Archive for the 'Truthiness' Category

10
Jan
08

NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions: Jags at Pats

Every year, there are, interspersed amongst the games whose outcomes we are unsure, positive, or uncaring of, those games which seem to transcend all that we normally think, care and feel about football. For many, from what I gather after having read pretty much this entire Internet on the subject, one of those games will happen this weekend when the Jacksonville Jaguars enter Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA, just outside Boston, for their NFL Divisional Playoff game against the New England Patriots.

This game has even given my friend Lee, over at Football Jabber, fits of Bushillariness [booshhiluh-ree-nis] – where he says one thing, then completely contradicts his thoughts, then, in the end, he picks what you would not expect him to from reading what he says. When done, in describing what he has chosen to do, he makes it sound like he would have picked the opposite, but maybe next time. [Yes, Steven Colbert, you may use this word. In fact, you can have it. You’ll put it to better use, I am sure. But you must give acknowledgement to FanYard, as I am sure you already would have. It is kind of like truthiness, personified.]

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The talk, of course, is all about whether or not the Jaguars can beat the Patriots in this game. Can they exploit the perceived weakness of the 16-0 Patriots: their run defense? Is it possible that the Jacksonville defense can contain Randy Moss and Wes Welker and hurry Tom Brady into making a few mistakes, and then capitalize on those mistakes enough to hand the Pats what would be their first and last loss of the season?

Much of what is out there says, yes, the Jags can do it. They have the second-best running game in the league and the best in the AFC. Bill Belichick actually thinks it is the best in the NFL, and I would go with his evaluation over the paint-by-numbers rankings gotten when you go simply by yards alone, as NFL rankings do.

What happens after many people think to themselves, “Well, hey, yeah, the Jaguars can beat the Pats.” is that they then extrapolate can into will, and that is where this madness must be brought to a screeching halt.

People, you have the coach of the year…nay, the coach of the decade, leading the team of the…one of the best teams ever assembled in any sport, into the first playoff game after an unprecedented 16-0 regular season. With two weeks to prepare…for a good, young, upstart team with a new quarterback with a very interesting and heart-warming, feel-good story and an excellent running game, and a head coach who is just now learning that sometimes you must have the cajones to take risks in this league before you are going to come across as smart.

Yes, that young team could come into New England and beat the Patriots, of course. Anything can happen in a football game, we all should know by now. But the chances are slim. So slim that I find it truly amazing how many people are saying it is going to happen.

And, if these naysayers are being that way because they just really hope to see their hated Patriots lose so badly that they can’t seem to allow logic into their thought processes, here is a hint for when the Pats play in the AFC Championship game against either San Diego or Indianapolis: pick New England. No matter what you think, pick New England to win and write it everywhere you can.

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New England thrives on bulletin board material, or so we are led to believe, in order to keep focused on proving everyone wrong. It is too late for this weekend’s game, you’ve already given them all the firepower they need to be pumped up. The will beat down the Jags 35-17. The Yardstick for this game calls for just a ten-point Patriots victory, but it is a little low.

Next week, think about it before you write it…if you want them to lose, that is. Or give the Jaguars a ‘blueprint to win‘, like the Wall Street Journal has, thanks to Mike Tanier from Football Outsiders.

Before all that, though, join FanYard and add your two cents to the Yardstick for this game and every major football and basketball game in America.

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04
Jan
08

NFL Playoff Predictions: Jaguars at Steelers

The common thinking in this game is that the Steelers are going to be too tough to beat at home. They don’t lose at Heinz Field. Their defense is too strong. Big Ben is leading a great offense. Jacksonville’s offense is pretty good, but mostly just OK, definitely not strong enough to beat Pittsburgh twice in a row at home, especially considering that the Steelers defense is one of the best – if not the best – in the NFL.

Hear that sound? It is a bubble bursting on every Steelers fan out there. I hate to do it, as I have two very, very good friends who are huge Steelers fans…but I have to.

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(Here, I tried to find a Steelers fan blog to link to, but it seems they all stopped typing sometime between the start of the 2006 season, and the realization that their team wasn’t going to make the playoffs last year. If the Steelers do anything in these playoffs, I’ll bet one could make a killing driving a bandwagon around full of Steelers blog URLs.) In lieu of Steelers fan blogs, I had to find a good piece about this Steelers / Jaguars game.

Myth 1) Steelers too tough to beat at home: In general, this is the case, yes. But this is no general. This is the playoffs, and it is very specifically Jacksonville that needs to be taken into account. Since the start of 2K, the Jags have played in Pittsburgh four times. Three of those games have been losses for the home team, including the past two.

Myth 2) Steelers defense is too strong: This should read “was” too strong, as the Pittsburgh defense has gone from being tops in the NFL to being ranked just 14th since Week 10. The Jaguars defense, meanwhile, is the sixth-ranked defense in the NFL since Week 10. Injuries have happened to both teams on this side of the ball, but Jacksonville’s depth is obviously greater.

Myth 3) Jaguars offense just OK: If you call being the best offense not quarterbacked by Tom Brady since Week 10 “just OK,” then that is just what the Jaguars offense is. Big Ben’s offense in that same span has been worse than 17 other teams in the NFL; at the midpoint of the season, they were fourth.

Truthiness: This game is the meeting of two teams headed in completely different direction over the stretch run of the season and, though anything can happen in a football game, the Steelers just don’t match up well in this game in many aspects.

Of course, Ben Roethlisbberger has pulled rabbits out of his arm before and surprised people and I know he can do it again. Same with Hines Ward. The man is simply amazing. These two are the reason I will be glued to this game and expect a close, hard-fought battle. Best of luck to both teams.

At FanYard, the Yardstick for this game is calling for a three-point Jaguars victory. And what do you think?

Join FanYard today and have your say on this game. Get your own Yard. It’s free, easy, fun and you can track your predictions over time, too, in football and basketball.

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19
Nov
07

Ravens to Fire Brian Billick?

At least, if they have any sense they will, which appears highly unlikely, all things considered this year. Coaching makes all the difference in football, more so than any other sport. This week, in Baltimore, the call should be very loud for a new head coach for the Ravens. You don’t often see teams lose games by such obvious bad coaching decisions as those made by Brian Billick and his staff that caused the Ravens to lose to the Browns on Sunday.

The Ravens went ahead with :26 seconds left. They should have gone ahead with :02 seconds left, but Billick called for a passing play on 3rd-down – this from a supposed offensive genius. The pass fell incomplete and the field goal unit had to come on and do their job with the clock stopped. If he had ran the ball, the Ravens could have used up the time on the clock, leaving nothing for the Browns to work with. That was clear to everyone watching the game except the Ravens’ coaching staff. The Browns were standing around pretending not to be paying attention.

That was his first mistake that cost them the game. He followed that up with another, which helped to seal the deal, at least with the football gods, who saw his play-calling and realized they could not let Billick win if he doesn’t at least act like he knows something about the game.

The next mistake he made was to kick the ball to Josh Cribbs on the ensuing kickoff. All the Browns kick returner had done up until that point was to run back five kicks for 165 yards. It wasn’t like everyone would be amazed if he ran this kick back for a touchdown to win the game. Well, that did not happen, as the gods wanted to take their time with this. Cribbs ran the ball back 39 yards to the Cleveland 43. Two quick passes and the Browns were set to kick the tying field goal.

That field goal itself became a story and Brian Billick must have been suffering as it took five minutes for the officials to decide whether or not the kick was good. It was, and Cleveland got the ball first in OT. Never before, in any level of football, had anyone ever seen a football go through the uprights and come back out, thus the ensuing confusion. Credit the officials for making the right call. And credit the football gods for flexing their might when, in the Sunday Night game, it happened again on Buffalo’s field goal against New England. Never before – twice in one day. Wow.

So, the Browns elect to receive the ball first in OT. It was here that the insanity of Billick became most obvious. Even Cribbs himself, after the game, had this to say,“Coach was like, ‘They’re not gonna kick it to you … they’d have to be stupid to kick it to you this time,’ ” Cribbs said. “I was preparin’ for ‘em to kick it to (Darnell) Dinkins. Lo and behold, they kicked it deep (to me), and I’m like … what’s goin’ on?

“I started shiftin’ back to catch the ball. The whole time the ball’s comin’ back, I’m like … what are you doin?’ ”

Cribbs worked over the Ravens for a franchise-record 306 kickoff and punt return yards today. That last one, in OT, he ran back 41 yards. The Browns kicked the winning field goal shortly thereafter, and Billick’s fate should be sealed in Baltimore. I have never coached a football game in my life, and I could see the man clearly has no interest anymore in preparing for the game or understanding what is happening on the field. Good-bye Billick. Thanks for the good memories and an excellent football book (which you apparently have not read for a while).

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10
Nov
07

Brady, Patriots Rally Around Belichick’s Decision

The New England Patriots have rallied around Bill Belichick’s decision to sit Tom Brady this bye week, a report out of Boston should be saying. In fact, in support of their coaches move, many other Patriot players have pulled themselves out of this week’s lineup, too.

LB Tedy Bruschi said he would not play this weekend, and neither would any of his fellow fearsome linebackers. Bruschi said the group decision was not hard to come to once the team found out for sure that their quarterback would be sitting this week.

“We went to coach Billy and asked him if it would be all right if we, too, sat out tomorrow’s non-game just to show the world what a close-knit team we are,” said Tedy. “The man nodded in his hoodie, and we all know what that means around here.”

Randy Moss has not said whether or not he’ll be out on Gillette field, but did allude to the possibility of it being slightly harder to catch balls when there was no one to throw them to him. Moss said he can easily catch one-handed while flying six feet up in the air, with four or five defenders trying to knock the ball away. He said there is no defense in the NFL this year, at least when the Pats play, or so it seems. But, again, “it will be a little bit more difficult to make a ball just appear, Y’no’w’ym’sayn, man. I-juz dunno if I can play without Tommy.”

With the rest of the team soon following suit, it appears to this reporter like the New England Patriots will not be able to win for the tenth consecutive week this Sunday.

I caught up to Belichick and his kids this morning and was able to question him briefly on Don Shula’s comments, now retracted once his meds wore off, about having an asterisk beside the Pats record if they were to go undefeated. I thought Shula’s words might have had something to do with his decision not to play this week, thus breaking the streak of weekly wins these Pats have accumulated.

Bill said, “You know, I respect a man who can bring a first-round draft pick penalty to his team and still win. That is exactly whay I am trying to do here, is emulate the Don. If we would not have gotten docked a 1st-rounder when I was caught taping that fat, dumb bastard over on the Jets sidelines, I would have kept right on doing it until we did get docked that pick. Now, I am like Don, but I don’t want to hurt his feelings by running the table, and that is why I decided the Patriots would not win a game this week.”

When asked whether he had spoken to Brady after giving him the week off, he just looked at me like I was crazy, “Would you be answering the phone calls if you could be locked in a bedroom with Gisele?” he asked me. “Tom doesn’t get a whole lot of time during the season to get jiggy with Gisele. He ain’t gonna be seen for days.”

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Do you want an NFL, NBA, college football or college basketball schedule on your site or blog? Like the ones to the right here? Drop a comment to this post and I’ll send you what you need to get one! It is an easy RSS feed that will take you maybe two minutes, but will add a ton of value to your site.

Join FanYard today and get your predictions in on all the major College Football and College Basketball games from around the U.S., as well as every NFL and NBA game. When you make a pick at FanYard, you are more than a fan…you are part of the game!

06
Nov
07

Don Shula No F***in’ Patriot Himself

Apparently Don Shula believes that the Pats are good enough to go undefeated, but believes they should have a asterisk beside their record for this season if they do match the feat only one other team has done: Shula’s 1972 Dolphins went 14-0 during the regular season on their way to a Super Bowl victory.

This is what the crotchety old man says, “The Spygate thing has diminished what they’ve accomplished. You would hate to have that attached to your accomplishments. They’ve got it. I guess it will be noted that the Patriots were fined and a No. 1 draft choice was taken away during that year of accomplishment.” (Source: ESPN) Such truthiness, Don. Well done.

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I can understand why Shula would feel this way, as maybe back then none of the teams ‘cheated’ by using cameras and whatever else they could get hold of to see the other teams’ calls. Maybe they never thought of it, or maybe the technology did not exist.

Well, now it does exist, and teams are allowed to use pretty much anything at their disposal, except they are not allowed to film the other sideline themselves. They can use NFL Films footage and audio, still pictures, which are taken incessantly, among all the other technologies not covered in the NFL Rules tome.

For the most part, the NFL had to make a rule drawing a line in the sand, not so much because having their own video would give a team an advantage, but just to stop the act of watching the opponent’s coaching staff before it went too far. One can imagine if there were no rules, teams would have their own ‘reporters’ standing in the faces of opposing coaches, and that would just get ugly.

Before one judges the Pats on this whole nonsense, think why no other coach has said a word about it. It is because they all have done it, and don’t want it to come up again. You think the Pats’ videos was all that was burned when the league decided the whole scandal was finished and done with?

I would be willing to bet a lot of coaches had either a burning party or a burying party when they removed the footage they themselves had taken of their opponents. Not wanting to rock the boat, no one says a word. Everyone hopes it will just go away, which it should.

The people who just need something to hate on will continue to rag on the whole issue, but those are the type of people with whom talking is like clapping with one hand. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “It is as useless to argue with those who have renounced the use of reason as to administer medication to the dead.”

So, in closing note, while beating this dead horse, it should be noted – to use Shula’s preference of words – that Shula’s Dolphins were themselves charged with tampering in 1970:

The fine? Loss of a 1st-round draft pick.

The crime? Tampering with the Colts by hiring away their coach…Don Shula.

I’m just checking Don’s career records now, looking for his asterisk…

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I am sure the irony is not lost on the Don that his old team is very likely to become just the second team ever to go winless in a season in the same year that another team could very well become just the second after his old team to go undefeated. Man, that must bite. I bet he really wants to have something of value to add to the conversation. *Meh*

This coming Sunday, the Miami Dolphins (0-8) are at home to the Buffalo Bills (4-4) in Week 10, in what could be one of their last real chances for one win this year. The Yardstick as of now calls for a Bills win by at least a field goal.

Join FanYard today and get your predictions in on all the major College Football and College Basketball games from around the U.S., as well as every NFL and NBA game. When you make a pick at FanYard, you are more than a fan…you are part of the game!

21
Oct
07

Lions Roaring

The Lions are 4-2, after their seven-point win over the Buccaneers today.  They need to win six of their final ten games in order for Jon Kitna to retain his faith, and keep his truthiness.

Hot chick ALIKAT made a great call, taking Tennessee at minus 1.5 points, even though Vince Young did not play. Thanks to a record eight fiels goals by rob Bironas, the Titans pulled off a last-second two-point victory to cover for her. The Yardstick for that game ended up pointing to at least a one-point victory for the Titans, which is great, but not high enough for us to have taken the Titans at the line she was using, so score one for the girls.

I love this game. (Is that trademarked?)