We are two days away from Super Bowl Sunday, the highest of high holy days on the sporting calendar.  This is Easter, Eid, and Yom Kippur all wrapped up into one for even the most casual of sports fans, as across the country the devout and the lapsed sports junkies will gather in living rooms around cocktail weenies and nachos to watch the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints vie for the title of best team ever (well, at least for this year). The two weeks between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl traditionally leads to a whole lot of bloviation by the sports media in an attempt to hype up a game that, in all seriousness, really needs no hyping.  Everybody watches this game.  Super Bowl Sunday has become a national holiday on par with the Fourth of July, so much so that if the NFL ever decided to move this game to a weekday, bosses would be forced to give their employees the day off.  So this year it’s Saints vs. Colts or, as the media has chosen to sell this game, a city whose buildings but not its spirit was crushed by a devastating hurricane four and a half years ago, a spirit that is embodied by its love for its football team vs. Peyton Manning (above left). Here’s our Super Bowl preview.

1. The New Orleans Saints earned their way to Super Bowl XLIV (44) by defeating the Minnesota Vikings in a game that they, in all honesty, had no business winning.  The VIkings outplayed them for the entire game, but were done in by turnovers (especially one egregious interception by the aged Brett Favre), and the Saints won the game in overtime.  Now they are a five-point underdog against the Colts, which seems about right.  For the Saints to win, they will need to be close to unstoppable on offense, because their defense showed against the Vikings that, outside of the ability to force turnovers, they really are not that good.  The Saints will not when this game if they score less than 30 points on Sunday, and still may not win if they do.  Expect big days from quarterback Drew Brees (above right) and wide receiver Marques Colston.  

Super Bowl Party Cheat Sheet

Traditionally, at a Super Bowl party, you can keep your comments short and sweet, and still look like you know your football.   (more…)

Non-sports fans, this weekend was a glimpse into the very near future.  With the NFL taking the weekend off in preparation for the Super Bowl (Yes, the Super Bowl is upon us and it is this Sunday.  Put it on your calendar now), there was precious little on the sporting schedule this past weekend.  Wasn’t it glorious?  No college football.  No professional football.  Just regular season hockey, some college hoops, and meaningless NBA games were on the docket, and none of them were a valid excuse to miss out on that baby shower you so wanted your sports fan to attend with you.  And here’s the kicker.  If you survive next weekend’s Super Bowl, there will be no major sporting events after that until mid-March when the NCAA basketball tournament begins.  Six whole weeks of nothingness.  But we warn you, this time will not come without its pitfalls.  Sports fans throughout the country will be going through football withdrawal after Sunday’s Saints-Colts finale (we will be previewing that game later this week.) Men will wake up on Sunday mornings a little bit at a loss as to what to do. We will see the best sports fans of our generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves by empty sports bars at midnight looking for an angry football fix.  It will be up to you to fill their days, so make the most of this time.  

Now, if last night your sports fan watched the NFL’s Pro Bowl, the worst of the all-star games in the four major sports, he/she will truly be hurting next week.  Indeed, anyone who watches the Pro Bowl, a game so awful that more of the top players in the league ask out of the game than actually play in it, will probably need to be checked into Football Rehab (for the record, the AFC topped the NFC 41-34 last night. Houston’s crappy quarterback Matt Schaub (pictured) was named the game’s most valuable player. We found out by checking the Internet this morning, highlighting just how unimportant this contest truly is.  We didn’t even watch it).  But fear not, within a week or so, even the most hardened of football fans will be fine in a few weeks.  So enjoy this time, friends.  You’ve earned it.

Well, it is down to two teams in the NFL.  By now, you have doubt heard that the New Orleans Saints will face the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV (44) in Miami two weeks from now.  But yesterday’s games were memorable.  Well, at least the second game was.  Here’s our comprehensive recap of what you may have missed yesterday during the NFL’s Championship Sunday as well as our early prediction as to who will raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy in two weeks. 

1. We’ll start with the undercard, which featured the Indianapolis Colts squaring off against the New York Jets.  The Jets had used a mixture of good defense and horrific field goal kicking by their opponents (Bengals kicker Shayne Graham and Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding went a combined 0 for 5 on field goal attempts in the Jets’ run to the AFC Championship Game) to come within one game of the franchise’s first Super Bowl since 1968.  And for about 25 minutes of the game, it looked as if the Jets were going to pull their third consecutive upset, jumping out to a 17-6 lead.  But then the Colts, who have not lost a game that they were trying to win all season long, woke up.  The result was 24 consecutive points for Indianapolis, a 30-17 AFC Championship Game victory, and the Colts’ second trip to the Super Bowl in the last four years.  

A word about the Jets-Colts game.  As a Patriots’ fan, there are perhaps no two teams we hate more than Indy and New York. The Colts and Pats have been blood rivals for most of this decade, while the cocky Jets have taken on the personas of both their comically entertaining head coach Rex Ryan and their comically moronic fan base. So yesterday, given the choice of rooting for a blood rival or a court jester, we were forced to pull for Indianapolis.  And now we feel dirty, and the dirt’s not washing off. It was an ugly afternoon.

2. But not nearly as ugly as the second game of yesterday’s championship doubleheader. The Minnesota Vikings outplayed the Saints all game long.  They threw for more yards, ran for more yards, and flat-out dominated a New Orleans team that was trying its best just to stay in the game.  Everybody watching that game, including those in the Crescent City, knew that the Vikings were the better team. But a combination of controversial officiating, horrible ball security, an unforgivable penalty, and perhaps Brett Favre’s single-worst decision in a career  that has been filled with plenty of horrid decisions doomed the Vikings to a 31-28 loss when kicker Garret Hartley (pictured) nailed a 40-yard field goal on the opening possession of overtime that sent the Saints to their first ever Super Bowl. It is impossible to recap this game in the space provided here, but we want to take this time to put to rest the media slander that it was a good thing that the Saints won because of the citizens of New Orleans’ fanatical attachment to their football team, especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina four years ago.  Somewhere in Bloomington, Minnesota there is a 10-year-old kid who loves the Vikings just as much as anyone in the Bayou region loves the Saints.  The city of New Orleans still needs a boost, yes, but the city would actually be better off receiving the tourism dollars it would get from hosting the Super Bowl more than it needs the Saints traveling to Miami to play in the game.  The Saints won, and congratulations to them.  But the Vikings were the better team, and everybody knows it. (more…)

We heard you missed us, we’re back! We brought our pencil.  Give us something to write on, man.

The NFL playoffs enter their second weekend, and although we have no interest in talking about what happened last week (where have you gone Thomas Edward Brady, Jr?  Pats’ nation turns its lonely eyes to you.  Oooh, Oooh, Oooh), we feel it is our duty to report that in three of the four Wild Card round games, evil won out over good (The Cowboys and Jets are unequivocally evil, while the Ravens took out our beloved Patriots.  We really had no feelings either way about the Cardinals and Packers, but at least those teams were able to put on an entertaining show).  Now, this weekend’s Divisional Round is upon us, and we really have no one to root for.  But since we are a full service operation, we will nonetheless fill you in on what is on tap for this weekend, no matter how much it stings us that inferior New York Jets team is still alive while the Patriots have already packed in until next fall. Here’s your weekend preview.

Here it is a nutshell, non-sports fans.  If you want to make plans for this weekend, we suggest that you get them all out of the way before 4 p.m on Saturday.

On Saturday afternoon at 4:30, the New Orleans Saints will host the Arizona Cardinals in the first divisional playoff match-up.  The Saints, who started the season 13-0 before stumbling down the stretch and losing their last three contests, will be facing an Arizona Cardinals offense, led by quarterback Kurt Warner (pictured), which put up 45 points in their opening round triumph over the Green Bay Packers. We haven’t made a practice of making predictions on games, but since the Patriots are now out of it, we can say that the Cardinals are the only team left in the playoffs that we don’t find distasteful, so we will openly be rooting for them on Saturday to advance to the NFC Championship game for the second straight year.

In the other NFC playoff game, to be played on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m., the Dallas Cowboys will travel to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings.  Now we hate the Cowboys like we hate death and Duke basketball.  But we also hate Brett Favre.  What do you do with a match-up like this?  We’re our holding our nose and picking the Vikings because our hate of an entire franchise outweighs our contempt for just one man. (more…)

The NFL’s regular season came to an end yesterday, and the action, as dictated by the league’s creative scheduling, was Exhibit A as to why professional football is the king of the American sports world.

So here’s where things stood coming into yesterday’s games: The Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals had all already qualified for the playoffs in the AFC, while the New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles had all already punched their tickets to the postseason. That left only two playoff berths open, both in the AFC, with the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens in the driver’s seat to secure those two spots.  Both teams entered the weekend knowing that all they had to do was win their game in order to make the playoffs.  But a loss by either of those teams would open the door for several other squads, like the Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Denver Broncos.

Inherently dramatic stuff, but the NFL has used its staggered scheduling system to wring even more drama out of its final weekend.  How do they do this?  In their 1 p.m. time slot yesterday, the league scheduled the Houston Texans to play New England and the Pittsburgh Steelers to play the Miami Dolphins.  With a win,  both the Steelers and Texans would still be alive for a playoff berth going into the late afternoon games, and both teams did just that.  So now the Steelers and Texans, and their fans, are now glued to their televisions to watch the late afternoon games, which featured the Baltimore Ravens playing the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs visiting the Denver Broncos, while the night game featured the Jets against the Bengals.  The Texans needed losses by two of the three teams still alive for playoff berths (the Broncos, Ravens, and Jets) in order to qualify for the playoffs, while the Steelers needed all three teams to lose.  So during the 4:15 window, the Ravens, behind a great day by running back Willis McGahee (pictured)  beat the Raiders, but the Broncos lost to the Chiefs. So now, going into the final game of the day (the Jets game against the Bengals), the Ravens had qualified for the postseason, the Steelers were eliminated (thanks to Baltimore’s win) and the Texans were hoping against hope that the Jets would lose.  They did not.  New York crushed a Cincinnati team that looked like they would have rather, all things being equal, not even bothered to play their final meaningless game of the season. (more…)

Hello friends.

We trust that you all had a very nice holiday, and for some of you, that vacation is continuing as we enter the most useless work week of the year.  But some of you unfortunate souls have set aside the egg nog and gone back to the grind.  So have we. And being that today is Monday, we will be focusing yet again on the NFL.  The playoff picture, with one week left to go in the regular season, is remarkably clear.  The New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals clinched their respective divisions on Sunday, joining the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers in the AFC playoffs.  The two wild card spots in the AFC remain up for grabs, with the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets in the driver’s seats.  In the NFC, all six spots have already been claimed. The Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers joined the party yesterday, joining the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals in the postseason.  Who will play who in the first round of the playoffs still remains a mystery, but all that will be cleared up in due time, so we won’t be talking about that.

Instead, we will take the opportunity to bash the previously undefeated Indianapolis Colts for deciding not to play for an undefeated season and instead choosing to rest their best players, eschewing a chance at immortality. We admit that wanted the Colts to lose. We did not, and still do not, believe that this Colts team is one of the best of all-time, even though it has become obvious that Peyton Manning may indeed be the best quarterback ever to play the game.  We wanted them to fall.  But not like this.

Leading the New York Jets 15-10 midway through the 3rd quarter, Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell (pictured with a dejected looking Manning) took his starting offensive and defensive players out of the game, claiming that the game meant nothing to them and that keeping his players healthy for the playoffs was his primary objective.  The Jets, who were playing for their playoff lives, did what they should have done against a team of second stringers  — they scored the game’s last 19 points, winning the contest 29-15 and ending the Colts shot at perfection.  On the bench, the Colts’ starters looked on with a mix of anguish and resignation as  the final moments of their undefeated run came to a close.

But how do you do that?  How do you just give up a shot at immortality (more…)

Friends, the NFL’s regular season is rapidly coming to a close.  After tonight’s game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants, there will only be two weeks of regular season professional football left.  Several playoff spots have already been secured (the San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals have already clinched playoff berths), while two teams — the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals — stand one win away from securing their respective divisions.

But there is still quite a bit of drama left in the NFL regular season, with most of it circulating around the Indianapolis Colts’ quest to go unbeaten.  On Saturday night, the Colts’ brother-in-perfection — the New Orleans Saints — lost for the first time, falling to the Dallas Cowboys (pictured).  Since both teams streaked out to a 14-0 record, they were able to share the burden and media scrutiny that accompanies an unblemished record.  But no more.  The burden now belongs to the Colts and the Colts alone.  They have only two games remaining in the regular season — home to the New York Jets on Sunday and at the Buffalo Bills the following week. And in both games the Colts will be the heavy favorite.  It will be interesting to see if they have the wherewithal to continue their unbeaten season as the attention gets twice as intense. (more…)