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20 Jan 2010

Scramble for the Ball: Warm Fuzzies

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz

Seeds of Discord

Tom: We have a chance for something very unusual this year. This could be the first meeting of No. 1 seeds since Buffalo-Dallas Part II, the sequel nobody wanted.

Mike: I'm sure somebody wanted that game, there were just white coats involved.

Tom: My friends! Anyway, the last No. 1 seed to win the Super Bowl was the 2003 Patriots.

Mike: I suppose that shows how good a job the seeding system did this year? It looks like it has done a decent job of sorting out all of the teams, which is, as you said, rare.

Tom: Well, we've seen a lot of No. 1 versus No. 2 matchups, at least before the last decade, when things frequently went haywire. New England-Philadelphia was the last Super Bowl where both teams had a bye, so along with Tampa Bay-Oakland, that's two of the last 10.

Mike: Why you gotta be so mean to the seeding system? It tries so hard to make you happy, unlike that mean ol' BCS.

Tom: It's an imperfect guide to team quality. Like the Supreme Court, it's infallible because it's final, not final because it's infallible. Otherwise, why have a playoffs in the first place?

Mike: Money.

Tom: Well, true. If the NFL was so concerned about money, they'd start selling sponsorships on training camp jerseys and partner with lotteries even thought they officially are anti-gambling. Wait, no, they do both of those.

Mike: They do both of those with extreme prejudice. We often get caught up in the team drama and hooplah, especially in the more emotionally charged playoffs atmosphere, and forget that this is all a giant money-making scheme.

Tom: The NFL is good like that. With guaranteed media contracts, some teams may be able to make money in 2011 without even playing any games! This state of affairs is either awesome or incredibly depressing.

Mike: I don't think they two are mutually exclusive.

Tom: "He Who Must Not Be Named did great things. Terrible, yes, but great."

Staff Fantasy Update

Tom: Sean climbs up to the top, and Vince is done. D-U-N, done.

Mike: Poor Vince. I suppose he guessed wrong.

Tom: Sean has Thomas Jones, Dallas Clark and Jets D remaining. You have Sidney Rice, Ryan Longwell and New Orleans D. All-in on New Orleans and Indianapolis paid off for me, I think, as I'm still only missing Cincinnati D. This really is such a crapshoot. You can win this thing if you get the right two players, who then go off, so it makes sense to overload on one or two teams as much as you can. You just have to hope that, unlike Green Bay, they don't flame out in their first game.

Mike: I'm in second place and I didn't go all-in on any team. In fact, the team I was heaviest in also lost its first game.

Tom: That's a fine strategy, if you want to finish third.

Mike: We'll see who wins, then.

Tom: If anyone had Sidney Rice as the top-scoring fantasy wide receiver after the first two weeks, they are in line for congratulations. Particularly if you also had Early Doucet second.

Mike: That would have been impressive if I had done that, yes! Sadly, Doucet flew under the radar.

Tom: Yes, well, his reign of third/fourth receiver terror is over now. As well as Sean's doing, imagine how much better he'd be if he spent his first-round pick on Shonn Greene instead of Thomas Jones. Greene also went unpicked in the best of the rest draft, so he's not the only person who whiffed on that.

Mike: Committees are always a crap shoot. So it's a double crap shoot! Like shooting craps with exploding dice. Or coaching for the Raiders.

Tom: Coaching for the Raiders will end poorly and never look good. Shooting craps is actually good before the dice explode. I have eight of my nine players left, but I don't think I like playoff fantasy football, at least the way it's commonly structured. I wonder if it'd be better if you had a smaller group and did weekly picks. Three or four players, maybe quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers and a defense.

Mike: That would definitely be interesting, especially when you ran out of actual players at those positions.

Tom: Yes, the Super Bowl would be interesting.

FO Playoff Divisional Results (Players in bold are still active)

Aaron Peyton Manning 18 LaDainian Tomlinson 2 Marion Barber 1 Miles Austin 17 Julian Edelman 16 Percy Harvin 2 Antonio Gates 9 Nate Kaeding 2 IND 7 74
Dave Brett Favre 27 Adrian Peterson 7 Reggie Bush 16 Randy Moss 4 Greg Jennings 19 Robert Meachem 0 Jason Witten 11 Jay Feely 11 NE 0 95
Vince Aaron Rodgers 40 Ray Rice 37 Laurence Maroney 0 DeSean Jackson 7 Donald Driver 4 Chad Ochocinco 2 Jermichael Finley 15 Mason Crosby 8 GB -5 108
Mike Tom Brady 7 Ryan Grant 7 Cedric Benson 23 Sidney Rice 32 Jeremy Maclin 20 Derrick Mason 6 Brent Celek 5 Ryan Longwell 10 NO 3 113
Sean Philip Rivers 22 Thomas Jones 13 Beanie Wells 15 Vincent Jackson 11 Larry Fitzgerald 27 Steve Breaston 25 Dallas Clark 5 Stephen Gostkowski 2 NYJ 9 129
Tom Drew Brees 24 Joseph Addai 3 Pierre Thomas 6 Reggie Wayne 12 Marques Colson 14 Austin Collie 11 Jeremy Shockey 9 Garrett Hartley 10 CIN -3 86

Best of the Rest

We're still just living in dryheat's world, as he maintains his overall lead from Week 1 by going to 143 points. Being the only person with Early Doucet was certainly a good call. Alas for him, Dustin Keller is his sole remaining player, so consider that lead tenuous. Best poised to pass him is Ryan D, with 127 total points and Pierre Garcon, Devery Henderson, Visanthe Shiancoe, and the Vikings Defense remaining. Podge is 5 points back, and has three of the same players, minus only Henderson, so barring extreme fumble issues by Devery he's likely to remain behind. Chris UK seems to have the third-best shot right now, with Sanchez, Cotchery, Edwards, Garcon, Keller, and the Vikings D; a big passing day from the Jets could put him on top. Oh, and every running back taken in Best of the Rest has been eliminated.

This Section Is For Skinny People ... And Fat People!

Mike: This segment goes out to people of all colors! Including Expanics!

Tom: isobre el quarterback spectacular Senor Mark Sanchez! Although I used to live in Georgia, I have nothing against North Carolina.

Mike: I like North Carolina. It's a pretty state, and I have a lot of friends from there. Also, it's not South Carolina.

Tom: Even though the two commercials we've saved for the playoffs are both from North Carolina. One thing I like about the commercial is how it doesn't do the expected. You see Black Person on a sofa saying "this sofa is perfect for black people and for white people." If this was a big-budget national commercial, you'd see a cut after "black people" and White Guy would be on the same sofa saying the last part. Actually, check that, I don't like it. I expect that sort of thing -- that tells me they're good, and paying attention to how things should flow. I've praised commercials for subverting conventions, but it doesn't feel like they're doing that. It just feels cheap.

Mike: It doesn't help that I can't make up my mind if it's all a big gag or some kind of instructional video. "This is a sofa. White people can use the sofa! Black people can use the sofa! Expanic people can use the sofa! Who can use the sofa? That's right, everyone can use the sofa."

Tom: "Except that one guy over there, who refuses to use the sofa on weird quasi-religious grounds he refuses to explain."

Mike: I'm just assuming that the sofa works for Asians, also, since it is an amazing and miraculous and wonderful multicultural bit of fabric and fluff.

Tom: High Point is outside the Research Triangle, there are no Asians. They're like black people in Bismarck, you've heard of them, but there aren't actually any.

Mike: The other interesting bit about the delivery is that the actors (I use the term loosely, with no disrespect). "This sofa is great for a white person! ... ... Oh yeah, or a black person!" It's like they have to sit and think about if this sofa really would work out for a black person.

Tom: Yes, there are very sensitive racial decisioins to think about in terms of buying furniture. I won't even mention that both the sofa and the mattress they say are perfect for a white person ... or a black person are both white in color. Oops.

Mike: Oops, indeed. The cherry on top is that this isn't a YouTube joke. The tag line isn't "holy crap look at this insane thing I saw on TV!" It's an official dump by the guys who made it, who are apparently proud of the racially harmonious world of furniture they helped popularize? As far as I can tell, they're good ol' boy versions of Flight of the Conchords.

Tom: Are there all-white furniture stores? I don't go shopping for furniture, ever, so I don't know.

Mike: Not really, white furniture isn't very popular. It stains easily and doesn't go with much. I imagine they use white furniture in the commercial because they did some color tests and it worked out better than brown. Or, of course, some insidious hidden agenda.

Tom: Yes, the Klavern Furniture Store, where employees wear white hoods.

Mike: Again, North Carolina. Not South Carolina.

Tom: Right, gotcha.

Mike: Part of me says that this is actually a great gesture in a place where their normal is so much different from mine, but still. That would be referencing a terrifying, Friday Night Lights kind of normal.

Tom: I think they missed something in the commercial. When you go to their Web site, they have a link for furniture and for electronics. In the commercial, however, you only see some TVs in the background. They don't mention electronics in the commercial. Therefore, by negative implication, maybe there are racial differences when it comes to buying electronics!

Mike: Logic! I wonder if the other electronics stores tell you astoundingly obvious things, like "this toaster can be used by a man, or a woman!" Oh, wait, ha ha, women cannot understand technology!

Tom: I'll be sure to e-mail your wife and tell her not to read this week's column.

Mike: She's a bigger fan of the trope than I am. We were watching Star Trek, one of those episodes where Uhura was ostensibly in charge (but was never actually shown doing in-charge things, because it was the 1960s), and Kirk was yelling "Where is my ship?" She chimes in with "Well, Uhura's in charge, I bet they're off shoe shopping!" I'm trying to figure out how we as a species survived the '60s. I'm drawing a blank.

Tom: That is another thing about this commercial. It may fight against racial prejudice, but all the people who provide this wonderful, miraculous furniture are men. Women only buy the stuff. You could thank Richard Nixon's famed silent majority. Or, more realistically, the creation of the AFL, which brought football to cities that could support it but didn't have a team and wouldn't have received one without it. All of this in the time-honored American traditions of fun and profit.

Mike: And giving us superior football! It is a difficult balancing act.

Tom: Well, part of the reason it was a difficult balancing act was because the only time they didn't have a cigarette in their mouth was when they were taking a drink.

Mike: And then the '70s happened and everyone got to hate the hippies, the end!


KEEP CHOPPING WOOD: Kick the challenge flag! Don't kick the challenge flag! Vincent Jackson should have been content with his spectacular grab and watching Rex Ryan lose what looked like a very good challenge, but no, he had to go and stupidly cost his team 15 yards with a selfish and stupid move. That it ended up costing San Diego relatively little is immaterial; that he did something selfish and stupid in the final minutes of a close game is unforgivable.

MIKE MARTZ AWARD: From 2004 to 2006, the San Diego Chargers under Marty Schottenheimer amassed a cumulative record of 35-13, but lost their first playoff game both years they made it. GM A.J. Smith had, of course, put together a talented roster, but a Proven Playoff Winner was needed to put his team over the kid. Enter Norv Turner. Now, the more elephantine of you might remember Norv's immediate previous head coaching job consisted of two years in which he won a total of nine games. But, well, Al Davis and all that, and besides, Norv had won a playoff game his previous head coaching gig and looked to have one of the league's best teams until his owner decided it was a good idea to sign and play Jeff George. And that playoff game Norv won? Against the Detroit Lions. The post-Barry Sanders Detroit Lions. The 8-8 and outscored on the year (ok, only by 1) Detroit Lions. Oh, and Norv's Redskins lost their next game, against a team with a mediocre-at-best rookie quarterback (the Shaun King-led Buccaneers) thanks in part to a key late kicking mishap. See, Chargers fans, Redskins fans feel your pain, at least when they're not joining the rest of us in laughing in your general direction. See you in the Pro Bowl, Norvalicious!

COLBERT AWARD: Lovers of the unconventional award choice, your Scramble writers considered giving this week's Colbert Award to Brad Childress for listening to the exhortations of the Vikings' fight song (lyrics here) and scoring an unnecessary late touchdown, but really, there's only one choice here and that's Rex Ryan's decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 to win the game, rather than give the ball back to San Diego with a chance to win.

In The Modern Adaptation, Mimi Died for Lack of a 5-Dollar Footlong

Posted by: Mike Kurtz and Tom Gower on 20 Jan 2010

12 comments, Last at 21 Jan 2010, 6:49pm by beargoggles


by John (not verified) :: Wed, 01/20/2010 - 11:02pm

That commercial makes me want to swing through their store next time I'm in the area, despite the fact that I last shopped for (non-bookshelf) furniture...well, never (my couch is a cast-off from a neighbor, 10 years ago) and I live in Indiana.

Someday, so help me expanic, I will visit the Red House.

by Ryan D. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/21/2010 - 12:12am

"Best poised to pass him is Ryan D, with 127 total points and Pierre Garcon, Devery Henderson, Visanthe Shiancoe, and the Vikings Defense remaining"

I like the sound of that. :)

by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 01/21/2010 - 5:35am

I like the sound of Devery Henderson's consecutive games of 2 catches, -10 yards, 2 fumbles....

by Wolf Blitzers secret shirt pocket (not verified) :: Thu, 01/21/2010 - 4:21am

Ok. Now late for work because I needed to find out what was going on with that red house commercial.

ah. http://ilovelocalcommercials.com/

Now the real beauty here is in their inspiration section. http://ilovelocalcommercials.com/videos.aspx?vid=4&cl=3.

by jebmak :: Thu, 01/21/2010 - 12:48pm

I realized after it was over that I had burst into uncontrollable laughter.

by Theo :: Thu, 01/21/2010 - 7:07am

Shockey tattood his wristband on his arm. How's that for commitment.

by Dean :: Thu, 01/21/2010 - 10:16am

I am somewhat embarassed to admit that I have a different nominee for this week's Keep Choppin' Wood award... ...ME! I was camping this past weekend, had consumed more beer the Raiderjoe pre-rant (although they were not Sierra Nevada - sorry RJ) and was attempting to sink a hatchet into a wet tree stump. You can guess how this story ends. Hatchet blade hits the edge of the stump, somehow bounces off the tree instead of staying put, and of course makes its way right to my shin. Fortunately, I escaped with little more then a minor cut and a nasty bruise. All I could think about was Keep Choppin' Wood!

by Phil Osopher :: Thu, 01/21/2010 - 11:34am

Maybe if you missed a few days of work, or better yet had to go on the IR (paid of course) because of your KCW mishap.


by beargoggles :: Thu, 01/21/2010 - 6:49pm

Don't drink and chop. Reminds me I once had a Life In Hell--"If you drink, don't drill" t-shirt. (You can imagine how that turned out). Damn, can't find a link on-line.

I'm also reminds of a story my grandfather told me about the Battle of the Bulge. One of his friends tried to chop down a frozen tree with a shovel because he didn't have an axe handy. It deflected off the tree and knocked out several teeth. So you don't have to be drinking to do something ill-advised...

by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 01/21/2010 - 11:10am

"I like pumpin' iron, and pumpin' furniture... out the door"

Apparently, he likes dropping the "dead fish" on that customer he shook hands with.

by Harris :: Thu, 01/21/2010 - 12:25pm

thanks to that pause, I had time to imagine him in the warehouse, lights turned down low, Barry White playing on a stereo as a sidles up an especially attractive couch, a gleam in his eye, a Viagra in his pocket.

Hail Hydra!

by Eddo :: Thu, 01/21/2010 - 11:43am

The Rams-Patriots Super Bowl also pitted two teams with byes.