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Goodnight, and thanks for all the Turkeys!

26 Nov

Mathhew Stafford is a total stud. A football stud.

Welcome to the best week in the NFL.

What? You saying most of the games are pretty ordinary? Why yes, yes they are.

This week is the best week of the NFL because thanks to some disease spreading Puritans, and the marketing genius of the woman who wrote ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ the US of A spends the next 5 days watching football and packing their colons. Thank God (or Sarah Josepha Buell) for Thanksgiving.

In true American style, Thanksgiving is really just a non-denominational marketing exercise that kicks off the longest sustained burst of consumer spending in the world, but it also gives us 3 NFL games Thursday, a bunch of rivalry games in College Football Saturday, more NFL Sunday, and possibly the Game Of The NFL Season Monday night. It’s a pigskin and pig fat orgy of HD TV with a side of sweet potatoes. And mac and cheese. And hey, who ate the last of the leftovers? I was saving those.

EXCITEMENT LEVEL ALPHA

DETROIT LIONS vs GREEN BAY PACKERS

Watching the Lions the last few years on Thanksgiving has mostly sucked as badly as they have. No longer sir. Last Sunday they completed an epic victory against Cleveland with a QB (Mr Stafford above) throwing a game winning TD with his other shoulder completely dislocated. I don’t know if you’ve ever dislocated anything (let alone a shoulder) but DAMN that hurts. Its not quite up there with Wayne Shelford’s torn open scrotum, but its certainly above Curt Shilling’s bloody sock in the ‘playing hurt’ stakes. That was enough to get me in.  I am now a fully fledged Stafford/Lions fan, even if its the corpse of Daunte Culpepper under center this week. This new feistiness will not help them against a pretty decent Packer team, but it will at least make it worth watching.

OAKLAND RAIDERS v DALLAS COWBOYS

In a tale of two QBs, this is the journeyman vs the megastar, and weirdly, fantastically, wonderfully its a fair fight. New Oakland QB Bruce Gradkowski (!) has transformed the Raiders offense via the simple trick of being able to play the position at least as well as a decent high-school prospect. It is a measure of how stupendously awful Oakland’s JaMarcus Russell has been that just bringing in a random human off the street at his position has improved his team 1000%. On the other side Tony Romo and the Dallas offense look confused by the concept of scoring. Genuinely befuddled. Dallas is at home, so should pull it out, but I will be screaming my support of Oakland the whole way (wipes turkey spittle off the furniture).

NEW YORK GIANTS v DENVER BRONCOS

Only exciting because we get to make fun of how terrible Denver has become with Kyle Orton off the field. Its the night game, so I’ll be asleep for most of it, along with Denver’s defense. Still, three watchable games on a Thursday. Can’t argue with that.

EXCITEMENT LEVEL BETA

CHICAGO BEARS v MINNESOTA VIKINGS

The Vikings season now has the look of a steady march to glory, while Chicago is looking at nothing but misery the rest of the way. Lovie Smith is a good coach, but this isn’t working out for anybody over there. And they just wrote a fat contract extension for Jay (yet to actually do ANYTHING) Cutler, who may be the reincarnation of the great unlamented Jeff George (ridiculously powerful arm yet no ability to read the field, pouts and whines like a 10 year old). This will not end well for the Bears.

ARIZONA CARDINALS v TENNESSE TITANS

Last week Kurt Warner took himself out of the game having suffered a knock to the head. He was widely praised for this in the current concussion sensitive climate. I think he had a different motive: I think it was a deliberate ploy to show how utterly awful Matt Leinart is as a pro quarterback. The Cards were ahead and stayed that way, but OH MY GOD Leinart was awful. Kurt Warner could not have demonstrated how much this team needs him more thoroughly had he taken this joke of a franchise to a Superbowl. Oh right, he did that already. He’s a wily one that Warner.
On the other side, Leinart’s old college nemesis Vince Young is now being praised for a new ‘maturity’ in his attitude. Amazing how a few close wins ‘matures’ somebody.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS v BALTIMORE RAVENS

For my many sins (MANY I TELL YOU) I now watch a lot of these games with a die-hard U of Miami fan. He even has a National Championship ring he earned there to validate his love for everything ‘U’. Which means catching any Ravens game brings a steady diet of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed shoutouts from him. Over a 3 hour span this can, um, what’s the word I’m looking for here, suck. It drives me absolutely nuts. And when Ray Ray is doing his chicken dance over the prone form of Big Ben this week (which will happen several times) I may commit a homicide. I’m just giving you advance warning in case you read it in the papers come Monday.

EXCITEMENT LEVEL DRIBBLING DOWN MY FRONT, BLOOD COMING OUT MY EARS

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS v NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Here we go. I am as pumped for this as I will be for Paquiao/Mayweather (Mayweather TKO).
Undefeated New Orleans at home to the evil genius from New England. There are very VERY few coaches with the mana to withstand the 4th and 2 debacle of the Patriots/Indy game with their reputation almost completely intact. For Bill Belichick and the Patriots that unfortunate gamble may as well have happened 30 years ago. They are back to being the steadily threatening NFL presence they have been for the last 8 years. If New Orleans really ARE for real, then beating the Pats will go a long way to justifying the dreams of that fanbase. This feels somewhat like a knife fight for leadership in the tribe of the NFL, with the young and virile Saints against the veteran and grizzled Pats. There will be points, and dazzling plays, and it will be close. I say New Orleans triumph only because it will mean so much more to them and the crowd will be with them every minute. The Pats know that this battle may occur again in the New Year, with even more at stake.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL EXCUSE TO RUN PICS OF HOT BABES

"do you have those notes from psy? I totally slept through that class"

LA is in a frenzy this week, as UCLA play USC Saturday.
Sports radio has been running great pieces on the various bets around town. My favourite: say if a UCLA fan loses he has to answer every phone call for a year with ‘Hi, this is X. USC is the best.’ That would never get old for me.
Its also one of the first years in a while that its going to be a close game. I say USC still wins, but let me just point this out: on the sidelines of this one, there are no losers.

'gimme an S!'

 

– Mark Tierney