It's 888 Miles to Chicago...
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We’re another weekend closer to the big game.  Each hour brings us closer to crowning a champion of the NFL, but as Wade Philips has pointed out, the best team doesn’t always win.  So how can we truly take the Super Bowl seriously anymore?  My whole existence has been called into question.  Either that or Mr. Philips is not playing with a full deck.

Despite the fact that the Bears weren’t playing, my daughter watched a large portions of the games with me this weekend.  She sat in my lap or next to me…with breaks to run around the room, jump on the couch, or reorganize the DVD collection.  It makes the weekend a lot more fun, especially hearing her commentary on the game…

She was extremely excited about the Packers Seahawks game, because of the snow.  She kept saying, “Look at all that snow!  There’s so much of it!”  She was just captivated by the snow, and the game being played in it…even more so than when it snowed here a few days later.  I guess, once you see an NFL game played in the snow, all other snow just pales in comparison.

On Sunday, her favorite expression was “Wow, good play”.  Which she used correctly more times than not.  We ordered pizza, and I setup her little tray table in the Family room so we could watch the game while we ate.  I was in the kitchen grabbing a slice of pizza, when I heard her say “Wow, good play”…racing back into the room, I caught the end of Darren Sproles TD run.  She looked and me and said, “He got a Touchdown Dad, it was a good play.”  Pride is not a strong enough word for that moment….

Finally, during the games at one point, she was sitting in my lap, and the game went to commercial.  She said, “Commercials are boring.”  I agreed, and said “The game will be back on in a bit.”  Once the game came back on, she simply said, “Football is a good movie.”

Couldn’t agree more, football is a good movie.

Let’s take a look at the games that already happened, before we get to the games that are coming up.

Packers 42 Seahawks 20

The Shootout in the snow…didn’t that just make you want to run out onto that field and join in the fun?

Man, Ryan Grant wrote the book on how to go from Goat to Hero in less than 2 hours.

Although Atari Bigby played an awesome game as well.  These two guys just played their hearts out, and pushed the Pack onto the championship game.

But any discussion of the Pack would be incomplete with out talking about the man, Mr. Favre.  The scrambling, almost falling over, under hand throw to Donald Lee was a thing of beauty, and vintage Favre.  But his best play was noticing the incorrect spot of the ball on the big screen…by doing so, the Pack gained an extra foot…but that was the biggest foot of the game.  It shot life into the Pack, and sucked it right out of the Hawks.

Coming soon to the free agent scrape heap near you, Shaun Alexander!  Wow, every time he got the ball, he wasn’t looking for the hole; he was looking for who was going to hit him.  When he would get through the line, instead of kicking it into another gear…he would brace himself for impact.  Just sad to see him fall this far.  In 2005, he was just a blast to watch…because he would be held in check for awhile, and then BOOM…he’d take one to the house.  Now…well…yeah.

Finally, 2 stats tell the whole story…

The Seahawks have 1 road playoff win…that’s 1 folks.

The Hawks ran for 20 yards on the ground…the Pack? 234 yards.  Enough said.

--Commercial Break--
Miller Lite – Dalmatian Commercial

Okay, this commercial has got me stumped…maybe I’m over-thinking it…

There is almost no taste difference between Bud Lite and Miller Lite

Does the dog drink?  Why else would he jump ship?

So the dog would rather be in the cab of a truck than riding on a horse –drawn wagon?  All so he can be closer to beer he doesn’t drink?

--End Break--

Patriots 31 Jaguars 20

If ever there was a game that mirrored Madden, this was it.  The Patriots scored on nearly every possession.  And you knew when the Jags had to settle for a FG, they were starting to lose the game.  Just like in Madden, when you’re playing against a buddy…and you guys are trading scores, and then all of a sudden, you slip up and have to kick…the game totally changes right there.  Suddenly, to keep pace you start having to take crazy risks, because you know he’s going to score every time…and it all slowly unravels….

Case in point…if Northcutt doesn’t drop that sure touchdown, this is a totally different game.  But once Jacksonville fell behind the pace, it was just a slow death.

Brady played a complete game.  Besides amazing passing numbers, he had 2 of the prettiest play action fakes, and threw a heck of a block on the Welker end around.  The guy is more than just a great QB, he’s a great football player.

Don’t look now, but with a healthy Maroney, the Pats have a legit running game.  Just what the remaining 3 teams wanted to hear.

Here’s a simple plan for the Jags…find a way to get Jones-Drew the ball more often.  That guy is a special player.  Make him the center piece of the offense, and get Garrard some more grooming in the offense…and this will be a special team.

--Commercial Break--
Burger King – Whopper Freakout

What exactly is the point of this commercial?  “Hey, we’re Burger King, we know how to jerk around our customers and make it so they don’t want to come back!  Woooohoooo!”  I get the whole candid camera thing, but I don’t get how kick you customers in the jimmy is an advertising strategy…
--End Break--

Chargers 28 Colts 24

The Colts missed Dwight Freeney.  They had zero pass rush against the Chargers, which was a huge part of why the Colts are going home.  You give any QB time to sit in the pocket, and they will pick you apart.  Case in point?  Billy Volek led the game winning drive…you’ll never again see the words “Billy Volek” and “Game-winning drive” together in the same place.

It’s sad, but the biggest take away that I have about the Chargers?  They’re a whiny group of players.  They spent a majority of the game complaining, and whining.  They seem more worried about talking smack than playing half the time…and River running over and screaming at the Colts fans after the game was over?  Not only was that classless, but it showed a real lack of leadership and composure on his part.  Um, Philip, you ever hear of the expression, “act like you’ve been there”?  That’s not how you do it.

The game is on the line…and you’re 2 star offensive players are on the sideline.  Correction…they are STANDING on the sideline.  Why?  You lose this game, you go home…why weren’t they out there?  I’ve seen players play on 1 good leg…play when they’re so sick they throw up between plays…and yet these 2 guys are standing, and they aren’t on the field?  Wow….

The Colts are in for an interesting off-season…Dungy might be leaving…and with that what happens to the rest of the staff?  Plus, Harrison sat out the end of the game, so what’s his future?  Stay tuned Colts fans.

--Commercial Break--
Sprint – Manning’s Mind

“As soon as Manning thinks it, you see it.”
Man, if only this were true…I would love to see his thoughts after this week’s game…

“What in the heck is Marvin doing on the sideline?”
“Why can’t I face our pass rush?  I could throw for 800 yards!”
“God I want to trade places with Brady…that little jerk.”
“Man, Philip Rivers is a jerk.  Good lord you pansy, act like you’ve been there.”

--End Break--  

Giants 21 Cowboys 17

As stated in this picks post last week, the Cowboys lack a leader.  When TO is the de facto clubhouse leader, you have serious issues.

This game was over at half time, when Wade Philips said, “The defensive plays that were called were correct, the execution was the problem”.  Wade, that is a first class moron thing to say.  The correct thing to say is “We need to execute better”…that shares the blame across the team.  When you say it your way, what comes across is “Hey, I’m calling the right plays, you morons aren’t doing your jobs.”  When I heard that comment, the first thing out of my mouth was, “Wow, the Giants are going to win this”.

Not to beat a dead horse, but Tony Romo has got to learn how to play in the playoffs.  He just looked horrible out there.  He was flustered, agitated, and rattled.  And it showed in the way the Boys offense played.  Tony, get game film of Brady, Montana or Elway…watch how they played in similar situations.

Kudos to the Giants for making due with a makeshift secondary, and for finding a way to put pressure on Romo when it counted.  And Wade, part of being the best team, is making the plays when it matters…and making the adjustments when they are needed…your team did neither.

--Commercial Break--
Old Spice – The Slide

What?  Does his deodorant allow him to overcome the laws of friction and motion?  Does his unfunny banter do it?  I’m confused as to why this works in any way…but according to the YouTube page, I’m in the minority…
--End Break--  

A running theme through all those games is that the team that won, kept it’s composure…while the team that lost, well…except for the case of the Chargers, who didn’t seem to have any composure to begin with…anyway, on with the picks!

San Diego at New England
Sunday on CBS at 3pm

The road trip is a rite of passage for most folks.  Everyone remembers the first road trip they made with friends.  And everyone has some great story about the trip.  The journey to a destination is always where the most fun is had, the return trip is always focused on “just getting home”.  There are 3 major road trips in my life…

Letterman
In college, using the magical internet, I scored tickets to the Letterman show.  So that summer, my cousin and I jumped in a Geo Metro (an extra car the family had, we seem to collect cars on their last legs) and drove from Chicago to New York.  This trip was marked by the fact that the tape deck didn’t work in the car…and the portable stereo my cousin brought stopped working completely once we were about an hour outside of Chicago.  Trying to tune in a decent radio station while flying down the interstate is not an easy thing to do…so we had to make conversation…which was fine, we were out on the road for the first time, it was a blast.  The non-working stereo?  It was thrown out the window some where in Pennsylvania I believe.  We have a great picture of it crashing on the road behind us.  For the return trip, we bought a new stereo in Scranton, PA…it was a life saver.

Seattle
After college, my brother and I loaded up my Chevy Cavalier, and drove from Chicago to Seattle.  My brother was just along for the ride, but for me it was a journey to start my life.  I had installed a new CD player in the car a few months prior, and so the trip had a theme song (Gin and Juice as covered by the Gourds).  The trip was marked by us running out of gas in Montana briefly, but getting back on the road, and still making it to Seattle a lot quicker than we thought.  There was no return trip on this one…so there was no need for a dreary drive back…but the car was destroyed by a UPS truck shortly afterward.

Super Bowl
Last February, I drove from Orlando to Miami for the Super Bowl.   Krish and I had gotten tickets to Orlando because they were a ton cheaper, and then rented a car and drove to Miami.  The car was brand new, had a CD player…but had not auxiliary jack to plug in our MP3 players…so for awhile, Krish setup his laptop in the back seat and played some Johnny Cash tracks to get us in the mood.  The trip was marked by using our cell phones to try to score a better hotel room while we drove and Krish actually doing work on his laptop as we flew down the highway at 80 mph.  The trip back was a tiring one, we were worn out from all the activities of Super Bowl weekend, and were racing to make it in time for our flights home.

The goal for both these teams is to have a trip through the playoffs like the Seattle trip.  Pretty much everything goes right, and there’s no sad trip home.  You get to the top of the mountain and stay there till next season.  You quickly overcome any adversity you encounter, and achieve your goal.

The Chargers look to be heading down the path of the Letterman trip.  Rivers is hurt, and no one’s sure if he’ll play.  Tomlinson and Gates are banged up, and although they will both play, how effective will they be?  And the offense and defense have look good at time, and then horrible moments later in the playoffs.  The stereo doesn’t work, the car isn’t really in great shape, and it’s hard to find a good radio station.  The only difference?  They threw their radio out the window prior to the start of the season…just not sure if the replacement works correctly yet.

While the Pats look to be on the right path, if they fail…well, the trip will be eerily similar to the Super Bowl trip.  Lots of new fangled gadgets that didn’t help, a very workman like approach, and in the end, no Super Bowl glory.

This Chargers team has made a great run, farther than most thought they would get after they started the season like they did.  But the run is over.  Pats win.  The Chargers just don’t have enough in the tank, and the Pats are on a one way trip to glory.  But hey, this was better than Marty was able to get you, so that’s a plus Chargers fans.

--Commercial Break--
10,000 BC – Movie trailer

The first time I saw this, the sound was off…but my first thought was, “Wow, not even close…there isn’t a single thing that is historically accurate there.”  But maybe I was missing something with the audio…nope…not at all.  Then the kicker, when I saw it a 3rd time, I noticed “From the Director of Independence day and the Producers of Day After Tomorrow”…ah…now I know who I’m dealing with….wow…this one is going to be a stinker…I’ll catch it on cable.
--End Break--  

NY Giants at Green Bay
Sunday on FOX at 6:30pm

You sit motionless on the couch, mindlessly flicking through TV channels.  Millions of channels, and the best you have to choose from is ConAir and Air Force One.  You’d put a DVD in…but it’s so far away.  Then the grumbling starts in your stomach…you look at the clock…

10:30pm…

You head to the Fridge, and peer in.  The regular odds and ends greet you.  Left over meatloaf…bread…cheese…assorted condiments…Brown gravy from KFC…Milk, which should be good…a random beer…mayo…but nothing really jumps out at you and says “eat-me”.  You close the fridge, wander back over to the couch, and start flickin’ back and forth between ConAir and Airforce One.

11pm…

Giving up on the colossal waste of talent that is ConAir…you’re simply watching Air Force One now…but you’re eyeing Knight’s Tale that comes on in 30 minutes.  That grumbling won’t stop in your stomach though…so you head back to the fridge.  You open the door, hoping that something has changed, and when you realize it hasn’t…you quickly reach in, and shuffle things around.  Standing back, you now see that in the back corner there is a jar of pickles you missed before…and something that looks like pasta in the other corner.  Other than that…nothing and still nothing says “eat-me”.  You return to the couch.

11:30pm…

Knight’s Tale has just started, for some reason, it’s enjoyable.  Not in a “Hey guys, this movie is great you gotta see it” kind of way…or a “Man, Heath Ledger is hot” kind of way…more in a “This is way more enjoyable the HGTV!” sort of way.  And as you hit a commercial break, the grumbling starts again…and so like a good solider you march back to the fridge.  You stare at the fridge blankly…nothing has changed…and nothing looks good…you grab a couple pickles and gnaw on them while you head back to the couch.

12am…

The pickles aren’t doing it for you…and what’s more…you’re getting sucked into Knight’s Tale.  You have stopped changing the channel…and are sticking to this movie.  But that grumbling is still there…you head back to the fridge…same stuff.  You make a decision though…I’m eating something…but it’s a bleak out look…you stare into the empty void that is your fridge, searching for an answer…and then it hits you…

Remembering the Golden rule of late night cuisine…suddenly, all is not lost.

You quickly grab several containers, and a bowl, after some scrapping and mixing…and a quick nuke…you have a banquet fit for a king.  You return to the couch triumphant.

3am…

You awake on the couch in time to catch the beginning of Knight’s Tale again…but this excitement is short lived, as you rush to the bathroom to rid yourself of your previous feast.

Now you’re sitting there thinking, what is the Golden Rule of Late Night Cuisine?  Everything tastes great when covered in KFC brown gravy.  What containers were dumped in the bowl doesn’t matter; the magic is in the brown gravy.

This about sums up the Giants-Cowboys game…it seemed like both teams kept looking in the fridge and weren’t sure what they wanted.  Then finally, the 4th quarter came around, and the Giants went, “Brown Gravy!” and started getting pressure on Romo.  That approach won’t work on the Packers.

Why?  The golden rule with Green Bay?  Everything, and I mean everything, tastes better with a little Favre on it.  Wow…that didn’t come out completely correctly…hmmm….um…yeah, let’s just go with that.

Where Romo got flustered, Brett will just goto hot routes.  Where Romo tried to force the big play, Favre will get it to his WRs to make yards after the catch.  Where Romo whined to the refs and yelled in the huddle, Favre will crack a smile and a joke.  Trust me G-men, this ol’boy don’t rattle.

Oh, and don’t forget about Ryan Grant…that guy can run.

Brown gravy or not, this game looks to be a Packers Win.  The Giants have had a great season, one that even I can’t believe.  And this should be considered a job well done to make it this far.  Another year of maturity for Eli, some health for the secondary, and who knows….next year…well, brown gravy keeps pretty well.

--Commercial Break--
Rambo – Movie Trailer

Wait…but Stallone is like 800 years old?  Reading the plot summary…I’m still confused.  Is Danny Glover one of his cohorts?  And what’s with Stallone diving deep into his past?  First Rocky and now Rambo?  Does the phrase “Grow old gracefully” mean anything to you Sly?
--End Break--

A final thought…

My daughter is now in her second week of preschool.  She loves it.  When I get her up in the morning she gets all excited when I tell her it’s a school day.  And then yesterday, when my wife went to pick her up, my daughter said…

“It’s sad to leave.”

The whole car ride home she kept saying it…here we were thinking that this would be a hard thing for her…worried that this would be the first time she would be away from us, and after a week…

“It’s sad to leave."

But once again, she hit the nail on the head.  For every team still alive in the playoffs, it’s sad to leave.  But the fact is, 2 of you have to.  If you’ve made it this far, you’re in select company, but that’s what makes it that much harder to say good bye…how many time do you get to be this close?  All you fans of these 4 teams, cherish this moment right now.  Whether your team wins of loses on Sunday, cherish this moment.  It doesn’t happen often.

Ah football, it’s a good movie.

If you want a different take on football as a movie...then read Dan's Picks...trust me, it's a work of art. 

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