying one thing one day pretty much guarantees you will be saying the opposite thing a couple days later. Real has a press conference today where it is expected that Calderon will be announcing his resignation. Calderon will probably be remembered most for saying he was going to bring Kaka, Cesc Fabregas, and Cristiano Ronaldo to Real, and ending up getting none of them.

3. The biggest Cinderella story of this European season is in Germany, where TSG Hoffenheim, promoted just this year, is tied for 1st in the Bundesliga with league titan Bayern Munich. TSG was dealt a severe blow today when they learned the B-liga's leading scorer, Vedad Ibisevic, will miss the rest of the season with torn knee ligaments. Ibisevic has 18 goals in 17 matches. Hoffenheim may be newly promoted, but they've got an owner with deep pockets who has and will continue to spend money on his club. Expect them to land a suitable replacement during the January transfer window.

BUNDESLIGA
TOP 5 (PTS/GP/GD)
1. TSG Hoffenheim 35/17/+19
2. Bayern Munich 35/17/+15
3. Hertha Berlin 33/17/+7
4. Hamburg 33/17/+2
5. Bayer Leverkusen 32/17/+15

BOTTOM 5
14. Arminia Bielefield 14/17/-12
15. Karlsrhue 13/17/-17
16. Energie 13/17/-11
17. VFL Bochum 11/17/-11
18. Borussia M'gladbach 11/17/-11

TOP SCORERS
1. Vedad Ibisevic, TSG Hoffenheim, 18
2. Patrick Helmes, Bayer Leverkusen, 12
3. Grafite, Wolfsburg, 11
4. Claudio Pizarro, Werder Bremen, 10
Milivoje Novakovic, Koln, 10
Artur Wichniarek, Arminia Bielefield, 10

Thursday, January 15, 2009

3 Points

1. Man U continues to move up the Premier League standings. They got a goal in the very first minute of the match from Wayne Rooney last night, and it held up for the other 89 minutes as the Red Devils topped Wigan 1-0, and moved into second place. They're 2 points back fo Liverpool, but have a match in hand.

2. Chelsea averted disaster in the FA Cup last night. The mega club that has been disintegrating before our eyes in the last couple of weeks fell behind third tier club Southend 1-0 early in last night's replay match (Southend drew at Chelsea earlier in the tournament to force this rematch at Southend's house). Chelsea finally go it together though. Michael Ballack scored just before halftime to tie it, and Salomon Kalou, who was starting in place of Didier Drogba who is persona non grata currently with Chelsea, scored in the second half to put the Blues ahead. Chelsea added 2 more to get a 4-1 lead, and keep the fans from storming the castle.

3. Turns out that the Kaka to Man City deal is not dead after all. You'll remember yesterday the Brazilian star was saying he wants to grow old at AC Milan and that Man City can keep their 100 million pounds. Well, 100 million pounds is a lot of money, and as you might expect Kaka and his advisors are thinking twice before leaving that on the table. Today Kaka's agent says, "It is not impossible (that Kaka could sign for City). But for us it is not only about money, we don't need only money. We have to have a good project and a winning project. It can be a project for the long term (to be) a top team in the world."

Bwahaha. Of course it's not about the money. It's about winning! That's why you're considering leaving the club that has won more European titles than any other club except Real Madrid (8 for Real, 7 for ACM) for a club that is in 15th place and is offering you roughly $180M USD guaranteed, or put another way, a little over $25M for every goal you have scored this year in Serie A, which is an inferior league to the league you are thinking of joining. It all makes sense now, God is a giant Spaghetti Monster.

SERIE A
TOP 5 PTS/GP/GD
1. Inter 43/18/+20
2. Juventus 39/18/+18
3. AC Milan 34/18/+10
4. Napoli 33/18+10
5. Fiorentina 32/18/+10
5. Genoa 32/18/+10

BOTTOM 5 PTS/GP/GD
16. Lecce 17/18/-9
17. Bologna 16/18/-8
18. Torino 15/18/-14
19. Reggina 13/18/-19
20. Chievo 10/18/-18

TOP 5 SCORERS
1. Marco Di Vaio, Bologna, 13
2. Alberto Gilardino, Fiorentina, 12
2. Alberto Diego Milito, Genoa, 12
4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Inter, 11
4. Carvalho De Oliviera Amauri, Juventus, 11

*Not Pictured- Ronaldinho, Kaka, AC Milan 7

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

3 Points

1. Would you turn down a salary of close to $500K a week? Probably not, but then again, you are not KAKA. The Brazilian superstar, who has 7 goals in this, his 6th Serie A campaign with AC Milan, has turned down a reported 100 million pound offer from Manchester City. Kaka says he wants to "grow old at Milan". Awwww. Just like in "The Wedding Singer" when Robbie Hart sings that song on the airplane with Billy Idol. I always wondered what happened to Glen Gulia after that. They just kind of push him out a door? Did they push him out of the plane? Isn't that a little harsh?

2. Today is Chelsea's big FA Cup re-match with Southend United, and they've made a big lineup decision. Didier Drogba has been scratched in favor of Nicolas Anelka, signalling what may be the end of Drogba's tenure with Chelsea. Drogba scored 20 goals for the Blues 2 seasons ago, but has been riddled with injuries since then, and hasn't been happy at Chelsea since former manager Jose Mourinho left after a disagreement with owner Roman Abramovich early in the 2007 season.

3. Real Madrid is going to have to be content to battle a host of other clubs for second place in La Liga this season, being that they trail leaders Barca by a whopping 12 pts. Their president Ramon Calderon has just given himself the dreaded vote of confidence, by steadfastly telling the angry mob to put their pitchforks and torches away because he's 2 Legit 2 Quit. While Real doesn't have any real hopes of winning its third straight La Liga title, they are in the Round of 16 in the Champions League, where they will face Liverpool next month.

LA LIGA
TOP 5 PTS/GP/GD
1. Barca 47/18/+41
2. Real 35/18/+12
3. Sevilla 35/18/+11
4. Valencia 34/18+12
5. Atletico 30/18+12

BOTTOM 5
16. Real Betis 18/18/-3
17. Recreativo 17/18/-13
18. Espanyol 15/18/-11
19. Mallorca 14/18/-17
20. Osasuna 13/18/-7

LEADING SCORERS
1. Samuel Eto'o, Barca, 16
2. David Villa, Valencia, 14
3. Diego Forlan, Atletico, 12
4. Lionel Messi, Barca, 11
4. Gonzalo Higuain, Real, 11

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

3 Points

I've fallen woefully behind on the Futbol side of FootballFutbol, so today I begin a new daily feature that will keep the reader up to date on the world of soccer.

1. Chelsea is reeling after suffering a 3-0 defeat at Man U this past weekend. Nicolas Anelka was setting the Premiership on fire in the absence of Didier Drogba earlier this season, but now Drogba is back, Anelka has been the odd man out, and Chelsea hasn't won since Boxing Day. Tonight they have an FA Cup Match against Cinderella side Southend, who drew at Stamford Bridge 1-1 last week to force this replay, in a game Chelsea manager Luiz Scolari calls the "match of the year' not only for Southend, but for Chelsea as well. Southend currently sits in 14th place in League One, the 3rd tier of English football, so it's truly a Rocky vs. Apollo Creed story here.

2. Liverpool's Fernando Torres has gone on the record as saying that Man U are now the "clear favorites" to win the Premiership this year. That's despite the fact that it's Torres' Liverpool club that is currently in first place. Hmm, maybe they do things a little differently in Europe than here. Maybe he's trying to play the "nobody believes in us" card or something, but that seems kind of weird. Torres just got voted in third in the World Player of the Year voting, behind winner Cristiano Ronaldo of Man U, and Lionel Messi of Barca.

3. Carlos Tevez, who has scored just 2 goals for Man U this season after scoring 14 last season, is being exhorted by his national team coach, legendary coke fiend Diego Maradona, to leave his situation at United and join up with Serie A's Internazionale. Tevez has seen his playing time severly decreased this season, and with his contract up soon could be on his way out with United.

EPL STANDINGS
TOP 5 PTS/GP/GD
1. Liverpool 46/21/+22
2. Chelsea 42/21/+28
3. Man U 41/19/+22
4. Villa 41/21/+12
5. Arsenal 38/21/+11

BOTTOM 5
16. Middlesbrough 21/21/-12
17. Stoke 21/21/-15
18. Spurs 20/21/-6
19. Rovers 18/20/-14
20. West Brom 18/21/-20

TOP 5 SCORERS
1. Anelka, Chelsea, 14
2. Robinho, Man City, 11
3. Zaki, Wigan, 10
4. Agbonlahor, Villa, 9
5. Crouch, Owen, Lampard, Gerrard, Cisse, van Persie, Ronaldo tied with 8

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tony Dungy Retires


Tony Dungy announced his retirement.

Just feel that for a second. You know when Brett Farve announced his retirement, I was like, "GOD, FINALLY." But with Dungy, I got a little sad. Did he have his faults and weaknesses? Sure. He was known as a choker in the playoffs. He was known to make good teams but not be able to take them over the hump. Then he did. So people cried more saying that with the teams Dungy's had, he should have won more Superbowls. This, of course, is a pretty arrogant statement. It's not easy to win a Superbowl. The best you can do is set up your team to perform in that position. Dungy did this. What leaves the biggest impression on me is not how many times he put his team in good positions, it was how he did it:

With his famously soft demeanor.

When I was growing up, everyone yelled and was a dick coach to be successful. And we're talking every sport. Shit, Last year I went to a Catholic HS GIRLS BASKETBALL GAME and the coach was going apeshit screaming at the girls for not rebounding. Girls. Fucking. Basketball. In high school.

And when everyone ripped on Dungy for not being able to make it over the hump saying he needs more intensity and he needs to get in his players' faces or whatever arm chair coach or announcer would say, Dungy stayed true to his personality because he was what he thought he was, and he didn't let himself off the damn hook.

And speaking of damn, I'm not religious, but I truly do admire that Dungy really walks the walk with his faith. In a world where those deep in faith are arrogant about their positions in faith, imposing those beliefs on others and not on themselves, Dungy never told you to do shit. He told you what he does. Even when his one time of religiously "controversy" where he said he didn't believe gays should marry, he never said that you're a buttfucking asshole sinner who will go to hell and burn for your sins for all eternity IF YOU BELIEVE gays should marry. He just gave his position but never said YOU had to believe it.

And it is this demeanor to treat everyone as an adult and not scream or demean or ridicule or call out anyone that will make me miss him the most. Take care of your family, Dungy. I want my children to be like you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

8 In The Box



1. Wildcard weekend and the divisional playoff weekend are the 2 best weeks of the NFL season. It's not even close. Football all day Saturday and Sunday, with just 1 game to focus on and pick apart, between reasonably good teams. Add in an ample supply of Michelob Amber Bock and you've got yourself a weekend there.

This year's wildcard weekend kicked off with the Falcons going to Glendale, AZ, to face a Cardinals team that had been decidedly un-playoff like the last month and a half or so. The Falcons were actually favored, and picked by me to win. That didn't happen.

Michael Turner was completely shut down, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin provided an explosiveness to the Cardinals offense that the Falcons didn't have, and the Cardinals "dusted off" Edgerrin James (I swear I must have heard that expression about 25 times last weekend, it's like one person said it and then everyone else was like oh that sounds good, I'll say it too, Edge must have been one dusty dude) to provide some balance to the offense that was missing all year. Put all that together, plus a really bad botched handoff that gave the Cardinals a TD that proved to be the winning margin, and the Cards defy all the doubters and win a playoff game for the first time in 10 years, 30-24.



2. The Cardinals advance, and now get to fly across the country. Everybody knows that everytime that happens, they end up playing in 2 feet of snow and lose by 40 points. Or at least I saw that happen once, I will just assume that happens everytime, even if they are playing in North Carolina this week where to my knowledge it doesn't snow all that much.

Carolina's been killing people lately, ever since DeAngelo Williams suddenly became Teen Wolf and started rushing for 175 yards every week. Arizona faced another stud running back last week in Michael Turner and shut him down, and if they can do the same to Williams and his understudy, Jonathan Stewart, they may have a chance.

The Cards have already shown they can hang with the Cats. Earlier this year they went to Charlotte and had a 17-3 lead at one point. They couldn't hold onto that lead though, because they can't run the ball. Anquan Boldin was their leading rusher, and they dusted off Edgerrin James for this one too but he only managed 17 yards on 7 carries. Arizona's defense couldn't do much to slow down Carolina, with Williams rushing for over 100 yards and Jake Delhomme completing 20 of 28, and the Panthers came back and won 27-23.

As for today's game, there is one way to beat the Panthers, and that' s to run it on them. They rank 23rd in the league in rushing yards per attempt against, while they rank 7th in that same category against the pass. Arizona can't run no matter how non-dusty Edge is. Yes, this is a very similar matchup to what they had against the Falcons last week, but Jake Delhomme is not a rookie, and Steve Smith is more dangerous than anyone on the Falcons. The Panthers win this one, let's call it 34-17.



3. The most notable thing about the Chargers 23-17 OT win against the Colts, was that it pretty much ended the San Diego career of LaDanian Tomlinson. LT suited up, and even scored a touchdown, but he could only carry 5 times, making this the second year in a row he has been unavailable in a playoff game. However, Darren Sproles came on in his place and dominated. Sproles had 150 yards from scrimmage, and 178 more on kickoff and punt returns, leading the Bolts to victory and most likely earning himself a spot as the Chargers feature back next year.

As for the Colts, well, what else is new. This is what they do pretty much every year in the playoffs, meaning they crap themselves. Three times in the last 4 years one and done.



4. The Chargers have now won what have in essence been 5 consecutive elimination games. Their next one will be Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are kind of a mystery right now, my last enduring image of their season is Ben Roethlisberger on a stretcher with his facemask drilled off, giving the thumbs up sign while Mike Tomlin was standing on the sidelines giving the "I fucked up royal by keeping my QB in a meaningless game and now he's dead" sign. Ben, remarkably, is going to play in this game. He suffered a concussion on that play, but I guess since it's only his brain that he's going to rub some dirt on it and get after it this week.

Again, this is another re-match of a game we saw in midseason. The Chargers visited Pittsburgh in Week 11, and lost 11-10. That score was deceiving though, as the Steelers racked up 410 yards of total offense versus only 218 for SD. What kept the game close was that the Steelers were flagged for over 100 yards in penalties. That's not going to happen again. The Steelers win this one 27-13.




5. There isn't a team that looks scarier than the Ravens right now. After their 27-9 deconstruction of the Dolphins last week that saw them pick off Chad Pennington 4 times like he was Brett Favre or something, they've now given up 10 points or less in 5 out of their last 7 games. When you can win a playoff game by 18 points despite having your quarterback go 9 of 23, you've got a chance to win the whole thing.

This Ravens team is almost a verbatim copy of the Steelers team that won it all in 2005. Young QB with a big arm who makes just enough big plays, bowling ball running back, suffocating defense. The difference is, if they are going to get to the Super Bowl, they are really going to have to earn it. They now probably will have to beat Tennessee on the road and Pittsburgh on the road to get there, 2 teams that play the same style they do. It's funny that Baltimore, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh are so very similar, and are the 3 best teams in the AFC.



6. So what about that Ravens/Titans game in Nashville? That's the game that kicks off our weekend of football, and will feature Steve McNair doing the coin flip with half his body painted purple and the other painted Columbia blue. The Titans have been shaky lately. They reached back and found something extra to beat the Steelers 31-14 a couple of weeks ago and earn the home field advantage, but they've also recently lost to Houston and Jets. These teams were very evenly matched when they met in Week 5 and the Titans won 13-10. Since then, the Ravens have gotten a lot better, and the Titans have kind of slowly gotten worse. Now throw in that Tennessee is banged up, and Albert Haynesworth is going to be less than 100% if he plays at all, and I think you've got a case of a red-hot team playing a team that has already peaked. I like the Ravens here 20-10.



7. I am President and Treasurer and Eminent Warden of the Donovan McNabb Hater Club, but I do have to hand it to him, he played a very good game against the Vikings and is the main rason why his team is moving on to the second round. McNabb completed 23 of 34 for 300 yards and a TD to lead the Eagles to a 26-14 win over the Vikings on a day that Brian Westbrook was held to only 38 rushing yards on 20 carries.

Playing almost as big a role as McNabb in the Eagles' win was Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson completed only 15 of 35 passes, negating a strong running attack for the Vikings, who had 131 yards on 32 carries from Adrian Peterson, and Chester Taylor, who was a big contributor.



8. The Eagles now move on to face the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants. Of course, these teams, being NFC East rivals, have met twice already this year, and the Eagles came out on top in their last meeting, and it was at Giants Stadium. Of course, a lot of teams have been beating the Giants lately, they've lost 3 out of their last 4. They even lost to the Cowboys in December, a team that redefined the term "disintegration" during that same month. In honesty, I write this Eagles-Giants preview on Sunday morning, after a Saturday that taught us a lot about what happens in this years playoffs to teams that have peaked too soon. That's a shoe that fits the Giants, and they're going to have to wear it. Again, I hate the Eagles, but I put my foot down here and use it to jump on the bandwagon, Eagles win 27-20.

Friday, January 9, 2009

pnfm/video update, BCS, NFL R2 Playoff Fun

I know you're wondering why you don't have your radio kick. WELL HERE IS WHY:

Because.




Alright, for reals, I was sick during Christmas Break. Then I got an idea while I was on vacation for New Years on a new video series. It'll take a lot of my time, and it may not work, but that's what I'm working on right now. So no radio for awhile.

Okay, before I start NFL shit, I admit it. When I pick a team to win, they have about a 60% chance to LOSE. Just know that. I'm good at making fun of things; not predicting. That said, Utah, USC, and Texas got screwed, in that order of screwed intensity.

KEY: Team/Screwed Scale[10 = super screwed]=/Why

Utah [10]: Undefeated season and took a MAJOR dump on Alabama who was ranked first for like two months. Don't check my facts on that because that makes you an asshole. Now, Utah filed an anti-trust suit on the BCS which makes me laugh hoping Utah wins. BCS representative and ACC pres said the BCS worked because it gave Utah a chance to show they were a great team an opportunity that wasn't previously available. Well shit, that's like saying Rosa Parks should just be happy to be on the bus because in the past she would BE the bus. Idiots.

USC [6]: Yeah best D that gave up points at the end because they "let up." Bullshit. If there was a playoffs, they'd win the title. That being said, when you lose focus and lose to uhhhhhh Oregon State, then sometimes, maybe you shouldn't get rewarded for not playing hard every week.

Texas [5]: Morons. They knew that in the BCS system you have to schedule all the hard games at the end. Texas scheduled them kind of in the middle-end. Texas almost lost to Ohio State (6-3 Ohio State at half? Really?). But then, if there were playoffs, winning is winning. Oh wait, playoffs are stupid.

Okay, to the NFL Playoffs (my cursed picks in bold):

Baltimore @ Tennessee: Everyone's picking Tennessee, but Baltimore's D is still pretty good, Flacco is legit, Collins is a bit shaky and I want to pick Tennessee to win which means they have a 60% chance of losing.

Arizona @ Carolina: Arizona went to a running game and dominated poor Atlanta by stopping the run. And for their next trick? Stopping Carolina's run, forcing a shootout that Warner can win. And really, aren't you pulling for Warner because he has been so cool trying to help out the guy picked to replace him? Well fuck you then.

Philadelphia @ N.Y. Giants: Everyone's picking the Giants because they seem so invincible. Here's why I think Philadelphia will make it close: Dipshit Eli "I'm too good for honoring the integrity of the draft" Manning hasn't been reacting to pressure lately and the Philadelphia defense is probably the best it has ever been in the Andy Reid era. Do I have the balls to pick the Giants so they have a 60% chance of losing? Yes. Giants will win, but it'll be close.

San Diego @ Pittsburgh: Me and my San Diego buddies were in shock. Norv Turner has been coaching better. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? I told everyone that would listen to me that Norv was an idiot because for all his "genius," SD has the easiest offense to run in the freaking world. Hand the ball off to LT and Sproles over and over, mix it up with Gates short range in jump balls, then throw deep as hell on 2nd down running situations. He did this on the Colts and I was like, "SEE BITCHES?!" Screw Pitty. How Roethlisberger going to throw in the fog when his BRAIN IS BRUISED. REMEMBER THE MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT, SUCKLISBERGER? THAT'LL BE THIS WEEKEND.

I'm going to sleep. Go Chelsea. Oli Porter sucks. Liverpool is going to win the EPL if someone doesn't break Gerrard's legs. Shut up, Porter.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

8 In the Box- AFC



1. The Dolphins completed the greatest single season turnaround in NFL history by beating the Jets 24-17, and qualifying for the playoffs a year after going 1-15. While Tony Sparano, Bill Parcells, Chad Pennington, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Joey Porter, and David Lee (the quarterbacks coach responsible for bringing the Wildcat formation to the Dolphins and the NFL) all deserve to have heaping amounts of hosannas for this turnaround, I think we would be remiss not to recognize Brett Favre's role in all of this.

For without Brett Favre deciding he did not want to stay retired, the Dolphins almost certainly would not have gone 11-5 and won the AFC East. If Brett Favre stayed retired, Chad Pennington would have spent this season as the Jets quarterback, not the Dolphins. The Dolphins would have sputtered along with either second year non-prospect John Beck or rookie Chad Henne at quarterback. And finally, even if the Dolphins did somehow play their way into having the exact same record as the actually had heading into this final game of the season, Brett Favre wouldn't have been in a Jets uniform to throw 3 INTs and hand the Dolphins the game on a silver platter. So my MVP vote for this year goes to Brett Favre, for without him, the Dolphins would not be where they are today.



2. Meanwhile, the Jets, who spent ALL KINDS of money to upgrade just about everything on their roster this past offseason, lost 4 out of their last 5 and missed the playoffs. They are now in a state of primordial chaos. Thomas Jones went on a radio show and fired on Brett Favre this week, saying that Favre should have been pulled out of the game for his performance against the Dolphins. This came after Eric Mangini was fired as head coach earlier in the week, in a move that surprised me and I, a guy who normally does not pull out his hanky over coaches getting fired, thinks was the wrong move. How is it fair to fire a guy for not taking a team that was 3-13 last year to the playoffs this year? Were they supposed to get there this year because they now had a 40 year old QB who throws INTs all over the place, expects to be treated as above the team and above criticism, and just generally is not all that good anymore? So they improve by 6 wins despite this and for this he gets fired? That's retarded. Oh well, I guess Mangenius can still get a job washing dishes at Artie Bucco's restaurant if need be.





3. The final game of the 2008 regular season was a clash between two teams that should have been embarrassed that they even still had a chance to make the playoffs. The 7-8 Chargers and 8-7 Broncos met in a "showdown" that would determine who would be the AFC West "Champion", and get a home game against the 12-4 Colts the next week for some retarded reason. The Chargers came in having won 3 in a row, while the Broncos came in having lost somewhere between 3 and 17 games in a row, something like that, so it seemed like this was going to be a pretty easy win for the Chargers. And what do you know, it was. The Broncos once again put on a clinic of shitty defense, and were blown up by the Chargers 52-21. LaDanian Tomlinson scored 3 TDs for the Chargers, but he also hurt his groin, something he may need against the Colts this week.



4. So the Chargers are in the playoffs, and the Broncos...fire Mike Shanahan? Yes! They did the unthinkable and fired Mike Shanahan, thus defining the statute of limitations on winning back to back Super Bowls is now officially 10 years, after that, your scholarship is over. Good to know. Patrick pretty much hit it on the head with his assessment of Shanahan's axing by pointing out it was time for both teams to move on. What I think the Broncos should do now is announce that their new coach is Mike Shanahan, then it's a fresh start for everyone and the Broncos will have hired the only free agent coach who has won two Super Bowls, which would be a coup for them. If that doesn't work out, I think Dan Reeves is still out there.




5. Technically, the Ravens did not have a playoff berth wrapped up yet heading into this week. In actuality though, this team has been ripping people's heads off lately and there was no doubt they would do the same to the Jaguars, which they did. In the playoff pool my buddies and I are in, the Ravens are the sexy pick to win at least a couple of postseason games. Very, very sexy. So sexy, as a matter of fact, that it has blinded most of us into thinking that a team that has an offense led by Joe Flacco, LeRon McClain, and Derek Mason, and is coached by a rookie head coach named John Harbaugh, who most people still probably think is Jim Harbaugh, will make a long playoff run. But hey, this year having a new head coach is like the magical elixir that guarantees success, which leads me to believe we will soon see a day where every NFL team has a different head coach every year.



6. Wasn't I saying months ago that Peyton Manning should be the MVP of the league this year? Now, lo and behold, he has in fact won his 3rd MVP award. They do not call me Mr. Football for nothing. It really says something, though, about this season when the MVP of the league is a quarterback who threw only 1 more TD pass this season than he did when he was a rookie on a 3-13 team 10 years ago. What it tells me is that this NFL season has been wack.



7. Now is the time on Sprockets where I give you my picks in the playoff games. The AFC slate starts Saturday Night when the Colts travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers. You see, the Colts finished with 4 more wins than the Chargers and also beat the Chargers in their head to head matchup this year, so the Chargers get home field advantage in order to make things more fair. Or at least I think that is how it works.

The Chargers enter this game with some key injuries. LaDanian Tomlinson has some kind of groin thing going on, but NBC says he is going to play. So good for the Chargers, they get a guy who has been ineffective this year when his groin was felling OK, now they got to try to use him effectively when his groin hurts, that should work out great. Antonio Gates also has an injury and will be a game time decision. Those are bad things for the Chargers, but the worst thing for them is that they rank 31st in the league against the pass. That may be a bad thing when you are playing the team with the league MVP at quarterback. I say the Colts win, in a close game, because the Colts always seem to play close games and pull it out at the end. 28-24 Indy.



8. The early game on Sunday is Ravens at Dolphins. These teams met earlier this year, a game which the Ravens won in a game that shall be referred to as the Cameron Cameron Bowl, as the current Ravens offensive coordinator and erstwhile foreman of the demolition of the Dolphins franchise during last year's 1-15 season was all giddy after beating his old team and getting a game ball and stuff. Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!

If you don't count the Ravens 13-9 loss to the Steelers in a game they would had won had a call gone the other way, the Ravens have lost only once since October 12, and that was on the road to the Giants. They have a point differential of +141 which is tied with Tennessee for the best in the league. And they've just been ripping people's heads off lately, winning by scores like 27-7, 36-7, 34-3, 41-13...carnage. The Dolphins are a nice story, but the Ravens are one of the teams that can actually win this whole thing, so I take the Ravens.

Friday, January 2, 2009

8 In the Box- NFC



1. The playoffs won't be as fun as they've been the last two years. Usually, we all have the given of seeing Tony Romo and the Cowboys fall flat on their faces in their opening playoff game to look forward to, but this year we will have to content ourselves with watching Donovan McNabb point in the opposite direction his receiver ran everytime he throws an incompletion.

Due to an unlikely set of results in the early games, the Cowboys/Eagles game turned into a virtual playoff game, where the winner got in and the loser was done. Get your popcorn ready, no? Well, yes, but not for the reasons we all expected. It was memorable, but only because of the truly spectacular meltdown the Cowboys treated us to, turning the ball over 5 times and losing 44-6.

So what went wrong with the Cowboys this year, particulary in a horrific 1-3 December? Two things. One, Marion Barber was hurt down the stretch, and for all the hoo ha over Tony Romo and TO and Jason Witten and der dee der dee der, Barber is the most valuable member of that offense. Without him, the onus of generating offense fell directly on Romo, and as Patrick would say, he tripped over his giant clown shoes. The Cowboys finished the year ranked 21st in the league in rushing offense, and that's bad. The other thing is the turnovers. Oh, the turnovers. They turned it over 5 times in this game, and only ONE team turned it over more this year than the Cowboys did. Turnovers are a symptom of mental laziness and lack of discipline, and oh yeah, that fits the Cowboys.




2. So the Eagles are in the playoffs, but it not only took the win over Dallas to get them there, it took 2 NFC "contenders" to lose to teams that had nothing to play for. And, my God, one of those teams was the RAIDERS. If you go into the day saying to yourself, "Well, not only do I need to win today, but I need the Raiders to win on the road, or else my season is over." , ninety nine times out of 100 it's not going to be a very good day for you.

But here we are. The Raiders did indeed go to Tampa and completed the once 9-3 Bucs 0 for December Golden Sombrero. Michael Bush became the latest running back to do a High School Muscial number all over the Tampa 2, rushing for 177 yards and 2 TDs as the Raiders won 31-24.



3. While the Bucs were first in line to get that last wildcard spot, the fact that they failed to get it meant the Bears had the next crack at it. Now, the Bears were justifiably more focused on what the Vikings were doing at home against the Giants' JV, because of course, there was no way the Bucs were going to lose at home to the Raiders, so the only realistic way they could expect to get in was with a win over Houston and a Vikings loss, which would make them NFC North champs.

Imagine the kick in the nuts like sensation they must have felt as the final seconds of a 31-24 defeat ticked away in Houston, knowing that the Bucs were in fact going to lose to the Raiders, and had they beat the Texans, all they would need would be a Philly win over Dallas, which also happened, to sneak in the back door as a wildcard. So, woulda coulda shoulda for the Bears, but in reality, when you have a suspect secondary like the Bears do, and a pass rush that can only generate pressure when they're bringing the blitz, you're gonna have a long day against a team that has Andre Johnson. Andre 2000 (Yards, someday, maybe) had 10 catches for 148 and 2 TD, and was the reason the Bears lost.



4. The Cowboys, Bucs, and Bears, all have reason to feel shame. However, they can all take solace in the fact that they are not the Detroit Lions. The Lions pulled off the difficult feat (really difficult given the general crappiness of the NFL this year) of losing 16 games and winning 0. In case you've been hanging out in a cabin in Wyoming with the Unabomber and Thomas Pynchon for the last month, no other team has done that before. Now the Lions have. They fired Rod Marinelli the next day, and the Bears can't wait to make him their new defensive coordinator or assistant head coach or something, because he's BFF with Lovie Smith. That should work out great. Meanwhile, when you think of the 2008 Lions, think of this play, note how the announcer enthusiastically says "He was forced out of the end zone by an ONCHARGING JARED ALLEN!" uhhh..more like, he ran out of the end zone because he forgot where he was on the field, or thought he was in Canada or something:





5. Carolina and Atlanta knew they were both in the playoffs heading into Week 17, but both had an opportunity to earn themselves a week off and an NFC Divisional Playoff game at home, rather than having to go on the road for a Wildcard game next week, and that's a big deal. The Panthers had the inside track, having to win in New Orleans to nail it down.

It looked for a second like the Panthers might be doing the old chokeroo like a lot of other NFC teams were when Drew Brees hit Lance Moore for 2 TD passes in a little over 2 minutes to bring the Saints ahead 31-30 with 3 minutes left after trailing 30-17 with 5 1/2 minutes left. But with the Saints defense, no lead is safe, especially not a 1 point one. The Panthers drove down the field and Jon Kasay kicked the game winner as time expired to give the Cats the 33-31 lead and the NFC South title. Had he missed, the Falcons, who came back to beat the Rams while this was going on, would have won the division. DeAngelo Williams continues to go bonkers, rushing for 174 yards in this one.

Drew Brees came up 16 yards short of breaking Dan Marino's single season passing yardage record...causing this music to play over the loudspeakers when time expired:


6. Given that it's Coach Firing Season, here's a status update on the 16 NFC Head Masters:

Tom Coughlin- Will be the Giants coach until he retires, or his face freezes

Andy Reid- Congrats Eagle fans, your reward for making the playoffs is another 3 years of Andy Reid, enjoy.

Wade Phillips- I've seen people just convicted of pedophilia look happier than this guy:



Jim Zorn- Will be fired as soon as Dan Snyder decides whether to pay Bill Cowher a gazillion dollars or merely a bajillion dollars.

Brad Childress- Congratulations Vikings fans, you get to keep Brad Childress because you made the playoffs. Yaaaay.

Lovie Smith- Fans in Chicago for the most part don't like Lovie. I think the tipping point came when he fired defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, who as an 85 Bear was very popular with the fans, after the Super Bowl season, and replaced him with his buddy Bob Babich. The defense has gone south since, and Rivera has taken over and turned around the Chargers defense. The Bears are an unlikable team and it starts with having an unlikable coach. I will be happy when he's not the Bears coach any more, but that won't be until 2010 at the soonest.

Mike McCarthy- He won't survive another 6-10 season, so the Pack better be better next year.

Rod Marinelli- He gone.

Ken Whisenhunt- If he wins a playoff game with Arizona he should get a 10 year extension. If he wins 2 they should have him stuffed and made coach for eternity.

Mike Singletary- Pants or no pants, he just got an extension and did a good job this year.

Jim Mora Jr.- I like to think of him as the "Michael Vick Enabler". Wants to be one of the players, but he's not a player, he's a coach, and not a good one. Get ready Seahawk fans, because when Vick gets out of the joint I'll give you 3 guesses where he ends up if Mora is still the coach.

Jim Haslett- The players have been lobbying management to keep him after a 2-14 season. If a player came in and lobbied me for anything after going 2-14 I'd be like, "Yeah lobby this, he's gone and so are you."



7. Atlanta and Arizona kick off the 2008 playoffs on Saturday afternoon in Glendale, AZ. The game isn't sold out yet either, so if it's not sold out, there will be no broadcast of the game in Arizona, or at least in the Phoenix area. Apparently there are either not a lot of Cardinal fans, not a lot of Cardinal fans that can afford a ticket, or the Cardinal fans are not inspired by string of spectacular beatings the Cardinals took the last month and a half of the season.

The only real weakness the Falcons have is that they suck stopping the run, ranking 28th in yards per rushing attempt against. As we all know, the Cards are completely and eternally inept at running the ball, so they won't be able to take advantage of that. I don't see any reason why the Falcons won't have a southwestern fiesta and knock the Cardinals around like the pinatas of the league they have been recently.



8. On the opposite end of the weekend playoff docket, Philly and Minnesota close out the weekend at the Metrodome. I almost have to disqualify myself from making a pick on this game just because of my sheer distaste for all things McNabb, but I'll try and take a stab at it.

The Eagles 4-1 run that has gotten them into the playoffs is predicated on them being able to run the ball. In fact, it seems whether they win or lose is entirely dependent on whether they can run it or not. They are 5-0 when they run for over 130 yards as a team, and 4-6-1 when they don't. The Vikings have given up over 130 rushing yards twice in 16 games this year. So chances are 7 out of 8 the Eagles aren't going to run for over 130, and they are a below average team when they don't do that. So, they probably won't be able to run effectively, and they'll probably lose. I pick the Vikings.

8+1. So let's see what Whatifsports.com's sim engine tells us will happen this weekend in the NFC, I'll run 5 sims of each game

Falcons at Cardinals
Sim #1- Falcons win 28-23 after falling behind 20-0 in the second quarter! Michael Turner runs it in from a yard out with a minute left to give the Falcons the win.

Sim #2- Turner rolls over the Cards for 155 yards on 24 carries. Matt Ryan throws 3 TDs, 2 to Michael Jenkins. The undead Edgerrin James runs for 124 yards on 10 carries. Falcons win 37-23.

Sim #3- Roddy White catches a 13 yard pass from Ryan in the waning moments to give the Falcons a 31-28 win. Edge again runs for over 100 yards. I told you the Falcons suck at stopping the run.

Sim #4- JJ Arrington breaks a 34 yard TD run with a little over a minute left and the Cards win 41-34. 132 rushing yards for Turner and 120 recieving yards for Larry Fitzgerald.

Sim #5- Larry Fitzgerald catches 3 TDs and the Cardinals win 28-17. Ryan has a horrid 13 of 34 day.

So the Falcons win 3 out of 5, backing up my pick.

Eagles at Vikings
Sim #1- The Vikings build a 19-0 lead and hang on for a 19-14 win. A defensive struggle as nobody runs for over 100 yards or throws for over 200 yards.

Sim #2- Tarvaris Jackson has a horrible 7 of 17 day and is benched for Gus Frerotte, to no avail. The Eagles win 20-0.

Sim #3- A treasure for field goal aficionados, the Eagles win 9-6.

Sim #4- Adrian Peterson opens the scoring with a 52 yard TD run, and the Vikings get a whole bunch of Ryan Longwell field goals after. Jackson throws for only 58 yards but the Vikings win 19-14.

Sim #5- Vikings win 9-0.

The Vikings win 3 out of 5 here, and every game is a taffy pull. So I guess if you like defense, this game is for you.