Tuesday, August 2, 2011

NFL Musings: NFC North

Green Bay Packers

So the Eagles are the new favorites to win the Super Bowl, eh? Even though they have new guys with unproven chemistry, and guys who are holding out? Even though the Packers are returning basically the same team that won the Super Bowl last year, with the addition of all those guys they lost to injury last season? If you say so.

I still think, especially with the advantage the lockout will give to veteran teams, that the Packers have as good a chance to repeat as a fan could ask for.

Minnesota Vikings

Well, I think the Donovan McNabb trade was a good idea for them. It still doesn't make them scary at all, but they won't be the utter, utter shambles of a team I was expecting back in March. Not that McNabb 2011 is going to be anything like Favre 2009.

2009 isn't coming back, Vikes. I think it's time you made your peace with that.

Detroit Lions

Man, I wish the Lions were in a different division from the Packers (or better yet, different conference) so I could root for them harder. I just love a scrappy underdog! I hate Nick Fairley, because he's a dirty cheater, but what a great draft choice that was for them. I love the idea of drafting to your strengths instead of your weaknesses. I'm not looking forward to Aaron Rodgers going against that D-line twice. On the other hand . . .

Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler also has to face the Lions twice, and with much crappier protection. The Bears are now my pick for Biggest Mess in the division. Their offensive line was already pretty terrible, and they only seem to have made it worse in the offseason. And filling their depth chart with Cowboys cast-offs probably isn't going to help distract their fan base. I know they made the conference championship game last year, but let's just say I'll be real surprised if they make it back there.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"National" "Championship" Roundup!

It's that time again! Time for two teams chosen by subjective criteria by biased voters and flawed computer scores to play against each other in a game held so long after the regular season that all the momentum they had built up may well be gone! It's time for the "National" "Championship"!

Fortunately, this game actually should be pretty good. You'd have to be made of stone, or perhaps just indifferent to the sport of football (same difference?) not to be excited about the Auburn-Oregon matchup. These are two exciting teams with pants-crappingly dynamic offenses. If they score fewer than eighty combined points, we'll all be disappointed.

Auburn is the favorite and rightfully so. They've put up almost as many points as Oregon against tougher overall competition, and they will have the single best player on the field. However, no one should count Oregon out. Oregon's strongest single opponent, Stanford, finished the season better than any of Auburn's opponents; Oregon had fewer close victories; and the Ducks will have the second best player on the field.

I'm picking Oregon to win, because I believe they certainly can, and because I want them to. I really don't want to have to listen to Gary Danielson if the SEC makes it to five "championships" in a row. (Not that I want to listen to him anyway, but you know what I mean.)

My predicted first half score: Auburn 10, Oregon 7. Final score: Oregon 38, Auburn 37.

And now for a "National" "Championship" carnival of links:

See who professional football opinion-havers are picking in Dr. Saturday's BCS Prediction Thread!

Marvel at Pat Forde's comparison of the teams! (Ex: "Campus vibe: Crunchy/Preppy")

Be amazed by statistical analysis from Football Outsiders! (I admit, I couldn't make it through the whole thing, but I did pick up good nuggets like "The good news for the Ducks is, after tonight, they still won't have faced a truly elite defense" and "Of all the mind-blowing numbers to come out of Newton's Heisman-winning season, this might be the most likely to spread gray matter all over the wallpaper -- he's 19 for 19 through the air on game-opening drives.")

And finally, nod solemnly in agreement with Stewart Mandel's argument that the game needs to be pretty good, considering that it's been kind of an ugly season.

Monday, January 3, 2011

LeachWatch 2011: Will No One Hire Mike Leach?!?

The news broke yesterday that no, Maryland will not be hiring Mike Leach after all. And who could blame them, when a coach that just lost 48-20 in a BCS bowl was available? (Plus, he had a 1-16 record against ranked opponents! How can you say no to that?)

Seriously, nobody is impressed with Maryland that they got rid of Ralph Friedgen only to replace him with Connecticut's Randy Edsall, who is--in a joke already stolen by several people around the internet--a younger, thinner Ralph Friedgen. The story is that Maryland "got cold feet" about the Mike Leach hire and decided to play it safe.

This makes no sense. The only reason they fired ACC Coach of the Year Friedgen was to build excitement in their fanbase. The only reason! You don't make a move to create excitement and then back off the most exciting part. There are other reasons to avoid hiring Mike Leach--his ongoing legal battles with Texas Tech and ESPN, the unattractiveness of his "system" offense for kids who want to go into the NFL--but those reasons existed two weeks ago.

The conclusion I've come to is the one I've made all the other times Leach seemed to get close to a new job, only to get turned down at the last minute. The man must give the world's worst job interview. We all know that he comes across really awkwardly on TV and as a weirdo in print interviews. Maybe when an AD faces down Leach's whole weird deal across the desk, he can no longer focus on the man's resume.

C'mon, ADs of the world. I know the whole "pirate fetish" thing might not appeal to you, but your student body will love it.