Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dan's Picks

Somehow it just figures that the NFL would finally cave and I would be forced to get a severe stomach ache from watching the Patriots complete their perfect regular season on "mainstream" television. I take the NFL's side on the argument, mostly because the NFL Network ranks as the most-viewed channel in my house even in July. But then again, I haven't contacted my congressman so maybe I can't complain. Either way, here in Wisconsin where they just don't get the NFL Network at all, football fans will get to wonder with the rest of us why Bryant Gumbel is doing NFL play-by-play.

The Patriots will win tonight. If they were going to lose in the regular season they would not have not gotten 10 chances to make it on 4th down against the Ravens. Plus, I can't really figure out how the Giants won 10 games, so 11 would be a bit ridiculous. Perhaps the Giants' vaunted pass rush will at least put Brady in harm's way and everyone in the world will hate the Pats more when he's still in there underthrowing bombs to Moss when they are up by 10 in the late 4th quarter.

Did I agree with Sllaacs on that game or disagree? I can't quite tell from his post. Clever...

The Chargers are playing for the #3 seed, LT wants to win the rushing title, Lorenzo Neal always appears to be driving a snow plow through the Raiders D, Norv Turner will be seeking vengeance in the Coliseum, the Raiders are coming off a hugely demoralizing loss, Oakland coaches and players are looking over their shoulders, key Raider injuries have stacked up, and a rookie who missed all of training camp and looked terrible in his first extended action is getting the start at QB. So I'm picking the Raiders. There's something odd going on here where they can look terrible on the road and then bounce back at home. Kiffin has put a lot of emphasis on turning things around vs. the AFC West. And I'm going to say that Kiffin will make the adjustments necessary to go 3-0 against teams he's seeing for the second time. The Raiders will truly cash in on this capability in four years when they are matched up against the NFC North and AFC South again.

Although I wanted to avoid using logic related to anything on the field during these picks and say that the 49ers always finish strong and there is no way I can imagine seeing a "10" in the wins column next to the name "Cleveland," this broken back thing will lead the 49ers to a loss and the Patriots to a fine #1 pick. That will also make it such that the AFC once again has a team with 10 wins miss the playoffs.

John's Picks

I was at Trader Joe's today with the Professor and Baby Lily, the one in Westlake, Daly City.
I get of the car, I have the baby on my shoulders, and some asshole sees my Raiders hoodie and actually yelled "BRONCOS!"

For real? You bet. I actually turned around and asked him that. "Really?" And then I just laughed, because it was so absurd. Since I live on this side of the bay, I expect and am used to a fair amount of harassment from 49ers fans. That's perfectly acceptable, since I live less than two miles from Candlestick, and it is after all San Francisco.

But "BRONCOS!?" I hope that guy gets botulism.

Onto the picks. I'm hoping to see most of the game tonight despite going to dinner with my sister-in-law and nephew for his birthday. They're not football fans so they plan these things without regard for the schedule. Anyway, I'm thinking it should be a pretty good game, and that the Giants will play everyone at least a half. Their pass rush should match up pretty well with Brady and them. But still, NE wins by a lot.

Well, Shay-heezy is jacked up. Fractured the transverse processes in three vertebrae. I'm not a doctor so I don't know what the hell that means, but I'm guessing when the words "fracture" and "vertebrae" appear in the same sentence it's not good. Those words appeared in a sentence about Christopher Reeve once. It was all bad. Even worse, Chris Weinke is getting the start. Niners lose, by a lot.

And now JaMarcus meets Norv and the HGH dis-Chargers crew. 2-0 against the AFC West the 2nd time around for Lane Kiffin. Let's make it 3-0. Maybe bring in Pops Kiffin to run the D next year.

I'm in.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

D gets an F

My comments last week: "...this is going to be a great test of Raider progress. It won't be nearly as cold in Jacksonville as it was in Green Bay, so I hope to see the offense hit its stride even with Dominic Rhodes, the defense step up to the challenges of gap assignment and tackling, and JaMarcus to play for an extended period."

Not difficult to label that test failed. Sure, JaMarcus played for an extended period, but the offense did not hit its stride (no, 100+ garbage yards by Rhodes does not count), and the defense most certainly did not step up to any challenge presented. Not gap assignments, not tackling, not scheme matchups, and not even smart-assed refs. But what does it mean?

In terms of things that are different from some of the really good games they've played recently, they seem to fall completely apart against good teams on the road, the defense appears incapable of stopping the power running game, JaMarcus is not ready for prime time, and maybe a couple of these annoying injuries - the top RB, the top special teams guy - actually have made an impact.

Is it a microcosm of the season? No. A microcosm of the past 5 years, maybe, but this season has been far better than past years and not only because I've forgotten what a good season actually is. Is it a harbinger of what is to come in 2008? I don't think so. I prefer to think of the last two AFC West games as a preview of what is in store for 2008, but that's just me.

On the offensive side of the ball it is a little tough to tell what this failed test means with Fargas out and JaMarcus acting like it's Brett Favre's first trip to Texas Stadium. Probably the offensive line needs some additional work despite recent improvement. We still need that deep threat at WR. Kiffin was right to put Fargas at the front of the line.

But on defense...this was a huge disappointment. Something is broken in that the team only matches up well with a few offenses. But is it scheme or personnel? And does it mean the Raiders will turn over as many as 6 defensive positions during the offseason or will they can Rob Ryan? Or both?

In terms of personnel, "QB Killa" is not built to stop the run - especially this slimmed-down year. Sands has been a major disaster. Tommy Kelly got hurt. Burgess is not a run-stopper. There's your front four. That is making Morrison look bad in run support because no one keeps linemen off of him. Add to that the fact that our free safety hasn't tackled well, which turns 8-yard runs into 62-yard runs.

Remember Ryan tried to install a 3-4 when he arrived and he didn't have the personnel, having inherited Sapp and almost no linebackers. On Sunday, Greg Papa noted several times that the Raiders were playing 4 linebackers in addition to the 4 down linemen. It actually led to a classic exchange between Papa and Tom Flores (I'll paraphrase):

Papa - "The Raiders are coming out in the same defense they used to start the game. Four down linemen, four linebackers, and three defensive backs."

Flores - "I hate to correct you, Greg, but they actually started the game with four down linemen, four linebackers, and four defensive backs. They had 12 men on the field!"

At any rate, Sunday's game was a harbinger of great change to come for the defense, no matter what Ryan says in public. The good news is there is a terrific nucleus - if Asomugha is re-signed.

Picks later...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday Hangover: Sllaacs' Week 17 Picks.

Santa was very good to me this year. I got an awesome Raiders hoodie, and a Kirk Morrison #52 home black jersey. I'm excited to wear it this weekend during the game, whether I'm watching on TV or at the coliseum.

I'm not sure how I feel about what happened on Sunday. The only word that comes to mind is the one I used then, which is "debacle." It's good that JaMarcus got his nose bloodied. He'll learn from how horribly he played. I like Zach Miller caught Jammy's first TD pass, though. That's going to be a combo for a long time.

Immediately after the game, I went out to buy some groceries for our holiday festivities. I was listening to the Raiders post-game show. When I came out of the store, there was a program on called "The Rabbi Daniel Lapin Show." I guess he's an English Rabbi, judging by his name and his accent. Anyway, his theory was that "God is a Conversative, and Santa Claus is a Liberal." He wanted his callers to discuss. So a guy called in and said, "You're right, because God created the world in 7 Days (sic), and Santa tries to do everything in one night." I got through the good Rabbi actually saying the words, "I guess that's a valid argument..." before changing the channel over to some classic rock.

This is so stupid in so many ways, I don't even know where to begin. Just don't let me hear one more word about secular liberals having a "war on Christmas."

Anyway, after this nice little holiday wrap up, here's Sllaacs' picks for this final week, via email:

Got to say, Dan was right about the Green Bay - Chicago rivalry. The Black and Blue is still the division with the toughest (i.e., Competitiveness + Inclement weather) divisional games in the league. Got ta needle ya though Danny; Your "test" game was right on the money - 49-11 and basically is a microcosm of the entire season. Good call. Seriously. You called it before the game; 'This is a test for the Raiders' - I am paraphrasing. I interpret the final result of the Oak vs Jack game as a failed exam and a harbinger of what is to come in 2008. What do you infer from the outcome of the "test" game?

Poor Raider fan - all your hopes for next season rest on J. Russell making a good or acceptable appearance in the last game of this season. Welcome to the world of the Niner fan for the past two off-seasons - now let's make it three. What do you say Johnnie Boy? Those Russell stats look suspiciously like Alex Smith stats. San Diego has nothing to play for, but L.T. has a habit of putting two game's worth of rushing yards into a half against the Raiders, so even if the starters only play the first half, San Diego might blow this thing open with their first three drives of the game. I'm going to pick Oakland however, since they are at home, and they actually have a reason to play for a win. 20 - 16 - The Raiders.

The Niners should lose to Cleveland. They should - there is no good reason to think that the Browns would lose this game at the Dawg Pound, even if it will take a Titans win over the Colts to keep them out of the Playoffs. Except for the following: Mike Nolan is 6 - 2 in his coaching career over the last three games of the regular season. Also - Shay - Heezy iz tha Hiz-nouse. Cleveland wins - 28 - 17.

So for my third game, I will pick the Cardinals over the Rams... Yeah, right. We'll go with the Patsy's at the Giants. As an NFC fan, I would love to see the hated New York football Giants roll the Patriots and ruin the run for perfection, thereby allowing the stupid Dolphins old-timers to continue to have a reason to live and make the AFC look like collective assholes for continuing to have to hear from these dinosaurs. The Giants are in the playoffs, and offer an awesome pass Rush.

Nice year for us Bay Area Football fans. Nice last couple ofyears. I'd like to thank Al Davis and the Yorks for making all of us fans reminisce about the good old days of Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Rich Gannon, Jeff Hostettler, and Tim Brown, among a legion of others. Those were the days when we could score. A friggin'. Touchdown.


Merry Belated Xmas, people. Hope it was a good one.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Survey Says? Debacle.

I don't know what the hell just happened at the end of the half. Warren was ejected on three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, plus Burgess got one. Then Morrison gets an INT.

But we had JaMarcus get the wind knocked out of him.

This game is making me anxious. This anxiety can only partially be attributed to all of the sinus medication I've taken to battle the head cold I can't seem to shake. Some of it may also be caused by the Professor's assignments to get the house ready for the onslaught of in-laws who will be invading tomorrow on Christmas eve. But a good portion of it is definitely because of what just happened on the football field.

What the fuck were Kiffin and/or Rob Ryan doing during the flag-fest? I don't like this.

Changing of the Guard?

Admittedly, I am doing what Sllaacs might describe as "looking for positives." But from my perspective listening to Greg Papa, Sapp comes completely unglued and Morrison responds with an INT. That's a play made by someone you want to build your defense around.

So what in the world happened out there with Sapp?

At any rate, that's just one sequence in an ugly game. But I think it substantiates Kiffin's handling of JaMarcus this year. If this meltdown had happened mid-season and we would have been blown out in multiple games things could have spiraled out of control.

Time for a gut check. Steve Young predicted a blowout today because the Raiders had already "mailed it in." That sounded pretty ridiculous in the wake of a tight game vs. the Colts last week, but hopefully it will not apply to the second half.

Not Passing

The Raiders are not exactly passing the "test." Nothing like providing the opponent a deep threat with a simple run up the middle. OUCH. So far I agree that the Raiders just match up well with the occasional team but otherwise are incapable of stopping the run.

John's Picks


Sllaacs is eating retard samiches if he thinks Miami is beating New England today. It's just not happening. If that happens, I will head straight out and buy all the canned food and bottled water I can fit in my car, and then I'll go to the local Ted Nugent Outlet Store purchase a survival suit and an assault rifle. Because the apocalypse is coming.

Jeff Garcia gets his revenge on the Yorks. Shaun Hill shows why he was third string.

The Raiders? I don't even know. McCown's starting, but they say Jammy might finish. Kiffin may take the training wheels off, leading to start next week against Norv and HGH crew.

Aww, screw it. Raiders win, 21-20, with Jammy leading a two-minute drill, game-winning drive so spectacular he solidifies himself as the franchise, and we don't see McCown again until preseason.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dan Goes Back to Picking the Raiders

This week I awaited Sllaacs' picks as a kid awaits Santa Claus. At long last we would have a true "wildcard" third game to pick with Garcia and Tampa Bay coming to town to play the 49ers. But then I found a lump of coal: New England.

Truth be told I've been anticipating this game for a while as well. It would be a perfect opportunity for the NFL to fix a game to sell more NFL Films videos later. In poetry on a par with a team called the Patriots winning the Super Bowl after 9/11, the 0-14 Dolphins would knock off the 14-0 Patriots, avoiding a winless season while preserving their franchise's place in history. Mercury Morris would throw a block party.

But the Dolphins reduced the drama a notch by winning last week nearly as improbably - but far less suspiciously - than the Patriots had several weeks ago over the Ravens. So I think that's just enough to make this another boring Patriots victory. Maybe Belichick will try to run up the score on Parcells. Brady says the Pats never think about going 16-0, they are focused on reaching the Super Bowl. But they are liars, so the Patriots will rub it in against the Dolphins and make a push to knock off another of their records in the year that Favre surpassed all of Marino's.

While Tampa Bay apparently has nothing to play for, that oddity seems only to strike at random and during Week 17. So the Bucs will win. Score two for the Patriots this week as their #1 draft choice rises.

The suspense regarding my final pick was destroyed by an overly descriptive title. Picking against the Raiders stopped working (except for the part about getting the picks right), so I'm going back on the optimistic side this week. Even though our most productive player (Fargas) is out and the strength of the Jaguars (running the ball) plays right into our greatest weakness, this is going to be a great test of Raider progress. It won't be nearly as cold in Jacksonville as it was in Green Bay, so I hope to see the offense hit its stride even with Dominic Rhodes, the defense step up to the challenges of gap assignment and tackling, and JaMarcus to play for an extended period.

Ah, I meant to say, "I hope to hear." I'll be listening to a tinny Internet feed of Greg Papa, charting drives on Sportsline, and watching one of the finest and longest-running rivalries in all of sports out of the corner of my eye: Packers-Bears. Sllaacs, Favre at Soldier Field is never lame.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Still Asking - Can We Stop the Run?

It was July question #2, which one could argue was answered by the Raiders' current 31st ranking against the run. But then every once in a while the run defense shows up - vs. Chicago, Denver, Indy. Why? Kiffin, Sapp, and others argue that it's a matter of each defensive player "doing his job." Jerry McDonald presents a matchup explanation, that the Raiders stop the run only when offenses operate out of a spread formation.

Jacksonville will be a good test. A game on the road against a playoff team who runs physically and stops the run. JaMarcus will be turned loose. Fargas is out. And with two punt returns for TDs in two weeks, it seems we really miss Coop. If we get another Indy game this brutal end-of-year schedule could turn out to be a great way to enter the offseason by building confidence that the Raiders can hang while figuring out who steps up against competition.

But I've chosen to stay in Wisconsin through the end of the year, which means I'll miss the game on TV. It also means I don't get to watch NFL Network thanks to this stupid feud with Time Warner. That makes Thursday and Saturday nights particularly annoying.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Week 16 Picks: Sllaacs Loses Mind; Still Loves GOOOLLLLD!

While Dan is busy putting the heat on Ira Miller, for continuing to insuate that Lane Kiffin is looking to bail, I'm cleaning out my inbox. Here's what I found:

Pickin' Time, Boys,

Niners vs. Tampa Bay. Jeff Garcia, back in SF - Gruden back in the Bay. Both winners, looking at the playoffs. In our (Niner Fans - Black Holers) collective faces. Tampa has allowed the fewest points in the NFL, (tied with Pittsburgh). However: The Shawn Hill era has begun. #13 - S-Hill. Shay Hizzle. Shay Heez-nil iz in tha hizzin-hoozin-hizzle. Shawn The Thrill Hill, baby... Okay, enough - Bucs win 21 - 14.

Raider vs. Jags. This one is in Jacksonville. The Jags are 10-4, Garrard has Brady-like efficiency, (16 TD's - 2 INT's) and Fred - Don't call it a comeback, I been here for years - Taylor is running as well as any back in the NFL not in a Minnesota uni. No need to mention the Raiders horrible run defense, but that will probably be the determining factor in a Jacksonville victory 24 - 10.

This week's schedule is lame. No one game this week features two playoff-bound teams. In that case I choose to pick the least exciting game on the schedule, (besides Raiders vs. Jaguars) and that is Miami vs. New England. Screw it, I'm picking Miami - they are on a season high winning streak, and I think they are "due". Whatever the hell that means. Miami wins a shocker - and preserves the 1972 Dolphins relevancy to all win-loss records - in Foxboro 17-13. I can dream, can't I? NFL films presents: "In a sports world nearly overcome with the ubiquity of Fantasy Leagues, one man and the entire city of Miami dares to dream in the old fashioned


No word on whether or not Jeff Garcia is returning any of Sllaacs' text messages.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Are We Allowed Moral Victories?

The Raiders traditionally have not been. But tonight is the best I've felt after a Raider loss in a long time - particularly considering that this loss was the 10th of the year. The defense played a terrific game, the offense put together some nice drives - including a "masterpiece" - and while special teams were suspect, at least Carr did a nice job with kickoffs.

Kiffin does not share my positive vibe tonight: "We're too far along to feel good because we played the world champs down on the 14-yard line to win the game. Who cares? We lost. We got to start winning these games. Some day we'll be that team that makes the plays and finishes people off like that."

Good point. So on the negative side, the final Colts drive made me think of the unnamed NFL coach frequently quoted by Jerry McDonald regarding last year's highly ranked defense. He basically said that it seemed like any time an offense really needed to score against them, they did. Manning cut it pretty close with a couple of 3rd down conversions, but he did go 7-for-7 and cap it with a TD pass.

Another complaint is our WR depth. Not a new complaint. I couldn't help but wonder whether Doug Gabriel or Travis Taylor might have made the catch that Chris McFoy dropped to end a JaMarcus drive. Jerry points out that Johnnie Lee Higgins was on the bench at that time. So why was he on the field to catch the punt at the end of the first half? His game of possum cost the Raiders a shot at a game-tying FG.

But we only won 2 games last year and I couldn't bear to watch during December, so this feels like real progress. How about the game Howard had? Asomugha shut down everyone who came his way. There was even a brief Sands sighting as he stood up a guard during the second goal line stand. Going back to the situation leading to Johnnie Lee's punt non-return, how is it fathomable that the Colts gain 5 yards on first down with just under a minute to play in the half and MANNING ON THE FIELD...and the Raiders call a timeout! That's confidence. And sorry Lane, that feels good.


Good to see JaMarcus get some serious playing time to try and get in a rhythm. Only downside is it's giving Manning all sorts of time to hurt the Raiders with all of the 3-and-outs. Thankfully the defense has been terrific.

The pass rush has reappeared, and Gerard Warren is very active. But I'm pretty sure I saw him make a "pay me" gesture after a 1st quarter stop, which might explain why he never hangs on anywhere. Hey - another sack for Clemons! Three sacks on Manning when he'd had 17 all year. I'm impressed.

Part of it must be Asomugha's coverage. Every time I've seen Manning test him deep he's been step-for-step.

McCown's back in to a smattering of boos, but I'll note that his first play is a first down.


It started when the kept Manning out of the endzone to end the 1st quarter.

Then Josh McCown directed a 20-play, 99-yard touchdown drive that lasted 11:41. It was the most inspiring offensive football I've seen out of this club, not counting when JaMarcus came in against Denver. No matter what happens the rest of this game, that drive has given me faith in Lane Kiffin as a play caller and a coach.

It was magnificent.

10-7 Colts, halftime. Peyton's not really hurting us; the Colts only 6 came on a 90 yard punt return that was a complete debacle by the Raiders special teams.

I'm fired up.

Dan's Picks

I really thought the Bengals would tear the 49ers apart. Wasn't the return of Chris Henry supposed to add that missing dimension to their offense? He caught one 52-yard TD but that was their only one. And Chad Johnson is wearing a little thin on me this year. It seems every time there's a miscommunication he throws a fit and makes it clear to the world that he thinks Palmer screwed up. I didn't see Carson waving his arms after Chad dropped the game-tying TD. But of course I only saw the highlights. At any rate, I'm 0-1 for the week.

Going to have to pick the Colts, but I tend to agree with John that it will be a game. For as much a blowout as the Packer game turned out to be, the Raiders were in it for quite some time and could have been in a strong position were it not for a few untimely penalties. But then again, untimely penalties are nothing new for the Raiders. I haven't figured out why the Raiders' run D shows up every once in a while. I was on a plane while they shut down Denver - did Sands finally play a good game? Someone else step up? Change up the scheme? Obviously Addai is expected to run like mad, but the Wayne-Asomugha and Clark-Huff matchups will be interesting to watch.

As for the Falcons, I think most of the players will be too busy justifying Mike Vick's right to hang dogs to bother showing up for the game. Garcia will yell "Pig Sooie!" as he throws over DeAngelo Hall for another TD en route to a complete Bucs rout.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

John's Picks

I wanted to get this in before the game starts tonight...

The Bengals are going to absolutely smoke the 49ers, with Carson Palmer, who returns to Bubba Malaysia's starting lineup after 8 weeks on the bench, throws 6 touchdown passes.

The Falcons rally around Bernard Petrino's absconding with Art Blank's money and heart. Goldmember plays just well enough for the Bucs to win anyway.

You know, I'm excited to see the Raiders play tomorrow if only because JaMarcus may get some extended playing time. I think we make things closer than people think, losing in the end on a Vinateri field goal.

Speaking of Bernard Petrino, special props to Jerry McDonald for ending his Thursday after-practice blog post with this nugget:

– Kiffin threw a chair through his office window and challenged Al Davis to fight when he found out Norm Chow was interviewing for the UCLA job, according to a non-industry source who made up the story.

He was making fun of a rumor posted on that said Kiffin was so pissed about Bernard getting the Arkansas job that he was seen cursing and slamming doors. Nancy Gay also reported that he "desperately" wanted the Arkansas job. Great stuff, Jerry, as always.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Going Postal; Sllaacs Week 15 Picks

Sllaacs sent his pics this week by certified letter. I had to go to the post office at Embarcadero Center to pick them up. While I was there I thought I'd send Christmas cards. I asked the lady behind the info desk if she had a Zip Code Book.


And that's it. Gave me the Heisman. So I look around and see the autmated postal machine, and hit the info button, where I was able to get the Zip code I needed. Trying to be nice, I went back to the woman at the info desk and said to her, "Just so you know, if anyone asks you next time for a zip code, you can look it up on the machine."

"Oh, I know," she said. "You can look it up over there. You didn't ask me how to look up a zip code. You just asked me if I had a book. I don't have a book."

"Why else would I ask you for a zip code book?"

"I don't know, sir. People ask me all kinds of questions. I can't assume anything, you need to be very specific."

"Did you think I needed a boost to see over the counter or something?"

"I don't know sir. You need to be specific." I should point out that this woman is about 5'2" and easily pushing 300lbs. I didn't want to make this an ad hominem attack, but this had to be the stupidest conversation I've ever had.

"Okay, okay,' I said, finally. "Thank you for your help."

So then I had the letter with Sllaacs' picks, and it said:

So some dude jumped off the upper deck at halftime of the 49ers game last week.

Can you blame him? He should have waited to see Shaun Hill in the 2nd half. Which brings me to my picks for this week.

Niners vs. Bengals. 31 - 17 Cincinnati. This game is on a Saturday - So what? Bengals win - 'nuff said.

Colts at Raiders. Hoo. Tough one - I mean predicting the blowout that is - I was pretty close with my Green Bay blowout prediction, but since the Raiders are at home, I think the Colts will win by only 3 touchdowns. 28 - 7 - The Black Hole will be Peyton's Place on Sunday. Wasn't it brutal, Raider Fan - to listen to Charles Woodson talk about your squad, like he had never played in the uniform before?

Finally, I will take an easy one. Tampa Bay over Atlanta. Hey, none of the other games are that compelling either. Patsy's vs. Man-gina? Whack. T.O. vs. McNabb? zzzzzzz. I mean Balty vs, Miami sounds more interesting to me. Tampa wins 24-13. Playoff bound: Jeff Garcia and John Gruden. They should both still be in the Bay Area.


I bet that dude had to get some help at the Embarcadero Center post office.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We Had Fun Anyway

Sunday's game in Green Bay turned out quite similar to the game in 1993 - a blowout. Three positive things I can say:
  1. The Raiders made it a relatively compelling game until about 5 minutes into the 3rd quarter
  2. I wore so many layers (6) that I didn't freeze
  3. Damn those Packer fans are nice people

I'll leave analysis comments off this post and stick to the pictures. We had a blast!

My buddy Mitch hooked us up with the tickets. They don't exactly give away Packer tickets at the local grocery store to beat the blackout rules (I can recall them doing that in Houston when I lived there). In true Wisconsin fashion we got things started at 9:30 am with a very cold Miller Lite. (You can see I went with the away Lester Hayes jersey for luck).

Kristy wore her Bo Jackson jersey, so it was fitting that they were giving away Tecmo Bowl T-shirts at the tailgate.

On our way into Lambeau alongside the Packer faithful.

Lesters were ready for the game (with a few layers of padding around the middle)...and so were the Bos! (Not so much padding around the middle!)
We saw quite a few Raiders fans at the game. Even the Packer fans remarked at how many Raider fans had shown up. We all seemed to enjoy each other - perhaps the lack of a division rivalry helped. And in our informal poll we found the majority of Raiders fans in attendance to be from the LA area. One Packer fan even asked what part of LA we were from! (They were quickly corrected...)
GREAT SEATS - thanks Mitch!
By this time I was getting a lot of sympathy from Packer fans, as well as a number of not particularly clever smart-assed jokes courtesy of the extremely talkative pair seated behind us.
Sapp agreed with Kristy and me that the Packers were getting a lot of home cookin' early in the game.
As we left the game, Mitch was hoping he'd be able to buy tickets to the NFC Championship game, while I was hoping for a mug of hot chocolate.
Until next time!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Time for the Chosen One

The wheels are completely off the season now. We've had some good games, made some real improvements. But at 4-9, it's time for JaMarcus to play.

You can argue that you just didn't want him in there today against a brutal pass rush in brutally cold weather in a hostile environment. But the next three games are Home, @Jax, and Home. No cold weather. If Andrew Walter was part of the plan, we would not have drafted JaMarcus.





Let him take some lumps. If he loses three games, it's only three games. He has a whole offseason and training camp to forget it--or even better to remember it how it felt and make sure it never happens again.

The Wheels Come Off

Well, we were playing okay, hanging in there until this sequence in the third quarter:

Routt mistimes his jump and gives up an 80-yard TD

Seabass misses a field goal

Dwight fumbles a punt, GB recovers in the end zone

McCown is also hurting. Are we gonna see Walter? I'd rather JaMarcus, tell you the truth. There's a lot of time in the ball game, maybe he's got a miracle in him.

Josh McCown is Funny.

I've written and said some pretty hateful things about Josh McCown. But he played his ass off last week, and just now on the pre-game show he was discussing his injuries with Greg Papa:

"I was telling my little brother yesterday, you know how when there's a forest fire and the firefighters burn ahead to keep the fire from spreading? I'm going to punch myself in throat, to keep the injuries from getting any higher, you know because they started at my toe."

I like our chances today.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Gearing Up

It's about 14 hours before kickoff at Lambeau, which gives us about the right amount of time to begin the layering process to keep from freezing tomorrow. Actually, it's 15 and snowing now, and should be up over 20 for the game. Not too bad. Certainly not like the 1993 game, which I've learned was the third-coldest game in Lambeau history.

One dilemma I have not yet resolved is whether to wear my white away #37 Lester Hayes jersey or my black home #37 Lester Hayes jersey.

Away jersey: it is an away game and the Raiders are 1-0 when I've worn the away jersey during games this year.

Home jersey: it is more obviously a Raiders jersey and I might need the sun-absorbing properties of black to survive the game.

At any rate we are very excited and plan to be tailgating by 9:30 am.

Regarding Nancy Gay, I just flat out have trouble trusting her when she writes so definitively that the Kiffin-Arkansas rumors have some substance. She was absolutely sure that Moss would not be traded and predicted that Sapp would be cut. Obviously her style is to write with conviction even when she is going out on a bit of a limb.

Nancy Gay's Arkansas Source Revealed; John's Picks

Soon after Steve here was taken into custody, he used his one phone call to call Nancy Gay and tell her how substantive the Lane Kiffin-to-Arkansas rumors were. "I remember that day USC put up a buncha points on my Hogs," Steve told her. "We thought they was just a buncha queers from Los Angeleez, but they put a asswhuppin' on us. My wife was so made she stabbed me in the face. That Lane Kiffin was a helluva play caller that day, tell ya what. If this asshole cop hadn'ta impounded my lawnmower I was on my way out there to personally recruit him."

Now that we've cleared that up, onto the picks.

On the one hand, Pittsburgh has some playmakers on both sides of the ball. On the other hand, they lost to Man-gina nd the Jets. I think they make that one mistake that hands the Patriots the game, 24-21.

Adrian Peterson is running for 230 yards and four touchdowns against the 49ers, helping the Vikings win the game 35-13, and Bubba Malaysia win his fantasy game 142.34 to 97.54.

I still have a lingering feeling of bliss leftover from last Sunday's trip to the Coliseum. I have to give a shout out here to Bill Simmons. He wrote a column last week about taking his two year-old daughter to her first NBA game, and what a great time they had together. I forwarded it to the Professor and she laughed her ass off, and said, "Let's take baby Lily to the Raiders game Sunday." We had planned to get a sitter and have an adult-knucklehead-fun-day, but when that fell through we weren't too disappointed. And if you saw the look of pure Joy on Lily's face in the pictures I posted the other day, you know we did the right thing. She's still talking about going "to the stadium see the Raiders play a football game!" She wants to go back this week, and didn't quite understand that they're playing in Wisconsin, until we explained to her that the Raiders had to fly on an airplane to get there. "Lily flies to Texas and California!" she said and I said "Just like that, only to Wisconsin," and she said, "Raiders fly to Wisconsin!" and then she asked for a cup of chocolate milk and for me to turn on her Thomas video.

So, I think the Raiders keep it going. 23-20.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Wisconsin Is Cold

Here in Oshkosh, WI it is 21 degrees and snowing. Last night it dropped to about 3 degrees. Since our arrival late Sunday night I've shoveled so much snow that I am painfully realizing I have a whole portfolio of strange muscles in my arms and back.

In other words, I'm ready for Lambeau!

The last time I was at Lambeau to see the Raiders play, LeRoy Butler invented the Lambeau Leap en route to a 28-0 shellacking. It was one of the coldest NFL games ever played, with a game time temperature of 0 and a wind chill of -30. This one shouldn't be quite so bad, but Kristy has been stocking up on winter gear nevertheless.

Will the Raiders handle the cold? Maybe, and the Packers' QB situation is less than ideal. My guess is Favre will come out a little wild while still recovering from his smashed funny bone. He effectively has no backup, but then again he hasn't really needed a backup since 1992 anyway. Ultimately I'm going to pick the Packers for the simple reason that the Raiders are undefeated since I began picking against them in this blog. And barring an AFC West miracle I'll be pulling for the Pack through the playoffs, so it does not do to my soul the damage that picking the Broncos to beat the Raiders did last week.

Minnesota is really coming on while at least we can say the 49ers are showing some sort of life. Although I'm not really sure what sort of life. Despite being a longtime fan of Dilfer, I guess someone will be Dilfered and the Vikings will run to victory. Some drunk 49ers fans will then get in a Minnesota fan's face and demand to know why he cheered for the Vikings. Minnesota fan will reply, "I grew up in Minnesota." 49er fan will then try to find some other reason to take a swing at Minnesota fan but will fail, and will walk off grumbling.

At least that's what happened about this time last year when I went to the Packers-49ers game with one of my friends from Wisconsin - just replace "Minnesota" with "Wisconsin" or in some cases "Green Bay," and "Vikings" with "Packers." You get the picture...

I choose Pittsburgh over New England. My distaste for the Patriots has gone far beyond healthy standards and I'm really trying not to care anymore. I sat very calmly through the ridiculous finale to Monday night's Baltimore game. What a joke this undefeated season will be in that context. Oh yeah, and in the cheating context. Wait - I'm calmly not caring anymore. Go Pittsburgh.

Week 14 Picks: Sllaacs gets Dilfered

This was waiting for me in the CLOAK OF IMMORTALITY inbox:


So the niner fans got kind of Dilfer-ed last week against the Panthers. I mean, we HOPED the Niners would be who they were against the Cards, but... Who cares at this point? No #1 pick for SF, besides the one they got from the Colts last year - and that's not exactly exciting. The Niners will lose to the Vikings, I say by 10.
24-14 Minnesota.

Raiders vs. the Packers. This one is in Green Bay - the fucking Tundra. Forget about it, Fargas may find it hard to run in subzero temperatures, and Oakland may get blown out here. I'm picking the Pack 31 - 13.

Patriots vs. Steelers. Based on the last two weeks, I'm going to pick against the Patsy's here. NE barely won thier last two, and Pitt is better than the Eagles. I think Big Ben gets it done - 35-27.

Go Dilfer, it's ya birf-day, Go Dilfer, It's ya birf-day...


I'll be back with my picks and a wrap-up from Sunday, which still has me wearing a smile.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Best. Day. Ever.

So I went to the game yesterday. By now, both readers of this blog know what happened: the Raiders won 34-20, JaMarcus got some action and looked good doing it, and Josh McCown looked like an honest-to-God NFL quarterback.

I'm not even really going to write a whole lot. We took some pretty great pictures that I want to share.

This guy set his DJ booth up on the back of a cargo van that was backed right up to where we had parked. He was kicking out the jams all morning. His family or buddies grilled up some bacon-wrapped shrimp that was the best thing I've ever tasted.

Here's the Professor and Baby Lily, who was making her debut at a Raiders game, just like JaMarcus. You can see the flags in the background. Obviously, she's having a good time. Seated in the background, in the Bill Romanowski throwback, is Carl, our designated driver.

Here's the rest of the crew with the DJ setup. The guy in the Michael Huff jersey and the woman in the Jerry Rice hookup were the chefs. I'm sorry I don't remember their names, but everyone in this picture was super nice.

Here's Lily and Me with Gorilla Rilla and his posse.

The guy next to us was pouring tequila shots down the grooves of this huge Ice Block.

So you know I had to try it. It was good.

Here's the band Izzy Ozbourne, in the middle of "Mr. Crowley." Lily was really interested to see
Skylar, the girl playing the keyboards.

This our designated driver, Carl, and his sister Suzanna. Yes, she's a Broncos fan. But, she was a good sport. She took a lot of abuse, nothing too vicious. And she took really great care of Lily, who fell asleep in her lap during the fourth quarter.

She also organized the festivities, having Carl pick us up at 6:30 so we could get to the House early and get a prime tailgate spot.

This is probably my favorite picture of the day:

Lily and me watching the band. At one point the Professor thought it might be too loud, I should take Lily away, but she got really pissed and started yelling "Go BACK!"

She's a rocker, just like her mom.

Everyone was really great to her, especially when they found out it was her first game.

We can't wait to go back.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Trying Again

Our Saturday attempt to get the Lambeau tailgating started early was foiled by weather, so that makes today our travel day. So we'll just have to wait for John's in-person account. Faced with the prospect of spending Saturday night in the Kansas City airport - with our dog and our Raiders gear - we chose to roll the dice with today. So far, so good - planes seem to be running, unlike yesterday.

Here's hoping we have a good set of JaMarcus highlights to review when we arrive in Wisconsin tonight! And a 2-0 AFC West streak to celebrate!

Big Day

As I said earlier, I will be in the House today when the Raiders play the Donkeys. As Jerry McDonald wrote yesterday, we just might see JaMarcus. I really, really hope so.

Dan is in Wisconsin, at his childhood home, preparing to represent next Sunday at Lambeau. If he's able to catch the game today I know he'll be doing the in-game updates that both readers of CLOAK OF IMMORTALITY have come to depend on.

I'll be back with a big post including pictures of the tailgating from the Coliseum parking lot.

Get ready for a Donkey Show, because Denver's about to get abused.