Well, for most of my friends, this was a sports weekend to forget.
I picked a very good night to have dinner plans that interfered with me watching the KU game. Thus I was able to not see a minute of KU getting whacked by Kentucky. We left right around tip off and by the time we got to our destination, the lead was already big enough that I was saved the awkwardness of checking my phone throughout dinner.
Without visual knowledge of what happened, I can’t really break it down. But I am concerned my little line last week, intended to be a throwaway, about Bill Self’s off-season transfer haul being a waste, seems more true than ever. Kentucky was a much more athletic team, and KU couldn’t hang. Remy Martin played 15 minutes, Joe Yesufu 5. Which means Self is basically running the same team out there that didn’t belong on the same court as USC last March.
There’s still a lot of basketball to be played, so it’s not worth worrying about March when we still have a day left in January. But a team that seemed like one of the best in the country six weeks ago, with plenty of room for growth, now seems like just another in a large group of decent teams with no real Final Four chances.
Fortunately KU gets a chance to bounce back by playing…(checks schedule)…at Iowa State, Baylor, and Texas over the next week. Oh damn!
I’ll tread lightly here, since I have a large Chiefs-fan contingent in my reader base. The AFC title game result was…surprising. I missed the early part of the game and was only half-watching as the Chiefs stretched the lead to 21–3. No need to watch the rest, I thought, as we straightened up after having some family guests over the weekend. Next time I walked by the TV the Bengals had the lead and I had no idea how.
From Twitter I gather the Chiefs defense did enough to win but, amazingly, it was the offense that let them down. That is also surprising.
My bigger takeaway is how this weekend might have officially turned the page for quarterback generations in the NFL. Peyton has been gone a few years. Brees left last year. Brady is leaving, maybe? If Rodgers continues to play he likely has just a brief time left in his career. Russell Wilson seems like he’s on the back-half of his career. In that group you have the quarterbacks who have dominated the game over the past 20 years.
On the other side of the generational divide, Patrick Mahomes has already ascended. Josh Allen sure seemed to this year. Joe Burrow is the swaggiest QB since Joe Namath and just got to the Super Bowl in his second year in the league, after blowing out his knee his rookie year. Those three play in different AFC divisions, meaning they will battle for a long time as long as they remain healthy. I would also add Lamar Jackson, who is doing things that no one thought possible for a quarterback in the NFL. Kyler Murray is just outside that group, but is such a unique talent that if he can learn to harness it for 20-some games he could easily move into that group. What a treat for football fans!
What is this bullshit rolling Michael Buffer out to “announce” the kickoff two-straight weeks? Is it 1997?
The Niners-Rams game wasn’t quite as fun as their last meeting, but still enjoyable as a neutral. So many just stupid plays that affected the result. So much over-coaching. I was hoping for a three-OT game as the teams traded stupid play after stupid play.
Props to Jimmy G for likely ending his career in the most Jimmy G manner possible. Carson Wentz probably shed a tear if he was watching, thinking Jimmy made a great play.
During much of the Bengals-Chiefs game, I was actually watching more of the US-Canada men’s World Cup qualifier. Without diving into pay channels, it was only available on Telemundo, so in Spanish, in standard definition. Which was weird. Made weirder by being played in some glorified college stadium on a narrow, artificial turf field in Ontario.
I missed the opening Canada goal but watched with great frustration as the US mostly dominated the game, yet couldn’t put a tying goal in. They had a brilliant chance late in the first half when Weston McKennie had a beautiful header that the Canada goalie knocked away at the last possible moment. It was a brilliant save, made even more impressive since the goalie looked like some dude they randomly picked up before the game in a nearby park.
That was the story of the entire game: the US dominated possession but could not get good shots on goal. And when they managed a decent shot, the goalie was always there.
The game got nice and chippy late. Lots of pushing and mock, soccer player anger. The referee was great. He would come charging in from 30 yards away anytime there was a little dustup, blowing his whistle and waving his arms. The Canadian crowd was in a frenzy, as a win would both be Canada’s first over the US in a WC qualifier since 1980 and pretty much lock up their World Cup berth. They added a goal in the final minute of stoppage time as the US pressed forward and the place went nuts. If it wasn’t so annoying that the US had, once again, found a way to make getting to the World Cup entirely too difficult, it would have been awesome to watch.
I don’t follow the USMNT super closely. I do know they have their best crop of talent since those great teams of the early 2000s. They tend to play really well against Mexico, which is awesome. But they still throw too many duds up against teams they have way more talent than. For example, last week’s game against El Salvador. Played in freezing Columbus, OH, you would expect the US to win easily. They had to gut out a nervy 1–0 win. I watched most of the second half and they seemed so much better, but just can’t finish. I’m sure it is maddening to people that are really into the team.
They are still in a good spot to get to the World Cup next fall. But they could have wrapped up that spot by now and have only themselves to blame if it comes down to the last game or, worse, they have to go to a playoff to get in.