Archive | December, 2015

NFL15 Cherry Picks W17: “Uncertain Glory”

31 Dec

“O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun
And by and by a cloud takes all away!”

....deVere.1575.Brown&Harding.wc.thumbTwo Gentlemen of Verona
“Proteus,” A.1, S.III, Shake-a-Spear (Ed de Vere (1550-04))

Surprised? Don’t be. Everything’s connected, right? Right.

And it’s that uncertainty of success that hovers over every team in this topsy-turvy NFL15 like a building cumulus.

Yet there are certainly front-runners. Vikes, the Jets, Pittsburgh all inspire healthy optimism but none is without at least a few serious question marks (?).

Injury-laden rosters are a commonality in December. It’s a sorry state that enlists all 32 teams to a war of attrition and will make onlookers-in-prognosticate, hesitate, especially when key cogs go down, i.e., C. Johnson & Mathieu (Arizona), Blount & Edelman (New England), Lynch & Rawls (Seattle).

But other clubs have deeper concerns entering the playoffs, making their “path(way) to glory” an uncertain one.

Carolina Panthers

......Newton.9.28.14.wc.K.Allison.thmRon Rivera’s Panthers are 1-2 in playoff games, losing at home to San Fran in the 2014 NFC divisional (23-18) and last January taking out a Palmer-less Arizona in the wild-card before getting bounced by Seattle (31-17).

Fifth-year field general Cam Newton is a bona-fide MVP candidate in 2015 (#4). He’s also a bona-fide flash QB and it may be his and his team’s undoing. Cam’s rising rabbit-habit red flags (9a+ per). With one regular game remaining (TB) the Carolina signal-caller is likely to surpass his career mark for rush attempts in a season (127 (‘12)) and may pass the 700 yard mark for the third time (626).

Every time a QB runs up field for a gain he loses, sometimes necessarily, an opportunity to hone his passing trade, an artisan’s craft that will be called upon and tested-in-full in critical times against the toughest opponents, as fellow run-QB Colin Kaepernick discovered to his detriment in SB47 and NFCC (‘14): Pass-challenged. RIF: Reading (D) is fundamental.

Kansas City Chiefs

....Reid.wc.USAF.SgtSTSturkol.thm.8.6.08If by the end of W6 (1-5) you weren’t seriously wondering whether Andy Reid would be back for 2016, especially with the late-season slumps KC’s had since he arrived (2-5 (’13), 2-4 (’14)), then you’ve not been paying attention.

Remembering the lose of all-purpose Jamaal Charles (ACL) in W5 action and it all makes this 2d-season 2015 renaissance in Kansas City just that much more terrific and unexpected.

A schedule that has not been ‘toughest this side of the Pecos (PIT win (W7) was Ben-less)’ has played it’s part in the win-streak (9), though, fair to write that some of similar slate have found ways to lose (See; NYG, CHI, NO, MIA, etc.). Like the Panthers & Cincinnati Bengals (Lewis 0-5), playoff wins have been elusive of late for Kansas City and a W will go a long way to certify them as mettle-grade.

Green Bay Packers

....Rodgers.wc.cca.M.Morbeck.08.thumbNFL fans have a soft spot for QBs. Good ones. They’re not easy to find. It’s a quarterback game, ever since Cleveland signal-caller Otto Graham and coach Paul Brown teamed-up in the late 40s and turned the football world on it’s head.

The Pack has a dandy in reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers. He fell out of contention for back-to-backs as GB took some serious hits along with his stat-line, but he, like his predecessor in Favre, always makes his team a contender.

Sometimes we’re blinded by the brilliance of a quarterback, overlooking his and surrounding shortcomings. Such has been the case in recent times with names like Rivers, Brees, Eli Manning and Jay Cutler, highly skilled practitioners of the art-form who make their struggling squads look better than they actually are. Those four alone may account for 15-20% of my poor picks in 2015 (whine).

Packers and Mike McCarthy have done it all (SB45) and represent the National’s standard-bearer franchise (Pats AFC). But there’s something seriously wrong with the formula in 2015 (See; AZ) and if they can’t brainstorm an answer soon the purple’s gonna’ rain at Lambeau in 2016 (1.3).

Guiding Line

“Fortune is ally to the brave (“Zeus (Olivier),” Clash of the Titans (‘81))”

Baker’s Crazy-Dozen

....baker.M.Andaya.USS.JC.Stennis.11.7.06.PJ.Perkins.thmIn Week 16 action, Seattle lost to a 6-8 Rams, GB lost like a 4-10 (AZ), Cats cave to a 7-7 Falcons (an earlier loss could’ve been beneficial but this late-in-the game, a perfect record (16-0) would’ve been a plus), Steelers lose by 3 to an intra-rival (BAL 4-10), Pats lost in OT to a 9-5 they might’ve won had Bill not over-thunk it (elect to kick) and homer KC squeaks by CVD. That leaves AZ, the Rodney Dangerfield of NFL (“no respect“), as the no-brainer #1 tab.

Some had AZ at or near #1 for some time now (“Hail (Arians)!”). I say, welcome.

In pre-playoff ranks, experience and quality-of-play, not just W-L, matter much.

1. AZ
2. NE
3. CIN*
4. PIT
5. SEA
6. DEN*
7. GB
8. CAR
9. NYJ
10. MIN
11. KC
12. HOU
13. Tie: ATL & DC
* Presumes Dalton & Peyton make full returns for their team’s playoff openers.


Cherry Picks Week 17: Predicting Inconsistency

NYJ (10-5) @ Buffalo (7-8), 1.3 CBS 1:00: Jets win
Patriots (12-3) @ Miami (5-10), CBS 1:00: Pats win
Saints (6-9) @ Falcons (8-7), Fox 1:00: Atlanta wins
Lions (6-9) @ Chicago (6-9), Fox 1:00: Detroit wins
Philadelphia (6-9) @ NYG (6-9), Fox 1:00: Giants win
Redskins (8-7) @ Cowboys (4-11), Fox 1:00: Dallas wins
Titans (3-12) @ Indianapolis (7-8), CBS 1:00: Colts win
Ravens (5-10) @ Cincinnati (11-4), CBS 1:00: CIN wins
Steelers (9-6) @ Cleveland (3-12), CBS 1:00: Pitt wins
Jaguars (5-10) @ Houston (8-7), CBS 1:00: Texans win
Raiders (7-8) @ KC (10-5), CBS 4:25 (GTW3): OAK wins
Chargers (4-11) @ Denver (11-4), CBS 4:25: Broncos win
Buccaneers (6-9) @ Carolina (14-1), Fox 4:25: Cats win
Seahawks (9-6) @ Cards (13-2), Fox 4:25 (GTW): AZ winw
St. Louis (7-8) @ San Francisco (4-11), Fox 4:25: 49ers win
Minnesota (10-5) @ GB (10-5), NBC 8:30 (GTW2): GB wins

Record: 89 – 90

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Ed.deVere, wc.cca, T.Cooper-YUP, Brown&Harding, 1575+; C.Newton, 9.28.14, K.Allison, wc; A.Reid, wc, USAF, Sgt.ST.Sturkol, 8.6.08; A.Rodgers, wc, 2008, M.Morbeck; baker, wc, M.Andaya, USS.Stennis, 11.7.06, PJ.Perkins; cherries-ripe, wc, Chirak, 6.24.7; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 12.31.15 @ 4:23pm, edit 7:06 EST; Copyright © 2015


NFL15 Minute Waltz 17: Too Much Genius

29 Dec

Wow Bill Belichick

The setting: NFL15 over-time (20 all), Week 16, Patriots at the Jets.

New England wins the coin-flip.

....Belichick.wc.cca.D.Shankbne.4.24.12.thmbBut rather than choosing to receive the ball, you choose instead to give the ball to your opponent in hopes that your defense will prevent them from scoring, in order that you may get the ball back and score to win the game in the preferred manner of your choosing which was in this case kicking a field-goal (Gostkowski).

Wow, William.

That coin-toss call was kinda’ like ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ Even though you had the jack ($) to pay Paul (Brady et al)) you could’ve left old Peter out of it.

Sporting Gods must be scratching their heads on this one. Even for Belichick, who’s well known to pull a rabbit out of his hat on occasion (“Belichick Effect”) and lives by his own dictates-in-strategy, this one was really pushing his luck.

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbNFL office is partly to blame for this sort of over-think on Patriots part.

The “tinker bells” should’ve left well enough alone in the overtime play.

But their modus operandi seems to be, ‘If it works, fix it,’ especially if it rings the register. Cha-ching (See; sticky-gloves)!

Sudden-death overtime worked fine. Kinda’ cool, too. A finality we were forced to face. Life lesson. Serious stuff. And not many cry-babies in the aftermath, either. Now they come outta’ the woodwork. First to score, be it by field goal, TD or safety is the winner. Simple. Clear. You’ve got a defense, make it work.

....tinker.bell.Wondercon.7731.wc.4.19.14.Mooshuu.tmbOvertime is a gift. And the newer form (NCAA form is an embarrassment to the game) may be fostering bad risk-taking.

In a tie at end of regulation, both clubs played not-to-win, so to speak. If you don’t get the pigskin on offense in the extra period, tough luck. You had plenty of chances to settle the score in the regular and now it’s time to go home, fellas.

The changes the NFL office worked (Competition Cmte?) are like an attractive nuisance in tort. If someone tinkering hadn’t left that darn ladder outside, that so-an-so wouldn’t have climbed up it, bumped his head and found negligence.

Bill’s got a little bump on his head from the Jets loss. He’s on such a lofty perch (4 SB wins (6)) it’s hard to see. But it’s there. And it’ll heal soon enough.

And I hope Wow Bill Belichick keeps taking chances, like that 4th & short from inside their own 30 late versus the Colts a few years back (Brady pass to Moss). It was gutsy call and rationally-based. And I still think Randy got the 1st-down, too.

But next time, Bill, give your noggin’ a break. ‘The shortest distance between two points is a straight line,’ big guy: Jets 26, Patriots 20.

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credit: B.Belichick, wc.cca, 8.28.09, K.Allison; Belichick, wc, Shankbne, 4.24.12; NFL-symbol, wikiproject; tinker-bell, wondercon.7731, wc, 4.19.14, Mooshuu; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, 2011, wc;
Posted: 12.29.15 @ 4:07pm EST; Copyright © 2015

NFL15 Minute Waltz W17: MVP Weekend

28 Dec

If you had a choice, which would you rather win:

1) The jewel-encrusted Super Bowl champion’s ring; or
2) NFL MVP trophy?

Keep in mind, it’s pretty good chance that the trophy comes with a ring too, plus a $100 coupon for Golden Corral (drinks not included) and a faux-wood pen & pencil set with recipient’s name and birth-date engraved. Just a guess.

.....SuperBowl.Ring.7.3.14.wc.USEmbassyCan.thmDoesn’t help, huh? I’ll make it easier.

There’s a strong likelihood most sport fans will go with the ring. And “that makes sense.”

The aura of a champion, one having run the gauntlet and vanquished a season’s slate of ornery opponents to get that ‘brass ring’ creates a palpable presence for the rank.

In team sport it’s why you play the game. Not for individual glory (Of course not, ask a offensive lineman or linebacker), but for fulfillment of a much broader community quest where multiple parts must work in harmony to reach the promised land and sup from the crowned cup of a victor. Roar!

.....MVP.NFL.6.23.13.Teo's89.thmOn the other hand, the wearer of a ring, quite formidable in size if you’ve ever cast your glims on one (0.5 oz?), must share his success. Even the championship-game MVP cannot claim sole responsibility for the enormity of the victory.

Although team success will often figure largely into the individual awarding, the regular season Most Valuable Player is recognized for his personal statistical achievement, contribution to that team success and an acceptable character on and off the gridiron.

Me, I’d go with the ring, the bejeweled one (SB).

But if Super swag were not a possibility in a particular season, i.e. elimination, the MVP would be a terrific consolation prize, a special marker of achievement in a life devoted to the sporting life. A pretty cool piece o‘ braggadocio, too.

......Newton.9.28.14.wc.K.Allison.thmAnd don’t forget the endorsement deals (“discount double check (Rodgers),” etc.) that are sure to follow, as long as you keep it clean (See; Peyton (“HGH” claim)).

As to the showing-off, just being named will have to suffice for the winner. The item itself leaves alot to be desired in form & substance. Frankly, it’s a clunker.

I don’t know who foots the bill for the MVP sculpture (NFL, PA or AP?) but the phrase ‘on the cheap’ comes to mind. Less a symbol of spectacularism, it looks more like a foot high sprinkler-head with an NFL cap and alot of space in the middle. Trophy lite, as it were. Radiant and lusterful it is not.

The NFL 2015 MVP recipient will be voted after close of the regular season and the winner announced day before the Super Bowl is played (2.6.16).

........Palmer.wc.9.3.15.J.Beall.thmIt’s a close race coming down the stretch requiring all 16 regular season games to figure a winner.

Cam Newton’s having a fine year but his digits are not MVP-like and Panthers suffering first loss of 2015 versus a 7-7 Falcons takes some bloom off the rose.

Cats feasted when NFC’s big dogs were shaking fleas (SEA / GB) yet their slate has been just mid-challenging rest of the way. NFC South turned surprisingly pathetic, given Falcons start and then Newton’s rabbit-habit (9+ attempts per) is gonna’ be his and his team’s undoing (See; Kaep (“Red-Zone Blues”) & Johnny Runs Alot).

....Bowman.wc.9.8.13.D.Hartwig.thmCarson Palmer’s right there, neck n‘ neck with the leaders. His numbers and leadership mirror Brady’s (See; and comeback from injury (’14) in advanced NFL age inspires (turned 36 Sunday in win v GB). And Arians’ Cards, they’re pretty nifty, too, losing likely All-Pro in Mathieu and filling the void.

Last season’s winner Rodgers (‘11 / ‘14) fell out after getting sacked into oblivion (8) by AZ on Sunday, Wilson similarly lost ground in loss at home to Rams but manager-QB Alex Smith would appear a dark horse candidate, riding a 2nd-half surge on smart play in KC’s push for the playoffs.

And too bad defenders don’t get serious consideration, Misters Alan Page (‘71) and Lawrence Taylor (‘86) excepted. If they did, another great comeback story is in NaVorro Bowman would become only the 3rd stoppage guy to grab the haughty hardware. Tackle-machines D’Qwell Jackson, Lavonte David and Reshad Jones all merit mention, as well.

....Brady.8.28.09.K.Allison.wc.thm.DCBut it’s been Tom Brady’s award to win or lose from the quarter-mile mark.

Brady (’07 / ’10) has been stalwart since he and his Pats easily dispatched Indianapolis in last January’s playoffs and has field-general’d like George S. Patton ever since, with team injuries galore and that Deflategate cloud hanging stationary overhead.

Consistently very good, sometimes great and never a bad outing going back to last season’s PS, in Patriots three defeats in 2015, two went OT (@ DEN, @ NYJ) as Brady put up solid #s to kept them close and outcome in doubt until final gun.

The following is how the top contenders stack-up after 16 weeks.

....Houseman.wc.A.Light.1979.thmHouseman MVP Meter
…awarded “the old-fashioned way, they eaaaaarn it

1) Tom Brady
2) Carson Palmer
3) Alex Smith
4) Cam Newton
5) NaVorro Bowman
6) Top running back
7) Top receiver
8) Top offensive lineman
9) Top field-goal kicker
10) Top injury-bump (Dalton)

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credit: T.Brady, wc, 11.29.15, J.Beall; Super.ring, wc, 7.3.14, US.Embassy, CAN; NFL-MVP, Teo’s89, wc, 6.23.13; C.Newton, wc, 9.28.14, K.Allison; C.Palmer, wc, Beall, 9.3.15; N.Bowman, wc, 9.3.13, D.Hartwig; T.Brady, wc, Allison, 8.28.9; J.Houseman, 1979, wc, A.Light; wc, 2011, macroecono, lamcasinoroyal.
Posted: 12.27.15 @ 11:16pm EST; Copyright © 2015

NFL15 Cherry Picks W16: Super Sizing

24 Dec

Measuring the Material

Maybe you’re not buying any new cloths this holiday season. Some don’t.

.....tailor.1888.wc.Meggendorfer&Bonn.tmYou’re one of those rare individuals whose wardrobe is A-okay. You’re covered: No frays, no tears, not sos anyone would notice, and still setting the right mood with what ya’ got. All is hunky-dory. That’s grand.

Me, I need mood alteration, new material and variety-spice. And so thinks my beautiful wife, a judgment I trust (“I’ve got alot of faults…but ingratitude isn’t one ‘em (Patton ‘70)).”

Most of this shopping happens online. And before you give that credit card and click the ‘Order’ button you will have to size-up. Typically, it’s no problem unless your spree runs into December when sizes & supplies run low. Side-track: Is it just me or are those button-fly blue-jeans (Levi’s 501®) the kookiest koncept to come down the pike? A string of buttons…down there? Those knobs “gotta’ go.”

.....SuperBowl.Ring.7.3.14.wc.USEmbassyCan.thmAnd the same kind of sizing-up goes on in the NFL: Who‘s a contender, who‘s a pretender and so-on. With just two games remaining in the regular slate, measuring the playoff material in the holiday rush has become a standard operating procedure for footballers.

But volatility is the word in 2015. Up one week, down the next is the norm for far too many teams this year. And it‘s not just about injuries, either, though, they‘re mounting (See; Denver, etc.). It’s not the rule, as Carolina, New England and Arizona’s consistency attest but it might just as well be one.

Baker’s Dozen

1. New England
2. Arizona
3. Seattle
....baker.M.Andaya.USS.JC.Stennis.11.7.06.PJ.Perkins.thm4. Green Bay
5. Carolina
6. Pittsburgh
7. Kansas City
8. New York Jets
9. Cincinnati
10. Denver
11. Minnesota
12. Washington
13. Houston


.....Arians.9.8.14.wc.thmb.FF.SwamiDefense matters on a Arians team (#7 / 7) and loss of key cog Mathieu is big, someone Dick Sherman might emulate (tackling). Arizona took a chance on “Honey Badger” after drugs came to light at LSU but the former Tiger has come up aces. Torn ACL (v PHI) creates a void (80t – 16pd – 5i) that’s hard to fill this late in the game. Last year it was Palmer, this year Johnson & Tyrann. But Bruce Arians is a wizard and Cardinals feel destined for Super things this go-round.


Another team feeling manifest destiny will take them to Santa Clara and the balanced ball backs up the feeling (O: #8 / 1; D: 3 / 10). But quarterback Camster-the-Hamster’s rabbit-habit (9a per) is red-flagging. Not just the injury invite (See; TJ Yates, RG3, etc.) but the failure to fully fashion pocket poise and reading ability necessary in the toughest games in the most critical moments by caving too often to athleticism.


Hard to imagine Rodgers-led team flying under-the-radar but that’s just where GB’s been cruising in the NFL analysis stratosphere since hitting the skids (1-4) midway. But they didn’t lose faith, found focus and hit the high-life again with a budding balance (O: #21 / 10; D: #17 / 5) that post-season stalwarts need. ‘Hawks & Cards may rate better in full capacity but Green Bay packs more pieces today.


Like Packers, ‘Hawks hung tough in a tough stretch (open 2-4) and now find themselves in the thick of the NFCC race. Cats ‘showed ‘em what-for during that tough time (23-27 W6) but Seattle favors a re-match. Problem: Run game ‘got gone’ with injury exits of Lynch and super-sub Rawls. Solution: Mind of Carroll. If it’s close, Steve Hauschka is a go-to kicker: 96%, 4-4 50+.


...Brady.11.29.15.wc.J.Beall.thmDeflategate ain’t over (NFL filed appeal reply this week) but Pats excelled when it hung heavy (SB49) and figure to do the same. Brady’s playing for another MVP trophy and hands-man Edelman might return for the PS but like the ’Hawks, the RB slot is a question-mark with main-man Blount’s hip-injury. And like Denver, defense has been superb (#6 / 6) but injuries are mounting. Solution: Mind of Belichick. If it’s close, Steve Gostkowski is the man: 94%, 4-5 50+.


If Big Ben stays mobile, Pitt, still not playoff set, may prove too big a test for any AFC playoff’er. All other individual talents (Brown, etc.) blend into team ranks at this time in the campaign and Steelers top-out in scoring but need to hunker down on the D-side (O: #2 / 4; D: 24 / 11), traditionally a Steel City strength. Run game reliant on vet Williams but Tomlin has these guys believing.


Andy has ’em thinking February football, something unthinkable in 1st 3rd when KC opened with road win (HOU) only to give up next five. A win over Ben-less Steelers in W7 started the current ride (8-0). QB Smith is All-Pro‘ing in 2015. As ygpg is low (O: #24 / 336y), Chiefs find ways to score (8 / 26): Opportunistic, and talent for modification (West (Charles)). Issue: 2nd half slate < challenging.


Battle of Back-Ups (Brock v AJ) Monday as Andy & Pey-Dirt mend. On their returns, rust issue is no biggie as both automatic but they’d like their ‘house in order.’ Broncs riding a 2g L-streak as both were close. Upside of Ls: No QB controversy; Down: road playoffs & mood. O-side’s been struggle in 2015 (#23 / 18) but now D’s giving points (#1 / 29). “(Bolts) Without a Country (Hale)” come calling for finale. If it’s close, Prater splits-the-uprights: 94%, 4-4 50+.


Big surprise of 2015 contenderships as Arians protégée, where Bowles was voted first AP-ACOY for NFL14, helped shape Cards’ stout Ds before taking his first hired-as-head gig in Jetsland (MIA interim 2011 (2-1)) (Fitz & BM, co-surprises #2). Had midway rough patch but have strung 4 Ws and face good playoff primer vs Pats and Bills. Trouble is, losses will bump ‘em out of PS altogether.


No house of cards, Bengals “Got (Growl)” whomever’s under center, though Andy makes it near purr-fect. Playoffs? That’s a whole ‘nother kitty, with monkey-on-its-back (Lewis & Dalton: 0-4). But Cincy shows indisputable growth (O: #11 / 4; D: 9 / 1) from prior years and seeks showcase at home for the PS. Trouble: Denver has it’s own agenda.

Bad Spot

NFL/PA greedmeisters: Games on Thursday and Saturday work but both should’ve been scheduled in day-light hours for the holidays. “Grabbing with both hands,” Rog & DeMaw.


Cherry Picks Week 16: Back in the Black

San Diego (4-10) @ Oakland (6-8): 12.24 NFLN 8:25: Raiders win
Redskins (7-7) @ Philadelphia (6-8): 12.26 NFLN 8:25: Eagles win
San Francisco (4-10) @ Detroit (5-9): 12.27 Fox 1:00: Lions win
Pittsburgh (9-5) @ Baltimore (4-10): CBS 1:00: Steelers win
Dallas Cowboys (4-10) @ Buffalo (6-8): Fox 1:00: Bills win
Chicago (5-9) @ Tampa Bay (6-8): Fox 1:00: Buccaneers win
Carolina Cats (14-0) @ Atlanta (7-7): Fox 1:00: Falcons win
Indianapolis (6-8) @ Dolphins (5-9): CBS 1:00: Miami wins
Patriots (12-2) @ NY Jets (9-5): CBS 1:00 (GOTW2): Pats win
Texans (7-7) @ Tennessee (3-11): CBS 1:00: Houston wins
Jaguars (5-9) @ New Orleans (5-9): CBS 4:05: Jaguars win
Green Bay (10-4) @ AZ (12-2): Fox 4:25 (GOTW1): Cards win
St. Louis Rams (6-8) @ Seattle (9-5): Fox 4:25: Seahawks win
New York Giants (6-8) @ Minnesota (9-5): NBC 8:30: Giants win
Cincy (11-3) @ DEN (10-4): 12.28 ESPN 8:30 (GOTW3): CIN wins

Record: 83 – 81

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: SuperBowlRing, wc.cca, 7.13.14, US-Embassy-Canada; Tailor, wc, Meggendorfer&Bonn, 1888; baker, wc, M.Andaya, USS.Stennis, 11.7.06, PJ.Perkins; B.Arians, wc, 9.8.14, FF.Swami; Brady, wc, 11.29.15, J.Beall; cherries-cloth, picdrome, 6-2011, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 12.24.15 @ 2:27pm; edit 10:53 EST; Copyright © 2015

NFL15 – W16: Bengals Nor Broncos a House of Cards

21 Dec

Besides the inevitable pink-slip or eagerly encouraged exit, it’s the biggest fear of every single NFL head coach, that his starting quarterback will go down & out for extended time with an injury.

In 2015, head honchos of the Ravens (Flacco), Colts (Luck), Broncos (Manning), Eagles (Bradford), Cowboys (Romo) and Bengals all had that fear realized and were forced to improvise as their top signal-callers went out with hurts that sidelined them for anywhere from two games (Sam) to indefinitely (Peyton).

.....Romo.10.13.10.bigcatsliar.wc.thmbHalf of those clubs were struggling as it was (BAL – PHI – IND) whereas the Cowboys (2-0) were looking back-in-the-saddle and the Mustangs (7-2) and Bengals (10-2) were well on their way to Playoff-land when trouble hit.

But as things have gone with the clip-board boys at the controls both Denver’s Gary Kubiak and Cincy’s Marvin Lewis might say, ‘Embrace the fear!’ as their teams have been fairing pretty well since their stars-under-center exited the field to heal.

Fourth-year man Brock Osweiler (62%, 8t-4i) has played competently during a 3-2 run keeping the Broncos in the hunt, losing a close one at Pittsburgh in W15 play (27-34), while not-far-removed from Crimson campus A.J. McCarron (70%, 2-0, 3t-2i) has guided the Tigers offense with a similar calm, cool & collected demeanor.

That dread that will drape over coaches, crew & coliseum faithful at losing their favored gladiator is not unfounded.

.....McCarron.0.17.13.EOoP-USGov.wc.thmMore often than not those proverbial wheels come off the winning wagon as the under-study usually doesn’t have the playbook down nor exhibit the same rapport with his co-workers as did the injured field general. Pull out the key card and the structure will usually come crashing down, tumble like a house of cards that never should‘ve stood in the first place.

So when the wheels stay on sprockets it feels like a blessing.

And so far the Broncos and Bengals are “Houses of the Holy (Led Zeppelin ‘73),” set to square off in a Battle of the Blessed in the Monday Night feature (12.28 / 8:30 EST) at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.

Odds-makers will have a tougher time picking a favorite in this holy war than they will the point-spread, but this worn & weary NFL15 prognosticator, one that advises against making any wager beyond the friendliest sort, is tabbing the Bengals (11-3) to pull-off the win over the Broncos (10-4). Neither Dalton nor Manning are expected to make a return at this stage in the season, aiming, at best, for the post-period.

....Osweiler.wc.9.29.13.J.Beall.thmWhile Bengals (#11 / 4) advantage over Broncs in team offensive ranks (#22 / 18) was compiled largely with Andy at the controls, McCarron’s shown a talent-in-transition that inspires confidence while his defensive ‘mates are leading (papg: #1 v 4 (DEN)) and closing the gap on their equally orange-clad enemy’s season-long hold on the key stoppage category (yapg: #9 v 1 (DEN)).

This Denver donnybrook will be one of three certified mettle match-ups that will highlight Week 16 action as Patriots (12-2) visit division rival and unexpectedly resilient New York (9-5) in Sunday’s early slate (12.27 / 1:00 EST) as the Packers (10-4) travel to the land of saguaros to take on fellow NFC contender Arizona (12-2) in later play (4:25).

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credit: M.Lewis, 9.16.13, wc.cca, emeybee; M.Lewis, wc, AJ.Allmond, 6.29.10; T.Romo, wc, bigcatsliar, 10.13.0; A.McCarron, wc, 10.17.13, EOoP, US-Gov; B.Osweiler wc, 9.29.13, J.Beall; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc, 2011
Posted: 12.21.15 @ 11:59am EST; Copyright © 2015

NFL15 Cherry Picks W15: “It’s Not You, It’s Me”

19 Dec

Scapegoats in Season

.....replay.NFL.Parry&Colvin.wc.J.Hall.08.thmbThere’s been “much ado about (nearly) nothing (de Vere)” this 2015 NFL campaign where officiating is concerned and it’s reached a kind of weird, unexpected boiling point this week, no thanks in large part to stokers in the paid media (“Richard Sherman’s Four Ways to Fix” / SI / 12.18.15).

But this topic isn’t about them (referees), nor the NFL rules book, not to any great degree, anyway, it’s about us and the ‘Me First’ attitude which predominates in our culture no matter the season.

And nothing was more indicative of the self-serve sensibility in sport and society in general than the Whine-fest which ensued post-SB49 after Seattle failed to score late in the contest and the play-call critics came outta’ the woodwork like they’d never seen a football game before.

The mass of fandom has very little interest in accuracy or truth in officiating of their games, as long as they get the cherry end of the lollipop, to put it in the Marilyn Monroe vernacular (v. “fuzzy end (Some Like It Hot (’59))”).

....scapegoat.wc.WH.Hunt.1854.thm.UKI’ve yet to hear of a contemporary NFL’er who has conceded to giving up a gain or born a burden (penalty) in order to side with a referee call and further justice.

The only instance I’ve ever heard of anyone in a sport venue siding with a damning decision by an official was Houston Astros pitcher Don Wilson (1945-75). Here’s excerpt of the rare event from The Complete Handbook of Baseball (Z.Hollander, 1976 ed, Signet):

“In a game at Forbes Field, the scorer had ruled a hit instead of an error, leading to earned runs off the Houston pitcher. Next day the scorer was being harangued in the Houston dugout with Jim Owens (pitch-coach) leading the tirade. Wilson spoke up: “Leave the guy alone, I happen to think he made the right call.”

.....Alexander.7.0.06.boboroshi.thm.DC.wcAnd instant-replay, it’s been one of the worst recent developments in sport, like HFCS for a sugar-junkie, never satisfied. Only PED enablement that goes on (NFLPA), mad merchandising (sticky-gloves, Color Rush, etc.) and gambling (FanDuel – DraftKings) rank worse (TV commercials-in-excess are up there). Like the man pretty much said, “(We) can’t handle the truth (Nicholson (A Few Good Men))!”

“It’s not you, it’s me.” Costanza didn’t have any hair on top but he had kahunas.

Houseman MVP Meter…
…Awarded “the old-fashioned way, they eaaaarn it

1) Tom Brady
2) Carson Palmer
3) Cam Newton
.....Brady.wc.cca.mongomez93.thmb4) Aaron Rodgers
5) NFL’s top tackler
6) top running back
7) top trenchman
8) top kicker
9) top sack-specialist
10) top pass-defender

Bad Spot Week 14

.....Bradley.7.25.14.M.Hillier.wcJaguars head coach Gus Bradley for leaving his starting QB Blake Bortles in their game against Indianapolis last Sunday (51-16) after going up 44-16 at 6:03 mark in 4th and Colts led on offense by career-backup Charlie Whitehurst, to then score another TD to make it a pile-on 51-16. Returning a ‘favor?’ ‘Two wrongs,’ Gus.


Here, There & Everywhere (Swivel-heads)

Khalil Mack (OAK): 5sk
Dee Ford (KC): 7t – 3sk

Curious Quote: “Gotta’ win the weird ones.” C. Palmer post-game v Vikes.


Cherry Picks Week 15

Jets (8-5) @ Dallas (4-9): 12.19 NFLN 8:25: New York wins
Cats (13-0) @ NYG (6-7): 12.20 Fox 1:00 (GTW1): Giants win
Bills (6-7) @ Redskins (6-7): Fox 1:00 (GTW2): Buffalo wins
Chiefs (8-5) @ Ravens (4-9): CBS 1:00: Kansas City wins
Texans (6-7) @ Indianapolis (6-7): CBS 1:00: Colts win
Falcons (6-7) @ Jacksonville (6-7): Fox 1:00: Atlanta wins
Bears (5-8) @ Minnesota (8-5): Fox 1:00: Vikings win
Packers (9-4) @ Oakland (6-7): Fox 4:05: Green Bay wins
Bengals (10-3) @ SF (4-9): CBS 4:25 (GTW3): Cincy wins
Dolphins (5-8) @ Bolts (3-10): CBS 4:25: San Diego wins
Denver (10-3) @ Pittsburgh (8-5): CBS 4:25: Steelers win
Cardinals (11-2) @ Eagles (6-7): NBC 8:30: Arizona wins
Lions (4-9) @ NO (5-8): 12.21 ESPN 8:30: New Orleans wins

Record: 74 – 77

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: J.Alexander, wc, LasVegasVegas, WSOP-09; referee, wc, Parry&Colvin, 2008, J.Hall; The Scapegoat, wc, WH.Hunt, 1854, Merseyside, UK; J.Alexander, wc, boboroshi, 7.4.06; T.Brady, mongomez93, wc; G.Bradley, 7.24.14, M.Hillier, wc; cherries, B.Kua, 6.1.08, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 12.18.15 @ 7:42pm EST; Copyright © 2015

NFL15 Minute Waltz: It’s Carroll-ing Time!

16 Dec

It’s not exactly trending topic on Twitter but then somebody‘s gotta’ ask the question: Where o’ where have all the holiday carolers gone?

......Caroling.12.22.08.TF34.USArmy.thm.Iraq.wcCaroling was a rare happening back in the 60s – 70s when I was a tike in Chicagoland, thumbing through the Sears catalog for a little Christmas joy. And then I don’t recall my parents or even grandparents bringing up the topic.

I suspect it was a tradition that started losing steam back when…well, the steam-engine and such were giving way to electricity, back at the turn of the 20th century.

With phonographs, wireless (radio), then TV etcetera, the urge to merriment was met and staying put inside where it was warm, dry and safe seemed a better call. The sociology goes deeper than that, of course, but in a nut-shell, that’ll suffice.

.......Carroll.wc.12.29.13.M.Morris.thmAnd it’s too bad because not many activities are as visceral as chorus, dressed for the cold and awaiting surprises that were likely in store throughout the evening.

So we should thank our lucky stars we have Pete Carroll, head coach of the football Seahawks to help fill the sensory void, whatever your particular team allegiance. That was some preamble, huh? History matters.

Pete’s had an interesting year, to say the least.

Getting back to his 2nd straight Super Bowl as reigning champs (SB48) after his men pulled off a terrific come-from-behind playoff win in Green Bay (28-22) to take NFC title, only to be roasted on the spit in the biggest Whine-fest in sport history for an unsuccessful play-call that ended SB49 in loss to the Patriots.

......Wilson.wc.12.29.13.L.Maurer.thmbSomehow, some way, the goat-horns escaped quarterback Wilson and target Lockette who failed to convert on the infamous play-call (INT-Butler). But Peter and OC Darrell Bevell took their lumps, explained the decision, which needed none for those of us who follow football, and moved forward.

As has been typical of recent times, the pieces are falling into place for Carroll & Company come December. But that’s not how things started for the Seahawks in NFL15.

The 2015 season got off to a rocky start, going 0-2 and middling to 2-4. The post-SB49 hangover for Seattle was intense.

.....Lynch.wc.cca.1.8.11.K.Baily.thmbLosing the year’s biggest game is bad enough but the harping by petulants and non-sporting press took its toll and led to some internal discord (See; Lynch). Seahawks had developed a BIG following, especially amongst kids who think Dick Sherman is greatest thing since Xbox®. A loss was just unthinkable.

A new defensive coordinator in Kris Richard was getting his sea-legs underneath himself as the former DC in Mike Quinn had exited Seattle for the Atlanta Falcons head coaching vacancy.

And then the unexpected, ill-advised holdout by defensive captain Kam Chancellor that began in summer camp and bled into the early season left the defensive-centric Seahawks without a key leader and bit out-of-sorts.

.....Chancellor.8.22.14.wc.M.Morris.thmbBut they hit their stride leading into the bye in reaching .500 (4-4) and have looked strong ever since (8-5 (O: #5 / 6; D: 2 / 3), giving up only one loss to NFC West division leaders Arizona (39-32 (W10)) during a 6-1 run.

December is Carroll-ing time as Seattle has compiled a 14-2 mark going back to 2012. That record is likely to improve as what remains on the schedule is not all too daunting with Cleveland (3-10) visiting next Sunday and always feisty Rams taking CenturyLink in W16 action to close out the calendar year.

NFL officers-in-schedule usually know what they’re doing and did not disappoint on the Western front as Seattle finishes the regular in Arizona to take on Bruce Arians’ bunch in a certified mettle match-up that could foretell NFC’s champ.

....Carroll.10.6.14.K.Allison.wc.DC.thmSeahawks are peaking as sidelining injuries mount in Seattle and around the League.

The loss of fine Lynch fill-in Tom Rawls to an ankle break after tight-end Jim Graham’s exit (knee) throws a sizable monkey-wrench into the machine. But if anyone can work a modification it’s ‘Belichick West.‘ As noted in an earlier post (“Gang-Way!”), Seattle is a ball-club “(Oh-no)-body (and their grandmother) want to face come January.”

......macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.wc.2011Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credit: P.Carroll, 8.22.14, M.Morris, wc.cca; Combat-caroling, USArmy-TF34, Iraq, 12.22.08; P.Carroll, 12.29.13, wc, M.Morris; R.Wilson, 12.29.13, wc, L.Maurer; M.Lynch, 1.8.11, K.Baily, wc; K.Chancellor, 8.22.14, M.Morris, wc; Un-named & Carroll, 10.6.14, DC, K.Allison; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, 2011, wc
Posted: 12.16.15 @ 3:12pm EST; Copyright © 2015