Thursday, December 4, 2014

10 comments Gregg Creates a Metric To Predict the Super Bowl Matchup, Then Decides He May Ignore His Metric In Order To Make a Different Prediction

Gregg Easterbrook continued to mislead his readers in last week's TMQ. He managed to criticize the Lions for playing poor defense, while in his description of the Lions' poor defense he got the yardage, type of defense the Lions were playing, and the location of the defensive players incorrect. It must be nice to go through life pointing out other's faults while creating your own reality where you can present facts in the way you see them and not as they occurred in reality. This week Gregg reveals the last four weeks of the season will determine which teams make the playoffs, uncovers the previously unknown information that the NFL schedules divisional games down the stretch, updates his Authentic Games standings and hilariously still insists ESPN Grade means something. Gregg finds the NFL to be very Darwinian. Well yeah, that's sports in general.

If Charles Darwin were alive today he'd be an NFL fan because the final month of the season shapes up as a contest of survival of the fittest for wild-card invitations.

If Charles Darwin were alive today he would be a fan of many sports due to the survival of the fittest mentality. He would probably have an issue with some of the size of athletes since evolution wouldn't indicate that human beings could be so fast and strong without some outside help that doesn't involve hitting the weight room. Darwin also probably wouldn't know what a weight room is or why he is reading words Gregg Easterbrook writes on a screen that seems to create these words from nowhere.

Down the stretch, 11 good-record teams are competing for four wild-card slots. By quirk of the schedule, these teams spend the final month mainly playing each other. 

Oh poor Gregg. It's not a quirk of the schedule, but a specific attempt by the NFL to have games during the last stretch of the season mean something important for playoff positioning. This is why teams play other teams within their own division during the last weeks of the season. It's intentional, not a quirk. It's sad for Gregg that he thinks this is a quirk of the schedule. 

Often, December in the NFL is the month of mismatches, with dominant teams tuning up for the playoffs against losers that are already eliminated.

It's very creative of Gregg to make things up so early in his column. Usually Gregg waits until the middle portion of his column to start making shit up in order to prove a point, but he gets it out of the way early in this TMQ. The NFL can't predict which teams will be good during the season and which teams won't, but they certainly do try.

Here is the schedule for Week 14 last year. The Colts played the Bengals, Panthers played the Saints, and the Seahawks played the 49ers. Games that looked like they would be tough inter-conference games to decide playoff positioning (prior to the season of course) include Packers v. Falcons, Cowboys v. Bears, and Dolphins v. Steelers.

Here is the schedule for Week 15 last year. The Chargers played the Broncos and the Bengals played the Steelers. Games that looked like they would be tough inter-conference games to decide playoff position include Patriots v. Dolphins, Cowboys v. Packers, and Texans v. Colts.

Here is the schedule for Week 16 last year. The Saints played the Panthers, the Patriots played the Ravens, and the Steelers played the Packers. Games that looked like they would be tough inter-conference games to decide playoff positioning include 49ers v. Falcons, Bears v. Eagles, Cardinals v. Seahawks, Cowboys v. Redskins, and Giants v. Lions.

Here is the schedule for Week 17 last year. The Ravens played the Bengals, Packers played the Bears, the 49ers played the Cardinals, and the Chiefs played the Chargers. Games that looked like they would be tough inter-conference games to decide playoff positioning include Redskins v. Giants, Panthers v. Falcons, and Eagles v. Cowboys.

December will feature game after game pitting winning teams in must-win situations.

That's the intent nearly every single year.

San Diego plays four of four versus other contenders: the Patriots, Broncos, 49ers and Chiefs. Six of the strong teams play three of four versus other contenders. Kansas City faces Arizona, Pittsburgh and San Diego. Seattle faces the Eagles, Niners and Cardinals. Santa Clara meets the Seahawks, Chargers and Cardinals. Pittsburgh faces Kansas City and plays in Cincinnati before finishing the season at home against the Bengals. The Browns play Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Baltimore. The Bills face Denver, Green Bay and New England.

While celebrating the fact this December may be the MOST EXCITING DECEMBER OF FOOTBALL EVER, please keep in mind that this isn't a quirk of the schedule, but how the NFL schedulemakers want the season to end. There's a reason the Chargers are playing two of their three toughest conference foes, that Seattle will face the 49ers twice in a short span of time, the Steelers play the Bengals twice in a short span of time and the Cowboys and Eagles will play each other at the end of the season...again. That reason is the NFL wants tough divisional matchups at the end of the year in order to create drama for playoff positioning. 

The fact that December offers so many strong-on-strong pairings ensures the contenders will inflict defeats on each other, causing some to fall by the wayside. Just like in natural selection!

Yes, the parallel to Darwinism still holds true. Very insightful. 

Now about that NFC South. If the season ended today, 5-7 Atlanta would host a playoff game as division champion, while the NFC East's 8-4 Cowboys would be denied the postseason. For years

YEARS, Gregg tells us. YEARS!

TMQ has advocated a seeded tournament as the alternative to the NFL's goofy anti-meritocracy playoff format. But perhaps revolutionary change is just too much for the league's hidebound ownership class.

Or maybe this year is sort of an outlier and the owners don't see a reason to change the playoff structure based on one year's results? Or maybe the owners see that a 7-9 Seahawks team beat the Saints and a 8-8 Chargers team beat the Colts in the playoffs a few years ago and figure it's annoying a team with a bad record has made the playoffs, but it just means there could be a huge upset in the playoffs.

Reader Michael Donnelly ‏of Ridgefield, Connecticut, suggests that a division winner should get an automatic qualifier to the postseason only if it finishes above .500. Otherwise the first-in-division slot that year would become another wild card.

While I don't want to support mediocrity, more than just a team's talent goes in to what that team's record ends up being. An 8-8 team could play in a difficult division and could have had a difficult out of division schedule, while a 9-7 team could get the Wild Card while feasting on an average division and by playing the 2014 version of the NFC and AFC South.

If in effect today, the NFL bowl-eligible concept would mean no playoff slot for the NFC South; Seattle, next-best if Atlanta is eliminated, would host a playoff contest; Dallas would make the playoffs on the road as a wild card. That's a far stronger postseason field.

It is a stronger postseason field, but also ignores that Atlanta had to play the AFC North this season, while the Cowboys got to play the AFC South. A team's record is a team's record at the end of the season, but if the Cowboys end up 9-7 and the Falcons end up 8-8, then wouldn't make it sense that the Falcons were hurt by having to play a division that currently has no teams with a losing record, while the Cowboys played a division that has one team with a winning record?

The Falcons suck, but is that really a stronger postseason without them? It may be, it may not be.

In spinning-scoreboard news, what if your team put up 66 points and lost? I'm not talking about your rec-league basketball team, I am talking about your nationally ranked major college football team.

Then I would say my team needs to learn to play better defense. That seems pretty simple to me.

Stats Of The Week No. 5: Since the start of 2013, the Chiefs are 3-7 in their division, 15-4 versus all other teams, including playoffs.

This helps support my point that just because the Chiefs are 8-8 at the end of this year it doesn't mean they aren't a better team than a Steelers team that makes the playoffs with a 9-7 record under Gregg's idea for using the bowl-eligible concept.

There is no "fair" way to do the NFL Playoffs and I think any attempt to change the current format will simply result causing a whole new set of problems. These new problems may be better problems, so perhaps that's preferable.

Sweet Play Of The Week: TMQ loves the tactic of bringing in a guy who never plays, then giving him the ball on a big play. With the Bills leading Cleveland 20-10 in the fourth quarter, the Browns were energized by the arrival of Johnny Football and a quick touchdown. Now Buffalo faces third-and-1. If Cleveland gets a stop, as it did on an earlier third-and-1, momentum shifts the visitors' way.

Unless the Bills choose to go for it on fourth down of course. Even if they fail to convert, this will put momentum right back on the side of the Bills.

Little-known MarQueis Gray -- an undrafted free agent with three career receptions for 24 yards entering the contest -- came in, apparently as an extra blocker. Play-fake then a pass to the uncovered Gray, whose 41-yard catch-and-run set up the field goal that made the score 23-10.

MarQueis Gray was a quarterback at Minnesota and tried out at the Combine as a quarterback. He only ended up playing tight end in the NFL after it was clear he couldn't be a quarterback. So the fact he has three career receptions is interesting, but mostly because Gray has only played tight end for a short period of time. So Gray was undrafted as a quarterback. That's my point.

Sour Play Of The Week: Leading San Diego 30-27, Baltimore faced third-and-4 at the Bolts' 13 with 2:32 remaining and the Chargers out of timeouts. A rush might get the first down, but at least keeps the clock moving to the two-minute warning. Instead: incompletion, clock stops, field goal; the extra time keeps San Diego's comeback hopes alive. 

What Gregg leaves out is that the Chargers scored the game-winning touchdown on the next drive with 38 seconds left on the clock. So even if the Ravens had run the ball, not gotten the first down and had to punt after the two minute warning, the Chargers could have had enough time to score the game-winning touchdown. There would have been six seconds left on the clock rather than 38 seconds.

What Gregg fails to mention is that if the Ravens throw the ball and convert the first down, the game was over. I guess fortune no longer favors the bold? This brings up the next play that Gregg discusses, which occurred at the end of the Patriots-Packers game.

Sweet 'N' Sour Plays: TMQ lauds the Patriots for always having something they haven't shown. Two can play at that game! With Green Bay leading 13-7, the Packers, facing third-and-5, lined up wide receiver Randall Cobb in the backfield, with a trips right. At the snap all the trips guys went shallow left to drag away the secondary, while Cobb ran a wheel right -- covered by a linebacker, 33-yard reception setting up a field goal. Sweet.

Cobb also caught the third-down short-yardage pass at the two-minute warning that allowed the Packers to send in the victory formation.

The Packers threw the ball on third down? Why didn't they run the football and let the clock tick down as much as possible? That's exactly what Gregg suggested the Ravens do in nearly the exact same situation in the paragraph above, yet here the flip side of the coin is that the Packers completed the pass and were able to run the clock out. In fact, notice the lengths Gregg goes to cover up for how the situation the Packers and the Ravens were in are very, very similar, but he doesn't want to make it seem like his criticism of the Ravens for throwing the football was off-base in any way. Gregg writes in generalities so his audience doesn't know he is only criticizing the Ravens based on the outcome of the pass being negative, while he has no criticism for the Packers because the outcome was positive. As I always say, Gregg bases his criticism of an NFL team nearly entirely on the outcome of a certain play and not on the thought process that led to the play-call decision.

Gregg says Cobb caught a "third down short-yardage pass." Yes, it was third-and-4. The same down-and-distance the Ravens faced when they decided to throw the ball instead of running it.

The Packers were on their own 43-yard line, which means they couldn't even line up to try a field goal and would have to punt the ball with a six point lead had the pass attempt failed. The Ravens were at their own 13-yard line and a successful field goal would put them up six points if the pass on third down failed.

Gregg says it was "at the two minute warning" but it was with 2:28 left in the game. The Ravens had 2:32 left in the game when they made their pass attempt.

These two situations are very analogous, yet Gregg criticizes the Ravens for choosing to pass the ball and stop the clock, while he doesn't have the same criticism for the Packers. Why is that? Because the Packers completed the pass, allowing them to send in the victory formation, while the Ravens did not. Gregg's criticism of the Ravens is based entirely on the outcome of the play. He's such a hack. I wish his readers would look into his criticism more so they could see that Gregg treats them like idiots who will just accept what he writes as the gospel.

But classic defense never goes out of style! With Green Bay leading 26-21, New England reached first-and-10 on the Packers' 21 with 4:10 remaining. Big blitzes? Funky fronts? Green Bay stayed in a vanilla 4-3-4 with straight four-man rush. Result: run for 1 yard, incompletion, sack, missed field goal. On the sack, New England had five to block four: linebacker Mike Neal overpowered New England left tackle Nate Solder off the snap, creating the game's decisive down. Sweet for the home team, sour for the visitors.

Again, every team would only rush four guys if they could get to the quarterback with just four men. NFL teams don't blitz just because they really like leaving receivers open in the secondary. They blitz to create pressure and if they can create pressure without blitzing then they wouldn't blitz as often.

Sweet Special Teams Plays: TMQ's law of blocked punts holds -- rush seven if you want to block that kick. Watch how NFL teams line up versus punts. They rarely send more than a token rush: Not risking roughing-the-kicker is the "safe" move, and NFL coaches love "safe" tactics. The result is that when an NFL team does go after the punter, the kicking team is shocked.

In the first quarter versus Carolina, Minnesota rushed seven, blocking a punt and returning the ball for a touchdown. Now it's the second quarter, the Cats seemed to reason: They'd never go after our punter twice in the same game! Minnesota rushes eight, block, touchdown.

These punt blocks occurred due to missed assignments, not necessarily because the Vikings rushed seven or eight men.

And if it works, the autonomous vehicle may revolutionize how we think about cars. A family group won't need two or three. In the morning, the car will drive one parent to work, return and drive a kid to school, come back and drive the other parent to work, then repeat the process to pick them up later. Two families or some friends could share a car, if the vehicle could deliver itself wherever required.

And the potential decrease in car sales for companies like GM and other car companies that the federal government has taken such a large hand in ensuring succeed is why I believe we are a long, long, long way from an autonomous vehicle. That is unless driving a car with a human being the wheel is made illegal and then car makers could jack prices up as high as they would like to see them go, which isn't something I would discount either. But at this point, I doubt autonomous cars will be in the near future since it would involve a family choosing to only have one vehicle.

Traveling and commuting will become less stressful if you can read or nod off as the car controls itself. No longer will senior citizens dread the moment when the car keys are taken away: They'll be more mobile and independent.

Now senior citizens could nod off in a car, and instead of being behind the wheel, the senior citizen would just be asleep in the car as it idles waiting for them to exit the vehicle.

People may be uncomfortable with driverless 18-wheelers barreling down the highway. But if electronic trucks eliminated the risk of crashes like this one -- 10 people killed by a truck driver who'd been on the road 11 hours and probably fell asleep -- autonomous trucks could be seen as a boon, at least to those who aren't truck drivers.

For the record, I'm uncomfortable with an 18-wheeler that has a human driver or is driverless. Either way, I'm not going to be comfortable.

Daimler is targeting 2025 for sales of drone trucks that drive themselves on highways, with an operator -- sort of a harbor pilot -- taking over for city streets, according to Wired Magazine.

Gregg enjoys making fun of companies who make outrageous predictions about where they will take technology in the future. I'm betting in the year 2025 Gregg will be mocking Daimler for thinking they could have a drone truck on the highway. He will probably even link this article, but for now, he's perfectly fine thinking 11 years from now drone trucks will drive themselves on highways.

And TMQ's pal James Fallows continues to think that pilotless aircraft are coming. Initially passengers will feel terrified of boarding a plane that has no pilot. Future generations may feel safer on such flying machines.

Yep, no thanks. Flying in a plane can be harrowing enough with there being a pilot present making human error or overriding computer error. I'm not sure I would like to fly without a human being there to override any computer error. So I guess I am one of those people Gregg is talking about.

Autonomous driving, or sailing and flying, could generate benefits for society while costing jobs. Does that mean improving technology should be banned? If improving vehicle technology had been banned in the 1950s, today we'd all be in smog-belching, finned 10 mpg land yachts with no seat belts. A century ago when agriculture was the dominant job engine, Americans would have been horrified to learn that in 2014, only about 2 percent of employment would be in the farm sector. But nearly everyone, including most farmers, is better off as a result.

That's 60 years ago. Gregg seems to be talking about pilotless aircraft, cars and ships in the next decade or so. Also, the movement of American jobs from agriculture to other job sectors isn't exactly analogous to the movement from one form of technology run by humans to the same form of technology run by computers. It's a little different.

Entrants in the initial College Football Playoff will be announced Sunday. Perhaps the selection committee will pause to give lip service to education,

They will not.

But ESPN Grade takes the NCAA and the Power 5 at their word and ranks the top teams as if players were actual student-athletes. ESPN Grade says the final four should be:

1. Alabama
2. TCU
3. Oregon
4. Ohio State

This is the final four as long as you only count teams in the Top 25 of the AP and Coaches Poll. Any college that has great academics, but isn't considered a Top 25 football team doesn't get to participate in ESPN Grade. Therein lies one major issue with claiming ESPN Grade really ranks teams as if players were actual student-athletes. Another issue is that athletics is counted as twice important as academics in the ESPN Grade rankings. Yet Gregg tries to pretend like ESPN Grade really counts academics as much as athletics, when ESPN Grade counts performance in the classroom 50% as important as performance on the field.

ESPN Grade adds the Associated Press and USA Today rankings with a sort of the top programs by graduation rate, giving each the same weight.

Kudos to Gregg that he can point out how ESPN Grade uses two measurements of on field performance and one measurement of off field/classroom performance, then state ESPN Grade is "giving each the same weight." It's an absolute lie, but damn if he isn't going to just keep stating they have "the same weight" in the face of absolutely lying to his readers. It takes balls to do this.

So Alabama is 1 + 1 + 7 = 9, the best ranking. TCU is 4 + 4+ 4 = 12. Oregon is 3 + 3 + 13 = 19. Ohio State 6 + 6 + 8 = 20. Florida State drops out of the picture at 2 + 2 + 21 = 25. Mississippi State plummets at 10 + 10 + 18 = 38.

There are three metrics being used. I add two cups of sugar to a mix, then add one cup of salt. Do salt and sugar have each equal weight? Only an idiot, or someone like Gregg Easterbrook who is trying to push a metric he wouldn't normally believe in, could believe this is giving salt and sugar equal weight.

Sun Setting On RG III?: Sure-to-be-former head coach Jay Gruden benched Robert Griffin III for the Washington at Indianapolis contest.

Jay Gruden isn't immortal, so yes, he will at some point be the Redskins former head coach.

At this point the R*dsk*ns may have a better chance to win with Colt McCoy than with RG III, but the move was also public relations-driven. Luck went first in the 2012 draft, Griffin went second. Luck is a huge success, Griffin's head is barely above water. Had they faced each other, commentary would have focused on how bad Chainsaw Dan Snyder looks for making the king's-ransom Griffin trade. Benching Griffin reduced embarrassment for Chainsaw Dan.

Gregg creates these narratives that he thinks drive decision-making among NFL franchises. The best part about his narratives is that they tend to make huge assumptions based on Gregg's ability to read minds, as opposed to making assumptions based on the facts as they are presented. For example, Griffin was not good in his last game against the 49ers and Jay Gruden had been bashing Griffin publicly all week. So replacing Griffin with Colt McCoy, who had played well in his limited appearances so far this year, seemed an inevitability.

As much as I don't like Dan Snyder, it's not like if Robert Griffin is on the bench then everyone is too stupid to see that the Robert Griffin trade wasn't a good move for the Redskins. Gregg assumes that people who watch football are stupid, so if the viewers can't see Robert Griffin playing on the field then they will totally forget about him. Here are four reasons that Gregg is wrong and his narrative is incorrect:

1. The Redskins didn't draft Griffin over Luck. So the comparison between the two is natural, but Snyder won't look bad for picking Griffin over Luck, because that was not an option for him. So there will be a comparison made, but Snyder doesn't look bad for the Griffin trade in regard to Andrew Luck, because the Redskins never had a shot at drafting Luck.

2. If anything makes the Griffin trade look bad, then it is probably the fact that Robert Griffin is sitting the bench against the Colts instead of starting the football game as the Redskins' quarterback. Of course, Gregg thinks NFL fans are too stupid to notice Griffin still plays for the Redskins if he is on the bench. So Gregg believes with Griffin on the bench then there won't be criticism of the Redskins' trade for him.

3. If the purpose of benching Robert Griffin was to reduce embarrassment then why did Jay Gruden bash Griffin after the game against the 49ers and even prior to that during the season? The head coach bashing the team's franchise quarterback in public is probably pretty embarrassing for Dan Snyder isn't it? If Snyder cared about not embarrassing himself, then Gruden wouldn't bash Griffin publicly.

4. Dan Snyder is a lot of things, but he is not afraid of making himself an embarrassment. This is a guy who has spent a lot of money on public relations in order to fight the changing of the Redskins name. He goes through head coaches frequently and has publicly chided columnists for criticizing him. Snyder is a lot of things, but being afraid of embarrassment publicly he is not.

Washington acquired the 2012 second selection about a month before the draft. At that time, some touts felt Indianapolis would use the first choice on Griffin, leaving Luck to Washington with the second selection. 

Why does ESPN allow Gregg to consistently lie and mislead his readers? Gregg just makes shit up. I don't know who "some touts" are, but once that trade for the #2 overall pick occurred it was widely held that the Redskins would be drafting Robert Griffin. See, the funny thing about the Internet is that those who aren't too lazy to do so can look into Gregg Easterbrook's lies and expose them for being just that. Articles herehere, and here all point out how the Redskins target in the 2012 draft is Robert Griffin, not Andrew Luck. I don't know what generic "touts" Gregg is referring to in order to create a false reality, but Andrew Luck was always the #1 pick by the Colts and it was widely assumed that Griffin was the pick at #2. Of course, Gregg prefers to create a false reality in order to prove the point he wants to prove. He wants to make a direct comparison of Griffin versus Luck and will go to great lengths to do this.

The mindset of Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons management was that making the deal ensured they'd land one player or the other, and both would become franchise quarterbacks. So although Washington's 2012 draft strategy now looks like a fiasco, had the Colts chosen Griffin, Washington's 2012 draft strategy now would look like the smoothest move of all time.

Except the Colts weren't drafting Griffin and it seems like everyone knew it. Griffin wanted to go #1 overall, but he passed up a chance to privately work out for the Colts. Why? He knew they weren't drafting him.

Nevertheless, the Persons are left with this: Netting several transactions, in the past five years, Washington has invested first-round draft choices, two second-round selections and a fourth-round choice in the quarterback position,

Not entirely, but I'm tired of arguing this point.

and its starting signal-caller is a street free agent. 

Actually, Colt McCoy is a third round pick. I figure if Gregg can count draft choices the Redskins never made as an "investment" in the quarterback position, then he could at least not call Colt McCoy a street free agent when he was a third round pick.

Unless there's a major turnaround, the 2012 pre-draft deal by the R*dsk*ns will go down as among the worst trades in sports annals.

It led to a playoff appearance and it's not like the Rams have built their franchise around those picks quite yet. I think Gregg is overstating the case just a bit.

Future historians may scratch their heads that our generation obsessed about low-likelihood threats while barely even noticing the decline of the No. 1 genuine threat to humanity.

Future historians will then scratch their heads about how they can claim to know billions of people are collectively worried about low-likelihood threats and barely notice the decline of the No. 1 genuine threat to humanity. Future historians will then realize they can't read minds and characterizing the opinion of billions as one collective opinion is ridiculous.

Last week's column detailed the fixation of movies, television and novels on post-apocalyptic futures. This brings to mind the two post-apocalypse TV shows attempted by Gene Roddenberry after the "Star Trek" series concluded. With the 50th anniversary of "Star Trek" approaching in 2016, Unified Field Theory of Creep says to analyze Roddenberry now.

So Gregg is now creating the creep so that he can later complain about it happening.

"It's not the 50th anniversary of 'Star Trek' so why would anyone analyze the series now? Since I'm sure someone will do it, I'll just go ahead and get it over with."

Best Pass Pattern By A Defensive End: With Houston leading 38-14, the Texans had first-and-goal at the Flaming Thumbtacks' 1. Defensive end J.J. Watt, who wears an eligible number, lined up as flex tight end. Tennessee didn't seem to react, though Watt came into the contest with two touchdown receptions. The play was a "rub" pattern, and on rubs, the ball always goes to the second man.

And obviously the Titans should have known this was a "rub" pattern and therefore should have known that Watt was getting the ball.

Earlier, with Houston leading by the new economy score of 24-7, Tennessee starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger was injured. Backup Jake Locker came in cold; Tennessee coaches called a pass on his first play. Interception.

Would it have been better to call a running play in this situation? Maybe, but the Titans are trying to come back and win the game, which is something I would assume Gregg supports based on his past comments in TMQ about coaches being aggressive in order to win a game, and it's not like Jake Locker has not ever thrown a football before.

The Football Gods Promised An Investigation: With Green Bay leading 3-0, New England punted on fourth-and-2 from midfield. Pace the Madagascar penguins, TMQ wanted to grab the person on the Patriots' sideline pretending to be the head coach and say, "What have you done with the real Bill Belichick?" The person pretending to be Belichick did go for it in a similar situation in the fourth quarter, but by then it was too little, too late.

It was the first quarter! Is giving Aaron Rodgers the ball at midfield really the best move in the first quarter?

TMQ's Christmas List: Aren't you hoping Santa leaves you a fake jellyfish aquarium? The print version of the catalog declares it SIMULATES THE GRACEFUL MOTION OF JELLYFISH. The product "shuts off automatically after four hours for safety." For whose safety? The jellyfish are fake!

Because it's plugged into an electrical outlet and having it plugged in with lights and other electronics still active runs the risk of a fire. Trust me, my cat could find a way to get the jellyfish aquarium to catch the house on fire. Why does Gregg ask this obvious question? It's the same reason other electronics shut off after a period of time. It's not for the safety of the device, but the safety of the household the device resides in.

If you've seen an absurd holiday gift, tweet it to me @EasterbrookG with a URL.

I should email Gregg a link to his latest book as an absurd holiday gift.

The worlds of sports and social media went bonkers over the fantastic catch by the Giants' Odell Beckham versus the Cowboys. Two weeks earlier, Brent Grimes of the Dolphins made a nearly identical catch, and only the world of TMQ seemed to notice. Why the difference? Beckham is a first-round draft choice who plays for the New York media's favorite team, and he made his catch in a prime-time game. Grimes is an undrafted free agent from Division II Shippensburg who made his catch in a contest broadcast regionally. Beckham had the power of the press on his side. The power of the press might not be what it used to be but does still exist.

While true, it also helps that Beckham had 2-3 fingers on the ball and was more perpendicular (you probably caught this, but I should have written "parallel" here...I couldn't think of the word "parallel" and then wrote "perpendicular" for some reason) to the ground when he caught the ball than Grimes was. Both catches were great, but Beckham's happened on national television (which Gregg mentions) and it was just slightly more difficult.

TMQ contends the big threat to football is not litigation against the NFL, which can buy its way out of any problem, but litigation against public high school districts. If public high schools stop participating in football owing to brain-trauma settlements or can no longer afford football liability insurance, the sport will crumble.

Oh. Just a few weeks ago Gregg was talking in TMQ about how NFL teams will continue to get their offensive tactics from high school teams and indicated this will be a further trend. This week, high school football may shut down forever. I guess NFL teams have to find a different place for new offensive tactics.

Although it might seem Philadelphia's defense is playing better this season than the past, the Eagles are still just 24th in yards against and 19th in points against. The difference is takeaways -- Philadelphia already has 22, versus 22 all of the past season. Takeaways are wonderful, but the element of luck involved means they can't be relied on.

While I don't think any NFL team just says, "Forget playing great defense, let's rely on takeaways," there is some element of skill to takeaways as well. Forcing fumbles is a skill that can be taught.

The Niners seem uptight on offense. Colin Kaepernick kept faking the second half, though down by multiple scores and with only 23 yards rushing in the first half. This fooled no one: the second half play calling suggested Santa Clara has a playbook for holding a lead but doesn't have one for comeback situations.

It's almost like they are a run-based team that prefers to be leading so they can run the offense off play-action and don't want to have to throw the ball all over the field while behind. I'm not sure any NFL playbook has a specific section of plays that can be run when the team has to make a comeback.

In this season of wild-card logjam, the Niners' Thanksgiving Day loss at defending champion Seattle all but eliminates the team that made the past three NFC title games. Santa Clara is now fourth in the chase for the two wild-card invites.

The 49ers are one game out of the Wild Card picture with a head-to-head game against the Seahawks still left to be played, as well as a game against the division-leading (and struggling) Cardinals to be played. Don't worry, I won't forget that Gregg counted the 49ers out as being "all but eliminated" from the playoffs. This statement is premature.

The Niners not only need to win out, which is never a good master plan, but winning out would also entail a victory Dec. 14 at Seattle. The Bluish Men Group has won three straight at home versus the Niners and has outscored the Niners 94-33 in those contests.

The Niners are 7-5. I don't think it's a certainty that they have to win out.

A week ago, Kansas City lost to woeful Oakland but did not drop in the Authentic Games standings because the Raiders are not an Authentic opponent. This week, Arizona lost to woeful Atlanta but did not drop in the Authentic Games standings because the Falcons are not Authentic.

Again, any metric supposed to indicate the strength of a team that doesn't take into account a loss to one of the worst teams in the NFL is a metric that isn't doing it right. How can a loss to a bad team not count as a negative in a metric intended to determine how likely a team is to win the Super Bowl?

Denver takes over the pole position. Early front-runner Arizona has dropped two straight, and as Hillary Clinton learned in 2008 and might learn again in 2016, early front-runner status can be the kiss of death. Four games ago, Carson Palmer got hurt. Next man up Drew Stanton played well in a win versus Detroit. I am pretty sure it was Dean Smith who once said when a star gets hurt, the next game is the best game of the year for his teammates -- and then things go downhill. That's been the pattern here, with the game after Palmer going well, then consecutive poor performances versus Seattle and Atlanta.

So Gregg presents his Authentic Games standings as supposedly useful and then starts to bash the results it presents? Denver-Arizona is what Gregg has for this week as his Super Bowl prediction. My Non-Authentic Games metric has come up with the following results so far:

Packers and Broncos
Saints and Dolphins
Packers and Patriots
Eagles and Bills

This week my Super Bowl prediction using the Non-Authentic Games metric is St. Louis versus Houston. My metric is really covering all of the bases required to get a Super Bowl prediction correct. Gregg should consider using my metric.

Bruins alumni and boosters might feel crushed by the surprise loss, but ESPN Grade thinks UCLA is having a fantastic season -- 9-3 in the standings and third in graduation rates among the football powers. The NFL has no purpose other than entertainment, so when NFL teams lose, there's never a silver lining. In college football, entertainment is one of several goals, with the most important being fostering education. UCLA has played well on the field and performed well in the classroom. The Bruins have had one of the best seasons in college football.

And yet, being third in graduation rate isn't enough to put UCLA in the final four according to ESPN Grade. If the Bruins are so good in the classroom, then I wonder why ESPN Grade doesn't reflect a score that shows this? Perhaps because on field performance is measured at twice the amount classroom performance is measured?

With underdog Michigan trailing 28-21 midway through the fourth quarter at Ohio State, Brady Hoke sent in the punt unit at the Buckeyes' 39. At moments such as these, TMQ fairly shouts -- Coach, can you see the scoreboard? Who cares that it was fourth-and-14? Seattle went for it in roughly this situation in last season's NFC title contest and scored a touchdown.

Who cares if your defense has held Ohio State to 28 points at home and the Wolverines are facing a difficult fourth down conversion? One time an NFL team converted fourth down in a similar situation, so that means fourth-and-14 should be easily converted.

What matters is not the line-to-gain, it's not punting in opposition territory when trailing in the fourth quarter.

No, the line-to-gain is very important. The line-to-gain tells a coach the odds of his team succeeding on the fourth down conversion. Punting in opposition territory is never a good thing, but neither is trying to convert a difficult fourth down in place of trusting your defense to stop the opposing offense and flip the field.

You really don't need to know anything more about the game than that Michigan punted in Ohio State territory when trailing in the fourth quarter. Just in case you're interested, the punt netted 19 yards. The Buckeyes needed six snaps to pass the point at which the ball would have been spotted had Michigan tried and been denied.

It took six plays for the Buckeyes to gain 19 yards? Is that supposed to be impressive to me?

The Football Gods Chortled: At Buffalo, Cleveland ran a toss with Jerry Hughes, the end on the playside, strung out. He stripped the ball from the runner, then recovered and returned it for a touchdown. Hughes did this as the man trying to block him was called for holding

What's missing from this description? Oh yeah, what round was Jerry Hughes drafted in? I know, I know! He was drafted in the first round, which makes him a highly-drafted glory boy ex-bust who has found a home in Buffalo. Of course, Gregg can't mention what round Hughes was drafted in because it would ruin his narrative that highly-drafted players don't work as hard as lowly-drafted and undrafted players. Rest assured that if Hughes was undrafted, Gregg would have mentioned this fact in TMQ.

Manly Man Play Of The Week (College Edition): Scoring at the end of the first overtime to pull within 66-65 of heavily favored Marshall at The Joan, Western Kentucky could kick and proceed to a second overtime or accept the challenge of one play to win or lose. Novice head coach Jeff Brohm went for two, 

Brohm is a novice head coach, but he's been coaching at some level for over a decade now.

and fortune favors the bold!

Oh, so NOW fortune favors the bold. Earlier in this very TMQ, Gregg criticized the Ravens by saying they made the "Sour Play of the Week" in being bold while throwing on third down, as opposed to running the ball and running the clock down to the two minute warning. Of course, when the Packers did this nearly exact same thing and it worked, Gregg had nothing negative to say.

Sour Play Of The Week: Leading San Diego 30-27, Baltimore faced third-and-4 at the Bolts' 13 with 2:32 remaining and the Chargers out of timeouts. A rush might get the first down, but at least keeps the clock moving to the two-minute warning. Instead: incompletion, clock stops, field goal; the extra time keeps San Diego's comeback hopes alive. 

I would love to know why fortune didn't favor the bold in this situation? Perhaps because Gregg bases his criticism on the outcome of a play? Or it could be because Gregg constantly contradicts himself by making stupid rules and he doesn't really give a shit because he gets paid handsomely to write this column like he knows what he's talking about and any evidence that he may not know exactly what he's talking about will be ignored by him?

Single Worst Play Of The Season -- So Far: It might have been Frank Gore doing nothing as the man he was supposed to block flushed Colin Kaepernick from the pocket and caused a third-quarter sack. Gore is prone to lecturing his teammates about stepping up. Check the down that begins with 4:31 of the third quarter, when Gore simply stands watching his quarterback in distress.

While Gore was at fault in this situation for missing his block, he didn't just stand there and watch his quarterback in distress. He missed his block and then couldn't help Kaepernick from being sacked after that.

Seahawks Sack 02

And Gore didn't lecture his teammates about stepping up earlier in the season, he simply stated they need to play better as a team.

Worse was Santa Clara's sole red zone snap versus Seattle. The Seahawks led 16-0, and the Niners faced third-and-8 on the visitor's 19 late in the third quarter. Santa Clara had five to block four. Offensive linemen Marcus Martin and Alex Boone stood doing nothing as Michael Bennett came through untouched and forced Kaepernick to step into a sack.

Whatever the excuse du jour, 49ers offensive line, you are guilty of single worst play of the season -- so far.

Not to be too literal, but these are two plays, not a "single worst play." Not that I would expect Gregg to be accurate in his claims of course.

Next Week: TMQ will employ the Authentic Games standings to project the Super Bowl pairing.

Hasn't Gregg been doing this for the past five weeks? What's the point of providing the Authentic Games standings if it wasn't to predict the Super Bowl pairing?

Last year, this metric projected Seattle versus Denver. I've been dining out on that ever since. But given that I've warned this metric is largely hocus-pocus, I might come up with some perfectly legitimate-sounding reason to favor Green Bay over Arizona.

But OF COURSE! Gregg presents the Authentic Games standings over the past five weeks as a metric used to predict the Super Bowl matchup. Gregg states that last year his metric got the Super Bowl matchup correct and he will again use the metric to project the Super Bowl matchup in next week's TMQ. Then Gregg decides if he doesn't like what his metric says then he will just pick his own Super Bowl matchup.

My favorite part is how Gregg clings to his Denver-Seattle prediction last year and doesn't mind bragging about it, while also pointing out how his Authentic Games metric really means nothing. It either means nothing and isn't used or discussed in TMQ, or it means something and Gregg should base his Super Bowl matchup on the metric. Use the metric or don't. Of course, Gregg has an insatiable need to be right and whatever method or however many predictions he has to make in order to get there is all that matters to him. I'm sure if his Authentic Games metric did end up getting the Super Bowl matchup correct then he wouldn't mind bragging about this in know, just like he's done since last year.


Ericb said...

Is Griffin really that much of a bust or was it simply the case that whichever qb ended up being picked by Washington was pretty much doomed.

Chris said...

For a brief moment let's pretend that ESPN Grade is an actual useful metric and not a bunch of bullshit. Let's see Alabama and TCU are both in the college football playoff right now. Ohio State is ranked 5th and would easily jump in the top 4 should Florida State lose in the ACC Championship. So it seems these "football factory schools" are doing pretty good in terms of academics. Oh and Oregon in the top 3? It wasn't so long ago that Gregg was ripping Chip Kelly a new one for only graduating 46 percent of African American players but now they are in the top 3 in ESPN Grade?

Chris said...

Eric b I think is right on the money. I don't think it's so much RG3 is a bust but as a skins fan whoever got picked to start was screwed. The previous coaches couldn't get enough playmakers around him and eventually his ego got bruised because of how allegedly close Griffin and Dan Snyder were. Now his current coach throws him under the bus. Griffin hasn't helped matters by occasionally being passive/agressive but frankly he was probably walking into a no win situation.

HH said...

TMQ loves the tactic of bringing in a guy who never plays, then giving him the ball on a big play.

Well, unless the play fails, in which case TMQ wonders why you would go to someone with no experience in for an important play.

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, that could very well be it too. I have to say, I have been hard on Mike Shanahan in the past. It seems Kyle Shanahan did a pretty good job with Griffin as the Redskins QB and played to his strengths. I don't think Griffin is done, but he's going to need someone who isn't Jay Gruden to help him.

Chris, you are absolutely right. I had forgotten about Gregg ripping Kelly for not graduating players. The reason the ESPN Grade final four doesn't look different from the 4 playoff teams is because a team's ranking is included twice while graduation rate is only included once. At least that's what I think.

I do have to admit that Griffin has decent receivers now, so I expect more from him. I don't think Gruden ever wanted Griffin as his QB. It seems he's more comfortable with a guy like McCoy as his QB.

HH, but TMQ would make an excuse that doesn't make it sound like he is contradicting himself. He'll find a way to not be wrong.

Slag-King said...

perpendicular to the ground

You mean parallel to the ground. Sorry, Ben, perpendicular is always two lines intersecting at 90 a plus sign or a T.

Good critique of TMQ today!


Bengoodfella said...

Slag, that's hilarious you corrected that. I had originally written horizontal to the ground. I could NOT think of the word parallel. Then I thought of it and wrote "perpendicular" instead. That's great. I'm dumb.

The lowest grade I ever got in HS was in my AP Trig class. So I probably should not have been in AP you can tell.

Eric C said...

TMQ loves the tactic of bringing in a guy who never plays, then giving him the ball on a big play.

Well, unless the play fails, in which case TMQ wonders why you would go to someone with no experience in for an important play.

Unless the player is undrafted, in which case his draft position will be screamed from the rooftops. Unless he screws up, in which case it won't be mentioned.

Or if the player is on a second team, in which case they are "unwanted", even if they were a draft bust highly-paid glory boy on team 1. He referred to Percy Harvin as a highly-paid glory boy once, but you can guarantee if he signs somewhere for a million dollars this offseason Gregg will suddenly love him because he is now unwanted.

Snarf said...


I specifically remember him calling Ben Grubbs an "unwanted" former Raven who was a key part of a New Orleans line.

Not only was he not cut... He signed a "megabucks" contract in free agency with NO. The Ravens would have liked to retain him, but couldn't compete on dollars.

Further, he was a 1st rounder from "football-factory" Auburn.

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, I think I'm confused now. This is the key to Gregg's writing. He confuses you long enough to where you just give up.

Snarf, you are right. He did call Grubbs "unwanted."