Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


What have we learned - Week 17

I thought this might be the last football post of the season, but a Festivus miracle occurred, and somehow the Eagles made the playoffs. Let's celebrate!

Philadelphia 44, Dallas 6. I was worried about this game, because of how the Eagles played last week, but once they scored a touchdown to go up 10-3, I began to feel a little better, because they weren't making mistakes and Dallas, frankly, looked like they wanted to go home. How can you play so poorly with your season on the line? My God. I would say Jerry Jones needs to fire Wade Phillips, but he obviously doesn't want a strong head coach who could whip his players into shape. It's ridiculous how early they quit in this game. It was 17-3 when Tony Romo threw the interception late in the half. At that moment, it looked like the defense gave up. Then, in the second half, the offense managed to put a decent drive together, and then Romo fumbled it and it was returned for a touchdown. Another fumble, another touchdown. I get that it's 41-3 at this point, but the offense and coaching staff just gave up. How do you explain kicking a field goal in the fourth quarter? I hate Dallas, so I don't care, but what a waste of talent. Good riddance, Cowboys. And thanks to Roger for cheering for the Eagles!
DeSean Jackson update! 2 catches for 46 yards; 2 punt returns for 24 yards. Season totals: 0-1 passing, 1 interception; 64 catches for 912 yards and 2 touchdowns; 17 rushes for 95 yards; 50 punt returns for 440 yards. Not a bad year, rook!
Turnovers: Cowboys 5, Eagles 1. Turnovers = loss? When the Cowboys started turning the ball over, the score was 17-3. When they stopped, the score was 44-3. So yeah, the turnovers helped. 1-0.

Atlanta 31, St. Louis 27. I'm not entirely sure how St. Louis stayed in this game for so long. Atlanta turnovers, most likely. Now the Falcons get to travel to the desert to play the Cardinals. I'm not saying the home team will win, but I think they have a better chance than a lot of people are giving them. Yes, the Falcons have Michael Turner. They also have a rookie quarterback. We'll see if Ryan can overcome that.
Turnovers: Falcons 3, Rams 0. Turnovers = loss? No, because they're the Rams. 1-1.

New England 13, Buffalo 0. If you've seen video of this game, you know that the wind turned it into a farce. But the one thing I like about Belichick is that he prepares for things. The Cheaters ran the ball 45 times and threw it 8 times (Andy Reid would have defied the wind and thrown it 50 times), went for it a few times in field goal range because the wind was so wacky, and had Matt Cassell quick-punt on third down once, which put the ball at the Buffalo 1-yard line. Belichick knows what he's doing, even if he is a scumbag! Of course, it all worked out in the end, because New England went 11-5 and missed the playoffs. The Bills finished 7-9. I should point out that once they were 5-1.
Turnovers: Bills 1, Cheaters 0. Turnovers = loss? It looks that way. 2-1.

Cincinnati 16, Kansas City 6. Hey! The Bengals won a game! Yay!
Turnovers: Chiefs 1, Bengals 0. Turnovers = loss? So it seems. 3-1.

Green Bay 31, Detroit 21. Everyone is talking about how sad it is that the Lions lost every game. I don't know why. They still get paid, and once you've established that you're pathetic, you might as well be historically pathetic. They're probably a bit peeved that they didn't get to play the Browns down the stretch, because Detroit probably would have won that game. I can't believe that at the halfway point of last season, Detroit was 6-2. Since then, they're 1-23.
Turnovers: Lions 2, Packers 1. Turnovers = loss? Of course - it's the Lions! 4-1.

Indianapolis 23, Tennessee 0. Hey! The Titans didn't play any starters! Yay!
Turnovers: Titans 0, Colts 0. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash.

Minnesota 20, New York Giants 19. I thought that the Giants had to win in order for the Eagles to make the playoffs, so I was agonizing over this when Ryan Longwell kicked the field goal to win it. Then I realizes they needed the Vikings OR Da Bears to lose, and all was right in the world. I like how on Adrian Peterson's touchdown run, the announcers were praising him but ignoring the offensive line, who cleared the way. Peterson was not touched as he went through the line. That must be nice.
Turnovers: Vikings 1, Giants 0. Turnovers = loss? It doesn't seem likely. 4-2.

Carolina 33, New Orleans 31. Somehow Carolina blew a 30-10 lead in this game, yet managed to kick a last-second field goal to win the division. Drew Brees fell 16 yards short of passing Dan Marino's single-season passing-yardage record, and on the final play, his receiver made no effort to get a pass that would have broken it. Nice move, receiver! Meanwhile, an announcer pointed out that John Fox should have waited until there were 5 seconds left to call time-out before the game-winning field goal (there were 6 seconds left) because five seconds is how long it takes for a field goal to go through. If he had called it one second later, New Orleans wouldn't have had time for one last play. Weird that Fox didn't know that.
Turnovers: Saints 2, Panthers 0. Turnovers = loss? I guess. 5-2.

Pittsburgh 31, Cleveland 0. The Cleveland Browns have not scored an offensive touchdown since 17 November. In that time they've scored one touchdown, on an interception against the Eagles with the score 30-3. Shockingly enough, Romeo Crennel got fired. But maybe Ben Roethlisberger, who was knocked out of the game with a concussion, won't play that well in two weeks. If so, a meaningless game against a worthless opponent could determine the course of the AFC playoffs.
Turnovers: Browns 2, Steelers 1. Turnovers = loss? Probably not, but the numbers don't lie! 6-2.

Oakland 31, Tampa 24. Well, I hate rooting for the Raiders, but I was forced to on Sunday. With the score 24-14, things looked bleak, but amazingly enough, the Buccaneers decided they couldn't tackle and Oakland came roaring back. Nice to see Tampa go in the tank yet again. If you watched this game, it was another example of a team just giving up. What's up with that?
Turnovers: Raiders 1, Buccaneers 1. Turnovers = loss? Another wash.

Houston 31, Chicago 24. If I had known that Da Bears OR Vikings had to lose, I would have been less anxious, because Houston controlled this game pretty well throughout. Da Bears have issues on offense, but whenever I turned it on, Houston was going up and down the field on their supposedly stout defense. Another team trying to make playoffs lying down. Sheesh. Aren't these guys professionals?
Turnovers: Bears 1, Texans 1. Turnovers = loss? Yet another wash.

San Francisco 27, Washington 24. If you watched this game and are not a fan of either team, you need to have your head examined. Seriously. Seek help.
Turnovers: Washington 1, 49ers 1. Turnovers = loss? And yet another wash!

Baltimore 27, Jacksonville 7. I didn't watch this game, but I was happy to see the Ravens knock New England out of the playoffs, even though I don't really like the Ravens. Wasn't Jacksonville supposed to be a playoff team this year? Sheesh.
Turnovers: Jaguars 4, Ravens 0. Turnovers = loss? That's what it looks like. 7-2.

Miami 24, New York Jets 17. Another game I enjoyed, if only because R. C. Favre threw three horrible interceptions and may finally quit. Well, also because I think the Dolphins are fun to watch, and if they don't have as much talent as other teams, they play the game correctly; i.e., they don't turn the ball over!!!!! Good riddance, R. C. Favre.
Turnovers: Jets 4, Dolphins 1. Turnovers = loss? Indubitably. 8-2.

Arizona 34, Seattle 21. Usually I try to check in on the Cardinals, but I was too busy watching the Eagles (and Dolphins), so I missed most of this. Edgerrin James came back from the dead to rush for 100 yards, and Steve Breaston gave Arizona three 1000-yard receivers. On the downside, Matt Leinart looked lousy in limited duty. Poor Leinart. I think the Cardinals will win this weekend, but then they have to go on the road to Carolina or New York, and I think their season will come to an end. Meanwhile, Mike Holmgren couldn't have anticipated that his final season would have turned out that way. I wonder if he'll be back in 2010.
Turnovers: Seahawks 3, Cardinals 2. Turnovers = loss? Why not? 9-2.

San Diego 52, Denver 21. The Broncos cost Mike Shanahan his job today, but they had a ton of injuries this season, and they just weren't all that good. I don't care if Denver fires Shanahan, but they did overachieve for most of the season. The Chargers, meanwhile, got hot at the perfect time, and I really hope they knock off the Colts this weekend. Stranger things have happened!
Turnovers: Broncos 2, Chargers 0. Turnovers = loss? Among other things. 10-2.

So that's the season. Teams that turn the ball over less than their opponents finished 146-44-1. Don't turn the ball over!!!!!

Let's look at the final records based on turnover margin (the asterisk denotes teams that made the playoffs):

*Miami: 13 turnovers, +17 margin, 11-5 record.
*Tennessee: 17 turnovers, +14 margin, 13-3 record.
*Baltimore: 21 turnovers, +13 margin, 11-5 record.
*New York Giants: 13 turnovers, +9 margin, 12-4 record.
*Indianapolis: 17 turnovers, +9 margin, 12-4 record.
Green Bay: 21 turnovers, +7 margin, 6-10 record.
*Carolina: 19 turnovers, +6 margin, 12-4 record.
Chicago: 27 turnovers, +5 margin, 9-7 record.
*San Diego: 20 turnovers, +5 margin, 8-8 record.
Cleveland: 26 turnovers, +5 margin, 4-12 record.
*Pittsburgh: 24 turnovers, +4 margin, 12-4 record.
Tampa: 26 turnovers, +4 margin, 9-7 record.
Kansas City: 25 turnovers, +4 margin, 2-14 record.
*Philadelphia: 26 turnovers, +3 margin, 9-6-1 record.
*Arizona: 30 turnovers, +2 margin, 9-7 record.
New England: 21 turnovers, +1 margin, 11-5 record.
Oakland: 23 turnovers, +1 margin, 5-11 record.
Washington: 18 turnovers, +0 margin, 8-8 record.
New Orleans: 26 turnovers, +0 margin, 8-8 record.
Cincinnati: 26 turnovers, +0 margin, 4-11-1 record.
New York Jets: 31 turnovers, -1 margin, 9-7 record.
*Atlanta: 21 turnovers, -3 margin, 11-5 record.
St. Louis: 31 turnovers, -6 margin, 2-14 record.
*Minnesota: 31 turnovers, -7 margin, 10-6 record.
Buffalo: 30 turnovers, -7 margin, 7-9 record.
Seattle: 27 turnovers, -7 margin, 4-12 record.
Jacksonville: 25 turnovers, -8 margin, 5-11 record.
Detroit: 29 turnovers, -9 margin, 0-16 record.
Dallas: 33 turnovers, -11 margin, 9-7 record.
Houston: 31 turnovers, -12 margin, 8-8 record.
Denver: 30 turnovers, -17 margin, 8-8 record.
San Francisco: 35 turnovers, -17 margin, 7-9 record.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, everyone. My family has been in town, so I've found posting to be difficult. I should be back on track soon! Have a grand New Year's Eve!

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What have we learned - Week 16

Crappity crappity crap. Stupid Eagles. Stupid stupid Eagles. STUPID STUPID EAGLES!!!!!!!

Washington 10, Philadelphia 3. Just when you think Andy Reid has gotten his head out of his ass, the Eagles run the ball 16 times in a game in freezing weather where they weren't blown out. I didn't watch the entire game because it was so frustrating, but I couldn't believe why, after three weeks of great balance in the running and passing game, Reid seemed to give up on it early in this game. It wasn't as if Washington was blowing them away, and it wasn't even that they were running it poorly. They weren't running great, but it still wasn't awful. Why, Andy Reid, why????? Jesus. Now they need a lot of help to make the playoffs, from the Raiders, of all teams. Crap.
DeSean Jackson update! 1 rush for 7 yards; 2 catches for 14 yards; 1 punt return for 7 yards. Season totals: 0-1 passing, 1 interception; 62 catches for 866 yards and 2 touchdowns; 17 rushes for 95 yards; 48 punt returns for 416 yards.
Turnovers: Eagles 1, Washington 0. Turnovers = loss? The only turnover led to the only touchdown, so yes. 1-0.

Indianapolis 31, Jacksonville 24. Stupid Jacksonville. Hey, maybe you could try to force Manning to throw an interception! You think?
Turnovers: Jaguars 1, Colts 0. Turnovers = loss? I suppose. 2-0.

Baltimore 33, Dallas 24. Good to see the Cowboys go down, because it helped the Eagles, but more because I hate Dallas. It's also fun to see them get pounded. And Terrell Owens was a bit grumpy during and after the game, so that was cool. I didn't watch the game, but the late touchdown runs by the Ravens were pretty neat - two straight plays of 75+-yard runs, for the first time in NFL history.
Turnovers: Cowboys 2, Ravens 1. Turnovers = loss? So it seems, so it seems. 3-0.

Cincinnati 14, Cleveland 0. The Browns might actually be worse than the Lions, if that's possible. I mean, the Lions got smacked this past weekend, but they've been playing pretty hard. The Browns have just been lying down on the job for a long time. I mean, I can deal with losing to the Bengals, but to get shut out at home? Really? Man, just put Joshua Cribbs at quarterback and let him have some fun.
Turnovers: Browns 4, Bengals 1. Turnovers = loss? It certainly looks that way. 4-0.

New Orleans 42, Detroit 7. A lot of ESPNers were picking the Lions to win this game. I know picking games is essentially a coin flip, but here's a tip for you pundits: Detroit sucks. A LOT. Sure, they were within 14-7 at one point, but if everything doesn't go perfectly their way, they're not going to win. And then the Detroit columnist asked the coach if he wishes his daughter had married a better defensive coordinator (she married the one who works for the Lions). Everyone is dogpiling on Rob Parker, the columnist, which distracts from the fact that Rod Marinelli, should have fired his son-in-law a while ago. Of course, Marinelli shouldn't survive after next week, but who the hell knows what's going on with Detroit. Oh, and Drew Brees stayed in the game long after it was decided trying to rack up passing yards. He's 402 yards short of breaking Dan Marino's single-season passing total. Nice way to get it, Drew - chucking the ball all over the field against an 0-14 (soon to be 0-15) team.
Turnovers: Lions 2, Saints 1. Turnovers = loss? Jawohl! 5-0.

Tennessee 31, Pittsburgh 14. A bunch of pundits were saying that the Steelers would use the Titans' stomping on a "terrible towel" as motivation if and when the two teams play again in the playoffs. That always bothers me. Why would the Steelers need artificial motivation like that? Shouldn't the idea of winning a championship be motivation enough? If I'm a Titan and the only motivation the Steelers have is that a few players stomped on a piece of cloth, I'm thinking my team has already won the game. Sheesh. It was childish on the part of the two Titans, but if Pittsburgh needs that as motivation, they're in trouble.
Turnovers: Steelers 4, Titans 0. Turnovers = loss? Most definitely. 6-0.

Miami 38, Kansas City 31. This was probably the most entertaining game of the day, as the two teams went up and down the field but also made some crucial stops when it counted. Miami is actually fun to watch, because Tony Sparano doesn't care about being ridiculed for running ridiculous formations, he just cares about the results, and more often than not, his plays work. Meanwhile, Tyler Thigpen looked like a freakin' Pro Bowler. He was chucking the ball all over the place and even running like a young Donovan McNabb. He's a big dude, too, so it's impressive to see him rambling down the field. I don't know if this will last, but he looks like the real deal. So of course he went to Coastal Carolina - the cradle of quarterbacks!
Turnovers: Chiefs 4, Dolphins 2. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 7-0.

San Francisco 17, St. Louis 16. If you watched this game, even if you're a fan of one of the teams, you need help. Seriously. I did turn it on long enough to watch the Rams' last, futile drive, but I couldn't imagine watching more than a minute of game time of this. Yuck.
Turnovers: 49ers 4, Rams 1. Turnovers = loss? Playing at home and getting four turnovers, the Rams couldn't win. Sheesh. 7-1.

New England 47, Arizona 7. I was busy at 11 in the morning on Sunday, so I missed the first hour of NFL football, and when I got home, New England was already leading 28-0, so I didn't watch any of this game. I don't mind the fact that Arizona might have an 8-8 record and make the playoffs, but the fact that they get a home game is idiotic. I dearly hope a wildcard team comes in here and smacks them, because they look truly awful right now. Of course, the Cheaters might go 11-5 and miss the playoffs, so there is some justice in the world!
Turnovers: Cardinals 2, Cheaters 0. Turnovers = loss? Indeed. 8-1.

San Diego 41, Tampa 24. The good news for the Eagles is that Tampa is playing like they want a playoff spot even less than the Eagles do, so Philadelphia might have a chance this weekend. And then there's San Diego, who may have gotten their act together too late. They need to beat the Broncos next week, and perhaps the horrible, horrible call that jobbed them back in Week 2 against Denver won't hang like a stench over the season. We'll see.
Turnovers: Buccaneers 3, Chargers 0. Turnovers = loss? Sure! 9-1.

Seattle 13, New York Jets 3. Brett "Risen Christ" Favre: 21 touchdown passes, 19 interceptions. Chad Pennington: 17 touchdown passes, 7 interceptions, more yardage, higher rating. Do you think the Jets might be regretting jettisoning Pennington? Meanwhile, I know Shaun Ellis would be fined for chucking a huge block of snow into the fans, but damn, that was funny.
Turnovers: Jets 2, Seahawks 2. Turnovers = loss? No man can say!

Oakland 27, Houston 16. Everyone was talking about how the Texans had a chance to finish above .500 for the first time. Yeah, well, now they have a chance to finish at .500 for the first time. Playing on the road is tough in the NFL, especially when you (Houston) aren't that good to begin with. I mean, really good teams can go into Oakland and win, but mediocre ones probably find it a big more difficult. The Raiders, by the way, have to go to Tampa this week and beat the Bucs for the Eagles to have any hope for the postseason. Go, Raiders!
Turnovers: Texans 1, Raiders 1. Turnovers = loss? Another wash.

Buffalo 30, Denver 23. I guess I should have watched some of this game, right? Man, the Broncos are weird. Actually, so are the Bills.
Turnovers: Broncos 2, Bills 0. Turnovers = loss? Indubitably. 10-1.

Atlanta 24, Minnesota 17. If Matt Ryan doesn't win Rookie of the Year, they should stop giving the award. The Falcons are in the playoffs. Say it with me. The Falcons are in the playoffs. Wow.
Turnovers: Vikings 4, Falcons 0. Turnovers = loss? Don't turn the ball over, Minnesota!!!! 11-1.

New York Giants 34, Carolina 28. I didn't watch this game, but my dad did, and he can't figure out why everyone is suddenly praising the Giants again as the best team in the league. He said they were down until very late and then rallied, but for three quarters they were the worse team. It was a well-played game, as far as I can tell (no turnovers, for one), and it's not like the Giants proved that they were that much better than the Panthers. If they play again in the NFC Championship Game in New York, the Giants better watch out, because they might not get another comeback.
Turnovers: Panthers 0, Giants 0. Turnovers = loss? A total wash.

Chicago 20, Green Bay 17. I definitely wanted Da Bears to lose, because they would have been eliminated from the playoffs, and it looked like it would happen for a long time. How did Da Bears win this game? I watched most of it and I still don't know. Kyle Orton looked awful, the defense didn't look that great, but the Packers couldn't put it away, and Da Bears got a great spot on a fourth down run down at the goal line that led to their game-tying touchdown. Stupid Packers.
Turnovers: Packers 2, Da Bears 2. Turnovers = loss? A final wash.

And so, the record of teams that turn the ball over less than the other team is now 136-42-1. That's fairly definitive.

Tennessee: 17 turnovers, +14 margin, 13-2 record.
Miami: 12 turnovers, +14 margin, 10-5 record.
Indianapolis: 17 turnovers, +9 margin, 11-4 record.
Baltimore: 1 21 turnovers, +9 margin, 10-5 record.
New York Giants: 13 turnovers, +8 margin, 12-3 record.
Green Bay: 20 turnovers, +6 margin, 5-10 record.
Cleveland: 24 turnovers, +6 margin, 4-11 record.
Chicago: 26 turnovers, +5 margin, 9-6 record.
Kansas City: 24 turnovers, +5 margin, 2-13 record.
Carolina: 19 turnovers, +4 margin, 11-4 record.
Tampa: 25 turnovers, +4 margin, 9-6 record.
Pittsburgh: 23 turnovers, +3 margin, 11-4 record.
San Diego: 20 turnovers, +3 margin, 7-8 record.
New York Jets: 27 turnovers, +2 margin, 9-6 record.
New Orleans: 24 turnovers, +2 margin, 8-7 record.
Arizona: 28 turnovers, +1 margin, 8-7 record.
Oakland: 22 turnovers, +1 margin, 4-11 record.
Atlanta: 18 turnovers, +0 margin, 10-5 record.
New England: 21 turnovers, +0 margin, 10-5 record.
Washington: 17 turnovers, +0 margin, 8-7 record.
Philadelphia: 25 turnovers, -1 margin, 8-6-1 record.
Cincinnati: 26 turnovers, -1 margin, 3-11-1 record.
Jacksonville: 21 turnovers, -4 margin, 5-10 record.
Minnesota: 30 turnovers, -6 margin, 9-6 record.
Buffalo: 29 turnovers, -6 margin, 7-8 record.
Seattle: 24 turnovers, -6 margin, 4-11 record.
Dallas: 2 28 turnovers, -7 margin, 9-6 record.
Detroit: 27 turnovers, -8 margin, 0-15 record.
St. Louis: 31 turnovers, -9 margin, 2-13 record.
Houston: 31 turnovers, -12 margin, 7-8 record.
Denver: 28 turnovers, -15 margin, 8-7 record.
San Francisco: 34 turnovers, -17 margin, 6-9 record.

Next week: Will it be my last football post of the season? I fear so!

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What are some people thinking?

I'm not sure if you've seen this story, but it's worth a look.

Apparently, in Easton, Pennsylvania, a couple named their three-year-old son Adolf Hitler Campbell. Their daughter, who's not quite two yet, is named JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell. The couple is a bit peeved because a ShopRite in New Jersey refused to decorate their son's birthday cake with his name. A Wal-Mart eventually did it.

The Campbells insist they aren't racist, and their father says that several children of "mixed race" were at his son's birthday party. He says that his family is German and he named his child Adolf Hitler because he liked the name and no one else in the world would have it. Well, that's true, I guess.

Look, I'm not about to call someone racist just because they name their kids "Adolf Hitler" and "Aryan Nation." I mean, it seems obvious, but I'm still not going to do it. My question to these idiots is: Really? The father claims to be surprised by the controversy. Really? You know who Hitler was, you know what Hitler did, and you think naming your kid that wouldn't stir up some controversy? And what happens when that kid goes to school? (Krys pointed out they'll probably be home-schooled, which is probably true.) What happens when that kid gets beat up every single day because of his name? Jesus.

I read recently that a British court (I think) denied a name to a couple because it was so idiotic. We should have something like that here. If a person tries to get a birth certificate with a name like "Adolf Hitler" on it, a court should send it back with a note: "We don't think so. Try something that won't get your kid beat up."

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Sammy Baugh has died

One of the things that bugs me about sports pundits is the fact that for some sports, they're trapped in the present. It's odd, because when we speak of baseball, we have no problem comparing Walter Johnson, for instance, to Greg Maddux. Or Barry Bonds to Babe Ruth. Football, for some reason, is different. Perhaps because the game is about hitting, and players have gotten bigger and stronger and we can't imagine players from an earlier era surviving in today's game. "They'd get killed!" we say, chuckling about the silliness of it all. But remember - they also didn't wear a lot of pads, no helmets or flimsy leather ones, and often played offense and defense. So screw you, today's players!

Which brings us to Sammy Baugh, who died on Wednesday night at the young age of 94. Baugh gets his due, of course, because he was in the inaugural class of football's Hall of Fame in 1963, but when pundits talk about the greatest quarterbacks of all time, it takes them quite some time to get to Baugh, which is ridiculous. Baugh, who played for Washington (whose team name I refuse to write) from 1937 to 1952, helped revolutionize the passing game in the NFL. He once threw four touchdown passes and intercepted four passes in the same game. He punted, too. He still hold the record for highest punting average in a season ... in 1940. He's still the Washington leader in career touchdown passes, if you can believe that. Plus, he once completed 70% of his passes in a season in an age when completing half of your passes was amazing. In 1943, he led the league in passing, punting, and interceptions. And you have to remember that the football at this time was not as oblong as it is today, and much more difficult to throw. That makes his interceptions and punting totals less impressive, perhaps, but makes his passing skills much more impressive.

Baugh won two NFL Championships for Washington, in 1937 and 1942, and he played for three others in 1940, 1943, and 1945. The game in 1940, of course, is famous for the Bears' shellacking of Washington, 73-0, the biggest win in NFL history. After the Bears scored early to make it 7-0, Baugh led his team down the field and threw a pass to a wide-open receiver in the end zone, but the player dropped the pass. Washington failed to score, and after the game, someone asked Baugh if that play would have made a difference. "Yeah," Baugh said, "the final score would have been 73-7."

Baugh was in the first class inaugurated into the pro football Hall of Fame. The members of his class are names that should resonate through sports history, but because sports pundits don't think pro football counts before 1958 and the Baltimore-New York Championship Game ("the greatest game ever played"), many people have no idea who the players are. It's ironic that these days, football is much bigger in the American psyche than baseball, yet we know the history of the latter far better than the former. How many of the inaugural football class do you know: Baugh, Bert Bell, Joe Carr, Earl "Dutch" Clark, Harold "Red" Grange, George Halas, Mel Hein, Wilbur "Pete" Henry, Robert "Cal" Hubbard, Don Hutson, Earl "Curly" Lambeau, Tim Mara, George Preston Marshall, John "Blood" McNally, Bronko Nagurski, Ernie Nevers, and Jim Thorpe.

Most casual fans probably know Halas, Lambeau (mainly because Green Bay's stadium is named after him), Thorpe (possibly), Baugh (possibly), and maybe Hutson and Nagurski. Contrast that with the initial group of men who went into baseball's Hall of Fame: Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth. You don't even need first names with those guys!

I like both baseball and football history. It's a shame the latter isn't more well known, because it's pretty fascinating. Pro football didn't start with the Super Bowl, after all.

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Pictures of the year!

In a recent issue of Sports Illustrated, they ran their best photographs of the year. Here are parts of some of them:

But the best one, by far, is this one:

That's awesome.

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What have we learned - Week 15

No college football this week (unless you count that wussy lower division stuff, where they actually have playoffs instead of settling things the manly way, with polls voted on by coaches who don't watch games and computer nerds!), but some overrated quarterback probably won the Heisman (let's check - yeah, I was right) and we're all just waiting until the bowl games start. So let's check out the pros!

Philadelphia 30, Cleveland 10. The only thing I was worried about with the Philadelphia game was whether the Eagles would shoot themselves in the foot. They almost did, as DeSean Jackson and McNabb both threw interceptions when the Eagles were inside the Cleveland 10, one of which came at the end of the half and was returned 98 yards, the longest return that didn't go for a touchdown in NFL regular season history (lucky Eagles!). They were clearly much better than the Browns, so even though they screwed up twice in the red zone, the defense was dominant and stifled any hope Cleveland had. The Browns did manage to score a touchdown for the first time since 17 November, which is almost unbelievable. It was a defensive touchdown, however, and the guy who scored it dove and flipped into the end zone, which was kind of funny considering the score was 30-3 at that point and the Eagles had been carving up the Browns defense the whole game. It will be interesting to see if the Eagles can win the last two games against a spiraling Washington team and an overrated Dallas team and sneak into the playoffs. Wouldn't that be nice? By the way - Andy Reid didn't run the ball enough tonight. Oh dear. Luckily, McNabb was on his game. But still.
DeSean Jackson update! 0-1 passing, 1 interception; 5 catches for 77 yards; 3 punt returns for 3 yards. Season totals: 0-1 passing, 1 interception; 60 catches for 852 yards a 2 touchdowns; 16 rushes for 88 yards; 47 punt returns for 409 yards.
Turnovers: Eagles 3, Browns 2. Turnovers = loss? Not in this case, although the Browns did score their touchdown on a turnover. 0-1.

Chicago 27, New Orleans 24. I heard a few people wondering if the refs should have called the pass interference penalty against the Saints in overtime, setting up the game-winning field goal. The implication is that the refs, like basketball refs, should swallow the whistle late in the game. This kind of crap pisses me off like very little else in sports. The pass interference was somewhat ticky-tacky, but it was definitely a penalty. If you let people get away with that late in the game, why not earlier? Jeez. Anyway, let's eliminate the Saints from the postseason sweepstakes. Da Bears are still hanging by a thread, but at least they're alive.
Turnovers: Da Bears 3, Saints 2. Turnovers = loss? It does not appear so. 0-2.

Atlanta 13, Tampa 10. Man, the NFC South is weird. They're all dominant at home. It's just bizarre. Can't someone win on the road? This couldn't have been an exciting game, but Michael Turner (32 carries, 152 yards) is making the Chargers look foolish, isn't he? I guess you can't ditch Tomlinson to make Turner the featured back, but I wonder if they wish they had signed him before he became a free agent?
Turnovers: Falcons 3, Buccaneers 1. Turnovers = loss? I guess not. Tampa's offense must be that inept. 0-3.

Cincinnati 20, Washington 13. Woody! must have enjoyed this game, and as he hasn't had much joy in this professional football season, I hope he watched every down laughing at Washington's ineptitude. Dang, they suck these days. I'm enjoying the meltdowns of the various NFC East teams, and this Portis/Zorn kerfuffle is rather humorous. The Bengals, by the way, probably want to play in the NFC East - they took the Giants to overtime, pushed the Cowboys really hard, tied the Eagles, and beat Washington. Considering they're 2-11-1, they've played really well against those teams.
Turnovers: Washington 2, Bengals 0. Turnovers = loss? See how well you can do when you don't turn the ball over? 1-3.

Indianapolis 31, Detroit 21. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm not proud of it, but I really want the Lions to lose every game. Yes, I suck. But come on - wouldn't that be cool? At this point, if I'm a fan of Detroit, I want them to lose the final two games. I hope that the players don't feel that way, but as a fan, 0-16 just sounds more pathetic than 1-15. Sure, there have been 1-win teams before, but in 20 years, will anyone remember the 2007 Dolphins? Maybe. Everyone remembers the 1980 Saints, after all, but only because they were the first. In 20 years, everyone will still remember an 0-16 Lions teams, and they'll celebrate stuff like Dan Orlovsky inexplicably running out of the end zone for a safety and the offensive lineman flipping off the fans and refusing to apologize for it. Come on, Detroit, you can do it!
Turnovers: Lions 2, Colts 2. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash. By the way, that was a good effort by Detroit, wasn't it? They actually had a chance to win the fourth quarter!

San Diego 22, Kansas City 21. Poor Kansas City. There they are, leading 21-3 in the third quarter, and they couldn't hold it. I didn't watch any of this game, but it looked fairly exciting - the Chargers scored two touchdowns in the last two minutes to win. That's why you're the Chiefs.
Turnovers: Chargers 3, Chiefs 2. Turnovers = loss? No. That's why you're the Chiefs! 1-4.

Seattle 23, St. Louis 20. Did they really have to play this game? Couldn't they have just cancelled it and held a nice dog show in the Edward Jones Dome instead? And it almost went into overtime, too! Sheesh.
Turnovers: Seahawks 2, Rams 2. Turnovers = loss? Man, they couldn't even have a clear-cut winner in the turnover battle!

Miami 14, San Francisco 9. Man, this couldn't have been a good game. The Dolphins are two wins away from tying the best turnaround in NFL history. They're also close to becoming the only 1-15 team to make the playoffs the following year. I wonder if Jerry Jones is feeling a bit annoyed that he let Bill Parcells go? Probably not, as he's so egomaniacal that he still thinks he can run the team better than Parcells could.
Turnovers: 49ers 0, Dolphins 0. Turnovers = loss? Another wash.

New York Jets 31, Buffalo 27. The Bills are falling apart, and this game sums up their season. With slightly over two minutes left in the game (the final play before the two-minute warning, in fact), Buffalo had a second down with five yards to go and a 27-24 lead. Inexplicably, J. P. Losman took the snap and ran sideways and backwards instead of handing off the ball and burning the clock. He was sacked, fumbled, and the fumble was picked up by Shaun Ellis, who returned it for the winning touchdown. What the hell was Losman doing????? The Bills are 2-8 in their last ten games. That play is a big reason why.
Turnovers: Bills 4, Jets 2. Turnovers = loss? Pretty much! 2-4.

Jacksonville 20, Green Bay 16. Yeah, I just didn't care about this game.
Turnovers: Packers 1, Jaguars 0. Turnovers = loss? Sure, why not? 3-4.

Houston 13, Tennessee 12. At the end of this game, the Titans reached the Texans' 32-yard line, where they had a fourth down. Jeff Fisher chose to go for it (they had four yards to go) instead of kicking a field goal to win. Now, it was a long field goal, but Rob Bironas had already kicked four field goals, including a 51-yarder. Why would Fisher do that? It's not like it was well out of field goal range, or even that it was earlier in the game. He had to know he wasn't getting the ball back. Weird.
Turnovers: Titans 2, Texans 1. Turnovers = loss? It appears so. 4-4.

Minnesota 35, Arizona 14. Man, the Cardinals just can't beat a decent team, can they? Okay, they beat Dallas earlier in the year, but still. They got behind 21-0 and just couldn't recover. And why? Turnovers. Sure, the Vikings got a punt return for their first touchdown, but then Arizona turned it over, Minnesota scored, and the rout was on! Arizona had dreams of a 3-seed in the playoffs, but that's probably over now. Considering they have to play at New England next weekend, they probably won't even reach 10 wins. When your defense makes Tarvaris Jackson look good, you have a problem!
Turnovers: Cardinals 2, Vikings 1. Turnovers = loss? Pretty much. 5-4.

Carolina 27, Denver 10. The Panthers are bludgeoning everyone these days, and they actually have a chance to finish as the number one seed in the NFC. Denver, astonishingly, could actually lose the division to the Chargers, based on the Chiefs' collapse against San Diego. There also might be two division winners going 8-8. Man, that's not parity, that's crappiness.
Turnovers: Broncos 2, Panthers 1. Turnovers = loss? Si, senor. 6-4.

Pittsburgh 13, Baltimore 9. Okay, so the Steelers' touchdown was controversial. I get it. I think it's pretty clear that it was a touchdown, but I can see why people don't think it was. But let's consider what the Steelers were doing there in the first place. Pittsburgh had the ball on their own 8-yard line with 3.36 remaining, and this awesome Ravens defense allowed them to march right down the field. Maybe the Steelers got the benefit of the doubt with the touchdown, but if Baltimore wants to have a great defense, don't let a one-dimensional team (the Steelers currently have no running game) march right down the field on you, okay?
Turnovers: Steelers 2, Ravens 2. Turnovers = loss? Another wash.

New England 49, Oakland 26. A bunch of pundits are talking about how well the Cheaters are playing right now. Well, sure. But remember - it's the Raiders, for crying out loud.
Turnovers: Cheaters 1, Raiders 1. Turnovers = loss? Yet another wash.

Dallas 20, New York Giants 8. Terrell Owens has called the ESPN guy who reported that the team was in turmoil a "liar." Yeah, because Owens has never done anything to mess up a team before! Meanwhile, pundits are falling all over themselves to once again proclaim the Boys the team to beat, even though the Giants were missing their best running back and had a couple of offensive linemen go down during the game. I'm not saying the Cowboys aren't talented, but like the Eagles last week, they caught the Giants at a good time. As for Owens - well, he dropped an easy catch early in the game, and Romo threw to Jason Witten more than he threw to his glory-hog wide receiver, so while it's all good when they win, what happens if they lose to Baltimore next week? Or if they lose to the Eagles in two weeks and get knocked out of the playoffs? Will ESPN lie about the turmoil then?
Turnovers: Giants 2, Cowboys 0. Turnovers = loss? For once, Dallas won the turnover battle and the game. Impressive. 7-4.

Teams that turn the ball over less than their opponents are now 125-41-1. That's a solid winning percentage.

Miami: 10 turnovers, +12 margin, 9-5 record.
Tennessee: 17 turnovers, +10 margin, 12-2 record.
Cleveland: 20 turnovers, +9 margin, 4-10 record.
New York Giants: 13 turnovers, +8 margin, 11-3 record.
Indianapolis: 17 turnovers, +8 margin, 10-4 record.
Baltimore: 20 turnovers, +8 margin, 9-5 record.
Pittsburgh: 19 turnovers, +7 margin, 11-3 record.
Tampa: 22 turnovers, +7 margin, 9-5 record.
Kansas City: 20 turnovers, +7 margin, 2-12 record.
Green Bay: 18 turnovers, +6 margin, 5-9 record.
Chicago: 24 turnovers, +5 margin, 8-6 record.
Carolina: 19 turnovers, +4 margin, 11-3 record.
Arizona: 26 turnovers, +3 margin, 8-6 record.
New York Jets: 25 turnovers, +2 margin, 9-5 record.
New Orleans: 23 turnovers, +1 margin, 7-7 record.
Oakland: 21 turnovers, +1 margin, 3-11 record.
Philadelphia: 24 turnovers, +0 margin, 8-5-1 record.
San Diego: 20 turnovers, +0 margin, 6-8 record.
Washington: 17 turnovers, -1 margin, 7-7 record.
New England: 21 turnovers, -2 margin, 9-5 record.
Minnesota: 26 turnovers, -2 margin, 9-5 record.
Jacksonville: 20 turnovers, -3 margin, 5-9 record.
Atlanta: 18 turnovers, -4 margin, 9-5 record.
Cincinnati: 25 turnovers, -4 margin, 2-11-1 record.
Dallas: 26 turnovers, -6 margin, 9-5 record.
Seattle: 22 turnovers, -6 margin, 3-11 record.
Detroit: 25 turnovers, -7 margin, 0-14 record.
Buffalo: 29 turnovers, -8 margin, 6-8 record.
Houston: 30 turnovers, -12 margin, 7-7 record.
St. Louis: 30 turnovers, -12 margin, 2-12 record.
Denver: 26 turnovers, -13 margin, 8-6 record.
San Francisco: 30 turnovers, -14 margin, 5-9 record.

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Bettie Page has died

She was 85 years old.

I saw this today at Tom's blog, where he has this TOTALLY NOT SAFE FOR WORK photograph for your perverted viewing pleasure. Perverts! I will simply post a much safer version:

Page had a rough life. Let's hope she has found some peace.

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Why sports announcers should shut up

I ought to read Awful Announcing more often, because it's damned funny. They hate Pam Ward, who probably deserves it, but there's so many other horrible announcers out there, and the blog does a nice job of summing it up. The end of the year awards are up, and they are extremely fun and often inexplicable. Ward herself shows up often, as with this quote: "Great tackle, er, broken tackle by Charles. Gordon finally gets him in the backfield. Gain of 5 for Charles." Huh? They're broken down into categories, including the "overly sexual quotes of the year," which aren't, of course, supposed to be sexual. And there's some video clips, including one from a telecast of a football game where a man and a woman are ... well, I don't know what they're doing, but it made it onto ABC!

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Please tell me I'm not the only one who sees this

I found a story here via here about the new name of the Winston-Salem single-A baseball team, which was recently renamed the Dash. Now, if you think that's an unbelievably stupid name, well, you're not wrong, but what's worse is the logo:

Now, I hope I'm not being unnecessarily puerile, but that does look like what I think it looks like, right? It's even purple, for crying out loud!

Who approved this, anyway? Did they think it was a joke that they could slip by everyone? Sheesh.

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What have we learned - Week 14

Well, the bowl games are set, and if you're not angry, you're not paying attention. USC blew the doors off UCLA to reach yet another Rose Bowl, where they will obviously dominate Penn State to such a degree that they probably shouldn't even play the game and replace it with horse races, like the Tournament of Roses did between 1903-1916 because the 1902 game was such a bust. I mean, the Nittany Lions obviously can't win, right? Oklahoma won the Big XII, but let's consider the bad karma the Sooners have racked up. They led Missouri 38-7 at halftime and 41-14 at the end of the third quarter. Their starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, was still in the game in the fourth, throwing passes all over the field. With five minutes left and the score 55-21, he was still throwing passes! This kind of awful sportsmanship will, we all hope, get Oklahoma in trouble. I definitely don't want to see an overrated Florida team win the National Championship, but I really, really don't want to see an unsportsmanlike Sooner team win it. Ball State's magical season took a huge hit when they lost the MAC Championship to Buffalo, and Alabama couldn't hold serve in the SEC Championship Game. According to Colin Cowherd, Utah will get destroyed by Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, even though, two years ago, Boise State beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl and four years ago, Utah beat Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. Why would Alabama automatically defeat the Utes? Cowherd is, of course, an idiot, but he's not usually this stupid. Cincinnati plays Virginia Tech in this year's "BCS bowl no one will watch," and Boise State gets to go to San Diego to play TCU, which will probably be seriously entertaining. Arizona managed to get into a bowl in Las Vegas, where they will probably get smoked by BYU. Still, they haven't been to a bowl in ten years, so good for them! Finally, Cal beat Washington this past weekend to complete the Huskies' 0-12 season. First, Jahvid Best carried the ball for Cal 19 times ... and gained 311 yards. Holy crap! And one of those was a 1-yard touchdown run (he scored 4). So that's 18 other carries for 310 yards, and even more impressive average. Second, what the heck was Cal doing playing Washington this late in the season? Both teams played their rivalry games the week before. This is just yet more of college football shitting on tradition. Cal's season should end when they play Stanford, and Washington's should end when they play Washington State. That's the way it should be! Let's move on, shall we?

Philadelphia 20, New York Giants 14. This game really wasn't even close; the Giants scored on a blocked field goal and got a touchdown with 15 seconds left, while the Eagles had two field goals blocked. I thought the Eagles might play well, but they pretty much dominated from the beginning. Brian Westbrook, inexplicably, carried the ball 33 times and gained 8 fewer yards from scrimmage than the entire Giants team. Yes, 33 times! It's a miracle! In NFL games, you always have to be a little lucky, and the fact that Plaxico Burress, who dominates the Eagles, wasn't playing meant two things: the Eagles could play more aggressive run defense, and Dominick Hixon was Burress' replacement, and he dropped a deep ball early in the second quarter that should have been a touchdown. Just dropped it. Still, the Giants won the NFC East, but the Eagles have three winnable games coming up (Cleveland, at Washington, Dallas), so they still have a chance at a wildcard berth! That is, if Andy Reid doesn't lose his mind again and start having McNabb chuck it all over the field.
DeSean Jackson update! 0 catches (????); 2 rushes for -9 yards; 3 punt returns for 24 yards. On the season: 53 catches for 775 yards and 2 touchdowns; 16 rushes for 88 yards; 44 punt returns for 406 yards.
Turnovers: Eagles 0, Giants 0. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash, but it's nice to see Philadelphia holding onto the ball more. Another good result of running the ball!

San Diego 34, Oakland 7. Man, the less said about this game, the better. Oakland's only points came on a kickoff return. Of course, the Chargers still stink as well.
Turnovers: Raiders 4, Chargers 1. Turnovers = loss? Sure. 1-0.

Chicago 23, Jacksonville 10. As this was an early game and I was watching the Eagles game at that time, I missed this. I tuned in other games, but this was over fairly early. What the heck happened to the Jaguars? They've just given up on the season. Meanwhile, the Bears at 7-6 still have a chance to win the NFC North. There's no justice!!!!
Turnovers: Jaguars 1, Bears 1. Turnovers = loss? Another wash.

Minnesota 20, Detroit 16. Poor Detroit. They had a beautiful 70-yard touchdown pass to take a lead into the fourth quarter, but did anyone believe they would hold it? And so they take another step toward 0-16, which I'm rooting for, of course, but I still think it's sad what's happened to the Lions. Where's Bobby Layne when you need him? If you missed the big fight during this game, it was kind of fun. A Lion blocked Jared Allen of the Vikings at the knees, and Allen took exception to it. A few players were ejected - that's always fun! If you look at the replay, it's not a terribly nice play, but I'm sure if it was too dirty. The Detroit player was on the ground and he lunged at Allen, who was still in the play. It was dangerous, I guess, but I'm not sure how dirty it was. I haven't heard any ex-players on ESPN talk about the play, so I'm not sure what they would say. I wouldn't have liked it, but again, I don't know how dirty it was.
Turnovers: Vikings 2, Lions 0. Turnovers = loss? It's the Lions - of course they can't capitalize on turnovers! 1-1.

Houston 24, Green Bay 21. This game is why the Packers should have kept Brett "Risen Christ" Favre. Their defense is in shambles, but I'm sure everyone is blaming Aaron Rodgers for the Pack's implosion, even though he's played well. If Favre were still slinging for them, they might have one more win, but they still wouldn't be very good, and Green Bay would have a legitimate reason for dumping him next year. Now, everyone can blame Rodgers and maybe mess up his psyche a bit more, especially if the Jets go to the playoffs (which looks increasingly unlikely). It's not Rodgers' fault, Green Bayers! Of course, the offense wasn't that good in this game, either. The Texans gave the ball away four times and the Pack still couldn't win. At home, mind you. It looks like Green Bay has started a downward spiral. We'll see if it continues.
Turnovers: Texans 4, Packers 1. Turnovers = loss? No, sir! 1-2.

Tennessee 28, Cleveland 9. Cleveland took a 6-0 lead into the second quarter. Then the Titans said, "Hey, wait a minute - these are the Browns, for crying out loud!" I do like the field goal by Cleveland in the fourth quarter while trailing 21-6. Good move, Romeo! If the rumors are true, Crennel is gone after this season. Even if he doesn't believe it, wouldn't it be cool if he coached like he was already fired and just cut his kicker and his punter? What the hell does he care? A field goal while trailing 21-6 isn't going to save his job, so why punt on fourth down anymore? Or kick extra points? Just once, I'd like to see an obviously lame duck coach pull out all the stops. That would be cool. Of course, does Crennel deserve it? The Titans have shown what stability at the coaching position can do for you. Jeff Fisher is a fantastic coach, and even when the team was struggling a few years ago, they stuck with him. Now they're 12-1. Good job, Fisher!
Turnovers: Titans 3, Browns 1. Turnovers = loss? No, and those Kerry Collins interceptions are a bit of a worry, aren't they? 1-3.

Indianapolis 35, Cincinnati 3. The Colts were once 3-4. The way their schedule lines up, they might finish the year with 9 straight wins. Dang. Meanwhile, there's a web site up trying to convince Bengals fans to hold the team more accountable for their failures. I wonder if Woody! has contributed to the site yet? The Bengals are just terrible. I'm still in a daze that the Eagles couldn't beat them.
Turnovers: Bengals 4, Colts 1. Turnovers = loss? Yeah, even though Cincinnati didn't have much of a chance even if they didn't turn the ball over. 2-3.

New Orleans 29, Atlanta 25. You know, I barely turned this game on. I guess I should have. It looked entertaining. The NFC South is cannibalizing each other even more, if possible, than the NFC East. That might be good news for the Eagles!
Turnovers: Falcons 1, Saints 0. Turnovers = loss? Why not? 3-3.

Denver 24, Kansas City 17. How do you struggle with the Chiefs at home if you're a playoff team? Sheesh, Broncos. Of course, Jay Cutler settled down and completed 32 of 40 passes. That's pretty darned good. But they lost their latest obscure running back who happens to be awesome, Peyton Hillis, for the season. Shanahan will just plug in another guy from a Division III college and he'll rush for 150 yards!
Turnovers: Broncos 1, Chiefs 0. Turnovers = loss? Nope. KC continues to win the turnover battle and lose the game! It's so odd! 3-4.

Miami 16, Buffalo 3. So the Bills played a game in Toronto, indoors, against the Dolphins, in December. Why would they take away their homefield weather advantage like that? If you're going to schedule a game in Toronto, shouldn't it be earlier in the year? Or did the Argonauts object? Buffalo probably wouldn't have won the game anyway, as they're circling the drain and the Dolphins, shockingly, are in first place, but still. Don't schedule the game under a dome when the crappy weather is all you have!
Turnovers: Bills 2, Dolphins 0. Turnovers = loss? It looks that way! 4-4.

San Francisco 24, New York Jets 14. So where's the praise for R. C. Favre these days? After a huge beatdown of the Titans, they've lost two straight. The 49ers aren't total dogs, but they're still not very good. I watched a little of this game, and San Francisco dominated the game for the most part. It was a little surprising, actually.
Turnovers: 49ers 2, Jets 1. Turnovers = loss? No. Weird. 4-5.

New England 24, Seattle 21. Poor Seattle. With Seneca Wallace playing well, they took a 21-13 lead into the fourth quarter, but just couldn't hold it. New England should win this game, but the Seahawks were oh so close. The reason they're a losing team is because the Cheaters were just indomitable in the last 15 minutes. And Wes Welker is super-tough. Look out when Welker goes out on a route!
Turnovers: Seahawks 1, Cheaters 0. Turnovers = loss? Yep. 5-5.

Arizona 34, St. Louis 10. The Arizona defense outscored the Rams in this game, by the way. St. Louis is just awful. They don't even look like a professional team. Arizona has reached the playoffs for the first time since 1998, won a division for the first time since 1975, and will host a playoff game for the first time since 1947. Man, how can a team suck for that long? It will be interesting to see the Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs, because they have a home game. They're wildly fun to watch, and the nation hasn't seen them at their best.
Turnovers: Rams 3, Cardinals 1. Turnovers = loss? Arizona scored two quick touchdowns in the first quarter without the benefit of a turnover, but let's say yes. 6-5.

Pittsburgh 20, Dallas 13. BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, I'm sorry. As a starter, Tony Romo is 22-4 before December, and 4-6 in December and January. Good stuff. Will the Cowboys fold like a cheap lawn chair and finish 8-8? We can only hope. The Steelers, by the way, have no running game and a quarterback who is getting pummelled, but damn if they don't keep winning. Man, I could watch that Deshea Townsend interception return for a touchdown forever.
Turnovers: Cowboys 5, Steelers 2. Turnovers = loss? You betcha! 7-5.

Baltimore 24, Washington 10. Boy, the Ravens are putting it on teams, aren't they? I don't know how they keep doing it with defense, considering how old some of those dudes are. I still don't like Baltimore, because they employ Ray "I Shot a Man in Reno Just to Watch Him Die" Lewis, but I was happy they beat Washington, as it helped the Eagles.
Turnovers: Washington 3, Ravens 2. Turnovers = loss? Ed Reed returned a fumble for a touchdown, so I guess so. 8-5.

Carolina 38, Tampa 23. I only watched the end of this game, but Jeff Garcia and his receivers didn't seem to be on the same page (except for the last Tampa touchdown, which was a magnificent catch by Antonio Bryant). And Carolina continues to smash teams with their two-headed running attack. It was 17-17 going into the fourth quarter, and the Panthers ground out three rushing touchdowns in the final frame (granted, one was in garbage time to put the game away, but still). Check out the stats: DeAngelo Williams: 19 carries, 186 yards; Jonathan Stewart: 15 carries, 115 yards. That's going to be tough to beat in the playoffs!
Turnovers: Panthers 2, Buccaneers 0. Turnovers = loss? Another one that didn't compute. Oh well. 8-6.

So, despite a lackluster record this week, teams that turn the ball over less than their opponents are still 118-37-1. I'll take that percentage!

Miami: 10 turnovers, +12 margin, 8-5 record.
Tennessee: 15 turnovers, +11 margin, 12-1 record.
New York Giants: 11 turnovers, +10 margin, 11-2 record.
Indianapolis: 15 turnovers, +8 margin, 9-4 record.
Baltimore: 18 turnovers, +8 margin, 9-4 record.
Cleveland: 18 turnovers, +8 margin, 4-9 record.
Pittsburgh: 17 turnovers, +7 margin, 10-3 record.
Green Bay: 17 turnovers, +7 margin, 5-8 record.
Chicago: 21 turnovers, +6 margin, 7-6 record.
Kansas City: 18 turnovers, +6 margin, 2-11 record.
Tampa: 21 turnovers, +5 margin, 9-4 record.
Arizona: 24 turnovers, +4 margin, 8-5 record.
Carolina: 18 turnovers, +3 margin, 10-3 record.
Philadelphia: 21 turnovers, +1 margin, 7-5-1 record.
Washington: 15 turnovers, +1 margin, 7-6 record.
San Diego: 17 turnovers, +1 margin, 5-8 record.
Oakland: 20 turnovers, +1 margin, 3-10 record.
New York Jets: 23 turnovers, +0 margin, 8-5 record.
New Orleans: 21 turnovers, +0 margin, 7-6 record.
Atlanta: 15 turnovers, -2 margin, 8-5 record.
New England: 20 turnovers, -2 margin, 8-5 record.
Minnesota: 25 turnovers, -3 margin, 8-5 record.
Jacksonville: 20 turnovers, -4 margin, 4-9 record.
Buffalo: 25 turnovers, -6 margin, 6-7 record.
Seattle: 20 turnovers, -6 margin, 2-11 record.
Cincinnati: 25 turnovers, -6 margin, 1-11-1 record.
Detroit: 23 turnovers, -7 margin, 0-13 record.
Dallas: 26 turnovers, -8 margin, 8-5 record.
Houston: 29 turnovers, -11 margin, 6-7 record.
Denver: 24 turnovers, -12 margin, 8-5 record.
St. Louis: 28 turnovers, -12 margin, 2-11 record.
San Francisco: 30 turnovers, -14 margin, 5-8 record.

Down the stretch they come! Who will live, and who will be left by the wayside? Isn't it exciting?!?!?!?

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What I've been reading

Carlisle vs. Army: Jim Thorpe, Dwight Eisenhower, Pop Warner, and the Forgotten Story of Football's Greatest Battle by Lars Anderson. 2007, 349 pages, Random House.

As long-time readers of the blog know, I have always been keen on stories about olde-tyme football, say from before the Super Bowl era. Luckily, recently a lot of people have decided that olde-tyme football is pretty groovy, too, so there have been a bunch o' books recently that are all about it. And here's another one!

For those of you who don't know, Jim Thorpe is only the greatest athlete in American history. He was a Sac and Fox Indian from Oklahoma who played football, baseball, and won a bunch of Olympic medals in the process (which were later stripped from him because of a stupid technicality but restored to him posthumously). Dwight Eisenhower, you may recall, was a pretty good general and president. Pop Warner is probably best known today as the guy they named the youth football league after, but he was also a tremendously innovative and brilliant coach in his day. He managed to win at Temple, of all places! This book tells the tale of all three men and the day in 1912 when their lives intersected on a football field at West Point.

Anderson's book is more of a triple biography through the 1912 football season, as he skips back and forth from Warner's early coaching career and the lives of his two main players, bringing in a brief history of the Indian Wars and the Wounded Knee massacre to boot. It's a very readable book, zipping around from Warner and his picaresque 1890s career (late in the decade, he coached two different college teams simultaneously, which shows how unstructured the sport was back then) and then to Oklahoma and Kansas to track Thorpe and Ike grow up. Things get more interesting when Warner shows up at Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1899.

Carlisle gets a lot of attention in the book, of course. Anderson goes over the history of the school and how Richard Henry Pratt, a Civil War veteran and missionary, founded it in order to save the souls of the Native Americans. Interestingly enough, although Anderson is clearly not on Pratt's side, he doesn't condemn Pratt's idea either. The Indians who went to Carlisle were forced to cut their hair and were forbidden to speak their native languages, but they also escaped desperate lives of poverty and, in the case of Thorpe, became the most famous athlete in the country. As usual, the issues of the United States' dealings with the Native Americans is much more complicated than we'd like it to be, and Anderson does a good job showing that as horrible as it was sometimes at Carlisle, the alternative was also pretty bad.

Warner wanted to coach at Carlisle because he thought he could train the young men into a team that could implement his vision of "modern" football. Football at the turn of the twentieth century was brutal affair, looking more like rugby than anything else. Players often died from injuries they incurred on the field, and in 1906 Teddy Roosevelt convened a panel of university officials and told them to clean up their sport or he'd ban it (which led to, among other things, the legalization of the forward pass). Warner had a different vision of football, one that emphasized skill over brawn and misdirection over simply powering over others. Anderson makes it clear that Warner had the same low opinion of Indians that most Americans did, but as he coached them, he began to change his opinion. I know, shocking. The Carlisle students were undersized, but they were also faster than many other teams and took to Warner's schemes very well. By the time Thorpe arrived at Carlisle in 1907, Warner was known as a brilliant schemer and he finally had the players to challenge the big schools on a consistent basis. Warner and Carlisle had beaten some of the powerful schools prior to Thorpe joining the team, but with Thorpe, they would challenge for a National Championship.

The most interesting part of the book is the relationship between Warner and Thorpe, who really developed a father-son dynamic through their years together. Thorpe was restless and left the school for a few years (which is how he could still be playing in 1912, when he was 24), but Warner was instrumental in getting him to focus and harness his astonishing ability. Warner even chaperoned him to the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, where he won the gold in both the pentathlon and decathlon, neither of which he had ever attempted before. He was stripped of the medals because in 1909 and 1910 he played minor-league baseball for pay. Many college athletes did this, but used aliases. Thorpe naively did not. Ironically, Eisenhower also got paid to play baseball before he arrived at West Point, which would have made him illegible to play for Army. Eisenhower, however, used a false name.

Thorpe was able to put Warner's tactics into play, and Carlisle became even more of a football power during his tenure there. Carlisle was never able to win the National Championship, because they always lost a crucial game. Anderson makes the point that Thorpe was occasionally bored on the football field, and the implication is that he was so much better than everyone else that he often lost focus. Anderson also writes that bad weather had a huge adverse effect on Carlisle, as they often played very poorly, to the point where they seemed to not want to even be on the field. It's never clear exactly why the Indians didn't like playing in poor weather, but it was something Warner could never cure.

The game on 9 November 1912 is the focus of the book, obviously, as both Carlisle and Army were powerhouses and the game looked to go a long way to determining the National Championship. The reason Anderson focuses on the game is because of the obvious pairing of students who would one day be soldiers and Indians who were once hunted and killed by those soldiers. Warner made reference in his pre-game speech to the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890, which many of his students had heard about from relatives who experienced events like that. Plus, the fact that Eisenhower played across the field from Thorpe and had many opportunities to tackle him led, in hindsight, to people adding importance to this game. Ironically, the game itself was anti-climactic. Carlisle dominated the game from the beginning. Eisenhower tried to take Thorpe out and failed and later injured himself severely. A week later, Carlisle lost to Penn and failed to win the National Championship. It wasn't even the game that catapulted Carlisle to national prominence, as they had been a force in college football for a decade. Thematically, I understand why Anderson focuses the book around the game, and narratively, it helps to have a defining moment, but real life tells us that the game wasn't as monumental as Anderson would like us to believe.

But that's a minor criticism. This is a fascinating book about three men who made a huge impact on both American sports and American culture in general. Anderson has a nice style and he never lets the strands of his narrative get away from him, and everything flows nicely toward West Point in November 1912. We get a lot of insight into Warner's theories of football and how Eisenhower became such a good leader of men. Thorpe is the star of the book to a degree, mainly because he was so talented no matter what he tried to do athletically. Obviously, it helps if you like sports, but Anderson does a nice job showing a portrait of American life in the early 20th century. And shouldn't all Americans try to learn more about our country's history?

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Sunny von Bulow has died

After 28 years in a coma, Sunny von Bulow died today.

Wow. She was 76, so she didn't spend half her life in a coma, just a huge chunk of it. In case you don't know who Sunny von Bulow is, she was married to Claus von Bulow, who was twice tried for attempted murder in her case. He was acquitted both times, and then Jeremy Irons played him and Glenn Close played her in the movie Reversal of Fortune. These were rich people doing rich people's things, and the story gives a lot of interesting information about her life. Claus von Bulow, by the way, is still alive. I wonder if he got away with murder. He didn't get any of Sunny's vast fortune, so even if he did kill her, he didn't profit by it.

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Today is the 75th anniversary of the passage of the ratification of the 21st Amendment. Yes, the repeal of Prohibition went through on this day in 1933. Hallelujah!

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting opinion piece about drug prohibition and why the repeal of alcohol prohibition was easier than making drugs legal. I agree with the writer - let's hope that we can begin to discuss legalizing drugs without freaking out and screaming "Won't someone think of the children?!?!?!?" Wouldn't that be nice?

Meanwhile, in local news, today is the 50th anniversary of Arizona State College being officially renamed Arizona State University. The name change had been approved through voter initiative in November 1958, but it took a month before the school officially became a university. You can read more about it at the official site (of course there's an official site!). The University of Arizona had a bit of a hissy fit about the state getting another university, although it's unclear why (this article gives some history, but not really why they were so bent out of shape about it). It seems to stem from some jealousy about being the only university in the state, which seems incredibly petty, but what the hell. Anyway, it's the 50th year of ASU! Whoo-hoo! Celebrate by drinking your completely legal alcohol!

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The five stages of memorizing the lyrics of any particular song

1. You learn the tune and you hum along to that.

2. You learn the chorus, as that's repeated the most often.

3. You learn most of the words and can sing along when you hear the song, but not when it's not playing.

4. You learn every single word and can sing the song without the benefit of it being played, including the intricacies of the guitar and/or other instrumental solos.

5. You know the song so well you start screwing up the lyrics because you're anticipating what's coming up later in the song.

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God is mean

SAN ANTONIO - A man who rammed his truck into a woman's vehicle on a highway early Friday told authorities he crashed into her while going more than 100 mph because God told him "she needed to be taken off the road."

The truck rear-ended the car on U.S. Highway 281, both vehicles spun across a median then came to a stop along a barrier in the opposite lanes. Both drivers suffered only minor injuries.

"He just said God said she wasn't driving right, and she needed to be taken off the road," Bexar County Sheriff's Office spokesman Kyle Coleman said in the online edition of the San Antonio Express-News. "God must have been with them, 'cause any other time, the severity of this crash, it would have been a fatal."

The pickup driver did not tell police how the woman was driving. Police could not find alcohol or drugs in either driver.

A psychiatric evaluation has been ordered for a man.

Man, God is mean! Why is He (or She, or It) always telling people to kill others? Can't God do His (or Her, or Its) own dirty work, for crying out loud?

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What have we learned - Week 13

Well, after being pissy last week, I guess I should at least finish out the year. It doesn't have much to do with the Eagles actually winning a game, because they have three tough games out of four left, so their chances are slim. But I am interested if the Chiefs can continue to be so good at turnover margin and so lousy at everything else!

College football gave us some exciting games, even if Penn State wasn't playing. Oklahoma hung 60 on yet another team, but Oklahoma State was in it for most of the game. Texas blasted Texas A&M by 40, while Texas Tech had to come back against Baylor, of all teams. I wonder if these offensive explosions that are going on in the Big XII speak more to the absolutely atrocious defense the teams played. I watched a lot of the most exciting Big XII game of the weekend, Kansas-Missouri, and nobody could freakin' tackle! I get that the spread offense gets players in space, but when the teams actually had a chance to tackle, they failed. The best defenses in the top 10 are at Alabama, USC, and Penn State. I'll be very curious to see the Big XII team that plays (possibly) Alabama in the MNC. Will those dynamic offenses look pedestrian against teams that know how to play defense? In second-class conference news, Cincinnati won the Big East, and Boston College plays Virginia Tech for the ACC Championship. None of those teams deserve to play in a BCS bowl. I'm sorry, people like Woody!, but it's true. The only times Penn State has played in a BCS game is when they were 11-1, so I can't say I've said this before with regard to them winning the Big Eleven with an 8-4 record, but if they did, they wouldn't deserve it either. Maybe next week, when the bowl games are set (go UCLA!), I'll break down some of the college teams a bit more and demonstrate why Penn State got hosed. That's my whole point when writing about colleges, right?

Philadelphia 48, Arizona 20.
I watched one football game this weekend. This was it. Andy Reid seems to always figure out about this time of year that he needs to run the ball, and the Eagles do fine. McNabb is calm in the pocket, finds receivers, and doesn't get killed because he's not dropping back too often. Brian Westbrook piles up yardage, and they're able to destroy teams late because their opponents are worn out. And then, every September, Reid forgets that this was a good plan and spends two months getting his quarterback beaten up. Sheesh. The Eagles will need a bit of a miracle to make the playoffs, because they have to play their three NFC East competitors and Cleveland (okay, that should be a gimme, but who the hell knows), but if they play like they did on Thursday night, they might do it. And I know it was the Cardinals, but I'm talking about the game plan, not the opponent. Their game plan on Thursday will work against almost anyone. Arizona, meanwhile, will win the division but won't get out of the second round. They simply don't (wait for it!) run the ball enough. Still, the home playoff game they get in the first round should be fun, because it will be their first home playoff game since 1947 and the fans will be nuts.
DeSean Jackson update! 6 catches for 76 yards and 1 touchdown; 1 rush for 6 yards; 3 punt returns for 11 yards. For the season: 53 catches for 775 yards and 2 touchdowns; 14 rushes for 97 yards; 41 punt returns for 382 yards.
Turnovers: Cardinals 4, Eagles 1. Turnovers = loss? Kurt Warner threw two interceptions in the first quarter when the game was still in doubt, so yeah, I'd say so. 1-0.

Tennessee 47, Detroit 10.
Please, take Detroit off Thanksgiving. Apparently it might be coming in 2010 or '11, when the collective bargaining agreement comes up again. Hallelujah!
Turnovers: Lions 3, Titans 1. Turnovers = loss? Hell yes. 2-0.

Dallas 34, Seattle 9.
Seattle kicked a field when trailing in the third quarter 24-6. You're kidding me, right?
Turnovers: Seahawks 2, Cowboys 1. Turnovers = loss? For once, the Cowboys won the turnover battle and the game. 3-0.

San Francisco 10, Buffalo 3.
People in Buffalo (and on-line) are blaming Rian Lindell, the Bills' kicker, for blowing the game by missing two short field goals. The last time I checked, field goals were worth three points each, and the Bills lost by seven. You know, Buffalo, if you can't beat San Francisco at home with your playoff lives on the line, perhaps you should look elsewhere than the kicker if you want to blame someone.
Turnovers: 49ers 1, Bills 1. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash.

Baltimore 34, Cincinnati 3.
The one-win Bengals kicked a field goal to end the half when trailing 13-0. You have one win - go for the touchdown! In astonishing offensive news, the Ravens are lighting up the scoreboard with a rookie quarterback. A quarterback who played for a Division 1-AA school, I might add. Dang.
Turnovers: Bengals 1, Ravens 0. Turnovers = loss? The numbers don't lie!

Indianapolis 10, Cleveland 6.
No offensive played scored a touchdown in this game. What the hell, Payton Manning? The Colts have won five in a row, all by less than a touchdown. Man, that's living on the edge. And who will play quarterback for the Browns now? Both Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn are out. I honestly don't know. The fans cheered Anderson when he got hurt, by the way. That's classy!
Turnovers: Colts 3, Browns 2. Turnovers = loss? The numbers say no, but the only touchdown came on a fumble recovery for the Colts' win. 3-1.

Carolina 35, Green Bay 31.
This looked like an entertaining game. I should have watched some of it!
Turnovers: Packers 2, Panthers 1. Turnovers = loss? Looks that way! 4-1.

Miami 16, St. Louis 12.
This game, on the other hand, I'm glad I missed. Man, what a stinker.
Turnovers: Rams 3, Dolphins 1. Turnovers = loss? As usual with the Rams, yes. 5-1.

Tampa 23, New Orleans 20.
This was another entertaining game that I missed. Apparently it was played in a monsoon. Must have been fun!
Turnovers: Saints 3, Buccaneers 1. Turnovers = loss? One of the Tampa interceptions was a tipped ball that another dude plucked out of the air in his own end zone. Cool stuff. And yes. 6-1.

New York Giants 23, Washington 7.
I like how that, all evidence to the contrary, people claim you need superstars on your team. Who is New York's best pure receiver? Plaxico Burress. Where was he on Sunday? Somewhere nursing a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Good move, Plaxico! Did the Giants miss a beat? Not at all. Damn them!
Turnovers: Washington 2, Giants 1. Turnovers = loss? You bet! 7-1.

Atlanta 22, San Diego 16.
According to the GM of the Chargers, Norv Turner's job is safe. At 4-8, I wonder if Norv wants to coach the team anymore? LaDanian Tomlinson is clearly weakening, and everyone else is getting older, too. Man, they stink. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan continues to resurrect the Falcons. Who woulda thunk it?
Turnovers: Falcons 3, Chargers 0. Turnovers = loss? Surprisingly, no. 7-2.

Pittsburgh 33, New England 10.
The Matt Cassell honeymoon ended abruptly, didn't it? I watched some of the first half. What happened in the second half that turned this into a blowout? Wow.
Turnovers: Cheaters 5, Steelers 1. Turnovers = loss? Oh, I guess that's what happened. 8-2.

Denver 34, New York Jets 17.
R. C. Favre couldn't play defense, and the Broncos smacked the Jets around, mainly by using the guy who blocked for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones at Arkansas, Peyton Hillis. He was just slamming through their run defense. The first touchdown of the game was humorous - a bunch of Jets stood around watching the Broncos recover a fumble and take it to the house. Later, Thomas Jones appeared to go down, but he really just landed on the back of a defender. He got up (he wasn't technically down) and kept going. A bunch of Denver defenders stood around looking at him. It's equal-opportunity laziness!
Turnovers: Jets 2, Broncos 1. Turnovers = loss? You bet. 9-2.

Kansas City 20, Oakland 13.
The fake Oakland field goal that turned into a touchdown for Kansas City is one of the funniest plays you will ever see. Shane Lechler, the holder, tossed it between his legs, like a snap, and Sebastian Janikowski, not the most athletic dude on the planet, couldn't handle it and basically knocked it right to the Chiefs player. That's good stuff!
Turnovers: Raiders 2, Chiefs 1. Turnovers = loss? Sure! 10-2.

Minnesota 34, Chicago 14.
Another game I skipped, but the 99-yard touchdown pass was pretty sweet, mainly because absolutely no one touched Bernard Berrian before or after he caught the pass. That has to be the easiest longest-touchdown-in-NFL-history in NFL history.
Turnovers: Bears 3, Vikings 1. Turnovers = loss? That, and turning the ball over on downs at the Minnesota 1, setting the stage for the 99-yard touchdown. 11-2.

Houston 30, Jacksonville 17. Boy, I bet this game looked good for ESPN in August! An up-and-coming team against a tough playoff team in the same division! Ratings gold! That's why the NFL is awesome. Who the hell knows who's going to be good?
Turnovers: Jaguars 3, Texans 1. Turnovers = loss? I suppose. 12-2.

Well, I skipped last week, which means I'll have to go back and check the stats soon, but even if we skip that week, teams that turn the ball over less are still 110-31-1. That's pretty decisive!

Now, let's check out the turnover margins and how it relates to victory!

Tennessee: 12 turnovers, +13 margin, 11-1 record.
New York Giants: 11 turnovers, +10 margin, 11-1 record.
Miami: 10 turnovers, +10 margin, 7-5 record.
Baltimore: 16 turnovers, +7 margin, 8-4 record.
Chicago: 20 turnovers, +6 margin, 6-6 record.
Cleveland: 17 turnovers, +6 margin, 4-8 record.
Indianapolis: 14 turnovers, +5 margin, 8-4 record.
Carolina: 16 turnovers, +5 margin, 8-4 record.
Kansas City: 18 turnovers, +5 margin, 2-10 record.
Pittsburgh: 15 turnovers, +4 margin, 9-3 record.
Green Bay: 16 turnovers, +4 margin, 5-7 record.
Oakland: 16 turnovers, +4 margin, 3-9 record.
Tampa: 21 turnovers, +3 margin, 9-3 record.
Washington: 12 turnovers, +2 margin, 7-5 record.
Arizona: 23 turnovers, +2 margin, 7-5 record.
Philadelphia: 21 turnovers, +1 margin, 6-5-1 record.
Atlanta: 14 turnovers, -1 margin, 8-4 record.
New York Jets: 22 turnovers, -1 margin, 8-4 record.
Minnesota: 23 turnovers, -1 margin, 7-5 record.
New Orleans: 21 turnovers, -1 margin, 6-6 record.
San Diego: 16 turnovers, -2 margin, 4-8 record.
New England: 20 turnovers, -3 margin, 7-5 record.
Cincinnati: 21 turnovers, -3 margin, 1-10-1 record.
Buffalo: 23 turnovers, -4 margin, 6-6 record.
Jacksonville: 19 turnovers, -4 margin, 4-8 record.
Dallas: 21 turnovers, -5 margin, 8-4 record.
Seattle: 19 turnovers, -5 margin, 2-10 record.
Houston: 25 turnovers, -8 margin, 5-7 record.
Detroit: 23 turnovers, -9 margin, 0-12 record.
St. Louis: 25 turnovers, -10 margin, 2-10 record.
Denver: 23 turnovers, -11 margin, 7-5 record.
San Francisco: 28 turnovers, -13 margin, 4-8 record.

Next week: Will I have another snit? Only the Eagles know for sure!

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