Fumblerooski: Wild Card Weekend – Saturday Edition

Texans 31 Bengals 10 – T.J. Yates spent his Wild Card Weekend suffering from a tragic case of mistaken identity. Sure, the rookie 5th round draft pick out of UNC helped lead the Texans to their first ever playoff victory Saturday afternoon. Even with his on field success, most fans still can’t believe that a guy named T.J. Yates is a starting QB in the playoffs. After a little street polling, here’s a list of the top 3 mistaken identities for the Houston Texans QB.

#3: Ski Patrol, Telluride, CO: The association here is most likely a product of the straight to VHS classic Aspen Extreme. Back in college, my roommate had an old VCR and we kept about 3 movies in the permanent rotation. One of those movies was Aspen Extreme, which is really a terrible piece of low budget cinema. However, because it was college and we had some time to kill, this didn’t stop of from over quoting the movie like it was Caddyshack  or Animal House. And most of the lines weren’t even that funny, ranging from things like “TJ Burke Salad baby!!!” and “But Teej, her earrings are bigger than my nuts.”. See, about as funny as you would have imagined.

#2: Bond Trader, Stamford, CT: Sounds like any given number of ex frat boy muscleheads who spend their Tuesday night’s at Bobby Valentine’s talking about how they could have totally found a job in the city if they wanted to but instead chose The City that Works because it’s where all the REAL action is. The T.J. is probably short for something like “Tiberius Jedidiah Yates IV” and he can no doubt trace his family crest all the way back to the Mayflower. In fact, John Winthrop probably gave him his first job w/ UBS. Couple of jagger bombs with these guys and you’ll be arrested for assaulting a police horse outside of a massage parlor.

#1: Head of NASCAR pit crew, Charlotte, NC: I think there really is a T.J. Yates in charge of Jimmy Johnson Racing. If not, we know what the real T.J. Yates will be doing next football season when Matt Schaub returns to action.

Back to the game for a second. Things played out kind of how we all expected them to. Niether rookie QB, Yates or Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, looked all that impressive while the Houston defense and RB Arian Foster carried the Texans to victory. The play of the game came from Texans defensive end, and former Wisconsin Badger J.J. Watt, who had an unbelievably athletic interception return for a touchdown. Almost makes up for the 2010 Rose Bowl. Almost.

Saints 45 Lions 28 – Is it possible for Matt Stafford to not look hungover in those player video/picture combos NBC uses to introduce the starting lineups? Talk about jagger bombs, Stafford always looks like a total mess. I could see a Detroit PR guy ambling over to Stafford’s house in Bloomfield Hills and pulling the QB out from underneath the beer pong table while then proceeding to throw the bloated QB in the shower like he were Dennis Hooper in Hoosiers. You know what they say, there’s no cure for the common hangover quite like Calvin Johnson.

Speaking of Megatron, am I the only one who is starting to feel like all if this crazy video game scoring/offense in the NFL right now isn’t very interesting anymore? Would it kill one of these playoff defenses to stop the opposing team? There was a point last night where I thought the officials should have just switched to overtime rules immediately and given each team a possession from the 30 yard line rather than have them waste our time as they march down the entirety of the field in something like 5 plays.

With the win, the Saints move on to face San Francisco next Saturday in a game where a lot of folks are going to talk themselves into picking the 49ers because it’s being played at Candlestick and they have a good defense. But, in doing so you’ll be making one salient mistake and that is that San Fran’s QB is still Alex Smith. I don’t care how many Harbaugh’s you have coaching the team, Alex Smith remains a classic game manager. Which is probably why Trent Dilfer has him rated so highly on ESPN’s new QB metric thingamabob. On second thought, Smith is 22 out of a total of 34 QB’s, so even the stat heads agree.

view from Reliant Stadium courtesy of @HoustonTexans 

view from the Superdome courtesy of @risapr1


If Gambling Were Legal: NFL Week 6

St. Louis (+15) over GREEN BAY – For some strange reason I’m enjoying this new Aaron Rodgers/State Farm Insurance commercial. Granted, it’s not of the same ilk as the Dan Marino/Isotoner spots from the 80’s but still, it had me chuckling. It also got me thinking, who is the least marketable starting QB in the NFL? I’d say it’s a tie between Blaine Gabbert and Donovan McNabb. Gabbert because he’s still so young and McNabb because nobody eats Campbell’s Chunky Soup anymore.

PITTSBURGH (-12) over Jacksonville – At what point does it become fair to compare the career arcs of Sidney Crosby and Eric Lindros? Both physically talented players were considered saviors in the NHL but had their time on the ice cut short by concussions. Of course, in the case of Crosby the story has yet to be written as we all await his eventual return to the ice. I for one hope he makes it back in time for December 1st when the Penguins visit the Capitals. I’ll be in DC for the weekend and have already started scheming my way into the arena. Of course, if you know of anyone with an extra ticket, feel free to email me with the details.

Philadelphia (-1.5) over WASHINGTON – Speaking of Washington, the Redskins have a legitimate shot of winning the NFC East. Maybe we were all a little quick to judge the aptitude of QB Rex Grossman after all. (Note: How many of you think that I end up regretting this last statement by the end of the season?)

DETROIT (-4) over San Francisco – At the start of this NFL season, who would have thought that this matchup would be arguably the best game of week 6? Also, if you have a chance, check out the pattern Calvin Johnson ran against the Bears to score that long touchdown in the first half of Monday Night’s Game from Detroit. He ran one of the laziest looking fly patterns I have ever seen, yet the Chicago secondary barely laid a finger on big #81 until it was too late and Megatron was already busy receiving “good seasons” from an over zealous auto plant worker in the Ford Field stands.

ATLANTA (-4) over Carolina – The NCAA has cleared Auburn of all charges in the Cam Newton pay for play scandal. Good news for Cam Newton but even better news for Tigers head coach, and personal fitness guru, Gene Chizik who continues his quest to ease War Eagle’s suffering after their tree was poisoned by a group of Crimson Tide loyalists.

INDIANAPOLIS (+7) over Cincinnati – Dare I say upset special? Why was it such a problem that Colts owner Jim Irsay talked about how, if given the opportunity, Indianapolis would draft Andrew Luck? Doesn’t it go without saying that whichever NFL team ends up with the top pick in 2012 draft that they will take the Stanford QB? Is there an NFL team out there that wouldn’t either make Luck the face of their franchise or trade the pick away to another team for a kings ransom?

NY GIANTS (-3.5) over Buffalo – The Gaints, and Eli Manning in particular, might be a better team on the road than at home. Speaking of the Meadowlands, the other night I was flipping back and forth between the ALCS and Hoffa starring Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito and two things stood out: 1) Nicholson looks nothing like Jimmy Hoffa and 2) DeVito, who both directed and starred in the film, is really short and much funnier in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Houston (+7.5) over BALTIMORE – The torn pectoral muscle is the new ACL. In the span of a single week, Texans defensive end Mario Williams and Nebraska nose tackle Jared Crick each inured a chest muscle, ending both of their seasons. Each will make a full recovery but this does raise a fair question: why are so many football players coming down with this rather bizarre injury? The pessimist in me believes that this rash of torn pectoral muscles has to do with the fact that more players are taking performance enhancing drugs like HGH. The sports scientist in me says that these injuries are due to over conditioned athletes who may or may not be hydrating properly. Either way, the Houston Texans are playing this weekend without their star DE and WR which spells trouble until you realize that Joe Flacco is still the quarterback for the Ravens.

Cleveland (+6.5) over OAKLAND – Sounds like Raiders backup QB Terrelle Pryor harbors a desire to still be playing for the Ohio State Buckeyes. And to be fair, I’m sure OSU would love to have him back as well, especially considering what happened last weekend in Lincoln, NE.

NEW ENGLAND (-7) over Dallas – I wish this game were being played on Thanksgiving. In other news, one of my bosses called me in to work Sunday afternoon between 2:30-4:30. Don’t these people understand that there’s football to be watched? The instant you become a boss do you forget what it’s like to be a mid-level employee? I think a union needs to get involved involved before things spiral out of control and I go all sorts of postal on the company copier.

TAMPA BAY (+4.5) over New Orleans – Glas to see that Saints safety Roman Harper was fined after his cheap shot on Panthers WR Steve Smith. Doesn’t Harper understand that the “after the whistle late hit” has already been patented by Brandon Meriweather?

Chicago (-3) over Minnesota – This Bears offensive line better get its act together soon or else Jay Cutler is going to end up back on the exercise bike. In other Chicago news, what does everybody else think about former Boston GM, and prodigal son, Theo Epstein leaving the Red Sox to take over the Cubs? Personally, I think it’s a great move for all parties. The Cubs get a young Moneyballer with a proven track record of developing talent while the Red Sox cleanse themselves of all things September 2011. It’s just too bad Josh Beckett was involved in this deal as well. I hear the Wrigley Field clubhouse is an excellent place to shotgun 3-4 lukewarm Old Stlye’s.

NY JETS (-7) over Miami – Boy this is really a terrible terrible football game. All people are going to care about anyway is who ESPN finds to replace that narrow minded country bumpkin Hank Williams Jr. A few suggestions: 1) Manny Pacquiao 2) Faith Hill 3) Bernie Williams. As soon as this issue has been resolved, fans in New York can go back to griping about Jets OC Brian Shottenheimer and his suspect play calling. For the 14th time this week Bruce in Bayside, Mike Francesa does not have time for any of your trivial Jets nonsense!

Last week 8-5 (Overall 43-34)



Butler vs UConn to be Played at Local YMCA

Everyone has an opinion/statistical breakdown on who will tonight’s college basketball National Championship between Butler and UConn. Taking a slightly different perspective, I thought it would be appropriate to project a winner based on the order in which a starting five would be selected for an everyday average Sunday morning game of shirts/skins. The beauty of this analysis is that it doesn’t rely on statistics or talent but rather pure instincts and guile.

Pick #1: Shabazz Napier – Ultimate distributor of the basketball. Doesn’t look for his own shot unless wide open. Would be the most popular player in a pickup game because chuckers love playing w/ pass first teammates who would also guard the opponents best scorer. Remember, in pickup basketball nobody wants to play defense.

Pick #2: Matt Howard – Howard already looks like he belongs in a recreational league so the transition from big time NCAA hoops ought to be seamless. He would be so frustrating to play against because he hustles and rebounds, two things no hungover college student wants to do on a Sunday morning.

Pick #3: Kemba Walker – Most talented, accomplished basketball players goes third in this pick up draft because, like any scorer, he shoots a ton and nobody want to play with someone who hogs the ball because all anyone else wants to do in these kind of games is look for their own shot. I have a feeling that Kemba would fair really well going against the heavy knee brace/rec spec set.

Pick #4: Shelvin Mack – Mack loves to throw up deep 3’s and in a pickup game that’s ok as long as his teammates haven’t crossed half court yet. If there is one thing  Sunday morning heroes hate it’s not being rewarded for the effort.

Pick #5: Ronald Nored – Defense. As I have already mentioned, nobody wakes up at 730am on a Sunday morning to play defense.

Pick #6: Roscoe Smith – Is it just me or does Roscoe always look he has a black eye? Has there been an incident reported? Could be an intimidating player for a lot of pickup first timers to go up against.

Pick #7: Andrew Smith – Because there would be about 5 different Andrew Smiths’ playing in the game. That and nobody wants to guard a sweater.

Pick #8: Tyler Olander – Because nobody wants to get elbowed in the face by an errant, uncoordinated elbow.

Pick #9: Shawn Vanzant – Sounds more like a member of a crime syndicate than a rec league basketball player.

Pick #10: Jeremy Lamb – Arguably the breakout player of the 2011 NCAA tourney, and future NBA lottery pick, goes last in this Sunday morning game of pickup because, based on tired appearance alone, there’s a 75% chance that Lamb doesn’t even make it out of bed in time to play.

So according to this Sunday morning rec league draft, I’m giving Butler the slight edge in the National Championship tonight. Final score: Butler 62 UConn 58. Of course, if things don’t work out, we would be happy to have these players join us for a little game of pickup next Sunday.

view from Reliant Stadium courtesy of @n_gardner

Bracketscapes: Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas – Reliant Stadium (Final Four: April 2&4)

Why your dad likes Houston: Because every dad born during the Baby Boom wanted to be an astronaut when they were kids.  Thanks to JFK, my  dear old dad wanted to fly when he was younger only to have his dreams derailed due to poor eyesight. (Be aware that my dad also credits his poor eyesight for ending any chance he ever had of playing in the NFL.)

Signature Food/Drink: With its surprising proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Houston has some of the finest seafood in the continental US. (Although since the BP disaster I am sure many local Houston eateries have been forced to adjust their menus.) For drinks, it’s tough to uncover an abundance of local craft brews so I am willing to bet that the people of the “Outer Loop” appreciate a good Bud Light while the fine, privileged folks of the “Inner Loop” enjoy themselves some sarsaparilla.

College Basketball History: The city of Houston has a fine tradition of college basketball. The University of Houston boasted one of the best, most prolific programs during the early 1980’s. In 1982-83, Phi Slamma Jamma made it all the way to the National Championship game only to be upset by Jim Valvano and the North Carolina State Wolfpack. That Houston Cougar team featured two of the NBA’s Top 50 players in Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

Bracket Predictions: Butler over VCU. UConn over Kentucky. Butler over UConn. (And the final score won’t even come down to a Gordon Hayward missed half court shot.)

view from Reliant Stadium courtesy of @RiceSportMgmt