Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Moose's Weekly Pick

Time for Moose's last pick of the year.  It was a great season; we learned a little bit, laughed a lot, and made some great friends along the way.  Now it has come down to Super Bowl 47 in the Big Easy.  For the first time in a long time, there was no easy side for me to root for in this Super Bowl.  Both the Ravens and the 49ers were about the last playoff teams I wanted to get this far.  Each team has just about an equal cast of characters that are worthy of the hatred of an average fan.  After some deliberation though, I have decided to support the 49ers.  Let's take a moment to break down what makes these teams so awful.

BALTIMORE RAVENS: If you are looking for a reason to hate the Ravens, look no further than their team leader Ray Lewis.  I can live with the fact that he was cleared of a double murder.  I can live with the fact that he is a scumbag with so many kids out of wedlock.  I can even live with the fact that he allegedly use deer antler spray to recover from his triceps tear this year.  What I can't live with is the fact that he is revered as such a great leader of men, yet whenever he opens his mouth he talks about himself.  After the AFC Championship, I am pretty sure he compared himself to God and only talked about how great his comeback was this year.  He is an example of how insane sports stars really are, and nothing would make me happier than to have his forced storybook ending be ruined. 

As for other dirtbags on the Ravens, you've got Terrell Suggs (who also came back mysteriously fast from a torn ACL) and Bernard "Bone Crusher" Pollard.  Suggs has no class or teeth, and Pollard is one of those guys who you hate unless he is on your team.  As for guys on the Ravens that you would want to root for, I guess John Harbaugh, Ray Rice and Matt Birk would fit that mold.  Maybe.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Ray Lewis' equal (though not even close) on the other side of the field would be Jim Harbaugh.  Having him win the Super Bowl in such a short coaching career could unleash a monster.  He throws a tantrum after every missed call, and likes to show up other coaches after the game.  He is a real squid.  Also scoring high on the unlikeable due to career brevity scale is Colin Kaepernick.  I think he is the epitome of a young punk, talks out of his ass in interviews, is overly confident, and looks like the kid in high school that everyone hated.  Believe me, I want these two guys to lose just as much as I want Ray Lewis to lose. 
The thing that throws my support to San Francisco is that they do have some genuinely good guys on their team.  You gotta feel for Alex Smith, and hope that somehow he can get in the game and win it for the 49ers.  Patrick Willis and Vernon Davis are also extremely hard working and talented guys.  They also both survived the Mike Singletary mooning days.  Then there is David Akers, who has been around forever and deserves a Super Bowl ring after enduring death threats this season (I thought only Philly fans were the bad ones?).  Finally, like him or not, I would love to see Randy Moss win a Super Bowl ring.  Though I don't agree that he is the best receiver ever, I think he has matured a lot over time and deserves a ring for his body of work in his career.

GAME BREAKDOWN: These teams are very similar in makeup; strong defenses, power running game and reliable receivers.

On offense, I think that the Ravens have a bit of an edge with Joe Flacco at QB, Boldin and Torrey Smith at wide receiver, and Ray Rice at running back.  The 49ers definitely have a better offensive line and tight ends though.  Overall, the edge goes to the Ravens.

On defense, the Ravens have been hampered by injuries all year but are finally healthy.  The 49ers have been a strong unit all season.  In this game, the 49ers have the edge in pass rush with Aldon and Justin Smith, and in run defense with Patrick Willis tackling everything he sees.  The Ravens have veteran experience with Ed Reed and Bone Crusher Pollard in the secondary, and have been able to control a lot offenses with their team speed in the past.  The thing the nudges me towards giving the 49ers the edge in this matchup though, is that they have been able to adapt to other offenses this season, just as they did with Atlanta two weeks ago.  Sometimes the Ravens just get caught up in a shootout, and therefore my defensive edge goes to the 49ers.

Special teams is a wash in my opinion.  The 49ers have the old shaky kicker in David Akers, but the Ravens have the hotshot rookie who's never been on this level before.  Both teams have great punters, but Andy Lee will punt for heaven's football team when he dies.  On return, both Ted Ginn and Jacoby Jones can take it all the way.  It's a tie.

THE FINAL CALL:  After the breakdown, you can see how close these two teams really are in skill.  I am going to take the 49ers (-3.5) in the game though.  The Ravens may have Super Bowl championship experience, but that was 12 freaking years ago.  The game has changed quite a bit since then.  The 49ers will adapt better during the game, Kaepernick will probably make at least one big play with his feet, and I don't know about you but I can see Flacco choking big time.  The 49ers take Super Bowl 47 by a score of 30-24.  There you have it, the last pick of the year.  Let's hope its a good one.

LAST WEEK: 1-0-1

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fishing for Stories

In the week or so since the Manti Te'o story broke, I have really had no strong response to the story either way.  I would imagine many others have felt the same way.  I needed to know more information before I could come to a conclusion, even if that conclusion was that there was no conclusion.  It just seemed like a weird story that presupposed a guilty party.  I still have no opinion on the story as it has been presented, but what I have begun to develop is a healthy distaste for the media.

I am usually a huge supporter of the website for how they continually lambaste ESPN for drumming up frenzies about stupid things, and only promoting their own agenda.  However, given time to react to this story they broke on Manti Te'o I can honestly say that Deadspin might want to take a look in the mirror.  They are becoming the network they despise.

I don't know anything about the writers at Deadspin, or how this story evolved, but it seems to me to have been broken in about the least professional manner possible.  The writer gathered some facts about a story they felt to be very damaging to Notre Dame and Manti Te'o, and before figuring out the entire story just decided to release it and make guesses as to what happened.  They did not know if Te'o was involved in the scandal, they did not know if any wrongdoing was done, they just had a couple of bits of information (albeit some very shocking) and decided they couldn't sit on the story any longer before breaking it.  In turn, what we get is a confusing and nonsensical story that has done nothing but embarrass a seemingly good person and leave the rest of us going "Heh?"  Can you see a respectable journalist acting in such a way?  Deadspin needs to stick to ESPN bashing if you ask me.  I'm always on board for that.

The Manti Te'o story opens a larger discussion of the role of the media in current times.  No longer is it acceptable to present facts in a unbiased fashion.  Every story must take a side, everything must have a spin, every journalist is looking to unravel a huge scandal.  Therefore, every hack writer is digging further and further into celebrity lives and it rears its ugly head with stories like this one.  There was a time when the media respected boundaries, and didn't publish things out of good taste (think JFK).  Nowadays, that is just not feasible any more with the amount of money being thrown around at a breaking story, and the speed at which information travels.

I don't think the power of the media will ever be checked due to such strong interest, and such big bucks involved.  However, it would be great to see a few more stories blow up in the face of these bloodthirsty reporters in the way that this Manti Te'o story has somewhat.  That might lead us to not believe everything we read or see on TV.  At least anything not from TPLIYP that is...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Buyer Beware

With the coach hiring and firing frenzy now pretty much over, I have had some time to do a little research on what makes a Super Bowl winning coach.  The results: I have no idea.  However, I can tell you there is abundant evidence on what doesn't make a Super Bowl winning coach; that is someone who has gotten to the Super Bowl elsewhere only to lose.  Teams out there might want to be a little bit wary of a coach with only a Super Bowl loss on his resume.  It rarely ever translates to any success later in his career.

Lovie Smith and Ken Whisenhunt have both taken the reigns of some lousy teams, gotten them back to respectability, and eventually gotten them to the Super Bowl (Whisenhunt in only his second year with the team).  With these credentials, it would seem like an NFL team like Buffalo, Jacksonville, or Kansas City (who hired the same kind of guy in Andy Reid) would be glad to have a coach like this.  That is true, unless your ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl.  In the Super Bowl era, only five coaches have lost their first Super Bowl, and then gone on to win one later.  Tom Landry (one year later), Don Shula (four years later), Hank Stram (three years later), Bill Cowher (10 years later), and Dick Vermeil (a whopping 19 years later) are the only coaches to ever have accomplished that feat.  This is pretty elite company if you ask me, and an owner or GM would really have to think highly of a coach to think he can join this circle.

Five coaches in 45 years?  That's not so bad you might say.  But let's take a look at the some of the other coaches that lost their first Super Bowl: Jim Caldwell, John Fox, Bill Callahan, Mike Martz, Jim Fassel, Dan Reeves, Bobby Ross, Jeff Fisher, and about five more from decades ago that wouldn't ring a bell with anyone.  Very few of these guys have had any sort of continued success after their Super Bowl loss.  It seems as if not only getting to the Super Bowl, but winning it, is a guarantee of future success as a coach.   That is probably why you still see Lovie and Ken Whisenhunt in the unemployment line.

Rather than hire one of these guys, the Bears hired a CFL coach, the Eagles hired an unproven (yet awesome) college coach, the Bills hired a .500 college coach, and the Browns hired a guy named Chudzinski.  These teams must have realized that you might have a better shot of winning it all with a guy that nobody has seen before than you do a retread conference champion. 

While it is not impossible to win a Super Bowl with a coach that lost in his first appearance, evidence shows that that coach is much more likely to be unsuccessful than successful in the future.  The Kansas City Chiefs are hoping to defy the odds with Dandy Andy Reid, but to the rest I would say "caveat emptor."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Moose's Weekly Picks

Moose was almost 3-1 again last week, until Matt Ryan decided to poop his pants in the second half of the Falcons/Seahawks game.  This week we only have two games, which allows for a little more break down and analysis.  Let's dive right in to championship weekend!

San Francisco (-4) at Atlanta
PICK: Atlanta.  The 49ers really throttled the Packers last week in San Francisco, but I for one was not terribly impressed.  For one, the Packers defense is terrible.  The cheese that Packers fans wear on their heads might as well represent the Swiss cheese Packer defense.  POTSHOT!  Any defense worth a damn would be able to contain terrorist Colin Kaepernick better than that.  I think the Falcons will do so.  The Atlanta offense versus the 49er defense will be just about a wash, what the game will come down to is home field advantage.  Therefore, the Falcons get the edge here.  Make it my No Doubter while we're at it. 

Baltimore (+9) at NEP
PICK: Baltimore.  The last time these two foes met on the field of battle, the Ravens came away with a 31-30 victory on a last second Justin Tucker field goal.  I do not see that being the case this week.  The Patriots defense has gotten much better since that game, primarily due to the addition of jive-talking cornerback Aqib Talib, so I don't see them giving up 31 points again.  Secondly, I don't think that losing Gronk will be that big of a deal for the Pats.  He was a non-factor in the first game this year, and others will step up in his absence.  Finally, the Pats have the home-field this time around.  The Pats win, but the Ravens cover.  The biggest concern I have in this game is the presence of one Bernard "Bone-crusher" Pollard. 


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Moose's Weekly Picks

Moose proved once again last week that he is the one of the bosses when it comes to picking wild card round playoff football games.  Some years ago on this very blog, I went 4-0 in wild card week.  This year, I tacked a solid 3-1 record up there, AND predicted Robert Griffin getting injured again.  That's not something you can find just around the corner.  Instead of going into a rant about how big of a dirtbag (and bad coach..the guy couldn't even make a throw, why keep him in?) Mike Shanahan is, I am just going to make my picks for this week.

Baltimore (+9.5) at Denver
PICK: Baltimore.  9.5 points is a lot to give up against a playoff team.  I know the Broncos pasted the Ravens by 17 in Baltimore the last time these two played, but I think the Ravens defense and offense have improved since then.   Meanwhile, the Broncos have only played laughers against the Browns and Chiefs since that game.

Green Bay (+3) at San Francisco
PICK: Green Bay.  I am picking against history here as well, as the 49ers beat the Pack 30-22 in San Fran early in the season.  I just don't see Aaron Rodgers losing to Colin "Heliocentric" Kaepernick(us) in a qb matchup.  Also, the Packers defense is getting healthy at the right time.  This is the closest thing to a No Doubter that I can find this week.

Seattle (+2.5) at Atlanta
PICK: Atlanta.  As much as I like Seattle, I think it is time for Matty Ice to get over the playoff hump.  The Falcons have been tough to beat at the Georgia Dome, and played well against some tough teams.  They won't be intimidated by Seattle, but I am still worried about this pick.

Houston (+9.5) at NEP
PICK: NEP.  Tommy Brady said this game will be different, but I think the outcome will be the same.  The Texans defense isn't dynamic enough to stop Welker, Hernandez, Gronk, Lloyd and the running attack.  On the other side of the ball, I think that the Pats defense can hold the Texans down enough to make this a double digit victory.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Moose's Weekly Picks

A blase 8-8 finish puts Moose at 112-119-7 to finish out the regular season.  Despite thinking that I know a little bit about football, I finished with a .484 win percentage.  Meanwhile, merely flipping a coin (7-9 last week), resulted in a robust .542 win percentage.  Had the coin had a few more weeks to play, it might have evened out a little more.  However, this grand experiment goes to show you that the spread really does create a genuine toss-up between the two teams playing.  I will continue on making my prognostications into the playoffs, but the coin has decided to quit while it is ahead.  The coin will be missed.


SEASON RECORD: 112-119-7
COIN: 26-22

Cincinnati (+4.5) at Houston
PICK: Cincy.  Houston is fading fast, and the Bengals are playing with a sense of urgency.  The Bengals defense will smack the Texans in the mouth and not look back.

Minnesota (+7.5) at Green Bay
PICK: Green Bay.  Something tells me that the Packers played last week close to the vest and still almost beat the Vikings.  Lambert Field will be going wild for this one.  I'll take the home team.

Indianapolis (+6.5) at Baltimore
PICK: Baltimore.  The Ravens are tough to beat at home, Luck has been throwing a lot of interceptions, and Flacco has been here four times before.  All that adds up to a fairly easy win for the Ravens.  If we are choosing No Doubters in the playoffs, I guess this would be it. 

Seattle (-3) at Washington
PICK: Seattle.  I'll take Russ Wilson in the battle of the rookie qbs.  Seattle's defense won't get burned by Robert Griffin III as easily as Dallas did last week.  In fact, I kind of see him getting injured again in this game.

Buckle up, everyone.  This is usually the best week for pro football of the entire season.