Friday, January 2, 2009

Mark Schlereth Sizes Up The Giants Potential Opponents

Every so often we are lucky enough to have "Mark Schlereth" write an NFL column for us, jam-packed with meaningless cliches and the word "FOOTBALL".

Today's topic: Who the Giants most want to play out of the 4 NFC teams active this weekend. Take it away "Mark"...

I'll tell you what fellas, there's nothing I look forward to more than the Wild Card Round of the Playoffs in The National FOOTBALL League. This is when teams put all their chips on the table and all of a sudden its DO or DIE. You get players puttin' their hard hats on and goin' to work, because that's what it means to be a professional FOOTBALL player in the National FOOTBALL League. You get guys stepping up in the big moment, putting their team on their back and leaving it all out there on the FOOTBALL field. You figure out who the guys who know how to win are, and who doesn't have what it takes to get the job done.

In my opinion the New York FOOTBALL Giants are the best FOOTBALL team in the National FOOTBALL League right now. They can run the FOOTBALL down your throat or Eli Manning can pick you apart. Here's how I think the other teams match up with the New York FOOTBALL Giants, with the threat they pose to the Giants, on a scale of one to four FOOTBALLS "(l)".

The Falcons: (l)(l)(l)(l)

Here's a great story. You got Matty Ryan, throwin' the pigskin around out there like he's still playing FOOTBALL at Boston College, you got Michael Turner runnin' the FOOTBALL, and you've got a good, solid defense out on the FOOTBALL field. See what happens when a team gets rid of a QB with a low FOOTBALL IQ, and replaces with someone who can make good decisions with the FOOTBALL? These guys are dangerous.

Cardinals: (l)(l)(l)

The Cardinals have got a great veteran leader that knows how to galvanize the clubhouse in Kurt Warner. They've got two of the best wide recievers in the National FOOTBALL League. I'm tellin' ya, these guys can really catch the FOOTBALL and make some plays downfield. The problem I've got with the Cardinals is that they werre 5-1 against the National FOOTBALL Conference West, but only 3-7 versus the rest of the National FOOTBALL League including a loss to the Giants. But with a proven leader like Kurt Warner, you can never count them out of a FOOTBALL game.

The Eagles: (l)(l)

Here's a FOOTBALL team, that when I look at them, I say "If they could get over their issues at QB and get a guy in there like Brett Favre, they could really be a dangerous FOOTBALL team". Donvan McNabb just doesn't have the awareness or ability to read defenses to play quarterback in the National FOOTBALL League.

The Vikings: (l)

When I look at the Vikings, I see a FOOTBALL team that the New York FOOTBALL Giants nearly beat with DAVID CARR leading the troops in the second half of that FOOTBALL game. Like the Eagles, Vikings clearly have a QB problem because the FOOTBALL is being snapped to a guy like Tavaris Jackson. He's not my idea of a lunch-pail, hard hat sort of a guy, and he obviously lacks the awareness and intelligence to lead a FOOTBALL team in the National FOOTBALL League.

So If I'm the New York FOOTBALL Giants, I'm looking at the Minnesota Vikings and saying "Here's a FOOTBALL team that I can punch in the mouth and really move the FOOTBALL on".

Thanks "Mark", I'm sure we'll hear from you again soon.

Eagles v. Vikings Preview

This late game on Sunday has plenty of storylines: Reid v. Childress, Westbrook v. Peterson, McNabb as a future Viking?, Reid’s last game? Are the Eagles this year's Giants?

The Eagles defense ranked 3rd overall in the regular season whereas the Vikings ranked 2nd. Versus the run, the Vikings were 1st while the Eagles were 4th. Therefore, expect this game to be won in the air. This benefits the Eagles, as the Vikings D ranked 18th against the pass compared to 3rd for the Eagles. McNabb is more experienced and despite having a tendency for throwing at the feet of his receivers, is less prone to turning the ball over than Tarvaris Jackson is. Expect 3 or more turnovers from the Vikings as a result of Jim Johnson stacking the box to stop APIII and complex blitzing schemes. The Eagles should have a fumble return for a TD or Pick 6.


Eagles: 24
Vikings: 10

Wow, I picked all 4 road teams to win.

Ravens v. Dolphins Preview

Baltimore’s Joe “Skinny” Flacco and John Harbaugh join Matt Ryan and Mike Smith as the second rookie quarterback/rookie head coach combination in the Playoffs this year.
Tony Sparano, prohibitive favorite for NFL Coach of the Year, and Chad Pennington, the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year, lead last year’s 1-15 Dolphins team while their respective former teams, the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets, who bailed on them are sitting home and whining about what went wrong.

This should be a low-scoring game thanks in part to Baltimore’s 2nd ranked defense. Miami needs to be opportunistic to win and score on a couple of Wildcat plays or a Ted Ginn Jr. kickoff return. I think Baltimore grinds it out and wins the most boring game of the Playoffs. Hey, at least the Pats aren’t playing.


Ravens: 17
Dolphins: 14

Analyzing The Giants Regular Season Stats

The NFL regular season has come and gone, and the Giants have locked up homefield advantage throughout. This week has been rather quiet in Giantsland, and until they find out who thier opponent is, it will remain quiet. So I'm going to take this opportunity to go over some of the G-Men's regular season results. I already mentioned the fact that they tied the record for fewest turnovers in a season, but here are some more interesting tidbits:
  • Domenik Hixon was actually their leading reciever, with 596 yards, followed closely by Toomer (580) and Plax (574). There were six guys with more than 30 catches and 384+ yards. That's what you call "spreading it around" folks.
  • Eli Manning had far an away his best season, throwing only 10 INTs and boasting a passer rating (86.4) 10 points higher than his next closest season. He was much more similar to the QB he was last year in the playoffs than he was during last year's regular season.
  • Much has already been said about Jacobs and Ward both going for over 1,000 yards on the season, but Ward also caught 41 passes for 384 yards, at 9.4 yards a pop. That wouldn't be a great average for a wide receiver, but remember that almost all of those passes are either screens or dump offs and he's getting a ton of yards after the catch.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw carried the ball for 355 yards on 67 attempts, the third RB averaging over 5 yards a carry, although this was certainly helped by his 77 yard near TD run against Baltimore (note: I'll have a post about this sort of thing in the next few days). He's excellent for a second year player and should be ready to take on a bigger role the next year when all signs point to the Giants losing at least one of their top two guys to free agency.
  • Tuck (12) and Kiwanuka (8) combined for 20 of the team's 42 sacks, down from 53 last year. The team really did miss Osi and Strahan, but still did an admirable job of getting to the QB.
  • After a slow start, the Giants came away with 17 interceptions, 3 more than 2007.

Should be a great weekend for Football... 4 games over two days and Joe's got the previews to prove it. Go Vikings.

Colts v. Chargers Preview

At the midpoint of the season one would think that it would be nearly impossible for one of these teams, let alone both, to get into the playoffs. Following off-season knee surgery, Peyton Manning was stinking up the joint early. The Colts broke out of the gate losing their first two games. After reaching 3-4, they won 9 straight to finish at 12-4, breaking their own record by winning 12 or more games 6 years in a row. Despite not putting up his normal numbers, 2008 MVP Manning provided invaluable leadership while key cogs such as RB Joseph Addai and SS Bob Sanders were hurt. Manning enters Saturday night’s game with a 70+% completion percentage in each of his last 4 games and without throwing an interception in December. The Colts finally appear to be healthy.

After referee Ed Hochuli screwed them on a call against the Broncos in Week 2, the Chargers appeared listless. Up and down all season, they lost 3 straight games in November to leave them at 4-8. Thanks in part due to the fire was lit in Phillip River’s ass after finding out that NFL Girly Man #1 Brett Favre beat him out for a Pro Bowl spot and the healing of LaDainian Tomlinson’s toe, the Chargers won 4 straight in December. They currently rival the Colts as the NFL’s hottest team. However, LDT now has a strained hamstring. Despite probably being available for Saturday night’s game, this is not exactly what the Chargers need. Expect Fake LT to be limited and for Darren Sproles to receive plenty of action.

The Colts and the Chargers are very familiar with each other; Saturday night’s affair represents the sixth time that they have met since 2004, with the Bolts winning four of those contests. In last year’s Divisional Round match up at the RCA Dome, the Chargers defeated the Colts before losing to the Patriots, who finished the season at 18-1. Earlier this season at Qualcomm Stadium, the Colts defeated the Chargers 23-20.

I expect this game to be won in the air by the Colts. San Diego’s passing defense is second-worst in the NFL. Give me 3 TDs by Manning—one each to Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Anthony Gonzalez—and one to Joseph Addai. Despite big games by Fake LT and Sproles, River’s brilliant stretch comes to end against the Colts, who have let up only six passing touchdowns all season.


Colts: 28
Chargers: 24

Falcons v. Cardinals Preview

Very comprehensive article about Matty Ice by Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson on the young career of the future perennial All-Pro.

Expect the AP Offensive Rookie of the year to have about 3 TDs and 250 yards in his playoff debut versus the Arizona Cardinals (who have given up 36 Passing TDs this year). However, the key to the game will be the Falcons ground attack. When Ryan has fewer than 30 passing attempts, the Falcons are 11-0. Another factor will be stopping the talented receiving duo of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, which can be accomplished by John Abraham getting pressure on Warner early and often.

Lucky draw for the Falcons considering that Arizona is last in the league in rushing and Atlanta's weakness is its Run D.


Atlanta: 31
Arizona: 24

Frank Deford: Old

Frank actually lives around the block from me on the Upper West Side. I know this because I see him walking a small, fluffy, white dog from time to time. He's surprisingly tall, in a rickety, stilt-ish sort of way and moves slowly and creakily over the sidewalks. That's how I know he's old.

For anyone else who would like evidence, I present this article he wrote for

So, yes, thank the Lord for the Yankees. With their seats selling for as much as $2,500 a game while they ask a struggling New York City for an additional $259 million in tax-free bonds to help finance their new stadium and while they sign free agents for well over $400 million — far more than the other 29 major league teams have spent cumulatively — the Yankees present themselves as the very model of arrogance and let-'em-eat-cakeness. Henceforth, I will be calling the Yankees the Antoinettes. You may wish to, as well.
Yes, friends, you may wish to refer to a modern sports team by the name of an 18th century Queen of France, but the person you are talking to will think you are insane. Here's the funny part: Her full name was Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna von Habsburg-Lothringen (thanks Wikipedia). Marie Antoinette was a Habsburg and since she was a female, her offspring wouldn't have been referred to as "Antoinettes" either. Unless there is an even more obscure family/person he is referring to, I'm pretty sure he just made this up.

If you want to make a hokey analogy comparing a European dynasty to the Yankees, how about the Medicis? The Medicis were probably the richest family in Europe during the 15th century, and used wealth attained by the Medici Bank to commission works of art by the greatest artists of that era including Michaelango, Donatello, Rafael and Leonardo. Actually, I just listed the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but they really did commission Michaelangelo.

I get the point of comparing the Yankees to a European dynasty. The money, the excess, the history... sure. But all the teams and their owners are ridiculously rich too and some are ever richer than the Steinbrenners. The Yankees exploit their advantages of history/tradition and market size and and use them to be consistently competitive on the field. What would happen if the Yankees had a payroll that blended in with the top 5 or 10 teams, something like $110-115 million? They would probably attract fewer fans. I highly doubt that these fans would want to root for a different team, they most likely just wouldn't be baseball fans.

Will said it with more vulgarity and anger than I possibly could, but the Yankees aren't ruining baseball. They generate money for others directly (revenue sharing, road attendance) and indirectly (luxury tax and TV Ratings). They might not be good for your team, but they are good for baseball.