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NFL16 Cherry Picks W16: Holiday Pigskin, Christmas Songs & My Favorite Things

20 Dec

Minute Waltz – NFL Week 15

Sherman on TNF = “poopfest.” Classy, but what took ya’ so long, Dick?

LA – Seattle: Rams helmets rocked but the game, and Hawks uniforms, color that looked “a cross between piss yellow and puke green,” that was all fertilizer.

No tears for axed Jeff Fisher but cow-pies for Jr.-media who campaigned.

Mike Zimmer might wish he’d had patches over both eyes (Colts win!).

Pack peaks at perfect time (CHI) and showed shades of Chandler (Crosby).

Sooooo sticky-glove: Garment game-changers aid Odell’s TD grab (DET).

To NFL GameDay Live: No more on-air Michael Jackson “love”-fest.

— — —

My Favorite Things

No “raindrops on roses” or “whiskers on kittens” in this write. No siree, Bob. That kinda’ imagery is just fine when it emanates from the beautiful & talented Mary Martin and Julie Andrews as they nurtured their youthful yodelers in the pre-War Austrian Alps, but not from this blogisphere burgermeister.

Instead, fasten that imaginary seat-belt, tune in gold standard sounds of Xmas royalty like Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Vaughn Monroe, Sammy Davis, Sinatras, Jo Stafford, Al Hirt, Jack Jones, Barb Streisand, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Vinton, Peggy Lee, Neil Diamond, Mel Tormé, Ella Fitzgerald or Gene Autry and page through this sport fan’s Yuletide album of holiday favorites.

Among those favorites, America’s greatest music genre that takes center-stage throughout the month of December, getting continuous playtime in nearly every faithful home & spirited store in the land. Though, for some, maybe those who Santa disappointed or have begun to see the season’s activity start to appear on their credit card bills, the season’s songs begin to overstay their welcome (grate on the nerves) by the month’s end. Ah.

And you won’t see Blue Christmas or Mele Kalikimaka here, either. Sirius favorites this 2016 holiday season, my song list is already jam-packed.

♫ Mix and a-mingle in the jingling feet ♫

belichick-wc-cca-k-allison-8-28-09-110kSport: Yule football, outside, daytime, cold (15°+), no promotions and won on a scoring bomb

Athlete: That baller who refuses (@ 20°+) to don cheat (sticky) gloves and realizes that his personal success turns, in measurable part, on team

NFL coach: New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick. A favorite press-conference retort in deflecting a cub reporter‘s criticism of Bill’s non-devotion to metrics strategy: “You (reporter) could attend Northeastern Analytics Conference, get your fill of it there”

NFL team: In the Black & Blue division (NFCN)

College team(s): Wildcats, Northwestern (Ill.) and Arizona (Tucson)

Christmas film: Holiday Affair, Mitchum – Leigh – Corey – Morgan (49)

Song: Winter Wonderland, Johnny Mathis (58) – Bernard & Smith

♫ Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ♫

soundofmusic-wc-salzburg-c-plummer-j-andrews-1964-20cf-831kVoice: White Christmas, Bing Crosby, Trotter Orchestra & Darby Singers (42),  Irving Berlin

Pop: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year, Andy Williams – Pola & Wyle (63)

Rock: Jingle Bell Rock, Bobby Helms, Hank Garland & Anita Kerr Quartet – Beal & Boothe (57)

Rockette: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee, Johnny Marks (58)

Tribal: I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Jerry Vale (64), Kent – Gannon – Ram

Global: O Tannenbaum, Nat King Cole (60) & Army Band, Anschütz & Franck

Film song: Have Yourself, Meet Me in St. Louis, Judy Garland – Martin (44)

Duet: Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, That Holiday Feeling album (64)!

♫ Tiny tots with eyes all a-glow ♫

armstrong-wc-2-76m-1953-nywt-staff-locKid: Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Ray Coniff Singers (59), Coots & Gillespie

Hymn: Joy to the World, Philadelphia Brass Ensemble (67), Watt – Handel

Orchestra: Sleigh Ride, Boston Pops (49), Fiedler – Leroy Anderson & Mitchell Parish

Jazz: Cool Yule, Louis Armstrong & Commanders – Steve Allen (53)

Blues: I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm, Billie Holiday (58), Berlin

Fun: You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch, Ravenscroft & Geisel – Hague (66)

Warm: It’s a Marshmallow World, Dean Martin (66), Sigman & DeRose

Glow: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Lena Horne (66), John Marks

♫ Thumpety thump-thump, thumpety thump-thump ♫

charliebrown-wc-1-3m-j-flannery-usps-2015Hot: Santa Baby, Kitt – Javits & P.Springer (53)

Cold: Frosty the Snowman, Patti Page – Walter Rollins and Steve Nelson (50)

Hope: There’s Always Tomorrow, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (TV (64)), Janis Orenstein

Swing: The Little Drummer Boy, Count Basie Orchestra (15), K.Davis

Elvis: Here Comes Santa Claus, Presley (57), Haldeman & Autry

Beatles: Happy Xmas (So This is…), J.Lennon – Y.Ono – HCC (71)

Instrumental: Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas (65)

Chorus: We Need a Little Christmas, Percy Faith – J. Herman (66)

♫ Fire’s dying but we’re still good-bying ♫

tudor-football-johnmaxmena-j-mena-wc-1974Christmas toy: Tudor Electric Football

Holiday TV: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (64), A Charlie Brown Christmas (65) and Dr. Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas (66)

TV spot: André Champagne, “Ring in the holidays (1970-80s)”

Holiday snack: Salty, Pistachios & cashews; Sweety, dark chocolate & fruit

Dinner: Baked ham, twice-baked potatoes, corn niblets & chilled Chardonnay

Good Cheer: Retail: Baileys Irish Cream; Homemade: brandy spiked egg-nog

Date: The day Nike’s NFL contract terminates (See; Color Rush, Bucs, etc.)

cherries-ripe-chirak-wc-605k-6-24-7Cherry Picks Week 16: Lambeau hosts Bad Blood II

NYG (10-4) @ Eagles (5-9): 12.22 NBC 8:25: Eagles win
Miami (9-5) @ Buffalo (6-8): 12.24 CBS 1:00: Bills win
Titans (8-6) @ Jags (2-12): CBS 1:00: Jacksonville wins
Minnesota Vikes (7-7) @ Green Bay Packers (8-6): Fox 1:00: Pack wins
Washington Redskins (7-6-1) @ Chicago Bears (3-11): Fox 1:00: Bears win
Atlanta Falcons (9-5) @ Panthers (6-8) GTW: Fox 1:00: Carolina wins
Indianapolis Colts (7-7) @ Oakland Raiders (11-3): CBS 4:05: Colts win
Tampa Bay Bucs (9-5) @ Saints (6-8) GTW: Fox 4:25: New Orleans wins
Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1): Fox 4:25: Hawks win
Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) @ Houston Texans (8-6): NBC 8:25: Cincy wins
Baltimore (8-6) @ Pittsburgh (9-5) GTW: 12.25 NFLN 4:30: Ravens win
Denver Broncos (8-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (10-4): NBC 8:30: Chiefs win
Detroit (9-5) @ Cowboys (12-2) GTW: 12.26 Disney 8:30: Detroit wins

Record: 68 -80 – 2

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Sound-of-Music-play, Martin, wc.cca, 1959, T.Frissell; Belichick, wc, K.Allison, 5.28.9; SoM, Plummer, Andrews, wc, 1964, 20CF; Armstrong, LoC, NYWT, 1953, wc; Charlie-Brown-Christmas, J.Flannery, USPS, 2015; Tudor-Electric-Football, wc, 1974, J.Mena; cherries, wc, Chirak, 6.24.7; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 12.20.16 @ 11:32am EST; Copyright © 2016

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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

Cardinals

.....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.

Panthers

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.

Packers

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.

Seahawks

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+.

Patriots

...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+.

Steelers

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.

Chiefs

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.

...Kubiak.wc.J.Beall.105.08.thmBroncos

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+.

Jets

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.

Bengals

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.

...cherries.cloth.picdrome.6.2011.thm

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 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

NFL15 Minute Waltz: “Gang-Way!”

14 Dec

Look Alive!

It’s what sets hearts aglow and spirits a rockin’ more than any other holiday treat.

.....QuietMan.wc.Republic.1952.thmThe lights, they’re terrific. Strung on the Christmas tree, draped on shrubbery or the candled menorah, the glimmer & glow is a joyous sight to behold.

Religious ceremony and family bonding, be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Hindu (Ganesha) during this time of year is a central component to the lives of 100s of millions around the globe.

The buying & gifting habit, like the succulent & savory holiday foods & drinks we ingest with glee, has spread worldwide as it were an army of missionaries or political ideologues spreading the word. “Hail, (consumerocracy)!”

But it’s the holiday music, pop and religious chart-busters, which imbue us with the spirit of the season like nothing else can. Everyone has their favorites and everyone, it seems, has gotten into the act, be it bands, solos or symphonies.

......Crosby.wc.RoadtoSingapore.1940.thmThere’s Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Percy Faith and his orchestra, Lena Horne, Burl Ives, Eartha Kitt, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Doris Day, Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Rod Stewart, The Chipmunks and even super actress Angela Lansbury joined the fun.

Some of my topper tunes:  Jingle Bell Rock (Beal & Boothe)), Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Martin & Blaine), Winter Wonderland (Bernard & Smith), and sound-tracks to both TV specials Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Marks & Laws ‘64) and A Charlie Brown Christmas (Guaraldi ‘65) : Toe-tappers and heart-string tuggers.

And every year there are a handful of holiday songs selected from the hundreds of choices by corporate programmers that, for whatever reason is a mystery to the listening public, come on like gang-busters.

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbIn Holiday 2015 it’s Toyland (Herbert & Brumer), I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (Berlin) and Marshmallow World (Sigman & DeRose) that’re getting the super spins and charging hard into our hearts.

NFL’s no different.

These teams are definitely on the holiday hop, pushing through the crowded field of contenders and shouting, ‘outta’ the way, we’re coming through!’ And are they ever, for now. Remember, this is 2015, where nothing is as it appears.

Fans had their backs turned on these teams and for good reason.

Some started slow as molasses but then warmed up to find their groove, others jumped out of the blocks, fell behind but have now found their second wind and are pushing through to the front.

New York Jets

.....Jets.11.17.68.Heidi.HoF.wc.thmAn early pace-setter (4-1), Jets lost steam (1-4) with their W7 trip to Foxborough (L 23-30) but got it back (3-0 (O: #9 / 10; D: 5 / 9) and will be tested with their final three (@ DAL, NE, @ BUF) as they battle PIT and KC for the wild card.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are the rollercoaster in 2015: Lose a few, win a few and so on. Consistent in being inconsistent. But more recently they’ve been riding upward (4-1 (O: #2 / 5; D: 23 / 10)), besting rival Cincy as Dalton went down with a good remaining slate (DEN, @ BAL, @ CVD).

Seattle Seahawks

......Wilson.wc.12.29.13.L.Maurer.thmbLooking now like the Super Bowl Seahawks we’ve come to know the past few years after starting similarly to the Steelers (up & down), this is a team nobody wants to face come January (O: #5 / 6; D: 2 / 3). It’s the Carroll-ing time of year.

Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs are clear front-runners for this season’s bipolar-award winner: The lows are lowly (1-5), the highs are simply splendid (7-0). When all-purpose RB Jamaal Charles went out (W5 – ACL), all looked gloomy. But one door closes, another opens up and it’s leading the Kansans to a land of opportunity with slightly favorable schedule.

.....Cousins.7.31.12.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumbWashington Redskins: 6-7: Have gone 3-3 the last six which is actually a good rate for the NFC East in 2015
Philadelphia Eagles: 6-7: Coach Kelly was getting cat-calls but Philly’s 2-0 since, making Chip chipper
Oakland Raiders: 6-7: Recent road win @ Titans and Denver are keeping them in the AFC playoff hunt
New York Giants: 5-7; This was posted pre-MNF and I’ve tabbed Miami, but I’m all wet in 2015

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credit: NY.Jets.plane, wc.cca, aeroprints, 6.27.14; TheQuietMan, 1952, Republic, wc; B.Crosby, RoadToSingapore, 1940, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject; NY.Jets, 11.16.68, HoF, Heidi.game.program, wc; R.Wilson, 12.29.13, L.Maurer, wc; K.Cousins, 7.31.12, wc, K.Allison; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, 2011, wc.cca;
Posted: 12.14.15 @ 1:45pm EST; Copyright © 2015

 

NFL15 Cherry Picks W14: Cream Rising

10 Dec

‘Tis the time of year when consumerism takes on an almost religious zeal, one where the USPS and shipping firms are the harried ushers & usherettes working overtime to get us settled-in for the big service: Gifting day.

....creampour.wc.3.9.08.Parhamr.7.45mAll the time “♫ jingle bells rock ♫” and the multitudes “♫ mix and a-mingle ♫” with the spirit of giving and a goal of getting home safe & sound. All very nice.

But to Joe & Jenny Football the holidays are when their church of cheer, National Football League, which incidentally, has not and never will seek 501(c)(3) Internal Revenue Code exemption, is getting down to it’s nitty-gritty.

The nit & grit: post-season positioning for Conference playoffs that’re just only a month’s time away and take shape in the format of wild-card weekend (1.9.16). The cream o’ the crop are rising to the top of the NFL egg-nog of champions. I’m all-in, alright.

Who gets in and who begins booking the family cruise for February will, for most contenders, of which there are, it seems this NFL season, as many in number as there will be boxes & bows under the “holiday tree (Oh Brother, Mr. President),” depend largely on this last run of (4) games.

Best o’ the Baker’s

....baker.M.Andaya.USS.JC.Stennis.11.7.06.PJ.Perkins.thm1. Arizona Cardinals
2. Cincinnati Bengals
3. New England Patriots
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. Carolina Panthers
6. Green Bay Packers
7. Kansas City Chiefs
8. Denver Broncos
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
10. New York Jets
11. Houston Texans
12. Buffalo Bills

As it sits today, AFC has more contenders but the senior circuit NFC has more VLT (Vince Lombardi Trophy) viables, i.e., serious contenders. Surprised by Carolina’s rank? In a head-to-head, I’d tab any of those four clubs over the Panthers…today.

Puddin’ Proof

.....pudding.pistachio.wc.12.9.13.peterinelcajon.thmThe proof’s in the pudding, so the non-sabrmetric minded sport folk like to say.

Bengals and Panthers both have a tough task the rest of this regular. Not so much in schedule as in the mental-game. They both know their biggest tests will come in the post-season, that first contest, most likely in the post-bye divisional round. In more recent times, Cincinnati (Lewis & Dalton: 0-4) and Carolina (2015’s W vs AZ was Palmer-free) have proven low-calorie, fat-free pudding pretenders in the playoffs. They’d be wise to ditch those mental demons, for now, and focus on tasks at hand and head to the playoffs with nothing but winning on their minds.

Theory on the 12-0 Cats: They’re conservative capitalists, pouncing on opportunities (#17 ygpg but #3 in pts scored) that’ve presented themselves a’ plenty in this topsy-turvy NFL15. Then their top defense (#2 / 3) seals-the-deal. Simple, right? Sure (2015!). Cam’s getting high marks from his ‘mates (“Roman” / SI.com / R.Harper / 12.2), though, I can’t imagine more “front flips” and regular rabbit in “running QB power on third-10” serves well to get Carolina back to the Conference shindig, but in this capricious NFL campaign, ‘if it works don’t fix it’ may be maxim to hang over Cats locker-room door.

And the Packers, they sense it’s just matter of time before reclaiming their Northern throne and back in the mix. They’ve still got issues. Filling Lord Nelson’s void central. Richard ‘Jolly’ Rodgers won’t do it, but he helps. And to that TNF closing heave-ho vs Lions, not so miraculous when no defenders are within 15-yrds of throwing QB and most cornerbacks average near 5’10” today.

Opt Out

It’s time for “hosting” and toasting,” “mistletoeing” and “glowing,” and maybe the most important decision you and your family will make the rest of this 2015: What healthcare plan you‘ll be opting into and out of?

Same ‘opting’ call holds true for NFL fandom this season.

Detroit Lions: Out

Tiddlywinks: Lions game-plan after a big 1Q (17pt) vs GB last TNF. Next 3Q: two FGs. Detroit let a big, juicy win die on the vine. With G-Bay you’ve gotta’ stomp on their throats from get-go, and keep it there. Reigning MVP strikes like a cobra. Pack was befuddled, struggling for answers into the 3rd, season hanging in the balance. But the D held and Rodgers & Rodgers of Cal-Berkeley ties knotted for “longest play of the night (26).“ CBS didn’t know it but it was turning point.

.....GB@DET.12.4.15.RoopeM.thmThat all cued the Chicken Littles cluckin’ away on referees. A facemask is a facemask, strict liability-like. As such, defenders must be aware, head-on-a-swivel-like. Could you imagine League’s referees having to apply a standard that permitted them this leeway: ‘Well, it wasn’t much of a facemask, so let’s let it slide.‘ Besides, refs could’ve just as easily thrown a UR flag on Detroit. This loss (and the season) was all on the Lions and they know it.

Minnesota Vikings: Out

Vikes lost at Denver W4 (23-20), then had two games to rise-in-grade at home versus nemesis Green Bay (W11: 30-13) and Seattle (W13: 38-7), two teams with flaws, and got pounded good. Bandwagoneers are quietly stepping off.

Curious Quote

Jocks take flak for sub-par play, coaches cannot be immune. Problem with Adrian Peterson‘s critique of Mike Zimmer (”out-coached“), All-Day has a conflict of interest. The upside, it’s the first favorable critique of Pete Carroll’s ability since Whine-fest uncorked, post-SB49.

...cherries.ripe,thm.wc.Chirak.6.24.7

Cherry Picks Week 13: “Gang-way!”

Vikings (8-4) @ Arizona (10-2): 12.10 NFLN 8:25: Cards win
Buffalo (6-6) @ Philadelphia (5-7): 12.13 CBS 1:00: Eagles win
Seattle Seahawks (7-5) @ Baltimore (4-8): Fox 1:00: Ravens win
Pittsburgh (7-5) @ Cincinnati (10-2): CBS 1:00: Bengals win
Indianapolis (6-6) @ Jacksonville (4-8): CBS 1:00: Colts wins
Washington Redskins (5-7) @ Chicago (5-7): Fox 1:00: Bears win
Atlanta (6-6) @ Carolina Panthers (12-0): Fox 1:00: Falcons win
Saints (4-8) @ Tampa Bay (6-6): Fox 1:00: New Orleans wins
Oakland (5-7) @ Denver Broncos (10-2): CBS 4:05: Raiders win
Dallas Cowboys (4-8) @ Green Bay (8-4): Fox 4:25: Packers win
New England (10-2) @ Houston (6-6): NBC 8:30: Patriots win
Giants (5-7) @ Miami (5-7): 12.14 ESPN 8:30: Dolphins win

Record: 68 – 71

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: cream-pour, wc.cca, Parhamr, 3.9.08; cow-dairy, USDA-FM, R.Doughty, J.Hoover, 6.7.13; baker, M.Andaya, USS-JC.Stennis, 11.7.06, PJ.Perkins; pudding-pistachio, wc, peterinelcajon, 12.9.13; GBatDET, 12.4.15, RoopeM; cherries-ripe, 6.24.07, Chirak, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 12.10.15 @ 5:35pm, edit 7:00 EST; Copyright © 2015