Archive for January, 2011

Best of 2010

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

It’s that time of year again – RotoScoop’s year-end lists. Better late than never. As always, feel free to let me know what I got right, what I missed and what I got wrong in the comments.

Before we delve into lists, my MVP for 2010 would be Adam Carolla, whose podcast was my favorite entity of the year, considering it ran around 90 minutes 4-5 days per week and delivered almost every single time. If you’re unfamiliar, check out this recent edition, recorded at a sports bar on a Sunday, billed as a football edition that (like always) resulted in about 1% sports talk. Here’s how backward the world works. Carolla’s recent pilot wasn’t picked up by NBC. You know, the guy who co-hosted Loveline for 10 years, helped create both “The Man Show” and “Crank Yankers” and currently has a book on the New York Times best seller list. And his podcast gets around 2.8 million downloads, which would be considered a success in television. Clearly, this guy has no clue what he’s doing.

MOVIES

I barely saw a dozen films this year, so if I excluded one of your favorites from 2010, chances are I just haven’t seen it yet. As for my list, I feel like the top tier was strong this year, but 6-10 was shaky.

10. I don’t really have a No. 10 to be honest. “Dinner For Schmucks” was OK, but I’m not adding it here just for the sake of coming up with a base 10 system, and I’m not putting the overrated “Inception” on here either. My wife loved “Blue Valentine,” which I haven’t seen yet, so how about that?

9. Kick Ass – “Kick Ass” isn’t my type of movie, but it was done well for a genre that doesn’t interest me. Loved Nicholas Cage’s Batman voice, seemingly mocking Christian Bale (whom I am a fan of otherwise).

8. Harry Potter – Haven’t read any of the books. Seen every movie. Mostly good, not great, but I’m usually entertained. So, Hermione is a much bigger star than Harry, right?

7. Jackass 3D – The drinking the sweat scene ranks among the grossest of all-time, and the Johnny Knoxville setup when he dressed as a 90-year-old was terrific. After making out with an 18-year-old in front of people, he states: “Don’t worry, she’s of age. I know this because she’s my granddaughter.” Good stuff.

6. Shutter Island – Normally I’m against movies trying to pull the wool over the audiences’ eyes, with a big reveal (gotcha!) at the end that there really was no way of predicting (I’m looking at you “Matchstick Men”), and I really wouldn’t argue with anyone who put this movie on their “worst” list, because it’s definitely a stretch. There’s little doubt Martin Scorsese has lost his fastball over the past 15 years, but like “The Departed,” “Shutter Island” thoroughly entertained me, which is really all I can ask for. The final scene of this movie produced a ton of debate, which is also a plus. The subtlety of it was quite clever, really.

5. The Town – Really good movie until the final 20 minutes, when it got a little too clichéd and relied too heavily on action. But enough with the negatives – they rarely make movies like this any more, so I was happy to see it executed well. The opening scene (no explaining, just joining the story in progress) was excellent, but the scene with Jeremy Renner (who steals the movie) running into Ben Affleck at lunch with the underrated Rebecca Hall was one of my favorites of the year. And that car chase scene was so good, concluding with a cop simply looking the other way, which was brilliant. Affleck may have gone a bit overboard making sure to shoot a scene of himself working out solo with his shirt off, but the guy can clearly direct. RIP Pete Postlethwaite.

4. Catfish – Wow, what a story. Regarding the controversy (some regard the ending a big twist, and whether or not the filmmakers knew all along about it has been brought into question), my friend Sean (who did the animation for “Waiting For Superman,” the likely winner at this year’s Academy Awards for best documentary. And you should all also check out his own documentary, “I Think We’re Alone Now”), knows both the directors and the main actor and swears it’s all legit. But even if the directors caught on that something was up, to me, it means absolutely nothing. Not even a little bit. The catfish speech at the end is fantastic. And while I understand some hate the depiction of the handicapped twins, would you rather people like that just be totally ignored? They exist and not showing them would arguably be more insulting. After all, it helped reveal why someone would behave in such a way – i.e. it added to the story and in no way exploited them. “Catfish” is not a horror film in which the marketing campaign somehow erroneously tried to display. Rather, it’s a remarkable story about loneliness and the desperation to connect by extreme measures.

3. True Grit – There’s no question this was hands down the funniest movie of the year.  And while I haven’t seen the original in full, I caught some of it after I watched the remake, and it too was quite humorous (although it’s unclear if this was intentional). I’m not a fan of Westerns, but this was my favorite of the genre, and the Cohen brothers continue to impress (they are on quite a roll recently). The ranking here reveals a strong year in movies more than anything else, as I really enjoyed “True Grit.”

2. The Social Network – This is somehow my second movie ranked high dealing with Facebook, something I didn’t even join until recently. Of course, both “Catfish” and “The Social Network” aren’t REALLY about FB, but when I first heard David Fincher, easily one of my favorite directors, was attached to this project, my initial reaction was “huh?” But make no mistake, he totally redeems himself for the awful “Benjamin Button.” The opening scene of “The Social Network” was positively brilliant, and Aaron Sorkin’s script deserves a ton of credit. Trent Reznor’s score was fantastic as well. I loved how there wasn’t clearly designated “good guys” and “bad guys.” For instance, I’ve heard plenty of people talk about how deplorable the Winklevoss twins were. To me, they were clear victims, but more importantly, they certainly weren’t unlikeable in any way (aside from being born good looking, privileged and with a ton of money). And while I give Mark Zuckerberg (or is it Jesse Eisenberg?) props, he’s kind of a prick, right? Despite finishing No. 2 on my list, “The Social Network” would have been my top ranked movie in either of the past two years.

1. Black Swan – I’d normally pass on a movie based solely on ballet, but “Requiem For A Dream” is my favorite film ever, and I ranked “The Wrestler” my No. 1 movie of 2008, and I also really liked “Pi,” so with Darren Aronofsky directing, I was eager to see it, and let’s just say it didn’t disappoint. Let’s get some of the negatives out of the way. This movie is over-the-top, and I said “WTF” a few times, and while I usually can’t stand not knowing what is real and what’s not in films, to me, this works. I thought A.O. Scott from the N.Y. Times said it best: “Is “Black Swan” a realistic portrayal of life in a ballet company? Probably not. Is it an overheated, wildly melodramatic rendering of an artist’s struggle? Without a doubt. And to scold the director, Darren Aronofsky, for what he doesn’t get about dancers or how he looks at women is almost deliberately to miss the point. This is, at bottom, a horror movie. It gathers psychological implications from its chosen milieu and makes them literal, giving flesh to wild metaphors of female sexuality and aesthetic risk.” Exactly. And while it’s mostly in your face, I’d also argue “Black Swan” has a subtle take on an eating disorder. It’s also unclear if Nina had previously ever had sex, drank alcohol or done a drug in her entire life (my guess is “no” to all of the above). And her mother is a monster, right? I can’t remember caring so much about a character than I did Nina in the final act of the film. The script is far from perfect, but this is Aronofsky at his best, and Natalie Portman gives a tour de force performance. “Black Swan” was easily my favorite movie of 2010.

TV

I realize it looks bad having not watched “Breaking Bad” or “Boardwalk Empire,” and I fully expect to be berated by Dreamweapon as a result, and it looks even worse when you consider I rank 20 shows this year, and almost all are inferior in quality I suspect. However, please understand a lot of these were watched on DVR in the background while I’m doing work on the computer, a lack of respect I’d never give to a show like “Breaking Bad.” Also, my wife loved “The Walking Dead,” and I must say, I was intrigued after later watching the premiere (the one episode she saved on DVR). Enough with the qualifying:

Honorable Mention: The Office, Weeds, Entourage, Community, United States of Tara, Bored to Death, How I Met Your Mother, The Ricky Gervais Show

20. The League – No show was more hit-or-miss. And when they “hit,” it’s so clear the head writer was once affiliated with “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” my favorite show since “Seinfeld.” (See the awesome episode with Josh Cribbs involved). The mention of RW was nice, but there’s no homerism involved here. This show often tries for shock factor, and while there were plenty of misses, it produced plenty of laughs as well.

19. Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains – This is tough, because if you watched this specific season and had never seen the series before, it had to be less enjoyable. Jeff Probst is the best reality host by far, and Russell might be the best contestant of all-time as well. Only O.J. Simpson’s jury was dumber than this one.

18. Jersey Shore – Call me a problem with today’s society. I’m not contributing to book sells by Snooki or the Situation, and that side of this phenomenon blows my mind, but this show is entertaining as hell. T-shirt time!

17. True Blood – Over-the-top? Check. Campy? Check. Good popcorn fun? Check. Personally, I liked season 3 more than season 2, and while apparently the TV show has veered far away from the books, that matters little to me. My wife is on Team Eric, and I have a sneaking suspicion why,  but I remain on Bill’s side (or should I say “Beel”).

16. Damages – A show that everyone should be watching. Glenn Close is so good. Season 3 centered around a Ponzi scheme, making it extremely relevant.

15. Eastbound & Down – I actually think they went an episode or two too long, as I wasn’t that into the Don Johnson story line. However, there’s no doubt this show is very funny. The beginning scene of this episode was awesome. And Stevie Janowski is easily one of the better role players on TV these days (“it smells”).

14. 90210 – This isn’t a joke, nor am I trying to be ironical (it’s so bad it’s good). I assume most of you have never seen this show, but before criticizing, find one person who watched season 3 and wouldn’t recommend it. I’m normally not into anything related to teenagers, and while it would be easy for me to say I enjoy watching this because it has, by far, the hottest cast ever (Shenae Grimes: see here. Here. Here. Jessica Lowndes: see here. Here. Here. Here. Jessica Stroup: see here. Here. Here. Here. AnnaLynne McCord: see here. Here. Here. And realize I’m also leaving another out some would argue is the prettiest of them all), that’s not the case, although it certainly doesn’t hurt. The acting isn’t great, but the writing is. Don’t be dismissive.

13. In Treatment – Takes a big commitment and definitely not for everyone. Maybe I’m a bit biased since I graduated with a degree in psychology, but there’s some deep stuff here. You have to invest, but the reward is worth it.

12. 30 Rock – For a year or two there, I considered this show overrated, even though I always enjoyed it, and while they try to be a little too cool for school sometimes (check out this insider joke!), “30 Rock” is clearly one of the best shows on television.

11. Sons Of Anarchy – Season 3 wasn’t nearly as good as the brilliant season 2, but they had a high bar to clear. While I personally thought the finale worked, it presented a good argument for those who felt cheated that the audience was kept in the dark.

10. Modern Family – I’m not quite sure it was worthy of winning an Emmy for best comedy right away, but I’m a fan.

9. Parks and Recreation – What a joke Parks and Recs was delayed for their third season (for “Outsourced,” really?), and although season 2 overlapped with 2009 and 2010, I’m still rating it this high. It’s smart, funny and frankly, one of the best comedies on TV.

8. Friday Night Lights – I’ve been reluctant to rank this in my top-10 in the past, and the season I’m talking about here won’t air on NBC until 2011, but I must say there’s an argument it’s been the best yet, despite a cast that barely resembles season 1.

7. Tosh.O – People may be turned off by the smug Tosh, but I think he’s brilliant. The premise is cheap – just looking at Internet clips, but a) they are mostly hilarious and b) Tosh is one of the better comedians alive, so he makes it work. The web redemptions can run a bit long, but I’d argue the first eight minutes of each episode can’t be beat. That’s science.

6. Party Down – If you haven’t seen this show, put both seasons at the top of your Netflix queue and thank me later. “Cole Landry’s Draft Day Party,” the penultimate episode of the series, is a must-watch.

5. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – This season got off to a slow start but it picked up in a huge way. There’s certainly a strong argument this is the funniest show on television.

4. Dexter – “Dexter” can be polarizing, and you often need to employ suspension of disbelief, but few shows I look forward to more each week. While the direction the writers took Dexter and Lumen’s relationship was questionable, I liked Jordan Chase as this year’s antagonist (actually, I’d argue Lt. Laguerta was this season’s biggest villain at times). There were some overlapping themes from past seasons, and I’m not sure where this show goes moving forward, but the dynamic of Quinn, Dexter and Debra is set up well. Also, Peter Weller was fantastic as the creepy Stan Liddy. For extreme Dexter fans interested in serious discussion about the show, check out the comments in this article.

3. Lost – I have a love/hate relationship with “Lost.” I believe this might be the first time I’ve included it in my year-end list (partly because I didn’t start writing it until after the first two seasons of the show, when it was at its best). While I was skeptical of the alternate universe setup for the final season, completely eschewing the flashbacks, ultimately I found the last year to be one of its finest. Well behind and wanting to catch up before the series finale, I watched 12 episodes over a two day period, which is probably the ideal way to view this show that thrives on “what’s going to happen next?” scenarios. As for the much talked about finale, the first two hours were really good, but things fell apart during the final 30 minutes. There was no way of answering all of the many questions, and maybe no ending would truly satisfy, but really? SPOILER ALERT – They all meet in church and sing kumbaya and go to heaven? It was like the last scene of “The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under” and “The Shield,” only the opposite.

2. Mad Men – How is it possible (arguably) the best show on television just keeps getting better each season? The acting. The direction. The writing. Phenomenal. If I ranked these in tiers, make no mistake, the top-two would be tier 1 and in a class easily by themselves. The old lady receptionist was one of the funniest characters on TV in 2010. Conversely, is Betty Draper one of the most deplorable?

1. Louie – Billed as a comedy, I thought it worked better as a drama, but either way, Louis C.K. might as well have been filmed naked he reveals himself so much during his masterpiece. The episode “Bully” was unlike anything I’ve ever watched and had me both uncomfortable and on the edge of my seat the entire time. And what about that scene at the dentist? And during the episode “God,” the priest giving his speech at the church was absolutely mesmerizing. “Lucky Louie” was terrible, but it’s obvious Louis C.K. is one of, if not the best comedian alive, so it’s clear HBO shit the bed, which is why I give FX a ton of credit – they gave him complete control: he writes, stars, directs and edits every episode, and they don’t even see it until handed the finished product. Hard to argue with the results. If I haven’t convinced you yet, check out this clip, and this one, and finally this one.

MUSIC

This was a phenomenal year in music, and my main obsession (Radiohead) wasn’t even involved. Not only did I rank 10 albums this year after previously never listing more than five, I had a tough time cutting a few others as well (one being Beach House).

10. Kings of Leon: “Come Around Sundown” – Let’s get a couple of things out of the way: “Sex on Fire” is a horrible song, and “Use somebody” was unquestionably the most overplayed (and it also sucked) song of 2008/09. But should that really be held against Kings of Leon? I actually liked their last album, and they seem to suffer from Coldplay syndrome – their worst songs happen to also be their singles. I admit the lyrics are weak, and they really seem to be a country group at heart, but music is clearly more subjective than any other medium, right?  I saw a tweet (I forget by whom) that said every time they read a review of “Kings of Leno” by Pitchfork they are convinced the lead singer must have fucked the writer’s wife or girlfriend. I get the fallout here, but this isn’t exactly Creed either.

Listen to: The FacePickup TruckPony UpBack Down SouthMi AmigoMaryPyroThe EndRadioactive

9. Sufjan Stevens: “The Age of Adz” – Sufjan is clearly one of the more talented people in the world, and yet, I’d wager 99 out of 100 people have never heard of him. He’s both the singer and songwriter of all his albums, and here’s a list of instruments he also plays: guitar, bass guitar, banjo, sitar, piano, xylophone, vibraphone, English horn, oboe, drums and recorder. Is that all? I’m not religious (as Ricky Gervais put it while ending the Golden Globes, “Thank you God for making me an atheist”), but Sufjan most certainly is, although he never comes across as preaching. In fact, “Get Real Get Right” might be my favorite song of 2010. “The Age of Adz” isn’t as good as past efforts such as “Illinoise,” but it’s definitely one of the best albums of 2010.

Listen to: Get Real Get Right, I Walked, Impossible Soul, Vesuvius, Too Much

8. The Black Keys: “Brothers” – No song really jumps out, but I could list double-digits easily from this well-rounded album that runs nearly an hour in length, which is increasingly rare these days. The Black Keys aren’t exactly innovative (aside from being a two person band), but this is blues rock at its finest. Plus, they put on a hell of  a live show in concert.

Listen to: Sinister Kid, Tighten Up, Howlin’ For You, Next Girl, Everlasting Light, Too Afraid To Love You, She’s Long Gone, Never Give You Up

7. Spoon: “Transference” – I’ve enjoyed some singles in the past, but I’d hardly be confused with some big “Spoon” fan beforehand, but I really got into “Transference.” They produced the album themselves, and half the songs are presented in their original demo form, often ending abruptly. The technique worked.

Listen to: Who Makes Your Money, Written in Reverse, The Mystery Zone, Out Go The Lights, Before Destruction, Goodnight Laura

6. Frightened Rabbit: “The Winter Of Mixed Drinks” – The best group few know about, which is evidenced by the amount of views on the YouTube clips I linked to here, and the fact I couldn’t even find some other songs I wanted to share and another I could only find a live version.

Listen to: Skip The Youth, Foot Shooter, Not Miserable, The Loneliness & The Scream, The Wrestle, Swim Until You Can’t See Land, Things

5. Stars: “The Five Ghosts” – “Stars” have been around for more than a decade now, but I wouldn’t exactly call myself a huge fan before their latest album. The lead singers alternate between male and female, and while I wouldn’t call this especially deep stuff, and I tried to fight the recency effect (this was the latest album I discovered appearing on this list), I’ll now be eagerly awaiting future efforts, because I’ve had “The Five Ghosts” on repeat for some time.

Listen to: He Dreams He’s Awake, We Don’t Want Your Body, Dead Hearts, The Passenger, FixedWasted DaylightI Died So I Could Haunt You, How Much More

4. Menomena: “Mines” – I didn’t become a Menomena fan (or even aware of them, actually) until this year (h/t Matt Azevedo), so while I was impressed with their previous three albums, it was to my surprise their newest release would become my favorite of them all. They used to base all their old work around their own software, and “Menomena” is also interesting in that they deploy different vocalists (three in all) depending on songs. Any way you construe it, however, results in a terrific product.

Listen to: Five Little Rooms, Dirty Cartoons, Oh Pretty Boy, You’re Such A Big Boy, TAOS, Queen Black Acid, INTIL, BOTE

3. Kanye West: “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” – A good way of demonstrating just how subjective this whole practice is, my friend Robby (and former RotoScoop scribe) called me out in the comments section earlier this year, saying my “Power” selection as song of the week was one of “the worst songs on the album.” This may or may not be true, but every year-end list I’ve come across since then ranks “Power” as a top-10 song of the year. Regardless, I’m not a rap fan these days, and I can’t get on board with Pitchfork giving this album a perfect 10.0 rating, but Kanye is obviously quite talented, and this belongs in the conversation of best rap album of the decade.

Listen to: Power, Runaway, All Of The Lights, Monster, Dark Fantasy, Hell Of A Life, Blame Game

2. The National: “High Violet” – I saw them in concert, and they really delivered. Matt Berninger’s voice is distinctive, and for some reason, makes “The National” feel old fashioned in a way. Some may consider past efforts such as “Alligator” and “Boxer” superior, and I wouldn’t argue, but that doesn’t mean “High Violet” wasn’t one of the best albums of 2010. “Afraid Of Everyone” is one of the better songs in recent memory.

Listen to: Afraid Of Everyone, Bloodbuzz Ohio, Terrible Love, Sorrow, England, Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks, Conversation 16

1. Arcade Fire: “The Suburbs” – When I heard their first three released singles on the radio, I was underwhelmed. Of course, they had a high bar to clear after their first two albums. But unsurprisingly, when the full version came out, they didn’t disappoint. In fact, it’s comparable to their first two efforts, which is another way of saying this is the most talented group not named Radiohead in the business these days. The whole Win Butler didn’t steal your basketball controversy in the past made an otherwise omnipotent group more human. But when it comes to music, “Arcade Fire” have few peers. If “Get Real Get Right” is my favorite song of the year, “We Used To Wait” is a close second, especially since it inspired one of the most innovative things I’ve ever seen.

Listen to: We Used To Wait, Sprawl II, Ready To Start, Modern Man, Suburban War, City With No Children, Month Of May, The Suburbs

SONGS

My favorite tracks from 2010: “Words, words, words” and “Oh Bo” by Bo Burnham, “Down By The Water” by The Decemberists, “On Melancholy Hill” and “Surperfast Jellyfish” by Gorillaz, “Spanish Sahara” by Foals, “Swim” by Surfer Blood, “I Can Change” and “Dance Yrself Clean” by LCD Soundsystem, “Glitter” by No Age, “Crash Years” by The New Pornographers, “New Low” by Middle Class Rut, “Congratulations” by MGMT, “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People, “Hey Ho” by Gin Wigmore, Pale kid raps fast, “Blue Beard”  and “Way Back Home” by Band of Horses, “Le Chat du Cafe’ des Artistes,”  “Time of the Assassins,” and “Trick Pony” by Charlotte Gainsbourg.

WORST

Not much of a worst list this year, as this article is plenty lengthy enough as is, but this song is terrifically awful, and words can’t even begin to do justice how bad the NFL Network’s announcing crew was in 2010. Also, Colin Cowherd deserves a swift kick to the nuts.

Bet on It

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 4-0, winning my best bet. I’m now 5-3 during the postseason, going 1-1 on best bets. Onto the Championship Round:

PACKERS -3.5 at Bears

Jets +3.5 at STEELERS (Best Bet)

Comments:  It seems I’m backing both teams most of the public is also on, made apparent by the lines already moving a half point, but it’s becoming clear that matters little in the postseason. Frankly, I don’t love either bet this week and would stay away.

The Scoop

Monday, January 17th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

The last four Ravens/Steelers games were decided by three points, and it was four points or fewer in each of their past six meetings, and the over/under Saturday was 36 points. So naturally, Pittsburgh won by a touchdown, and they combined to score 55 points. Of course, that’s not to say this wasn’t a close game, but how they got there was pretty surprising…How many times do you see players trying to run toward the end zone well after many whistles have been blown? Well, the opposite occurred during a pretty important game Saturday. What a crazy fumble taken for a TD by Cory Redding…Ray Rice made Troy Polamalu look absolutely silly not just once but twice…Baltimore had the fewest drops in the NFL this year but suffered two crushing ones Saturday. The first by Anquan Boldin in the end zone when it was 24-21, and the second by T.J. Houshmandzadeh, which effectively ended the Ravens’ season…With 2:07 left in the fourth quarter, Dan Dierdorf killed the Steelers for taking a timeout, arguing they shouldn’t be saving Baltimore any time. Problem was, the T.O. came after an incompletion. Seriously, why are announcers so bad?…I was rooting for the Steelers, but I must admit, this call was highly questionable.

I recently participated in a fantasy baseball mock draft, hosted by the good folks at Fantasy Phenoms. The results are here.

This guy is no joke at Wiffle Ball.

The gaffe was mildly amusing, but the others’ responses is what was truly humorous.

Wow, what a performance by Aaron Rodgers. The numbers are incredible (86.1 completion %, 10.2 YPA, four touchdowns, zero turnovers), but they don’t tell the whole story. Rodgers’ ability to escape the pass rush and then break out of the pocket and fire accurate throws downfield was simply amazing. One of the better games played in recent memory. An absolute clinic on how to play the quarterback position. Rodgers now has a 10:1 TD:INT ratio over three career postseason games. I’m beginning to think the 49ers should have taken him instead of Alex Smith…How exactly, did this Packers team lose six games this season? And imagine if Jermichael Finley hadn’t gotten hurt (among many others)…Tramon Williams came awfully close to having a Leon Lett moment while strutting in for a touchdown during his pick-six to end the half…Green Bay had zero punts Saturday night…Atlanta certainly proved they had the edge on special teams like most expected, but this game also showed that entering with an advantage in areas like penalty yardage and turnover ratio isn’t exactly a predictive measure. Then again, it also showed just how unlucky the Falcons were, having to play such a dangerous six seed while the Bears got a vastly inferior Seahawks squad…Some interesting coaching decisions. Mike Smith once again showed how willing (and how successful the strategy is) he is to go for it on fourth-and-short, which you knew was the right decision as soon as Troy Aikman disagreed with it – “I’m not so sure you don’t take the points here.” Guess what Aikman, you get “points” for a touchdown too. In fact, four more of them. Aikman wasn’t done making head-scratching comments, as he later proclaimed Mike McCarthy as NFL coach of the year. Actually, as much as I’ve criticized his in-game management this season, McCarthy impressed Saturday, refusing to pull off the accelerator (did last week teach him a lesson?). In fact, I actually wanted him to punt up 21 points with 13 minutes left instead of attempting a 50-yard field goal (at that point, the trailing team needs crazy things to occur, so why not just pin them there?), but I can’t have it both ways, so I applaud McCarthy’s effort.

Ricky Gervais just turned in the single greatest hosting performance in awards show history Sunday night. He was absolutely brilliant. So naturally, he’s taking a ton of heat and is unlikely to ever host the Golden Globes again.

While maybe a bit sad for obvious reasons, this is a cool story nonetheless. It also reminds me of “Grizzly Man,” one of my favorite documentaries of all-time, and if you haven’t seen it, do so.

Well, that was a pretty successful first ever postseason pass by Jay Cutler…Thank you for kicking the extra point, Pete Carroll, as that would have been a brutal backdoor cover (albeit a tie). Speaking of Carroll, talk about playing for the friendliest loss and not to win. How can you possibly kick a field goal down 28-0 with two minutes left in the third quarter? Seattle actually ended up scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter! Remember this when coaches make similar decisions in the future. Sure, a comeback seemed highly unlikely, but that doesn’t mean going for a TD there wasn’t the obvious call. You never know. Moreover, they punted down 28-10 with six minutes remaining. Huh? You can’t make this stuff up…Say this for the Seahawks, at least they remained undefeated in games decided by 10 points or fewer this season…Marshawn Lynch didn’t exactly build off last week’s highlight reel run…Mike Martz, you have the lead and a big advantage, what are you thinking with that Matt Forte pass play? And why can’t non-quarterbacks simply throw the ball away if the trick play doesn’t result in a wide open player? They consistently refuse to…Tom Brady, who was the unanimous first QB (and overall, for the most part) taken in playoff fantasy leagues, threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns. Matt Hasselbeck, who was the unanimous last QB taken, registered 530 passing yards and seven touchdowns. I admit, I didn’t see that coming.

What is Adrian Peterson doing eating McDonald’s?

Finally, an ATM that suits my needs.

While I wasn’t shocked the Jets beat the Patriots (I took NYJ ATS), I also can’t say I wasn’t surprised. What a difference compared to the last time these teams met just six weeks ago. Teams coming off a bye are now just 12-12 over the past six postseasons, and Tom Brady is now 0-3 during his last three playoff appearances (with a 5:4 TD:INT ratio over that span). Other than New England, only three other 14-win teams were one-and-done in postseason history. Brady is undefeated at home over his past 28 regular season games. He’s 0-2 over his past two home tilts during the playoffs…What were your guys’ thoughts about Wes Welker getting benched? I’m mixed. Of course I enjoyed Welker’s foot press conference and am all for adding fun in sports, but part of me also respects Bill Belichick for actually sacrificing his team’s chances of winning when a player doesn’t follow the Patriot way (albeit for just a series). The Jets trash talk like crazy, but Welker’s was pretty personal…I hate after the fact criticism (doesn’t it seem like surprise/trick plays are always universally praised when they work yet killed when they don’t. For instance, while not a trick play, I had no problem when the Chiefs ran a sweep on fourth-and-1 to Jamaal Charles last week, a play call that has been getting slammed. It didn’t work, but how many times have we seen the jumbo package right up the gut fail too?), but I seriously question that fake punt by New England, mainly because of the situation. In general, it’s better to take risks when you are the underdog, not the heavy favorite. Moreover, what was the upside there? There was just 1:06 left in the half and they were at their own 38-yard line. The risk vs. reward made little sense…I have more confidence in Braylon Edwards making a spectacular catch than I do an easy one. And that celebration by him was pretty awesome. Also, Santonio Holmes’ catch in the end zone was terrific. Those Jets’ receivers are quite talented…I was on the fence regarding the Pats going for two down 14-9 with more than a quarter left, but ultimately I think it was the right decision. Because even if they missed it, and New York kicked a field goal, they could still tie it by successfully converting a two-point try after a subsequent TD…You won’t find a bigger Belichick backer than myself, but New England’s clock management in the fourth quarter was positively perplexing. They actually had a 7:40 drive that only reached the Jets’ 34-yard line (running 14 plays to gain 48 yards, leaving just 5:15 left in the game). And they were down two possessions! Think about that again. I understand New York’s coverage begged them to run, but why were they huddling, often snapping with fewer than five seconds on the play clock? Unbelievable. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they made another huge mistake later. With 2:21 left on 3rd-and-10, they somehow throw a one-yard pass to Wes Welker. An incompletion there isn’t the end of the world at all, as a field goal made the game one possession. However, any completion better get a first down, because as a result, the kickoff came after the two-minute warning, effectively costing the team a timeout (they had two remaining, and they wouldn’t have had to attempt an onside kick, although that would have still been an option). Ultimately, Rex Ryan and the Jets deserve a ton of credit, and they were the better team. Activating a whopping 11 defensive backs, playing a ton of zone and rarely blitzing, the defensive schemes won the game for New York, who is definitely a team worthy of playing in the AFC Championship for the second straight season.

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The following song is not only NSFW, but I’m also pretty sure it’s not safe for common decency either.

Bet on It

Friday, January 14th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 1-3, losing my best bet. Onto the Divisional Round picks:

Ravens +3 at STEELERS

PACKERS +2.5 at Falcons

Seahawks +10 at BEARS (Best Bet)

JETS +9 at Patriots

Comments: I expect Chicago to roll, but I had a hard time picking the Jets/Pats game. I could easily see another blowout, but it’s pretty crazy how much this line changed from when these two teams met just six weeks ago.

Podcast

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Check it out. This one gets heated toward the end.

The Scoop

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

While the Seattle upset was obviously a bit surprising, what made it especially more so was the fact they found themselves down 10-0 right away. It seemed to me they would be particularly ill equipped to play from behind…I really didn’t know Pete Carroll and Matt Hasselbeck had it in them. Two terrific performances Saturday. It wasn’t fun watching Hasselbeck after I chose Mark Sanchez over him as my second QB in a playoff fantasy league…I’m beginning to question whether Reggie Bush lacks durability…A defending Super Bowl champion hasn’t won a playoff game since 2004…When the Seahawks aren’t blown out, they are the best team in the NFL (8-0 in games decided by 14 points or fewer)…Saturday marked the first time Drew Brees wasn’t intercepted since Week 4, and he was only sacked once…As much as I praised coach Carroll earlier, his decision making at the end of the game was questionable. After calling two straight run plays for Marshawn Lynch (who didn’t pick up a first down), he then just kneeled the ball, and the game was over (New Orleans had only one timeout to begin with). I guess the runs ran a couple more seconds off the clock than a QB kneel, but was that really worth the risk of a fumble at midfield up just five points?…Speaking of Lynch, I’ve heard his 67-yard touchdown run called the best of the season, but come on, it was definitely the best run ever, right? I don’t want to be hyperbolic, and I guess a safer way of me saying it is “in my lifetime,” but I can’t even come up with a No. 2 to compare it to. If you had me name running backs who would produce “the best run ever,” I would have named at least 30 before Lynch in today’s NFL. Considering it happened in a close playoff game late in the fourth quarter, that only enhances such a sick run that produced a whopping eight broken tackles.

I had a vested interest in Oregon winning Monday night, but I’m guessing this guy was even more upset at the outcome.

You know when you go to some restaurants, and the waiter or waitress won’t write down any of your order, kind of just to prove how awesome their memory is? That always drives me nuts and convinces me our order will be messed up. Well, I can’t argue against eliminating the human element.

While it appears most online books have them lower, my friend who lives in Las Vegas alerted me today that “The M” had the Milwaukee Brewers at 40-1 to win the World Series. While future bets like this really aren’t that smart, I couldn’t help myself not to throw $50 on it. In comparison, the Nationals were 35/1, the Marlins 30/1 and the Padres 30/1. In fact, the only NL teams listed as bigger long shots were the Diamondbacks, Astros and Pirates!

I feel like I’ve somehow become something of a Peyton Manning apologist, and I understand some criticism is merited since he’s now just 9-10 during the postseason throughout his career, but he just completed 69.2 percent of his passes while getting 8.7 YPA while taking only one sack and not committing a turnover against a strong Jets’ defense with a depleted receiving corps (I know the great ones make the receivers and not vice-versa, but this statement holds even more true when you consider Reggie Wayne was also non-existent). That’s an awful Colts team, with a bottom-five coach in the league. This is like LeBron James and the Cavs, only playing in a far more team dependent sport (albeit the QB is disproportionately important)…Mark Sanchez was not good Saturday night…Why did Dominic Rhodes get more carries than Joseph Addai?…Adam Vinatieri is the man, no doubt about it…What was up with Rex Ryan’s eye? That must have been some halftime speech. Not sure why he didn’t call a timeout (he had all three remaining) when the Colts had the ball at their own 36-yard line on 1st-and-10 with 1:42 left in the fourth quarter, allowing Indy to run 32 seconds off the clock…Of course, that blunder pales in comparison to Jim Caldwell’s absolutely dumbfounding timeout called about a minute later, but that’s been criticized ad nauseam. But this should come as no surprise to those who have followed Caldwell, who also made one of the dumbest challenges earlier in the game when it was quite clear the punt went right through Santonio Holmes’ legs. Without question, Caldwell is one of the worst coaches in the NFL.

This guy (I feel like Jon Gruden) is 18 years old. Seriously. Meet Thapa Magar, the shortest man in the world.

This feel good story got sad fast.

This video probably deserves an even greater warning than NSFW. And while I acknowledge it’s horrible, and the woman should be locked up, I must admit, I have watched it a few too many times to claim I didn’t find it funny. I mean, the trance music is mesmerizing, and the woman’s expression throughout it all is just so crazy. And she makes it like a fireworks show, with the finale going all out, and why the random stills? There’s little doubt I’m going to hell.

The Chiefs’ second half Sunday was one of the worst two quarters played in the league this year. How can Jamaal Charles receive one single carry during that span, and Dwayne Bowe get zero targets all game? Unbelievable. Charles was .02 YPC away from breaking Jim Brown’s NFL record this season…While visiting some friends in USC back in college, late one night after leaving the bars we ran into Matt Cassel on some fraternity row. Somehow, my friend ended up betting him he’d beat him in a foot race, and after he smoked him twice (the second time he even gave Cassel a head start, just because), Cassel got extremely butt hurt and refused to pay up, so I can’t say I’m exactly shedding tears to see him fail so miserably when it matters most…As someone with rooting interest in the 49ers, I hope Jim Harbaugh is half as good a coach as his brother. This Ravens team is a bit hard to figure out, but they are clearly among the elite in the NFL.

You’ve got to admit “Boats N’ Hoes” was pretty good.

The Falcons deserve credit for taking care of business, and they don’t turn the ball over and have a good special teams, but for those who consider their season a bit lucky, let me flame the fire: opponents made just 15-of-23 field goals against them this season, which is 65.2 percent, nearly 10 percent lower than the next most beneficial team in the league. In comparison, the Chargers didn’t have a single missed field goal against them this year. Breaks.

I understand gas stations keep their refrigerator temperatures high to keep costs down, and maybe 50 percent of their clientele are commuters, but it’s extremely annoying either way. No one is buying a single soda (or juice or water) at such a place not to drink immediately. Seriously, they are all barely consumable. Someone tell the owners I’d be willing to pay higher gas prices for a colder drink on a road trip. That alone I assume would sway them to change their ways.

I’m a huge baseball guy coming off a season in which my Giants became World Champions, and it’s also probably my preferred fantasy sport, but this weekend proved football is the best sport in America. What ridiculously good games. You can’t beat it…DeSean Jackson is an unbelievably talented player and possibly the most explosive in the league, but it’s pretty crazy he finished with just 47 catches for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns this year. He had the season’s most memorable play on special teams, his 22.5 yards-per-catch mark easily led the NFL, and he missed two games, so it’s not a knock. But he ultimately ended the season with just 49 receptions over 15 games…James Starks was impressive, especially when you consider the defense was more likely to key on the run whenever he was on the field…If it wasn’t clear before, Aaron Rodgers’ poor record in close games should 100 percent (or at least something close to it) fall on Mike McCarthy, who is absolutely horrible. Talk about playing not to win down the stretch (and also at halftime, when he allowed Green Bay to run the clock out with 20 seconds left at midfield with a timeout remaining). And what about Troy Aikman telling us that McCarthy told him he doesn’t measure success running the ball by YPC but instead by the number of carries. Huh? That’s like saying you should judge a hitter by RBI more than OPS (and yes, even the latter is rudimentary in this day and age)…Speaking of Rodgers, who I think is pretty safe to call the best player in the NFC by far (yet, he wasn’t even named to the Pro Bowl. And imagine if Jermichael Finley didn’t go down.), now has a 19:2 TD:INT ratio over the past eight games. And those numbers would look even better had James Jones not made such an egregious drop on a perfectly thrown ball on a sure would-be long touchdown Sunday.

Bet on It

Friday, January 7th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 12-4, so my overall regular season record ends at 135-117-4. I won my best bet, so I finished 12-5 there. Onto the Wild Card weekend picks, and we’ll start fresh for the postseason:

Saints -11 at SEAHAWKS

Jets +2.5 at COLTS (Best Bet)

Ravens -3 at CHIEFS

Packers +2.5 at EAGLES

Comments: I actually like the setup for the Saints, coming off a loss while the Seahawks enter following an emotional win that was essentially a playoff game in primetime, but this is the single biggest line of the 2010 NFL season. And that’s a long trip for New Orleans, who has to play in possibly the toughest venue in football. The Saints will also be without Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and both Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston are banged up, while Matt Hasselbeck looks likely to return for Seattle. I’m certainly not saying the Saints shouldn’t be a comfortable favorite, but I’d feel better rolling a teaser up to 18 points than down to four points…I picked Indy without much trepidation, yet I wouldn’t be even a little surprised by a New York upset. Both teams are worse than last year’s versions, when they met in the AFC Championship…The Ravens have been the more legitimate team all season, and the Chiefs have no doubt been aided by a far easier schedule, but Kansas City is coming off a horrible performance, and they were 7-0 at home beforehand. And it’s not like the Ravens are some juggernaut. I’m going contrarian there…The Eagles/Packers matchup is a true coin flip, and I think there’s an argument they are the second and third best teams in the NFL. Of course, the problem is picking which one will win Sunday. On a neutral field, I’d feel confident backing Green Bay, but Philly has been unbeatable coming off a bye under Andy Reid, and this is essentially the same situation (plus I’m hedging since I have a ticket for the Packers to win the SB at 30-1).

The Scoop

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Tom Brady was left needlessly into the third quarter of a blowout, but you have to respect the fact Bill Belichick played to win Sunday, especially since the team has an upcoming bye…After watching Brian Hoyer get 9.4 YPA with a 111.7 QB rating, I think it’s pretty clear the system has made Brady a star and not vice-versa. With Hoyer breathing down his neck, Brady better watch his back in 2011…Ronnie Brown did the unimaginable this season by staying totally healthy yet wildly unproductive.

Remarkably, the Lions were the best team in the NFL against the spread this year…After Brett Favre got 7.9 YPA and posted a 33:7 TD:INT last season, the Vikings enter 2011 with one of the shakiest QB situations in all of football…Calvin Johnson being active yet not seeing the field was the absolute worst-case scenario for fantasy owners still playing in Week 17. Why waste the roster spot if he’s not going to play a snap?…Jahvid Best will present one of the more interesting dilemmas at draft tables next year. After totaling 310 yards and five touchdowns over the first three games this season, he was essentially worthless in fantasy leagues from there on out, failing to top 65 yards rushing while scoring zero TDs on the ground over the final 13 games. The positives: two turf toe injuries can be blamed for it all, and it showed toughness he was able to even play at all. Thanks to so much activity as a receiver, Best still topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage during his rookie season despite the debilitating injuries and getting just 171 carries. If you believe the coaching staff, the toe ailments made a night-and-day difference with his explosion, and a healthy Best has a ton of upside on what could quickly turn into a highly productive offense. The negatives: That 3.2 YPC mark is hard to stomach, especially when you consider the number was actually lower before the turf toe problems popped up. And while he’ll enter 2011 with fresh feet, Best still needs to be viewed as a health risk, and it remains unlikely Detroit ever gives him 300 carries even if he remains injury-free. His 1.8 YPC after contact was the lowest in the NFL, and Pro Football Focus graded him as the second-worst running back in football this season (with Tim Hightower being the worst).

The offhanded final sentence to this story killed me.

It’s been a while since a franchise’s future depended so much on a stay in school versus come out decision like Carolina is dealing with when it comes to Andrew Luck. The 49ers should hire Jim Harbaugh and offer the Panthers their entire draft to move up six spots…On a neutral field, I’d argue the No. 1 seeded Falcons would be underdogs against every NFC playoff team except the Seahawks (and the Giants would probably be a pick ‘em too). Of course, that doesn’t mean Atlanta shouldn’t be the favorite to come out of the NFC right now.

Talk about laying an egg, Kansas City, allowing Oakland to become the first team in NFL history to go undefeated in their division yet not make the playoffs. I would not have fired Tom Cable…Speaking of possible firings, if Jamaal Charles doesn’t get 80 percent of the carries against the Ravens, Todd Haley deserves to get canned immediately afterward…In 2008, Michael Bush ran for 177 yards and two touchdowns in Week 17, and he just totaled 171 yards with a TD run Sunday. The man cannot be stopped during the final week of the season (except in 2009, but that ruins my narrative).

This invention is pretty cool, although I certainly hope it’s not relegated to terrible beers.

I’d be shocked if there was ever a more productive season by a wide receiver who recorded just 60 catches than Mike Wallace in 2010. And remember, he was held to 25 yards or fewer in two of the games before Ben Roethlisberger returned from his suspension. During just his third year in the league, Wallace will unquestionably enter 2011 as a top-10 fantasy wideout…Peyton Hillis will be one of the tougher guys to rank among running backs for next year’s cheatsheets.

There might not be anyone who cares less about who belongs (and who doesn’t) in the baseball Hall of Fame than me.

I guess that whole Brian Brohm versus Chad Henne debate looks moot right about now…Those who stashed Joe McKnight all season were rewarded handsomely Sunday. Seriously, this year proved once and for all fantasy leagues need to end before Week 17…I never like to write anyone totally off, but C.J. Spiller’s rookie season was highly discouraging. Of course, that also makes him a nice buy-low target moving forward, and a Fred Jackson injury could make him quite valuable.

A truly remarkable story that is a must-read.

There are some pretty impressive counterparts, but I’d argue Josh Freeman, Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount are absolutely in the conversation among the best triplets in football moving forward…I hate to play the what if game, but Tampa Bay’s Week 15 loss at home to the Lions stings even more after what happened Sunday. Especially when you consider this…For those of you playing in a fantasy league in the playoffs (and really, why wouldn’t you? Six people works perfectly), Julius Jones makes for an interesting late round flier. We really have no clue as to Pierre Thomas’ availability, and Chris Ivory was just placed on IR.

I’m curious if Slippery Pete was in anyway involved.

I turned down a trade last week involving Jerome Simpson in a dynasty league. I very well may live to regret it…Over his past 844 rushing attempts, Cedric Benson has scored just 15 touchdowns…Despite facing a team that was undefeated at home this season until Week 17, Baltimore is three-point favorites in Kansas City, which is pretty interesting. The “sharps” will hammer the Chiefs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right. Should be a good game either way…Billy Cundiff is the man…I’ve killed this issue enough this season, but I can’t stop until the madness does. At the end of Sunday’s game, the Bengals spiked the ball on 2nd-and-1 from Baltimore’s two-yard line with 22 seconds left down six points. Their next play took a whole three seconds, so they were then left with a fourth down with 19 seconds left. Another incompletion followed, so they turned it over on downs with 10 seconds still remaining. Andy Reid thinks this was horrible clock management.

These commercials are legit.

Make no mistake this Bears defense is the real deal and absolutely championship worthy. We’ll see if the offensive line and offense are also up to the task…Eagles v. Packers is easily the game of the Wild Card weekend, and Philly better be prepared for a ton of blitzes…Despite topping 40 yards just once (when he got 82) over the first five games this season, Greg Jennings finished with 1,265 receiving yards – the fourth most in the NFL. Most will disagree, but I can see taking Jennings over Roddy White in non-PPR leagues in 2011.

If by “obnoxious” they meant hilarious, then I agree.

Mario Manningham’s 92-yard TD catch was the longest reception of the season…Osi Umenyiora set an NFL-record by forcing a whopping 10 fumbles this year…I love Hakeem Nicks and no receiver has as much upside as him entering 2011 (expect maybe Calvin Johnson), but he simply must be considered an injury risk at this point. There’s no way around it…Pro Football Focus gave Ahmad Bradshaw a grade of 10.6 in blocking. To put that into perspective, the next best RB was Fred Jackson at 4.6 (which is pretty surprising since Jackson finished dead last in the category last year at -6.7), so that’s an extreme lead. Bradshaw deserves a big payday, so we’ll see if the Giants reward the free agent…Ryan Torain averaged 3.4 YPC after contact this season, which tied for fourth-best in the NFL. He remains a huge injury risk, but if he somehow stayed healthy and was given the role as Washington’s true workhorse next year, big things could follow.

Fascinating results that should further the movement to basically question everything. I’m sure there’s some connection with sports and sample sizes here too.

While not exactly surprising, where was that performance in Week 16 Rashad Jennings?…I believe in the talent and love the setup with Gary Kubiak returning, but it’s kind of weird how those who finish with the best numbers the previous year are then reflexively ranked No. 1 the following campaign on most cheatsheets. I love Arian Foster, but should he be the no-brainer No. 1 pick in 2011? I’m personally on the fence…If you prorate Owen Daniels’ last four games over a full season, you get 88 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns. I’m under no illusions he’ll come cheap at draft tables next year, but he’s probably worth reaching for. A healthy Daniels has about as much upside as any tight end in the league.

This is pretty crazy. I’m rooting for this guy. (h/t Jonah Keri)

Kevin Kolb played without all of his team’s best offensive weapons Sunday, but he was at home and remained in a terrific system, so it’s worth noting the awful stats (50.0 completion percentage, 4.5 YPA, one touchdown, four turnovers) against a Dallas defense that allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2010…Felix Jones has become the Cowboys’ featured runner, and he’s fully capable of rebounding in the YPC department next season, but once Marion Barber leaves, Tashard Choice may become the better back to target in 2011 fantasy leagues. Jones has just two touchdowns this year over 233 touches. And Choice will obviously come way cheaper.

I could understand family members being a bit upset over this.

It speaks volumes about Donald Brown ceding so many carries to Dominic Rhodes. Although that may not continue after the latter’s egregious fumble late in Sunday’s game. Only that was countered by an even worse one during a snap by Kerry Collins, turning a sure win into a loss. Crazy turn of events involving two lost fumbles in the final 90 seconds…Kenny Britt won’t be a secret, and he’s definitely an injury risk, but he’s also capable of finishing 2011 as a top-five fantasy wide receiver. If Arizona doesn’t do something drastic to address its quarterback position, I’d prefer Britt over Larry Fitzgerald next year…I get his owners’ frustrations this season, but there’s no way Chris Johnson lasts past the fifth pick of next year’s drafts, right?…I try not to be hyperbolic, but I really can’t remember an athlete running out of gas like this ever. And it’s not like he’s some lineman or something. It’s almost as if Antoine Bethea didn’t care I had the Colts in a teaser with the 49ers!

This guy is no joke. And bear in mind, death can result.

I can’t think of a crueler thing for Ryan Mathews to do to his owners this year than having such a terrific Week 17. Seriously, how frustrating. It also likely raises his price tag for prospective owners next year. Clearly, the guy can play…I try to keep an open mind with all things NFL, but I must admit, Brandon Lloyd leading the league in receiving yards is pretty mind-blowing…Although they still won, it was only fitting to see San Diego’s special teams allow Denver to recover the onside kick at the end of Sunday’s game. And with Tim Tebow’s magic, I’m actually surprised neither of his two Hail Mary attempts landed in the arms of a Bronco. While it seems like most of his passing stats come on simple screens, and his accuracy remains an issue, Tebow will be a viable fantasy option moving forward because of his running ability…San Diego became the first team in NFL history to finish top-three in offense and defense and not make the playoffs. And this is underrated, but they actually ended up ranked first in both categories (getting 395.6 ypg on offense and allowing 271.6 ypg on defense)! And I’m pretty sure having an easy schedule makes that feat actually worse, not better. I certainly can’t think of someone ever more deserving to be fired than Norv Turner as a result. Not only did they have the best offense and defense in the NFL (basing this on yards per game isn’t perfect admittedly, but still), they also had the second most sacks in the league, yet were eliminated from playoff contention even before Week 17. If Turner isn’t fired (which seems unlikely), I’d love to see the scenario that finally prompts such an act in the future.

Believe me, I know no one cares, but I can’t help myself – I went 35-13 against the spread over the final three weeks of the season.

That Larry Fitzgerald was able to gain more receiving yards this season compared to last was pretty remarkable. He’s a special player relying on horrible options at a QB position he’s completely dependent upon…Let me repeat, I’m not an Alex Smith apologist and fully believe the 49ers need to address their quarterback situation, but I’d also argue he’s not quite as awful as his public perception suggests. For one, his 82.1 QB rating was the best among all NFC West signal callers, making it hard to blame the disappointment of San Francisco not making the playoffs on him. In fact, Smith had a 9:0 TD:INT ratio inside the 20 this season, recording the best red-zone QB rating in the NFL! Digging deeper, Smith got 8.2 YPA with 11 TDs over five home games this year, despite facing three playoff teams over that span. That’s a season’s pace of 4,195 passing yards and 35 touchdowns. Unfortunately, half the games must be played on the road, but I’d love to see an NFL team implement a strict platoon, treating Smith as a lefty batter who struggles mightily against southpaws.

I think we can all agree the mother and 3-year-old showed up to the agreed upon location.

Sam Bradford was impressive this year, and Rams fans should be encouraged, but even as someone who went on record saying St. Louis should take the QB over Ndamukong Suh, Bradford’s rookie season seems to be a bit overblown. He dealt with a below average receiving corps, but he also got an anemic 6.0 YPA while accounting for nearly as many touchdowns (19) as turnovers (17) despite a ridiculously easy schedule…The brother-in-law of a close friend recently became the sous chef of a high-end restaurant in my town, so I didn’t get around to watching the Seattle/St. Louis battle until later Sunday night on DVR after eating a beautiful 40-day aged New York steak. And I nearly lost such a great piece of meat due to vomiting watching such an ugly affair, although it perfectly represented an abysmal NFC West.

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