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Wasteland: The Burial of the Jets

By Pauly

Los Angeles, CA

The first section of T.S. Eliot’s poem Wasteland is subtitled The Burial of the Dead. As a Jets’ fan, the entire season has been a slow, agonizing demise. After last night’s debacle, the Jets’ death was officially official. Now it’s time to bury the carcasses.

Making fun of the Jets is too easy that it’s almost becoming taboo, like making fun of the special ed kids who ride the short bus to school. Insecure small-minded bullies love to pick out an easy target… and there’s not an easier target in the NFL (and possibly all of pro sports) than the New York Fucking LOL-Jets.

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I’ve been a Jets fan from as early as I can remember. My brother and I had alternative teams; he liked the Dallas Cowboys and I liked the Pittsburgh Steelers because my mother bought us those cheesy wool hats with the puffy ball on top. Mine was black and gold (Steelers). My brother’s was grey and blue (Cowboys). In the late 70s, those were the top two teams in the NFL and it’s what Macy’s was selling on 34th Street the day my mom went shopping for Christmas presents. Neither of us would be caught dead wearing actual Jets gear. We grew up a few miles from Yankees Stadium and most of the kids in the neighborhood were Giants fans. Had we jumped on the neighborhood band wagon and backed the Giants, we wouldn’t be miserable whenever the NFL season rolls around. The Giants have won four Super Bowls since I picked a side. The Jets? None.

I’ve been drowning in a hearty stew of misery. The head coaches were past their prime, just before their prime, or never lived up to their potential. Walt Michaels. Joe “Joe Must Go!” Walton. Bruce Coslett. Pete Carroll. Rich Kottite. The Tuna. Al Groh. Herm “You Play to Win the Game!” Edwards. That fucker Mangini.

The Jets got Bill Parcells but it was a time when the Tuna was truly burned out. The Jets almost hired Bill Belicheat and they royally fucked that up. Jets fans don’t like to think that they could have had Belicheat and Tom Brady… but instead we were stuck with Mangenius and Chad Pennington.

How good of a coach is Rex Ryan? The greatest trick Rex played was fooling the world into thinking Mark Sanchez was a potential Super Bowl QB.

In the first two seasons as head honcho, Rex took the Jets to the AFC title game, but the team was anchored by a top-notch running game and a menacing defense that even gave Tom Brady migraines. Both the running game and defense were powerful enough to hide Sanchez’s liabilities. In the last two seasons, as the running game diminished and the defense got old/banged up, Sanchez should have stepped up his game to help cover his teammates liabilities, like they did for him in his first two years in the league. Yet, that never happened.

So what did the Jets do to bolster their sketchy QB situation? They threw money at Sanchez and traded for Tim Tebow. Hilarity ensues.

Rex and his brother Rob are among the top defensive minds in the NFL… they will always have a job. Defense is in Rex’s blood. Rex is the son of legendary coach Buddy Ryan. He’s been around the block enough to know that you don’t need a hall of fame QB to win the Super Bowl. When Rex was a kid, his old man was the D-coordinator on the Bears team that had Sweetness Walter Payton, a monstrous D, and a crazy-wacko QB named Jim McMahon. Rex took Ditka’s formula to heart…  build a team around a power running game and an iron curtain D, then you can be a playoff contender with an average QB.

At this point the Jets don’t have a running game. Their defense improved over the season even without Revis. But their QB situation has been disastrous. Sanchez has regressed to rookie status. He botched blitz coverage. He threw into double coverage. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights of a Mack truck.

The NFL is a business, but the product the Jets have on the field had been nothing short of atrocious. Tickets for the Jets game this weekend are selling for pennies on the dollar. Superfan Fireman Ed walked away. This is a guy who was a real fireman for two decades and got paid peanuts to run into burning buildings to save people, and he couldn’t stomach the horror of showing up watch a shitshow after shitshow after shitshow.

Then again, what would you do if your Rex Ryan? You have an overpriced QB and man-child in Mark Sanchez that you have to play otherwise you’re wasting a drug-kingpin’s fortune (don’t get me started on Woody Johnson’s day job… he’s just a legalized dope pusher). Or you have a rube rookie in McElroy, whom you cannot play by basis of being from the old school of hard knocks (rookie QBs hold clipboards and should be seen and not heard). Or you play Tebow, a guy with a horrible arm who claims his best imaginary friend is the son of God?

Rex Ryan must have the patience of a Zen monk because he got through this season without having a heart attack or breaking both fists by punching the walls in his office.

Bill Barnwell wrote an article for Grantland… It’s Time for a Jets Intervention.  He thinks the Jets need to just clean house, eat Sanchez’s contract, and keep Rex but get rid of everyone else. If that doesn’t work and the Jets stick with Sanchez, then Barnwell suggested the Jets hire Norv Turner as an O-coordinator. Turner is a horrible head coach, but might be one of those guys who is best suited to be a coordinator (e.g. Wade Phillips in Houston). However, we have a policy here at Ocelot Sports… always fade Norv Turner.

The best plan of action? Reboot everything. Control. ALT. Delete.

I like Rex Ryan so keep him and sack everyone in the front office, trim all the payroll fat, trade away as much as you can for future draft picks. I’d accept a 2-14 season next year if the Jets were truly rebuilding. Yet, the Jets won’t do that. They’ll probably fire Rex and bring in Andy Reid and make a play to get Ryan Leaf out of retirement to play QB.

How bad was it for the Jets last night?

The Titans’ punter shanked a kick and gave the Jets the ball of the 25 with 47 seconds left on the clock. Down 14-10, the Jets needed a TD to secure a win and keep the playoff hopes alive. All Sanchez had to do was hand the ball off to one of their hyper-efficient backs (a triumvirate of Greene, Powell & McKnight which sounds like a litigation firm in Midtown). Instead, the Jets attempted a pass play and from a shotgun position, Sanchez fumbled the snap… off his toe! Yes, we had a butt-fumble against the Pats and now a toe-fumble.

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The Jets (minus Sanchez’s scrambles) were averaging 5.38 yards per carry all game. McKnight looked unstoppable with 29 yards on only four touches.

NYJ - YARDS PER CARRY

J. McKnight - 7.3 
S. Greene - 5.2        
T. Tebow - 5.0 
B. Powell - 4.7    

The stats are not juked or misleading. When the Jets ran the ball, they were effective. If Tebow just hiked the ball and ran, or if any running back had a direct snap, they would have been more effective than Sanchez.

One anonymous Jets player told the press, “Sanchez lost his confidence.”

Sanchez’s QBR against Tennessee was a paltry rating of 6.8. He’s been under 7 at least four other times this season and posted a QBR under 10 in five instances.

Rex’s alchemy worked wonders for a few years and had fooled Sanchez into thinking he was a professional QB. Rex had the entire sporting world convinced the Jets were on the cusp of going back to the Promised Land for the first time since Joe Willie Namath pulled off an upset against the Colts in Super Bowl III. Then again, if you talk to enough sports conspiracy theorists, they’ll tell you about how that game was fixed for the Jets. Yeah, even deep down I have doubts on whether or not the Jets were a legit Super Bowl champion. Of course, none of that matters because it happened before I was even born.

I’m glad I didn’t bet the Jets. How bad was the game on paper? Vegas sportsbooks took in its lowest handle for the year on Monday Night Football, which is usually the most heavily bet game of the week.

I picked the Jets in my pick’em pool and during the game I refused to check ESPN to see who everyone else picked, because I was convinced that everyone faded the Jets and took the Titans. When the game ended, I was surprised to see so many people took the Jets in my pool. These are intelligent people…. Wall Street banksters, lawyers, programmers, academics, journalists, professors, a CIA analyst, pro poker players… and they all took the Jets like me because they thought that the Titans were going to lay down while the Jets were fighting for a playoff berth.

If you were keeping an eye on potential rigged games… think about this… Titans kickers played like shit (missed FG and a shanked punt in crunch time) and the zebras whistled the Titans for 14 penalties and 111 yards, while the Jets were the AWAY team and only got 4 penalties. Yeah, even the damn officials were trying to gift the Jets a victory and all they had to do was tie their laces correct and could have stolen a cheap win in Tennessee. Alas, Mark Sanchez royally fucked up a potential fix.

The Jets’ season is dunzo. McElroy will probably get the start on Sunday, but it doesn’t matter. I thought I would be bonging out on my brother’s couch in NYC while watching the Jets continue to fight for a wild card berth, but instead I’ll return home for the holidays with a cloud of despair looming overhead.

It’s time for me to sever my ties as a member of Gang Green. I need a new team to root for… one that will not break my heart time and time again.

Oh, we had a good night in the NBA that was the only thing that kept me off suicide watch. But I’ll save that hoops discussion for tomorrow. I cannot believe I used up my allotted time to rant about the LOL-Jets.

Filed under NFL NBA MNF loljets

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Philly Brown Bags, the Winless Wiz, and a Bobkittens Blowout

By Pauly

Los Angeles, CA

Monday Night Football. What a shit show. The suits must’ve been bumming. Preseason, the game looks great on paper because both teams were projected to be a lot better than what actually happened. Philly was supposed to be on top of the NFC standings with Cam Newton and Carolina coming to town. But Carolina sucks because they can’t play defense and Cam Newton throws too many INTs, and Philly is well…. Philly.

How bad has it gotten in Philly? The brown bags were out in force. It was a trend that started in the 1970s when fans were so embarrassed to be a fan (insert crappy team here _____) that they hid their shame with a grocery bag over their heads because they didn’t want friends at home to see them sitting in the stands.

We were all over Carolina -2.5 and they locked it up for us despite a rare offensive outburst by Philly. I honestly thought Philly’s D was going to step up and play hard only because they had shit-stained team with only 2 wins visiting them on their own turf. If there was ever a team to blowout on national TV, it’s the Carolina Panthers. Even under those circumstances, Philly’s D failed to show up in the second half. They got lucky with a few Newton-induced turnovers, which translated into a free Philly points in the first half. To Newton’s credit, the kid reduced his turnovers in the second half and Carolina won the battle of the trenches. Carolina got their third win while Philly players went diving for paper bags to put over their heads as they walked off the field.

It can’t get any worse than what drunken, bitter Jets fans did by trolling their own players at halftime with “Tebow save us!!” That was the Jets “good job, good effort” moment.

We whiffed on our UNDER 41 bet but we saved faced when Carolina covered. We finished a sick run in the NFL over the last two weeks at 17-5-2.

***

We had just a single game in the NBA… San Antonio -5.5 in our operation Fade the Wiz.

Of course, as soon as we stop Fading the Bobbkittens, they get absolutely blown out of the water during a trip to OKC. I was worried that OKC would struggle covering 12.5 even at home. I usually lean “dog” whenever NBA spreads get over double digits. But we decided to play it safe and pass.

Boy, were we wrong!

Yes, that’s not a typo or glitch. I thought something was fishy when I was on NBA Season Pass and saw that the Bobkittens only scored 24 points and it was 2 minutes into the 3Q. WTF?

I watched for a few minutes and OKC jumped out to a 51 point lead. I had never seen an NBA game with a lopsided score like that. It reminded me of those 1980s teams from Georgetown when Coach Thompson scheduled cream puff games versus D-III squads like Sr. Mary’s of the Immaculate Bleeding Heart.

Everyone bombarded me with texts… “WTF mate? Why didn’t we Fade the Bobkittens!”

Hey, we faded the Wiz and that wasn’t even close. Spurs were up by 20 for most of the night and won by 26… covering by 20! The Wiz are still winless. Yeah, they have Nene back but he’s playing limited minutes and they desperately miss John Wall. But even with healthy Wall and Nene, they are still a break-even team. For now, keep fading the Wiz especially on the road.

We also decided to re-tweak our position on the Bobkittens…. pass on them at home, but fade them on the road.

Anyway, we went 1-0 in the NBA… which is a part of our new approach of less is more. It seems when we only bet 1 NBA game a night, our record is much better than when we opt for 3 or 4 games a night. Right now, our record is a crap-tacular 37-31-2 and my goal is for us to go 13-4 over the next 17 picks instead of 10-7.

Oh, so I watched all of the battle of NYC hoops… the Knicks went to Brooklyn to take on the Nets. It was cool to hear Marv Albert broadcasting the game in his home borough. The Knicks  had an off night and choked. The let the Nets beat them in OT when they ran out of gas. Melo and Ty Chandler scored 60+ combined, but no one else on the team scored in double digits. That lack of “spreading the ball around” hurt them because no one else could score. Ray Felton had an awful night from the floor and the Knicks actually missed Jason Kidd’s presence. Kidd played very well in the last couple weeks… and when Kidd makes positive contributions, then the team wins.

Now the Brooklyn Nets are ahead of the Knicks in the standings.

Check out Zach Lowe’s latest column about Andrew Bynum and the 10 things he likes and doesn’t like in the NBA.

Filed under Bobkittens NBA NFL MNF

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Safety Dance

By Pauly

Los Angeles, CA

Back to normalcy, which means you lose by a fucking safety.

Such is life. Sometimes you have the world by its balls, and the next, it has you by the gonads.

Monday Night Football. Battle of backup QBs. Kaepernick looked a thousand times more comfortable than Jason Campbell. The score reflected the transitions of backups; for the Niners and Kaepernick, it was smooth… but for Bears and Campbell, he struggled, stumbled, and looked totally lost. We shoulda bet the Niners at home. But the UNDER looked like the safe bet. Both teams had two of the best defenses in the league and they were facing backup QBs. Points would be hard to come by, right?

Well, it was hard to score for the Bears, yet the Niners scored at will.

What ever happened to the Bears D that scored all those points off INTs? The Super Bears looked… human. They didn’t make any big plays. They looked tired. That happens when their offense goes three and out time after time after time.

The score was 30-7. We had the UNDER 38. All both teams had to do was just sit on the ball… running out the clock. The Bears were having such a horrible day that they gave up a safety in the 4Q. Safety. A fucking safety. Two fucking points. The final was 32-7. We lost by a point.

Here’s a Niners superfan jamming out at Candlestick park… another acid casualty who ate waaaay too much of Owlesy’s sunshine back in the 60s.

NBA Monday Sweat: Milwookie -4.5, Indiana -2.5, Houston +8

We had a pair of Fades going on. One good. The other ugly. The Wiz have yet to win a game. Tickets for the game in Washington were selling for 39 cents! Despite Indiana struggling in the last week or so, we couldn’t pass up a chance to Fade the Wiz. David West had a monster game and they covered. That was our only winner of the night.

Time for us to stopping Fading the Bobkittens. We’re 4-4 this year. The fucking Milwookie Bucks blew a double digit lead and let the Bobkittens back into the game. Milwookie was down by two and got the ball back for a shot at putting the game in overtime. That was our only chance to cover…. by pushing the game into OT. But… Milwookie took a three and missed. Game over.

Houston, with a sick James Harden, struggled in the second half… and it wasn’t pretty. Linsanity missed 10 shots and the entire team was way off the mark. They were down by 20 and came close but lost by 11. We were getting +8… and came up short. That sucked ass. We finished 1-2 for the day. Meh.

*****

Here’s an interesting perspective about teams that get stuck with terrible owners… specifically how the Buss family is on a collision course to ruin the Lakers.

And this is Jalen Rose dishing about the high-stakes poker games held on private planes during NBA road trips…

Filed under MNF NBA Bobkittens

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A Curious Case of Byron Leftwich

By Pauly

Los Angeles, CA

You never know how good a team is until they lose their quarterback. It’s sort of like cutting a head off snake, particularly if the team has a shitty backup. Some backups are so good that they step right up with a seamless transition. It’s like one of those lizards that regenerates a new tail of it gets its original tail cut off in a back alley brawl (or a back jungle brawl, or some other seedy place that incorrigible lizards hang out and get wasted then fight over some petty stuff like a lizard lover’s triangle).

Big Ben went down in the 3Q after a pair of KC grunts tore his ribs apart. Both KC players danced in jubilation, yet the zebras turned a blind eye to their shenanigans. No flag. The zebras hate the Steelers for some reason… maybe they don’t send them Christmas cards, or make them change in a janitor’s closet?

The bookies set the line at Pittsburgh -12 and the public jumped at it, not to mention all those last minute bets from folks completely stuck for the weekend. I was scared to lay double digits… but then again KC’s offense struggled to score double digits, especially in the last few games. So… a 20-9 victory was likely. I suggested an insanely crazy moneyline wager on Pittsburgh at -550 would be the best bet over at MatchBook. I also loved the UNDER 42 and that was before I saw the weather report for rain, rain, and rain. Hey, let’s be frank here… Pittsburgh has the best D in the league (statistically) and KC is…. well… KC. They blow chunks in forty different ways and their anemic offense is spearheaded by the slapstick duo of Matt “I can’t believed my own fans booed me” Cassel and Brady “Not So Mighty” Quinn.

I thought Sanchez/Tebow was a bad QB combo… I guess it could be a lot worse. Enter Cassel/Quinn.

Oh, and don’t get me started about KC’s coach who looks more like a stoned out hippie confused at the complicated dessert menu at Denny’s.

In the end, we all settled on a UNDER 42 and a moneyline bet -550. Yeah, that’s ridiculous, but there was no way Pittsburgh would lose. By the way HAL420 suggested Pittsburgh would win by 15 but we decided to shun him after this weekend’s travesty. HAL420 is in the penalty box for a few more days.

The rain pissed down on Heinz Field and the game started out disastrous for Steelers nation. KC’s Jamaal Charles shrugged off a concussion and finally got the damn ball after the coaching staff decided for an unknown reason to not call his number during running plays. Charles ran the ball up Pittsburgh’s arse-hole and put up a quick 7. Yep, not even a few minutes into the game ad I was shitting bricks the size of cinder blocks.

Big Ben and Pittsburgh’s offense couldn’t get anyway going in the 1Q and KC continued to put the pressure on. Dwyane Bowe slipped by the secondary and scored a TD… but it was called back by a penalty. Wow… a rare penalty going Pittsburgh’s way! Pitt is the worst penalized team in the league, so it was a shocker they got a fortuitous break and the zebras waved  off the TD and took points off the board. KC could only muster up 3 points and instead of 14-0… it was just 10-0.

Pittsburgh struck back pulled even 10-10 going into halftime. The rain let up a bit and Pittsburgh was ready to put KC away in the second half.

Until… Big Ben went down. CRUNCH.

KC’s grunts did a little dance on his grave and the zebras looked the other way. Big Ben left the sidelines and headed to the locker room. A few minutes later, MNF cameras caught him without his pads on. He was going to get X-Rays or consult a faith  healer or something. Big Ben was done for the day. It was up to the backup… whoever he was… to lead Pittsburgh to victory and not fuck over any of our bets.

Shiiiiiit… who is Pittsburgh’s backup?

Millions of dollars were on the line on any given Monday night. As a gambler did you really expect the fate of your wager would be decided by a backup? Backups are usually journeyman QBs that couldn’t quite cut it as a starter due to old age, or injury, or both. Or your backup is a neophyte who has yet to get his ears wet in the show.

Jason Campbell. Nick Foles. Colin Kaepernick. Byron Leftwich.

All of them are backup QBs. Millions of greenbacks, pounds, and Euros were riding on backup QBs this weekend. Chicago, Philly, SF, and Pittsburgh were among the teams looked to their backups to bring home a win after their starter left the game because of an injury. Their employers paid them handily to hold a clipboard for most of the season until… BAM! The starter goes down after getting his bell rung and it’s up to the backup to shake off the rust and win the game in crunchtime.

10-10. Byron Leftwich trotted out to the field to a tense crowd. I tried to remember the last time he played while my stomach churned and howled. I hoped Leftwich was better than KC’s Matt Cassel. Hey, I wasn’t expecting a miracle here. Leftwich did not have to unleash a dazzling all-star performance. The prime objective for Leftwhich? Do not under any circumstances fumble or throwing an INT. Protect the ball, son! Plus with a 1-2 punch ground attack of Dwyer and Redmen, all Leftwich had to do was hand the ball off and let the O-line and the back tandem do their jobs.

Leftwich went 7 for 14 but did not throw any INTs while their offense scrapped together a FG to take a 13-10 lead. Pittsburgh’s D stepped it up and shutdown KC’s offense… until the two-minute drill. All of a sudden Cassel woke up and started to think he was John Fucking Elway. With seconds remaining, Cassel threaded a pass down the middle and got his team in FG range. KC nailed it and sent the game into overtime.

Overtime lasted less than a minute and that’s with the new OT rules in effect. Both teams got the ball at least once. Cassel promptly threw a pick which sunk his team’s hopes at pulling off an upset. Cassel was set to be the hero yet ended up the goat. Pittsburgh kicked a FG and won the game 16-13.

The UNDER 42 was not much of a sweat but that moneyline pick was rough… like knots in the stomach… like spitting up blood because my ulcer is churning  like a volcano. Byron Leftwich earned every cent of his paycheck and did not fuck up. He was smart and let Cassel fuck up first.

As my buddy @MeanGene put it best… “Steeler football isn’t pretty football.”

Not pretty, indeed but it was Matt Cassel’s arm that was the difference between a suicidal nightmare and a profitable evening.

Filed under NFL MNF