Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Super Bowl Preview

As the week of media attention and overplayed analysis continues, I thought it was time for my gut-bustin', full-on preview of the most watched event in sports. The New England Patriots against the New York Giants in Glendale, Arizona. This Sunday. Position by Position Rankings and Advantages. Enjoy, sports fans and loyal readers.

Quarterback: Pulp Fiction vs. Gigli. George Clooney vs. Hayden Christensen. Ice cream vs. asparagus. Warm, soft socks vs. wet, dirty socks. All of these match-ups are closer than Tom Brady vs. Eli Manning. Brady is one of the most proven quarterbacks in the history of professional football while Manning places third in his own family. Advantage: Patriots.

Running Backs: Lawrence Maroney and Kevin Faulk form a dynamic combination of power running, breakaway speed, and passing outlets. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw form the exact same combination without much talent in the screen passing game. I've seen Jacobs drop too many balls to give the advantage to the Giants. Advantage: Patriots.

Wide Receivers: Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth, and Jabar Gaffney. Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, and Steve Smith. This is pretty obvious, even though I do love Toomer...go blue. Advantage: Patriots.

Tight Ends: With a healthy Shockey, this is a no-brainer in the Giants favor. With that said, I can't seriously pick Kevin Boss over Ben Watson. Advantage: Patriots.

Offensive Line: Those big, burly woodsman who protect the man dating Giselle have played arguably better than any offensive line has in the history of football this season. Therefore, notch another one up for New England. Advantage: Patriots.

Defensive Line: As much as I love watching Wilfork plow through offensive lineman, you can't ignore the Giants' talent on their defensive line with Strahan and Umenyiora. Seymour certainly makes this decision difficult because he's one of the finest defensive ends in the game. As impossible as it is to compare a 3-4 line to a 4-3 line, I base my decision on how successful the front line alone will be in pressuring the opposing quarterback. In that regard, I give the Giants the edge, due mostly to the Patriots use of linebackers and safeties in blitz packages. Advantage: Giants.

Linebackers: These two teams are the two best at pressuring the quarterback and that is shown through their d-line and linebackers. Another close match-up in this one but Vrabel's and Bruschi's experience in three previous Super Bowls tip the scale. Advantage: Patriots.

Defensive Backs: Samuel takes too many risks and Hobbs is a complete wild-card, playing either a terrible game or making a few good plays. Sam Madison and Aaron Ross combined impress me more than Samuel and Hobbs on a regular basis so that's my pick. Advantage: Giants.

Safeties: Rodney Harrison alone is better than the two guys the Giants are putting out there, whether it be R.W. McQuarters, James Butler or Gibril Wilson. Harrison can come in on the blitz, intimidate players with his crushing hits, or intercept passes like he has in numerous consecutive playoff games. Advantage: Patriots.

Special Teams: Both teams have strong return squads. Both teams have untested and unreliable kickers in Super Bowl pressure situations. The Giants though, have one of the best punters in the league, Jeff Feagles, and so they get the close edge. Advantage: Giants.

Final Tally: Patriots 7, Giants 3. My Final Pick: Patriots 34, Giants 20.

I've done all of the thinking I need to do. I've crossed the t's and dotted the lower-case j's. I'm sorry New Yorkers, but I just don't see the Giants being able to pull off the upset that has been talked about for the past two weeks. Yes, the Giants are good on the road and yes, their team has plenty of talent. But there are too many things I can't ignore. The Patriots are 18-0. They have experience in the Super Bowl. They have won too many close games and lost too few. They have Tom Brady. They have Randy Freaking Moss. They are the first team in history to start a season with 18 straight wins. They are definitively the best professional football team of all-time. These are not little, mundane details. These are huge, Super-Bowl-winning credentials. How could you expect them to falter now?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Go Obama!


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Championship Sunday!

And then there were two.

The New England Patriots and the New York Giants advanced to Super Bowl XVII today and will play in two weeks on February 3rd. My pick is obvious (or is it?) but first, I will relay the results of today's games with you.

In the opening game, the New England Patriots continued their dominating run at an undefeated season with a 21-12 win over the San Diego Chargers. The game wasn't really close, the Patriots dominated the game with their usual "bend-but-not-break" strategy of defense. They never allowed the Chargers to score a touchdown and were it not for an unlucky interception at the end of the first half and a poor decision by Tom Brady in the red zone, the score would have been a more lopsided victory. The Patriots are entitled some mistakes though, and I will give the Chargers defense credit. They stopped the Patriots from solidifying their drives for while until they finally caved to the insurmountable talent that the Patriots possess. Chargers fans will moan and groan about how "if LT played the whole game" or "if Rivers was 100%"...baloney. The Patriots are the best team in the history of professional football and they were lucky to share the field with them twice in their season of perfection. (Yes, they will win the Super Bowl, sorry New Yorkers)...(I'm not sorry...)

Now onto the NFC Championship Game where the New York Giants upset the Green Bay Packers 23-20 in overtime to win on an incredible 47-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes. Although I picked the Packers, the Giants played well and made Brett Favre avoid making mistakes...something he failed to do in the critical moments of the game (see - first possession in overtime). I didn't watch much of this game because well...frankly, I did not care who would win the battle to fly to Arizona and lose to the Patriots in two weeks. I will say this however: I noticed my friend's away message on AIM that said "THE GIANTS ARE GOING TO THE 'SHIP" and they did go to the 'ship. They went, and they won (the NFC Championship... or, as the modern world now calls it, Second Place). Since they are now going to the Super Bowl I congratulate them on a good season that will end with a colossal failure when the real Eli Manning finally shows himself (his brother Peyton has been playing for him in a Giants uniform during his recent successes).

All things considered...my Super Bowl Pick is Patriots 34, Giants 20.

That's all I have for tonight...so adios amigos, y puede la fuerza está con usted.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Movie Reviews!

As my month-long winter break has yielded massive amounts of free time, I've watched plenty of movies. Some of them have been reviewed in previous blog entries and today I have a bunch more for you readers.

The Kingdom - Very well done. The trailer I had seen so many times while seeing other movies in theaters gave me the impression that it was another Muslim/Arab-bashing movie but this film had much more substance. The opening credits are interesting because it gives a lot of background and history about the oil supply in the Middle East and the relationship between those countries and the United States, and I know I just used "interesting" and "history" in the same sentence but hear me out. Jamie Foxx and Chris Cooper are both incredibly talented actors and with Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman thrown in, the cast is full of all-stars. Go rent this movie or find some way to watch it, it's worth it. Final verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Wedding Daze - Now, I knew what I was getting when I rented this straight-to-DVD movie, but I still wanted to see it anyway. I'm a personal fan of Jason Biggs and Isla Fischer is great looking so I figured it was worth renting. As it turns out, that's exactly what it was and nothing more. Michael Weston, Jason Biggs' best friend in the film and also found in The Last Kiss, was nothing short of spectacular and hysterical as a supporting character which took my mind off of the terrible storyline. The very typical "guy meets girl, they like each other, have a fight over something that wasn't explicitly said, get back together, get married with hilarious twist" plot is enjoyable to a point. This one was okay...at least entertaining for an hour and a half. Final verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Juno - Absolutely great. Saw this one a couple weeks ago but it was just incredible. Ellen Page was a delight as the main character, Juno, and Michael Cera played what I thought was a more fitting role for him than the one he played in Superbad. Juno's parents were funny
and Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner played very good roles as the couple who would be receiving Juno's baby. I highly recommend this movie and as my friend put it, "This movie will be the next Garden State...every girl will have it in their favorite movies on Facebook for months." He couldn't be more right. Final verdict: 4 out of 5 stars.

The Golden Compass - Fantastic. If you have read the book, go see this movie. I loved every single second of it and couldn't be happier with how the story played out. The cast was incredible by itself, including Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, Eva Green, Sam Elliott, and even Ian McKellen as the voice of Iorek Byrnison. Wow, I still can't get over how awesome this movie was. The ending was perfect even though it didn't coincide directly with the book. But, as The Lord of the Rings trilogy has shown, following the books exactly as planned isn't always the best way to make the best movie. If you disagree, you can just look at all the Oscars they won. Anyway, the reason I liked how it ended even though it was in contrast to the way the book ended was because the book ending wasn't exactly conclusive whereas the ending in the movie very much was. The prime example I use of this being successful was the ending of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers when Frodo and Sam go off with Gollum towards Shelob's lair but never actually enter it, like they do in the book. The directors on The Lord of the Rings figured out that starting out the final movie with an action packed beginning was going to be much more satisfying to the audience and I think that the directors running The Golden Compass have that same idea in mind and I cannot wait until The Subtle Knife hits theaters. Final verdict: 5 out of 5 stars.

Into the Wild - Incredible. Emile Hirsch does a wonderful job as Christopher McCandless and Sean Penn directs this film to what I would vote as at least an Oscar nominee for Best Picture or Best Director. This movie was phenomenal and really gave a great representation of the book by Jon Krakauer. I read the book after the movie because I loved it so much and loved the book equally as much as the movie. More often than not, one of the two is better but in this case, both the book and the movie were masterfully done and I highly recommend anyone go see it. Final verdict: 5 out of 5 stars.

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets - Enjoyable. Not quite as good as the first movie but any movie that allows someone like me to enjoy American history has done something extraordinary. And I know, the clues and all that weren't real but can you imagine how much better history would be if it were? Hidden treasure + Nicholas Cage + the guy who plays Riley + that hot girl = awesome. No wonder they made a sequel...that right there is a recipe for success. Final verdict: 4 out of 5 stars.

I Am Legend - Good. Not great, but good. Will Smith is the man. Any movie he is in automatically gets 3 stars, even Wild Wild West. I liked this movie because it was intense and had a very interesting plot where nature is beginning to take back New York City. The ending lacked a little something and I wasn't exactly sure how I felt about the movie immediately after I saw it. I needed some time to assess what I saw and I'm sure you will too. Final verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Cloverfield - Wow. Very well shot and the acting was stellar. A little bit short for my taste (about 1 hour, 20 minutes) but it was well worth it. On the edge of your seat almost the entire movie and I often don't see these type of thriller/scary movies. Very glad I saw it though...it was well worth the price of admission. Some of the things seemed a little too unrealistic (all three people surviving a helicopter crash from probably about 1,500 to 2,000 feet) but I was able to overlook those types of things because everything else was so great. Final verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

That's all for now...I'll be back with another entry Sunday night to assess the NFL conference championship games and discuss the Super Bowl match up along with my pick of who will win it all.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ho Hum Saturday Followed by Upset Sunday!

Wow! The NFL divisional match-ups just wrapped up and I couldn't have been more surprised with the results from today. Yesterday, the Patriots finished off a very good Jacksonville team and Green Bay took care of Seattle, just as I predicted. Today however, San Diego upset Indianapolis and New York upset the Cowboys, both incorrect picks on my part. If you look back to my previous post about the playoffs, I did say that I thought New York had everything going their way to pull off the upset, I just didn't think Eli could perform like an NFL quarterback...rather than the whiny kid routine he usually pulls on Sundays. I did see Dallas possibly losing because, let's face it, they've been setting themselves up for a loss ever since they pulled out a miracle win against the Lions but the Colts losing?! I did not see that one coming. Wow. Even with Philip Rivers missing in the most important parts of the game and LT missing about half of the game, they still managed to win. I personally thought this game would be something like...Colts 45, Chargers 14 but I gotta hand it to the Bolts, they came to play. Of course, these two upset wins make my Super Bowl choices even more likely. The prospect of San Diego winning at New England is basically impossible (not to mention they could be without Rivers, Gates, or LT) and considering their loss there earlier in the year AND the fact that they match up terribly with the Pats, I'm picking Brady and company big. In the NFC Champsionship, I'm picking the Packers because the Giants have gone down to Tampa Bay and over to Dallas to pull off two upsets and they are a great road team but seriously...the Pack at Lambeau? You gotta be kiddin' me. Packers by a touchdown, Pats by three. Those are my picks. See you in Arizona.

Moving away from sports now...I give you some movie reviews!

The Heartbreak Kid: It breaks my heart (ha ha...too easy) to see a cool guy like Ben Stiller continue to do movies like this. It was cool five or ten years ago but come on, man. You're 42. Technically the role fit the age but...it felt a little stretched. Loved Malin Akerman though...she did a good job and you have to appreciate the fact that she has no problem going topless in every acting job she gets. (Harold and Kumar, Entourage Season 3). Final verdict - 3 out of 5 stars.

Hot Rod: It grew on me by the end but for a while there it was right down there with Napoleon Dynamite as the worst movie I've ever seen. Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) and the non-Seth Rogen cop from Superbad were good characters though so...I was able to give it a little bump up. Final verdict - 1 out of 5 stars (Hey, I said little).

Hot Fuzz: Awesome. Worth every penny. The two guys from Shaun of the Dead come back to do a great job and make this movie even more enjoyable. Basically, this movie absolutely brings the awesome. Yeah I said it, it brings the awesome. Final verdict - 4.5 out of 5 stars.

As a final note, here's some music to listen to:

The Who - "The Seeker"
The White Stripes - "Icky Thump" and "You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)"
Dispatch - "Two Coins"
Incubus - "Stellar"
Kanye West - "Good Life"

That's it and that's all...'s just for decoration.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Shout Out!

To the incredible Katie Reilly, who enjoys teaching sixth graders and traveling through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest!

Final College Football Rankings

As promised, here are my final college football rankings, with explanations, after LSU gave OSU another wake-up call in the BCS title game.

1. USC - I personally think right now, while everyone is healthy, USC has the best athletes and the best coach in the country. They are the best in the country right now and I would be glued to my television if I could watch USC vs. LSU right now...that would be one hell of a game.
2. LSU - I know in my previous post I said that neither team in the title game would be #1 but LSU's performance almost made me do it anyway. I am a man of my word however, and they'll sit happily at #2. After all, they did finish 12-0-2 in regulation (their two losses were in triple overtime).
3. Georgia - As good as they are, they didn't deserve a shot at the title because they came in 3rd in their conference...having said that, they crushed an overhyped Hawaii team and showed that they will be a formidable opponent this fall.
4. West Virginia - Even without their coach, they proved why they are an incredibly good football team at full health. Like USC, they lost their two games with limited playing time by their star players and suffered because of it. Even though I didn't like it at the time, their loss to Pitt gave Michigan their next great coach so, thanks WVU and good luck in 2008!
5. Missouri - Hey, what can I say? I like 'em. They only lost to Oklahoma twice and they were snubbed by the BCS so someone has to give them a little love. They're a damned good football team.
6. Oklahoma - Even though they lost their bowl game I still put them ahead of Kansas.
7. Kansas - Go home Kansas, you didn't deserve to be in the Orange Bowl and you beat a bad Virginia Tech team.
8. Tennessee - Good year, nice bowl game...nothing special.
9. Boston College - I don't like you, but you had a good season so enjoy top ten status.
10. Ohio State - Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, you suckkkkkk. Play on repeat.

Only 235 more days until Michigan starts the 2008 season!! So long, college football fans!

Onto NFL news...

Some boring wildcard games I didn't watch that closely and...I finished 3-1 with the only wrong pick coming at the hands of Seattle beating Washington. I thought the Sean Taylor thing would put them over the top but...oh well. My revised picks are as follows:

AFC: Same, Pats beat Jags, Colts beat Bolts, Pats beat Colts. Tom Brady!
NFC: I feel like the Giants will beat the Cowboys...maybe because I dislike those farmhands that call themselves "America's Team"...anyway I'm picking the Cowboys over the Giants and I'm sticking with the Packers, only in this revised edition they beat the Seahawks.

Checking in on the hockey front:
The Red Wings are still awesome...on pace for 61 wins (the most in NHL history other than...the Red Wings who won 62 in 1995-96).

And in the NBA:
Boston, I dislike you but I will see you in the East Finals. See, the Pistons have been there 5 straight years, where's your experience? Oh, you don't have any? I hope you have a better answer than that in May...tsk tsk.

That's all folks!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Michigan Wolverines: 2008 Capital One Bowl Champs


Michigan 41, Florida 35. For those of you who are still caught up in disbelief I will repeat myself. Michigan 41, Florida 35. What a great start to 2008.

That's the final score of the 2008 Capital One Bowl and Michigan raised it's record against "mobile QBs" this year to 2-2. All sorts of experts and journalists have said Michigan can't defend a running quarterback but I've finally figured out what Michigan can't defend. They can't defend against a freakishly good scrambling quarterback. Exhibit A: Vince Young, in the 2004 Rose Bowl. Exhibit B: Troy Smith, in three UM-OSU matchups. Exhibit C: Armanti Edwards, in the game-that-must-not-be named. Exhibit D: Dennis Dixon, in the Oregonian massacre earlier this season. All of those players would be looking to pass but if they saw an opening to run and took it, they were gone. Fast, big players who could juke and break tackles. The two most recent unsuccessful "mobile QBs" that Michigan has contained, Juice Williams and Tim Tebow, were not those type of players. Williams is close to that caliber but isn't nearly as good as any of the four aforementioned QBs were in college and Tebow is basically just a fullback who has the ability to throw the ball. He doesn't juke, he powers through defenses. This is exactly why Michigan came on top today despite FOUR, count em, FOUR turnovers (including two inside the Florida 3 yard line). If those two inside the red zone had been touchdowns instead of fumbles, Michigan would have won by 20 points, showing exactly how badly Florida was outplayed today.

I can't express how sweet it is to knock that arrogant grin off of Urban Meyer's face. It was a great feeling to shove this win down those Gator gullets and seemingly say, "THIS IS FOR TAKING OUR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP BID LAST YEAR!" It was an amazing football game and I'm ebullient that my favorite team in the whole world came out on top. Finally, for once this season, Michigan fans can hold their head high. I look forward to next year with Rich Rodriguez running the team and I hope to see a lot of what I saw today: aggressive play calling and victories. One final note of thanks to all the seniors and most of all, Lloyd Carr, who leaves behind a legacy of class in the coaching profession. Thank you for everything Lloyd, it has been a pleasure to watch you coach the Maize and Blue.

That's all for me tonight, I'm going to go watch the rest of the Sugar Bowl. Look for my final rankings of all of the college football teams after the BCS National Title Game and here's a quick hint, neither LSU or Ohio State will be my number one regardless of who wins. Adios amigos!