NFL Week 3 breakdown
Sunday, September 27, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Let's start this post off with a quote from one of my favorite movies:
Every newspaper in the country has picked us to finish last. The local press seems to think we'd save everyone a lot of time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I'm for wasting sports writers' time. So, I'd like to hang around and see if we can give 'em all a nice big sh**burger to eat.
With that in mind, let's talk about which teams' local media should get their ketchup ready.

Oh my god, they actually won. No team exemplifies this quote more than the lowly Detroit Lions. Losers of 19 straight games, they hadn't won since December 2007. Well, luckily the Washington Redskins were accommodating enough to help the Lions break their losing streak. It was a pretty exciting game that had me on the edge of my seat. The Lions defense, normally porous, particularly in the secondary, managed to buckle down for once when the going got tough. The rookie QB Matthew Stafford had his first interception-free performance, and looked like he was actually having fun for once. RB Kevin Smith turned in his first 100+ yard rushing performance of the season as well, despite leaving the game with an injury in the second half.

In the locker room after the game, head coach Jim Schwartz remarked that people seemed awfully excited about winning a game that they expected to win. And while it's understandable that the Lions are relieved to have this 900 pound monkey off their backs, on the other hand, he's totally right - this was a game that many expected the Lions to win.

The difference between bad, mediocre, and good teams is this: bad teams lose games they should win, mediocre teams win the games they're supposed to and lose the ones they're supposed to (see also: Bills, Buffalo), and good teams win games that they aren't supposed to. Up till now, the Lions have been a bad team, imploding when the chips were down, losing to teams they had in their sights (rare as that was, there were a few last season). Now, the Lions can count themselves as a mediocre team. Surprisingly, that's okay. A 3-12 season would be something to build on (and looking at their schedule, they should only be expected to be 2 of the teams listed there).

With those definitions in mind, it's a bit early to be certain, but it sure looks like the Cincinnati Bengals (long mocked as "The Bungles" by the press) are in danger of being classified as a good team. They've now won two games in a row that no one expected them to (and really, their loss to the Broncos was a total fluke, so I'm giving them a pass on that). True, the wins weren't pretty, but on the other hand I attribute part of that to Carson Palmer being rusty coming off his recent injuries. If he gets into a groove, I predict Cincinnati might get even better on offense. I'm also shocked that Cedric Benson, a dud for so long, actually looks like the real deal this year. Looking at their schedule, I count 5 games they should win (CLE twice, DET, OAK, KC), which leaves them about 3 games against opponents that are challenging, but not impossible (SD, CHI, HOU). That would put them at 10 wins, which would position them well for a wild card spot.

In any case, even if they suck the rest of the year, that was still an exciting victory over their hated divisional rivals. Palmer started the game shaky, but showed real poise and leadership in the fourth quarter. Their final drive was a real nail-biter that included not one, but TWO 4th down conversions to keep the drive alive. I'd also like to note that on the final Hail Mary heave by Rothelisberger, the Cincinnati DBs went out of their way to make sure they batted the ball DOWN this time. That gave me a good chuckle.

If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style. Meanwhile, there are several teams lined up to take over where the Lions left off as Kings of Loserville. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used to be a power house on defense, but so far this season they've looked like a sure thing for offenses who need to get a boost in their stats. Not that the Tampa Bay offense is much better - this week they post 86 yards of total offense (54 of which came late in the 4th when the Giants had the game well under control), converting 0 of 9 third downs and scoring no points. You've got to think that the floundering Washington Redskins can't wait to play Tampa Bay next week.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland QBs seem to be in a competition to see who can play worse. Brady Quinn had his big chance to shine this year as the starting QB, but instead played poorly enough that he was yanked for Derek Anderson - who promptly threw 3 INTs yesterday. Cleveland.com's website cleverly labeled the game "Carnage on the Chesapeake". Consider that it could have been even worse if the Ravens hadn't pulled their starters in the fourth quarter out of mercy.

The Miami Dolphins aren't a bad team, but they're not that good of a team either, and they have a pretty tough schedule this year. While I think they'll win some games this year, they really need to start considering looking at Chad Henne to see if he can really be their QB for the future. I love Chad Pennington, but having no big passing game is really killing the Dolphins right now. Imagine how good Ronnie Brown might be if there was an actual passing threat teams had to guard against.

Vick who? For all the hullabaloo about Michael Vick and where he might fit in the Eagles organization after this year, the real story has been the performance of young QB Kevin Kolb these past few games. Kolb was drafted to be the quarterback of the future after aging starter Donovan McNabb leaves, and he's definitely given the Philly faithful a reason to be optimistic moving forward. Of course, we'll still have to see how he performs one day in a game that is actually close - he threw INTs against the Saints, but that's going to happen when you play from so far behind, and you don't exactly get a prize for beating up on the Chiefs. Last year's meltdown was against the Ravens, and frankly you can't blame him for that one - the Ravens made a lot of otherwise good QBs look terrible last year.

Vick was pretty much a non-entity in the game: he only got 10 plays or so, and he wasn't even the best Wildcat QB out there - rookie RB LeSean McCoy did a better job running plays out of that formation. At this point, you have to wonder if Vick might only be the 4th best QB on that roster right now. Also, with the way Kolb has played and the way JaMarcus Russell has played, do you think maybe Jeff Garcia might be regretting asking to leave Oakland so early?

Random quick thoughts. I get a lot of complaints from people in the comments section that I don't give their favorite team enough love each week, so here are some quicky bites on some other teams that played this week:

- I think the Falcons needed to put a lot more pressure on Tom Brady this week. That's why they lost: he had too much time in the pocket to think about how he wanted to destroy them. The Falcons also need to find a way to get the Michael Turner bus rolling again.

- The Chargers look pretty good, but I'm a little unsure about their run game right now. Luckily Philip Rivers is willing to throw the hell out of the ball while they work that out.

- I thought Houston spent the past few years drafting high profile defenders to improve. This year they seem hell-bent on awarding fantasy football glory to every opponent they face.

- Arizona has serious offensive line issues. That's why they can't run and that's why Kurt Warner was rushed most of the game yesterday.

- I think there might be something seriously wrong with the Seattle Seahawks conditioning program, as the program is riddled with injuries for the second season in a row early in the year. Also, WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH THESE JERSEYS?

Seriously. Maybe players were faking injuries this week so they wouldn't have the embarrassment of playing in these jerseys. Between this and the horrific jerseys the University of Oregon sports, it's clear that the West Coast has some kind of weird fashion dementia.

Studs of the week. Call me crazy, but the HBO series Hard Knocks has converted me into a closet Bengals fan. And the series also helped inspire my love for some of the role players on the team, like Brian Leonard. This week he awarded my love with an amazing effort on 4th down to keep the final drive alive, plus he caught the 2-point conversion that ensured that a Steelers FG could only tie the game.

Peyton Manning is a beast (24/35, 379 yards, 4 TDs). I also love the way Joe Flacco has become a big game QB this year, posting his best effort yet for yardage (25/35, 342 yards, 1 TD), and continuing to lead a shockingly potent Baltimore offense. Imagine what he could do with a true #1 WR that could run down passes thrown by that huge arm of his. However, it's not like the ageless Derrick Mason isn't pulling his share of the offensive load (118 yards, 1 TD).

Good for you, Maurice Jones-Drew for having a huge game (118 yards, 3 TDs). But could you please try to do it next time on a week when I'm NOT playing your owner in fantasy football?

Lastly, Brett Favre still has a little magic left in his seemingly bottomless bag of pixie dust. Did you see that throw on the final play of the game? Just awesome. I'm not even going to quote his stats for the day, because that's not why Minnesota was so eager to sign him - single plays like the toss to Greg Lewis are why they signed him. If there were hints of a schism in the locker room, I'd say it's safe to assume all the boys in purple are squarely behind him for now.

Duds of the week. My god, just when you think JaMarcus Russell can't get any worse, he turns in an even worse performance the next week. How long can the Raiders continue to justify starting a QB that goes 12/21 for only 61 yards, 2 INTs, and takes 3 sacks? He has thrown for a TOTAL of 378 yards in the past 3 weeks - which you'll note is 1 yard fewer than Peyton Manning threw for in a single game.

Teams I like this week. The NY Jets look mighty fine. So do the New Orleans Saints. So I guess it's lucky for us football fans that they meet up next week to decide if the Jets have what it takes to contain the Saints offense. Despite their heartbreaking loss to the Vikings, the 49ers are still the real deal and I still like what I'm seeing out of that program. Lastly, if the defense tightens up a bit, the best team in the AFC (or perhaps the whole NFL) might be the Baltimore Ravens.

Teams I don't like this week. The Oakland Raiders' conduct both on the field and off the field (read this bizarre story about them attempting to ban Rich Gannon from their facility) continues to be an embarrassment. The way the Washington Redskins are playing, I think Jim Zorn might be fired in their bye week, barring some kind of miraculous turn around before then. Their division is just too competitive for them to lose to teams like Detroit (and nearly to the lowly Rams the week before).

**photo credits (all images borrowed from AP/ESPN, ohgoddon'tsueme)
Matthew Stafford image by AP Photo/Paul Sancya
Cleveland Browns image by AP Photo/Gail Burton
Seattle's horrible uniforms image by AP Photo/John Froschauer
Kevin Kolb image by AP Photo/Michael Perez
JaMarcus Russell image by AP Photo/Ben Margot

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Fall TV: Finding The Diamonds in the Coal Pile
Thursday, September 24, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
In case you're wondering what's entertaining me these days, here are the shows I'll be following along with this fall (and perhaps blogging about, if I have time):

Must-Watch Shows

1) I must say - the pilot episode for the new sitcom Modern Family was absolutely stellar. I haven't seen a pilot this strong in a long time (perhaps back to Arrested Development). If you missed it, you can watch it online here. Highly recommended. It's sort of like The Office crossed with Married... With Children (and I mean that in a good way).

2) Dollhouse is back! And all reports are that it's much improved. The fact that they poached some more great Battlestar Galactica actors (Jamie Bamber appears in tonight's season opener, and Michael Hogan pops in at some point as well) probably helps. Joss Whedon also took advantage of the cancellation of The Sarah Connor Chronicles to pull the excellent Summer Glau back into his fold. And really... could anyone LOOK more plastic and doll-like than her?

3) Parks and Recreation started sort of wonky, but picked up good steam towards the end of the season. Last night's premiere was really great - highlights include Chris Pratt really committing to flinging himself into an open pit head-first - and gives me hope that the show has found its comedic footing.

4) On the sci-fi front, I'm also still excited about the reboot of V, which is coming in November. Advance word is that the pilot is awesome. Finally, Stargate gets another spin-off show, when Stargate: Universe launches later this fall. The cast (Ming Na, David Blue, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Robert Carylyle to name a few) is stellar, and it looks like this show's going to be a lot darker than previous ones.

5) I don't need to tell you why I'm watching 30 Rock, The Office, Mad Men, How I Met Your Mother and Fringe. They rock and you all know it.

6) Don't forget, Dexter returns this Sunday on Showtime. And John Lithgow is the season long guest star! Wooooo! Anyone who saw Lithgow in "Raising Cain" knows he can be one scary mo-fo when he wants to be.

Shows With Potential

1) I liked the first two episodes of NBC's sitcom Community, so I'm tentatively in for now. Joel McHale is perfectly cast, as is Chevy Chase. I'm not sure how the rest of the cast is going to work for me, but it's early so we'll see.

2) I like the singing on Glee, plus Jane Lynch is delivering comic gold week after week, which allows me for now to endure the more annoying aspects of the show. It's got tons of potential, but needs to figure out what kind of show it wants to be. Tonally, it's all over the place. Does this show want to be a dark comedy that exposes life in high school (a la Election), or does it want to be an optimistic, everybody sings and dances sort of show (a la High School Musical).

3) You might want to check out ABC's new show Flash Forward (I DVR'd it and will comment more once I watch this weekend). I love serial drama/sci-fi shows when they're done right, so we'll see how this one turns out. It's got a good cast, and it's a promising sign that the showrunners plan to answer the main mystery by the end of the season.
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NFL Week 2 breakdown
Sunday, September 20, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Wow, what an exciting week of football. Let's get down to it.

The panicfest has been postponed till next week. There's a hilarious tendency for fans to freak out after Week 1 of the NFL regular season. I have several friends who were ready to give up on their team for the season based on one performance.
Let's start with the Bears fandom, who last week saw Jay Cutler throw 4 INTs and their star linebacker Brian Urlacher leave the game with a season-ending wrist injury. My Facebook feed was overwhelmed by friends posting things like, "Oh god, there goes the season" and "If we wanted 4 INTs, we would have kept Grossman."Well, those fans have to feel a lot better after watching Cutler perform fairly well (27 for 38, and no INTs this time) against the Steelers defense (still a tough group, even with the loss of superstar Troy Polamalu). Though I'm still not 100% sure that the Bears will do much this season - since this win was partially about Jeff Reed's failure to convert critical FGs versus any spectacular defensive play - it's got to feel good to pull off the victory, especially at home. Good teams know how to win when the chips are down, when they're playing a team that might be better than them. The Bears will need to win a lot of tough games this year if they want to make the playoffs. However, I am very concerned about the Bears seemingly abandoning Matt Forte, their best offensive weapon, in their rush to take advantage of Cutler's abilities.

Also bouncing back from horrific implosions last week were the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and the Oakland Raiders. Of those teams, I think Cincy has the most to be proud of. They played a pretty good game, and of the 3 teams, I think they're the most solid. Cedric Benson has run strong now for 2 straight games, and the passing game is slowly getting back in sync (you can tell Palmer is still struggling to find his rhythm after missing most of the pre-season with an ankle injury).

The Raiders lost a game they should have won last week against the Chargers, so I guess they felt compelled to win a game they should have lost this week. The Chiefs had 409 total yards of offense compared to the Raiders' 166 yards, but made more mistakes - 2 INTs and twice the number of penalties as the Raiders - that ended up costing them the win at home. I have a feeling this might be a long and unhappy season for KC again.

The Bills won a game that they should have. That's all I can really say about that - good for Trent Edwards for taking more shots down the field, I guess. I'm still not optimistic about their chances, because I don't believe they can win games that are close or where they're expected to lose.

Good for the Arizona Cardinals, who bounced back from a bad loss last week and got their offense back on track. More on Kurt Warner's record breaking performance later in this post. I'm also quite pleased, for selfish reasons related to fantasy football, that Larry Fitzgerald has now gone two weeks in a row avoiding the dreaded Madden curse.

Lastly, the Eagles fan who moaned and groaned about McNabb getting hurt again have to feel good about the way Kevin Kolb performed yesterday. Yes, the Eagles lost, but I have a feeling that Drew Brees is going to make a lot of otherwise solid defenses look foolish when he rolls into town. The last time Kolb played, he looked like a frightened bunny rabbit. This time, Kolb looked a lot more in control. Yes, he had turn overs, but that's going to happen when you throw over 50 times and are trying to keep up with the most potent offense in the NFL.

On second thought, go ahead and panic. The following teams actually should be panicking a little, since I see some bad tendencies that could blossom into big problems if they continue this season.

The Redskins could barely muster enough enthusiasm to beat the lowly St Louis Rams. I look at this offense, and I see a group of 11 guys playing uninspired football. The WRs aren't performing up to snuff, and there's legitimate concern over Jason Campbell's ability to truly put the team on his back. Also, Clinton Portis can't cheat age and wear on his body forever. You can't afford lackluster output like this when you play in the toughest division in football.

Attention Kansas City: when you can't even beat the Raiders AT HOME (where the Chiefs used to boast a huge advantage), you need to start panicking a little. I'm not sure head coach Todd Haley has the right temperament to deal with this team. If he thinks he's going to scream them into playing better, he's not going to have any voice left at the end of the season. They have to play the Eagles next week, which could be very ugly.

Lastly, the Jaguars are 0-2 and they can't get fans into the seats. This is a franchise that's in serious trouble. The fans (what few they have, based on attendance and general buzz) should be freaking out, because at this rate, can Jacksonville really hang onto their franchise much longer? Is it possible the Jags might move in the near future?

Studs of the week. I have a feeling that I'm going to get tired of writing "Drew Brees" here week after week. He's a robot (25/34, 311 yards, 3 TDs). He must make opposing defenses crazy - you KNOW he's going to pass, and yet you can't do anything about it. He has more TDs than quarters played this season (9 TD in 8 quarters).

Speaking of phenomenal QB performances, special props to one of my favorites Kurt Warner, for his record setting performance. I'll just quote SI.com's Peter King here: "His 24-of-26 passing day, 92.3 percent, is the best in the 90-year history of the league. He's getting older, but he might also be getting better." Also, I don't like Philip Rivers as a person, but I must give him mad props for his performance (25/45, 436 yards) in that heart-breaking loss. It's just a shame that the team didn't trust the ball to his capable hands on the last play of the drive.

And speaking of that play... oh my god. Did you see the tackle by Ray Lewis on 4th down with the game on the line? Simply one of the best defensive plays I've ever seen. Words can't do justice to the awesomeness displayed here (though Michael Silver comes close in this outstanding article you HAVE to read) - check out the video (the play in question starts around 4:55 or so). That is what we call "outstanding individual effort." Lewis also had 12 tackles and forced a fumble. Another player who elevated his team with his individual play on defense is the NY Jets' Darrelle Revis - learn that name, because he's a rising star.

Last, the Houston/Tennessee game was an orgy of amazing offensive performances. Chris Johnson ran wild (197 rushing yards, 2 TDs, 87 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD), but Matt Schaub went wilder (25/39, 357 yards, 4 TD), squeaking out the win after a poor performance the week before. What's amazing is that someone managed to top Chris Johnson's yardage, as Frank Gore had two HUGE runs of 79 and 80 yards, on his way to a 206 yard, 2 TD day.

Duds of the week. One of the main criticisms leveled at the Cowboys last year was that Tony Romo couldn't win when it counted. Judging from his performance (13/29, 127 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT) last night, he hasn't really fixed those issues in the off-season, even with Terrell Owens run out of town. His 3 INTs were simply terrible (2 returned for TDs). He looked awkward and nervous in the pocket all night, and he cost the Cowboys a critical divisional win. Meanwhile, the Brady Quinn era in Cleveland is off to an ugly start. And Willie Parker, where are you? What happened to the vaunted Pittsburgh run game? Did you know that instead of JaMarcus Russell, who is now 19/54 (35.2% completion rate) with 1 TD and 2 INT for the year, the Oakland Raiders could have drafted Adrian Peterson, which would have then allowed them to select a QB the following year when guys like Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco were floating around?

Teams I like this week. Don't look now, but the San Francisco 49ers are 2-0, with two division wins under their belt. I think the New Orleans Saints are the most terrifying team out there right now, especially if their defense steps up their game at all. The NY Jets might just be the real deal, especially with that defense. The Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens are both 2-0 and helmed by QBs that are thus far avoiding a sophomore slump.

Teams I don't like this week. The Cleveland Browns really need to learn to tackle. I'm also thinking that maybe the New England Patriots' long streak of having an old defense and little-to-no consistency in the run game is finally starting to fail them. Tom Brady needs help once in awhile, guys, especially since the O line is looking particularly suspect this year. Though both the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders inexplicably won this week, I don't like what either team is bringing to the table.



**photo credits (all images borrowed from AP/ESPN, ohgoddon'tsueme)
Bears image by AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Redskins fumble image by AP Photo/Nick Wass
Chris Johnson image by AP Photo/Wade Payne
Giants interception image by AP Photo/LM Otero

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Monday Night Football Madness
Tuesday, September 15, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Normally, I probably won't blog about the weekly Monday Night Football matchups*, but since ESPN decided air back-to-back games and screw all East Coast residents that need to actually, you know, WORK and shit early in the morning, I guess I'll go ahead and discuss last night's results.

It was the best of times.... Watching the pre-game show, Chris Berman mentioned that the Bills had announced their plan to play in the no-huddle offense for the entire game. He then pitched it to his fellow commentators to discuss. Tom Jackson made a valiant attempt to be fair-minded, but eventually settled on (paraphrasing here), "I.... I.... I just.... it just seems like a bad idea to give the Patriots offense MORE time to beat on you." Other hosts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka and Keyshawn Johnson couldn't even manage that, breaking down into giggles almost immediately at the thought. Naturally, I went into the game thinking that I was about to see a disaster unfold.

Surprisingly enough, though, Alex Van Pelt (the new offensive coordinator) put together a very solid game plan. Trent Edwards looked really in control of the offense, which was a promising sign. Though much will be made of the fact that T.O. only caught 2 balls, he did exactly what he was supposed to do - pull double coverage on deep routes. This allowed the Bills to take advantage of the defense by running screens, draws and crossing routes. Fred Jackson was on his way to earning a game ball for the way he gutted out several huge runs that kept drives alive. The Bills defense dug its heels in and stopped the Patriots on 4th down twice. Things were looking like they were headed for an upset with just over 5 minutes to go.

The second game of the night - featuring another predicted division winner against a team that no one thinks will be any good this year - unfolded much in the same way. The Raiders, expected to suck as they usually do, matched the Chargers blow for blow, with newly acquired Richard Seymour anchoring the defense (6 tackles, 2 sacks). Then suddenly, miraculously, JaMarcus Russell had a moment where he lived up to his billing, as he tossed a gorgeous 57 yard TD pass on 4th down that put the Raiders up with just over 2 minutes to go. The Black Hole was rocking.

... it was the worst of times. There is a competition among fans of certain franchises to see which team truly is the more woeful. Cincinnati had already made their case for Most Woeful with their bizarre last minute loss to the Broncos. However, clearly the Bills and Raiders weren't to be counted out so easily, as both teams imploded in the worst way. The difference between good teams and bad teams is that good teams know how to finish, and bad teams do not.

In some ways, the Raiders loss seems a little less painful, in that they did go blow-for-blow with the Chargers the whole night. The Chargers simply had the final blow that sealed the game in their favor, as Darren Sproles ran in the go-ahead score. The Bills, by contrast, were more spectacular in their utter failure. They gave up a TD before the 2 minute warning, but were still up by 4 points. All they had to do was run the clock out, or at least take a good chunk of time off the clock (and drain the Pats remaining time outs), putting the game in the defense's favor. However, Leodis McKelvin fumbled the kickoff and Tom Brady capitalized on it by quickly driving for the game winning TD. That the TD came to the same exact receiver on the same exact route as the previous score was just extra salt for the Bills' wounds.

Random thoughts. First, the Richard Seymour trade isn't looking so insane anymore. He clearly made the Raiders defense better immediately. And seeing the Bills tear apart the Patriots defense for a good part of the night made me think perhaps the Patriots were premature in letting Seymour go.

Second, the "B" crew for ESPN was simply horrific. Mike Greenberg, Mike Golic and Steve Young were terrible commentators. Listening to the game, I thought that ESPN had strolled down to the local sports bar and just randomly picked 3 guys off bar stools to work the game. At one point, Golic went off for several minutes about how he would like to change the rules about illegal contact. He was stunningly uninformed about the nuances of why the rule was in place, and what the ramifications of his proposed change would be. It was embarrassing. Greenberg was slightly better, and I do enjoy him on his radio show, but wow... his voice is not suited for color commentary work at all. Nasally and too high-pitched.

Third, I don't believe in moral victories, but the Bills did a lot of things right that they should be proud of.

Lastly, I think the Chargers will be fine this season, and they'll probably still win the AFC West. The Patriots I'm not quite as sure about. They looked really rusty on offense (which will probably improve), but they looked very vulnerable on defense (which might not improve, especially if Jerod Mayo is out for awhile). I'm curious to see how Rex Ryan reacts after this game, as the Patriots O line looked like it could barely stand a 4 man rush. I expect to see a lot of crazy blitzes from the Jets next week.

Studs of the night. Tom Brady and Philip Rivers both started rusty, there's no doubt about that. Sometimes players are studs because they put up gaudy numbers. However, these two are studs this week because they showed real poise and leadership when it really mattered, putting their teams on their backs and willing them to victory. Though the Bills lost, you have to admire the way that Fred Jackson ran all night long, and the impact that Aaron Schobel had. And when the game was on the line, it wasn't LT that got the call - it was Darren Sproles (who also had a killer return earlier in the game). You never want a TE as your leading receiver, but Zach Miller was simply excellent.

Duds of the night. LaDainian Tomlinson didn't look sharp at all. He lacked the quick step we've seen in previous years. All the speed in the world can't help Darrius Heyward-Bey if he can't catch the damn ball once in awhile. And I'm getting sick of hearing that JaMarcus Russell is a work in progress. A third year starting QB simply cannot go 12 for 30. That's horrible. Even if you spot him Heyward-Bey's two drops, he's still below 50% completion. Leodis McKelvin should be punched in the throat. That is all I have to say about that.



*you can always message me or discuss the games in the comments section of my weekly wrap up posts.

**photo credits (all images borrowed from AP/ESPN, ohgoddon'tsueme)
Bills are excited image by AP Photo/Stephan Savoia
McKelvin fumbles image by AP Photo/Steven Senne
Raiders/Chargers image by AP Photo/Marcio Sanchez
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NFL Week 1 breakdown (2009 Edition!)
Monday, September 14, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Well, a lot of folks told me they liked my NFL-related posts last year (and by "lot", I mean, "one or two, including my mother"). Anyway, they're back, so hopefully you'll enjoy them.

It's a Hard Knocks Life for the Bengals. During training camp and the pre-season, the Bengals agreed to be the team featured on HBO's reality show "Hard Knocks", which showed life behind the scenes at camp and let you get to know the players and coaches in a more intimate way. Watching the show, I realized the following: 1) I kinda sorta liked Chad Ochocinco more than I ever expected; 2) Carson Palmer is a total weirdo; 3) Marvin Lewis is totally fucking scared for his job this season. Hard Knocks was interesting because I found myself getting attached to this lovable band of losers and secretly cheering for them during their game against the Broncos. However, I forgot that this team isn't nicknamed "The Bungles" for no reason, as they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by allowing a miracle TD pass to Brandon Stokely with 27 seconds remaining in the game. Frankly, this was a must-win game for the Bengals: with the next two games upcoming against the Packers and Steelers, it's looking like the Bengals will start the season 0-3 (barring their own miracle). Marvin Lewis is right to fear for his job - nothing less than a playoff appearance and win will save his job, and it's going to be almost impossible to recover from an 0-3 start, especially since they have to play the Steelers once more during the season, and the Ravens twice.

While the Broncos certainly weren't impressive, needing the miracle catch to save the game for them, you can't underestimate what this victory means for the team. First, it gives Josh McDaniels his all-important first official win as a head coach. Second, there's nothing more dangerous than a team that believes it can win, even in the face of seemingly impossible odds. The Broncos play two cream-puff teams next (Browns and Raiders) - they could conceivably go 3-0 to start the season, which will go a long way towards silencing the critics and nay-sayers who were down on the team after the Cutler/Marshall fiascoes.

Speaking of scenarios that can be labeled "The Cutler Fiasco".... How horrific was Jay Cutler's performance last night against the Packers? 4 INTs on 36 pass attempts (for a 1:9 INT-to-attempt ratio). To be fair, however, not all the blame can be laid at Cutler's feet. Chris Collinsworth (who I am LOVING so far as a replacement for Madden) pointed out that at least 2 of the INTs were due to receivers quitting on their routes, or failing to run the proper route. The last INT looked like it was the fault of the rookie WR, who let the safety muscle past him for the pick.

Despite Cutler's poor performance, the Bears were still in the game up to the very end. However, the Bears made some bizarre decisions (including a fake punt on 4th and 11, from their own 30 yard line) that cost them the game as much as Cutler's turnovers. I thought the play calling on offense was bizarre. You have a RB in Matt Forte who had over 1,000 yds rushing last year and over 60 catches. And what do you have him do? Stay in the back field to help block, as Cutler throws pass after pass to guys like Devin "I can only run in a straight line" Hester and Earl Bennett. I have no idea why the Bears thought it was a good idea to take their best offensive weapon out of the picture on play after play, especially since he showed poorly ability as a blocker (I watched him miss several blocks, including ones where he had help).

I Like Mike. The commentator doing the Cardinals/49ers game made an interesting observation that the marketing campaign in the Bay Area for the San Francisco 49ers doesn't feature players, but rather an inspirational series of images and sayings of head coach Mike Singletary. Much has been made about Singletary's attitude - from the bizarre pants-dropping episode of last season, to bawling out Vernon Davis, to running a reportedly brutal training camp this year - but it seems that his hard-nosed approach to life and football is popular with fans. More importantly, after watching the 49ers stay physical with the Cardinals and pull out the close win, there's evidence that perhaps that approach is paying dividends on the field as well. Singletary has been vocal about not wanting to be the face of the franchise, as the article above states:
Singletary has adamantly stated that he doesn't want to be the most famous person wearing 49ers colors. He would rather have the distinction go to a player, or several of them, dropping him deep into the fame depth chart.
Still, until players like Frank Gore and Vernon Davis establish themselves, there are worse things than having a strong head coach that brings a toughness that the franchise has lacked for some time now.

Studs of the Week. This is sort of a no-brainer. Obviously, Drew Brees had a ridiculous day, throwing for 6TDs and 358 yards. It's funny that this is the same guy San Diego couldn't wait to get rid of, who was told all his life he was too small to play the QB position, who people thought would never fully recover from his shoulder injury in 2005. Yeah. Suck it, doubters.

In other news, Adrian Peterson is still awesome (180 yards rushing, 3 TDs). However, fantasy players shouldn't expect this every week - these two won't have the benefit of facing the Lions and Browns every week. Tony Gonzales rewarded fantasy players who spent early draft picks on him with a #1 WR-esque performance, catching 5 balls for 73 yards and 1 TD. With that performance, he becomes only the 21st player in NFL history to break 11,000 yards receiving. Tony Romo had one of the best performances of his career, putting up 355 yards passing and 3 TDs (insert obligatory "T.O. Who?" quip here). Finally, Joe Flacco registered the first 300+ yard passing game of his career, torching the Chiefs for 325 yards and 3 TDs.

Duds of the week. Semi-stolen from Peter King's "Goat of the Week", but I had to add this section, just so we can talk about how terrible Jake Delhomme was. In the past 2 games (last year's playoff game, and yesterday's game), he's thrown 9 INTs. No, that is not a typo. In an effort to perhaps show faith in Delhomme, the Panthers failed to go out and get a quality backup for him. Methinks they're regretting that decision right now. I've got the Panthers high on my list of "People who need to be calling Jeff Garcia right now". Also failing to impress anyone is Larry Johnson, which pleases me, because from all reports he's sort of a bastard. And I do enjoy watching bastards fail.

Teams I like this week. This week, I like the 49ers, who played solid football and contained Arizona's high powered offense. I also like the Jets, who got a nice performance out of rookie QB Mark Sanchez, and delivered on the promise of a Baltimore style of smash-your-face-in defensive play. I thought the Packers also looked good (though I would have liked to see more of a ground game), and the 3-4 defense seemed effective, especially at containing the run.

Teams I don't like this week. Just because they won doesn't mean the Broncos were particularly impressive. And starting week 4 they'll have to deal with Dallas, New England, San Diego, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, so it could get real ugly real fast for this team if they don't improve. I'm also disappointed the Detroit, Kansas City and Cleveland looked their old selves again this year. Lastly, the Houston Texans looked terrible.


**photo credits (all images borrowed from AP/ESPN, ohgoddon'tsueme)
Broncos image by AP Photo/Al Behrman
Bears image by AP Photo/Jim Prisching
Drew Brees image by AP Photo/Bill Feig
49ers image by AP Photo/Paul Connors
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Life As A Game Designer (preview)
Friday, September 11, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist

Last night my co-host Mark and I sat down and recorded Episode 14 of our podcast "Across the Nerdaverse". We were both very excited to welcome David Leung of Twisted Pixel Games to the show. Here's a little preview of what you can expect in the upcoming episode:

Dave joined us to give us some insight into his creative process as Art Director behind games such as The MAW, ‘Splosion Man. He also gave us a little tease of Twisted Pixel’s newest project Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley. Check out some of the videos below to get a sample of the fine work being turned out by Dave and the crew at Twisted Pixel! Episode 14’s release will be announced via our Facebook Group as soon as it is ready! Click here to join the Facebook Group and receive updates on new episodes as they are made available!

While you're waiting for the episode to drop, be sure to go on Xbox Live Arcade and play these two titles. I can personally recommend 'Spolsion Man - it's a highly addictive platformer that's just tons of fun.

The Maw

‘Splosion Man

Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley

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DragonCon Day 1 Adventures
Saturday, September 05, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist

I know I haven't posted in awhile, but I had a few notes and pictures to share from DragonCon 2009 here in Atlanta.

My cousin recently expressed surprise that I'd be "one of those kind of people" - you know, a D&D nerd, the kind of person who'd dress up and go to a convention where other equally nerdy people were sporting their own bizarre and elaborate costumes. But the truth is: that's just who I am, and I'm actually pretty okay with that.

Here's what I love about nerd and geek culture: it's a break from the normal Vogue and Hollywood notions of beauty and coolness. According to mainstream culture, you aren't allowed to be larger than a size 4 and you can't express interest in things like dragons and sci-fi and fairies in mixed company. But at places like DragonCon you can dress up in a hoop skirt, strap on a leather tool belt and parade around in your finest steampunk outfit, and by god... you are hot. You are beautiful. You can make jokes that draw blank stares at home, and you'll have people shouting back the proper response and/or cracking up at the pop culture reference you just dropped.

I got to the convention this morning at 9am, stood in line for registration for almost 2 hours (unacceptable, and a blight on an other wise excellent day) and finally got to start hitting the panels and show floors. This particular convention is huge - it fills up 4 hotels in the downtown Atlanta area, and almost every ballroom is packing to capacity all day long. I spent a good part of the day running from panel to panel (sample sessions attended included a writing seminar, a panel on the upcoming Hobbit film and a Q&A with the excellent Terry Gilliam), hunting for autographs on the Walk of Fame and people watching. As you can see from the photos posted here, the costumes are simply amazing - a lot of love and creativity went into these outfits, and I can't wait to see the parade tomorrow morning.

I ended the day with a midnight screening of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. The organizers arranged a Rocky Horror Picture Show style reenactment, where performers acted out the action on the screen, as the whole audience sang along and shouted at the screen. There's something simply amazing about being in a room full of fans, singing at the top of your lungs, buzzing on the collective energy and excitement of those around you. As an added bonus, one of the stars of the movie (the always lovely Felicia Day, who I've gushed about on this blog before) popped in to say hello and to introduce the film. Anyway, it was a total blast - if you ever get a chance to do something like that, I highly recommend it.



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