Tag Archives: New Orleans Saints

The Dubsism Top Fifteen Sports Stories of 2012

Being that we are at the end of what has proven to be a tumultuous twelve months, why not take a look back at the biggest sports stories of such a year? After all, I’m pretty sure nobody else does these sort of retrospectives…

15) The Los Angeles Kings Win The Stanley Cup

These are NOT your father's Kings.

These are NOT your father’s Kings.

For purposes of full disclosure, I have a bias on this one; I’ve been a Kings’ fan since I had to hold a puck with two hands. But there’s a couple of reasons why this win by the sole surviving original California hockey team (raise your hand if you remember the California Golden Seals) is a big story.

  • The Kings are the first native Los Angeles  team (not relocated from another city) to win a championship (Anaheim is NOT Los Angeles).
  • The Kings became the first NHL team to enter the playoffs as the 8th seed and eliminate the 1st and 2nd seeded teams in their conference.
  • The Kings became the first team to win the Stanley Cup entering the playoffs as a #8 seed.
  • The Los Angeles Kings ended one of the longest championship droughts (45 years) when they hoisted the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.

The moral of the story: Don’t look now, but the Golden State is slowly becoming hockey territory. In the last twenty years, California has won more Stanley Cups than Canada has.

14) Johnny Football Becomes Johnny Heisman

johnny manziel heisman winner

The rise of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had all the media hype of other stories you will see on this list, but it had one crucial difference. Johnny Football became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, thus breaking one of the last barriers in the history of the 50-pound trophy awarded by the Downtown Athletic Club.  Manziel literally came from nowhere to the pinnacle of college football in a vote that was never really close.

The moral of the story: Until further notice, the Heisman is an award for quarterbacks and running backs only. If I had a vote, by sticking with the strict definition of the “best player in college football,” my ballot would have been as follows:

  1. Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
  2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
  3. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia

13) The Indianapolis Colts Cut Peyton Manning

manning irsay press conference

The Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis came to a rather inglorious, if not completely anti-climactic end on March 7, when team owner Jim Irsay announced at a press conference that the team would release the man who had become the face of the Colts’ franchise.  A 2-14 season during which Manning never saw the field due to a neck injury illustrated the need for a consideration for the future in Indianapolis. Couple that with the economic reality; cutting Manning meant the Colts would save a $28 million roster bonus due on March 8, plus be free-and-clear of the remainder of his contract.  Add it all up, and it means this move surprised nobody, because it allowed the Colts to have money for the next franchise quarterback, #1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck.

The moral of the story: Even 4-time MVPs are no longer immune to the economic realities of sports.

12) Augusta National Adds Its First Female Members

darla morre and condoleeza rice

To be honest, I’m an old-school guy who believes that private clubs should be able to pick and choose who they want  as members. That’s why when I first found out that Augusta had caved to a bunch of ball-busting feminists with chin-whiskers and married to sociology professors, my neanderthal heart sank a bit. But when I found out that the women Augusta picked would completely piss-off the “drives a Subaru with a rainbow bumper sticker” crowd, I had renewed faith in all that is right. Who better to do that that the hated George Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, a woman who had the audacity to make a bazillion dollars in the world of corporate finance?

The moral of the story: Social activists, you too need to be careful of what you wish for.

11) The Resurgence of Notre Dame Football

notre dame mascot flag

Notre Dame last saw the top of the college football mountain in 1988. In the quarter-century since, the Irish have remained a media darling while simultaneously spending more time as a doormat than a contender. Since that last title, Notre Dame has appeared in exactly five BCS bowls, and has lost every single one of them by at least 14 points. They are 6-11 in bowl games overall in that time. There was a fifteen-year span between 1993 and 2008 where the Irish lacked a single post-season win.

But now they’ve managed to finish the regular season undefeated and ranked number #1, thanks largely to a  key goal-line stand in overtime against Stanford, Pittsburgh’s inability to make a clutch kick, and a complete meltdown by Oklahoma. After all that, the Irish are set to face defending BCS champ Alabama for the title.

The moral of the story: Despite all the media attention the Irish are gathering, you would be hard-pressed to hear Notre Dame is a ten-point underdog.

10) The Beginning of the End of the National Hockey League

gary bettman does not care about lockout

If you needed a perfect model for how not to run a professional sports league, you need look no further than the NHL.  The latest example of their stupidity came with the latest failure to come to a collective bargaining agreement after two months of talks between team owners and the NHL Player’s Association broke down and the league entered its fourth work stoppage since 1992. I’ve never been the commissioner of anything bigger than a fantasy sports league, but even I know that in order to keep people interested in your sport, you need actually to play some games.  As of now, that hasn’t happened, and with every passing day, it looks more likely that hockey fans will be deprived of an entire season for the third time since 1994.

It’s time to understand that even die-hard hockey fans like myself are ready to wash their hands of this shit.  Idiotus Supremus Gary Bettman and the owners don’t get that they are killing a league over their insistence in making the players’ union pay for their complete lack of business sense. Fellow Sports Blog Movement member Ryan Meehan and I hit on this a while ago, but the keys remain in place.  The owners locked the doors because the players wouldn’t accept a new collective bargaining agreement that requires players to accept salary cuts and limits on free agency, despite the fact the owners were more than happy to give those provisions without any threat. The union wants a better revenue sharing plan that help the league’s struggling franchises.  Face it, the NHL needs to survive in the Winnipegs and the Buffalos of the world, because in North America, hockey is a regional sport with a limited appeal outside of that region.

The moral of the story: If Meehan, the players, and I can figure that out, what does it say for the future of this league that the owners can’t?

9) Lin-sanity

jeremy linside me sign

For 25 days last winter, an Asian Harvard graduate was the biggest story in all of sports. Think about that for a minute…Jeremy Lin had been sleeping on his brother’s couch, had been cut by two NBA teams, and was put into a game on February 4th by Mike D’Antoni, whose New York Knicks were so injury-depleted Lin was the only alternative left on the bench besides the towel guy.  Lin went on to score 25 points and seven assists leading a comeback over the then-New Jersey Nets.  Lin then lead the Knicks to seven straight wins, including one in which he hung 38 on Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.  What began with a bang (perhaps literally, judging by the photo above) ended with a knee-injury and a quiet relocation to the Houston Rockets.

The moral of the story: All glory is fleeting.

8 ) Michael Phelps Becomes History’s Most Decorated Olympian 

Michael Phelps

As far as I’m concerned, any guy who won 19 gold medals can do all the bong hits he wants.  While most stoners can’t get past micro-waving a burrito and watching Scooby-Doo at the same time, this guy joined a frightfully short list of elite athletes while giggling stupidly at his own own reflection in a sheet of aluminum foil.

Phelps made the cover a Wheaties box in 2008 after he won eight Olympic gold medals in Beijing. but then came history’s most publicized bong toke. Phelps received a three-month suspension from USA Swimming and Kellogg’s said they would not renew their endorsement of the Olympian. which goes to show what dumb-asses they both are. USA Swimming finally re-instated Phelps and he went on to win nine more medals in London this past summer, his 19 medals surpassing the 18 won by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.

The moral of the story: Somebody ought to start a cereal called Weed-ies.

7) The NFL’s Replacement Referee Debacle 

replacement refs

We all know what a debacle the NFL’s use of replacement referees was.  The biggest indicator of what dipshits sports commissioners in this country are is that they make me sympathetic to scumbag unions.

The moral of the story: This is just one reason people will look back at 2012 as the beginning of the downfall of the Kommissar Goodell regime.

6) Lance Armstrong Stripped of  Cycling Titles

lance armstrong hero cheater

While it isn’t an excuse, there is a shitload of truth in that quote in the above graphic.  There’s a huge double-standard about cheating in this country; it is OK when your guy does it. And nobody was more of “America’s Guy” then Lance Armstrong was when was routinely humiliating the French in the Tour de France. That’s really the only reason anybody in America gave a damn about cycling; it was an exercise in hating the perfectly hateable French.

Back in August, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced that it was stripping Lance Armstrong of his record-seven Tour de France titles and barred him for life from the sport after concluding he used banned substances.  On October 22, the International Cycling Union (UCI), cycling’s governing body, said that it had officially stripped Armstrong of his seven titles and banned him from cycling for life.

But then comes the part where the hypocrisy comes in again.

“He deserves to be forgotten,” UCI President Pat McQuaid said of Armstrong.

Give me a fucking break. Cycling is the dirtiest of the “dirty” sports when it comes to performance enhancing drugs; what’s going on in baseball might as well be the drug problem in pee-wee T-ball compared to cycling.  All the UCI and USADA did was to catch the best cheater in sport filled with cheaters whose lifeblood literally is cheating.

The moral of the story: There’s nothing wrong with anything that sticks it to the French.

5) Speaking of Hypocrisy, Let’s Talk About The NCAA

sandusky lanza

Question: Do you know what the Jerry Sandusky and Sandy Hook Elementary School situations have in common, besides the fact they both involve monsters whose own self-absorbed impulses were brought to bear on many innocent people? They are both examples of how we in America love to pontificate about horrible things, yet do nothing about them.

In the wake of both of these terrible stories, you didn’t hear one credible person come out and say stupid shit like “I’m glad this happened. We need more events like this to learn our lessons.” Anybody who would have said anything like this would have been stamped USDA Prime Whacko and their words would have been filed in the appropriate plastic-bag lined receptacle. But no matter how many times you let a train run over a coin, it still has two sides, and there were far too many people ready to get on the other side of the bombastic coin  from the stamped Whackos.

These were the people who took such a brave stand by table-pounding the obvious “we need to protect our children” reaction. There are lessons to be learned, and there are things as a society we need to do; the trouble is that we as society have completely missed the point.

The NCAA serves as the perfect microcosm of American society, and the ridiculous, pointless, and self-serving crap the NCAA does is a perfect reflection of the society in which it exists.  It’s numb-handed response to the Sandusky scandal at Penn State proves that.

After former FBI Director Louis Freeh released his report , the NCAA got into the fashionable “shitting on Penn State” and did it in a completely meaningless way. While Penn State may have received some of the harshest penalties in NCAA history, they were ultimately without real teeth. If you doubt that, let’s break them down:

  • A 4-year bowl ban: Normally that would hurt, but at the end of the 2011 season, this team could only qualify for a low-rent bowl where they got smoked by a Houston team whose coach was on his way to making Texas A&M the Belle of the SEC Newbies ball.  Nobody saw the miracle incoming head coach Bill O’Brien pulled off; he literally made a team intended to be kicked off the B1G island and made it the second-best team in the conference.
  • Loss of 20 scholarships: This does kill bench depth, but lets be honest…you can still win with only three punters on the depth chart. 65 scholarships is still plenty to field a winning team; NFL teams only have 53 roster spots. The only part that could sting is that Penn State can only sign 15 recruits per year rather than the usual 25.
  • $60 Million Fine: Penn State has an endowment of nearly $2 billion and has an athletic department that generates cash in gorgon-like quantities. $60 million to them is the change you keep in your car’s cup holder for toll booths.
  • Loss of shared conference bowl revenue for four years: This is estimated to be around $13 million per year. See above.
Faber College's Dean Wormer: The perfect successor to NCAA President Mark Emmert

Faber College’s Dean Wormer: The perfect successor to NCAA President Mark Emmert

  • Five years probation: That might as well be  Dean Wormer’s “double secret probation” from “Animal House” since the NCAA really has no interest in handing out real punishments.
  • Players were allowed to transfer without penalty: The team still won eight games.
  • Vacating of all wins from 1998-2011: Record book hocus-pocus. This was only done to screw Joe Paterno, who was already dead by the time this move was made. Utterly pointless.

In other words, the NCAA didn’t do anything substantive after the Sandusky situation just like we won’t solve the problem after Sandy Hook.

The moral of the story: I can’t wait for NCAA President Mark Emmert to weigh in on gun control.

4) The Ongoing Tim Tebow Saga

tim tebow practice

Where do I start start with this? Here’s a guy who sold more jerseys than anybody before he even took a single NFL snap.  Here’s a guy who stays in the headlines despite the fact he’s only taken 50 snaps this season as a New York Jet. Here’s a guy who everybody keeps saying isn’t an NFL quarterback, and yet right now we are talking about where is the next place he “isn’t” going to be an NFL quarterback.

The moral of the story: I’ll buy lunch for the first person who can explain Tebow-mania to me in 50 words or less.

3) The “Bounty-Gate” Debacle

saints bounty

Too bad NFL Commissioner Kommissar Goodell doesn’t have a paper towel good enough to clean up the mess he made.

Think about it for a moment. How many times have you seen a guy over-estimate his power, do something completely stupid because of that over-estimation, then need somebody to come in and clean up the mess. I guess former commissioner Paul Tagliabue is the one who had the big roll of paper towels.

To make a long story short, “Bountygate” blew up in Goodell’s face when he mistakenly assumed the players he suspended would simply roll over and take his brand of “justice.” But when Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita were reinstated by a three-members appeals panel. which included former NFL head Paul Tagliabue. The panel overturned a ruling that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was within his powers to suspend the players for their alleged roles in a pay-to-injure agreement.

What it all boils down to is that in the end, Goodell managed to emasculate himself, and required Tagliabue to get him out of the mess he made for himself. In other words, the commissioner did not have the final say; the former commissioner did.  I don’t know of too many executive-level managers who stay employed after they need to be bailed out, especially when Tagliabue was only intended to review Goodell’s decision to impose suspensions on four New Orleans Saints players and instead found the action so flawed he had to vacate those suspensions.

The moral of the story: This is another reason people will look back at 2012 as the beginning of the downfall of the Kommissar Goodell regime.

2) Miguel Cabrera Becomes Baseball’s First Triple Crown Winner in 45 Years

miguel cabrera triple crown

Miguel Cabrera became the first player to win baseball’s Triple Crown since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, and just the 15th player ever. This puts Cabrera on a list with baseball royalty which includes Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig. Cabrera led  the American League with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs.

The moral of the story: Dude can hit.

1) The Los Angeles Dodgers Are The First Sports Franchise to Sell For $2 Billion

DN03-DODGERS-5AH

The Los Angeles Dodgers were sold to a group that includes NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson for a final sale price of just over $2 billion. That represents the highest price any sports team has ever sold for — by a wide margin.

Television money for live sports is skyrocketing, and it’s driving up the values of sports teams not just in the United States, but around the world as well.  People keep trying to tell me baseball is dead, and a baseball team just sold for a staggering amount of money. If one were to pay that $2 billion in cash, you would need sixteen standard shipping pallets stacked four feet square with $100 dollar bills. And the prices are only going up.

Want to buy a European soccer team? Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, so you’d better bring your wallet. Manchester United was the first team to break the the billion-dollar barrier, and that was a decade ago. Now, buying a top team in the English Premier League will easily cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.5 billion.  If you still want a big-time European soccer club, but want to save your pennies, you might be able to get Real Madrid for just under $2 billion.  Even the Jacksonville Jaguars, arguably the least-valuable franchise in the NFL, just sold recently for $770 million.

The moral of the story: Television money is exploding sports as we know it.

Guest Column: Joe McGrath On The New Orleans Saints and the Bounty Situation

Editor’s Note: Mr. McGrath has long and storied history in the management of professional sports franchises, most notably as the general manager of the Charlestown Chiefs of the now-defunct Federal League. Oh, and this is probably a good time to mention that Mr. McGrath’s views are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Dubsism, our staff, or anybody else whose house you might want to burn to the ground.

To be honest, there’s so much wrong with this story, I really don’t know where to start. I think the best way to make you understand where I’m coming from on this the to begin from today and work backwards.

First of all, somebody needs to explain why anybody thinks having Bill Parcells as an interim head coach is a good idea. I understand that if you are the Saints, you’ve lost your head coach for a year. But you simply just can’t replace him. The first problem you are going to have is why would anybody take the job on a temporary basis. You’re not hiring a temp secretary to re-organize your files; you are placing somebody in a leadership role for a multi-million dollar franchise.  If you are the Saints, you really only have two choices – you replace Sean Payton, or you don’t.

If you feel the need to replace Payton, then fire him for being stupid enough to get himself suspended and hire a real, full-time coach. Think about it – what the hell is a temp head coach going to do considering all the current staff of assistants and coordinators will still be there? Speaking of which, why is nobody worried about replacing the others who were suspended? This team is not just without the head coach, it also has lost the general manager and another coach. Because they are taking the same approach they need to be taking with the head coaching spot – simply have somebody who is already on the staff take over for a season.  Bringing in a temp will only screw things up worse.

Not to mention, why would anybody take the Saints head coaching job as a temp? Don’t forget, you take this job today, and tomorrow you are going to find out half your defensive players are going to be suspended.  Screw that.  Besides, there no upside to it for wither you as the temp coach as the team.  Think about it, there’s really only two things that can happen.  You either preside over a team that underperforms, in which case you say, “Well, what did you expect? I’m just a temp,” or worse yet, you win and now there’s a “coaching controversy.”

Now for the part I really don’t get at all.  If you are going to do the “temp” thing, why in the hell would you want Bill Parcells? Does anybody really think Parcells is the kind of guy who would make a good “baby-sitter?” Not at all, he’s a control freak; he’s not going to just be your auto-pilot for a year. Besides, if you are the Saints, why do you want this 70-year old guy who hasn’t been relevant in the NFL in nearly 15 years?

Now, let’s get the the actual bounty thing. Boy, did we blow this all out of proportion. There were people out there who said these guys should get kicked out of the league forever.  What a bunch of bullshit.  Are bounties wrong? Yes. Is coaches being involved in it wrong? Very much so.  Look at the crap I had to go through when that goddamn Reggie Dunlop took out a bounty on that goon from Syracuse Tim McCracken.  I told him that you can’t place a bounty on a man’s head; that it could get us all tossed into the klinker. Know what he said to me? “Bullshit.”

Trouble is that asshole was right.  Nobody is going to go to jail over this, and worse yet, whether it is football or hockey, there is a shitload of hypocrisy riding on this issue.  Forget about the fact that the Charlestown Chiefs drew the biggest crowds in the Federal League after Dunlop turned the Hanson Brothers loose. Think about how this has happened in the NFL before, and it was celebrated.  Remember the Bounty Bowl?

The Bounty Bowl was all about an incident in 1989 between bitter rivals in the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. The first game in Dallas was noted for allegations that the Philadelphia Eagles put a $200 bounty on the head of Cowboys’ kicker Luis Zendejas, who had been cut by the Eagles earlier that season.  These accusations of bounties led to a media circus before the rematch in Philadelphia.  The stage was set, between the smell of bounties in the air and those crazy-ass Philadelphia fans.

See, the problem is that everybody knew what was about to happen. The league knew what was about to happen.  The players and coaches knew what was about to happen.  And sure as shit the television people knew what was about to happen.  They were counting on it.

It was CBS Sports who coined the term “Bounty Bowl,” and they went all out with the presentation of this being a shootout at the OK Corral.  Their coverage came complete with wanted posters of the offending players with the bounty posted.   NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was in attendance.  The stage was set for a melee, and that’s exactly what happened.

Being December in Philadelphia, a recent snowfall had blanketed Veterans Stadium, and the grounds crew did not remove the snow that had piled up for several days.  The mix of beer, snow, and bounties created a pro wrestling-style crowd frenzy and those same crazy-ass Philadelphia fans started throwing everything within reach.  Verne Lundquist and Terry Bradshaw announced the game for CBS, and they spentdodging snowballs aimed at the broadcast booth, at one point Lundquist stated on the air that an oral surgery a few days prior had not been as unpleasant as broadcasting an Eagles game.

When you go back and look at what happened there, and compare it to the Saints situation, one question becomes clear: Aren’t all defensive players essentially playiong for a bounty? Think about it…defensive players get paid to “blow guys up,” and they have been doing so for years. Players who consistently make “big plays” get paid, plain and simple. Why? Because ESPN loves “big plays;” they make good television.

As far as why bounties are wrong, it is because they are the purest illustration of the hypocrisy of the NFL. The league loves “big plays,” they make the league as television-friendly as it is. It really isn’t anymore complex than that. The NFL needs violence, but it also now is discovering that it needs to worry about the health and safety of the players.  However, don’t think for a minute this is based on a legitimate concern for player safety. This is all about money.

See, the trouble is Roger Goodell finds himself straddling a straight razor, and on either side of it is a big lie Goodell and the league have perpetrated. On the one side, he knows that violence, a.k.a. “big plays” are what sells tickets. Goodell and the rest of the NFL leadership know what sells their product, and they also know now the value of star players has sky-rocketed. Look at the situation in Denver.  Nobody is going to watch the Broncos if somebody converts Peyton Manning from a $90 million quarterback into a head-popped-off Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robot. In other words, in a lot of ways, “player safety” just means “star player safety.”

But on the other side, he’s the commissioner of a league that is in the middle of a plague of lawsuits which are forcing Goodell to act in a manner consistent with a guy who is getting sued.  In other words, Goodell is coming down hard on a bounty system not because it effects the “integrity of the game,” but rather because doing so lends creedence to his bullshit position that he cares about player safety.  What he and the NFL owners care about is that player safety now threatens to become a major expense on the books.  If it weren’t for the lawsuits, the Saints would just be this decade’s answer to the Buddy Ryan Philadelphia Eagles.

And those Eagles were good for business.

The 2012 NFL Playoffs – The Definitive Dubsism Oddsmaker’s View

1) Green Bay Packers

Why They Can Win:

In this case, there’s three good reasons. First, just like in boxing, you are the champs until somebody beats you, and to get to the Super Bowl, an NFC team is going to have to pull that off in Lambeau Field in January. Secondly, the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, who is Tom Brady before the very mention of his name drove me another notch toward rectal cancer. Third, and most simply, the Packers offense as a unit may be the most formidable weapon in the entire league.

Why They Can’t Win:

In what will prove to be a theme here, the Packers can barely run the ball, and their idea of defense is simply to outscore the opponent. They can make that work, but it is also an approach susceptible to failure.

Odds of Winning: 2.5 to 1

2) New Orleans Saints

Why They Can Win:

To be honest, I don’t have a good answer for this.  Last season, the Saints had two major flaws, First, Drew Brees tossed picks at a  near Favrian clip. That got fixed. The Saints also did not have a realistic offensive option coming out of the backfield. That got fixed too.

Why They Can’t Win:

They have to go on the road to get past Green Bay, which is going to be a tall order.

Odds of Winning: 4 to 1


3) Baltimore Ravens

Why They Can Win:

The worm has turned 180 degrees from this time last year, at which point I said the following:

“If you know the difference between Target and WalMart, then you know the difference between the Steelers and the Ravens. The shopping carts are little cleaner and they roll a little straighter at Target, but you get better prices at WalMart. The Baltimore Ravens are WalMart, and nobody loves to save a buck more than a Hot-Pocket eating blogger.”

Well, the Ravens are now Target, and the Steelers are now Walmart.  Target is better.

Why They Can’t Win:

Ray Rice remains the main offensive weapon of this team, as Joe Flacco still has  consistency issues. Any team that can force Flacco to be the play-maker has a puncher’s chance.

Odds of Winning: 8 to 1

4) San Francisco 49ers

Why They Can Win:

The 49ers might very well be the most complete and balanced team in this field. Alex Smith finally looks like an NFL quarterback, Frank Gore continues to deliver, and the defense is one of the best in the league.

Why They Can’t Win:

Jim Harbaugh may very well be the NFL coach of the year, but he’s still a Rookie head coach. Most of this team has never been down the playoff road before, and the way they got manhandled by the Ravens just seems like too much of a warning sign there’s a demon out there which will present itself during a playoff game.

Odds of Winning: 12 to 1

5) Pittsburgh Steelers

Why They Can Win:

The Steelers are are still very physical and still have playmakers.  Ben Roethlisberger is one those guys that makes anything possible.

Why They Can’t Win:

Like the rest of the team, Roethlisberger is beat up. Rashard Mendenhall is gone for the duration. The one guy this team absolutely cannot win without is Troy Polamalu, and he is nicked up as well.  Without him, the Steelers become the Aluminumers.

Odds of Winning: 15 to 1

6) New England Patriots

Why They Can Win:

Because Tom Brady is still Tom Brady; one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history on the NFL, and he isn’t far enough past his prime to be discounted.

Why They Can’t Win:

To see the future in Foxboro, just look toward Indianapolis. Don’t look right this second, because you may notice the Patriots are beginning to get old before your very eyes.  They are the worst 13-3 team I’ve ever seen – they define over-rated.  They can’t run the ball and their defense couldn’t stop a Pop Warner team, yet somehow they are top-seed in the AFC.

All this team has is Tom Brady, and that’s just enough to hide the real defects in this team. There’s a reason I call this the “Manning Rule.”

Odds of Winning: 18 to 1

7) New York Giants

Why They Can Win:

Take a coin out of your pocket. This coin represents the streakiness of the New York Giants. Flip the coin. Heads, Giants win.

Why They Can’t Win:

That complete lack of consistency drives me batshit crazy. Flip that coin Again. Tales, Giants lose. Eli Manning is easily my favorite player to watch in the NFL; he is like a poker player who loses a shitload of $50 pots, and just enough $10,000 ones to stay above water.  This time, Eli is all in with two pair.

Odds of Winning: 20 to 1

8 ) Atlanta Falcons

Why They Can Win:

Matt Ryan is an up-and-coming young quarterback who has been compared to a young Peyton Manning, and the Falcons have one of the best receiving groups in the game, which means the Falcons are capable of hanging big numbers on anybody.

Why They Can’t Win:

Ryan lives up to the Manning comparisons.  If he does, expect the Falcons to fold because Manning has always been a terrible “big game” quarterback; Manning’s only Super Bowl win comes from Lovie Smith’s refusal to get Rex Grossman off the field. Eventually, I think Ryan will prove to be a “big-game” quarterback, I’m just not sold this is the year.

On the other side of the ball, the Falcons lack the pass rush or secondary to handle the lethal passing attacks in this postseason group.

Odds of Winning: 25 to 1

9) Houston Texans

Why They Can Win:

There is an inviolable rule about play-off football: never count out a team that can a) run the ball and b) play defense. This is the recipe the Texans used to get this far.

Why They Can’t Win:

The injury to Matt Schaub could be crippling. If Jake Delhomme is the answer, I don’t want to know the question.

Odds of Winning: 30 to 1

10) Cincinnati Bengals

Why They Can Win:

Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are going to be one the best QB/WR combinations in this league for quite some time. Not to mention, the Bengals can play a little defense as well.

Why They Can’t Win:

Because they are the Bengals. If you were going to spin a yarn about a NFL team with a curse, you’d start in Cincinnati. Even if you don’t buy that, winning three road playoff games and a Super Bowl with a rookie quarterback is the poker equivalent of hitting an inside straight three times in a row.

Odds of Winning: 35 to 1

11) Detroit Lions

Why They Can Win:

They can’t. Well, I take that back; everybody else’s plane could crash, there could be a plague of locusts, there could be a massive outbreak of food poisoning from the people who do all the NFL food handling.

Why They Can’t Win:

Even though they have Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, I don’t buy this team and I never have.  This is a team that hasn’t even sniffed the playoffs in over a decade, hasn’t won a division title in nearly two, and hasn’t won a league title in over five.

This year’s version loves to act like a high-school junior varsity team. They run their mouths constantly. They have a complete lack of discipline, which comes from the coach on down. They implode the minute they face a challenge. They’ve been pretty good this season, but they have yet to show me they have the stones to make the move from good to great.

Odds of Winning: 50 to 1

12) Denver Broncos

Why They Can Win:

Two words: Tim Tebow.

Why They Can’t Win:

Two words: Tim Tebow.

Odds of Winning: 100 to 1

The Dubsism 2011 Pre-Season NFL Power Rankings

As we find ourselves on the verge of another NFL season, it is time for the degenerate gambler in me to preview the carnage. Let’s face it, the NFL is comprised of  three classes: Really Good, Mediocre, and Lousy.  This means NFL predictions are pretty easy to get reasonably correct. For example, the online sports book experts find it easy to predict the AFC East standings each year. As long as quarterback Tom Brady is playing for head coach Bill Belichick in New England, that will be your division favorite. Another point that should be obvious is that if you are reading this article and expecting anything more clever than a sports book expert, maybe you shouldn’t be gambling in the first place.

Having said that, here’s how we see these teams come January (playoff teams noted in green).

Rankings by Division

AFC East

The Patriots looked invincible last season until the New York Jets found their Achilles’ heel. Once you take away the Patriots running game, their offense suddenly can’t create plays. However, the Pats’ seem to have addressed that by solidifying the offensive line.  Otherwise, the Patriots needed to make two major changes;  they needed help in the defensive secondary, and they needed size in the running game. Danny Woodhead is a great story, but he’s a munchkin, and teams had him figured out by the playoffs. Brandon Meriwether is a fraud, and has been for a while. This is why the Patriots drafted defensive back Ras-I Dowling and running back Shane Vereen. When you stop to consider the Patriots’ past success at player scouting and development (don’t make me break out the Tom Brady cliché yet again), it is safe to assume that the Patriots solved their problems.

Q: Who knew this looked a future Hall-of-Famer? A: Bill Belichick.

But don’t sleep on the Jets.  The Jets get the second spot in the AFC East by default; the Bills and Dolphins are both in that “Lousy” category. The Jets season hinges on two things: the defense has to live up to expectations by being the dominant unit it should be, and Mark Sanchez has to not suck. Frankly, it is time for Sanchez to prove he is worthy of the star status he has been accorded. If he finally shows us he is the “San-chise,” the sky is the limit for the Jets. If not, expect another playoff loss.

  1. New England Patriots
  2. New York Jets
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Buffalo Bills

AFC North

The Ravens defense used to be radioactive to offenses, but like all radioactive elements, eventually they pass their half-life and the decay becomes noticeable. This may not be the year that happens, but it is getting more likely with time. If the Ravens are going to make a move and snatch this division from the Steelers, that defense needs to stay healthy and give us one more season of nuclear-powered destruction. Anything short of that, and we may very well be seeing those damn Terrible Towels deep into the playoffs.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Cincinnati Bengals

AFC South

This division goes to the Texans by default. Tennessee has a new head coach, and I have no faith that Matt Hasselbeck is the cure to all that ailed the Titans. Jacksonville is just plain bad, and I can’t sell on the Colts fast enough. If you saw Indianapolis in the pre-season, you saw the lack of Peyton Manning is only one problem this team has. The offensive line couldn’t block a hat, the defense acts more like the express lane at the toll-booth, and head coach Jim Caldwell couldn’t find his balls with both hands. However, in all fairness, it’s not like the Texans have ever shown they know where their balls are either; they’ve never once showed they have what it takes to win.

  1. Houston Texans
  2. Tennessee Titans
  3. Indianapolis Colts
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West

Here’s another default situation that just drives me nuts. Every year, I get sucked in by the Chargers, only to watch them underperform. I honestly wish I could say with confidence San Diego can’t win this division, but who else can? The Raiders didn’t lose a division game last year, but they also have a new head coach, question marks all over the roster, and the usual Raider drama. The Chiefs showed what they were in that seal-clubbing they took at the hands of the Ravens in the playoff last season, and they didn’t get better since then. Do I even need to mention the Denver Tebows?

  1. San Diego Chargers
  2. Oakland Raiders
  3. Kansas City Chiefs
  4. Denver Broncos

NFC East

We could call this division the NFC Over-Rated. I swear to god, the next person who refers to the Eagles as “dream team” will get kicked in the neck (I say this as a lifelong Eagles fan). They have some serious issues on the offensive line, and I will give you even money Michael Vick proves to be a bust on that big contract he just got. Don’t forget he got the crap beaten out of him last season and lost five games due to injury, plus he got progressively worse as the season went on. Not to mention he is age-wise already north of 30, and I don’t know of too many athletes that aged like wine; running quarterbacks age like milk.

Then there’s the Cowboys. To buy this team, I need to do two things that make me nervous. First, I have to buy Tony Romo as a quarterback who can win a game that means something; that’s compounded by the fact he plays behind an offensive line that at times can look like five matadors in silver and blue. Secondly, I need to see head coach Jason Garrett take this team out of the gate as “the man;” last year I suspect he got a bump in performance out of that team just for not being fat Bob Newhart Wade Phillips.

As far as the Giants are concerned…well, let’s just say the difference between Tony Romo and Eli Manning is pure, uncut luck. Without one David Tyree catch against his helmet as the best possible time, we are likely dogging the drunken, non-misshapen-headed Manning as badly as we dog Romo now. Besides, that one catch lengthens the time before I will see Tom Coughlin standing by a freeway on-ramp holding a sign which says “will be an asshole for food.”

One of these quarterbacks is probably not a homosexual. The other is Eli Manning.

The only thing for sure about this division is that the Redskins will be a vortex of inter-galactic suckittude; the kind that generates such a gravitational pull it threatens to collapse under its own mass.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. New York Giants
  3. Dallas Cowboys
  4. Washington Redskins

NFC North

The Packers return better as defending champs not because they added tons of talent in the off-season; rather because they are entering with all the talent they lost due to injury. Let’s face it, the 2010 Packers were so beat up last year they looked like the battered women’s shelter by Mike Tyson’s house. If they can learn to slip that “I’m off my Lithium again” left-hook the NFL season can throw, the Packers will prove to be more than a Buster Douglas-type one-trick pony.

Meanwhile, three hours to the south lies the enigma known as the Chicago Bears. How can a team have so many ex-head coaches on its staff (Mike Martz, Rod Marinelli, and Mike Tice) and not know that a key to a successful offense is not letting the other team turn their quarterback into lawn mulch? It is easy to beat on Jay Cutler, but’s let’s be fair, he could sue his offensive line for non-support. If there’s a guy in Chicago who should be getting called out, it’ s Lovie Smith. He’s done the least with the most talent of nearly any coach in this league, and yet his job never seems to be in danger. One can make an argument that a coach who didn’t have his head up his ass could have won two Super Bowls with the Bears during the Lovie regime, but nobody ever seems to mention that…

If Wal-Mart made a cheap, Guatemalan-made version of the New York Jets, it might just be the Detroit Lions. Let’s look at the common components:

  • A team that will likely have a bone-shattering defense
  • A team designed around a “ball-control” offense
  • A team with a young quarterback who needs to prove he’s the real deal
This will be the first year of the post-Favre debacle in Minnesota; an era that will be marked by 6-win seasons and a continued failure to understand the value of the quarterback position and the talent required to make a winner.
  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Chicago Bears
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Minnesota Vikings

NFC South

The NFL Lockout really was a cover story so Drew Brees could hang out with Seal Team 6 and waste some bad guys.

The Saints may very well be the most complete offense in the NFC. Drew Brees and Sean Payton make the brainiest quarterback-coach combination since Joe Montana and Bill Walsh. Not only did the running game get better simply by the subtraction of Reggie StolenHeisman-KardashianReject,  the addition of running back Mark Ingram and “I’m gonna smash you in the mouth” center Olin Kreutz, makes for a physical ground game to go with the Brees and Company Flying Circus.

Every since draft day, we’ve known the Falcons think they are “that one piece away,” and they think that piece is wide receiver Julio Jones. Honestly, I would be more concerned about the impending breakdown of running back Michael Turner; in the past few seasons he’s touched more balls than the lady who does the lottery drawings.

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Carolina Panthers

NFC West

Welcome to the NFC 7-9 Division, or as I like to call it, the “Somebody’s got to win it” Division. Honestly, I loved all the belly aching that went on about how a team with a losing record shouldn’t be in the playoffs despite the fact the SeaHacks won under the architecture provided, and the people who bitched the loudest about the NFL playoff system are the same ones who beat on college football for not having a playoff. Plus, it was these very same people who bitched about my solution for the college playoff issue who stole the line form the “Poll and Bowl” crowd about this being about the “best teams, not just those who win a bad division.”

That was until the SeaHacks knocked out the Saints. Then it all stopped. It really doesn’t matter, because one of these teams will be in the playoffs whether you like it or not.

  1. St. Louis Rams
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. San Francisco 49ers
  4. Seattle Seahawks

Overall Rankings

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Green Bay Packers
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. New York Jets
  6. New Orleans Saints
  7. San Diego Chargers
  8. Atlanta Falcons
  9. Baltimore Ravens
  10. New York Giants
  11. Houston Texans
  12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  13. Dallas Cowboys
  14. Chicago Bears
  15. Miami Dolphins
  16. St. Louis Rams
  17. Tennessee Titans
  18. Detroit Lions
  19. Indianapolis Colts
  20. Arizona Cardinals
  21. Oakland Raiders
  22. Cleveland Browns
  23. Kansas City Chiefs
  24. Jacksonville Jaguars
  25. Seattle Seahawks
  26. Minnesota Vikings
  27. San Francisco 49’ers
  28. Buffalo Bills
  29. Denver Broncos
  30. Cincinnati Bengals
  31. Washington Redskins
  32. Carolina Panthers

Guest Column: Joe McGrath on Which NFL Teams Are Most Likely To Move To Los Angeles

Editor’s Note: Mr. McGrath has long and storied history in the management of professional sports franchises, most notably as the general manager of the Charlestown Chiefs of the now-defunct Federal League. Oh, and this is probably a good time to mention that Mr. McGrath’s views are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Dubsism, our staff, or anybody else whose house you might want to burn to the ground.

I will keep this simple. The NFL has been without a franchise in Los Angeles for close to two decades.  One the primary stumbling blocks to putting a team in the Southland has been the lack of a suitable venue. However, now that Los Angeles City Council has voted unanimously to approve a stadium proposal, the question is this: which team or teams will move to the City of Angels.

I say “teams” because the rumor is that the new model being kicked around as a cost-savings measure may be to emulate the sharing arrangement the Jets and Giants have used in New York.  It is important to keep that in mind as we move through this discussion where I will rate the teams in contention to make the move based on their likelihood to do so.

1) San Diego Chargers – Odds To Move: Almost Certain

The minute the shovel breaks ground in Los Angeles, the boxes will start being loaded on the trucks in San Diego. They won’t do it in the fly-by-night manner like the Irsays took the Colts out of Baltimore, but relocating this team 120 miles north has been an open secret for a while. Current owner Art Spanos in nearly 90, in failing health, and has been looking to sell at least a minority stake in the team. It doesn’t take a giant leap of faith to see the word “minority” turn into “majority” or “complete” in this case. Even if it doesn’t, the group looking to build the Los Angeles stadium would settle for a 30 percent ownership stake if there’s a commitment to move by May 2012 (upon completion of a stadium). Couple that with the fact the Chargers only need to make a $24 million payment to escape their lease at Qualcomm Stadium, and the fact San Diego has a flaky fan base, and you can start printing the Los Angeles Chargers T-shirts now.

2) Minnesota Vikings – Odds To Move: Pretty Damn Good

Take a good look at that picture. This is the one team that doesn’t want a new stadium; it desperately needs one.  The Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome expires after this season, and if Minnesota makes a commitment to build a new stadium before the end of that lease (the Governor may call a special legislative session in the fall to hammer out a deal), the Vikings stay.  Keep in mind that Vikes’ owner Zygi Wilf isn’t looking to sell the team, but he has met with the President and CEO of the Los Angeles stadium group, and the Vikings’ vice president of public affairs Lester Bagley has said the Vikings are solely focused on staying in Minnesota. That means two things – first, there has been a serious discussion about moving this franchise, and secondly Bagley knows he needs to say that to keep any hopes of a Minnesota stadium deal alive.  In other words, if a stadium deal doesn’t get done in Minnesota, look for the Vikings to announce their departure.

3) St. Louis Rams – Odds To Move: Better than 50-50

Again, here’s a team in a crappy dome, the team has a lease which expires right around a feasible completion date for a Los Angeles stadium (after the 2014 season). The only way to improve the Edward Jones Dome is to raze it and build a new stadium, which isn’t likely to happen since the city of St. Louis is still paying for the construction of the dome. That makes the infusion of public money on a stadium project not very likely.

Go back to that “two teams in Los Angeles” thoery. There’s a key in this which sweetens this deal for the Rams, but also makes the Vikings and our surprise “dark horse” very viable options as they all share similar characteristics. According to ESPN Los Angeles, there’s a set of criteria involved in the consideration of a franchise on this list.

The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission has until Feb. 1 to give the Rams a preliminary proposal for how it plans to give the Dome “top-tier” status. The Rams can either agree to the offer a month later or reject it and make a counter-offer by May 1, which is the most likely scenario. The commission can then either agree to the counter-offer by June 1 or reject it and go to arbitration. If such a scenario unfolds, the lease could be voided and the Rams could rent the Dome on a year-to-year basis or choose to move elsewhere…

…It seems the chances of the Rams getting a new stadium in St. Louis are as remote as they are for the Chargers in San Diego. Having the Chargers and the Rams relocate to Los Angeles would be the most ideal scenario for the league, which would like to see one AFC West team and one NFC West team move to Los Angeles (preferably with Los Angeles ties) so the geography of the current divisions still work and each of the conference’s television broadcasters (currently CBS and FOX) will get a team in the country’s second-biggest media market.

Like I said before, keep this model in mind…

4) San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders – Odds to Move: Not Very Good

This is another example where the “two team” model comes into play. If the Chargers move as expected, the league and the networks won’t want two division-rivals in the same stadium. Not to mention the stadium owners would lose two dates worth of parking and concessions under such an arrangement. If the Raiders don’t move, it makes it much easier for the 49ers and Raiders to get a shared-venue proposal. Both teams need a new stadium, and the 49ers proposal on a Santa Clara site has been gaining momentum. A partnership with the Raider could push that deal across the goal line.

5) Buffalo Bills – Odds To Move: Drawing to an Inside Straight

Let me be clear – this team is moving, but it isn’t going to California. Considering this team has agreed to play eight home games in Toronto over the next five seasons, once 93-year old Ralph Wilson is gone, this team will move north of the border.

6) Jacksonville Jaguars – Odds to Move:  Slim and None, and Slim Just Left Town

Seven words: Owner Wayne Weaver and an honerous lease. It’s Weaver’s team, he wants it in Jacksonville, and he structured the lease on EverBank Field to be nearly impossible to escape until 2029.

Surprise “Dark Horse”) New Orleans Saints – Odds to Move: Much Better Than You Think

Actually, the Saints can check many of the same boxes on the “moving” criteria list as the Vikings and Rams, which is why the “dirty little secret” is the Saints are as good a candidate to move.

1) They are in an old, crappy dome that is falling apart.

While there is an $85 million dollar plan on the table to upgrade the Superdome, the fact remains this is a stop-gap fix. Within the next few years, there will be no covering the fact the Superdome is obsolete.

2) There’s a state money entanglement.

Right after Katrina, there were concerns Saints’ owner Tom Benson was ready to move to San Antonio. To head that off, the state of Louisiana pays the Saints $6 million per year in direct funding. That’s already a tacit admission that post-Katrina New Orleans is simply no longer a major-league city. The aforementioned stadium upgrade is also an admission that there is no chance of a completely new facility anytime in the near future.

3) They make the most sense.

According to the “two team theory,” the league wants one team from each conference, and making such a move without making massive re-alignments would be preferable. Los Angeles like will have either the Chargers or Raiders from the AFC, and that means they other teams likely to load up and head west are from the NFC. The Saints could easily be “traded” to the NFC West of the St. Louis Rams, just as the Rams could be swapped to the NFC North for the Vikings.

In any event, somebody is  moving to Los Angeles . Who will get into this Southern California NFL version of “‘musical chairs?”

Great Moments in the History of Paper Bags

If you are of my ethnic construct and age, you likely know the term “Paper Bag Test.”  Sports has a “paper bag test” all its own, and it is just as unflattering. In this case, the paper bag was used to hide being a fan of a dreadful organization. The following is a list of the great “paper bag” teams of all time.

11) New Orleans Saints

Granted, the Saints won the Super Bowl last year, but it’s impossible to create a list of “Paper Bag Franchises” without including the team whose fans invented the idea of using the  bag to show their disgust.  The rumor is that a Saints’ fan was inspired by The Gong Show’s Unknown Comic, and used the shtick to protest the Saints’ 1-15 season by adorning a bag.

10) Detroit Lions

Where do you start with the epic failure known as the Lions? Other than the Barry Sanders era (in which they were supremely mediocre), they have largely defined failure for a half-century. After going a decade without making a playoff appearance, the Lions sank to an 0-16 mark in 2008.  Frankly, the whole city ought to wear a bag.

9) New York Knicks

This another team that doesn’t stink right this minute (wait, let me check the standings…), but that’s largely because they don’t have Isiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury repeatedly captaining the HMS Knick-tanic into the iceberg.  Don’t forget it was just a few short years ago the Knicks were so bad often started booing before the end of the first quarter.  Boy they did boo…they booed players, coaches, referees, performers, the other team’s players…after the game they went to the closest hospital and booed surgeries.

8 ) New York Mets

The Mets are the rich guy who keeps marrying the “gold digger” woman as therefore keeps himself in a consistent state of Pathetic. Just look at the amount of money the Mets have spent on free agents in the past 20 years, and look the amount of success they’ve had in that time. The highlight:  September 2007, when the Mets held a seven-game division lead over the Philadelphia Phillies with just 17 games to play, which led to one of the most epic collapses in baseball history.  How did that happen? Because they are the Mets.

7) Cleveland Browns

How frustrating must it be as a Browns’ fan? Your original team gets spirited off to Baltimore only to become a top-flight NFL organization. Meanwhile, you get a replacement team that has spent the better part of the last decade looking like a fraternity touch football team deep into its third keg of beer.  Browns fans got so frustrated with their franchise they used an appearance on Monday Night Football to try and get the attention of team owner Randy Lerner. It worked and two fans got face time with him to discuss the future of the team. Let’s just hope they took their bags off when they did it.

6) Milwaukee Bucks

What can you say about a team that hasn’t won a playoff series in a decade in a league where even teams that aren’t in the damn league can get into the playoffs?  It can be summed nicely in the picture above, a fan was wearing a paper bag and a jersey of a player who had departed the team a season earlier. Fear the Deer, my ass.

5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Here’s a team that looks like it may have a non-suck future, and has won a Super Bowl in the not-all-that-distant past. But since then, it has ejected its superstar players and its marquee head coach since that championship in 2003. Before that win, this team was best known for its “creamsicle” colored uniforms, its 0-26 start as an NFL franchise, and some of the best sports quotes ever.

4) Atlanta Falcons

Much like the Buccaneers, this team has a possible non-suck future, but definitely has a suck past. You likely remember their lone Super Bowl appearance in 1999 more for Eugene Robinson turning it into his own personal Hooker-palooza. More recently, this teams failure bona fides include head coach Bobby Petrino skipping out on the team halfway through the season in 2007, followed by Michael Vick going to jail in 2008.

3) Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are like a woman that was hot thirty years ago, but still thinks she’s “got it” despite the fact her breasts are now in asynchronous orbit around her knees. Len Dawson and Hank Stram was a long time ago; there’s a reason the Chiefs are now the proud owner of the NFL’s longest playoff losing streak.  If that weren’t enough, note the securing system this fan has rigged, likely figuring that bag may need to be in place for a while.

2) Cincinnati Bengals

The only thing more frustrating than being a Detroit Lions’ fan is being a Cincinnati Bengals fan. Why? Because the Bengals every once in a while look like a real football team, but then give you the “Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown” treatment. And just like Charlie Brown, those suckers that fill Paul Brown Stadium fall for it every fucking time. But these guys know who the Bungles really are.

1) Washington Nationals

The poor Nationals…they really are the team nobody wanted. Born as the Montreal Expos in1969, they consistently drew about 9 fans per game despite the fact many of those Expos teams sported several top-notch players (Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Andre Dawson for openers). Since moving to D.C. in 2005, the Gnats have finished higher than last place just once.

The NFL Playoffs – The Definitive Dubsism Oddsmaker’s View

1) New England Patriots

Why They Can Win:

If you ever needed proof the Patriots are a dynasty like the Steelers of the 70’s and 49ers of the 80’s, the fact that I get violent nausea just mentioning Tom Brady or Bill Belichick should tel the tale. In comparison, just mentioning the New York Yankess cranks me another notch toward fatal rectal cancer. What really drives me nuts is this may be the most impressive season of all in this current run.  They made a star out of that munchkin Danny Woodhead. They traded (speaking of cancer) Randy Moss.  They can’t run the ball and their defense couldn’t stop a Pop Warner team, yet somehow they are 14-2 record. I just can’t see this team losing right now.

Why They Can’t Win:

Either Tom Brady will finally have an episode of Cutler Syndrome, or the defense will prove to be the Achilles’ heel it looks to be.

Odds of Winning: 2 to 1

2) Pittsburgh Steelers

Why They Can Win:

The “Big Ben” episode from the beginning of the season seems to be ancient history, and this team is very quietly playing like the elite team they are, even if they are on the “Rodney Dangerfield” list for not getting any respect.

Why They Can’t Win:

This team can win without Ben Roethlisberger. This team can win without a lot of people; Troy Polamalu isn’t one of them. The strength of this team is its defense, and Polamalu is the backbone of the entire unti. Without him, the Steelers become the Aluminumers.

Odds of Winning: 3 to 1

3) Philadelphia Eagles

Why They Can Win:

Take a coin out of your pocket. This coin represents the streakiness of the Philadelphia Eagles. Flip the coin. Heads, Eagles win.  A month ago, I had this team as the best in the NFC,  but that complete lack of consistency drives me batshit crazy.

Why They Can’t Win:

Flip that coin Again. Shit, Tales.

Michael Vick is easily my favorite player to watch in the NFL; he is fucking electrifying to watch. Between him and Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy, this may be the fastest offense I’ve ever seen.

Flip that coin again. Goddamnit, tales again.

Odds of Winning: 3 to 1

4) Baltimore Ravens

Why They Can Win:

If you know the difference between Target and WalMart, then you know the difference between the Steelers and the Ravens. The shopping carts are little cleaner and they roll a little straighter at Target, but you get better prices at WalMart. The Baltimore Ravens are WalMart, and nobody loves to save a buck more than a Hot-Pocket eating blogger.

Why They Can’t Win:

Three things stand in this team’s way: Joe Flacco’s consistency, the fact they didn’t win the AFC North; it will be difficult for them to win three tough games in a row, and that old guy that hands out the shopping carts at the door.

Odds of Winning: 5 to 1

5) New Orleans Saints

Why They Can Win:

As goes Drew Brees, so go the Saints. But this season, New Orleans has been the scene of a Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Brees. Sometmes this season, it seems Drew drank the concoction and became this ham-fisted monster, tossing picks at a near Favrian clip. If Drew Brees doesn’t give away the football, the Saints are dangerous.

Why They Can’t Win:

The complete absence of a running game now that Pierre Thomas and Christopher Ivory are both out…and the fact there hasn’t been another hurricane so everybody will feel sorry for them.

Odds of Winning: 6 to 1

6) Green Bay Packers

Why They Can Win:

In short,  three reasons: Aaron Rodgers, who once he wins his first playoff game may just win three more, a superb vertical passing game, and a play-making ball-hawk defense.

Why They Can’t Win:

In what is clearly becoming a theme here, the Packers may be the purest example of the “can’t really run” team. It’s like everybody suddenly thought the “Dan Marino” model was the way to go. It’s like everybody forgot how many championships Marino won

Odds of Winning: 8 to 1

7) Atlanta Falcons

Why They Can Win:

Atlanta may be the most complete and balanced team in this tournament, and they easily could be rated much higher.  The most  recent loss to the Saints just seems like too much of a warning sign there’s a demon out there which will present itself during a play-off game.

Why They Can’t Win:

Matt Ryan is a heady quarterback who plays so intelligently, and while those comparisons to Peyton Manning very well may be accurate, Ryan has yet to show himself on that level in a big game. If he does, expect the Falcons to fold because Manning has always been a terrible “big game” quarterback; Manning’s only Super Bowl win comes from Lovie Smith’s refusal to get Rex Grossman off the field. Eventually, I think Ryan will prove to be a “big-game” quarterback, I’m just not sold this is the year.

Odds of Winning: 10 to 1

8 ) Chicago Bears

Why They Can Win:

To be honest, I don’t have a good answer for this. Granted, when Jay Cutler is on, he makes the Bears look like a legitimate contender. But he’s never been “on” for more than two games in a row. Plus, he is a colossal douchebag. Combined with the dumbest coach who never seems to be on the hot seat,  Lovie “Rex Grossman is my guy” Smith, I just can’t think of a single reason why the Bears should be taken seriously, except for Devin “Stop Kicking to Him” Hester.

Why They Can’t Win:

They are the worst 11-5 team I’ve ever seen – they define over-rated. Brian Urlacher is the face of this franchise, and he doesn’t just define over-rated, he is the Pope and Infallible Leader of the Church of Over-rated.  To Cutler’s credit, somehow he has managed to stay alive behind an offensive line comprised of Olin Kreutz and four turnstiles, but let’s not forget this: To all you people who think the Bears are for real and think the Seahawks don’t belong in the playoffs, remember the SeaHacks beat the Bears in October.

Odds of Winning: 12 to 1

9) New York Jets

Why They Can Win:

The Jets are still very bold and still have playmakers.  Rex Ryan is one those guys that makes anything possible.

Why They Can’t Win:

Because they have yet to back up all their trash-talk. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rex Ryan, but he needs to put up or shut up. If this team can get past either Pittsburgh and/or New England, they will win it all. But they have yet to show me they have the stones to make the move from good to great.

Odds of Winning: 15 to 1

10) Kansas City Chiefs

Why They Can Win:

There is an inviolable rule about play-off football: never count out a team that can a) run the ball and b) play defense. This is the recipe the Chefs used to get this far, and with Matt Cassel playing like a legitimate NFL quarterback, Kansas City can be that team that has a “puncher’s chance.”

Why They Can’t Win:

Out of their ten wins, the Chiefs beat one playoff team (Seattle). They won a division so bad the Oakland Raiders went 6-0 in divisional games and couldn’t make the playoffs; the Chiefs could only manage a 2-4 record in the AFC West. It is also those deficiencies that make me suspect of the Chiefs #1 ranked running game; they racked up a lot of stats against teams like Oakland, Denver, Houston, Buffalo, and San Francisco.

Odds of Winning: 20 to 1

11) Indianapolis Colts

Why They Can Win:

Because Peyton Manning is one of the greatest players in the history on the NFL, and he isn’t far enough past his prime to be discounted.

Why They Can’t Win:

Because Peyton Manning is all they have. The Colts can’t run the ball, and they can’t stop anybody. Factor in all the injuries this team has suffered, and it becomes clear the Dolts’ days are numbered. In many respects, this might be the worst team in the play-offs despite all the moaning about the Seahawks 7-9 record.  All the Colts can do is throw the ball; the Seahawks can run and have shows glimpses of the ability to play defense, albeit not often enough.

Odds of Winning: 25 to 1

12) Seattle Seahawks

Why They Can Win:

Everybody else’s plane could crash, there could be a plague of locusts, ther could be a massive outbreak of food poisoning from the people who do all the NFL food handling…you don’t know, it could happen.

Why They Can’t Win:

To put it in gambling terms, The SeaHacks are drawing to an inside straight three times over.  Well, the first draw isn’t that long; it is concievable Seattle could win their home game against the Saints. New Orleans is beat up, it depends on which quarterback shows up, Dr. Brees or Mr. Hyde;  and Qwest Field is notoriously rough on visiting teams. But Seattle knows how to lose, as they have done it nine times this year, and none of those were closer than 16 points.

Odds of Winning: 75 to 1

The Dubsism Top Fifteen Sports Events of 2010

Let’s just cut to the chase here…everybody else does some sort of “Year End” list, here’s our obligatory ramble on what we consider to be the 15 most significant sporting occurrances in 2010.

Honorable mention: The Vuvuzela

What began as a seemingly harmless noisemaker instead became a symbol of what happens when you hold a world-class sporting event in some third-world toilet. I don’t care if it isn’t “politically correct” to say it, but the fact is  South Africa is a crime-ridden shithole and holding the Wold Cup there was a complete disaster. Not only is the country a blight by even “poor nation” standards, but it is a ten-hour flight away from the nearest civilized place. Lets’ be even more honest; the reason why South Africa sucks is because it is inhabited by a bunch of low-rent trashballs ; its like every other country on earth rounded up their “Cousin Eddies” and dropped them in South Africa. This is why they had no problem at all ruining every World Cup telecast with the Vuvuzela, a two-dollar plastic horn which when pressed to the lips of a South African emits a droning cacophony similar to a cat stuffed in a bagpipe caught in a washing machine.  It speaks volumes about a country that can make one of the world’s great sporting events almost completely unwatchable.

15) All The (Vi)King’s Men Couldn’t Put The HumptyDome Together Again

What else can you say? Combine a stadium built on the cheap, go even cheaper on the maintenance, and add three decades of Minnesota winters, and who could be surprised when this happens? Just be prepared to see this collapse as a precursor to your new Los Angeles Vikings.

14) Connecticut Almost Convinces Us Women’s Basketball Is A Real Sport

But only almost…thankfully, that winning streak finally ended at 90 games last night.  Granted, winning that many games in a row in anything is impressive, even if the sport isn’t particularly so.  Think anybody cares about women’s basketball? Then tell me how you did in your women’s basketball bracket at the office last year?

13) The World Shuns America At Its Own Expense

It seems nobody wants to play here, given the failure of US World Cup and Olympic Bids. Honestly, I get the Olympic failure since Obama made himself the face of the Chicago bid, and since nobody internationally has nay respect for him and since Chicago is America’s answer to that third-world shithole known as South Africa.  But putting the World Cup in Qatar? Seriously?

So, we’d rather have matches played in an atmosphere of possible sudden-death political instability and 200-degree temperatures rather than to be in a country that would pony up top-dollar for this event? I understand there is some sort of Euro-Chic in hating on Uncle Sam now, but before you get to involved in such behavior, you may want to stop to check how many of those hated American dollars flow into such events, then imagine what those events might look like without any American investment.

12) The So-Called Demise of Tiger Woods

I really have a hard time with calling what happened to Tiger Woods a “demise,” which places me in direct contrast with “mainstream sports media.” I understand the guy went through a huge personal drama, and likely got majorly skinned in his divorce, but calling his drop from the #1 golfer in the world to #2 a “demise” is ludicrous.  From Merriam-Webster:

Demise: intransitive verb
2: to pass by descent or bequest <the property has demised to the king’s heirs>

So, Tiger Woods didn’t win a tournament this year. Boo-fucking-hoo. Phil Mickelson has made a career out of not winning tournaments. How do I become so “dead” that I still earn $1.3 million dollars? How do I become so “dead” that I likely will be the top golfer in the world again within 1 year?

11) Brett Favre Pisses Away His Legacy


How appropriate is it that the last image of King Brett I as a football player we will have is him splayed out on the deck, knocked cold slap 0ut?  As sports fans, we may not have seen such a mythic figure bow out so disgracefully since Muhammad Ali…except “The Greatest of All-Time” didn’t sully his reputation with allegations of texting pictures of his weiner to some bimbo. However, in terms of a great athlete just not knowing when to go away, Favre’s huge career, his  folk status, and a big chunk of his legacy with a purple arm and pictures of his “purple-headed warrior” all gets flushed simply because he couldn’t realize when the party was over.

10) A Figure Skater Saves the Olympics for Canada

Sure the Canadian hockey team won Gold; if they hadn’t, all of the Great White North may have collectively taken their final luge run. Face it, you really couldn’t have a much worse start to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Hours before the Opening Ceremonies, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died after crashing during a training run. The lack of padding and protection on the dangerously fast Whistler sliding track was just the most consequential of problems plaguing these games; a mechanical torch malfunctioned during the opening ceremonies, an ice-resurfacing machine broke down at the speedskating venue, and snow had to flown in for the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events.

But once the media stopped fixating on what some dubbed the “Glitch Games,” there was some real drama.  Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette used her long program to clinch a bronze medal.  What could be more dramatic than rallying from behind to save the dignity of a nation? Rallying from behind to save the dignity of a nation AND have a freshly-dead mother. ?Two days before the start of the short program, Rochette’s immediate female antecedent suffered a fatal heart attack. Rochette decided to compete anyway, uttering  the nearly-standard dead-parent cliche “I know what it’s what my (insert parental reference here) would have wanted me to do.” After skating through her visible grief in the short program, the Canadian fans gave her a rousing ovation.

Why does such syrupy, cliche, quasi-bullshit make the list of such a hard-edged blog like Dubsism? Because after the emotional competition, Rochette pumped 21 words worth of pure truth into the moment when she endearingly eulogized her mother with the quip  “even though she is not here any more, I’m not afraid to say sometimes she was a pain in the ass.”

9) Graeme McDowell Defines “Clutch”

America’s chances for a repeat win in the Ryder Cup looked slimmer than an Ethiopian on P90X, as the Yanks trailed by by three points going into the last day of this year’s prestigious team golf event. But during the singles matches, the Americans mounted a furious comeback against the Europeans. Even Tiger Woods, who was awful iafter his “demise,” throttled his Euro-pponent. The U.S. tied the tournament at 13 ½, with only American Hunter Mahan and Graeme McDowell left on the course. On the 16th hole McDowell was up 1 hole on Mahan.  McDowell only needed to cup  a 15-foot birdie putt to prevent an epic European collapse. He drained it, and Mahan blew the next hole, which forced him to concede the match.

8 ) The New Orleans Saints Win

Let’s not lie about anything here, if you wanted to define “shitty” in the history of a  sports franchise, the New Orleans Saints would be in that conversation. However, they took a step away from that legacy last February’s Super Bowl XLIV.  Funny to think how one gamble could payoff so big for a city that really doesn’t deserve it.

At the start of the second half, the New Orleans Saints trailed the Indianapolis Colts 10-6, and the Colts were set to receive the ball to begin the 2nd half. were set to kick-off.  But the Saints pulled off an on-side kick; a maneuver that had it back-fired would have given the Colts excellent field position and a chance to put the game out of reach. However, the gamble paid off, the Saints recovered the kick, and the game’s momentum shifted in an instant. New Orleans marched 58 yards downfield for a touchdown, and went on to win the game 31-17.

“Four years ago who ever thought this would be happening when 85 percent of the city was under water from (Hurricane) Katrina,” said New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, the game’s MVP, who completed 32 of 39 passes, for 289 yards, and threw two touchdown passes for a team that had been a perennial loser for most of its 43 seasons in the league. “Most people not knowing if New Orleans would ever come back or if the organization and the team would come back. … This is the culmination of that belief and that faith.”

Fuck all that Katrina shit. Fuck it with a nuclear-powered, reciprocating fuck stick.  I’m so tired of hearing about what a tragedy Katrina was.  The real tragedy of Katrina was that there was anything left of that absolute shithole afterward. New Orleans is the rectum of North America, and anybody who says they love that city should be forced to live there. When I was a kid, my dad’s job got transferred to the “Big Shitty” and it took no time at all for him to want to get out of that sleaze pit. The average mope who shows up to get drunk in the French Quarter for a weekend would recoil in horror of their surrounding if they had to get their mail there; most of them would be gone within six months.

If you doubt that, ask yourself a question. Look at all the sports franchises that have relocated in the past 40 years and ask yourself why nobody except for the NBA went to New Orleans. Granted, the NFL was already there. But baseball never went to New Orleans; baseball never even considered the “Big Shitty.” When hockey teams flooded the south, nobody went to New Orleans. Even the aforementioned NBA deserted the city in 1979 when the Jazz decided five years was enough, and the current Hornets franchise has taken seven years to end up being owned by the league and destined to relocate. Not to mention the Saints had to be given a deal to keep from leaving until 2025, although that deal is rumored to be chock full of escape clauses which make it entirely possible they depart for another city in the next five years.

7) Ghana’s World Cup Choke

The most memorable moment of the World Cup tournament came from the Uruguay/Ghana match.  Near the end of extra time in their quarterfinal match with the game tied 1-1, the safe bet was the teams were headed for penalty kicks. Yet Ghana had one last chance to score, on a free kick, and the set piece was a beauty. The ball was delivered towards the goal box, then headed across four Uruguay defenders before the Uruguay keeper batted it down. On the rebound, a Ghanian  had a clear shot at the goal, but Uruguay forward Luis Suarez positioned himself perfectly in front of the net to knock this flick off his leg. This rebound floated to the head of Ghana’s Dominic Adiyiah, who quickly batted it back towards the net. This time, Suarez had no defense but his hand. This intentional foul gave Ghana a penalty kick, and what looked like an improbable win. A World Cup’s worth of suspense and improbability unfolded over these ten seconds in South Africa.

Then things got even more unreal. Ghana’s best player, Asamoah Gyan, shanked the penalty kick that would have sent an African nation to its first World Cup semifinal, breaking a continent’s heart. Uruguay eventually won on penalty kicks, turning Gyan into the World Cup equivalent of Scott Norwood.

6) The Perfect Game That Wasn’t

The only, and I mean only reason this gets on this list is timing. Blown calls happen all the time, but this one happened to be out #27 of what should have been a perfect game.  When Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga crossed first base with the ball in his glove in the top of the ninth against the Cleveland Indians on June 2 everyone  knew he had just completed a perfect game. Everyone, that is, except the umpire.

To the amazement of everyone watching, Jim Joyce ruled that Cleveland’s Jason Donald had actually just beaten Galarraga to the bag after hitting a grounder to the right of Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera. You didn’t need the replay except as validation, it was simply a blown call made at the end of a game. How many perfect games got snuffed by a bad call in the third inning? Nobody knows because nobody pays attention to such an event until the seventh.

5) Cinderella Almost Busts Everybodys Balls

Rarely has a half-court heave carried the vanquished hopes of so many underdogs. With 3.6 seconds left in the men’s college basketball championship between perennial power and heavy favorite Duke, and small-school underdog Butler playing in front of hometown fans in Indianapolis — it was a script straight out of the movie Hoosiers — Duke clung to a two-point lead. On a second free throw, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski ordered Brian Zoubek to miss , since Butler had no timeouts left, and thus wouldn’t be able to set up a last second-play.

Coach K is a bonafide Hall of Famer, but that strategy was atrocious. The intentional miss gave Butler a chance to win, and the Bulldogs took full advantage. Butler’s Gordon Hayward pulled down the rebound, and dribbled toward half-court: teammate Matt Howard delivered a brutal screen on Duke’s Kyle Singler, giving Hayward a clean look at the hoop. Hayward’s running half-court shot seemed to hang in the air forever. When it finally came down, right on line, many a fan’s gut feeling had it going in.  But it bounced off the backboard, and jetted past the rim, and Kryzyzewski won his fourth national title on one of the worst decision is his career.

4) The NFL Eschews Violence

This is an issue that defines the term “double-edged sword.”  On one side, you have a definite need to protect players in an era where we are discovering the long-term physical and mental damage caused by football violence. On the other, you have a sports that actively markets such violence. Rather than continue to walk the tightrope, the NFL acted aggressively, telling players that the league would increase fines and issue suspensions for those who violated safety rules which have actually been in place for several years. The problem is that in the process, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell showed himself to be both a hypocrite and an authoritarian, autocratic leader. This change was brought about by complete executive fiat; there was no warning, there was no consideration of the impact, there was just “do it or else.”  This led to a lot of cry-babyism from defensive players, however the larger issue is this has proven to be a wedge issue between the players and the league at a time when the league finds itself perilously close to a work stoppage. Making the matter even worse is that these punishments are being levied in the name of player safety, a claim that rings hollow with players as the league threateend to eliminate health coverage for player as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

3) The Most Awesome Piece Of Sports History Americans Won’t Understand

Certain sports milestones seem simply unreachable; Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, or Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. In cricket, it’s the one-day double-hundred;  no man had ever produced 200 runs for his team during a one-day international match. However, in February, India’s Sachin Tendulkar hit the magic milestone against a powerful South African squad. Tendulkar smacked three “sixes” — the cricket equivalent of a home run — during his epic performance.  When he reached 199, the home crowd in Gwalior waved Indian flags, and roared, knowing they were about to witness history. The diminutive Tendulkar, dubbed “The Little Master,” slapped a single past the South African fielders. The world’s 1.5 billion cricket fans had a moment they’d never forget. Tendulkar removed his helmet and raised his arms toward the sky. “Take a bow, master,” said television commentator Ravi Shastri, himself a former cricket star for India. “Aw, you little champion,” his partner, former New Zealand cricketeer Danny Morrison chimed in. “If there was ever one deserving to break this milestone, this Everest, it is certainly Sachin Tendulkar.”

2) The Three-Day Duel

You’ll never a tennis score like it again: 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68. At Wimbledon this June, American John Isner and Nicholas Mahut of France played a fifth set headed for infinity, thanks to Wimbledon’s shunning of fifth-set tiebreakers. In all, their historic first-round match lasted a record 11 hours and five minutes, and had to be played over the course of three days.  It was the longest match in tennis history, and  during the 138th game of the fifth set, Isner stroked a backhand winner down the line to finally break Mahut’s serve, ending the match.

1) LeBron’s Bad Decision

It says something about Americans’ priorities that one evening in July, some 10 million people tuned into ESPN, dying to know what color uniform a guy would wear next year. As absurd as the spectacle seemed, it was simply the culmination of a year in which the NBA buzzed loudest off the court, as the summer free-agent frenzy sparked endless speculation about where stars like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Amar’e Stoudemire would land. The homegrown Cleveland Cavalier superstar chose to announce his intention to join buddies Wade and Bosh in Miami on a nationally-televised ESPN special, pompously dubbed “The Decision.” James said he was doing the cable special for charity, donating the show’s advertising revenue to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

But after James dumped the Cavs on national television in front of an in-studio audience of kids from the Greenwich, CT Boys and Girls Club, with the now-infamous words “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach,” his popularity took a hefty hit. The backlash was quite stunning, especially since James had made few, if any, public relations errors in his wildly successful career. He did, however, win some sympathy when Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert, within hours of James’ announcement that he was signing with the Heat, released an invective-filled letter to Cavs fans (some of whom were burning LeBron jerseys in the streets), in which he called James “narcissistic” and accused him of “cowardly betrayal.”

For a guy looking to win a championship or two, bailing on the Cavs was probably smart. But LeBron’s “Decision” was a public-relations disaster.

The Dubsism 2010 Pre-Season NFL Power Rankings

Rankings by Division

AFC East

Any way you slice it, the Jets made a statement during last season’s playoff win in San Diego. The scary part is they have built on that team since then. Granted, they need to get the holdout situation with Darelle Revis resolved, but once they do, it will be very difficult for teams to throw the ball against a defense with two shutdown corners and #1 draft pick waiting in the wings. Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez is on the verge of being the next breakout star in this league, and the Jets have put a solid line in front of him and a myriad of weapons around him.

Tyrannosaurus Rex may be ready to devour the NFL.

While this is the Jets’ division to lose, both the Patriots and the Dolphins stand ready to snatch it away should they stumble.  Tom Brady is still Tom Brady even after the ACL injury, Randy Moss seems to have a few more reps left in the tank, and Wes Welker will return by some point in September.  They also added some depth at the tight end position and in the secondary. However, Miami also made plenty of acquisitions on both sides of the ball. Brandon Marshall becomes the  true downfield threat Chad Henne needed to complete the passing game. Add that to running back Ronnie Brown and a solid offensive line anchored by Jake Long, and the ‘Phins sport a well-balanced offense that will give headaches to defensive coordinators across the league.

  1. New York Jets
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Buffalo Bills

AFC North

Even though the Baltimore Ravens have started resembling a MASH unit, they have too much talent and depth not to whether a few injuries.  The loss of Domonique Foxworth brings questions, and they really need a healthy Ed Reed, but this team no longer relies solely on that fearsome defense. With offseason additions Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth, the Ravens will likely supplant the Vikings as the most interesting offense wearing purple.

The Steelers are likely the most balanced team in this league with or without Ben Roethlisberger. While it seems most probable that Big Ben’s suspension will be shortened from six to four games, the period Pittsburgh has to be without him may make or break their season.

This leads us to the team most likely to dissappoint; the Cincinnati Bengals. The Queen City Kitties have been garnering a lot of buzz around Terrell Owens, Ochocinco, but this comes from the same mentality that worships the over-the-hill Brett Favre. It makes sense though, because T-Old and King Brett I have some things in common: they’re way past their prime, they are cancers in the locker room (when they actually show up), and they haven’t won anything in years. Ultimately, the fate of the Bengals falls on the performance of the offense. The defense is one of the best in the league, but if the offense doesn’t perform after the team invested in Antonio Bryant, Jermaine Gresham, plus two wide receivers drafted in the third and sixth rounds, heads will roll in Cincinnati. And at the end of the day, it will all be for not if Cedric Benson doesn’t repeat his solid 2009 season on the ground.

  1. Baltimore Ravens
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. Cincinnati Bengals
  4. Cleveland Browns

If Colt McCoy starts for the Browns, he may get even more familiar with this position.

AFC South

FACT: The Colts are the defending AFC Champions and are returning most of the roster. FACT: Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the league; the only one who gives his team a chance to win every time he touches the ball.  FACT: The Colts have developed a culture of winning while becoming one the NFL’s model franchises.

So why am I not buying the Colts?

FACT: The offensive live is old and largely mediocre. FACT: The Colts running game is a joke. FACT: The defense has some star power, but is largely a middle-of-the-pack unit that isn’t capable of dominating a ball game if it needs to. In other words, for the Colts run of 12-win seasons is to continue, a lot of “ifs” have to break the right way, and it may just be the number of “ifs” has finally surpassed Manning’s ability to overcome them.

Even Peyton Manning knows he can only audible out of a fixed amount of problems.

Plus, the Colts are going to face a host of teams in their own division that historically play them tough. The Titans got rid of some age (replacing Kyle Vanden Bosch with first-round pick Derrick Morgan) while performing a bit of  “addition by subtraction” by getting rid of chronic under-performer LenDale White.  Once the Titans combine that with a full season of the game-changing Vince Young we saw in 2009 and the most interesting weapon in the league in Chris Johnson, they can easily give the Colts fits.

Don’t sleep on the Texans, either. This team could easily be a dark horse in the AFC. With Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson form the core of one of the league’s best high-octane offenses, if they can rekindle the running game, they will provide more than one surprise during the coming season. The big question mark will be the progression of the defense. While it boasts young stars like Mario Williams and Brian Cushing, they did lose Dunta Robinson in the off-season, and they get to face offenses like the Cowboys, Giants, Chargers, Ravens, plus the Titans and the Colts twice.

  1. Tennessee Titans
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. Houston Texans
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West

While the Chargers do face some pre-season holdout issues, and the transition to the post-LaDanian Tomlinson era has begun, but this is still one of the best squads in the NFL. Philip Rivers is a legitimate franchise quarterback even if he gets no respect, Antonio Gates is the league’s best tight end, and Malcolm Floyd is more than ready to become River’s #1 target. Now, the Chargers just need to find a way to keep playoff games off the foot of Nate Kaeding.

Meanwhile in Denver, Josh McDaniels is clearly building a team around guys who are not a pain in the ass. So far, he’s exiled (probably correctly) Jay Cutler to the NFL’s version of Ice Planet Hoth, he shipped Brandon Marshall to Miami, while adding drunk-but-quiet Kyle Orton. Then there’s this year’s draft where McDaniels passed over bad-reputation wide receiver Dez Bryant for Demaryius Thomas. Then there was the drafting of Saint Tebow.

Can Saint Tebow and the Holy Orton play savior for Josh McDaniels?

But don’t forget that Tebow won a national championship at Florida while playing second fiddle at quarterback to the oft-maligned Chris Leak. For some reason, Kyle Orton is a guy who can’t get any love anywhere he goes, despite the fact that he wins football games wherever he goes. Whether or not Tebow sees the field this season matters little. What matters is this season when Orton mentors the young Saint to be an NFL quarterback is also a make or break proposition for Josh McDaniels.

  1. San Diego Chargers
  2. Denver Broncos
  3. Oakland Raiders
  4. Kansas City Chiefs

NFC East

On paper, the Cowboys offer one the most talented teams in the league. Too bad they don’t play the games on paper. Frankly, I’m convinced that the Cowboys as an organization are bi-polar. This is a team that can look dominant against Philadelphia team that was nearly a #2 seed in the NFC last year (more on why those days are over in a bit) and yet get destroyed by the more pretender-than-contender Vikings. Despite that inconsistency, Dallas just has too much talent on the roster not to be recognized as one of the top squads in the NFC. Hopefully, the soap opera that is the Cowboys is on hiatus as indicated by the shockingly silent off-season; this team can either win football games or be drama queens. It can not do both.

This way, if the Cowboys don't win, at least Wade Phillips won't see the sniper hired by Jerry Jones.

If Dez Bryant can provide a third viable option for the passing game and if Tony Romo can play leader and mitigate the aforementioned wackiness from which this team suffers, there are not very many teams in the conference that could keep the Cowboys out of Super Bowl. Of course, one of those teams could be the Cowboys, especially if they don’t address two areas. In general, the offensive line needs to understand that keeping Romo alive is a team function, particularly with the departure of left tackle Flozell Adams. The other soft spot is the secondary; it is time for Mike Jenkins to step up and lead that unit into providing an effective pass-defense.

Meanwhile, the Giants will be depending on their stockpile of defensive linemen to ease the pressure on a rebuilt secondary, one that depends on a healthy Kenny Phillips and the newly acquired Antrelle Rolle to stop the bleeding from last season. The odds that the Eagles will figure in the standings in this division stand directly in between “slim” and “none.” Read that as “none” for the Redskins.

The simple fact is that the Eagles are completely gambling on their young quarterback Kevin Kolb. You may think they are rebuilding, I may think they are rebuilding, the world may think they are rebuilding, but the Eagles seem to be in a complete state of denial. The post McNabb/Westbrook era offers a ton of uncertainties on offense, but anybody wearing green in Philadelphia seems to be sticking to the party line. The coaching staff seem convinced that Kolb was ready for full-time action last season, and some whisper that he might be a better fit in Andy Reid’s offense than Donovan McNabb himself.  I guess September will tell all.

  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. New York Giants
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Washington Redskins

See, Jerry Jones just wants to shoot people.

NFC North

The Packer offense may be the best in the conference. When you watch the development this squad showed between game 4 and game 10 of last season coupled with the additions made during the off-season, it is hard not to picture Green Bay along side the Cowboys and the Saints as the class of the NFC. The offensive line that was Swiss cheese in September became a stone wall in December, a wall that only got mightier with the addition of first-round tackle Bryan Bulaga.

There is a concern that the loss of Aaron Kampman, the suspension of Johnny Jolly, and the starting-to-get-up-there age of the secondary leaves too many questions for a contender. First of all, those issues aren’t likely to spell a fatal drop-off for a defense that was ranked second in the entire league last year. More importantly, they are just question, not the facts that doom the Vikings.

FACT: The Vikings find themselves stuck in yet another soap opera, no thanks to the drama queen quarterback for whom they’ve mortgaged their future. FACT: Brett Favre joined a division-winning team and transformed it into a division-winning team. FACT: The Vikings did nothing to address the weaknesses which cost them a trip to the Super Bowl.

We all know the bullshit Brett Favre puts teams through every off-season now. It’s all just that…bullshit. But the big problem the Vikings don’t seem ready to address is that all their current eggs and all their future eggs are in Favre’s basket; a basket being bet on a Super Bowl championship. But the Vikings weren’t a Super Bowl-worthy team last year, and they’ve regressed in the off-season. The Viking running game rates only in the middle of the pack despite the fact it featured two stud-caliber running backs. Of the two, only Adrian Peterson remains, and while Peterson is a physical specimen the likes of which only come along once a generation, it all goes for naught if he can’t stop putting the ball on the ground.

But the real reason this team can’t run the football is because as a unit, the offensive line sucks out loud. Steve Hutchison is the real deal at guard,  John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt may someday be legitimate NFL players, but Bryant McKinnie and Anthony Herrera shouldn’t be allowed as grade-school crossing guards let alone NFL linemen. Viking fans love to bitch about all the “dirty” hits Favre took against the Saints; they miss the point that a good line wouldn’t let defenders get that close that often. They rest of the league saw that; it’s no coincidence the Bears and Lions both stocked up on defensive linemen. When you add all that to the fact the Vikings’ secondary is a glaring weakness that was not realistically addressed (Lito Sheppard would have been a nice addition 5 years ago), this team may have enough talent to make the playoffs, but are “one and done” at best.

  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Minnesota Vikings
  3. Chicago Bears
  4. Detroit Lions

NFC South

One could be accused of taking the easy way out by saying the defending Super Bowl champions are the best team in the league. But let’s look at what has changed: Drew Brees is still running a high-powered offense which is returning every key contributor. On defense, the goal in the off-season was to add to an opportunistic, ball-hawking defense so as to give Brees and the offense a bit more margin for error. That mission was accomplished by signing defensive ends Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson, and by drafting cornerback Patrick Robinson). Also, by keeping Darren Sharper, it is just another finger in the eye of the Vikings; a living, breathing reminder that Minnesota keeps coming up short in part due to its stupid player personnel decisions.

Not be overshadowed, but this division features another reasonably good football team. Led by Matt Ryan and Michael Turner, the Atlanta Falcons have the right combination of a high-flying offense and a defense that can allow the offense to take over games.

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. Carolina Panthers
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What is "Fuck you, I have a Super Bowl ring and you don't?"

NFC West

One would expect a team led by Mike Singeltary to feature a bone-bruising defense, and it does. Now it seems the offense is gearing up for some smash-mouth of its own, considering the 49’ers used two first-round picks to draft a couple of man-mountains in Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati for the offensive line. With an improved line and weapons like a healthy Frank Gore, receivers Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn, Jr., and tight end Vernon Davis, it’s “fish or cut bait” time for former #1 pick quarterback Alex Smith.

Oh, and the Cardinals after having lost a slew of key players such as Kurt Warner, Antrelle Rolle, Karlos Dansby, and Anquan Boldin, still feature talent like Beanie Wells, Early Doucet, and Larry Fitzgerald. That’s really all it takes to be the other team in this division that doesn’t suck.

  1. San Francisco 49ers
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. Seattle Seahawks
  4. St. Louis Rams

Overall Rankings

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. New York Jets
  3. San Diego Chargers
  4. Dallas Cowboys
  5. Baltimore Ravens
  6. Green Bay Packers
  7. Tennessee Titans
  8. Indianapolis Colts
  9. Minnesota Vikings
  10. San Francisco 49’ers
  11. New England Patriots
  12. New York Giants
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers
  14. Philadelphia Eagles
  15. Denver Broncos
  16. Arizona Cardinals
  17. Atlanta Falcons
  18. Houston Texans
  19. Miami Dolphins
  20. Cincinnati Bengals
  21. Carolina Panthers
  22. Chicago Bears
  23. Washington Redskins
  24. Seattle Seahawks
  25. Buffalo Bills
  26. Jacksonville Jaguars
  27. Oakland Raiders
  28. Detroit Lions
  29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  30. Kansas City Chiefs
  31. Cleveland Browns
  32. St. Louis Rams

Why You Shouldn’t Cheer For…The New Orleans Saints

They have ex-quarterbacks parading around in drag.

Not actually Bobby Hebert, but you never know...

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

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