January 10, 2009

Ravens Win Thanks to Huge Plays

I'm not surprised the Ravens beat the Titans today. In fact, I bet the Ravens moneyline. I'm shocked at the way it happened, though.

The Ravens were beat on probably 90% of the plays in the game. The Titans seemed able to drive at will, and the Ravens offense didn't have an answer to the Tennessee defense -- 90% of the time. The Ravens had all of the huge plays in the game. The Baltimore offense consisted mainly of two gigantic Flacco passes (one to Mason, one to Clayton), and the defense looked anemic except for the three turnovers they generated and the huge 1st quarter stop on downs just outside field goal range. All three of Tennessee's turnovers came while they were within scoring range.

I don't mean to take anything away from the Ravens' win. They won the game in unconventional fashion, but they earned the win. Tennessee also did their part to give away the ball, coming up empty on several scoring opportunities (the turnovers and a missed field goal).

It would have been interesting to see what would have happened in the game had Chris Johnson played through the second half, because the Ravens didn't seem to have a way of stopping him.

As a Steelers fan, I've said throughout the playoffs that I want no part of the Ravens. Now that they've proven they have a horseshoe stuck up their collective asshole, I am even more nervous to play them (if the Steelers can get past San Diego).

Big Win for the Terps

The Terps started ACC play with a win today, beating Georgia Tech 68-61. Maryland trailed for most of the game (by as many as 10) before finally taking a 53-52 lead with 7:12 to play. The Yellow Jackets out-rebounded the Terps 45-33, but Maryland was able to force 28 GT turnovers.

After the embarrassing loss to Morgan State, it was good to see the Terps play with a lot of heart today. They could have given up at many points during the game, but they played hard all the way to the final whistle.

  • Eric Hayes had one of his best games in a long time. When the Terps needed points, he stepped up in a big way with three pointers and good dribble-drive penetration.
  • Maryland looked like a 6-man team for most of the game, with the 5 starters and "Sugar" Sean Mosley (I'm still trying to get that nickname to stick) logging almost 90% of the playing time.
  • Jin Soo Kim played more impressively than his stat line would indicate. He's getting better and better, and Terps fans have good reason to be optimistic about his potential.
  • Dupree, Gregory, and Tucker, however were all but invisible.
  • While the Terps should be very proud of the win, the game highlighted some of the team's weaknesses: inside defense, a valid offensive threat when perimiter shots aren't falling, and bench depth being the most obvious ones.
  • Dave Neal continues to shock me. I (like, presumably, most Maryland fans) had written him off as a deep bench player with a decent jump shot. Instead, he's proven to be the best "big" man on the team this year. He's forced to play out of position and defend the opponent's center, but he has rightly earned his way into the starting lineup.
  • Neal's improvement over the last 4 years is not only a credit to his work ethic, but also to Gary Williams' coaching. Gary doesn't just recruit great players (critics would say he never recruits great players) but he gets the most out of the players he does have. If I were a high school basketball player, I'd want to play for someone like Gary who would force me to grow and improve my game during my time in college.
  • In the big picture of the season, the Morgan State loss is much less important than this win. If the Terps go 9-7 in ACC play, they'll easily make the tournament. This is pretty much true every season. Maryland managed a couple good non-conference wins, which will certainly help their resume, but the key as always is having a winning record in the ACC
  • I couldn't believe that the fans at Comcast Center booed Greivis Vasquez after he missed an ill-advised three pointer. For one, I don't think it's ever ever ever appropriate to boo your college team. Never. It is certainly not right to boo a missed three pointer in the first half. Look, you know what you're getting with Vasquez. He's going to try a little too hard sometimes and when things look bad he might try to be the hero. Still, he is the best player on the team. He's emotional (too much at times) and he often takes bad shots, but he brings so much to the table that I think you have to overlook that. At the same time, it seemed like the booing pissed him off so much that he played better in the second half. He was jawing with someone in the stands after every made bucket, and that seems to be the sort of thing that pushes his game to the next level.

January 8, 2009

Famous Unibrows

In honor of Joe Flacco, his unibrow, and the Ravens' surprising run through the playoffs, and to avoid writing about some basketball game that was played yesterday, here are some famous unibrows through history.

Frida Kahlo - Artist

Adam Carolla - TV Host

Bert - Television personality

Liam Gallagher - Singer, Oasis

John Kerry - Failed Presidential Candidate

Pete Sampras - Tennis Player

Baby Gerald - Simpsons character (Maggie's enemy)

Leonid Brezhnev - General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Maybe one day Joe Flacco's unibrow will be famous enough to join these hallowed ranks.  Or maybe he'll flame out in another year and he and his unibrow will fade back into obscurity.

Your famous unibrows in the comments!

January 7, 2009

The NHL's Snow Plow Game

At the end of regulation and overtime in last night's Flyers at Capitals game, the zambonis came out to smooth the center of the ice for the shootout. They did they job, just polishing the middle third of the ice, and left. After they left, the Flyers apparently determined the ice was not as smooth as they liked it. The prima donna prisses from Philly made the refs bring the zambonis BACK out, where they made a couple more passes.

How did the smoother, faster ice work for Philly? Three shots, three Jose Theodore saves. Capitals win.

Jeremy made the appropriate observation that tampons would be appropriately stocked in the Philadelphia locker room from now on. I guess the Broad Street Bullies are more like a travelling Smuckers Fairies on Ice tour now.

Dear IRS: These tickets were purchased during tax year 2008 for the express purpose of reporting back to this blog. Thank you.

January 6, 2009

Will Life in Minnesota Imitate Art?

Sad word out of Minneapolis this morning.

Twins owner Carl Pohlad has passed away at the age of 93. Pohlad owned the team for almost 25 years and led them to two World Series wins during his tenure (thank you Kirby Puckett and Dan Gladden). Pohlad bought the team from Calvin Griffith, the scoundrel who moved the first Senators team out of Washington.

No word yet on whether Timothy Busfield will now request to be released from his contract and whether through inheritance, Pohlad passed ownership of the team onto his 13-year-old grandson, a picture of him below:

January 4, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Order after Wild Card Round

As of today, assuming the playoffs went according to seeding, this would be the 2009 NFL Draft Order (bold indicates locked in):

1) Detroit (0-16)
2) St. Louis (2-14)
3) Kansas City (2-14)
4) Seattle (4-12)
5) Cleveland (4-12)
6) Cincinnati (4-11-1)
7) Oakland (5-11)
8) Jacksonville (5-11)
9) Green Bay (6-10)
10) San Francisco (7-9)
11) Buffalo (7-9)
12) Denver (8-8)
13) Washington (8-8)
14) New Orleans (8-8)
15) Houston (8-8)
16) San Diego (8-8)
17) New York Jets (9-7)
18) Chicago (9-7)
19) Tampa Bay (9-7)
20) Detroit via Dallas (9-7) (Roy Williams deal)
21) Arizona (9-7)
22) Philadelphia (9-6-1)
23) Minnesota (10-6)
24) New England (11-5)
25) Atlanta (11-5)
26) Miami (11-5)
27) Baltimore (11-5)
28) Indianapolis (12-4)
29) Philadelphia via Carolina (12-4)
30) Pittsburgh (12-4)
31) Super Bowl Loser (New York Giants or Tennessee)
32) Super Bowl Champion (New York Giants or Tennessee)

Note that the active teams (including Arizona, Philadelphia and San Diego) could still pick 31st or 32nd by appearing in the Super Bowl. Thus some bolded teams are "locked", but still could move up a spot higher if playoff teams with worse records make it all the way.

The draft tiebreakers are as follows:

1) Super Bowl Winner picks 32nd

2) Super Bowl Loser picks 31st

3) Teams are ranked in inverse order of their record. Ties count as a half win and half loss.

4) A playoff team always picks after a non-playoff team with the same regular season record. If two playoff teams have the same regular season record, but one was eliminated in an earlier round, that team picks first.

5) Ties are then broken using strength of schedule (average of all 16 opponent's winning percentage, divisionmates count twice since they were played twice. Or count the wins of all opponents, same result). Weaker schedule picks earlier.

6) If SOS fails to break the tie, and the teams are in the same division, apply the division playoff tiebreakers (except the "loser" picks higher).

7) If SOS fails to break the tie, the teams are not in the same division, but the teams are in the same conference, apply the conference playoff tiebreakers (except the "loser" picks higher).

8) If the teams are still tied, or are in different conferences, a coin toss decides the order. If three teams are tied such that the tie can be broken as to two teams, but not between any of those two and a third team, the "loser" of the two-team tie flips against the other team first. A scenario where all three teams are stone tied is nearly impossible since there are only two conferences and intraconference tiebreakers go very deep before a coin flip.

As it currently stands, all ties can be broken using just strength of schedule and assumed playoff exit for still active playoff teams.

Breaking Ed Reed News

In South Beach this evening, Ed Reed intercepted two Chuck Norris roundhouse kicks.

Shanahan and Colts a Perfect Fit

Mike Shanahan told CNNSI/NBC's Peter King that he wouldn't return this year unless it were a perfect situation. Some reports have the Cowboys interested in Shanahan to coach in 2010, putting into doubt the Conan/Leno situation that was believed to exist with Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett. (For the record, Wade is funnier than Leno).

I see something else playing out. Tony Dungy has flirted with the idea of retiring for a couple seasons now, and I think this might be the right time for him. ESPN and other sources have reported that Dungy will again consider the notion this offseason. Ideally he would have gone out on a high note, with another championship, but I think he will find himself satisfied with what he accomplished this year, taking a 3-4 team to 12-4.

And what situation could be more perfect for Shanahan? He'd have a ready-made championship team, and, as much as it pains a Baltimore fan to say it, a pretty stable hands-off ownership group in the Irsays. Frankly, what coach would not want to work with Peyton Manning? And I don't even want to think about what Shanahan's zone blocking run scheme could do for the one-dimensional Colts next year.

It's Time to Hunt

Go Ravens.