Wednesday, November 10, 2010
NFL Midseason Report: The crowded push towards the playoffs
LOST is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I obsessed over it for years, plowing through hundreds of thousands of articles and theories. I spent hours discussing it with my friends, and even bought a few T-Shirts.
It sounds a whole lot like the life of a die hard sports fan to me. Besides for the actual games, we spend hours watching ESPN, we read every article on our favorite website by our favorite writer, and we waste an inordinate amount of time discussing/arguing with our friends about it. By buying jerseys and season tickets, we have turned sports from "entertainment" into a business (How many times have you heard a player get traded or not get the contract he wants and say, "Hey, it's just a business.").
Anyway, the point of this whole parallel isn't only the similarity of fans of LOST and fans of sports. This NFL season is a lot like LOST in another way: unpredictability. You think you know what is going to happen next? Well, sorry, the Island just disappeared. You think you know who the best team is? Yea? It's the Patriots, they are 6-1, good for best in the NFL! Nope! They just got smoked by the Cleveland Browns! Peyton Hillis, a former 3rd string fullback (is that even a position!?), gashed a defense that had just finished limiting two of the best running backs in the game in Ray Rice and Adrien Peterson.
I was watching some ESPN Thursday night, and in a four minute span, I saw three so called "experts" pick THREE different teams as the number one team in the league right now. One picked the Giants, one the Ravens, and another the Steelers. At this point, making a pick is just silly, because chances are, that team is going to get knocked off in its next game. With that said, I am going to try and take some of the top teams and compare them to some of my favorite characters of my favorite show:
Jack Shepard (Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers):
They are the veteran leaders. They have been there, done that, and despite some bumps in the road, are probably the best bet to be the last man (team) standing. Like Jack, Roethlisberger has had some troubles dealing with success off the field/Island. (From Wikipedia: Off the field, Roethlisberger has been involved in high-profile incidents, including a nearly fatal motorcycle accident in 2006 and sexual assault allegations in Lake Tahoe in 2008 and in Milledgville, Georgia in 2010. Neither allegation resulted in charges being filed. However, the latter act resulted in Roethlisberger being suspended for six games (reduced to four) under the NFL's personal conduct policy for the start of the 2010 season------from Lostpedia: Off-island, Jack laid his father to rest and proposed to Kate, but visits from John Locke and his father's ghost sent him toward depression and substance abuse. Jack began drinking regularly. Jack succumbed to depression and substance abuse, and his hospital suspended him. He began flying across the Pacific every weekend hoping it would crash, returning him to the island or killing him. When he heard Locke had killed himself, Jack tried calling Kate then almost leaped off an L.A. bridge, distracting a driver he then had to save from the ensuing crash. A doctor refused to let him operate on the passenger he'd saved, and when a pharmacist denied him painkillers, even when he forged a prescription from his father, the same doctor caught him trying to steal drugs.) Truly an uncanny comparison.
John Locke (Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots):
Started off as a likeable character, sort of an underdog, and slowly but surely morphed into a killer black smoke monster. Belichick is surely a Man of Science. He believes that the individual doesn't matter- just play your role. If you work as a cohesive unit, you will be successful. This season, Belichick has eliminated the locker room cancers (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=adande_ja&page=cancers-101103) alright, fine Adande, you win. Belichick has eliminated all the egos in the locker room (that works) like Randy Moss, Laurence Maroney and Adalius Thomas. With Moss especially, Belichick moved with the swiftness of the black smoke's attack on Eko in season 3 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXHfHZZMxYw). That will teach all future Patriots: do not mess with Belichick's team chemistry- he will get you.
James "Sawyer" Ford (Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens):
Like Ford, the Ravens are considered a main character, but they are not quite on the same level as Jack or Locke. Also like Ford, Ray Lewis is a bad, bad man (who has no problem killing someone- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRmK-1wDUig- OK, that was a low blow. Still, he killed a man- http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/sports_issues/40799 - by the way, "Ray Lewis murder" had 1.84 million results on Google. Not a good sign.)
Jacob (Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders):
The only similarities here are that both Jacob and Al have been alive for centuries and at this point no one really knows if they are dead or not.
Walt Lloyd (Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles):
Nuff' said. (Too soon?)
Richard Alpert (Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings):
For those who don't know, Richard's character never aged. His appearance barely changed throughout the course of the show- which spanned about 200 years.
OK. Enough LOST. Plus, half of that probably didn't make sense.
On to the picks!
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears
Vikings should win. The Bears are somehow 5-3. You do the math.
Vikings 27 Bears 23
NY Jets @ Cleveland Browns
I would do ANYTHING for the Browns to win this game. We saw what they could do last week, and I really hate the Jets. If the Browns can shut down Tom Brady, they can sure as hell shut down Mark Sanchez. Let's see if they can score enough to win- this is my upset of the week.
Cleveland 17 Jets 16
Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts
Easy. Colts ALL DAY.
Indy 30 Cinci 20
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Tough game to call, because both teams run so hot and cold. But if there is anything we have learned in the past few years, it is that Houston always sucks you back into their trap after a couple of horrible losses. They are due for a win that makes everyone go "let me tell you something, those Houston Texans are going to be very good when they put everything together" (Let me save you the trouble. They won't.)
Houston 33 Jacksonville 24
Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins
Overrated Titans (because of Moss), underrated Dolphins (people are overlooking Chad Pennington. I think.) I smell upset.
Dolphins 23 Titans 20
Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Panthers are SO bad. Also, Bucs need a bounce back after their heart breaker last week. They are gonna win big.
Bucs 34 Panthers 13
Detroit Lions @ Buffalo Bills
A surprisingly watcheable game. Ryan Fitzpatrick to Steve Johnson has been a great hookup the last few weeks, and the Lions really came to play last week against a big time opponent. This might be one of the more exciting games this weekend. Too bad about Stafford, he looked fantastic the last couple of weeks. (Did I write "last" enough times that paragraph?)
Bills 26 Lions 23
Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos
The Broncos were underrated until they let up 60 points to the Raiders. The Chiefs remain underrated. Dwayne Bowe has got to stop dropping TD passes.
Chiefs 27 Broncos 21
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals
This is the type of game god makes so that people who try to predict games look like idiots. No idea what's going to happen. Possible Armageddon.
Cards 34 Hawks 24
NY Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
I've been saying it for weeks: this Giants team is VERY similar to their 2007 championship squad. Except now, Eli Manning is a good quarterback, and he has some unbelievable weapons in Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith. They are going to be extremely tough to beat come playoff time.
Giants 41 Cowboys 17
St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers
Singletary is done after this year. It will be fun to see Troy Smith at the helm, he was a fun player to watch back at THE Ohio State University.
Rams 27 49ers 17
New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Brady is 5-1 against Pittsburgh, and the Steelers lost their LT and may be without James Harrison. And I'm a Patriots fan.
Pats 27 Steelers 24
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
When your quarterback doesn't know the 2 minute offense AND has problems staying in shape, you are probably going to lose. The Eagles are definitely for real, that was a huge win against Indy last week. Mike Vick for MVP!!!
Eagles 30 Redskins 20