November 27, 2006
College Football - The Playoffs
|[Posted by ]|
As usual, the BCS has produced BS. While unbeaten Ohio State is a no-brainer pick for the National Championship Game, who they'll play is mired in controversy. If there's anything more predictable than BCS controversy it's the accompanying call for a college football playoff. While it's probably true that a playoff will never happen, fans and pundits speculate away. I've read so many arguments for and against a playoff system. I love college football and my only worry is that a playoff system will "fix" what isn't broken: the do-or-die regular season. However I think an intelligently designed playoff system can give teams a fair shot at a title and still preserve the importance of the regular season. Here's how my system would play out if the season ended Saturday.
Sunday, November 26, 2006: Selection Sunday I
The top 16 in the BCS are revealed today and fans can start salivating over the great matchups. With a 16-team playoff, the first round will be played on campus and will give the top 8 a huge reward for their regular season performance. Here are the games that will be played on Saturday the 9th:
Orange Bowl Bracket
#16 Tennessee at #1 Ohio State
#9 Arkansas at #8 Boise State
#12 Oklahoma at #5 LSU
#13 Rutgers at #4 Florida
Rose Bowl Bracket
#14 Virginia Tech at #3 Michigan
#11 Auburn at #6 Louisville
#10 Notre Dame at #7 Wisconsin
#15 West Virginia at #2 USC
In the Kris Playoff System, the winners of these games will advance to a quarterfinal round bowl game. What bowl games? Obviously the big three of the four BCS bowl games will host the national championship and semifinals. The bowls will go on a rotating system every year to determine which bowl hosts the championship game and what bowl is relegated to a quarterfinal. The rest of the quarterfinal games will be hosted by three of the lesser bowls. The powers that be can determine those bowls however they want, but would most likely pick the bowls with the biggest payouts. For the sake of geographical diversity, however, let's assume that the Capital One, Holiday and Cotton Bowls will host the second round, at least this year.
Saturday, December 9, 2006: The Sweet Sixteen
For two weeks the hype has been building in places like Columbus, Boise, New Orleans, Louisville and Madison. At last, the first ever NCAA Division 1-A playoffs are ready to kick off. Starting at Noon on the East Coast, college football fans are treated to full day of the country's best teams going head to head. When the dust settles, Ohio State, Boise State, Oklahoma (in the upset of the round), Florida, Michigan, Louisville, Wisconsin and USC are headed to the bowls. On a side note, I attend the Wisconsin/Notre Dame game, "Jump Around" to stay warm and have a few cocktails to celebrate the glorious victory.
Sunday, December 10, 2006: Selection Sunday II
Representatives from the four quarterfinal round bowl games gather to choose the matchups. The BCS bowl, this year it's the Sugar Bowl, always gets first pick, while the other three bowls choose in a yearly rotating order. The Sugar Bowl quickly takes what looks to be the most competitive game, Oklahoma vs. Florida. The Capital One bowl gets #1 Ohio State vs. Cinderella Boise State, while the Cotton Bowl has Michigan vs. Louisville and the Badgers and USC are headed to sunny San Diego to play in the Holiday Bowl.
Saturday, December 23, 2006: The Great Eight
After completing final exams, the nation's best football-playing student athletes are ready for some football. With two weeks to prepare, students and alumni descend on the bowl sites in record numbers. Disneyland is overrun by potatohead wearing Boise State fans. Bourbon Street is teeming again with thirsty Sooners and Gators. Wolverines & Cardinals hook up in Deep Ellum and a certain Badger fan has yet another excuse to take in the incredible natural beauty of La Jolla, California.
In the Capital One Bowl, the clock strikes midnight for Boise State. Away from the blue, blue turf of home, they suffer their first loss of the season. Oklahoma continues to roll and takes out their second SEC team of the tournament. Michigan smothers Louisville in the Cotton Bowl. And, in the biggest upset of the tournament so far, USC's pass offense meets their match in Wisconsin's secondary. On the other side of the ball, the Trojans can't stop a rejuvenated P.J. Hill and are shocked by Wisconsin. W00T!
Monday, January 1, 2007: National Semifinals
As a new year dawns, the new era of college football continues to draw rave reviews. In a nod to tradition, the national semifinals are played on New Year's Day. In the Orange Bowl, Ohio State gets into a running match with Oklahoma, eventually winning 45-42 when Oklahoma misses a last-second field goal. In Pasadena, it's Big Ten vs. Big Ten as Michigan and Wisconsin stage a rematch of the Big Ten opener. This time, however, things are a little bit different as Wisconsin's backs and receivers have a full season's experiences behind them. With the offense humming, Wisconsin pulls out to a 21-10 lead at half and eventually wins 21-17. In Columbus, fans burn mattresses, cars and rip on Lloyd Carr. In Madison, fans drink, storm State Street and smash a few windows. Nothing says "Big Ten Victory" like a good old fashioned riot!
Saturday, January 13, 2007: National Championship Game
With Ohio State a 14 point favorite, the nation's pundits are asking "how did this happen?" Angry callers to sports radio shows are demanding reforms in the new playoff system to prevent teams from states that start with a "W" and end with a "sin" that didn't win or finish second in a conference without a championship game and weren't ranked in the initial AP or Coaches Poll from making it into the field. Wolverine fans unironically insist that Michigan got "screwed" by having to beat Wisconsin twice in order to get another shot at Ohio State. On the Fiesta Bowl field, however, Wisconsin puts up a gallant fight. A P.J. Hill fumble breaks a scoreless tie midway through the second quarter. After that, Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith connects with Ted Ginn just before the half for another score. But after the Wisconsin band's rousing halftime performance of Swingtown ("O Sucks!"), the Badgers come out fighting. John Stocco throws one TD to Luke Swan and runs a quarterback sneak, a la Darrell Bevell, for another to tie the game with just under 7 minutes left. However, the Buckeyes prove their mettle with a long, time consuming drive in which they connect on both a third and long and a fourth and inches before Smith runs in for a TD. With just over two minutes left, Wisconsin stages a furious rally that comes up short with an incomplete pass from the Ohio State 8-yard line as time expires in a game for the ages.
Ahhhh, now isn't all of that better than arguing about computer rankings for the next month?
November 26, 2006
Amazing Race Recap - Episode 12 - It's A Race
|[Posted by ]|
Tonight in Morocco, the Beauty Queens were saved in yet another non-Philimination leg. Viewers, however, were not spared from Rob & Kimberly and Alabama's incessant whining about how mean and sneaky those blondes are. Let's review the "mean" things Dustin & Kandice did tonight:
- While in third place, they used the Yield on the team directly behind them, Alabama.
- They didn't stop to talk to Rob & Kimberly when they were they had a flat tire and were already being helped by a bevy of Moroccans
- They formed a temporary alliance with Rob & Kimberly after the Roadblock when they were running 1-2
Those bitches! What might have been an awesome episode (chariot racing!!) was ruined for me by the attitude of these teams who think that racing well within the rules is somehow not playing fair. I hope Dustin & Kandice kick their asses around next week. Go Beauty Queens!
Want more? Check out the Viking Pundit
November 19, 2006
Amazing Race Recap - Episode 11 - The End of the Cho
|[Posted by ]|
Tonight's episode of the Amazing Race took the teams from Finland to Ukraine (where the girls will knock you out). Finally, mercifully, the Cho bros were Philiminated. They seem like nice boys, but a) they're way too passive and b) it's a race!!! I have no idea how they made it to the final five.
Other highlights & lowlights:
- The tank driving Roadblock looked like so much fun. It was a nice nod to history too, since I do believe that the largest tank battle ever took place in Ukraine
- What's going on with Rob's hair? It's incredibly pointy and now the point is gray. Is that the look he's going for or is it just because he doesn't have access to all of his normal products?
- James & Tyler continue to act like a couple. Don't think I missed Tyler calling James "sexy" in the tuxedos they had to don for the Detour. Just go ahead and hook up already. But, good for them for finishing first in this leg. They do well when they don't have to navigate
- I loved both Detour options. To be honest, I love any task that requires teams to dress up. In this Detour teams could do a needle in a haystack task at music school or go to a club and write & perform a rap song. Personally, I would have been all over the rap option:
My name is Kris
I'm on the Amazing Race
I've been kicking ass
all over the place!
You get the idea
- It was nice to see those sourpusses, the Lyns, enjoy the Detour
- However, there was more than a bit of irony in the Lyns bitching about the Chos inability to run their own race. What have the Lyns been doing for the whole race? Following their Six Pack alliance around.
Next week: the Yield.
For a more complete recap, be sure to check out Viking Pundit.
November 16, 2006
College Football Picks-Week 12
|[Posted by ]|
The Game is finally here. Across the nation, football experts agonize over their pick. Who will win? What will the score be? Will there be a rematch? Well I don't know about you, but I sure don't want to see Wisconsin/Buffalo again! On to the picks:
#21 Maryland at #20 Boston College: The ACC has the number 14, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 25th ranked teams in the AP poll. Horseplayers know that when there's such a closely packed bunch it means that none of the bunch are awful, but none are great either. That describes the ACC perfectly and that's why it makes it so hard to pick their games. Maryland has won their last five games by a combined 13 points. That's living dangerously. I don't think they can get away with that on the road. The pick: Boston College.
Buffalo at #12 Wisconsin: The Badgers have gotten a lot of crap about playing a weak schedule. That may be, but Wisconsin has won their games. Teams like USC, Auburn, Texas & California aren't losing to great teams, they're losing to the weak sisters on their schedule. You have to give teams like Wisconsin and Rutgers credit for beating the teams they should beat. That's what good teams do. The pick: Wisconsin, but not in a huge blowout. That's not our way.
#19 Virginia Tech at #14 Wake Forest: Another ACC game. It seems like Virginia Tech has turned the corner in winning their last 4 games. I think they keep it up and tag Wake Forest with another loss and possibly knock them out of the BCS. The pick: Virginia Tech.
#17 California at #4 USC: I'm afraid that USC might actually be a little underrated. I think the Oregon State game made the team realize that they weren't good enough to win without trying. Unfortunately for the rest of college football, that means that they're trying now. Yikes! The pick: USC.
#2 Michigan at #1 Ohio State: As a Badger fan, I really want Michigan to win in a blowout because I'm holding out hope that if that did happen the Rose Bowl might consider Wisconsin instead. I also want to pick Michigan because I know James is picking Ohio State and there's no fun in agreeing. However, as soon I start thinking Michigan is going to win I'll see a clip of Lloyd Carr and I know Ohio State is going to win. The game will come down to who is better: Troy Smith or Chad Henne. I think the answer is clearly Smith. The pick: Ohio State (wow, bet you didn't see that coming themandownthehall, did you?)
November 12, 2006
Amazing Race Recap - Episode 10 - Keep Racing!
|[Posted by ]|
No one was Philiminated in tonight's supersized leg in Finland. Instead with the Addicts (and Models!) in the lead, teams were told to simply "keep racing". How appropriate since the Six Pack (minus two) is finally starting to realize that it's a race!
Highlights & lowlights of the evening:
- I loved the cute waders Phil wore when describing the Finnish summer games Detour. Ahh, muddy Phil.
- The Addicts (and Models!) continue to make me wonder about the nature of their relationship, particularly when Tyler describes his criticisms of James as coming from a "loving place". If they're not a couple, they really should consider hooking up because they are clearly in love.
- I don't like the Lyn & Karlyn very much, but it made me sad when they made a remark about their looks being a disadvantage. It reminds of those studies where little black girls think they're ugly compared to the typical blonde, blue-eyed doll.
- Much like the Cho bros, I wouldn't be able to jump a queue to get a cab even in the middle of a race. I would feel too guilty. I don't blame the *lyns for doing it, but I couldn't.
- I'm glad David wasn't around to taking part in the mining-themed Roadblock. Who wants to travel thousands of miles away from home just to do the thing you're trying to get away from?
All in all, kind of a boring episode. For a more complete description, check out Viking Pundit's recap.
Next week: the end of the Six Pack!
November 09, 2006
College Football Picks - Week 11
|[Posted by ]|
The college football picks come a day early again this week as two unbeaten Big East teams play tonight. There are a slew of great games on tap this weekend, so pull up a chair, grab some chips & salsa, open up a cold one and bring it on!
#3 Louisville at #15 Rutgers: This whole "an unbeaten Louisville team doesn't deserve to go to the National Championship game" is a bunch of crap. Louisville has done everything it could to deserve a national title bid. They know their conference schedule is weak, so they scheduled two of the most successful schools of the last 10 years: Miami and Kansas State. It's not Louisville's fault that they both suck this year. It's like Wisconsin, they don't generally play a challenging preseason schedule because the Big Ten is challenge enough. It's not the Badgers' fault that most of the Big Ten stinks this year. So, will Louisville remain unbeaten? I think they will, at least through this week, because they get to play the great pretender, Rutgers. I'll be so happy when Rutgers finally loses. The pick: Louisville.
#16 Wisconsin at Iowa: My happiness, however, will be short-lived as I think my Badgers are in for a tough one on Saturday. QB John Stocco is unlikely to play (and if he does, how effective will he be with a separated shoulder?). The backup QB Tyler Donovan is, to put it nicely, not that good. I don't expect Wisconsin to be able to pass, so Iowa can stack the line against P.J. Hill. Iowa has had a disappointing season and now they're playing the role of spoiler. Nothing will make the Hawkeyes happier than delivering another beatdown to the Badgers. The pick: Iowa. Ugh.
South Carolina at #6 Florida: Auburn & Florida fans are already bitching about how their teams "deserve" to play in the National Championship game more than an unbeaten Louisville. I would like nothing more than for both of these teams to get tagged with a loss, just to shut them and their SEC defenders up. I'm hoping South Carolina has one more upset in them. I just have a good feeling about this one. The pick: South Carolina.
#13 Tennessee at #11 Arkansas: I'm disappointed in Tennessee for losing to LSU. Now they're not even the best 2-loss team around. Arkansas, on the other hand, may really be the best 1-loss team. Of course, that title is somewhat like golf's "Best Player Who Has Never Won A Major" tag. In other words, it's not that great. This being the SEC, I don't really have a clue who is going to win, so I'm going to base my pick on what state product I like more. So, it's whiskey or pigs. I enjoy an adult beverage now and then, but let's face it, there's nothing like bacon. The pick: Arkansas.
#21 Oregon at #7 USC: I knew USC would lose to Oregon State, but they are still a really good team. Oregon, on the other hand, strikes me as something of a paper tiger this year. They're just not as good as their advance billing. The pick: USC.
Nebraska at #24 Texas A&M: It's the Big 12 where rankings are no reflection of the actual quality of any given team, except for Texas. So, while A&M has the fancy schmancy ranking, I think Nebraska is actually the better, more complete team. The pick (and it's not really an upset): Nebraska.
November 07, 2006
Election Results Drinking Game - 2006 Version
|[Posted by ]|
Tonight you can sit back and watch the election results like a responsible, sober adult or you can play my election results drinking game. I refuse to endorse either option, it's your very own "Decision 2006". Whatever you choose to do, have fun. Here are the rules:
1. Any report of voter fraud - 1 drink.
2. Any time a race is declared for a candidate with less than 1% of precincts reporting - 2 drinks
3. "Diebold" - 3 drinks
4. "Liberal media bias" - 2 drinks.
5. Any time someone mentions Michael J. Fox - 2 drinks
6. "Gay marriage" - 1 drink
7. A gloating Joe Lieberman is interviewed - 2 drinks
8. Kinky Friedman wins in Texas - 1 delicious margarita
9. Hillary Clinton's 2008 run for the Presidency is mentioned - 1 drink
10."bloggers" - 1 drink
11."control of the House" - 1 sip (let's not get out of control!)
12. A race is declared and then undeclared -3 drinks
13. A conservative commentator blames a defeat on Tom Foley - 2 drinks
14. "stem cells" - 1 drink
15. Any time a candidate is referred to as being opposed to "immigration" rather than "illegal immigration" - 1 drink
16. John Kerry defends himself - 2 drinks
17. Any time Iraq is mentioned when discussing a state race - 3 drinks
18. A celebrity is interviewed for their election night insight - 2 drinks
19. The network talking head busts out the whiteboard - 3 drinks
20. "negative campaigning" - 1 drink
21. "Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi" - finish the whole bottle
Adventures in Voting, Nordeast style
|[Posted by james]|
It's no secret that I don't support voting. However, as a US television viewer, I felt obligated to head to my polling place and vote against the candidate with the most obnoxious ads.
My polling place is a city-owned low income housing facility called Spring Manor. (To keep people from having to face the fact that they live in a tenement housing project, Minneapolis names all of its projects something-or-other "manor." Stay classy, Minnesota.)
I'm not even going to get in to the implications of holding elections in the very building that those on the public dole live in. Instead, I'd like to bring this to your attention:
Yes, that's right - in the state-financed public housing project, there are a bank of vending machines that sell, among other things, Pepsi products at $1.25 a pop. In essence, the money that's taken from me to subsidize these people is going directly to the Pepsi corporation and a local vending vendor. Nice.
Hey, but I guess you don't end up in a place like that because you make good financial decisions, do you?
Adventures in Voting
|[Posted by ]|
First thing this morning I headed out to vote. In the 2004 Presidential election, I wisely chose to vote via an absentee ballot. This year, however, I decided to take my chances and vote in person. What a mistake! I got to my polling place shortly after 7 AM. The geniuses in charge decided to divide the line of registered voters in two alphabetically. So, that means A-M in one line and N-Z in the other, right? Uh, no. One line was for A-I and the other for J-Z. Not surprisingly, the J-Z line wound around the school cafeteria while the A-I line was virtually empty. How efficient and logical!
While it's true that 92.6% of my ward (34) voted for Kerry in the Presidential election, I don't think it's fair to say that there's some kind of correlation between voting that way and being silly and rigid enough to run a polling place like that. A fair Wisconsinite wouldn't make that kind of assumption. Or would she? ;-)
November 06, 2006
Green Bay Packers Midterm Grades
|[Posted by BVBigBro]|
Halfway through the 2006 season the Pack sits at 3-5. Like at least twenty other NFL teams they are neither good nor bad and their chances of making the playoffs are slim. The remainder of the year will be filled not with scenarios of home field advantage, but with scenarios for a high draft pick. For you and me, the rest of the season represents only a chance to see if the young players can beat the Bears once and the Viqueens twice.
On the positive side, the Packers are the youngest team in the league and under new management. The midway point of the season is as good a place as any to stop and see what progress has been made and where the franchise is headed. Here is the report card:
I like what Ted Thompson has done. Many have bemoaned the fall the team has taken the last two years, but that was not Ted Thompson’s fault. The Packers were in decline long before Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera left (by the way, Rivera has played so poorly this year for Dallas that they have changed quarterbacks partly because of the need for the QB to be more mobile), and Thompson has been given the unenviable task of rebuilding a franchise sorely lacking talent. Thus far he is succeeding ahead of expectations.
First, Thompson has drafted far better than Mike Sherman ever did. While the pick of Aaron Rodgers cannot be graded yet, and other picks from last year succumbed to injury, this years’ draft has produced several starters who look to be solid long term players in the league. No one could have done better here.
Second, Thompson let some old, unproductive players go during the off season. Goodbye Najeh Davenport, Tony Fisher, Na’il Diggs and others. Being decisive in cutting ties with the old regime has let the new players flourish.
Finally, Thompson avoided the temptation to overpay in what I thought was a weak free agent market. Only Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett were signed to any kind of money, and both filled immediate short term needs where there were no young players waiting in the wings. The result is that the Packers will have had another year to evaluate the teams’ talent while simultaneously remaining significantly under the salary cap. The Packers now have room to go after someone next season who could be a real impact player.
This is a mixed bag. I really like Mike McCarthy. The team has been prepared for their games, and he has shown a sense for when he needs to be aggressive (aside from yesterday’s idiotic pass call at the goal line). He has also shown that he is not afraid to score again when he has the lead. That will serve him well in the future. Offensively, it took a while for the new blocking scheme to develop, but the team now consistently moves the ball, and with so many young players on offense, one has to give credit to the coaching staff.
The big downside has been defensive coaching. The endless breakdowns in the secondary continue. We are halfway through the season and that is no longer acceptable. Additionally, the defense has had some bizarre schemes, Woodson at safety? Poppinga covering a slot receiver? That leads one to question some of what has been going on. Finally, the defense has had trouble all season long getting the right players on the field, and even the right number of players on the field. Don’t be surprised to see some defensive coaching changes in the off season.
No quarterback in the league has his every pass dissected and analyzed like Brett Favre does. Favre has not been the problem many pundits expected. Take away the two picks thrown in the fourth quarter of a Bears game that was long since lost, and his numbers are very good. He has lost a step, and his arm is not what it once was, but he is not remotely the liability some would lead you to believe. If I could change one thing here, it would be his fumbles. Some of those are due to the shotgun formation and the frequent rollouts the Packers employ to control the opposing pass rush. Expect to see the Packers go with more straight under center sets and more straight pocket passing as they gain confidence in the offensive lines’ pass blocking.
Aaron Rodgers remains a completely unknown quantity.
It took a few games, but the offensive line has come around and now is able to consistently run and pass block. That is a scenario that few would have expected two months ago. Rookies Spitz, Moll and Colledge have all played well, and even at their worst have not shown the incompetence of recent Packer draft picks. Tauscher has played solid at tackle except for one costly play against St. Louis. Chad Clifton may now be the weak link on the line. His propensity for penalties is something that typically gets worse in a veteran player, not better. Scott Wells had a horrible game against Buffalo, but otherwise has significantly stepped up his play from last season. This is a unit that could now be among the NFL’s better lines for several years.
This is a unit that has one very experienced solid starter in Donald Driver. Greg Jennings has shown lots of ability, but needs to stay healthy. Robert Ferguson suffered his usual season ending injury. After Driver and Jennings, it’s strictly a platoon effort among several basically interchangeable players. The Packers still need to add depth here, and if Jennings doesn’t pan out, may yet need another starter.
At tight end the Packers stink. Bubba Franks is finished as a pass catcher, David Martin is useless as a blocker. Martin has greatly increased his receiving numbers, but even this has only made him an average receiving tight end with below average blocking skills. A really good tight end would be single easiest way to improve this offense.
The Packers parted ways with Davenport and Fisher in the off season. Samkon Gado was traded for Vernand Morency. These have turned out to be good moves. The former two were non productive players who got hurt. I liked Gado, but Morency can return kicks and with all the other returners hurt, this was a short term need.
Starter Ahman Green has come back from his injury nicely and has been one of the most productive backs in the league the last several weeks. Morency has also shown some good running ability. Both men, however, have a tendency to fumble. Green has shown he can limit his fumbles to an acceptable level. The Packers may not have as much patience with Morency. Third Stringer Noah Herron also has ability running the ball, but he also fumbles, and this may be the only thing keeping Morency as the second stringer.
At fullback, William Henderson was demoted in favor of Brandon Miree. Only Miree’s injury has allowed Henderson to keep playing. Once Miree is healthy again, expect to see Henderson on the sidelines until the end of the season when he will likely retire. Miree has some ability and is a big step up from Vonta Leach who was released. If Miree can continue to develop as a pass catching threat out of the backfield, he could be the starter for several years.
Aaron Kampman is one of the best defensive ends in the league. After him, however, the Packers get no consistent pass rush from the end position. Kabeer Gbaja Biamila was a good situational pass rusher who is now a below average every down player. He is weak against the run, and as a pass rusher is a one trick pony; he strictly tries to speed rush outside the tackle. Expect to see the packers go free agent at defensive end next year. They will be well under the cap and an established DE would improve the defense more than any other single player.
Inside, Pickett and Williams are good against the run, but provide little consistent pass rush. This pair might look a lot better, though, were the Packers to posses another legitimate DE. With no other pass rushing threats, the Packers have blitzed more than they would like and have been burned on several occasions, most notably during the Eagles game.
This grade would have been an F, but Ahmad Carroll was cut after the Eagle’s game. He is not missed. While the play of the secondary has dramatically improved since Carroll’s departure, it still leaves much to be desired. Halfway through the season this unit still does not always know where to be on the field, leading to lots of uncovered receivers, and lots of big plays for the offense.
Charles Woodson has been average. He can cover a Number 2 man one on one, but appears to have trouble with the various zone coverages the Packers inexplicably love to employ.
Al Harris has also been average. He has picked up his play the last several weeks, and like Woodson is much better in man coverage than zone.
Marquand Manuel is good against the run, bad against the pass.
Nick Collins has been in a season long sophomore slump; bad against the run, worse against the pass.
This unit MUST improve its’ play for the Packers to continue their development. All of these players have shown better in the past, and everyone is rightly questioning if this is a coaching issue. Given the number of breakdowns, I’m guessing yes. Expect Kurt Schottenheimer to depart if things do not quickly improve.
Brady Poppinga has been overmatched covering receivers at times during the season, but he needs the playing time to develop. The second half of the season will likely determine if he keeps his starting job.
A.J. Hawk has developed slowly, but is becoming more consistent. He too needs the playing time to develop. More telling is that Hawk is rarely responsible for big plays against the defense.
Nick Barnett is the most overrated player on the team. Some people love him, but I don’t see it. Barnett never dominates a game, and rarely is an impact player.
In defense of the linebackers, they have not been in a position to do what they do best. When Ahmad Carroll was in the game, the proper play for the offense was to throw the ball to the player he was supposed to be covering. With the secondary’s poor play, and the lack of a consistent pass rush, they have been called on to do too much pass covering and too much pass rushing. More consistent play by the defense as a whole might allow this group to have more impact on games.
These units have been a pleasant surprise given how awful they were last year. Because good special teams are usually a result of good coaching and depth, this is as good a sign as any that the Packers are on the right track.
Dave Rayner is vastly superior to Ryan Longwell on kickoffs, and has developed into a reliable field goal kicker. Actually he is better on field goals than Longwell was last year.
Jon Ryan has been average as a punter, and that is infinitely better than B.J. Sander ever was.
Most encouragingly, the Packers have improved their kick coverage, even including the bad Buffalo game.
On returns, Woodson is a solid, if unspectacular punt returner. The downside is that he risks injury as a return man and he is far more valuable to the Packers as a defensive back. The Packers have been forced to use a platoon on kick returns, none of whom are breakaway threats. Expect to see the Packers go free agent at this position during the offseason.
So my overall midterm grade is a C+. I expected a lot less from this team. Results wise I thought they could have a better record by virtue of Favre winning a game or two or the defense generating a bunch of turnovers, but I did not expect for the Packers to be playing as well as they are every down. The big thing now is for the offense to continue to dominate the line of scrimmage and stop turning the ball over. Defensively, the second half of the season will be a good test to see how some of the younger players do against better teams and how and if they continue their development.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed this season even with the disappointment of the Buffalo game. This team is clearly better than last years’ version, there is every reason to expect continued improvement from the youngest team in the league, and we can look forward to some good and interesting football in the second half of the season. With one year under their belts and some good free agent acquisitions I see a playoff berth next season. GO PACK!
What It's Like To Be A Wisconsin Voter
|[Posted by ]|
Voiceover: Governor Jim Doyle boils and eats babies. Yummy, yummy babies! Vote for Mark Green!
Voiceover: Congressman Mark Green fries and eats babies. Yummy, yummy babies! Vote for Jim Doyle!
November 05, 2006
Amazing Race Recap - Episode 8 - Where the Hell are the Lemurs?
|[Posted by ]|
The Amazing Race headed to Madagascar tonight and, not surprisingly, the land of lemurs spelled the end of David & Mary. Was there really any doubt? The Kentuckians have been lagging for weeks. I'm sure they're nice people (although Mary is a huge, annoying nag) but they're not Amazing Racers. It was time for them to go.
Highlights/lowlights for this week:
- I loved the new twist, the "Intersection", that forced teams to pair up for a Detour or the Fast Forward. Think about how awesome this would have been in seasons without big alliances? What if Rob & Amber had to work with Lynn & Alex or Colin & Christie's intensity had to get along with Chip & Kim's laidback style? Oh the hilarity. Anyway, great twist. This season just keeps getting better and better
- I hated the cow lips eating Fast Forward. It's one thing to sample local "delicacies", it's another to force teams to eat huge amounts of gross foods. I certainly didn't enjoy watching Kimberley throw up. If I was into that I'd just watch Fear Factor. I did, however, love that James rocked the task. I'm happy that he found sometime to excel at.
- Are Tyler & James a couple? The way they talk about their relationship makes me feel like they're in a romantic relationship. Good for them, but I'm just wondering.
- I thought the Detour was funny. There's just something comical about teams carrying packs of mattresses through crowded little alleys. Good times. Good times.
- Where the hell were the lemurs?? How can you go to Madagascar and not show lemurs?
Want more? Go to Viking Pundit for more.
November 02, 2006
Democrat Hatch: 'Women are Inferior'
|[Posted by james]|
I've lived in and traveled to a lot of places, and I'm sure that Minnesota politics are some of the most childish that I've ever seen. The latest hot-button issue, however, should give voters pause.
First, it seems that Democrat Mike Hatch's running mate, would be Lt. Governor Judi Dutcher, has no idea what the term "E85" means. (For those if you not from the Great Lakes area, it's an ethanol-blended gasoline that is one of Minnesota's major exports.) That itself is a bit surprising, as current Governor Tim Pawlenty pointed out:
"One of the chief jobs of the governor and Lt. Governor is to market Minnesota and marketing agricultural products and renewable fuels is very important to this state. To have a candidate, just a few days before the election, who does not know what E-85 is...is surprising and I'd be quite concerned."
So would I, but that's not the shocking part of this we're- already- too- sick- of- your- commercials- to- care tale. The shocking part is Democratic challenger Mike Hatch's response:
Hatch responded to Pawlenty's comments by telling the Duluth News Tribune that "the Governor is so desperate, he's so far behind that he's picking on a woman. "
O RLY? Hatch might as well have said "We all know that women have tiny brains and can't be expected to understand complicated issues like E85. Shame on the big mean Governor for picking on a meek and helpless woman! (who happens to be running for Lt. Governor)."
I do say, it's a damned good thing that the weak and meek women of Minnesota have Mike Hatch to stand up for them! Wouldn't you agree?
College Football Picks - Week 10
|[Posted by ]|
This week's picks come a day early due to the big Louisville/West Virginia (hey, doesn't that just sound wrong?) game tonight. Here we go:
#3 West Virginia at #5 Louisville: It's a big week in Louisville. First this game and then the Breeders Cup. The house will be rockin'. Neither of these teams has played anyone. Seriously, look at their schedules. West Virginia has defeated the likes of Marshall, East Carolina & Connecticut, while Louisville has wins over powerhouses Temple, Kentucky & Middle Tennessee (not to be confused with Middle Earth). I was going to pick Louisville, but then I noticed that West Virginia has been beating their crapping teams way worse than Louisville has pounded their overmatched opponents. The pick: West Virginia.
Penn State at #17 Wisconsin: In Stocco I trust. Even after a terrible half and the loss of P.J. Hill, QB John Stocco helped rally the Badgers to victory last weekend. Penn State is a hell of a lot better than Illinois, but Wisconsin is a hell of a lot better than they showed last week. The pick: Wisconsin.
#13 LSU at #8 Tennessee: I think the Volunteers are the best one-loss team in the country. LSU has shown a distinct lack of offense against decent teams. Tennessee is a little more than decent. Expect LSU to score fewer than 13 points. The pick: Tennessee.
#16 Boston College at #22 Wake Forest: Boston College has been playing like a team trying to prove they're underated. Wake Forest has been playing like a team trying to be in the Big East (Syracuse? Connecticut?). By all accounts, BC should win easily. But I just have a funny feeling about this one. The pick: Wake Forest.
#18 Oklahoma at #21 Texas A&M: Oklahoma is probably distracted this week and they're thinking more about who is not playing than about who they're going to play. The only blemish on Texas A&M's record is a loss to Texas. As a member of the Big 12, they're probably not really very good. But they're good enough. The pick: Texas A&M.
November 01, 2006
Kerry Fallout Continues
|[Posted by james]|
He's gone and done it this time. John Kerry's latest foot-in-mouth comment isn't going away, despite his sad and transparent attempt at an explanation. (namely: "It was a joke, I meant to say that if you're uneducated you'll start a war in Iraq like George Bush did.") OK there John!
The real question is: why is the drive by media actually paying attention to this latest gaffe? Could it be that they are ecstatic that has effectively taken himself out of the 2008 Presidential race? Hmm...
Whatever the reason, I hope that at least some of the previously blind Kerry supporters can now admit what so many finally did about Al Gore - "Boy did we dodge a bullet with THAT guy!"