Sunday, December 28

The First All-Star Bobcat?

With our previous success in getting Jon Beason Pro Bowl bound, and with a hat tip to K-Man and to our friends at Bobcats Planet, it's time to take a look at another Charlotte star not getting the deserved love on a national stage.

The poupularity contest known as the NBA All-Star game is just over a month and a half away. Many of the perennial best on topping the ballots, but is it out of the question that the Bobcats could have their first Al--Star in franchise history? A look at the numbers reveals that not only is it a possiblity, but were it not for the lack of national respect it could be a probability.

Looking at the most recent talleys, some peculiar numbers stick out. After being traded for each other, Allen Iverson stands at second in voting amongst Eastern Conference guards with 858,000 votes while Chauncey Billups has garnered only 170,000 votes. Given the way the two teams have performed it might be expected that the two numbers would be reveresed (can we all agree it's the Chauncey Billups trade at this point?), but by virtue of heading west Chauncey finds himself stacked against a bumper crop of quality guards. The New Jersey Nets have some of the oddest voting patterns of any franchise, with Devin Harris and Vince Carter both trailing Yi Jianlian in votes (god bless the Internet). Out west, two of the Trailblazers young studs, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge have each accumulated less than 200,000 votes. Perhaps Portland's ballot shipment was being delivered by covered wagon and the NBA paid a "Native American" guide to help them across the river, only to have the wagon tip over, the ballots (along with 145 pounds of food, an extra yoke, and Jessie) were lost and suddently the guide was nowhere to be found. Of course, the same could be said of Bobcat fans, who've only netted their best option, Emeka Okafor with less than 70,000 votes.

As it stands now, Emeka's eighth amongst eligible Eastern Conference centers in votes, but he's closer to Brendan Haywood (28,000) than he is to Andrew Bogut (130,000), who's fifth in the standings. The starting spot this year, and likely for years to come, belongs to Dwight Howard, but does Mek deserve to be a reserve? Let's take a look.

One potential obstacle in Emeka making the All-Star game is not only the market in which he plays, but also the NBA playing fast and loose with the rules. Last season, Chris Bosh was listed on the ballot as a forward, but was selected to the team as a center. With Lebron and KG starting in the east, the possibility that Pierce, Granger, and Hedo being selected to the reserve roles, it's possible that Bosh makes another appearance (incorrectly) as a five. If Bosh, who deserves to be chosen, is selected as a five, Mek's chances take a huge hit. The other potential fly in the ointment is David Lee. Lee's been playing "center" for the Knicks, but by virtue of D'Antoni's system this is more in name than in the traditional sense of the position. Lee's stats stack up well against Okafor's, albeit with different strengths.

What exactly has Mek done to deserve to be in Phoenix in February? He's second in the NBA and first in the Eastern Conference in field goal percentage (.590), fifth in the NBA (2nd in the EC) in rebounds per game (11), third in the NBA in offensive rebounds (4) and third in the EC in blocks and fourth in blocks per game (1.8) and third in the conference in double-doubles (16). Amongst Eastern Conference centers he's third in efficiency behind only Howard and Lee. He's fifth amongst centers in scoring (13.9), but less than half a point behind everyone not named Howard, and plays on the team that averages the fewest points per game in the league.

Two factors have combined (Captain Planet-style) to help Oak have a tremendous December. Perhaps the most significant has been the addition of Boris Diaw to the team. Prior to Diaw's arrival Emeka had no power forward to help him in the front court. Now Diaw handles much of the frontcourt ball handling, has the ability to pull defenders away from the hoop and helped make Okafor a more viable offensive threat. Since the addition of Diaw, Mek's PPG average has risen by over 5 points. He's also averaging an additional rebound, assist, and almost half a block more per game while committing one less foul per game. Before Boris joined the Cats, Mek often found himself in foul trouble, but has had more than four fouls in only game (an OT game) since. The other factor for Mek has been new head coach Larry Brown. Early in the season Okafor appeared to have difficulty adjusting to what Brown wanted him to do, and Brown had to learn what Mek excelled at. Constantly tweaking the offense has allowed Larry to better utilize all of the players on the roster, most importantly Emeka. If he's to become the Bobcats first All-Star he will need to continue this high level of play, but there's little reason to suspect he can't.

Excluding Howard, the only two other centers who stack up statistically with Emeka ar aren't centers. For Mek's sake and for the sake of the team, I hope the NBA recognizes his work this season and for the first time in this team's history, fans can go to the arena to see our All-Star play.

Current voting totals
While the ship has sailed on who will start at Eastern Conference center, votes can still be cast here.

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Wednesday, December 24

Shackleford Files 003: Special Holiday Edition

Happy Holidays, you filthy animals. Perhaps we should've gone with the Festivus tradition of the airing of grievances, but alas we decided to go the Ed Asner/Robin Williams route. Enjoy, drop us a line, let us know what we can do better or where we can stick it.


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Tuesday, December 23

Happy Holidays

Well, it's a half day here at the office today so I am about to check out for a nice vacation. It is unlikely in my travels that I will be able to post but if the situation arises I will. I wish a safe and happy holiday to everyone out there, expect Florida fans, just kidding you too. Remember to keep sports close to you this time of year, you can only take being merry around others for so long.

I leav you with one of my favorite holiday clips of all time, Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live sharing his 'Christmas Wish' with all of us.

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Week 17 NFL Mr. Green Locks

Another 8-8 effort tells me I'm sputtering to the finish line in my NFL picks this year. Since I am peacing out of the office today at noon, I am getting my picks in although at this point I'm afraid of how they will turn out, but it is the last week so let's go to the picks.

Last Week: 8-8
Season: 144-94

KC at CIN: Bengals- The Bengals are starting to show how decent they could have been

OAK at TB: Bucs- Tampa may have sealed their fate against Marmalard last week.

CLE at PIT: Steelers- Yes I think the entire Steelers 2nd string is better than what the Browns throw out there.

NE at BUF: Patriots- If the Ravens and Dolphins win and the Pats are eliminated it will be the most proud I've been of a non-playoff team that I root for in my life. (Yes I know you all hate them with the burning of a thousand fires)

STL at ATL: Falcons- Even Catfish has to pull for Atlanta.

CHI at HOU: Texans- Something about this game tells me the Bears are going to fall flat, although that something might be the same thing that steered me to a .500 mark alst week.

TEN at IND: Colts- Everyone has been waiting for the Young-Sorgi match-up and it's finally here!

NYG at MIN: Vikings- How will the Giants respond this year to being able to take it easy as opposed to alst year's furious finish?

CAR at NO: Panthers- If Carolina fails in this game, it will be a devastated playoff team. Hint: Get the ball to Steve Smith the whole game.

DET at GB: Packers- However much respect a 0-16 team can get, Detroit is getting all of it. From now on, being a Lions fan will be a sports badge of honor.

SEA at ARI: Cardinals- If only for my own personal belief in this team I think they turn it around in this game, even if Mr. Beerbong plays most of the game under center.

DAL at PHI: Eagles- There will be a lot of broken dreams and media carnage after this one is over.

MIA at NYJ: Jets- So much on the line, and Pennington returns to Giants Stadium.

WSH at SF: 49ers- Tirico pointed out yesterday that if the Niners had scored at the end of the MNF game, they would be playing for the NFC West in this game.

JAC at BAL: Ravens- The Ravens have not had a week off since September 14th but this win gets them in the playoffs.

DEN at SD: Chargers- This is the Chargers' redemption song.

For the final Clue factoid of the year (I won't be doing them during the playoffs) we go by the numbers, the film "only" $13,377,261 after it's 38th day of release and was not considered a success. Of course, success will always lie in the mind of the viewer.

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Monday, December 22

AFC West Comes Down to One Game

Hilarious holiday storytelling of the AFC West from KSK.

How the Marmalard Stole the AFC West [Kissing Suzy Kolber]

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Weekend Recap

The Leg is not supposed to bend like that. Southern Miss freshman DeAndre Brown injured his leg as pictured above in the Golden Eagles overtime win over Troy in the New Orleans bowl Sunday night. Brown led the Eagles in receiving this year and hopefully will make a full recovery. [FoxSports]

UCONN outlasted Gonzaga in the "Battle in Seattle" on Saturday 88-83 in overtime. The Huskies' Stanley Robinson is back with the team after getting suspended and having to work in a recylcing plant. Great story from Dana O'Neal. [ESPN]

The Sabres lose to Montreal in the final minute of overtime. Alexei Kovalev put a wrister home to end the game. [CBSSports]

Congratulations to the Richmond Spiders, the winner of the only true D-I college football championship as they defeated Montana 24-7. [Chatanooga Times Free Press]

Iowa State turns around and hires former Auburn defensive coordinator to replace the former Auburn defensive coordinator Auburn just hired who was coaching Iowa State. [Sports Illustrated]

Rob Parker is one of those guys who acts like a douche and then gets attention for it which always begs the question is it better to have character and integrity in sports or just be a loud-mouthed dumbass and get attention? I prefer the non-douche rout personally. [Deadspin]

Wondering how the holiday movie line-up shakes out? Check out the reviews from a reliable source. [Arts á la Mode]

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Welkah Makes a Wicked Snow Angel Pal!

I think these celebraton flags are just laughable now. Welker and the Patriots blew out Arizona 47-7 in snowy Foxboro to keep their playoff hopes alive.

"I just got a little bit too excited there," Welker said after the game. "I really didn't think it would be a penalty. I wouldn't have done it if I thought it was."

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Saturday, December 20

Point-Counterpoint: Our Bowl Picks

The bowls are upon us. Beginning tomorrow, we will be served with a slew of slightly stolid and somewhat superfluous slate of college football over the next twenty days. The old guard of the sport will tell you nothing beats the tradition of bowl games, but the bloated and commercialized world of the modern bowl game creates a general malaise until by the time we get to uninteresting BCS bowls, the viewing audience tunes out. However, it is football and we will be watching. In the spirit of bouts of mostly unattractive competition, we here at the ASD are squaring off in a no holds barred, fight to the death bowl pick compeition. It's me versus Catfish and this time, it's personal....with a vengeance! But not really, this is not for money and the winner may or may not choose to invoke bragging rights. The games and the duo of picks after the break. It's time for pick-counterpick!

Eaglebank Bowl- Washington D.C., Dec. 20, 11:00 a.m.
Wake Forest(7-5) vs. Navy(8-4)
Cleet: Wake Forest- Breakfast games are made of win.
Catfish: Wake Forest- Picking a team down 13 is for geniuses and idiots.

New Mexico Bowl- Albuquerque, Dec. 20, 2:30 p.m.
Colorado State (6-6) vs. Fresno State (7-5)
Cleet: Fresno State- I once drove through New Mexico at sunset, enchanting.
Catfish: Fresno State- Victor Conte is from Fresno, so the Rams have no chance.

St. Petersburg Bowl- St. Petersburg, Dec. 20, 4:30 p.m.
Memphis (6-6) vs. South Florida (7-5)
Cleet: South Florida- Can we at least try to be creative with the bowl names?
Catfish: Memphis- No free throws for the Tigers to miss.

Las Vegas Bowl- Las Vegas, Dec. 20, 8:30 p.m.
BYU (10-2) vs. Arizona (7-5)
Cleet: BYU- I guess the Cougars have to avert their eyes until they are inside the stadium.
Catfish: BYU- The Hoff will be the only thing from Zona looking good.

New Orleans Bowl- New Orleans, Dec. 21, 8:00 p.m.
Southern Miss (6-6) vs. Troy (8-4)
Cleet: Troy- Going up against Sunday Night Football not a wise decision.
Catfish: Troy- This is for all the people that say schools can't make the transition from 1-AA.

Poinsettia Bowl- San Diego, Dec. 23, 8 p.m.
Boise State (12-0) vs. Texas Christian (10-2)
Cleet: Boise State- Should be one of the best bowl games hands down.
Catfish: TCU- Spitting blood from one's eyes is more impressive that blue turf.

Hawaii Bowl- Honolulu, Dec. 24, 8 p.m.
Hawaii (7-6) vs. Notre Dame (6-6)
Cleet: Notre Dame- I can think of worse places to be on Christmas Eve.
Catfish: Hawaii- Charlie's Hawaiian shirt will be sized XL Samoan.

Motor City Bowl- Detroit, Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Florida Atlantic (6-6) vs. Central Michigan (8-4)
Cleet: Central Michigan- More or less fans than a Lions game?
Catfish: FAU- I flipped a coin.

Meineke Car Care Bowl- Charlotte, Dec. 27, 1:00 p.m.
West Virginia (8-4) vs. North Carolina (8-4)
Cleet: West Virgnia- This bowl already is sold out.
Catfish: North Carolina- David Noel > Noel Devine.

Champ Sports Bowl- Orlando, Dec. 27, 4:30 p.m.
Wisconsin (7-5) vs. Florida State (8-4)
Cleet: Florida State- The shared hatred for Florida has really cooled the FSU-Miami relations.
Catfish: Wisconsin- Still plenty of time for some new FSU suspensions.

Emerald Bowl- San Francisco, Dec. 27, 8:00 p.m.
Miami (Fla.) (7-5) vs. California (8-4)
Cleet: Miami- I don't think they'll win, but I can't go against my alma mater.
Catfish: Cal- I can.

Independence Bowl- Shreveport, Dec. 28, 8:00 p.m.
Northern Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (7-5)
Cleet: Northern Illinois- I respect both schools but is this game really necessary?
Catfish: Louisiana Tech- Win it for Paul Milsap. Bowl- Birmingham, Dec. 29, 3:00 p.m.
North Carolina State (6-6) vs. Rutgers (7-5)
Cleet: NC State- Russel Wilson is the truth.
Catfish: NC State- Greg Schiano is the false?

Alamo Bowl- San Antonio, Dec. 29, 8:00 p.m.
Missouri (9-4) vs. Northwestern (9-3)
Cleet: Mizzou- Just because his team is not as good as advertised does not mean Jeremy Maclin isn't.
Catfish: Mizzou- and healthy for the first time in months.

Humanitarian Bowl- Boise, Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m.
Maryland (7-5) vs. Nevada (7-5)
Cleet: Maryland- Nothing says humanitarian like a blue football field.
Catfish: Nevada- Turtles don't travel well and get done in by the pistol.

Texas Bowl- Houston, Dec. 30, 8:00 p.m.
Rice (9-3) vs. Western Michigan (9-3)
Cleet: Rice- This game is on NFL Network, lewl!
Catfish: Rice- Complicated offenses and Michigan don't go well together.

Holiday Bowl- San Diego, Dec. 30, 8:00 p.m.
Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Oregon (9-3)
Cleet: Oklahoma State- Should be a great one to watch, unless you like defense.
Catfish: Oregon- Provided they don't lose another five QBs in freak hunting accidents.

Armed Forces Bowl- Fort Worth, Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m.
Houston (7-5) vs. Air Force (8-4)
Cleet: Houston- Catfish is not going to pick against the Falcons is he?
Catfish: Air Force- Fly Boys!

Sun Bowl- El Paso, Dec. 31, 2:00 p.m.
Oregon State (8-4) vs. Pittsburgh (9-3)
Cleet: Oregon State- This usually is a great bowl game, and it is one of the oldest, but having driven through El Paso once I would have no desire to spend a great length of time there.
Catfish: Oregon State- Betting on The 'Stache in big games should come with a Surgeon General's warning.

Music City Bowl- Nashville, Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m.
Boston College (9-4) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)
Cleet: Boston College- As you can tell I am expecting great things from the ACC this bowl season.
Catfish: Boston College- Remember when Vandy had that big win against the juggernaut Auburn?

Insight Bowl- Tempe, Dec. 31, 5:30 p.m.
Kansas (7-5) vs. Minnesota (7-5)
Cleet: Kansas- Another NFL Network gem.
Catfish: Minnesota- The Deadspin rules of sports blogging insist we make a Mangino joke. He's big. There.

Chick-fil-A Bowl- Atlanta, Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m.
LSU (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (9-3)
Cleet: Georgia Tech- Having gone to this bowl a few years ago when LSU destroyed UM, ran up the score, fake-kicked when up 30 points, go Jackets.
Catfish: LSU- Oh, are we picking who we're rooting for? Someone needs to explain these rules.

Outback Bowl- Tampa, Jan. 1, 11 a.m.
South Carolina (7-5) vs. Iowa (8-4)
Cleet: Iowa- I think the Gamecocks are a fraud.
Catfish: South Carolina- No weather to aid the Hawkeye running game.

Capital One Bowl- Orlando, Jan. 1, 1:00 p.m.
Georgia (9-3) vs. Michigan State (9-3)
Cleet: Georgia- I guess my UGA national championship pick was a tad off.
Catfish: Michigan State- Mark Richt better hope I'm right or the swell of unhappy boosters will continue to grow.

Gator Bowl- Jacksonville, Jan. 1, 1:00 p.m.
Clemson (7-5) vs. Nebraska (8-4)
Cleet: Clemson- If Dabo does not win this game, it is going to be a long off-season in Tigertown.
Catfish: Nebraska- Two new coaches that both need the win. Bo > Dabo.

Cotton Bowl- Dallas, Jan. 2, 2:00 p.m.
Mississippi (8-4) vs. Texas Tech (11-1)
Cleet: Texas Tech- Time to remind everyone you were one bad night in Norman away from the BCS title game.
Catfish: Ole Miss- The found mojo of the Tech defense is gone. McCluster!

Liberty Bowl- Memphis, Jan. 2, 5:00 p.m.
Kentucky (6-6) vs. East Carolina (9-4)
Cleet: East Carolina- Still an impressive year for ECU.
Catfish: Kentucky- It took 7 INTs for the Pirates to beat Tulsa.

International Bowl- Toronto, Jan. 3, 12:00 p.m.
Buffalo (8-5) vs. Connecticut (7-5)
Cleet: UCONN- So, you lead the nation in rushing on a poor passing team and you get second team all-american. Makes sense.
Catfish: Buffalo Barkley made me do it.

GMAC Bowl- Mobile, Jan. 6, 8:00 p.m.
Tulsa (10-3) vs. Ball State (12-1)
Cleet: Tulsa- Should actually be interesting to watch this game.
Catfish: Ball State- New coach, no problem.

Orange Bowl- Miami Gardens, Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m.
Virginia Tech (9-4) vs. Cincinnati (11-2)
Cleet: Virginia Tech- Is Bud Foster ever going to get a head coaching job? In other news this bowl will not be high in the ratings.
Catfish: Virginia Tech- Over/under on Beamer Ball mentions: 7

Rose Bowl- Pasadena, Jan. 1, 5:00 p.m.
Penn State (11-1) vs. Southern California (11-1)
Cleet: Penn State- That's right I said it, Lions win this game.
Catfish: USC- They've been in a game this big before.

Sugar Bowl- New Orleans, Jan. 2, 8:00 p.m.
Utah (12-0) vs. Alabama (12-1)
Cleet: Alabama- In a close one I think but the size on the lines proves too much.
Catfish: Alabama- Adrenalin fades and so do the Utes.

Fiesta Bowl- Tempe, Jan. 5, 8:00 p.m.
Ohio State (10-2) vs. Texas (11-1)
Cleet: Texas- The lots of stuff to prove bowl.
Catfish: Ohio State- The Sweatervest cometh.

BCS Title Game- Miami Gardens, Jan. 8, 8:00 p.m.
No. 1 Oklahoma (12-1) vs. No. 2 Florida (12-1)
Cleet: Florida- I do not think they are as great as people think but in this match-up I see them stopping OU more than OU stops them.
[tiebreaker- total points in championship game: 84]
Catfish:Oklaho who am I kidding? Florida
Points: 67

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Friday, December 19

It's Friday

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College Football Playoffs Conclude Tonight

It's Richmond versus Montana tonight in the FCS football championship. These teams have a 16 team, 3 week tournament to decide on the field who deserves to be crowned champions of college football. If the FCS had used the FBS method, it would have been Appalachian State and James Madison automatically in the title game. As it turns out, both of those teams were beaten on their home field and wither the Grizzlies or the Spiders will become the first champion other than App State in 4 years. The game starts at 8 pm on ESPN2 and features the two teams that won on the road by one possesion last week in the semi-finals. Montana is looking for their 3rd title ever while Richmond is seeking their first after thir incredible run through the playoffs by beating App and then winning at Northern Iowa, alma mater of Tim Hightower's Arizona teammate Kurt Warner, last week 21-20. It should be a great game out in Chattanooga tonight.

In other FCS news, Appalachian QB Armanti Edwards won the Walter Payton Award last night which is basically the Heisman for the FCS, only with a much better name.

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Thursday, December 18

Escaping a Turkish Prison and other Random Thoughts

Some of you may have noticed that I've been as prolific in my writing as Hank Moody during the first season of Californication. I've been looking for a second job, a process that can be surpassed in fun only by being interrogated in a Turkish prison. The two aren't that different. The prison offers more fezzes and better music, but the job search has the inherent advantage in both ridiculous Christmas sweaters and fake smiles. Anyhow, I'm back (thanks Cleet for doing such a good job holding down the fort) and I've got lots of thoughts on topics of all sorts. Some probably deserve full posts, but due to the shear number of topics I've missed let's hit them in the always popular H. Smith bullet method.

  • We've been banging the drum for months for the twelve team playoff in college football and now Sports Illustrated has jumped on board with the exact format we proposed. They offer analysis of each matchup and allow fans to vote for the winners. Fortunately, there's no write-ins so (sorry Redskins fans) Jason Taylor won't be winning the whole thing. Anyone other than Mr. Obama (who has the power to make it happen) writing or talking about an eight-team playoff probably has also written about the importance of the 3-point line to mid-majors in college basketball or that the earth isn't flat as if they're breaking news in the last year.

  • Rick Reilly recently took aim at the Tebow of college basketball. There's little debate as to whether or not Psycho T is overexposed or overhyped, however you choose to look at it, but the guy is a phenomenon. We're a society of shortcuts. We pay bills online, we've abandoned grammar, we self-checkout at the grocery store, we take every possible shortcut to make the day easier. With the holidays approaching many are looking forward to coming in to work with the boss already on vacation, because it means more time to gawk at Deadspin. Tyler isn't like that and collectively we have a hard time accepting that. He doesn't take shortcuts and that makes people dislike him, as if he's trying to appear better than the rest of us, when he's just trying to be the best he can be.

  • There's only one USC in college football, sorry Columbia, but there's also only one in college basketball. The University of Steph Curry. Some pundits question how effective SC-30 can be in the pros because of his height, but did you realize Babyface has grown two inches in the last year and he's likely not done.

  • Jimmy Smits should win an Emmy for his chilling portrayal of Miguel Prado in this past season of Dexter. He was as cold-blooded as Brandon Roy and like Roy in the 4th quarter, his performance was mesmerizing.

  • Speaking of the NBA, Upside and Motor developed this incredibly useful tool. You can read about some of the terms here and Free Darko has already outlined some concerns with it, but in classic FD-style, uses it to riff on the NBA age limit. It was nice to see one of the new Bobcats get his own category (albeit not a ringing endorsement), but what one has to wonder is that Diaw with D'Antoni or any other coach. The inclusion of "veteran floor general" at the bottom has to be questioned, solely based on the Chauncey Billups trade (can we all agree this is how it should be referred to from now on). Mr. Big Shot fits into other categories, but it was his awareness as a veteran floor general that allowed Carmello to go off for 33 in a quarter. There's little doubt that if AI and J.R. Smith were bringing the ball up, they would've decided it was their turn to shoot at various points in the quarter.

  • Cleveland State beating Syracuse and Eric Devendorf with a last second heave is kharma. Normally, I'd defend Eric's right to due process, but Syracuse is a private institute and the ruling clearly states that he should not be participating.

  • It was just over a month ago when I was viciously derided for comparing the Panthers to the Giants. This weekend, the two teams will play for the NFC's top playoff spot. Just sayin'.

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Week 16 NFL Mr. Green Locks

My upset special from last week turned out to be right when I picked teh Texans over the Titans, but my joy was dampered by the 8-8 mark overall. At just over 63% for the year, I have accepted the fact that I am not guru, but hopefully in the last two weeks I can go on a Nostradamus-like streak and finish up toward the .700 clip. On to the picks..

Last Week: 8-8
Season: 136-86

IND at JAC: Colts- The Colts are not in the playoffs officially, but they will be soon.

BAL at DAL: Cowboys- Those two games you gave away to the Steelers are going to cost you Ravens, and the cost will be prohibitve.

MIA at KC: Dolphins- Tony Sporano is getting coach of the year love, everyone is mentioning how few turnovers they have, they are going to a cold weather city, and people are praising Chad Pennington. I have lost all confidence in this pick.

NO at DET: Saints- Finally, a game where New Orleans' slingy offense and lack of defense pays off.

CIN at CLE: Bengals- Let's just move on shall we?

SD at TB: Bucs- Despite the injuries I'll take the Bucs who are undefeated at home and playing a west coast team at 1:00 EST.

PIT at TEN: Steelers- Plenty of good seats available on the Tennessee bandwagon....anyone?

SF at STL: 49ers- Mike Singletary and Jim Haslett care about this game probably more than anyone.

ARI at NE: Patriots- With the Patriots shaky secondary, the pressure is going to be on their offense to score early and often.

BUF at DEN: Broncos- If Denver blows this game, we might see some facial expressions from Mike Shanahan that we have not seen in awhile.

NYJ at SEA: Seahawks- This is a really tough game to pick, and some of this pick may be my heart overtaking my head, and bad stuff has happened to me when I've done that.

HOU at OAK: Texans- Hey, I'm getting smushed on this Houston bandwagon for next year, I was here first! Where did all of you come from, Tennessee?

PHI at WSH: Eagles- Philly fans you do realize this kind of run will result in more Reid? That's what you want, even if your trip to the playoffs ends in the first round?

ATL at MIN: Vikings- Despite Pat Williams going down, I think the Vikings hold on in a close one. The game may only take 2 hours with all the running that will go on.

CAR at NYG: Panthers- I can't go against the hot hand here. The Panthers are confident and have the talent to back it up.

GB at CHI: Bears- I was pulling for you this year Green Bay, I really was.

Time for the Clue factoid. At the end of the movie(Spoiler Alert!), Wadsworth reveals his ultimate plot, that he is the blackmailer and brought the dinner guests there to dispose of his accomplices. He is then asked if the plot had anything to do with communism(remember this movie was made in the '80s and took mplace in the '50s) to which he replies, "Of course not, communism was just a red herring." The term red herring which means to give a replay in to an argument that has nothing to do with the real issue. The term comes from the old days when criminals used to use fish to lead the tracking dogs off their trail. I told you these factoids were going to get iffy toward the end of the year.

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Top Ten: Stadium Songs We Don't Want To Hear Ever Again

I like to think of myself as observant when it comes to taking in a sporting event. Whether it is in a full stadium of fans or in a near empty building. One of the aspects that always holds my attention is the music selection. In my opinion the music at a sporting event should complement the attitude of the fans and on some occasions enhance the experience. In no way should this translate to playing the same redundant, overused, and downright annoying songs during the breaks in the action. Submitted for your approval or your disdain, here are the top ten stadium songs which we would rather stab our eardrums with a rusty spork than listen to again while trying to enjoy the game. This is not necessarily a knock on the songs themslves, I am not one to rag on anyone's taste in music, some are songs I had enjoyed, some were not on my playlists so to speak, but all are now melodies I want stricken from stadiums everywhere.

10. "Sweet Caroline"- Neil Diamond

I have no problem with Neil Diamond, and I mean that. The man can croon, and he still is rocking decades later. He even lost $150 million in his divorce and said of his ex-wife, "She's worth every penny." Furthermore I even enjoy this song, but it has turned into one of those where every stadium thinks it is their special little tradition to play it during the game. Look no further than Boston Red Sox fans screaming it out. Down here in North Carolina, people seem to think that they have lordship over the song even though Diamond is clearly speaking of a woman he probably had intimate relations with and not the Tarheel state. I prefer Neil's story behind the song in Will Ferrell's words:

When everyone screams out the "Oh,Oh,Oh" I want to be like Glenn Guglia in the Wedding Singer and say, "Ok, great, we all know the words to the song."

9. "Hell's Bells"- ACDC

I know it seems blasphemous to list a group such as ACDC on this list and it really is not their fault, but this song has become the token "our team is tough and mean and this is the play where we prove it" song. It usually occurs on a football field on third down when the home stadium wants the crowd to get into the game. The problem as been that it has begun being played on every third down at every stadium. Trevor Hoffman came out to the song while he was in San Diego which was cool because that was his thing, but then everyone added the song to the stadium playlist and played it early and often during the games. The final straw may have been when ESPN seemingly bought the entire ACDC collection and began using it in commercials, pre-game line-ups, going to commercial breaks, and anything else they could slap it on. I know ACDC rocks and all that, but I would like to see this song relegated to concerts, VH1 countdowns, and Guitar Hero.

8. "Welcome to the Jungle"- Guns N' Roses

As soon as this song starts everyone knows what it is. I kind of feel bad for the Bengals, and not just in the usual they suck ever since Boomer left way, when I see what has happened to this song inside the sports arena. It used to have relevance and meaning, you see the Bengals stadium was refered to as the jungle because they were named after tigers and such. Like many songs at the bottom of this list, I did not mind it on its own, but now it is the generic go-to song for almost every kick-off, tip-off, team taking the field, or any other beginning of a sporting event. I remember when the video came out they would not show it on daytime television because of the "scary" images it portrayed. Like any song, hearing it over and over again and seeing throngs of people enjoying it dulls the edge. Besides there are far better GNR songs to play at our sporting events and I'm not talking about November Rain.

7. "Imperial March"- Star Wars(John Williams)
This one is mainly featured in college games where bands attempt to blow people away by playing the Darth Vader theme from the movies. Oh no look out, that team has the toughened spirit of a young Hayden Christensen! The song used to represent something kind of cool back in the day, but now it is way overplayed and is sadly the staple of many college bands in football and basketball except for Wisconsin, where I believe their main staple is "Nothing But A Good Time". The other thing that is bothersome about this one is that the bands usually sound like crap when playing the march, which takes away from its overall effect. The Lego band does it much better anyway:

6. "Cotton Eye Joe"- Rednex

There really is no explanation required. The song grates on your ears and you end up wanting to strangle someone. I prefer not to look around when this song comes on because you are almost guaranteed to see a large, overweight, white person jumping around to this tune. I would like the youtube video so you could relive the horror of the song, but even the video is too much to take, even with a girl on a mechanical bull, you can look here(slightly NSFW) if you are into that sort of thing, sicko.

5. "Unbelievable" -EMF

Wow, did you see that play! That is one of the most exciting plays I have ever seen transpire on a competitive field of play, if only there was some way to express my amazement through song. This song needs to die. I do not know if the sound guys at the stadium think they are obliged to play a song like this after some big pay or they think it is clever given the title or what, but maybe there are other songs that can fit the bill. This song was a hit back in the 1990s and had a good run, but once it began to get overplayed ad nauseum it became a hated moment anytime it blared on the sound system. Also annoying is when they play just the soundbite of the singer(if that's called singing) saying the song title. It hit a new all-time low when some ad wizards gave us crumbelievable...

4. "Whoomp There It Is"- Tag Team/ "Who Let the Dogs Out"- Baha Men

These two songs belong together because they are both equal in their surge into pop culture and my desire to burn every copy of them still in existence. You really would think that the songs would go away after their initial popularity, yet you are still likely to hear either one at some point in a sports season. Can these songs just go to their rightful place in the music graveyard with the Macarena? It just goes to show make a mockery of what hip-hop is supposed to be, mix in snazzy catch-phrase, and put it to a roughly pop beat and there you go, a one-hit wonder made in heaven. Still don't think these songs are outdated and make white people look awkward? I give you Mitt Romney..

3. "YMCA"- The Village People

It is somewhat inconceivable that a song like this still finds its way into sports venues around the country year after year. I don't think most people realize what the song is all about. It is not about how great your local YMCA is for harnassing the energy of a youthful generation of males doing various physical activities and good deeds, it's about how great it is to head down to the YMCA and pick up guys. Before you rush to judgment, no this is not a slam on gays or gay culture, it is a slam n hearing this song while I'm trying to enjoy a sporting event. I guess it makes some people feel great to be able to master the complex and secretive dance that is involved with song. In truth the "dance" is not even a dance it is a series of arm gestures. I have no beef with the Village People or their fine catalog of work, but save this song for the weddings, or the 7th-grade dance, or the dancefloor, not for time-killing during a break in the action at a sporting event.

And in case you are wondering, yes I have danced to this song once in my life. It was on a cruise right after I graduated from college. I was involved in a 'Olympics' competition on the boat featuring various random events and our team needed a win in this event for the points, which was coming up with a unique dance to this song. Luckily one of our group members had experience dancing to the tune from when she was younger in a dance class(she was the Indian) and gave us the choreography. Did we win that event? Damn right.

2. "Kernkraft 400"- Zombie Nation

The name of this song may not be recognizable, but as soon as you hear it you know what it is. This song has managed to infiltrate every level of sporting events. It is played all the time, in a variety of situations: when something good happens, during a timeout, when a rally is taking place, before kickoff, etc. The song has quickly dethroned Darude's "Sandstorm" as the techno king of overplayed sports anthems. Still wondering what song I'm speaking of, take a look at some old resident evil clips and listen:

1. "Rock and Roll Part 2"- Gary Glitter

Die! Why won't this song die! If you have been watching/attending sporting events over the past 25 some odd years like I have then you have heard this song more times than you probably care to. Whether it is pumped into the stadium by loudspeaker or a college band is blowing it shrilly from their brass, I cannot stand this song. I'm guessing the reason it caught on so well is the part where everyone can shout out "Hey!" over and over again. I have come to accept there is no getting away from this song and each time I hear it the walls of my skull ache in agony. Even when Gary Glitter ran into "legal" trouble the song could not be quelled in the stadiums. Play the video for the song if you must, if not just to remind you of how annoying it is, then to wonder how people can be amazed that this man has done bad things to children. I can honestly say the mark Gary Glitter is leaving on the world has not made it a better place, for sports fans or for children.

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Wednesday, December 17

$100 Million Pitchers: You Don't Know [Blank]

Last week C.C. Sabathia signed a 7 year, $161 million deal with the Evil Empire New York Yankees to become their ace. It is not the first time a team has doled out over a hundo-million for the services of a pitcher. In this installment of YDKB, we test your knowledge of 9 figure deals and in particular, how they seem to not work out quite often. As always no cheating, feel to share your score and winners will receive a custom Christmas ornament from Catfish. Continue on for the quiz.

The first $100 million pitcher in baseball was [No cheating], signed by the the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998 for $105 million over 7 years. His first season was a respectable 18-9 but it would only go down from there. He would soon be plagued by injury problems and ended up only averaging 9 wins per season in L.A. and was traded to the [Darth's team] in 2003.

Mike Hampton was a key component helping the [Kings of Queens] win the 2000 NL pennant. He was even named the MVP of the NLCS victory over the [No cheating]. After that season Hampton sought greener pastures in the west as he signed a 8 year, $121 million deal with the [Code Blue]. In his first season he went 14-13 with a 5.12 ERA and followed that up with a 7-15 mark in 2002. Hampton was then shipped to [No cheating] briefly and then to the Braves. Ever since then Mike has been hampered with injuries to his arm, his oblique, and his pectoral.

Barry Zito spent 7 years in Oakland where he made [#] all-star games and won the Cy Young in [year]. In 2006 Zito made a switch to POS agent Scott Boras and one year later signed with the [No cheating] for 7 years and $126 million. In his first season he went 11-13 with a 4.53 ERA, not exactly what the team was hoping for. This past season he had troubles again and was even moved to the bullpen after a [tough one] start. He finished 10-17 with an ERA over 5 as many are having buyer's remorse on this one.

Last season the New York Mets made a priority out of signing Johan Santana. The result was a [#] year, $137.5 million contract. The Mets so far have not been dissapointed as Johan had a 16-7 record, with a 2.53 ERA and 206 strikeouts. He finished third in the Cy Young behind [No cheating] and the winner [Not Zito]. Santana would have had an even more impressive record if the Mets' bullpen did not suck so bad.

Sabathia's deal now makes him the pitcher with the most lucrative pitcher in MLB history contract-wise. It is hard to say what it will take for Sabathia to earn his money in the eyes of the tough New York media. Sabathia is only [No cheating] years old, but has thrown a tremendous amount of pitches in his career. Last year for the Brewers he went [No cheating] and carried them to the playoffs. This off-season Yankees GM [Gimmie] made it a priority to sign Sabathia to help the depleted New York pitching. We will see how he handles the big money, bright lights, and boisterous fans of New York.

Pencils down!

Answers below:

1. Kevin Brown
2. New York Yankees
3. New York Mets
4. St. Louis Cardinals
5. Colorado Rockies
6. Florida Marlins
7. 3
8. 2002
9. San Francisco Giants
10. 0-6
11. 6
12. Brandon Webb
13. Tim Lincecum
14. 28
15. 11-2
16. Brian Cashman

Scoring Scale:
0-1: Cold Stove
1-3: Think Tim Kurkjan is the prime minister of Kazakhstan
4-6: Afraid of inflation
7-9: Have read "Moneyball"
10-12: Attended a Steve Phillips fake press conference
13-15: Have the number to Buster Olney's PDA
Perfect 16: Still chew baseball card gum

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Quick Video Q&A with the Panthers

Thanks to our friends over at Arts à la Mode, we have a few video clips of interviews they did with Panthers' safety Chris Harris and pro-bowl wide receiver Steve Smith. The players were at a special premiere of Will Smith's new movie Seven Pounds in Charlotte last week. Harris shares his thoughts on Carolina's Super Bowl chances and when Steve Smith is asked if there is a cornerback in the league that can stop him, you may be surprised by the answer.

Clearly the Panthers were in high spirits after beating the Bucs last Monday night, and their confidence can only be higher after they beat Denver to finish 8-0 at home. If they defeat the Giants this Sunday night they will earn the number one seed in the NFC.

Will Smith was at the premiere, wearing a Panthers jersey at one point and also donating 300 turkeys to area families in need. He seemed in a rather jovial mood, but then again so would I if I was getting his kind of paychecks. You can watch that video here.

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College Basketball Notebook: Tough Games Early can be the Difference

The message has been sent by the selection committee and the schools have heard it. Schools from big conferences can no longer depend on their performance in-conference alone to get into the tournament or receive a favorable seed. After certain BCS conference teams have been left out of the big dance, this season has featured some tough early season match-ups between highly ranked opponents. Whether it is in a tournament, a highly contested match-up on a neutral court, or a visit to an opponent's tough home floor teams are loading up their pre-conference schedule with quality games so they their resume is undeniable come tourney time.

A View from the Top

According to Vegas, if you pay attention to that sort of thing, North Carolina is listed as a 36.4% chance to win it all. The only other team in double digits is UCONN at 11.1%. No matter what percentages you go by, Carolina is the clear-cut favorite to win the tournament. The closest any opponent has come to the Tar Heels was 15 and that was in their first game against Penn. UNC has passed the century mark 4 times and pretty much look unstoppable at 9-0. Although any team will put some soft opponents on their schedule to not completely batter themselves down before conference play and to give some of the schools from smaller conferences exposure in the "guarantee games", the Tarheels have faced quality competition. The problem for those teams and is that they have not given Carolina any competition. The Tarheels participated in the Maui Invitational where they beat Oregon by 29 and then thumped no. 12 Notre Dame 102-87 in the final. North Carolina also went to Ford Field to face Michigan State it what was supposed to be a showdown of two top ten teams, but it was not close with the Heels winning 98-63. It is not the hardest of schedules but UNC is pretty much a lock for a 1 seed in the region of their choice as long as they do not lose too many games but at this rate they may not lose at all.

The Orange Have Left New York

Perhaps the most telling example of the trend of schools seeking tougher schedules lies in the northeast. Since I can remember Syracuse was annually ridiculed for not leaving the confines of the Empire state throughout the entire pre-conference schedule. They would relie on their success in the Big East to justify their tournament invite, but after failing to reach the dance two years in a row even after respectable performances in-conference the Orange got proactive. They participated in the CBE Classic in Kansas City where they beat Florida who was ranked at the time and then defeated a then-ranked Kansas team. The win vaulted the Orange into the rankings. The Orange lost the other night on a ridiculous 60-foot shot to Cleveland State, but they must put that behind them as they travel to Memphis to take on the Tigers this Saturday. The Eric Devendorf situation is no help either but if the Orange come down to being a bubble team again this year, these pre-conference games outside the Carrier Dome and MSG will get them in.

Pearl is Volunteering

Bruce Pearl has done wonders for the Tennessee men's basketball program. The last two years he has brought the Vols to the Sweet 16 and they very well could make the trip there again. Pearl has shown he is not afraid of playing competition anywhere and anyplace. This includes games from tourney teams from smaller conferences that made a splash last year by playing at Siena and against Belmont. In a tournament in Orlando the Vols beat Georgetown and then fell to Gonzaga, two teams currently in the top 15. The other UT loss was at Temple last Saturday, certinaly not one of the nation's top teams but their name still carries weight and the fact that Tennessee went on the road helps as well. The Vols rebounded by beating no. 24 Marquette last night. With the January 24 meeting with Memphis thrown into the mix, there is no doubt the Vols will be respected for their schedule come March.

Some Good News in Michigan

Many think Michigan is on the right path, at least as far as basketball is concerned. One thing that is for sure is that John Beilein has some big quality wins on his schedule this year. Wins against UCLA and Duke are big boosts to the resume and one of their two losses has been at Maryland, not a highly ranked opponent but one from the ACC nonetheless. The Wolverines also visit UCONN on February 7th to increase they strength of schedule. If UM gets in the 17-20 win neighborhood, these games could get them into their first NCAA tourney in ten years.

Sooners Rising Up

Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel and the rest of Sooner nation were glad when Blake Griffin returned to school this year and he has come up big in their big non-conference games. Games against Davidson, UAB, USC, Purdue, and a fairly tough VCU team will assure the Sooners get a decent seed placement if they weather the Big XII.

Davidson Not Relaxing

One of the reasons that Davidson their exciting run to the Elite 8 last year was the fact that they played tough compeition early. Games against North Carolina, Duke and UCLA helped toughen the team mentally and helped secure a ten seed in the tournament. This year coach Bob McKillop has followed the same philosophy with games at Oklahoma, N.C. State, West Virgnia, at Purdue, and at Duke. The Wildats lone loss was at Oklahoma by 4 points. With Stephen Curry leading the way, Davidson should receive possibly a single digit seed in the tourney. The strong schedule only helps their cause.

X-Men Gaining Reputation

Xavier has made the NCAA tournament 7 of the last 8 years and in 2 of those years they reached the Elite 8. Coach Sean Miller has not only continued what Thad Motta started there, he has built on it. Xavier plays in an upper-middle A-10 so the Musketeers have taken it upon themselves to play some of the big conference teams early on. Missouri and Virginia Tech early may not seem big now, but by the end of the year thsoe could be quality wins. After dispatching their rival Cincinnati last Saturday, the X-men play Duke this Saturday and then follow it up with a game at always tough Butler on the 23rd. Xavier was one win away from the Final Four last year and I expect them to be another strong darkhorse for Detroit this year.

There are plenty more teams that have put the strong opponents on their schedule in the hopes that it might give them the edge in fighting for a tournament spot and when you look at the teams that may fall short, the tournament committee has repeatedly gone with who they played in the pre-conference and strength of schedule to tip the scales in one team's favor. Another result of this trend in college basketball is that we get great match-ups early in the season. This Saturday really exemplifies that, just take a look at the slate of game this weekend:

#2 UCONN @ #8 Gonzaga
#19 Michigan State @ #5 Texas
#6 Duke @ #7 Xavier
#11 Syracuse @ #23 Memphis
#22 Davidson @ #13 Purdue

Should be great to see how these teams match-up. It may be a long way from March, but teams' identities are formed along the journey of the season and in these type of games. Football is king this time of year, but that does not mean you cannot watch some great college basketball on the side. These games deserve recognition and if the fans are not all watching, the tournament committee at least should be.

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Tuesday, December 16

Yes We Did!

What's your name? Big Beas. What ya do? Make Pro Bowls. Thanks to the campaign efforts of Catfish, Carolina Panther middle linebacker and former Miami Hurricane Jon Beason was selected to the Pro Bowl. Beason will be the reserve to Patrick Willis in Hawaii in February. In only his second year Beason leds the team in tackles with 122 which is second in the NFL and has 3 INTs. Other Panthers to make the team were Steve Smith, Julius Peppers, and tackle Jordan Gross. The one Panther that I thought deserved consideration was Travelle Wharton and a case could be made for DeAngelo Williams as well.

Other Miami Hurricanes to make it are Clinton Portis, Jeff Feagles, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Ray Lewis, and Ed Reed. You can see the complete list here.

Congratulations Big Beas, you earned it.

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The Shackleford Files: 002

Another weekly(?) installment of our podcast is all ready for your listening pleasure. In only our second venture into the auditory airwaves of your soul, Catfish and I discuss the NFL action from Sunday, the playoff race and a wide variety of other topics. Of course we share thoughts on the Bobcats-Suns swap, MLB signings, the Heisman and Catfish even waxes poetic on people who decide that the way to show their love for you on Christmas is to get you something that has zero value except to dangle from your tree one time a year. As always, you can download your very own version of it here. Enjoy the podcast and this time no Ray Romano jokes!

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NFL Week 15 De-Cleeting: Oops my bad that's my scenario

It is that time of year where many are attempting to calculate what needs to happen to get their teams into the playoffs. For some it is as easy as winning this week or having someone else lose while others need a lot of help. There are ten teams still mathematically alive in the NFC and nine in the AFC. In this week's De-Cleeting, possible realties and alternative truths will be examined for the playoffs. Just remember the sum of the squares of the legs of a right triangle is equal to the square of the remaining side.


Tennesee holds the number one seed in the AFC at the moment despite their 13-12 loss in Houston. One game behind the Titans are the Steelers, the only other AFC team to have secured a playoff berth. Pittsburgh locked up the NFC North thanks to their 13-9 victory over Baltimore. I thought there was no way the Ravens would give away two wins to Pittsburgh in the same season but it happened. Baltimore had their chances to get in the end zone and failed and then on the Steelers final drive they played soft coverage that is why they lost, not the Holmes call. Baltimore now plummeted to the final playoff spot.

Baltimore travels to Dallas for a Saturday game(thanks NFL Network!) in a game where playoff implications are huge for both squads. If Baltimore loses it could cost them that final spot and they will be looking back on games they should have won. The good news for the Ravens is that they hold the head-to-head advantage over the Dolphins and they have a better conference record than the Patriots.

The Colts will beat the Jags, and that's all they need to secure the 5 seed. I imagine no team wants to face Indy in the playoffs so it may be that the number one seed has to face them in the divisional round if the 3 seed were to win.

Christmas came early for the Jets on Sunday as J.P. Losman giftwrapped a go-ahead TD with two minutes left in New York's 31-27 win. The win kept the Jets in first place in the AFC East thanks to their 2-1 head-to-head record against New England and Miami. They of course have Miami left in the final game of the season but if they win next week at Seattle and beat the Dolphins at home, they win the East and get the 3 seed.

The Dolphins lost the statistical battle against the 49ers but won where it counted by getting the ball in the endzone(sensing a theme here?) and winning 14-9. The Dolphins control they fate similarly to the Jets. If they win their last two, they win the East because they have a better record in the AFC right now than the Patriots (6-4 to 6-5). If the Dolphins slip it will be hard for them to sneak in due to their head-to head tiebreaker against the Ravens, but that is assuming the Ravens and Patriots would win out. The Dolphins should simply be focused on winning the last two.

The Patriots are not in as bad a shape as one would think, but they do need help even after demolishing the hapless Raiders 49-26 in the rain in Oakland. First off, they must win their last two at home against the Cardinals(1:00 EST start!) and at Buffalo. If Baltimore slips against Dallas and the Pats win out, they would grab the final spot because that would make them 11-5 and the loser of the Dolphins-Jets game is going to be 10-6 at best. New England can win the division but it would require them to win out and either the Dolphins or Jets to slip on the road and then that team to beat the team that wins this Sunday. If the Dolphins and Jets both lose this week, all New England would have to do is win. If you need help from others to get in, I do not think you could ask for a better scenario if your the Pats, but wins in their final two are not guarenteed.

San Diego is still clinging to life after getting past KC 22-21. They had some reason to celebrate since Denver lost. The Chargers have to win at Tampa(where the Bucs have not lost this year) and then beat Denver at home to win the AFC West. They also need Denver to lose at home to Buffalo(stranger things have happened) before the final showdown in San Diego in week 17. The Chargers have really brought this situation on themselves but if you recall that call made by Ed Hochuli back in week 2, the game now is a big factor. If that ball had been correctly called a fumble, then both teams would be 7-7 with the division possibly being decided on the final week.

The Broncos, who got spanked by Carolina 30-10, should just thank their lucky stars, win one of the last two(preferably this week hosting Buffalo), and get their free playoff t-shirt before Indy obliterates them in the first round.


The Giants have secured a playoff berth as we know but could we ever imagine that both #1 seeds would be up for grabs in the same week 16? Perhaps the craziest fact is that the Panthers do not even have a playoff berth secure yet. The Giants two-game losing streak has allowed Carolina the opportunity to grab the top spot. New York's poor performance in the 20-8 Sunday night loss to the Cowboys means if the Panthers beat them in Giants Stadium this Sunday night, the Panthers have home-field throughout. Considering the Panthers are 8-0 at home, this could be a huge victory for them. If the Giants lose their final two games which are tough ones versus Carolina and at Minnesota they could conceivably have to play in the wild-card round. It may be hard for the Giants to stop the bleeding without Brandon Jacobs. The Panthers meanwhile secure at the very least a playoff berth if either Atlanta, Tampa Bay, or Dallas lose.

The Cardinals appear locked into that fourth seed and will need to regroup in order to make good showing in the playoffs. The Vikings hammered them in the pink taco on Sunday with Tavarus Jackson 35-14. They have the NFC West title, which may be the college equivalent of winning the MAC.

The NFC South is a bit more complicated. Carolina will win the division even if they fall to New York if they beat New Orleans the final week which would put them at 12-4. Tampa, who lost to Atlanta 13-10 in OT, needs to simply win out its last two at home against San Diego and Oakland, but remember the Chargers still have something to play for. The Bucs will get the playoff berth if they win out and will get the division if Carolina loses its last two by virtue of NFC record(the Bucs are 8-4 vs. the NFC and the two losses would make the Panthers 7-5). The Falcons can get into the final spot by winning out and having Dallas stumble either against Baltimore or Philly. They can also win the division if the Panthers lose out, they win out, and Tampa loses one of its final two. Atlanta has a huge game against the Vikings in the Metrodome on Sunday. I'm dizzy already.

In the NFC North, the Vikings can lock up the division by winning their final two, but those two are against Atlanta and the Giants. The Bears escaped the Saints to eliminate them last Thursday 27-24 but also have tough match-ups in a rivalry game against Green Bay and then at Houston who has been on fire. If the Vikings stumble against Atlanta but beat the Giants and Chicago wins out it gets hairy, but the bright spot for the Bears is that if the tie-breaker goes to common opponents, the Bears beat Indy to open the season whereas the Vikings gave away a late lead to the Colts.

The Eagles and Redskins are still alive and face each other in an elimination game this Sunday. The Eagles have fired off three straight including last night's 30-10 beating of Cleveland. The Redskins have been doing a tailspin including losing to a previously one victory team in Cincinnati 20-13. The Eagles would need to beat Dallas a home in the final week if they win at Washington and have Atlanta or Tampa lose at least one game. The Redskins would need both Tampa and Atlanta to lose out and they would have to win out against the Eagles and at San Fran. The Cowboys have a tough road but currently are in. They have Baltimore at home and the travel to Philly. If they win out they get the 5 seed. If they stumble they would need to do it only against Baltimore because they currently have 4 NFC losses and could not afford a 5th. One other bright spot for Dallas is the fact that they own the head-to-head tiebreaker of the Bucs.

Here is how I think things will look in two weeks:
1. Steelers-bye
2. Titans-bye

3. Dolphins vs. 6. Patriots
4. Broncos vs. 5. Colts

I think the Steelers find a way to beat the Titans and I see the Dolphins and Patriots winning out while Baltimore loses a close one at Dallas on Saturday. I think the Chargers lose at Tampa Bay which secures the west for Denver.

1. Panthers-bye
2. Giants-bye

3. Vikings vs. 6. Eagles
4. Cardinals vs. 5. Bucs

I know K-man will be upset but I think the Panthers will beat the Giants this Sunday and take the top seed. The Vikings should beat the Falcons at home and I see the Bears losing in Houston. Tampa should win out at home and I think the Eagles will win out which would give them the spot over Dallas. Turns out that tie was way better than a loss, way to play for the second overtime Donavan!

Here are the official tie-breaking rules. So interesting that the NFL has a 12 team playoff yet these games in the regular season matter so much. Perhaps you should be taking notes college football?

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Monday, December 15

Kings Fire Reggie Theus

Reggie Theus was fired today by the Sacramento Kings after a 6-18 start. I think we can all agree we remember Reggie best for his role as Coach Bill Fuller on "Hang Time", the awesome NBC Saturday morning show that featured the school's basketball team with Daniella Deutscher as the girl who was ballin' enough to get on the guys team. The cast was constantly changing but Anthony Anderson was also part of the early cast.

Theus went 44-52 in his quick tenure as coach but maybe he can get his job back at with the Deering Tornadoes after all, it was Dick Butkus who replaced him.

Those lyrics are made of pure win.

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Weekend Recap

The Bobcats celebrated the newly acquired Boris Diaw and Raja Bell by sucking for three quarters before the bench scrubs for Charlotte make a furious rally that just fell short against the Pistons on Saturday 90-86. []

Xavier tops Cincinnati in the chili rivalry. The Musketeers and Bearcats have flipped identities over the past couple years with Xavier now in the top ten and having won 9 of the last 13 in the series. Perhaps Cincy was not wise to get rid of Andy Kennedy so quickly while Sean Miller is doing great things at Xavier. [CBSSportsline]

Our adopted Sabres split their weekend games 1-1. They did beat New Jersey on Saturday and currently sit in 8th place in the Eastern Conference. Thomas Vanek added a couple more goals to his league leading total. [Yahoo!Sports]

You got to love those Walt Coleman reviews as he delivers another gem in the Steelers-Ravens game on Sunday. I just wish we could have seen that fourth down play at the goal-line. More controversial then the call may be the Ravens soft defense on the final drive. [FanIQ via Deadspin]

It was not quite on par with the miracle, but well thanks J.P. Losman, thanks a lot. []

Maryland wins men's soccer title in an empty stadium in Frisco, Texas. [ESPN]

Sam Bradford beats the almighty to win Heisman. Lord Tebow garners the most first place votes. []

An NC State study proves what we knew all along, BJ's stop cancer. It's Science. [Yesbutnobutyes]

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Friday, December 12

It's Friday

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Seth Curry, Your Thoughts?

Seth Curry is Stephen Curry's little brother and they are both sons of Dell Curry. I BET YOU DID NOT KNOW THAT!! Ok you probably did. A couple of days ago Seth did an interview with ESPN's "First Take". If you avoid the show like the plague like I do you probably did not catch it, especially since it was the soulless one Skip Bayless and fraulein Jamele Hill on the 1st and 10 segment. Some of the questions are pretty inane, but it is an interesting dynamic between the three Currys and there is even some old footage of Dell in the Charlotte Coliseum jacking it up. I can still remember the PA man at the Coliseum when Curry hit a three, "DC for 3!". Seth has come on to the scene quickly in college basketball, leading all freshman in the nation currently in scoring with 21.4 per game. Stephen surely gets most of the press but Seth should be ready to take his place in the years to come. Liberty right now looks to be a strong contender in the Big South after beating Virginia and almost vanquishing Clemson. VMI who beat Kentucky to open the season also looks strong in a league that should be wide open. The article and video of the interview is below.

Video: Curry Interview on ESPN2 First Take []

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Thursday, December 11

Week 15 Mr. Green Locks

I am doing my picks from a remote location, and by remote I mean XM's living room while we shoot the bull and by shoot the bull I mean drink whiskey and cuss a lot. Last week was another decent week but would have been even better if the Cowboys had held on. On to the picks...

Last week: 11-5
Season: 128-79

NO at CHI: Saints- All signs point to Bears, so I'm going Saints.

TB at ATL: Falcons- Home teams have success in the NFC South this year and I expect this game will be no different.

SEA at STL: Rams- Just because.

BUF at NYJ: Jets- If the Jets choke here, I can't wait to see the Favre press conference. How great would it be if the Jets and Packers miss the playoffs.

SF at MIA: Dolphins- I said on the podcast that the Dolphins will emerge from the AFC East and I stand by that.

SD at KC: Chiefs- I expect another great effort from KC this week. The Chargers look like they don't want to be out there.

GB at JAC: Packers- The broken dreams bowl.

WSH at CIN: Redskins- Since Clinton Portis is my boy from the U, let's just move on.

TEN at HOU: Texans- An upset special, Titans have clenched and Texans are on fire.

DET at IND: Colts- The country(including the state of Michigan) is really getting behind the 0-16 dream.

MIN at ARI: Cardinals- Just because the Cards clinched doesn't mean they don't want to finish ahead of the Vikings.

NE at OAK: Patriots- A must have game for the Pats. Not to jump up on a soapbox here, but if you think you have to make a joke about Matt Cassel's father to be funny, you're a fucking idiot.

DEN at CAR: Panthers- Catfish refuses to call this a trap game but in my mind it is a classic trap game yet the Panthers will survive.

PIT at BAL: Ravens- Will Baltimore really give away another game to Pittsburgh?

NYG at DAL: Giants- Not a Giants fan by any stretch of the imagination but please put a stake in this team.

CLE at PHI: Eagles- This team just won't die. I'm talking about the Eagles, not the Browns, they die early and often.

Tough to pull a Clue fact on short notice since I'm trying to get these in before the NFL Network game tonight (don't worry XM doesn't get it so I have no clue of the score) but enjoy some Clue Math.

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College Football in the South on the Rise

Excellent article on how college football in the south has been and continues to be force in poltics, the economy, and social issues from Danny Everson at the Wall Street Journal. [WallStreetJournal]

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Bobcats French Connection

With a tip of the cap to Cuzoogle, who are the pros at movie posters, here's the new flick playing at all ASD theatres.

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The Forgotten Gator

Two years ago Chris Leak led the Florida Gators to their second national championship in the school's football history. According to the way many are talking this year about Tim Tebow, you would think that it was he who led the Gators to the victory over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. It is all part of the media onslaught of the Tim Tebow for Heisman campaign, which will no doubt culminate with his holiness accepting another bronze trophy this Saturday in New York. The CBS commentary during the SEC Championship reached new heights when he was labeled 'Bronko Nagurski Tebow'. I think you'll find a few subtle differences between the two if you look close enough and not just because I do not think Tebow has ever pointed directions to someplace by picking up a horse-led plow. Let's take a quick look back on the 2006 title the roles played by Leak and Tebow.

First off, this is not a dismissal of the talent and desire of Tim Tebow. He is an exceptional player and we all know what a saint he is off the field. It is not hard for the sports audience to grow weary of him however. The mass sports media constantly fawn over him and treat him as the second coming of some sort of college football diety. Here are a few examples:

Voters have spoken -- give Tebow the Heisman, again [CBSSportsline]

Tebow's emotional vow could go down in sports lore [CBSSportsline]

Is this really going to go down in sports lore? I guess since he does not play on the network that employs me or I do not have a man-crush on him I do not get how blubbering about how upset you are after a loss becomes on par with winning one for the Gipper.

Tebow clings to his reign [FoxSports]

Tebow seals Heisman Trophy with SEC title game performance [SportingNews]

Tim Tebow Continues to Be Haterade-Repellent [SportingNews]

These may be justified articles about a great player, but in the minds of those of the anti-Tebow crowd, they are more examples of the media's love affair with him. The post-game press conference after the Ole Miss game is what still gets me, everyone seems to think that the Florida win was a direct result of that speech, but in truth it was a switch in the offense which involved their tremendous playmakes like Percy Harvin that proved to be the Gators' winning formula. But again I digress, let's take a trip back to 2006 when the Gators won the national championship.

By the time Leak headed into his senior season in 2006, he was already operating under the third offensive scheme in his four years at Florida. This was the second year he had had under Urban Meyer's "spread option" which Meyer had tailored more towards Leak since he was more of a dropback passer. That year Tebow was a freshman and it was apparent early that Tebow was more fit to run Meyer's offense. Before and during the season though, Leak got Meyer's vote of confidence and remained the starter throughout the season though Tebow came in for certain series, especially down by the goal-line.

The Gators schedule that year was comprised completely around SEC juggernauts since the conference was especially strong that year. The team ran through a schedule that included Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and Georgia in consecutive weeks. [side note: funny how Texas does not get a lot of credit for running through their gauntlet of Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma St., and Texas Tech] They were all strong teams and the only team they fell to was Auburn 27-17. That was Leak's worst game of the year as he went 9-17 with 1 TD, 1 INT and was sacked 3 times. The game at the time seemed to knock Florida out of the national championship picture but a USC 13-9 upset at the hands of UCLA allowed the Gators to sneak into the championship game after they defeated Arkansas in the SEC Championship. In the SEC title game Leak was 16-30 for 189 yards 1 TD and 2 INT and 1 rushing TD. It was not his best effort of the year but the Gators won 38-28 and in that game Leak became the all-time leader in passing yards at UF, eclipsing Danny Wuerffel's mark.

In total, Leak finished as the all-time leader at Florida in attempts, completions, yards, 200-yard passing games, and total yards by a QB. His final stats were 11,213 yards, 88 passing TDs versus 42 INTs, 13 Rushing TDs, and a 139.83 passer rating. In the championship game against Ohio State Leak was 25-36 for 213 yards, 1 TD and he was named offensive MVP for the game.

Tim Tebow had 7 rushing TDs in 2006 and 5 passing TDs along with an INT. He only threw 33 passes all year, racking up 358 yards. In the championship game Tebow threw one pass for a 1 yard TD, and had 39 yards rushing and a TD. Those were pretty good stats to accumulate for someone who was not playing that much, but I beleive it is clear that Leak was the offensive leader of that team.

Chris Leak was not without his share of off-field goodliness either. He was a finalist for the Draddy Trophy which is also known as the Academic Heisman. Every semester he made the SEC Academic Honor Roll and was a keynote speaker at the Florida graduation ceremony.

Leak went undrafted in 2007 but was signed as a free agent with the Chicago Bears. He did not get much playing time and was released after the final pre-season game. Many think it is his height which prevents him from even being able to make a NFL roster. He is listed at 5'11" which may be generous as most listings are. He tried out this year for the Chiefs but again did not make the roster. On June 9th of this year he signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL and for those of you keeping score at home, they lost the Grey Cup this year to Calgary. On the Montreal team page, there are no stats listed for Leak which I assume means he received no playing time this year.

Although Tebow will most likely win his second Heisman this weekend and in my estimation he lead the Gators to another national title, but the '06 campaign was with Leak leading the offense, a highly touted recruit who overcame the Zook era and three different offensive schemes in four years to led the rout of Ohio State in Glendale and who left Florida with a good number of passing records. I have heard numerous mentions of how Tim Tebow is trying to lead his team to the 2nd national championship under his immaculate reign leadership at UF, but how quick people forget someone who did not receive the constant fellating from the media. Tebow is great and maybe one of the best college football players we have seen in awhile as some are labeling him, but if he fails to win on January 8th, he will have two Heismans his only championship will be as a back-up freshman.

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