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…)

Advertisements

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…)

Vikings Packers Football

Game 5 of the World Series could be a clincher tonight, as the Yankees lead the Phillies 3 games to 1.  But there is also Monday Night football this evening, and tonight’s game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints should be a good one (We are going with the Falcons in this one, but are hoping that Michael Turner does not have a big day.  We are playing against him in fantasy this week.) But yesterday was yet another football Sunday, and although the schedule was relative light (six teams had bye this week), there was plenty of action on the field.  Here’s our recap of what you may have missed.

1. It’s official.  Brett Favre owns the Green Bay Packers.  After being greeted with boos as he came on to Lambeau Field for the first time since he was traded by the Packers two years ago, Favre completed 17 of 28 passes with four touchdowns and no interception in leading the Minnesota Vikings to a 38-26 victory over Green Bay.  As he left the field, he still received his fair share of boos, but there was a lot more applause mixed into that reception after the contest. “Packer fans cheer for the Packers first,” Favre said aftwerward. “I know that. But I hope that everyone in the stadium watching tonight said, ‘I sure hate those jokers on the other side, but he does play the way he’s always played.’ ” Could it be that we like Brett Favre more now than we did just a few weeks ago?

2. Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts, who have now started the season 7-0 after a tighter-than-expected 18-14 victory over the visiting San Francisco 49ers.  Quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 347 yards, and wide receiver Reggie Wayne had a career high 12 catches for Indianapolis.  But for all their success, the Colts have played only one team (the 4-3 Arizona Cardinals) with a winning record this far this season.  But all that will change in the next few weeks.  In two weeks they have a home date with the New England Patriots, followed by a road trip to play the Baltimore Ravens.  But their biggest game of the year may take place next weekend when they face… (more…)

cole-hamels.222

As our loyal readers will tell you, we here at A Casual Fan pride ourselves on helping the non-sports fan navigate the minefield that is dealing and living with those obsessed with sports.  We try to look on the bright side, and provide glimmers of hope for those wishing to spend quality time with their sports fan without the television being on.  But we regret to inform you that this weekend is hopeless, and downright unholy (and we’re not talking about Halloween).  Sunday marks the first day this year when all four major sports will be in action.  Four professional hockey games, seven NBA match-ups, 13 NFL contests and a little thing called Game 4 of the World Series are all scheduled for Sunday (There is even a NASCAR event at Talladega on the docket for Sunday afternoon as well, but we don’t consider NASCAR a sport.  Seriously, the car does all the work.) Saturday isn’t much better as there is a full slate of college football, plenty of NBA and NHL action, and Game 3 of the Fall Classic, so you may want to push your Halloween plans into really late in the evening (say midnight-ish).  As we said, this ain’t pretty.  Here’s what’s on tap.

1. College football has two big match-ups on Saturday night as the fourth-ranked USC Trojans travel to Eugene to face the tenth-ranked Oregon Ducks.  USC is a slight favorite in this game, which is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Eastern, but Chip Kelly’s Ducks have looked like one of the best teams in the country after their opening week debacle against Boise State when LeGarrette Blount lost his shit.  Also at 8 p..m., the third-ranked Texas Longhorns will be on the road in Stillwater, Oklahoma to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys in a game that could represent the toughest challenge left on the Longhorns schedule.  Number 15 Oklahoma State will be without star wide receiver Dez Bryant due to the NCAA’s stupidity.  Saturday afternoon looks like the best time to make plans with your sports nut.

2.  The World Series, currently tied at one game apiece, resumes Saturday night in the City of Brotherly Love as Cole Hamels (pictured) and the Philadelphia Phillies will square off against Andy Pettitte and the New York Yankees. (more…)

g-cvr-091005-favre-804p.rp350x350

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.

(more…)