24 January 2011

Da Bears. Da cold. And: a new tag!

Last Friday, the thermometers here in Chicagoland dropped below zero degrees.  Farenheit.  The good news was that I had a heavy jacket ready to go.  It kept me nice and toasty, even though I had to fill a gas tank in the deep freeze.

Super.  Spiffy.  Genius.
The bad news was that it was a Cleveland Browns jacket.  I spent all day assuring the cashiers that, yes, I did have my orange Brian Urlacher jersey ready to go at 1400 Sunday afternoon.  Well, it was, but I ended up wearing my super-spiffy Bears polo shirt instead.

Gotta dress properly on Sunday afternoon, don't ya know.

Anyway, it occurred to me that several of my football posts have involved uniforms and shirts, so now the blog gets a new main category for fashion.  As before, these will concentrate on the sometimes awful things athletes wear on the field, and things fans wear to games, but it's still fashion.

Like all right-thinking Chicago Bears fans*, I was sad to see them lose last night's NFC title game to that terrorist front NFL team from Wisconsin. Among the numerous failures from head coach Lovie Smith and quarterback Jay Cutler, the 21-14 loss was the most painful to endure.

These are from last season, but they would've fit right in yesterday.
First, there's Cutler's showing.  I'm not talking about what he did on the field.  That mess came as no surprise, given that the Packer defense had previously vexed his betters  and caused the firing of two head coaches.  It's Cutler's behavior after his injury-triggered benching that turned his performance into an epic FAIL.  Instead of standing by his teammates and providing encouragement, he spent most of the second half sitting on the bench, alone, with his head hung low.  Maybe the producers at FOX Sports were just messing with us Bears fans, but their images of Cutler on the bench are those of a quarterback who has lost his team.  It was backup QB Caleb Hanie who rallied the Bears and rocked the Packers on their feet.  He, not Jay Cutler, almost turned a blowout loss into a legendary game.

And Hanie would've done it, too, if it hadn't been for that meddling head coach of his.  On the final drive, Hanie had his players lined up for a classic power sweep against a confused and unprepared Packer defense.  Just as Matt Forte made the turn on a devastating third-down power sweep (oh, devastating irony!), the whistle blew, stopping the play.

Lovie Smith, Super Genius, had called a time out.

Instead of helping the Bears, that pause gave the Packer defense time to reorganize.  Even worse, Smith changed his team's call into a disastrous pitch play to Chester Taylor that lost three yards.  The next play was a desperate fourth-down pass that the Packers promptly intercepted, sealing the Bears' fate.

Aaarrrrrgh.  D'oh.  Crikey.  It was Cutler and Smith at their worst, at the worst possible time.

Oh, well.  I was expecting a 4-12 season from this group, so I'm happy the Bears got this far.

* Now there's a redundancy!

13 January 2011

Tweet of the Month

I always regarded Patton Oswalt as a stand-up guy.  True to form, he's responded to Sarah Palin's "blood libel" screed with this devastating tweet.  You know, I might have to actually sign up for Twitter now.

02 January 2011

Victory Weighting: Live playoff blogging

Happy New Year! Today, I'm updating the playoff races as games end, using my Victory Weighting system.

14:53 CST:  The Jets defeat Buffalo, 38-7.  They finish at Strength 42 and 11-5, so they can still hope for a #5 seed.  For that to happen, Pittsburgh would have to lose in regulation.

15:03 CST:  While I'm waiting on another relevant game to go final, I should note that, under Victory Weighting, the St. Louis Rams would already be NFC West champions and a #4 seed.  Their 29 Strength is guaranteed to be the best in their division.  [Second-place Seattle could achieve, at best, Strength 28.]

Also, New England has had the AFC East and the AFC high seed locked up for a couple of weeks.

15:07 CST:  Chiefs 10-31 Raiders.  Kansas City finishes at Strength 40 and 10-6.  They would fall to a #4 seed if Indianapolis wins.

15:09 CST:  Baltimore and Pittsburgh both win in regulation.  Both teams finish at 12-4, but Baltimore would win the AFC North and the first-round bye with Strength 47.  Pittsburgh would get the #5 wild-card seed at Strength 46, leaving the New York Jets with the #6 spot.

Officially, Pittsburgh gets the division title and the bye.  Barring some odd results in New Orleans, Green Bay and Washington, D.C., this will be the only instance this year where the Victory Weighted playoff seeds deviate from the actual ones.  Oddly enough, this seems to happen every year with the Steelers and Ravens.

15:26 CST:  One of the only two questions left in the NFC gets two answers, but needed only one.  Atlanta beat Carolina, 31-10, clinching the NFC South title and the NFC high seed.  As a result, Chicago locks up the #2 seed (and the other first-round bye), while New Orleans wraps up the #5 seed (and a first-round trip to St. Louis).

15:35 CST:  Tampa Bay's 23-13 win at New Orleans leaves them at Strength 41 and 10-6, still alive for the last NFC playoff spot.  It also closes out the New York Giants, who could finish with, at best, Strength 40.

Consequently, Green Bay (currently Strength 38 and 9-6) must beat Chicago in regulation to reach the playoffs.  Even an overtime win would send Tampa Bay through instead.

18:06 CST:  Green Bay wins, 10-3.  With Strength 42, the 10-6 Packers take the last NFC playoff spot from Tampa Bay.  They open the playoffs at Philadelphia.

18:08 CST:  Jacksonville loses 34-14 at Houston.  The Jaguars bow out of playoff contention, handing the AFC South title to Indianapolis.

18:10 CST:  The Colts beat Tennessee, 23-20, on a last-second field goal.  Indianapolis takes the #3 AFC seed, and will host the Jets next week.  Kansas City slips to the #4 seed, to host Pittsburgh.

18:30 CST:  That's it.  Tonight's Rams-Seahawks game will decide the official NFC West champion, but has no bearing on the Victory Weighted playoff picture:
NFC First Round:  (6) Green Bay at (3) Philadelphia; (5) New Orleans at (4) St. Louis
AFC First Round:  (6) New York Jets at (3) Indianapolis; (5) Pittsburgh at (4) Kansas City
NFC Byes:  (1) Atlanta, (2) Chicago
AFC Byes:  (1) New England, (2) Baltimore
23:24 CST:  Whoops.  Seattle won the actual Sunday night game, and with it the NFC Oceania West title.  St. Louis goes home, so Victory Weighting would have made another correction.