Sunday, January 24, 2016

NFL '15 Dread News - Week 18

Cold? What cold?

Leave it to Bud Grant, coach of the Minnesota Vikings during their glory years in the late 1960's and early '70's, to provide the most hilarious moment of the first weekend of the playoffs (Jan. 9-10). Famous for not allowing a heater on the home team's sideline during cold weather games at old Metropolitan Stadium back in his day, Grant, now 88 years old and an honorary captain for the Vikings' game against the Seattle Seahawks, walked onto the field for the coin toss wearing a short sleeve shirt (photo on right). Oh, did I mention the gametime temperature was -6 degrees? A couple of days before the game a co-worker had asked me if Grant was still alive. And after seeing him on the field, I thought to myself that he might not be alive much longer after pulling a stunt like that. While Grant no doubt wasn't at all bothered by the frigid conditions - it was the 3rd coldest game in NFL history - no doubt all of the players were, even with all the hand warmers and heated benches and cold gear available nowadays. The cold stopped the Seahawks' offense cold; but it didn't matter - they were playing the Vikings. 

Throughout their history the Vikings have made an art form of the gut-wrenching playoff defeat; and they added another beauty to their collection, missing a chip-shot, 27-yard FG attempt with 22 seconds remaining in the game to allow the Seahawks to escape Minneapolis with a 10-9 victory.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

NFL '15 Dread News - Week 17

Where to start? .....
Well, how about we start my first full-fledged NFL report in nearly 2 years in the AFC West .....
When the Kansas City Chiefs began the season 1-5 while the Denver Broncos were going 6-0, I figured my preseason prediction of the Chiefs finishing in 1st place was already down the toilet. But, as Lee Corso would say, not so fast! The Chiefs hit a softer spot of their schedule; the Broncos, who seemingly were playing close games every week, finally started losing some of them; and wouldn't you know, when the two teams kicked off their respective home games at the same time last Sunday, the Chiefs were only one more Broncos loss away from stealing the division crown. And for a brief few minutes it looked like that loss might actually happen, as the last place and 9-point underdog San Diego Chargers took a 20-17 lead in the 4th quarter. But the Broncos didn't panic, came back and tied the game, and then scored a TD with 4:44 to play to win it 27-20, clinching not only the AFC West title but also the top seed in the AFC for the playoffs.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

College FB '15 Dread News - Week 14

The 2015 regular season is already in the books (and the bowl season underway), and congratulations go out to the four chosen ones - the four teams who did not win quarterfinal games to advance to the semifinals of the playoffs but rather will be playing in the semifinals because they were picked (behind closed doors, of course) to play in them by a committee of people who supposedly are experts. So while Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State, and Oklahoma will be playing on New Year's Eve, it's tough luck for Stanford, the Pac-12 champion. Sorry, Stanford, it doesn't matter if your team is good enough to be the national champion. The experts have decided that it isn't, and that's that. At least you had the chance to be picked for the playoffs. That's more than you can say for the teams in the Little 5 conferences.

Oops. Excuse me, that's right, the AAC, SBC, MWC, CUSA, and MAC aren't called the Little 5. They are officially known as the "Group of 5". That's because "Group of 5" sounds less disrespectful than "Little 5". But call them whatever you want, they're the have-nots of the FBS, and no team from one of them will ever even be considered for a playoff spot as long as the playoffs include only 4 teams. The best they can hope for is to claim the one bid (out of 12 total) reserved for a Little 5 team to one of the big New Year's 6 bowl games. The Houston Cougars earned that bid this season after upping their record to 12-1 with a 24-13 victory over Temple on Dec. 5 in the inaugural AAC championship game.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

College FB '15 Dread News - Week 10

A couple of days before last Saturday's (Nov. 7) games I heard a host on some sports talk show on the radio say that if Alabama won all of their remaining games, they would be one of the 4 teams to make the playoffs. And I thought that while that might become true, it was also true that Alabama could win all their games and still not be the SEC champion. That's because entering Week 10 Mississippi and LSU were the only teams in control of their destiny in the SEC West, while the mighty Crimson Tide were going to need some help to get to the SEC championship game. Well, as you probably know by now, it was a very good Saturday for Alabama fans. The Crimson Tide emphatically took care of LSU themselves, and a few hours before that they got the help they needed as Ole Miss - thanks to one of the most bizarre plays you'll ever see - fell at home to Arkansas.

Monday, November 2, 2015

College FB '15 Dread News - Week 8

Well, it seemed like a good idea.

Expecting that it would be a competitive and exciting contest, I decided ahead of time that the game I would write about to lead off my first report since coming out of exile would be the matchup between Clemson and Miami. Since Clemson plays in the Atlantic Division of the ACC and Miami in the Coastal Division, the Tigers and Hurricanes don't often play each other. Their meeting last Saturday (Oct. 24) was their first since 2010 and only their fifth since the Canes joined the league 11 years ago. The visiting team had won all four previous meetings, with both of the games played in Miami being decided in overtime; so I was expecting Clemson (6-0) to have a difficult time remaining undefeated.

Little did I know ......

..... that not only would the game not be competitive, it would become so one-sided that the stadium would be almost completely empty with still 4 minutes to play

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Gloom Mode

I was eager to find out what my crystal ball (CB) thought about the finish to Super Bowl 49 right after the Seattle Seahawks - the team CB had predicted would repeat as champions - suffered that stunning and heartbreaking 28-24 loss to the New England Patriots back on Feb. 1. But I had to wait; because almost immediately after the game ended, steam began to emanate from CB - so much steam in fact that in less than a half hour it was so dense that I couldn't see anything, and CB had literally become too hot to handle. So I waited some more. It wasn't until a whole two weeks later that CB finally cooled off enough for me to see what it was displaying ......  ?&@*{&#!(%WTFMAN!?!?!??
Indeed, wtf, man? - the same question a lot of Seahawks fans must have been asking too.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Revenge of the Birds

Way back in the infancy of the house of dread, which would now be 7 years ago, one of the first things I posted - appropriately under the title of "Totally Clueless" - was the first NFL forecast of my shiny new crystal ball (CB, for short). That first year, predicting the 2008 season, CB earned an overall grade of 'D' for its picks, a mark that still ranks as its lowest ever. Instead of the CB-approved Cowboys' victory over the Jaguars in the Super Bowl (neither team even made the playoffs), it was the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Arizona Cardinals in that exciting finish at Tampa. I mention this now because when I consulted CB 9 days ago for its forecast of the 2015 season, the first thing that came up in big capital letters was "DEJA VU." No, not the clueless part; CB means the part about the Cardinals facing the Steelers in the Super Bowl. Only this time it will be the Cardinals who will prevail, avenging their loss from 7 years ago, with the smiling face of WR Larry Fitzgerald (photo above) on the podium when the Vince Lombardi Trophy is presented after the first Super Bowl played at the 49ers' new Levi's Stadium next February.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

DG159

It's tourney time!
In DG159, the last of the three dread galleries covering the 2014-15 College Basketball season, here is a look at how some of the 72 Division 1 players with dreads did in their conference and postseason tournaments.


1. Senior F Reco McCarter and the Campbell Camels didn't do very well in the Big South tournament. McCarter drives against the defense of Gardner-Webb G Adonis Burbage on Mar. 4 during a 1st round game in the tournament. McCarter finished with 13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocked shots in his final game in a Campbell uniform as the Camels fell behind by 14 at halftime and never seriously threatened in the 2nd half, losing to G-W 72-64.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

DG158

Dread gallery #158 features action from the 2014-15 regular season in College Basketball.



















1. In DG157 I mentioned that Memphis junior F Shaq Goodwin scored the most important 2 points of the game in their victory at UConn on Mar. 5. Well, those 2 points came on this jump shot to the left of the lane over the arm of the late-arriving 6-10 F Phillip Nolan with 8.1 seconds to play and gave the Tigers a 54-53 lead .....

Friday, September 4, 2015

DG157


Before switching back into football mode for another season, there's still a little time left to see how some college basketball players with dreads did during the 2014-15 season - specifically, the 72 players on Division 1 teams that I know of who had dreads when the season ended. That total of 72 is the most ever, thanks to (as I mentioned in my first look post back in February) the large number of players who just began growing their dreads this season. None (as usual) of the 72 finished the season playing in the Final 4 of the NCAA Tournament; but there were a couple who got to raise trophies in the minor tournaments. Two of the 72 were drafted by NBA teams. Congratulations to William & Mary G Marcus Thornton and Louisville F Montrezl Harrell (photo above), both of whom were selected in the 2nd round of the NBA Draft on June 25. (Pay no attention to those dreads that Kentucky C Willie Cauley-Stein, a 1st round pick, had on draft night - which he didn't have until after the season was over - because they were already gone by the time the summer league began two weeks later.) If not for the injuries they suffered, there would have been two more players with dreads selected in the 2nd round.

Monday, August 10, 2015

DG156 - Part 1

With their first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft ..... 10 of the league's 32 teams selected a player with dreads. A new record high nine were picked in the 1st round of the draft on Apr. 30; and the next night the Buffalo Bills, who a year earlier traded away their 1st round pick in this year's draft (in order to get Sammy Watkins), took a player with dreads when it finally was their turn to select midway through round 2. By the end of the draft 38 players with dreads had heard their names called. That's way more than the 29 picked last year and also the most ever picked in a single draft.

After nobody with dreads was taken in the first 6 picks, things quickly got rolling, as 4 of the next 5 players selected have dreads. There weren't a lot of surprises. West Virginia WR Kevin White gets the honor of being the first player with dreads picked, going 7th overall to the Chicago Bears.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

DG156 - Part 2

Dread gallery #156 features the NFL's 2015 class of rookies with dreads. In Part 1 we saw the rookies with all of the NFC teams along with the teams in the AFC South. Now here are the rookies from the remaining three AFC divisions.

Technically the AFC West's teams drafted the most players with dreads of all the divisions - 8; but that number is a bit misleading. I was all ready to brag about how the Kansas City Chiefs were this year's leader for the team drafting the most players with dreads. But sadly, even before they got to training camp two of the four players with dreads selected by the Chiefs said goodbye to their dreads.



















1. Having already picked three players with dreads in their first 7 picks, the Chiefs broke the tie with the Vikings for the lead for the team with the most draft picks with dreads when they picked former Southern Mississippi DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches with the last pick of the 6th round. And there was no reason to believe his dreads were in any danger as they remained intact throughout the summer practices, including the one on June 17 (photo on left).