Tag: Super Bowl

RJ’s Predictions

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I have been shirking my Nerds On Sports duties. There are several factors contributing to this: holiday stress, holiday travel, illness, seasonal affective disorder, excessive alcohol consumption, insomnia, hypersomnia, apathy, work stress, and an inability to find a topic that I’m interested in. In a sense, the Super Bowl is actually a poor topic for me with which to break my hiatus, because I actually don’t care that much about the game.

Football for me has always been a sort of background spectator sport. I unabashedly admit to watching just because my friends are watching, and will cheer for whomever they’re cheering for, because it ultimately makes little difference to me. It’s not like with baseball, where I will fortify myself in my living room, snapping at my roommates who want to watch Grey’s Anatomy. Left to my own devices, I will not bother to watch football games.

Instead, I watch football games with my friends, making references to The Last Boyscout at inappropriate times, yelling out advice like punting on third down or attempting field goals from the opponent’s 40, or ogling the players. (For this reason alone I was sad that the Packers and Brett Favre did not make the Super Bowl). It’s a wonder I get invited to any football parties at all.

So with that in mind, here are my predictions for the big game:

  • I will eat too many nachos and drink too much Guinness
  • Tom Brady will ignore the fact that I am trying to woo him through the television screen
  • There will be a few standout commercials, but most will disappoint
  • The Halftime Puppy Bowl will set a new record for levels of adorableness
  • I will be asked to “use my indoor voice”
  • The Patriots will win

This is the 1st installment in today’s PICKSTRAVAGANZA by the Nerds on Sports staff. Check back on the hour from 11 AM to 4 PM for more “insight” from the nerds.

Live From Cambridge, Arizona (Thursday)

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An actual photo of Tom Petty

This continues our week long Super Bowl blog between our resident Patriots fan (Sean) and Giants fan (Serpico), leading up to the site’s PICKSTRAVAGANZA all day Friday.

Something is rankling me; please provide feedback. Oh, and before you start, yes, I’m well aware much of the following ultimately matters little. But it matters enough.

The Super Bowl has for forty-plus years been the pinnacle of our American pastime (sorry baseball). It’s an amalgamation of three different types of excess: swarming media coverage, with its all hours access and day-long pregame shows; football mania’s heroes and villains being built up and torn down in a single instant (plus the lore which brings back the MVPs and Hall of Famers to observe the current championship); and entertainment, be it from the glut of television commercials some find more interesting than the game itself and the opulent, insane halftime shows.

So here’s my issue and my question. It’s only two words. Tom Petty? Read More

Live From Cambridge, Arizona (Wednesday)

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Throwback Super BowlSuper Bowl Forty Two

This continues our week long Super Bowl blog between our resident Patriots fan (Sean) and Giants fan (Serpico), leading up to the site’s PICKSTRAVAGANZA all day Friday.

So this morning I woke up much too early and headed east. When I stopped heading east, the bright men and women of MIT administered an MRI. (They were measuring the amount of beeswax I had related to other peoples’, and the results, well…) As I lay immobilized in the sterile tubes, with thunderous, deep knocks rattling around the walls, I began to think about the coming week, and of Super Bowls past; anything to get the solid thumping out of my brain. What was the last Super Bowl played in Arizona? I counted backwards, year, teams and score, until I settled on it. Suddenly a lightning bolt flashed and fried through my synapses–the last Super Bowl in Arizona was this one.

Let’s put this together. In Super Bowl XXX (the raunchiest of the Big Games), back in 1996, you had on one hand the Dallas Cowboys. They were looking for their third Super Bowl in four years and trying to cement themselves as one of the great, if not the greatest, teams of all time. Under Barry Switzer the Cowboys had the best record in football and were a veteranDeion Sanders team, perhaps put over the top by the offseason acquisition of occasionally troublesome but impossibly productive Deion Sanders as shutdown corner. (Remind you of anyone?) They blew a huge chance to win on the road in the previous year’s NFC Championship Game, putting themselves in a 21 point hole to the hated rival 49ers. They entered the Super Bowl as 13 1/2 point favorites; this had nothing to do with the opposition but just the level of respect to the approaching Team of the Decade.

And who would be on the other end of this whomping? A perennial AFC underachiever looking to return to the glory days of twenty years past. The Pittsburgh Steelers under Bill Cowher had averaged 11 wins per year in his first four season but consistently screwed up in the playoffs. In 1992, a young team had been thumped in an “upset” at home by the mighty Buffalo Bills. No biggie. But by 1994, when an underdog Chargers team snuck into Three Rivers Stadium and snapped Terrible Towels off of Pittsburgh’s collective rear, grumbling began to surface along the Allegheny. The Steeler QB, Neil O’DonnellNeil O’Donnell, was a likable enough fellow, but he was still regarded as a tad too shaky to be a big-timer. (Again, remind you of anyone?) They struggled early in ’95, with just three wins after seven games. Their solid offense and stingy defense took turns winning games over the course of the next eight in a row, holding the Browns to 3 points one week, piling on 49 in Cincinnati the next. They won their two playoff games and finally looked to get the mini-monkey off of their collective backs.

They would have, too, if not for Larry Brown being the best Steeler receiver that day, intercepting two O’Donnell ducks lobbed more or less at him. Now, this fable doesn’t match up point for pointLarry Brown with the Pats and the Giants, but it’s a darned similar story. And to me, it’s one of the more interesting stories in Glendale, enough to keep me going as we reach the dreaded dead zone of Super Bowl week in the desert. Serpico’s got some other interesting thoughts kicking around; you’ll hear from him later tomorrow. (He’s been bragging about catching the same flu as the G-Men.) Happy Wednesday; four days til kickoff.

Live From Cambridge, Arizona (Tuesday)

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BigaBena

If you look a little further below you will see today’s main article. This continues our week long Super Bowl blog between our resident Patriots fan (Sean) and Giants fan (Serpico).

So you may have heard that this year’s Super Bowl will be decided in the trenches. Can’t argue with that. Logan Mankins, Chris Snee, Shaun O’Hara, and Matt Light headline two of the league’s best O-lines, a punishing set of brutal hand punchers and pancaking Norsemen. We’ve heard about the Pats front five since they were appearing in Visa ads years ago. Maybe they won’t be the big men. See, the random nature of the Super Bowl–it’s only one game, anything can happen–has lent itself to a number of unsung heroes over the years. You might not recognize the names Timmy Smith, Doug Williams, Larry Brown, Desmond Howard or Dexter Jackson, but those mostly marginal talents played the biggest game of their lives in…the biggest game of their lives. On Sunday, will the bright, shiny orbs in the sky align and smile upon any of the rakish brutes?

If they do, look for a bright glow surrounding Benjamin Watson, professional folk hero.

Benjamin (lengthened from “Ben” this year either to make Roethlisberger comfortable or else to make his own name appear more biblical) is a 6’3″, 255 lb beast of fury, with the mental acumen of a graduate student ninja. (Or so they say; he has an alleged 41 on the Wonderlic test.) The Pats drafted him in Round One in 2004, getting rid of their starting tight end Daniel Graham two years later. In 2005, in back to back playoff games, Watson made two of the greatest plays I’ve ever seen. Against Jacksonville, Watson took a short third down pass from Tom Brady, eluded five players while breaking three tackles, and rolled 63 yards downfield for a touchdown. The very next week Watson tracked down Denver’s Champ Bailey over 110 yards and nearly destroyed him. He’s a freak of nature who this year gained a partner in LB Adalius Thomas, a fellow fleet giant.

Of course, it could be Kevin Faulk who has a big game. Or Donte Stallworth. Or Jabar Gaffney. Or hell, maybe even Wes Welker or Randy Moss, who are pretty good, too. That’s the thing about an unsung hero; sometimes, they don’t show up because they don’t need to. But just in case, I’ll be pulling for Benjamin Watson, as he’s pulling the defense for another 20 yards.

Go-Go Gadget Play!

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As longtime supporters of the New England Patriots organization, Nerds on Sports got a special sneak peek at some of Bill Belichick’s trick plays for this weekend’s Big Game. Here are some highlights:

Ain’t life a blast?Boy Scout: Brady fakes the toss, then pitches the ball to Maroney while Ben Watson opens a lane to the outside. Maroney then draws a Sig Sauer P226 and shoots Sam Madison, Aaron Ross and Gibril Wilson. Belichick claims that nothing in the rules expressly forbids the use of a handgun, arguing with the ref and giving Brady time to rest between plays. Bruce Willis dances a jig.

uWEE-hee-hee-HEE!Fallen One: Only two wideouts on this play; everyone else drops back to block or protect the pocket. Linemen form a multi-story tower built from the remains of a world shattered by a madman’s ambition. Giants’ linebackers enter tower and attempt to sack Brady, at which point he unleashes attack that reduces them all to 1 hp. This may end in an incomplete pass or a sack, but will almost certainly result in several Giants defensive players being taken out on the next down (as Tom Coughlin has likely used up all his Elixirs getting Kiwanuka and Shockey game-ready).

Tom Cruise rates this play OT-VII.Valkyrie: Heath Evans takes the direct snap. Evans substitutes the ball for a briefcase lined with lead and filled with sensitive explosives. Evans “fumbles” the ball on the tackle, allowing one of the Giants’ linebackers to recover. As the linebacker runs the briefcase down field, the vial of acid that shattered in the fumble eats through the lead and into the explosive. Linebacker dies messily; Steiner signs peace accords with England and France.

My life for Foxboro!Gestalt: Brady runs down the play clock until Logan Mankins and Billy Yates can merge into an Archon, a barely corporeal psychic entity. The Archon paralyzes the Giants’ backfield with a Psionic Storm, allowing Brady to throw leisurely routes for 40 yards a pass. N.B.: Hold off on this play if the Giants have EMP capabilities, as the Archon’s power rests entirely in its immense energy shield.

Wes Welker has the smooth complexion needed to play a 16-year-old at age 25.Flux: Shotgun snap, Brady to Welker on the outside route. Welker accelerates to a ground speed of eighty-eight miles per hour, traveling back in time to the Waterloo High School Senior Prom in 1964. He shows up Tom Coughlin in front of his date, winning her heart and depressing the impressionable young man. Coughlin enlists in the army instead of going to Syracuse and is killed in Vietnam. Jim Fassel stays on as head coach long into his senile years, keeping Kurt Warner as the starter and never acquiring Eli Manning. The Giants end the 2007 season 4-12 and never make it to the postseason; Patriots win by default through temporal anomaly.

In 4th edition, wizards get no spellcasting penalty for wearing sweatshirts provided the sleeves have been cut off.Sphere: Belichick designates all tackles, guards and the center as eligible receivers and casts a prismatic sphere on Brady. Analysis of game film suggests that defensive rookies Aaron Ross and Michael Johnson will be blinded for 2d4 plays even looking at the sphere’s arcane colors, and that while Michael Strahan may be able to pass through the first three levels of the sphere (suffering 20 points of fire damage, 40 points of acid damage and 80 points of electricity damage respectively), the poison in the fourth layer will either kill him or put him out for the rest of the game. Brady can now take upwards of ten minutes to complete each pass.

Live From Cambridge, Arizona (Monday)

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Pats Giants

If you look below you will see today’s main article. This is the beginning of a week long Super Bowl blog between our resident Patriots fan (Sean) and Giants fan (Serpico).

So, earlier today you mentioned that you can’t see why the Patriots would possibly win by 14 points, the Vegas spread. A number of people agree with you, perhaps the reason that a bunch of New York money has pushed the line down to just 12 as we officially kick off Super Bowl week. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves and use 14 as our jumping off point. Here are three reasons why the Giants will shrink in the Big Game.*

1) You can’t score when you’re not on the field. In the previous meeting against the Giants, the Pats amassed all of 44 yards rushing, a paltry number against a stout front four. You would think then that New England, so heavily reliant on their non-partisan blitzkrieg, would be a quick strike team then, no? Well the Patriots controlled the ball for over 36 minutes that day, limiting Eli Manning to a last-ditch comeback effort that fell short after an onside kick failed. They also held the ball for a majority of the time in playoff wins against the Jaguars and Chargers. If the Pats can keep the Giants off the field and push the ball downfield on each possession (no turnovers in that 38-35 victory), Glendale spectators will see a show that could justify the $4,300 ticket prices. Actually, no, nothing can justify those ticket prices.

2) You forget this now, but lost amidst the chaos of everyone’s underdog taking a 12 point lead over New England back in December was the Patriots’ response. The crowd roared and fans from Easton, MA to East LA crowded closer around their HD screens, but to Brady and co. this was still a practice squad drill. The Patriots proceeded to rip off 22 points in 15 minutes, a dazzling display of long bombs and shutdown D. No team has ever put up points like the AFC champs, and the likelihood of an outburst is a constant threat. The Pats are totally healthy, and the only player on the offense who hasn’t gotten going in the postseason–a Messer. Randy Moss–torched the NY DB in NJ the first time around. This can’t happen again? You sure?

3) Evidently you are not sure, because you yourself think the Pats will win, as do computer simulations and a majority of the country. If you don’t think the G-Men can win outright, why believe so seriously they can keep it close? Picture this; Patriots smash their way downfield with a 22 yard run from Maroney and a 19 yard quick screen to Welker. They score on an 8 yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss. 7-0. Giants go three and out, with Manning sailing a third down pass over the outstretched hands of Plaxico Burress. Pats get a decent return, manage two first downs, and Gostowski kicks a 42 yard field goal. 10-0. Coughlin’s screaming on the sideline, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are saying that the Giants have just lost that mojo from the week long layover, and the Pats seem like destiny’s darlings tonight. Then, about three minutes later, Asante Samuel gambles on a quick out to Burress and plucks it away, returning the pass 34 yards. Maroney punches it in 6 plays later from 12 yards out. 17-0. You don’t think that’s possible? Mistakes get magnified in the Super Bowl, especially with underdogs. Just ask the ’91-’93 Bills, the ’94 Chargers, the ’96 Patriots (second half), the ’98 Falcons, the ’00 Giants, and the ’02 Raiders (underdogs because they kept the same names for audibles despite the fact that the guy that gave them those audibles now coached the other team). It’s a nightmare waiting to happen.

Oh, by the way, that nightmarish blowout I depicted? I just changed the names and the order of plays and scores from the 2000 NFC Title Game. Giants 41, Vikings 0. I hope you remember that game well this week.

*My guess is the NFL will soon copyright the Big Game, just as they have put a trademark on Super Bowl forbidding advertisers from capitalizing on it. By 2010 we will only be able to refer to it as “Football Match Huge!”

One Giant Leap? Pats Won’t Be Kind

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Strahan

We’re not here for the Giants.

I repeat that the Bud commercials, the FOX globalcast, Tom Petty, the pomp and circumstance: none of them are here for the Giants. For all of their efforts this season, they earn the right to play a sixty minute football game. The Super Bowl is never really about football anyway, and even if it were, the pretty boys to the north would earn the acclaim. The accolades will reduce this year’s NFC Champion to the Washington Generals
Wash Gen in cleats. Read More

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