RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Sunday, December 28

NFL WK 17: Playing Out The Season

These are the eight teams left in the last cycle through the league, allegedly according to my original thinking, the eight teams not at the bottom of the league but playing out their year with no hope of the playoffs. Except, two of the teams listed actually still have a chance, so I'm obviously full of shit, like pretty much every other NFL internet know-it-all...

#1: WASHINGTON REDSKINS (8-7, 12th overall) - As a Redskins fan, I was incredibly annoyed of the report where Personnel Guru Vinny Cerratto proclaimed Jim Zorn's job safe after this season, not because I think Zorn should be run off, but because if ever there was somebody who should be run out of town with his head on a pike for having a hand in ruining this team, it's Cerratto. Fucking asshole, sitting around acting like anybody should care about what he thinks. After they blew the game against the Bengals, he cancelled his weekly radio show because he knew it'd just be folks calling in calling his ass on his ghastly draft and free agent acquisitions. Fuck him twice.

#2: CHICAGO BEARS (9-6, 13th overall) - Sorry Bears fans for including your team on the list of teams playing out their year with nothing left to go for, being the Bears can still make the playoffs. But honestly, they shouldn't be in the playoffs because in recent years, the Bears are supposed to either miss the playoffs or go like 13-3 and make the playoffs but come up short. That is how it is supposed to be. I have to admit, Kyle Orton has become one of my favorite characters in the NFL. He's like what Jake Plummer pretended to be.

#3: SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (7-8, 17th overall) - Norv Turner, yet again, is doing just enough at the very end to seem halfway competent enough for you to ignore that he came into this season with one of the most stacked offenses there was, screwed it all up, had the Ed Hocuili call to blame unfairly, and still can eke out a playoff berth. You always have some excuse with Norvell - whether it's the water heater that blew up in his face as a child or the injury to Merriman or Hocuili's blown call or whatever the fuck - that can justify his mediocrity just enough for him to get another chance to be mediocre in high profile situations.

#4: NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (8-7, 19th overall) - Drew Brees fantasy league MVP season has been for a fourth-place divisional finish. Makes me wonder, as the casual fan who's only watched like two or three of their games, what the fuck is wrong with their defense? There is always next year though, which is what most of these eight teams are building up psychological hype for already. But how many more years like this does Drew Brees have in the tank? And will Reggie Bush ever turn the corner on being more than an exciting punt returner/3rd down back?

#5: HOUSTON TEXANS (7-8, 21st overall) - The Texans might finally finish at .500 for the season for the first time in their history. I think they've been around for like 8 or 9 seasons, which is pretty fucking ridiculous to just know get to .500. I know the idea for the next expansion franchise (which I'm sure is on hold now with the economy, stupid) is for L.A., which will fuck up the whole perfect order of 32 teams the league has now. I am suggesting they just move Houston to L.A., call them the Los Angeles Californians, and then Jacksonville can move to Houston.

#6: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (5-10, 22nd overall) - Jack Del Rio is the head coach of a team full of criminal elements, and they have underachieved preseason expectations this year, yet he has been unnamed as a coach on the hot seat. I can only assume he is where Marvin Lewis was a couple years back, and in a couple seasons when the Jaguars have a late-season rally to win 4 games total, they'll can him then.

#7: GREEN BAY PACKERS (5-10, 23rd overall) - At first, Rodgers over Favre was so obvious, but then they started struggling while the Jets were the best team in football, so it looked like a mistake, but now Favre has come back to earth as the ol' primadonna instead of the ol' gunslinger, and Rodgers is looking iffier and iffier. But I guess if you had the choice of a washed-up iffy fucker tarnishing his legend at the end of his career and a young yet promising iffy fucker who might be able to turn it around at some point so you can have some hope for the future, then you'd want the latter. Thus, the Packers are gonna be okay, at least when it comes to merchandising.

#8: BUFFALO BILLS (7-8, 24th overall) - The Bills crash landed pretty fucking badly this year. To go from first to worst in such short order in your division is pretty unforgiveable, especially in a heated blood rivals division like the AFC East. I have always liked Dick Jauron though because he sounds like an actor from Swedish Erotica.

Saturday, December 27

NFL WK 16: Playoff Contenders

This was supposed to be last week's listing, so I am going to pre-date it and let it fly, but I am not going to write much because I don't feel like pretending I've been motivated that much...

#1: DALLAS COWBOYS (9-5, 3rd overall) - Watching the Cowboys implode on slow burn is about the only entertainment left this season for a Redskins fan. I hope they make the playoffs just to add to their turmoil.

#2: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (8-5-1, 7th overall) - What I had written last week was all about how the Redskins were sure to lose. But they didn't. Donovan McNabb should probably get a highlight montage up on youtube for next season.

#3: MINNESOTA VIKINGS (9-5, 9th overall) - The Tarvaris Jackson to Viasanthe Shiancoe era promises to be more blacktacular in the long run than Michael Vick to Alge Crumpler.

#4: BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-5, 10th overall) - Flacco-mania runs a-wild in Bodymore. Amazing how they seem to be the best they've ever been in recent memory the year after self-described genius Brian Billick is gone to the CBS broadcasting booth, where, to be honest, he's not as annoying as I suspected.

#5: ATLANTA FALCONS (9-5, 11th overall) - Matt Ryan is apparently God's gift to the NFL, according to common sports memes. This means he is two years from crucifixion.

#6: NEW YORK JETS (9-5, 14th overall) - Man, Brett Favre... what a fucking tool. I don't even like using that word "tool" and hardly ever do in real life, but I figure in the case a Jets fan sees this, I'd use the douchebag terminology those types tend to use.

#7: MIAMI DOLPHINS (9-5, 16th overall) - Bill Parcells saves the day again, for the umpteenth time. Will this be yet another limited time engagement?

#8: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-5, 17th overall) - I hate to admit it, but this season has actually made Bill Belichick look like the great coach he is always annoyingly proclaimed to be. Good looking out Belichick, proving the haters wrong yet again.

Saturday, December 13

NFL WK 15: Playoff Bound

This is the second grouping of four teams in my final cycle through the NFLs, featuring this week the eight teams set for the playoffs. Of course, a couple of these teams aren't locks just yet, but I had to do eight, so I threw in a couple of teams that aren't technically guaranteed. What the fuck does it matter though? It's the stupid internet - full of pretentious assholes who think they know about what which they don't, yet they talk about the shit like mad. Whatever...

#1: NEW YORK GIANTS (11-2, 1st overall) - Seems the Giants are playing the role the Patriots played last year, as impending champion. Nobody really seems to be giving anybody else a shot, which leads me to believe they can't do it like that. The NFL is fixed by an exclusive panel (currently at 78, with this past year's addition of Bill Cowher, plus Joe Gibbs returning to the seat he had to leave when he decided to play the role of Redskins coach to give their team more monetary value to reach a certain selling point for Dan Snyder to remove himself at a comfortable spot), and the goal is merchandising. Giants merchandising is through the roof already, especially by the jettisoning of Plaxico Burress, making all the jerseys the league sold in his name the past 11 months obsolete now, and needing replacement in the closets of well-branded fans. The odd thing is I am not sure if the NFL will go for a Steelers/Giants showdown, which are two storied and strong franchises. You would think the league fixing panel would give a new team a spot in there, and the Panthers always seem to be close to the top every few years, so maybe it's them. I don't know; but I would not expect the Giants to win any Super Bowls to punctuate this season. Unless they set up a Manning Bowl, but I would expect the league to wait until close to the end of Peyton Manning's career for that one.

#2: PITTSBURGH STEELERS (10-3, 2nd overall) - Mike Tomlin is my favorite NFL head coach right now. He looks like the most chill dude. He also played college football at William & Mary in Virginia, which at one point was the college with both the highest rate of suicide and highest rate of gay students of all state universities. Being Tomlin has those doe eyes, looking like a cross between Omar Epps from Juice and Pete Rock's cousin, you know he got crazy experimental white college girl ass back then, which I would assume would be even higher than at most colleges at one full of suicidal gay kids. Seeing Tomlin all jacked up as the Steelers pulled off the win against the Cowboys... it was refreshing. Seems like he might take the captains out for beers at a Japanese steak house after the game, or one of those Mongolian barbecue joints, somewhere that's classy, but not classy like rich people go there but classy like people new to money see it as an impressive way to spend more than they probably should on one meal.

#3: TENNESSEE TITANS (12-1, 3rd overall) - I just don't buy the Titans as championship material yet. I mean, they've been doing pretty good with their two-headed running attack, but come on? Kerry Collins? Jeff Fisher is a high-standing member in the NFL Illuminati I mentioned earlier though, as part of the Bill Walsh clique, which is why he's been a coach forever and only made it to one Super Bowl, which, granted, they were like two yards away from winning. But still, they've been more promise than delivery most years. I have a real hard time believing in Kerry Collins though. He's too much of a former racist alcoholic to successfully pull of the Trent Dilfer role as mediocre QB leading a defensively stout team to a title.

#4: CAROLINA PANTHERS (10-3, 5th overall) - A lot of times, like now, I don't give half a fuck about writing these things, so I put it off, even though I give myself fake deadlines, just so I can go the whole year with my bullshit opinions in cyberspace, so I can feel like I've accomplished nothing, when actually, I'd be better off just settling down by the fire and reading some more of Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, which I've been reading forever, because being a dorky fucking wordsmith at heart, when I read like four pages that I really like, I re-read them over. I really have been enjoying that book, and he hasn't even gotten back across to the east coast yet.

#5: INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (9-4, 6th overall) - I am bummed that the Colts have resurrected their season. It was such a promising beginning of the year with Tom Brady out for the year and the Colts dropping their first two. Peyton Manning is my least favorite football player going, probably having passed Joe Montana after his last round of commercial endorsements, but he's still a Super Bowl or two away from topping John Elway. So he's #2 for quarterbacks. I am not sure where he stands in comparison to Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, because I have a hard time comparing different football positions as I lay around in my winter hammock making these arbitrary lists of hatred.

#6: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (9-4, 7th overall) - Last I heard as I write this (which is Sunday night, but I'm gonna pre-date it and pretend I said all this on Saturday) was Jeff Garcia was questionable for the game against the Falcons. He and Gruden must've had a little holiday tiff, making things less than fabulous in Pirate Land.

#7: ARIZONA CARDINALS (8-5, 12th overall) - The Cardinals have finally broken through this year (meaning the Seahawks finally suck enough some other half-shitty team from the NFC West gets to go to the playoffs), with a one-dimensional offense led by a crusty old born again QB. Edgerrin James got second-tiered for rookie Tim Hightower to take the lead. Except Hightower did better as a second RB than the feature back, so now perennial underachieving high draft pick J.J. Arrington is getting more carries. It will be funny to see the Cardinals make the playoffs and lose a home game the first weekend, which will be before New Year's this year, which will help continue a longstanding Cardinals franchise tradition of having the season all wrapped up before the end of December.

#8: DENVER BRONCOS (8-5, 16th overall) - They are on their 8th string RB, yet still bound for the playoffs, which just goes to show how ingenius Mike Shanahan is. He actually had a white feature back for a while, which was an NFL first for this century. I am hoping for the Ravens making the right wild card spot to go play at Denver in the wild card round, because that would be a funny combo of styles. Plus, hopefully, Ed Reed or Ray Lewis could break stupid Jay Cutler in half. He looks too much like H-SC fratboys who I used to rip off on bags of weed when I was in high school who would try to kick my ass for bedazzling their imported vaginas with my oddball stylings. Fucking assholes.

Saturday, December 6

NFL WK 14: Bottom Quadrant

This will be my last four-week cycle through the entire league, and I'll be breaking the teams up into four sub-sets this cycle, rather than just pairing up two divisions. The first sub-set is the bottom of the NFL barrel - those teams jockeying for position to get a good top ten draft pick. These teams are all going to be rebuilding before the end of the season, and many have been doing just that for years now. So here is your bottom quadrant of the NFL...

#1: CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-8, 22nd overall) - This is the only team on this week's list not in the bottom eight spots of my ranking formula. There were a handful of teams that were close to each other for the last spot, but it was sort of easy to pick the Browns as a bottom-rung team (over other 4-8 teams like San Diego or Jacksonville) because they are in a shambles. The Derek Anderson/Brady Quinn QB controversy is over for now, as both are out, and Ken Dorsey will be your starting Browns QB this coming Sunday in Tennessee. It is not unimagineable that the Titans bloodthirsty defense could knock him out as well, and then Bruce Gradkowski, just signed this week, might end up in the game for Cleveland. Their star offensive weapons are Braylon Edwards (more dropped passes than anyone else a couple years in a row now) and Kellen Winslow (who not too long sort of demanded to be traded after having to cover-up his staph infection, which was like the team's 8th such infection in a couple of years). Their defense is beyond shoddy, and Romeo Crennel is already getting thrown under the bus by management. Ahh... remember when Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel were the two under-geniuses to Bill Belichick getting their own coaching gigs to expand that coaching tree? That one turned out not so well, hunh? Really, the Browns are perfect with the rest of these teams in this bottom fourth of the league, because it's gonna take a lot more than one or two high draft picks to turn it around. They need an expansion team's amount of draft picks to even try to get back on the right track. I guess the offensive base might be there, if they can calm The Soldier down and pick up a running back a little younger and less worn than Jamal Lewis, but beyond that, it's going to be back to the drawing board, probably with a new coach I would imagine.

#2: ST. LOUIS RAMS (2-10, 26th overall) - Funny how the Rams hulked up under Jim Haslet to get two big wins over the Redskins and Cowboys, and then went back to being the Rams. Having seen him in college, I stand behind the prediction that Chris Long will end up being a monster presence in the NFL, but Stephen Jackson doesn't seem to quite be living up to his role as the New Marshall Faulk. Marc Bulger is a second-tier quality NFL QB who is getting long in the tooth by NFL QB standards, considering there's been no real sign of success in St. Louis with him at the helm. Being better than Trent Green a couple seasons back does not quite equate to taking the Rams back to that Next Level. I haven't heard whether they've given Haslet the keys to the kingdom yet, but I would doubt that to be the case.

#3: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (4-8, 27th overall) - When you are in the top half of your division yet still one of the worst eight teams in the league, then you are a proud member of the NFC West - the most shittiest division in all of American pro sports. The 49ers already have installed their coach-of-the-future in Samurai Mike Singletary, who made headlines at first for all the reasons you probably don't really want a coach to get known for. But the 49ers do seem like they might be headed for something better. They have the pieces for a rock solid defense, and if Singletary can infuse his laser eyeball intensity into that unit, it could carry the team along the lines of the Ravens teams of previous years. And even if they make a good run to finish out the year, they'll still have a pick in the top half of the draft to try and get something to help out their struggling offense. And unless Singletary has had some sort of secret magical encounters with Alex Smith since he's been on IR, I would guess they're gonna try to get a new QB of some sort. I'd really like to see Donovan McNabb flame out the rest of the year in Philly, just to see teams like the Vikings and Bears and 49ers cum all over themselves trying to bring him in, as the missing piece for success.

#4: OAKLAND RAIDERS (3-9, 28th overall) - Until Al Davis dies, the Raiders are doomed. The most amazing thing to come out over the course of the last year is Warren Sapp admitting that The Cryptkeeper in a Jump Suit would call down to the sideline DURING THE GAME to command the offense to go for the bomb. I wonder if Al even has any hint of a notion that he's become a joke, as has his beloved Silver & Black? Outside of Rich Gannon's miracle year and the infamous Tuck Rule making Tom Brady a Superstar, the Raiders have been completely irrelevant for a decade now. But I can't wait to see who ol' Al drafts next year. Who will join Robert Gallery, JaMarcus Russell, and Darren McFadden on the most explosive vertical offense in the NFL?

#5: CINCINNATI BENGALS (1-10-1, 29th overall) - Remember when Marvin Lewis was a defensive Einstein and the black coach for eternity? A few short physical years later, which made Lewis look about 23 older visually, and you would imagine he's run his course in Cincinnati. Except they've tended to be loyal to people beyond their usefulness in the past. How many season-ending injuries can Carson Palmer sustain before people stop hyping him as potentially as good as a Manning? And Chad Johnson's contract year probably played him out of millions. (Hopefully, Dan Snyder reads this and realizes not to automatically pay Ocho Cinco quadruple what he's worth just to get the deal done.) I am about to miss the playoffs in my stupid fantastical football league, so hopefully the retarded leprechaun Ryan Fitzpatrick can at least toss a few TDs to T.J. Houshmanzadeh this week, for my sake at least. Houshmanzadeh is now playing the role of Incredibly Intense Veteran Figure Who Hates Losing for the Bengals. He's contractually obligated to another couple of years of that, too, I think.

#6: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (2-10, 30th overall) - Mike Holmgren has always been one of my least favorite coaches, so watching his final season go down like a housefire has been great. The Seahawks have also always been one of my least favorite teams. Sometimes I wonder if there really is a God and that I am also the center of the universe like I often imagine, and my blinding hatred for the Seahawks caused God to make Jim Zorn be the Redskins head coach to ruin my pro football life for the coming decade. You see, God already used the secret Dallas Cowboy angle with Norv Turner, and he got tons of laughs out of that one (the sound of thunder is really just God laughing at you for being a dumbass).

#7: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (2-10, 31st overall) - The Chiefs have a ridiculous 15 rookies on their roster, plus traded away most of their greater players for more future draft picks as well. Eventually, if the team lets him, in a couple of years it will be nothing but Herm Edwards and an entire roster born after 1985. The Chiefs are part of a large cluster of second-tier NFL teams that I root for when they suck, might still like when they get good again if they have dudes I can dig (like Glenn Dorsey for example), but most likely will just playa hate on when they get good and root for other second-tier teams I have no emotional attachment to. One reason I love pro football is that I actually have a lifelong favorite team, because the aforementioned fairweather contrarian attitude is pretty much how I always root for NBA or MLB teams.

#8: DETROIT LIONS (0-12, 32nd overall) - Really, what better exclamation point punctuation to the utter failure of Matt Millen would there be than for the '08 Lions to go 0 for 16? I really like Calvin Johnson, and would hope for better for him, but really, it's kinda funny to see it happen. Thanksgiving football this year fucking sucked, with blowouts all day long. The early game is usually on the backburner where you don't really pay attention until after halftime and grandma's got the turkey out of the oven, cooling down to get sliced the fuck up, spooning turkey drippings out the aluminum roaster pan to be making some gravy with. But shit man, that early game this year was over before I even got back from the store with ice for the beer on the back porch. The Lions host the Vikings this week, and the Williams Twins 700 pounds of run-stopping bulkage is suspended for drug violations, so maybe - just maybe - the Lions can get Daunte Culpeper's gimpy hand jiving ass to not fumble hand-offs up the middle, mix in a few out patterns to Calvin, and steal a win to avoid the historical failure of joining the infamous '76 Buccaneers, who were so bad the team eventually had to abandon the fucking uniforms they were wearing. If the Lions have to do that as well, I vote they go for black helmets with a silver outline to the blue Lowenbrau lion logo, which would be lavendar now, black jerseys with the same style numbers, lavendar pants. Home white with black pants, and they could go lavendar jerseys with the black pants for alternate Monday night uniforms. Lavendar is a very manly color when worn right, although it might conflict with the Vikings. So the Vikings should switch to red because fuck the Vikings.

Wednesday, November 26

NFL WK 13: NFC South & East teams

#1: NEW YORK GIANTS (10-1, 1st overall) - In this year's booking of the NFL, the Giants seem to be playing the roll of last year's Patriots, except the NFLminati realized the perfect season thing was a cheap gimmick if they couldn't push it all the way through. And once you do that, those old Dolphins players - 33rd degree footballmasons in abundance - don't have that solitary record of a perfect season anymore. A few more of those guys are gonna have to pass on before that record will be broken. The Giants seem to be an unbelievably deep team where guys just show up and plug-n-play at a top level. It seems almost inevitable they will cruise to a repeat Lombardi Trophy, which is probably they won't. The true question is how will the NFL marketing wizards and old school football minds who imagineer things into a most profitable story end this run? Will it be in the NFC playoffs to send two new teams to the Super Bowl this year, or will they go to the big game to job out to an AFC team? Is there an AFC team big enough to hold that title over the Giants? Right now, I'd say no, but last year's Giants at this point were hardly a team you thought would ever be considered the best team the NFL had to offer, was it? The Jets seem to be building to some sort of power play for merchandising mechanisms, but I doubt very seriously the NFL would fix things to be a NY Giants vs. NY Jets Super Bowl. Maybe we'll get Manning Bowl I, although I would expect that to be a one-time only affair, and probably at the twilight of Peyton's career. I am excited to see how it all plays out though. My Sunday stories has been good this year.

#2: DALLAS COWBOYS (7-4, 3rd overall) - Man, I hate me some Cowboys. Last week, it was the return of Tony Homo. This week, T.O. can successfully repress his latent homosexuality for another couple of weeks after getting all the glory he needs to beard reality. It's disgusting. And now they have to commit their yearly parade of cocky, self-important Thanksgiving Day douchery, while I try to enjoy a nice fat natural turkey brined in a contractor's bag for 2 days, and a homemade pumpkin pie my wife made utilizing such old school methods as squeezing pureed sugar pumpkin guts through a cheesecloth to get the juices out. It's so much fun seeing the kids use hand beaters to whip the heavy cream into pie-worthy fluff. Why does it have to be fucked up every year by Jerry Jones Parade of Worthless Humans. I hope Texas Stadium gets blown up by the Al-Jarreaus.

#3: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (8-3, 5th overall) - The NFC South is sort of this underrated clusterfuck of high mediocre teams in a highly mediocre year of the NFL. The Bucs are playing the part of that crafty, wily veteran team with no real marketable young superstar, just a bunch of dudes who might've been Pro Bowlers a few years here or there. The defense is led by the last aging members of that crushing group Tony Dungy built, and the offense is just Jeff Garcia doing whatever it is he does. I won't revisit my love triangle thing from last Bucs blurb about how their success will hinge on how well Jon Gruden and Garcia continue to get along, working through feelings that can complicate the jobsite, whether it be a pro football team or an insurance office or a pizza parlour. The return of Cadillac Williams from a 14-month long knee injury sabbatical is great though, because I love hearing people say Cadillac Williams. Cadillac, like a Playboy bunny tattoo, is classic street player (as in notching pussy, not gaining yards) aura.

#4: CAROLINA PANTHERS (8-3, 8th overall) - It's actually pretty amazing the Panthers have had as good a season as they've had, considering Steve Smith, after being inactive the first two weeks for breaking his teammate's face, has been less-than-stellar for most of the season. He certainly hasn't been what you'd expect from a guy who got NFL MVP talk a few years in a row. The double-headed backfield of Hall & Stewart has been good, but not as dominant as many expected, and Jake Delhomme probably isn't regarded as affectionately as a simple Cajun boy made good by Carolina fans as he was a couple years back, yet somehow through it all, here are the Panthers, poised to make the playoffs yet again. If someone was to start a new NFL franchise in L.A. in the next few years, I'd say the best two lessons they could follow is to mimic what the Panthers have done in their first 15 years, and try to do the opposite of the Houston Texans as much as possible.

#5: WASHINGTON REDSKINS (7-4, 9th overall) - I am a Redskins fan, through and through, but I will not deny the fact that this team is a fraud, built upon the lowered bar of the 2008 NFL season. I have never seen a more frustrating offense than this one, which is far more like its 2007 Al Saunders over-complicated shift-happy shittiness, than it would easily admit. Will they ever actually have a game put away early? Fuck man, I feel like they could play a high school team and still need a missed field goal to win by 2. Luckily though, they did release Shaun Alexander this week, thus lowering their overall Pussy Factor by 2.378 points. And I also must admit, I really look forward to, ten years from now, London Fletcher being a defensive coordinator somewhere in the NFL. He is an all-time classic.

#6: ATLANTA FALCONS (7-4, 14th overall) - You have already heard about what an amazing turnaround year the Falcons have had, Matt Ryan aka Matty Ice blah blah blah, Michael Turner revitalized offense, new coach Mike Smith all that shit ad nauseum. But I would like to talk about Michael Vick, who was this past week back in his and mine home state of Virginia, to plead guilty to state dogfighting charges, and get forgiven to an extent with a lighter sentence that will allow him an earlier start at reclaiming his life. And you know, I feel bad for the prominent, athletic, semi-ignorant black QBs like Vick or Vince Young and the like. All their life, they are thrust into this position of importance, getting by on their raw athletic ability. Shit, you look at the national title games in college that Vick played in (and lost) and Young played in (and won), and in both of those games, their teams were doomed outside of the performance of them alone. So you are put on this pedestal all along in life, then you get to the NFL and suddenly you are expected to be Bobby Fischer on the complex analogy scale. Never are the GMs who draft guys who get by on raw talent blasted like the guys themselves get blasted. Vick has been made a pariah, and not even three years after he was supposed to be the face of not only the Falcons' future, but the NFL itself. Now, he's riding out his time until parole hearing in Leavenworth, and nobody gives a shit about him anymore, because he was involved in stupid fucking dogfighting. (By the way, in my opinion, there are many things worse than dogfighting, including people getting indignant over sensationalized dogfighting stories in the newspaper in between whoofing down supersized McDonald's value meals.) I did think briefly this past week though, that I was glad that Vick, who has been abandoned by pretty much everybody who claimed to be down with him (including the halfwit dude who snitched on him and his cousins), had a brief appearance in the regional jail in Hopewell, just over an hour from where he grew up, the week before Thanksgiving, so some kinfolk could come visit and give him a little love. Federal prison might be cushier on many levels, because you're not in with the riff-raff that state maximum security jails have, but being so far away from your support foundation sucks. So that's the end of my Thanksgiving week pro-Michael Vick diatribe. When Matt Ryan starts throwing interceptions in two years, or looks like he doesn't care enough about the game to please unsatisfiable football fans, start booing him too. I'm sure the next big thing will be the real big thing this time.

#7: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (5-5-1, 15th overall) - The downfall of Donovan McNabb can be entirely traced by his previously ever-present smile. Before, even when things were down, he was always smiling, except for that one season with T.O. where it all went bad. He always had a great attitude, exuding confidence or at least joy, much like the Ol' Gunslinger Brett Farrvrer. But this year, even before McNabb started tossing pick-sixes, even before he looked like a fool for being a starting NFL QB who didn't know the rules of overtime, he was never smiling anymore, it being lost somewhere between the end of last season and the middle of this year. Philly is a more brutal place than most anywhere to be a prominent pro sports figure, but they were turning quick on both he and Andy Reid. And I can't help but think the fact the story got leaked right away that Reid had talked to upper management about benching McNabb as early as a week before it happened was Andy Reid's way of preserving his own career. In a league where coaches and GMs routinely suicide each other in the name of self-preservation, Reid had no such luxury, being both the grocery shopper and the head chef in Eaglestan. But luckily, the overweight sausage-engorged drunkards that make up the Eagles fanbase were teetering on turning on Donovan McNabb, so old Andy - an overweight sausage-engorged walrus-haired man himself - threw McNabb under the bus. So regardless of what happens the rest of this season, whether they pull it together and make the playoffs or continue to implode, whether Kevin Kolb is worth half a shit or not, Andy Reid bought himself another year. Donovan McNabb, however, will probably be playing in Minnesota next year.

#8: NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (6-5, 17th overall) - The Saints are like a Madden football team. They might score like 50 points with four different guys having what would normally be considered a career day all at once, or they'll just not be able to do anything at all, what with the game's artificial intelligence working completely against them, and they'll struggle to simply lose by a respectable five or six points. I have found it amusing that one of the few teams tripping over themselves to get Jeremy Shockey's punk ass now are indifferent towards him completely. Usually, with him being an overhyped under-performing cocksucker, this would mean he'd be playing in Dallas next year, but they've already got Jason Witten, who is better at the good things than Shockey is, and without all the muss. The Saints might want to find some sucker ass team to trade him too for a couple of draft picks and try to build a little defense. Or pay off Deuce McAllister to come back for a couple more years, because without that guy plowing through motherfuckers, all the fancy-footed skill position weapons the Saints employ wouldn't be freed up enough to run up fantasty league rankings everywhere.

Thursday, November 20

NFL WK 12: AFC South & East teams

#1: TENNESSEE TITANS (10-0, 1st overall) - Usually the Madden curse has only affected players physically in the year they grace the cover, but apparently it has taken a strange Ringu-style PG-13 horror flick psychological turn on Vince Young, who is now crazy and despondent and doesn't care any more about the game of the egg. Kerry Collins still creeps me out. Trent Dilfer as a QB who didn't fuck up just enough to let a strong defense win the Super Bowl didn't bother me, because Dilfer looked like a decent enough dude to talk at and chill and drink some beers and take some shrooms and shoot at crackheads with an air pump BB gun and all. But Kerry Collins looks like a roofer. Roofers are the lowest rung of construction site society, like the filth of the salt of the earth. I can accept good ole boy Super Bowl QBs (ala Brett Favre, plus anyone before 1979), I can accept uber-Christ Super Bowl QBs (ala Kurt Warner), or Super Bowl QBs who got that surgery that fixed their cleft lips (like John Elway), even a gay (like Steve Young or Joe Montana), mongoloid (like Peyton Manning), or black Super Bowl QB (Doug Williams, plus 1/8th of Mark Rypien's blood). But I will never accept a fucking roofer Super Bowl QB. America, as fucked as it is, cannot have fallen that far from grace.

#2: INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (6-4, 8th overall) - Peyton and the boys have creepy crawled their way back into playoff relevance, except gangsta ass-looking/corporate-voiced and named Bob Sanders might be injurious again, thus fucking up the Colts ability to not allow teams to outscore their old ass offense. But they will probably still make the playoffs, mostly because the NFL and Roger Goodell would like to engineer some marketable and well-known ass players into the mix, so as to increase ad revenue. This shit is all fixed. Next year, new mulatto President, war in Iraq phased out for more important showdown with persnicketty Iranians (which has been in the Bilderberger works since at least 2001, when the Twin Towers plane landings were faked), Tom Brady will have "recovered" competely and the Patriots will again fill us all with patriotic fervor. The rise of the Manning bros. has been nothing more than a couple of good Southern characters that we can all trust to do the job and lose to Tom Brady's pretty face, thus making him seem like not only the pretty boy us Joe 30-packs see him to be, but a regular straight up bro who can get the job done. God Bless America.

#3: NEW YORK JETS (7-3, 11th overall) - Being he is about the only superstar on my shitty fantastical football team, I wish the ol' gunslinger would stop leading his team to rushing TDs in their glorious rise to AFC prominence. I often mock guys like T.O. or Jeff Garcia or Chad Johnson or Shaun Alexander for having the twinkly-eyes of the repressed homosexual, but in the coaching ranks, there is no more obvious a repressed gay pervert than Eric Mangini. I would not be surprised if the Mangini/Belichick conflict arises from that very fact, as I could see Belichick having wet dreams during the two hours he sleeps on his office couch during the football season about big, hairy, bald men, but with Tom Brady faces.

#4: MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-4, 13th overall) - You know, the Dolphins rise from the dregs of the NFL is commonly attributed to the alleged brilliance of Bill Parcels, but there's a lot more at work here. We've sort of moved away from astrology since the '70s, it seeming like a joke to our 21st century science-fellating mindframes. But when you break down the Dolphins roster, there's about 37% Sagittarians, which is a ridiculous zodiac majority, considering there are 12 signs in all, and this year has been a phoenix-like year of rebirth for Sagittarians. Long-term, it doesn't look as good though. Astrologically speaking, they should peak even higher next year, then maintain a modest consistency the following 2010 season, but that will be about it for this cycle of the stars. I wish NFL dork websites had birth sign data, so I could investigate whether Bill Parcels is truly a sports scientific genius, or just an astrological nut, who works his magic according to how the planets are aligned. That'd explain his short-term work history, which always seem to be successful.

#5: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (4-6, 21st overall) - It always seemed odd to me that Big Pun, the Puerto Rican rapper, tried to play it off he was a gangsta of some sort, which I guess was expected of any rapper at that point. How gangsta can a 400 pound happy-faced dude really be? I bet he loved kids, and would bounce them on his knees, which he probably didn't really like to stand on, being his weight broke them down at an early age. A little-known internet factoid is that Pun was a seventh round draft pick of the Jaguars back in their inaugural year, when Pun was a nose tackle for Syracuse.

#6: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-4, 22nd overall) - I used to not believe in a God. But I have to admit, it became cliche to want to smash stupid fucking Boston types in the face with empty 40 ounce bottles, mostly because travelling throughout the northeast a couple of times showed me that Bostononians were the low-rung of New England society, contradicting that whole Blue Blood tradition. But then the Patriots and Red Sox and Celtics all started winning championships left and right the past decade, causing stupid Boston cartoon caricature true flesh and blood humans to be even more outlandishly retarded, thus causing me to pick fights with them again. My passionate hatred has been rekindled, and only a caring and observant God could have seen fit to cause such a thing inside of me.

#7: BUFFALO BILLS (5-5, 24th overall) - The Bills will nary be successful with those hideous Eurotrash soccer uniforms. If Marv Levy had any sense, and I think he's still the Dictator of All Affairs for the Bills, he'd dump this shit they're wearing now, go back to the old school ones like they wore when O.J. was stabbing defenses with the thrust of his powerful legs, except be all bitchy because of the O.J. bullshit, and change the shitty flag blue to powder blue. Powder blue jerseys with that block-style red bison on the white helmets, that shit would be pimp. Then you might get more than one awesome proud oversized black man like Marcus Stroud to come play for your franchise, thus relinquishing the necessity to trust habitual child molesters like Darryl Talley and Bruce Smith with your franchise's success.

#8: HOUSTON TEXANS (3-7, 26th overall) - Back to the bottom with your stupid asses. You can throw all the Steve Slatons and Andre Davises you want on this team, they are doomed perpetually. Stupid post-9/11 uniform choice, combined with the stupidest team nickname of any major pro sports team of the past twenty years. Although I just watched the video for "Brooklyn Zoo" four times in a row, and if they could somehow incorporate that happy-go-lucky successful-against-all-odds crackhead energy of ODB, perhaps with a slowed down DJ Screw soundtrack, complemented with their stupid logo given a cracked mirror photoshop effect on their helmets, now with like a glitter candy flake stupid blue instead of the regular blue, or better yet a color changing helmet that gets purple looking at night under fake lights but still dark blue in the sunshine, they'd get over as fuck. I'm sure there's some crazy rich Arabs who have color changing silk you could use for the uniforms, too. Those motherfuckers be building islands in the shape of fetishes, so I bet they got clothes using genetically modified silkworms.

Sunday, November 16

NFL WK 11: AFC North & West teams

#1: PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-3, 3rd overall) - The Steelers are a beat-up team, especially on the offensive line, which means Ben Roethlisberger might be broken in two within a couple of weeks. Against the Redskins, Byron Leftwich did alright, and might do well trying to prove himself one last time, much like Charlie Batch used to do for the Steelers. I have been banking in the fantastical footballs with Mewelde Moore, so much so that I’m pretty disappointed Fast Willie Parker might be actually playing a regular amount again this week. The Steelers are probably, even after losing to the Colts, the second best team in the AFC, in what’s a pretty down year for the NFL, because if we could put the ‘08 Steelers into the middle of ‘07 AFC in simulation world, they probably wouldn’t even make the playoffs.

#2: BALTIMORE RAVENS (6-3, 10th overall) - Joe Flacco is living the tiniest little corner of young millionaire success you could ever dream of. New Jersey high school kid who slipped through major college recruitment processes, and ends up in neighboring Delaware playing as a Blue Hen. Somehow makes enough I-AA noise to become a top QB prospect in an era when teams spend high draft picks on QBs that never pan out from major colleges, much less from lesser-known ones. There really is no one else to be the Ravens QB as Steve McNair is retired and Troy Smith is one of those aforementioned flame-out QBs from a high profile college team. So Joe Flacco becomes a rookie starting quarterback. And the Ravens go crazy beyond expectations, as the defense plays like it always has, and the offense is able to do more than just not fuck up when necessary. Still, I have a hard time believing a young kid named Flacco from Jersey can maintain such success. There seems to be Lifetime Channel flavored tragedy awaiting him. Maybe not this year, but it will happen at some point.

#3: SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-5, 19th overall) - Man, what a great year to be a misanthropic Redskins fan. The Cowboys are self-imploding, and Norv Turner is proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that he might be one of the worst head coaches in the history of the NFL. Not obviously bad enough to get fired mid-season, but definitely the most underachieving mediocre waste of collected talent coordinator there ever has been. I hope Andy Reid retires to help his kids through rehab and the Eagles hire Norvell after he gets fired in San Diego.

#4: DENVER BRONCOS (5-4, 22nd overall) - It’s really hard to believe any division in the NFL could be worse than the AFC West when the Broncos are in first place. They have a white fullback named Peyton Hillis (a frat brother’s name if there ever was one) starting at tailback. I guess they did resign Tatum Bell, which hopefully will lead to an entertaining parade of Broncos cast-offs, who Shanahan discarded like empty cereal boxes because it was his system, not the back, that made it work. On a related note, I hope Travis Henry gets convicted on federal charges and ends up in Leavenworth with Michael Vick. That would make the evil semi-pro guards vs. upstart got-nothing prisoners football game really interesting. Maybe Matt Jones can fuck up real good so Leavenworth could get a good receiver too, to cover all the skill positions. (I love that term “skill position” as if linemen don’t do shit. Why don’t you just say “handsome people position, where the guys look good and are fast and people like them, as opposed to the big, ugly fuckers we have everywhere else”?)

#5: CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-6, 23rd overall) - The Brady Quinn era has begun, on a night time basis only thus far. I am pretending he only played one game because I never got aruond to finishing this shit this past week, but I'm gonna wrap it up and predate post it using blogospheric brave new worldliness. I bet this week Brady Quinn has a much tougher time, but does well enough for them to just sneak out a win against Buffalo, probably on like a 56 yard field goal or some shit like that.

#6: OAKLAND RAIDERS (2-7, 27th overall) - Al Davis is getting more and more entertaining, cutting DeAngelo Hall (only after paying him 8 million bucks for eight games). I am hoping he will become more and more crazy and gets to do whatever stupid assed reality show the NFLs does on whatever cable show next year. Not that I'd see it, but I'm sure I'd read little things about it inside the internets, then I would pretend I knew it for myself. That's the great thing about the internet... it allows you to act like you're not the fucking ignorant piece of shit you really are.

#7: CINCINNATI BENGALS (1-8, 28th overall) - Man, Chad Johnson became obsolete pretty shortly this year, didn't he? And I think this is a forced contract year where he was probably hoping to get enough of a contract next year to have a gold-plated shark tank beside a 1967 postcard-worthy pool. Probably the stupid Dan Snyder will sign him next year. I think they were trying to trade half their draft for him this past year anyways. Meanwhile, I think quietly and without much notice, T.J. Houshmanzadeh has become my favorite non-Redskin foozball player. The Hindu power ponytail, arm tattoos, and overbearing personality on offense. He's so dreamy.

#8: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (1-8, 29th overall) - Tyler Thigpen has become undiscovered halfway decent talent extraordinaire, at least when it comes to the fantastical footballs. When a QB catches TD passes in the NFL, washed-up fratboys nationwide will rejoice and sound like Jim Rome inside their own halfwit thoughts. Again, I hope this is all part of Herm Edwards master plan to eventually have nobody on his team with more than 4 years experience, trading all older quality veterans for multiple draft picks. Madden '03 is the best version of that game ever, and that was the method for success there. Never sign a free agent over 30.