Zeus comes through with another A+ entry.
1. Here It Comes – In the immediate aftermath of the AFC Championship game, I left Gillette Stadium feeling as though my body had spent the last several hours hooked up to a large truck battery with jumper cables. The excess voltage still cackled through my overloaded central nervous system, synapses completely (and perhaps irreparably) fried, throat raw, vocal chords shredded and useless. As the bye week wore on, little by little, things got back to normal. Sometime last Sunday, I reached equilibrium for a brief moment, while nursing a Guinness at Paddy’s in West Newton. But then, I became aware of a hum, imperceptibly faint at first, but steadily building as the days wore on. By now, it’s loud enough to be wholly distracting, making it nearly impossible to work or sleep or do much of anything else for that matter. By the time kickoff is at hand on Sunday night, it will be a deafening, full throated roar. Here we go again -¬†The 19th Game approaches.
2. Make It Stop – I’d rather get hit in the face repeatedly with a bowling ball or spend a weekend locked in a mini-van with an angry rhinoceros than have to watch the @#*$&*$ David Tryee Helmet Catch or the subsequent Plexiglass game winning TD pass¬†even once. Over the past ten days, every channel in the nearly infinite universe of cable and satellite television is running an endless feedback loop of the twin nightmares over and over AND OVER again. Mental health experts have privately expressed grave concern, labeling the cumulative effects of prolonged exposure to such profound psychological trauma as being similar to repeated mass water-boarding of the indigenous population. I’m already experiencing an unsettling twitch and have started to drool uncontrollably out of the right side of my mouth. There have been reports of gangs armed with baseball bats and pipe wrenches storming Best Buy and other consumer electronics retailers, pulverizing every television in sight. Without humanitarian intervention, by Sunday we can expect mass hysteria as people take to the streets in a psychotic rage. Citizens are being advised to unplug all electrical appliances and cover themselves in heavy blankets in a cold dark place in their basement. Until April.
3. Game Breakdown (Cliff Notes Version) – The Sporting Press is desperate to make the game a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, but it is not. The patchwork New England secondary will have its hands full with the talented Giant receivers. The Patriots’ defensive line has emerged as a strength in the closing weeks of the season and should be able to put considerable pressure on the vulnerable offensive line of the Giants. Still, Manning is smart, tough and clutch, more clutch in fact than his more polished older brother. On offense, New England has a potent short to medium range passing game and a¬†Warp Speed Fast Break Hurry Up Offense that bedazzles defenses by giving them amazingly diverse looks (using the same personnel) in rapid fire succession. New York cannot rely solely on its pass rush as it did four years ago because 1) the Moss centric deep passing game is a thing of the past and 2) the 2011 Patriot offensive line is clearly superior to the 2008 edition.
4. Mismatch, Monumental – The Patriots, who barely managed to eke out 15 wins so far, scare no one. On the other hand, Big Blue has an overwhelming advantage in talent, coaching, and (hey – pay attention here because this is a¬†Big Deal) swagger. This was clearly demonstrated time and time again over the course of the 2011 season. (Ed. Note – Some may find this puzzling since the Giants did have¬†seven losses and were actually¬†outscored by their opponents. These anomalies are due to bad luck, injuries, poor officiating, even more bad luck and sunspots). The Conventional Wisdom is that the vastly superior Giants will stomp the bejeezus out of the overmatched, pathetic Patriots with the game being out of reach by the middle of the national anthem, much to the chagrin of Kelly Clarkson.
5. Gronktourage – Associates of #87 seem to be running afoul of the¬†Belichick Injury Omerta with alarming regularity. First, Papa Gronk spills the beans re:¬†top secret high ankle sprain on local TV and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Next, Professional Dirt Bag Agent Drew (Scum of the Earth) Rosenhaus, noting that he doesn’t want to say anything to upset Coach Belichick (hah!), says that Gronk would not be playing were this not the Super Bowl. (If only Rosenhaus would now disappear a la Papa Gronk, the world would be a truly better place.) We can only hope that Gronk has not shared the Patriots game plan with his mother, brothers or the guys he met at baggage claim at the airport. (Just a hunch on my part, but I’m not seeing the CIA as Gronk’s post-retirement employer.)
6. I’ll Love You Always but I Love My $28 Million More – Once he unceremoniously heaved the Polians overboard, the now ubiquitous Irsay Jr. has suddenly morphed into a raging megalomaniac, trying to¬†out-Jerry Jerry Jones. Irsay moved quickly and decisively to secure new GM Ryan Grigson, though Irsay made it abundantly clear that he – not Grigson – would: a) hire the new head coach; b) decide how the Colts would use the #1 pick in the upcoming draft; and c) make the final call on the Peyton Manning $28 million contract option (leaving Grigson with nothing to do other than figure out where someone might play golf in Indianapolis in January). The Sporting Press has embarked on a week long game of Whack-a-Mole with Irsay, who pops up every thirty seconds or so to say something else mind-numbingly stupid about future ex-Colt QB Manning. The¬†Irsay Triangulation Maneuver involves keeping The Exceedingly Well Stocked Irsay Family Liquor Cabinet and A Television Camera in sight at all times. That Irsay now publicly fancies himself as the newly empowered¬†Guardian of the Horseshoe suggests that his ego has inflated to Hindenburg-like proportions, with disastrous consequences for Colt fans who are in for at least a decade of ineptitude and utter irrelevance. No more Sunday Night Football for you.
7. Meddlesome Owner Epidemic – Even Steelers President Art Rooney II has gotten into the act, firing offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. Since when does an owner (not named Jones or Irsay) fire a coordinator and where is Mike Tomlin while this palace intrigue is going on? Imagine what Shank Shaugnessy would say if that happened around here.
8. Sterling Moore – Not sure why this wasn’t a bigger story. A street free agent makes two game saving plays at the very end of the AFC Championship game. A bit of foreshadowing – back in the first quarter of the Denver playoff game, Moore broke up what looked to be a sure completion to Bronco WR Demaryius Thomas by slapping the ball from his hands at the last possible second. Moore has taken the coaching to heart and worked to apply the techniques he has been taught. The reason that more physically talented players like Darius Butler and Brandon Meriweather are long gone and hard to find is their unwillingness and/or inability to do what the coaches wanted them to do. Repeated mistakes and unreliability are sure-fire tickets out of town in the world of Bill Belichick.
9. Barely Recognizable as Human – The New York tabloids have proven to be far more crass, vulgar and downright stupid than anyone could have possibly imagined. What an intellectual sewer (but with blue and white pom-poms). Are these writers and editors actually this stupid or are they simply pandering to the knuckle-dragging mouth breathers who thrive on this insultingly idiotic excrement? Hey Gary Myers and Todd Venezia – I bet you make your mamas proud.
10. I Feel Good – The more the Giants talk, the better I feel. The less the Patriot talk, the better I feel. Coach Belichick and the Patriots have exuded an almost eerie sense of calm – I like the vibe. A lot.
11. Let the Good Times Roll – Best wishes to all Patriots fans on Sunday. I hope you are with people you care about. I hope you enjoy the party. And, most of all, I hope you enjoy the game.¬†Go Pats!