Super Sunday was seriously super

Today I was treated to perhaps the best Super Bowl in NFL history. That is saying a lot, given last year’s Super Bowl, Super Bowl XXXIV (Rams 23, Titans 16), Super Bowl XXIII (Forty Niners 20, Bengals 16) and possibly the most memorable of Super Bowls, Super Bowl III in which the New York Jets, under the direction of a young Joe Namath – who promised a win over the much heavily favored Baltimore Colts – delivered quite possibly the biggest upset in NFL history.

By the end of today’s Super Bowl, won in dramatic fashion by my friend Ray‘s favorite team the Pittsburgh Steelers, I was emotionally drained and severely in need of a beer.

I watched throughout the first half as the Cardinals appeared to be regressing into their losing ways that many have come to expect from them. Then, the end of the first approached and the Cardinals turned it on, taking the ball all the way to the Steelers goal line only to see their drive stalled by a Kurt Warner interception that was returned 100 yards by Steeler James Harrison for a touchdown to put the Steelers solidly ahead 17-7 at the half.

Then I watched in the second half as the Cards stormed back and took the lead in convincing fashion with only a few minutes left in the game. OH. MY. GOODNESS!

Now anyone that knows me knows that I favor no football team at all. I used to be a huge Houston Oiler fan back when there was a Houston Oilers but since they decided to sell out and move to Tennessee and become the Titans I abandoned them. To that end I did decide to become a fan of a particular player. That player is Kurt Warner, a devout and outspoken Christian who wears his faith on his sleeve and makes no bones or apologies about it. And since he is the quarterback of the Cardinals this year, the Cardinals had my support. Specifically, the Kurt Warner had my support.

So it broke my heart when, with a few seconds left in the game, that the Steelers scored the go ahead touchdown and shattered any hopes of Kurt Warner being able to prop up the Lord in his post game victory speech on national television. Of course I was overjoyed for Ray that the Steelers won, and I was totally stoked that I got to see the best Super Bowl in at least the last year, but I was still a little sad for Kurt Warner and the Cardinals.

But there is always next year. And I hope Kurt doesn’t retire because I would love to see him and Larry Fitzgerald and the rest of the high flying Cardinals turn in another spectacular performance in the post season next year.

The winds of change blow

So it seems that I can pick a winning football team in the playoffs. In fact, from the looks of today’s scores I am able to pick two.

Both of the teams that I chose to win today did and at the same time I got to inflate my over-inflated ego yet further. I was also able to celebrate the fact that two very close friends of mine were going to be elated at their team going to the big game. Throw in the fact that my man, Kurt Warner, gets to go back to the Super Bowl and life today was all sorts of good.

My friend Mike is a huge fan of the Cardinals. He has been for years. Since I am a huge fan of Kurt Warner I was totally able to cheer for the Cards during their furious first half of scoring. I was also able to worry during their third quarter meltdown and cheer again when they pulled out the win.

My best friend Ray is a die-hard Steelers fan. I swear if he cut himself he would bleed black and gold. Yes, he loves the Steelers. And since he is my best friend I do too. So it was easy to cheer for them in their victory over Baltimore. The game was a snooze-fest, but Palumalu’s interception for a score late in the fourth made it worth watching.

So I am patting myself on the back right now. I have not been able to pick a winner for my life this post season. Until today. I am a little proud of me right now. 🙂 Hopefully two weeks from now I will be able to say the same thing.

NFL Playoffs 2009 – Conference Championships

Last week proved to be my utter demise in picking a winner. If I wasn’t bad enough in the first weekend (going a paultry 1-3) then last weekend sealed that deal as I went 0-4 on the weekend. That makes my pick score for the playoffs a wild 1-7. So if there is anything to learn from any of this it is: do not bet according to my picks; pick against them.

With that in mind, let’s see how bad I can screw up today’s Championship games, shall we?

Game 1 – NFC Championship Game: Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals
The Eagle have made five of the last eight NFC title games but have won only one of them. This year they were a bubble team that pulled out what was needed to get into the playoffs. The Cardinals were a sort of run of the mill team that in any other division wouldn’t have even made the playoffs, but in the weak NFC West they exceled and made it in. And surprisingly they won both of their post-season games this year to make it to the title game. Playing in Arizona, in a very loud dome and in a hostile environment, is not at all going to work in favor of the Eagles. And as much as Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb are the people’s favorite, the Cardinals have the experience in Kurt Warner and Edgerrin James to blow this one out. I expect this be a win for the birds. The Cardinals that is.

Game 2 – AFC Championship Game: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh opened it up last week against San Diego in a savage way. They showed some grit and guts in that game and looked like a world champion caliber team. The Ravens have been playing crazy defense all year  long and have relied on a stupid +7 turnover rating in the playoffs to bring the wood to their opponents. This is going to be one heck of a game. One that I am going to look forward to until the last whistle blows. In the end I see the Steelers being a little too much for the stingy Ravens defense. Big Ben takes this one to the house and sets up a Cardinals/Steelers match up for Super Bowl XLIII.

Alright, you got all that? Ready? Set? Bet!

NFL Playoffs 2009 – Divisional Weekend – Day 2

Yesterday I showed what a tool I can be when it comes to predicting football games. Home field advantage? No such thing. Better record? Not a factor. Higher seed? Apparently seeding meant nothing. No, in both games yesterday I got it wrong. So wrong. In fact, I even got it wrong as to who was playing when.

But not today. Looking at what is coming down the pipe there is no way today’s games can let me down. Of course, if you are a betting person, take that last statement with a grain of salt. I do the best I can. So far, that means 1-5.

Game 1 – NFC Divisional Game: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Ok, seriously. Is this even a question? Yes, the Eagles beat the Giants just a few weeks ago. But the Giants had already clinched at that point and were not really playing for anything. The Eagles on the other hand were playing for a trip to the playoffs. They had to win just to get in. Today, in New York, the playing is over. The Giants are going to bring it and bring it hard. Just like last year’s playoffs.

Game 2 – AFC Wildcard: San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh is charging ahead on all cylinders. They are playing at home. Where it is cold. The sun bleached surfers of San Diego are going to be wondering why the game is still going to be played in freezing temperatures while the steel curtain brings the heat. That said, in a rare twist, I see the Chargers charging ahead in this game and pulling off the upset in grand fashion. My call: San Diego.

I am so glad I don’t have any money riding on these games. Now that would suck.

NFL Playoffs 2009 – Divisional Weekend – Day 1

So last week I showed what a n00B I was when I went 1-3 on my playoff predictions and got pwned by the NFL playoffs. This weekend I am hoping for a better showing and looking forward to being at 2-2 on the weekend.

The divisional games are here and its looks to be an exciting weekend of football. Lets see what the NFL has in store for us today.

Game 1 – NFC Divisional Game: Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers
Last week I chose the Falcons to win over the Cardinals in Pheonix. It was one of my many wrong predictions for last weekend. Arizona showed some grit last weekend and Kurt Warner lit up the sky with pass after pass and yard after yard of awesomeness. While I am looking for that same type of performance from Warner today something inside tells me that he gave all he had last weekend. Carolina has been kicking butt and taking names all season, but doing it in a quiet way. Given all the conditions, I’d say this game goes to Carolina.

Game 2 – AFC Wildcard: Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans
Tennessee posted the best start of the season for any team this year, going 9-0 before tasting defeat for the first time. That doesn’t automatically hand them this game, but their chances of victory are astonishing in my opinion. Baltimore is sporting the Ray Lewis led Ravens defense but today I think offense wins in this battle of power houses. My guess? Titans all the way.

Let’s see how I do. Shooting for 2-2 on the weekend has to make my chances of hitting that goal pretty decent.

NFL Playoffs 2009 – Wildcard Weekend – Day 2

Well yesterday was a complete disaster for my two picks. I think this was the case for many people speculating on the NFL playoffs this season. The thought that Arizona could beat Atlanta as well as it did yesterday AND that San Diego could take Indianapolis to overtime and subsequently march all over them in the extra period to beat them is just unfathomable.

But I digress. Let’s see if I can do better today.

Game 1 – AFC Wildcard: Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins
Everything in me tells me that Baltimore is going to hand Miami their butts. Miami is a lucky team this year, having gone from a 1-15 league laugher to an 11-5 division winner in just one season. Baltimore has a solid defense, a winning heritage (as heritages go in the NFL among expansion teams) and has played pretty darn well under rookie Quarterback Joe Flacco. But as things go when I am making winning picks, if I say I think Baltimore is going to win then Miami will. So I am going to have to say Miami will win knowing in my head Baltimore will.

Game 2 – NFC Wildcard: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings
This one is a complete guess on my part. The Eagles have played poorly all season long when it counted. The Vikings have been a sort of sleep team with a stellar back in Adrian Peterson. The only real deciding factor is that they are playing this game in Minnesota inside a dome. I have to say that advantage goes to Minnesota in this contest. The fact of the matter is that I don’t really car about this game though. So whoever wins, it just means more football for me next week.

There you have it. I was 0-2 yesterday. Can I get to 2-2 on the weekend?

NFL Playoffs 2009 – Wildcard Weekend – Day 1

Few things throughout the year get my engines roaring like the NFL playoffs. I love me some football. But I really freaking love me some playoff football. It just seems to me that the level of play grows exponentially the farther into the playoffs a team goes which makes for some exciting action, great plays and in half of the games, significant heartbreak. It is why they play the game. To see who the last team standing is.

This weekend starts the 2008 NFL season playoffs. There are some surprise teams in the hunt this year, and some surprise teams absent from this post-season. I will not spend any time on the teams that did not make the playoffs. No, in fact I will have a hard enough time putting together my picks for just this weekend. But I am going to take a shot at it anyway.

Game 1 – NFC Wildcard: Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals
To be painfully honest, I don’t know much about either team except that Kurt Warner is my favorite player and that Arizona has been on a downward spiral for the last few weeks. While this game is a home game for Arizona, I think that given the way Atlanta has been playing, they will walk away from this game with a solid victory. I mean solid, as it the Cardinals are going to stink it up the way they have for the last three weeks. Fans in Arizona will be disappointed, but really, they will have expected it. Falcons for the win.

Game 2 – AFC Wildcard: Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers
Indianapolis comes to San Diego riding a nine game winning streak and featuring the league MVP in Peyton Manning. San Diego hosts this game as the winner of the AFC west, a division they did not win until the last game of the year. San Diego had to win its last four games of the season in order to take the division away from Denver, including a game against Denver in week 17 to seal it up. They are riding a wave of confidence this weekend, and have been known to upset a team or two (can we say Indianapolis?) in the past. Look for a high scoring affair with the Colts squeaking one out by just a few points.

I know, I would probably never make it as an NFL analyst. But this stuff sure is fun. 🙂

Super Bowl Sunday – SB XLII

Let’s go back a few weeks, to the Conference Championship Weekend. After not really being on I made the following prediction:

Super Bowl XLII Prediction

New York Giants: 17
New England Patriots: 21

New England needs one more win to make history all over again this year. They beat the Giants a month ago and they will beat them again. The Giants, coming off a huge win at Green Bay, know they did not play a great game against a great team. They played an OK game against a garbage team. New England, at its worst, is better than anyone else at their best.

Look for New England to be just a tad conservative early but to put this one out of reach early. New York will make a charge toward the end, but the Patriot defense will do what it always does: win this game and break history.

I think I was only a little off on my prediction. The Giants played one of the best defensive games they have played on season long. The Patriots had no answer for the Giants defense and, though they did put two touchdowns on the board, they were never really able to put this game out of reach like they have all season long.

Couple that with Tom Brady peeling himself off the turf every other play and it was no wonder the Giants made a game of this. Of course, the Patriot defense did what they did all year long. Except on one play late in the fourth quarter that could very well define this superbowl. The Patriots defensive front could not put the final nail in the coffin of what could have been the game ending sack. Instead Giants quarterback Eli Manning was able to get out of the grasp of defender Richard Seymour, spin free, step up and heave a pass down the field in the general direction of wide receiver David Tyree.

David Tyree beats Rodney Harrison to the ball

Top view of Rodney Harrison getting whooped by David Tyree

The result of this play, quite possibly the most awesome catch ever, in football history ever, was that the Giants offensive drive stayed alive, the Patriot defensive front lost all confidence and Champion swagger and the Giants were allowed to place themselves into position for the game winning catch by Plaxico Burress.

The game winning catch by Plaxico Burress

Another shot of the game winning catch

I wasn’t quite sure I had seen the play correctly. The Patriots were supposed to win by at least two touchdowns and, if this play stood, they would be losing by a field goal with only about 30 seconds to play. Were there any flags? Nope. This one stood. And the Giants were a few plays away from being NFL champions.

I cannot quite say what I felt about this play. I really do not like the Patriots. I really could not care less about the Giants. I kind of wanted to see the Patriots make history while at the same time I wanted to see the Giants spoil the Patriots’ chances. It was a bittersweet ending to quite possibly the best superbowl ever (behind superbowl XXXIV when Kurt Warner led the Rams to victory over the Titans).

But really what hurts the most, without a doubt, is that I now owe my brother a steak dinner because he called this game about a month ago. Way to go Mike. Claimjumper anyone?

Championship Sunday – the day after

So the participants of Super Bowl XLII have stepped up and declared themselves. Congratulations to the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. They have won their respective conferences and have a date to face of with each other in just under two weeks.

Yesterday’s games were sort of odd. For the record:

AFC Championship

Actual Scores
San Diego Chargers: 12
New England Patriots: 21

My Prediction
San Diego Chargers: 10
New England Patriots: 35

NFC Championship

Actual Scores
New York Giants: 23
Green Bay Packers: 20 OT

My Prediction
New York Giants: 14
Green Bay Packers: 28

Wow! There is not much else to say about this week’s games except the two front runners, the Patriots and the Packers, did not at all play up to the level they were supposed to (or could have) played up to. Tom Brady stunk worse then a sweating skunk on a Brooklyn Summer day. He threw three interceptions, was totally out of sync with his receivers and seemed to not be able to conduct his offense at all.

On the other hand, the Chargers made one of the most critically and spectacularly stupid decisions ever made in championship football. They sat future hall of fame running back LaDanian Tomlinson for most of this game with no real reason for doing so. In the end, the Patriots horrid offense was still good enough to beat a Chargers team that was minus one great player. This says a lot about the Patriots.

In the eventing game Brett Favre decided that his game was only two and half quarters long and packed his stuff up midway through the third quarter. Yes, I know the temperature was a mild -4 degree Fahrenheit with a wind chill factor of -24 degrees. But the Packers live in the cold. They invented football on ice. Brett Favre should have had this game in the bag.

Instead he handed to game, literally, to the totally outmatched New York Giants. They couldn’t muster up nothing. So rather than putting a kife in them, in overtime, the Packers decided to give them the ball in Packer territory. Yeah, ok. Any quarterback could have won the game in that circumstance. In the end, the Packers showed they are not nearly as good as the Patriots, who, despite playing as bad you can on offense, can still win a football game.

Super Bowl XLII Prediction

New York Giants: 17
New England Patriots: 21

New England needs one more win to make history all over again this year. They beat the Giants a month ago and they will beat them again. The Giants, coming off a huge win at Green Bay, know they did not play a great game against a great team. They played an OK game against a garbage team. New England, at its worst, is better than anyone else at their best.

Look for New England to be just a tad conservative early but to put this one out of reach early. New York will make a charge toward the end, but the Patriot defense will do what it always does: win this game and break history.

Divisional Weekend: Day 2

Day 2 is done and the conference championships are set. Though this did not play out like I thought it would. In either game. For the record:

Game 1

Actual Scores
San Diego Chargers: 28
Indianapolis Colts: 24

My Prediction
San Diego Chargers: 12
Indianapolis Colts: 38

Game 2

Actual Scores
New York Giants: 21
Dallas Cowboys: 17

My Prediction
New York Giants: 10
Dallas Cowboys: 17

So what can I say. I knackered this one up pretty good. I was totally wrong on both side of the house. I suck at this predicting thing.

On the other hand we got to see Peyton Manning’s human side, the Chargers show they that can win in the playoffs AND with backups (Antonio Gates was hurting, Philip Rivers and LaDanian Tomlinson were both out of this game with injuries). The Chargers earned this win with hard work, clean execution and smart play calling. The Colts lost this game with terrible execution. Tony Dungy, you are still my main man, but your players left entirely too much on the field. Super Bowl Champions don’t play that way.

The Giants… well, what can be said about the New York football Giants? The Cowboys certainly helped the Giants with their receivers’ inability to catch a ball and break tackles. Bu the Giants, much like the Chargers, earned this win with every fiber of their being. I had no idea they had it in them. I wonder what next weekend will bring?

Conference Championship Predictions

San Diego Chargers: 10
New England Patriots: 35

New England should have had their explosive offensive game this week against the Jaguars. They didn’t. Tom Brady needs to get a high scoring victory heading in to the Super Bowl to feel like the superman he is. Look for the Pats to open it up on offense and close it off on defense. It gets words if the leaders on the Chargers offense don’t have a chance to show up

New York Giants: 14
Green Bay Packers: 28

Not quite as many points next week as this week for the Packers who have a legitimate chance at knocking the powerhouse Patriots in the Super Bowl. I would guess we are going to be seeing some very cold weather at Lambeau Field which certainly favors the Pack. But the Giants have surprised a lot of people this year. Could they shock the Green Bay faithful? No. Green Bay sticks it to the Giants in the cold Wisconsin air.