Hey, dumbasses. How 'bout we actually let the people of Egypt choose their own path by staying the fuck out of it, and quit harshing on the President, for staying the fuck out of it. I think it's pretty much a given that the Egyptian people don't give a salient shit what Obama says, right about now. Why don't we Americans just pull our heads out of our asses and let them decide for themselves what's important?
American exceptionalism from the right is scary and dangerous. From the so-called left, it's just pathetic.
I get depressed by the fact that whenever there is a major event somewhere in the world few people can manage to go past the question of, "What should we (the US) do?" I know that things are a bit more complicated, and our being involved in everything already complicates them further, but the answer, mostly, is "nothing."
Update 2: Jane Hamsher doubles down. The blogs will surely help our revolutionary brothers and sisters across the globe ... If I'd have been drinking milk, I'd have snorted it out my nose.
My Sis-i-L was fairly unhappy that I didn't post a better picture of the puppy's face. This is the best we've been able to get, so far. He's almost as camera shy as Teddy was, camera shy meaning squirmy and un-photographable. Face it. These damn dogs are perpetual motion machines. They just don't tend to slow down.
Unlike any puppy I've ever known, he doesn't nap very well or very consistently. There's always the doin'. I'm certain there will be more pictures later.
We've decided to name him Skeet, in honor of the monks of New Skeet, legendary trainers and breeders of the German Shepherd dog.
I remain amazed that something so gangly, awkward and clumsy could become something so athletic, graceful and noble.
Yes, we have a new puppy. He's a 3 month old German Shepherd dog, which ensures about 6 months of coming misery. We haven't named him quite yet, though I'm leaning towards Yogi bear, since we have a Teddy and a Smokey. Teddy is already bummed that the puppy doesn't understand big-dog games just yet, but he'll get there. The puppy already follows Teddy around like he's some kind of excellent life coach (yeah, that's a laugh.)
I really don't think it's fair that the Bears not only got a bye round, but also got a practice scrimmage last week. Seriously, nothing against the Bears. They played a fine solid football game against a team as mediocre as their record would suggest. In truth, that game was simply boring to watch. Seattle was outmatched at every level. So, to all those who would claim that Seattle's victory over the NFL Champs settles the argument over playoff seeding, I counter that this game reopens the floor to debate. Allowing one game to force emotion over reason is a case of premature edumacation. When time permits, which isn't now, I will be posting on the subject again.
So here we have the Conference championships. In my altogether subjective opinion, these have always been the most enjoyable games to watch, including the Sooper Dooper Bowl. The Conferences still maintain their own somewhat unique flavors, and the two best to reach this game in the NFC or the AFC are already well schooled in their opponents. Even now, in the golden age of parity, that isn't always the case in inter-conference games, which is why it's only been the last decade that the Super Bowl has been as competitive as it has. The potential for a blow out in the SB stills remains, but is much less likely in the Conference championship round of the playoffs.
This year, it's all gone old-school, helmet to helmet smash mouth football. Defense is again king, with the added element that all four teams have exciting quarterbacks. A high school basketball coach (Dave Thorson) once said that "offense sells tickets; defense wins championships". Enter the Bears, the Packers, The Jets and the Steelers. All of the certain HOF quarterbacks (Manning, Brady, Brees ...) are watching this one from a couch, yet Cutler, Rodgers and Rottenburgers could each lay claim to truly elite status (that is if Big Ben hasn't already.) And Mark Sanchez could hit all kinds of trivia records, most wins for the youngest quarterback in the playoffs, most road wins ever in the playoffs. And holy crap, the legacy that these teams bring to the game: Packers-Bears, the oldest rivalry in the NFL. Pittsburgh Steelers, the second winning-est franchise since the merger (behind only the Dolphins), and more SB wins than any team in history. The Steelers are also the first number six seed to win a Super Bowl having gone through the number 3, the number 1 and the number 2 seed to get there. The Jets and Packers both hope to emulate that success. The Jets, first AFL team to win a Sooper Dooper Bowl. You have got to love this weekend's games.
Green Bay Packers (6) at Chicago Bears (2)
Oldest rivalry in the NFL. we're not talking in terms of a mere couple of decades. This one has been going for coming up on a century. Let that sink in, for a minute. Home field says that that could well play to the advantage of the Bears.
Cutler's performance last week was truly outstanding. He silenced a lot of critics, including some of us who are Bronco fans. But last week he faced an anemic Seattle defense. This week he faces the Packers, and Clay Matthews, who I think to be the most valuable defensive player in the 2011 playoffs, bar none. That's saying something in a game which features Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers wearing the navy and orange. If the Bears want this as much as they think they do, Cutler will have to contend with a serious pass rush and a league elite secondary that improves each and every week of these playoffs.
The Packers have two real enemies in this game: penalties and Devon Hester. They simply cannot afford to give up 30 yards on each kick return. Still, I find them to be the hottest team in the game. What they did against Atlanta was solid on special teams and controlled in the hostile environment. I think they can do it again. They won't win by much, but ...
Green Bay - 27, Chicago 23
New York Jets (6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2)
Last week, I petulantly demanded that the Jets "put up or shut up". They did, and considering my view of the Patriots, I'm not all that upset about it. So, in successive weeks they've beaten Payton Manning and Tom Brady/Bill Belichick. No. Talk about a lame media narrative. In two weeks the Jets have beaten a Colts team more decimated by injury than most any other but one that still won their division, and a Patriots team that is young and vulnerable because of it, despite superior coaching and an HOF pretty boy at quarterback. This week, the Jets face a team blessed by GOD.
I can't see the Steelers any other way. In the game last week against the meanest team in the NFL, the Steelers were going to clearly lose at the end of the first half. It was certain. But every lucky break in the second half went the Steelers' way. Every single one. I'm not saying the Ravens should have won. I'm simply saying that the Steelers have divine help. In truth, if I had to choose the best coach of the last half century, it wouldn't be a head coach. It wouldn't be Lombardi, Hallis, or Brown, or Shula, or Landry, or Johnson, or Belichick, or Gibbs or Walsh. It would be defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. His defenses are supernatural, and have the Steelers poised to go to and win a seventh Super Bowl.
In truth, I don't think that the Jets can rely on 'Revis Island' to win against the Steelers. They have to keep Sanchez from withering against the most savage bunch of angelic destroyers to ever break a holy seal in the book of NFL revelations. I'm not predicting the Super Bowl, just yet, but these Steelers are scary in their propensity for 'win'.
Note to the New Orleans Saints: Next time you have to fly across the country to compete in a 'do-or-die' playoff game, don't forget to pack your tooth brushes, clean underwear or your defense for the trip.
Okay, so the Seattle Seahawks pulled off what was probably the upset of the decade, if not the last quarter century. It turns out most of what I thought could be ignored, couldn't be. The earthquake inducing home field was truly a boon, one only the Seahawks took advantage of. The Saints thoroughly missed their running backs. Whether it was the game plan, or just Pete Carroll's enthusiasm, the Seahawks really handed it to New Orleans, and the Saints responded with some of the sloppiest defense seen all year. So now the Seahawks have improved to ... what is still a losing record. But they go on to Chicago nonetheless. And I admit it. Right now I'm liking those plucky birds quite a bit.
Note to the Indianapolis Colts: If you're going to put the game on the line for a last minute Vinatieri field goal, make certain that kick comes at the end of the minute, not the beginning.
There isn't much to say about that game. It played out pretty much as I expected, save the literally last minute heroics from Sanchez. Credit to the sophomore.
Given the way the games went, I'll take my 2-2 and be happy about it. The contests on Saturday weren't exactly enjoyable to watch or even possible to concentrate on fully, given the events in Tucson that day. But all things move on, and this week will hopefully be more amenable to football viewing. This week features divisional rivals in both AFC games, and home field could play a much greater role in the outcomes of all 4 games. We'll just have to see. Before going any further, I want it known that I am not going to be comfortable with, nor would I bet on, any single pick that I'm about to make.
Seattle Seahawks (4) at Chicago Bears (2)
For your obvious duh-now moment, I offer this. Chicago is a hellavu long way from the friendly confines of the Pacific northwest, and the Seahawks have never been a cold weather team. However, they have got to be riding a serious confidence high, right now. So unless Soldier field gets an unexpected drop from 22 down to -22, the Seahawks will probably weather just fine. It's strange that the question marks in this game are on the Chicago side of the ball. It would be fair to ask if Seattle can stop Julius Peppers, but the fairer question would be, can the rest of the Chcago defense step up if they do? And, as always, the biggest question for Chicago is which Jay Cutler will show up? Jack the Blogger rightly points out that Cutler does poorly in big games. So which one shows up this Sunday? Turnover prone, indecisive Cutler as we've seen most of the latter half of the season, or Pro-bowl Cutler the competitor? I'm thinking the former.
Seattle - 20, Chicago - 14
Green Bay Packers (6) at Atlanta Falcons (1)
Given her time at UGA, my beloved is convinced that southern football fans are warped and will warp any team that plays there. So I am strictly forbidden from rooting or even mildly favoring the Atlanta Falcons at any time. That's not a problem this weekend. They may be undefeated at the Georgia dome, and I will concede that they are possibly the most complete team currently playing in these playoffs. But, Green Bay is on a roll. They seem to get hotter by the week, on both sides of the ball. Even as depleted as their defense has been, they were able to cause no end of problems for Vick and his receivers. As talented as Matt Ryan is, he can't move like Vick can, and Clay Matthews is the energizer bunny of never letting up. I have to give this one to the hottest team, and that would be the Packers.
Green Bay - 31, Atlanta - 24
Baltimore Ravens (5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2)
Ouch. This game hurts just thinking about it. If there was a miracle team this year it was the Steelers. They went 3-1 without Ben Rottenbergers. They should have lost several games, until out of no where Troy Polamalu enters the scene and saves the day for the Steelers with a timely interceptiion or much needed tackle. Rothlesberger got his nose broke, and he got decked loopy for lipping off to the wrong defensive lineman. And still they won games. This might be the weekend that crazy luck runs out. These teams are mirrors of each other, with aggression all over, Reed/Polamalu, giants at quarterback, and hard nosed young coaches. It wouldlikely be easier to pick this game by flipping a coin.
Baltimore - 23, Pittsburgh - 21
New York Jets (6) at New England Patriots (1)
If Rex Ryan is stupid enough to believe that this game is between himself and Bill Belichick then he deserves the thumping he's likely about to get. All the talk from the Jets at this point seems like false bravado. I know they're a good team with a stellar bunch of d-backs. But in case no one in New Jersey has noticed, the Patriots are more than Tom Brady. They have Benjarvis Green-Ellis. And no Bobcat fan will ever forget the hurt that Danny Woodhead can put on a team, even a team with a good defense. The Patriots are averaging a full 30+ points a game right now, an average that includes the 45 points they laid on the Jets a month ago. If Rex thinks this game is about him winning, he'd better suit up and play. These Patriots are for real.
(Disclaimer: I still don't like the Patriots, I don't like Bill Belichick and I don't like Tom Brady. But, credit where it's due ... And all this jibber jabber from the Jets is making me dislike them even more than the gang from Foxboro. Put up or shut up, guys.)
This year's January spectacle will be more bittersweet than usual. Facing a possible lockout and no collective bargaining agreement, there's no telling how long until the next playoffs, or what the NFL will look like when they come. One change that I am strongly hoping that we see is an alteration of the league's playoff seeding. I've certainly kvetched before when 8-8 teams make the games, or worse host the games. But this year, a losing team is hosting a playoff game, and to me that is strictly not right.
I've been having this debate with a few people, and it all seems to boil down to the divisional structure; thier grave mantra being 'you have to win your division'. I submit that this year puts a lie to that, or at least shows how it redefines the word "win". Yes, the Seattle Seahawks won their division by one game over the St. Louis Rams with an identical league record. The Seahawks were 4-2 in Division, the Rams falling to 3-3. All is fair, right? However, take a gander at the AFC West. The Divisional 'Champion' Kansas City Chiefs were a woeful 2-4 in their division, with losses to the Broncos, the Chargers and 2 losses to the Raiders. KC did end the season with a respectable 10-6 overall which, as if by magic, means they 'won' the division. A losing team making the playoffs is a first for the year, but there is another. The Oakland Raiders went 6-0 in the AFC West. This is the first time a team has swept division and failed to make the post season. I apologize ladies and gentlemen, but if the word is to mean anything, I'd say that being undefeated in your division is pretty much 'winning' it. The divisional structure is well suited for defining schedules, rivalries and tie breakers, but it is a poor fit for dictating who ultimately gets a championship run. It has lead to another sad first for this year's playoffs. Since the introduction of the 2 team Wildcard, this will be the first year where every visiting opponent will have a record equal to or better than the host franchise. This couldn't be more glaring then when the 7-9 Seahawks host the team tied for the NFC's second best record, the 11-5 New Orleans Saints. The only thing it does do is make at least one game easy to predict.
New Orleans Saints (5) at Seattle Seahawks (4)
Forget the 12th Man. Forget the injuries to Ivory and Thomas. Forget the terrific gameplan that Pete Carroll used against the upstart Rams. Forget Brees' record streak of interceptions. You simply can't look at Seattle and see a very good football team. As last year (and some games this year) showed quite clearly, the Saints rise up on a big stage. I'll be very surprised if this game isn't over by halftime.
New Orleans - 34, Seattle - 13
Green Bay Packers (6) at Philadelphia Eagles (3)
Unquestionably, this is the game of the week. Though both teams are exciting and explosive on offense, Green Bay probably carries the edge on defense. I think that could be the difference maker, given that other teams like the Vikings have shown the weakness to the Philly offense. Teams don't need to contain Michael Vick; they need to beat him up. I don't expect that lesson to be lost on Dom Capers. I wonder though, can Green Bay play in the cold of Philadelphia?
Green Bay - 21, Philadelphia - 18
Baltimore Ravens (5) at Kansas City Chiefs (4)
As every fan of an AFC West team knows, there is no tougher place to play in the league than Arrowhead Stadium. For that reason alone, I'm tempted to pick the Chiefs for the win. Their running attack is the best in the league, and they can control the clock throughout. However, I've seen the Ravens on the road in the playoffs, and I mostly pity their opponents. Ed Reed is a ball hawk, going against the 30th ranked passing team in the NFL. And the Chiefs seem to fare poorly against teams that play with extreme physical intensity. Those last three words are the motto of the Baltimore Ravens. Even in a close tough game, the Ravens have the edge with kicker Billy Cundiff. I'll just preemptively describe this game as brutal.
Baltimore - 27, Kansas City - 13
New York Jets (6) at Indianapolis Colts (3)
If there is a game I don't even want to try and pick, this is it. Just because it is the rematch of last year's AFC Championship game doesn't mean these are the same teams on display. The Colts have spent the year in triage, a fact that no doubts has contributed to Payton competing with his brother for the league lead in interceptions. That sad observation does not bode well given that Darrelle Revis is going to take up residence in Reggie Wayne's jock strap (though I expect he's going to spend some time dogging Garcon as well.) The Colts have been unable to stop the run, until they have. The last 3 games have been very good for them on that level. The Jets have found a sort of balance. They throw and run. Who knew? However, the last 2 months haven't shown their defense to be very effective against good passers. This is Payton Manning we're talking about here. As I wrote last year, the Colts slowly throttle opponents. They score and expect you to keep up. I remain unconvinced that the Jets can do that, especially with Sanchez having a banged up shoulder. And if it comes down to the wire, which it likely will, the Colts are more than happy to turn the last few seconds over to Adam Vinatieri.