15 Reasons to Root for the Niners on Sunday

Are you a casual fan without a rooting interest in this year’s Super Bowl? Do you not give a flying fuck about either the Ravens or the Niners? Were you planning on rooting for whichever team has better uniforms? Has your team lost to both Super Bowl participants in disheartening ways?

/hangs head
/sighs

Well, guess what I have in store for you! I have 15 fail-proof reasons why rooting the Niners on Sunday will be a much more enjoyable and guilt-free experience. Read ‘em and weep.

NFL: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers

1. Patrick Willis
Patrick Willis is fucking awesome. His combination of size, power and explosive athleticism makes him damn near the perfect middle linebacker; the rare specimen who is equally adept against the pass and the run. He’s also a fiery leader who sets a powerful example in the locker room; the type of guy who his teammates all unquestioningly follow. Basically he’s a young Ray Lewis, except without, you know, the whole murder thing.

ray-lewis-deer-antler-spray

2. Chewy, Oodie Goodness…and Fraudulence
Speaking of Ray Lewis, you know that wonderful comeback he’s made from tearing his triceps back in Week 6? The inspirational return that sparked a tidal wave of “Win One for Ray” sentiment that has propelled the Ravens to the Super Bowl? Yeah, that one? Bullshit! Sports Illustrated has reported that Mitch Ross, the owner of a sports science company, has a recorded phone conversation in which Lewis orders Deer Antler Velvet Extract. Nicknamed “The Ultimate Spray”, this product is loaded with IGF-1, a product that is on the NFL’s list of banned substances.

Why is it banned, you ask? Well, IGF-1 is a hormone that simulates muscle growth. It also happens to be how HGH works (the human liver converts HGH into IGF-1). Essentially, Ray Lewis was spraying HGH under his tongue  chugging deer antler every two hours.

Besides the fact that this is some Harry Potter apothecary shit, this shouldn’t be surprising. A torn triceps injury healing in two-and-a-half months is absurd even before factoring in Lewis’ age (37). It also shouldn’t be surprising considering that the NFL is undoubtedly full of PED use, especially as long as there is no way for the current testing procedures to detect HGH.

That’s the thing about this story. I ordinarily wouldn’t give a shit about someone, even a prominent player, getting busted for PEDs; I assume that they are almost all using something; human beings do not naturally become 6’4″ 255 with 4% body fat. However, this story should cut through all the BS storylines about how Ray “deserves” to go out on top. Of course, that is wishful thinking on my part. ESPN has already hired Ray as a studio analyst for next season; it’s not surprising that they have publicized false information to try and sweep this under the rug. It’s a shame, since there are so many questions left to be asked. Did God preordain this? Did Ray stab the deer himself and then mysteriously dispose of his orange hunting jacket? The public needs answers!

Oh, but by the way, Ray says he’s innocent because he never tested positive for anything! That would mean something if, you know, the league actually tested for the substance he allegedly took. Don’t worry Ray, the Marion Jones/Lance Armstrong defense method is failproof!

3. Muppet Dopplegangers

Colin Kaepernick’s is the Great Gonzo.

kaepernick gonzo

Joe Flacco’s is Bert from Sesame Street.

flacco bert

Advantage: Kaepernick

4. Jim is the Funnier Harbaugh

Here is a video of Jim Harbaugh messing with the press by being a hilarious weirdo.

The best part of this is the 0.06 mark. Harbaugh starts to crack a shit-eating grin before catching himself and continuing with the joke. Good stuff.

Also, this makes me giggle.

i said good day!
5. Moss this, Moss that

moss niners

The 49ers have Randy Moss. Randy Moss, quite simply, is a boss. The man is only the second-best receiver of all time, but no one single-handedly impacted a game like Randy Moss in his prime. The man was like having a cheat code in a video game. Here, take another look at what Randy Moss was capable of.

I can’t decide which of these is my favorite. Is it the one handed grab against Tampa from his early Minnesota years? Is it the play from college where he breaks one tackle, hurdles another and then leaves a third in his dust? Is it when he burns Anthony Smith, the Steelers safety who guaranteed a win, so badly that he stops running the last few yards, turns his back to the end zone and casually steps in for the touchdown? Or is it the play at 1:48 where he catches a 50 yard bomb between two defenders with the crook of his fricken elbow?

Randy is also a much more complicated individual than the “selfish and lazy” label he received from the press. The vilification of Randy Moss started back in high school, stemming from his involvement of a racial brawl. His “crime” was beating the piss out of someone who had scrawled his name next to the sentence “All Niggers Must Die” on a desk. I’m sure I’d have serious trust issues too if beating up a racist piece of shit was somehow spun to make me the bad guy.

Don’t get me wrong; Randy Moss isn’t an angel. He’s certainly had his share of immature missteps and his “play when I want to play” comment will always be the difference between him and Jerry Rice. However, no NFL player has ever been as misunderstood than Randy. Winning a ring will be a massive gut-punch to everyone who lazily vilified him over the years without taking a minute to try to understand him. That alone makes it worth rooting for.

Randy Moss also did this.

Lets be honest: the man deserves a ring for that quote, if nothing else.

6. San Francisco > Baltimore

baltimore sucks

Times a million. Baltimore eats rat anus.

7. Running Quarterbacks: A (Much Needed) Paradigm Shift

If the Niners win on Sunday, it will mean that Colin Kaepernick quarterbacked his team to a championship. I don’t think I can overstate how big of a deal that will be.

A Kaepernick-guided championship will destroy the outdated notion that only pure pocket passers can be truly successful in the NFL. That’s awesome. Not only will it give grumpy old sports writers like David Whitley (who spent an entire column equating Colin Kaepernick to San Quentin inmates because of his tattoos) a heart attack, but it will open the door for more players like Kaepernick to get their chances in the NFL.

In the past two years we’ve seen athletic freaks like Cam Newton, Kaepernick and RGIII electrify the NFL. Each of these “college-style” quarterbacks faced questions about their ability to adapt to the NFL game. Instead, they’ve forced the NFL to adapt to them; in fact, defensive coordinators still haven’t figured out how to defend these guys. There simply is no defense for a quarterback who is a threat to do this at any time.

Doesn’t the look on Jared Allen’s face say it all?

The NFL has proven time-and-time again to be a copycat league. Concepts that work will instantly spawn imitators. If Kaepernick wins, he will become the first quarterback primarily defined by freakish athleticism to win the big one. That’s a good thing. The past few seasons have seen NFL teams incorporate unconventional, college-style scheming into their repertoires, often with dynamic results. We all know that the NFL game is conducive to big plays and downfield passing; the next step is a quarterback that can take a gap in the defense and leave the entire defense in his dust.

There’s no denying it: the game is more fun with guys like this. A Niners win will mean more of them.

8. This

purple camo alert


Don’t get me wrong; every NFL team has fans that dress like morons and give their fanbase a bad name. But the Purple Camo is a widespread thing amongst Ravens fans. Look at this shit.

baltimoreravensfans

Do you really want these people to be happy?

9. Also, This

ravens-mascot-430a081108
Fuck this shit. I’m sure the Niners don’t have a mascot this stupid…

/googles “niners mascot
/finds this

niners mascot

Ok, that’s a tie. Disregard this reason.

10. The “God” Factor

ray-lewis-prayer


There are many reasons to dislike Ray Lewis. His shameless proselytizing is absolutely one of them. There are few things in life more annoying than people who shove their religion in people’s faces and no one in sports, even the almighty Tebow, does this in such a hypocritical and self-promotional way as Ray Lewis.

Here’s what Ray said immediately after Baltimore’s stunning win over the Broncos:

“No weapon formed shall prosper! No weapon! No weapon! No weapon! God is amazing! And when you believe in him; man believes in the possible, God believes in the impossible!”

If God exists, he certainly doesn’t give a shit who wins a fucking football game. Yes, even a playoff game. Shut the fuck up, Ray.

The most embarrassing part of Ray’s over-the-top publicizing of his faith is the fact that the majority of the media and public have eagerly lapped it up. This is a man who played a role in a murder. This is a man who has fathered six children with four different women. This is a man who uses scripture quotes about humility, but always makes sure there’s a camera there to capture it. Yet, he says “God” a lot and people buy his “redemption” storyline like a bunch of mindless lemmings. It’s embarrassing.

11. Avoiding the “Is Flacco Elite?” discussion


Joe Flacco had seven games with a quarterback rating below 80 this year. Seven! That’s almost half the season! Despite this, legions of morons will claim that a win this Sunday puts Flacco at the same level as Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Let’s look at this logically.  Would the Packers be nearly as good as they are now if you replaced Aaron Rodgers with Joe Flacco? Would the Saints even be good if you replaced Brees with Flacco? Would the Ravens be improved if they swapped out Flacco for one of those guys?

That’s what I thought. Joe Flacco is NOT elite. Stop it.

Oh, but he’s played so well in the postseason! Look at how he’s raised his game! Well, let’s take a closer look at this playoff run. Flacco first tore apart a in-over-its-heads Colts team with a bad secondary. He then exploited an overrated Denver team that hadn’t played anyone worth a damn in three months (lets not forget his stats from that game are vastly inflated by the worst blown coverage in recent memory). Finally, he took down a bad Patriots secondary that helplessly inept once it lost its best corner early. Flacco has played well recently, yes, but against teams that he should play well against.

Joe Flacco has been in the NFL for five years. He is what he is; a quarterback capable of having great games and awful ones, often week to week. Elite quarterbacks single-handedly give their team a chance to win every time they step onto the field. If you think Joe Flacco does that, you’re nuts. Winning one more game this year will not magically change that.

12. Player Safety

As player safety and particularly concussion concerns in football reach the level that has the President commenting on them, lets ask this question; has any team over the years been as consistently dirty as the Ravens? The safety tandem of Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard has probably tackled more people with their helmets than their arms. Not to mention the fact that every time one of these head-hunters gets flagged and inevitably fined later in the week they get on their soapbox and huff and puff about how they might as well play two-hand touch or flag football. How dare the NFL try to take dangerous helmet-to-helmet hits out of the game! What have a few little concussions ever done to anyone?

Of course, Baltimore fans will answer my initial question by saying the Steelers are worse when it comes to dirty play. I refer my response to this to a smarter man than me, known only by the alias “DangerNut”, who once wrote on the following on the internet:

“It is so hilarious how Steeler and Ravens fans hate each other because they are mirror images. It’s like watching two retards dry hump the opposite end of a couch, shouting insults to each other.”

So eloquent. So very true.

13. Persecution Complex

Ravens fans are easily amongst the most obnoxious in the entire NFL. When they aren’t donning the aforementioned Purple Camo pants, they are coming up with conspiracy theories about how the league, the refs, the media, Roger Goodell and everyone in-between are “conspiring” against the Ravens. How much do Ravens fans lack self awareness? There’s a decent number of them out there that still hold a grudge over Indianapolis taking the Colts, but still get indignant whenever anyone mentions a peep about Art Modell stealing the beloved Browns from Cleveland.

Speaking of Modell, he was a flaming piece of shit. There’s yet another reason to root against the Ravens.

14. “T-Sizzle” is a Woman Beater

suggs

This is Terrell Suggs, last year’s Defensive Player of the Year. Here’s a list of things he’s allegedly done to his current fiancé during their time as a couple: broke her nose by kicking her, held her and their son down and poured bleach on them, “punched her neck and drove a car containing their two children at a ‘high rate of speed’ while she was being dragged alongside”

Yeah, he seems likable. Lets root for this guy!

15. Where’s Your Suit, Ray?

ray lewis cuffed

Lest we forget the fact that Ray Lewis at the very least helped two of his friends get away with stabbing two people to death. This is the emotional leader of the Baltimore Ravens, folks. He’s also a hypocritical piece of shit.

My prediction for the game is Niners: 100, Ravens: 0. Enjoy the Super Bowl, everybody.

//

Defenseless Backs

arrington sucks

There is plenty of blame to go around following the Patriots devastating season-ending loss Sunday Night. Poor red-zone execution, inconsistency on third down, turnovers and uncharacteristically horrific clock management all made healthy contributions to the loss.

However, the fatal flaw for the Patriots was crystal clear. We all knew going into the season that depth (or lack thereof) in the secondary was an issue. It wound up biting them in this, the biggest game of the season.

Much had been made about the impact midseason pickup Aqib Talib had made on the defense. The Patriots defense improved noticeably since acquiring the troubled but clearly talented Talib. They stopped hemorrhaging big plays in the passing game. They blitzed more often and more effectively, largely due to newfound confidence in the secondary’s ability to hold up in coverage. They attacked offenses.

Talib’s impact on the defense’s performance was undeniable, but his usefulness went far beyond his skill set. Talib’s importance was absolutely magnified by the Patriots lack of depth behind him. For starters, Talib’s stabilizing presence (using the words “Talib” and “stable” in the same sentence admittedly feels strange considering his dubious history) allowed Devin McCourty to move to free safety. McCourty’s combination of range, tackling ability and football smarts made him a natural at safety. His cerebral “quarterback of the secondary” presence appeared to play a large role in the defense instantly and dramatically cutting down on the miscommunications and blown assignments that consistently hurt the team during the early part of the season.

The other key impact Talib made simply by being on the field was taking snaps away from other, ahem, less qualified defensive backs. Acquiring Talib pushed Kyle Arrington down to nickel corner. It made Marquice Cole almost exclusively a special teamer. It was also what allowed McCourty’s move to safety, where it created a similar effect by keeping the erratic play of Patrick Chung and Tavon Wilson largely on the bench.

However, trading for Talib was ultimately putting a band-aid on a wound. It works for a while, but once the band-aid peels off (or injures a hamstring) the problem is still there.

This was evident when Talib sat out most of the Patriots late season matchup with Jacksonville to rest his injured hip. With fellow starter Alfonzo Dennard also sitting with an injury, the Patriots were forced to go back to the season opening starters: Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington at corner, Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory at safety. This combination promptly went out and made Chad Henne look like the second coming of Johnny Unitas.

The Pats are still good enough on their worst day to beat the lowly Jags on their best day. That obviously wasn’t the case with the Ravens. Baltimore curiously used a very conservative, run-first offensive approach in the first half and experienced little success. However, even Jim Caldwell wasn’t dumb enough to realize that Kyle Arrington couldn’t cover Adam Smith, let alone Torrey Smith. Baltimore came out in the second half and threw the ball 24 times (while only running 8 times, including a scramble) on their first five possessions. The result? Flacco was 15-24 for 169 yards and three unanswered touchdowns.

Simply put, Baltimore knew its receivers would be able to make plays against the personnel New England had on the field. They mercilessly attacked the mismatches (Flacco was 5-5 for 62 yards and a beastly Anquan Boldin touchdown when targeting poor Marquice Cole) and made New England’s defense look helpless.

New England’s success has come despite serious secondary concerns for several years; Tom Brady and their passing game are good enough to mask those problems against most NFL teams. However, the team’s lack of quality depth in the secondary has clearly been their Achilles heel the past two seasons. They can not afford to inadequately address this in the offseason, particularly with the Brady/Belichick window of opportunity growing smaller by the minute.

In fact, free agency seems likely to create serious change in the Patriots defensive backfield. Talib, Arrington, Cole and Patrick Chung are all impending free agents and it’s quite possible that none of them will be back. Talib’s ambivalent comments after the game indicated that he will be looking for a decent payday. Belichick has said plenty of positive things about Talib in the past two months but it’s hard to imagine the team ponying up too much money to keep him, especially with Wes Welker and Sebastian Vollmer ahead of him on the team’s list of offseason priorities. Chung’s inconsistent play and consistent injuries have caused him to fall out of favor with team. Arrington’s play as a starter this season was a painful reminder of the Peter Principle; he was clearly promoted to the level of his incompetence. Cole actually might have the best chance of returning, but more for his ability on special teams (good) than on defense (bad).

Either way, ch-ch-ch-changes are clearly coming to the Patriots defensive backfield. That can only be a good thing.

NFL Divisional Sunday

Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons

Marshawn Lynch, Zach Miller, Quintin Mikell, Chris ChamberlainJulio Jones

I would love nothing more than for the Falcons to bust through their “playoff choker” label and to give the Seahawks a much needed smack in the mouth. Seattle continued their season long trend of playing disrespectful punk football last week against Washington and got away with it because the so-called football gods apparently decided RG3 is too good for Dan Snyder. I’d love to see the Seahawks get smashed in the mouth.

Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening. Atlanta’s offense is one-dimensional; Michael Turner appears to be running on fumes and Jacquizz Rodgers does not a running game make. This will be especially true against a Seattle defense that is decent against the run.

The biggest matchup here will be that of the Seahawks vaunted (and dirty) cornerback tandem of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner taking on Atlanta’s dynamic receiving duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones. It’s hard to imagine Sherman and Browner holding these two down all game, but it’s also hard to imagine Jones and White just going nuts against this level of competition. Unfortunately for Atlanta, their offense is pretty reliant on those two being highly productive. Tony Gonzalez is still a very good red-zone target, but its hard to imagine them consistently moving the ball down the field if Jones and White are somewhat neutralized.

There’s cause for concern for Atlanta on the other side of the ball as well. John Abraham looks like he will suit up, but a 34 year-old end who has always been reliant on foot speed playing on a bum ankle isn’t necessarily a recipe for pass rushing dominance. The Falcons defense has quietly been pretty good all season, but Abraham is their best pass rusher by far. If he’s limited, it could be a huge blow to their defense, especially going against an offense that has dramatically improved throughout the year and an offensive tackle (Russell Okung) that has shut down many of the leagues top pass rushers this year.

Ultimately the Seahawks are much more balanced and happen to matchup well against the Falcons strengths. This should be enough to overcome playing on the road. Seahawks get the win.
24-21 Seahawks

Houston Texans @ New England Patriots

JJ Wattyahoo_tombradyplayoffs

This won’t be a blowout. New England is certainly not without flaws and Houston is much better than Dan Shaughnessy thinks (Dan Shaughnessy is awful).

However, it’s hard to imagine a team quarterbacked by Matt Schaub coming into Foxboro and beating Brady’s Patriots. Schaub just looked plain bad last week, as the Texans outlasted the Bengals by leaning heavily on Arian Foster and their running game.

The problem for Houston is that New England is pretty strong against the run. Limiting the running game kills Houston; much of their passing success comes from play action. Schaub looks good when the threat of a running game neutralizes the pass rush and creates open seams for his receivers. When the run is taken away (something New England managed to do the first time these two teams played), Houston ends up looking very limited on offense. Schaub begins to press, the playbook gets limited to short, predictable passes, and things like Leon Hall’s pick-six wind up happening.

The big question for this game is injuries. Both teams have a ton of them, but New England managed to get a much needed bye week to rest thanks to these Texans losing to the Colts on the season’s final day. The Texans defense looked pretty good last week but did so going against a so-so offense and quarterback. New England thrived in their last meeting because they were able to hit the big play over the top. If Houston can prevent those kinds of plays the game will become much closer.

However, can they prevent that? Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker both played through injuries throughout the season; they both just got a week to rest up. The Gronk is back and will making matching up with the Pats that much more difficult, even though questions continue to persist about his health. The Patriots haven’t been this close to having their full ensemble of weapons since Week One; even if they aren’t all 100%, they should still be a load to stop.

In the end, there’s just too much that needs to break Houston’s way for them to steal this one on the road. Tom Brady needs to have an off day, the running game has to neutralize Vince Wilfork and create seams for Foster to exploit and Schaub has to be, well, better than he actually is. Even if a few things do break Houston’s way, Schaub hasn’t been playing well enough to capitalize. Unless that changes in a hurry, you can expect the Brady and the Pats to advance to another AFC Championship game. (I’m nervous about making this pick now because of the performance of my picks for Saturday’s game, gonna stick with my guns though).
34-21 Patriots