Archive for January, 2011

Let’s talk about that Jeff Fischer thing in Tennessee – it’s very funny because, in North America, we tend to be more demanding of our football coaches than of our baseball managers. Baseball managers, we tend to treat like university professors. They get tenure and then they’re untouchable. I mean Bobby Cox, managing in the sport for 30 years, had the best staff in the game for 15 straight years and only won 1 title. “You can’t fire him; he’s a good baseball man” that’s like saying “he’s a good psychology professor…you can’t fire him!”

We never treat football coaches like that…you know what we treat them like? Like politicians! The economy goes south “get them outta there!” you vote them in, you vote them out. But it’s not his fault that he inherited a bad economy “you gotta get him outta there!” Yeah, but the QB is not very good, the economy …”gotta get them outta there…it’s time!” It’s funny how we never say that with baseball managers “it’s probably time for a change.” In football, we always treat them like politicians – and if you’re really bad as a football coach, you’re a real screw up like a Nixon or Wade Philips, we’ll impeach you mid-term. “Let’s get this guy outta here now!” We never do that in baseball, especially with great guys like Jeff Fischer.

I got emails on Friday – and it cracks me up. Whenever it comes to Jeff Fischer, I always tend to get this email and it drives me crazy. The writer says “Well come on, I mean he’s got a losing playoff record and he’s barely above .500…”

Do you know how Warren Buffet has become the 3rd richest human on the planet? By buying value stocks! He’s a value investor. What does that mean? He buys really good companies that are beat up. They are a $60 stock, but they’re selling at $22. You have to realize that Jeff Fischer has had to go against Peyton Manning for a decade, while he’s had Bill Volick, Vince Young and a 6th wonderlick score, Steve McNair – by the way, I’m mentioning the good ones. Kerry Collins, a cheap owner, he’s never had one star receiver in the last decade of the NFL becoming a passing league.

Peyton Manning has had great receivers, Peyton Manning has had better ownership, better drafting and yet Jeff Fischer occasionally can get to the playoffs, wins a bunch of football games. Did you read what the players said about Jeff Fischer leaving? Said defensive end Jason Babin “I love Jeff Fischer”, said Linebacker Gerald McRath “My jaw is on the floor, and I love the guy” Every player came to his defence. They weren’t doing that with Wade Philips, they’re not doing that with Norf Turner or Tom Cable.

If you’re going to look at a coaches record – it’s amazing, I mean Bobby Cox haf the best staff in baseball for 15 years and he gets 1 title and he is labelled as “un-fireable” To even question Lou Pinella “you don’t get baseball, it’s a very cerebral game, you’re too stupid” Yeah, Grady Little got to an ALCS, it’s for scientists only. I mean, seriously?

But in the NFL, Tom Coughlin– who has built up two organizations, who won a Superbowl as an underdog in every game, on the road…he’s on a year-to -year basis, he’s a politician.  I mean Tom Coughlin every year “yeah, I think we should let him go” Heck, half the fan base wants him out. We are so tough on football coaches …its brutal! Even when football coaches win like Mike Tomlin, when he wins a Superbowl, “Yeah, he’s doing it with Bill Cowher’s guys” Les Miles at LSU, all he does is win big games at LSU and people say “yeah, he’s doing it with Saben’s guys” The man has been there for 7 years! Nobody there is a Saben guy anymore. We are absolutely brutal on football coaches. I mean, in Philadelphia – and they got a lot of meatball fans. If you ask Philadelphia about Andy Reid, who is like 8-2 in 1st round playoff games and who has never lost after a bye, yet his star QB in a passing league was Donovan McNabb, half the fans in Philly would vote him out! Are you kidding me?

He took Donovan McNabb and a guy who just got out of prison and he keeps getting to the playoffs…you’re kidding me right? Jeff Fischer, step back and stop going to the internet and looking up records, I’ve never read any of the NFL analysts at ESPN, Fox Sports,, who didn’t say “Fischer is great!” Schematically great, players love him, nobody plays harder, and nobody works the margins better. By the way, Jeff Fischer regularly/annually has to face organizations like New England, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Indy – which are much more efficiently run, that have better owners and better infrastructure.

He has to go against Roethliesberger, Brady, Manning, the Joe Flacco’s…and what’s he got to work with? Kerry Collins, Vince Young, Billy Volick….are you kidding me? Somebody out there needs to be a Warren Buffet, a value investor. This guy [Jeff Fischer] is excellent! And everybody in this world stares at win/loss records. “Omg, blah blah blah blah blah” Like if Mike McCarthy loses the Superbowl, he’s less of a coach? Mike McCarthy had 16 of the players, half of the players, miss the season and they are in the Superbowl, I mean…that is coaching! It’s what you overcome.

So anybody questioning Jeff Fischer – in a passing league, look at what he’s had at wide receiver, ownership, QB…that’s pretty much everything in this league. He’s been below average at all of them and they are always viable and they are always a tough out. But I will get posts today saying “well his playoff record…” Tony Dungy had Peyton Manning, look at his playoff record…with Peyton Manning! I mean Bill Cowher’s playoff record….with the Rooney’s! Bill Belicheck has been one and done in the last 2 years…you do get that it’s the NFL right?

We are brutal on football coaches and we give baseball managers a complete pass because “that’s a good baseball man!” pfft what does that mean? It’s just unbelievable and Fischer will continue to get nothing but heat for the next week or so.

Like Dan Marino and Charles Barkley never won a title…yet they were unbelievable stars! Arnold Palmer never won much either. Are they not all still legends? This is an interesting topic today because if I was the Knicks, I’d get Carmelo – even though I believe that Carmelo would never bring a championship to New York. There is nothing wrong with being # 2. Pepsi and Target have been #2 forever, it’s a great place to be and work! You don’t have to go out and advertise yourself as “we’re #2”

But the idea that you’re not a good football coach – it’s like Marty Schottenheimer rebuilt 4 pro organizations, 4 dogs with fleeces, he re-built all of them. “Yeah, but he never won” really? And the guys who call radio shows…look at their lives! If we judged the people who called radio shows as harshly as we do to NFL coaches, can you imagine what kind of names the callers would get?

Like “Marty Schottenheimer is not great coach” pfft, he’s an unbelievable coach. Andy Reid is unbelievable, Tom Coughlin …these guys are the best in the world at what they do. Are you even the best…at your job? In your office? Jeff Fischer is a great coach, who has been saddled with a below average owner, weak QB, he’s never been given one star receiver; the guy is a great coach!


Let me say this, I’m going to officially rename Monday’s for my rant to “Absolute Monday’s” every email/post that I got Monday morning is saying something along the lines of “…this will never happen, Sanchez will never be good” or “…Aaron Rogers will always be #1”. Like listen to these words, “never, ever, always” …it’s honestly “Absolute Monday’s” on my sports blog since everything just seems to be an absolute. I guess that’s just the case, since Monday is the most emotional day for football fans. We’re crazy – well you are, I’m not. As you know on my rants, I try to take perspective seriously; I try to take the emotion out of it.

There I was on a Monday – and you should read the emails on Jay Cutler. Now for the record, I’ve never been a Jay Cutler guy, I’m very critical of Jay Cutler – not my kind of QB. But all of you, who have never played a down of football in your life at that level, were calling him a “wimp” Here is a guy who was sacked 57 times this year. A guy with Type 1 diabetes, a guy who has been tossed like a ragged doll, knocked out of games. But this past Sunday, he’s just suddenly a “wimp”? He clearly showed up on Sunday and said “I just don’t wanna play, I just don’t even like football” really??

Let’s go back to Sunday’s game; the Chicago Bears couldn’t move the ball. His elbow was bleeding and nobody could figure out why. He came off the field limping – he couldn’t plant his foot. Have you ever tried to throw a football down the field, especially against the Packers’ defence when you can’t plant your foot? He tried to; after hobbling of the field, came back on and short-hopped a receiver who was 6 feet in front of him…he couldn’t get it to him! And because of this….now he’s a “wimp”? Absolute Monday’s on my sports blog!

 “Never, always, terrible, great, awful, unbelievable” Last week, Aaron Rogers was being hailed as the best human on the planet….I just ask for a little perspective! Let’s go see him against a good defence.

Let me say this about Jay Cutler though because what hurts Jay Cutler – his body language stinks when he’s good, Jay Cutler has got terrible body language, he looks indifferent and sullen…and that’s when he’s winning 26-7. He’s got the worse body language in the league, he looks disinterested – but he looks disinterested….ALWAYS! Be it leading or trailing. Now when you combine Jay Cutler’s horrible body language with that moment they had on Sunday, it ticks you off , it ticks me off…it ticks everybody off!

I got an email Monday morning, and this is so perfect, because it proves my point. The sender says “…there was no shots of him [Cutler] cheering, no images of him clapping and rallying his team” and that is what everybody else is saying…that ticks you off! If Jay Cutler is on the sidelines on Sunday – and Aaron Rogers is like one of those guys like Philip Rivers, where he’s pumping his fist when he’s in the game and you see Aaron Rogers jumping up and down on the sidelines. Aaron Rogers is our kind of guy, we like Aaron Rogers. He dates supermodels, he’s a gamer, he plays hurt…it’s why we also like Big Ben when he plays with a broken nose. But I mean Aaron Rogers is one of those guys who is just pumping his fist, he’s jumping on teammates, he’s giving high fives, yet that’s what we the fans like!

But that’s not who Jay Cutler is and he’s never been that way. But don’t hold Jay’s personality – which is sullen and indifferent, against him here. The dude was a rag doll this year, the crappiest offensive line in the league. He and Matt Forte had to carry the football team offensively – and for the record, whatever level that offense is, and it’s awful, it’s the worst offense I’ve ever seen in a championship game in the NFC or AFC, Jay Cutler had to carry it all year. Knocked out of the game against the Giants, 57 sacks, elbow is bleeding and now all of a sudden he’s a weenie….really?

 His teammates are defending him just like Olin Kreutz, his offensive linemen, who is quoted in the Chicago paper, let me transcribe it for you, he said “ People are stupid, I saw Cutler’s knee shaking and swinging, moving his hands back and forth…I didn’t even think he was going to finish the half! Then he came out and tried to throw the ball…that amazed me” Urlacher was furious with those who banged on Cutler saying “Jay was hurt, I don’t question his toughness, he’s one of the toughest…he’s tough as hell, he’s one of the toughest guys on our football team, he doesn’t [bleep], he doesn’t complain when he gets hit, he goes out there and play [bleep] tough every single Sunday, he practises every single day, so no…we don’t question his toughness”

The dude has got diabetes, he’s got diabetes. I’ve worked with people, during some of my co-op placements, who have diabetes. They can’t perform at the level that other people can sometimes, their diet is different, their blood sugar levels…it limits what they can do, yet Cutler is playing the NFL QB position and is asked to carry his team all year. Remember, I’m not a Jay Cutler guy – it would be very easy for me to rant about him and rip him rant after rant after rant, but I think people are being absolutely ridiculous.

The same thing happened to Ladainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers years ago. Ladainian was the best player in the league for like 7 years, he was absolutely ridiculous. He and Ray Lewis were like the best players for like 8 years. He gets hurt in a game, goes to the bench and it drove people crazy. Why? Because he sat on the bench, withdrawn and with his head down…and we later found out that his knee was all screwed up – and for the record, he was never the same player, he was never the same player, but I think people are being totally unfair.

Listen, I’m like you, I want my QB to play like Big Ben with a broken nose, Philip Rivers played with a torn ACL…but Jay Cutler literally couldn’t plant his foot, Type 1 diabetes, taking shots from NFL players all year, and now fans are like “ahhh this guy’s a weenie” really? He’s suddenly a wimp on Sunday, I’m sorry but I just can’t buy that! I just want to add a little perspective here. Yes it drove me crazy, but you thought they were going to win anyway? Did you watch that football game? Did you ever think for a second that Chicago was as good as Green Bay? For one minute, did you think Green Bay was the inferior team? God no!!!!

That was one of those games, like Auburn vs. Oregon, where the score stayed the same for like 2 hours and you kept thinking to yourself “shouldn’t Green Bay and Auburn be winning this game by 20 points?” Jay Cutler is a convenient guy to blame, because we don’t like him and he’s sullen and I think we are massively over-reacting on this kid. Were really being completely unfair – and for the record, like I’ve said, I’m not a Cutler guy. Given the option of every QB in this league I can have, he’s one of my bottom 5! I’m seriously not a fan of this guy, but don’t bang on him for his personality, have some perspective people.

My NFL AFC/NFC Championship Picks!

Posted: January 22, 2011 in NFL

Packers vs. Bears

Green Bay is a – 3 ½ in this one. Aaron Rogers has been sensational with an 11:1 touchdown to picks ratio in his last 4 games, we all know that. By the way, in those games he’s played very good teams. Philadelphia is pretty good, Chicago is pretty good and Atlanta is pretty good, 11:1 touchdown to picks ratio. In fact, he is the best Quarter Back under pressure in the league and he’ll face it this weekend. According to the NFL’s efficiency metrics, when under pressure, Aaron Rogers this year has been the NFL’s best QB. Now, they’ve really opened up their offense because all year long Green Bay had 54 passes and 20+ yards, last week alone they had 6. But the thing about Green Bay is – and nobody wants to hear this, but their defence has been every bit or more important as Aaron Rogers because nobody really pays attention their defensive stats. They shut down Michael Vick and they kept Atlanta to 14 points and 45 yards rushing, Green Bay has given up the 2nd fewest points during the regular season at 15 per game and they are playing defensively at a different level today than they were 6, 7, 8, 9 weeks ago. Listen,  Green Bay lost to Chicago earlier this year, but they had a whopping 18 penalties and 2 turnovers in that game and as a whole, Green Bay does not commit a lot of penalties. It was a flakey, weird game and the Packers – if you recall, were sort of out of sync for the entire afternoon. Now Green Bay is excellent at getting at the QB on the outside and forcing bad decisions. Chicago’s protection – especially at tackle, is way below the NFL average and Jay Cutler – forget the mistakes, Cutler only completes about 53% of his throws against Green Bay this year. Why? Because they are bad at tackle and Green Bay certainly brings pressure. Now the hope for the Bears – and it’s a legitimate hope is that you’re at home, the weather stinks – never forget this, statistically weather always hurts the better offense because it’s going to be windy and it’s going to be cold. The other advantage is that the Bears have great special teams, they have an advantage at kicker, they have the best player in the playoffs – after Polamalu , I would argue may be Devin Hester. Chicago’s hope is that their coverage teams and their specialist are superior to Green Bay – and in low scoring game, that can prove to be the difference.  But we saw it last year with the Saints, we saw it the year before with the Arizona, sometimes teams just get hot and play over their heads, and even though they are injured ravaged, Green Bay is playing at a different level, take them to beat Chicago 24-13, Aaron Rogers will be fine, but it will really be Green Bay’s defence – once again that will be carrying the load and making Aaron Rogers look great because of great field position, playing with a lead that always makes QB’s better…this is a guaranteed Green Bay win!

Jets vs. Steelers

Now the Steelers are at -3 ½ , listen we know Troy Polamalu is back and we know that Heath Miller is back. For the record, Troy – this is almost a ridiculous stat, because for a non QB this stat makes no sense. The Steelers are 15-4 the last 2 years when he plays, 6-7 when he doesn’t play. That doesn’t make any sense to me…but I guess he’s that good. Santonio Holmes said this week “he’s the best NFL player I’ve ever seen” The Jets will be playing their 5th road game in 6 weeks, that’s an absolute grind – especially when your leading rush, your go-to guy is road wiery Ladainian Tomlinson. Listen, I like Mark Sanchez, but in his NFL career he has 36 picks in 35 games. He’s had a pick in 10 of his last 12 games and in New York’s pass protection, Wayne Hunter – uh oh, replaces Damian Woody at right tackle. New England couldn’t expose that, Pittsburgh will expose that. We’re looking at a Mark Sanchez under duress – don’t forget the last time they played them, Brian Schottenheimer was magic in that game, he was dialled in. Sanchez, took a bad snap made a play out of it, they we’re snapping the ball to running backs, 3 tight ends, 2 back sets, the Jets throw out things that they hadn’t all year, the Steelers now have that all on tape. Never forget this, neither team is going to move the ball with a great deal of efficiency. Neither team is great on 1st and 10 and neither team lets you run the football, but Big Ben is the best 3rd and long QB in the league and he’s also the best 3rd down QB and efficiency in the NFL. That is a huge stat in a game that will be decided by inches, not feet. Now, he’s the good news for the Jets. The backend of their coverage is the best in the NFL. Outstanding at corner, playmakers at line backers, Harrison and Bart Scott are playing outstanding football. Against the Patriots, the Jets had 5 sacks with 4 or fewer pass rushes, they are going to make things – at times, miserable for Big Ben. But the Jets against New England were virtually perfect and against Pittsburgh the 1st time, they were virtually perfect. Huge edge first game and special teams, pinning the Steelers at the 3, the 4 and 8 yard line, while all their drives started no worse than the 20 and often at the 37, 36, 34, 34, and 33 yard line. Both defences are big here, I don’t think either team runs so I think this becomes a passing game, big edge Big Ben, 21-16 Steelers.  So I like both favourites for this weekend, but no guarantee’s on this one because I can see the Jets winning this one as well.

I saw this on Monday, the New England/Jets game got a 26 rating – I know most of you don’t care about that, but that’s a gigantic number! That’s like 4 World Series games; it’s just absolutely incredible what the NFL is doing. Now there has been this question tossed around “Why has the NFL become so popular?” Some people claim that it’s “all about the violence”…well hasn’t it always been violent? “Well its all been about the betting” you can really bet on anything can’t you? “Well it’s about fantasy football”…well, there is fantasy baseball, fantasy golf, fantasy motor sports…there is fantasy everything!

I think one of the reasons football – and the numbers keep going up and up and there is this insatiable appetite for it because heck, it’s a hell of a television product while baseball isn’t. Baseball has never evolved as a television product and football sees itself as a television show first and a league second.

Monday night is a prime example, so I turned on the television Monday night – I’m an early 20ish guy, I’m not a television critic,  I’m just looking for reasonably informative television – sowhat educational, where I can learn something. You know, I tend to watch the History channel, politics and sports, channels where I can learn something. So Monday night, I turn on the television – and basically, here is how you get a television show on in North America. Do you have mality or an emotional issue that we can exploit? If you have one, we’ll give you a television show.

Monday night, ABC has the “Bachelor” – that’s woman with low-self esteem and then A&E has “Intervention” – selfish, undisciplined mama’s boys who can’t regulate their life and then Bravo has “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” pfft, that’s a real treat! The Discovery channel had “Junior vs. Senior American Chopper” – where you’ve honestly never seen angrier television. TLC has “ Hoarding: Buried Alive” – these are some real winners, people who collect cardboard boxes from the 60’s and can’t put them in the garbage. MTV had “Jersey Shore” even National Geographic’s’ new series is called “Drugged” – basically people high on cocaine and ecstasy …sure as heck would like to watch that one with my parents!

Heck, even if you’re in your 30’s and 40’s and have any discernment, you and I are probably just looking for television our IQ doesn’t erode nor disintegrate. Even the Animal Planet, their newest series “Infested” – houses infested with roaches and raccoon’s…like really? I want to watch that?

So I think one of the reasons why the NFL is going through the roof – by the way, cable television is going through the roof along with some of these political shows.  Sports and Politics ratings are way up! Why?  Because you can learn something, they are not exploiting people who have like mality’s and problems. You just go from dial to dial and your going from losers to losers to losers to losers…heck, Snorky is now a star! This is honestly depressing to see because it’s just a bunch of losers all over television and it’s like – even when you think they are winners like on the “Bachelor” because they are good looking, it’s just low self esteem girls who need a hug. It’s honestly unbelievable! Like you watch it for 5 minutes and you’re like “can somebody bring back the Soprano’s?” – Guys being guys who are wacking people for not listening to them…now that was good television!

Now it’s gotten to the point where they are even putting radio shows on television. Do you know why? Because it’s better than half the stuff out there. It’s really bad the stuff that’s out there where you have them exploiting poor people, people with mality’s and people with issues and hoarders and drug users and now Regis Philbin is retiring. So get somebody from “Intervention” put them next to Rippa and you’ll get big ratings!

It’s amazing how people overreact – and I say this all the time. Fans care more about their teams than players do. I mean, fans go crazy, they go nuts, teams lose and yet I can assure you that Brady will be in the south of France within 48 hours with his supermodel wife. Fans go nuts and they overreact and I get it – it’s part of being a fan because you’re all very emotional and everybody sees the world through the eyes of their team.

But if you look at all 4 games this past weekend, it’s not hard to figure out what they all had in common. The QB who had more time to throw, won each game. Take the Seattle/Chicago game for example. In the 2nd half, Hasselback couldn’t do anything. Then in the final 6 minutes – when Chicago is playing miserable defence, suddenly Hasselback – same guy who couldn’t do anything, “oh he’s great now!” He was going up and down the field.

Ask yourself what you do for a living. Are you a fork lift operator? What if your boss said “I’m going to give you 60% time, and I want the exact same efficiency” You couldn’t do it! If I said to you – and you’re a dentist “you don’t get 26 minutes with his teeth, you get 16 minutes” you would be sloppier!  Do you really believe tomorrow – if I could take Brady or Sanchez, I’d take Sanchez over Brady? Of course not!!! Yet that was 90% of the bbm/texting I was getting Monday morning.

Brady was pressured; Sanchez was never sacked and rarely pressured. Brady 5 sacks and often pressured, facing a Jets defence. Sanchez had to face a Patriots defence, no sacks, rarely pressured. That’s why he looked like the better QB. What do you bet next week, when Mark Sanchez faces the Steelers – windy, on the road, facing the best 4 linebackers in the league who lead the NFL in sacks. What do you bet next week; Mark Sanchez doesn’t look as comfortable as he did against New England’s defence?  Want to make a bet? Money to charity?

It’s amazing how many people overreact “Oh Sanchez is…”First off; I’m the biggest Sanchez fan in the world. I’ve been defending him for 16 weeks. He’s got an “it” quality that’s hard to explain to people who don’t have an “it” quality, he’s got “it”, whatever it is. So I’m the biggest Sanchez believer in the world. That said, I’d still take Big Ben and Brady over him, I’d take Aaron Rogers over him, I’d even take Matt Ryan over him!

But when you give Sanchez 5 ½ seconds to throw, with no pass rush – and let’s be honest, athletically a pretty average New England defence that is pretty young in the back end, “Sanchez looks great, he looks unbelievable!” What do you bet next week, when Aaron Rogers has to play in Chicago and its 7 degrees, against his chief rivals and faces up against Lance, Briggs, Urlacher and Julius Peppers, and he doesn’t look as good as he did on Saturday in a dome, with hours to throw? Now, I still think that Green Bay is better than Chicago and I think Aaron had the best game of his life. What do you bet next weekend, he’s not as good as he was Saturday?  It’s amazing how people overreact!

You are going to be better if you have more time to do something. If you’re a newspaper reporter and you get an hour to write a story or you’re on deadline and you got 19 minutes. You’re going to write a better story when you have an hour than 19 minutes. So this past weekend – so why did Flacco and Big Ben, why did neither one of them look great? Because they were being chased for their lives all day Saturday!

You know Big Ben, made one great play in that game – it was an unbelievable throw down the field, I mean that’s just classic Big Ben, that’s who he is. I guess it’s why – in big games, I’d take him over anybody except Brady. Some would argue – and I said this Friday, some would argue that Big Ben is better in big games than Brady. But why were Flacco and Big Ben largely ineffective? They were running for their lives!

So everybody on Monday morning is claiming “Rogers is the greatest ever, Brady is terrible, how about Sanchize…” Slow down, take a deep breath, I’m going to make a prediction on this rant. That Rogers and Sanchez, though they may win, won’t be quite as effective next week as they both face elite pass rushes in cold windy weather and they face much better defences. The Jets are @ Pittsburgh, Packers @ Chicago, I think Green Bay is better than Chicago and I’d probably lean Pittsburgh. But what do you bet that Sanchez and Aaron Rogers don’t put up the same numbers? I seriously try not to overreact.

But seriously though, is there any fan in US/Canada that doesn’t overreact? Have we literally become a nation – it’s like in politics, when you watch political television and listen to political radio, don’t you always make fun of it? I mean, I do because you’ve got the wackado’s to the left on MSNBC and the pit bulls to the right on Fox. Can’t anybody have a reasonable opinion about that guy in Arizona who shot people and admit he’s a wacko? It’s not a conservative thing, it’s not a liberal thing, he’s not conservative or liberal…he’s a wacko!

Can’t anybody be in the middle? Can’t anybody be centrist on anything? This is preciously what has happened in sports radio! “Brady is terrible, Rogers is great” or “Sanchez is better than Brady” Again people, slow down. What if Rogers goes out next weekend and just gets beat up – because let’s be honest, other than Clifton (the tackle) Green Bay’s offensive line is average, it’s an average offensive line. So what if Rogers goes out next weekend, under constant duress and loses? What does this past Saturday mean? Nothing!!! It means nothing at all, in a year we probably won’t even remember it.

So, take a deep breath, it’s the playoffs, I thought all 4 teams that won did so because they got more pressure on the opposing QB than they allowed on their own QB. That was the one constant thread the whole weekend. The teams that won put a ton of pressure on the other QB and gave their QB, in most instances, really nice protection. Although I wouldn’t say that Big Ben had nice protection because it’s the Ravens.

Ravens vs. Steelers

Let’s start with, probably as good as a rivalry that the NFL has – the Baltimore Ravens are getting 3 ½ @ the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, both teams won on the each other teams field, so with Pittsburgh being at home – is not a difference maker, the best team is going to win this game. We know that Joe Flacco – unlike Big Ben, Joe Flacco needs help. He needs Willis McGahee and Ray Rice to play well in this game – and that’s important to him. Flacco has not played well against the Steelers defence; he’s got 6 TD’s and 7 picks along with a QB rating in the 60’s in the last 7 games. Meanwhile, Big Ben has won his last 6 against the Ravens – you can’t discount that. But it should be noted, that of the last 7 games these two have played,  5 of them have been decided by 3 points or less, so don’t discount that – this is going to be a gruelling game. Nobody is getting blown out here – even though Baltimore is on the road, they are excellent with ball security; they are not going to be overwhelmed. Generally when it comes to rivalry games…the intimidation stuff just doesn’t work, they play twice a year. The Ravens do have a big special team’s advantage – I don’t think there is any question there. But the one thing I like about Pittsburgh…Pittsburgh puts more pressure on a QB than Baltimore puts on a QB. So in games like this – Flacco in crisis in this series has not shown me the ability to make the play. This is too many points to give up, 3 ½ points in the NFL is a field goal. But in this game, it feels like a touchdown. I’m going to take the points, but I gotta go with Big Ben, @ home, out-duelling Flacco, this is a team with a + 37 in the NFL – the Steelers, they make explosion plays. They just make more plays and give fewer up; Steelers win 17-16, but take the points.

Jets vs. Pats

The world like’s the Jets at the Patriots and I know that the Jets are very good on the road, they are 11-4 against the spread in their past 15 road games – we know that! And we know that defensively, they are ranked 3rd in number of yards given up – in fact, the Jets are top 7 defensively, in every major category. I don’t dispute that, but the playoffs are about decisions and the QB has the hands on the ball more than any player. Mark Sanchez in his last 2 games in New England has 1 TD with 7 picks and a QB rating in the 30’s. It should also be noted that in this series – the home team is winning, 4-0 in the last 4 and the home team looks easily like the best team – this is one of those series where home advantage has meant something. The Patriots are 6-1 against playoff teams this year – and the Jets defence is good, but it’s not a shadow of what it was last year. In their last 4 games, before last weekend, the Jets have given up in 2 of those games 45 and 38 points. Tom Brady is 8-1 at home in the playoffs and here is one of the things that worry’s me about Mark Sanchez – his safety blanket is Dustin Keller, but New England does a very very very good job against tight ends. The Jets though, don’t do well against tight ends and the two rookie tight ends for the Patriots are borderline pro bowl players this year. New England does not allow big explosion plays – I just don’t see the Jets coming to the table with very little pass rush, and when Brady has time and they’re isn’t a big pass rush, he’s incredibly efficient, if not spectacular. I see Brady and Sanchez; I just see a total mismatch here. I like New England to win – pulling away in the 2nd half 35-17, swallow the points.

Bears vs. Seahawks

Chicago is given 10 points here – so I get this Seahawks team, a young team that probably thinks they’re better than they actually are. Now special teams usually – Chicago’s got a big advantage on everybody, ahh, not so in this game. Leon Washington is a game breaker for the Seahawks, Devin Hester is for the Bears. This game, last week, there were some numbers that told you New Orleans could blow out Seattle. Well the numbers tell me this week – yeah I know Seattle is bad on the road, 3-13 in their last 16. I also know that Hasselback doesn’t deal great with pressure and you got brigs with Julius Peppers and Urlacher – I know all of that. But here is what I also know; these are 2 of the least efficient teams when they have the ball in the redzone and when it comes to 3rd down efficiency. Neither one of them is any good! So I can’t give 10 points up to 2 highly inefficient offenses. If Seattle can just keep they’re deep receivers in front of them – don’t let the Bears get behind them. I say it’s an ugly game that will largely be played within the 20 yard line. I’m going to take the points; Bears win ugly 16-13.

Packers vs. Falcons

This is the toughest game for me to call this weekend. Now everybody’s going crazy about James Starks and you know, justifiably so, he comes out – you know, he’s been on their roster, it’s not like they just picked him up on waivers, it wasn’t some sort of late draft, he’s definitely been around, but he’s just exploded against Philadelphia but…let’s not go overboard here. They brought in some specific offensive plays and sets that Philadelphia had not seen and was simply not prepared for. Atlanta has got film on James Starks and these formations. Atlanta has won 83% of its home games under Mike Smith. They are 16-1 in their last 17 home games and you know you’re talking about a Matt Ryan guy that’s got weapons and almost makes no mistakes; he has a 28-9 Touchdown to Turnover ratio. In fact, only 2 teams have turned over the ball less than Atlanta and the Falcons were also the least penalized team in the NFL. Now, some would argue that Atlanta wins by not losing, whereas Green Bay wins by winning, however the case may be, the Falcons do an extraordinary job of protecting the QB, okay? Watch the QB’s and how they are dealing with pressure. Now Sam Baker is the weak spot up front for Atlanta and Clay Matthews comes up against the left tackle, so if Clay Matthews gets early pressure on Matt Ryan…that’s a bad sign for the Falcons. But I’m getting an incredibly efficient team, well rested, Green Bay travelling for the 2nd week in a row…I’m going to swallow the points, Atlanta wins 26-20 over a Green Bay team that is a little tired, a little fatigued and makes the big mistake in the 2nd half.

The NFL playoffs rarely disappoint – the game we all thought – going in, was the dog,  may have been the best game of all. Seattle vs. New Orleans was arguably the best game this past weekend. 3 of the 4 games I thought were incredibly compelling. So with that said, let’s go over the 4 games and here are my basic thoughts on all 4 games.

Alright, so you start with New Orleans vs. Seattle on Saturday. Listen, the better team all year…lost! It happens – rarely. But its sports, you can’t predict stuff. You know, generally when elections are coming they will tell you “McCain leads by 4% or Obama leads by…” and you an idea on how the elections will end up. But in sports it just doesn’t work that way…that’s why sports is great! New Orleans was the best team all year – if I had told you that Drew Brees will throw for 400 yards, no interceptions, 2 TD’s, you’d be like “whoa, that game was ugly…it’s a turn-it-off at half” game. Nope, the Saints got routed! That’s what‘s great about it.

My feeling on what happen in that game – Seattle is young and young teams and young people tend to be very emotional, deeper depths and higher high’s and Seattle just played with an unbelievable energy that New Orleans could never match. The Saints could never match their energy. Matt Hasselback made throws that I don’t think he’s made all year. Seattle is not a highly explosive offense, but the two times they played the Saints this year…they scored some points.

I said this about a month ago and I got some hate mail from Saints fans. I said “this is not a Superbowl winning team, they just don’t make the stops this year as they did last year” They don’t create turnovers this year…and the world – God love New Orleans , I certainly did and we all ate it. I was 0-1 after the 1st game.

The 2nd game, Jets vs. Indy…the world loved Indy, I like New York. I got even in my games at 1-1. The Colts – mostly because of injuries, I mean everyone could complain about the coach Monday morning. But mostly because of injuries, Indianapolis is not a very good football team right now. I said last week, I thought about the 12 teams in the playoffs….they were the 10th best team. I thought Seattle and Kansas City were worse. I thought Indy was the 10th best team – and that’s with Peyton Manning. They can’t defend the run, they don’t run. If you took at the Jets’ talent and the Colts’ talent and matched them up, outside of Peyton Manning, New York is pretty much better at every single spot outside of the defensive line. I thought New York would sort of grind it out, that it would be an ugly win, Sanchez makes 2 or 3 plays. By the way, Peyton Manning – this is why I’m a Brady guy, Peyton Manning all time….he’s now sub .500 in the playoffs, at 9-10. Listen, I’m not blaming him, not saying that it’s all his fault, but he’s sub .500 in the playoffs.

The 3rd game, Baltimore vs. Kansas City. You know, I think all of us liked Baltimore – the wise guys, by the way in Vegas, were heavy into Kansas City. Most of you like Baltimore, I liked Baltimore, and I was 2-1 after this game. This game was a snoozer…you know, early the crowd was into it, Kansas City had a nice drive and people were thinking “alright, we’re in the game” But Kansas City built their record and numbers, mostly on garbage teams like the AFC West and the NFC West. Baltimore finished 12-4 and they built it on quality. As I noted last week, if you go back to Week 2 in the NFL season….since that point, Baltimore has lost 3 times.  In overtime to the Patriots, last 2nd play to Atlanta and late to the Steelers. This is a legitimate, viable “win the entire thing” team. They, to me, are the one team that could beat New England. I really don’t think – objectively, that my Jets match up and I don’t think the Steelers match up. I think Baltimore could go into New England and win that football game. I picked Atlanta vs. Baltimore to play in the Superbowl back in August. They are both very good, they’ve gotten better in the offseason, they are well coached, they are above average at almost every position on the football field and I think Kansas City is a year away – I think people in Kansas City, I think they kinda knew that. I don’t think that Charlie Weiss thing mattered much…but boy, it looked like Charlie Weiss was paying more attention to his new Florida job than his old Kansas City job.

The 4th game, the nation liked Green Bay yet I liked Philadelphia. You had Andy Reid, at home, I thought it was a coin-flip game, but I’ll take the home team. Green Bay wins – obviously. I thought the 2 keys Dom Capers – the defensive co-ordinator, he’s a classic Wade Philips type of guy, not a great #1 but a tremendous #2…he’s basically a Norf Turner. Tremendous assistant & co-ordinator…not necessarily a #1 guy, but he basically gave the NFL – and this is why I’ve always thought that Vick is over-rated. He gave everybody a blueprint “alright, here is how you beat Vick”

Make Michael Vick make tough, intermediate throws, over the middle and eventually force Michael Vick to think quick and often, take away the deep ball as much as you can and the home run play, and make Michael Vick grind it out, be patient, one play at a time and Michael tends to get greedy, his whole DNA is “look for the home run” and he makes some mistakes.

I thought his last throw was a mistake because he got greedy and ultimately, I believe that Michael Vick is a very limited QB – I mentioned this in my last rant. If you said “Aaron Rogers and Michael Vick…who you built your franchise around” I’m personally going with Aaron Rogers. Now, I don’t think Aaron is as good as the rest of the world does but, Michael Vick to me – 6 or 7 weeks ago, this country went absolutely gaga because of a Monday Night Football game.

Okay, Green Bay shut him down, the Vikings shut him down, and the Giants mostly shut him down….Folks! People have been trying to figure out how to shut down Peyton Manning for 10 years and they can’t! People, after 5 starts, figured out how to slow down Michael Vick. For the record, he seems to be getting a little dinged up, a little slower every year.

In turn, who knew Green Bay had that running game? Honestly like, who knew? James Starks rookie? I mean, I watched Green Bay 12 times this year…alright! That’s certainly interesting. I really didn’t think they’d run the ball like that. I still have my doubts with Aaron Rogers as I said – I don’t know when it happened in society, when you call somebody “very good” and that’s a criticism. That is what has happened with me and Aaron Rogers because I always say “I think he’s very good…good /very good”  That apparently isn’t very good in Milwaukee, where they want to be told that he’s Tom Brady and where every announcer in the US has anointed him as Tom Brady…folks, he’s NOT Tom Brady.

He had an oppourtunity on 3rd down with 4 minutes left to make a play – and not give Michael Vick the ball back, or at least not give him some clock. But at the end of the game, Aaron was sitting on the sidelines, last 7 minutes of that football game, the QB you saw playing was Michael Vick. He took the game over and the game was in his hands, it should’ve never been that way.

But when the dust settles, Aaron Rogers get’s a win and Dom Capers really deserves a ton of credit and he may be the reason – my gut feeling is, Dom Capers will be the reason Michael Vick doesn’t get a 5 year deal. I think people looked at Dom Capers and they start putting that, and the Vikings game and the Giants game and people start saying “maybe we need to slow down on Michael Vick, the MVP, on building the future around him” Dom Capers did Michael Vick no favours this past weekend…he did him no favours!