Fumblerooski: Wild Card Weekend – Sunday Edition

Giants 24 Falcons 2 – I’m contractually obligated to say just a few brief words about this game even though it failed to live up to most people’s expectations. The Giants ran the ball well, WR Hakeem Nicks had a few big plays, and Atlanta head coach Mike Smith’s 4th down play calling was less than spectacular. A few inches to go and you call a quarterback sneak not once but twice? FYI, when you empty the backfield the defense knows the quarterback is keeping the ball. In fairness to the Falcons head coach, on both those keepers Matt Ryan looked like an awkward turtle tipped over onto its shell with legs and arms helplessly flailing in the air. It may help the Atlanta QB to review some tape of Tom Brady. Nobody runs the QB sneak better than the Patriots signal caller.

Now the Gmen head to the Frozen Tundra to take on the Packers in what will be a rematch of the 2007 NFC Championship Game. Only this time Aaron Rodgers leads GB onto the field while He Who Shall Not Be Named films another Wrangler tv spot with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Larry the Cable Guy, and Mitt  Romney.

Broncos 29 Steelers 23 – Now how was that an improvement on the old overtime rules? So now in the playoffs each teams gets a possession starting from their 20 yard line UNLESS one of the teams scores a touchdown on its initial possession. What about a touchdown during the second possession? Does that not end the game? Frankly, these new rules are twice as confusing as the old ones and I don’t see how it’s much of an improvement over sudden death.

It looks like we all underestimated the power of Tim Tebow once again. Perhaps the most significant offender was Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau who was caught rolling his safeties down towards the line of scrimmage exposing the deep middle of the field one too many times. Tebow and WR Demarious Thomas took advantage of the Pittsburgh Steelers hubris and now head to Foxboro already penciled as +14 point underdogs. At least ESPN is going to have plenty to talk about this week.

view from Sports Authority Field courtesy of @9NewsKUSA Yes that ring of clouds looks like a halo. And yes, I too believe in football miracles.

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: Wild Card Weekend

Before starting in on Wild Card weekend, I thought I would take a few lines of prose to discuss how much pain I have endured this past week because of my adopted love the Wisconsin Badgers. First Monday and the Rose Bowl. Heading into the game I felt that the Badgers offense could keep up with the Flying Prefontaine’s from Eugene. Sure enough, Wisco kept pace in Pasadena, and if it weren’t for some questionable clock management, they could have walked away smelling roses. When Russell Wilson went to spike the ball with :02 seconds remaining, my first thought was: perfect, just enough time to run one final play. But then the clock struck :00 and the replay booth confirmed my greatest fear that :02 was not enough time for two plays. Of course, this wouldn’t have been a problem if either a) the offense had a play called for exactly this situation or b) Bret Bielema didn’t treat his second half timeouts like old receipts from the grocery store.

If Monday weren’t painful enough, the next night back in Madison at the Kohl Center proved to be just as perplexing. The Mayans predicted two things would happen in 2012. #1: The world will come to an end and #2: all digital clocks would be synched. How can you expect Big Ten officials to make a fair decision when one clock read .2 seconds while the other showed .0? Whatever the case, the Ryan Evans would be game tying triple didn’t count and Bo Ryan loses another heartbreaker to Sparty.

Wild Card Weekend

Saturday

HOUSTON (-3) over Cincinnati – Watching this years Rose Bowl brought me back to the 2011 edition when Wisconsin lost to the Andy Dalton led TCU team. I have yet to forgive Dalton and do not wish him any luck as he leads his Benglas against the Texans. Speaking of Houston, that failed two point conversion against the Texans was totally scripted. Probably by Mike Francesa who would have given anything for the NY Jets to miss the playoffs including his subscription to Horse and Hound.

Detroit (+10.5) over NEW ORLEANS – As a sports fan, there’d be no better place to be this weekend than NOLA. With both the NFL playoffs AND the CFB National Championship taking place in the Superdome, I would pay a pretty penny for safe passage to the Big Easy. Of course, with prices these days, I’d probably have better luck becoming a butt sniffing corporate hanger oner just punching his time sheet until the next handout.

Sunday

NY Giants (-3) over Atlanta – If there is one thing I can guarantee you about the New York Giants is to expect the unexpected. That, and if you are going to spend a billion dollars building a new stadium, the least you can do is give it some personality. Geez. MetLife Stadium is about as charismatic as Nick Saban who, coincidentally, I’m also convinced is getting shorter and shorter.

DENVER (+8.5) over Pittsburgh – Those footsteps you hear belong to Brady Quinn. Yes, that Brady Quinn. ALso, don’t be surprised if you see John Elway rushing onto the field to pull the plug on Tim Tebow himself before the Broncos QB self combusts all over himself like Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber.

view from the Rose Bowl courtesy of @lucy_nicholson

Aaron Rodgers And His Turtleneck Are Very Excited

And now for your Wild Card Weekend box score w/words AND pictures.

Seattle Seahawks 41 New Orleans Saints 36

Beast Mode is back! I asked my buddy Casey, a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan, what he thought about Marshawn Lynch’s game breaking run against the Saints to which he responded, “why didn’t he ever do that for us”. (The city of Buffalo just can’t catch a break.) I’m no football expert but even a fool could see that the Saints secondary was going to have a hard time defending Bengie Molina legging out an infield single let alone trying to cover those Seattle receivers.

view of Qwest Field courtesy of @Scrubs24

New York Jets 17 Indianapolis Colts 16

Jets survive, thanks in part to Jim Caldwell and his ongoing love affair with the timeout. Peyton Manning’s reaction to the ill advised clock stoppage was priceless. New York now heads to New England to take on the Patriots next Sunday in what will be the rubber match between two division rivals. VMS contributor Dave, a Jets fan, believes the line should be Patriots (-42). Gotta love the optimism.

view of Lucas Oil Stadium courtesy of @janesports

Baltimore Ravens 30 Kansas City Chiefs 7

Clearly the Chiefs weren’t quite ready for their closeup.  I hadn’t seen KC play all year and therefore had no real idea what to expect when they took the field against the Ravens.  A few observations: 1) Todd Haley doesn’t inspire much confidence.  2) Jamaal Charles is a top 3 fantasy pick next season. 3) Was I right about Charlie Weis sandbagging the play calling?

view of Arrowhead Stadium courtesy of @chad_or_vez23

Green Bay 21 Philadelphia 16

Packers should be scoring more points. What’s missing? QB can make every throw. Running game is picking up positive yardage on most carries. Should we blame the coach?  Recently, fans have loved giving McCarthy a hard time for his poor clock management.  One thing is for certain, he’s no Jim Caldwell. Lastly, did anyone else catch Joe Buck making a fat joke about Andy Reid during the 4th quarter of the Fox telecast?

view of Lincoln Financial Field courtesy of @Aaron_Nagler