RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

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.