Friday, January 28, 2011

End of an Era: Reflections on Jeff Fisher and Titans

I was taken aback when last night I heard that Jeff Fisher and the Titans were parting ways.  After a few weeks ago it seemed that Fisher was going to be the coach for next season, it changed.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I remember when Fisher became the coach of the then Houston Oilers back in 1994.  He has been the coach of the team that became the Titans and a team that me and people from Tennessee could call our own.  He took the team to the Super Bowl and was one yard away from having a chance to win it.  There have been ups and downs.

I like Jeff Fisher as a coach but I'm okay with him leaving.  At some point, there should be a change.  I wouldn't be surprised in a year or so he's back coaching.  And I think he would be successful.  I also think that the Titans will be successful as well.  I think they will find the right coach and the team will rally behind the coach and I think that they will have a chance to make the playoffs next season.

Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Conference Championship Picks

It's time to make my picks for the AFC & NFC Championship Games.  It's funny so far I've been a combined .500 so far this year in the playoff (4-4).  The odds are that means I'll pick one right and one wrong....or I could pick both correct or get both wrong.  So we'll see...

The first game is the NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.  These two long time rivals are facing each other only for the second time in the playoffs (the last time was in 1941).  These two split the season series matchup.  The Bears beat the Packers in the first matchup while the Packers won in the last week of the season to get into the playoffs.

After early season bumps, both teams turned it on later in the season.  The Bears found somewhat of a balance between pass and run and their defense is as strong as it always is.  The Packers fought through injuries to key players and are riding a hot streak into and through the playoffs.

The two key questions are the following:  Can the Bears trust Jay Cutler?  Can the Packers win three road playoff games?

In thinking through who to pick in this game, two factors play into it.  One, the Bears beat the Seahawks, one of the two teams I root for.  Two, I had Aaron Rodgers on my fantasy football team (the one that has won 4 championships in 10 years).  With those two factors in play, I picking the Packers to win.

Packers 17 Bears 13

The late game is the AFC Championship game between the New York Jets and Pittsburgh.  They faced each other in the regular season with the Jets getting the win.

The Jets are the definition of up and down.  They have the talent but they also squander it on numerous occasions.  The Steelers overcame the loss of Big Ben early to end up the #2 seed.  Both teams have really good defenses.  Both teams have offenses that can make plays.

This matchup I really don't care about at all.  I don't really like either team.  But I do respect Pittsburgh's coach Mike Tomlin.  And I don't respect the way the Jets talk and act.  If I have to pick between these two, I'm going with the Steelers.

Steelers 24 Jets 10

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trash Talk: Is It Really Entertaining?

I think I've been on a blogging roll of late.  It helps that I have some time to it, plus there have been some topics to talk about.  One that has recently stood out was last week's playoff games, particularly in the AFC.  Both in the Ravens/Steelers and Jets/Patriots there was a lot of words being said from both sides.  What seemed different from the usual "We're the better team" or "We guarantee we're going to win", there was more vulgar and harsh words and actions being used.

For instance, Terrell Suggs of the Ravens wore a shirt that showed him giving a finger (the middle one in particular) to the city of Pittsburgh.  Then you had Antonio Cromartie of the Jets calling Tom Brady an expletative (I'm not even going to mention what it is).  Then Bart Scott of the Jets, in reference to comments that Patriots WR Wes Welker made in reference to Scott's coach Rex Ryan, said that Welker's "days in a uniform will be numbered.", insuating that he'd take him out of the game.

On Monday, I was listening to one of my favorite sports talk shows out of Nashville online, and they were talking about this.  All three of them agreed that it was fine and was in fact entertaining and shouldn't be legislated out (the NFL over the weekend sent memos to teams saying to tone down the trash talking).  When I heard this, I was disappointed.  How is calling someone something inappropriate entertaining?  Same goes for flipping the middle finger at a city?

Words do matter and they can affect a lot of things.  Personally, I think it's more entertaining what happens on the field rather than words that are said off the field.  Words do have an impact.  I know personally how much of an impact words have in people's lives and what my interaction is with them.  As a follower of Jesus, I'm reminded of the words that Jesus himself said in Matthew 12:34b where He said "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks".  What's in my heart is reflected on what comes out of my mouth.  When I'm following after Jesus like I should be, it will be reflected in my words and actions.

When I hear trash talk like this past weekend, I'm not entertained, I'm saddened.  I hope that there are people who can speak into those players' lives and show them Christ.  Let the product on the field be the entertainment, let the conduct off the field be more respectful.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Interesting and Cool Experiences Last Week

Last week I had two cool things happen to me that I wanted to share with you, my faithful readers.

The first was this.  To preface, I follow Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on Twitter.  This past Monday, he tweeted that the first 25 people to e-mail the publishing company that published his book "Win Forever" would get a free copy of it.  I thought to myself "Why not?" and so I did.  A few minutes later, I get an e-mail back from a representative of the publishing company saying they would love to send me a free copy and asked for my mailing address.  A few days later, I get the book sent FedEx and it didn't cost me a thing, not even for shipping and handling.  That was pretty cool.

The second cool thing also came about initially through Twitter.  One of the guys who works at the radio station that is the broadcast home of the Tennessee Titans & also works for Titans Radio as their "insider" Jonathan Hutton, tweeted this past Tuesday that he was looking for someone to write an article for Titans Radio website.  All season, they have this section called the 12th Man and they have fans submit articles and post them.  Hutton was asking for someone to do it for January.  I thought to myself again "Why not?"  So I e-mailed him about being interested in writing the article.  I get an e-mail that evening saying I was selected to write it and gave me the parameters on it.  I wrote the article in about 15 minutes, edited it and sent it off.  On Thursday, it was published and is on the website now.  Here's a link to the article here.

It was some pretty cool experiences and with some stories worth sharing.

Friday, January 14, 2011

2011 Divisional Round Predictions

It's time for more predictions, the Divisional Round is here and last week I went 2-2.  Ironically it was the first game and the last game of the weekend that I got correctly.  This weekend has some intriguing matchups with some hard decisions as to who I will pick.  So here's the picks:

The first matchup of the weekend is Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh.  If there was any matchup this weekend that I didn't like either team, this would be it.  I kind of wish this was an instance where it was like pro wrestling and there was a double disqualification and both don't advance.  However, that's not the case.  Baltimore came off a win against Kansas City.  Pittsburgh enjoyed the bye week off and got some rest to help with some of their injuries.  A key stat is that Baltimore's coach John Harbaugh has never beaten Pittsburgh when Ben Roethilsberger starts for the Steelers....he's starting for the Steelers.

Steelers 24 Ravens 17

The primetime game on Saturday is Green Bay vs. Atlanta.  They met in the regular season in one of the marquee games of the year and the Falcons came out on top.  Aaron Rodgers got his first playoff win last weekend on the road against Philly and it was the first time Green Bay had won a road playoff game since the late 90s.  Matt Ryan has lost only two times as a starter at the Georgia Dome (20-2) however, he lost his previous playoff game in a shootout against Kurt Warner and the Atlanta Falcons a couple of years ago.  This will probably be the game of the weekend.  I like both teams.  I could see either of these teams in the Super Bowl.  But given propensity to who I'm picking in the next game.  I'm going to say that Rodgers and Green Bay get revenge and eek out a victory.

Packers 27 Falcons 24

The early Sunday game features Seattle vs. Chicago.  Last week Seattle won in a shootout over the defending champs New Orleans.  They put together one of their best games of the season.  The running game came alive and QB Matt Hasselbeck channeled the 2005 version and had a big game.  Now they travel to Chicago to take on the Bears.  These two teams met earlier in the year and Seattle won that matchup.  The Bears are a different team but so are the Seahawks.  One key stat is that first time starters in the playoffs since 2003 are 5-19.  On top of that, this is the first postseason game in the career of Jay Cutler, college or pro.  And then a thought, prior to the playoffs starting I said that these Seahawks remind me of the 08 Cardinals, inconsistent in the regular season, turn it on at the end and make a deep playoff run.  Last week didn't do anything to deter me from that thought.  I'm going homer and picking the Hawks.

Seahawks 27 Bears 17

The final game of the divisional round is between the NY Jets and New England.  This has become of the big rivalries in the NFL with both sides spouting off at the mouth.  I know there are a lot of people who can't stand New England.  I don't mind them that much.  I used to like them but after the 2009 game against the Titans when Belicheck ran up the score I don't really like them anymore.  But, I'm really not a fan of the Jets.  So simply put, I'd like to see what happened the last time these two teams met happen again.  Pats roll.

Patriots 42 Jets 17

So there you have it, I'm thinking a Packers/Seahawks NFC Championship game and a Steelers/Patriots AFC Championship game.  So lets see if I end up right or not.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Syncretism and LeBron James: Mixing Karma and God

There are times when I should know to not be surprised.  When it comes to LeBron James, I guess I still get surprised by some of the things he says.  The latest thing he said was in a tweet Tuesday night that came out after his former team the Cleveland Cavaliers got blown out by the Los Angeles Lakers.  James tweeted the following:  "Crazy. Karma is a b****. Gets you every time. It's not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!"

When I first read the tweet (which was later retweeted by Michael Smith, ESPN columnist), I didn't know the context of the Cavs/Lakers game.  I just read it straight up.  My first thought was "You're mixing God and karma....they really don't go together."  I wondered if he understood that or if to him they're the same thing or if he thinks God uses karma or whatever.  When I found out the context, I thought "Well it seems he is still bitter and holding onto some hurt there."

The next day he then responds kind of backpedaling saying the following:  "It's just how I was feeling at the time.  It wasn't even a comment from me, it was someone who sent it to me and I sent it out  It wasn't toward that team.  It definitely wasn't a good showing by that team last night, I know they wish they would've played better."  First off, if he retweeted it, probably would have been designated as a retweet.  Second, he doesn't say where it comes from, he just says someone sent it to him.  Aside from the twitter ettiqute of knowing what you're tweeting, it is interesting how he will say a controversial comment one day and then the next day try and defend or retract the statement.

But as much as that stood out, another comment that he gave stood out.  He said when talking about karma, it is a word or concept that "I've kinda always used my whole life."  You want to know something (or someone) LeBron that's better than karma?  Jesus.  Instead of getting what we deserve for the bad that we do, we can put our faith and trust in Jesus, who died for our sins and we don't have to worry about trying to do good to save ourselves (because we can never do enough good for that).

I hope that LeBron comes to know Jesus in a personal way as his Lord and Savior.  Because right now it seems that he's trying to do his own thing to appease karma.  And you can't really mix karma & God.  Doesn't really work...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Predictions for the 2011 BCS National Championship Game

The time for the national championship game is here.  It's funny how late it is now that the 1-AA national championship along with NFL Wild Card Weekend is already done.  Hmmmmm......maybe yet another reason why there should be a playoff.

Anyway, the big game is here.  Oregon and Auburn.  Pac-10 vs SEC.  And as someone who has lived in both areas, I know what the conference fan bases are like.  It's true that the Pac-10 get slighted out east & are better than the perception is.  And the SEC is really really good and it plays out on the field as such.

The two teams are offensive powerhouses.  Oregon is a full throttle offense that doesn't want to stop.  Auburn has the Heisman Trophy winner in Cam Newton.  Each team's strength is their offense and their defense, while not bad....isn't as good.  So many people are predicting a shootout.

Two questions are key to this matchup.  One, how will the layoff affect these teams & which team will overcome that.  The other is which defense will stop the other's offense.

I'm okay with Auburn.  They're not Alabama or Florida to me so I don't have a problem rooting for them.  Now Oregon on the other hand I can't root for.  As a Washington fan, there are three rivals for me.  Washington St (Wazzzu), USC and Oregon.  So, weighing everything.  I'm going to pick the Tigers to end up winning this game.

Auburn 48 Oregon 41

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 Wild Card Weekend Predictions

The first entry in 2011 is predictions for the start of the 2011 NFL playoffs, Wild Card Weekend.  After an up and down season, the playoffs are here and should be interesting.

(FYI, this is my opinion, the main thing is who I'm picking & not the score...)

On Saturday the first game is the Saints verses the Seahawks.  The defending Super Bowl champs vs a division winner that finished with a losing record at 7-9.  The Saints are banged up but they do have a lot of talent.  The Seahawks have the underdog role and Qwest Field advantage.  I like the Saints, I really do.  But I have to go with the Seahawks and the upset.

Seahawks 20 Saints 17

The second game on Saturday is the Jets verses the Colts.  The Jets have been a hard team to figure out.  They have beaten top teams like the Patriots and Steelers but have lost some unexplainable games.  The Colts made the playoffs on the last week and have overcome a lot of injuries.  I think Peyton will prevail in this matchup.

Colts 27 Jets 17

The first game on Sunday is the Ravens verses the Chiefs.  The Ravens aren't the Ravens of previous years but they are annoyingly tough.  The Chiefs are a surprise division winner and are hosting their first playoff game since 2003.  I don't like the Ravens at all so it makes it easier to make this pick.  My Kansas City friends will be happy as I think the Chiefs will roll.

Chiefs 31 Ravens 10

The final game is the Packers verses the Eagles.  This is probably the most intriguing matchup of the weekend.  The Packers are probably the most dangerous team in that you don't know what to expect.  They are one of those teams that could make a deep run.  The Eagles have some explosive offensive players including the should be Comeback Player of the Year Michael Vick.  This one is a tough one to pick.  I'm going with the Packers in this one but it'll be close.

Packers 34 Eagles 31