Football

Death, Joe Paterno and Cocktail Weiners

The cocktail wieners started smoking when I heard Paterno died. Apparently I was using too much heat or not enough sauce or wasn’t really stirring them. I dunno. The point being that I didn’t even bother to glance up from “ma cookin” when I heard he had passed. Paterno was dead and dead people don’t care about burnt cocktail wieners.

That Sunday I drank and watched football. I cursed several times for not betting on the Giants, I ate wieners and pizza, and I thought how ugly I’d look sporting Ed Reed’s man-face hairs. I cheered, I yelled, I indulged. But in the midst of it all, a tweet brought me out of my football cloud. It was only a simple peck, but it still rattled my mood and left me creeping into the thorny patch of my mind where Penn State had stained itself.

The Paterno hashtag was already rumbling at a torrent pace when I started sifting through it. It seemed like guilt and raw-emotions were piling onto the closure side of the scale, while others still fumed and radiated bile and puss. Surprisingly though, it was a one-sided battle. People still loved Joe. It seemed that decades of football and inspiration were outweighing disgrace and dismissal. I didn’t need to add to the rushing waters, but I did. I couldn’t help it. I needed to say something.

I thought it’d be simple to quickly blurt out my distaste, that I could return to my bbq sauce, processed meat and television. But it wasn’t. My thoughts quickly tangled and I couldn’t fully grasp how I felt about his death. Did I mourn for his for his legacy? No. Did I sympathize for his family over their loss? Yes. Was I still appalled about the whole mess? Yes. Didn’t I feel bad that Joe wasn’t able to truly tell his side of the story? Yes.

It was confusing. Sandusky is the real villain, but how much did the emperor really know about the kingdom he built?

I was momentarily too wrapped up in the empathy I had for his family to really see the situation for what it was. But then I snapped out of it.

I realized that Joe had spent decades trying to affect young peoples’ lives, but that he failed to act for the kids that needed him most.

Penn State had caught Sandusky in a sexually explicit act with a minor, and Joe Paterno did nothing. It was his show, his house, his program, and he chose to ignore it for a game. Or he at least let others push him into ignoring it.

The simple truth was that children were being hurt. It didn’t matter what Joe had built, he brought it all down when he turned his back to that.

And so I tweeted: Joe Paterno was and will always be a piece of shit. It didn’t add anything to the discussion, but it was enough for me to put the matter to rest and get back to my cocktail weiners.

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Wicca Coughlin

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)


Mona Tebow


Divisional Matchups (Saturday)

**Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images**

Another week has slugged its way across the calendar, and we’re ready to get drunk and bet insane amounts of money on some playoff football. Diamonds in the sky amigos.

Saints at Niners (+4) 

The San Francisco 49ers have smashed their way into the playoffs for the first time in nine years and they’ll be matched against some sex-crazed vampires from the swamp. Tomorrow’s game against the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers is the classic matchup of great offense against great defense, and kick off tomorrow will be played in almost perfect weather in San Francisco. Which means the Saints shouldn’t have any problem of getting their freak-on outside of a dome.

The Saints have been the league’s best offense all year and the 49ers rank as the NFL’s fourth best defensive unit. The strengths of both teams will be lined up on opposite sides of the ball, and the winner of the game will be determined by who can outmuscle who in that matchup.

The Niners have held opponents to just under 11 points a game this season, and they’ve been even better at home, and while the Saints have offensively dominated the league this year, the team has only compiled a modest 5-3 record away from the Superdome.

The Saints also averaged less than 24 points per game outdoors this year, which is well below the 38 points they usually jack up. But with the weather being what it is tomorrow and Drew Brees playing at such a high level, any notion that this team can’t play to what their capable of should be thrown out the window.

Brees is riding a playoff streak of 215 pass attempts without an interception, and he’s coming off a game where he threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns. We really don’t know how you bet against that.

As great as it is to see the 49ers back in the playoffs, they’re still too inexperienced to make any real noise this year, and they’ve had too many games where their best offensive player has been their kicker.

The Niners defense may be stout, but we’ll take good offense over good defense every time. Especially when that offense is being considered as one of the greatest ever.

Over/Under: 47.5

Verdict: Saints win 27-19

 **

Broncos at Patriots (-13.5)

It was the season of the quarterback, and Tom Brady was standing shoulder to shoulder with Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees all season. He might be the third best quarterback on that list, but that’s like saying that Tim Tebow is the third most devout Christian behind Andy Dick and the Pope.

And while the Broncos have made a living by beheading expectations and gelding spreads and rational thought, they are still constrained by the physical limitations of their passing game. In a season marked by mile-high upsets, including that stunner over the Pittsburg Steelers last week, the Patriots will bring them out of the clouds and back to the playing field.

When both teams matched up last month the Patriots were able to rack up over 451 yards of offense. The Broncos were able to check Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski in that game, but the Patriots simply had too many weapons for the Broncos to diffuse.

If the Broncos win this game, then it will send rational men into crazed street corner rants about the Mayan calendar, and it will probably cause Chris Berman’s adam’s apple to explode (hopefully on camera). But an immobile Ben Roethlisberger can’t be compared to a healthy Tom Brady, and while everyone has enjoyed Tebow mania, nothing gold can stay.

Over/Under: 50.5

Verdict: Patriots win 33-21


Red Sea falls on Steelers, Tebow Prays for Their Souls

**Flash DT (Demaryius Thomas) after his game winning touchdown. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images**

Heaven and hell squared off yesterday, and both walked away with victories. The NY Giants rode Satan’s cruiser over the lifeless Falcons, and Tim Tebow prayed his arm into a golden shotgun, capable of shooting footballs through the Steelers vaunted defense.

The Giants game was a joke. Eli Manning and the Giants Defense made the Falcons look like an abused animal, and the Giants front four plucked and skinned Matt Ryan in front of thousands of New Yorkers and kids from the shore. The Falcons couldn’t get anything on offense and the Giants were constantly able to put pressure on Matt Ryan. It was ugly. The Falcons coach was red in the face by the end of the game, and the hot seat seemed to be squarely under his feet.

The turning point of the contest came after the Falcons failed to convert their second fourth down conversion of the game. Their inability to keep the wheels spinning on that drive seemed to rattle the team and their “mopey” attitude seemed to spread up and down their bench.

The Falcons showed no mental toughness, but we can’t take anything away from the Giants, they looked stout. Eli played like one of the elite quarterbacks in the league, the Giants were able to put pressure on Ryan without blitzing, and their receivers were able to convert big plays into home runs and roman candles.

The main event turned out to be the best game of the weekend. The fight of the night, so to say. We predicted the Broncos wouldn’t score more than 13 points in the whole game, and they made us look stupid by the end of the first half.

After going scoreless in the first quarter the Broncos got going when Tebow went deep to Demaryius Thomas for 51 yards. Two plays later Tebow hit Eddie Royal with a beautifully thrown ball for a 30-yard touchdown. Boom. Broncos on the board and take the lead.

The Broncos were even more impressive on the defensive side of the ball. The team was constantly able to put pressure on an immobile Ben Roethlisberger, and the Steelers really couldn’t get anything going until the fourth quarter.

Yesterday we called the Broncos unworthy, but for the most part, they played a great game. Are we bold and stupid enough to call them a team of destiny? Naw. But, it’s definitely getting harder to bet against them.  


Wildcard Picks (Sunday)

Bob Rosato/Sports Illustrated

Well, they are who we thought they were. The playoffs started on a high note for us, and while we’re happy that we picked the winners of both games yesterday, and the over/under for the Saints game, we probably lost 100k because we couldn’t predict either spread. Rats.

Houston looked good yesterday. Adrian Foster is a beast. T.J. Yates played fairly well considering the pressure he must have been under, and you’ve got to give it up for Houston’s defense. But we’re not going to get too high on them from this win. They played well, but let’s not lose perspective; they were playing at home against a rookie quarterback.

And yesterday’s main event was pretty amazing until the Saints pulled away early in the fourth quarter. The Saints looked unstoppable again, but Detroit put up a pretty decent fight. Here are our four best players from that contest (unexpectedly they’re all offensive players).

  1. Drew Brees
  2. Calvin Johnson
  3. Darren Sproles
  4. Marcus Colston/Matthew Stafford

Even though the Lions played really well in the first half, we’re glad the Saints and Packers is still potentially brewing. One game to rule them all indeed.

Here are our picks for today’s games:

Atlanta at N.Y. Giants (-3)

Does anybody really think that either of these two teams can matchup against the Saints or Packers? We’re taking the underdog in this one purely because we have this image of Eli Manning walking off the field with his head down burned into our subconscious.

The over/under is set at 47.5.

Falcons win 27-24

Pittsburg at Denver (+8)

It’s weird that Pittsburg is the away team in this one, purely because Denver is such an unworthy playoff team. We don’t see the Broncos scoring more than 13 points and we’re predicting the Steelers defense puts at least four good licks on Tebow.

The over/under is set at 34

Steelers win 24-13


Wildcard Picks (Saturday)

UPI/A.J. Sisco

Tap the kegs, get yourself correct, and call your favorite bookie: playoff football is finally here. Huzzah. Wildcard games will be featured all weekend, and we’re psyched. Here’s our breakdown of Saturday’s games:

Cincinnati at Houston (-3.5)

This is a matchup of firsts. The Houston Texans are entering the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, Andy Dalton is playing in his first playoff game as a rookie, as is T.J. Yates, the Texans third-string quarterback.

The Texans have the league’s best run game. Arian Foster and Ben Tate have combined for over 3,400 rushing yards this season, and even though Foster has been dealing with a knee injury he should play in tomorrow’s game. The Texans don’t want to rely too heavily on Yates and the team will look to run. The biggest matchup of the game should be how well the Texans run against the Bengals front seven.

The Bengals are a young team, and their season has been plagued with fourth quarter mistakes. Andy Dalton has had a solid rookie campaign, but he’s still a rookie and this will be one of the biggest games he’s played in.

With two rookie quarterbacks playing, I’m taking the hometown team. The Texans should be fired up to play their first playoff game and by the return of star wideout Andre Johnson.

Verdict:

Texans win 21-17

Detroit at New Orleans (-10.5)

This should be a great game. Two heavyweight offenses slugging it out. Brees vs. Stafford. A Hall of Famer going against one of the best up-and-comers. Megatron vs. Jimmy Graham. Who Dat? vs. Detroit Whut?.

What’s there to really say about the Saints offense that hasn’t already been said? One of our favorite stats about the Saints offense this year: six guys have caught for over 500 yards on the season. This team is going to put up points and Brees is going to throw multiple touchdowns in this game.

But let’s not forget that Detroit is no slouch on offense either. Stafford put up his own 5,000 yard season, Megatron is the best receiver in the game, and Brandon Pettigrew is a beast. But Detroit’s only chance to stop the Saints lies with their defensive front four. If Suh, Avril, and Vanden Bosch can put pressure on Brees, the Lions will have a chance to win this game.

Verdict:

Odds makers set Saints-Lions over-under at 59.

Saints win 37-28.