Monday, November 14, 2011

Week 10 Blog: The Spectrum

I do my best thinking when I drive. Today, I was thinking about the League and this blog as I am apt to do on Mondays. I was thinking about how team's have identities and how those identities shift over time with some franchises, while other franchises have permanent stink on them. Then I started to think about a spectrum for these identities and what franchises are on the opposite sides of these spectrums, kinda like that scene in Donnie Darko where Kitty Farmer and Donnie dicuss the finer points of "Lifeline Excercise #1," where love and hate are the extreme opposites, where everything else falls in between.
"Stick this in yer anus!"
Now, what teams are the proverbial "Love" and "Hate" of this spectrum. I have narrowed the teams on either side and will announce a winner at the end. Sound fun? Too bad.

The "Hate" Spectrum:
One thing I want to make clear with this needlessly long analogy about nothing in particular is that I don't hate these team's per se. That is a much different list, trust me. I actually like 2 of these teams. This data is based more on the reputation of the franchise, how much they pay their custodial staff and tidbits of advice I have received (and not taken, I might add) from a bevy of psychological professionals.

Team #1: Cincinnati Bengals.
Remember 2 years ago when Chris Henry died in a mysterious truck accident, when his fiance peeled out and dropped poor Chris on his head, left to die the next day? That was a tipping point for the Bengals. After that, the team's reputation preceded itself. At that time, they were in playoff contention, but Marvin Lewis couldn't wrangle his team of misfits. Carson was depressed he was a Bengal (we know now), Cedric Benson was pepper sprayed by cops and Ochocinco wanted to race a horse. Shit was outta control in the Queen City.
"At least I didn't fuck a horse."

In 2011, the Bengals have a very different arc. Andy Dalton is about as Leave it to Beaver as NFL quarterbacks get and the Palmer/Ochocinco era is a distant memory, not even a year later. This is why I feel that the Bengals are retreating from this "bad boy" stigma, even if Cen-Ben is still on the roster. Maybe Dalton can take his running back to the drug store for a soda and some licorice whips? Just a suggestion.

Team #2: Philadelphia Eagles. This team turned the "hate" corner when they signed the most unrevered and infamous player in the league two years go. Ever since then, the Eagles have become a hive of scum an villainy. This team receives extra points for being in Philadelphia, the most detestable and loathsome sports town in the nation. My love for Andy Reid, however, keeps them out of the one spot, mainly because he is so non-threatening and lovable. Now that they are out of the playoffs, we get to see the real demon-spawn unleashed after all the dream team hype, as the holidays wane, be prepared for some sort of drama to affix itself to the NFL's toxic Hindenburg. Oh, the humanity.

Team #3: Oakland Raiders. The perennial bad boys of the NFL. Once again, they lead the league in penalties, on pace to beat the single season mark held by the '98 Chiefs if they keep it up.
"Get yer own damn ball!"
Al Davis' passing didn't affect the demeanor of his team. In fact, the Raiders have been the kind of rag-tag bunch of losers most sports movies are based on. The spit, they kick and they like to get muddy. Even though we see a modern era, where team's wear pink and defenses are encouraged to not hit anyone, the mystique of the Oakland Raiders lives on. They are at the end of the "hate" spectrum.

The "Love" Spectrum:

Team #1: Green Bay Packers. The Packers, like the Bears and the Cowboys are storied franchises, which makes them perfect candidates for the love-o-meter. But to be clear here, the love goes beyond the history and the prominence in a league, there are many factors to be considered the extreme opposite of the Raiders.

One of the things that I respect (hesitantly) about the Packers is the whole, "we're-owned-by-the-people" thing, it is very utopian...or socialist, depending on what you think about Herman Cain. People associate good things with this team, especially now that they are so good and seemingling unbeatable these days (more on that in a bit.)
Team #2: New England Patriots. Yes, the Patriots are good. They take on the personality of their enigmatic coach and seemingly perfect quarterback who elevates players the way MJ did the Bulls in the 1990's. Although they have have had their controversies (ie Spygate, the Tuck Rule, their Raideresque signing of league castoffs), the Pats are classy and bloodless at the same time. There are no individuals in the Patriots organization, just cogs in the Belichick borg cube.

You will be assimilated.

Team #3: Indianapolis Colts. Non-threatening, boring, coaches in khakis, autistic quarterback, Midwestern, animatronic head coach. The Colts are the most unassuming team in the NFL, especially in an "0 fer year." The Colts are at the very end of the love spectrum.
Yeah they will!

To reiterate here, I'm not labeling these teams good or evil--this is all non-scientific data brought to you by my accumulated fear and loathing for these teams and all the teams that stand in the middle. These days, I have a hard enough time discerning between good and evil in real life, let alone football. The X-Men analogy is apt here.
Imagine if this guy was a fullback for the Steelers.
Back in the Summer of 2000, before 9-11 and my knowledge that women will destroy you if your guard is down, Brian Singer's X-Men hit the big screen. The line was drawn and the good mutants and the bad mutants had clear goals. Magneto's "bad" side wanted to exert his and fellow mutants dominance over mankind, enslaving the inferior beings. On the "good" side, Professor X wanted to coexist with his human counterparts by learning how to help one another without stressing that he could make Obama's head explode without nary a thought.

Eleven years later, I saw X-Men: First Class, a movie that stressed the same moral dilemma at the end of it. I found myself seeing Magneto's points and, given the option myself, would have followed Magneto at the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, with Michael Ironside watching in his binoculars. Maybe this a sign of getting older and feeling the pain of true adulthood that has aided this shift. I dunno. What I'm trying to say is that this spectrum isn't unlike this moral dilemma. Boy, do I ramble about nothing. Let's get to the finer points this week.

  • Goalposts. In the Saints/Falcons game, goalposts came into play twice in the game. In both instances, wait for the rules committee to make some changes. One rule, you can be sure, will be to penalize the slam dunking of the goal post after what Saints TE Jimmy Graham did to it. The other is the extension of the goals posts' vertical reach. In today's era of the super-kicker, the line judges have a hard time seeing if a kick is good anymore because the kicks arch higher than the actual posts, leaving a head scratching moment for the officials. Some times they even corner-eye each other to see what arm motions the other is using and then they parrot on the fly.
  • Buffalo Bills/Detroit Lions. As I said last week, the Bills are a bit overrated. I'm about to throw the Lions under this bus too. Both teams looked abysmal against two mediocre NFC teams. The anointing oil will have to wait 'till next year, Amish Rifle and Megatron. You guys were big headline grabbers in September--but the 2011 wayfarer must move on without you. Have a nice off-season, up-and-comers. 2011 wasn't your year.
  • Houston, we have a problem. After annihilating the whoaful Bucs, the Texans looked to be that AFC darkhorse the media has wanted them to be in the last 3 seasons. Now, they are trading Matts, the ailing Shaub for the inept Leinart. This will not bode well for the Toros, who feel the high-flying Titans nipping at their heels. No playoffs this year, Houston.
  • Lions/ Bears Melee. I love that word--"Melee"--and so does the sports media, it makes them sound like they know French or something. I loved that Stafford took his aggressions out on D.J. Moore the way he did, WWE style. I love that Moore didn't stand for that shit too. The Bears defense looks just as good as the Niners or even Baltimore. Licking my chops for that Bears-Packers game on Christmas. Maybe it will be the cheeseheads first loss, me thinks.
  • The Rex Grossman Award. For the second week in a row, Curtis "Suck for Luck" Painter. 13/19 for 94, 2 Ints. I'm done talking about this team and their road to 0-16 and you should be too.
  • 49ers. Still don't know what to think. A rookie head coach shouldn't have this much luck early. Harbaugh is really defying the odds out in the city by the bay. Beating the Giants was big, but the Niners tough defense was exposed as the G-Men racked up 20. The chinks in the SF armor might be exposed in films. If you score on them and make Gore a non-factor, it leaves it up to Alex Smith to take control--something he hasn't had to do all year. Upcoming match-ups against the Steelers and Ravens will be telling.
Week 9 Predictions:

Jets V. Jesus Boys. I dunno what it is about Tim Tebow, the dude defies everything I know to be logical in the 25+ years I have been obsessed with professional football. He runs and ugly-ass option play that teams have yet to figure out. He's lucky if his pass attempts make the double digits (Vegas over/under for pass attempts against the Jets is resting at 11, my sources say). He is too short. He lacks athletic ability. He prays too much. Wait....words....are...slowing...must...not...stop...typing...
God has taken over this blog.

God: Who doubteth the almighty Timothy? Drewsus? You blasphemous foul. You wretched sod. How dare you not only disparage the name of my one and only son by bequeathing it, although altered slightly, for your own name, but must you cast stones at NFL apostle, young modern Tebow's play? You should be ashamed of yourself. I would strike you with lightning if I thought it would change your lecherousness writing. Write your foul rag, then--but leave Tebow out of your wrath and offer him, instead, good tidings as he takes on that obese wretch, Rex Ryan and his deplorable Jets. God out!
Broncs win by a tud, 14-7

Bengals V. Ravens. Round 2 for the Bengals, as they take on another Northern foe. Can the Ravens be any more inconsistent? They have no problem winning the big games, but when they face the NFC West, they buckle. This inconsistency shouldn't go overlooked this week and the Bengals look to bounce back after losing a close one to the Steelers in what is becoming the strongest division in football, save the Browns. This is a hard one, Ravens due for a win, playing at home. Ugh. What to predict? Let's ask the Alice in Chains claymation puppets.
"I Stay Away"
Titans V. Falcons. This is a good game. The Titans are playing good ball right now and I think their hopes have been lifted in light of the Matt Schaub news. Plus, CJ2K is back and Matt Hasselbeck has been consistent as fuck this year. Matt Leinart will figure out a way to fuck it up out in Houston, just wait. Matt Ryan and the Falcons have a screw loose. And although I applaud Mike Smith's ballsy call in OT against the Saints, it was idiotic. The Falcons are the Ravens of the NFC and they will lose this game. Ever notice how many QBs in the league are named "Matt?" 28-17

Chargers V. Bears. So if the Eagles and Chargers lose this week, can we finally cut them out of the playoff picture? I know we all chose them to go far in the postseason, some even had them as squaring off in the Super Bowl. The dream is dead. The reality is that these two teams were done by Columbus Day. My Bears will make short work of their first opponent in their AFC West Tour '11. Bears win, 26-14

Eagles V. Giants. Vince Young in. Andy Reid out. Bill Cowher in. Giants blow 'em out, 45-3

Chiefs V. Pats. Remember back in Halloween when the Chiefs looked like studs and Todd Haley was growing out his beard in honor of their win streak? So do I. The Chiefs are the worst Jekyll/Hyde team in the worst Jekyll/Hyde season in recent memory. That's why KC will down the Brady boys, 23-20

End of Line.

11/17 Addendum.
Just finished watching the Broncos/Jets game. If Mark Sanchez had the heart of Tim Tebow, we would be saying his name in the same breath of Brady, Roethlisberger, Brees, and Rodgers. But he doesn't so we won't. This Tebow kid is the best thing in football right now. I pray to the same god Timmy does that the Broncs sneak past the Raiders and win the West. Tebow in the playoffs would be interesting, especially if he won a game.

I am still perplexed on how this team wins, though. They do nothing flashy and yet Tebow and McGhee get it done in the backfield. You really have to give it to the Denver D--they keep the kid in the game, week in, week out. God love 'em, Tebow and the Broncos are one of those rare enigmas that rises out of the league and confounds the media until they have to buy in. Tonight, I feel that the media's collective eyes are fixed on #15, and soon we'll all bow down and believe in miracles, because this Tim Tebow is indeed a worker of them.


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