Gregg Easterbrook re-introduced the Authentic Games metric in last week's TMQ. He got a little confused as to whether he thought the Miami Dolphins were an authentic team or not. Gregg's opinion changes so often that he has a hard time keeping straight what he thinks about a certain team, even within the same TMQ. This week Gregg advocated for a revision of the NFL playoff system, updates his Authentic Games metric in order to spit out a new "prediction," and announces he isn't writing TMQ anymore. I'm just kidding about that last part. While that would be nice, it would also leave a huge void in my need to read stupid writing that causes my blood pressure to rise.
Pop quiz: Did you know "Interstellar" is not a documentary? You did? Gregg seems to think it is a documentary.
If the postseason began today, 4-5 New Orleans would host a playoff
game, while 6-3 Green Bay would miss the postseason and winning teams
Baltimore, Buffalo, Miami, Pittsburgh, Santa Clara and San Diego would
be shut out of postseason play.
Well, Santa Clara doesn't have a NFL team. The San Francisco 49ers do have an NFL team, so yes, they would be shut out of the playoffs. Blame it on the Crabtree Curse. The NFC South sucks, but the Saints have already beaten the Packers and took the 49ers to overtime. My point, and I do have one, is that it doesn't seem fair that the Saints will get a home playoff game but that's just the way it works in every single major professional sport. MLB, the NBA, and the NHL all have separate conferences (or leagues) where the division winner makes the playoffs and teams from one conference can have a better record than a team from another conference and still not make the playoffs. Ask the Phoenix Suns how this works. NCAA basketball works the same way. A 19-13 team may not make the NCAA Tournament, but a 16-16 team could make the NCAA Tournament because they won their conference tournament. In fact, a 16-16 team can beat a 24-9 team in their conference tournament and make the NCAA Tournament, while the 24-9 team does not make the NCAA Tournament. This issue of "unfair" playoff seeding based on division winners isn't exclusive to the NFL.
When oh when will the NFL switch to a seeded-tournament playoff format?
Around the same time every other major professional sport does.
Because the NFL postseason format grants eight of its 12 invitations --
and all its opening-round home games -- to division winners, the NFC
South is assured of a playoff prize while the AFC North is assured of at
least one team, and likely more, not invited to the party.
The season isn't over yet, but it does look like the NFC South should sufficiently suck for the entire year. Still, there is recent history that says a team with a poor (relative to other playoff teams) season record can succeed in the NFL playoffs.
The fact that the AFC North is clobbering the NFC South on the field won't matter when playoff goody bags are distributed.
Just like it won't matter if the NL West is clobbering the AL Central or NL Central when playoff goody bags are distributed. This isn't an NFL-only issue. The winner of the AL Central or NL Central still get to make the playoffs, no matter their record, as long as they have won their division. This is true no matter how many teams in other divisions that didn't win their division have a better record than the winner of the NL Central or AL Central.
The 2014 season is shaping up like the 2008 season, which ended with all
teams in the NFC East and NFC South at or above .500 and all teams in
the AFC West at or below .500. When the NFL postseason formula was
applied to 2008, the result was that 8-8 San Diego hosted a playoff game
while 11-5 New England was not invited to the party. There are many
games remaining to be played in 2014, but an outrageous 2008-style
outcome may be in store.
And what happened in the playoffs that season? The 8-8 San Diego Chargers beat the 12-4 Colts, the 9-7 Cardinals beat the 11-5 Falcons (from the NFC South), then beat the 12-4 Panthers (from the NFC South), and then beat the 9-6-1 Eagles (from the NFC East) to make the Super Bowl. So teams in the NFC South and NFC East were 2-4 in the playoffs, while teams from the AFC West were 1-1. In fact, if Gregg's style of NFL postseason seeding had been in use during the 2008 season, then the 9-7 Cardinals would not have made the playoffs at all, yet they ended up being the Super Bowl participant from the NFC.
The NFL has been mulling adding two more wild-card teams following the
2015 season. The more the merrier. NFL playoff games are pro football at
its best, yet after 256 regular-season contests, a mere 11 postseason
games are staged.
After 2,430 regular-season MLB games, a mere 50 possible postseason games are staged. This is a lower percentage of postseason games to regular season games than the NFL has.
Better than expanding the current division-based field would be a seeded
tournament. Divisions could still be used to organize schedules;
Since Gregg is all about the fairness, this still isn't fair. Let's use this current 2014 season as an example. The AFC North gets to play the NFC South and AFC South, while the AFC West has to play the stronger NFC West and AFC East. The AFC North conceivably has a much easier schedule than the AFC West has, so if the intention is to be fair, then using divisions to organize schedules would not result in more fairness. It could make sense to organize a seeded playoff system, but teams who have a more difficult schedule could be punished in this seeded tournament.
The old fixation with whether the NFC or AFC wins the Super Bowl is
ancient history -- 99 percent of football enthusiasts would rather see
the two best teams meet in the final contest.
99%? This sounds like a factual number based on no data that I see linked to support it. It's almost like Gregg is just making this number up in order to prove his point.
75% of people who read TMQ think Gregg Easterbrook has committed at least three murders, so the police should probably go ahead and lock him up now.
Big-college football is about to dip its toes into the seeded-tourney concept. The NFL should follow.
Yes, but bowl bids are going to be still based on conference affiliation and a 12-0 team like Marshall University still probably won't make the four-team playoff. So if a 12-0 team can't make the four-team college football playoff then is it really the same seeded-tourney concept Gregg is advocating the NFL should follow?
So far Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have
combined for 99 touchdown passes versus just 18 interceptions. Two
touchdown passes for each one interception is among the definitions of a
good quarterback. Rodgers, Brady, Peyton Manning and Roethlisberger are
at very nearly a 5-to-1 ratio. Is the NFL becoming the Arena League?
I love how Gregg takes the three outlier quarterbacks and asks if the NFL is becoming the Arena League. For someone who perceives himself as being intelligent, he loves to take outliers from a sample size and assume it represents the whole of the sample. There are two quarterbacks in the NFL that have more than a 5-to-1 TD to INT ratio, and they are Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. After that, there are three quarterbacks who have a 3-to-1 TD to INT ratio or better. The rest of the 27 NFL quarterbacks have a TD to INT ratio of 3-to-1 or below. But yeah, the NFL is becoming the Arena League because Gregg takes outliers from a small sample size.
The Colts have lost four straight to the Patriots -- but all those
contests were in New England. Indianapolis knows this game may foretell
the team's postseason prospects.
Yes, if the Colts lose to the Patriots in November then the Colts postseason prospects may be very dim. In fact, the Colts may as well just forfeit the rest of the games on the season.
Stats Of The Week No. 7: Since meeting in Week 1, Jersey/B and Oakland are on a combined 1-17 streak. Noted by reader Colin Size of Buffalo, New York.
Wouldn't it be easier just to say the Jets and Raiders have won a single game combined since they met in Week 1?
Backup quarterback Drew Stanton heave-ho'd deep and John Brown of
Division II Pittsburg of Kansas, whom TMQ has been touting all season,
made a leaping catch for a 48-yard touchdown.
If it weren't for TMQ, then no one would have known who this John Brown guy is. Thanks for alerting us to him, Gregg.
Then Patrick Peterson "called his shot." Steamed for being flagged for
illegal contact, before the next snap he wildly pointed to the crowd and
then to himself, as if to say: "Watch this." Snap, and Peterson
intercepted the pass.
This is a good example of how Gregg's criticism changes based on an outcome. If Peterson had gotten beaten for a touchdown after this play then Gregg would write, "Peterson pointed to the crowd in a me-first way to show off and get the focus on himself. The football gods laughed and Peterson immediately gave up a touchdown pass because he made the high school mistake of looking in the backfield." Instead, Peterson "called his shot" because Peterson intercepted the next pass. It's funny how the football gods suddenly appear angrily when that's how Gregg wants to present the narrative.
Adding a pick-six on the next Rams possession, Peterson tempted the
football gods by waving the ball around well before the end zone.
Undoubtedly, if Peterson ever gives up another touchdown catch in the NFL, Gregg will point to his waiving the ball around well before the end zone as the reason Peterson gave up the touchdown while ignoring any positive plays Peterson had made in the interim.
When the Steelers lost to Tim Tebow's Denver Broncos in the 2011
playoffs, Bruce Arians, then Pittsburgh offensive coordinator, was a
convenient fall guy -- he'd bounced around a lot and was perceived as
never really successful.
Arians had won a Super Bowl as the Steelers' offensive coordinator and had been with the team since 2004. I sometimes wonder what goes on in Gregg's head. Does he know that he is misleading his readers or does he just create an alternate reality without knowing it? And don't worry, Gregg's lies about Bruce Arians don't stop here. Why would they? He must mislead and lie to his readers to the fullest extent in order to create an alternate reality that matches the narrative he's looking to push.
Pittsburgh scapegoated Arians for the loss and fired him.
Nope. Arians' contract ran out and he "retired." Then Arians unretired to be the offensive coordinator for the Colts. He was not fired by the Steelers. His contract ran out. I feel bad for Gregg's readers who refuse to do any research and just believe whatever Gregg writes. They are being lied to and don't care to know it. Perhaps I shouldn't feel bad for them.
This week it was New Orleans leading Santa Clara 24-21, the Niners
facing fourth-and-10 from their own 22-yard line with 1:34 remaining in
regulation. No professional defense could possibly not cover a deep
receiver in this situation. Yet no one at all from the Saints covered
Michael Crabtree as he went deep down the middle for the 51-yard
reception that positioned the visitors for the field goal that forced
Wait, Michael Crabtree caught this pass? What about the Crabtree Curse? Wouldn't this prevent Crabtree catching this pass? I'm confused.
With seven minutes remaining in the game, Kansas City leads 17-13 and
Buffalo faces fourth-and-1 at its 41. The Bills punt. Sure they botched
fourth-and-1 on the previous possession. But that was then, this is now,
what happened the last time means nothing to this time!
But it does mean something this time. I probably would have gone for it in this situation (and of course "done a little dance" since that is guaranteed to get a first down), but if the Bills haven't converted on a short distance down during the game so far, then the odds of them converting fourth-and-1 are probably not very high. Going for it on fourth down is not a coin flip. It's a coin flip involving 22 coins where past history of how 11 of those coins performed on short-and-1 earlier in the game can predict how those 11 coins will perform during that specific short-and-1.
By a schedule quirk, the Chiefs also played at Buffalo last season. In
those two games the Bills combined for a total of seven red zone
possessions -- yielding no touchdowns.
Don't you love how Gregg only talks about past performance as it relates to present performance when he has a point to prove? Oh look, the Bills can't score touchdowns against the Chiefs as proven by two games where they didn't score a touchdown, but whether the Bills converted earlier in the game on fourth-and-1 has no impact on whether the Bills could convert on fourth-and-1 in this current situation.
It would take approximately three years to reach Saturn sustaining the
highest speed so far attained by a manned spacecraft, and seems to take
about that, or at least a long time, in the initial space scenes of
"Interstellar." Yet once the noble explorers go through the wormhole
into another galaxy, planets seem only a hop, skip and a jump apart.
IT'S A MOTHERFUCKING SCIENCE-FICTION MOVIE! IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR FACTUAL INFORMATION, THEN YOU ARE THE MORON!
In "Interstellar," mid-21st century society can build spaceships capable
of reaching other galaxies, yet can't grow wheat. In the "Hunger Games"
franchise, a future society has hovercraft and force fields, yet
doesn't know how to grow vegetables. In the big-budget TV series "Terra
Nova," 22nd century society could build a time machine but couldn't
restrict air pollution, which is already in decline now.
Likewise in the big-budget flick "Elysium," 22nd century society can
build a luxurious space station the size of New Hampshire, but doesn't
know about using catalytic converters to prevent smog.
Gregg is great at false equivalencies. The world can stop ebola and other deadly diseases, but can't stop the common cold. It's not that odd for one huge societal issue to get fixed, while a smaller societal issue remains without a solution. For example, there are many great NFL writers on the Internet so there is no lack of great NFL writing, yet Gregg Easterbrook writes TMQ every week.
TMQ's favorite on this score is the Colin Farrell remake of "Total
Recall." In it, future society doesn't know how to clean up damage from a
chemical war, yet is able to build a subway tunnel directly through the
center of the Earth.
Gregg Easterbrook can thoroughly discuss the financial aspects of space travel and the cost of the space program, but he can't even work a space shuttle. How odd is that?
Not only would this entail engineering in unimaginable pressure and
heat, the through-Earth's-core trips described would require speeds on
the order of 30,000 miles per hour. Since passengers are comfortably
seated during acceleration and braking, that means the future society
has devised inertial damping -- a sci-fi standby almost as hard to
imagine as time travel -- yet can't clean up chemical spills.
(Makes jerking off motion)
The offensive pass interference call that negated the Saints' seeming
winning touchdown on the final play of regulation was unquestionably the
correct call. Santa Clara's Perrish Cox executed the best flop in
football annals -- when Jimmy Graham pushed off, Cox hurled himself
through the air sideways.
It was a flop, but Graham has seven inches and 60 pounds on Perrish Cox. If Gregg Easterbrook got pushed by a man seven inches taller and 60 pounds heavier than him while running, then he may fall down as well.
Not only was the offensive pass interference correct, it showed
integrity by the officiating crew, going against the grain of TMQ's
Parking Lot Theory -- that if a call on the final play decides the game
the home team gets the call because zebras don't want to be hassled in
the parking lot.
Has there ever been a story of NFL officials being hassled in the parking lot? I can't think of one right now. In fact when I search for "NFL officials hassled in the parking lot, this column is the second link provided. Officials being harassed in the parking lot seems like one of the many things that only occurs in Gregg Easterbrook's head.
Authentic Games Standings: Miami lost at Detroit and yet qualified, for the moment, as Authentic;
Miami qualified themselves as authentic in last week's TMQ as well, except for the one time Gregg forgot he made them authentic and then questioned whether the Dolphins should be authentic or not. It's hard for him to keep up with his own bullshit.
TMQ's Authentic Games Index doesn't have any fixed definitions, just hocus-pocus.
This sentence could be changed to, "TMQ is just hocus-pocus" and it would still be accurate.
My formula attaches value to the number of high-quality opponents faced,
even if the result is a loss. Thus Arizona's 4-1 record and Denver's
5-2 are superior in Authentic Games terms to Detroit's 3-0. The Oakland
Raiders match the Broncos for most Authentic Games played so far, at
seven. Too bad Oakland lost them all.
Isn't it interesting how a team who loses two games out of seven is superior to a team who hasn't lost a game? In fact, I think Gregg's Authentic Games metric is a good example of how his insistence that the NFL re-rank playoff teams regardless of conference or division affiliation isn't the infallible idea he believes it to be. It goes to show how a team like the Raiders would be punished for having had a tough schedule, while a perceived Super Bowl contender like the Packers have played four games against authentic teams and only won one of them. Not that the Packers aren't clearly a better team than the Raiders, but in situations where the talent level between two teams is closer, Gregg's idea of re-ranking teams regardless of conference or division still doesn't achieve the goal of getting the best teams into the NFL playoffs. A team's schedule will always have an impact on that team's record. To claim a 9-7 AFC team that would normally have won their division doesn't deserve to make the playoffs because there is an 11-5 team in the NFC team could be ignoring that the 9-7 team played nine authentic teams, while the 11-5 team only played six authentic teams.
I just don't think the schedule can remain based on conference and division affiliation if conference and division affiliation no longer determines which teams make the playoffs.
So this week Gregg's Authentic Games metric predicts the Broncos and Cardinals in the Super Bowl. My Non-Authentic Games metric based on which AFC and NFC won by the largest margin over the past week says this week the Super Bowl participants will be the Packers and Broncos. Last week it was the Saints and Dolphins. I can't until my metric proves itself to be useful and correctly predicts the Super Bowl matchup.
The Eagles are 17-9, including the postseason, under Kelly, impressive
considering football-factory coaches often don't transition well into
the NFL (Steve Spurrier, Butch Davis).
Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll would argue differently about the "often" part of that statement.
The Nesharim's nine touchdowns on kick and turnover returns are also
impressive. But the Eagles have been beating up on the second echelon,
only 1-2 in the Authentic Games Index. Monday night, Philadelphia
blitzed often versus the troubled Cats.
Again, back to how the schedule could affect a team making the playoffs under Gregg's new system. The Eagles are 1-2 in Authentic Games, while the 49ers could miss the playoffs going 9-7 under Gregg's system and they are 3-3 in Authentic Games. Gregg's intentions for re-ranking teams regardless of division or conference isn't a terrible idea, but it doesn't bring the sense of fairness he believes it does.
Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that the Panthers had a bye and were hosting a divisional game?
It was nine months ago, not a couple of weeks ago.
Trailing Detroit 20-16 on the final snap of the game, Miami had the ball
on its 40 for a Hail Mary. Miami attempted a Stanford Band play, and
lost 14 yards. There were back-to-back interceptions in this contest,
the second a fantastic athletic play by undrafted Brent Grimes of Miami.
Yeah, but undrafted Brent Grimes is now a highly-paid glory boy Brent Grimes with a four year $32 million contract. Gregg will ignore this I guess.
Hidden Plays of the Week: Hidden plays are ones that never make
highlight reels, but sustain or stop drives. Santa Clara leading 21-10
at New Orleans, on third down Marques Colston was behind the Niners'
secondary for a sure touchdown and dropped a perfectly thrown pass. The
hosts punted, then went on to lose in overtime.
I'll take a week off from the "hidden play" lecture I give. You know, dropped passes like this are what happens when lowly-drafted players like Marques Colston are given big money contracts. They start not working as hard and begin dropping passes. Lowly-drafted, highly-paid glory boys don't work as hard.
Rest assured, if Michael Crabtree had dropped this pass then his draft position would have been mentioned.
Buffalo leading Kansas City 10-3 in the third quarter, the Bills' Bryce
Brown was in the clear for what seemed a certain touchdown when Ron
Parker of the Chiefs tomahawked the ball loose at the Kansas City 5. The
ball rolled through the end zone, Kansas City touchback. Buffalo went
on to lose by four points.
Again, I think Gregg means "lowly-drafted 7th round pick" Bryce Brown. Well, he doesn't "mean" this because he won't acknowledge when lowly-drafted players make bad plays, but he loves to point out when a highly-drafted player makes a mistake.
Dolphins and Lions tied at 13 late in the game, the Genetically
Engineered Surimi had third-and-goal on the Detroit 2. Tight end Charles
Clay dropped a well-thrown pass in the end zone. Miami settled for a
field goal and went on to lose by four points.
Gregg leaves out the fact Charles Clay is a 6th round pick. Mislead and deceive by leaving out information when it doesn't prove his point, that's all Gregg likes to do.
Many readers including Molly Black of Brooklyn, New York, noted this year's Rockettes Christmas show began on Nov. 7 -- before Veterans Day. In December there are six shows each Saturday, the first kicking off, as it were, at 9 a.m.
(Bangs head on the table) The show starts so early because they want to maximize profits by doing as many shows as possible. I still haven't gotten an answer on when this show should start. When is the ideal time for the Rockettes Christmas show to begin? I need an exact date when it is acceptable for a Christmas show like this to begin.
Now that the Jets are 2-8, how soon until Rex Ryan resumes boasting?
Leading Pittsburgh 3-0, Jersey/B had first-and-10 on its 33. The Jets
lined up in a power-rush set with three tight ends. Michael Vick
play-faked and rolled left. Defenses want to force Vick to the right.
Because he's left-handed, he's considered more dangerous running left.
Actually, I think the perception is that Vick is more dangerous THROWING the football to the left than the right. I'm not sure how Vick's handedness affects his running ability. Gregg thinks of some crazy shit on occasion.
I do know what Gregg means by stating Vick is more dangerous running left, but he doesn't fully explain what he means. He makes an assumption the reader knows Vick is better at running AND throwing left than he is running AND throwing right.
The Browns Paradox: Should TMQ consider the Cleveland Browns for the Authentic Games index?
I don't think it matters at all if TMQ does or doesn't include the Browns for the Authentic Games index. They are 3-2 against authentic teams, which seems pretty impressive.
Andy Dalton looked like he'd forgotten how to play football -- could
Dalton go from Pro Bowl to benched? It wasn't just the three
interceptions. It wasn't just his hard-to-believe passer rating of 2.
(The league listed Dalton's rating as "2.0" as though this is somehow different from 2.)
Gregg is so infuriating. Passer rating is always rounded to the nearest tenth of a decimal, even when the number being rounded to ends up being a "0."
Last week I asked if any reader with a tax-law or CPA background
could explain the likely tax treatment of Nick Saban's home, which was
purchased, for about $225,000 more than he paid for it, by a sports promotion foundation
and where he now lives rent-free. Numerous readers replied that Saban
can exempt the $225,000 gain from capital gains taxes (the exemption
level is $250,000 for an individual, $500,000 if married filing jointly)
but would need to declare the fair-market value rental value of the
home each year and pay ordinary income taxes on that. Jake Peters of
Evansville, Wisconsin, put it in haiku:
Sale? Capital gain.
Rent value taxed as wages;
cap gain excluded.
I always wonder who reads and enjoys TMQ. Obviously it is those people who adore accounting and think they are clever by using haikus to explain something. These are the educated people who somehow read TMQ and don't want to be educated as to whether Gregg is misleading his readers with his misleading assumptions and statements.
Buck-Buck-Brawkkkkkk (Pro Edition): The heavily favored Steelers trailing Jersey/B by 20-3 on the first snap of the fourth quarter,
I believe the Steelers were favored by five points or so. That's less than a touchdown and definitely not being "heavily favored." But what good are facts when Gregg can simply make up his own reality and everyone who reads TMQ believes him? Where is the fun in telling the truth or not misleading your audience?
Buck-Buck-Brawkkkkkk (Football-Factory Edition): Trailing TCU
31-14 late in the third quarter, Kansas State punted on fourth-and-4 in
Horned Frogs territory. Kansas State went on to lose by 21 points.
And obviously, if Kansas State had not punted then they would not have lost the game. This punt late in the third quarter would have made the 21 point difference in this game.
Single Worst Plays Of The Season -- So Far: On Marshawn Lynch's
first touchdown run against Jersey/A, Lynch barreled straight at Giants
cornerback Zack Bowman -- who froze and let Lynch go by. On Lynch's
fourth touchdown run, Lynch again barreled straight at Bowman, who again
just let him go by. Bowman only needed a red cape and he could have
cried "olé!" as he stepped aside.
Wow, I can't believe a highly-drafted player like Marshawn Lynch, who was drafted in the first round, was able to make a fifth round pick like Bowman look so silly. As always, if these roles were reversed and a fifth round pick scored four rushing touchdowns then Gregg would mention this player's draft position, while criticizing the first round pick cornerback who didn't make an effort to prevent two of these touchdowns.
Bowman would hold the Single Worst Play of the Season -- So Far
distinction except that he's a backup and was on the field only because
of injuries to others.
A player only being on the field because of injuries to others has never really stopped Gregg before from criticizing a player for making a bad play. I wonder if the fact Bowman isn't a highly-drafted player has something to do with Gregg not giving him this week's Single Worst Play of the Season -- So Far?
Lined up across from Jordy Nelson, veteran corner Tim Jennings simply
stood there like topiary, letting Nelson blow past for an uncovered
73-yard touchdown reception. In a Cover 1, the corner can't let his man
go! Next Green Bay possession, Jennings again lines up across from
Nelson and again just stands there as Nelson blows past for a 40-yard
touchdown. This time the Bears were in Cover 2, a defense that may have
receivers covered by the corner short and the safety deep. But twice the
man across from the other team's best receiver simply did nothing on a
long touchdown pass.
Gregg is correct that in a Cover 1, Jennings should not have let Nelson go to a safety that isn't there. BUT, in a Cover 2 he had covered Nelson short and the safety was supposed to provide help over the top. So once Jennings did let the other team's best receiver go past him and did nothing. The second time Jennings wasn't supposed to do much but cover Nelson short.
Next Week: Can kale doughnuts be far behind?
I wish ESPN.com would leave TMQ far behind.