I recently started a new gig as an assistant scoreboard editor at the Chicago Tribune. I’m basically editing all the agate (stats, box scores, etc.) in the paper. I thought I’d post a couple examples of the stuff I’m doing. Here are two college football preview boxes I did for the Big 12 and Wisconsin Badgers.
Tag Archives: football
Victor Cruz will have a big game. The Patriots’ secondary is below average and Cruz should be able to take advantage of being defended by wide-receiver-turned-safety Julian Edelman. He will find the endzone at least once, and he will salsa. It will be awesome. The question is, will NBC pipe in salsa music again if Cruz starts dancing? Cruz is my dark-horse pick for Super Bowl MVP, I’m thinking 8 catches, 150 yards and 1 TD.
Former Wisconsin Badger Travis Beckum will come up with a big grab for a first down. With the Pats devoting their attention to Cruz, Nicks, Mannigham and Ballard, Beckum (a very poor man’s Aaron Hernandez) will find himself open in a big situation. A side note: If the Giants win, Beckum will be the first Super Bowl champion I ever saw order a sandwich at 1 a.m. After the Badgers got their ass kicked by Penn State in 2008, I ran into Beckum at Charley’s Subs in Madison (Good food by the way, but now closed). I was surprised to find out he has a very high pitched voice.
Lame Joke Alert
It will probably in your best interest to avoid Twitter or lame friends at halftime, unless you want to read/hear hundreds of variations of “Madonna is old jokes.” On the contrary, I have no problem with jokes about Madonna’s frightening chiseled arms, or her odd, on-again-off-again British accent. Oh, and I’m sure we’ll all hear a lot of “Kelly Clarkson is fat jokes” during the National Anthem. Just tell those people to shut the fuck up. If you’re going to make fun of Clarkson, feel free to mention that she’s a Ron Paul supporter.
Don’t Doubt THE GRONK
Rob Gronkowski will play, and he’ll be perfectly fine. Have you seen THE GRONK? Have you heard THE GRONK speak? The guy is a freak. HE’S THE GRONK. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t feel pain. I think we saw a lot of gamesmanship from the Pats the last two weeks, but I’m sure the Giants have been game planning as if Gronkowski is 100 percent healthy.
And yes, I have a irrational love for THE GRONK. He led my fantasy to team to first place after I picked him on waivers for five bucks.
Between his brother starting for the Giants and the game taking place in the stadium he helped build, a player who took zero snaps for a 2-14 team will get a lot of attention during the big game. Expect NBC to show more than a few Peyton reaction shots, while Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth debate a couple different Peyton-centric topics, like: Eli vs Peyton, Brady vs Peyton, Luck vs Peyton, Irsay vs Peyton, and where does Peyton play, if at all, in 2012? Don’t be surprised if Peyton is accidentally named MVP of Super Bowl XLVI.
Sidenote on Jim Irsay. Seriously, that guy runs an NFL franchise worth over a billion dollars? Have you seen his tweets? Here’s an example:
@JimIrsay Some of u guys sending ur negative hate will only get love n return,but ur off base; Peyton and I are close n have great love for each other
Cn u blieve ths guy?
Super Bowl Drinking Game Words and Phrases Sure To Make You Ask Who Won On Monday Morning
A Super Bowl MVP Surprise
Four of the last five Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks, but someone other than Eli Manning or Tom Brady will take home the award Sunday. I like Victor Cruz or Hakeem Nicks if the Giants win, Wes Welker or Aaron Hernandez if the Pats win. And my Dexter Jackson Special long shots are Corey Webster and Julian Edelman (he has a chance to make big plays on offense, defense and special teams).
Are We In For A Super Let Down?
It’s been nine years since the last Super Bowl blowout, when the Buccaneers beat the Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII. Not only that, we’ve been treated to some all-time great Super Bowls recently (Pats over Panthers, Giants over Patriots, Steelers over Cardinals). It really seems like we’re due for a dud, doesn’t it? It looked like we were in for a blowout for awhile last year. The Packers took a 21-3 lead late the in the first half, but the Steelers were able to cut the deficit to three in the fourth quarter, and ended up getting the ball late in the fourth quarter, down by six, with a chance to march down the field for a game-winning touchdown. With all the hype over the re-match, and almost everyone believing we’re in for a close, tight game, it just seems like we’re being set up for a gigantic let down.
Ewww, There’s Politics In My Super Bowl
Since we’re in the middle of a heated election cycle, I highly doubt Al Michaels will be able to resist infusing some of his conservative politics into the broadcast. He has a history. I know things can get pretty busy prepping for the Super Bowl, so here’s an easy one Al:
After Eli Manning completes a pass to tight end Bear Pascoe, the seventh Giants player to haul in a pass: “Eli is spreading the wealth out there tonight, President Obama would be proud!”
Thanks Again, Jerry
Former Bear Mark Anderson will record at least two sacks of Eli Manning. Why will it happen? Just to piss off Bears fans.
Please, No Goats
There is really nothing worse than watching someone fail on the biggest stage. Alright, that’s not exactly true, I have no trouble watching Tom Brady, Tony Romo or LeBron James mess up in big moments. But I hope that no one becomes famous on Sunday for all the wrong reasons. I want another David Tyree, not another Kyle Williams.
Regression To The Mean
The Patriots defense has played very well in the playoffs, much better than they did in the regular season, when they ranked 31st in the NFL in total defense. But you have to consider who they played. In the golden age of the quarterback, the Patriots reached the Super Bowl by defeating Tim Tebow and Joe Flacco at home.
As we’ve heard over a hundred times the last two weeks, Eli Manning is now elite, and he’ll present a much tougher challenge. Behind Eli, Nicks, Cruz and Manningham, the Giants will be able put up points on the Patriots’ questionable secondary.
Deja Vu All Over Again
I’m picking the Giants to win, 31-28.
The greatest play in Super Bowl history?
With a re-match looming this Super Sunday, NFL Network showed a replay of Super Bowl XLII Monday night. It was one of my favorite Super Bowls, I have good memories of watching the game in my freshman year dorm at UW-Madison. The story lines were great: The Patriots going for the first 19-0 season in NFL History, Tom Brady going for his fourth ring. I love upsets, and have always disliked the Belichick era Patriots. So really, it doesn’t get better than Super Bowl XLII (Well, I guess my Bears could have been the ones to pull off the monster upset).
I thought I’d offer some observations and recap one of the most exciting fourth quarters in Super Bowl history. The Patriots led 7-3 entering the final quarter.
15:00 – One of the greatest fourth quarters in NFL history started off with one of football’s most boring plays, a punt into the end zone for a touchback. The punt returner for the 2007 Giants? None other than former Bears
great player R.W. McQuarters.
14:52 – After coming back from commercial, FOX panned to some of the celebrities in attendance at the big game: LL Cool J, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell, Jordin Sparks, Peyton Manning and Frank Caliendo. In regards to the last “celebrity” shown, Joe Buck said he “has the ability to freak out his kids every morning by waking them up with a different voice.” Not true, even Frank Caliendo’s kids don’t think their dad has any talent.
The Giants entered the fourth quarter having not scored since their first drive of the game. On the team’s first offensive snap of the fourth quarter, Eli Manning hit Kevin Boss for a 45 yard gain. Boss ran past Adalius Thomas and Rodney Harrison for the longest play from scrimmage in Super Bowl XLII.
11:05 – Five plays later, Manning connected with David Tyree for the Giants’ first touchdown of the game and New York took a 10-7 lead. Asante Samuel was late getting over to cover Tyree, and Manning slipped a pass into the hands of Tyree. It would not be the last time Samuel failed to make a play, nor would be the only time Tyree came up huge. Buck noted that the catch was Tyree’s first touchdown grab of the season, calling it “the biggest catch of his life.” Well, for about half an hour.
10:26 – After Wes Welker picks up a first down, FOX showed Bill Belichick, wearing a bright red hoodie, on the sideline. He definitely looks better in his signature hand-cut, short-sleeve gray hoodie.
9:30 – The Patriots were unable to immediately respond to the Giants touchdown. As was the story throughout the game, the Giants defensive line got great pressure on Tom Brady. Osi Umenyiora forced Brady into rushing a pass to a covered Welker on 3rd and 7, and the Pats were forced to punt after earning just one first down on the drive.
9:20 – The Giants got the ball at their own 20-yard-line up by three with 9:20 left in the fourth quarter. Obviously, New York had two goals, extend their lead and eat up as much clock as possible. However, neither happened for the G-Men.
8:32 – Eli Manning escaped pressure from Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork, rolled left and overthrew a wide-open Plaxico Burress. It looked as if Burress slowed down while Manning expected the receiver to keep running. A completion would have gone for at least 25 yards, and maybe even a touchdown, as Troy Aikman hypothesized.
8:03 – Jeff Feagles punted it back to the Patriots. The Giants didn’t pick up a first down, and the drive lasted just 1:25.
5:27- After Brady hit Kevin Faulk for a four yard gain on first down, the FOX cameras panned to an obviously gassed Umenyiora on the sidelines. The Giants d-line had put forth an outstanding effort all game, but fatigue was understandably catching up with them. And it showed on the field, for the first time since the first quarter, Brady and the Pats marched down the field with ease.
5:01 – In the midst of a classic Tom Brady touchdown drive, Welker caught his 11th pass of the game, tying the record for most catches in the Super Bowl. It would be his last grab of the game.
2:42 – On third and goal from the 7-yard-line, Brady hit a wide open Randy Moss in the end zone. Corey Webster, who otherwise had a great game, fell down on his one-on-one coverage of Moss. Brady completed 8 of his 11 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown on the drive.
2:39 – “Here comes Eli Manning, trying to answer Tom Brady.” – Joe Buck
2:09 – Eli threw a dangerous pass into double coverage to Burress that landed incomplete. It was the first in a series of ill advised passes Manning would make on his now famous fourth quarter drive.
2:04 – On the very next play, Manning threw a floater off his back foot into double coverage that was nearly picked off by Rodney Harrison. The replay zoomed in on Harrison, who was obviously pissed, knowing he was so close to all but sealing a perfect season for the Pats.
1:34 – On 4th and 1, Brandon Jacobs barely managed to get the first down, lunging to the New York 39-yard-line on his final effort.
1:28 – Manning just avoided getting stripped by Adalius Thomas after fleeing the pocket for a five yard run.
1:20 – This should have been the play that sealed a Patriots’ Super Bowl victory. Manning threw a pass, seemingly right into the hands of Samuel. Manning was angry, perhaps David Tyree, seconds away from Super Bowl immortality, ran the wrong route. After the play, Samuel put his hands on his head and screamed. The Lombardi Trophy slipped off his finger tips.
1:15 -“Pressue from Thomas off the edge. Eli Manning stays on his feet. Airs it out down the field. It is caught by Tyree.” – Joe Buck
Sigh, if only Gus Johnson had called Super Bowl XLII…
Manning somehow escaped from the pocket. Thomas, Seymour and Jarvis Green all got their hands on Manning, with Green getting a hold of Manning’s jersey. Referee Mike Carey has said that he was maybe a second away from calling the play dead, saying Manning’s forward progress was stopped. Out of the pocket, Manning threw a pass into the middle of the defense. Four Patriots defenders were around Tyree, with Rodney Harrison being the closest, breathing down Tyree’s neck. Tyree and Harrison both leaped for the ball, and somehow, someway, Tyree secured the ball between his hands and helmet. As Tyree and Harrison fell to the ground, the ball remained glued to Tyree’s helmet, and miraculously, stayed mere inches off the turf. It was a completion for 32 yards, perhaps the greatest completion in NFL history. Again, luck was on Manning’s side. He should have been sacked. He should have been picked off. But he wasn’t, it was just Eli’s day.
0:51 – Again, Eli got away with a risky throw. Manning threw another pass into double coverage. Notorious head-hunter and current Bears scrub Brandon Merriweather attempted to make a Willie Mays style catch. It went off his finger tips into the hands of Tryee, who almost made another impossible catch.
0:45 – On 3rd and 11, Manning completed a pass to Steve Smith for a first down. Smith caught the ball a couple yards short of the marker, but scampered along the sideline for the first down.
0:39 – “Manning lobs it. Burress alone. Touchdown New York!”
Burress burned Ellis Hobbs on a slant and go route, and Manning found him wide open in the end zone for the go ahead touchdown. FOX cut to Peyton Manning, who was clapping hard and screaming, showing more emotion than he ever did on a football field. Eli’s stats on the game-winning drive: 9-14, 152 yards, 2 touchdowns and all the luck in the world.
0:29 – The Patriots got the ball back at their own 21-yard line with all three of their timeouts remaining, needing just a field goal to tie. Brady had led drives that set up last second field goals in Super Bowls 36 and 38. Could he do it again?
0:25 – On second and 10, Jay Alford charged through the middle of the Patriots offensive line and sacked Brady for a ten yard loss. If any one play captured the story of Super Bowl XLII, this was it. The Giants won the game because they harassed Brady like no team had ever done.
0:19 – Brady threw a pass about 75 yards down the field that went off the finger tips of Webster and Moss. It was a brilliant throw that was just inches away from being legendary.
0:10 – Brady threw another incomplete pass towards Moss on 4th and 20. The Giants got the ball. The Patriots are 18-1.
0:01 – The sidelines emptied, Coughlin got the ceremonial water bath, and the coaches met at midfield. However, there was still one second left on the clock. Everybody had to be cleared from the field and the Giants had to run one last play. It seemed pretty cruel to make the Patriots take the field for one last pointless play. Belichick and some Patriot players were already off the field before the clock read all zeroes.
Game Over – Giants 17 Patriots 14
Saints (-3.5) vs 49ers
The second round of the playoffs kick off with what will probably be the most competitive game of the weekend. The Saints, who have never won a playoff game in an opposing team’s stadium, will most likely have to win two such games to reach the Super Bowl.
A lot of people seem to be already penciling the Saints in to the NFC title game, but this will not be an easy game. New Orleans doesn’t play as well on the road and their defense is average to below average. The Niners boast one of the leagues’ best defenses, they’re one of the healthiest playoff teams in recent memory, and they have the luxury of home field advantage.
I still think the Saints will win, but it won’t be easy, and I will not be shocked if the 49ers pull off the upset.
Unsung Hero: Robert Meacham, NO; The Niners defense has been great in 2011, but they have been susceptible to the big play. Meacham and Devery Henderson should be able to slip by the Niners’ secondary for a big play or two.
Pick: Saints 24 49ers 22
Patriots (-13.5) vs Broncos
For the Broncos to win this game, everything will have to break their way. They’ll have to get constant pressure on Tom Brady and force him into a few turnovers. Tim Tebow will have to play a perfect game, and the Denver running game will have to consistently move the chains and eat up clock.
It won’t be easy, but the way things have gone for the Broncos this season, nothing is out of the question.
Still, I think this is the end of the road for Broncos and their folk hero. In his first career road playoff start, Tebow won’t be able to keep up the scoring pace with Brady, Gronk, Welker and the rest of the Pats offense.
But really, who knows, it’s Tebow.
Unsung Hero: Patrick Chung, NE; The Pats can’t let Tebow come up with big plays, and they should be able to force him into a few turnovers. Watch for Chung to make some noise with a forced turnover or two. Chung, one of the best players on the Patriots’ below average defense, missed most of the season’s second half, including the first meeting with the Broncos.
Pick: Patriots 38 Broncos 14
The Honey Badger gets all the attention, but Morris Claiborne has been LSU’s best defender this season.
A lot will be at stake tonight when LSU and Alabama face off in the BCS Championship Game in New Orleans. Legacy, pride, the aforementioned BCS Championship, the No. 1 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, and of course, all the Allstate Insurance.
One thing that should not be decided tonight is the AP National Championship. Win or lose, the Bayou Bengals deserve a share of the national championship.
Why? Because the Tigers would still own the best resume in college football.
LSU beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa back on Nov. 5th in “The Game of the Century.” To me, that victory is more impressive than a hypothetical Alabama victory in the BCS Championship Game. Not only did LSU manage to win on the road, they did so in the middle of the regular season, not after a 36 day layoff.
And as so many proponents of the silly BCS system like to preach, the college football regular season is sacred. So shouldn’t a regular season victory hold more weight than a bowl victory?
But LSU’s season was a whole lot more than that one game, even if it was “the game of the century.” As of right now, Les Miles’ team has earned victories over the champions of two BCS bowls (Oregon, Rose and West Virgina, Orange). And if Alabama wins the BCS Championship Game, it means LSU would have beaten three of the five 2012 BCS bowl winners. LSU also beat Arkansas, the champion of the Cotton Bowl, which this year was of higher quality (No. 6 Arkansas vs No. 8 Kansas State) than the Sugar Bowl (No. 11 Virginia Tech vs No. 13 Michigan).
LSU managed to beat eight bowl teams during the regular season, and six of those teams went on to win their bowl games (Alabama is still TBD, of course). The Tigers’ success wasn’t the product of home cooking. They beat Big East Champion West Virginia and National Semifinalist Alabama on the road, and PAC-12 Champion Oregon at a neutral site (albeit, Dallas is much closer to Louisiana than it is Oregon).
While a victory over LSU would obviously boost their resume, Alabama’s credentials would still be lacking in comparison to LSU. Nick Saban’s squad’s best regular season win was a 38-14 home victory against Arkansas (LSU beat the Razorbacks at home 42-17). The Crimson Tide’s best non-conference win a 27-11 road victory against Penn State, a team with an embarrassing offense. I’m honestly surprised the Matt McGloin, Rob Bolden and the Nittany Lions managed 11 points against the outstanding Alabama defense.
There has been some debate over whether Oklahoma State could earn a split of the National Championship should LSU trip up tonight. While Oklahoma State had a great season, I have no idea how the Cowboys could earn a split title over LSU. Oklahoma State has some impressive victories (Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor), but they lost on the road to unranked Iowa State. LSU’s one loss would be to No. 2 Alabama, a team they also beat.
A No. 1 AP vote for the Cowboys would be illogical, but as we all know by now, there’s not much logic in college football, so who knows what will happen.
With a win tonight, LSU will wrap up one of the greatest seasons in the history of college football, and we’ll all be spared another silly debate bred by the illogical BCS system.
But even if LSU can’t get their hands on all the Allstate Insurance tonight, the Bayou Bengals should still be recognized for their outstanding achievements in the regular season.
I. Was. Wrong.
Alabama totally dominated LSU tonight. A 21-0 loss looks bad, but in all honesty, it was worse than that. LSU was never close to scoring. The offensive play calling was pathetic. Those screen passes were not going to work tonight. Neither was the speed option. LSU didn’t get the memo, they kept running them into the fourth quarter.
Alabama’s defense put on one hell of performance, and the Crimson Tide offense and special teams should be commended for not allowing LSU to score. The only way the Tigers were going to reach the end zone tonight was through a turnover or punt/kick return.
I just did not expect LSU to get dominated like they did tonight. I figured if they lost it’d be by a touchdown or less. But, as the game turned out, there is really no way LSU can say they deserve a share of the National Championship. The Tigers had the opportunity to prove to everybody that they were the best team in the country and they couldn’t deliver.
Congratulations to Alabama for being CONSENSUS National Champions. You guys earned it.
I really liked one quote Ball dropped in his press conference this afternoon. When talking about people questioning his ability to improve his draft stock next year, he said, “they have no idea what I can and cannot do.” Love it, never doubt what you can do.
I’ll post something longer on Ball and his decision later today.
Now that the NFL regular season is over, I thought I’d revisit the playoff and award predictions I made before week one, and see how silly they look now. This ended up being longer than I thought, so I’m going to break it up into three parts, 1. AFC 2. NFC 3. Super Bowl and Awards. (Previous picks are in italics.)
WILD CARD ROUND:
Jets over Chargers
Ravens over Texans
Patriots over Jets
Ravens over Steelers
Ravens over Patriots
I’m pretty happy with these picks. I got six of the eight AFC playoff teams right, missing on the two biggest surprises, the Bengals and the Broncos.
I actually had the Bengals going 2-14 to secure the coveted first pick in the NFL Draft. In my alternate prediction world, the Bengals would have picked Andrew Luck to be their franchise QB. As it turns out, they drafted their franchise quarterback in 2011. I had no idea Andy Dalton would be this good this quickly, even though I saw him carve up my Badgers in person during the 2011 Rose Bowl. The Bengals were paper tigers this season though, going 0-7 against playoff teams. They beat one team over .500, the 9-7 Titans.
I had the Broncos 5-11, and they were a few Tebow miracles and Marion Barber acts of stupidity from actually finishing with that record. Tebow gets all the pub, but linebacker Von Miller was the true revelation this season in Denver. He’ll be stud for years to come.
Revised Playoff Picks:
WILD CARD ROUND:
Steelers over Broncos
Texans over Bengals
Patriots over Steelers
Ravens over Texans
Ravens over Patriots
Even after 17 weeks of action, I still don’t really know what to make of the AFC, so I didn’t make many changes to my preseason picks. Thanks to some huge flaws (i.e. the Patriots’ defense) or major injuries (i.e. Matt Schaub and Mario Williams), every team is vulnerable.
The Steelers probably have too many injuries to too many important players. I’m not really including Rashard Mendenhall, I don’t think Isaac Redman is a significant downgrade, Mendenhall is overrated. Big Ben and LaMarr Woodley are nursing injuries, and Ryan Clark will miss the game in Denver due to a blood disorder.
The Texans have just been decimated by injuries. Schaub and Mario Williams are out for the season, and Andre Johnson’s health status is still uncertain. I just can’t see a team quarterbacked by T.J. Yates or Jake Delhomme going very far in the playoffs, even if they do have my man J.J. Watt anchoring the defensive line. If the Texans had the services of Schaub, Williams and Johnson, I would have loved their chances to make the Super Bowl this season. It’s really a shame, but kudos to the franchise for making the playoffs for the first time in its history.
The Patriots’ defense is just awful, there’s just no way around it. As great as Tom Brady and the Pats offense is, I just have a hard time seeing New England making it through the AFC without being betrayed by its porous defense.
I’ll stick with my pick as the Baltimore Ravens as AFC Champions, even if I still have many doubts about Joe Flacco and the rest of the Baltimore offense. Flacco showed me a lot in the Ravens’ comeback win at Heinz Field this year, but its still really hard for me to trust Flacco. My pick of the Ravens has a hell of lot more to do with Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarrett Johnson, Lardarius Webb and the rest of the Ravens defense.