Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Sometimes You Eat the Bear

My wife says my blog is depressing. Looking back over it, I can see where she gets this opinion from: the conitnuous bitching about my work, the image of the lonely drinker, the self-pity towards my mediocre writing (especially because she knows I could and should do more to improve this, on my own.) So I am going to make the kind of New Year's resolution regarding my blog that everybody else makes regarding their personal health, happiness, and hopes: the kind that probably won't ever get resolved. I am going to do my best to make the entries more positive. As far as those aforementioned personal health, hapiness, and hopes resolutions: run 4 days a week (this has been going on for a couple weeks now, and shouldn't be a problem) in training for the Jersey Shore Marathon in late April; see more movies; read more; write daily.

Go and Give 'Em Hell, or Don't Go and Give 'Em Hell

Finally saw "Little Miss Sunshine" on DVD. It was definitely better than I thought it would be. Alan Arkin is simply awesome, and Steve Carrell does a good job taking on the "comedic serious" role. Otherwise, there are some definite funny moments, some decent writing, and a nice soundtrack. I was upset at myself for not seeing it in the theater, but I think it might be more of a curl up on the couch and enjoy type-of-movie anyway. It isn't life-altering or anything, but I recommend it, if you're looking for something light-hearted, feel-good, but not excessively cheesey.

Other than that film on Thursday, my weekend went by way too fast. Brian came up last-minute on Friday, and he and I met Dan for some beer and Darts at Park Tavern. Called it an early night Friday so I could get up early and sober for the family christmas. Went out Saturday and was properly hungover for the Jets game (friend from HS called me last minute with Tickets.) The atmosphere at the game was pretty good, but until the Jets had a comfortable lead, people seemed leery of getting too amped up. By the Third quarter though, it was constant yelling, and everyone seemed genuinely pumped (and probably still somewhat awe-struck.) Almost everyone I overheard on the way out was having some variation on the "how the hell did this team make it to the playoffs?" conversation. Nobody really seemed to care whom the Jets would face, or if they could even play with any of the other AFC teams. Later on in the day, when I found out the Broncos lost, and the Jets would be playing the Pats, is when it finally sunk in for me: as I predicted over a month ago (with a little inspiration from Peter King) the Jets will be playing the Pats in the first round of the playoffs!

It's hard to think of the Jets as anything but underdogs going into this game. I have said it before, and still contend that the the Jets victory in Foxboro, week 10, was more of an abberation than the Jets really beating the Patriots. Any Jets fan who says anything along the lines of "The Patriots don't scare the Jets, anymore," is either lying or delusional. The Patriots still have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and those two men have been a thorn in the Jets side for 4 years. One win does not erase all that. The Pats should be gaining some healthy defensive starters by Sunday, while the Jets will be losing Andre Dyson, whom I say has been their best Corner this year. The Pats have two legitimate RBs while the Jets need to rely on Leon Washington to keep breaking magical big-plays (something he has proven himself capable of time and again, as the season rolls along.) Breaking down the teams component-by-component its pretty tough to find a single edge for the Jets. And yet, when you compare the teams to one another overall it is hard to say just why the Pats would be favorites in this game (y'know...other than the fact that they have the best QB/Coach tandem in the NFL.) The math, oddly, doesn't add up. You don't believe me? Try it:

RB- Washington, as I said, has broken out some spectacular plays. His balance is outstanding, his speed impressive. But when teams have stacked the middle against the Jets, the way the Pats certainly will, they haven't had a strong enough RB to push back the line, and wear down the big guys.
WR- All right, here is one! The tandem of Cotchery and Coles has been overlooked all year, and they might be two of the most athletic receivers in the AFC. But, why have they been overlooked? Oh, right, because whenever Pennington has to hit them on an outside pattern he either throws the ball 10 feet wide or ten feet shy.
Overall Offense- Given the inconsistency of either team, can you really say the Pats offense is better than the Jets? Would it surprise anyone if Tom Brady's receivers bobble 3 or 4 big passes, and one or two end up in Kerry Rhodes' hands? Would it surprise anyone if the Jets force the WRs to be the difference-makers in the game by stacking the line? And does anyone really think that New England's WRs can be the difference in a playoff game? Can anyone name 2 WRs that play on the Pats? Sure, with Tom Brady at the helm in a playoff game anything is possible. The guy could throw for 340 and 3 touchdowns with just about the worst receivers in the NFL. The good news? He is going to have a chance to do just that. The Jets offense on the other hand: 100% reliant on Pennington. I can't remember the last game where Pennington looked completely sharp. If he doesnt change that pattern, Ben Graham could be spending alot of time on the new turf at Foxboro.
Defensive Line- The Pats D line has been unreliable all year. Sometimes it has seemed as though opposing QBs could catch a film and lunch with the amount of time they have been able to give him. Other times their opponents have been nailed for multiple holds early on and turned into a veritable sieve by halftime. The Jets on the other hand have been consistently OK on the D-line. But, its the Patriots in the playoffs. Expect the Jets O-Line to pick up some early holds and turn into that aforementioned sieve, while New Englands O-line holds the Jets all over the field, only to unleash a frustrated Victor Hobson onto Tom Brady mid-delivery on a crucial third down. Brady's pass will be incomplete. Hobson will get a personal foul for "roughing the passer." Brady will applaud the league for protecting its mostest precious asset. Hobson will be inexplicably fined 15 Grand. Moral of the story? If it's too close to call, always give the Pats the benefit of the doubt.
Safeties and Corners- Typically I'd give this nod to the Jets because Rhodes has been downright nasty this year. Buuuut, something tells me Rodney Harrison is going to be playing in this game. And given Dyson's injury, the corners probably favor New England. Edge: Pats.
Special Teams- Slight edge to the Jets. Speed is the key on special teams, and they have it.
Coach- Please.

So call me a homer, but the only real advantages I see there (and granted, they are not small, by any means) are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. But, and I mean BUT, remember what I said following the week two game between these two teams: Bill Belichick is a time-bomb waiting to explode on that side-line. I don't think you can underestimate the lengths to which he will go (and therefore, the possibly foolish risks he will take) to show up Mangini and the Jets. I am not sure how it will go, but at some point in the game Belichick is going to take a risk that will either make him look like a genius or a overconfident fool. I have an odd feeling it will be the latter. So here is a scenario for you: 3 minutes left, the Pats winning 21-17. Pats have the ball on the Jets 29, fourth and five. Instead of kicking the field goal and forcing the Jets to score a TD to tie the game, Belichick goes for it. Wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Fearless Prediction: 24-21 Jets
"Told You So" Prediction: 28-20 Pats


At 10:51 PM, Blogger jake said...

I went to your blog with a full statement ready in my head about why you hadn't previewed the Jets-Pats games, and then here it is.

Come playoff time, I believe there's really no reason to be a cynical fan. If they lose they lose and the season's over. If not, you're in for a potentially magical run. Your jets have a legitimate shot on Sunday, you should be excited. I envy you.

I agree with you Belickek points to some degree, but you also can't underestimate how great a big game coach he is. Let's not forget he won 3 superbowl in 4 years and they got hosed by the refs in Denver last year or they could have won another. I think he'll be able to put his Mangini hatred aside to win a big game.

Hopefully the Jets don't have a "we're happy just to be here!" attitude adn come out gunning. I think they need an early lead or it could get ugly.

Should be an exciting game.

Any word from U. of Minnesota yet?

At 7:39 AM, Blogger g.m.s. said...

No, you are absolutely right about Belichick...and trust me, I am not underestimating him at all. I was (kind of) joking to suggest that he would make some hibristic (is that a word?) mistake, that would cause the tragic downfall of the mighty Pats. It's a fantastical Shakesperian scenario more than anything else. To provide more serious insight in to what I think will be keys to the game: You are dead-on about the Jets needing an early lead. They can't play catch-up against Brady. Fortunately they have won like 290% of the coinflips this hopefully that pattern holds up. Other keys: getting Washington some early yards to open up the play-action for Pennington; watching whatever it is the Dolphins did in week 14 against the Pats that absolutely devestated Brady and Co.; win the field position battle; and (my personal, and probably stupid, opinion) force Brady and the Wide Receivers to beat you by stacking the line.

I can't imagine this team, who fought like hell just to get here, coming out with a "happy to be here" attitude. They seem to take themselves as serious contenders, even if it is hard for everyone else (me included) to do so.

No word from the 'Sota. Could come as late as March, since they were one of the mid-December applications.

At 7:40 AM, Blogger g.m.s. said...

make that "hubristic"


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