2015 NFL Preview: AFC South

Woof.

1. Indianapolis Colts – In theory, I like the Frank Gore and Andre Johnson signings. These are exactly the kind of rugged veterans a team on the cusp of something big needs to get itself over the hump. That said…the Colts were more than a back and a receiver away. That defense is still a mess, and Andrew Luck doesn’t have nearly enough solid targets to throw to. They’ll run away with the division and probably win a playoff game, but that’s their ceiling for now.
Booze Equivalency Index – Dogfish Head 30 Minute. Good enough, but I’m looking further down the draft list for something a little more interesting.

2. Houston Texans – On the one hand, I really like Bill O’Brien and I think Jadaveon Clowney will team with JJ Watt to scare the shit out of the league’s precious quarterbacks. On the other hand…no one is scared of the Texans’ own passers. Hoyer? Mallett? Please. And who are they throwing to? Oh. Right. The other team and the grass.
Booze Equivalency Index – Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. Kind of fun, but once is enough.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Feels like a make or break year for Blake Bortles, doesn’t it? He put together a few nice games, but his total numbers were not good. Maybe he’s crap. Maybe he’s just got nothing to work with. Hint: it’s both.
Booze Equivalency Index – Bud Light.

4. Tennessee Titans – Personally, I had Mariota over Winston. Too bad the poor guy’s on a team of total zeroes. How do you even write anything about this team? For real. I quit.
Booze Equivalency Index – Beefeater gin in spoiled chocolate milk.

2015 NFL Preview: AFC North

Have I mentioned that the AFC is garbage again? The AFC is garbage again. At the risk of sounding like those dumb homers, I hate so much…I mean seriously, there isn’t a team in the conference that can touch the Patriots without the help of some serious injury voodoo. Even that may not be enough.

That said, whoever wins this division probably has the best shot. Yes, I know the Broncos and Colts aren’t part of the AFC North. Don’t even try to sell me on the Broncos or the Colts. You beat the Patriots by punching them in the mouth and knocking them on their ass. That’s what the North is all about. Denver and Indy? Couple of slappy fighters. Don’t even.

1. Baltimore Ravens – This is not an endorsement of Flacco’s crew so much as it’s a melodramatic eye roll at their competition. The defense and the coaching are both rock solid in Baltimore, but they just don’t have enough weapons on offense to really sell me on what they’re doing. Running back Justin Forsett’s the most obvious one-year wonder since Brady Anderson. Fantasy football people tell me the Ravens have a new young receiver that’s “the next Torrey Smith.” Uh…Torrey Smith kind of sucked. Crap like this is why I’m starting to hate fantasy football.
Booze Equivalency Index – Jack and Coke. Good enough, especially if you aren’t careful with it.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (wildcard) – No defense. No offensive line. No one to take the double team pressure off Antonio Brown. No one better than Deangelo Williams to fill in during Le’veon Bell’s suspension. Borderline elite quarterback who might be a cyborg. Sounds like a wildcard team!
Booze Equivalency Index – Wild Turkey. This is gonna hurt…but in an ok way.

3. Cincinnati Bengals – Andy Dalton.
Booze Equivalency Index – A mai tai without the rum.

4. Cleveland Browns – I mean…this one’s pretty automatic, right? Name a Cleveland Brown that isn’t Johnny Manziel. No, Jordan Cameron’s in Miami now. No, “that dude with the dreadlocks” is not good enough. Correct answer: stud left tackle Joe Thomas, the only player on this team that even remotely matters.
Booze Equivalency Index – Drano.

2015 NFL Preview: AFC East

So I’ve got a confession to make: I kind of hate that I’m still attached to football. Yeah, I know. That’s not popular. I’ve never been popular so I really don’t give a shit. The league in general seems to be getting dumber. The commissioner’s a buffoon. I swear half the coaches need several weeks of remedial Madden sessions on how to use timeouts and challenges. Recent rule changes–specifically those around kickoffs, illegal contact, and protecting the quarterback–are asinine. Most gameplans still revolve around strategic kicking even though statistics prove that’s usually the wrong play. The emphasis on the quarterback is ridiculous, and it should be obvious to anyone who actually pays attention to the game that it really comes down to what the lines do. Baseball and basketball, meanwhile, are getting smarter in both presentation and in-game strategy, and both MLB and the NBA feature leadership that’s interested in smart, legitimate improvements rather than reactionary bullshit. The NFL, as far as I’m concerned, is falling behind.

So why am I still watching? And why am I using it as an excuse to fire up the blog for the first time in [I’m too lazy to look this up]? Simple: the trash talk is fantastic. I can crap all over 95% of the league and it still amuses the shit out of me. Oh, you’re a fan of the Jets, Jaguars, or Raiders? HA HA HA HA HA! The mere mention of Andy Dalton sends me into an uncontrollable fit of mirth. For real. I might soil my knickers. Tell me all about those 3398 useless yards that terd threw for last year. TELL ME! Explain again how Ryan Tannehill’s about to join the list of the league’s elite quarterbacks. I WANT TO HEAR ALL ABOUT IT! Try to convince me Andy Reid can tell time. KEEP GOING, PLEASE! Tell me all about those sleeper wide receivers on shitty teams that are going to help you win your fantasy league. BRING IT ON!!!

So without further ado, I bring you my predictions for the AFC East, using my Booze Equivalency Index metric that’s really just an easy, stupid excuse for comparing the NFL’s legions of terrible teams to the world’s abundance of disgusting alcohol. Let’s get this first division over with.

1. New England Patriots – It doesn’t matter how many games Tom Brady plays. It doesn’t matter how much the Patriots were fined or how many draft picks they lost. You know what matters? The rest of the division is a tire fire, and the Pats are going to be pissed about the Deflategate circus. If you’ve ever wanted to see a team hang 80 on an opponent, check out that game against the Colts on October 18. The Pats are going to spend the season in F U mode and it’s going to be glorious.
Booze Equivalency Index – Bacardi 151 lit on fire and poured over every stupid dork you know.

2-4. The Rest – Who gives a shit?
Booze Equivalency Index – Dirty, lukewarm tap water scooped out of the toilet and served in a chipped glass by a chain-smoking waitress who’s pissed the jukebox hasn’t played her late 90s J.Lo songs.

Smell ya later, Boston Olympics

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

Boston’s long local nightmare is finally over. Faced with signing a guarantee to back the 2024 Olympic bid with public funds amid a rising tide of opposition (10 whole people on Twitter!), Mayor Marty Walsh finally put an end to this ill-conceived charade after months of buffoonish skullduggery. Thanks for finally doing the obvious, logical thing in an effort to save face, Yer Honor. Now cut the crap and get to work fixing our transportation infrastructure. Believe it or not, you can probably do that without selling the city out to a bunch of corrupt twat waffles for a few weeks. You can do it. I believe in you. Well, not you necessarily, but the power of your office. Sure, you’ll need a lot of help from the state, but that’s no excuse. Get cracking. Lead the charge.

As for the Olympics themselves, they are also in possession of crap in need of a solid cutting. Expecting a different city to invest billions of dollars in hosting this thing every four years is asinine. Pick one place for the summer games and another for the winter session and make those locations the best damn Olympic hosts they can be. What’s that? It’ll never happen because the International Olympics Committee exists solely as a front for a series of shady grafts and kickbacks to its members and their pals? Oh. Maybe that should stop, and maybe we should all stop supporting the games until it does. I’m pretty sure you’ll be ok if you don’t get to watch archery once every four years.

Of course, there is one thing about the bid’s failure we should all be very disappointed about: we’ll never get to see what sort of crazy ass mascot a Boston Olympics would have generated, and that’s a damn shame. Maybe they would’ve kept it simple and just thrown some rings and a swimsuit on Wally. Perhaps the designer would’ve attempted to embrace Boston’s heritage by tossing a tricorner hat on an anthropomorphic pile of baked beans and naming it Sully. Personally, I would’ve given the job to Spare Change Guy. The USOC’s insistence that the bid be backed by public money was basically “GOT ANY CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANGE?” Jesus Guy would’ve been my second choice, because nothing says “Welcome to Boston, tourists!” quite like a dude with a sandwich board handing out soul-saving literature to hordes of sinners.

Lastly, mad props to No Boston Olympics, No Boston 2024, and any other grass roots groups out there I’m forgetting that led the charge against this chicanery. Good work, sirs and madams, and I hope you don’t let the momentum of your quality activism die with the bid. Boston’s got a lot of other problems such community-led initiatives could help solve. In fact, there’s a particular scourge I think you guys should take aim at next: Wally. Get that guy all the way outta here.

The six most annoying people you meet on the MBTA

This one needs no preamble, but I’m going to waste your time with one anyway. See, I’m a veteran of the MBTA. I’ve seen some things. Things that’ve made my blood boil. Things that’ve made my stomach churn. Things that have made my head ache, my eyes roll, and my jaw drop. Things I’ll never be able to unsee. But I’ve survived. I’m better for it, despite all the alcoholism and sleepless nights it’s caused. And so I’m revisiting a few of those moments to assist you, dear reader. Perhaps my words will give you an invisible shoulder on which to cry and an imaginary internet pal with whom to commiserate. Perhaps they’ll encourage you to walk or catch a cab. Perhaps you’ll simply feel better about yourself because at least you’re not a shitty blogger who thinks writing about crap like this is a good idea. Regardless, dear reader, this half-assed list of terrible archetypes is for you. Hey, at least it’s not a slideshow!

6. Early Stand Up Douche – Got ants in the pants. Refuses to stay seated until train stops. Must stand up and push eighteen people out of the way three minutes before next station while train is at maximum acceleration. Probably does not last long in the sack if you know what I mean.

5. Giant Backpack Bro – Basically carrying a refrigerator on his back. Failed geometry three times and thus has no concept of spacial relations. Won’t put his god damn pack on the god damn floor regardless of how many people walk right into it. Backpack might contain smaller bro with smaller backpack.

4. New Colonel Sanders – Purely hypothetical. Nothing would make me get off a train or a bus quicker than Darrell Hammond in that creepy get up. It’s finger. Lickin’. Wrong.

3. Drunk BU Kid – Saturday night special. Northface 4 Lyfe. Long nights of practice have blessed this individual with the skill required to run off the train, vomit in a trash can, and get back on before the doors close. Has more sex and a brighter future than you do. Got drunk at a shitty bar downtown after a beer and a half.

2. Stinky Homeless Guy – Walking, talking manifestation of cat piss. Likely sprawled out across four seats with a bag of empties taking up a fifth. Beard contains eighteen species never before catalogued by science. Will talk to you; you won’t enjoy it unless you’re weird. Got drunk at a shitty bar downtown after a beer and a half fifteen years ago and hasn’t been sober since.

1. Middle-Aged Tourist – Fanny pack central. Thinks he can disembark at Harvard Station and follow the Freedom Trail to Fenway Park. Pairs a ghastly pastel polo with inappropriately short shorts because “Larry Bird lol.” Stands up at every stop and glances around as if searching for the black helicopters he knows have been stalking him. Does not understand that inbound is always towards Park Street no matter how many people he asks. Will be drunk at a shitty bar downtown after a beer and a half.

Fast food frenzy!

America’s fast food companies are losing their God damn minds lately. McDonald’s brought back the Hamburglar. The Burger King is showing up at boxing matches and horse races and is probably peering in your window right now. KFC’s brain trust deployed a combination of black magic and eleven herbs and spices to help the spirit of Colonel Sanders take possession of Darrel Hammond’s body in a fashion that is absolutely not extra tasty crispy. And Pizza Hut just put the shit cherry on top of the shit sundae by announcing a new crust stuffed with mini hot dogs.

So what’s next for the world of disgusting dining? These slop shops have to keep pushing the envelope to outdo themselves and their competitors, right? Luckily for you, my extensive network of underworld contacts got me the scoop. Some of these guys are more reliable than others, so make sure to take all of this with a grain of salt.

  • Domino’s is terrified of Pizza Hut’s tiny weiner extravaganza. They’re planning a counter-attack with a revolutionary new concoction: a pizza with an Italian sub in the crust.
  • Little Caesar’s, meanwhile, wants to get in on the reincarnated mascot game. Danny DeVito’s being fitted for a toga as we speak. Word is he’s having difficulty getting the whole pizza-on-a-spear-flip down pat so they’ve flown in an expert from Rome to assist in training.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts has fired back by bringing on Keanu Reeves as its new incarnation of Fred the Baker. Keanu’s reportedly researching the role by sleeping in a pile of sprinkles and cooking all of his food in giant greasy toaster ovens.
  • Sit down chains are also taking notice. Friendly’s is attempting to cling to relevance by injecting chocolate Fribble into its french fries. An earlier plan to offer free massages with their Happy Ending sundaes “attracted the wrong crowd” during a pilot program in Rhode Island.
  • TGI Friday’s is returning to its roots as the nation’s first singles bar. Tinder Tuesday means half-price wings for couples meeting through the infamous app. Craig’s List Wednesday offers $1 beers to hookers, robots, spammers, and desperate old men.
  • Sonic plans to make the two guys in their commercials even stupider and more annoying.
  • Chipotle will begin to bill its food as a cure for constipation. Feeling a little clogged up? Ask your doctor about Chipotle.

To the lady who broke the line in Dunkin Donuts the other day

If you go to Dunkin’ Donuts during the morning rush, confuse the hell out of the woman behind the register, and hold up the line because “Oh, I call the ones with chocolate on top chocolate glazed and you should too!”…

  1. You need to get your ass to Starbucks and never return.
  2. I hope the ghost of Fred the Baker appears in your house at midnight and slaps you with a kruller. That guy doesn’t mess around.
  3. Don’t you dare look back at the rest of us and smile. Just don’t. This isn’t a smily situation. This a cut-the-shit-and-move-along-so-the-rest-of-us-can-get-our-watery-coffee-and-gross-food-fix situation. Move it.
  4. I hope the tiny guys from the Munchkins box sneak into your house to tangle the cord on your phone charger, switch your television inputs, flip around the AA batteries in your remote control, steal the toothy edge from your roll of aluminum foil, and pour half your liquor down the sink.
  5. You have completely defeated the purpose of language. See, this communication thing only works because we all agree on what certain words mean. Frosting is the thick, colorful stuff. Glaze is the runny white crap. I know we all mix up words sometimes, but when you do it on purpose, well…this is why Merriam & Webster have established a secret rehabilitation gulag in the badlands of South Dakota. See you in six to eight weeks.
  6. You know what? To hell with the above. For us New Englanders, getting our morning Dunkin is a downright sacred experience. It’s like we’re walking up to a holy man in a visor and apron to receive the blood and body of Fred the Baker himself. Anyone who messes with that needs to get the hell out. Move to Maryland or something. Fuck.

Let’s talk about the point after

The NFL has announced that extra points will henceforth be kicked from the fifteen yard line. The ball will also be considered live on a failed try, giving the defense the opportunity to return it for two points. It’s an attempt to take one of the most boring plays in the game and transform it into something a little more interesting.

It doesn’t go nearly far enough. According to Dean Blandino, the NFL’s chief of officiating, teams make field goals from that distance at about a 93% rate. That means the extra point is still basically automatic and I’ll still be using it as the start of my bathroom break.

So how do we make the extra point better? Well…

  • Get rid of it completely and make all teams go for two. Kickers are stupid and nobody likes them, so let’s take them out of the equation completely. Earning points by kicking when the point of the game is to physically advance the ball across the field is weird. Less of that is better.
  • Offer additional points based on celebration quality. Zero for a simple spike. One for something decent, like a fun shuffle or a WWE pose. Two points for dancing fat guys, cell phones pulled from under the goal post cushion, and pretend moonings. Oh, and no points at all for a repeat. Keep it fresh and funky, yo.
  • Use it as a means of reducing PEDs. This one’s revolutionary. All players must be tested for banned substances prior to game time, but suspensions for roiding up are abolished. Upon scoring a touchdown, you’re automatically awarded an extra point if and only if you had fewer positive tests on the field than your opponent during the scoring play. Want to field a defense loaded with hulked up chemistry experiments? Fine, but it’s going to cost you some points.
  • Require the scoring player to dunk the ball over the goal post before getting tackled or stepping out of bounds. That unstoppable fade route to the corner doesn’t look so good now, does it? A touchdown scored while under control and in a way that smokes the defense should be worth more. Plus, how funny will it be when someone inevitably fucks this up? Watching a short running back bounce one off the front of the cross bar and get booed out of the building would make my Sunday.

2015 Quarterback Rankings

When major media outlets decided last year that Tom Brady was no longer an elite quarterback, yours truly got pissy about it. I took them to task with a list ranking the starters at the position that thoroughly debunked the notion and earned me my first Pultizer nomination. The joke of a contract Ryan Tannehill signed with the Miami Dolphins today (reportedly $96 million over six years) inspired me to do it all again. Last year’s ranking is in parentheses for shits and giggles.

Tier 8 – The Next JaMarcus Russell

32. Jameis Winston (NR)

That’s right. I said it. And now it’s on the record so you can make fun of me for it after he throws for 5,000 yards and wins Rookie of the Year.

Tier 7 – Hope You Didn’t Pay Much for Those Season Tickets

31. Geno Smith (29)
30. Josh McCown (22)
29. Matt Cassell (NR)
28. Sam Bradford (25)
27. Bryan Hoyer (31)
26. Robert Griffin III (18)
25. Nick Foles  (13)

Woof. I whiffed on Foles a bit, huh? Chances are good none of these guys will have starting jobs next year.  Of course, that’s what I thought about most of them last year, and look where they’re at now!

Tier 6 – Bums

24. Jay Cutler (20)
23. Andy Dalton (21)
22. Colin Kaepernick (17)
21. Cam Newton (12)
20. Ryan Tannehill (23)

Some of these guys have won playoff games, but you can’t feel good about any of them doing it ever again. Tannehill threw for more than 4,000 yards last year, but in today’s NFL that’s like hitting 50 home runs in the mid-90s. It’s meaningless. Cutler and Dalton are head cases, Kaepernick’s in trouble without Harbaugh, and Newton just isn’t accurate enough.

I don’t have the exact number for Tannehill’s new contract, but the other four guys in this tier will combine to cost their teams over $56 million against the cap in 2015. Gee, I wonder why the Bears, Bengals, 49ers, and Panthers are so irrelevant. Hmm. What a head scratcher.

Tier 5 – Promising

19. Marcus Mariota (NR)
18. Blake Bortles (32)
17. Derek Carr (NR)
16. Teddy Bridgewater (30)

I like Mariota and Bridgewater a lot. Bortles and Carr played well without much around them. I’d rather roll the dice with these four than accept any of the bullshit behind them.

Meanwhile, Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been bitching about playing time since his team drafted Mariota second overall. Any conversation between the team and Mettenberger should start and end with “YOU PLAYED QUARTERBACK AT LSU DON’T FUCKING EVEN!!!”

Tier 4 – Meh

15. Carson Palmer (16)
14. Alex Smith (14)
13. Eli Manning (6)
12. Joe Flacco (19)

Fine. Whatever. You can win with these guys if everything goes right…but everything isn’t going to go right.

By the way, Flacco didn’t get better. Everybody he jumped ahead of got worse.

Tier 3 – Call Me When You’ve Got a Real Team

11. Matt Stafford (15)
10. Matt Ryan (8)
9. Philip Rivers (10)
8. Drew Brees (3)

Here’s the dirty secret the NFL doesn’t want you to know: it takes more than a quarterback to win a Super Bowl. I know! Weird that you need a whole team to win a team game unless you’re a truly transcendent talent, right? This quartet doesn’t have that, but they could absolutely get you a trophy if you give any of them a running game and a defense.

Tier 2 – In the Conversation

7. Ben Rothlisberger (9)
6. Tony Romo (11)
5. Peyton Manning (2)
4. Russell Wilson (7)

I throw a harder ball than Peyton at this point. Wilson’s good, but I’m not sure just how good. I can’t put him in the top tier simply because he’s had too many excellent teammates. He’s tough to judge accurately.

Tier 1 – The Elite

3. Andrew Luck (5)
2. Tom Brady (4)
1. Aaron Rodgers (1)

These are the only three quarterbacks in the league that can take a game over and win it themselves. That Colts team would’ve won a total of seven games the past three years without Luck. I’ll be the first to admit that Brady’s lost a few ticks on his fastball, likes to throw at his receivers’ ankles, and gets more nervous than a teenager at his first dance while under pressure…but who’s actually better? Rodgers, that’s who, but that dude’s game is perfect.

Dumb bonus analysis only I’m interested in

So which division is best off under center? Let’s add the rankings up like a golf score. Lower’s better.

AFC West – 45
NFC North – 52
NFC East – 63
NFC West – 66
AFC South – 67
NFC South – 71
AFC North – 72
AFC East – 82 (This is really funny when you remember Tom Brady is 2)

I know why the Red Sox didn’t bother acquiring any good starting pitchers this offseason

Because they were too busy making Fenway attractive to the average five-year-old.

For real. We’ve got the new kids’ gate, Gate K, which leads to the new kids’ concourse and the new kids’ clubhouse. Who needs an ace when you’ve got eighteen fucking Wally statues? Sox fans don’t want to see Cole Hamels striking out fools; they want tiny slides for their fucking babies. And for sure no one will notice Wade Miley’s 108.56 ERA if their hearts have been warmed by Gary Striewski’s movie star smile and a whole hoard of adorable ragamuffins on NESN’s Sunday kids show.

I guarantee you this was ownership’s master money-making plan for this season. There is no other logical way to reconcile the crappy pitching with the renewed push to bring in a younger audience. Why spend money on Jeff Samardzija when you can get Wally on a bench, Wally on a bike, and Wally taking a giant dump all over the team for the same price? What about Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, or James Shields? Nah, son, we got a room with blocks and a playground.

And here’s the thing: I don’t begrudge ownership for making the park more family friendly or doing everything they can to bring people into the game and the sport, but man, their priorities just seem fucked. Every time I watch one of their supposed starters give up five runs in an inning that ends with the game’s umpteenth advertisement for the kids’ concourse I get that much closer to full-time Nationals fandom. All this crap just comes off as disingenuous, pandering, and desperate. It ain’t like good teams have historically packed their stadiums or sold buttloads of merch, right?

But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The team’s presentation has been spiraling in this shitty direction for a while now. We’re talking about a team who’s primary broadcast duo is a pair of chuckleheads more concerned with Joseph Abboud than what’s happening on the field. Walking around and into Fenway, you’re bombarded by imagery and language reminding you that you’re not just going to a baseball game–you’re making memories! You know what I’m going to remember about this season? Clay Suckholz making “WHY WON’T SHE GO OUT WITH ME?!?!?!” face while he walks the bases loaded for the third time in a week.

Gyah. As always, kids, the moral of the story is: cut the shit and focus on the baseball and everything will be ok.