1-3 for picks last week, though only one outcome was truly surprising. In my opinion, the 'Niners and Saints played the game of the year. Alex Smith probably played the game of his career. I thought my wife, a diehard 49ers fan, was going to have an aneurism during the last 5 minutes of that game. San Francisco truly looked like a championship team.
Of course, the one game I hoped most to be wrong about was the one I picked correctly. The Patriots walloped the Broncos. Tebow haters across the land were rejoicing at his failure. It's probably not worth reminding many of them how they kvetched that the Broncos defense was really responsible for the Denver wins that Tebow got all the credit for. Of course they were, just as that defense was in large part responsible for the blow out in Foxboro. There was no pressure on Brady. With the exception of Champ Bailey, the secondary looked confused in coverage and the linebackers looked even worse. Don't get me wrong, these are things John Fox can and will fix when the Broncos make the playoffs next year. ~heh~
Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips deserve enormous credit for what they accomplished with the Texans this year. If Jim Harbaugh didn't already have 'Coach of the Year' locked up, I would suggest that it should and would be Kubiak. The Texans played a truly inspired game against Baltimore but came up short due to inexperience, especially at the quarterback spot. I'm not taking anything away from T.J. Yeats. I don't think any other 3rd string Rookie in the league could have come close to his performance. Now, NFL coaches are prohibited from complaining about the officiating, but I sure as hell am not. I was disgusted by the "quality" of officiating during the Ravens-Texans matchup. For the Ravens to have gone through that game with not one penalty is a goddamned travesty. I'm all for letting the players play. But letting them play dirty is just sickening. On Houston's first punt, there was a blatant and obvious hold (tackle) on the return. Ray Lewis put another of his signature forearm helmet blows to a Texan receiver. Yes that is illegal and no it wasn't called. Bouldin's helmet hammer of a Texan was right in front of an official and caused a scrum. No call. Despite the mistakes of Jacoby Jones and the interceptions of Yeats, the Texans were in that game until the end. A few calls to play fair against the Dirty Birds might have actually given Houston a chance to win. ~sigh~
For the record, I'm already sick of the calls for a Harbaugh rematch. To me that's as pointless a narrative as 'two black coaches meeting in the Super Bowl' when Lovey Smith's Bears met Tony Dungy's Colts. For me, and I think I've expressed pretty well why, it is about the game, not the social or family drama. I quite earnestly do not want to spend the next 2 weeks hearing about how difficult this is on Mom and Pop Harbaugh. If it comes to pass, in my mind it won't be about Jim v. John. It will be Coach Harbaugh's 49ers against Coach Harbaugh's Ravens. To be honest, I don't think that will happen.
New York Giants (4) at San Francisco 49ers (2)
I've written it dozens of times and been proven correct dozens of times. The New York Football Giants are not the same team in the playoffs that they are in the regular season. Every single one of them, from Eli Manning to Brandon Jacobs, steps up their game a notch or two. Just think. Six weeks ago, Tom Coughlin's job was on the line. Ya' kinda gotta like these guys. Against the Packers, Eli exploited a fast defense that was weak on the coverage and thin against the run. He also proved that he is an elite quarterback. For some reason, people still find that surprising. Uhmm, the 'Niners aren't the Packers. They aren't susceptible to the run, and they aren't soft in coverage. This is a solid group who will make a quarterback earn every point. Alex Smith is proving a very capable field general. He doesn't have to make every extravagant throw, and he proved last week that he can run with some authority. That's something Eli has shown little aptitude for. The front four for the Giants are good at pass rush, very effective against Rodgers, but they lack the shift to run defense and Gore knows how to exploit that.
Weather won't be an issue. Perhaps earthquakes or lighting issues will. It's all on the D's and San Fran simply is better. I don't think this will be all that high-scoring but ... My wife is calling this.
New York - 24, San Fransisco - 31 (my pick would be 16 to 24)
Baltimore Ravens (2) at New England Patriots (1)
Well looky here. I've finely found a team (other than the Raiders) that I dislike more than the Hatriots. Of course, that would be Art Modell's bastard Baltimore step-child, the Ravens. They are dirty and I haven't a doubt about that. They win by intimidation. Except the Patriots don't easily intimidate. So, it's the Lawful Evil of Belichick against the Chaotic Evil of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. My money would be on the Hatriots. Defense may win championships, but dirty defense can't compensate for weak offense, especially if the officials are doing their job. That is precisely what Flacco offers. Ed Reed was right to call him out. He is not playing like a championship quarterback, and the internal team struggle will manifest itself in Foxboro.
For no known reason, the Patriots' defense has been the worst in league most of the season. They didn't look that against the Broncos. The Texans showed New England the exact path to victory. Oher can be duped and Flacco is flappable. I expect pressure on Flacco most of the game, and Flacco can run, but not even close to like Tebow. On the flip side, the Ravens couldn't seem to pressure a rookie with pass rush, but pressured him with coverage instead. Does anyone really think that Brady will fall for such stunts? He has a 5 progression check down, and is the fastest in the NFL at going through it. I'm kind of thinking that Brady will throw for 350 yards, and that's grossly conservative.
The other thing that the Ravens couldn't do was stop Arian Foster. Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis isn't Arian Foster, but he's pretty good. And Danny Woodhead, a tiny little tot, surprises the most aggressive linebackers with his power and speed. Get him in space and he'll kill you. That is precisely what Belichick will do. Expect some runs from the tight ends as well.
Since the beginning of the season, we've all listened to the pundits tell us how these Ravens are better than the team that won the Super Dooper Bowl. Maybe they are. But they are not better than teams that challenge them. The Patriots win this.
A few reminders for those who have become so learned that they've gotten stupid about the most basic things.
A linear function does not need to describe a "straight line". It simply means that it's variable or variables are constrained by at least one constant. Non-linear functions are (generally speaking) not constrained by a constant, but still subject to the extremity of inputs. Regardless, it remains clear that all functions will moderate (become more controllable, more predictable) the more that extreme inputs are removed. (And further clarification for the stupid, high school geometry *is* high school math.)
Triangulation is the effort to identify two points on the given line by taking a position that is not directly between those points. In political terms, it means staking a different position between the points of extreme, not on the line between them, in an attempt to draw one linear point towards the center. Those who subscribe to triangulation as a net bad are truly engaging in straight line thinking. They're being stupid. One can triangulate by taking a point outside the linear boundaries of Democrats and Republicans to pull the median volume of the triangle to the right or the left. The right has been very successful at that, using shock doctrine to accomplish the effort of pulling the popular will further to the right. The deeply stupid scream "nuance" while thinking in terms of straight lines and blaming anyone who wants to move the triangle's volume in a favorable direction for not just wizarding such a miracle up. A reminder. Triangulation can take place outside the boundaries of the set extremes on the run of the triangle such that the volume moves leftward. That's what many on the left are screaming for, but don't understand how they're shooting themselves in the foot by replacing movement with magical quantum leap. Yes, if "we organize" this magical jump to personal satisfaction could happen .... And monkeys could fly out of my butt. What organizing can do is move the volume of the triangle in a favored direction. The Tea Party is committed to doing that, and that's why they will support Mitt Romney, even though they hate him.
Vacuums (discretely) do not exist in a vacuum. If you remove all the air from a bottle inside a chamber filled with chlorine gas, it will not magically fill with liberal fairy dust. If you uncork that bottle, it will fill with toxic gas, and it will do so in such a hurry, it's likely to break the bottle. Removing Obama, Bauchus and Tester will not open the way for progressive heroes who will save us. It will allow in Romney, Gingrich, Rehberg. The vacuum will be replaced with toxic representation. The deeply stupid think that somehow, some way, this will lead to 'organizing' that takes control of our governance. I'd certainly appreciate it if even one of these so-called smart folk could explain how we're supposed to get to self-governance from that point, especially since they've rejected the idea of violence (which for the record, I have not.)
Finally, it is the ultimate of stupid to rely on chaos theory when you've already bought into Illuminati conspiracy. Politics is chaos, if you actually wish to ignore the variables that make you uncomfortable and focus on those you prefer. It is the height of stupidity to claim that politics is chaos when you've spent years insulting others because they don't understand how controlled politics actually is. To claim that the rich choose our candidates and manipulate our representation and yet it's all CHAOS is truly and deeply stupid. Pick one, Mark, because only the stupid think both can be real. Either way, my post still holds true. Defeat the extreme and you're closer to getting what you want (or didn't you think that chaos was describable by math as well? Sorry kitten, it is.)
Finally, I appreciate Tokarski affording me another 'Wanda' moment. I'm glad for him that he was born a white male American and never had to want beyond his desire to be 'different'. I'm happy that he continues to read people smarter than himself, and pigeonhole them into his particular delusion, his mythology. This gives me many laughs.
Otto: Apes don't read philosophy!
Wanda: Yes, they do, Otto. They just don't understand it.
Update: Shorter Tokarski response: I don't really know what he's talking about so I'll just denegrate it now, and insult the reader's intelligence later.
I didn't have the time to post my picks for the Wildcard round, which is just as well since I only went 2-2. I sincerely thought that Dalton and the Bengals could take advantage of the severely injured Texans. Kubiak and Phillips are proving to be a very formidable coaching combination. And let's be honest here. There may have been a few people who thought the Broncos could beat the Steelers, but if anyone tells you they knew how the Broncos would beat the Steelers, then they are lying their asses off. I knew how they *could* beat the Steelers; I 've written it here before. McCoy needed to take the chains off of Tebow and let him play the game he is comfortable with. That's what McCoy did, but I sure didn't expect it to happen. The reason the Broncos won is because neither did Dick LeBeau.
So, all of the top seeds advance, and the team with the third best conference record goes home. Before anyone accuses me of hypocrisy, I want to reiterate what I wrote last year. No team without a winning record should be in the playoffs. I held that last year, when the Seahawks hosted a game with a losing record. I haven't changed my mind this year at all, just because the Broncos made it with a record of 8-8. I'm certainly more sympathetic to the argument that 'the fans love it', but I don't think you'd get that response from Pittsburgh right now. Still, at least for the moment, the Bronco's have a winning record and they go to the East coast.
New Orleans Saints (3) at San Francisco 49's (2)
I will go ahead and predict that Jim Harbaugh is the Coach of the Year. I personally think it should be John Fox, but Harbaugh didn't just take the Niners from worst to first in division. He took them to the number 2 seed in the NFC, and 8 of his players were selected to the Pro-Bowl. This is a fine team based on power football. Drew Brees, on the other hand is peaking. He is almost automatic anymore, and lookee here, he has a running game to work with. A lot is being made of the fact that Brees isn't as good 'outside'. We're not talking about Green Bay in January (yet). This is the city by the Bay. I don't think the venue will affect the Saints at all. This all boils down to whether the Niner's D can withstand the yardage onslaught of New Orleans. As good as they are, I am unconvinced that they can.
New Orleans - 31, San Francisco - 24
New York Giants (4) at Green Bay Packers (1)
Here's your likeliest upset of the weekend (not saying there won't be others, or that this will be). The Packer's defense has looked awfully mediocre most of the season. Funny thing, though. When they have to make plays, they do. The real question for the Pack is the O-Line against a Giants front that has come on recently. This isn't just stopping Jared Allen or Ndomukong Suh. The entire front four of the Giants are hell-on-wheels when they play well. Lately, they have been. I got a kick out of listening to the Sunday pundits telling me all about how the Giants were one and done. Have they totally forgotten that the Giants have never been the same in the playoffs as they have been during the regular season? Oh, and that Eli guy really is the elite quarterback folks were laughing at him for stating last year. Still, Aaron Rodgers finds a way to get things moving. Of all quarterbacks playing, he reminds me the most of a seasoned John Elway. If nothing presents itself, he conjures something good. I think this might boil down to the venue of those SOCIALIST commie Packers.
New York - 18, Green Bay - 24
Denver Broncos (4) at New England Patriots (1)
Yes, they played each other 4 weeks ago, and 'Brady schooled Tebow on quarterbacking'. Uhhhh, no. The Broncos handed the ball to the Patriots 3 times resulting in 17 points. The Patriots won by 18. You do the math. The Patriots scored when given the opportunity, and the Broncos gave them those. This will likely not be that game. The Broncos will have to remember three things. 1) Don't turn the ball over. That one is fundamental. 2) Speed kills. The Broncos are faster than New England at the receiver position, the lines, the defense and the quarterback. Last meeting, the Broncos tried to control the pace of the game. Open it up and let the players play. 3) Brady can't use his gaudy number of weapons if you run the ball 3 ways, hard fast and continuously. The problem for Denver is indeed that Brady has a gaudy number of weapons. But just for the record, no, the NE tight-ends are not faster than the Denver linebackers can cover. Still, experience matters, and I think that's what carries this game.
Denver -13, New England - 28
Houston Texans (3) at Baltimore Ravens (2)
I hate the Ravens, okay? I want Houston to kick their ass, period. TJ Yeats has been phenomenal as a rookie QB, and the Texans D is better (and certainly cleaner) than the Ravens. This is the game I'm calling based on emotion.
Houston - 27, Baltimore -21
Update: It's early, but I may have been wrong about that San Fran defense. Maybe too the offense.
Update: Hell, I was wrong about the San Fran offense.
I just wish that my RAIDERS had gotten the job done against the Chargers and that they were in the playoffs.
Dude, you do realize that the Raider's fortunes are never going to change while they remain the most penalized team in the NFL, right? Most of their penalties happen on defense, but way too many on offense as well. You can't give the opponent 100 yards and expect to win. I think Hue Jackson was confused. He wasn't meant to bring the Raiders a sense of enthusiasm or destiny. He was meant to bring them discipline, and he failed miserably. The younger Davis, of poor dress and worse haircut, apparently doesn't share his father's romance with the game. He wants wins and profit. I'm sorry, Eric. I think your team is destined for the cellar for at least another few years.
Every team save one in the AFC West has hired two head coaches in the last three years. The only team with consistency is the one which has gotten consistently worse since Norv Turner's tenure began. The Chiefs will likely do well with Romeo. The Raiders are stuck in inconsistent hell. They traded away too many picks for Palmer, and now they're stuck with him regardless of what they can build, regardless of who wishes to coach for the impatient and petulant Davis. The Broncos have found a winner in Fox, and I suspect they'll keep him for many years. John Elway has much to do with that. The Chargers? Who knows. They've got one of the best receivers in football, and one of the best tight ends of all time. They have a guy who can legitimately contend for elite status at quarterback. Look at the scenario, and I don't think the Raiders are much for being a team to expect great things of.
Sorry, Eric. The Raiders have an epic reputation, but it probably isn't going to be satisfying being a fan for a while.
Time has been limited for me. That's probably an understatement. I have had little (awake) free time and I've chosen to spend it with my many greatest loves, my wife, my animals and NFL Football. Reviewing my last post, and inspired by comments therein, and an email or many over the years, I would just like to throw a few thoughts out.
There are those who deride football as being a waste of concern. There are those who think the undo influence exerted by players is a net bad for society. There are those who believe that fostering certain ideas are politically bad due to the awful tie between dogma and leadership. It's not that I think any of those people to be wrong, per se. I just don't really care.
See, I love NFL football. I have watched the sport since I was 5 years old, and to this day my admiration for it and study of it has not waned one bit. Anyone is welcome to suggest that it manipulates my emotions based on lizard brain stimulus. Fine. I get that. So what? Most of the functions that give people joy are the very same. Sex, strenuous activity, drugs, competition at any level, seeing friends succeed just as the disappointment of seeing them fail, religion, music, dancing, hobbies, political advocacy. All manipulate the emotions in the same manner that football does for me, if not to same intensity.
I don't like religion mixed with my football. I like politics mixed even less. The problem with Tebow is that folk think they have to mix them both with a guy who really has no say in the direction of either. He's a football player and that's what he can control. Right now, he's thrilling me to no end. He plays good football. If people in the Flathead want to idolize him, really, so what? People believe what they want to believe. There is no forcing them to idolize what is healthier for 'mankind'. There is no fostering of behavior that we see as worse than what has come before. Tim Tebow can speak to these folk and make no difference to their thinking at all. Yet we'd rather he not do it? Why?
It is an insistence, a nagging reminder of a well wornout canard. The underlying axiom is that football is a grand distraction from 'bigger things'. To which I can only respond that no, it's a distraction from 'different things'. We are human beings, each one running a unique mental program of unimaginable complexity. Our stimuli are unique, our moral codes very personal and our interests well varied - even among singular individuals. What's common is that we all have stimuli and interests which inform our moral codes. What else is common is that we all have distractions. Those can only be seen as bad if we have a society pre-convinced that many personal values should be universal, and that distractions from those values is a net harm. Fine. I accept that and simply submit that distractions are necessary activity for the human animal. Some are destructive to the host and society. Some are shared activity among like stimulated folk. It shouldn't be a mystery that I come down in the camp of the latter.
To bring this back to Tebow, part of this post is in reaction to Pete Talbot's comment below. I don't highlight that to insult it, but rather to applaud it. Pete made a very clear distinction between Tebow the Player and Tim the Evangelical fostering bad behavior among others who foster bad behavior. I appreciate that distinction a great deal, because it feels very natural to me. I don't care about Tim the Evangelical save that I agree with Pete about bad behavior from those folk. Craig Moore responded in defense and Pete has accepted the challenge. The interchange is fine, enjoyable even. It peaks my interest. That's because they're discussing politics and a moral code in critique of the stimulus of religion. That's not a stimulus I'm personally invested in, and politics/religion are deep interests of mine. What they're not talking about is how lame my personal distraction is. What they're not talking about is a quarterback. My quarterback.
When Tebow comes in March, I may be right there in my tut-tutting of his tutalage. But I remember this clearly. As a good liberal I was morally outraged by the very thought of Tim and his Mom doing an ANTI-abortion commercial during the SUPER BOWL! I saw it. You know what? It wasn't offensive at all. It's base message was "think of what could happen in the world with the life of this baby." The thing most on the right miss is that most women going in for an abortion already think about those things. What get's missed on the left is that Tebow and his mother were advocating a *choice*. Football gained him the popularity for his pulpit, but he wasn't speaking for the NFL, the NCAA, for fans or for any who love football as football. If you want to hold to the idea that Tim the Evangelical is a bad person and or bad for society, that's fine. He's an entertainer, like any other, and how far one goes to condemn him is equally measured by how far one goes to enforce their own moral code. It doesn't his play on the field, now does it?
Football is a distraction, agreed. Many employers hate it because it distracts from productivity. Many persons hate it for personal reasons, such as that they've encountered football players behaving badly. Many hate it because they find it an abhorrently violent ground acquisition struggle of pointless merit and minimal return to the nature of good. Many hate it because it is a big money business. So what? Many have a difficult time with disagreement, that's what. That also seems universal to the human animal. I'm not a big fan of poetry, dramatic readings, interpretive dance, modern pop-music, the Baltimore Ravens, RAP, poorly written horror, conspiracy theories and stupid people. These are distractions that clearly don't work for me, but obviously work for others. The only reason my distractions would cause reaction, and yours would cause reaction with me, is that we disagree. Tim Tebow appears to be a point, a focus, of great disagreement. I would submit that disagreement is proof that a distraction actually matters.
(Bonus points if you know the origin of that quote.)
Tim Tebow is coming to Montana; Kalispell, more specifically. He's the carrot for a Christian school fundraiser in March. He will speak of football, his life experiences and his faith. Given his obvious charm, he will no doubts enthrall the assembled donors. I've no problem with that.
But he is my quarterback, for good or ill. And I'm already tired and annoyed by the attacks against Tim Tebow the person hidden within complaints against his football skill. So lets get a few things clear, 'kay?
Tim Tebow is mostly what Christians aspire to be. He's also what many of us wish Christians in general would be. He is (as indicated) charming, humble, humorous, giving of himself, thankful, faithful, very hard working and committed. There are those who've asked many times and I ask the same question: What's not to like? He's a good man, who may or may not ever become a great NFL quarterback. American sensibilities have changed somewhat about what is a good man, and I think most would have been pleased if he had entered the news confab after the Pittsburgh game, muscular arms spread wide, screaming "Are you not entertained?" (Small points if you know that quote.)
There are those who absolutely must point out that "Tebow worships a magic sky fairy ~snicker~" Uhm, fine. I would ask this: Tebow doesn't deride you to accept his religion. Why would you deride him to accept yours?
Then there are those who want desperately to believe that Tim Tebow makes them feel bad. These are mostly the ones who just wish he would quit talking about his faith. I see no reason why he would or he should. It's still magical thinking. 'Tebow gives credit to his God but he should make that private because somehow it will be bad - while he wins games. Personally, I don't give a crap if he gives credit to his toilet bowl, as crazy as that would be. Tebow followed his path and he likes it, so others want to believe that he's looking down on them because their results weren't as stellar or what-have-you. That's mostly fear and jealousy. If you feel bad because Tebow wears his faith in the open, then I suggest you commit to your path as he has committed to his.
There are those already who suggest that Tim's Christian piety is an act, a hustle, a grift. Show what you know. Tim Tebow works his ass off, and people aren't as stupid as one would expect. If Tebow were running a hustle he would be exposed as simply as Ryan Leaf or as complexly as JaMarcus Russell. Tebow wins games. He competes. If he is running a hustle to give God the credit, then all power to him. I'm a Bronco fan. I like the Broncos winning games. And most high-profile wide receivers are grifters anyway ... (So what did happen to Randy Moss and Terrell Owens? ...)
I like Tim Tebow and look forward to seeing him after 7 months of working with John Elway. John Fox should be the Coach of the Year (though Jim Harbaugh likely has that won.) If Tebow wants to come to Montana to raise money for schooling then good on him. I truly don't care. His faith is part of what makes him an exciting draw to watch. For me, he is my quarterback. So, bring on New England.
So, what is his first blog post of the New Year? A conspiracy theory focusing on Montana Cowgirl, Left in the West, and of course, myself. I doubt that smashes any records for breaking a New Year's resolution, but it did make my morning a little more amusing.