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…)

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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…)

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…)

There is an insignificant Monday Night football game featuring the Cardinals and the 49ers tonight, but in essence, all the important NFL action took place yesterday.  And although big wins were registered by the Eagles, Vikings, Dolphins, Chargers and Patriots, this week’s recap will be dedicated to the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts, two teams that remain undefeated at this late stage of the season, despite the fact that neither one is an All-Time great team.  So this week’s recap will be dedicated to these two imposters.

1. The New Orleans Saints ran their record to 13-0 with a 26-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.  For the third time in four weeks, the Saints looked very beatable, as this time the Falcons had the ball, down by three, with two minutes left in the game.  Chris Redman, the Falcons’ back-up quarterback, was good enough to keep Atlanta in the ball game, but was not good enough to win it, as his pass to Jason Snelling on fourth down and 2 on the Falcons’ final drive netted Atlanta only one yard.  So the Saints are 13-0, and they have games remaining against the Cowboys, the Buccaneers, and the Panthers.  And although they will be favored to win each of those games, we would nt be surprised if they lost any of them.  That’s because the Saints have been challenged in each of their last two games against inferior opponents (the Falcons could have won that game, while the Redskins should have beaten the Saints the week before.)  This team has a dynamic offense, but it has a very well-rounded defense — they have no corners (a little football humor there).  The defensive is suspect, and we’ll see if comes up to bite them later in the season.

2. The Indianapolis Colts have this way of jumping on opponents early and then allowing the other team to make a spirited comeback, only to score again late and secure the victory.  The Colts used this formula yet again to dispatch the Denver Broncos. The Colts got up 21-0 early behind two touchdown catches by Dallas Clark (pictured), then allowed the Broncos to score the next 16 points before scoring late to ice the game.  Indy won 28-16, despite allowing Brandon Marshall to catch 21 balls in the game (an NFL record.)  We don’t really have a problem with Colts pedigree as they chase perfection.  (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…)