Saturday, January 7, 2012

"1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8... etc. etc. etc....!": A (Semi)Serious Look At the NFL Playoffs: Teams 8 & 7.

Running out of time to get these in, and I'm bound and determined...

bound and determined...

I wonder why...

NO! *must... focus... DO NOT GET DISTRACTED! {grimaces, wonders why the Grimace was called that} ... I ... am... taking... a serious look at these playoffs.


Team 8, the 8th least likeliest to not win the Super Bowl
or however it is I'm ranking these teams, is...

... do you know, I had to just go check to see who's in the playoffs? Granted, I don't pay all that much attention to sports, or, rather, I pay about as much attention to sports as I do the other categories of entertainment, reading and politics being my two primary pursuits, so yesterday, I spent about an hour listening to short stories on podcasts, and about 35 minutes reading about how Rick Santorum got paid $400,000 to help run a series of hospitals that did exorcisms (and another 35 asking people he follows on Twitter how they could support that kind of evil)

and 15 minutes talking sports with The Boy; in fact, when I started to listen to The Dan Patrick Show I stopped abruptly and instead put American Dad on Netflix in the background while I worked.

Oh: right: focus!

The point is, I guess, that not many of the teams in the playoffs seem to be very exciting, and in fact, the NFL seems less exciting to me, now. I'm not sure if that's just me of if others would agree that perhaps football has gotten a little cold and corporate and seems kind of sterile and less interesting than it used to. It seems to me that the NFL is trying to run the color out of football, that interesting players are going by the wayside and coaches say less than ever and most of the teams appear to be the same; that, combined with the fact that there are only three credible teams in the playoffs at all, those three teams being the only teams that this year both played well and were believably good, makes the whole game seem a little less interesting.

Or is it just me? This year, the stories were:

Aaron Rodgers' Ring Quest, in which a young, determined warrior tries to prove himself in the eyes of his elders [Fantasy/Drama]

Those Bumbling Colts, an ongoing series that saw the only competent person in a football organization sidelined and watching in agony while a bunch of misfits drove his company into the ground, [Comedy]

and over on The Christian Network:

Tebow: Man Or God? Each week, John Elway struggles with his beliefs as he watches a man proclaimed by some to be the Second Coming complete 2 of 8 passes in a regulation football game [Spiritual/Drama].

There were other things people talked about, of course, but did they seem to matter? "Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh," 'Tony Romo Amputates His Own Leg on 3rd Down To Prove His Toughness," "They're Still Playing Football In Arizona, Apparently," these were all midseason replacements that maybe got us to look during slow weeks, but that's about it.

So let's talk Team 8, The Cincinnati Bengals, who, I'll admit, are team 8 because I dislike the Ravens and Steelers so much, I bumped them down. The Bengals' rightful position is 11th, but I moved them up to 8th as punishment for those other two teams, and because I wanted to make a point about Andy Dalton because he was the subject of the single dumbest piece of football analysis ever:

Has there ever been a redheaded quarterback in the NFL who’s really done well? It sounds idiotic, but is there any way that could be a factor? We’ve wondered.

That quote comes from Taki Magazine*,

*they've asked that I link to the article and I ask that you go read something on their site after this so they get traffic, too, because that's how they get paid. The Internet isn't going to stay free forever, you know. Even Google finds it necessary to buy ads, and they own the Internet. When you're reading this site, you're doing so because my advertisers pay me to run it, so click my ads. When I link to other sites, go read them and click on an ad once in a while, and link to the stories you read because links increase traffic. That way, you won't have to swipe your credit card everytime you want to read Dilbert online.
and there's no might about it. It's a dumb thing to even think.

It's 2012. We can cure diseases with pills, people carry tiny computers around with them to communicate with each other, we have planes that can fly faster than the speed of sound, we've even faked a moon landing...

... and people are still reading owl pellets, as it were.

How a grown man in 2011 (when that was said) could imagine that red hair in any way affects athletic performance -- let alone that it would only start to affect athletic performance once the person goes pro -- is beyond me, and it shows why the millions we spend on NFL salaries -- yes, we spend it, because when you support a team you voluntarily pay that team's expenses, so every time you buy a Buffalo Bills' jersey, you're contributing to the mentality that allowed them to pay Trebuchet Fitzpatrick $24 million extra dollars to not win another game this season. (I'm not entirely sure they lost all their games after giving Fitzpatrick what Jim Kelly deemed a God-given right, but they lost all their games that mattered, which is the same thing.)

That's why I bought no Bills gear this year, but I did buy Packers and Broncos stuff, specifically a Tebow shirt. I vote with my money, the way Citizens United commanded me to do.

Anyway, now you know what your front office guys are looking at: hair color. I wonder what that guy would've done if Andy Dalton shaved his head? Or died his hair? Does the Wonderlic test begin with "True Or False: The carpet matches the drapes?"

With that said, Andy Dalton had a good year but he wasn't the reason the Bengals rebounded from 4-12 last year to 9-7 this year; it's dumb to judge a quarterback by his hair color, but it's dumber to think that Dalton was that much better than Carson Palmer was/is. Palmer was 19th, Dalton 20th in passer efficiency this year, Palmer beat Dalton in 1st down percentage (8th to 28th), and completion percentage (15th to 21st), and average yards per completion (4th to 24th). That, despite Palmer joining his team midway through the year. I view Oakland and the Bengals as roughly equivalent in skill level and competition, and the teams finished within a game of each other. Had Palmer been traded to Oakland earlier, Oakland may well have won 1 more game and instead of wondering whether a redheaded quarterback can win a playoff game, we'd be treated this week to stories headlined something like "Carson Palmer: Redemption," and they'd show a montage of videos of Occupy: Oakland with a voiceover saying "The riot-torn streets of Oakland may seem like an unlikely place to earn a second chance..."

And with that, you see, too, how easy it is to do sportscasting.

So are the Bengals a feel-good story of a rebuilding team built around a young quarterback who defied the odds of being redheaded, and does this trip to the playoffs herald a new era in Cincinnativille?


The team's management is still bad, coach what's-his-name is still not much of a head coach, nobody wants to play in Cincinnati, and they only made the playoffs because the other teams all were even worse.

Symbolic Celebrity Fan: Nick Lachey.

Remember Nick? He's a nice guy who seems like I could hang out with him. He dates and marries hot women, he hosts some TV shows here, pops up now and then to grab your eye, but ultimately, he's kind of a blip on the radar, right?

What Kind Of Cheap Stuff can you buy in the Bengals' shop to get Nick Lachey to autograph?

Once a player is traded to another team, the players' former team cannot make new merchandise with that player's name or likeness, but can sell off all the old stuff they had. That matters when a player is popular, like Brett Favre was when the Packers let him go, but not so much when the player wasn't a big deal anymore, which is why you can get that Carson Palmer glossy 8x10 photo poster for a buck:

Marked down from $5. It specifically says in the marketing copy that it's "great for autographs," which is how you'll convince Nick to sign this rather than the affidavit in support of the restraining order. (I framed my copy of that latter one. He knows who I am!)


Team 7
, is a surprise upset pick! It's the team this girl is rooting for....

That girl is "New Orleans Saints Boob Girl," picked two years ago by COED Magazine as "the world's sexiest football fan." I'm not familiar with COED, but I'm sure it helps young women cope with college life, and you should probably subscribe to it right away.

I'm picking the Saints to lose to Detroit tonight, and not just because by doing so Grumpy Bulldog will be required to read this blog every day for the rest of his life -- one good turn eserves another, right? -- but also because I think the Saints might be just a little bit overrated.

Let me explain it this way: Think of the Packers as Obama, the team everyone thought they would like when we got them but they turned out to be sort of offputting, a little arrogant, maybe, and then they dropped the ball against Kansas City, turning perfection into well, okay, then.

That makes the Saints Mitt Romney: the only other person anyone can really see taking charge, but nobody really wants that, do they? We've seen that show already, a couple of times.

From time to time, this season, analysts and fans looked around the way Republicans hid their racism and buried their heads in the sand from time to time, too, and tried to find other people: Bachmann? No. The Patriots*? No. Herman Cain? No. Tim Tebow? No. Anyone but these two? Not likely.

The Saints get a lot of hype because they're not Green Bay, and yet they've really got no shot, either, unless someone drops the ball, here. Romney will be the GOP nominee, and he'll win only if the economy doesn't improve by June. (The single biggest factor in re-election of a president is the economy in the second quarter of the election year.) The Packers will [SPOILER ALERT!] be the NFC's entrant in the Super Bowl, unless they screw it up.

We saw Packers-Saints to begin the season, and so we know how that game plays out: close, but no cigar for the Saints. Forget all the Drew Brees hype: Aaron Rodgers is better, and has better receivers, and a younger defense. The Saints put up a lot of yards, but they're only 6th in time of possession, despite running more plays from scrimmage than any other team this year.

Statistically speaking, there actually isn't that much difference between Detroit's offense and New Orleans. Detroit averaged only 5 fewer points per game, and was close in all other categories -- but Detroit had a younger quarterback who spent part of the year battling minor injuries. The Saints finished the year negative in turnovers.

The Saints defense, meanwhile, finished 24th in yards per game and 28th in 3rd down percentage; they simply don't get people off the field. The Saints' defense, like the Packers, seems built on turnovers: the Saints had a terrible defense, statistically, but outscored their opponents by a net 208 points, which suggests lots of turnovers (the Packers were second in that category.)

Remember Kansas City-Green Bay, this year?

Symbolic Celebrity Saints Fan: Taylor Lautner:

Who, as the werewolf who fell in love with Kristen Stewart in Twilight ended up finishing second fiddle to Glitter Vampire, and had to settle for falling in love with Stewart's daughter...

... who was an infant.

... ech.

Cheap Stuff In The Saints' Pro Shop That Might Help You Forget The Horrible Image of A 20-something-werewolf in love with an infant half-vampire/half-human hybrid:

The Saints have a ton of stuff from their Super Bowl appearance still on sale, ranging from bright-orange shirts to a flag touting the Colts-Saints matchup, so apparently winning the Super Bowl is not something that inspires Saints fans to buy something from that Super Bowl, although to be fair, the stuff that's on sale is mostly pre-game, "Colts v. Saints" type items, rather than "Hey we won" kind of things.


You can, though, get dirt on sale. Selling fans dirt is just as opprobrious as selling them worthless pieces of paper for $62,000,000, but only the Packers do both; as a privately-held team, the Saints cannot commit corporate fraud by selling pretend stock, and have to limit themselves to hawking pieces of the planet we live on.

The Saints have for sale various pieces of dirt purporting to be from the actual field the Colts-Saints Super Bowl was played on, and I was torn between spending $99.95 to get a piece of the end zone or $99.95 to get a piece of the 50-yard line when I saw this:

That's the "Saints Super Bowl XLIV Authentic Sod Collector Set" -- pieces of each end zone and the 50-yard line, so you are practically guaranteed that one of those pieces probably contains some Drew Brees and Peyton Manning DNA from their sweat and/or spit, which means that not only do you have some sod to put on the mantle to impress (?) your friends (?) but you can also, in your spare time when the season is over, begin combining the DNA of those two quarterbacks to see what you get when it's grown.

Spoiler Alert! It's a human version of this robot:


The first review of Santa, Godzilla & Jesus Walk Into A Bar... has been posted, by author Andrew Leon, whose own book, The House On The Corner, is loaded onto my Kindle and awaiting my free time.

Says Andrew:


If you've ever wondered what Douglas Adams would have been like if they'd locked him in a room for weeks at a time to get him to write... oh, wait, they did lock Adams in a room for weeks at a time to get him to write. Okay, if you've ever wondered what Adams might have produced if he'd been locked in a room for weeks at a time with only Twinkies and Jolt cola, you should read "Santa, Godzilla... ...It has that same frenetic energy that Adams has only weirder. Yeah, I know; how can you get weirder than Adams?

Does SGJWIB have flying couches or falling whales? No, but it does have carnivorous trees, and that's saying something. It's also saying something that it really is a Christmas story. Or Xmas, as Briane says it. Or, really, an origin of Xmas story. Except a sci-fi, futuristic story that somehow takes place in the past so that it is an origin. You know, "A long time ago in a galaxy..." No, wait. "A long time ago, right here on Earth..."

Somehow, Mr. Pagel manages to weave all of the essential elements of our Christmas traditions into a linear story. There are the trees, mistletoe, Wenceslas... I think he missed the wise men, but he gets a lot of it in there. No, it doesn't always makes sense, but, then, that's why it reminds me of Adams. I mean, if I could fly because I somehow got distracted from hitting the ground while falling, I would totally do that! And SGJWIB has those kinds of leaps.

Here's the thing, if you're not someone that likes Douglas Adams, first, "what's wrong with you?" and, second, you probably won't enjoy Briane's... almost book. However, if you do like Adams, as I do, you should definitely give SGJWIB a try. At a buck, you really can't lose.

The story is wild and crazy enough that there's not much you can say about it in a critical way. It's one of those things you like or you don't like. I happen to like. I'd give it an A except for one thing: the ending. It felt a little like Briane decided it was just time to end the story and, so, just did that. It's rather abrupt. However, he adds in a twist that makes it (mostly) okay. It's one of those kinds of things that Briane seems to like and leaves you wanting to say, "So... what actually happened here?" But he doesn't answer those questions, so you'll have to decide for yourself.

Anyway, it's a fun read, and I give it a B+ to an A-. I need to reread it before I can make a firmer decision than that, but I'm in the middle of something else at the moment and don't have the time. I said, if you like Adams, for a measly $0.99, you really can't go wrong.


Music to my ears! And I didn't even have to bribe him.

If you'd like to order "Santa, Godzilla, & Jesus Walk Into A Bar..." on your Kindle, click here.

If you want the paperback version, click here

And, remember, at some point in the future, everyone who posts a review of the story on Amazon gets a chance to win an autographed copy of the book!


Grumpy Bulldog, Secret Agent said...

When it's an experienced playoff team at home against an inexperienced playoff team on the road (and a team that's won one playoff game in 60 years), I'd bet on the home team.

Though until the Saints brought in Drew Brees, they were pretty much Lions South. They played in a dome, had a lot of fan support, and yet never won anything. So there's your hope...I'm still not buying in.

Tim Morrissey said...

From the Monday Morning Quarterback department: every NFL home team won this weekend.


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