Replacement Refs Cost Packers the Game; Explode Twitter

I didn’t want to have to do this.  Everyone and their mothers has written something about the NFL and the replacement referee debacle so I didn’t really have much to add to it.  Until last night.

Twitter rightfully exploded after last night’s controversial call.  Comedian Patton Oswalt (and several others) revealed the next Adam Sandler/Kevin James flick (The Replacement Refs, rated PG-13). Others used the opportunity to make joke after joke about games being fixed and Ed Hochuli pumping iron.

Now,  I’m not going to lie here: I had money on Green Bay.  So I was pissed off.  Probably not anywhere near as pissed off as Packers fans (or Packers offensive lineman JD Lang according to his Twitter) but pretty pissed off . Then it just became a little bit surreal.  They really ruled that a touchdown? How the hell do millions of fat, drunk slobs at home know that was an interception and the goddamn referees don’t?

We all knew this was a shitshow. The refs have been awful thus far, getting penalties wrong and taking forever to arrive at that wrong decision.  But now we’re to the point where they’re actually costing teams games?  I don’t care if the Packers should’ve knocked it down, the fact of the matter is MD Jennings HAD THE GODDAMN BALL and, somehow, Golden Tate having one hand on it constitutes possession.  There were a million and a half penalties over the course of the night and they screwed up in egregious fashion not much earlier when they ruled a pass interference on Green Bay that was CLEARLY offensive pass interference. But the call at the end just took the cake.

The league and all these talking heads talk with a slight sense of wonder about how the players treat the replacement refs in a manipulating manner and the real question is “why wouldn’t they?”  These refs are TERRIBLE and easily influenced; you suck at your job as a professional if you don’t try to exploit these clowns.

Look, I don’t blame the refs.  The biology teacher and the insurance salesman aren’t fit to be NFL refs; they’re in way over their heads.  I don’t even blame Roger Goodell because he’s just the owners’ puppet, dancing when they wish him to.  I blame the greedy, can’t-be-rich-enough owners who refuse to make their product better by paying for the real goddamn refs who will only screw up slightly but not openly cost a team a game.  What now, owners? What now that your product is slow and aggravating?

And the sad part? The NFL owners don’t give a flying shit because you, me, and everyone else is going to continue to watch and they would sooner choke on their own shit than give more money to the real refs. Why would they if we keep watching the games and lining their pockets?

All I know is that this is EXACTLY what the NFL hoped wouldn’t happen.  Regular fuck-ups are fine but costing a team a game might not be something Goodell can just sweep under the rug.

Somewhere, Ed Hochuli is watching.  He takes in a set of curls and never stops smiling. “Soon,” he whispers to his biceps. “Soon.”

Week 2 NFL Thoughts: Welcome to the Irrationally Confident Club!

Week 2 in the NFL has passed and I find myself feeling drastically different thank I did in week 1. A win from one’s favorite team would do that. Not only that but a couple of legitimately interesting storylines have emerged and yours truly is gonna break them down.

Bills Turnaround? Look, I know you don’t care about the Bills. No one outside of Buffalo does. You know what though? I don’t care. This is MY space and I’m gonna do with it what I want. That said, the Bills looked GOOD against the Chiefs. Whether that is because they are figuring things out or because the Chiefs are terrible is another question. CJ Spiller went off again and has supplanted Fred Jackson (if the Bills are dumb enough to sit Spiller when Jackson comes back, I don’t know what I’m going to do) for the time being. Fitzpatrick still looks shaky and indecisive, which scares me, but he didn’t turn the ball over and was efficient enough(10/19, 178yds 2 TDs). THAT’S HOW WE DO IT AT HARVARD. The defense actually looked good until the garbage time but that was to be expected. The Bills should crush Cleveland on Sunday (I’ll be there) before they get annihilated by the Patriots in week 4. Speaking of those Patriots..

Bill Belichick is Sticking it to Wes Welker — Belichick is notorious for refusing to overpay and Wes Welker wants his dollar dollar bills, ya’ll. So it would seem that Welker is being phased out of the offense as evidenced by his 8 catches for 109 yards through the first two weeks. But he’s been targeted more than any other Patriot save Brandon Lloyd. And no matter how much Belichick loves him some two-tight-end sets, Kellen Winslow JR (SOLDIER!) isn’t a better option than the Mighty White. With Aaron Hernandez out of the picture for the next few weeks, Welker is going to get more targets unless Belichick enjoys hindering his own offense. Then again, he seems like a real prick so that wouldn’t surprise me.

The Eagles Can Only Get So Many Fluke Wins — I don’t care that they’re 2-0. They didn’t deserve to win week 1 against the Browns (THE BROWNS FERCHRISSAKES) and didn’t deserve to beat the Ravens on Sunday. Their defense is keeping them afloat but Vick is a turnover machine who is too stupid to slide or duck out of bounds to protect his body. Which is important because this team is NOT winning with Nick Foles. There is no way in hell this team can keep overcoming Vick’s turnovers (6 interceptions, 2 fumbles lost in 2 weeks) especially with a schedule that has no pushovers. Plus, they’re coached by Andy the Walrus whom Philly fans are hoping will finally be fired. If Vick keeps averaging 4 turnovers a game, trust me, it won’t be long before these clowns are losing.

Jay Cutler Cares Just Long Enough to Be a Total Prick — Jay Cutler always looks really disinterested. Particularly after he’s just thrown another interception and has to wait on the bench awhile before throwing another. Occasionally, though, he shows that fire. Granted, it’s not the good kind of fire. More like the “berate your teammates and then half-heartedly shove one of them out of anger and frustration” kind of fire. He really strikes me as the kind of guy who calls his offensive linemen “fat fucks” when they screw up. Just a feeling. People are high on the Bears this year but to be fair to Jay, the offensive line is a total shitshow and may or may not get him killed. I understand they finally have a legit #1 receiver in Brandon Marshall but if Cutler doesn’t even have a chance to find him what’s that gonna matter? Looking forward to many more stories about him going off on a teammate before being called out publicly following an awful loss.

The Replacement Refs Suck But Get Used to It — Steve Young put it best during last night’s Monday Night Football post-game show when he basically surmised that the NFL doesn’t care about the effect these replacement refs are having because you’ll watch anyways. And he’s right. Is anyone going to actually not watch football just because these guys take 28 minutes to make a call? Hell no. We’re going to sit there and stuff our fat faces while we bitch and moan about what’s happening but forget about it the second the next play starts. The NFL knows the replacement refs blow but they don’t want to (and won’t) pay the regulars to come back so just get used to a total clusterfuck from the refs. Besides, it’s not like it matters; you’re going to watch anyways. You could basically substitute the whole movie previews scene from this South Park episode with the current referee situation and it would be spot on. “Pass interference on number…28, no 99. What’s it matter? You’ll still watch, fuck you!”

San Francisco is Unquestionably Your Super Bowl Favorite — After walking into Green Bay and pretty much controlling the Packers followed by a truly stifling performance against Matt Stafford and the Lions on Sunday night, this team has to be the favorites. They just beat the shit out of people defensively. They don’t give up big plays and consistently pressure the quarterback. And everyone questioning Alex Smith? Not so much these days. Completing 70% of your passes for 429 yards, 4 TD’s and no interceptions will do that. Add in Frank Gore giving the finger to those who thought Kendall Hunter would fully supplant him (the two still share carries) and the offense is legitimately formidable. The Bills have them in week 5 and I already want to curl into a ball and drink.

I’ll be back next week to give you my thoughts on week 3 which will undoubtedly feature 3 more Michael Vick turnovers, a shootout between Eli Manning and Cam Newton, and Christian Ponder being put in a full body cast after facing the 49er defense.

New on TheFarmClub — NHL Lockout? I Am Disappoint.

It’s up now on The Farm Club:

I have no problem admitting this: I get irrationally mad at stuff I shouldn’t. Fly off the handle at video games?  Absolutely.  Upset when my sports team loses?  You betcha. Cut me off in traffic? I WILL EAT YOUR SOUL.

On Saturday night, at 11:59 PM EST, the National Hockey League’s Owners locked out the player’s association.  On what should have been a good day for me – my Michigan Wolverines won handily against cupcake/baby seal UMass, Michigan State lost to Notre Dame, and my beloved Buffalo Sabres had re-signed highly skilled midget Tyler Ennis – ended up with me being more upset than I probably should’ve been. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t hurling furniture, rampaging GTA-style, or anything like that. I wasn’t even ANGRY. I was disappointed.

Read the whole thing.

New on TheFarmClub — Why Do We Like Sports?

It’s up now on :

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being a fan is an exercise in masochism. Far more often than not, fans of any one team will experience heart-break and let down far more than they experience moments of joy and triumph. To those on the outside looking in, being a sports fan is insane. I’ve been told by friends that they don’t care for sports because it’s pointless; a waste of time, energy, and money. I’ve also been asked why I continue to support my teams when they do nothing but let me down. Surely there are better things that could be done with our time, right? Right as they may be sometimes, they just don’t understand.”

Read the whole thing.

The Week The Big Ten Imploded

For a few years now, the Big Ten conference has been teetering on mediocrity.  For the most part, the conference was a let down and even the mighty Ohio State sturggled when faced with competition from outside the conference (ESS-EE-SEEEE SPEED). But this weekend was about as bad a weekend as the conference could have had.

The biggest disaster: darkhorse National Championship contender Wisconsin lost to Oregon State. The same Oregon State team that Wisconsin beat last year 35-0.  The same Oregon State team that lost to friggin’ Sacramento State. They held Heisman candidate Montee Ball to just 61 yards on 15 carries in the Badgers’ 10-7 loss. The loss was so bad the Badgers fired their offensive line coach.  It was his second game! Nothing says “meltdown” quite like firing a position coach after his second game. HEADS GOTTA ROLL. After barely beating Northern Iowa in week 1, we probably should be worried about Wisconsin especially as the potential flag-bearer for the Big Ten.  But with the mediocrity surrounding the Big Ten, they probably still have a great shot to run the table. BCS CONFERENCE WUT

The next biggest disaster: Nebraska fell to UCLA.  Taylor Martinez, hoping to establish himself in the Heisman race and get Nebraska rolling heading into the Big Ten slate, managed only 179 yards passing and no touchdowns (he did have one rushing).  The Huskers defense was atrocious, giving up 653 yards of total offense to the Bruins.  Granted, UCLA is now 2nd in the nation in running but that’s partially because of their efforts against a terrible Nebraska unit replacing a ton of star power from an only-okay defense of last year.  They’ll get a couple of cream puffs to recover against (Arkansas State and Idaho State) before hitting the tough stretch against Wisconsin and Ohio State.

Disaster the third: Iowa loses to Iowa State 9-6.  I never have any idea what to make of the Hawkeyes and this is just another one of those results that leads me to believe they’ll be awful before they go and upset someone like Michigan or Michigan State.  James Vandenburg continues to struggle in this offense, throwing for just 129 yards. It doesn’t help that Iowa is down to its water boy at starting running back (seriously, google “Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God”). This team will probably Jekyll and Hyde its way to a 7-5 record.

Not so disastrous: Michigan beats Air Force 31-25.  Look, I know it’s Air Force. I know Michigan was hyped to the moon this season.  But breaking in a new defense against a triple option attack probably isn’t going to produce pretty results. Watching the game, a stream of profanity poured from me as the Wolverines failed to make a stop. But looking back, Air Force just does this to people.  When the defense goes up against a typical Big Ten defense, then we’ll have a fair idea of where this unit sits. I’m just happy to have been able to watch a full game knowing that my team was still in it, let alone winning.

Not so disastrous unless you’re a Penn State fan:  Penn State lost a heart-breaker to Virginia, missing a last-second field goal that would have given the much-maligned Nittany Lions the win. Considering they were 10-point underdogs coming into the game, it’s a moral victory, right? Not so much. Scott Norwood watched this game, saw missed field goal after missed field goal, and muttered “I know that feel, bro” to his television.

The rest of the Big Ten slate was uneventful: Illinois got blown out but who cares? It’s Illinois. Northwestern beat Vandy, Indiana routed UMass (who has Michigan next), Michigan State Juggalo’d Central Michigan, and Ohio State beat Central Florida.

Thankfully for the Big Ten, they reach the portion of the schedule where they can club baby seals like UMass and Idaho State before they start bludgeoning each other. Can’t wait for another BCS bowl ass-whipping for the Big Ten.

Leaked Transcript of Latest CBA Talks

As many hockey fans know, the current collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and it’s Players’ Association comes to an end September 15th.  From the way the talks are progressing, the league is heading towards its 4th labor stoppage and 3rd under Gary Bettman’s watch in the nearly 20 years he’s been on the job.

It was learned that talks between the two sides had ceased a few days ago and, after you read the transcript of the last talks that our covert ninjas managed to acquire, you’ll understand why.

Gary Bettman: Good to see you, Don.  (Bettman notices that Donald Fehr has brought along player representatives Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin) Didn’t know you were bringing company today. How are you, boys?

Crosby: Can you not talk so loud, Gary? I’d hate to get another headache.

Ovechkin: I am here to fight for the Motherlan..err the players!

Moving in for a hand shake, Ovechkin accidentally hits Bettman knee on knee.

Bettman: Alex! Be more careful next time. I’d hate to suspend you.

Both Ovechkin and Bettman crack up laughing.

Crosby: Guys, seriously. Oh God, does anyone have Advil?

Bettman: Okay guys, if you wouldn’t mind having a seat, let’s get this show on the road. Here’s the long and short of it: the owners are losing money. So much so that they have to sleep in cardboard boxes.  So how about you guys give back some of that money?

Fehr: Whoah, whoah, whoah.  I saw James Dolan roll up to the last meetings in a gold-plated Ferrari. What’s that about?

Bettman: Please, that’s from the Knicks. And besides, he’s too busy ruining them to really be taken seriously here. Now make with the money.

Fehr: What about all this “unprecedented growth” you’ve been speaking about the last few years? What about our new television deal with NBC Sports?

Bettman: How do you think Phoenix still has a team? And Florida for that matter?

Fehr: Because you are too stupid and proud to admit they’re total failures. I’m pretty sure more people show up for Montreal Expos games.  Just retract them, Gary. 

Bettman: (whispering) Look, if I do that the owners will have me killed. Why do you think I fight for them when they’re clearly greedy for more money than they need? So just give back the money already!

Fehr: Why would I do that? These guys have a limited opportunity to be fairly compensated for what they do while these owners will keep making money for a long, long time.

Bettman: (mumbling, looking directly at Crosby) Some of them have a more limited opportunity than others..

Crosby: Gary! I thought we were friends? You told me if I ever needed anything from you or the league, just ask!

Fehr: Relax, Sid. Why don’t you go lay down. Gary, the fact of the matter is that you’re asking the players to fix the problem instead of cutting dead weight. Or better yet, why not adopt the system the MLB uses? Let the big guys support the little guys through revenue sharing. Everyone wins!

Bettman: Get out of my office and don’t come back until you’re ready to make like Walmart and ROLL BACK THOSE PRICES.

Will one side cave? Will things get resolved so we can all have our hockey without the threat of a lockout for once? Tune in next week: Same lockout time, same lockout place!

Making Teenagers NHL Captains is Stupid

Yesterday, the Colorado Avalanche named Gabriel Landeskog their captain.  At 19 years, 286 days old he is the youngest captain in NHL history (just 11 days younger than former youngest captain Sidney Crosby).

I’m certainly not old, depending on your perspective (I’m 26), so this isn’t a “you damn kids!” arguement.  But at 19 years old, you’re still not even a person. You’re generally an asshat who says and does dumb things.  Hell, I am just now getting the hang of not saying or doing something idiotic in front of people.  I get being “mature beyond your years” or whatever but you’re still 19. You’re going to want to say something awful or light something on fire or chase tail like any other dumbass teen.  I mean, look to the right. Look at that hair. Real leaders don’t have hair like that.

Usually, teams who name young players as captains do so in part because that player is their best. But Landeskog isn’t the Avs best player; Matt Duchene is. He’s older than Landeskog (21) but still probably cares more about impressing some girls in the stands at practice than being a leader or anything like that. Which is kinda what he should do because he’s a kid. Score goals and sleep with girls. There’s time to be old and grizzled later.

Plus, isn’t part of being a leader and captain having the experience to know how to lead your team through the tough times? What the hell does a 19 year old know about going through adversity and tough times? You only see that shit in football when a kid comes from some crazy war-torn country and has to hide under a pile of dead bodies to avoid being killed like he was in the Walking Dead or something. 19 year old athletes probably can’t even spell “adversity” and they sure as shit don’t face any because they’re rich teenagers with young phillies at their beckoning call.

I don’t care how much of a “natural leader” a kid is or how “mature beyond his years” (read: boring) he is, the fact of the matter is that he’s still a stupid kid who has a lot more learning to do before he should be leading anyone anywhere other than his idiot friends into a Denny’s at 3am.

Go with the veteran who has actually been a professional for more than a year or two and knows what stupid things to not do.  Or at least to not get recognized doing it.

In Defense of Gary Bettman

To those of you who didn’t move on to cat pictures or the latest meme after reading the title, I thank you for hearing me out.

Yes, I am quite aware that the National Hockey League is headed for its third lockout in the nearly twenty years the league has been under commissioner Gary Bettman’s watch.  Yes, I will want the heads of Bettman and all 30 owners presented to me on a stick if the season doesn’t start on time. And if the league does lockout, the league will suffer, I’ll piss and moan like a child, and hockey will ultimately come back because the diehards (like me) don’t care and will be there to keep the league alive.  But what’s at risk is the growth the game has experienced coming out of the cancellation of the 2004/05 season.

Sure, the league isn’t seen on ESPN unless it’s playoff time.  That’s what happens when your sport isn’t under the umbrella of the World-Wide Leader. Small-market teams continue to struggle because we have this problem in every sport.  Guess what? The Rangers, Leafs, Red Wings, Bruins, Blackhawks, Flyers and maybe one or two others have been buoying the league for awhile.  Baseball doesn’t fight a system where the heavy hitters keep the little guys upright; why be so vigilant in hockey? It’s not like those teams aren’t going to make a shitload of money even after paying out their shares to the nobodies of the league.  There’s also still the issue of player safety but player’s heads are turning to mush in football, too, so at least hockey’s not alone there.

Ratings, though, have never been higher.  There’s a pretty good television deal with NBC that makes the league the cornerstone of the new NBC Sports Network with unprecedented coverage and an assurance that every playoff game will be seen under the NBC umbrella while collecting a pretty penny for the league.  Would it have been worth it to take next to nothing from the WWL just to get that little extra exposure? I’m pretty sure they still would have treated hockey like the red-headed step child, feeding it scraps under the stairs while telling it how worthless it is. No spit in the eye from NBC, I tells ya!

The game hasn’t been this exciting in twenty years. The league cracked down on the clutch and grab, opened up the game, and got lucky enough to have a couple of trascendent stars come into the league at the same time in Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin (they also got lucky with Ovechkin embracing his superstar status, saying and doing awesome things all the time like rapping and showing up for camp out of shape. Wait, maybe not that last part).  Bettman smartly copied the NBA blue print of promoting individual stars, pimping out the likes of Evgeni Malkin, the Sedin twins, Patrick Kane (‘MURICA), Jonathan Toews, Corey Perry, Pavel Datsyuk, and so on.  Granted, a good chunk of people are still too stupid to pronounce their names correctly but it’s a start.

Most importantly, and I believe that most people don’t realize it or don’t think about it when the opportunity to bitch about Bettman arises, is that Bettman doesn’t run the show. The NHL owners do.  Bettman is charged with making them happy and if they think they’re getting shafted by the current collective bargaining agreement (and they are; who thought it was a good idea to give the players 57% of hockey revenue?) then it’s up to Bettman to make them happy.

I understand that Gary Bettman has a responsibility to get the game into a place to succeed and that, to succeed, they need to get this labor dispute solved.  But the owners, in their role as puppet master, are the ones pulling all the strings.

Probably Incorrect NFC Predictions

I covered the AFC in this space yesterday, surmising that it was basically the Patriots and everyone else.  Yipee, like Brady and Belichick need to win any goddamn more.

Today, I’m going to run down the NFC and in addition to my NFC Champion pick, I will reveal my Super Bowl pick as well because I might as well just get being wrong out of the way now. Let’s get this thing going.

Philadelphia Eagles — The “Dream Team” will try to rebound from last year’s atrocious performance.  That wasn’t even a step back, it was like a hurricane-force wind threw them backwards through the air and they flew through a brick wall like an action movie. Just a mess.  So naturally, everyone is picking them to win the NFC East this year.  Michael Vick is apparently made of porcelin and probably won’t make it past week 2 without missing some time. Shady McCoy is due for a torn ACL. And calling DeSean Jackson “moody” would be an upgrade for him.  Plus, this defense sucked balls last year and probably won’t turn into a dominant unit. Record: 9-7

New York Giants — Tom Coughlin must cream his Depends every time he hears about another ridiculous Tebow/Sanchez/Jets story. They’re the Super Bowl Champions ferchrissakes yet they barely get any coverage because of the clusterfuck that is the Jets.  Eli Manning, who looks like he might be legitimately retarded, will continue to get better considering he has one of the best receiving corps in the league with Hakeem Nix and Victor Cruz.  But the way things always work with this team is that they’ll underachieve for awhile before putting together a late run. Record: 10-6

Dallas Cowboys — When was the last time this team was actually a contender and not some fabricated contender hyped up by the media and Cowboys fans? I’m pretty sure it was during a time when Troy Aikman was still permanently concussed. Tony Romo remains a pretty good second-tier quarterback and will obviously have a stigma until he wins a playoff game or at least doesn’t fuck up colossally. Dez Bryant is totally insane and the next logical step from punching your own mother in the face is to just go off the deep end and murder a teammate.  The guy has to be surrounded by a security team at all times and not because he’s super famous.  I’m sure it’ll work out for “America’s Team”. Record: 7-9

Washington Redskins — Poor Robert Griffin.  RG3 seems like a genuinely nice kid and seems like he has a bright future.  He’s throwing to the vastly overrated Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss (whom I didn’t realize was even still in the league and was mildly suprised that he was PLAYING somewhere, let alone starting), and handing the ball off to the magnificently shitty duo of Tim Hightower and Roy Helu.  Not to mention that Mike Shanahan is going to conform RG3’s talents to his own system instead of doing it the other way around like you should with a #2 overall pick. Record: 5-11

Green Bay Packers — If there’s a team in the NFL that could get away with not attempting to run once all season, it’s this one. Aaron Rodgers is insanely good, though the system might be a pretty good one since it made Matt Flynn look good enough that he was able to fleece Seattle out of $10M guaranteed. Still, Rodgers will throw a ton and they have a pretty good defense even if they did take a huge step back last year. But they better hope they underachieve enough to end up playing a road playoff game in a dome because this team was built to play in a dome yet plays in the friggin’ cold, which admittedly is an overrated factor but still. I’m sure they’ll have a few late round picks/undrafted free agents emerge and Gregg Easterbrook can fondle himself to that late at night. Record: 12-4

Chicago Bears: — I don’t know how to feel about Jay Cutler. I have nothing against him because he’s never had an impact on me or my team but I can’t help but notice how disinterested he looks all the time. Maybe it was because he didn’t have anyone to throw to, maybe Sam Hurd hooked him up with some killer weed that really mellowed him out. I don’t know. I do know that Matt Forte got paid so he’ll probably join Chris Johnson as an overpaid pile of shit. Brandon Marshall was acquired and the team pretended to know that he punched a woman in the face even though they probably didn’t. Or they didn’t care because Marshall punching a woman in the face sounds like par for the course for him. As for the defense, why do people just assume every Bears defense is good? They weren’t bad last year but Brian Urlacher is probably the most fragile defensive player in the league and the rest of the defense is getting pretty old.  Still, the prospect of this offense reaching another level with Cutler throwing to Marshall leaves a lot of potential out there. Record: 10-6

Detroit Lions — This team can’t handle notoriety and expectations for five minutes without wanting to ruin it.  Seven(!!) arrests in the off-season obviously leave a lot of questions about maturity and discipline and all that but really, they were mostly marijuana charges and who didn’t know that most of these guys probably like to smoke a bowl or twelve? Still, Ndamukong Suh is always a threat to commit the games’ first on field homicide so maybe being lax about this isn’t the way to go.  Like the Packers, the Lions have no ground game mostly because their running backs are terrible (Kevin Smith) or their brains are jello (Jahvid Best) but who cares because Matt Stafford threw for 5,000 yards and Megatron is far and away the best receiver in the galaxy. Can’t wait for Stafford to suffer his annual shoulder injury followed by Megatron wishing death on Shaun Hill for the length of the injury. Record: 9-7

Minnesota Vikings — Early front-runners in the Matt Barkley sweepstakes, this team is awful. With Adrian Peterson recovering from a blown up knee and Percy Harvin a threat to go down with a migraine, Christian Ponder is probably the next best player on this offense (Matt Khalil has done nothing yet and I know shit about o-linemen so I stand by my statement). Jared Allen is by himself on this defense, the lone stud of the group.  He’ll white trash his way to another 15 sacks but it’ll be totally worthless because they’ll probably be trailing in every game. Record: 4-12

Atlanta Falcons — People keep comparing this team to pre-Super Bowl Colts and Matt Ryan to Peyton Manning. “Matty Ice”, which sounds like the douchiest frat boy name of all time, can’t win a playoff game ala Manning but the key missing here is that Ryan is a second-tier quarterback whereas Manning and his gigantic head were elite.  Ryan has no excuses now with Roddy White and Julio Jones catching passes and the aging but affecting Michael Turner behind him. Time to graduate from being a BRUH and become a man, Matt. Record: 11-5

New Orleans Saints — I never really agreed with Bountygate and why everyone was up in arms with the whole thing. This is a violent game where people love huge, nasty hits and anyone who was upset over a bunch of meatheads trying to hurt other meatheads needs to get some fucking perspective.  That said, I don’t think losing Sean Payton for the year is going to have an astronomical impact because Drew Brees and that splotch on his face are just too good. He’ll probably throw 84 times a game and cover up a pretty awful defense for good chunks of the year.  Also: how the hell did it take as long as it did to sign Brees? The guy is your franchise, he led you out of the gutters and all the way to a SUPER BOWL. He probably sells more jersey’s than everyone else who’s ever had a Saints jersey COMBINED. And you cheap fucks didn’t want to just cut him a blank check and tell him to fill it in? Record: 10-6

Tampa Bay Buccaneers — I really have no idea what to make of this team.  They had a suprise year two years ago before letting expectations totally crush them last year.  Josh Freeman looked like an up-and-coming young quarterback until he decided to hand out “free interception” coupons to everyone in the league last year. The team had a good off-season, adding stud safety Mark Barron and running back Doug Martin via the draft as well as Dallas Clark and Vincent Jackson via free agency.  I have no idea what to make of these guys, I seriously don’t but playing in this division is going to be a bitch so while I think the Bucs improve but probably not make the playoffs. Not that the city of Tampa cares, they’re all too busy checking their bingo cards. Record: 8-8

Carolina Panthers — Cam Newton is pretty good, it turns out. Combined with an already pretty good ground game led by DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, Newton adds a Tebow-only-good dimension to the redzone offense.  Steve Smith is still around, acting as the best target for Cam Newton and resident crazy man who is a threat to shatter your jaw if you WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT *PUNCH*. Seriously, if I ever ran into Steve Smith on the street, I would just curl into the fetal position and cry.  The defense has a ton of talent and potential but is good for about three blown knees per season which totally warrants all the money the team spent.  Not quite there yet but definitely a team on the rise. Record: 7-9

San Francisco 49ers — The defense was very good last year and should be again with Patrick Willis mowing down running backs like Donte Stallworth mows down pedestrians.  Frank Gore keeps defying his doubters but he’s 29 and has a history of being fragile so the wheels have to come flying off soon.  Randy Moss is nothing but a recognizable game at this point and anyone expecting him to have a huge impact is an idiot. Not to mention his quarterback is still Alex Smith who is awful.  Being “okay” in this division probably gets you 9-7, a pretty good team like ‘Frisco will run away with this division. Record: 12-4

Seattle Seahawks — Another good defense, albeit a bit younger and not quite as dominant, Seattle has set itself up to be a potential sleeper team. But that offense, dear sweet Jeebus.  Yeah, Marshawn Lynch is back but he just got paid and celebrated by getting a DUI. But hey, at least you didn’t hit anyone or have a gun in your trunk, right? Russell Wilson might be a good quarterback someday but if you’re a Seattle fan are you really feeling good about the fact that a third round pick just beat out a guy your team gave $10M guaranteed to for the starting quarterback job?  All that said, if Wilson isn’t a disaster and Lynch can go back to trucking defenders instead of other drivers, the Seahawks could make noise. Record: 9-7

Arizona Cardinals — This team had an actual quarterback battle between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.  And Skelton won it.  When Larry Fitzgerald murderers Skelton after he air-mails a pass for the 305th time on the season, no one will convict him.  Skelton will have had it coming. Supposedly, this defense is pretty good but you’d never know it after watching their pre-season games. This season has all the makings of a train wreck season where Kolb is cut, Ken Wisenhunt is fired, and Fitzgerald demands a trade.  Can’t wait. Record: 6-10

St.Louis Rams — This is a team that can’t surprise me.  They could be awful enough to earn the #1 pick and I wouldn’t be surprised. They could put together a 8 or 9 win season and I wouldn’t be surprised.  There is a lot of young talent on defense and Sam Bradford is entering year 3 so who the hell knows.  But with Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson (no seriously, check out how terrible their receivers are) as the top two receivers on this team, they’ll depend heavily on Steven Jackson again and I just have to wonder how long until Jackson finally falls apart like Humpty Dumpty. Record: 5-11

The NFC is deep and I think there is at least one team from each division who could make a run to the Super Bowl whereas the AFC is basically the goddamn Patriots again and then everyone else (fuck the Texans, that’s a letdown waiting to happen). That said, the Packers and 49ers stand out above the Falcons and Giants to me.  I think the Packers defense gets its shit together just enough to make it to the big game. NFC Champion: Green Bay Packers

So we’re left with a Packers/Patriots Super Bowl. Brady vs Rodgers on the big stage.  This could potentially be the most exciting Super Bowl ever since both guys like to throw the shit out of the ball, neither offense is very good at running it,  and neither team is particularly thrilled about playing defense. Expect a shootout that would make Madden gamers stammer like they were being forced to speak to a female, with Brady failing in the final seconds just one more time. Super Bowl Champion: Green Bay Packers

From there, expect much verbal-fellatio for Aaron Rodgers and every scrappy (read: WHITE) guy on the roster.  Then it’s another seven months of sadness.

Probably Incorrect AFC Predictions

FOOTBAW! It’s here at long last, kicking off on September 6th with the Giants hosting the Cowboys.

After an entire summer of over-hyping stories because no one gives a shit about baseball, pretending to be interested by pre-season games, and hoping no one pulls a Korey Stringer at training camps across the country, we have a pretty good idea of what teams are going to look like.

I’m here to give you my opinion.  Mind you, that opinion is probably incorrect as it is fueled by ignorance and a bit of hatred for all non-Bills teams and a lot of hatred for all New England based teams.

Let’s get this show on the road. A sidenote: this thing was originally supposed to be the entire league but it’s running long so I’m splitting it up with the NFC coming tomorrow.

New England Patriots — The Pats are annoyingly good. Tom Brady is 35 years old but he’s still the second best quarterback in the league. He throws to average white guys and turns guys like Deon Branch into functioning receivers before getting Brandon Lloyd this year.  That’s in addition to the freakish, pornstar-banging tight end combo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

Their defense was a joke but not one that makes you laugh, just one of those jokes that makes you uncomfortable and leaves you feeling awful you just heard it.  But with their offense, they could trot out 11 paraplegics and still win 12 games.  Record: 12-4

Buffalo Bills — I’m trying to remain a level-headed person in regards to my expectations for this year because I’m a Bills fan and while God may not hate Buffalo fans quite like Cleveland fans (at least we’ve made a Super Bowl), he still enjoys toying with us.  If they remain healthy, the Bills will be a force. The offense is GOOD and should get better if the line remains in tact and Fitzpatrick has time to do more than worry about being murdered. The defense should be vastly improved provided the high-school-quality linebackers they’re starting don’t hamper the unit. And that schedule is soft as soft can be. The playoff drout, est. 1999, ends this year. Record: 10-6

New York Jets — I love everything they’re doing.  Don’t shore up a terrible offensive line? Check. Undermine your young, struggling quarterback by bringing in a cultural icon to be his “backup”? Check.  There aren’t enough foot fetish videos on the planet to keep Rex Ryan happy throughout this season. Can’t wait for Antonio Cromartie to fight a wide receiver to death then celebrate his victory by impregnating another woman. Record: 7-9

Miami Dolphins — Sweet Jeebus on a stick is this a poorly run franchise.  Look, I get that they swung for Peyton Manning and missed. It happens.  I get reaching for Ryan Tannehill (I don’t agree with it) but what I don’t get is why you would put this project of a quarterback in the fire and ruin him when you already know this season isn’t resulting in a playoff trip.  But hey, can’t wait for their next “solution” at QB to follow in the long line of terrible quarterbacks this team has fielded. Record: 5-11

Pittsburgh Steelers — If Ben Roethlisberger gets anymore worn down, they’re going to need to create a predominantly cyborg body like he’s goddamn Darth Vader.  I can already see Dan Rooney screaming “you were the chosen one!” Still, this team has talent even if it’s approaching the point where they need hospice care.  They’ll manage to put together a decent season, get into the playoffs, and prominently lose in the Wild Card. Mike Wallace is guaranteed to ruin so many Fantasy Football teams this year, I feel like someone should just create and get it out of the way. Record: 9-7

Baltimore Ravens — No Terrell Suggs hurts the team, especially when the corpse of Ray Lewis is still starting at MLB and Ed Reed is guaranteed to miss a few games with various injuries. Their defense is still pretty good despite all that, mostly because Haloti Ngata murders everything in his path, and the offense is solid with potential to grow as long as Flacco and Rice play up to their levels. But someone, Torrey Smith probably, needs to step up at receiver since Anquan Boldin is already over the hill preparing to crash at the bottom of said hill. Record: 10-6

Cincinnati Bengals — AJ Green is a stud and Andy Dalton is going to be a good second-tier quarterback someday.  But there’s no way a team this young can repeat their performance from last year.  They really need the lawfirm of Benjarvis Green-Ellis to step up and hope that defense can repeat their sterling performance from last year.  Oh and staying out of jail probably helps, too. Record: 8-8

Cleveland Browns — If I didn’t hate this team and city so much, I would feel sympathy for them.  Actually, I wouldn’t, I’d just laugh at how much they sucked before remembering I’m a Bills fan and just looking at the floor.  This team used a first round pick on a 28-year-old quarterback to follow their selection of a running back with bad knees.  Jeebus, I really think this is the place where inept executives go to die.  Potential subplot this year: Colt McCoy may secretly plot the murder of Brandon Wheeden so that he can gain the starting job, only to lose it when the new owner cleans house after the year.  Good times! Record: 3-13

Houston Texans — Matt Schaub is still there. Ditto Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. Their defense will probably be pretty good again despite losing Mario Williams.  And this division would be the weakest in the NFL if it weren’t for the abomination that is the NFC West.  This team is going to run the shit out of the ball but the question will be if they can avoid the injury bug this year or at least do so at more opportune times. Record: 11-5

Tennessee Titans — Chris Johnson, who got fat and sucky as soon as he got paid, is supposedly back to his CJ2K days.  I remain skeptical because that guy has “fantasy murderer” written all over him.  Kenny Britt can be scary but sometimes that’s because he’s driving with a .25 BAC and not because he’s good at catching footballs. Also, Jake Locker (Blaine Gabbert 2.0) is starting.  What’s that? Pencil them in for 6-10? I couldn’t agree more. Record: 6-10

Jacksonville Jaguars — This team starts Blaine Gabbert 1.0 and is fighting with its only good player, Maurice Jones-Drew.  They drafted a wide receiver who’s on pace to have more DUI’s than catches (Justin Blackmon). Not to mention this might be the most boring team in the NFL playing in one of the worst markets in the NFL. Just move these guys to LA already. Record: 5-11

Indianapolis Colts — So Andrew Luck looks like the real deal. I’m sure the fat, bandwagon fans in Indianapolis will love him soon enough even though they’re all still too busy whining about the team cutting Peyton Manning.  Even though it was the smart move and the team is literally the luckiest in the league after getting 13 years of one of the greatest quarterbacks ever before seamlessly transitioning into the best quarterback prospect in 30 years. Fuck Indianapolis, they don’t deserve any of this. Record: 5-11

Denver Broncos — Speaking of Manning, his new team is horribly overrated but they play in a shoddy division where literally anyone could take it. He has weapons and a pretty solid defense but I remain leery of Manning and his ability to not get paralyzed. I do not look forward to constantly seeing shots of John Elway and his horseteeth whenever Manning is mentioned during broadcasts.  Record: 9-7

San Diego Chargers — If Ryan Matthews’ injury wasn’t an omen, I don’t know what is.  But the disappointment that will be the Chargers’ 2012 season has a silver lining:  Norv Turner almost certainly has to get fired. I’m amazed he hasn’t so far. Few coaches screw up quite like Norv.  Does he have pictures of owner Alex Spanos blowing a horse or something? His employment as an NFL head coach is one of the great mysteries of the universe. Record: 7-9

Kansas City Chiefs — People still think this is a potentially good team. Jamaal Charles is a fragile little man and backup Peyton Hillis is an overrated scrub.  Matt Cassell should be kissing Bill Belichick’s ass on a daily basis for the contract the Chiefs gave him. And most importantly, Romeo Crennel is the head coach.  Didn’t that experiment fail once already?  But hey, he led the team to a win over the then-unbeaten Packers so surely he’s the man for the job! Enjoy your 6-10 season and about 3 weeks of a healthy Charles before he goes out for the year. Record: 6-10

Oakland Raiders — This team is the biggest wild card in the AFC. They have talent and definitely have potential.  But can Carson Palmer really not throw 3 picks a game? Can Darren McFadden play more than six minutes without getting hurt? Will Al Davis’ zombie corpse rise from the dead and terrorize the Black Hole? I’d say the latter has a better chance of happening before a Raiders playoff appearance. Record: 7-9

Who’s going to come out of the AFC? I mean, it really looks like the Patriots and everybody else at this point. The Ravens are the closest but with no Suggs and a declining Boldin they’re not even really that close. Brady is still ridiculous, Belichick is still the best coach in football, and they somehow have an easy schedule despite being an elite team for a freakin’ decade now. Can someone Tonya Harding ol’ pretty boy’s knee, please? AFC Champion: New England Patriots