Saturday, January 06, 2007

Final Wild Card Thoughts

"My family always told me I had a special purpose, and now I get to use it!"

Alright guys, first off, I hope everyone's having a great weekend. I'm still in Massachusetts. I figured I would spend a little more time with the family, and surprisingly everything has been going really well. Anyway, I just have a few more comments to make about the games coming up, and since we're close to the first kickoff today, I figured I had to step up and get this done.

The Colts game scares me. Ok, first of all, I have to hatch this: The only way the Pats will get an AFC Championship game at home is if KC wins this week and next week, and we do the same, so my picks may have been slanted slightly toward KC for that reason. I know it all sounds like a pipe-dream, but look at last year. If we hadn't played, in my opinion, the worst game of the "Brady-Belichick era," then we would have hosted Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship, so it's not all that far-fetched.

Is it just me, or is there the distinct possibility that this defense will actually show up today? I mean I'm surprised by how many people have picked the Chiefs to at least cover, if not, win, and really, it all comes back to how Johnson runs for the Chiefs. However, think about it from the Colts' perspective...they have that high-powered offense that everyone knows about, plus, they do come in with the 2nd ranked pass defense in the league. Now, obviously that is a product of teams running the ball at them more often than passing (2nd fewest pass attempts against in the league), but it does show that they are not completely a sieve, and that they can actually stop something. Also, did you know the Colts have as many rushing touchdowns (17) as the Chiefs? I found that to be interesting. The Chiefs are really going to have to explode to get a win at Indy. The more I think about it, the more I think it was probably a little naive of me to think that the Colts were that bad. I mean, yes, their run defense is terrible, but still, the Colts could simply just blast them off the field with their offense. I mean I'm still taking the Chiefs, but this isn't a "bet your house on it" kind of game, like that USF vs. East Carolina game was (by the way, how's that second house coming along?). just released a stat sheet that shows the breakdown of each referee crew and how many penalties each has called and so on. It's really an interesting little breakdown. Right now, I'm going to dish out the top 10 in categories I think are the most prevalent as far as having an impact on a game. I do not have a list of who is refing each game, but you can refer back to this if the crew in your game falls into these categories:

Name Called Accepted Yards Yards/Game
Ron Winter 456 410 3332 221.1
Ed Hochuli 420 374 3318 221.2
Teddy McAulay 442 372 3220 201.3
Gene Steratore 432 390 3154 210.3
Gerry Austin 382 344 3152 210.1
Jeff Triplette 410 372 3114 207.6
Larry Nemmers 422 382 3094 206.3
Tony Corrente 456 370 3050 203.3
Bill Vinovich 398 354 3008 200.5
Jerome Boger 414 368 2962 197.5

Jeff Triplette 96-814 (#called-# of yards penalized)
Walt Anderson 90-808
Larry Nemmers 90-784
Gene Steratore 88-758
Terry McAulay 82-736
Gerry Austin 78-712
Ed Hochuli 78-704
Bill Vinovich 76-700
Jerome Boger 72-636
Mike Carey 76-636

Pass Interference:
Gerry Austin 40-688
Terry McAulay 36-572
Mike Carey 38-540
Walt Coleman 28-534
Bill Leavy 26-512
Ron Winter 36-498
Scott Green 30-446
Ed Hochuli 22-416
Tony Corrente 26-414
Walt Anderson 18-316

Roughing The Passer:
Ed Hochuli 22-300
Walt Anderson 18-260
Tony Corrente 16-220
Larry Nemmers 16-220
Gene Steratore 16-220
Ron Winter 16-220
Bill Carollo 14-192
Bill Vinovich 12-160
Jeff Triplette 10-150
Gerry Austin 10-144

Ok, so here's what you can conclude out of all this: If a guy is in the top 10 of each category, there is no doubt in my mind that, not only will he be refing the first round, but he will probably end up in the later stages of the playoffs. Ed Hochuli stands out to me. This guy will probably be calling the Super Bowl again, because he is regarded as "the best" ref in the game. Either that, or he had threatened to take Tagliabue's milk money away and beat him up when he was in office, so that's how Ed got the nod. Either way, I think Hochuli is kind of overrated as an official. I mean he's the guy everyone knows. Even people who aren't fans of football can clearly see that this guy is the Popeye of officials. He wears an extra small shirt, which to me appears like he's a little desperate as far as grabbing attention to himself. It's like Hochuli is recognized as the one who is "huge," just like Bobby Grier was recognized as the one who "sucks." I will say this about him though, he is the best as far as explaining a call on the field. I mean the guy's reciting the "Magna Carta" out there sometimes. Still, I do like a little explanation of why a certain call was made or overturned. Pound for pound though, I have to say I like Walt Anderson the most. He's the guy who calls out the penalty, waits for a dramatic second, then points in the direction of the team. I like that. A little flare from the officiating crew is nice. In my flag football referee days, I would try and emulate that. It's nice when a team thinks the penalty against them when it is actually for them, and then see them react to it. Just those little things make me happy. Also, watch out for Mike Carey. He'll be the one doing his little feminine points. It's like he's gonna bust out into "YMCA" or something. And the worst one of all is Jeff Triplette. I mean here's a guy who just seems completely unsure of himself. He has no conviction when he's making a call. Come on man, make me at least believe that was pass interference on Ellis Hobbs. I mean I know it wasn't, but if the guy comes out, pushes his hands out like he's trying to push over a Buick, and points like he's Ralph Macchio cutting down a board, then maybe I'll start to think I was wrong and not him. See, that's what makes Hochuli "great." When he makes a call, he has a look like "hey man, if you mess with me, I know where you live, and don't think I'm above climbing through your TV and stomping you out." See I like that. Triplette just doesn't do it for me. And when he makes a call, it sounds like he's on the intercom of a plane or he's got a clothespin on his nose. Someone get this guy off the mic!

Anyway, back to the games. I was reading "The Sports Guy," as I do every week, to find out who he liked this weekend. The funny thing is that he does the same kind of thing I do: Rambles on about present things, putting a cleaver (or at least I try to) spin on it, and then giving his predictions. See, I like that. I think that's the way to go. If I just got on here, told predictions, I wouldn't be above a "900" number that advertises winners. I like giving opinions about everything going on, and then I'll devulge my "keys to the game" and what not. This week, though, he really got me riled up about the Cowboys-Seahawks game. Basically, he denounced the Seahawks, saying they "haven't beat anyone." Then, he goes onto say something to the effect of the Cowboys are a team of dysfunction, but they can get it together for this one. Ok, well, I mean, it was totally "angry letter" time. I mean I love Bill. I love basically everything he's ever written because he's a guy just like me. From Boston, loves Boston sports, now he lives far away, and he's trying to grasp his hometown roots. I can appreciate that. However, I couldn't deal with his Cowboys pick, so I wrote him back and tried to question the logic of picking the Cowboys because they "play well on the road," as well as other crazy statements. Look, the Cowboys have had a nice season. When Romo took over, they looked like they would be unstoppable, ripping through the NFC, but here's the thing: the NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" league, and frankly, the Cowboys have done nothing. They've lost three of their last four games, with all those losses coming at home. I am fully aware that the Seahawks have also dropped three out of their last four, but they have at least shown signs that they can win in the future, unlike Dallas who seems to be putting it into reverse after that loss against the Lions of all teams. Also, I'm supposed to believe the Cowboys play well on the road? Ok, they went 5-3 on the road, but look at who they beat:

1. Arizona...need I say more
2. Tennesse under the command of Kerry "Let Me Keep It On The Road" Collins. Yeah, let's see how well the 'Boys would have played if they had to face Vince Young in the middle of his little streak. I guarantee they wouldn't win by 31 again.
3. Carolina was probably the most impressive road victory, coming on a Sunday night when they were road 'Dogs. It was Romo's second start, and he looked good. Yah Cowboys.
4. At the Meadowlands against the Giants. Ok, the Giants were a team that was reeling from having four of their best starters (Toomer, Strahan, Umenyoira, Arrington) on the sidelines. Plus, it took them a last second field goal to win that one, so I'm not too impressed by that.
5. Atlanta in the Georgia Dome without Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood. Ok, so there's basically half of the most powerful running attack in the league. Now, you focus in on Vick, who was helpless against a rampant disease known as "drop-itis" (you think that could have been airborne like Bird Flu, just finding it's way from Seattle to Atlanta?).

The point is, I just don't see it. There's no way of getting around it for me. I mean, obviously, if the Cowboys were to go on and win this game, I would look like a total idiot and a jackass, but I'm not scared to go out and say what I think and question people's opinions, even if they are some that I deeply respect like Bill Simmons. I just think that when you know, in your heart of hearts, that something that has been written is wrong, you should try and question why that person thinks the way they do, and perhaps enlighten them about the other side of the arguement. I think that's what makes writing this, and sports banter in general, such a great release. It's a very easy way to exercise your First Amendment rights to say and feel whatever way you want to. Ok, enough with the history lesson already...let's focus here.

The Giants could potentially pull off a miracle tomorrow. This is another game where I'm extremely "iffy" about my prediction. Granted, the Giants have stumbled down the stretch, but still, that team is loaded with talent, and it seems that, when they are not completely disgruntled about the coaching staff, they play very well. Still, I have to believe that Philly's secondary, which is by far the best in the league hands down, will be able to make plays on Eli Manning, as he will undoubtedly be throwing balls in places that they really don't belong, and when you have Dawkins, Lewis, Sheppard, and Brown (Gamecock!) back there, they will be either swatting balls down, or even more likely, picking passes off in great numbers. Also, when it comes down to a home field advantage, as far as the first round, there will be no tougher place to play than Philadelphia. Think about it for a minute. These fans are nuts, there's no question about that. Booing Santa, cheering Michael Irvin's near-paralysis, I mean these are fairly good indicators that the fans are out there. Now, when you couple that with everything that's been going on in Philly's sports scene (Phillies sucked down the stretch except for Ryan Howard, the Flyers suck even more (by the way the B's beat them 4-3 today...alright!), the Sixers, well, they're starting to turn it around, but still, when you lose the face of the franchise, it's gonna be tough to woo that crowd back for the rest of the season, and then the Eagles lose Donovan McNabb, which seemingly ended any postseason hopes they may have had), you have to know that Philly fans are going to be bananas tomorrow. They've been waiting for something good to happen in that town for a while, and the culmination of that was at the Linc last week, where they won another NFC East crown. Now, they are playing an inner-division rival in the first round of the playoffs. I mean how can I bet against that? The seven points is a lot, but the way I see it, the game won't be close, and if it is, the Eagles are going to be in a bit of trouble. I just think the Giants defense, with the exception of Gabril Wilson and Will Demps (fantasy football championship team member, thank you very much!). I mean these guys are real good. I've already stated before that they are at least in the top five as far as safety tandems. Garcia still will be looking for "Mr. Everything," Brian Westbrook, coming out of the backfield. I expect Westbrook to have a gy-normous day tomorrow, around 100 on the ground and 80 out of the backfield with two scores easy. So, the more I think about it, I'm starting to really like the Eagles here.

Alright, well it's almost time for the Indy-KC kickoff. Hopefully we can get lucky here and get an upset. Have a good Saturday everyone. Take care. Peace.


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