Weekend Preview


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…)

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…)

Yes, there is college basketball this weekend (we are particularly intrigued by the Duke-Gonzaga game), but the NFL is once again the story.  The league has a full slate of games, spread over four days this weekend,starting with the Colts 35-31 win over the Jaguars last night, continuing into tomorrow’s game between the New Orleans Saints and the Dallas Cowboys, followed by your regular Sunday afternoon rundown of games, and concluding on Monday night, when the New York Giants face the Washington Redskins. Yes Virginia, that is a helluva lot of football.

But mercifully, Saturday afternoon still belongs to the non sports fan, so enjoy that time.  Here is a rundown of a couple of the bigger NFL games on the docket for this weekend so you can sound inform when the conversation at your holiday party shifts from Tiger Woods to the NFL.

1.  We have pretty much conceded, after their win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night, that the Indianapolis Colts are going to go undefeated this year.  It breaks our heart, but we have stopped fighting this.  However, so great is our desire to see the New Orleans Saints lose before the regular season comes to an end in three weeks that we are doing the unthinkable.  We are rooting for the Dallas Cowboys.  The Saints play the Cowboys on Saturday night in a game that Cowboys quite frankly need to win if they are going to keep their playoff hopes alive. The game is at 8 p.m. on the NFL Network, so non-sports fan subscribers to Time-Warner can rejoice.  You don’t get the NFL Network, and neither will your sports fan if he happens to be at your house.  Huzzah! (more…)

Ladies and other non-sports fans: you officially have your Saturdays back.

College football’s regular season shuffled off this mortal coil last week (with the exception of Saturday’s Army-Navy game), so expect your sports fan to be a bit at a loss for things to do on Saturday.  There are no NFL games on Saturday this week, although that will change next weekend when the NFL Network begins double-barrell action on both Thursday nights and Saturday nights. Yes, college basketball season has started, and we will address a couple of the bigger games on tap for this weekend below.  But it is hard for the average sports fan to seamlessly transition from college football to college basketball, and most middle-of-the-road athletic supporters don’t start paying attention to college hoops until about late January or early February. So rejoice.  From now until the beginning of the NFL playoffs, when the league will schedule games for both the late Saturday afternoon as well as Saturday night, you can once again call Saturday your own.  Go purchase and decorate your Christmas tree, or make plans to go to that Saturday afternoon holiday soiree.  Your sports fan will have no excuse for not attending.  Happy Holidays, indeed.

But all that once again will come to a screeching halt on Sunday, when the NFL returns with a full slate of somewhat meaningful games.  Here’s a look for what’s on tap for this weekend.

1. There are only four weeks left in the NFL season, so we are running of games that the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints can lose.  Both teams are undefeated and both will put those unblemished marks on the line on Sunday.  The Saints will travel to Atlanta to face the suddenly-reeling Falcons, while Peyton Manning (pictured) and the Colts will host the resurgent Denver Broncos.  We have no problem saying that we are rooting for each team to lose before the end of the season, largely because we are Patriots fans, and New England is only team to navigate a 16 game regular season without losing in 2007 (Of course, they lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, ruining all the great memories that were attached to fabulous campaign.  We are still not ready to talk about that.) Our main beef with these teams is that we do not feel like either is an All-Time great team.  The Saints needed a miracle in Washington to win last week, and have major problems on the defensive side of the ball.  And this Colts team is not even the best squad they have fielded this decade (both the 2005 and 2006 teams had better personnel). So we will be cheering for both the Falcons and Broncos on Sunday.

2. Other NFL games of interest feature the Cincinnati Bengals traveling to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings, the New York Giants hosting the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Dallas Cowboys squaring off against the San Diego Chargers in Dallas.  All three games have major playoff implications, especially the Philadelphia-New York game.  A win by the Eagles would put them in the driver’s seat in the NFC East with only three games left to go. (more…)

In 1992, the Southeastern Conference added the University of Arkansas, giving the league 12 teams.  The SEC then divided itself into two divisions, and created a need for a an SEC championship game.  And for the majority of those 17 seasons, at least one team has entered that game with a legitimate shot at playing in the national championship game.  This year, for the second straight season, both teams enter the game with the knowledge that if they win they will play for the national championship in January.  And once again, those two teams are Alabama and Florida.  But there are other games on the docket this weekend as well, including a full slate of NFL games.  Here is what’s on tap for this weekend.

1. The SEC Championship Game is at 4 p.m. on Saturday and will be must see viewing for any college football fan.  Tim Tebow (top left) and the Florida Gators will be taking on Mark Ingram (top right) and the Alabama Crimson Tide for the SEC title as well as a spot in the national championship game.  These two teams met in the SEC title game last year, with Florida pulling out the victory and securing a place in the national title game (a game they eventually won against Oklahoma). Alabama has been waiting for a full year to avenge that loss, and we think they’ll do just that.  But it should be a good game down in Atlanta on Saturday.

2. The SEC championship is not the only game on the schedule this weekend, as the Big 12, ACC, and Big East will all have their champions crowned on Saturday as well.  In the Big East, Cincinnati will take on Pittsburgh with the winner likely going to the Rose Bowl, although the Bearcats still have an outside chance at playing for the national championship.  Texas will take on Nebraska in the Big 12 title game.  A win by the Longhorns would put them into the national championship game against the winner of the Alabama-Florida tilt.  And finally Georgia Tech will take on Clemson in the ACC championship game. (more…)

College football’s traditional rivalries have been in a state of flux for the past several seasons as most conferences in major college football, save the Big Ten, have decided to extend their seasons well into December. But two such rivalries, the Bay Area’s Big Game, and the annual Ohio State-Michigan tilt are on the docket for this weekend.  Also, NASCAR will mercifully come to its conclusion on Sunday, but that day, as always, will belong to the NFL.  Here’s a look at what’s on tap for the weekend before Thanksgiving.

1. Ohio State-Michigan, with apologies to the Alabama-Auburn game, is the best rivalry in college football, and those two storied programs will meet this weekend.  Honestly, if these two programs didn’t hate each other and have a history of playing some great games, there would be very little reason to watch this one.  Ohio State locked up a Rose Bowl berth last week by beating Iowa, and Michigan has not won a game against a Division I foe since late September. But the Wolverines may very well be playing for coach Rich Rodriguez’s job, and the Buckeyes always love trouncing Michigan.  Even this year, it is must-see TV. It’s on ABC at high noon.

2. Stanford-Cal does not have quite the history to it that the Michigan-Ohio State game has, but Big Game has had its fair share of big moments (most notably, the “Band is On the Field” game in 1983). But this edition should be a good one as both teams enter into the game with solid squads.  Stanford is fresh off a thrashing of USC last weekend, while California beat Arizona last Saturday to run its record to 7-3 (identical to that of the Cardinal). That’s a 7:30 EST kickoff.

3. Finally, we are once again ignoring NASCAR, and jumping straight to the NFL slate on Sunday.  (more…)

Nick-Saban-2

The long national nightmare that is baseball season mercifully came to an end on Wednesday night as the New York Yankees dispatched the Philadelphia Phillies four games to two to win the franchise’s 27th World Series title.  Congratulations to them, but more importantly, congratulations to you, the non-sports fan.  As you well know there are 162 baseball games in the regular season, with teams playing anywhere from five to seven games per week from the beginning of April until the end of September.  Then tack on another month for the playoffs, and baseball has successfully consumed the life of your sports fan nearly 2/3 of the year.  It’s downright unfair.  But Wednesday was your day of jubilee.  Your time to rejoice.  Baseball has shuffled off this mortal coil, not to be seen again until February, when pitchers and catchers report to spring training.  The regular season will not start until April, and although college basketball season slots in nicely into that void, that sport is not nearly the unrepentant time-suck that our national pasttime has become.  So take this time to enjoy yourselves, non-sports fan, and pour yourself a drink.  You’ve earned it.

That said, there is still football this weekend.  Saturday afternoon will feature two traditional rivalry games (one in Happy Valley, Pa., and the other in Tuscaloosa, Ala.) that will pique the attention of the college football fan.  While Sunday, once again, belongs to the NFL.  Here’s what’s on the slate  for this weekend.

1. The Alabama Crimson Tide will host the L.S.U. Tigers on Saturday afternoon in a game that will have national championship implications.  Alabama is unbeaten, and win over the Tigers will all but assure them of a spot in the SEC Championship game.  L.S.U. has one loss, and will need to win all the games left on their schedule (including a likely rematch with Florida, the only team to defeat the Bayou Bengals thus far this year, in the SEC title clash) in order to have any shot and playing for the national championship in January.  This annual game has been dubbed the Saban Bowl as Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban (pictured) used to be the head man in Baton Rouge.  (more…)

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