Nick: With another week before the Super Bowl, let’s spend the added time during the ‘bye’ by completely ignoring the Pro Bowl and the fact that the NFL has admitted its pointlessness: this year, the league will allow players to tweet mid-game from computers on each sideline. (I can’t wait for Arian Foster to light up the Twitterverse with some Zen observation about Hawaii.)

Instead of wasting more time on this glorified Arena Football League game beyond that previous paragraph, let’s delve into the nougaty center and creamy filling of this upcoming Super matchup: Eli Manning vs. Tom Brady, the creme de la creme of mano-a-mano quarterback showdowns. (Drew Who Dat? Favre’s backup? Meh.)

Both Manning and Brady led their teams all the way to the Super Bowl, but with the game still a week away from being decided, the hypothetical debate rages on: who would you rather go to war with, the younger Manning brother ready to usurp his brother’s throne (yes, I’m reading Storm of Swords, so sue me) or Tom Brady with his three rings and record-tying 16 playoff wins?

It’s pretty obvious whom I would choose. Between being an unabashed homer and the way I phrased that question, I think I can safely claim the crown for subtly (there I go again). So I’m curious, Mike: both as someone who hates Eli almost as much as Tommy Boy, and as someone who has to watch Mark Sanchez inept his way to impossible Peyton Manning rumors, which quarterback would you rather have in charge on the biggest stage in football (besides the annual London Classic, that is)?

Mike: I’d glad you’re already gearing up for a Pats-Rams showdown in London next year.

There’s no question I would like to have Brady at the helm for most situations and for most comparable categories. But for this situation — for this year’s Super Bowl — I want Eli. I want Little-Manning-Face.

I’ll start with his recent string of performances. Since putting up a real stinker of game against the Jets, which they still won somehow (I might lose half my hair by the end of this week), Eli has put up gems. He outshined Aaron Rogers in Lambeau Field. He picked apart a Rob Ryan defense. His worst performance of the last four games came against a fantastic defense. Over the Giants’ last four games, Eli has thrown touchdowns with consistency, totally eleven in all. In the playoffs, Brady hit six against the Broncos, then none against the Ravens. I’m going with the more consistent player.

Nick: I hear what you’re saying about taking the hot quarterback. I really do. But those “hot” performances came against the worst defense in the league, a Falcons team minus their top corner, and a Dallas defense without any secondary or other impact player besides DeMarcus Ware. (Last I checked, being a Ryan brother has no bearing on success. Oh wait, you’re a Jets fan, you already know that.) In other words, the same argument you used against Brady applies to Manning: he’s not as good against quality defenses. Go figure.

(Also, you can’t overlook the fact that he was gifted a win over the Niners by a shoddy early whistle on the Bradshaw fumble-that-wasn’t and the shoddy punt returning of Kyle Williams, times two. I don’t know if I would consider last week’s 32 for 58 performance to outplay Alex Smith as much of a momentum builder.)

Mike: I’m not even going to touch the officiating of those two games. Whatever happened, happened.

I get what you’re saying about Manning’s performances, but it doesn’t matter who it came against if the next game is against the worst defense in the league. I would gladly knock Eli if he were about to face the Steelers, but he’s not, he’s going from mediocre (at best) defenses to the worst. Look, if Joe Flacco can put together 300 yards and a 61% completion rate, I think Eli can do at least that.

Nick: Now the Patriots are far from a quality defense — that much I’ll admit. But their game plan last week was to make Flacco beat them. He almost did. This week their game plan will be focused almost solely on stopping the passing attack, since the Giants don’t even have a pretense at a running game (let alone Ray Rice). Eli could very well dissect the Pats secondary, but they won’t be giving him the throws they gave Flacco last week.

Plus, Eli has a track record of making awful decisions on the field, throwing picks and taking bad sacks, even intentionally grounding it in the end zone for a safety this postseason. I would be much more inclined to put my money on Brady’s postseason decision making than Eli’s. A little bit of pressure can go a long way with the poutiest Manning, especially after he got rampaged last week. And if you want to say two weeks is too long for him still to be rattled, then by default it’s too long for him to hold on to his “momentum” — a shaky concept to begin with (you can really only be as good as your last play), particularly in a sport that happens once a week.

Mike: Last week’s game is also the first win for the Patriots against a team with a winning record. In all of those games against winning teams, Brady did not play well. Brady threw for less than 200 yards against the Steelers and then tossed two INTs against both the Ravens and Giants. Yes, the Giants only beat one team that ended up with a winning record during the regular season, but Eli has handled three very good teams this postseason.

I think you have to take Brady on the statistical superiority he shows, but I’m going with the momentum Eli is feeling right now. The Pats may be riding a huge wave of wins going into the Superbowl, but I don’t think Brady’s performance is matching up with that 10-game streak.

Nick: I don’t care how backwards this thinking is, but after his own admission to having “sucked” last week (not enough has been made of that quote, apparently), I am not about to bet on Tom Brady putting up another stinker.

Mike: I’m no fan of the younger Manning brother, but Brady is going to face the toughest four-man rush in the entire league on Super Sunday. Eli is worse against the blitz, but Brady will actually be facing a legitimate rush led by Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Justin Tuck while having to parse a crowded secondary. I guess it’s going to come down to picking your poison: would you rather your quarterback suffer a couple of sacks or possibly throw an interception? Something is telling me we’re going to see a handful of both this game.

Nick: I don’t plan on Brady losing twice to the Giants in two games (both this season and in Super Bowl showdowns). I may have put up my Belichick hoodie blinders, but I just don’t see Brady allowing those two 0-2 records to happen.

He will show up for such a big game, and he shall prevail. I hope.

Mike: Brady always shows up for games. His poor numbers in losses and last weekend I would never attribute to Brady “not showing up.” I think he was shut down. It had nothing to do with his will or concentration. Tom Brady is one of the most competitive quarterbacks in the league. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll show up for this game and that the stupid (and I mean really fucking stupid) interceptions he threw against the Ravens will not be as profuse. But some teams just match up well against him. And in the defense vs. quarterback match-up department, I’m giving Eli the slight edge.

Nick: As long as you’re giving out edges, I’d like to give Eli the edge of Ned Stark’s sword. And I would only begrudgingly look him in the eye.

JD Drew and the Case of Retirement

Posted: January 26, 2012 by mzyohai in MLB, Opinion, Red Sox
Tags:

Mike: JD Drew retirement rumors are spreading like wildfire! Do you have any thoughts on the departure of this 8-time postseason player, who also appeared in the 2008 All-Star Game? Any parting words for the the Red Sox right fielder of the past 5 years?

Nick: Two years too late.

Mike: Two years too early.

They Call Me Melo Yellow

Posted: January 25, 2012 by mzyohai in Knicks, NBA, Opinion
Tags: , ,

Nick: For all his tongue-showing, finger-wagging, three-dropping, trade-forcing ways, Carmelo Anthony still appears to have a conscience that makes him feel remorseful, contemplative, and doubtful. What?

In his first meeting against his former team (and apparently the first time he’s spoken to former coach George Karl) since last season’s blockbuster trade, Anthony came up short as the Knicks lost in double overtime to the Denver Nuggets. With his team’s recent failure on his mind (not to mention Danilo Gallinari going off for 37 points to help the Nuggets to the third best record in the NBA since the trade), Melo engaged in some serious self-doubt in front of reporters, questioning whether or not he was taking too many shots on the floor.

To quote the man himself, “Maybe I need to not take so many shots. I don’t know. There’s just a bunch of stuff that goes through my mind. I’m just [trying to figure] out ways to make other guys better. Should I pass it more?”

So Mr. Knick (oh the irony! You know, since I’m Nick? You’re right, let’s move on). Is Anthony actually taking too many shots (he jacked up 30 in the loss to the Nuggets), or is Melo just missing too many of them (he only sank 10)? Read the rest of this entry »

Mike: Were you happy about that win? Bill Simmons seems to think that there could be no truly positive outcome for the Division Round match-up with the Broncos. Either the Pats handled business at home against a weaker team, or they didn’t do a good enough job, or they lost. Lucky for you and my playoff gambling, the Pats took care of business.

Nick: Are you kidding?

Mike: I’m not kidding.

Nick: I was ecstatic about this win.

Mike: The Pats were supposed to tool on the Broncos. I don’t know how much excitement you can take out of a game like that.

If the Pats beat the Packers with a hickory stick, I would totally understand your excitement. But it was the Broncos — a team that finished 8-8, which was good enough to take the title in the worst division in the league: the AFC West. I know you think that no game in the NFL is a gimme, but this was a game the Pats should have won; you’re just giving them credit for some shit they’re supposed to do.

Nick: We’re talking about the same Broncos team that managed to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, right? As you might recall, the Steelers were supposed to win that game. The Packers were supposed to win, too. How’d those games turn out? Besides, it’s a playoff win. The Patriots are playing for the AFC Championship. Of course I’m excited.

As you kindly haven’t let me forget, it’s been four years since I’ve tasted the sweet nectar of a playoff victory. I even made sure I bought Budweiser because that’s what I was drinking when the Pats took over in the second half of that Sunday night game against the Jets. Budweiser: my anti-jinx. So when the Pats jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the first quarter was half over, I couldn’t have been happier. When Brady had thrown for five touchdowns before the first half ran out? Bud heavy had never tasted so sweet.

This was exactly what we needed. A dominant win in the playoffs, with the offense firing on all cylinders and the defense actually making some stops. With the dread of a continued playoff drought over, it feels like I can breathe again. I can look towards the actual match-ups and rationally consider what the outcome will/should be, rather than assuming the cards are irreversibly stacked against New England as karmic retribution for giving the whole league the finger in 2007.

Mike: I’ll give you the psychic effect for the team — the momentum is a good thing. But… I guess there’s no way to not have momentum going into the championship game… either you’ve won one (or two) or you’re no longer in the playoffs. Whatever.

Nick: I’m not talking about momentum. I’m talking about ending a drought and reestablishing a mindset and culture of winning. I mean exorcising demons and getting monkeys off your back. You don’t think the Patriots are breathing a little easier with that first playoff win since ’07 under their belts?

Mike: Yeah, I guess you’re right. The Patriots always lack for confidence. Poor Brady needs to get that weight of having to prove something off his shoulders. What the hell are you talking about? The man has three Superbowl rings on his hand. He doesn’t have to prove shit. NFL players don’t put as much stock in the dribble of ESPN analysts as you do. Whatever, have it your way:  “Nobody believed in us!” “It was us against the world!” “Everybody thought the tuck rule was bullshit, but we did it!” Just whatever.

Even Tom Brady said last week’s performance doesn’t matter.

Nick: You don’t think they’ll be a little more relaxed and just play their game rather than feeling the pressure to perform? I know I am.

Mike: Please, you’ve been in a relationship for two years now. When was the last time you “performed?”

OK, now championship football begins. The Ravens are traveling up I-95 this weekend for a visit to Foxborough. It’s Brady’s laser-show offense versus one of the best defenses in the league.

So let the jokes about Rocca-Flocca-Flacco’s mustache begin. Can the Patriots overcome a defense as strong as the Ravens? Read the rest of this entry »

Mike: Nick, I’m sure you’re relishing the fact that I have to write this preview with you while my Jets are in utter turmoil. You probably assume that I’m already resigning myself to a Patriots romp through the AFC. But, it’s amazing what a week without Patriots football will do to your memory… it makes me super optimistic about

TEEEEEEEEBBBBBBOOOOOOOWWWWWW!

Wait. That didn’t work last time. Maybe a new rally call will do:

ONE AND DONE! ONE AND DONE! ONE AND DONE! ONE AND DONE!

So, let’s hear it, Nick. How are the Pats going to win their first postseason game since before our 21st birthdays?

Nick: Come up with all the lame rally cries you want, but I’m supremely confident that the Pats will handle business this Saturday in Foxboro. Well, maybe supremely confident is a bit of an overstatement, because I’m always pessimistic (particularly when it comes to Boston sports) and there’s a 10% chance that some Supreme Being is pulling some serious strings to make Tebowmania an official religion.

So how will the Pats win this game, you ask? The way they have won every game this year: offense, offense, and more offense. And the possibility that Tebow will complete 6 whole passes this week. Read the rest of this entry »

Week 17 Picks

Posted: January 1, 2012 by mzyohai in NFL, Picks
Tags: , , , ,

Well, last week didn’t go so well for Nick or myself. But it went better for me, so I’ll take back my rightful throne and condemn Nick to a week of silence while pornstars scantily clad in sexy nun outfits beat him mercilessly with yard sticks. OK, that’s not the worst punishment I can think up, but I can’t fully abuse my throne just yet, because I only won by a hair (for the record, it was a chest hair… because I have many more of those than Nick).

Yet, when I look at our overall records this year, it appears that I’ve destroyed Nick. Yes. In fact, there’ s a better chance of the Jets making the playoffs than of Nick going 11-5 this week while I go 5-11… and even then, the Green Mountain native would only tie my record. (Did I just make the same joke as Mike Florio from PFT? Crap.) So in honor of my inevitable regular season championship, let’s abuse the throne. Make the pornstars… MALE PORNSTARS!

Now that I have meted out justice, back to football. This is an exciting week. Not only is this the last week of the regular season, but it is also a week full of important games. First pick in the NFL Draft will be decided this Sunday. The NFC East Champion will be crowned this week. And every playoff seeding aside from the NFC’s top spot is still up for grabs.

See you in the post-season! Read the rest of this entry »

Nick: As it turns out, last week was probably your team’s Super Bowl. Sure, it was a game to decide who owned Dirty Jersey. But as we well know here at Rivals, bragging rights are bragging rights. You’ll take them any way you can get them, like a homeless man looking for returnables. In your “Super Bowl,” you lost. Badly. It marked the second time this season you couldn’t beat a team whose quarterback completed just 9 passes (Teeeebowwwww!). Anyway, the moral of the story is: your Jets probably won’t make the playoffs. Wah wah!

Mike: I refuse to let this preview be a eulogy for the Jets’ 2011 season. But given my state of disbelief and depression after witnessing last week’s buffoonery, I don’t know how long I’ll be able to stave off the blues in this one. Read the rest of this entry »