Monthly Archives: November 2016

TAYLOR GABRIEL!!! Falcons-Cardinals recap.

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Falcons win!

Well, the concerns created in Philadelphia appear to have stayed there.

Offensively, we pretty much crushed Arizona! Like I said in my preview of this game, I think the Cardinals have a defense that isn’t as good as its ranking, but it’s top eight. Yet we put 38 on them. Sure, they sacked Matt Ryan three times, but after a disastrous first possession of the second half in which two of those sacks occurred, adjustments were made. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan came to realize that because Arizona had given up 17 points in the first half (24 if not for a horrible Julio Jones bobble of the ball that lead to an interception), they were blitzing. So we started to do sticks, slants, drive variations, and other plays designed to quickly get the ball to other players. Sure enough, we again moved the ball at will.

Devonta Freeman came to play. He ran for two touchdowns. He didn’t get very much yardage, but this is largely because of a big trick run by Taylor Gabriel. Don’t count him out, despite the rise of Tevin Coleman.

Kyle you magnificent bastard!

Kyle you magnificent bastard!

Speaking of Gabriel, he’s playing really well for being down the depth chart. Two weeks after getting a 76-yard touchdown (only bright spot in an otherwise disastrous game), he catches 2 touchdowns. And two games before Philly were good performances in retrospect as well. Keep an eye on this kid.

One critical difference from another double-digit win over Arizona in 2014 was the matchup between Julio Jones and Patrick Peterson. Julio was held to 35 receiving yards, a complete turnaround from last time, when he pretty much made Peterson his bitch! That’s fine. we have other targets. What’s not fine is bobbling the ball for an interception. Maybe it’s a new flaw in his game that has come up, because this is the second time that has happened.

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We still love you, but please, don’t make a habit of this.

One thing that scared me was the news that Desmond Trufant’s injury is worse than we feared and is out for the rest of the season, though Dan Quinn’s holding out hope for him in the playoffs. As if our defense didn’t need enough help. But it did not look like a bottom seven defense today. But Jalen Collins and rookie Brian Poole rendered Larry Fitzpatrick a non-factor.

Even more impressive is that just one game after Ryan Matthews burned us, David Johnson was mostly neutralized on the ground. Through the air was another matter but who cares? We forced Carson Palmer to throw the ball, then proceeded to hit him, limiting the Cards to 19 points.

Still hope that the defense does this.

There is still hope that the defense does this.

This was a big win that we needed, especially since the Saints have blown out LA. But if the defense keeps playing like this, we can keep winning and be a playoff threat. RISE UP!!!

Next week…kschiefs

The road to 12-0 has ended without a hitch! Iron Bowl recap.

Alabama wins!

Alabama wins!

The tradition of losing to Auburn every three years has ended! We win the Iron Bowl 30-12! Thus, Alabama’s regular season ends without a single defeat. Not that beating Auburn isn’t great no matter what!

Now that we've beaten Auburn three times in a row, can we hear less talk about the kick 6?

Now that we’ve beaten Auburn three times in a row, can we please hear less talk about the kick 6?

But this game brings into question whether the “defense wins championships” narrative is to be questioned. Because both defenses played well in the first half. We killed Auburn in the second half, yes, but this was largely because their offense hadn’t been able to get much going for their third straight game. As a result, their defense got tired, while our offense performed competently all game, particularly the quarterback/wide receiver duo of Jalen Hurts and ArDarius Stewart. Offense or lack thereof has meant that Auburn is not quite there yet (which does not break my heart). Their “O” needs help all around while their “D” is pretty much ready.

You can also look at Auburn's mix of offense and defense like this.

You can look at Auburn’s mix of offense and defense like this.

While Alabama and Auburn’s defenses are closely matched with us having a slight edge, We’re the National Championship contenders of the SEC West because we have a solid offense as well. Simply put, I dispute that defense alone wins championships. And it’s not just this game. The Cleveland Cavaliers won a NBA Championship despite having statistically less than elite defensive play, though offense was a whole ‘nother story. Similar NFL tales can be found in the 2009 Saints, 2012 Ravens, and 2014 Patriots. Some argue that “they made stops when it mattered,” but would they have mattered without excellent offense? Furthermore, the aforementioned 2012 Ravens allowed 30+ points in half their postseason games. The line must drawn way before that point.

Elite or not, Flacco clearly wasn't carried by his defense. Sorry, Steelers and Browns fans.

Elite or not, Joe Flacco clearly wasn’t carried by his defense. Sorry, Steelers and Browns fans.

OK, rant over. I shouldn’t allow anything to get in the way of my joy. An absolutely perfect season is in reach. From what I saw earlier today, Ohio State is entirely beatable by this Alabama team.

But we can’t look ahead. No matter how they fare against Florida State, the Florida Gators will meet us in Atlanta. If we don’t win, there will be some question about the playoffs because the committee favors conference winners.

For now, I rejoice a 12-0 regular season as the great achievement that it is. ROLL TIDE!!!

Next week…2016sec

Saturday Night Live

snltitleCast has varied widely from era to era, so I won’t
list it.

I really wanted to call Saturday Night Live the longest running TV show ever, but it’s actually pretty far down the list. Not just news and sports programs have been on the air longer. No, there are some soaps that were around longer.

But still, SNL has a fantastic legacy! In the first place, it’s been around for four decades. In the second, it’s been a great show all these years! In the third, it’s had so man iconic moments like John Belushi falling down as one of The Bees, Chris Farley foolishly thinking that a man of his weight could do cartwheels without falling down, Cheri Oteri as a crazy cheerleader, and Big Bird as a guest on Weekend Update even though it was way past his bedtime. Finally, there’s the fact that this show is a bridge between two eras of comedy.

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Forty-one years of presidential imposters.

Like the old days, we have short sketches with separate plots before an audience. As a result, every member of the cast has to play numerous characters every episode. Does it work? Yeah! This show has consistently been creative and insightful in the stories it brings to life, 3-10 minutes at a time.

But what about the humor? SNL has been consistently funny over the years. Whether with a weird job interview or confessedly fake news, the cast and writers of this show will make you laugh.

Yeah, Chris Brown and his military kill mark of his girlfriend are old news. gimme a break, it was to find modern, apolitical SNL photos.

Yeah, Chris Brown and his military kill mark of his girlfriend are old news. Gimme a break, it was hard to find modern, apolitical SNL photos.

Like any other longtime show, SNL has had its ups and downs. I doubt many recall the 2000s with its limited material with any kindness. Among the examples are Will Farrell’s lame parody of George W. Bush, in which he didn’t get the accent or lines right. High points of the show, in my mind, include the first couple casts and early 1990s. But as a sign of the enduring quality (most of the time), my all-time favorite recurring sketch is this show’s version of Celebrity Jeopardy.

What has been the consistently worst part of the show is the musical guests. Not that there’s not plenty of good music, but this is an industry that is about the flavor of the moment. SNL keeps inviting flash in the pan bands that we won’t have any trouble accepting the suckage of in a few years. Not all these bands are bad, but a lot are. Since guest hosts have a lot of say in musician choice, let’s blame it on them.

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I still have nightmares of Cypress Hill stinking up SNL. It’s kind of amusing to learn that they got banned from SNL (for other reasons).

Bad bands aside, Saturday Night Live is great! Hilarious and intelligent. You just often have to wade through some bad music.

Overall: 8 out of 10

Another bird battle. Falcons-Cardinals preview.

atlfalconsVs.cardinals

Atlanta’s first game out of the bye is against the Arizona Cardinals. This looked like a definite loss at the beginning of the season unless the injury-prone Carson Palmer couldn’t make it. Things have changed. We’re now at 6-4 and Arizona is 4-5-1.

What’s gone wrong? Bad special teams coaching cost them in a couple games, but the main issue is that they haven’t been able to protect Carson Palmer and even accounting for that, Palmer appears to have gone over the hill a couple years early. Arizona’s defense is still good, though.

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Good or bad, you still play ball!

Basically, the Cards have almost become the Rams. Good defense but lacking offensively. Divisional team; just as the Rams have a three-win streak on the Seahawks, Arizona didn’t lose to the leaders of the West at home, may not in Seattle, swept the 49ers, yet are a game under .500. Technically, two games. Right or wrong, ties more or less count as losses in the NFL standings.

I’m fairly confident. I probably won’t be confident in later games if we lose this one, but for now, I am. I think we can get a pass rush on that offensive line. And although they are the top-ranked defense in the league, we got respectable points on Denver and Seattle. Additionally, when you factor in the large number of non-offensive touchdowns and short fields that the Cards’ offense and special teams have allowed opponents to get, the stats may be skewed.

There are two difficulties we may yet have. Arizona’s pass rush is lethal no matter how you slice it. And one weapon their offense has had is David Johnson. If the linebackers and defensive tackles are as bad at stopping the run as they were in Philadelphia, we’re in trouble. Protecting Matt Ryan is crucial. But one thing we have going for us is that Arizona’s not that good against the run. Devonta Freeman’s been overshadowed by Tevin Coleman (despite his recent injury), but if he wants to make sure he’s still the starter next year, this is the game to do it in.

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One way to stop Johnson: pressure Palmer into doing something stupid.

My guess is we win. Coleman and Desmond Trufant are back in practice. Being able to spare a safety against the run and Matt Ryan having his escape hatch from pressure back (Coleman) should prevent a repeat of Philly… I hope. RISE UP!!!

Big game, especially for Auburn. Iron Bowl preview.

AlabamaVs.auburn

The Iron Bowl is a big deal. For Auburn, this is especially true. They’re fighting to stay in a top Bowl. But at three losses, their playoff chances are pretty much dead. They might have been able to make a case if the losses had come to Clemson, the Aggies, and us, but the third loss was to Georgia, As I’ve said multiple times before, this year’s SEC East is horrible, and Georgia is barely top three in it. To lose to such a team officially eliminates Auburn from the playoffs and they may not even get all that good a Bowl if they don’t win here.

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Your reaction when you realize that your season hinges on beating Alabama.

For us, all that’s on the line is our playoff chances. We pretty much won the West weeks ago with our win over the Aggies. And we’re guaranteed to make the playoffs if we can beat Florida in Atlanta.

But this game is still a big deal. It is this year’s contribution to one of the greatest rivalries in sports. Two proud colleges in Alabama, a state that symbolizes college football like few others. And they’ve been fighting forever over which is the better school, both in popularity and sporting quality.

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Let the battle commence!

Can we beat Auburn? While their offense is inconsistent, their defense is one of the best, holding Clemson to 19 and LSU to 13. Alabama ordinarily excels in low-scoring matchups, but Auburn has been so clutch in these circumstances that I don’t know.

The key is to score a lot of points on them. If it gets to a shootout, they don’t have much chance. No one has been able to score more than 29 on them, but I think we can win this game with 26.

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It may be up to Lane Kiffin. But no Lane, you can’t take over when Saban retires. We haven’t forgotten how you did as head coach.

In the end, I see another win, though not a blowout, to cap off an undefeated regular season for Alabama. ROLL TIDE!!!

Predators improve to mediocrity

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Justify the preseason hype that does not.

When I last spoke of the Nashville Predators on this blog, we were playing like possibly the worst team in the National Hockey League. Bad formations among the defensemen, allegedly the strength of this team, were causing us be without the puck most of the time. An under-performing Filip Forsberg that left us unable to take advantage of opportunities even when we had the puck helped not one bit.

That was October. Things have changed since then. Although there’s some tough games coming up to close out the month, we currently have a barely winning November record and are almost in the Wild Card picture. Yes, we’re still under .500 (for now) and the odd nature of NHL seeding allows teams with losing records to get by running up the score in their few wins (would you believe that there have been multiple Stanley Cup winners with losing regular season records), but this early part of the season has been so disappointing that I’ll take any solace that I can get.

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Yes, this a time to not think about it, just celebrate!

What has caused this kind of/not really turnaround? Well, the defensemen have been playing better so we’re not getting beat in the struggle for the puck all the time. Pekka Rinne’s not being worn out having to make so many saves, though Marak Mazanek’s dismal play is making games in which we have to rest Rinne terrifying. I’ll talk a bit more about the ineptitude of Maz later.

Is our house in order? Compared to hype surrounding the P.K. Subban trade and the pundits that had us winning the Central Division, f*ck no! We’re still only playing .500 hockey. Trending up to be sure, but still not high enough.

Of course, we still don’t know how much this team will improve. On the other hand, I do remember us rebounding after the All-Star break, peaking in time for the playoffs, eliminating one great team and forcing a game 7 against another.

Do I see this happening again? I’m afraid not. Again, Maz sucks grizzly bear balls! Every time he has to start because Rinne is tired, we need to shoot for 4-6 goals! That’s too much! Not addressing backup goaltender in the offseason will be our vampire’s stake this season.

Feb 3, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators goalie Carter Hutton (30) during the second period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-184592 ORIG FILE ID:  20150203_pjc_ah2_231.JPG

I miss Carter Hutton…

So yeah, the team’s playing better. But I can’t see us advancing beyond Wild Card seeding with Maz creating a large number of bet the house losses. Without ever having starting home ice, I doubt we’ll last long in the playoffs, if we even get there. Welcome to Smashville!

Pass protection aside… Alabama-Chattanooga recap.

Alabama wins!

Alabama wins!

This was a football Saturday in which we saw things we didn’t expect, such as Florida clenching the SEC East with a win over LSU and Texas blowing it against a 1, sorry, 2-win Kansas. It also had things we knew we’d see, such as Alabama making Chattanooga less than chatty.

A bad pun, but who argue with the meaning?

A bad pun, but who argue with the meaning?

But it wasn’t a perfect game. Especially in the first half, the pass protection faltered and Jalen Hurts was sacked a number of times. He had to run for his life a lot, too. ‘Nooga clearly has a strong defense. Holding possibly the best non-NFL team to about 330 offensive yards, I’d say they’re defensively sound. Offense is a different story (under 200 yards for a field goal), but if they improve it, they could be a force in 2-5 years.

We rebounded from our early mishaps in the first quarter to score two touchdowns in the second and enter the half with a 14-3 lead. Despite lingering offensive line issues, we kept the momentum to blow them out, 31-3.

Victory tastes a little less sweet when got all beat-up to get it.

Victory tastes a little less sweet when got all beat-up to accomplish it.

The reason we did so well despite soft protection is that our run game remained as good as ever. Damien Harris still isn’t Derrick Henry, but combined with Jalen Hurts, our offense is the best it’s been in a long time. Combined with an almost pro style defense, this team promises to be a force in the playoffs.

We remain unbeaten for another week. The Iron Bowl is coming and then we meet Florida in the SEC Championship. Pretty sure we advance to the playoffs. Our second straight National Championship will hinge on whether this offensive line keeps failing to protect Hurts. ROLL TIDE!!!

Next week…

auburn