Song of the Day: January 18, 2013

Band: They Might Be Giants

Song: Boss of Me

There’s always something to be said for one of those songs that is instantly recognizable: Once you’ve heard it, you’ll never forget it. Anyone who remembers watching the great Malcolm in the Middle will never forget the irresistibly catchy anthem They Might be Giants penned for its theme song. Energetic and full of intentional, comic angst, it’s one of those songs you can’t help but yell along to. Liiiiiiiiiife is unfaaaaaaaaaaaaair.


Song of the Day: January 15, 2013

Styles of Beyond- Mr. Brown

A great, forgotten hip hop gem. The beat samples a great groove from Bob Marley and the Wailers and injects with pure adrenaline. Then, on top of that, MC’s Ryu and Tak attack the instrumental with playground rap furor; the rapid-fire rhymes are funny, aggressive, clever and unrelentingly catchy. Simply a monster track.

Song of the Day: January 14, 2013

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes- Wild World

Setting: Hour three of a five hour car ride between me and my dad [NOTE: My Dad is the one who steered me towards punk music years ago when he got me the Dead Kennedys classic debut Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables as a stocking stuffer. I was exposed to the song “Kill the Poor” at a young age.] I’m playing DJ with my ipod and have been playing Me First, a great punk rock supergroup/cover band for the past couple of songs, half for the music and half to see my Dad’s reaction as he recognizes which classic is getting simultaneously blasphemed and improved.

Spike (lead singer of Me First): “Now that I’ve lost everything to you, you say you want to start something new….”

Dad: [maniacal laughter]

[grins ear to ear]

[drives considerably faster]

[nods head vigorously to beat]

Dogs in the backseat (looking at one another): What the fuck is this?

Spike: “Ooooooh, baby baby its a wild world!”

Dad (yelling to be heard over the blaring guitars): “This kicks the shit out of that original Cat Stevens hippie bullshit!”

[End Scene]

Yes it does, Dad. Yes it does.

NFL Divisional Saturday

Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos

Ray-Lewis-dance-550x307 Denver Broncos v Baltimore Ravens

The jig is up. Ray Lewis and the Ravens got a relatively easy win last week against the overmatched Colts despite not playing particularly well themselves. Their reward is a trip to Denver to face Peyton Manning’s red-hot Broncos, a team that had no problems dispatching them less than a month ago.

Denver will not have killer drops on key third downs. Denver will not settle for field goals every time they reach the red zone. Denver will not let Anquan Boldin turn back the clock six years. Denver will capitalize on your mistakes. Denver will force you to match them, not vice-versa.

Denver is not the Colts.

Of course, there is always the possibility that Peyton Manning has a stinker. Manning’s postseason resume is less-than-stellar; he has an overall 9-10 playoff record and his one Super Bowl win was strangely more the result of a strong running game and defense. However, Baltimore doesn’t appear to have enough to capitalize on a subpar showing from Manning. Joe Flacco doesn’t inspire confidence in the offense (plus he looks just like Bert from Sesame Street) while the defense is merely a shade of its former self. They’ll fight, but Denver is too good and well-rounded on both sides of the ball. Denver gets the win and sets up an AFC Championship for the ages.
28-13 Broncos

Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers

rodgersJustin Smith

The Packers got here by easily beating a one-dimensional Vikings team (its safe to say the calls to bench Christian Ponder for Joe Webb will not be repeated next season). As a result, they’ll get a chance to avenge this years Week One loss to the Niners, albeit against a different quarterback with a less boring name and significantly more tattoos.

The “great offense against great defense” storyline will dominate the promos, but this game largely hinges on the health of stalwart defensive end Justin Smith. Coach Harbaugh is confident enough to be a weirdo about Smith’s status (although “God willing and the creak don’t rise, he’s going to play” is a distinct second to “gobble gobble turkey from jive turkey gobblers” on the goofy quote spectrum). However, just because 94 will be out there doesn’t mean the Niners will have the guy capable of doing this.

In fact, it’s hard to imagine Smith being close to the same player while playing with a triceps injury that will need to be surgically repaired in the offseason. I’ve already stated my opinion on Smith and his impact on the Niners D; with him they are dominant, without him they are vulnerable.
I simply can’t see Smith being effective enough with this injury for the Niners D to reach the extremely high level they’ll need to beat the Packers. Aaron Rodgers is in the midst of one of those unconscious streaks where he looks like he could hit 35 yard post-dig routes in stride in his sleep. Most importantly, he’s playing smart; he didn’t get impatient against the solid Vikings D and was content to take what they gave him, eventually dinking and dunking them to death. The Niners are tougher to string drives together against and Colin Kaepernick will make a few plays, but Rodgers will prove too much for the banged-up Niners.
24-17 Packers

Get Up! Hockey’s Back!

What have I missed while the NHL (and particularly Bruins) hockey has been away?

I’ve missed Krejci’s uncanny ability to dangle through traffic. I’ve missed Lucic being a bull in a china shop. I’ve missed Marchand being a “agitator”. I’ve missed Darth Quaider punching people in the face. I’ve missed everything about Bergeron. I’ve missed Chara being an awkward Charizard. Ive missed Seguin’s filthy skills. I’ve missed Johnny Rockets from Johnny Boychuk. I’ve missed Seidenberg’s no-nonsense physicality. I’ve REALLY missed Thornton punching people in the face. I’ve missed Tuuka being a Tuuka. I’ve missed how goofy Claude looks, sounds, acts and, simply, is. I’ve missed Bear and the gang. I’ve missed Andy Ferrence. I’ve missed watching Dougie Hamilton and I haven’t even seen him play yet. I’ve missed Jack Edwards freaking the fuck out over everything.

I’ve missed you, hockey. I’m mad at you, but we’ll get through this together.

Wild Card Saturday: Analysis and Picks

Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans

atkins-550x455JJ Watt

A few weeks ago, this would’ve been a no-brainer. Houston went into Week 14 with an 11-1 record and the AFC’s #1 seed seemingly locked up. One disheartening 1-3 stretch later and they are here, playing on Wild Card weekend. Whatever “progress” was made by their great start feels all-for-naught now; they are in the exact same place they were last season, playing the Bengals on Wild Card weekend.

Of course, it would be unfair to talk about Houston without mentioning injuries. Houston’s down-slide has coincided with a serious bout of the injury bug, particularly on defense. Unfortunately for Texans fans, it doesn’t look like any real relief from those issues is coming anytime soon. Linebacker Tim Dobbins just joined star Brian Cushing on season-ending injured reserve. Coach Kubiak’s “if he can walk he’ll play” quip about Brooks Reed doesn’t inspire much optimism; if he goes it sounds like he’ll almost certainly be hobbled. Tight end Owen Daniels, a key component to the teams play-action passing game, has seen his production dip dramatically in the past month as he has dealt with nagging chest and knee issues; failing to get a bye week doesn’t bode well for him to get significantly healthier.

Houston has enough concerns before looking at their opposition. The Bengals quietly won 7 of their last 8 games to overtake the hated Steelers for their playoff spot. The Bengals have been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde team this year (they followed up a three game win-streak with four straight losses before going on a tear in the second half), but they are red hot now and have some very good things going for them. A.J. Green was arguably the AFC’s best receiver in only his second season. Andy Dalton and Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis are rarely spectacular but certainly capable players, especially with the benefit of a pretty good offensive line. Tight end Jermaine Gresham had the best season of his young career and is starting to flash the potential that made him a first round pick in 2010 (although picking him over Rob Gronkowski still warrants some explaining).

The Bengals true strength lies on defense, however. The Bengals have allowed a stingy 12.75 points per game over the past eight weeks. They also boast playmakers on every level. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins is flanked by rock solid pass rusher Carlos Dunlap. Linebacker Rey Maualuga is very good against the run. Cornerback Leon Hall is excellent. The defense is rounded out by plenty of solid if unspectacular veterans like Domata Peko, Michael Johnson and Manny Lawson.

The Texans boast more top end talent, including the inhuman J.J. Watt, and will have the benefit of playing at home. However, it’s hard to envision them flipping the switch and pulling a complete 180 from their recent play, especially against a worthy opponent. This isn’t last year’s upstart Bengals; these guys can really play and they will take advantage of a Houston team that simply isn’t been able to fire on all cylinders right now.
27-17 Bengals

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers


So you’re telling me there’s a chance? Minnesota isn’t a playoff team by most measures, but it’s amazing what a certain superhuman masquerading as a running back can do for you. The Vikings dramatically made the postseason in the season’s final week by beating these Packers in an absolute thriller of a game, giving hope to the idea that they could replicate that success this week.

However, a few things stand in their way. First is the fact that, despite playing in front of a raucous home crowd, getting 199 yards from Purple Jesus AND a career game from Christian Ponder, the Vikings barely snuck by the Packers, needing a Mason Crosby miss on the games final play to avoid overtime.

This week they will be on the road. Eli Manning and Mike Vick have made Lambeau seem like less of a daunting place to play, but it’s still not the advantage of playing at home. They will also need the notoriously inconsistent Ponder to replicate last week’s performance and then some just to have a chance.

The Packers have made no bones about it; they will be throwing the kitchen sink at Adrian Peterson. Peterson is Peterson, he will break some plays no matter how many defenders stack the box. However, if the Packer’s D can uphold their lofty goal of keeping Peterson under 200 yards (remarkably I can say that’s a tough goal without a hint of sarcasm), it will be up to Ponder to make enough plays. Last week’s game says that’s possible, but a season’s worth of poor play says it’s a dicey proposition.

This problem is magnified tenfold by the presence of the guy under center for the other team. Aaron Rodgers is, simply put, a monster. He’ll also have his full arsenal of weapons available for the first time since the beginning of the season. Minnesota’s defense has been decent, but Rodgers throwing to Jennings, Nelson, Jones and Cobb is too much for even the leagues best; the Packers will put up points. Sure, it’s possible that Minnesota could match them and keep up, but far too many things will have to break their way for me to count on it.

Side note: How rare is it that Aaron Rodgers goes into a game with significantly less focus/pressure on him than another individual player? Simply more testament to the power of Peterson.
31-21 Packers