January 9, 2010

Pete Carroll to Seattle Spells Trouble for USC

This time there weren't any rumors. USC just punished itself for Jared Mayo and the football team was basking in the glow of making up for yet another disappointing season with a bowl victory. But a team finally pulled Pete Carroll away from the land of milk and honey. Why now?

I suspect the other shoe is about to drop at USC. Remember that the Reggie Bush loan issue is still unresolved. Too many shady characters passed through on Carroll's watch, and I think the NCAA is about to drop the hammer. Whether his OC comes with him will be telling.

There seems to be a rotation in college football the past decade. First, Miami couldn't help but get all the recruits. Then it was USC. Now it is Florida. Perhaps Alabama is next. Miami and USC couldn't stay clean. Can Florida?

January 8, 2010

NFL Wild Card Round Picks Against the Spread

This post is sponsored by Sportsbetting.com, the best place for sports betting online.

We all had such horrifying regular seasons, we're all only glad that we didn't place real money on our picks. In fact, next season, probably as a general rule just bet against our picks. That being said, we're going to proceed to try to pick playoff games and hope that we can improve. The slate is clean as our records indicate!

Brien (0-0-0)
I gave up 2 weeks ago. Between the holidays and the suckiness of my picks, I was ready to stop making picks. But the new year brings us to the playoffs, so I feel the need to offer more unsolicited bad gambling advice that no one will take seriously.

Cincinnati (-2) over NY JETS - I'm picking the Bengals because they got shut out by the Jets last week. That can't possibly happen again, right? They were holding something back, right?

Philadelphia (+4) over DALLAS- See above.

NEW ENGLAND (-3) over Baltimore - The Pats are undefeated at home, and the Ravens' road wins since September are over Oakland and Cleveland.

ARIZONA (-1.5) over Green Bay - Wait, three of these games were already played last week? I must have been living under a rock. For consistency's sake, I'll just take all the losers from last week.

Jason (0-0-0)
This week continues a tradition of wild card games that are truly unpredictable.

CINCINNATI (-2) over New York Jets - Sanchez has shown a propensity to get overwhelmed this season, and I think Cincy has been cruising towards this date for a while. I think better talent overcomes Cincy's recent slide.

Philadelphia (+4) over DALLAS - Despite last week and how well the Dallas defense has played the past month, I like McNabb in this situation to make things happen.

NEW ENGLAND (-3) over Baltimore - I fear it won't be close. The Ravens don't have the mental makeup to be sharp for 60 minutes this year. Against Brady and Belichick in a playoff situation, that's fatal.

Green Bay (+1.5) over ARIZONA - Aaron Rodgers is turning into a bit of an asshole, and that's a good sign in a QB.

Jeremy (0-0-0)
This is the first time I have been at .500 since sometime in 2008.

CINCINNATI (-2) over New York Jets - Marvin Lewis is a better coach than Rex Ryan, Mike Zimmer is a terrific defensive coordinator, and they had the luxury of seeing the Jets play a meaningful game last week.

DALLAS (-4) over Philadelphia - This line is begging for those who think that Dallas can't win by more than a field goal. That being said, as much as it pains me to say it, I think that Romo's played well enough of late that the ridiculous 13-season playoff drought ends.

Baltimore (+3) over NEW ENGLAND - The loss of Welker is an incredible dagger to the Patriots who really could have exploited the Ravens secondary. I expect Ray Rice to have a huge day.

Green Bay (+1.5) over ARIZONA - Boldin and Rodgers-Cromartie are hurt and Green Bay is playing lights out football of late. About the only thing that makes me worry about this pick is Green Bay having to travel twice in two weeks.

Russell (0-0-0)
Do these comments look familiar? So I copied Jeremy's... Either he's a great gambling master whose advice everyone should follow, or I happen to agree with his picks and have no meaningful NFL insight to contribute beyond what he said. Let's go with the latter.

CINCINNATI (-2) over New York Jets - Marvin Lewis is a better coach than Rex Ryan, Mike Zimmer is a terrific defensive coordinator, and they had the luxury of seeing the Jets play a meaningful game last week.

DALLAS (-4) over Philadelphia - This line is begging for those who think that Dallas can't win by more than a field goal. That being said, as much as it pains me to say it, I think that Romo's played well enough of late that the ridiculous 13-season playoff drought ends.

Baltimore (+3) over NEW ENGLAND - The loss of Welker is an incredible dagger to the Patriots who really could have exploited the Ravens secondary. I expect Ray Rice to have a huge day.

Green Bay (+1.5) over ARIZONA - Boldin and Rodgers-Cromartie are hurt and Green Bay is playing lights out football of late. About the only thing that makes me worry about this pick is Green Bay having to travel twice in two weeks.

Brien: CIN, PHI, NE, ARI
Jeremy: CIN, DAL, BAL, GB
Russell: CIN, DAL, BAL, GB

NFL’s Most Annoying Fans - Wildcard Round

We’re down to the playoffs for our annoying fan competition.  If you’re new, check out our regular season battles for each division.


Arizona v. Washington

Not even close.  See KSK’s Redskins fan takedown for even more reasons to be annoyed by them. 

redskins tattooThis guy has a tattoo of all the Redskins in the Hall of Fame.  How f-ing stupid and annoying is that?

redskins-69-fanVia Mister Irrelevant, this one speaks for itself.


Also from Mister Irrelevant, even the lady fans are demure and classy.

Carolina v. Philadelphia

I don’t even remember why the Panthers are in the playoffs.  The Eagles skate through on this one. 

eagles_fan_towelIs that supposed to be a toga?  If so, why?  If not, don’t men normally wear towels around their waist?  And not at football games?  Is this a reaction to the Nicolette Sheridan commercial?  Annoying.

eagles_fan_womanAt least it wasn’t her in the towel.  I’m sure she’s yelling encouragement to her own team and not a profanity-laced screed directed towards the opponents.

eagles_tattooeagles_69_fanMore bad ink and 69 jerseys, the hallmarks of annoying fans.


Baltimore v. NY Jets

This one is actually a little tougher.  It was a bit of an upset that the Raiders got the bye over the Ravens, but Jets fans are an annoying bunch themselves.

Purple camo is annoying, but so is Fireman Ed

My proximity to Baltimore and familiarity with Ravens fans may be skewing my opinion, but Ravens fans squeak this one out.


Pictures of these guys are what show up when you search for Ravens fans (all from different sites).  Even if they’re a small minority, the beads, feathers, facepaint, dyed purple facial hair, beanie babies, and pointing at the camera are enough to ruin it for the rest of you.

ravens fan camoMore sad than annoying, this picture from the Ravens official store cracks me up.  For the ladies: Look classy and beautiful in your authentic purple camouflage pants! For the fellas: This hot chick wears purple camo pants, that means she’s probably turned on by guys wearing them!

Ravens fan ravens-fan-pimp ravens fan hat There are just too many, I have to stop myself or this post is going to be 20 pages of silly looking Ravens fans.

Jacksonville v. Pittsburgh

Another easy one.  It was a huge upset when the Steelers lost their division to the Ravens, but they’re poised to make a run through the playoffs.


diehard steelers fanDid someone say disgusting tattoos?  

Steelers bad jersey A Steelers kilt?  Really?  Guys who wear kilts are super annoying to begin with (HEY! LOOK AT ME! I’D LOVE TO HAVE A LONG DISCUSSION WITH YOU ABOUT HOW THIS IS A KILT NOT A SKIRT!  GIVE ME MORE ATTENTION!), but an NFL kilt takes it over the edge.

steelers-fan-hardhatI don’t know if Steelers fans started the “harhat instead of baseball hat” trend, but we’ll give them the lion’s share of the blame for that annoying accessory.  This guy probably works in an office park, but likes to pretend he’s “blue collar” on Sundays.

  If you’re not a parent, at first glance this might not look so bad to you, but that’s a hat the baby is wearing.  Not an outfit or a blanket, a HAT.  You put your newborn in an oversized novelty hat? 

Also, Newborns aren’t supposed to sleep with anything around them, because they can suffocate.  You especially don’t put a pillow under is head, a spit-up cloth near his face, and surround him with rolled up blankets.  Steelers fans are great parents.

Next week: Divisional Round

Dallas Fans v. Washington Fans (1 v. 6)

Green Bay Fans v. Philadelphia Fans (2 v. 5)

New England Fans v. Pittsburgh Fans (1 v. 5)

Oakland Fans v. Baltimore Fans (2 v. 3)

January 6, 2010

Winners and Losers of Bowl Season

This post is sponsored by Sportsbetting.com, the best place for online sports betting.

With only the national championship game remaining, it's a good time to look back at the results of the bowl games to see if we learned anything. Here's my take:

Conference strength: Winner: Big 10. Plenty of people (myself included) have sneered at the slow, boring Big 10 for being consistently overrated and losing the big bowl games against other conferences. That changed completely this year with convincing victories by Ohio St, Iowa, and Penn St, all in games against favored teams of equal ranking. As a result all three will finish the year in the top 10, and the Big 10 will have a lot of momentum and respect entering the 2010 season.

The Ducks might look cool in Nike unis, but they lost and it wasn't close.

Loser: Pac 10.
How embarrassing is it for me to have said that this might have been the best conference in football this year? Two blowouts against Mtn West teams and an annihilation of Arizona set the tone for a dismal bowl season. The Pac 10's only bowl victories were against BC and Temple. Everyone thought that part of USC's demise was that the rest of the conference was better. Apparently not as almost all of the losers were completely dominated at the line of scrimmage. Only Stanford gets a pass from me because they played a close game vs Oklahoma without their starting QB. Oregon, Oregon St, Arizona, and Cal were all exposed. You will see even more of an east coast bias from me next year after this.

Individual: Winner: Tim Tebow. Florida's torching of the Bearcat defense will serve as his NFL tryout video, and it couldn't have looked better. This was an appropriate ending for one of the best college football players ever.

Loser: C.J. Spiller. He had a very respectable bowl game in Nashville, but it did not make up for his absence in the discussion of the best players this year throughout award season. Maybe it was just the ACC defenses making him look good, but his December was disappointing for sure. Didn't help that the ACC bowl selections sent Clemson to Nashville once they missed out on the Orange Bowl.

Team: Winner: Ohio St. After so many losses in big games, it must feel great to win a Rose Bowl and have confidence in your young QB going into next season.

Loser: Cincinnati. You are one fraction of a second in the Big 12 Championship game from playing for the national title, and then everything goes wrong. You lose your coach, the Sugar Bowl is an embarrassment, your undefeated season is gone, and your best players are going pro. The Bearcats program may return in short order to what they were before Brian Kelly: nothing.

Coaches should be contractually obligated to finish the season with their teams before moving up the ladder to a better school.

BCS system: Winner: The Big 3 Conferences. If you wanted a highlight reel for the SEC, Big 10, and Big 12 being the best conferences, I don't know what else you could ask for. TCU and Boise failed to impress anyone in the Fiesta Bowl, and the champions of the Pac 10, ACC, and Big East all lost rather decisively. Why expand the system when no one else is worthy of being in the championship game?

Loser: Everyone else. The Bearcats' bad loss at the hands of the Gators, coupled with the other BCS games so far, has pushed all of the lesser conferences further out of the discussion. And I'm not just saying the WAC and Mtn West are further from making the championship game, but so are the ACC, Big East, and Pac 10. It will be very hard for a voter to bump up a Cincinnati, GT or TCU next year over a Texas or even a Florida. The Big East looks weak after Pitt struggled to beat UNC and WVU lost to FSU. The ACC wasn't terrible, but they certainly didn't impress anyone. And we've already discussed the Pac 10. Really the only smaller conference that can take anything out of this is the Mountain West, as it becomes increasingly clear that they are just as good or better than the ACC, Big East, and Pac 10. Every year that they have the best bowl record as a conference bolsters their claim for automatic qualification to the BCS. If only TCU had come to play on Monday...

Style of Play
Winner: Power.
Loser: Speed/deception.

Every team with a wide open spread/option offense that played in a big game was soundly beaten by their more physical opponent. In the TCU/Boise game, neither offense got on track. It's no mistake this year that two of the best defenses will be playing for the national title.

Shanahan Era Begins in Washington

I heard over two weeks ago that the Shanahan signing was a done deal, so it's good to see that my source came through. Either way, this marks a new era in Redskins football if and only if Snyder will stay away.

If you ask me, Shanahan knows that 2010 will be an uncapped season and he knows that Snyder is one of the five owners who will try to buy a team. The $7M/year is nice, but winning a championship with a second team is even nicer. It won't happen, as Washington is more gun shy than a 15-year-old father of two, but the thought makes sense.

January 4, 2010

The Best Sports Event You’re Not Watching

The Dakar Rally, currently being contested in the wilds of South America, about as far from Dakar (and Paris) as you can get. This is the second year in Argentina and Chile for the rally, and so far it shows no signs that the absence of the Sahara will hurt the competition.

Devoted readers of ECB will recall that the Dakar topped our list of Toughest Races in the World. For the rest of you, the Dakar Rally is a 14 stage race in trucks, cars, ATVs and motorcycles across over 9,000 km (5500 miles). That’s like running the Indy 500 every day for 11 days straight. Except you’re on a motorcycle riding over mountains and sand dunes.

In college, Russell and I followed the Paris-Dakar Rally by watching the 2AM airings of British television coverage.

Lucky for you, Versus is now running half-hour recaps each day with highlights of the stage. That’s just enough coverage to follow the rally, see all the amazing visuals, and not get overloaded.

For fans of other forms of racing, you may recognize a couple names: Robby Gordon (of NASCAR semi-fame) is driving a Hummer (which at Dakar qualifies in the “car” class) and Carlos Sainz (former World Rally Championship winner) is in a VW.

Do yourself a favor, check out the videos above and set your DVR to record a few of the recap episodes. You won’t regret it.

This post was not sponsored by Versus or the organizers of the Dakar Rally. But if they want to send us some money, we’ll take it.

NFL's Most Annoying Fans - The Wildcard Winners and Playoff Brackets

Continuing our season-long running feature at ECB, we've beeb rating NFL Fanbases by annoyingness and picking a winner for each division. So far we have made our way through all of the divisions and given you the AFC West, the NFC West, the AFC South, the NFC South, the AFC North, the NFC North, the AFC East, and the NFC East. The Raiders, Cardinals, Jaguars, Panthers, Ravens, Packers, Patriots, and Cowboys fans have "won" their division as the most annoying fans in their division? Now that the playoffs are upon us, it's time to name our wildcard winners!

Because we at ECB don't believe in democracy, we've taken the liberty of reviewing the comments of prior writeups, have conferred amongst ourselves, and are proud to present you with the wildcard winners from each conference.

The National Football Conference

We said frequently during our writeups that the NFC East fanbases could very well finish 1 through 4 in annoyingness if all 32 teams were ranked. There was no dissent in the comments. Therefore, we congratulate the following two fanbases for earning wildcard spots:

First wildcard - Philadelphia Eagles

And this is why there is a jail at the Linc.

Second wildcard - Washington Redskins

Sure, some other fanbases send tens of thousands of fans to Canton to watch a member of their team being inducted into the NFL Football Hall of Fame. How many other fanbases give that member of their team a four-minute long standing ovation? Why don't you ponder that while watching the video above. You'll have four minutes to think about it. Bitter about the fact that Redskins fans are considered "bad fans"? Maybe.

The American Football Conference

There was much more rancor amongst ourselves and amongst our commenters with regard to two divisions... the AFC North and the AFC East. The AFC South and the AFC West division "winners" are the equivalent of the 8-8 teams that end up with home playoff games simply because their division was so weak somebody had to win. The AFC wildcard spots go as follows:

First wildcard - Pittsburgh Steelers

Because 99% of the rest of the football watching world looks at this video and thinks, "Dude, what an ass." And 99% of Steelers fans look at this video and think, "Dude, that guy is awesome!!! Wait, is that my brother?"

Second wildcard - New York Jets

Because you are the equivalent of Yankees fans (true Yankee fans from New York, not bandwagon Yankee fans from Tampa) in the NFL. Loud, boorish, and you spread like cockroaches into opposing stadiums. And because you can never post this video enough.

Much like the NFL Playoffs, the division winners are seeded 1 through 4 and the wildcard winners are seeded in order 5 and 6...

Dallas Cowboys
Green Bay Packers
Arizona Cardinals
Carolina Panthers
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

New England Patriots
Oakland Raiders
Baltimore Ravens
Jacksonville Jaguars
Pittsburgh Steelers
New York Jets

This week's Divisional Round Matchups to be posted later this week:

Arizona Cardinals fans vs. Washington Redskins fans (3 v. 6)
Carolina Panthers fans vs. Philadelphia Eagles fans (4 v. 5)

Baltimore Ravens fans vs. New York Jets fans (3 v. 6)
Jacksonville Jaguars fans v. Pittsburgh Steelers fans (4 v. 5)

NFL’s Most Annoying Fans - NFC East

This is a running feature at ECB. We'll be rating NFL Fanbases by annoyingness and picking a winner for each division. After that, we'll select wild card teams, and have ourselves a little playoff. If you have suggestions for upcoming divisions or wildcard selections, send them to [email protected]. So far we have given you the AFC West, the NFC West, the AFC South, the NFC South, the AFC North, the NFC North, and the AFC East. Who will join the Raiders, Cardinals, Jaguars, Panthers, Ravens, Packers, and Patriots fans as the most annoying fans in their division? Today we present the NFC East.  Later this week we’ll announce the Wild Card winners.  We’ll try to do the Annoying Fan playoffs at the same time as the NFL playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys

After achieving great success in both the 70’s and the 90’s, most Cowboys fans you run into today are bandwagoners.  What’s worse is that they combine they have all the bad qualities of an entitled fanbase augmented with Texas arrogance.  Also, “HOW BOUT DEM COWBOYS?” may be the most annoying fan catchphrase in the NFL (with stiff competition from “Who Dey?” and “Da Bears” - really, if you’re replacing the letters th with a d, your catchphrase is annoying).  Small wonder then, that a Cowboys loss unleashes incomparable levels of schadenfreude across the country.

New York Giants

Essentially the football version of the Yankees, somehow New York’s premiere NFL franchise hasn’t managed to produce nearly the level of annoyance as its baseball counterpart.  Fans of the G-Men (ugh, OK, I’m annoyed), project that familiar New York sense of superiority, except when it comes to Eli Manning, whom they hate, except when they love him.

Philadelphia Eagles

We’ve all heard the stories of throwing snowballs at opposing fans, booing Santa Claus, and the jail cell inside the stadium.  No one questions that Eagles fans are assholes.  But are they annoying? 

In short, yes.  The love-hate affair with Donovan McNabb makes the Giants Fans’ relationship with Eli Manning look like a stable marriage.  Eagles fans are obnoxiously loud when they’re winning (anyone who has ever been to a sports bar on a Sunday has grown to hate “Fly, Eagles, Fly”), and obnoxiously loud when they’re losing (yelling at Andy Reid and McNabb).

Washington Redskins

Jeremy called Redskins fans manic-depressive, and I think that hits the nail on the head.  No other fanbase is quite as delusional during the free agent period, and no other fanbase gets depressed as quickly.  Fans of most other teams normally wait until the season starts to begin kvetching about the coach/players/owners, but Skins fans start at the draft, continue through the pre-season, and right on into the regular season. 

Every year they change a coach or sign a big name free agent, which is just enough to whip the fans back into a frenzy for a few months before they come crashing back down to earth for the next depressive episode.

The Big Winner

This was the toughest division to pick, with all four teams making a strong run, but Cowboys fans are the clear winners.  Bandwagon fans + Texas = uncontrollable urge to commit violence.

January 3, 2010

2010 NFL Draft Order After Regular Season

The NFL's regular season is over, and 20 teams are already looking towards the 2010 NFL Draft. The tiebreaking procedures differ from the playoff rules, since the worst team is generally rewarded with the best pick. The full NFL Draft tiebreakers are below, but generally the worst record picks earlier. If teams have the same record, the team with the easier schedule picks ahead of the team with the harder schedule. It gets more complicated with playoff teams, but I projected the lower seed to lose each game.

The first 20 spots are locked in, but the remaining slots can still change depending on the playoff results. Team record and strength of schedule (SOS) are in parentheses.

1) St. Louis (1-15, .520)
2) Detroit (2-14, .523)
3) Tampa Bay (3-13, .555)
4) Washington (4-12, .492)
5) Kansas City (4-12, .516)
6) Seattle (5-11, .477)
7) Cleveland (5-11, .512)
8) Oakland (5-11, .527)
9) Buffalo (6-10, .516)
10-11) Chicago (7-9, .496)
10-11) Jacksonville (7-9, .496)
12) Miami (7-9, .559)
13) San Francisco (8-8, .477)
14) Denver (8-8, .527)
15) NY Giants (8-8, .535)
16-17) Tennessee (8-8, .539)
16-17) Carolina (8-8, .539)
18) Pittsburgh (9-7, .488)
19-20) Atlanta (9-7, .504)
19-20) Houston (9-7, .504)

Subject to Change:
21) New York Jets (9-7, .516)
22) Baltimore (9-7, .523)
23) Arizona (10-6, .445)
24) Cincinnati (10-6, .492)
25) New England (10-6, .516)
26) Green Bay (11-5, .441)
27) Philadelphia (11-5, .484)
28) Dallas (11-5, .488)
29) Minnesota (12-4, .441)
30) San Diego (13-3, .453)
31) New Orleans (13-3, .426) [Super Bowl Loser]
32) Indianapolis (14-2, .473) [Super Bowl Winner]

The three ties will be decided by coin flip prior to the draft because all three involve teams from two different conferences.

Tiebreaking Procedures

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.

2009 NFL Strength of Schedule After Regular Season

1) Miami (.559)
2) Tampa Bay (.555)
3) Carolina (.539)
3) Tennessee (.539)
5) NY Giants (.535)
6) Denver (.527)
6) Oakland (.527)
8) Baltimore (.523)
8) Detroit (.523)
10) St. Louis (.520)
11) NY Jets (.516)
11) Kansas City (.516)
11) Buffalo (.516)
11) New England (.516)
15) Cleveland (.512)
16) Houston (.504)
16) Atlanta (.504)
18) Chicago (.496)
18) Jacksonville (.496)
20) Cincinnati (.492)
20) Washington (.492)
22) Dallas (.488)
22) Pittsburgh (.488)
24) Philadelphia (.484)
25) San Francisco (.477)
25) Seattle (.477)
27) Indianapolis (.473)
28) San Diego (.453)
29) Arizona (.445)
30) Green Bay (.441)
30) Minnesota (.441)
32) New Orleans (.426)