Friday, January 22, 2010

Quickie: Saints Win Would Be Superlative

This NFC title game is going to be tremendous.

The atmosphere in the Super Dome should be among the best -- if not THE best -- we have ever seen for a meaningful NFL game.

That's because it IS one of the most meaningful NFL games, and certainly the most meaningful game in the history of the Saints franchise -- even more than the first Super Dome game after Katrina.

A Saints win represents the best of the NFL -- the most historically hapless franchise, breaking through to the Super Bowl, led by a completely revamped D and a QB who, by all scouts' "analysis," has no business destroying the league, as he does most every week.

(That a Saints win would also mean a Favre loss would only be a bonus -- I'm trying to be positive here!)

I am thrilled for Saints fans, and I am rooting for a Saints win. Mostly, I am excited to watch the game and try to capture some of the vibe from inside the dome.

As far as superlatives go, beyond this being the best atmosphere for an NFL game ever, I would say that the Saints going to the Super Bowl is hard to top among all-time Super Bowl participants.

In today's SN column, I pick the Saints to win by 3.

I also pick the Jets to upset the Colts by 3 (in overtime, no less). I think the Jets' D is playing that well -- my overarching estimation is that if the Jets can stifle the Chargers, they can contain the Colts. All of the pressure is on the Colts. And even though Peyton doesn't need much time to score points, the Jets running game will presumably keep him off the field. I buy into Rex Ryan's mad genius. And, as I've said for a few weeks, I would like to see the Colts get a karmic payback for throwing the game against the Jets (and then again in Week 17).

More in today's column:

*Kobe vs. LeBron: I really don't care that the Cavs swept the season series. In a 7-game Finals -- even with Cleveland having home-court advantage -- I'm taking the Lakers until convinced otherwise.

*Love that AI is in the starting lineup for the NBA All-Star Game. It's everything that's good and wacky about having the fans vote. And AI deserves the stage, if it is his swan song.

*College Hoops Game of the Weekend: Ohio State at West Virginia. Evan Turner vs. Devin Ebanks.

*Yes, that Prince song about the Vikings is pretty lame, but it's Prince -- show some respect.

A lot more in today's column. Check out the whole thing here. More later, and all weekend.

-- D.S.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quickie: Kobe vs. LeBron, Bush vs. Greene

I don't mind admitting it: It's a slow morning. No really big compelling storyline -- wait, check that:

I realize now that I should have held Tuesday's SN column lead about the NBA at midseason until today, in preview of Kobe-LeBron tonight and in celebration of the Thunder already topping last season's total win mark (supporting my Durant-for-MVP argument).

But I already went there, so today's SN column is heavy on the items that come AFTER the lead:

*Reggie Bush vs. Shonn Greene
*Duke's loss to NC St vs. UNC's loss to Wake
*The irrelevancy of Kobe-LeBron tonight.
*A bit, naturally, about Tebow's SB ad.
*Joel Pineiro: The new John Lackey?

There's a lot more in there. Check it out here. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tebow's Super Bowl Ad: An Analysis

Over at, I have tackled the Tim Tebow topic of the week: This "controversial" Super Bowl ad he is a part of -- it may or may not be on the actual game broadcast, but in the YouTube era, that's not such a big deal. The news about CBS nixing the ad will give it new life and scrutiny. So what does it mean for Tim Tebow? Ironically: I think the entire thing is overblown. Check out my take here.

-- D.S.

UPDATE: Via Ad Age, CBS has approved the ad's script and accepted the ad for airing. It is worth noting that the ad is not expected to be a "hard sell" or "anti-" anything, at least from FoF's perspective. I don't think this changes any of the analysis below, and -- if anything -- will create even more of a muted response from sports media and fans.

Quickie: What's the Ideal Super Bowl?

So the question mid-week is not who you think will win the NFL conference championship games, but who you WANT to win the games.

I'm of two minds:

(1) I'm definitely rooting for the Saints. Like many/most of you without a rooting interest among the remaining four teams, the prospects of the most historically futile franchise getting to the Super Bowl is a wonderful prospect. I like Saints fans. I like New Orleans -- there's no question, the region deserves the break.

(2) I'm rooting against Brett Favre and rooting against the Colts. I'm a longtime Favre-hater, but I actually respect and admire the way he has killed it this season as a 40-year-old. And while Peyton annoys me, I'd like to think that I am watching the greatest QB in NFL history. Still: The Colts essentially threw an NFL game -- "tanked" doesn't do justice to their decision against the Jets in Week 16. And, yes, I'd like to see that kind of decision given a karmic punishment.

Mainly, I cannot fathom what two weeks of Super Bowl lead-up will be like if it's Favre vs. Manning. I'm totally OK with Saints lead-up. And, while New York media annoys me to no end, I'm OK with Jets lead-up, mainly because it would be so unpredictable.

And so I'm rooting for Saints-Jets in the Super Bowl. How about you?

Complete SN column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Congrats, Basketball Jones: 500 Episodes

I'm a day late on this, but I wanted to offer my congratulations to JE Skeets and Tas Melas of The Basketball Jones, on their 500th episode. TBJ is the best sports podcast out there, and they've been doing it for four years. This anniversary episode was one of their best:

TBJ Ep. 500: Live From Toronto from The Basketball Jones on Vimeo.

Quickie: The NBA at Midseason and More

Aside from the Arenas-like newsy flare-ups or YouTube moments, the NBA -- like baseball -- settles into a daily rhythm that is hard to lift out of to get a macro view.

The midseason mark is a pretty good moment for it -- and with every team hitting 41 games at a slightly different moment, I used the defending champs as my proxy for a moment to review the league at midseason, leading today's SN column.

It's fortuitous, because the Lakers are not only trying to keep their title, but they remain the overwhelming favorite to win this year's title. Last night's win over the Magic provided a nice symbolism, bridging last season to this season.

I'm trying not to be too cynical, but I find it hard to envision any team beating the Lakers in the playoffs -- it feels like the biggest done deal in regular-season sports of the past year.

Being a fan of the Celtics or Cavs or Mavs or Spurs must be maddening: Oh, sure, you'll have a playoff season. But good luck winning the title. It's like being a fan of the San Diego Chargers.

To the extent that being a winning team can be dreary, there is a monotony to those non-Lakers contenders, like they are going through the motions before ultimately being dispatched.

That's why at the midseason, I find myself gravitating toward the over-achievers -- the players, teams and storylines that are independent of championship aspirations in 2010.

Kevin Durant and the Thunder. The rising Hawks. Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings. There are no expectations beyond upside -- there is something liberating about that.

As a Wizards fan, my midseason is -- unbelievably -- a worst-case scenario. I thought this team was a playoff lock, with even an outside chance at making a run in the playoffs.

Now: My favorite player, Arenas, is likely banned for the season. The team is trying to unload him, as they are Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. They are Lottery-bound. I can't believe that my lone-standing rooting interest is that they luck into John Wall.

Above it all is the Lakers: Slicing their way through the league. As long as they worry about everyone being healthy for the playoffs, they make the regular season nearly irrelevant.

Check out the rest of today's SN column here, featuring: An homage to Kansas State, NFL Coaching Carousel movement, admiration for the Mariners and more.

-- D.S.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Quickie: Satisfied With NFL's Final Four?

I'm not going to say that the Jets saved the NFL postseason, but it did create the most unpredictable ending of the 8 games played so far.

It also set up an ideal dynamic for the AFC title game: You could have watched Norv Turner choke in Indy... or watch the Colts try to earn back their pride by beating the team that took it from them.

The NFC is ideal: The most appealing team story in NFL history (you cannot say that the Saints winning the Super Bowl wouldn't be the nicest moment in league history, displacing the Giants beating the Patriots, which -- while utterly amazing -- was fueled by schadenfreude) against the 40-year-old Favre.

Aside from Vikings fans, I cannot imagine anyone not rooting for the Saints; aside from Colts fans, I cannot imagine anyone not rooting for the Jets.

Now, are they rooting because they love the Saints story or the Jets story? Or are they rooting because they want to see Favre and Manning fail so close to the Super Bowl precipice?

I would like to think it's the former, but it is almost surely the latter. I can live with that.

More in today's SN column:

*What next for Cowboys, Chargers, Ravens, Cardinals.
*The weekend's biggest college hoops winner: Northwestern!
*The opening notes of my analysis of the Tebow Super Bowl ad.
*"Pants on the Ground." Because... why not?

See the whole thing here. Quiet the rest of the day, but back in full force tomorrow.

-- D.S.