Thursday, January 29, 2009

Super Bowl Prediction

Conference Championship Round: 1-1

It’s finally here. The culmination of the NFL season. The pinnacle of professional football in today’s world. The Super Bowl. After 6 months of football, two teams have scratched and clawed their way to the finish line in Tampa Bay. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals are playing for football glory – and I could not be less enthused.

I’ll start with the Cardinals. The fact that this team has somehow made it to the Super Bowl after plodding to a mediocre 9-7 record in the septic tank that is the NFC West is wrong in so many ways. Kurt Warner, who appeared to be washed up about three years ago, has suddenly taken to the dry heat of Phoenix and resurrected his career. The artist formerly known as Edgerrin James has suddenly turned back into the real Edgerrin James, and the always laughable Cardinals franchise has somehow become a story of success and perseverance. This franchise has been terrible year after year, decade after decade, but yet managed to sneak into the playoffs and turn into an NFL powerhouse. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals are trying to figure out how they can botch the 6th pick in the ’09 draft, Carson Palmer is trying to avoid the “Ki-Jana Carter Curse”, Chad Ocho Cinco is devising a way to be even less productive but with more media attention, and Mike Brown is using the dollars of his loyal Cincinnati fans to blow his nose. As you can gather, I’m slightly bitter. How does a team that was the Bengals’ brother-in-disappointment for so many years suddenly turn it around for three weeks in December and January? How does a team that barely won an atrocious division stumble into the most hallowed game in all of sports? How can the Cardinals find triumph in a half-century’s worth of filth? The entire concept is mind-boggling. The Arizona Cardinals, led by Pro Bowl and resuscitated quarterback Kurt Warner, are playing for an NFL Championship. There are so many things wrong with that sentence. And yet, I will be rooting for them the entire game. I’m glad that the parody of the NFL and the under-achieving of everyone else in the NFC have given the Cards this opportunity. I’m glad that Kurt Warner, who seems like a genuinely good guy, has been able to revive his career and revive the hearts of Cardinals fans that have wallowed in pity for years. I’m glad that the Pittsburgh Steelers, genuinely terrible guys (yes…all of them) will have the chance to lose to such a much maligned franchise. I’m glad that Arizona’s success gives me the hope and faith that the same thing could happen to the Bengals, just as long as Hell freezes over in the very near future. I’m happy for the Cardinals. Confused, but happy.

Now for the Steelers. I hate the Steelers. I will be openly rooting against them in this game, simply because they have embarrassed and harassed my Bengals for years on end. When an opponent just abuses your team the way the Steelers have abused Cincy over the years, you grow too bitter and too angry to have any respect or compassion towards them. Watching the Steelers vs Bengals during the last decade-plus has been like watching Drago murder Apollo Creed in Rocky IV, over and over again. I’ve even grown to hate members of the Steelers individually. For instance, Mike Tomlin seems like a great young coach in this league. But in my eyes, he’s just an obnoxious punk in a “George Costanza-esque” puffy coat (It’s Gor-Tex). Dick Lebeau, hailed by many as a defensive genius and wonderful guy, is the same Dick Lebeau that I watched as head coach of the Bengals for three years, as he stood on the sidelines, starring into nothingness while his team got beat like the neighborhood pansy. I would probably really like Lebeau if I ever actually met him. But I haven’t met him, so I hate his guts. And if you put me in a room with Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, and Hines Ward, and said that I could kick ONLY one of them in the face, my brain would malfunction from trying to decide which one I’d rather go after. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a tremendous organization, a hard-nosed team, and a beacon of what other NFL franchises should strive to be…and I wish them nothing but the worst. Go Cards.

(P.S. Kimo Von Oelhoffen’s hit on Palmer’s knee in the ’05 playoff game was definitely a cheap-shot. That fat slob ruined what will probably end up being the Bengals only chance for a playoff win this millennium. And yes, we would have won that game. Years from now, I just know that Kimo will be having a good laugh about it with the Prince of Darkness as he burns in Hades for all eternity.)


As for the predictions…

Halftime:


I predict that Bruce Springsteen will play four songs; “Born to Run”, “Glory Days”, “Born in the U.S.A.”, and “Working on a Dream”, from his new album (which is fantastic by the way). I also predict that he will make one comment in remembrance of recently-departed E Street organist Danny Federici, two “pro-Obama” comments, at least one “anti-Bush” comment, and exactly ZERO explanation as to why his concert tickets still cost like $142.

The Game:

PIT 27 ARI 20 – I would love to witness the Steelers losing this game, but I just don’t see it happening. I think Pittsburgh has too much experience and too much talent on defense to let the Cardinals steal this one from them. The Cards have an explosive offense and an experienced quarterback, but I think the strength of the Steelers ‘D’ outweighs the Cardinals attack by just enough. I do think that it will be a close game throughout, with the Cardinals possibly leading for a decent chunk of the contest. However, I just have a gut feeling that at some point, the Steelers defense will make a big play - whether it be by James Harrison or Troy Polamalu or whoever - that puts the Steelers offense in a position to win and take over the game. I hope it will be a good game, and I think it will be a good game, but I see the Steelers coming out on top in the end.

And I really hope I’m wrong.



Two-part "Random Thoughts" post coming soon. Enjoy the game.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New Blog Posts

Hey. I know I have totally sucked with putting out new posts recently. This is partly because I'm busy, and partly because I'm lazy. However, there are few interesting things on the horizon that I'm sure you will be overly excited to hear about.

First, I will do my prediction for the Super Bowl. It should be up sometime before the game Sunday night. I truly hope the Steelers lose and something horrible happens to them.

Secondly, I will be posting another two-part "Random Thoughts" column in the near future - most likely sometime next week. It's been a while since my last Random Thoughts posting, so I understand your excitement.

Hopefully I'll get back on track after next week with regular posts. If not, then I apologize in advance. I have this feeling that it wouldn't really ruin your life, but I don't want to risk it.


-Justin

Sunday, January 18, 2009

NFL Playoff Picks - Week 3 (Conference Championships)

Last Week: 2-2

I picked (guessed?) right on both AFC games last week. Unfortunately, my picks for both NFC games were way off, much like every pass Eli Manning threw against the Eagles. If Philly had slow defensive backs that were constantly out of position, they would have ended up with around 29 interceptions last Sunday. Luckily, Eli’s sorry excuse of a game on Sunday was greatly overshadowed by Jake Delhomme’s drunken sleepwalk of a game on Saturday. Have you seen the commercials for Taken, the new Liam Neeson movie? That look his daughter has on her face when she’s hiding under the bed after the kidnappers break into her room is the exact same look Delhomme had before every snap of that game. I thought he was going to collapse into the fetal position and just lay there until the time ran out. I’m sure he’s more than happy to be sitting at home in a dark room while this week’s games are being played. With that said, let’s get to the picks.

Here…we…go.

ARI 23 PHI 18 – I can’t believe this is happening. I’m picking the Arizona Cardinals to go to the Super Bowl. Yes, the same Arizona Cardinals that have 96-year-old Kurt Warner at quarterback and 89-year-old Edgerrin James at running back. The same Arizona Cardinals that have been an abysmal abomination of a team for the past five or six decades. The same Arizona Cardinals that almost named their stadium "The Pink Taco". So why am I picking them? Well, I really only have one good reason. I know the Cards have been playing well, finally figuring out how to run the ball and play defense, and I know they have two of the best receivers in the league, but that’s not why I’m picking them. The only good reason I have for picking Arizona is because I watched the Eagles TIE the Bengals earlier this season. I know I have talked about this before, but I cannot stress how disgusting that game was. No matter how many great games the Eagles have played since then or how amazing Donovan McNabb has been in the playoffs, I cannot pick a team to play in the Super Bowl when they couldn’t beat the Bengals in essentially a five-quarter game. The game was a disgrace to the sport of football, and it would be a bigger disgrace if the Eagles were allowed to play for the championship.

BAL 21 PIT 17 – Let me get the pick out of the way first. I have a gut feeling that the Ravens are going to win this game. I think Ben Rothlisberger is overrated and I think the Ravens defense is hostile enough, hungry enough, and experienced enough to win this one on the road. With that said, I am thoroughly repulsed at the idea of watching this game and knowing that one of these teams will play in the Super Bowl. I hate both of these teams about as much as Jack Nicholson hates his wife in The Shining. In my pick for a Steelers-Ravens game earlier this year, I stated that I would prefer a meteor to land square on the field at some point during the first half. I stand by this statement. If something horrible happened to these teams, I wouldn’t even try to hide my excitement. People around me would be appalled as I danced with glee. And if that doesn’t sufficiently express my hatred, then perhaps this will. Remember towards the end of The Dark Knight when the Joker rigged those two ferries with explosives? He gave each ferry the detonator that would set off the other ferry's bombs, and watched to see which would have the guts to blow the other one up first. It turns out that no one on either boat has the onions to turn the detonator key and carry the burden of exploding the other. However, if I were on one of those ferries, and the Ravens and Steelers were all on the opposite one, I would grab that detonator, turn the key, and then run to the window to watch. That may sound demented and wrong, but it’s the truth. As Alfred would say, “Some people just want to see the world burn.” When it comes to Steelers and Ravens, I guess I’m one of those people. Glad we could end on a happy note.


Thanks for reading

Sunday, January 11, 2009

NFL Playoff Picks - Week 2

Last Week: 1-3

I only picked one game correctly last week, so I’m just positive that I’ll get it right this time. And by the way, if any of you turn to these picks for help with your bets or wagers, I am extremely sorry about the foreclosure of your home and liquidating of your assets. If it’s any consolation, I appreciate your loyal support, and that’s worth more than any roof over your head. Trust me.

And........go!



BAL 20 TEN 14 – The Ravens defense is very, very good. I know this statement is a shock to no one, but I held out my acceptance of it for a long time because I hate the Ravens. However, I see them winning this one. If I had to bet my life on one quarterback – rookie Joe Flacco or journeyman Kerry Collins – I think I would have to pick Flacco, which makes Baltimore my choice. But let’s hope that scenario doesn’t play out in real life.

CAR 27 ARI 17 – The Cardinals need to lose. I don’t like it when teams that are usually as atrocious as the Bengals succeed. I’m not a very caring person. If the Bengals suck, I want everyone else to suck too. And if the Bengals are good (stop laughing), I still want everyone else to suck. Sure, that may be selfish, but it’s honest, and honest trumps selfish every time.

NYG 24 PHI 21 – Despite the fact that I picked the Vikings to beat the Eagles last week, I wasn’t surprised the Eagles moved on. They have more experience in the playoffs than the Vikings, and I truly believe that helped them in their victory. However, that shouldn’t be enough to get them past a strong, mature team like the Giants. The two coaches are a perfect example of why New York is the better and more prepared team, and should in turn pull this one out; week after week, Tom Coughlin constantly has a ticked off look on his face, while Andy Reid just has a confused, blank stare. I’ll take ticked off over confused and blank any day (which is why I’ll always take Bruce Willis over Keanu Reeves for an action movie). Therefore, I’m going with the Giants.

PIT 17 SD 13 – Ashlee Simpson makes horrible music. It’s awful. This doesn’t mean she is a bad person, because she may be a stand-up gal, but her music is atrocious. Now, if Ashlee’s next two or three albums are fantastic, insightful, and respectable pieces of music, wouldn’t it totally freak you out? Of course it would. It would have to. People would start going insane and losing their minds. Well, the Chargers were crappy for the first three-fourths of this season, and all of the sudden they are destroying everything in their path. So guess what? IT’S REALLY STARTING TO FREAK ME OUT!!! For the mental safety of this country, the Chargers need to get back to their true form.



Thanks for reading

Saturday, January 3, 2009

NFL Playoffs - Week 1

Last Week: 11-5

Overall: 91-60

The playoffs are finally here. I can’t wait to listen to Ron Jaworski and Chris Berman’s verbal diarrhea for the next four weeks. I’d like to get the odds of Ron and Chris picking the Eagles and Chargers to make the Super Bowl. But on a happier note, the Bengals can’t screw anything up until the draft this April, so the dread shouldn’t kick in for another month or two. The freedom is a nice change of pace.

It’s go time.


ATL 24 ARI 19 – The Cardinals are hosting a home playoff game for the first time since 1947…and they didn’t sell out their tickets until THE DAY BEFORE THE GAME!!!! The NFL had to give the Cards extra time to sell tickets in order to avoid a black-out. I know we are in a recession, but wouldn’t you think there would be enough fans – fans who have waited more than 60 years to see a playoff game on their own turf – to sell out the game in a reasonable amount of time? How can I back a team when its fans won’t even shell out the cash to go and watch them play? This isn’t the pre-season, it’s the playoffs. If this game were in Atlanta, do you think the Falcons would have any trouble selling out the game? No, not a chance. What more do you need to know?

IND 27 SD 21 – The Chargers made a late season surge to make the playoffs (thanks to the Broncos late season purge.) They have a great deal of momentum going in to a big game on their home field. So do I trust them to keep it up and pull out a win? No, and I’ll tell you why. Leonardo DiCaprio was fantastic in the movie Blood Diamond. If you haven’t seen the film, then you need to. His acting is extraordinary and he plays his character perfectly. Does this mean I am a big Leo fan? Do I consider him an elite actor? Heck no. You know why? Because despite his strong showing in Blood Diamond, I remember him best as a squirrelly little sissy in Titanic - the worst, most boring, drawn-out and over-hyped movie of all time. Sure, he may be a badass with huge muscles, a smart mouth and a cool accent in the more recent film, but it’s not enough for me to forget how lame and girly he was in an earlier movie. My point is, just because the Bolts have been playing great in the last few weeks, it’s not amazing enough to make me forget how much they sucked for the first three months of the year. And I know, it does make perfect sense. Not to mention the Colts have won their last 9 in a row and have the league MVP. That helps, too.

BAL 16 MIA 13 – Chad Pennington has been great. Ronnie Brown has been great. Ricky Williams has been great. Joey Porter (who I despise) has been great. Tony Sporano, Bill Parcells, the guy who paints the endzones; they’ve all been great. But I’m picking the Ravens. I hate to do it, but I have to pick them. The Ravens have a terrifying defense (Literally. I still think Ray Lewis murdered that guy) and smoked the Dolphins earlier this season. Plus, every instinct and gut feeling I have is telling me to pick Baltimore. I’m ashamed, but that’s just the way it is. On another note, the Orange Bowl was played in Dolphins Stadium on Friday night, and they got the Doobie Brothers (or what’s left of them) to play the halftime show. Are we really supposed to believe that Ricky Williams hasn’t been hanging out with the Doobie Brothers the entire weekend? The DOOBIE Brothers? Ricky is gonna be so high on Sunday he could wind surf on a pelican. That can’t be a good thing.

MIN 18 PHI 17 – Everyone and their brother is picking the Eagles to beat up on the Vikes in this one. But not me. I’m rollin’ with the Purple and Gold. And I have a few reasons: A. The Vikings have the perfect formula for winning a playoff game. Now I didn’t come up with this formula, but all the analyst turn to it around playoff time, so I’m going to use it as well. Minnesota is at home (in a dome, nonetheless) with a stud running back (Adrian Peterson is scary) and a stifling ‘D’. The experts always say that good playoff teams take advantage of their home field, run the ball well and play good defense. Sounds like the Vikings match up pretty well with that formula. 2. Andy Reid is known for screwing up in big spots. The Philly coach is often criticized for his poor clock management and indefensible challenges. Vikes coach Brad Childress is no Vince Lombardi, but he’s never been on the big stage before, and therefore never choked on the big stage before, so I have no case against him. Just Andy…and I don’t trust him. D. I personally watched the Eagles play the Bengals to 13-13 tie in Week 11. It was life-altering. I have a hard time picking a team to win in the playoffs after they played in the worst game I have ever seen. I honestly feel that I would have made a significant contribution had I played in that game. It was vomit-inducing. How can I back a team that tied the Bengals? I can’t. I won’t. Vikings win.


Thanks for reading