Saturday, January 26, 2013

Post-NFC/AFC Championship Predictions

Predictions made prior to the NFL Championship Weekend based on the results of those games

Thank goodness there's no football this weekend, otherwise I'd be really late with these predictions! What's that you say? The Pro Bowl is this weekend? My statement stands.

The AFC and NFC Champions will be decided. For the first time in nine years, the Super Bowl will not include a Manning, a Brady or a Roethlisberger.

It will, however, include a Koch and a Cox.

I'm 34 and names like that still make me laugh.

Two brothers will be coaching against each other in the Super Bowl. Social media will be awash in lines such as: "first time two brothers will coach against each other since Tony Dungy's Colts faced Lovie Smith's Bears" or "it'll be nice to see two brothers coaching against each other, since there won't be any brothers in the NFL next season."

This is funny not funny because of this.

But you know what will be funny? The Harbaugh's Fourth of July Family get-together. It will be the greatest video never recorded. Think about it! The family will want to congratulate the winner, but you can't congratulate too much because the loser is sitting right down there at the end of the table. Plus they'll want to sympathize with the loser, but how awkward would that be for both brothers? Moreover, the loser won't want to seem like a whiner and the winner won't want to seem like a gloater and the family won't want to be overly happy for one and/or overly sad for the other...then, to add another wrinkle, what if Indiana men's basketball doesn't make it to even the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament? Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean is married to Jim and John's sister...so now you have the family congratulating one brother (but not too much) while sympathizing with the other brother (but not too much) while pretty much ignoring the brother-in-law (but not too much)...WHY IS ESPN NOT DOING A PREEMPTIVE 30-FOR-30 ON THIS?!?!

On the plus side, the Har-bowl will take some of the spotlight off the Ray Lewis Retirement Tour.

In a story NOBODY saw coming, Jim Caldwell will get back to the Super Bowl before Peyton Manning.

In the championship games, the higher seeds...will both lose. The teams with home field advantage...will both lose. The teams that hold halftime leads...will both lose. The teams that connect on field goals...will both lose.

When in doubt, blame the kickers. Except not David Akers. That guy can't miss!

Prior to the Championship games, John and Jim Harbaugh will each remember a lesson they learned from their father, Jack, who once told them, "boys, if you're ever coaching in the NFL, and you get to the AFC or NFC Championship game, this is what you must do: do not score in the first quarter. Score seven points each in two of the quarters and 14 in the other quarter. Finish the game with 28 points. Trail at halftime. Do not make a field goal."

Mission accomplished, dad.

The 49ers, Falcons and Ravens will all score more points in one quarter than the Patriots will in the entire game. This would only be awkward if New England led the NFL in yards per game and scoring during the regular season.

After the game, Bill Belichick will say this: "We gave up too many points and didn’t score enough."

That's why he's a football genius, ladies and gentlemen. 

Colin Kaepernick will attempt to redefine flexing as "Kaepernicking."

Pretty sure football has reached its allotment of [insert last name here]-ing, with Tebow-ing and Te'o-ing. Plus, you can't take something that already has a name and rename it to your name simply because you do it once or twice. Otherwise, annoying people by channel surfing so as to avoid commercials and missing parts of the show you were watching because you didn't flip back in time would be called RL-ing.

Roger Goodell will shamelessly attempt to make Saints fans love him by reinstating Sean Payton less than two weeks before the Super Bowl, which will take place in....New Orleans.

George W. Bush will be heard telling Roger Goodell: "Goody, you're doing a heck of a job."

It will be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Beyonce is a real fraud. No, Beyonce is fraudulently real. No, Beyonce is just a singer and WHO CARES IF SHE LIPSYNCS TO HER OWN PRERECORDED TRACK OR NOT.

Fans will be clamoring for Beyonce to sing herself during the Super Bowl halftime show, rather than lipsyncing to a pre-recorded track.

Yeah, good luck with that. To the fans AND Beyonce.

For once, Kim Kardashian will be able to say she is more real than Beyonce.

That is a sad state of affairs. For all of us AND Beyonce.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Full Manti

This post was supposed to be about the NFL Playoffs (remember them?). It was going to be an eloquent piece about how I went into the playoffs rooting for Peyton Manning but then got invited to the Ray Lewis Retirement party; how I was sure that Green Bay was going to the Super Bowl but then I thought a New England - San Francisco game would be amazing (except that my wife doesn't want Jim Harbaugh anywhere near SB XLVII and neither do I).

But then Wednesday afternoon happened. Deadspin went hogwild on the Manti Te'o girlfriend-died-of-leukemia-and-I'm-playing-for-her story and tore it to shreds. By about 6pm on Wednesday, every major magazine/newspaper/website had the story and twitter had been Te'o-ed.

Here are a few of the happy people at 6:30pm on Wednesday: Notre Dame haters (let's talk about Manti Te'o and Notre Dame!) and Lance Armstrong (please talk about Mani Te'o and Notre Dame!)

Here are a few of the unhappy people at 6:30pm on Wednesday: Manti Te'o (for obvious reasons), Notre Dame (again, obvious reasons), Notre Dame fans (do I really have to say it again?), President Obama (wait, what about my gun regulations?), Oprah Winfrey (wait, what about my interview with Lance Armstrong?).

But it was too late. The Deadspin Te'o story, as extraordinary and unbelievable as it was, had become an avalanche.

The story about Te'o's girlfriend was that he met her last year during the Notre Dame-Stanford game, they began an online/over the phone relationship, she was hit by a car, no she had leukemia, no she was hit by a car and then in the hospital the doctors discovered she had leukemia, Te'o would spend hours with her on the phone while she was in the hospital, but then she succumbed and passed away in September, around the same time he found out his grandmother had passed away (nobody really sure which came first - as Deadspin points out, conflicting reports here). The grandmother part of the story is true. The girlfriend part - all of it - is false. She never existed.

The way Notre Dame and Te'o spin it, he was the victim of a malicious hoax, a kind of catfish, which apparently is now a term. I honestly don't know if I used it correctly.

Notre Dame released a statement saying it had found out Te'o's girlfriend never existed on Dec. 26, that the linebacker was the victim of a hoax, but that it was his story to tell, not the school's. Te'o claimed that he never actually met this girl (whose name was Lennay Kekua), that their relationship was over the phone and online. Te'o's parents stated in September that Kekua had visited Te'o in Hawaii on occasion, but perhaps she never actually showed up to any of their rendezvous.

According to the various media reports, Te'o and Kekua met after the Notre Dame-Stanford game in November of 2009 and exchanged digits. They were friends for a few years, she would travel to Hawaii to visit him from time to time, and then in early 2012 they became a couple. She was then involved in a car crash...at some point (as Deadspin points out, conflicting reports here), diagnosed with leukemia and passed away in September. But Deadspin also puts a pin in that bubble, showing how Te'o and Kekua actually met over twitter in October of 2011 and became a couple in January 2012.

Ok so let's say that Te'o, in fact, never met Kekua. Let's say that he saw some girl after the ND-Stanford game, he was attracted to her but he never actually got a chance to speak to her, and somehow they connected when he was back in South Bend and they became close friends and eventually a couple. Let's say he met some girl over twitter in October of 2011, they exchanged email address/phone numbers and then became close friends and eventually a couple.

Either way, online/phone relationships do happen. I should know, because that's how I fell in love with my (now) wife. We knew of each other, but had never actually met, when I was in San Francisco and she was in DC. We struck up a conversation over AIM (remember that? me either.), which then progressed to phone conversations, which then progressed to meeting each other, which then progressed to now. I was lucky though - my wife actually exists.

But one issue (of many) is that two and a half years is a long time to go without ever meeting, especially when your dad is telling reporters that Te'o and Kekua met at various times in Hawaii. Wouldn't you have told your dad if you had been stood up by this person that you are apparently so close to?

There are so many issues and just not enough time. Just search "Manti Te'o" or #MantiTeo on twitter and you'll get all the questions you desire, and some you'd probably rather have never seen. But one issue I would like to mention is the fact that Notre Dame sat on this story for almost a month. I understand that the school felt it was Te'o's story to tell, but shouldn't they have advised him to stay in front of the story?

My suggestion would have been for Notre Dame to put out a short release, maybe a paragraph long, that says something to the effect of: "It has come to our attention that Manti Te'o was the victim of an awful hoax regarding his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua. We believe that someone played a cruel joke on Manti by creating and then pretending to be Lennay. Notre Dame is investigating the matter." You then release the story on Monday, Jan. 7, at about 3pm. Oh, is that the day of the BCS Championship? Never even occurred to me. (In fact, Notre Dame put out basically that release, but only after the Deadspin article came out.)

Had the school put out a statement on the day of the championship, the story would have had about five hours to go around the interwebs. Once the game starts, doesn't that become the story? If Notre Dame wins, Te'o can simply say, "yes I was the victim of a hoax, it's very sad that people feel the need to do things like this, but right now I'm just thinking about my teammates, coaches and fans." If Notre Dame loses, Te'o can simply say, "yes I was the victim of a hoax, it's very sad that people feel the need to do things like this, but right now I'm just thinking about my teammates, coaches and fans." (In fact, that's basically what Te'o said in response to the Deadspin article.)

Te'o might very well be innocent in all of this. Perhaps he really is the victim of an awful hoax that went on for almost three years. According to the Deadspin article, the man behind the hoax, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, also played the same practical joke on other people before going after Te'o. But with so many inconsistencies in Te'o's story, many feel that he was involved somehow. But then the issue becomes motive - why would he do that? The theory goes that Te'o wanted to get himself more publicity, wanted to be placed among the pantheon of former Notre Dame football players, but is that enough of a reason to continually lie about a fake girlfriend? Did he want the Heisman Trophy that badly that he thought having a fake dead girlfriend would help him win? Was he so embarrassed that he had never actually met his girlfriend that he kept going with the story to save face?

Unfortunately, I'm sure we'll never find out the real story. Te'o is reportedly going to be interviewed by ESPN, but we probably won't find out the truth, the hoax truth and nothing but the truth until he goes on Oprah. Hey look, she's smiling again!

IN CLOSING
Not to make the story about me, but I would like to point out that I beat professional funny man Michael Schur to a joke. You may have seen his name in such shows as Saturday Night Live, The Office and Parks and Recreation.

Here's my tweet, posted at 4:59pm ET.



Here's his tweet, posted at 5:55pm ET.



ALMOST ONE HOUR DIFFERENCE.

That means I win. And I don't want to hear the whole, "he has 61,608 followers, you have 40" spin. Seriously, I don't want to hear it. Please stop pointing it out. It makes me sad.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Balls Of Gold

I’ll admit it – I was hoping the Texans-Patriots game would end before the Golden Globes kicked off. There was even a part of me that was a little bummed I missed the red carpets, because who doesn’t like looking at pretty ladies and handsome gentlemen all decked out and then making fun of every little thing that they do? So when the Patriots wrapped up their berth to the AFC Championship at 6:55 pm, I waited a beat so that I could seem manly, then switched over to NBC.

In what amounts to be a direct rip off of Bill Simmons’ Draft Diaries, here is my Golden Globes, umm, Journal. Get ready for a healthy dose of snark.

7:59 pm (ET) The Today show folk are getting their final thoughts in as the voice-in-the-background guy counts us down to the beginning of the Globes. Matt Lauer essentially has to shout to be heard over the voice-in-the-background guy. “I wonder if they know that we can hear that guy,” says my wife. Ever the professional, Lauer counts down the final five seconds with voice-in-the-background guy. This is already a fun show.

8:00 pm (ET) Amy Poehler and Tina Fey come out, and they look great. You don’t think Poehler looking awesome has anything to do with her recent breakup with Will Arnett, do you? For that matter, Arnett looks pretty good too lately. Nah, probably a coincidence.

8:03 pm (ET) Poehler with a zinger about Kathryn Bigelow’s marriage to James Cameron. Joaquim Phoenix looks like he doesn’t get it. He also looks like he doesn’t know where he is.

8:04 pm (ET) Cut to Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, then a strange cut to Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster. Are we supposed to look at Gibson and Foster as a happy couple? For that matter, with all the flack that Gibson gets for his anti-Jewish rants, shouldn’t Foster and Robert Downey, Jr. get some of the shrapnel? I think it’s great to give people second (or third, or fourth) chances, but it certainly doesn’t appear that Gibson feels he has ever done any wrong and it makes Foster/Downey Jr. look like they are as blind to Gibson’s issues as he is.

8:05 pm (ET) Back to fun and tomfoolery. Fey and Poehler are already better than Anne Hathaway and James Franco. And they just made sure to point that out.

8:08 pm (ET) Fey and Poehler  make a joke about Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays along. Who knew he had a sense of humor?!

8:12 pm (ET) Kerry Washington gets as close to a Golden Globe as she ever will, accepting on Maggie Smith’s behalf.

8:19 pm (ET) With all these great actors on the stage as Game Chance gets an award, the only one I focus on is the smallest one. Boy, Doyle from Gilmore Girls is short. Like, really small. He actually co-wrote Game Change. Also, I just found out his real name is Danny Strong.

8:20 pm (ET) Hey Game Change guy: leave the jokes to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Actually, anyone who’s not a professional comedian – leave the jokes at home. It’s just embarrassing for the rest of us. And not Michael Scott embarrassing that makes us laugh. Just embarrassing.

8:22 pm (ET) Julianne Moore makes an inside joke that falls predictably flat, as she is the only one who gets it. She then gets music-ed off the stage. Which is BS. The Game Change guy got at least two more minutes.

8:29 pm (ET) Good move bringing out the Hollywood Foreign Press President on the early side of the broadcast. Usually they bring the presidents out near the end in what amounts to a “time to not pay attention for a few minutes.” And she’s funny!! That’s also a first.

8:35 pm (ET) Either Salma Hayek and Paul Rudd decided to go on strike for a bigger pay day or there was a malfunction with the teleprompter. So finally someone just starts showing clips of TV Series – Drama. Good thing Rudd is so damn likeable (and Hayek is so damn hot) – they totally pull it off!

By the way, if 10 years ago I told you that Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was going to co-star in a series of commercials with Paul Rudd, and was actually going to come out being as likeable as Rudd, you would have laughed me out of the room.

8:41 pm (ET) A promo for NBC’s Deception comes on. Or as I like to call it, ABC’s Revenge but on NBC. God Bless the originality of Hollywood!

8:42 pm (ET) Tony Mendez can break Americans out of Iran but he can’t handle talking to a group of Hollywood people. And apparently he has never used a microphone before in his life. That was cool to see him, but painful to watch.

8:45 pm (ET) Anyone else think that Jason Statham was hitting on J Lo? Not cool, bro. Plus, she only goes for guys 20 years younger who dance.

8:47 pm (ET) No surprise, the music guy gets music-ed off. Know your place bro.

8:48 pm (ET) If Adele doesn’t win best song, I give up on the Hollywood Press. She wins! And then her accent promptly makes me think that she should totally say, “ello, guvnor.”

8:52 pm (ET) For the third time, the Sophie Vergara-Diet Pepsi-Wedding commercial plays. That’s about three times too many.

8:54 pm (ET) Keifer Sutherland and Jessica Alba come out to present. I feel like the announcer should say, “One is a Golden Globe nominee. The other is hot. You decided which title belongs to which actor.”

8:56 At one point, they should have Fey/Poehler win the award as their character. It’s a funny bit though. Well played, ladies. Well played.

8:58 pm (ET) Kevin Costner thanks people from Romania. I would have gone with Norway.

9:00 pm (ET) Bill Clinton comes out to present Lincoln. He gets a standing ovation. He is then upstaged by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Fey’s “Bill Rodham Clinton” goes completely unnoticed by the room.

9:02 pm (ET) Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig are awesome. It really makes a difference to have people with experience performing live on stage. Tommy Lee Jones is not impressed. McKayla Maroney – you’ve been served.

9:06 pm (ET) Jennifer Lawrence (heretofore known as J-Law) has a great acceptance speech. In a few weeks, when we find out Bradley Cooper is dating J-Law, he will officially join the "guys I want to hate but can't because they seem cool" club.

I hate those guys.

9:12 pm (ET) Jamie Foxx comes out. Who else thought he was going to say a certain word? Tarantino, of course. What did you think I meant?

9:18 pm (ET) Fourth time for the Sofia Vergara-Diet Pepsi-Wedding commercial. Oh, now I get it!

9:21 pm (ET) Robert Pattinson seems as boring in person as he does in his movies.

9:24 pm (ET) Quentin Tarantino wins for Best Writer. He says the N word exactly zero times.

9:26 pm (ET) We go from Tarantino to Jeremy Irons. My head is spinning.

9:27 pm (ET) How many kids is Lucy Liu hiding under her dress?

9:32 pm (ET) Stallone and Schwarzenegger present best foreign film. The winner, some guy from Austria, is easier to understand than either of them.

9:35 pm (ET) Claire Danes has the crazy eyes.

9:45 pm (ET) Brave wins best animated. The director wraps up his speech thisclose to getting music-ed off.

9:52 pm (ET) Pretty sure that’s the first time Lena Dunham has ever walked in heels.

9:53 pm (ET) Lena Dunham starts her speech by calling Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Zooey Deschanel old. I mean the first three, sure, but Zooey Deschanel is like my age!

9:58 pm (ET) Tina Fey with an awesome zinger about Taylor Swift. Poehler and Fey not pulling punches, which I enjoy. What I do not enjoy, is that we do not get to see Taylor Swift’s reaction to said joke. Damn you, NBC!

10:00 pm (ET) I didn’t get Robert Downey Jr.’s hamster joke. I’m guessing most of the room didn’t either.

10:05 pm (ET) I think Jodie Foster had the same stuff that Robert Downey, Jr. did. What did they put in those hamsters?!

10:09 Mel Gibson looks as confused as the rest of us.

10:12 Jodie Foster wraps up. I’m sure her speech was meaningful and powerful, but I didn’t get a word of it. I feel dumb, smart, weird, normal, refreshed and exhausted all at the same time.

My assumption was that Foster was basically saying her life has been a reality show since she got into showbiz, and that it's a very lonely existence. Which certainly went over well with the Hollywood crowd, but  left us "normal" folk (i.e. the fans) a little confused. I mean, isn't fame part of the showbiz lifestyle? And didn't you choose to go into showbiz? I get that it must be hard to have your every action photographed and plastered over tabloids/newspapers/websites, but I'm guessing people who are living paycheck to paycheck would welcome dealing with paparazzi if it meant they were set financially. And besides, when is the last time we saw Jodie Foster in any tabloid/newspaper/website? Other than today, which is a direct result of her speech at the Golden Globes. My head is spinning again.

I saw that people are upset with Foster did not straight out saying, "I am gay." Which also confused me, because I thought it was a universally known fact that she was gay. Does she really need to
tell us what we already know? And if she's feeling so lonely, maybe she should open up about her life, let us all in a little bit. We've been fans of yours for a long time, Jodie. We won't bite. I promise.

10:17 pm (ET) I actually pumped my fist when Ben Affleck was named Best Director. What a great movie Argo was. I would like to ask the Hollywood gods to make sure that Affleck and Garner stay together. They seem like a normal couple, which is rare even for normal couples.

10:18 pm (ET) The troops are mentioned for the first time tonight. Who’s directing this thing, Mitt Romney?!

10:21 pm (ET) I see Fallon and Leno, and I'm reminded of Jimmy Kimmel’s joke: "you know, Jay Leno used to be a comedian!” I know the networks use these award shows to pump their own shows/actors, but couldn’t they have just used Fallon? He, unlike Jay, is actually funny.

10:22 pm (ET) Oh good, Lena Dunham gets another chance to practice walking in heels.

10:23 pm (ET) Me: Who is that behind Lena Dunham? Looks like a younger Amanda Peet.

My wife: Oh that’s Brian Williams’ daughter.

Me: Oh. How about that.

10:26 pm (ET) Fifth time they are showing the Sofia Vergara-Diet Pepsi-Wedding commercial. Nope, I was wrong. I don’t get it at all.

10:29 pm (ET) Christian Bale comes out to present Silver Linings Playbook. I wonder if he knows he’s referring to American football, and not, you know, footie football.

10:31 pm (ET) I gotta say, Hugh Jackman does a great Australian accent.

10:35 pm (ET) It occurs to me that since the opening of the show, we’ve only seen Tina Fey and Amy Poehler a handful of times. Which is a kush gig for them, but a bummer for us.

10:36 pm (ET)The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas has an ad with models taking pictures with a bunch of puppies and kitties and bunnies. Then a model takes a bunny and puts it outside the hotel, and the tagline is “just the right amount of wrong.” So did that one bunny make it the wrong amount of wrong? I’m very confused.

10:38 pm (ET) Jeremy Renner is dreamy. Oh wait is this thing on?

10:39 pm (ET) Jeremy Renner swears. Mel Gibson looks confused again.

10:39:30 It occurs to me that the presenters for Best Film are actors who previously worked with the nominees’ directors. Jeremy Renner – Kathryn Bigelow – Hurt Locker. Christian Bale – David O. Russell – The Fighter. Liev Schreiber – Ang Lee – Taking Woodstock. The only two that did not work with the director in question was Bill Clinton (duh) for Steven Spielberg, and Josh Brolin and Wes Anderson. And yes, I just spent 15 minutes searching IMDB to see which movie Brolin worked on that Anderson directed.

10:40 pm (ET) Of the five movies nominated for Best Comedy-Musical, are any of them actually a comedy? I feel like Les Mis won simply because it’s the only movie that qualifies as either a musical or a comedy. All the other movies seem more like dramas with funny elements. The HFPA should really look into that.

10:43 pm (ET) My dog is running in his sleep. I wonder if you can burn calories that way? If so, sign me up for that!

10:45 pm (ET) An ad for Silver Linings Playbook comes on, featuring a number of scenes with Bradley Cooper and J-Law face to face. My thought: boy I hope both of them have good breath when filming those scenes.

10:47 pm (ET) My dog just farted. He is the king of SBDs.

10:49 pm (ET) KATHRYN BIGELOW IS 61 YEARS OLD. MIND – BLOWN.

10:50 pm (ET) George Clooney is announcing the Best Actor nominations. The look on Denzel's face said: "I know I'm not winning let's get this stupid thing over with."

10:52 pm (ET) Daniel Day-Lewis is getting music-ed off. I give up.

10:54 pm (ET) Number six for Sofia Vergara-Diet Pepsi-Wedding commercial. I was hoping for the Golden Globes orchestra to music the commercial off, but no such luck.

10:57 pm (ET) Argo wins in an upset over Lincoln! Argo is the Butler of the Golden Globes, if Hayward's shot had gone in.

10:59 pm (ET) Is this the first awards show that finished before 11pm? I guess there was a method to the orchestra’s madness. Well played, music-off director. Well played.

11:00 pm (ET) Seth MacFarlane has some big shoes to live up to. Well actually some small shoes, but there are two pairs, so that makes them big. Either way, the bar has been set Seth – make sure you bring your A game to the Oscars.

CORRECTION
My father out-pop-cultured me and pointed out that Ben Affleck's wife is in fact, Jennifer Garner, and not Amy Garner. No idea where Amy came from. I blame Jodie Foster's speech (which didn't occur until after I wrote that particular comment, but still).

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Post-NFL Wildcard Weekend Predictions, Episode V (-4)

Game-by-game predictions made prior to the NFL Wildcard Weekend based on the results of those games

Minnesota-Green Bay
NBC will delay the announcement as long as possible, but eventually will realize that 99.9% of the football watching population already knows and will finally tell said 99.9% of the football population what it already knows, that Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder will not start against the Packers and will be replaced by Joe Webb. You remember Joe Webb, the guy who has thrown for 853 yards in 17 regular season games, with a 57.9 completion percentage, three touchdowns and five interceptions? Yeah, that guy.

Tony Dungy, who works for NBC (not many know this), will immediately spin the injury as a boon for the Vikings, that Webb presents difficult matchup problems for the Packers, almost going as far as to say that the Vikings are better off with Webb than with Ponder.

You remember Webb, the guy who has thrown for 853 yards in 17 regular season games, with a 57.9 completion percentage, three touchdowns and five interceptions? Yeah, that guy.

Dungy will do his best to over-sell Webb so that viewers won't give up on watching the game that held the most promise going into Wildcard Weekend (hence the 8pm Saturday night primetime slot). Five minutes in, Dungy will look like a genius, as Webb and Peterson will matriculate the ball down the field, ending with a Vikings field goal and a 3-0 lead. But eventually, Joe Webb will prove to be the guy who averaged 50.2 yards per game in his regular season career, Aaron Rodgers will prove why run when you can throw and the Packers will win a game that will appear closer than it really was.

I know everyone loves the backup quarterback. He's everyone's favorite player. He's never let you down, he's never thrown a dumb interception in the end zone, he's never stepped out of bounds in the back of the end zone even though there were no defenders anywhere near him. But here's the thing: THERE'S A REASON HE'S THE BACKUP QUARTERBACK.

Do you think the Vikings coaches started Ponder for the entire season because they hate themselves? They started him because they felt he was the quarterback who gave their team the best chance to win (note: I did not say "'better' quarterback").

To put it succinctly, Adrian Peterson ran for 399 yards and two touchdowns in the two games against the Packers with Ponder. With Webb, however, Peterson ran for 99 yards.

You remember Webb, the guy who went 11-of-30 for 180 yards and a meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown in the Wildcard round of the playoffs?

Yeah, that guy.

Post-NFL Wildcard Weekend Predictions: Episode XVLMNOP

Game-by-game predictions made prior to the NFL Wildcard Weekend based on the results of those games

Indianapolis-Baltimore
Before the Ravens' game against Indy, Roger Goodell will greet Ray Lewis and congratulate him on his impending retirement. They will share a long embrace while having a short conversation. Luckily, our lip readers will be able to catch every word.

Which is more than we can say for Lewis, who won't even be able to catch a football that will hit him right in his arms. And I don't want to hear that "I am coming back from a torn tricep and now I'm wearing Robocop on my arm" excuse.

Roger: Ray, congratulations on an amazing career.
Ray: Thanks, Commish.
Roger: Ray, I need your help.
Ray: Um, ok.
Roger: All the other players are being really mean to me.
Ray: Ok...
Roger: They keep talking about me behind my back.
Ray: Only sometim-
Roger: They are saying really unfair things, like that I don't really care about them.
Ray: Well-
Roger: So will you be my friend?
Ray: What?
Roger: If I can tell people you're my friend, they'll like me again!
Ray: ...
Roger: And you can tell people that you're my friend and that I'm cool, and then everyone will like me again!
Ray: I dunno...
Roger: Puh-leeese?! I'll give you an exclusive interview next year for your gig on ESPN!
Ray: Promise?
Roger: Swear on Paul Tagliabue's grave!
Ray: Wait a min-
Roger: Thanks Ray, byee!

Post-NFL Wildcard Weekend Predictions, Episode XVI

Game-by-game predictions made prior to the NFL Wildcard Weekend based on the results of those games

Cincinnati-Houston
Four games will take place over the weekend.

Minnesota-Green Bay will feature a rematch of last week's great game that saw the Vikings win to clinch a playoff berth, along with the greatest running back probably ever and one of the top-five quarterbacks in the league*.

*NOT Christian Ponder. Or Joe Webb.

Indianapolis-Baltimore will feature the return of a great player for his retirement tour, a rookie quarterback and a coach that has come back from cancer to lead his team into the playoffs

Seattle-Washington will feature a pair of rookie quarterbacks, a pair of tough running backs and a pair of tough defenses.

Cincinnati-Houston will feature, umm, will feature, wait hold on it will come to me, will feature...a rematch of last year's playoff game!

I think that will be about it.

The NFL will do a good job of scheduling, putting the game that is sure to be the most boring in front of the game that is sure to be very exciting.

Will anyone watch the Bengals-Texans game all the way through? Or will you simply have it on in the background as you're going about your day, looking forward to the football game coming up at 8pm only to remember, "oh yeah, there's a football game on right now, I should go check the score."

With the Patriots looming to face the winner, and with everyone already jacked up for a New England-Denver AFC Championship game, will anyone even care about the outcome between Cincinnati and Houston?

Besides, you know, Cincinnati and Houston?

I guess this game will be the red-headed stepchild* of the weekend. Sure we'll pay some attention to you, but we know, and you know, and we know you know, you won't be our favorite.

*This is no way a reference to Andy Dalton. Just a coincidence. I swear.

Post-NFL Wildcard Predictions: Episode &%#@

Game-by-game predictions made prior to the NFL Wildcard Weekend based on the results of those games

Seattle-Washington
Three rookies will enter the weekend trying to advance to the Divisional round. Only one will move on.

There can be only one, third rounder.

The Seahawks and Redskins will prove that football is indeed a game of runs, as Washington will open with a 14-0 run and Seattle will close with a 24-0 run.

Advantage, Seahawks.

After the game, no one will be talking about Seattle's defense, or Russell Wilson, or even Skittles. No, the focus will be on RGIII's knee, and whether or not he kneeded to be playing.

Too easy? Yeah, you're probably right.

The story will become a he said-he said-he said between Mike Shanahan, RGIII and team doctor James Andrews. Except the story won't focus on the injury RGIII suffered during Seahawks' game. It will be about the injury he sustained against the Ravens. On Dec. 9. And whether or not Andrews gave RGIII the ok to get back in the game after he hit his knee against the Ravens' Haloti Ngata late in the fourth.

Seattle's Chris Clemons will be like, "I suffered an ACL injury against the Redskins. Four days ago. What's a guy gotta do to get noticed around here?!"

Wilson will throw a "block" on the game-clinching touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch, proving once and for all that quarterbacks under six feet can still "block."

Interestingly enough, the majority of NFL fans would like to see the two wildcards in the NFC Championship (Seattle-Green Bay) but the top two seeds in the AFC Championship (New England-Denver).

The week of football will feature a pair of shoves: first Washington offensive lineman Trent Williams on Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (after the game), then Alabama center Barrett Jones on Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron (during the national championship against Notre Dame).

That hit on McCarron will be the most pressure he will see all night.

Zing!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ads by Subtraction

I had high hopes for the 2013 Sugar Bowl. I, just like the Florida Gators, took Louisville too lightly. I was actually nervous because I wasn't feeling nervous at all before the game, but I guess in retrospect I was right to feel nervous even though I was feeling nervous for all the wrong reasons. After realizing early on that this was not going to be the Gators' night, I decided that instead of just watching the 2013 Sugar Bowl (as apparently the Florida Gators were doing), I would make use of my time by studying the commercials. What, you thought I was going to do something productive?

Right off the bat, we have our usual car commercials, beer commercials, cell phone commercials, etc. But here are the ones that stood out, for reasons good or bad.

We kick things off with the All State "mayhem like me" guy, aka Dean Winters, who is now playing a pregnant mom who is commanding her husband to drive through traffic like a lunatic, for the sake of the baby. Winters has also appeared in such shows as Rescue Me, Oz, 30 Rock and Up All Night. One of these shows is not like the others...

The All State commercials with the guys who suddenly speak with the Pedro Cerrano's voice are pretty standard. They attempt to be humorous and mostly come off as harmless. But every time I see one I think: is Dennis Haysbert the new James Earl Jones, with one of the most distinctive, deep voices around? Would Haysbert be the voice of Darth Vader if Star Wars was made today? Will Haysbert ever act in another TV show/movie again or is he happy doing these commercials?

According to IMDB, Haysbert has done mostly voice-over work since The Unit ended, but he has five movies coming out in the works, including a comedy with Jean-Claude Van Damme and a basketball drama with Chris Brown. So there's that.

I have a question about the Taco Bell commercial where the guy brings home an appetizer just for him instead of partaking in chicken wings with his roommates: doesn't that guy look like the biggest d-bag of all time? I would totally go for the chicken wings with the roommates! Doesn't it look like fun? They're hanging out, having a good time, and then there's that tool in the corner eating by himself. Heck, they were even nice enough to ask if he wanted any, and he declined, but did he offer any of his Taco Bell to them? No! I feel like Taco Bell is on its way to a new slogan: Taco Bell: So You Can Eat Alone.

Those AT&T commercials with the guy being sarcastic and a bit of a jerk with the kids are pretty lame. The only one with any redeeming value is the "doing two things at once" commercial, which apparently is called "It's Not Complicated." Makes me laugh every time the guy interrupts the girl and says "hold on, I'm watching this." Did they just stick that guy in a room with kids and tell him to be sarcastic and a jerk?

DirecTV usually has pretty good commercials. Not that they've ever pushed me into getting DirecTV (we looked into it once, but apparently a leaf blocked the satellite and on to cable we went). But I've never been disgusted by DirecTV commercials. The commercials that showed the cause and effect of not having DirecTV, while not great, were at least passable. But these new spots, with the DVR box taking up room in the couple's house, are pretty terrible. The guy completely out-douches even the douche from the Taco Bell commercial. Which I guess DirecTV realized, because now the commercial has more of a Family Guy element to it, that of a flashback to something ridiculous that the person is reminded of while dealing with the happiness or sadness of having or not having DirecTV. Still not getting it, though. We still got leaves.

The first Tostitos commercial, with the restaurant reviewer showing up in the guy's apartment because he has Tostitos chips and salsa, was ok. The following commercials, leading up to the one where the girlfriend comes back home to find out that the apartment is now a restaurant, are mildly amusing. But it took me until watching the commercial on youtube to realize that the spot is about Tostitos Cantina, rather than plain Tostitos. ADD says "what's that?"

Dear Bud Light,

Enough with the Pit Bull commercial. It's terrible. And dumb. It's obvious that he is not listening to his own song when he is "dancing" on stage. Plus his song is horrible. And dumb. It makes me weep for music today.

Sincerely,

Everyone

P.S. Hey Dr. Pepper, do you really think guys feel more manly because they drink something with 10 calories as opposed to zero? I mean, Really? "I was feeling like a bit of a wuss drinking this diet soda, but now that I'm drinking a soda with 10 calories, I feel like a real man!"

P.P.S. Also Dr. Pepper, you know who drinks a soda after a work out? People who are not professional athletes. I.E. not Mikaela Mayer. It's a good premise - the whole "I'm one of a kind, doing what I love not what's expected of me," etc. But how about finishing it with something other than drinking a soda? Because then we're doing what's expected of us, and we're not one of a kind, thus going against everything we saw in the previous 29 seconds.

Two final thoughts on the commercials:

1) did Wendy's replace Wendy with a different Wendy?

b) do actual voice-over actors pitch fits when they hear Robert Downey Jr.'s voice on Nissan commercials, Jeff Daniels on Apple commercials and Tim Allen on Chevy commercials? Well, maybe not Allen - he at least needs the work. But Downey Jr. and Daniels? Really? Making gazillions of dollars in Iron Man movies and speed-talking through an Aaron Sorkin script aren't enough for you guys that you have to take money from hard-working folk who spend hours a month talking into a microphone for a living?

For shame, Downey Jr. and Daniels. For shame.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Reid is Fundamental(ly Flawed)

Can someone explain to me what Andy Reid brings to the table that makes him such a valued commodity? Teams are lining up for his services but what I really feel that they are lining up for is disappointment and heartbreak.

Andy Reid is, and always has been, a decent coach. Sometimes even a good coach. He's never been a great coach. He has a good record (130-93), but almost half of his career wins (59) came during a five-year stretch...eight years ago. In his past eight seasons, Reid has averaged 8.3 wins per year (66 total).

It's not as though he's been stellar in the postseason (career record: 10-9). He's certainly had talented teams, some might even say Dream Teams, even if some of his players were head cases.

So what is it about Reid that is making these teams act like they're hiring the next Belichick? Is it his steadiness, the fact that he rarely makes waves one way or the other? Are all these teams so desperate for any kind of success that they are willing to give up their Super Bowl aspirations for a chance at consistent decency?

Yes. Yes they are.

Well then kudos, team-that-will-average-eight-wins-a-year-for-the-next-five-years. You might make the playoffs here or there, you may even win a game or two in the postseason, but you'll never be great.

After the crap seasons you've had recently, I guess that's pretty good. Or at least good enough.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Post-NFL Week 17 Predictions

Predictions made prior to the NFL Week 17 based on the results of those games

Five teams will enter week 17 fighting for two playoff spots.

In true Giants fashion, they will dismantle the Eagles, remind their fans and the rest of the NFL how good they can be, and promptly miss out on the postseason.

The Giants playoff hopes will come down to the game between the Lions and the Bears.

There's a joke about the Wizard of Oz here, somewhere.

Roger Goodell's nefarious plan to make us pay attention to the NFC North will come to fruition, as FOX will carry Eagles-Giants, then Bears-Lions, and finally Packers-Vikings.

I've got it! Roger Goodell turned down the lead role in Oz: The Great and Powerful because he felt he was being typecast.

So to recap:

The Bears will eliminate the Giants (from the playoffs) with a win over the Lions

The Vikings will eliminate the Bears (from the playoffs) and Love Smith (from his job) with a win over the Packers.

Tony Romo will eliminate the Cowboys (from the playoffs) and himself (from any notion that he is a clutch player) with three INTs in a loss to the Redskins, including the game-ender with three minutes remaining.

On the plus side, the Redskins will name Romo co-MVP, along with Alfred Morris, of their win over Dallas.

We've missed you, fourth-quarter Tony. Good to have you back.

RGIII will make it 3-for-3 for rookie quarterbacks winning on the final weekend of the NFL season and making the playoffs, joining Andrew Luck (Indy) and Russell Wilson (Seattle).

One of those three rookies will tie Peyton Manning's rookie mark of 26 passing TDs. It's not the one you think.

I'll give you a hint. It's Russell Wilson.

Somewhere in Seattle, Matt Flynn is thinking, "I knew I should have gone to Miami!"

The Dolphins will close out their season with a shutout loss to the Patriots.

Somewhere in Miami, Joe Philbin is thinking, "I knew I should have hidden Flynn in my trunk when I came to Miami!"

Adrian Peterson will finish thisclose to breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record. And by thisclose, I mean nine yards. Cue a slew of jokes about "the whole nine yards."

The Packers will finish as one of two teams that will not have a single 100-yard rusher the entire season. San Diego will be the other. Adrian Peterson by himself will finish with 10 100+-yard games.

Even Arizona, which will fire its coach and GM after a loss to the 49ers, will finish the season with two 100-yard games from LaRod Stephens-Howling, who will finish with a League-low 357 rushing yards.

The Packers' motto: If at first you don't succeed, pass, pass again.

The Jets and Bills seasons will result in one fired GM (Jets), one fired head coach (Bills), one fired offensive coordinator (Jets) and one new president (Bills).

Ladies and Gentlemen, your NY/NJ NFL AFC teams!

Two teams will come into week 17 in first-place in the AFC and NFC, respectively.

One will lose and drop to third-place. The other will lose and remain in first.

The NFL: Where Parity Happens.

The Falcons will become the first team to finish in first-place and be able to legitimately say, "nobody believes in us!"

Because, well, frankly, nobody believes in them.

The Bengals and Ravens will sit most of their starters in a game that Cincinnati will eventually win. In his attempt to regain "Toughest Commissioner" status from Roger Goodell (his term), aka "Worst Commissioner" (everyone else's term), David Stern will fine both teams.

In the process of their loss to the Panthers, the Saints will raise their season total to 7,042 yards allowed, breaking the old record of 6,793 (1981 Baltimore Colts).

Sean Payton, Joe Vitt, Mickey Loomis and Tom Benson will have to sit down when they hear that an anonymous Saints player has made a comment to the press. They will breathe more easily when they find out that the anonymous Saints player was simply saying that Steve Spagnuolo should be fired.

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will do Peyton Manning and Tom Brady things, and the entire NFL world will keep its fingers crossed for a Denver-New England AFC Championship.

If the Chargers and Raiders play a football game with zero point zero playoff implications, will anyone care?