Tuesday Teabag, January 29, 2013 – Super Bro™ Edition

Of course The Machine has to add on to the ridiculousness that is Media Day at the Super Bowl.  So many overplayed and drawn out stories:  The last ride for Ray Lewis.  The emergence of the pistol.  Oh, and did you know that the coaches for each team are brothers?  They’re calling it the Har Bowl.  Come on media, you can do better than that.  The Machine prefers the Super Bro™. 

Yes folks, there’s really nothing else like the media coverage leading up to a Super Bowl.  With two weeks off, and only one game to report on, the media goes buck wild with Super Bowl coverage, and will do anything to draw attention to themselves and their networks.  It’s mostly all bullshit…except Inside Edition hiring Katherine Webb.  That’s totally legit.  With that much media coverage, it’s guaranteed to deliver some quality teabags.  Like giving money to a homeless person (you really think Shaky Joe used that buck for a McMuffin?) no good can come from intense media scrutiny.  And with that, The Machine presents to you a trio of Super Bro™ Media Day Teabags.

Joe Flacco.  When asked about his thoughts about next year’s Super Bowl in NYC, Flacco responded, “I think it’s retarded. I probably shouldn’t say that. I think it’s stupid.  If you want a Super Bowl, put a retractable dome on your stadium.  Then you can get one.”  He continued his whining, saying “I don’t really like the idea.  I don’t think people would react very well to it, or be glad to play anybody in that kind of weather.”  This response is retarded (Joe’s word not ours) for many reasons.

First, you expect lesser known players (see #2 below) to make some Teabag worthy comments.  But not your quarterback.  He’s supposed to be the one player that’s above the fray, who’s supposed to exhibit a resolve that never breaks.  Remember those inappropriate quotes from Tom Brady and Eli last year?  Exactly.  Hey Joe, you may not play like an elite quarterback, but you should at least act like one.

Second, that’s the question you choose to drop the R word on.  It’s the softest of softball question.  The obvious answer:  “I’m not concerned with that Super Bowl.  The only one I want to talk about is the one I’m playing in.”  Giving a controversial answer to an otherwise innocuous question is…well…you know what it is.

Third, way to show the world what a complete pussy you are.  The Super Bowl can only be in warm weather, particularly a dome to ensure a sterile, climate-controlled environment?  Why?  Is the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field only cool during the regular season?  Having a Super Bowl in NYC is actually (another) brilliant move by the NFL.  Your crying about a game being played in cold weather is not.

Update:  Joe, after he (read:  the Ravens PR staff) had a chance to reflect on his comments, folded like a two dollar whore.  “Obviously, it was a poor choice of words.  At home, I have a close relationship with Special Olympics.  I didn’t mean to offend anyone.  I definitely apologize for that.”  You know you screwed up royally when you have to resort to the “I have a lot of retarded friends” line. 

Bernard Pollard.  The Baltimore Ravens safety made some eye-raising comments when he declared that they NFL will not be in existence in 30 years because of all the rule changes to make the game safer.  The game will be so watered-down, he reasoned, that people won’t want to watch.  Interestingly, he then admitted that the players are bigger, faster, stronger, and hit harder than ever before, and that he’s waiting for a player to die on the field.

Ok, where to begin.  Well, nothing is the same today as it was 30 years ago.  Music today sucks and what the fuck is Pinterest?  Regarding football, do you remember the NFL of the 80’s?  Does the phrase “3 yards and a cloud of dust” ring a bell?  That NFL was boring and predictable, and there was zero emphasis on player safety (shake off the concussion boy, you’re fine).  How many episodes of Outside the Lines do you have to watch of former players suffering memory loss or other debilitating illnesses to know that something’s got to change?  And, despite these changes, the game’s never been more exciting than it is today.  You can still deliver knock out hits…similar to the (totally legal) beat down you laid on Stevan Ridley in the AFC Championship Game. 

Yes, the buzz word in the NFL today is safety.  The goal is to maintain the integrity of the game while making it safer…perhaps, in part, because today’s NFL player is bigger, faster, stronger, and hits harder than ever before.  Sure, some talked about changes are a bit much (The Machine has faith that the NFL will realize eliminating kickoffs is dumb) but saying that the NFL won’t exist because it will turn into two hand touch football is simply dumb.  And ending your anti-safety remarks with concern that someone may die on the field is slightly (sarcasm intended) contradictory.

People aren’t going stop watching football because you can’t lead with your head or form a wedge.  We live in a nanny state now, the average NFL fan is no doubt an overprotective parent whose (more) overprotective spouse insists on changing the channel if there’s too much violence on TV (it’s bad for the kids).  Right or wrong, gratuitous violence is not a part of mainstream culture anymore, despite The Machine’s appreciation of MMA and Bum Fighting. 

Ok, time to go and chew my son’s food and feed it to him mama bird/baby bird style (everyone’s doing it).  Be right back.

Randy Moss.  Moss declared himself to be the best WR to ever play the game.  This one’s easy. 

Randy Moss – 982/15,292/156

Jerry Rice – 1,549/22,895/197

It’s not even close.  Top 5?  Sure.  But GOAT?  Not a chance.  No one measures up to Jerry Rice.  You lose in every category, especially in the “being a good teammate and not a malcontent diva” category.  Need more convincing?  Ask yourself this:  Was Jerry Rice ever used as a decoy?

For the sake of Niners fans, let’s hope Randy’s not passing on his wisdom and football ethics to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree.

There you have it folks.  Good thing is, we only have to suffer through five more days of useless media coverage, Katherine Webb excluded, until the Super Bro™.

The Machine’s 2013 NFL Mock Draft (v1.0)

The Monday after the Super Bowl; Day One of the offseason.  Ugh.  Seven more months before another meaningful football game is played. Uuuuugh!

However, that does mean The Machine can shift our undivided attention to an event as equally exciting as the Super Bowl, The Draft! Considering it is right around the corner (3 months and counting!!)  we decided to throw together our first mock draft.  To add a bit of gamesmanship, we’ll be alternating selections between Roidrage and Ginger King.  RR, you’re on the clock…


Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckle OT Texas A&M
Analysis:  Between the mounting injuries, Romel Crennels abysmal coaching efforts and underwhelming QB play, the Chiefs weren’t very competitive in 2012.  However, for being the “worst” team in the league, the Chiefs have some decent young building blocks in place: Jamaal Charles, Dwyane Bowe (FA), Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson and Tambi Hali. Andy Reid and staff represent an upgrade in the coaching department.  He’ll no doubt want to address the weakest QB group in the league (Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn – okay, maybe not as bad as the Cardinals but still dreadful!)  While the Chiefs could certainly fall in love with a QB prospect (Smith, Wilson, Nassib) in the next few months, chances are they can get similar value in the early second round (or trade back into the late first).  Joeckle is a “safe” pick that should be an anchor on their O-line for years to come.


Jacksonville Jaguars: Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M
Analysis:  How is it possible that a team that has had 5 consecutive Top 10 selections (6 including this year) not have a solid nucleus of talent?  Because said team has used said Top 10 picks on people like Blaine Gabbert and Tyson Alualu.  Where to start.  The Jags need help (literally) at every single position, so they could go in a number of different directions.  However, their current starting DEs consist of Jason Babin (age: 32) and Jeremy Mincey (age: doesn’t matter because he’s awful (29)).  Moore steps in and instantly becomes a starting DE, and likely the best defensive player on the team.  “DaMonster” had 12.5 sacks last season (the formidable duo of Babin/Mincey combined for 10) and has room to grow in his 248 lb frame.  He has the quickness and athleticism to line up at DE and LB, giving the Jags the ability to move him around the field in different coverage looks.   The Jags finally get a Top 10 pick right.


Oakland Raiders Star Lotulelei DT Utah
Analysis:  The 2012 Raiders didn’t do much right in their first year under 12-year-old Dennis Allen.  But perhaps nothing was worse than their run defense.  The gave up 1897 yards on the ground ( 119 yrds/gm); 9 times allowing 100+ yards rushing and 3 times allowing 220+ yards.  None more memorable than Doug Martins 251 yards (and 4 TDs) on the ground in Week 9!  Considering Tommy Kelly (32) and Richard Seymour (33) are on the wrong side of 30, Lotulelei makes too much sense here and there is a strong possibility he doesn’t even last this long!  He is that good.


Philadelphia Eagles Dee Milliner CB Alabama
Analysis:  Every night, Joe Banner and Co. pray that Luke Joeckle falls to them here.  They need OL help.  But Andy Reid will send a big FU to his former employer (note: spite is a perfectly good reason to draft a player) leaving the Eagles empty-handed.  #4 is too high to draft Eric Fisher or Chance Warmack, and if Philly can’t trade down, they’re left to plug some other holes.  Secondary is an obvious one.  The duo of Asomugha and DRC has been anything but dynamic.  DRC wants a new contract, and Asomugha is going to count $16 million against the cap this year, crazy considering he’s awful in pass coverage.  One or both of these guys may be gone.  Dee is by far the best corner in this draft, following an impressive trend of SEC corners (see Stephon Gilmore, Dre Kirkpatrick).  At 6’1″, he’s the perfect height to defend the jump ball, and has the speed and power to get physical at the line.  Going against Eli, Romo, and RGIII twice a year, the Eagles need a consistent and dependable secondary.  A unanimous first-team All American, Dee was the anchor in Bama’s secondary, and should have an immediate impact.


Detroit Lions Bjoern Werner DE Florida St.
Analysis:  The Lions continue building from their strength and spend another high draft pick on the defensive line (Suh, Farley).  It seems as though the team will part ways with Kyle van De Bosch, and Werner represents and ideal replacement (and upgrade considering KVDB’s decline this year).  Werner has a quick first step and is strong at the point of attack; he plays well against the run and can get after the passer.  Coaches may fall in love with his raw ability and tremendous upside.   When you play Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson twice a year, you can’t have too many athletic defensive linemen that bring it every play.


Cleveland Browns Jarvis Jones OLB Georgia
Analysis: The Browns will be doing cartwheels if Jones is here.  The Browns need defensive power, pressure, and speed.  Jarvis solves all three.  While Barkevious Mingo (Greatest. Name. Ever.) will get a look here, the Browns can’t pass on Jones.  He’s as much of a sure thing for Cleveland since LeBron (pre taking his talents to South Beach).  Jarvis led the nation in sacks with 14.5, to go with 85 tackles and 1 interception.  Jarvis won’t stop Cleveland from picking in the Top 10 next year, but he’s a big step in the right direction.


Arizona Cardinals Geno Smith QB WV
Analysis:  This is a dream scenario for Bruce Arians and the Arzona Cardinals.  The top rated QB falls to the team most desperate for a QB.  Arians is creative enough to build an offensive to maximize Smiths strengths (and hide his limitations).  Quarterbacks stocks tend to rise as we approach the draft, so Geno could be off the board sooner than this.  But for now we’ll dream of the Arians-Smith-Fitzgerald potential!


Buffalo Bills Cordarrelle Patterson WR Tenn
Analysis: The Bills need to improve their offense.  QB is an option, but truly a reach here.  There are a collection of QBs that rank in the “meh” category:  none of them are worth of a Top 10 pick.  The Receiver class, however, is not deep, and the Bills need to upgrade their passing game.  Cordarrelle (pronounced “Core-dare-ull”) is clearly the top WR.  He’s the total package.  At 6’3″, he’s got the size to go up and over, and the speed to hit the quick slant.


NY Jets Ezekiel Ansah DE BYU
Analysis:  As we’ve studied the Jets roster one thing is painfully obvious: they lack talent….and playmakers….and depth.  The Jets should absolutely trade Revis for a package of picks.  They could really go in any direction with this pick.  They could grab a QB (although it looks as if they are stuck with Sanchez for at least one more year), but we have them grabbing a defensive playmaker.  We feel that Ansah’s stock will be on the rise as he puts on a show at the Combine and the BYU pro day.  Somebody will pay the price for his freakish upside (think JPP), might as well be the Jets.


Tennessee Titans Chance Warmack OG Alabama
Analysis:  No question the Titans are going offensive line here.  CJ2k has looked more like CJ750, and much of that is due to a porous line up front.  Chance dominated at Alabama, and much of the success that fellow teammates Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson had was due in part to the consistent and solid play of Chance.


San Diego Chargers Barkevious Mingo DE LSU
Analysis:  Having seen six defenders go in the first ten picks in this scenario, the Bolts grab Mingo to address their pass-rushing deficiencies.  Mingo is a difficult prospect to project.  He is going to light up the combine/workouts and get the creative (defensive) minds around the league thinking of the possibilities’.  McCoy and Whisenhunt have even pieces on offense to make that side of the ball dangerous; so they go defense early and often to add some difference-makers.


Miami Dolphins Jonathan Banks CB Miss. St.
Analysis:  The Dolphins have several needs, perhaps none more pressing than their secondary, which is an absolute mess.  The Dolphins traded their best corner, Vontae Davis, for a second round pick, Sean Smith is a free agent, and Richard Marshall and Nolan Carroll are far from being consistent contributors (that’s being generous).  Banks had a solid career at Mississippi St., and won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back.  WR is also an option, especially if Cordarrelle Patterson is still available.  However, the free agent pool is deep at receiver, so the Dolphins should make a run at Greg Jennings or Dwayne Bowe.  The free agent pool at DB is not, so this need must be addressed in the draft.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Eric Fisher OT Central Mich.
Analysis:  This is almost a dream scenario for the Bucs.  Fisher was dominate all week at the Senor Bowl, suggesting his outstanding film isn’t merely a by-producted of underwhelimg MAC talent.  He could absolutely be every bit the player that Joeckle is (and 12 picks later!).  It wouldn’t shock us to see the Bucs grab a QB here, as they clearly (and rightfully) aren’t sold on Freeman.  Regardless of how is quarterbacking this franchise in the future, they will love having this stud upfront.


Carolina Panthers Terrance Williams WR Baylor
Analysis:  Carolina needs to add some offensive weapons.  Cam Newton’s sophmore slump was due in large part to an aging core of offensive playmakers.  Williams makes a ton of sense here.  Even with the departure of RGIII, Williams went 97/1,832/12, leading the nation in receiving yards.


New Orleans Saints Jonathan Hankins DT Ohio St.
Analysis:  The 2012 New Orleans Saints were historically bad on defense.  They were as bad on denfese as the ’85 Bears were good! Rob (I’ll probably be out of work for 5 minutes…err… 4 weeks) joins wunderkind Sean Peyton on the sidelines to try to fix the mess.  The first order of business is switching to a 34 defense.  Without the luxury of a second round pick (kill the head and your draft will follow) the Saints have to grab a defense piece early.  Hankins has the size to anchor the NT in Ryan’s defense.


St. Louis Rams Lane Johnson OT Oklahoma
Analysis:  This is the first of two picks for the Rams in the first round.  With an up and coming defense (well done dodging the Rex Ryan Crazy Train) both of these picks should focus on improving the offense.  It seems that, everytime we watch the Rams, Sam Bradford is lying on his back, separating his shoulder for the umpteenth time.  Simply put:  the Rams need OL help.  Lane Johnson is the most athletic OL in the draft.  A high school quarterback in Texas (and also finished 4th in the shot put at the state track and field championships) Lane played TE and DE in college before making the switch to OL.  At 6’7″, 303 lbs., he’s got to add some more strength to his frame, and has a lot of potential.


Pittsburgh Steelers Dion Jordan OLB Oregon
Analysis:Two words to describe Jordan:  FREAK….and….FREEEEAK!  6-7, 241 lbs and simply flies all over the field.  With smoe good coaching and playing with more control and purpose, Jordan can wreck havoc on the football field.  Here is another prospect who could shoot up draft boards this spring.  For now we’ll slot him to the Steelers who got old on defense in a hurry.  The Steelers do a fanastic job of waiting their turn and taking players who should have been draft already.  They grab a great value (and need) here.


Dallas Cowboys John Jenkins DT Georgia
Analysis:  By most accounts, Jay Ratliff hasn’t had the best season.  A public spat with the boss and then a DUI in the offseason likely means the end of his tenure in Dallas.  However, we know talent trumps character, especially in Dallas.  Whether Jay stays or goes, Dallas needs to improve their interior defense.  There is great depth at DT in this draft, and the Cowboys will have their options.  Jonathon Hankins and Sheldon Richardson will get looks, if one (or both) are still around.  John Jenkins is an athletic run stuffer and should fit nicely into the Cowboys defensive line.


NY Giants Kenny Vaccaro S Texas
Analysis:  The G-men could go in a number of directions with this pick: OL, OLB, CB, RB.  Vaccaro is too good of a prospect to slip by the Giants brass.  His versatility is appealing, as he can play both safety positions.  The Giants also used a 3-safety defense numerous times in defense of the hurry-spread attack that swept through the league in the last few years.  Vaccaro could also be deployed as a spy versus running QB’s (Vick, RG3).  That said, I think this is the point where teams who bypassed a QB early will tempt to trade back in to the 1st to grab one that slipped.


Chicago Bears D.J. Fluker OT Alabama
Analysis: OL has to be priority #1 for ‘da Bears.   How much whining does Jay Cutler have to do?  Yes, he does a lot of whining regardless, but dude does have a point.  DJ is pure size and power…measuring in a 6’6″ and a solid 335 lbs.  D.J. will pay immediate dividends for Chicago…he’ll open up lanes for Forte and keep Cutler off his ass, forcing him to whine about something else.


Cincinnati Bengals Arthur Brown OLB Kansas St.
Analysis:  I really like the direction of this Cincinnati Bengals team; they have a young, talented roster after putting together some solid drafts (2012: Kirkpatrick, Zeitler, Sanu; 2011: Green, Dalton, Boling; 2010: Gresham, Atkins).  Marvin Lewis is smart enough to realize Andy Dalton’s flaws; (and while there is nothing he can do to lessen his gingerness) the best way to mask those deficiencies is to rely on a strong running game and solid defense.  Adding Brown gives the Bengal’s an athletic playmaker and gives them some much needed positional flexibility in regards to their line backing corps.


St. Louis Rams Eddie Lacy RB Alabama
Analysis:  This would be the perfect storm for St. Louis.  With Steven Jackson likely gone, the Rams backfield consists of Darryl Richardson and Isaih Pead.  Eddie Lacy is the best RB in the draft, and would instantly compete for the #1 spot, with or without Jackson.  A first team All-SEC selection, Lacy rushed for 1,322 yards and 17 tds in 14 games.  He also caught 22 balls for 189 and 2 tds, and returns kickoffs as well.


Minnesota Vikings Keenan Allen WR Cal
Analysis:  If your typical diva WR is a headache for the coaching staff (and GM) consider Percy Harvin a migraine!  For high school to the pros, everywhere this guy goes a black cloud follows and it’s a shame because the guy has elite skills.  If the Vikings are unable to trade him (to NE to replace Wes Welker?) this season he will surely be gone the following, as the Vikes have no intention of forking over $20M to this guy.  And this is from an organization that is thin (to be kind) at the wide-receiver position to begin with!  Allen is a step in the right direction in terms of giving Ponder a reliable target.


Indianapolis Colts Alex Okafor DE Texas
Analysis:  The Colts were the most improved team in the NFL, going from a 2 win team to an 11 wind season and a playoff appearance.  Offensive line is a need, but with all the top talent gone, Indy will have to address this in the later rounds  With Dwight Freeney turning 80, Okafor would be a nice consolation prize for the Colts.


Seattle Seahawks Sheldon Richardson DT Missouri
Analysis:  The Seahawks have been driving “mock drafters” crazy with some of their first round “reaches”  (James Carpenter, Bruce Irvin)who turn out to be fantastic football players on gameday.  So good luck trying to predict the Seahawks selection.  But we love the idea of the Hawks adding a penetrating force on the interior of there already dominate defense.  The Seahawks are one good off-season away from competing for a championship.


Green Bay Packers Alec Ogletree OLB Georgia
Analysis:  Depending on what happens with Jermichael Finley, the Pack may want to think about drafting a TE, and they should have their pick of either Eifert or Ertz.  However, assuming Finley stays, Green Bay should focus on defense.  The play of Aaron Rodgers and the explosiveness of Green Bay’s offense did a good job hiding the fact that the defense is not good.  They were completely exposed by San Francisco in the playoffs.  Releasing Charles Woodson is recognition that Green Bay needs to get young on D.  Ogletree would provide fresh legs and versatility to the defense in need of both.


Houston Texans Tyler Eifert TE ND
Analysis:  The Texans love drafting defense and building from their strengths; but we like them to add pieces to build around their top-notch running game.  Eifert (and Ertz) can create match up problems for defenses.


Denver Broncos Sharrif Floyd DT Florida
Analysis:  Obviously, Denver could use some secondary help (or a new secondary coach?) but Floyd is too much value to pass up here.  There’s a buzz about Sharrif, and if he kills it at the Combine, he could shoot up draft boards and into the Top 10.  Until then, John Fox and crew would be ecstatic with Floyd.


New England Patriots Jesse Williams DT Alabama
Analysis:  Again, what an ideal spot for a team to trade up into the first round and snag a QB should one drop to this point.  We all know the Patriots love stockpiling draft picks.  In this situation Belichick grabs a big bodied defended based on favorable recommendations from good buddy Nick Saban.  While the Patriots are ever evolving and continually seem to be ahead of the curve, Belichcick knows creating the line of scrimmage is the first step to a good defense (or offense for that matter).


Atlanta Falcons Zach Ertz TE Stanford
Analysis:  With Tony Gonzalez “probably” retiring (anyone else thinking that’s going to drag on?) Atlanta would be well-served to use its first round pick to find his replacement. Ertz, at 6’6″, 249 lbs., is built very similar to Gonzo, and would fit in nicely in Atlanta.


San Francisco 49ers Tavon Austin WR  WV
Analysis:  While Michael Crabtree had a coming out party this season (don’t worry Chris Culliver, not that kind of coming out party) the Niners could still improve their receiving corps.  They tried and (largely) failed with Randy Moss and Mario Manningham.  Austin’s explosive and can play both receiver and special teams, providing another way to instantly contribute.  He racked up 572 all-purpose yards in one game last year (second most all time), and possesses that quick first step and burst that will be effective in the slot and on returns.


Baltimore Ravens Manti Te’o ILB ND
Analysis:It wasn’t a coincidence that Ray Lewis’s name was never called during the actual Super Bowl.  Deer-spray notwithstanding, Ray-Ray has completely lost the speed element to his game and was a shell of his former self.  The Ravens may find themselves without ray, Ed Reed and Paul Kruger next seasons.  Ozzie Newsome will use this pick to help re-tool his front seven.  Kevin Minter is probably a better prospect and better fit here, but we selfishly love the idea of hearing Terrell Suggs opine about the dead girlfriend-catfishing story.

Tuesday Teabag, January 22, 2013 – Manti Te’o and Notre Dame

What a crazy week.  Once again, there was fight to be this week’s Tuesday Teabag.  Honorable mention goes to Tom Brady and his bitch kick.  Do you realize it’s been 8 years since the Patriots won the Super Bowl?  #thedynastyisdead. 

No friends, this Tuesday Teabag goes to none other than Manti Te’o and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  For much of the past six days, The Machine has been completely transfixed by the Manti Te’o story.  Was he in on it?  When did he know?  What the fuck is catfishing?  Is there such thing as a Hawaiian Mormon?  So many questions, so little time.  Let’s get right into it.

First, much props to Deadspin for uncovering this nugget of crazy.  If you haven’t read the Deadspin article, do it now.  Those dudes are always all over the stories we need to know (nice work on the Brett Favre junk story, btw).

In some way or another, you’ve all heard and/or read the story by now:  Manti Te’o, star LB for Notre Dame who finished second in the Heisman voting, was in a “relationship” with Lennay Kekua since 2009.  Then, in September, 2012, just after his grandmother dies, his girlfriend dies as well, from leukemia, after recovering from a car accident.  This double-whammy of personal tragedy elevates Manti to the national spotlight (oh how we love watching people play sports through personal problems).  The media (whores) seize on this story, and Manti’s instantly on the cover of Sports Illustrated (note: just because you write about sports doesn’t mean you don’t have to fact check) and he becomes a household name.

There was only one tiny problem:  Lennay did not exist.  The whole relationship was a sham.  Depending on who you believe, Manti was either in on the hoax or was the victim of a cruel joke.  It’s been rumored that a friend of Manti, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, was the mastermind behind the hoax.  But why and to what gain?  Just messing with a naïve meathead?  And where is Ronaiah?  And then, you have Reagan Mauia of the Arizona Cardinals saying she’s real?  Who the hell is this guy? 

Ok, where do we begin?  First, you’re not in a relationship if you haven’t banged, let alone seen your partner.  Second, Manti…you’re not only a Division I athlete, you’re the starting middle linebacker for the most storied college football program in the country.  You don’t need the internet to get laid (leave that to the losers that paint your helmet every week).  Third, how could you possibly be that dumb where, for three years, you thought you were in a relationship yet never met the person, and, whenever you tried, you were rebuffed?  How many times did you fall for the “my facetime isn’t working” line?  That didn’t clue you in that maybe, just maybe, you’re sexting with a trucker? 

Then, as if things couldn’t get weirder, you pull out (something you never did with Lennay) of the Senior Bowl and become a recluse.  Then, perhaps under the urging of your PR firm, you agree to do an interview but refuse to be on camera.  Thus, we have to form our opinion of whether you’re telling the truth on how Jeremy Schaap formed his.  Yes, this Jeremy Schaap.  No thank you, that did nothing to satisfy us.  We need to see you with our own eyes.

Ok, says PR Team, problem solved.  Manti’s agreed to do an interview, on camera, with hard-hitting award journalist Katie Couric.  That would appear to comply with what we want, but then The Machine’s Research Department uncovered this nugget:  Manti and Katie are represented by the same PR firm.  Do you honestly think they’re going to put Manti in harm’s way by having an objective interview?  Of course not.  This interview will be completely pre-rehearsed, pre-recorded, edited, and framed to make Manti the victim.  Look, we get that that’s the job of a good PR Team.  They need to work double-time to keep you in the first round of the draft.  But dammit, we didn’t waste the better part of five straight working days to not get the truth.  The Machine wants the truth.  The Machine needs the truth.  Sadly, The Machine doesn’t think we’ll ever know the real story.

Unless he scores a 0 on the Wonderlic, The Machine finds it hard to believe that he didn’t know.  Maybe he didn’t help create it, but he certainly didn’t go to any lengths to correct people after he realized what was up.  And what’s with catfishing?  Is it a real thing?  Is it this generation’s version of phony phone calls?  This story, if nothing else, has helped The Machine (comfortably in his 30s) realize that he has more in common with people in their 40s then people in their 20s.  Shit…

And why does Notre Dame get lumped in with this Teabag, you ask?  Well, within minutes of learning of this alleged hoax, the Fighting Irish embark on their own investigation, the results of which they conclude that Manti was 100% not a part of this hoax.  However, we come to find out that their “investigation” was paper thin.  They didn’t interview Manti, his family, or Ronaiah.  But yet, they are 100% certain that their meal ticket…err, student athlete, wasn’t involved.  You get the sense that they were more concerned about preserving the legacy of Notre Dame than helping to vindicate Manti.  If only they would act so swiftly when there’s a real dead girl.  Their handling of this situation, and hand-washing of the Lizzy Seeberg story, is shameful. 

Anyway, Manti, here’s some advice from The Machine:  Get your shit together.  This story isn’t going to hurt you as much as your performance in the National Championship Game will.  Your Combine results are more important than your sit down with Katie.  Don’t forget that.  Also, DO NOT open that e-mail from the Nigerian Prince (hint: he’s not a real prince). 

Enjoy the Teabag.


As if last weekends playoff games weren’t exciting enough (276 combined points, Peyton Manning going all Peyton Manning, “Gonk” busting his forearm, again [bro, don’t be scared to mix in a glass of milk every once in a while] and the incredible finish to the Seahawks-Falcons game) we had one of the most bizarre sporting “news” weeks in recent memory.

For most weeks, the LieStrong Story would be more than enough fodder to keep radio talking heads and Sportcenter happily busy.  But this wasn’t exactly your “typical” week.  Enter Manti Te’o and his dead girlfriend that didn’t exist.  Or wait, maybe she faked her own death because she was alluding drug dealers?  And how exactly did this Tuiasosopo character (are we even sure he exists? Seriously) apologize via twitter last week when his account was closed two weeks ago?!  Blah.  The Machine (while we are enjoying every twist and turn to this “real” life WWE story) are in some desperate need of ACTUAL, REAL football.  How refreshing.

There are only 3 games left on the schedule (until our undivided attention goes into Draft-mode), and Championship Sunday promises to live up to its billing, as any of the four remaining teams could win it all.  We’ve studied the tape, waded through the storylines, and dissected the stats to bring you todays winners.  Let’s get into it:

San Francisco (-4.5) @ Atlanta

Do you know the last time a Number 1 seed, hosting the Conference Championship was a 4-point underdog?!  You have to go back to the 1978 Dallas Cowboys, who were 4-point dogs and went on to beat the Rams (then of Los Angeles) 28-0….the ‘boys also won the Superbowl that year for what its worth.  Is The Machine saying that the Falcons are going to win the Superbowl this year?!  Ehhh, not so fast.  We actually love the Niners in this one, but have to be very cautious with this line.  The Falcons have struggled mightily against QBs running the spread option this year (yielding a whopping 700 combined yards to Cam Newton in two games this year and barely hanging on against Russ Wilson last week).  Mike Nolan’s defense will play games pre-snap to try to confuse (and predetermine) Kaepernicks reads.  However, handling his athleticism after the snap is a different story.  Even if the falcons can limit Kaepernick on the ground, they have to contend with SF’s beastly offensive line (featuring 3 former first round draft picks) and their stable of running backs.  Kaepernick also has just enough weapons in the passing game (Crabtree, Moss, Davis, Walker) to keep the defense honest.  We just don’t think Atlanta’s defense matches up well against the Niners.

Atlanta’s strength is their offense, particularly their passing attack.  They can stretch a defense vertically with Julio Jones, beat them on intermediate routes with Roddy White and kill them in the redzone with Tony Gonzalez.  They usually get enough production from Michael Turner (on 1st and 2nd down) and JacQuizz Rodgers (on 3rd) to maintain a rushing attack.  If the offense can protect Matt Ryan, Julio Jones could have a big day.  He presents that matchup problems for SFs secondary.  However, they will have their hands full with the Niners front seven.

The Falcons wore down against a Seahawks team that plays a similar style of football to the Niners.  The Niners will impose their will late in the game and Kyle Williams won’t muff any punts (guaranteed! – hell, I like his chances of taking one to the house!).

The 49ers will be Kapernicking their way to New Orleans: SF 34 ATL 28

Baltimore @ New England (-8)

Rematch!  We are looking forward to a very chippy encounter between these two teams that have some bad blood between them.  Last year Joe Flacco outplayed Tom Brady outright.  Flacco was orchestrating a game winning drive when he hit Lee Evans in the corner of the endzone…..only to have the ball dropped.  If Evans makes that catch the Ravens probably lose the Super Bowl to the Giants last year.  Regardless, the Ravens trotted out Billy Cundiff (pronounced ‘CUNT-iff’ in the greater Baltimore area) for a chip shot 32-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.  Yeah, they missed that too.  Their season ended in Foxboro on a bullshit dropped pass and an ugly field goal attempt.  It should come as no surprise that Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff were cut in the offseason.  The Ravens have pieced together another solid run  this year, and find themselves travelling back to Foxboro, one win away from the Super Bowl, again.

Bill Belichick always seems to be one-step ahead of the rest of the league.  While most teams roll out some no-huddle series and packages, the Patriots feature it.  They have run more offense snaps than any other team this year and average the least amount time between snaps.  Their no-huddle hurry-up offense is ridiculously effective in the redzone (defense winded near tail end of drives + hardest place on the field to substitute + hardest place on the field to communicate) and on short yardage situations.  Tom Brady quick snaps on a QB keeper on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1 more than any other QB in the league and he is more effective than 70% of the “short yardage” running backs.  Their tempo is going to be very difficult on an aging Baltimore defense that hasn’t really been themselves this year.  Look up their defensive numbers, it’s not pretty.

Ray-Ray will surely have his squad fired-up for this afternoons affair, but the it won’t matter, the Patriots will pass, run and score at will.  However, Flacco and Rice will be able to do enough to keep them in this game. 

NE 38, Baltimore 37

There you have it folks, The Machine is calling for a NE vs. SF Super Bowl!

Bonus predictions: Ray Lewis comes out of “retirement” around the third week of Training Camp, citing unfinished business.

Tuesday Teabag, January 15, 2013 – Lance Armstrong

Somewhere along the line, probably in one of those father/son teaching moments, The Machine was told to never kick a man when they’re down.  Considering we spend one article a week completely trashing people for the dumb stuff they do and say, clearly that advice was well taken.  Papa Machine must be proud.

Anyway, we can’t help but pile the trash on top of Lance Armstrong.  While normally reserved to people with two functioning testicles (is it really a teabag with just one?), your actions over the past few days leave us with no other choice.  Confessing on Oprah?  Really, dude.  That’s so 1994.  Was Montell Williams booked? 

You know, it’s not so much that he used performance enhancing drugs and participated (read: orchestrated) the greatest blood-doping scheme ever.  Loyal readers of The Machine know that we really don’t care that much about athletes and doping.  It’s been going on forever and will continue to go on forever.  And, not to get too far off topic, but what’s the difference between steroids (illegal) and cortisone shots and painkillers (prescribed liberally by every team doctor)?  But I digress…

No Lance, the real reason you’re in our crosshairs is the way you went about it all.  You didn’t just issue denials.  You loudly proclaimed to the world that you never took drugs, were the most tested athlete ever, and that you past every drug test.  You went so far as to sue newspapers and (former) friends for claiming otherwise.  That takes stones, or, in your case, stone.  And, to top it all off, after your 7 Tour de France titles were stricken, you post a picture of yourself lounging in your house under your Tour de France jerseys.  FYI, nothing says “I’m the biggest d-bag of all-time” then posing in front of invalidated trophies.

Also let’s not forget your (soon to be defunct) Livestrong Foundation and the millions of cancer patients (including many children) that you defrauded.  You, probably more than any other athlete because of your battle with cancer, were a role model.  People were touched by your story and wanted to “live strong” because of it.  Not only did people look up to you, but people who desperately needed hope to stay alive looked up to you.  That has been irretrievably broken.

And, perhaps worst of all, you validated the French.  The Machine (and the rest of ‘Merica) took great pleasure in having a good old boy from the States (a rootin’, shootin’ Texan no less) travel to the land of the cowards time and time again and take home their most coveted trophy.  We (and by we I mean the Western Hemisphere) don’t give a shit about cycling.  All we know is that the French really like it and thus, we hate it. 

The Machine’s willing to bet that, in your warped sense of reality, you thought that, because of all the good you did with Livestrong, that that somehow balances out all the lies, and people should be able to separate the two and still think of you like a God.  The Machine’s also willing to bet that you’re one of these assholes that, after apologizing for egregious conduct, can’t understand why people won’t move on (“I said I’m sorry what more do you want?”) 

Yes folks, make no mistake about it.  Lance’s “apology” is as much of an orchestrated ploy as his doping scheme.  Unless you think it was mere coincidence that he chose now to come forward, think about this.  The statute of limitations for perjury is 7 years.  Care to guess when he testified under oath that he never used drugs?  That’s right, 2005.  This is (yet another) f-you move on your part.  Flipping the bird to the feds right after the expiration of the statute of limitations, while smart legally, is just another example of your dickishness, and how the only thing you’re really sorry for is getting caught.

Keep a close eye on our boy Lance.  He is slowly trying to transform himself into the victim.  Next, he’ll give some money back to sponsors (reportedly $5 million, note: it’s easy to give $5 million away when you have over $100 million) plus probably make amends by ratting out to the feds, and becoming a spokesperson against drugs (3-1 odds says he’s out in public wearing a DARE t-shirt by March). 

Hopefully, we don’t let you off the hook and re-establish yourself as America’s darling (see Ray Lewis).  Instead, The Machine hopes you get the Pete Rose treatment.  That you’ll be at a table next to the Arc de Triomphe signing autographs during the Tour de France, or in the parking lot outside the Cycling convention (if such a thing exists).  You deserve nothing more.

Enjoy your Tuesday Teabag.  Hopefully it’s the last thing you’ll ever win.

AFC Divisional Round, Sunday

Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-9.5)

No reason to get fancy with this analysis; two-hundred words should be more than enough.  At its simplest form, this game boils down Schaub-Kubiak versus Brady-Belichick.  I know which side of that equation I’m going to lay my money.

The Texans lost 3 of their last 4 games to limp into the playoffs.  They continued their uninspired limp by escaping the first round with a dreadful performance against the Bengals.  Andy Dalton, ginger powers and all, may have played himself out of a starting job with an embarrassing performance against the Texans.  He left play after play on the field, including a wide open AJ Green streaking up the seam late in the game; a play that would have drastically changed the course of game.  Andy Dalton missed the throw.  Tom Brady won’t.

This game figures to play out exactly like their Week 14 match-up; a 42-14 beat-down of the Texans.  The Patriots front seven will contain Arian Foster (15 carries, 46 yards in that game) and force Matt Schaub into beating them.  The Patriots offense will keep the pedal to the metal the entire game, forcing the Texans into a shoot-out.

Patriots cruise for a rematch of last years AFC Championship.

NE 38, Houston 17

(Word Count: 210) NAILED IT!

NFC Divisional Round, Sunday

Seattle at Atlanta (-2.5)

First, The Machine took it on the chin last night…going 0-2 in our picks.  First, wtf Peyton.  Tebow won a playoff game for Denver (just sayin’) #jesusisclutch.  And who would’ve thought, after a back and forth first half, that the Niners would absolutely explode and the Packers would absolutely collapse.  Such is sports.

Anyway, we’re here to totally redeem ourselves today, starting the NFC Divisional showdown between the Seattle and Atlanta.

These teams are polar opposites on offense.  The Falcons come in as the Number 1 seed, and have a dominant passing attack, with hands down the best 1-2 punch at WR with Roddy White and Julio Jones.  The passing game more than makes up for the lack of production in running the ball.  Matty Ice has come of age this year, throwing for over 4,700 yards and 32 tds.  On defense, the Falcons are tough to gauge.  At times, the play at an elite level, (as the shutout of the Giants proves) but they have also been inconsistent (like when Carolina dropped 30 on them).

Seattle, on the other hand, has a bruising running game with Beastmode anchoring the #3 rushing attack in the NFL, over 161 yards per game.  There are really no threats at WR…although Russell Wilson (the only rookie QB left standing) creates enough plays and is elusive enough to get them open.  The Machine doesn’t think of Wilson as really part of the new school run/threat option, which is a good things (#itsafad).  He’s played out of his mind this year, throwing for over 3,100 yards and 26 tds.  Seattle also has a dominant, Top 10 defense that doesn’t get the credit or attention it deserves.

A lot of people are picking the Seahawks to come in and upset the 13-3 Falcons, but The Machine doesn’t think so.  Seattle has some key injuries that will prove fatal.  Beastmode is dinged up, only practicing on Friday with a bum knee.  Additionally, Sydney Rice(who quietly had a solid year going 50/748/7) is hurt and didn’t practice all week.  While they may be able to get by with one of those two injured, they will not be able overcome both of them.

Seattle’s D (and Pete Carroll’s play calling) will keep this game interesting.  However, The Machine likes the Falcons and Matty Ice to get his first playoff win.

Seattle 20, Falcons 31

Happy International Kiss a Ginger Day!!!

Have you kissed a Ginger today?

Ginger King has a packed schedule today, making public appearances all over town, giving all normal people a chance to live out their fantasies and kiss a ginger (for $20 I’ll let you touch and pet me too).  If you don’t know about International Kiss a Ginger Day, you ether (a) haven’t lived, or (b) are lying.  Take 30 seconds to google (it’s true).

For anyone that hasn’t found me yet, I’ll be in the parking lot of Applebee’s during halftime of the Broncos/Ravens, then I got a private party where I plan to get my drink on and watch the Niners/Packers.  After that, I’ll be at the Wafflehouse from 2:00 am to 4:00 am.

If you can’t find me, make sure to find any Ginger and thank them for everything they do.  And then kiss them.

NFC Divisional Round, Saturday

Green Bay at San Francisco (-2.5)

By far the hardest game to predict this weekend.  The Machine has gone back and forth on this one.  On the one hand, the Packers are red hot, and hot at the right time.  Who cares if you can’t name their starting running back?  Over the last four games, Aaron Rodgers has 11 tds and 0 ints.  Rodgers has quietly put together an MVP-like season, throwing for nearly 4,300 yards, 39 tds, and 8 ints, and that’s not including the 274/1/0 he put up against the Vikes last week.  Defense has been their weakness this year, but they are healthy and held Adrian Peterson to under 100 yards last week (after giving up over 400 yards to AP during the regular season).

On the other hand, you have the 49ers.  Hands down, the best D in the league.  They are faster, nastier, and hit harder than any other team (and we all know defense wins championships).  Their coach is the most intense man in the NFL (The Machine can’t tell if he’s smiling or dropping a deuce) and he clearly will do anything to win now (just ask Alex Smith).  On offense, they run hard and run often, finishing 4th in the league at more than 155 yards a game.  Coach Harbaugh made the gutsiest call of the year, handing the reigns over to Colin Kaepernick mid-season (check out The Machine’s exclusive coverage of that here).  And while it’s easy to say the experiment worked out (the Niners won the NFC West and got a first round bye) the numbers aren’t as clear.

Remarkably, Smith and Kaepernick each attempted 218 passes, which makes it ridiculously easy to compare them.  Kaepernick went for 1,814/10/3 for a solid QB rating of 98.3 (and 9 fumbles).  Smith was 1,737/13/5 and 4 fumbles, for a QB rating of 104.1.  So who’s better?  While Smith has slightly better numbers this year, the answer is: it doesn’t matter.  With a premier running game and defense, all you need is a QB with a decent arm and a heartbeat (similar to The Machine’s taste in women…sorry to all my female amputee fans).

And, these teams already played each other this year, with San Francisco winning 30-22 in Green Bay.  But that was soooo Week 1.

With a match up this close, it all comes down to storylines, and there is no better storyline than this:  Revenge.  Who could forget 2005, when the Niners, holding the #1 pick in the draft, selected Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers, a NoCal native whose favorite team growing up was San Francisco.  Rodgers (painfully) sat in the green room and inexplicably fell all the way to 24.  Obviously, Aaron Rodgers, with his Super Bowl ring, Super Bowl MVP, regular season MVP, Associated Press Athlete of the Year, and discount double-check, is the better quarterback than the now-backup Smith.  So perhaps Aaron isn’t mad anymore…I mean, it was almost 8 years ago.  But then The Machine stumbled upon this, and this, and realized this:

Aaron Rodgers has been waiting for this day since April 23, 2005.  He has been biding his time, knowing, hoping, that this day would come.  Where he could go back home, into the stadium where he wanted to play, in front of his family and friends and, more importantly, the front office executives of the Niners, and make those fuckers pay, and pay dearly.

Rodgers is going to come out fired up, like Ray Lewis out of the tunnel fired up.  He will inspire his defense to play better.  Although listed as probable, Justin Smith and his floppy triceps will prevent the Niners from getting the consistent up front pressure they’ll need to contain Rodgers.  This will give Aaron enough time in the pocket to find his healthy stable of receivers.  It will also open up some running lanes for him as well (yes, we’re calling a rushing td for him too).

While The Machine (at least Ginger King) has not done well picking against the Niners this year, the playoffs are all about who’s hot, and right now, no one’s hotter than the Packers and Aaron Rodgers.  Add on top of that the powerful motivator of revenge, and this has upset written all over it.  Take the Pack with points (and throw some on the money line too).

Green Bay 24, San Francisco 20

AFC Divisional Round, Saturday

Baltimore at Denver (-9)

It doesn’t get much better than Divisional Round Playoff Football!  This weekend features the eight best teams vying for a chance to play in their conference championship game.  Again we’re treated with a two-pack of games on Saturday AND Sunday.  God bless!

Other than The Silverbacks face palming of Richard Sherman, the Wild Card Round was a snoozefest…..(that doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy every minute of it and slam beers until the clock read 00:00).  This weekend features a promising platter of tasty matchups that will surely excite the senses.  However, the guys in Vegas are none to impressed with the AFC matchups this weekend as both visiting teams are 9 point dogs (both NFC visiting teams are 2.5 point dogs).

The Ravens were able to parlay home field advantage and the emotional return of Ray Lewis into a 24-9 win over the Colts…..who were starting a rookie QB….and who went 2-14 the previous year with almost the same roster.  But hey, we’ll give credit to the Ravens because they took care of business, but it was ugly.  Ray Rice put the ball on the ground, twice.  Flacco only played good ball for 2 quarters.  The Colts offensive line was overmatched and they failed to capitalize in the redzone (0 TDs in three chances).  So again, the Ravens did what they had to do, but they won’t get away with that kind of sloppy football against Sheriff Manning.

The Broncos have the longest current streak in the NFL at 11. Further, they won 7 of those games by a double-digit margin.  Sure, Manning is going to garner all the discussion and praise, but the defense has been nasty too!  They are allowing an AFC low 17 points-per-game-against.  Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil are bringing the heat from the edges (29.5 combined sacks), forcing quick (and often poor) decisions by the opposing quarterback.  The rest of the defense is flying to the ball and capitalizing on those mistakes.

Much has been made this week that Peyton Manning is 0-3 in playoff games under 40-degrees (weather outlook at kickoff: 19 degrees, snow).  It sounds like an odd stat that is gaining way too much traction this week; in other words, something here stinks.  The Machine did a little internet research of our own and found that two of those games where against Brady-Belichick (in New England) and the other was a beat down at the hands of the Jets, 11 years ago!  Nothing to see here folks!

The Machine doesn’t trust Joe Flacco, or the Ravens receivers (Anquan meet Champ, Champ meet Anquan), or whomever is calling the plays, or the ageless defense, or these bogus weather stats……and neither does Vegas!  Make it 12 in a row.

Denver 27, Baltimore 16