Monday, December 29, 2008

Playoffs Set..

Well, the Birds made the NFL post-season tournament with a pretty favorable draw. Arizona didn't play well down the stretch, but they do get to play at home against our poor pass defense. Fans in Arizona will probably be pumped considering they haven't hosted a playoff game since 1947. I do think that ATL's team is built for the post-season and will win the game Saturday by 7-10 points. This will then set up a third meeting between the Birds and Carolina because Minnesota will take care of Philly. Philly is getting a lot of hype after beating the gutless Cowgirls, but they still lost to Washington last week, tied Cincy, etc and will be unended by AP and the Vikings.

It's hard to imagine Atlanta going to Carolina and winning, but crazier things have happened. The Giants will beat Minnesota and New York and Carolina will play a classic similar to the one last week for the NFC Title. The Giants are learning to play without Burress now, and with their running attack coupled with home-field will make a 2nd consecutive trip to the playoffs.

The AFC is just as wide-open. Indy seems to be a lot better than SD, but the Bolts are playing well right now - Colts by 8. The Ravens, like the Falcons, have a team built to win in the post-season and will beat Miami. Baltimore then will upend Tennessee 9-7 to earn a spot in the AFC Title game. Pittsburgh takes care of Indy and then knocks off Baltimore to win the AFC. The Giants then will defeat Pittsburgh for another Super Bowl for NY.

Any guesses on next year's top fantasy QB's?? My top 10...

1. Brees
2. Cutler
3. Schaub
4. P. Manning
5. Ryan
6. Rodgers
7. Rivers
8. Romo
9. E. Manning
10. Pennington

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Birds still rolling...

I said after the Chicago game that it would be awesome if we got to week 16 and we were still in the playoff mix. I wasn't being greedy at the time and even seriously thinking we could actually make it, however my attitude has changed now that it is week 16 and we are certainly in the playoff picture.

You have to take advantage of good seasons in the NFL. It is rare for a franchise to year in and year out make the playoffs and have 10+ win seasons, especially in Atlanta. Now that the Birds are 9-5 and can get in the playoffs, why not aim even higher? There is not a dominant team in the league and Pittsburgh and the NY Giants showed that Wild Card teams can make deep runs in the postseason.

In 2002, everyone said to themselves, "We will be in the running for a Super Bowl every year for the next 10 with Mike Vick under center." Everyone knows how that situation worked out. You just don't know. What if Matt Ryan turns into Derek Anderson? What if Michael Turner tears an ACL in the pre-season next year? Just ask San Diego and Jacksonville how easy it is to go into a season after experiencing some success and rolling through an NFL schedule.

Matt Ryan is 23 years old. If the Birds expect 10 solid years out of their franchise QB, how many times will he have ATL in a position this late in the year as he does this year? What if Ryan loses a year to injury? What if Sam Bradford is the next Tom Brady and wins 3 Super Bowls playing for an NFC team? You just can't expect to be 9-5 or better 7-8 times the next 10 years going into Week 16.

In August, losing to Minnesota this week and ending with a win over St Louis to finish with a 10-6 record and barely missing the playoffs sounded like heaven. Now, this scenario makes me want to vomit. Take advantage of the breaks you got this year. Miraculously winning the Chicago game, overcoming 3 turnovers to beat San Diego, overcoming 3 turnovers plus a blocked punt to beat Tampa Bay, and see how far you can go in the playoffs.

Finally, I think one of the hardest things to do in the NFL is to win 10 games and miss the playoffs. Too many teams have gotten in with 8 or 9 wins in NFL history, that winning 10 is extremely frustratig for a franchise. Plus, it enhances expectations for the next season. Imagine an 11-5 Falcons team that misses the playoffs expectations for 2009. Ask Cleveland how hard it is to meet that expectaion and the pressure that comes with it...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

BCS has their fingers crossed...

We have arrived at Championship Saturday, and the BCS will certainly get one of the 2 participants in their title game around 7:30 tonight when Bama-UF ends. Their opponent, fingers crossed for the BCS guys, will be Oklahoma. Texas, USC, Utah, and Penn State will all make claims that they should be in over one of those 2, but a UF-Oklahoma game will make most happy.

Texas has the "you didn't even win your half of your division" argument going against them and almost all human voters will have Oklahoma ahead of Texas tomorrow morning if Oklahoma wins the Big 12. USC and Penn State have the computers going against them due to poor non-conference schedules (both teams best win is Ohio State). Utah has some good wins, but not nearly enough to get in over a 1 loss team from the Big 12 or SEC.

While the system will give us a great national title game this year, there will be the usual controversy. In 2013, ESPN will have the rights to the BCS games and I believe they will put the money out there and attempt to get a "Plus 1" system. The idea was brought up at the last meeting, but there was little hope the idea would get passed right away. The stage is set for 2013, where a #1 vs #4 and #2 vs #3 would face off a day or 2 after New Years, with the winners playing a week later for the trophy.

Guess which conference commissioners are opposed to this idea? Pac-10 and Big-10 - gotta have that precious Rose Bowl matchup...

The idea of an 8 team playoff is so far fetched right now, it is not even worth discussing. Debating how a #8 seeded Utah team would fare against Alabama is wasted breath because the reality is we are probably 15-20 years away from that even being considered. For now, lets look at how the "Plus 1" would have worked in recent years.

2008 (Projected)

#1 Oklahoma vs #4 USC
#2 Florida vs #3 Texas

I am curious if under the new rules they will allow non-conference champions into the equation. The Big 10 would certainly be upset if the above scenario took place and their 1 loss conference champion was left out.


#1 Ohio State vs #4 Oklahoma
#2 LSU vs #3 Virginia Tech

A classic case of the "Plus 1" working to perfection. Numbers 5 and 6 were non conference champions (UGA and Mizzou) and #6 USC had 2 losses. Again, the argument would be for UGA and Mizzou getting in over a conference champion but it would have been hard to argue against this scenario last year.


#1 Ohio State vs #4 LSU
#2 Florida vs #3 Michigan

This time two non-conference champions would be in the mix and would leave out conference champions USC and Louisville. Maybe now I realize why the Pac-10 is against the "Plus 1".


#1 USC vs #4 Ohio State
#2 Texas vs #3 Penn St

The one year the BCS worked to perfection (that's what you say when there are only 2 undefeated teams), the "Plus 1" would have had tons of controversy. A 2 loss team in Ohio State that did not win their conference would be in over conference champion Georgia, a 2 loss Notre Dame, and a 1 loss Oregon whose only loss was #1 USC. You think the ESPN guys would have pleaded for ND to get a shot??


#1 USC vs #4 Texas
#2 Oklahoma vs #3 Auburn

The "Plus 1" at its finest...solving the century old problem in college football, "What do we do with 3 unbeaten teams from major conferences?" Auburn gets their shot, while a non-conference champ Texas gets in over unbeaten Utah. This is the scenario where a team like Utah and Boise like to think they have a title shot under "Plus 1" but this shows you they probably don't (Cal was #5, Utah #6).


#1 Oklahoma vs #4 Michigan
#2 LSU vs #3 USC

This was the year, not 2004, that sparked the talk for the "Plus 1" system. USC was #1 in both polls, but got shut out of the title game. Michigan was Big-10 champs and would have been a great #4 seed in this mini-playoff.


#1 Miami vs #4 USC
#2 Ohio State vs #3 Georgia

Another scenario where 2 unbeaten teams would have to play an extra game, but the roll UGA and USC were on this year would have made for outstanding semi-final games.


#1 Miami vs #4 Oregon
#2 Nebraska vs #3 Colorado

Interesting development here...Nebraska and Colorado played in the Big 12 title game and would have a rematch. Oregon was playing as well as anyone at the end of the season behind Joey "Piano Man" Harrington. Florida and Tennessee fans would have been in an uproar if this had played out.


#1 Oklahoma vs #4 Washington
#2 Florida St vs #3 Miami

No real problems here. Four conference champs but another rematch in one of the games. Lol at Washington...


#1 Florida St vs #4 Alabama
#2 Virginia Tech vs #3 Nebraska

Another awesome pair of games with four conference champs. Bama and Shaun Alexander were really rolling after beating UF and Vick and company against mighty Nebraska? Would have been pretty cool.


#1 Tennessee vs #4 Ohio State
#2 Florida State vs #3 Kansas St

This Ohio State team was pretty strong and may have knocked off eventual champ Tennessee. Kansas St was coming off an upset loss to Texas A&M in the Big 12 title game but still would have been in the mix.

All in all, pretty interesting stuff. The idea that 3 unbeaten teams would all get a shot at a title is what I like the most out of this system. Further, it is much easier to argue #4 vs #5 than #2 vs #3. This season, Missouri wins, the argument over who would play the SEC champ would be much more difficult than arguing over Penn State, Utah, or the SEC runner-up for the #4 seed.

Is it 2013 yet???