The Mythical Picks from two weeks ago were perfecto. The record for the week of the Conference Championship games was 3-0-0 taking the season record to 133-121-5. The record for Curmudgeon Central Coin Toss games remained at 17-17-1.
The “Best Pick” from two weeks ago was taking the Panthers and laying only 3 points to the Cardinals. The Panthers led 17-0 after one quarter and it was pretty clear at that point that the Cardinals were not going to mount much of any sort of offense on that day.
Notwithstanding the perfect record from two weeks ago, no one should take anything written here and use it as the basis for making any sort of wager on the Super Bowl game this Sunday. Past performance is no assurance of future performance; moreover, I bring no inside information to this endeavor. One would have to be mightily stupid to risk one’s real money on an actual wager on the upcoming game because of something in here. How stupid?
You probably think that “Brain Freeze” is a flavor of ice cream eaten by zombies.
I succeeded in making no mention of any of the Super Bowl hype for the past two weeks. I am proud to say that I did not contribute to the myriad attempts to compare and contrast the two QBs in the game nor did I allow myself to be dragged into the minutiae of the game wherein folks analyze which offensive line unit suffers from more hangnails. Here is something from Greg Cote in this morning’s Miami Herald; this sums up how I feel about coming to the end of two weeks of saturation coverage of the upcoming Super Bowl game:
“You know why America will be so excited to see Sunday’s game kick off?
“It isn’t because Panthers vs. Broncos will finally be starting.
“It’s because the two weeks of mind-numbing buildup will finally be ending.”
Messr. Cote has been “on a roll” with snarky commentary related to the Super Bowl over the past couple of weeks and I will insert some of his remarks periodically in these final Mythical Picks for the 2015 NFL season. Here is one of them:
“I saw a consumer-oriented story with the headline, ‘Where to watch the Super Bowl.’ The target demographic: Football fans who own no television, have never heard of a sports bar and have no friends.”
The NFL turned “Media Day” into “Opening Night” this year. The nonsense was not only televised; it was televised in prime time on NFL Network. As has become the custom, some of the “reporters” arrived in a variety of costumes to pose whatever stupid questions they had been working on for the last weeks and months. I do not want to give any of the “creative folks” at the NFL any ideas, but about the only twist they have not tried yet for these goat rodeos is to drive one of those circus clown cars into the venue and have 26 costumed “reporters” emerge and disperse into the throng of players and coaches who have taken up their positions.
Every year, “Media Day”/”Opening Night” produces the same stupid questions along with the same predictable minimalist answers. This year, we did ascertain that there were 7,000 people in the Bay Area whose lives are truly devoid of any interesting content. Those 7,000 Masters of Misery spent $30 each to go and sit in the stands and watch those “reporters” ask their questions and get their minimal answers. Those 7,000 souls have forever forfeited any right they may have had to proclaim that something they are doing is “boring”.
Here is one more offering from Greg Cote on the upcoming game:
“Broncos-Panthers ticket prices are falling. The cost on StubHub on Wednesday started as low as $2,950. Or, you can get a much better seat for a fraction of the cost. It’s called ‘your couch.’ ”
As I said above, I refuse to compare and contrast the two QBs in the game; there have been far too many such expositions of that type. However, I would like to suggest that Cam Newton may be a “black swan”. That is not a racial comment; a “black swan” metaphorically speaking is an unexpected event or sighting. Normally, birds with the shape of a swan swimming on a lake/pond are white; we come to expect birds of that shape and size on the water to be white; on rare occasions, swans are black and seeing one of them is shocking and surprising. Hence the term…
Back to Cam Newton here; quarterbacks in football historically are not as tall or as heavy as he is. Players who weigh 260-270 lbs. tend not be as fleet afoot as he is nor as agile. His throwing motion is not of the “classical old school”. If you just focus on him as a quarterback, he looks and plays “differently” from what we have come to expect from a quarterback.
The best analogy I can draw here is to Magic Johnson. When Magic was in college he was very unusual; there were no 6’ 9” point guards roaming the Earth back then; most fans had never even thought of a player that big even trying to play the point guard position. Why would a coach allow him to do that and keep him away from the basket? Magic was a very good college player but he was not much of an outside shooter in his early days in the NBA. But he honed his skills and significantly improved his outside shot and became a truly great player.
Cam Newton has not yet achieved in the NFL what Magic Johnson achieved in the NBA. Given Magic’s prodigious accomplishments, Newton may never attain that level of greatness. However, I think there is parallelism and comparability between the two athletes that is worth paying attention to.
I will succumb to one comment comparing Cam Newton and Peyton Manning; it comes from Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel:
“How old is Peyton Manning? While Cam likes to Dab after scoring TDs, Peyton is working on his own touchdown dance — the Charleston.”
While on the subject of Super Bowl quarterbacks, do you realize that Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have been the quarterback for the AFC team in the Super Bowl for 13 of the last 15 Super Bowl games? The two “interloper AFC quarterbacks” since Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 have been Rich Gannon (Raiders in 2003) and Joe Flacco (Ravens in 2012). Over the same time span, NFC teams have had a variety of QBs on display in Super Bowl games. In fact, only Kurt Warner, Eli Manning and Russell Wilson have made repeat appearances for NFC teams.
Recently, I wrote about NFL franchises that have been out of contention for quite a while now despite the league efforts to induce parity into the system. On the other side of the coin one needs to look at the 16 teams in the AFC. Five of those teams – about one-third of the conference – have represented the AFC in 18 of the last 20 Super Bowl games; 31% of the teams make up 90% of the Super Bowl representatives. Going back to Super Bowl XXX where the Cowboys beat the Steelers (January 1996), the Broncos, Colts, Patriots, Ravens and Steelers have been the AFC representative every year except:
Super Bowl XXXIV (Jan 2000): The Tennessee Titans lost to the St. Louis Rams.
Super Bowl XXXVII (Jan 2003): The Oakland Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Bucs.
One more time from Greg Cote:
“OK we have officially run out of things to talk about and write and need the game to start. Evidence? This headline (I swear) on FoxSports.com: ‘Super bowl history of missed extra points.’ ”
Lest you think he is making that up, here is the link to that FoxSports.com exposition…
Super Bowl parties are as ubiquitous as New Year’s Eve celebrations. The American Snack Food Association – of course there is one – says that Super Bowl Sunday is the “biggest snacking day of the year.” Using data from 2013, here is what they mean by “snacking”:
1.23 billion wings will be consumed – not counting those eaten at Wing Bowl in Philly the Friday before the Super Bowl Game.
15 million pizzas will be consumed. Sadly, many of these pizzas will be culinary concoctions that only resemble pizza. For example, Domino’s estimates that they will produce 1.3 million pies this year…
158 million avocados will be consumed – most in the form of guacamole.
Let me convert those numbers to measures you might relate to more easily:
1.23 billion chicken wings: Of course they come from a bit more than 600 million chickens. The US Census Bureau says the population of Santa Clara, CA – site of this year’s game – is 120,245 as of 2013. That means that every man, woman and child in Santa Clara could have just over 102 wings apiece if you could get them all to the city at one time.
15 million pizzas: At 8 slices per pizza, that comes to 120 million slices. That is almost enough to provide one slice of pizza to every man woman and child in Japan.
158 million avocados: Each avocado produces about 8 ounces of edible stuff so this equates to 79 million pounds of avocados. The ancillary ingredients that turn an avocado into guacamole do not weigh much so in round numbers I can estimate that 80 million pounds of guacamole are available for “snacking”. That would be 1 pound of guacamole for every man woman and child in Germany.
Oh, and please do not ignore the pretzels, chips and beer that will be consumed on Sunday. Those will not be consumed in trivial amounts…
Before we get to the Mythical Pick for the game, let me go to Greg Cote one more time:
“Pats-Seahawks last year was seen by 114.4 million viewers, the most-watched broadcast in the history of U.S. television. They say Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 could break that record despite the halftime performer being Coldplay.”
Carolina – 5.5 vs. Denver (44.5): The spread opened at 4 points and went as high as 6 points in many places in the past two weeks. It has settled in here at this level at most of the Internet sportsbooks. Reports say that there is a heavy preponderance of “Panthers money” in Las Vegas and that the sportsbooks there are “exposed”. We will know if those reports are correct soon after the game when the Nevada Gaming Commission releases the statement of earnings or losses reported by the sportsbooks in the State. The Panthers were the highest scoring team during the regular season putting 500 points on the scoreboard (31.2 points per game); in their 2 playoff games, the Panthers have scored 80 points (40 points per game). Flip the coin here and you will see that during the regular season, the Broncos only allowed 18.5 points per game (fourth stingiest in the NFL) and in two playoff games, they have allowed 34 points (17 points per game). Therein is the focus of the game. If the Panthers get off to a big early lead as they have often done this year, I do not think the Broncos’ offense can “catch up”. However, I am not confident that the Panthers can do that to the Broncos’ defense. I like the game to stay UNDER. I think there could be a final score along the lines of 20-17.
Finally, one last good word from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald:
“Finally, at Palm Beach Kennel Club, a greyhound representing Carolina beat a dog representing Denver. Track officials denied speculation the race might have been a publicity stunt.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………