Month: September 2012 (Page 1 of 2)

Bond: Pierce Takes Over

Bond is back! After a long, long break, I finally dove into Pierce Brosnan’s first turn as Bond, GoldenEye, Tuesday night. Strangely, as I got deeper and deeper into the flick, I realized that I had never seen the entire movie. I’ve seen the beginning many times, and parts of the rest, but there were parts I’m sure I never saw. Weird, because I remember being pretty excited about the new era of Bond back in 1995.

After a lengthy delay due to various legal issues, Timothy Dalton jumped ship before serving as Bond for the third time. Which gave the production team a chance to finally get the man they’d coveted for 15 years, Brosnan. Fair or not, the failure to get Brosnan when Roger Moore retired doomed Dalton’s run before it began. So it’s safe to say there was a fair amount of pressure on Brosnan to deliver. For the most part, he did.

We open in the Soviet Union, in the mid-80s. Bond fearlessly runs across the top of a massive dam, hooks a line to the railing, and leaps over the side. Soon he is crawling around the interior of a chemical weapons plant, where he meets up with his partner, 006. They are placing explosives to blow the joint when they are discovered. 006 is murdered but 007, of course, makes a daring escape. On his way out, he chases a runaway aircraft, which hurtles over a cliff into the massive valley below. He leaps, somehow catches up, pulls himself in, takes the stick, and pulls the plane up at the last second.

We’re in good Bond territory here, with three levels of unrealism going on. 1) His single-handed escape from a heavily armed weapons plant. 2) The whole catching/saving the plane thing. 3) How he manages to get home safely from deep inside the Soviet Union in just a single propellor plane. Which is all fine. It feels like home again.

Brosnan isn’t the only big change, though. Soon we meet the new M, Judi Dench. She’s not just a new actor in the role, M has been redefined for the age. Where the old M came from the world of spooks, the new M is an accountant and pours through the numbers to justify missions. As with baseball today, the British intelligence service was split between the numbers people and the tools people in 1995. Maybe that’s where Michael Lewis got the inspiration for Moneyball!

Good old Q is still around and Bond drives a gorgeous Aston Martin DB5 early on. Joe Don Baker, who was evil guy Brad Whitaker in The Living Daylights, returns as CIA agent Jake Wade this time. I like him better as a good guy than a bad guy, unless he’s being Chief Karlin. So we’ve got some solid connections to the past as well.

Bond is off to France and then St. Petersburg, chasing the bad guys, unwrapping the mystery, and eventually saving the day. As well as Brosnan does as Bond, the movie as a whole feels uneven. There are a few high points, but through much of the movie, I was wondering how the hell the pieces were supposed to fit together.

Sean Bean is forgettable as Alec Trevelyan/006. For all the areas where this movie pushes the franchise forward, it got a pretty boring villain.

Bond Girls

Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova. We need more computer programers like her. Beautiful, modern, and fearless. A solid addition to the Bond Girl world.

Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp. From the Wikipedia: “A sadist, she enjoys torturing her enemies between her strong thights.” Awwww yeah! Onatopp is just the latest update on the psycho villain Bond Girl archetype. As our culture was beginning to become hyper-sexualized with the rise of the Internet, Onatopp is a perfect woman for the times. Her overt sexuality and brutality is way beyond what we’ve ever seen from an evil Bond girl in the past. For that alone, she’s one of the most memorable ones in the franchise’s history.

And for that, she deserved a better ending. Her demise is far too quick and easy.

Also a cameo by an about-to-breakout Minnie Driver as a singer in a St. Petersburg strip club. I hate to be that guy, but I was disappointed she kept her top on for the scene.

So what did I think about the movie? I like Brosnan as Bond quite a bit. He certainly looks the part and has a nice blend of suave sophistication and believability as a physical actor. That said, his performance feels a little forced at times. Not as in it being a stretch for him, but more than he’s playing the shit out of Bond to make up for lost time.

The supporting cast is mostly good. But there are a few gaps in the movie that distract quite a bit. The most notable is that explanation for how 006 made it from 1986 to 1995. There are other smaller ones though that kept making me think, “Wait, what?”

When the problems with the movie are in the story rather than the actor, that’s progress for the series though. Dalton tried hard but just wasn’t right for the job. Brosnan was the perfect man.

A couple other things:

There are two notable references to other movies. When Bond tells 006 that he’s nothing more than a common thief, that’s a straight pull from Die Hard. And the scene where 006 and 007 hang from the antenna support in Cuba is clearly cribbed from The Empire Strikes Back.

How many Bond movies have ended with an evil lair in flames? A lot, I bet.

There were a couple mentions of the Internet, which I bet a lot of people still knew nothing about in 1995.

Surely an evil genius computer programmer would use passwords more difficult to crack than “knackers” and “seat” for his most important programs, right?

Finally, remember when you could talk about Guantanamo Bay and it meant safety and freedom?

Lightning Strikes Twice (Two Times)

First, quickly, yes I am kicking myself for staying up and watching Sunday Night’s game rather than Monday’s. I only made it about halfway into the third quarter last night, thus missed the replacement ref fiasco I had been hoping for. I say we keep it going! Don’t stop now, Goodell, owners, and referee union. Let’s drag this thing out as long as possible and see just how many ways we can screw up the season!

Alright, last weekend’s high school football action was a repeat of two things I’ve already seen this year: bad weather and a nail-biter.

I was traveling just up the road to cover our only undefeated team GHS, ranked #7 in 4A, take on a Catholic school that’s up my way. The Catholic school, GCHS, was 1-4, but their quarterback, who had led them to semi-state last year, was coming back after a five-game suspension.1 And they had beaten GHS the past two seasons.

So Friday I jumped in my car, drove five miles, and was there. Much better than driving two hours to Terre Haute. But, as with my trip to Terre Haute two weeks earlier, the western skies were black and storms were headed our way. They had already cleared the stadium before I arrived, and we weren’t allowed back in until 6:30. So kickoff would be at least 30 minutes late.

There was more lightning soon enough and the stadium again cleared, except for us in the press box, and we started another waiting period. Right around 7 the storms hit, with heavy wind, heavy rains, and eventually hail. We got word from counties to the west of games being postponed, so we all guessed it was just a matter of time. Finally at 8:00, they announced the game would be played the following afternoon. By the way, I highly recommend spending 90 minutes in an aluminum and steel press box during a severe thunderstorm for giving your Friday night a jolt.

This time I was able to go back on Saturday, and I’m glad I did. The hosts scored two quick touchdowns to take a 13-0 lead. One was a screen pass that went for an 86-yard score. GHS, which is a grind-it-out team, tightened up on defense and slowly got back into it, taking a 14-13 lead late in the second quarter. The winds were ridiculous, and GHS had to work from deep in their own territory on their final two possessions. One resulted in a short punt and quick score for GCHS. On the next, GHS fumbled and GCHS scored again. 26-14 at halftime.

On the first play of the second half, GCHS’ QB dropped back, looked all over for a receiver, stepped up, thought about it for about 10 seconds, and finally took off. Eighty yards later it was 33-14 and I was beginning to think about how I would frame my article about GHS’ perfect season coming to an end.

Not so fast.

Despite trailing by 19, GHS stuck with their ground attack. A score on their next possession cut it to 33-20.
They scored again on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 33-27. I started rethinking my story.

But they gave up another quick touchdown2 and it was 40-27 with 11 minutes to play. They might score enough to get back into it, but it was tough to see their defense stepping up.

Only they did.

GHS’ quarterback ran for two more touchdowns in the quarter, giving him five for the day. The final came on fourth-and-goal with 1:23 to play. The defense forced a key punt and then slowed GCHS down just enough to let the clock run out before they could get in the red zone. Pandemonium on the GHS sideline!

I raced down and talked to the coach, who was absolutely ecstatic. I’ve never seen a coach as pumped up about a regular season win. I didn’t have time to catch any players, as they all raced to the locker room, hooping and hollering, before I had a chance to grab any of them.

So for the 2012 season, I’ve had two games decided on fourth-and-goal runs from the one, one of those in double overtime. And I’ve had two games wiped out because of severe weather. Weird year in Indiana.

This week I get probably our weakest team, FCHS, against a conference foe that should take care of them pretty easily. They can’t all be instant classics, I guess.

Also worth noting that Good Ol’ ECHS is going for win number four this week. They play a home school team, so I’m confident they’ll get it. Looking at their schedule, there may be another win on it, so there’s a chance they’ll go into sectionals 5-4.

  1. The word in the press box was his parents pulled him off the team because his SAT scores weren’t high enough. That’s a pretty ballsy thing to do to a kid who will get some looks from small colleges – force him to miss half the season. I have no idea what the family’s financial status is – he is attending a private high school in an affluent community – but I admire his parents’ actions. 
  2. GCHS’ scoring drives for the game: 3 plays, 22 yards; 2 plays, 90 yards; 4 plays, 27 yards; 2 plays, 26 yards; 1 play, 80 yards; 2 plays, 58 yards. I’m bad at math and don’t know much about football, but I think that qualifies as efficient offense. 

Bigger Than The Game

It isn’t often anymore that I stay up and watch an entire Sunday or Monday Night Football game. Last night was an exception. And it wasn’t just because the game between New England and Baltimore was tremendously important, with the loser taking on a second loss just three weeks into the season.

It wasn’t just because, early on, the replacement referees showed they would not be able to keep control of the game. That remained true to, and beyond, the final play of the night. As an unaffiliated watcher, I find the replacement refs to be excellent entertainment.

Those things mattered but what mattered most was watching Baltimore receiver Torrey Smith play. As many of you know, Smith’s younger brother died in a motorcycle accident early Sunday morning. After spending the wee hours with his family, Smith returned to the Ravens and suited up for the game. He caught six balls, two for touchdowns. He made a couple important grabs late to help set up the game-winning field goal.

Prime time games have a way of drawing these special moments. The most famous is Brett Favre’s performance in Oakland after his father’s death. It seems like there were quite a few when I was a kid, when, under the bright lights and with Howard Cosell narrating the action, and athlete would have a huge game under circumstances most people would crumble beneath.

I don’t know why we’re drawn to these games. We certainly make more of them that we should. Perhaps it’s because we can’t imagine functioning under the same pressures. I know 18 hours after my mother died I wasn’t capable of doing much other than cry. There’s no way I could have gone to a normal job and crunched numbers or sold widgets, let alone performed at the highest level as a professional athlete.

I suppose there’s some great message in there. We can rise above anything when we have the support of those around us. Or honoring those we love can push us to do great things. Or something, I don’t know.

I just know I had to watch Torrey Smith last night. And I’m glad that I did.

Sisterly Love

Two years ago, when M. was learning to read and write, we came across a notebook with some “Direy” entries in it. My favorite entry read:

Dear Direy, C. hit me.
Love, M.

Now that C. is going through the same learning process, we’re finding fun little notes from her. Like this one that was lying on the floor this morning. Translated for universal comprehension, it reads:

by C. and L.: No M. allowed in C’s room. No M. touching my stuff. No M. in my office.

I think the sad M. at the bottom is a nice touch that ties it all together.

Nothing but sisterly love in our house!

Football Notes

After two weeks, I’ll follow the lead of pretty much every other football commentator and make broad assertions based on limited data. Therefore, 2012 will be the Wacky Year. One week teams and players will look great, the next totally lost. See the Cowboys, who went from Super Bowl favorites to Same Old Cowboys in 10 days’ time. And Peyton Manning who went from, Back to Normal to ‘Weak Arm, Bad Decisions, Was It A Mistake To Come Back?’

I understand how, with a million and one outlets fighting for an audience, commentators are pushed to be aggressive with their opinions. It’s the best way to separate from the; unless everyone else is doing the same. It’s one thing to be Stephen A. Smith. It’s another to do that act when ESPN, NFL Network, NBC Sports Network, Fox, CBS, NBC, and every talk radio network’s personalities are screaming, too.

There’s a reason Peter King is considered the best in the business. He points out the wild swings without believing in them until the data is too large to ignore.

With that said, though, I’m about a week away from adjusting my weekly picks to be exactly the opposite of the previous week’s results. I’m already in 31st place, out of 43 entries, in my pool, so it’s not like I can hurt myself doing that.

Speaking of, I’m really glad I switched my pick from Atlanta to Denver at the last minute Monday. I can’t even follow my own advice and tune out all the Peyton worship.

No complaints about the beginning of the Luck Era in Indy. A few moments of brilliance and a lot of rookie mistakes against the tough Bears’ D in week one. Some more growing pains last Sunday against the Vikings, but more big plays and his first game-winning drive. The first two weeks have confirmed two things for Colts fans: Luck is the real deal and the defense is atrocious. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better, unless they somehow get two picks in every round of next April’s drafts, select only defensive players, and every one of those picks turns into a solid contributor. But that’s how the Manning Era started, too.

I kind of love the replacement refs. No league manages its image more than the NFL, between mandating the exact length of socks to how often each brand of shoe can be represented on the field. It’s kind of fun to see games become a joke because of Roger Goodell and the owners’ arrogance. I’ll keep saying that until someone gets hurt.

Onto college. A week after an awful loss to Rice, KU came out and hung with TCU for most of the game. For the second-straight week, Charlie Weis decided to let Dayne Crist throw the ball on every down instead of keeping the running game going. It certainly cost KU the game against Rice. I don’t know if it affected the outcome last week, but it needs to change. Tony Pierson is a weapon that KU hasn’t had in a long time. With James Sims coming back this week, there are all kinds of options in the backfield. Use them.

My theory is Charlie is deeply indebted to Crist for following him to KU and helping bring in some of the other big name transfers. He’s going to showcase him as much as possible to help him get drafted, knowing this was a team that had a four-win ceiling at absolute best.

The important thing, though, is that he team is already light years beyond where it was in the Turner Gill era. Those two teams didn’t seem to have a clue, nor did the coaching staff. This year’s edition isn’t quite to the Mangino Era level of playing hard and smart on every down, but they are certainly improved. I don’t know how much credit Weis and Company get for that. Simply having a new coach in place was the most important step. But the rhetoric from the coaching staff is 180 degrees from where it was the last two years. They may not get the program turned around and winning again, but at least I have faith that there’s a chance of it happening with them running things.

High school: I had a 33-5 loss last Friday. And it was a damn quick game, so for the first time this season, I had time to do post-game interviews. It’s always fun to talk to a coach after his team turned the ball over four times, gave up three touchdowns of over 40 yards, and failed to score three times they were inside the opponent’s 20. I kept it brief.

This week I have a dandy: our best class 4A team, ranked #7 in the state and undefeated, against a 2A Catholic school that had beaten them the last two years. It’s one of those fun match ups where a lower class private school is every bit as talented as the bigger, public school. As an added bonus, it’s right down the road from our house, so instead of leaving at 5 and getting home around 11:30, I’ll have a ten minute drive to the stadium and back afterwards.

The Birth of Bond

It’s been nearly eight months since I watched a Bond movie. I need to get back on that. Perhaps this article, coming with the 50th anniversary of the franchise, will get me motivated again. It tells the story of all the elements that had to come together the get the first movie made. While Bond seems old hat these days, once he was the face of a bright, space age future.

This is an older, stiffer world, with Britain just five years removed from food rationing and America still in an era of Kramdens, Eisenhowers, and finned Caddies…But it is also a world in transition. Transatlantic jet service is newly available to commercial passengers, thanks to the carriers B.O.A.C. and Pan American. G. D. Searle & Company, a pharmaceutical concern, is awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market one of its products, Enovid, as a birth-control pill for women. A scrubbed, fit group of U.S. military test pilots has just been introduced to the public as the Mercury Seven, America’s first astronauts. And the undeclared Democratic front-runner in the next presidential election is only 42 years old.

I loved this bit about what Sean Connery brought to the role, put in more modern terms.

Connery’s rough-hewn background served Cinema Bond well—it made him a more plausible creation than Fleming’s Bond. Whereas the latter is a roguish posh boy, steeped in the finer things in life, who just happens to be a cold-blooded assassin, the former is not unlike Don Draper as portrayed by Jon Hamm in Mad Men: a mysterious self-creation whose virile good looks opened doors in his young adulthood, and who seized upon these openings to learn the ropes as a gentleman, connoisseur, and lover, transforming himself into a convincing but dangerous facsimile of all of the above.


I’ve hit a wall. I’ve abandoned two books in a row. The first, which got good reviews on Amazon, was so horribly written that I gave up after two chapters. The second, a piece of alternative-history fiction, I gave 100 pages. But I was sure I would get more annoyed and less entertained as I continued. I’m going to start over tomorrow. Here is a book I did finish, though, a couple weeks ago.

Morning Spy, Evening Spy – Colin MacKinnon.
Where once spy novels focused on the Cold War battles between East and West, or perhaps took a historical angle back to World War II, today the genre feels dominated by War on Terror centered plots. Which makes sense, as that’s what most of the intelligence community is focused on these days.

Here, MacKinnon layers the search for the killers of a former CIA employee in Pakistan with the slow arrival in the United States of the 9/11 terrorists. Naturally, it all ties together, and just as there were elements of the US intelligence community who were aware something was going to happen if not necessarily what, in the book the agents at the center of the story get right up against the 9/11 plot before losing their source who could have tipped them off before the attacks.

There’s plenty of good stuff here. It is one of the better reviewed spy novels of recent years. But there was something about the pacing of the novel that kept me from getting sucked in the way I wanted to be. It feels like a solid 3.5 star book, but ends up being disappointing because it could have been much more.


Thursday. All three girls in school. Which means I can sit down, scan the headlines, and pick out something to write about.


Jim Calhoun retires from UConn

I’ll throw this out: no coach has had as much success as Calhoun with as little respect. Seriously, when was the last time someone drew up a Best Coach in the Game list and he was in the Top 5? He has three titles, for crying out loud! You would think he’s always on the short list, rather than the extended list, for that discussion.

Why? I have a few ideas.

First, there’s a natural reluctance to admit new members to the elite of any sport. Even if you continue your success over a period of time, if you built a program from nothing, it seems like people are reluctant to give full credit. “Sure, UConn’s been great over the last 20 years, but what did they do before that?” seems to be the argument.

Second, I think a lot of outsiders think it’s easy to get talent in a place like UConn. Doesn’t matter that they were never good before Calhoun arrived. He’s on the East Coast. He can jump in his car and visit Boston and NYC. Take quick trips to Baltimore, Philly, and DC. And so on.

Finally, I think there’s always been a strong suspicion that the program is dirty. Sure, they’ve had some serious NCAA issues in recent years. But the whispers have always been that UConn did things to get players other programs did not do. That’s not just chatter by casual fans. I’ve heard the same come from people who are “insiders”, to one extent or another, at several other D1 programs.

Those are just off-the-cuff ideas. I don’t think it helps his cause that he’s kind of a dick and has that thick Boston accent.

All I know is UConn has been in the mix for the Final Four almost annually since 1990, when Laettner shot them down. Three titles, four Final Fours, nine Elite Eights. They’ve produced some fantastic players over that span, too.

He may not be in the top five for best ever college coach. But in his prime, Jim Calhoun was as good as any coach in the post-Wooden era.

Reporter’s Notebook

Four weeks of high school football in the books here in Indiana. My last two weeks have been very interesting, for very different reasons. I shall share.

A week ago, I had the one Catholic school we cover, RHS, which was ranked #5 in 4A, against one of their two biggest rivals, BCHS, which was ranked #1 in 3A. Despite the class difference, BCHS has dominated the series in the last decade, as they’ve dominated pretty much everyone over that span. With the exception of the elite in class 5A, BCHS is about as good as any school in the state.

Anyway, big matchup, especially with the buzz that RHS was beginning to rebuild after about five years of sub-par performance. It was a tight contest, although BCHS seemed to be the better team all night. With just over 2:00 to play in the game, RHS hit on a 31-yard TD pass to take a three-point lead. The place was going nuts. No worries for BCHS. They took the kick off back to the 49, then rather quickly moved inside the ten. They settled for a tying field goal with 54 seconds to play. Might this be my first ever overtime in football?

Indeed it was. Which posed a problem. Our normal deadline is 10:45. This year, because of a new editing system, my editor has informally moved the deadline up 15 minutes, with a strong preference for having your boxscore and story submitted no later than 10:20. This game was on local TV, so it started at 7:30 instead of the traditional 7. There were longer breaks during dead balls for commercials, which was truly dumb as the game was being showed on tape delay at 11, not live. So it was already getting late. And now we were playing even later. I shot my editor text updates and he was praying for a quick resolution.

The teams traded touchdowns in the first OT. In the second, RHS had to settle for a field goal. BCHS had fourth down at the 2, and chose to go for it.  One way or another, the game was ending. It was 10:20. BCHS banged the ball in and I raced to my car to start writing. On the way, I asked my editor how long of a story he needed. “Whatever you can give me in 10 minutes.” Great, I have to sum up a great game insanely quickly without any quotes from coaches or players.

Fortunately, I had already banged out a couple paragraphs highlighting some of the big plays of regulation. I cleaned those up, summarized the overtime, put a snappy lede on it, and fired it off. I got my stats in ten minutes later and was done for the night, feeling pretty good about myself.

The next morning I read my story and realized I left out one huge component: I failed to mention that BCHS scored the winner on fourth down. That’s a nice little element of drama, not to mention a fundamental fact, that should have been included. Oh well. I think people got the gist.

Last Friday I was scheduled, for the first time ever, to cover our biggest school, CGHS. The catch was I had to drive two hours to Terre Haute to see them, probably the reason our staff writer, who normally covers them, didn’t take the game. CGHS is really good this year,  so I was excited to see them. Until I saw the forecast. It looked like I was going to get wet, or rather the players would. And a wet field and ball means lots of dropped passes, lots of changes of possession, and another long, slow game pushing me up against deadline.

Mother Nature took care of that, though. When I arrived in Terre Haute, about 45 mnutes before kickoff, the skies were dark and ominous and the radar showed a long stretch of red across Illinois. The teams warmed up, lined up for the national anthem, and as soon as the band finished, a call came through the press box, “Lightning spotted. Evacuate the field and bleachers.” In Indiana there is an automatic 30 minute delay any time lightning is spotted. Everyone in the press box stared at their smartphone screens, studying the radar and calculating just how long we might have to sit and wait. The athletic directors, and again Mother Nature, made a quick decision. With tornado warnings just across the state line, the game was officially postponed at 7:20. I raced out to my car to begin the drive back to Indy, hoping I could out-run the storms.

I kept it pegged on 80, flying by several state policemen who were sitting on the sides of the road watching the clouds rather than traffic, and eyeing the lightning show in my rearview mirror. Just as I hit the I-465 loop near the airport, I drove into a different severe thunderstorm. Fortunately this one just had heavy winds and torrential rains; no tornadoes or hail. So I crawled along 465 at about 30 MPH for 45 minutes, barely able to see the road in front of me, and listened to the radio as game-after-game across central Indiana was delayed and then postponed. In the end about half the games in the state scheduled for Friday night were played or completed on Saturday.

I didn’t get to head back to Terre Haute on Saturday, though. We had soccer that morning. CGHS survived a sloppy field and won 17-15. That could have been fun to write about. Oh well.

So it’s been a pretty exciting couple of weeks. For some strange reason I have a feeling I’ll get my boys at ECHS this week, as they try to win their third game of the season.

NFL 2012

It promises to be a strange year for NFL fans here in Indianapolis. Most Colts fans were able to deal with the wreckage of last season, knowing that Andrew Luck would be the reward. Based on early returns, Luck seems to be the real deal. But a good quarterback does not alone rebuild a crumbling franchise. The Colts still have lots of work to do to get back in the playoff mix, let alone become a Super Bowl contender again. This season, not last, is year one of the rebuiling process.

Making matters more complicated is Peyton Manning suiting up for the Denver Broncos. I contend that he is not a long-term solution for the Broncos. But, providing they can protect him and keep him on the field, I see no reason why he can’t be to the Broncos what Joe Montana was to the Chiefs during his two-year run in KC. I expect a lot of gnashing of teeth in Indy when the Broncos are in the playoff hunt in November and the Colts are beginning to think about the draft.

Anyway, on to my annual, ultra-scientific, deeply considered picks for the NFL season.


East: New England. I saw a headline for a column on Yahoo Sports the other day that said something about how the lack of a running game had kept the Patriots from becoming a true dynasty. So I guess it doesn’t matter if you go to five Super Bowls in a decade-plus. If you lose a couple, you can’t be called a dynasty. Stupid.

North: Baltimore. Most seem to think this is an easy pick. As much as I hate the Steelers, I hope it’s still an old fashioned slugathon to win this division.

South: Houston. For a decade the Colts were the easy pick here. How long will the Texans be the auto-pick?

West: San Diego. This seems like the most wide-open division in football. I’m not sure Peyton will click early or be healthy late, don’t get the Chiefs hype, so ride the Phillip Rivers wagon again this year.

Wild Cards: Pittsburgh, Denver.


East: New York. Despite Wednesday’s game, I’m not ready to say the Cowboys are the better team over 16 games.

North: Green Bay. Still the best in the wide-open regular season.

South: Saints. Despite all the drama, still the best team in the division with the added bonus of playing with a massive chip on their shoulders.

West: 49ers. Will challenge Green Bay for best record.

Wild Cards: Chicago, Dallas.


Steelers over Chargers
Texans over Broncos
Bears over Cowboys
Giants over Saints

Divisional Round
Patriots over Texans
Ravens over Steelers
49ers over Giants
Bears over Packers

Conference Championships
Ravens over Patriots
Bears over 49ers

Super Bowl
Ravens 9, Bears 6. Ugliest Super Bowl ever. Worried about more bad press, after a year of focus on concussions and brain trauma, Roger Goodell unilaterally eliminates all offensive pass interference and holding penalties for the 2013 season, saying that it is just too hard to score.

Mark it down.

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