Boston. Los Angeles. They meet again.
Boston. Los Angeles. They meet again.
There is no worse feeling for the collective of sports fans than the feeling that the wrong team has advanced in the playoffs. I don’t mean “wrong team” in the “Jaguars over Steelers last year” sense. Sure, most of us were hoping for a Steelers/Pats AFC Championship game, featuring the two teams most of us thought to be the best in the AFC; but we were happy for the Jaguars for pulling off the upset fair and square. No, when I say “wrong team”, I mean it in the sense that the wrong team has advanced as a result of something completely beyond the control of the teams in the game.
Unfortunately, this was the case with the Rams/Saints NFC Championship Game. It is extremely rare for all sports fans to agree on an officiating call, but that is just what happened with Los Angeles and New Orleans. Everyone knows that the officials should have called either pass interference or unnecessary roughness on Nickell Robey-Coleman, but the officiating crew somehow rendered no penalty. Meanwhile, a penalty call would have given the Saints a 98% win probability. In that case, the Saints would have been able to bleed the clock down to 23 seconds or so before giving Will Lutz the chance to kick a game-winning and tie-breaking 21-yard chip-shot field goal.
Of course, the officials missed the penalty call, so the aforementioned scenario did not occur. The Rams are now heading to the Super Bowl. As a result, I spent the first several days of last week trying not to think about the Super Bowl. Just as I have tried to avoid football after devastating Giants playoff losses, I did the same for a few days here because of the Rams/Saints game. Never in my life have I seen an official’s call so drastically affect a playoff result, and this happened to send essentially the wrong team to the Super Bowl. Sitcoms and dramas are scripted. Reality shows are REALLY scripted. However, sports are not supposed to be scripted at all. Sports serve as a meritocracy where each team must earn all of its success. I did not feel that the Rams had earned its trip to the Super Bowl.
Fortunately though, as last week wore on, I started coming to grips with having the Rams in the Super Bowl. I know you might be thinking, “Jesus, it’s just a game, Focker.” However, if I actually had that type of attitude toward sports; chances are I would not spend hundreds of hours per year watching people I have never met compete against each other on the field. I certainly would not spend multiple hours per week writing blog entries. Therefore, I did truly need to come to grips with the Rams being in the Super Bowl, and I was somewhat successful. My consolation has come from this simple fact: After the missed call, the Rams STILL had to do a whole lot to win the game.
We are all correct when we cite the “98% win probability” number as reason why this missed call should not be treated equally with the multitude of other missed calls in NFL games. However, many people act like the missed call handed the Rams the win. That is not the case. With the non-call, the Saints’ win probability fell to 78%. After the non-call, my thought was “Let’s hope the Saints hold on to win anyway, so that this call does not matter”, not “Oh my God, the refs just took the Saints’ win and gave it to the Rams!”
After the missed call and Will Lutz’s subsequent go-ahead field goal, the Rams still needed all of the following to happen:
I should also note that, if the officials had made the correct call on the disputed play, the Rams would have likely ended up with the ball at their own 25-yard line with 20 seconds to play. They would have needed to gain 35 yards to set Zeurlein up for a 57-yard game-tying field goal, which he clearly could have made. Could the Rams have gained those necessary 35 yards on consecutive sideline passes before letting Zeurlein tie the game? It is not likely, but it is also not impossible.
Anyway, whether that last scenario works for you or not, the fact remains that the refs did not hand the Rams a win. The refs merely upgraded the Rams’ chances from “long shot” to “unlikely”. Kudos to the Rams for taking advantage of a slight opportunity.
Lastly, I should note that one could consider the missed penalty call a lucky moment for the Rams. Whether we like to admit it or not, many of these nail-biting games come down to luck. No, luck does not always involve a missed penalty call, but luck could be a bounce of a fumble, a made or missed FG, or a lucky catch. Just look at the Chiefs/Pats game. Dee Ford being offsides had nothing to do with what should have been a game-sealing Chiefs interception, but the penalty gave the Pats a second life. Because of a guy lining up a few inches offsides, a different team is now heading to the Super Bowl. It happens. Actually, speaking of the Pats, look at the first Giants/Pats Super Bowl, and look at the Patriots/Seahawks Super Bowl. In both games, the Patriots were victimized in the last minute by incredible catches with elements of luck (David Tyree’s Helmet Catch: combination of skill and luck, Jermaine Kearse having the ball fall in his lap: mainly luck). In the former case, Eli Manning used Tyree’s catch and several other clutch throws to give the Giants the win over the Pats; in the latter, Malcolm Butler’s interception kept Kearse’s catch from leading the Patriots to defeat. Of course, for another modern example of luck, we know that the Eagles beat the Bears this postseason by a fraction of an inch on a “double-doink”.
Over the years, we have had many, many NFL teams win playoff games by the slimmest of margins, and those games are always the most bitter of pills for the losers to swallow. Unfortunately for the Saints, they have been eliminated in consecutive seasons by those slim margins in as devastating fashions as possible. The Saints are not the first deserving-to-be-there team in history to watch the Super Bowl from home, and they will not be the last. They are not even the only current team feeling that way, as the Chiefs are in the same boat.
The closer the game, the more likely it is that a bad bounce or bad call will greatly swing the result. Sports can be cruel. In this case though, the Saints still had a 78% chance of winning after the bad call. How much does this assuage my initial negative reaction to the game? I do not know. If the refs had made the right call, we are probably watching the Saints on Sunday, February 3. However, I keep telling myself that the Rams did what they had to do to win the game. I think I have come to grips with the Rams’ victory, and I hope you have too.
It seems that most football fans decided several years ago that Bill Belichick was the GOAT (“Greatest of All Time”) when it comes to coaches, yet there are still plenty of fans who have not wanted to call Tom Brady the GOAT among quarterbacks. To those individuals, I say it is time to give it up.
Seriously, on what grounds can one claim that Tom Brady is not the GOAT? Let me now rebut any argument in favor of a non-Brady being the GOAT:
That said, I know the #1 argument that people make in favor of Montana being the GOAT. These people say, “The guy never lost in the Super Bowl. Brady has lost three times.” OK, that argument would have merit if quarterbacks were randomly assigned Super Bowl trips. However, it does not actually work that way. Because a QB must earn a trip to the Super Bowl, a Super Bowl loss is a positive for a quarterback’s resume. Of course, it is nowhere near as big a positive as a Super Bowl win, but it is positive nonetheless. Furthermore, if Brady were 3-3 in Super Bowls, Montana sympathizers would have a leg on which to stand. However, Brady is not 3-3. He is 5-3. He has won more Super Bowls than Montana, and he has been in twice as many.
Also, some people talk about how Montana “dominated” his Super Bowls, while Brady “has not”. Yes, Montana dominated 3 of his 4 Super Bowls, his first being the only one in which he had pedestrian numbers. People remember that two of his Super Bowls ended 38-16 and 55-10. Yes, that is incredibly impressive. However, Brady put up great numbers in all except his first Super Bowl, in which he led a game-winning drive in the last minute. It is also worth noting that the Niners allowed 21, 16, 16, and 10 points in Montana’s four Super Bowl wins. Meanwhile, the Patriots have allowed 17, 29, 21, 17, 21, 24, 28, and 41 points in Brady’s eight Super Bowls. While I am not going to list all of Brady’s Super Bowl game stats, I can tell you that they are quite impressive (especially Sunday’s 505 yards with zero interceptions!) and rival Montana’s on a per-game basis. I can also tell you that Brady’s lack of a dominant Super Bowl win is more of a function of the Pats’ and Niners’ defenses than it is of Montana’s and Brady’s play. That said, Montana does get a point over Brady for having two lopsided Super Bowl wins. I have to acknowledge that, so that Point #6 does not later turn me into a hypocrite. (Montana should also lose a point for having a 49-3 playoff loss to the 1986 Giants. Brady has no playoff losses that were so lopsided.)
All that said, I feel strongly that 8 total Super Bowls, 5 Super Bowl wins, and 4 late-game Super Bowl-winning drives more than offset Montana’s two blowout wins and 4 total SB wins/appearances.
Yes, being the GOAT often requires some luck, but many people get good luck. To be the GOAT, a player has to make the most out of every single morsel of luck that he receives. Tom Brady was forced into action on an 0-2 Pats team that was following up a 5-11 season. Let us not act like he was gifted a Hall-of-Fame career on a platter. For every Tom Brady, there are countless John Skeltons, Brian Hoyers, Greg McElroys, Tim Rattays, Charlie Whitehursts, Trent Edwardses, and so on who make very little out of their good fortune.
Simply put, Tom Brady was given an opportunity in September of 2001; he grabbed that opportunity; and he has spent 17 years becoming the GOAT of NFL quarterbacks.
Sources are saying that Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady’s right throwing hand is still not 100% going into tomorrow’s Super Bowl LII matchup against the Eagles. Just kidding, no shot any of you guys bought that, and if you did, you need to work on your reasoning skills. Anyway, now that I’ve got you here, here’s the real point of this blog.
Never ever forget. Fuck the Pats, fuck the Birds, XLII is the best Super Bowl of all-time and you’re never taking that from us. Go G-Men baby.
Finally. It’s here. The Philadelphia Eagles are in the freaking Super Bowl. It doesn’t even feel real yet, and if you’re anything like me, you don’t have any idea what to think. Going up against the Evil Empire in the Belichick and Brady led Patriots is a pretty scary thing. Ten Super Bowl appearances, five wins, and currently going for their third in the last four years, this team is no stranger to winning. Seems like just about every year the Patriots are favorites to win the whole thing. Some Pats fans don’t even watch games until the postseason this is just so routine to them. But hey New England, this is our year. Take your five rings and deflated footballs and go back to Massachusetts. We deserve this one. Philadelphia deserves this one for all that we have been through. We have had so many of its sports hopes and dreams crushed. Not this year. This year just feels different. This year is for Joe Carter hitting a three-run homerun to bury the Phillies in 1993. This year is for Patrick Kane sneaking an impossible goal by Michael Leighton in overtime and watching the Blackhawks celebrate the Stanley Cup on our home ice. This year is for the Lakers crushing our spirits in 2001 by winning four straight to win the NBA finals after Allen Iverson stepped over Tyronn Lue in a Game 1 victory. This year is for our 2005 revenge. This year is for Philadelphia. When the Birds come running out of the tunnel to “Dreams and Nightmares” the Patriots are going to piss their pants and Philly fans across the country are going to have goosebumps shooting down their spine. These fans, this city, this team have waited seemingly forever to have a year like this. A year when the doubters were countless. Before the season even started the predictions had us winning no more than 7 games. Well we won 13 and two playoff games. It seemed like this team could do nothing right. Time and time again they would go out there and demolish a team and still hear criticism. Remember when the argument was that they never played a good team and all their wins were easy? Or how about when Carson Wentz went down and people wrote our season off. In the Divisional round of the playoffs this team held the Falcons to just 10 points (and don’t forget both scores were off turnovers). The same experts who said watch out for a streaking hot Atlanta team coming into the playoffs were also the same experts to downplay the Eagles after beating a “not-so-good” Falcons team. After the whole world gave them no chance to beat the Vikings and their stout defense, the Eagles DESTROYED them by 31 points… an absolute bully beat down. So go ahead, give a 40-year old Brady and a so-so defense the edge in this game. Give us no chance. Remind us how we have never won and how all the Patriots have done is win… it just makes us hungrier. We love being the underdogs because that is what Philadelphia is about. Blue collar, hard working, passionate people who thrive when doubted. Tell us your “expert” picks in the pregame show, I have a feeling they’ll be wrong once again. A Super Bowl victory is going to be the only thing to finally give this team their respect and oh boy is it going to feel good. Malcolm Jenkins said he thought he was going to go deaf during the NFC Championship game because of how loud it was and I can’t wait to see how crazy these fans get all the way in Minneapolis. Eagles fans already made two away games in LA home games this year when they took over the Coliseum and the Stub Hub center. Now they are going to take over U.S Bank Stadium on Sunday. We are projected to outnumber Pats fans 3-1 at the game. An Eagles Super Bowl victory will mean everything to this city and these players know that. We have waited since 1933 for this. We are the most passionate fans in all of sports and man do we deserve this. This one is for us. This one is for Philadelphia. Go Birds.
The greatest Sunday of the year is finally here…
…and the Super Bowl favorites from midseason are meeting in the big game. What a ride this has been to get to this point. This matchup seemed impossible once Carson Wentz went down in Week 14, and seemed even more impossible after Nick Foles’ subpar performances against the Raiders and Cowboys in Weeks 16 and 17. But things have come full circle, and the top seeds will matchup for the 4th time in the last 5 Super Bowls (when someone reminds you that the 2016 Cowboys are the only top seed to not make the Super Bowl over the last 5).
Maybe the fact that this has never been the most stressful Sunday of my life is why I love this day so much.
To quickly recap the championship games, I nailed the AFC game for my first perfect spread and straight up winner of the postseason, before being completely wrong in the NFC game. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (winning team in red, spread winner in red):
Jaguars (+7.5) at Patriots
My Pick: Patriots 27, Jaguars 23, Actual Final Score: Patriots 24, Jaguars 20
Vikings (-3) at Eagles
My Pick: Vikings 20, Eagles 13
2017 Playoffs Straight-Up: 5-5, 2017 Playoffs Vs. Spread: 3-6-1
The last Sunday is the year is finally here.
We’ll start it off with some of my favorite prop bets for the big game (odds for these are different based on the site, so I’m taking mine from Odds Shark).
My Pick: Heads
How Long Will it Take for Pink to Sing the National Anthem?
Over 2:00: -200
Under 2:00: +150
My Pick: Over 2:00
Which Team Will Score First?
My Pick: Eagles
How Many Times Will Carson Wentz be Mentioned During the Broadcast?
Over 3.5: -150
Under 3.5 +110
My Pick: Over 3.5
What Color Will the Gatorade be That is Poured on the Game-Winning Coach?
My Pick: Clear/water
What Color Will Bill Belichick’s Shirt be at Kickoff?
My Pick: Blue
How Many Clips From Super Bowl 39 Will be Shown During the Broadcast?
Over 2.5: +150
Under 2.5: -200
My Pick: Under 2.5
Prop bets are fun, but it’s time for what really matters.
Super Bowl LII from Minneapolis, MN
Eagles vs. Patriots (-4)
Patriots 27, Eagles 20
That’s it for the 2017 NFL Season. Hopefully we’ll be back winning more games and making more money in September 2018. Will Boston win its 11th major sports title this century, or will Philadelphia win just its 2nd in the last 35 years?
Carson Wentz wants the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
Sure, we might hear an interview this week with Wentz in which he says something like, “I’ll be rooting harder than anyone for Nick Foles and the Eagles.” Sure, reporters will inevitably blow this up into a full-page story about what a great team guy Wentz is, as if he had not simply uttered the obvious cliché line that any player in his situation would say. However, let us be clear: If Wentz says anything at all about rooting for the Eagles, he is full of you-know-what. Allow me to explain.
Carson Wentz was an MVP candidate as of the time of his Week-14 injury. The Eagles were 10-2 at the time and on the verge of an 11th win. Wentz was injured in the third quarter of that 11th win, and Nick Foles was ultimately behind center as the Eagles scored the winning points. Thus, the Eagles entered Foles’s first 2017 start with an 11-2 record. Since that time, Foles has started five games – two dominant efforts (against the Giants and in an otherworldly performance in the NFC Championship game against the Vikings), a solid effort in the Divisional Playoffs against the Falcons, an underwhelming performance in a win against the Raiders, and a bad but brief and meaningless performance in the season finale against the Cowboys. In the modern NFL, it is not unusual for any starting quarterback to have two dominant games, a decent game, a below-average game, and a bad game over a 5-game stretch.
However, it is a big deal that Foles’s most dominant game of this stretch did come in the NFC Championship. In that game, he threw for 352 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a passer rating of 141.4. That dominant performance against Minnesota has caused many people to shed a more positive light on Foles’s Divisional-Round effort with 246 passing yards and a 100.1 passer rating. Furthermore, Foles’s win over the Giants saw Foles throw 4 touchdowns and bring the Eagles to a 99% probability of earning the top seed in the NFC. Therefore, it is easy for Eagles fans to ignore Foles’s bad efforts in Weeks 16 and 17, as the games were essentially meaningless.
That all said, Carson Wentz did lead the Eagles to a 10-2 record this season and had them on the doorstep of 11-2. Carson Wentz did all the heavy lifting to earn the Eagles the top seed in the playoffs. In 13 starts, Wentz threw for 3296 yards, 33 TDs, 7 interceptions, and a 101.9 passer rating. For good measure, Wentz also added 299 rushing yards. Yes, Foles has had two dominant games and one respectable game over a 5-game stretch, but could Foles have done what Wentz did for 13 games? I do not know. Furthermore, if Wentz is as fierce a competitor as Eagles fans would want him to be, Wentz should think that Foles could not have done it.
Additionally, I am sure that Carson Wentz has thought from Day 1 in Philadelphia, “I am gonna be the guy who finally brings a Super Bowl Championship to Philly. I am gonna be loved and adored in that City forever. They will love me even more than they love Rocky, and they actually think that Rocky Balboa was a real person.” Look, I hate the Eagles and hope that they go up in flames on Sunday, but, if the Eagles had drafted me to be their savior quarterback, I am certain I would be thinking the afore-mentioned quote as well.
Anyway, let us now take a quick journey through Carson Wentz’s career in Philly. He had a strong, albeit losing, first season in Philly. Then, he went out and dominated Season 2. By midseason, the Eagles were the clear favorites to win the NFC. Wentz put the Eagles on the doorstep of clinching the #1 seed, and then BOOM!…He got hurt. By that point, Wentz’s replacement needed only to win one of three games to guarantee the #1 seed. That replacement, Foles, took care of business in that first game. Then, he stunk his way through Weeks 16 and 17. After that, he played a very pedestrian game against the high-powered Atlanta Falcons. Foles lead the Eagles to a mere 15 points but lucked out because his defense played a stellar game in holding Atlanta to 10. The next week, Foles went out and played “the game of his life” against the Vikings to put the Eagles in the Super Bowl.
Now, we do not know what will happen this coming Sunday in Minneapolis. However, if the Eagles win, Nick Foles will forever be the guy adored by Eagles fans for bringing Philly its first Super Bowl Championship. It does not matter that Wentz got the Eagles to 10-2 this season. Foles will be the guy hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Even if Wentz ultimately wins (shudder) six future Philly championships as the starter, Foles will always be the guy who brought the city its first Super Bowl Championship. That has to kill Wentz inside. In fact, if it does not, and if I were an Eagles fan; I would be mad that my starting QB is not competitive enough!
Now I know many of you might be thinking of parallels between Wentz/Foles and Phil Simms and Jeff Hostetler of the 1990 Giants. We Giants fans loved Hostetler for stepping in for Simms and winning the last two regular-season games, two NFC-playoff games, and the Super Bowl. However, we never thought that Hostetler could legitimately replace a healthy Simms (although a QB controversy did ultimately emerge in 1991 and 1992). The Giants won those five Hostetler starts in the 1990 season on the strengths of an elite defense and a strong rushing attack. Hostetler did just enough to win. In fact, the Giants used a formula similar to that which the Eagles used with Foles against the Falcons. That said, unlike with Foles against the Vikings, Hostetler did not have any “the game of his life” playoff games.
In fact, when I put “the game of his life” in quotes for Foles’ NFC Championship performance, I did so because Foles did go 8-2 in 10 starts for the 2013 Eagles. He threw for 2891 yards, 27 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and a passer rating of 119.2. Wow, those are some great numbers! Also, Foles threw for 7 touchdowns in one game against the Raiders that year. In fact, I would argue Foles’ 2013 numbers are more impressive than Wentz’s 2017 numbers, and Wentz knows that such a case can be made. To the contrary, Jeff Hostetler was a career backup, and neither Simms nor most Giants fans ever felt that Hostetler could outplay Simms for any significant period of time. Moreover, prior to Hostetler’s Super Bowl victory, Simms had already won a Super Bowl, the Giants’ first. Therefore, even though Hostetler did win Super Bowl XXV with “Simms’ team”, Phil Simms knew he would remain more legendary than Jeff Hostetler in the minds of Giants fans. On the other hand, the analogous scenario is not true with Wentz and Foles. Wentz knows that Foles had an all-time great (by any QB’s standards) season 4 years ago and that Foles was temporarily ruined in 2015 by known QB wrecker Jeff Fisher. It is not completely unreasonable for a person to think that Foles is better than Wentz…Wentz knows that and cannot be happy about it. Meanwhile, Wentz does know though that, if Foles loses the Super Bowl, fickle Philly fans will immediately criticize Foles and talk about how they will win the Super Bowl next year when the superior Wentz returns. Wentz has to know that.
On the other hand, if the Eagles win the Super Bowl, not only does Wentz have to deal with the “scene” of Foles basking in the glory Wentz feels should belong to him……but Wentz also knows that it is actually fathomable that he would then find himself in a “Goddamn arms race” with Foles. Boom. That is a double whammy that would eat at my soul if I were Wentz.
Therefore, Wentz can say whatever he wants…but, deep down – in his heart, in his brain, and in his soul; he wants to be the guy to bring Philly its first Lombardi Trophy. Carson Wentz is absolutely rooting for the Patriots.