Monday, January 12, 2015

6 comments Gregg Easterbrook Picks the Broncos or the Colts To Win the Colts-Broncos Game

Gregg refused to reveal the trade secrets behind writing TMQ in last week's TMQ. Lying and misleading are two trade secrets, though they aren't really secret. He also had a reader write in with an impossibly stupid idea that fans watching a game should vote one way or another on whether a replay challenge should be upheld or overturned. This week Gregg talks about the advantage of being at home in the playoffs, continues to update his Authentic Game standings that mean nothing except when he wants them to mean something, and just cuts to the chase and asks if teams should sexualize their cheerleaders. It's like he's asking for permission to be creepy and leer at woman half or almost a third of his age. He needs his readers to confirm it's okay to feel sexually excited about seeing cheerleaders while also claiming the NFL is exploiting them.

Longtime TMQ readers know my compromise with my Baptist upbringing is to believe sex is good, gambling is bad.

I've never understood this comment Gregg continuously writes in TMQ before and still don't understand it today. For society, sex has probably caused more problems throughout record history (INCLUDED THE TRIASSIC PERIOD) than gambling has, but I've learned sometimes it's best not to argue with everything Gregg writes. He likes sex and doesn't like gambling.

But if you must wager, take the home teams in the divisional round this weekend. They are the surest sure-thing in sports.

Unless you want to count other sure things in sports like #1 seeds beating #16 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, #2 seeds beating #15 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, #1 seeds beating #8 seeds in the NHL and the NBA playoffs, or any of the other surer bets in sports than the home team winning in the divisional round. 

Tuesday Morning Quarterback is predicting home teams will run the table in the upcoming round, with Denver, Green Bay, New England and Seattle advancing. This prediction pertains to victory only: I don't know the lines, and the Baptist in me won't even look. 

Very holy of you.

Since the current playoff format was adopted in 1990, home teams in the divisional round are 70-26, a 73 percent winning figure. That's well north of the 57 percent rate at which NFL home teams won 2014 regular season contests.

Two things:

1. The 73% win rate for home teams in the divisional round is not the surest bet in sports. There are more sure bets in sports. I listed some above.

2. Comparing the 73% win rate during the playoffs to the 57% win rate during the regular season is a bit misleading. The team that gets the home game in the divisional round is almost always a team with a better record than the visiting team. The home teams in the divisional round got a week off because they have the two best records in their division. So the reason the 73% win rate is higher than the regular season rate of 57% is because during the regular season inferior teams are guaranteed to get eight home games and they will end up losing some of these games. In the divisional round of the playoffs, the home team is almost always a team with the better record, so that team is (theoretically) more likely to win the game due to this.

Gregg points this out, but I really wanted to point it out. Because comparing the playoffs and the regular season in terms of winning percentage for home teams isn't a great comparison.

For the divisional round, the reason the hosts are hosting in the first place is that they are the best teams.

Nope, not the best teams, just the team with the better record. There is a slight difference.

Seattle enters the divisional round on a 24-2 home stretch, while at 8-8-1, visiting Carolina is not even a winning team. If the Seahawks don't prevail, it will be the biggest upset since Appalachian State over Michigan.

If I were someone who didn't look at gambling lines then I probably wouldn't be talking about what the biggest upset may be. Stanford over USC when Jim Harbaugh was the Stanford head coach was a pretty big upset and if Carolina had beaten the Seahawks then it wouldn't have even been the biggest NFL playoff upset of the last 20 years. The Seahawks were favored by 11 points and since 1998 three teams have won the Super Bowl with higher point spreads against them. It would have been an upset, but not the biggest upset in NFL playoffs history, much less the biggest upset since Appalachian State over Michigan. That's an incredibly stupid comment to make, considering the NCAA Tournament has bigger upsets than Carolina over Seattle nearly every year. Of course, leave it to Gregg to be all, "I don't look at the point spreads" and then claim he can tell what the biggest upset since Appalachian State over Michigan may be.

New England. In the postseason at New England, Bill Belichick is 1-2 versus the Ravens, 11-1 versus all other teams -- and Baltimore heads to New England for the divisional. Nonetheless, TMQ foresees a Flying Elvii triumph.

TMQ sees a Patriots triumph because they are at home and for no other reason. It's like foreseeing a Patriots triumph because their coach doesn't dress like it's freezing outside when it is freezing outside. The result may end up being accurate, but the reasoning leaves something to be desired.

The Patriots finished fourth in points scored, eighth in points allowed, tied for second in give/take. That's strong. New England is 122-38 since the start of the 2005 season, most wins by any NFL club in that period.

Come on Gregg, start quoting how the Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since Spygate as if they are being punished for their transgressions still. It used to be that Gregg would point out how the Patriots can't win the Super Bowl since Spygate occurred, but I guess he's backed off that once he realized how incredibly stupid he sounded. Now Gregg has started touting what a great team the Patriots are without mentioning the "curse" he used to claim was holding the team back from success.

Belichick knows it will not be long until Tom Brady's magazine modeling agent means more to him than any football coach: if there is to be another Brady-Belichick ring, now's the time. And if the Patriots win this weekend, they play the AFC title game at home.

Which was all part of Bill Belichick's plan to win as many games as possible during the regular season to ensure this would happen. He's quite the gambler in that way.

The red flag for the P-Men is a recent trend of late swoon. In the last seven seasons, New England is 84-28 in the regular season followed by 4-5 in the postseason. Perhaps when Belichick and Brady draw nigh to another Super Bowl appearance, weariness sets in.

Yeah, that's probably it. I'm sure this has nothing to do with the postseason simply being a crapshoot due to one game deciding whether a team advances to the next round or not.

The Packers finished first in give/take and first in points scored. Aaron Rodgers hasn't thrown an interception at home since 2012. Green Bay hasn't punted in the first half at home in four consecutive outings. The Packers' worry is that their super-precise passing attack tends to peter out over the course of a game, with Green Bay outscoring opponents 310-146 in the first half, then only 84-69 in the third quarter, then being outscored 92-133 in the fourth.

For a smart guy, Gregg sure can be stupid at times. So after outscoring opponents over the season by 179 points over the first three quarters, the Packers get outscored by 41 points in the fourth quarter? Could this have something to do with the Packers running the ball more in the fourth quarter and the opposing team throwing the ball in an attempt to catch up while the Packers play a softer defense? Of course not. That would be a logical conclusion. So there is a good chance the Packers super-precise passing attack doesn't peter out as the game goes on, it's just fewer aggressive passing plays are called and the Packers run the ball more.

In fact, if Gregg spent less time spouting nonsense and more time actually doing fucking research then he would see the Packers have run the football 16 more times in the second half and thrown the ball 90 fewer times in the second half as compared to the first half. THAT is the reason they get outscored in the fourth quarter, along with statistics that show the Packers' defense allows more adjusted net yards per pass attempt in the second half of games. So not only doesn't the Packers offense peter out more than it pulls back, the Packers defense is more responsible for the Packers getting outscored in the fourth quarter. The fact the Packers give up 133 points in the fourth quarter and 215 points in the other three quarters isn't the fault of the Packers' offense.

I did 5 minutes of research and found this stuff out, yet Gregg claims Green Bay's offense "peters out" in the second half. Why can't an intelligent person simply do research rather than make shit up and hope that it's true?

Denver. If there's to be a visitor victory in the divisional round, the Broncos seem most vulnerable. Denver has sputtered in the second half of the season, while falling in TMQ's Authentic Games metric -- see below.

Denver averaged 30.6 points per game during the first half of the season, while giving up 23.1 points per game.

Denver averaged 29.6 points per game during the second half of the season, while giving up 21.1 points per game.

But no Gregg, keep doing very little research and continuing to push the narrative that the Broncos were sputtering in the second half of the season. That 1 point per game less they scored while giving up 2 less points per game is a sure sign of sputtering. At what point does Gregg give enough of a shit to just do research to see if what he claims is accurate or not? There is an argument the Broncos didn't sputter in the second half of the season at all, especially since they lost two games during both the first and second halves of their season and they scored and gave up nearly the same amount of points in each half of the season.

Having won last season's AFC title contest against New England in Denver, the Broncos may be looking ahead to restaging that event in Massachusetts. They'd best keep focused on the Colts. Danger sign: Peyton Manning's 11-12 postseason record includes the most playoff losses ever by a starting quarterback.

Which also means that Manning has been good enough to make the playoffs consistently enough to lose the most playoff games ever.

Though TMQ calls the divisional round the surest sure-thing in sports, a week later in the championship round, homefield advantage dissipates. Since 1990, hosts in conference championship games are 29-19, a 60 percent winning figure, barely above the rate at which hosts win regular season games.

No. A 60% winning percentage at home isn't homefield advantage "dissipating." 6 out of 10 times the home team wins. That's a clear advantage. It's not a huge advantage, but it's an advantage. Gregg never fails to mislead his readers who want to read TMQ and not think about what they are reading.

Players leave everything on the field in championship contests, so home teams won't necessarily be the favorites.

But they do win the game 6 out of 10 times, favorites or not. Besides, how would Gregg know who the favorite is if he doesn't pay attention to the gambling lines?

Stats Of The Week No. 1: In the 2014 NFL regular season, the 1,000-yard mark was surpassed by 13 running backs -- and by 23 receivers.

Without context of a comparison to other NFL seasons this statistic means nearly nothing other than a recitation of facts. What's the takeaway supposed to be?

Stats Of The Week No. 7: New Orleans was 32nd in defense in 2012, rose to fourth in 2013, dropped back to 31st in 2014.

Rob Ryan everyone! If his name were Rob Guyton then he probably wouldn't have gotten another season with the Saints. Instead, the Saints are just going to give him more to work with. That's the issue.

Sweet Touchdowns Of The Week: Detroit leading 20-7 in the fourth quarter, the Boys faced fourth-and-goal from the Lions 1. The "safe" thing is to kick. But fortune favors the bold! Dallas went for it, touchdown.

Fortune favors the bold, unless the bold don't "do a little dance" or are bold in a way that Gregg Easterbrook doesn't like. In that case, fortune doesn't give a shit about the bold.

All that mattered was the fourth-and-1 decision. Fortune favors the bold, victories don't come in the mail, you need one yard, go win the game! Caldwell ordered a namby-pamby attempt to draw Dallas offside, then sent out the punt unit. Outraged, the football gods caused a 10-yard shank. Dallas went on to victory.

On the day, Detroit averaged 5.9 yards per offensive snap. Yet when the Lions needed one single yard to take command of a postseason game, Caldwell demurred.

I do agree with Gregg in this instance, though his reasoning that the Lions averaged 5.9 yards per offensive snap does ignore that fourth-and-1 is a different situation where this statistic isn't terribly relevant. Gregg consistently ignores situational down-and-distance when making his criticism of NFL head coaches not going for it on fourth down. Caldwell should have gone for it, but to say the Lions could have gotten one yard on fourth-and-1 because they averaged 5.9 yards per offensive snap on the day is bad reasoning.

Sweet 'N' Sour Play: Baltimore leading 23-15, the Steelers faced third-and-4 on their 26 midway through the fourth quarter. At a time when unorthodox defensive fronts have practically become common, Baltimore managed to show a wild look: one defensive lineman as a nose tackle, three overload blitzers far left of Ben Roethlisberger, three overload blitzers far right. But it wasn't a blitz, rather, a Steelers-style zone rush. At the snap, all three on the left came; only one came from the right; and the nose tackle dropped into coverage.

This wasn't a blitz, just a zone rush where the nose tackle dropped back in coverage, there was no defensive linemen rushing the passer and linebackers tried to sack the quarterback. It's totally different from a blitz and certainly couldn't be a zone blitz.

Flummoxed, Roethlisberger flipped a flare pass that bounced off Ben Tate's hands and was intercepted by Terrell Suggs. Ravens touchdown on the next play and the visitors would never look back. Sweet.

Roethlisberger was so flummoxed that he threw the ball to an open receiver who couldn't manage to catch the pass. Is it really Roethlisberger that was flummoxed on this play? It sounds like he knew where the ball needed to go.

With just one defender inside the area defined by the Steelers' offensive tackles, Roethlisberger simply could have run straight ahead, with a first down likely.

A first down was "likely"? Did Gregg even watch the game or did his "trade secret" employee who is responsible for watching each NFL game just relay this to him? How could Roethlisberger have run up the middle when there was a defender on him by the time he had dropped back? He couldn't have made the decision to run straight ahead prior to the snap because he had no idea a linebacker or two wouldn't drop back into the middle of the field and after the ball was snapped Terrell Suggs was in the middle of the field prior to intercepting the pass. Maybe Roethlisberger could have run for the first down, but a first down was not at all "likely" as Gregg inexplicably claims. Watch the game, Gregg. Just watch it and take time to know what are you writing before you actually write it.

TMQ shudders to think the 2016 election will pair Hillary Clinton versus Jeb Bush. As it is the United States presidential succession is Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama. If the 2016 race pits Hillary against Jeb, the country will be assured that four of the last five presidents came from the same two aristocratic landed families. This wouldn't be good for the republic. Pakistan will seem like an open political system by comparison.

This is an excess of hyperbole. If Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton are elected then the United States would simply have an open political system, simply an open political system dominated by two families.

Clinton did a fine job in the Senate and as secretary of state; she's highly qualified. My big worry is that she's an opportunist whose first priority is self-promotion, not the interests of the nation. One example: around the time she was leaving the White House as first lady, Clinton decried "a consumer-driven culture that promotes values that undermine both capitalism and democracy" while declaring the nation "being undermined by consumer capitalism."

Shortly thereafter, she bought a $1.7 million house and signed an $8 million book contract. In today's money, that's a $2.4 million house and an $11 million book contract. There's nothing wrong with nice houses or high income. What's disturbing is when a political leader pretends to be modest, urges other to be modest -- and then cashes in.

If being a hypocrite were to prevent a candidate from running for President then there would never be any candidates for President.

Bush did a fine job as governor of Florida and has the sort of hands-on economic experience many candidates lack; he's highly qualified. He presents himself to the electorate as someone whose ego is in check. My big worry: so did his brother.

Plus if Hillary becomes president, we'll face more years of Bill Clinton this, Bill Clinton that. If Jeb becomes president, we'll face more years of Bush family this, Bush family that. Regardless of their experience and skill, their last names should disqualify both: it would be healthy for the nation if neither were on the 2016 ballot.

While I don't know if I would vote for either candidate, if both are qualified to be President (in Gregg's opinion) then why should they be disqualified simply due to their last name? It's better for the United States to push qualified candidates out of the race rather than have a candidate with the last name "Clinton" or "Bush"? If anything, there needs to be more qualified candidates running for President, not fewer.

New Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula can't be thrilled they must pay departing head coach Doug Marrone an extra $4 million to do nothing. Marrone's contract contained a golden-parachute clause: if ownership changed, he could blow town, while receiving a $4 million bonus on top of any salary he may draw at a new coaching post. So you'd assume Marrone waved goodbye simply for a double-dip payday. More likely he knows he mismanaged the Bills and wants somebody else to deal with the problems he created.

Or more likely than that, he knew he would get paid to leave town and there would still be interest in him as the head coach of a different NFL team. He could get paid $4 million for leaving the Bills and get paid as the head coach of a different NFL team. Gregg would do the same thing in Marrone's situation no matter what he tells his readers.

In just two years at the helm, Marrone spent three first-round draft selections -- Buffalo's 2015 first choice is promised to Cleveland -- running up a debt for someone else to cover, like a politician who borrows without any plan to repay. 

Doug Marrone didn't make these decisions. In fact, he was reportedly very much against the decision to trade the 2015 first round pick for Watkins. Again, do some fucking research before spouting off bullshit in TMQ that you want your readers to believe simply because it fits some narrative that you have pre-packaged every week.

For the price of three first-round draft choices, plus a fourth-round pick, Marrone got just two players, EJ Manuel and Sammy Watkins. Manuel doesn't start. Watkins is a fine performer, but the Bills paid way too much for him. Several quality wide receivers were available in the 2014 draft: Buffalo panicked and overspent on Watkins though standing pat would have allowed Odell Beckham Jr. to drop into the Bills' laps. Most important, the NFL is a quarterback league. Marrone left the Bills with no quarterback nor any 2015 first-round choice to employ in search of one.

These weren't solely his decisions. Buffalo has a General Manager who makes decisions like this.

Marrone went along with panicky personnel decisions, failed to develop a player at the league's most important position, stripped the franchise of future draft picks then whistled a merry tune as he skedaddled with a multimillion-dollar bonus. Nice work if you can get it.

I won't defend Marrone's record in Buffalo. Still he "went along" with panicky personnel decisions? What was Marrone supposed to do when the GM wants to make this trade? Quit? That's essentially what he did when he was given the chance. So Gregg criticizes Marrone for making decisions that he alone didn't make, then claims Marrone "went along" with these decisions when his only other option was to quit, which he eventually did...which Gregg again criticizes him for.

Postscript No.2: Watkins caught 65 of the 128 passes targeted to him, or 51 percent. Jordy Nelson caught 98 of 151 (65 percent), Antonio Brown caught 129 of 182 (71 percent). Nelson and Brown were receiving pinpoint passes from franchise-caliber quarterbacks. Buffalo's two quarterbacks were so inaccurate, Watkins was chasing passes that sailed far beyond his reach or clanged into the ground.

Watkins was also a rookie wide receiver while Antonio Brown and Jordy Nelson are more veteran receivers. I don't even understand what Gregg wants to prove here. The Bills need a franchise quarterback? Yes, of course they do.

"Trailing in the fourth quarter, Marvin Lewis sent in the kicking unit. TMQ wrote the words 'game over' in his notebook. Victories don't come in the mail, play to win, don't play to avoid losing!"

Right, because the game wasn't already over at that point. The Bengals were down 16 and couldn't move the ball, but there was hope. The hope was extinguished by this choice to not going for it on fourth down.

After last year's Cincinnati postseason flameout, I noted that as Lewis sent in the kicking unit, Andy Dalton passively trudged off the field: Brett Favre would have demanded the coach go for it. "Next season, Dalton needs to become a leader," your columnist opined. Sunday, when Lewis sent in the punting unit on fourth-and-short in Indianapolis territory, Dalton passively trudged off the field. 

After last year's flameout when Gregg suggested that Dalton yell at Lewis for sending in the kicking unit, I suggested that perhaps Dalton undermining his coach in front of the team isn't showing leadership. How is Gregg to know that Dalton didn't privately demand Lewis go for it next time when they were standing on the sidelines? Gregg has no idea if Dalton did this or not. Second-guessing the head coach in front of the team and the national television viewing audience isn't leadership.

Wonder why Dalton is 3-11 in playoff and primetime games? At this point Cincinnati backers must accept: Dalton is never going to become a leader.

Yelling at the head coach isn't leadership.

Oregon posted scoring drives of 0:21, 1:24, 1:32, 2:01, 2:11, 3:00 and a poky-puppy drive of 4:45. Though Florida State had significant extra time to rehearse for the Blur Offense, the Seminoles' defense seemed stunned, the front seven "sucking air" -- gasping for breath -- by midway through the second quarter.

They may have been prepared for it, but it doesn't mean they were capable of stopping it. There is a difference in preparing for the Blur Offense and actually being able to get off the field against the offense.

Oregon style muddle-huddle deuce plays should be employed in short field goal attempt situations.

Oregon has a snapper, holder and kicker at the center; three blockers and one back wide on each side. If there are less than four guys across from either outside set, the snapper hikes to the holder, who throws to the back on that side; if both sets are properly defended, Oregon kicks. That both sides often aren't properly defended -- they weren't by Florida State, two points scored -- suggests the muddle-huddle would work at least sometimes in the pros. But NFL coaches don't want to use this set, or the similar swinging-gate set, for status reasons. At press conferences they don't want to hear, "You're using college trick plays."

So this is why NFL teams don't use this formation? NFL teams are fine with hiring college coaches who bring their college offense and offensive philosophies to the NFL, but they just don't want to be seen as running college trick plays? That's what I am to believe it seems. I think if NFL teams are fine with hiring coaches who are from college and intend to bring their college philosophies with them to the NFL, then those NFL teams would be fine using college trick plays.

The Alabama-Ohio State side of the semis came down to one team being bold while the other played it "safe," and just saying those words tells you what you need to know. 

No, because you didn't say which team was safe and which team was bold.

Well into the 2012 regular season, John Harbaugh fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. This move, viewed as shocking at the time, seemed to fire up the Ravens, and proved essential to their Super Bowl run.

It was shocking and Gregg claimed at the time that John Harbaugh was shifting blame off him on to Cam Cameron. It's interesting how Gregg leaves out any criticism he had at the time about this move. Well, it's not interesting, this is just a typical thing Gregg does in an effort to mislead his readers and remove any information from a discussion that may end up making him look bad. Ego before all else. Mislead readers and leave out information that may make Gregg look bad while linking information in TMQ that makes Gregg look good. Here's what Gregg wrote at the time:

And it wasn't just players who quit. Many coaching staffs quit on Sunday's games, too. Norv Turner, job in jeopardy, nevertheless looked bored on the sideline as his charges were embarrassed at home. Chan Gailey has acted all season as though he was fired last season. John Harbaugh was more concerned with shifting blame than fixing his team.

By firing Cameron now -- rather than this past offseason, when the offensive coordinator position could have turned over in an orderly manner -- Ravens coach John Harbaugh sent the signal that he expects yet another playoff collapse and wants an excuse lined up. At the postgame media event following the playoff collapse Harbaugh/East appears to expect, he can blame Cameron for the team's troubled offense. Firing an assistant coach just before the playoffs isn't a bold move to invigorate the team. It's a desperate move about blame shifting. 

Then Gregg later wrote this:

John Harbaugh fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron midseason, trying to make the Ravens' plodding offense his fault: though Baltimore averaged 25 points under Cameron, and has averaged 23 points since. 

But now this move that was about blame shifting in 2012 was "essential" to the Ravens' Super Bowl run. Will Gregg mention that the shocking move John Harbaugh made in 2012 endured the boring "blame shifting" criticism from Gregg? Of course not, because it worked out. Gregg has no beliefs, simply criticism based on whether something works or not. Gregg didn't think this shocking move would work in 2012, but now he's touting the move as "essential" to the Ravens' Super Bowl run. Will Gregg mention his criticism of Harbaugh for blame shifting and how he accused Harbaugh of giving up on the season? Of course not! That's Gregg Easterbrook. When he's correct, it gets linked, when he's wrong it never gets mentioned again in an effort to cover up for the fact his bullshit "blame shifting" criticism isn't always accurate.

Next Monday's inaugural CFP title tilt will pit Oregon versus Ohio State -- which along the sidelines means sex-bombshell cheerleaders versus cheerleaders in traditional outfits.

Hopefully Gregg won't be too distracted by the sight of exploited women who are half or one-third his age that he doesn't pay attention to what happens on the football field. I'm kidding of course. Even if Gregg watches the whole game (or has his "trade secret"/employee watch the game for him) then he still will have inane observations that have the potential to be inaccurate.

Owing to its Nike-driven marketing focus, Oregon has led college sports both toward dazzling flashy uniforms and helmets, and toward scantily attired cheerleaders. Is the latter a good idea?

I don't know, they are cheerleaders. What they wear is irrelevant to me when I'm watching a football game.

Professional cheerleaders ought to exude sex appeal. They are after all professionals, and the dancing girl who shows lots of skin has a long history in entertainment, at least as far back as vaudeville. High school cheerleaders should not show skin.

So the same cheerleaders who Gregg believes are exploited by the NFL should be further exploited by exuding as much sex appeal as possible? After all, it IS their job and they are specifically hired/exploited (in Gregg's opinion) to do this job.

Obviously teens will have sex on the brain no matter how often adults wag their fingers, but sexualizing high school sports is a step one hopes is never taken.

But if high school cheerleaders don't show skin, then how will Gregg know if they are showing the proper amount of cheerleader professionalism required for their high school team to win the game?

That leaves college cheerleaders. They're adults legally, and sociologically more like grown-ups than kids. College women should make their own choices about everything, including whether they want to dance half-naked on national television. But considering that football factories are already exploiting players for income, should colleges also sexualize their cheerleaders in order to rev up crowds and ratings?

Do college cheerleaders who wear less clothing really rev up the ratings for a game? Are there people who watch a football game specifically to see 30 seconds of each team's cheerleaders? I can't believe Gregg believes college cheerleaders who wear less clothing will rev up ratings. I'm dubious about this claim.

Tweet your views to @EasterbrookG.

Tweet your view to Gregg so he doesn't feel bad when he's ogling a 19 year old college student who should make her own choice about anything, like for example, whether she wants to date a 61-year old man. Make Gregg feel better about himself and his urges to find these women sexy. It's not pervy, it's normal and Gregg has the Tweets to prove it!

Bart Starr Can Only Dream Of Under Armour Cold Gear: Not many teams that stage a 99-yard touchdown drive, then lead by 13 points in the second half and go on to lose: Detroit found a way.

That's a pretty specific set of criteria a team must meet, so I would say this doesn't happen often.

Falling behind 24-20, the Lions got the ball back on their 23 with two minutes remaining, holding two timeouts. Here's what happened: short pass, short pass, deep incompletion, short pass, short incompletion, short pass, short pass, fumble and Dallas sends in the victory formation. Seventy-seven yards were needed and every call save was a short pass -- that's the "safe" thing! Ye gods.

I'm sure the Lions never thought to throw the ball deep in this situation. I'm sure it never crossed their mind. If only Gregg Easterbrook were around to remind the Lions to throw the ball deep late in the game when needing to score a touchdown.

Does Gregg really believe the Lions were trying to do the safe thing by throwing short? Does it get through his thick skull that the Lions couldn't go deep because the Cowboys had taken the deep ball away? Matthew Stafford could have just thrown the ball deep, but it very well could have resulted in a turnover. I joked on Twitter the Lions should just throw it deep to Calvin Johnson, but it's not always possible to just sling a deep pass. It's not that the Cowboys expected short passes, it's just they wanted the Lions to throw it short. The Lions were not being safe, they were trying to score without committing a turnover.

Authentic Games Standings: Carolina may have reached the divisional round but still isn't included. How can an NFL team that does not have a winning record in January be considered Authentic?

Because the Authentic Games Standing are a farce?

Today's column lead notwithstanding, the Authentic Games index warns of an Indianapolis upset at Denver.

So for those of you keeping score (me), that is three Super Bowl predictions from Gregg AND he just picked the Broncos to beat the Colts, but wants to warn his readers that the Colts could beat the Broncos. What the fuck does this even mean? "Today's column lead notwithstanding," does that mean "My previous opinion not withstanding"? So ignoring Gregg's previous opinion, here is another opinion. There are two options. The Colts could beat the Broncos or the Colts could lose to the Broncos. Gregg Easterbrook has managed to now predict both outcomes could occur. Thanks for the contribution, now go away.

The funny part is I just know Gregg is going to take credit for whatever happens in the Colts-Broncos game. He'll be sure to crow about how right he was either way, notwithstanding the fact he essentially predicted that both possible outcomes could occur, so he really predicted nothing.

On third-and-1 in the fourth quarter, zebras called defensive pass interference against Dallas. They began walking off the foul to set up a Detroit first-and-10 on the Dallas 34, which would have put the Lions in command. Then referee Pete Morelli announced, without explanation, that he was picking up the flag.

Key issue: Was there pass interference? TMQ thinks no. Despite the popular misconception, NFL pass defenders do not need to turn to the ball -- face-guarding is legal in the pros. (It's not legal in NCAA or NFHS play; these kinds of confusions are one reason football rules should be simplified and standardized.) Boys linebacker Anthony Hitchens made contact with Lions receiver Brandon Pettigrew, but the contact seemed incidental.

Key fact about the play: Pettigrew was never open. Hitchens had him tightly covered all the way down the field. Defensive pass interference usually entails a desperate defender trying to prevent an open man from making the catch. Hitchens had Pettigrew so well covered that incidental contact was inevitable.

There is a very thin line between covering a receiver so well that incidental contact is inevitable and covering a receiver to where the incidental contact is part of the coverage and means this is pass interference. Hitchens had his hands on Pettigrew as the ball got closer to him. It didn't seem like incidental contact to me and Mike Pereira seemed to agree.

I can understand why Lions fans are salty and Gregg's explanation doesn't make sense to me. It wasn't incidental contact because Hitchens was extending his arms out to grab Pettigrew with his hand away from the football. He wasn't fighting for position to make the catch and this wasn't incidental contact to me. Of course, Pettigrew did have his hand on Hitchens facemask as well.

Next Week: If right about the divisional round, I will say I told you so. If wrong, I will change the subject.

Oh, don't I know it ever so well. 


Anonymous said...

Ben, this has nothing to do with TMQ, but what do you think of the Bills hiring Rex Ryan? I know you get on Rob Ryan a lot, but Rex is basically the same thing. He's a sub-.500 coach who is somehow the first off the market. Rex Ryan has never coached a good offense, or developed a QB, and those are exactly the areas that the Bills need to improve in. The Bills already have a good defense, and should have just left Jim Schwartz alone on that side of the ball. This hiring makes zero sense to me, except that the "Ryan" name somehow mesmerizes everyone. Which is funny because the patriarch Buddy Ryan was an overrated coach himself who never won jackshit without the '85 Bears defense.

Seriously though, the Bills just hired a guy who has a proven track record of not being able to develop QBs at a time when they absolutely need to develop a QB. Rex Ryan allowed Marty Mornhinweg to run wildcat plays for Bilal Powell (!?), and this is somehow going to improve the Bills offense. They already had an excellent defense, leave Schwartz alone! Ugh, such stupidity in my opinion.

I'm also looking forward to someone hiring Adam Gase as head coach. His offense turned to rubble without Peyton Manning playing at a Hall of Fame level, but I'm sure he's very qualified.

Anonymous said...

We're not the only one who deem Gregg to be creepy re: ogling, and apropos to his Baptist upbringing, he takes great umbrage at that:

Ericb said...

Just curious how you came to pick the Triassic Period as your go to very olden times joke. I'm actually quite fascinated with the Triassic (thought technically speaking is isn't part of "recorded history", more like pre-history.

Anonymous said...

Man, he even misrepresents his own religion. Baptists aren't against sex, just sex outside of marriage.

Chris said...

Perhaps I'm going too deep down the rabbit hole with Gregg but why does he still tout his Authentic Game "metric" even though he himself admitted it's basically complete bullshit?

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, it's an interesting hire for the reasons you listed. I know they just tried an offensive guy, but the offense is the issue. Maybe they are hoping Ryan can provide leadership and get the offense turned out? I don't know. He never really did that with the Jets.

I don't hate the idea of hiring Rex Ryan, but for the Bills I don't love the idea. Seems like a bad hire to me. Especially since John Fox is now available.

Adam Gase. I wouldn't touch him until I've seen him without Manning. I'm weird that way.

Gregg did take umbrage. That's not being morally superior, that's just responding to what Gregg writes in TMQ. It has nothing to do with morals, but has to do with an apparent fascination in middle-age with cheerleaders. It comes off as creepy.

Eric, it's Gregg's fault. He wrote this in a TMQ,

"In other football-academics news, Nina Mandell of USA Today reports Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss boasted that his team's overall GPA of 2.57 was highest "in recorded history" of Rebels football. So first, we don't know what Ole Miss football GPA was like during the Triassic Period."

A commenter used that phrase and I told him I was going to steal it. It's supposed to be a callback to something stupid Gregg wrote. I'll grow weary of it soon enough.

Anon, oh I know that. I grew up around very many Southern Baptists. Gambling wasn't ever on the discussion list, but premarital sex definitely was.

Chris, because he wants his metric to be seen as not complete bullshit if it happens to get the Super Bowl pairing correct. If it's not correct, then it's bullshit.