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…)

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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…)

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…)

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Save for the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos squaring off tonight in Southern California (we’re taking the Chargers in that one), Week 6 of the NFL season is in the books, and it was a great day for one Thomas Edward Brady Jr., and a terrible day for NFC East.  Here’s our brief recap of all the action you may have missed yesterday.

1. We missed you, Tom Brady (pictured with Coach Bill Belichick laughing at the Tennessee Titans in a rare October snowstorm.)  Although your Patriots were a respectable 3-2 in their first five games, we missed your sparkle.  You had not been yourself in wins against the Bills, Falcons, and Ravens, and the losses to the Jets and Broncos were, quite frankly, painful to watch.  But you came back to us yesterday.  Your six touchdown passes, five in the second quarter alone, in yesterday’s 59-0 thrashing of suddenly hapless Tennessee was a vintage performance. You threw the ball deep to Randy Moss (129 yards and three touchdowns for The Freak), and short to Wes Welker (158 yards and two touchdowns for The Mascot).  And you didn’t even play most of the second half.  Next week, the Patriots go out to London to play the equally hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

2. A plague on all the houses in the NFC East (save the Dallas Cowboys, who probably would have lost had they not had a bye on Sunday).  The New Orleans Saints thumped the previously undefeated New York Giants 48-27, and the Giants played much better than their division brethren.  The Washington Redskins lost to the previously winless Kansas City Chiefs 14-6, while the Philadelphia Eagles laid an egg against the pathetic Oakland Raiders 13-9.  This was a disappointing result for the Eagles, but not an entirely unexpected one.  (more…)

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This morning, the Cleveland Browns traded wide receiver Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets in exchange for special teams player Jason Trusnik, wide receiver Chansi Stuckey and two draft picks.  Edwards had become a local pariah in the last few days after a story surfaced that he allegedly punched a friend of Cleveland Cavaleirs star LeBron James outside a bar on Sunday night (Nobody messes with King James in Cleveland. Especially with his impending free agency looming after this season.)

Thus the trade of Edwards was foreseeable, although we view the move as yet another short-sighted move by an organization that has been abysmal for the last decade. But more to the point, we have a few objections to the coverage of this incident, and this time the culprit is ESPN.  ESPN’s story covering the trade described Edwards as “troubled” in its opening paragraph, and then tried to back up this claim by detailing other egregious off-the-field “incidents” saying the following:

In March, Edwards was partying with suspended wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth in Miami the night Stallworth later drove drunk and killed a pedestrian. Edwards was not with Stallworth at the time of the accident.

Last November, Edwards was fined $150 and given 30 hours of community service after he was found guilty of driving 120 mph.

Others on ESPN questioned Edwards’ decision to go out on Sunday night after the Browns had lost to the Bengals.  But being that Sunday night to an NFL player is like Friday night for us laypeople (It is the start of their weekend, since most players are only required to come in Monday to watch video and check in with the training staff), we found this a little bit unfair.

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