Saturday, January 10, 2004

posted by James - 8:19 PM

Welcome back to the snow globe that is the Just North of Wrigley Field Area. I'm serious about that. It seems like every time I look outside there's snow floating out of the sky and when the wind blows across (now the snow I can handle, but the wind I wasn't expecting. ;), it doesn't know whether it wants to go up or down. I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining about my relocation destination, because I love the snow, especially since I don't have to drive anywhere in it, but I could do without the -10 degree wind chills.

I don't know if it was the inclement weather, the mind-numbing inundation of topics or just plain laziness on my part, but I basically took the week off from posting. Maybe I'll do a quick hits post before Monday recapping what happened during the week. There honestly were so many interesting topics it would take a 10-page spread to cover it all. I don't think anyone really wants to read that much of what I have to say anyway. This is why I might invite my friends or others to make comments here from time to time for some varying view points.

I will say this about last weekend though; I hope everyone who wanted to got their fill of football. There were some great games last weekend from the college and pro ranks. The BCS Championship was everything a championship game should be. LSU looked like they were going to put a whooping on Oklahoma, but it ended up going down to the last possession. LSU proved there shouldn't be any acceptable argument for them not having at least a share of the national championship. They beat the Sooners and three other ranked teams including Georgia twice. USC faces and defeated only two ranked teams. LSU's only loss came to No. 10 Florida, while USC lost to unranked Cal. There, folks, is my final answer. (No offense, Adam)

Furthermore, while I already talked about the Titans-Ravens game, the rest of the NFL playoffs has been outstanding as well. Yes two of the games were blowouts, but that's no problem when you're like me and you have no problem seeing the Dallas Cowboys or Denver Broncos get stomped and dismissed, but there has also already been two games decided in overtime.

This brings me to Saturday's early game between the St. Louis Rams and Carolina Panthers. "The Greatest Show on Turf" didn't live up to its billing, or at least their coach didn't let them, as the Rams fell to the Panthers behind the longest, overtime-game-winning play in playoff history.

I say their coach didn't let them because with the Rams down 23-20, QB Marc Bulger led them down to the 15-yard line during the game's final possession in regulation. And instead of making an attempt of winning the game, Rams Head Coach Mike Martz just goes with the field goal to send the game to overtime.

I know the rule is you go for overtime at home and the win on the road, but that doesn't mean you don't even take a shot at the win.

They get a touchdown, make the two-point conversion and recover an onside kick, and then Martz doesn't show enough faith in his QB to let him take a crack at sending you to the NFC Championship game.

Yes, a lot could happen. A bad center exchange. A tipped ball could turn into an interception. A sack or penalty could push them out of chip-shot field goal range... but all of these are in the QBs hands and if you don't have confidence in him in this situation, why is he leading your team down the field?

After Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins tied the game, the overtime period was wildly filled with made field goals negated by penalties, missed field goals, tons of icing time outs and Panthers WR converting his second big-yardage reception into a touchdown - this time to win the game.

Not that I'm lamenting the Rams' elimination. They had little business hosting a second-round playoff game. First off, if the referees didn't cost Seattle their game against Baltimore (which they admitted) and their game against the Rams in St. Louis (which was more of a fluke than a mistake), the Seahawks would have won the NFC West.

And the Rams were definitely helped by the scheduling gods this year. They had every one of their tough games at home and faced pancakes on the road - vice versa for the Seahawks.

So even though the Seahawks only had two victories on the road this year at least they weren't losing to New York (4-12), San Francisco (7-9), Pittsburgh (6-10) and DETROIT (5-11)! Check the Rams' schedule for yourself.

All of this means, that while both teams went undefeated at home and faced relatively the same schedule, the Rams got to best use their home-field advantage.

The bottom line is they were pretenders to start out and now they're gone.

And now that great playoff game is over just as New England is taking a 7-0 lead against Tennessee. And that game is making me look like a total wuss for complaining about how cold it is here.

The spectators, coaches and players are gutting it out in near-zero degree temperatures with Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher looking like he just came down off a mountain complete with scruffy beard already covered with frost and the 22 men on the field looking like snorting bulls in a cartoon as they wait for the snap of each play. I've yet to see any fans in a barrel or with their chests painted, so maybe not all football fans are dumb or the dumb ones stayed home.

The announcers are making a big deal about how the Patriots have won the last 12 games, but don't get a lot of respect because they don't have any MVP-calibre offensive weapons. That's very shortsighted. They have two, just not where they're usually found.

Pats QB Tom Brady is as close to an MVP as you're going to find. He's already got a Super Bowl MVP to his credit, so it's not like he cares what anyone else thinks. Without pro-bowl receivers or running backs, he keeps everyone involved in the offense and maximizes all of their potential when it comes to winning games, which is what it's supposed to be about not statistics.

And they have a kicker, yes a kicker, who has won big playoff games and is used to kicking in chilly Gillette Stadium. So if he ends up factoring in the decision of this game, the chances are good for the Patriots to advance to the AFC Championship game.

As far as the Titans go, they continue their tough path back to the Super Bowl by facing yet another recent NFL Champion.

I already wrote in an earlier post what I thought of the Titans, but I'm watching Steve McNair and I'm wondering what he has against throwing the ball away.

Yes he's a warrior, but what does that have to do with giving up sacks and taking huge unnecessary hits to his already beat up body.

He'd rather scramble with two 285-lb lineman chasing him and a 240-lb linebacker in front of him just to get back to the line-of-scrimmage than throw it out of bounds and get the same result without having to run over a linebacker and end up with 800 lbs of defense laying all over him.

This is not the way to give your team the best chance to win when it needs an MVP, not any more MRIs.

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