Happy New Year, everyone. And we wave goodbye to 2008, I'd like to look back at the thing I'm most grateful for over the past year…
Zantac. Oh, sweet merciful Zantac. Is it any coincidence your tiny little pills are shaped just like Superman's chest shield? You helpful little bastard, you. With you, dear Zantac, I can pretend like that meatball parmesan sub I just ate didn't completely lay waste to my insides. Why, I get nary a single palpitation at all!
Thanks to you, I don't have to worry that I'm having all the symptoms of a heart attack: tightness in the chest, fatigue, pins and needles in my arm. You make that all go away, bless your chemically engineered soul. Now, when I eventually DO have a heart attack, it'll happen quickly, without warning, and without me having to change my disgustingly gluttonous lifestyle to help prevent it.
So here's to you, Dear Zantac. You make this bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos I'm about to destroy go down as easy as one of Brian Urlacher's ex-girlfriends.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And, like last year, I'll be picking scores for every playoff game, something NO OTHER WRITER HAS EVER DONE IN HISTORY. It's a bold move, one I'm sure will end up landing me any number of honorary ribbons and engraved silver chalices.
Eagles 30, Vikings 10: There isn't a worse team in the NFC for the Vikings to match up against than the Eagles. And I'm not saying merely as some sort of retarded reverse jinx. It's true. The Vikings are not a difficult team to scheme against. If you have a QB that's mobile enough to elude the rush of the front four, and you have a well-coached defense that can bottle up Purple Jesus (who's been playing a killer game of Hot Patato with the ball lately. OMIGOD, IS THAT A FOOTBALL?! EW! GROSS! GET IT OFF ME!!!), you beat them.
Well, the Eagles have both those components. Donovan McNabb may eat empanadas like a fucking champ, but he's still fleet afoot enough to run away from Jared Allen and hit his targets on the go. And while Andy Reid's weekly strategy of passing the ball 80 times a game is idiotic against a normal team, it's the exact right thing to do against the Vikings defense. The Vikings fucking love it when teams try and run the ball on them just for the sake of running the ball. But they get put on their heels by any team that refuses to play into their hands and deploys the short passing game all day long, as the Eagles and Bucs do.
Also working in the Eagles' favor is the fact that Brian Westbrook is an edge rusher who won't bother with trying to run at the Williams wall (Pat Williams will play in this game). Chris Johnson was able to get yards against the Vikings by running just outside the tackles and then straight up the field, and Westbrook can do the same.
At some point, Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb will fuck up in these playoffs, but it's not going to be against this team. I assure you, when it comes to clock management and the two-minute-drill, Brad Childress and Tarvaris Jackson make Reid and McNabb look like fucking Swiss-engineered models of precision.
(Note: Brian Baldinger did the color for last week's Vikings-Giants game. A lot of people have pointed out Baldy's signature mangled pinky, with Simmons being the earliest. Whenever Baldy makes a point with the camera on him, I can't take anything he says seriously, because it always looks like he's making shadow puppets as he's talking. "I think what the Giants need to do in this half is LOOK KIDS! A DOG! WOOF!")
Ravens 14, Dolphins 9: While we at KSK had our fun at the expense of the Patriots getting hosed out of a playoff spot, even I can't argue they deserved to be in the mix. But the only way to realistically prevent something like that from ever happening again is to expand the playoffs, which could very well happen if the league decides to go to an 18-game regular season.
You can't take away playoff spots from division winners, because owners would never go for that. They like having 8 guaranteed playoff spots in those divisions to keep the races interesting across the board, and not concentrate all the playoff interest into one region. That's what made Chargers-Broncos worth watching last week. You'd have to go to a 16-team playoff format. The good thing about expanding the playoffs: more games (kickass!), no byes (lame), and of course more teams get in. Maybe even yours! SHIT YEAH!
That last point also represents the #1 downside of playoff expansion. With a 16-team playoff, you'd get 7-9 teams sneaking in once in while, if not more often than that. This year, your extra playoff teams would have been the Patriots, Jets, Bucs and either the Bears or Cowboys. Would those extra teams make for a more interesting playoff field? I think you could argue yes on that. Then again, I wouldn't have gotten to see Dallas lay down like the dogs they are, and that was great fun.
Last year, your extra playoffs teams would have been Cleveland (10-6), Houston (8-8), Minnesota (8-8), and either Philly or Arizona (both 8-8). Would THAT field have made for a better playoffs? Probably not. And that scenario, with three 8-8 teams getting in, is more likely to happen year in and year out.
Remember, the Pats were the first team since the '85 Broncos to go 11-5 and miss the playoffs, so it's not as if this is a regularly occurring problem. Is it worth expanding just to make sure the occasional team doesn't get fucked over? Eh, not really. I don't think expanding the playoffs would necessarily cheapen the NFL regular season, as it has for the NBA. Fantasy football and the still relative scarcity of NFL games keep the regular season compelling regardless. But the goal here is to have exciting, must-watch playoff games. And that's where the idea loses steam.
Oh, and I have no real clue who's going to win this Ravens/Dolphins game. Flip a damn coin. It's one of those game where either a special teams TD will make the difference, or one team will have a horrible giveaway somewhere inside their own 10. I'd bank on the Ravens being the team that forces that kind of tunrover.
Colts 31, Chargers 27: I picked the Colts to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the year, so I'll go with them here for the sake of consistency. I also watched most of last Sunday night's Broncos/Chargers game (which rivaled the NBA All-Star Game for defensive intensity), and I couldn't help but notice that Marmalard is, quite possibly, the least accurate passer in history not named Tarvaris or Donovan. He underthrew receivers, he overthrew them… He had all the aim of a fucking bottle rocket. That may work against Denver's secondary (which is really more of a tertiary). Against a Tony Dungy defense? Not so much.
Cardinals 30, Falcons 17: The Falcons five losses came against big passing teams (PHI, DEN, NO, etc.). The Cardinals have the league's second best passing game. Therefore, I think the Cards can pass on the Falcons. DID I JUST BLOW YOUR FUCKING MIND WITH FOOTBALL ANALYSIS?! YOU WON'T GET THIS KIND OF IN-DEPTH SHIT FROM CRIS COLLINSWORTH!
2007 Playoff Picks Record: 6-5 (7-4 vs. the spread)
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
"That Was Just Your Life," by Metallica. I find it depressing that the three most notable hard rock acts of 2008 were AC/DC, Guns ‘N' Roses, and Metallica. Now I have a soft spot in my heart for all those bands (even though I think "Chinese Democracy" sucks a donkey dick), and nothing made me happier this year than hitting the six-minute mark on this song and realizing HOLY FUCK THAT SOUNDS LIKE REAL METALLICA!
But fuck, man. Those bands all had their heyday over 20 years ago. I don't want to have to rely on Metallica resurrecting itself after two decades in creative exile for my cock-rocking needs. I need more than one Queens of the Stone Age. I need about fifty of them. I don't want fucking Hinder. I want bands that will plug in AND RUIN YOUR FUCKING SHIT. I DEMAND MORE BANDS THAT MAKE VIDEOS FEATURING DRUGGED OUT STRIPPERS. I DEMAND MORE BANDS THAT WILL GET COKED UP AND THEN NAIL A ROADIE'S EAR TO THE HARDWOOD FLOOR FOR MY ANECDOTAL ENJOYMENT. I WANT ROCK TO BE FUCKING MEAN AGAIN.
If you know of more bands that meet those requirements, please notify me immediately. I have kids and am now too fucking lame and old to get my proper dose of culture. Until then, here were my six favorite songs from 2008.
"That Was Just Your Life" by Metallica
"Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Part 1," My Morning Jacket
"Strange Times" and "Lies," The Black Keys
"Stay Positive," The Hold Steady
"Stupid Now," Bob Mould
"The '59 Sound," The Gaslight Anthem
Embarassing Mixtape Track I Once Owned That Will Not Fire You Up
"Way Cool Jr." by Ratt. Yes, but what of Way Cool Sr.? You never hear Stephen Pearcy sing about HIM. I have a feeling Way Cool Sr. was not nearly as way cool as his son. Fun fact: Way Cool III currently plays lacrosse at Hobart College.
For a real treat, you can also listen to this song Unplugged! They say the truest test of whether or not a song holds up is when it is played acoustically. I would say, based on that, this song fails spectacularly.
My Favorite Thing Of 2008
Always worth watching again. Skeets is the master.
Fantasy Player That Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
Did your league play its championship game last weekend? Then the person who deserves to die a slow, painful death is your commissioner. Play your league title game in Week 16 like everyone else does.
Suicide Pick Roundup
Last week's suicide pick of Atlanta was correct, which makes me 14-3 for the year. Over the course of the year I picked the Jets, the Giants, Atlanta, New England, New Orleans, Minnesota, Tennessee, Tampa, Carolina, Arizona, Chicago, Jacksonville, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Buffalo, and Detroit (oops). This record represents a wild improvement over last year's 10-7 year-end total. Then again, the point of a suicide pool is to, you know, GET NONE OF THEM WRONG. So if you followed these picks, you lost.
Thus, it bears repeating again this year: NEVER ENTER A SUICIDE POOL. Is betting on a single number in roulette just too safe for you? Well then, you'd best enter a suicide pool tout suite. Rare is the gambling enterprise that makes buying a fucking Scratch ticket look like a good idea. Entering a suicide pool is one of them. Do something else with your money. Bet on individual games. Buy a hot meal. Get an escort for the evening. Buy an air rifle and shoot at the local paperboy. Anything. Don't waste your goddamn hard-earned dollars on one of these stupid things. It's called a suicide pool because it makes you want to commit suicide.
To cap the year, reader Nick Y. leaves us with one final way of committing actual suicide:
The most badass way of committing suicide is to make a noose of razor-wire, then superglue your hands to your face. When you hang yourself, the razor-wire will cut through your neck and it will look like you ripped your own head off.
Oh, I like that. Very creative. Suicide is twice the fun when you can also make it into a performance art project of some sort. Speaking of the grotesque…
BONUS CANNIBAL CORPSE SONG OF THE WEEK!
"Devoured By Vermin." I can't end the year without once again paying homage to Cannibal Corpse: Buffalo's premiere death metal outfit. As Cannibal Corpse songs go, I'd say "Devoured By Vermin" is one of their more subtle tracks:
Countless vermin gnashing at my face
Tear meat from my skull
Swarming rabid, features are erased
Christ, that's practically a power ballad. Let's find something more objectionable. "Blunt Force Castration"? No. "Compelled To Lacerate"? Getting warmer! Let's go with "Stripped, Raped, And Strangled":
Tied her up
Taped her mouth shut
Rope tight, around her throat
Her body twitches
as she chokes
Hey, you'd be a homicidal rapist singer too if you lived in Buffalo. I always think of Cannibal Corpse this time of year because this is when the Onion's AV Club puts out my two favorite features: The Guide To Inessential Albums, and The Year in Band Names. As always, the death metal bands lead the way…
Methadone Abortion Clinic
Hmm, we're sensing a song-title pattern with these metal bands: "Hit 'Er In The Shitter," "Menstrual Minestrone"
Turn up your nose at "Menstrual Minestrone" all you like, but I do know that's a nutritious recipe that is chock full of iron. From this list, I was also partial to "Negroes On Ice."
I've thought long and hard about what my band would be called if I were, you know, actually in a band. When I listen to music at the gym and visualize myself as a rock star (I sing lead and play lead guitar), as I do every day, I have an imaginary band there backing me up. That band's name? F-Bombs. Ugh. What a shitty name. Remind me to fire my imaginary manager for forcing that name on the band. We were supposed to be Monolith. MONOLITH, DAMMIT!
Nazi Shark's Vegas Lock Of The Week
Lots of sports sites, to demonstrate the arbitrary nature of gambling, like to have animals like monkeys pick games to see if they can outwit their human counterparts. There's no reason we at Deadspin can't also get in on the fun. So we've asked National Socialist German Workers' Party member Rolf, who also happens to be a shark, to pick one game a week. Take it away, Nazi shark.
"This week, I like Philadelphia giving 3 points on the road against Minnesota. I have a New Year's resolution this year, and that is to eat more Jews."
2008 Nazi Shark Record: 4-11
Great Moments In Sports Poop History
Commenter HIV 2 Elway sends in this poop story, in which you will learn things about anal beads you previously did not know! Take it away, uh, HIV.
"Had this roommate in the dorms. One of those total straight edge guys. Never fucked a girl. Never drank. Certainly never blazed. Well sure enough the first time he drank at all, he drank himself stupid and passed out around 8pm. Now we had this guy living down the hall who was a real sick fuck. Real twisted like. Well he finds out my roommate is passed out and wants to fuck with him. Not in the tea-bag or write on him kind of way, in the anal bead kind of way.
"So this fuck strips my roommate down and inserts a whole fucking strand of anal beads into this poor chap's ass. The look on his face while doing it will haunt me for years, he enjoyed each bead more than the last. Well that wasn't enough for this sick fuck. You see on the anal bead package it warns you to remove them slowly. Failing to do so can result in severe muscle cramps. So this guy ties the end of the string of beads to the bedpost. He leaves the room and minutes later enters the room screaming, ‘Fire! Fire!' My poor passed out roommate is shaken awake, takes maybe two steps, starts screaming and falls to the ground grabbing his calves which were now severely cramped. He didn't drink again for some time."
I have to say, I'm amazed that there are warnings on packages of anal beads, or that anyone reads them. If you're the kind of person that's into anal beads, chances are you won't be taking note of safety precautions. "Let me stick these up your ass, dear. But before I do, let's make sure we're both wearing our safety goggles. FOR GOD'S SAKE, DON'T BRING THAT PLUG-IN DILDO INTO THE BATHTUB!"
Also, why would your calves cramp up if you just had a string of anal beads torn from your rectum? I bet Peter King silently wishes this kind of medical mystery is soon addressed on "House." Anyway, this should serve as a lesson to all you youngsters out there: Don't get too drunk, lest you end up a victim of anal bead rape, which is even worse than Jenna Elfman handrape.
Fire This Asshole!
Okay, so it's the end of the year. Now, here is who has been fired or retired so far:
Of those eight firings, I'd say only the Mangini canning was unjustified. Jets owner Woody Johnson has already said he'd like to have Brett Favre back with the team next year, and Jay Glazer reported last week that Favre and Mangini didn't get along during the course of the year. Why? Because Mangini, get this, ACTUALLY CALLED OUT FAVRE WHEN HE MADE MISTAKES. Oh, no! Poor Brett! No one told him he'd have to be actually fucking accountable for all his idiotic on-field decisions! Well, we can't have that. But there's more to Brett's dismay…
In Green Bay, Favre had his own locker room area to dress, an office area among other perks.
So Barry Bonds is a fuckwit for having his own little locker room area in San Fran, but when Brett Favre has the same perk, it's barely even mentioned during his time in Green Bay. If it comes to pass that the Jets fired Eric Mangini solely as a way of enticing Favre to stay in New York do his whole wishy-washy retirement bullshit all spring long, then they are the dumbest fucking team in history and they never deserve to win another game ever in a million fucking years. Fuck Brett Favre. Fuck the Jets. And fuck every person in the media for glossing over this shit.
I don't get it. I really don't. What does Favre have on all these people – Peter King, Woody Johnson, etc. – that makes them want to protect him? Do they all have stock in Wrangler? Does he have a special Burn After Reading dildo chair in his basement that he lets them all use? What fucking gay little spell has he cast over everyone?
I heard Tom Jackson and Trent Dilfer both talking on SportsCenter last week about how much they'd like to see Favre back. WHY? What's so great about a selfish, 40-year-old pick machine hogging the spotlight and holding a team hostage for another year? This is why ESPN catches so much shit. It's like tuning into an alternate universe, completely divorced from fucking reality. JESUS. FUCK.
As for the rest of the chopping block, here are the coaches who, I'm guessing, will still be fired (interim coaches not included):
And here are the ones that could/should be fired, but won't be:
Jack Del Rio
In the case of Herm Edwards, Chiefs management is waiting on their new GM before they decide on Edwards. Why wait? Do they really think any new GM they hire is gonna wanna be saddled with that loser for a lame duck year? Hurry up and fire that man, dammit.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Chicken McNuggets. I swear half of all Chicken McNuggets are shaped like the state of Indiana. I think this is because one of the original product engineers was a displaced Hoosier who wanted a passive aggressive way of expressing his dissatisfaction with having to live in Oak Brook, Illinois.
Do you dip your McNuggets in honey? Then fuck off. You repulse me. I don't know what they put in McDonald's BBQ sauce. All I know is that I could easily drink it out of a carton on a daily basis. I dunk my McNuggets with the aim of getting as much BBQ sauce onto them as possible, scooping upwards as I pull the nugget out. Do I use a whole container of sauce for each McNugget I eat? Fuck and yes, I do. I've tried mixing shit up and going with sweet and sour, but it just isn't the same.
I like Chicken McNuggets, but I don't think I never need to eat one again after seeing the McNugget wedding cake in that Nuggnut ad they run all the time. Seriously, that thing is a late-term abortion of cuisine.
Best New Year's Idea
I went to a New Year's party at my friend's house a few years back. For each of the guests, he had a gift. I opened mine. It was a windshield sponge. Everyone else opened theirs to find a similarly odd and useless trinket. We sat puzzled for a moment or two, until he said, "I'm re-gifting you guys all the shitty gifts I got for Christmas," he said. Well played, sir. Very well played.
Gametime Beer Of The Week
Kirin Ichiban. The big one. Happiness is four inside-out yellowtail scallion rolls and six bottles of this. Has anyone ranked sushi rolls yet? Fuck it. I will.
1. Toro (if available)
4. Spider roll (soft shell crab)
5. Shrimp Tempura roll
I could eat those rolls every day until I croaked. I really could.
Random FKS-Style Tidbit
I do a lot of grocery shopping for the family. And I use self-checkout all the time, because I have no interest in gambling that the aisle I've chosen will be manned by the one competent store employee. I almost always get the one slow guy who's grown his fingernails a bit too long for my comfort. Not cool.
There is no greater blow to your ego than fucking up at the self-checkout. I wanna crawl into a hole and die when the screen flashes PLEASE WAIT FOR ASSISTANCE. Hey, screen, GO FUCK YOURSELF. I CAN FIGURE THIS SHIT OUT ON MY OWN. I DON'T NEED ASSISTANCE. I AM MY OWN FUCKING MAN, GOD DAMMIT.
Nine times out of ten the reason I fuck up at self-checkout is because, after scanning an item, I do not place it in the bag over on the side exactly as the screen wants me to. Fuck that. I already scanned the item. WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU CARE WHERE I PLACE IT? YOUR BIZARRE RULES ARE MAKING ME CHOKE, YOU ASSHOLES! I hate fucking up at the self-checkout because I've usually just spent five minutes standing and rolling my eyes behind someone who has also fucked up and needs assistance. Stupid screen, making me look like a hypocrite.
Robert Evans' MVP Watch!
The time has come to vote on the NFL's MVP award. Legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans has been with us all season to give us his MVP picks, and now he is ready to give you his final vote. Take it away, Mr. Evans.
"Baby, here's my final MVP vote!"
1. Michael Turner, Falcons
2. Philip Rivers, Chargers
3. James Harrison, Steelers
4. Peyton Manning, Colts
5. Chris Johnson, Titans
6. Chad Pennington, Jets
"I tell ya, winning that MVP award is just like winning an Oscar. I remember when I was nominated for my first Oscar back in '74 for Chinatown. I remember reading the script and going to Bob Towne. ‘Townie,' I said. ‘This script doesn't make a lick of fucking sense to Evans!' And you know what Towne said to me? He said, ‘Forget it, Bob. It's Chinatown.' And then I said, ‘Well, what the fuck does THAT mean, you cryptic little shit?' And then he said, ‘I'm your sister AND your daughter!' I tell ya, that Bob Towne was completely fucked in the head.
"But Nicholson convinced me to do the picture, and was I ever glad! That movie's got everything? Sex? You bet! Water? Only the wettest! So a toast to you, Michael Turner! You're my sexy, wet little MVP!"
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Lions Fans
Reader Craig B. writes in to say, "Thought you did a hell of a job playing the priest in Gran Torino." Oh, well I'm sure that priest was played by an hulking young actor who also has my strong chin and surprisingly long eyelashes. Let me just check the IMDB page and…
Fuck you, Craig. You burn in Hell, young man. I look forward to next month, when everyone will email in to say, "Hey, Drew! You look just like Paul Blart: Mall Cop!"
(Note: Going back to my earlier point about ESPN glossing over reality, I heard Chris Berman on SportsCenter Sunday talking about the Lions going 0-16 and being all sad and shit, saying, "Of course, no one wanted to see this happen. We were all rooting for them to at least win one game." Whoa whoa whoa. Hold up there, asshole. Don't presume to speak for everyone like that. I wanted to see them go 0-16. I didn't want them to win a game. So don't give me this whole pity party. That team went 0-16 because they fucking DESERVED to. Spare me all your phony noble bullshit.)
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
"You'll be getting more than just a lawyer, Mr. Simpson. You'll also be getting this exquisite faux pearl necklace, a $99 value, as our gift to you!"
Halftime Masturbation Kit
-For the guys: Model Melissa Marie. I have long been a proponent of ensnaring women in nets for sexy purposes. Also, if you believe these photos, Melissa can toggle between Asian eyes and Caucasian eyes anytime she pleases. Chameleon fever!
-For the gals: VAN DAMME! Who are you to resist, eh? The man has it all: looks, muscles, brains, black silk underwear, AND HE EATS SNAKES!
Your Motivational Pregame Quote For The Weekend
"You got to HAVE respect to GET respect!"
Enjoy the playoffs, everyone. And I hope you and your family have a happy and healthy 2009. Stick around for a Bowl Game open thread post.