Water Cooler Chatter


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…)

Today is a day for family, even those family members you don’t like. That aunt who refuses to stop talking even when it is obvious that no one has listened to a word she has been saying for the last 20 years. That cousin with the ridiculous conspiracy theory about Obama having started the Vietnam War. Or that uncle who insists on stepping away from the table with his plate in hand as soon as grace is over so he can go back to watching the Cowboys game.

Actually, we are here to help out with that uncle. Thanksgiving is one of the few days a year when the non-sports fan among us will most likely be forced at some point to watch a football game, and will most likely have to do so with real football fans. That’s where we come in. There are three professional football games today, but only two will likely interfere with your holiday plans (seriously, does anyone have the NFL Network?) and we will be adapting our Water Cooler Cheat Sheet to get you through Turkey Day looking like a sports fan, while counting the minutes until you can return home.

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, 12:30 p.m. on FOX.

Traditionally, the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys always host afternoon games on Thanksgiving, with the Lions playing early and the Cowboys playing at around 4:30. Thus, the Lions game is the one that is on while most people are preparing to host or go to dinner on the East Coast, and it is also the game that has just started while our West Coast brethren are stumbling out of bed. In other words, this is the game the non-sports fan needs to know the least about.

Turkey Dinner Cheat Sheet

“I thought for sure when Stafford got hurt at the end of last week’s game, he wouldn’t be playing today. The Lions actually have a chance with him in the line-up.”

Matthew Stafford (pictured with what appears to be a dislocated shoulder) was the Lions first-round draft pick this past April, and he had the game of his life last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. The rookie quarterback threw five touchdown passes, including one on the final play of the game, to lead Detroit to a dramatic 38-37 victory. But right before throwing that last touchdown pass, Stafford injured his shoulder, and was not expected to play today. But now it appears that he will be in the line-up. Just say this little throwaway line, and you should be fine. But make sure it is during the Lions game. If you say this during the Cowboys game, you will look like a nitwit, and will be forced to spend the rest of the pre-dinner festivities in the kitchen.

Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys, 4:15 on CBS

The Dallas Cowboys ruining your classy Thanksgiving dinner is as much a part of Turkey Day as cranberry sauce and stuffing. Every year, the Cowboys play a home game at exactly the time that most families on the East Coast will be sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner. You will be forced to render an opinion on this game. Luckily, we have one for you.

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The Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers will square off tonight in the Monday Night game, but outside of that skirmish, week 9 of the NFL season is in the books.  Congratulations, non-sports fans.  You are more than halfway through the regular season.  Only eight weeks to go! This week we have decided to combine our Water Cooler Cheat Sheet with our weekly recap of what you may have missed during Sunday’s action We understand that it was an uncommonly beautiful November Sunday yesterday weather-wise along the East Coast, so many of you were probably out enjoying the sunshine instead of being holed up in your living room watching a bunch of men in matching jerseys hit each other for three hours. We’re here to help.

1. “I know the Colts and Saints are both still undefeated, but man did they look vulnerable on Sunday.”

The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints both ran their records to 8-0 with victories over the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers, respectively.  But neither game was easy.  The Colts needed a missed field goal by Houston kicker Kris Brown in the waning seconds of yesterday’s game to escape with a 20-17 victory.  Meanwhile, the Saints game against Carolina was still in doubt until a late fumble by DeAngelo Williams was returned for a touchdown by New Orleans defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove to provide the Saints with a 30-20 win.  New Orleans looks like a lock to run their record to 9-0 as they face woeful St. Louis this weekend.  The Colts, however, will have their annual tilt with the resurgent New England Patriots on Sunday night.

2. “Looks like the Bengals and Patriots have established themselves as the class of their divisions.”

New England defeated division-rival Miami 27-17 yesterday and now has a two-game lead in the AFC East.  Tom Brady connected with Randy Moss (pictured coasting into the end zone) on a 71-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to lead the Patriots to the victory.  New England has a daunting schedule coming up (more…)

ALCS Yankees vs. Angels

This much we know.  The World Series will start on Wednesday night and the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies will be on the road for Game 1.  Just where they will be and who they will play remains in question.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim built a four-run lead in the first inning against the New York Yankees, lost that lead in the top of the seventh inning when the Yankees scored six runs to take a 6-4, regained the lead in the bottom of that inning with a three-run burst that was capped an RBI  single by Kendry Morales, and then held on in the ninth inning after the Yankees loaded the bases with two out in the ninth inning to win Game 5 of the American League Championship Series 7-6 (Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano looks so sad in that picture, doesn’t he?).  The Angels trail the Yankees 3 games to 2 in the best-of-seven series with Game 6 scheduled to be played tomorrow night in the Bronx.  Andy Pettitte will start for the Yankees, while Joe Saunders will take the ball for the Angels.

Water Cooler Cheat Sheet

Typically,  in a water cooler-type conversation, you will only be required to throw in one or two throwaway lines to look like as if you A) watched the game in question & B) paid attention while it was on.  We know that some of you were probably watching Grey’s Anatomy or The Office, instead of the ALCS last night.  We’re not gonna hold that against you. On the contrary, we’re here to help. (more…)

4The fantasy football gods will eventually catch up to almost everybody.  But fortunately, these rules do not apply to you.  No, you are a fantasy savant.  You take other players’ queens with your pawns.  You can order a Big Mac at Burger King and get one.  Tough day for Drew Brees?  So what.  You didn’t start him this week because a little birdie told you that Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard (pictured) would have a huge day against the Titans.  Your co-workers are officially confounded by your fantasy bravado.  Wanna keep the party going?  We’re here to help with this week’s installment of This Week in Fantasy Football.

Water Cooler Cheat Sheet

In most water-cooler type conversations, you will only be required to utter one or two throwaway lines in order to appear knowledgeable.  And being that this is fantasy football, you don’t even need to know anything about actual football in order to look like a fantasy star.

“I had a feeling that Brees might struggle against the Jets defense, so I decided to go with Garrard.  The Titans have looked awful on defense, so I just felt it was time to give Garrard a shot.”

Now we have said before that if you have a good fantasy performer who is going up against a formidable defense (Ravens, Steelers, Jets, Giants, etc.), you should still play the top-notch fantasy performer and good players are good players, regardless of who they are playing.  But it is also true that mediocre players can become great players if they are going up against a really bad defense, which is exactly what Tennessee has become.

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Did you see Brett Favre play last night?

We sure didn’t.  What we saw was a competent, competitive, accurate quarterback who didn’t force throws, didn’t turn the ball over, and didn’t put his own team at a disadvantage.  And as any football fan would know, that ain’t Brett Favre.

But last night, playing in his first game against the Green Bay Packers — the team that made him a superstar — Favre played arguably his best game in the last five seasons.  He completed nearly 78 percent of his passes and threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns in the Minnesota Vikings 30-23 victory over the Packers.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Favre said after the game.

Neither do we.  (more…)

Porcelloscott-bakerThe regular season mercifully came to an end yesterday for 28 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams.  The Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals will make up the quartet of playoff teams in the National League, while the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have qualified in the American League.

But there is still one spot left, as the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins finished in a flat-footed tie for the American League Central division title, necessitating a one-game playoff between the two teams to be played Tuesday night in Minneapolis.  The Twins entered the weekend trailing the Tigers by two games, but they rallied to sweep the Kansas City Royals while Detroit dropped two of three games to the Chicago White Sox.

Normally, a divisional one-game playoff would be played tonight, the day after the regular season’s scheduled conclusion.  But the Twins share the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome with the Minnesota Vikings, who are scheduled to take on the Green Bay Packers tonight in the NFL’s Monday Night game (Vikings quarterback Brett Favre against his former team.  We’ll address that tomorrow.) So baseball will have to wait.

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