Friday, January 27, 2006

Another Quiz

Perhaps my negativity was a little premature this time. I played hockey on Tuesday and we won the game 8-6 despite being down 4-0 at one point. I've moved from defence to center and apparently, my lack of skills don't show as badly there, since a couple of people told me I played a really good game. I don't know, I think whenever I play badly, it just lights a fire under my ass for the next game...

Anyway, here's the newest dumb quiz I've picked up by reading various blogs:

Four jobs you've had in your life:
Quality control analyst (Molson's), quality control technician (Labatt's), chief returning officer (Lister Hall Students' Association), and deputy returning officer (Elections Canada). I know, the last two are kind of a stretch, but I really haven't worked that much.

Four movies you could watch over and over:
American Beauty, The Big Lebowski, Back to the Future, Fargo

Four places you've lived:
Edmonton, Alberta; Strathmore, Alberta; Canmore, Alberta; Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

Four TV shows you love to watch:
South Park, The Simpsons, Degrassi (the old ones, not the new shit), The Price is Right

Four places you've been on vacation:
Seattle, Istanbul, Athens, Rome

Four websites you visit daily:
Besides blogs:,,,

Four of your favourite foods:
Chicken wings, steak, ribs, pate chinois

Four places you'd rather be right now:
I'll take this to mean places I'd like to visit...Atlanta, New York, Halifax, Moscow

Four albums you can't live without:
I don't listen to CD's...all my songs are on MP3 (not on an IPod though...I don't believe in them)

Four vehicles I've owned:
The 1988 Volkswagen Fox and the bike. That's it. And since Volkswagen's never die, that may be the only car I'll ever own.

And I don't believe in "tagging" either, so no need for any readers to do this too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


"Well, I gotta admit...Um...Good campaign, Stephen."
"I wish I could say the same for you and your crew of flunkies, Paul. You guys want some grapes?...Bitches."

Working the election was pretty fun. I didn't run into any snags throughout the day. My poor registration officer looked like he was going to tear his hair out because of all the grade 9 university kids who moved here from various other places and didn't have a single document which showed their current address. The DRO at the poll next to me had a couple of crazies who wouldn't take "No, you can't vote" for an answer, while my poll clerk and I just laughed.

My prediction of 140 for the Conservatives, 81 for the Liberals, 59 for the Bloc and 28 for the NDP was way off (except for the NDP) because I vastly overestimated the Conservative count in Ontario. I also overdid it on the Bloc, but very few people saw that one coming.

But if Stephen Harper whips out his Brokeback Mountain outfit or his Flamers jersey at all as Prime Minister, I think my head will explode. Harper actually wears the disgusting third jersey which makes me vomit about 9 times more.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

AFC/NFC Championships

So, trailing 14-0 with 1:23 to go in the first half, the Colts faced 4th and goal on the Steelers 3. And as the field goal unit trotted in, the Colts fans cried "Aaaaiiiyyyyyeeeeee!!!" If I was sitting up in the press box for this game, I would have scribbled "Game Over" in my notebook at that point and went home. Sure, they came back to nearly tie it, but the football gods, still angry at Tony Dungy and the Lucky Charms for that earlier decision, forced Hunter Smith to fuck up the hold on Mike Vanderjagt's 46 yard attempt with 0:21 in the 4th quarter and it sailed wide right. Also on that drive, I watched in rapt fascination as Peyton frantically tried to quiet the crowd...Indy fans should be the most devout followers of the "QUIET PLEASE! OFFENCE WORKING!" rule, since Manning always seems to audible through the entire playbook on every play. Yet on 3rd and goal from the Steelers 1, the flags fly, false start on the Lucky Charms, backing them up to the 6. It actually reminded me of watching CFL where people don't get that it isn't hockey and that you have to sit down and shut up when the offence is on the field. Simply astonishing. This isn't the first time a Dungy coached team has come into the playoffs with high expectations and then wheezed out. Dungy is now 102-58 in the regular season and 5-8 in the postseason.

Enough on that...let's get to the games which are always better than the Super Bowl itself...all the great game action without the 8 million commercials and 40 minute halftime.

PITTSBURGH at Denver: Denver sure was lucky to win...Brady overthrew or underthrew receivers when Denver big blitzed and Vinateiri honked a pressure kick...two things which never happen for the Patriots. Additionally, the Patriots were the victim of some pretty bad officiating, specifically the phantom pass interference by Samuel on Lelie and the Champ Bailey fumble which actually went out of bounds in the end zone but was ruled out at the Patriots 1. So instead of New England getting the ball on its 20, it's Denver ball on the Pats 1. But enough on that...this one actually doesn't look too good for the Broncos. The Steelers run defence is going to take away the most important part of their game and if the Steelers get their trick passing plays going again, then there's little hope for the Broncos. As anticipated, the Broncos pass defence allowed Brady to pass for 341 yards, but they managed to snag two picks anyway. The Broncos scored 17 points off turnovers last week, so the Steelers are going to have to keep their turnovers under control. To this point, they've only had two giveaways in the playoffs. Steelers by 3 in OT, but go Broncos.

PIT #16 total offence vs. DEN #15 total defence
PIT #4 total defence vs. DEN #5 total offence

PIT #9 scoring offence vs. DEN #4 scoring defence

PIT #3 scoring defence vs. DEN #7 scoring offence

PIT #5 rushing offence vs. DEN #2 rushing defence
PIT #3 rushing defence vs. DEN #2 rushing offence

PIT #24 passing offence vs. DEN #29 passing defence
PIT #16 passing defence vs. DEN #18 passing offence

PIT #11 takeaways vs. DEN #1 giveaways
PIT #7 giveaways vs. DEN #3 takeaways

PIT #3 punt returns vs. DEN #10 punt coverage
PIT #23 punt coverage vs. DEN #11 punt returns

PIT #20 kickoff returns vs. DEN #29 kickoff coverage
PIT #17 kickoff coverage vs. DEN #25 kickoff returns

Carolina at SEATTLE: The Seahawks appear to have the advantage in total offence and defence and scoring offence and defence. The only thing stopping me from guaranteeing a Seahawks win is that Chicago's pass defence is much, much better than the Seahawks and the Panties had their way with it. But then again, Smith was frequently single covered and was let loose deep 3 times by the defence that boasted they were just as good as the 1985 Bears. Having said that I'm still not sure about the Marcus Trufant-Michael Boulware/Steve Smith matchup. If the Panties passing attack can be controlled, the rest will fall into place. If anyone is concerned about Carolina's vaunted run defence, look back to the last meeting between these two teams in 2004 at Qwest Field...Alexander ran for 195 yards and a TD on 32 carries. The 'Hawks won 23-17 in a season where the 'Hawks defence was absolutely god-awful. And now that I mention the Seahawks running game, why don't teams ever shift their front seven to the left side of Seattle's offence? Don't be surprised if the run comes to Steve Hutchinson and Walter Jones' side or anything...And if Peppers doesn't play, it's probably going to be much worse than 195 yards and a TD. DeShaun Foster is already out so that leaves Nick Goings to carry the load, thus I wouldn't worry too much about Carolina's running game. Seahawks by 10.

CAR #22 total offence vs. SEA #17 total defence
CAR #3 total defence vs. SEA #2 total offence

CAR #8 scoring offence vs. SEA #7 scoring defence
CAR #5 scoring defence vs. SEA #1 scoring offence

CAR #19 rushing offence vs. SEA #5 rushing defence
CAR #4 rushing defence vs. SEA #3 rushing offence

CAR #17 passing offence vs. SEA #25 passing defence
CAR #9 passing defence vs. SEA #13 passing offence

CAR #2 takeaways vs. SEA #2 giveaways
CAR #15 giveaways vs. SEA #18 takeaways

CAR #2 punt returns vs. SEA #18 punt coverage
CAR #5 punt coverage vs. SEA #30 punt returns

CAR #26 kickoff returns vs. SEA #19 kickoff coverage
CAR #11 kickoff coverage vs. SEA #18 kickoff returns

Super Bowl XL
Sunday, February 5, 2006
Ford Field, Detroit MI

Pittsburgh vs. Seattle


Monday, January 16, 2006

No Regrets (?)

It hasn't been a good evening. We lost our hockey game 9-4 and I'm pretty sure I'm being exposed as the fraud that I am. I'm no hockey player. Someone with only 11 hockey games to their name should not be playing Div.2 (although my +/- was even, not bad considering we lost by 5, but I digress.)

Then I got to thinking about how my poor choices in childhood still affect me to this day. If I had just been a normal kid like my brother and played hockey, I wouldn't be in this mess. Instead I sat around and coasted through life, not doing much out of the ordinary (I did play a pretty mean trumpet, but that's no good to me anymore...) and I didn't snap out of that until Grade 12, when I went and played high school football. There are moments such as these when I kick myself for not getting into sports sooner and learning the games a bit better. But then I relax, and remember to keep things in perspective. If I had been a hockey player in my teen years, or even if I had picked up two more years of football, there's a strong possibility that I wouldn't have committed to cadets to the extent that I did, so I wouldn't have earned my pilot's license. Much as I have come to love playing sports in these last few years, I wouldn't trade flying for anything. But that's not always as obvious to me as I just made it sound, and tonight was one of those cases.

We just have to remember that we can never truly have it all...there are trade-offs involved. Some people pick one thing they're good at and try to take that as far as they can, and others do many different things for the life experience, but with limited success. I guess I'm not so sure that a one-trick pony such as myself is suited for the latter.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

NFL Playoffs - Divisional Weekend

"Yeah! We won! We fuckin' did it! 23-0!! WOOHOO!!"
"Uh, no Jeremy...check out the scoreboard...the Panthers are the other guys. You lost."

(That was actually taken when the Giants nearly beat the Seahawks...3 times. Shockey thought Jay Feely had made the field goal...fucking numbskull...)

Washington at SEATTLE: Washington was one of the teams to beat the Seahawks legitimately (the other was Jacksonville.) That one wasn't really a bad game for the Seahawks, and I can't see a really obvious reason why they lost...I think it all boiled down to the Redskins having better field position, controlling the time of possession, and winning the coin toss in OT. I'm sticking to what I said about the Seahawks' cupcake schedule because as it turns out, they were last in strength of schedule in the league (.430), but they're 8-0 at home. As I mentioned, Washington was pretty lucky to beat them. I have my reasons to not pick the Seahawks too...Washington just beat the #1 defence in the league, Joe Gibbs is 17-5 in the playoffs, and the Seahawks haven't won a playoff game since before I was born. That being said, the Redskins only gained 136 yards of net offence and scored 14 of their points off turnovers last week. 136 yards won't be enough against the Seahawks since they aren't as likely to turn the ball over as often. Seahawks by 10, and over 40.5.

WAS #11 total offence vs. SEA #17 total defence
WAS #9 total defence vs. SEA #2 total offence

WAS #13 scoring offence vs. SEA #7 scoring defence
WAS #9 scoring defence vs. SEA #1 scoring offence

WAS #7 rushing offence vs. SEA #5 rushing defence
WAS #13 rushing defence vs. SEA #3 rushing offence

WAS #21 passing offence vs. SEA #25 passing defence
WAS #10 passing defence vs. SEA #13 passing offence

WAS #16 takeaways vs. SEA #2 giveaways
WAS #16 giveaways vs. SEA #18 takeaways

WAS #28 punt returns vs. SEA #18 punt coverage
WAS #2 punt coverage vs. SEA #30 punt returns

WAS #11 kickoff returns vs. SEA #19 kickoff coverage
WAS #6 kickoff coverage vs. SEA #18 kickoff returns

NEW ENGLAND at Denver: This was the toughest one to pick...The last game between these teams at Mile High was the Tatum Bell show...114 yards on 13 carries and 1 TD. Tom Brady also completed barely 50% of his passes, but the Broncos crappy pass defence still let them have 299 yards through the air. And that was also when the Patriots were having their major crisis on defence. I usually trust the head-to-head statistical matchups, but I think the stats for the Patriots defence are a little misleading. In 4 of their last 6 games, they've held their opponents to single digits. Not likely to happen here, but they should be able to score enough of their own points to squeak by. Patriots by 3, and over 43.5

NE #7 total offence vs. DEN #15 total defence
NE #26 total defence vs. DEN #5 total offence

NE #10 scoring offence vs. DEN #4 scoring defence
NE #17 scoring defence vs. DEN #7 scoring offence

NE #24 rushing offence vs. DEN #2 rushing defence
NE #8 rushing defence vs. DEN #2 rushing offence

NE #2 passing offence vs. DEN #29 passing defence
NE #31 passing defence vs. DEN #18 passing offence

NE #31 takeaways vs. DEN #1 giveaways
NE #11 giveaways vs. DEN #3 takeaways

NE #16 punt returns vs. DEN #10 punt coverage
NE #26 punt coverage vs. DEN #11 punt returns

NE #15 kickoff returns vs. DEN #29 kickoff coverage
NE #18 kickoff coverage vs. DEN #25 kickoff returns

Pittsburgh at INDIANAPOLIS: Well, the Bengals sure didn't need to have Carson Palmer going down, did they? The Steelers' last visit to the RCA Dome resulted in a 26-7 loss, but turnovers and failed onside kicks gave Indy a short field. If Indy has to punt too often, they're going to lose the battle for field position. Indy's punt coverage is pretty lousy. Pittsburgh's run defence is also pretty good, which means Indy won't be able to have the running game open up the passing attack. This one is likely to be very close. I'll go with Lucky Charms by 3, and under 47.5.

PIT #16 total offence vs. IND #11 total defence

PIT #4 total defence vs. IND #3 total offence

PIT #9 scoring offence vs. IND #2 scoring defence
PIT #3 scoring defence vs. IND #2 scoring offence

PIT #5 rushing offence vs. IND #16 rushing defence
PIT #3 rushing defence vs. IND #16 rushing offence

PIT #24 passing offence vs. IND #15 passing defence
PIT #16 passing defence vs. IND #3 passing offence

PIT #11 takeaways vs. IND #4 giveaways
PIT #7 giveaways vs. IND #9 takeaways

PIT #3 punt returns vs. IND #30 punt coverage
PIT #23 punt coverage vs. IND #19 punt returns

PIT #20 kickoff returns vs. IND #21 kickoff coverage
PIT #17 kickoff coverage vs. IND #29 kickoff returns

CAROLINA at Chicago: Jersey/A had a major breakdown on D and 5 turnovers on offence which isn't likely to happen in Chicago. Their encounter this season resulted in a 13-3 win for the Bears, which was the result of turnovers and great D. The running game will be the deciding factor, and Carolina just got 223 rushing yards against Jersey/A's #12 ranked rush defence. If DeShaun Foster can't do it again this week, they're done. The Bears defence had 24 picks and 41 sacks in the regular season, so they won't be doing much passing. If neither team is able to establish the run (which they won't, since Jersey/A missed a lot of open field tackles on Foster and Carolina's run defence is great), it will be a game that is won on special teams, where kickers and punters are made into heroes. Carolina has the advantage here since there's going to be lots of punts and not too many kickoffs. Panties by 3, and under 30.5.

CAR #22 total offence vs. CHI #2 total defence
CAR #3 total defence vs. CHI #29 total offence

CAR #8 scoring offence vs. CHI #1 scoring defence
CAR #5 scoring defence vs. CHI #26 scoring offence

CAR #19 rushing offence vs. CHI #11 rushing defence
CAR #4 rushing defence vs. CHI #8 rushing offence

CAR #17 passing offence vs. CHI #5 passing defence
CAR #9 passing defence vs. CHI #31 passing offence

CAR #2 takeaways vs. CHI #18 giveaways
CAR #15 giveaways vs. CHI #6 takeaways

CAR #2 punt returns vs. CHI #15 punt coverage
CAR #5 punt coverage vs. CHI #10 punt returns

CAR #26 kickoff returns vs. CHI #2 kickoff coverage
CAR #11 kickoff coverage vs. CHI #28 kickoff returns

Next week!

Carolina at Seattle
New England at Indianapolis

Friday, January 06, 2006

NFL Playoffs - Wildcard Weekend

165-91 on the season, which beats last year's 162-94 record. But none of that matters all goes out the window in the playoffs where almost anything can happen. I was 8-3 in last year's playoffs, and I don't know how I'm going to match that...there are a lot of close looking games this week.

Washington at TAMPA BAY: Their encounter this season was a wild one...a 36-35 Succaqueers win thanks to Jon Gruden's iron balls. Chris Simms threw TD passes to 3 different receivers and was not picked off or sacked, and Mike Alstott ran for two more. Mark Brunell threw 2 TDs and 2 picks, and Portis had 144 yards and a TD. Simeon Rice had 2 sacks, a pick, and 2 forced fumbles. Turnovers cost the Redskins this game so if they can keep the turnovers under control, they should have a decent shot. The Redskins have won 5 in a row going into this one, and Joe Gibbs is 16-5 in the playoffs, 4-0 in wildcard games. I'm going with the Succaqueers to win (and I hope to God that I'm wrong), but will be betting on Washington +2.5 as insurance, and over 36.5.

WAS #11 total offence vs. TB #1 total defence
WAS #9 total defence vs. TB #23 total offence

WAS #13 scoring offence vs. TB #8 scoring defence
WAS #9 scoring defence vs. TB #20 scoring offence

WAS #7 rushing offence vs. TB #6 rushing defence
WAS #13 rushing defence vs. TB #14 rushing offence

WAS #21 passing offence vs. TB #6 passing defence
WAS #10 passing defence vs. TB #25 passing offence

WAS #16 takeaways vs. TB #8 giveaways
WAS #16 giveaways vs. TB #12 takeaways

WAS #28 punt returns vs. TB #25 punt coverage
WAS #2 punt coverage vs. TB #6 punt returns

WAS #11 kickoff returns vs. TB #14 kickoff coverage
WAS #6 kickoff coverage vs. TB #30 kickoff returns

Jacksonville at NEW ENGLAND: Seems the Patriots did the right thing by losing to the fish and choosing Jacksonville as their opponent instead of the Steelers. New England is (get this) the only playoff team with a negative turnover margin (-6). It's safe to say that the Jags are going to win the turnover battle. But I refuse to bet against the quarterback who is 9-0 in the post season, and is at Gillette Stadium, playing against a 12-4 team that has never won in said stadium, and is significantly worse than its record. I'm aware that the Patriots shitty defence will probably end up causing some problems as the game progresses, but that only means it'll be close. Patriots by 7, and over 37.5.

JAX #15 total offence vs. NE #26 total defence
JAX #6 total defence vs. NE #7 total offence

JAX #12 scoring offence vs. NE #17 scoring defence
JAX #6 scoring defence vs. NE #10 scoring offence

JAX #10 rushing offence vs. NE #8 rushing defence
JAX #14 rushing defence vs. NE #24 rushing offence

JAX #19 passing offence vs. NE #31 passing defence
JAX #7 passing defence vs. NE #2 passing offence

JAX #15 takeaways vs. NE #11 giveaways
JAX #3 giveaways vs. NE #31 takeaways

JAX #17 punt returns vs. NE #26 punt coverage
JAX #17 punt coverage vs. NE #16 punt returns

JAX #7 kickoff returns vs. NE #18 kickoff coverage
JAX #26 kickoff coverage vs. NE #15 kickoff returns

Carolina at NY GIANTS: This will be Eli Manning's first encounter with the Panties. Jersey/A's only loss at home this season was in that Minnesota game that saw the Vikings score 24 points with only 156 yards of net offence. It's probably the main reason why Jersey/A's special teams coverage is ranked as low as it is. The game plan for the Panties will be to blitz, blitz, blitz because little Manning seems to like throwing while falling backwards and the Panties' secondary will be there to gobble it up. And seeing as how the Panties run defence is second best in the league, Tiki may be in for less than 200 yards in this one. However, the Panties' 5 losses this season all came as a result of 3 things: the other team running all over them, failing to get their own running game going, and losing the turnover battle. Jersey/A is capable of accomplishing all 3. Jersey/A by 1, and over 43.5.

CAR #22 total offence vs. NYG #24 total defence
CAR #3 total defence vs. NYG #4 total offence

CAR #8 scoring offence vs. NYG #14 scoring defence
CAR #5 scoring defence vs. NYG #3 scoring offence

CAR #19 rushing offence vs. NYG #12 rushing defence
CAR #4 rushing defence vs. NYG #6 rushing offence

CAR #17 passing offence vs. NYG #27 passing defence
CAR #9 passing defence vs. NYG #11 passing offence

CAR #2 takeaways vs. NYG #12 giveaways
CAR #15 giveaways vs. NYG #4 takeaways

CAR #2 punt returns vs. NYG #21 punt coverage
CAR #5 punt coverage vs. NYG #8 punt returns

CAR #26 kickoff returns vs. NYG #20 kickoff coverage
CAR #11 kickoff coverage vs. NYG #3 kickoff returns

PITTSBURGH at Cincinnati: Just a general note here...wildcard teams have never fared well fact, their record is around .333 or something in the first round, so this is my token pick for the away team in the first round. I'm picking the Steelers because they've already picked up a win at Paul Brown Stadium this year in a 27-14 decision in which Carson Palmer was picked off twice. He threw 3 TDs in the 38-31 Bengals win at Heinz Field and the Bengals defence was able to snag 3 Ben wobblers. But the Bengals defence has allowed almost 31 points a game in its last 7...something's definitely wrong with the defence that was holding teams to single digits in the first few games. Steelers by 7, and under 45.5.

PIT #16 total offence vs. CIN #28 total defence
PIT #4 total defence vs. CIN #6 total offence

PIT #9 scoring offence vs. CIN #22 scoring defence
PIT #3 scoring defence vs. CIN #4 scoring offence

PIT #5 rushing offence vs. CIN #20 rushing defence
PIT #3 rushing defence vs. CIN #11 rushing offence

PIT #24 passing offence vs. CIN #26 passing defence
PIT #16 passing defence vs. CIN #5 passing offence

PIT #11 takeaways vs. CIN #5 giveaways
PIT #7 giveaways vs. CIN #1 takeaways

PIT #3 punt returns vs. CIN #16 punt coverage
PIT #23 punt coverage vs. CIN #31 punt returns

PIT #20 kickoff returns vs. CIN #7 kickoff coverage
PIT #17 kickoff coverage vs. CIN #9 kickoff returns

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

NHL Mid-Season Predictions

Alright...we're halfway through the season (well, most teams aren't, but the Oilers are, so I'm going to do this anyway) so it's time for some mid-season predictions for the standings! Non-playoff teams aren't really worth my time, so I'm just going to focus on the top 8 in each conference.


1. Detroit - The Red Wings are almost unstoppable in the central division (11-1-0). They've scored the second most goals in the league, and the Legace/Osgood tandem seems to be working well.

2. Calgary - I think that if it weren't for Kiprusoff, the Flames would be in the tank. Their offence has been waking up lately, and Iginla is due to break out of his first half of the season funk (he does it all the time). Defensively, they've allowed the 3rd least goals in the league.

3. Dallas - They only finish 3rd because the Pacific division is pretty competitive and LA and Dallas will continue to steal points away from each other. As long as Turco stays healthy, they should be able to win the division.

4. Nashville - The Predators are one of the best teams in the conference as they seem to be matching the Red Wings win for win. Like the Red Wings, nobody in the central division can beat them, so Nashville will get a lot of points...probably more than the 2nd and 3rd playoff seeds, so this will be an easy 4th place finish. If they can kick the offence up a notch, the road to the finals will go through Nashville...

5. Los Angeles - Despite Jeremy Roenick being a big disappointment (ha ha!) the Kings have amassed quite a record, mostly thanks to Pavol Demitra, Craig Conroy, and Mathieu Garon who has 18 wins already.

6. Edmonton - This finish is based on the Oilers goaltending situation getting fixed...unfortunately, I can't play armchair GM and say for sure that Kevin Lowe will make a blockbuster trade for a goalie in March. Offence has been excpetional and that's what's been winning the games for them. No matter how shaky their goaltending is on any given night, they are never out of a game. Their powerplay is no longer "just brutal" since it currently ranks 7th in the league. And since their 3-6-1 start, they've collected 44 of a possible 62 possible points.

7. Colorado - The Lanche has holes in goaltending, but they just might have the offence to carry them through. They're currently 3rd in goals for, 6th on the PP. And Marek Svatos is making a case for Calder Trophy consideration.

8. Vancouver - The Canucks can't buy a win in the Northwest. Of their 13 regulation losses, 10 have been against their division foes. I hope the Cloutier critics are finally realizing how valuable he is in the regular season. They are in danger of missing the playoffs if Anaheim, Minnesota, and Phoenix continue to rise, but they should be able to pull it out at the last moment.


1. Ottawa - Best offence and best defence in the league. Easily the cup favourite this year, but we'll see if they pull their usual vanishing act in May.

2. Philadelphia - The Flyers have only lost 8 times in regulation, only Ottawa is better with 7 regulation losses. Simon Gagne and Peter Forsberg are the reasons the Flyers are up here.

3. Carolina - Winners of the worst division in the league. Eric Staal has been quietly lighting it up...he's in the running for the Art Ross Trophy. Offence is not a problem for the Canes, but defence's 22nd in the league.

4. Buffalo - The surprise team of '05-'06 is the Sabres. They seemed to win at will in December (I think they were 10-1 or something), but I'm skeptical that they'll be able to keep up this success without Daniel Briere. They're somewhat middle of the pack in terms of offence and defence, so I don't know what their secret to success is.

5. Toronto - If they didn't have to play Ottawa 8 times, they'd be in the 4th seed for sure. (I mean, so does Buffalo, but I like Buffalo's chances better). I'd rather see the Leafs miss the playoffs...unfortunately, they've been playing pretty well lately.

6. NY Rangers - The Jaromir Jagr show. Henrik Lundqvist has been outstanding too...he's 3rd in GAA and save percentage. Still, they finish no better than 6th, and it's because of Tom Poti. I hate Tom Poti.

7. Tampa Bay - The Lightning have been on quite a slide lately, leading John Tortellini to openly question the team's goaltending. Their forward lines haven't been all that great, but the lower echelons of the eastern conference are bad enough for Tampa Bay to wind up 7th.

8. Atlanta - Huh?? Why not the Habs? Well, it's time to face some hard truths...the Habs just haven't been very good lately. If they can get better defensively, they might challenge for this spot, but right now I'm going to have to give it to Hotlanta. I'm sick of hearing people say that the Thrashers got hosed in the Heatley trade because Hossa has been almost as good for them. There's talent on this team, but their goaltending situation ensures they finish no higher than 8th.

I won't put up playoff predictions like I did for the NFL. Feel free to post your playoff predictions in the comment section and I'll tell you why they're wrong.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Atlanta Falcons Year-End Report

Sometimes pictures just say so much, don't they? (This was actually taken last year during the 27-0 disaster in Tampa Bay.)

What word describes a season that started off 6-2 and ended 2-6?


What word describes a team that sent 6 players to the Pro Bowl (tied for most in the NFC) but missed the playoffs?


Of course, not all players underachieved...there were several bright spots on this team, so I decided to break this report down into the good, the bad, and the ugly.


DeAngelo Hall: The sophomore cornerback tallied 6 INTs, which tied him for sixth among NFL cornerbacks. He also returned a few punts when Allen Rossum was hurt, averaging 10.3 yards per return (it would have been MUCH higher and there probably would have been a touchdown or two if it wasn't for some illegal blocking...) This kid is going to be one of the elite shutdown defenders in the league.

Warrick Dunn: Finished 8th in the league in rushing. His 1416 yards this season eclipsed his previous career high of 1133. At 5'9 180 lbs., he was never afraid to run up the middle either. I actually think he's a better power running back than TJ Duckett (who we will get to in a bit...)

Keith Brooking: Was placed in a rather unfortunate situation having to move to middle linebacker when Ed Hartwell was injured. But he did very well in that role anyway, collecting 88 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, and a career high 4 interceptions. He was also the leader of the defence...there were quite a few potentially big plays that Brooking stopped because he was the only one who recognized what was going on.

Michael Jenkins: Sophomore wide receiver who literally developed right before our eyes this season. The former Buckeye went from only 7 catches for 119 yards (he could never get open) and no TDs last season to 36 catches for 508 yards and 3 TDs this season. Had he stayed healthy, these numbers would have been much higher, and I expect big things from him next season. Consider him Peerless without the dropsies and at a tiny fraction of the cost.


Michael Vick: Vick is here because it appears he has regressed as a player. His passing yards increased from last season, but his completion percentage went down and so did his rating. He rushed for 597 yards, down significantly from his total of 902 last season. I used to shrug off his passing statistics because the team would win games when he was playing. The team was 11-3 last season when Vick took the majority of the snaps and 7-1 at home. Yes, he did make the Pro Bowl despite all this so-called regression, but I stuck him down here because the team takes quite a cap hit because of it. Another season like this one and he will be forced to restructure.

Jonathan Babineaux: Babineaux was forced to play defensive end quite a bit due to Brady Smith being injured most of the season, but unlike Brooking, he didn't have a lot of success. Babineaux is supposed to be a tackle, and I'm certain he'll do quite well in that role, but man did he struggle this season.

Todd Weiner: He can do his job as a run blocker (quite well, actually) but he's nothing as a pass blocker. When the blitz comes from the outside, Weiner is usually chasing after the guy...sometimes he's on the ground, or watching as Vick gets cranked yet again. His counterpart on the left side (Kevin Shaffer) wasn't much better. If Rich McKay doesn't use pick #16 on a safety, I hope he uses it on a tackle.

Allen Rossum: Underachieved, big time. In ten games as a second string cornerback, he only had 10 total tackles, no INTs, no sacks, no pass deflections. A punt returner who made the Pro Bowl last season, he only saw an 8.5 yard average and did the fair catch more times than I care to mention despite looking at quite a bit of open field in front of him. He fared slightly better as a kick returner averaging 22.6 yards but that's not worth the money the Falcons paid him.


Greg Knapp: Needs to be fired. He called far too many passing plays when the running game was obviously working, and when Dunn was having a great game, he'd take him out and put Duckett in instead. He wouldn't let Mike Vick be Mike Vick, calling the pocket passing plays instead. It worked briefly, but then teams got wise to it and realized Atlanta's O-Line wasn't very good. The only person on the field who didn't seem to realize it was Greg, as he tended to stick with his gameplan even when it was obviously not working. Get Ty Detmer to coach the offence, I'm completely serious. But Greg goes into the ugly section instead of the bad because he won't be fired...he and Jim Mora are old buddies from their days with the 49ers.

TJ Duckett: I think this is a new NFL record. TJ had two games in which he rushed for negative yards but had 5+ carries in every game. He went from being a possible starter on any team in the league to being dead weight and a waste of cap space. He had 380 yards on 121 attempts, compared to last year when he had 509 yards and 104 attempts. He used to be paydirt in short yardage situations, but he sure did get stuffed a lot this season...

Bryan Scott: It seemed like Bryan Scott could never stop the pass going over the middle. He was benched late in the season for this. The Falcons safeties are a lot like the Oilers goaltenders...depth up the wazoo but no #1 guy. I think Rich McKay should draft Jason Allen or Jimmy Williams and move Bryan back to strong safety.

Dez White: Went from starting WR in the preseason to 3rd stringer behind Roddy White (a rookie!) and Brian Finneran. In 6 games (3 as a starter) he had 2 catches for 25 yards. The only bright spot was that one was a touchdown. This continues the downward swing for the Dezbian whose receiving yards have been going down since 2002.