Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Be careful how you vote!

My dad emailed me this joke:
While walking down the street one day a US Senator is tragically hit by a truck and dies.

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

"Welcome to heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in," says the man.

"Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity."

"Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven," says the Senator.

"I'm sorry, but we have our rules."

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises...

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens in heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.

"Now it's time to visit heaven."

So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

"Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity."

The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: "Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell."

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage.

He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder. "I don't understand," stammers the senator. "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?"

The devil looks at him, smiles and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning. Today you voted."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pigskin Pick'em Playoffs - The Super Bowl

I was going to do a long post, completely overanalyzing the Super Bowl. Fortunately, the New York Giants have saved me the trouble by shooting off their mouths. For example (the following quotes are from the New York Post's website):
As he pulled his car up to the Giants Stadium tunnel to unload his bags, [Plaxico] Burress was asked...a direct question: Are you ready to make history? "You better believe it," the towering Giants receiver said.

And then, as he entered the stadium and turned left toward the Giants locker room, Burress was asked for his prediction. Burress never hesitated, flatly stating "23-17."
He didn't identify the winning team. He didn't have to.

Or even better:
Next came Michael Strahan...The same question: Are you ready to make history? "Yes sir," said Strahan, who for 15 years has chased the dream of winning the Super Bowl.

"History will be ours."

How about a quote from Giants chairman Steve Tisch, when asked to predict a winner? (quote from
"I'm not going to give you the score...We'll have more points than they do. That's my score."

All analysis of this game is moot. The Patriots will win, and it might even get ugly.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pigskin Pick'em Playoffs - Championship Results

Audio Dave pulled the "two-fer" last weekend to tie Barker for first place going into the Super Bowl. In addition, Robert George pulled a "two-fer" to move into second place, one game back. The playoff results:
Bill Barker - 8
Audio Dave - 8

Robert A. George - 7
EdMcGon - 6
David Stefanini - 6
J. Mark English - 2

Stay tuned for Super Bowl picks next week!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pigskin Pick'em Playoffs - Divisional Results/Championship Preview

Time to give Bill Barker some kudos (try to keep your breakfast down people): Barker aced last weekend's games. On the other hand, Mark English swung for the fences and struck out. Here are the playoff results so far:
Bill Barker - 7
Audio Dave - 6
EdMcGon - 5
David Stefanini - 5
Robert A. George - 5
J. Mark English - 1

With only three games left, it looks like a Barker vs. Audio Dave horse race, with the rest of us as the "Fred" (as in Thompson) in the race.

Here are my picks for this weekend's games (with other pertinent info):

San Diego Chargers at New England Patriots (Sunday at 3:00 p.m. EST, game temperature estimated at 22°F): The paradigm of recent times versus possible all-time perfection?

The Chargers represent the "paradigm of recent times", where a team follows up an outstanding season where they failed in the playoffs with a good season where they win the Super Bowl. Last year, the 12-4 Colts won the Super Bowl after going 14-2 the previous season and losing in the playoffs to the 11-5 Steelers, who had gone 15-1 the previous season. Ironically, the 15-1 Steelers lost in the AFC Championship to the Patriots, who were the last team to win consecutive Super Bowls.

The Chargers went 14-2 last year, losing to the Patriots in the Divisional Round. Is this year's 11-5 Charger team good enough to keep the paradigm going, or will they fall to the Patriots' pursuit of perfection?

There is one important difference between the Chargers this year and last year: Norv Turner. That alone may be enough to keep the Chargers from going any further in the playoffs.

While the Chargers surprised a lot of people, me included, by beating the Colts last weekend, that game was clearly a case of the hungrier team winning. The Colts did not have the "fire in the belly" after winning the Super Bowl last year.

As for the Patriots, they have busted paradigms before by being the last team to win consecutive Super Bowls. They busted the 30+ year-old "perfect season" paradigm this year. Another paradigm goes down this weekend.

New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (Sunday at 6:30 p.m. EST, game temperature estimated at 10°F): The best road team this year (outside of New England) versus the ultimate home field advantage (aka "The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field"). But the fact the Giants are 7-1 on the road while the Packers are 7-1 at home is more of an interesting statistic than a deciding factor in this game.

Both teams are almost statistically identical on defense. Offense is where this game will be decided, and the Packers rate the edge there. While the Giants are better running the ball, the Packers are better at passing. In a game that figures to come down to the end, who would you rather have at quarterback with two minutes on the clock? As much as I rag on Favre, he is the clear choice. Manning may keep the Giants in the game, but Favre will win it.

(Hat tip to for game info)

(For the rules, see this post.)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Pigskin Pick'em Playoffs - Wild Card Results/Divisional Preview

Sorry for the delay, but here are the results from last weekend's NFL playoff picks:
EdMcGon - 3
Bill Barker - 3
Audio Dave - 3
David Stefanini - 3

Robert A. George - 2
J. Mark English - 1

For this week's picks, remember to get them in before 4:30 pm EST on Saturday. Here are my picks:

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers: I certainly under-rated the Hawks last week, but I cannot see them beating the Pack on the frozen tundra.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots: The Jags may give the Pats a hard time, but expect the Pats to pull it out in the end. The Pats just seem to have an extra gear they turn on whenever they need it.
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts: This one has upset potential, but I can't pick the inconsistent Chargers over the fairly consistent Colts.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys: The Giants have the momentum, plus they play better on the road. The Cowboys stumbled at the end of the season, losing two of their last three games. But the Boys are still the better team.

(For the rules, see this post.)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks

Now that the fantasy football season is over, time to take a look at how the various position players did, and their prospects for the future.

I have taken the final finish from a keeper league I am in, and assigned each of them a letter grade based on their finish. I have also assigned the following additional ratings for future prospective finishes:

++: Will significantly improve over their finish this year.
+: Will improve a little over their finish this year.
: Will either do about the same, or their future is unknown.
-: Will decline a little from this year.
--: Will decline significantly from this year's performance.

1. Brady, Tom NEP (A-): This year was a monster year for Brady. He can't help but go down a little next year, although he is still the stud of stud quarterbacks.
2. Romo, Tony DAL (A-): Speaking of "stud" quarterbacks (insert Jessica Simpson joke here), I don't see Romo matching his performance either. Plus T.O. ain't getting any younger.
3. Brees, Drew NOS (A-): If the Saints are going to be a winning team, Brees cannot keep carrying the Saints like he did this year.
4. Manning, Peyton IND (A): While Manning still has plenty of upside to his game, Marvin Harrison's absence for most of the season has to put a damper on Manning's future numbers.
5. Favre, Brett GBP (A-): Let the annual Favre retirement watch commence! However, if he does come back, I would not expect him to match this year's numbers.
6. Hasselbeck, Matt SEA (B): Hasselbeck does have a little upside, but circumstances would have to dictate that.
7. Roethlisberger, Ben PIT (B+): Don't be surprised if Big Ben moves into the top 5 next year. With another year of experience in Mike Tomlin's offense, he can only get better.
8. Anderson, Derek CLE (B): Anderson's upside is a bit of a mystery. Have to watch what happens with him and the Browns during the offseason.
9. Palmer, Carson CIN (B): Another mystery quarterback subject to a lot of offseason speculation. While Palmer is capable of being a top 5 quarterback, there are a ton of questions surrounding the Bengals, including: Will Marvin Lewis be back? If so, will Lewis "blow up" the team and start from scratch, like he has threatened is needed?
10. Warner, Kurt ARI (B-): Assuming Warner is still the starter in Arizona next year, expect the Cards to go to a more run-heavy offense.
11. Cutler, Jay DEN (C++): Expect Cutler to improve significantly next season. I can't see Mike Shanahan going into next season with an average offense like this year's Broncos.
12. McNabb, Donovan PHI (C): Between McNabb's injury history and the questions of whether he will even be in Philly next year, I am almost tempted to throw a "minus" after his rating.
13. Kitna, Jon DET (C-): With Mike Martz's firing, Kitna's future with Detroit looks dim. Even if he remains the starter, expect the Lions to try running the ball more.
14. Manning, Eli NYG (C): Manning still has upside, but not as long as Kevin Gilbride is the offensive coordinator in New York. If Tom Coughlin gets booted, we might see some of Manning's upside next season.
15. Rivers, Philip SDC (C+): I cannot see the Chargers bringing back Norv Turner unless they make it to the AFC Championship. I don't see that happening, so whoever the next Chargers coach is should be a step up, meaning Rivers should do better next year.
16. Garrard, David JAC (C+): I really like Garrard. He reminds me of a young Steve McNair. I expect to see him slowly improving over the next few years, with a move into the top 10 somewhere during that time.
17. Young, Vince TEN (C+): Expect the Titans to get Young a REAL wide receiver during the offseason.
18. Garcia, Jeff TBB (C-): Garcia is not getting any younger.
19. Campbell, Jason WAS (C+): Make no mistake: Campbell is the future in Washington. However, I am still not sure how much upside he has.
20. Jackson, Tarvaris MIN (C): My gut feeling is that Jackson will still be the starter in Minnesota next season, but that is no guaranty. In addition, the presence of Adrian Peterson limits Jackson's upside.
21. Bulger, Marc STL (D): The Rams were pretty awful this season, but it is hard to tell what changes will come in St. Louis during the offseason. But the changes WILL be coming.
22. Rosenfels, Sage HOU (D-): Back to the bench, Sage.
23. Schaub, Matt HOU (D+): If Schaub can stay healthy, he could be a good quarterback.
24. Huard, Damon KCC (D-): Nothing to see here folks. Move along.
25. Harrington, Joey ATL (D-): Somewhere, there is a bench with Harrington's name on it.
26. Lemon, Cleo MIA (D+): Mark my words: you WILL see Cleo Lemon again. I won't say he is a great quarterback, but he is certainly good enough to start in the NFL.
27. Pennington, Chad NYJ (D): Some team will undoubtedly give Pennington a chance to start, but I can't see him being much better than this.
28. Griese, Brian CHI (D--): Never was great. Now he's awful.
29. Boller, Kyle BAL (D): This is as good as it gets for Boller. Don't be surprised if Boller is back on the bench next year.
30. Edwards, Trent BUF (D+): I expect the Bills to take a chance on Edwards next season. He can only get better, but I think his upside is limited.
31. McCown, Josh OAK (D--): Josh should make a nice backup for the rest of his career.
32. Culpepper, Daunte OAK (D--): Stick a pitchfork in Daunte. He's done.
33. Gray, Quinn JAC (F-): As long as Garrard is healthy, you won't see Gray.
34. Redman, Chris ATL (F): Redman showed a little potential. But it's hard to say what the next Falcons coaching staff will see in him.
35. Clemens, Kellen NYJ (F): Will the Jets keep banging their head against this wall of limited potential?
36. McCown, Luke TBB (F-): Not even as good as his brother.
37. Croyle, Brodie KCC (F): I have talked to Alabama fans who don't think Croyle can make it in the NFL.
38. Losman, J.P. BUF (F-): I'm not sure Losman is even worth having on the bench.
39. Delhomme, Jake CAR (F++): Delhomme still has what it takes to start in the NFL, but only if he stays healthy.
40. Grossman, Rex CHI (F-): Remember last year when the Bears were defending Grossman as their quarterback? Not anymore.
41. Dilfer, Trent SFO (F-): Hard to believe this guy is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
42. Frerotte, Gus STL (F-): Only by the grace of a Marc Bulger injury do we even see Gus's name in print.
43. Green, Trent MIA (F-): Time to call it quits Trent.
44. Collins, Todd WAS (F): The next Mark Rypien. He may have some tiny upside if he goes somewhere else next year, but don't expect miracles.
45. Testaverde, Vinny (F-): As he rides off into the sunset once more...
46. McNair, Steve BAL (F-): McNair doesn't have it anymore.
47. Hill, Shaun SFO (F): The 49ers seemed to like his play in limited action this year. If he goes into next season as the starter, he may have some upside.
48. Smith, Alex SFO (F-): Another failed quarterbacking experiment.
49. Feeley, A.J. PHI (F): A lot of "ifs" here, but he may have some upside if the Eagles dump McNabb and go with Feeley as their starter next year. Feeley won't be great, but he could be servicable.
50. Carr, David CAR (F-): Carr is one of the saddest stories in the NFL this year. All the years of beatings he took behind the inept Houston offensive line have taken their toll on his psyche. He is a textbook case in how to ruin a good quarterback.
51. Moore, Matt CAR (F-): Matt who?
52. Smith, Troy BAL (F): Smith may get a chance to start for the Ravens next year. He can't be any worse than McBoller.
53. Leinart, Matt ARI (F): Is it just me, or does Leinart seem to lack the desire to do well? Even if he gets another chance to start, and I won't be surprised if he does, I just don't see a lot of upside here. The next Ryan Leaf?
54. Orton, Kyle CHI (F-): Back to the bench.
55. Holcomb, Kelly MIN (F-): This guy is still playing?
56. Beck, John MIA (F+): Will probably get a chance to start, but I'm not sure how much upside he can have with Miami.
57. Collins, Kerry TEN (F-): Back to the bench.
58. Wallace, Seneca SEA (F-): Another bench warmer.
59. Bollinger, Brooks MIN (F-): How can a quarterback who fails with the Jets STILL have a job in the NFL?
60. Russell, JaMarcus OAK (F++): Unlimited potential. We'll know more next season.

OTHER QUARTERBACKS TO WATCH: Kevin Kolb (PHI) and Brady Quinn (CLE). Just my opinion, but I think Kolb has the most upside of the two.