Month: September 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

Kid Sports

In reverse order of age this time, your periodic Kid Sports Update.


L., and her whole soccer team, rebounded nicely from their rough first week. Playing against teams that have not been full of second graders like their first opponent, they’ve won two-straight games in shutouts. She scored three goals last week and two yesterday.

Most impressively, her team is playing pretty, team soccer. Most of the kids are learning how to pass out of traffic and then run to space. Last week she was bringing the ball up the middle. When two defenders cut her off, she made a nice pass out to the left, where a teammate ran onto the ball. She immediately cut away and towards the goal. Her teammate took a couple dribbles and then fired a pass to the middle. She collected it, danced around a couple defenders, and scored. I couldn’t get my U–10 team to do that last year!

She also made a perfect pass from the goal line back across the penalty box that a teammate ran onto and blasted. He was unlucky, hitting the goalie square in the chest, but it was a gorgeous play.

L’s team has eight kids, there are eight periods, and four positions on the field. With every kid playing half the game that means they rotate through all four positions. Last week she had played sweeper and both forward spots. When her final period began, the coach asked, “OK, who hasn’t played goalie yet?” She turned, looked at the ground, and took a few steps behind another teammate. She clearly was not interested in playing goal. We laughed out loud at her attempt to hide. The coach found her, though, and put her in goal. We think she just much prefers offense. But she also got to play goalie one quarter last spring when she played up for a game. And she let in two goals when kids three years older than her blasted it by her because she was out of position. I think she has some nervousness about what to do. She shouldn’t have been nervous. She picked up the ball both times it was close to her and made great passes out to teammates.


C. has had a great couple weeks of cross country. Two weeks ago, at a big invitational meet that featured about 700 total kids, she finished 35th of 120 in her gender/age group. The top 30 got ribbons so she just missed on that. And she cut over 30 seconds off her previous best time.

This weekend she ran in a much smaller meet. We don’t have official times yet, but she was right around the 15:30 she ran the previous week. This time that was good for 13th place. When she finished I told her she was around 15th or 16th. As they were bringing the award winners up to the stage, and went past those two places without calling her name, I watched her look around to her friends with a look of surprise and amazement. I was glad I miscounted the girls in front of her, because it made her even more proud of her result.

Her team takes this weekend off then she runs in the city championships next Wednesday.


And then kickball. M’s team played in the city semifinals last week. We knew it was going to be a tougher game than any of their regular season contests. As the first semifinal was wrapping up, we watched St. P’s opponent, St. M, warm up on a side field. Their first baseman couldn’t catch anything. Their other infielders were having trouble fielding it. “Man,” I thought, “they’re going to cream these kids.”

Whoops.

St. P’s scored three in the top of the first, but that was a struggle because St. M’s was making every defensive play. Then, in the bottom of the inning, the first seven St. M’s players got on base and scored. One girl, who was about the size of the smallest St. P’s girls, cranked the ball over the head of our left fielder.

We held them scoreless for the next three innings, but could only add two runs of our own, making it 7–5. St. M’s scored two more in the fifth, and then two, two-out runs in the 6th. Our girls could only score three over the last three innings and lost 13–8. That one, poor inning was the difference.

St. M’s had some sixth graders, so our coaches told the girls there was nothing to be ashamed of. Besides, they got a trophy for winning their division and were super excited about getting that to put in the school lobby.

It may have been a good thing they lost, too. The team they would have played in the final, St. S, was very, very good. They beat the St. P’s team that had a mix of 5th and 6th graders twice in the regular season. Not saying we couldn’t have beaten them, but it was going to be a struggle.

The bigger thing, though, is we avoided St. S’s coach. Or rather I avoided him. We’ve heard stories about him all year. Apparently he is rather annoying if your kid is not on his team. He likes to yell out the calls on the bases, or at least his view of them, louder than the umpire. And then argues any call he disagrees with. We also heard, from the other St. P’s team, that he’ll yell at players on the other team, “Two outs, run on anything,” even when there aren’t two outs. The coach of the other St. P’s team, who we know pretty well and is about as laid-back and pleasant as you can be, had to tell him to knock it off the two times their teams played. Since I keep score, there’s a good chance I could have been standing near him for seven innings. Which meant A) my blood pressure would likely be sky-high if he really behaves as we’ve heard, B) my mouth would likely be bleeding from biting my lips, tongue, and cheeks to keep from saying anything and C) there’s about an even-money chance I would have said something to him at some point.

One thing I’ve learned in our girls’ years of sports is that games are much more pleasant and relaxed when moms[1] are coaching. Not that there aren’t still disagreements and discussions, and our coaches were all super competitive and wanted to win every game. But it seems like if there are two moms coaching, they find a way to work it out and end the game smiling and wishing each other luck. Men, and I include myself here, are generally overly competitive idiots who let the testosterone get in the way of letting our kids have fun.

That nonsense aside, M. really enjoyed this year. She got better and was on a really good team. On our way home after the loss, she said she was sad, not because the team lost, but because she wouldn’t be able to go to practice and games with that group of girls until volleyball begins in December. More than the wins or her personal improvement, that was my favorite moment of the season.


  1. Or aunts, etc.  ↩

⦿ Friday Links

Time to finish clearing out the Links To Share queue.


Kicking things off, two posts about Kansas City. First, The Midwestival traveled to KC for an epic weekend of eating and seeing the sites. Kansas City has really evolved over the past 10–15 years.

Kansas City: The Paris of the Plains

As a bit of a counter-point, Robert Trussell wrote about how Kansas City’s downtown was once a wasteland of blowing garbage and dark streets when the workday crowd cleared out. I spent one year living in downtown proper and it was weird to have absolutely nothing to do within walking distance.

The evolution of downtown KC … no more lonely streets


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? He’s not like all the other guys.

What The World Got Wrong About Kareem Abdul-Jabaar


Duran Duran released a new album a week ago. It got mostly positive, if not overly enthusiastic, reviews. I listened to it once. Nothing really jumped out as me as must-hear and I’ve not gone back to it.

As they do any time an artist with a deep catalog releases something new, Stereogum broke down their 10 favorite DD songs. Their top choice is a little controversial, but as I shared in the past in a Friday Vid post, I’m completely on board with it.

The 10 Best Duran Duran Songs


I know at some point I’ve shared an article about this subject before. I don’t know if it went into the depth that this one does, though. Its focus is when Michael Larson hacked the TV game show Press Your Luck.

The Man Who Got No Whammies


Man, is this awesome. The state of college football in 1937, in map form.

LgCollegeFootballMap

(Click for larger version.)

It’s fun reading through to find school name changes, mascot changes, and how some schools that are playing much lower level football are grouped in with modern FBS teams.

Via Slate


Wrapping things up, two Anthony Bourdain-related links.

Josh Eells wrote a lengthy profile of Bourdain, and his process, for Men’s Journal. Bourdain doesn’t live a bad life at all.

Anthony Bourdain’s World Domination

And then, from Bourdain himself, comes this pretty spectacular video.. He travelled to the workshop of Bob Kramer, a master blade smith, and watches him create on of the world’s finest (and most expensive) kitchen knives. Trust me, it’s amazing.

Friday Vid(s)

Two videos that have nothing to do with each other this week.

“No Myth” – Michael Penn

It’s National One Hit Wonder day! What actually constitutes a one-hit wonder can often be a little murky. Does it mean cracking the Billboard Top 40? Or does it mean songs that get into our pop culture memories regardless of chart position?

Regardless, this is one of my favorites. Just a perfect pop song, and one that everyone seemed to love my freshman year of college.

https://youtu.be/1K_LFVFKZKw

“Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World” – Pearl Jam

Ryan Adams is performing on the first episode of the new Daily Show Monday night. So maybe next week we’ll have a video of one of his Taylor Swift covers. But Pearl Jam just happened to show up on The Late Show this week and tore into one of their classic covers, with a little help from Stephen Colbert. Like most bands that have stuck together for over 20 years, Pearl Jam’s song writing fastball is at least 10 years in the past. But live on stage, they can still kick out the jams. This is a pretty remarkable performance.

Reading Joe

So I’m obviously way behind on sharing interesting links with all ya’ll. Thus, I’m breaking them up a bit to clear out the queue. This edition focuses on the great Joe Posnanski.


Boy did I love this one. In My Favorite Year (Redux), Joe went through the entire sports calendar of 1986 and broke down, month-by-month, why it is his favorite sports year ever. That was indeed a pretty good year, even if my teams were different than his at the time.

Most significantly for me, that was the first KU Final Four that I was old enough to remember. Later, with the pressure off of the Royals after they won the World Series the previous year, I remember soaking up the ’86 playoffs and loving every second of them without having to stress about the results. I still recall the stunned reaction in my step-dad’s brother’s home in Jefferson City, MO as game five of the ALCS played out to its wild conclusion. It was also the year I learned how to play golf, so I watched PGA events most Thursdays and Fridays after school, and then through the weekend.

The big thing about Joe’s post, though, is it got me thinking about what my favorite sports year ever would be. I’m not sure I know the answer yet, but it’s fun to think about.


Next, Joe looked back on George Brett’s phenomenal summer of 1980. We moved to Kansas City right as Brett was kicking off his hottest stretch of the season. Each night I’d curl up in my beanbag chair and listen to Denny and Fred tell me about his latest 3–5 night.

When you look back on Brett’s numbers that year, they are staggering. He wasn’t a big power guy like Bonds, Trout, Cabrera, or Harper, modern guys who have put up insane numbers. He just hit line drive after line drive. He inspired me, when my next baseball season rolled around, to focus on hitting the ball into the gaps in right and left rather than swing for the fences. So I blame George for only hitting on over-the-wall home run in my Little League career.[1]

Chasing .400


Here is one of Joe’s personal posts. It’s about a drive with his 14-year-old daughter, just as she begins to slip away from him. It hits pretty close to home for a lot of us.

An Evening Drive


Last, and most recent, is the eulogy he wrote yesterday for the late Yogi Berra, which is utterly fantastic.

Yogi


  1. I did hit two inside-the-park home runs. Both in the same game, no less! I also had two doubles that day. I was Willie Wilson for one hot, June afternoon. And, yes, that was 33 years ago but I can tell you just about everything about that game. We have to hold onto our rare moments of glory.  ↩

Summer ’78

I’m loving a lot of things right now, pop culturally. I took a long bike ride this morning and mentally wrote at least 10,000 words about the new Ryan Adams album. We’ll see if I can make something coherent out of those thoughts to share here. I just finished an amazing, if flawed, book that took me nearly a month to get through. I also finally started watching Veep, which is fantastic.

And then there’s this little gem. It’s charming enough on its own. But if you were a child of the late 70s, I think it resonates a little more. I remember my neighbors and I making our own Millennium Falcon out of random cardboard boxes we taped together. And then there is the hilarious, but completely accurate, co-mingling of various toys. Who didn’t throw army men, a dinosaur, or a stray Barbie into your Star Wars action figure games? Whatever was around and could serve a purpose became part of your Star Wars universe.

Fun With Exercise

A super-busy start to the week. I’m attempting to wrap up the four basketball previews I’m writing. I was minutes away from submitting one earlier this morning when I realized I worked off two different files yesterday rather than putting all my updates into my final draft. So I spent two stressful hours today combing through to find what belonged in the final draft, what did not, and then rewriting the whole thing. Kind of blew my whole day.

Tonight we’re off to the semifinals of the city kickball tournament. M’s team is playing another undefeated team. We have no idea how good they are. They could be awesome and rolled through a tough division. Or they could have been kicking teams by 30 runs like M’s team did and have a deceptive record. I think all the coaches (and parents) are a little nervous. We’ll find out if that was misplaced stress in a few hours.

Sunday C. and L. came up with their own workout plan. We’re not sure what exactly caused this, but they spent the afternoon coming up with exercises and writing them down on pieces of paper. Then they closed to door to our bonus room, where I do my workouts, and got to sweatin’.

Their routine is pretty great. Here it is; spellings are all theirs:

10 seconds of craking your back 2 ways
10 seconds of hamies
10 seconds of bakword hamies
10 jumping jacks
butterfly for 10 seconds
cross your legs and touch your toes for 10 seconds
hurtle streatch for 10 seconds

And then there was this:
title

On the flip side is this:
10 seconds of thoes bakwards

That made us laugh out loud. We could imagine what was going through C’s head, “Well, I’m not sure what you call this, so I’ll just draw a picture.”

Best we can tell is it is some kind of squat thrust, or maybe a standing and then lying-down yoga pose. The picture leaves lots of room for your imagination.

Another component of their workout plan was to skip treats after dinner for a week. They put a big sign on the refrigerator that said “No treats foar C. and L. all weak. Sunday-Saturday.”

When they got home from school yesterday, I asked L. why they gave up treats. Her response, “I didn’t want to. C. made me do it.”

I told her if she didn’t want to give them up, she didn’t have to. It was her choice. She disappeared for a few minutes and then came back with a new sign. She slapped it on the fridge and threw the old one in the trash. The new one says, “No treats for C. all week.” And at the bottom, in smaller writing, it says, “Sorry C. I wanted a treat. Love, L.”

Great stuff!

Friday Vid

“Major Tom” – Peter Schilling

I have a bad habit of loading up our DVR with shows that I either take months to watch, or eventually delete without ever viewing them. Even for a show like The Americans, that I absolutely adore, I was a month behind. I still have the entire first season of Better Call Saul to begin.[1] I have countless Anthony Bourdain shows tucked away. And I believe I still have a couple episodes of Louie in there somewhere.

This morning I finally watched the premiere episode of Deutschland 83, which aired back in June. It hits a huge sweet spot for me: an early ‘80s, Cold War-centric, espionage show. It doesn’t come close to The Americans but I enjoyed it.

Episode One had lots of great early 80s hits in it, but I figured I’d go with this, which is featured in the title sequence.


  1. I still need to watch the final half-season of Breaking Bad before I dive into Saul.  ↩

Kid Sports Notes

With the late holiday, our kid fall sports calendars are a little odd this year. Kickball always starts just after school begins and runs for only three weeks. And soccer did not start until after Labor Day. But as of Sunday, we finally have all three girls on the fields each week.


Kickball

It’s been a fantastic season for M’s team. Last night they wrapped up a perfect regular season with their fifth run-ruled win in seven games. Now I must point out that some oddness in both the rules for this age group and how St. P’s picks teams combined to make M’s team much, much more talented than any team they faced. At this level, fifth and sixth graders play together. The best team from each school is put into the A league, and then the remaining girls get dropped into the B league. St. P’s had enough girls come out that they had an all-sixth grader team in the A league, and then a mixed sixth/fifth and a fifth grade-only team in the B league. M was on the fifth-only team, and because St. P’s just divides up girls rather than ranks the girls, her team ended up with the 4–5 best fifth graders. One poor team in their division only had three fifth graders and then a bunch of fourth graders that had to play up. St. P’s whacked them 61–11 in five innings. It was pretty brutal to watch.

Anyway, M’s team is moving on to the city tournament, which is next week. They play another undefeated team on Tuesday in the semifinals. Win that and they play either St. S, which beat the 5th/6th team from St. P’s twice, or St. B, our nemesis from kickball and volleyball last year.

It’s been cool to watch our girls play. Last year we had about two really good players. This year, most of the girls kick much better, understand how to run bases, and generally do a really good job in the field. They catch almost everything and routinely throw out girls at first base on anything that stays in front of the pitcher.

M. has really gotten better, too. She mastered bunting this year, which in kickball means you tap the ball so it goes beyond the five-foot arc[1] and then haul ass to first base. In fact, I think she only made one or two outs when she bunted. I forced her to kick hard late in games when they were way ahead and then she almost always made an out. Which led to this conversation after games, “See what happens when I try to kick hard, Dad? I make outs. And I don’t like making outs.”

Last week she had her best game ever kicking, assisted by some fielding issues by the other team. Twice she dribbled the ball forward and took off for first. Twice the suicide (infielder who plays next to pitcher) raced up to knock the ball foul before it crossed the five-foot arc. Twice the suicide was late and hit the ball after it had moved fair. Once she hit it about ten feet behind home and M. ended up on third. The other time the girl blasted the ball and it rolled 30 feet beyond home. M. raced around and came home for a Little League home run, kickball style. As I posted to Facebook, we are absolutely counting that as a home run!

She’s also gotten much better in the field. She’s thrown out at least six girls at first when playing suicide on the third base side. She quickly grabs the ball, turns and heaves it to first without looking. Somehow the ball is always perfectly on line, takes one big bounce, and beats the runner to first. One game the other coach told his players to kick it to her. She threw out the first two runners of the inning before he told them to kick it somewhere else. Respect from the other coach! Never thought I’d see the day!


Cross Country

C. has now run in two cross country meets. Her first, the weekend before Labor Day, had a relay setup. Each runner was paired with another, and they took turns running 1K loops until the team had compiled 6K total. She and her partner finished exactly in the middle, both in place and time. They were 17th of 35 teams, six minutes behind the winners and six minutes ahead of the last-place finishers.

She had her first chance to run solo this past weekend. She did great, coming in 25th of 60 third and fourth grade girls in 16:03.

She’s pretty funny to watch run. Like a lot of kids her age, she doesn’t have the best form. Her arms tend to drop and she is often leaning forward too far with her upper body. You’d think nothing could be more natural for a kid than running, right? Like probably every kid ever, when she runs close to us and we’re able to cheer loud enough for her to hear, she kicks it up a notch. And when she thinks she’s out of sight, she dials it waaaay back.

We think she’s enjoying it, although it’s hard to tell sometimes. I think she likes being on a team, enjoys the time she spends with a couple of her closest friends who are also running, and feels herself improving. But I don’t know that she loves the actual running. They practice three times a week, which means her evenings are kind of a wreck with her coming home tired and hungry. I still think she may be better suited to track than cross country, but she is only a third grader. She had plenty of time to figure that out.


Soccer

Finally, L. had her first soccer game last Sunday. She’s moved up to U8 this year, and her team is mixed between young first graders and second graders. The team they played Sunday was almost all second graders, and that age/experience difference showed. L’s team lost 4–1, primarily because the first three kids to play goalie for her team kept forgetting they could use their hands. A couple of the goals came when they were flailing at the ball with their feet and it bounced by when they could have easily picked it up.

For probably the first time since she started playing, she was not the best player on the field. She struggled to retain possession against the bigger kids. The few times she got the ball on a breakaway, they ran her down where last year she could outrun everybody. She never got a good scoring chance in the box. A couple times she shot the ball from way too far out to have a real chance.

We saw her developing some bad habits last spring when she was still playing against the younger kids. She needs to work to get rid of them. She developed a stupid ”trick” of intentionally falling down every time she kicked the ball hard. She was still doing that Sunday. And the shooting from way out thing was a way to challenge herself last year, when she had no defensive pressure on her and no goalie in front of her. Those are easy saves this year.

I think this year is going to be good for her. She loves soccer and says she wants to be a professional player when she grows up. She’s going to have to figure out how to hold possession against the bigger kids, how to pass and run to space in order to get good scoring chances, and remember to never turn the ball to the middle when she’s on defense. She still had lots of fun Sunday, although she was bummed that they lost. For her two classmates that were on her last two teams, this was the first time they had ever lost a game together! Pretty good run.


  1. In CYO kickball there is an arc that runs foul line to foul line five feet in front of home. If the defense can get to the ball before it crosses that line and push it back, it counts as a foul ball. Once it crosses that line, it’s fair and in play.  ↩

Hot Sports Takes

Mondays are perfect days for Hot Sports Takes!


Colts

Yeesh. Once Rex Ryan took the Bills head coaching job, this officially became the dreaded tough road opener against a team with a great defense and something to prove. Which is an actual NFL game description. A loss wasn’t out of the question, but getting worked over, totally owned, and blown out was unexpected. I only saw the first quarter because of soccer so can’t make any broad assessments. Hopefully T.Y. Hilton will not miss much time. Hopefully that D-line can get things figured out. Hopefully Luck will be sharper playing indoors. Fortunately, the Colts play in a terrible division. Unless…


Marcus Mariotta…

is for real. Man, what a pro debut! He’s not doing that every week, for sure. But suddenly the Tennessee games aren’t two automatic W’s on the schedule for the Colts.


Peyton

Mr. Manning looked terrible. Many of the same issues we saw late last year: his throws often looked weak and off-the-mark. Even the good balls sailed on him. You can’t panic about a single game in the NFL. And with his track record, he deserves more time before we begin penning his playing obituary. But he did not inspire much confidence yesterday. Fortunately he has great receivers, a great running game, and a fantastic defense supporting him. He doesn’t need to put up 35 every week to win. But if you’re a Broncos fan, you’re already sweating the playoffs.


SNF

I did not stay up to watch the end of the Giants-Cowboys game (or watch much at all), but I had to laugh when I read this morning of the Giants out-Cowboying the Cowboys. I’ll give Dallas this: pretty much every game they’re in is entertaining and has something you’ve never seen before. With them apparently rubbing off on the opponents, that doubles the fun!


US Open

I did not watch much of the SNF game because I got sucked into the US Open men’s final. It was far from a classic, but it was still terrific TV.

I don’t watch nearly as much tennis as I did a decade or more ago. The US Open was always a fun part of the first couple weeks of the college school year. We’d watch a match, then run down to the campus courts and get a few games in before the lights shut off at 11. As much as I hate to admit it, the dearth of highly ranked American men keeps me from really enjoying the sport.

Still, the Djokovic-Federer match was fun viewing, notably because the huge crowd was trying to push Roger to victory. The rapid swings in the match were what kept me glued to ESPN. One moment Djokovic seemed poised to blow out Roger, the next Federer had completely stolen the momentum. In the third set Federer was points away from taking a 5–4 lead only to see it quickly slip away. And then down 5–2 in the fourth set, Roger roared back to make it a nervous finish for Djokovic. Not quite Federer-Nadal at Wimbledon, but it was fun to watch.

And it’s totally crazy to me that Djokovic had 10 grand slam titles. I know he’s been good for years, but 10 already??? I don’t think his game matches Federer in his prime, and perhaps even Sampras’. But he has a really good shot of passing Federer’s grand slam record before he’s done.


Royals

Time to panic. Or at least ramp those post-season expectations way back. A month ago they were the World Series favorites after adding Cueto and Zobrist. Today, I’m not sure they win two games in a playoff series. Fortunately there are still three weeks to play, and hopefully get Cueto and everyone else right again.


Kid Sports

All three girls are finally in real competition. An update on their escapades later this week.

NFL Predictions

Yes! It is that time of year: time for fearless football predictions!

I admit up front that my predictions are even more half-assed than normal this year. That’s because my regular disdain for preseason football was combined with the Royals leading the division this year. So I’ve been able to spend even less time than normal avoiding NFL news as I’ve been fully immersed in all things Royal. More than likely there have been half-a-dozen season ending injuries I know nothing about that will affect some of the teams I’m picking to do good things.


First, some thoughts about the Colts. They’re certainly going all-in this year, signing a bundle of free agents who are all at the tail ends of their careers. Obviously the hope is that the Colts can squeeze another year or two out of Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, etc. and surrounded them with weapons like Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, etc. will slow their declines a bit. Ideally they’d be signing a bunch of young guys on the upswing and build a core that can stay together for 4–5 years. But between cap space and a dearth of those kinds of players on the open market, I can’t say I argue all that much with the Colts’ strategy.

Of course, the real question is are Gore, Johnson, etc. enough to get the Colts over the top in the AFC? That’s where I’m not so sure. No matter the source, it’s clear the Patriots have some kind of voodoo magic going for them. I don’t think the Colts found the kryptonite for the Pats’ sorcery in their offseason signings.

But here’s the thing that really gives me pause about the Colts: I have a bad feeling about Andrew Luck staying healthy this year. He’s been beaten and battered every year since he came into the league. The Colts o-line is still suspect, at best. I have a fear that this is the year he either takes one too many hits, or one huge hit, and that keeps him from playing an entire season. I’ve had that vibe all summer. I really hope that is just needless worrying on my part.

OK, onto the predictions!


AFC East

Man, I’ve been saying the Patriots have one more run in them for about five years now. So clearly my predictions powers are locked in. As long as Brady is under center and Belichick is on the sidelines, this division is theirs. New England

AFC North

The classic “a bunch of decent but no real great teams” division. One injury could play a huge role in who ends up winning this thing. I’ll stick with Baltimore, mostly because they seem to have their own, lighter version of voodoo magic and lack glaring weaknesses.

AFC South

Houston has that monster defensive line, but no offense. This division is Indianapolis’s provided Luck stays healthy.

AFC West

Does Peyton have one more run in him, or is this his “Willie Mays, 1973 World Series” season? I’m wagering he’s good enough to lead Denver to one more division title.

Wildcards

Cincinnati, Kansas City

NFC East

Do you trust Dallas to do what they did last year, or at least get close, again? Or do they turn back into team turmoil, equally capable of blowing someone out and of choking away winnable games? I’ll stick with Dallas, because their defense should be healthy and much improved this year.

NFC North

Green Bay in a runaway.

NFC South

Drew Brees isn’t as close to the end as Peyton is, but this feels like his last, best shot to make a deep run before the Saints blow up their roster completely. New Orleans.

NFC West

Seattle.

Wildcards

Atlanta, Philadelphia.

Playoffs

AFC

Kansas City over Denver. Farewell, Peyton. Maybe he can think about being a pitch-man on the teevee commercials. Call me crazy, but I think he might be OK at that.
Baltimore over Cincinnati. Always take Flacco over Dalton in the playoffs.

Indianapolis over Kansas City. Just like always.
New England over Baltimore. Belichick is all up in the Ravens’ heads.

New England over Indianapolis. Just like always.

Hey, some of those results look awfully familiar!

NFC

Atlanta over New Orleans. The Saints’ glory era ends in an upset loss at home.
Philadelphia over Dallas. Shocker!

Green Bay over Atlanta. Ugly weather = Packers win.
Seattle over Philadelphia. Closer than you might think.

Seattle over Green Bay. Would it be too much to ask for an insane, classic game like last year’s again? Probably so, and this ends up being a blowout.

Now wait a minute, am I even trying, or just cutting/pasting from last year?

Super Bowl

Redemption vs. coronation! Karma vs. Predestination! Wilson vs. Brady! Carroll vs. Belichick!
Seattle 31, New England 30

Mark it down!

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