Category Archives: Championship

The No Headband Game

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Michael Jordan’s Flu Game. Jordan’s “Shrug” Game, Willis Reed’s injured ankle game, Magic Johnson’s Baby Hook. These are some of the greatest games in NBA Finals History. After last night, we have to add one more to the pantheon of the “Holy shnikies! We are watching history! Games”. The “No Headband Game”.

It was like Superman shed his suit and glasses** and donned a cape and instead those stupid glasses are equivalent to a headband that protects a certain hairline from being shown over and over on really high definition televisions. Wait…that doesn’t do it justice. It was really like when Steve Urkel from Family Matters decided he had to take drastic measures to win Laura’s heart. He invented “Cool Juice” and what resulted can only be described as television history. Stefan Urquelle. LeBron totally drank “Cool Juice” with about 9 minutes left in the game and became Stefan Urquelle.

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**Quick Tangent: Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman absolutely started the fake glasses trend that has maneuvered its way into pop culture with hipsters and NBA players. The only problem is NBA Players/Hipsters aka Plipsters. You aren’t hiding your identity! We totally know who you are. All Superman has to do is put on some generic reading glasses from CVS and BOOM. Clark Kent and everyone is fooled. It’s ridiculous.

LeBron pre-headband was having a pedestrian game, a game where people would question his ultimate legacy in another loss to the hands of the San Antonio Spurs. But no, headband off, “Cool Juice” chugged and voila, LeBron and company not only came back in epic fashion. They destroyed the smartest, most headstrong team in recent memory. This is Spurs team is a team that never shakes, never questions itself, always finishes off quarters and games, but on the biggest stage they folded. Manu Ginobili had a +/- of -21 and 8 turnovers. Kawhi Leonard couldn’t hit both free throws to make a two possession game. Parker took uncharacteristically bad shots.

They literally roped off floor with time left on the clock, the NBA even brought out the trophy. You cannot get any closer to destroying the fake dreams of the fake fans of Miami. They were leaving for South Beach so they could see Chris Brown & Drake fight again, I’m sure.

But no, we were privileged to see the best NBA Finals game since 1998 and Jordan’s game-winning shot against the Utah Jazz. Stefan Urquelle LeBron James’ no headband did it. THAT HAS TO BE THE REASON.

How do the Spurs recover from this? Game 6 on the road against the best team in the NBA and they choked. How do they even show up for Game 7 after such heartbreak? If one team can do it, it is the Spurs.

But the real question is: Will LeBron be wearing a headband? Is this a new statement like when Jordan wore 45 or Kobe cut his afro and sported #24? Or is it LeBron’s superhero, his Superman, his Stefan Urquelle that only comes out when they need a Super Hero.

I loved Family Matters. It goes down as one of the greatest sitcoms of the ’90s. My friday nights were epic #TGIF. Boy Meets World, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Step by Step and Family Matters. How do you beat that? YOU ADD STEFAN URQUELLE.

LeBron, for the love of Basketball please rock the no headband and take what is rightfully yours. Your second NBA Title. The Laura to your Urkel.

– Lance Cartelli

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ESPN Backhands LeBron James and Beiber & Bynes Dream Couple!

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In case you were to enthralled with Justin Beiber doing an Amanda Bynes impression** at the Miami Heat game on Monday, then you already know that the Heat decimated the Indiana Pacers and have advanced to the NBA Finals to take on the wily vets, the San Antonio Spurs.

**Best celebrity couple ever? (If you can still call Amanda Bynes a celebrity). What would their celebrity nickname be? I love these things: Jamanda Byber? Amastin Beibynes? Jumandin Bebyners? Jumanji, for short?! The possibilities are endless! I must make an iPhone app that does this for me.**

ESPN posted that great video from illustrator Richard Swarbrick. Now, I don’t know this illustrator from any other illustrator, but clearly he has an appreciation for the history of Basketball. From Willis Reed playing on his hurt ankle to Michael Jordan celebrating his six championships and the most famous layup of all time to Magic Johnson’s skyhook. I would buy posters for every single one of those images, but the one image that stood out among the rest – LeBron’s cramps.

Swarbrick, you crazy son of a gun, you illustrate some of the most historic and glorious moments in NBA History and then give a little backhand to Bron Bron? Is he a Cavs fan? Did he hate the decision as much as the rest of the world? Or he hates male baldness? Maybe he doesn’t like that LeBron is being compared to Jordan. Whatever it is, it’s hilarious. When his artwork for this inevitably comes out I shall frame LeBron writhing in pain. No homo, No offense, Bron Bron.

My only question: Where was the iconic Paul Pierce getting wheelchair-ed off the court from the NBA Finals against the Lakers?

Other than the one LOL moment from the video, it’s pretty awesome. But, seriously can we get Beibs and Bynes to date already? She might throw her bong at him though. 

Follow Lance “The Red Mamba” on Twitter!

All Aboard the FGCU Bandwagon #FlyLikeAnEagle

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I don’t have to tell you how amazing March Madness really is, but I will anyways.  It is the greatest playoff system in sports. Easily.  No doubt about it.  Where else can you root for a school you’ve never heard of beat a team that you hear entirely too much about?  We’re Americans, we love underdogs.  There was a time when we were the underdogs, alas we are far from that now, but we see a little bit of us in every mid-major school that has a ton of white boys less than stellar athletes that will never play in the NBA and when these non-athletic players demolish the dreams of the McDonald’s All-Americans, we eat that shit up.  Now, if only another college sport had been smart enough to implement this, but I digress.

The latest team to take over March Madness and captivate the millions…and millions of March Madness fans is none other than the FGCU Eagles.  No, that is not a random assortment of cool looking letters in the English alphabet.  It’s actually Florida Gulf Coast University. More importantly, they have reached a very special someone, someone that is void of having a team in the March Madness race, a man that can reach literally dozens of people through the internet and social medias.  That man is now the conductor of the FGCU Bandwagon, that man, is of course me! (or this column would suck).  Call me Conductor Cartelli of the Fly Like an Eagle Bandwagon!

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As I watched the FGCU Fly Like an Eagle all over Georgetown, I was angry.  Not only did I lose a Final Four team, I lost it to a 15 seed that I’ve never heard of, thankfully according to their name I assumed they were on the Gulf Coast.  I’m definitely smarter than Siri.  My anger didn’t last long, how can you hate a 15 seed upsetting a 2 seed?  And they did it in amusing fashion.  They were flying all over the place. They were even coined “Dunk City”.  DUNK FREAKIN’ CITY!  What a great name, I bet you $5 in Monopoly money that Blake Griffin is sitting in his Kia thinking, “Why didn’t I come up with that?  Lob City is child’s play compared to DUNK CITY?!”.  Blake, you are correct.

Since I crowned myself the Conductor of this Bandwagon, I had to learn more of this majestic place.  FGCU was established in 1991!  That makes me 4 years older then the school.  They just turned 21, I hope they are enjoying an ice cold one after these sweet victories.  According to ESPN, they are the only team to be undefeated in the NCAA Tournament! That means that 32 teams have lost more tournament games this weekend then FGCU has. Ever. FGCU motto happens to be – “Truth, Knowledge, Wisdom”.  This tournament they are dropping some major knowledge and blessing us with some wisdom, because they are the truth.

OH YEAH, THEY DANCE LIKE THIS:

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POLO. SHIRT. GUY. THOUGH.

#FlyLikeAnEagle FGCU.

You know who FGCU’s second biggest fan behind me is?  SEAL. Want proof? You got it.

Seal dedicated his 1997 hit song, “Fly Like an Eagle”, from the second greatest movie soundtrack of all-time*, Space Jam to FGCU.  I should have seen the signs sooner, when Seal is dedicating songs to you and you dance like Polo Shirt Guy, how can you lose?  They are no longer a 15 seed, they are THE Seed.

**1. Garden State**

Now that they are in the Sweet 16 and take on in-state rival, the Florida Gators aka The Monstars, they have all the confidence in the world.  When those lights dim and the FGCU Anthem hits…”Fly like an eagle and let my spirit carry me…”, that spirit will have them soaring above their competitors.

#FlyLikeAnEagle FGCU, fly, fly.

– Lance Cartelli

(148) Days of 49ers: The Day My Heart Got Broken

Everything has a beginning and an end.  Whether it’s good or bad, happy or sad, everything comes to an end.  For the 2012 San Francisco 49ers and yours truly, it lasted 148 days.  From September 9th, an Opening Day victory against the Green Bay Packers, until February 2nd, a devastating loss in the Super Bowl to the Baltimore Ravens, It ended up being the most satisfying and heartbreaking 148 days in 18 years and realistically my life.

It dawned on me that Sundays loss was just a bad version of a Romantic Comedy.

The Premise:  A mid-20’s die-hard San Francisco 49ers fan, who has never loved anything but his parents and the 49ers, goes through the ups-and-downs of a season to see his team advance to the Super Bowl.

Everything was set-up perfectly for a beautiful Romantic Comedy.  The man in his mid-20’s played by none other than Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Ryan Gosling had scheduling conflicts), let’s for shits and giggles call him, Lance.  The Super Bowl Trophy, adorkably played by Zooey Deschanel, it was all too perfect.  They would end up together and be happy for the rest of the 2013 offseason as the Super Bowl Champions. The conflict you ask?  The Baltimore Ravens, the gay best friend that is trying to ruin everything!  And they did.

This is not a happy story, this is not a story about boy meets girl or boy’s team wins the Super Bowl and is euphoric.  This is the story of heartbreak.

The script was written, the movie was greenlit and was set to premiere just a few weeks before Valentine’s Day.  It was a film that men and women could all enjoy, a great date movie that had love, plot twists that would make M. Night Shyamalan jealous, and Football!  Probably the three greatest things in the World.

Unfortunately for the naive, in love 49ers fan, it was not a happy ending.

(1) It started off great, the 49ers went into Lambeau Field and defeated the Green Bay Packers on Opening Day.  A statement was made.  The shy protagonist stepped out of his comfort zone and met the girl/team of his dreams.  What a great start to the movie. I’m really rooting for this Lance guy!

(100) Our first plot twist!  Zooey breaks up with her loving, but ultimately not good enough High-School sweetheart, lets call him Alex Smith.  He gets an awful head injury and we think that they can pull through this, but they don’t.  Finally an opportunity for someone to swoop in.  A secondary character is introduced and ready to take the stage, his name Colin Kaepernick.  He plays well, but you expect him back in his secondary role.

[At this point, the Characters are all screwed up and I’ve lost my way, but stay with me I’m going somewhere with this…I think]

(106) We have yet to see our main character return.  JGL is a little scared, they have a big game on the national stage against currently the best defense in the NFL.  Kaepernick is not so scared, he dominates, he is no longer a secondary character, sorry Alex.  Zooey likes what she sees.

(148) You never know when something good/bad is going to end, unless it’s sports, there’s only 1 team that ends the season happy and two teams end the same day.  Today was the Super Bowl. One team will go down in history, the other team will just go down.

This was Colin’s chance to sweep Zooey off her feet and engrave his name into this trophy, kinda sexist if you ask me, but he’s the Protagonist!

It did not start off so well, the gay best friend is no longer gay and trying to remove the best friend title for something a little more intimate he’s trying to steal your Trophy Wife.  Down 22-6 he’s doing a damn good job.

Midway through the night, you feel like you’re losing her, you are about to throw in the towel.  Time to find the Alcohol – this always ends well.

Blackout.

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The lights in the stadium go dark.  This is perfect, all I want when someone is trying to steal something that I rightfully deserve is to sit in the dark while this it’s happening.  Already angry, surrounded by people yelling drunken nonsense at this party, and your girl is flirting with someone else, a guy named Joe Flacco.  He’s cool, he’s calm, he’s good looking – He better not be going to Disney World with her later.  JGL has been relegated to the sidekick in every Rom-Com – the fat, ugly friend who gives awful advice.  I’ve never felt more bi-polar than at this moment – I feel like I’m Bradley Cooper in The Silver Linings Playbook.  I hope the payoff is Jennifer Lawrence.

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But wait, it’s time for our huge romantic gesture!  Down 22 in the 3rd quarter, JGL busts out the boombox to play outside Zooey’s window.  She’s gonna love that shit, and you know what?  She does.  The 49ers are right back in it. Down 5, they get within 5 yards of kissing this big beautiful trophy that they have worked for more than 148 days for.

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I am full of emotions and you should be too, this is the climax! Our Protagonist is finally going to win the heart of his true love!

But this story is not a love story, it is not a happy ending, the 49ers fall five yards short of their goal, their dream, their love.  It’s like the The Break-Up, it was never gonna end happy.

The only problem with this failed Romantic Comedy that after the credits roll, the story keeps going. Commercials, Television, the “I’M GOING TO DISNEYWORLD!” even though I’d much rather spend my time at Disneyland because California > Florida and there’s generally more to do here, but I’m not the one who won the Super Bowl, so whatever Joe, do what you want! But I digress.

The silver lining to this heartbreak? The Sequel!

Just like JGL met Autumn at the end of 500 Days of Summer (Spoiler Alert!), the 49ers will have a chance to reclaim what they believe is rightfully theirs and that journey begins in seven months.

What I did learn with my first love and true sports heartbreak is that in the end it is better to have loved and lost (the Super Bowl) than to have never of loved a team at all.

– Lance Cartelli

The 49ers are Super Bowl Bound – A Roller Coaster of Emotions

The glass is half full.  You can do anything you set your mind too.  Lindsay Lohan can beat this! David Akers can totally hit a 38 yard field goal.  Optimism – it’s a crazy thing and it was tested on Sunday in the Cartelli household, especially when the one thing that brings you happiness is down 17.  On the road.  In the NFC Championship game.

Spoiler Alert:  There will be screaming.  There will be yelling.  There will be dancing.  And there will be joyous and angry tweets!

Without further ado:

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Coming off a week where your team just dominated last years MVP and your newly crowned QB in his first playoff start breaks records, you have to feel a little bit of confidence going into the NFC Championship game.  It also didn’t help that ESPN and NFL Network were all picking your team to win and it shouldn’t be close.  They were even favored by four on the road according to Vegas.  The Georgia Dome was going to be rocking, the Falcons were going to feel disrespected, and they were going to come out swinging.  And that is exactly what happened.

Before I could blink Quintorris Lopez Jones, better known as Julio Jones was dominating.  He was a man amongst boys towering over everyone that even tried to cover him.  It was like if I was in a room with Danny DeVito.  After the first drive the 49ers were down seven.  Not to worry, we have Colin Freakin’ Kaepernick.

My optimism is still at a very high point.

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Well, Colin Freakin’ Kaepernick and the 49ers have a three-and-out.  Not good.  Can the defense get a stop?  No, No they can’t.  A field goal – they are now down 10.  That’s okay, we’re gonna get points right here right? Wrong.  Three-and-out. This feels like the 49ers vs. Seahawks all over again.

The Falcons smell the blood in the water, are the 49ers the innocent surfers deep in the ocean about to get chomped on?  Cue the Jaws Music as Julio Jones makes a ridiculous catch over Tarell Brown and the Falcons are up 17-0.  We’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Oh, by the way.  This was all in the first quarter.  Optimism fleeting.

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No, no it wasn’t.

At this point in the Cartelli household, my face is in my palm, my Dad is walking around yelling and not being able to watch and my Mom is playing Spider Solitaire upstairs.  I did not watch 19 weeks of 49er football to be disappointed once again in the NFC Championship game.  Time to will my team to victory.

Optimism at an all-time low –  the 49ers respond with a long touchdown drive capped off my rookie LaMichael James touchdown.  17-7.  Screaming and yelling commence.  I remember saying louder and more confidently, “We’re still in this”.  A stop.  Another touchdown drive lead by Kaepernick and Frank Gore.  17-14.  

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After being punched in the gut and knocked down, we bounce back, By “we”, I mean my Dad and I.  We’re back in this.  Every play matters, we’re screaming, high-fiving, wondering why Troy Aikman sounds like a lesbian, but I digress.  Did the 49ers leave too much time on the clock for Matt Ryan?  They sure did.  After having all the momentum, the 49ers allow a touchdown to put the Falcons up 24-14.  I hate you, Matt Ryan.

It’s halftime.  Usually  my chance to shower, relieve myself in the restroom, eat, cry (when losing), and yell at the television some more.  Not Sunday, I had no appetite, bodily functions weren’t working, I didn’t move, paralyzed by an awful half.  Will this be the last half in the 2012-13 season for the 49ers?

The 49ers start with the ball and for the third straight drive they score a touchdown.  Down 24-21, both teams look unstoppable like underrated Denzel Washington & Chris Pine movie of the same name.  Shootouts are fun unless your team is apart of it then you just want to rip your hair out.

The 49ers needed a stop, a turnover, a something! I was being modest when I asked the #1 defense in the league for a stop and then the greatest thing you can do on Twitter happened.

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Yes, I retweeted myself.  Don’t overuse such a power, it comes with great responsibility.

The 49ers are in great position to tie or take the lead from the Falcons after the interception by Chris Culliver they get into field goal range and it’s up to David Akers.  Akers in 2011 set the record for most field goals made in a season and started off the season with a record-tying 63 yard field goal in Green Bay.  Now, that I’ve said all the good about David.

Here’s the bad:

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Hate is a strong word.  It was said in a time of great passion, but Akers may be on my short list of actual things I hate**. Notice I said things – I know he’s a good person, he did great things last year and has had a great career.  But he is awful, just the worst.  The Super Bowl is going to come down to a field goal and knowing that Akers is on the sideline scares the bejesus out of me.

**Other Things on Short Hate List: Girls that wear bright red lipstick, Adults with baby teeth and huge gums, Facebook (Especially people that like stupid pictures that say “Like this or you want your elderly Grandmother to die a painful death”), Bandwagon fans, and the Kardashians.

After the miss, this game entered into the pantheon of games that will shorter my lifespan by 5-10 years.  Can Matt Ryan score again and put this game on ice?  Not just yet.  He takes his eye off the ball, fumbles, and Aldon Smith recovers it.  New life!  Optimism still alive.  Screaming, yelling, and more high-fives.  This euphoria does not last.  Crabtree runs a slant route, catches it, gets to the half yard line and fumbles.

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 12.35.37 PMIt’s like I just watched Click again.  I can feel the tears building up.  The 49ers cannot lose because another fumble in the NFC Championship game.  For the love of Kyle Williams it cannot happen!

The 49ers get a stop thanks to a timely tackle by Carlos Rogers and they are back in business.  This time no messin around – Gore runs it in for a Touchdown and the 49ers have their first lead of the game, 28-24.

I’m on the edge of my seat now and have really poor posture, but all the back pain will be worth it if the 49ers can hold on.  There’s plenty of time for Matty Ice to comeback and win this game, it’s what he does.

It comes down to a 4th down and 4.  All-Pro LB Navorro Bowman on Roddy White – a mismatch.  There’s some jostling for position, but Bowman knocks it away!

The 49ers win!  I’m jumping up and down, screaming, yelling, fist-pumping like I’m Tiger Woods and I just won the Masters.  My dad doing the same thing.  Mother dearest, dancing away.  Then a sigh of relief, the biggest comeback in NFC Championship history and a trip to New Orleans for the Super Bowl.  It’s been 18 years.

18 years.  18 years since I was watching the 49ers demolish the San Diego Chargers in the Super Bowl.  18 years since Steve Young to Jerry Rice in that 49-26 victory.  If the 49ers Super Bowl drought was a kid, he could buy cigarettes, fight in a war, and get blacked out drunk in the dorms of his college because you know he would be in a University not a Community College!

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Super Bowl Bound.

– Lance Cartelli

This Week in Sports

In case you were out with your imaginary girlfriend this week, here’s what happened in sports:

– In the most bizzarre sports news in years, Manti Te’o got Catfish-ed by a friend who created a (fake) dead girlfriend that did not actually exist and we all got #Te’o’d. Although she was fake, reports are that during her stint with (fake) leukemia she wore a “LIVESTRONG” bracelet to support Lance Armstrong.  Apparently she never got the news.  In addition, the sequel of Catfish is now in early development, and the working title is “Catfish Part II: Revenge of the Fallen”.  It is being directed by Michael Bay.

– Lance Armstrong finally admitted to using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and being a bully while winning seven Tour de France titles in an interview with Oprah.  Worried about his public image, Lance prayed to God to give his last nut for a “bigger story about a fake dead girlfriend that a superstar has never met so that his indiscretions become an afterthought”.  After Manti Te’o’s story came out, he once again prayed to God, “You know I was joking, right?, YOU ALREADY TOOK MY GOOD TESTICLE!”.  In other news, Lance Armstrong is privately funding Catfish Part II:  Revenge of the Fallen.

–  Colin Kaepernick ran for a record 181 yards rushing while throwing for over 200 yards and accounting for four touchdowns in a win over the Green Bay Packers to advance the San Francisco 49ers into the NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons. Kaepernick has lead to the new craze “Kaepernicking” where you kiss your tattoos after a touchdown.  Other crazes include “Tebowing“, “Griffining” – where you lay on the ground writhing in pain because your field destroyed your knee. “Romo-ing” – where you throw an interception at the most crucial time in a game. “Manning-ing” – where you look like you breath out of your mouth and wonder how the hell this guy is a successful QB? and everyone’s favorite “Sanchezing”  when a big butt gets in your way and you fumble the ball.

– The New York Jets are reportedly interested in signing potential free agent Michael Vick.  The Jets seem to be interested in Vick because he combines everything the Jets love, a left-handed QB that loves to run but also takes a lot of sacks and turns the ball over.  Vick is also contemplating changing his name to Mark Tebow or Tark Sanbow.  Coincidentally, Tark Sanbow will be the fake love interest in Catfish Part II: Revenge of the Fallen.

– Kobe Bryant was voted to his 15th All-Star game in his career.  Kobe starting is a perfect fit for the Western Conference Team — a game where Kobe can shoot whenever he wants and people play little-to-no defense, sounds like the quintessential Laker team.  Hopefully Kobe can bring Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni to coach the team.

– Lance Cartelli

 

The 49ers Make a Statement + Week 16 Picks

For two and half quarters on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers looked like the best team in the NFL.  For one quarter they looked like every other defense that Tom Brady has carved up in his illustrious career.  And for the final half of the 4th quarter the 49ers did just enough to hang on to defeat the New England Patriots 41-34 in an epic battle to clinch back-to-back playoff appearances for the once storied franchise.

The New England Patriots were arguably the hottest team in the NFL, winning seven straight games, lost for the first time at home in 21 games, and had also won 21 straight in the second half of the season at home.  Snapping all of these ridiculous streaks with a second year quarterback that has started only five games in his career, the 49ers made a statement that the NFC goes through San Francisco.

What we saw on Sunday — in the most entertaining football game of the year — is that neither of these teams will go quietly into the night.  The 49ers came out swinging – the defense was dominant, the offense was explosive, and the 49ers were up 31-3.  The Patriots could’ve packed it in and said good game, but they came storming back with 28 straight points in about a quarter.  Resiliency like this is a sign of a great team.  After tying it up at 31, the 49ers got a great kick return from rookie LaMichael James and on the next play scored a 38 yard touchdown from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree, a blooming connection in recent weeks.  Both these teams showed that no matter what kind of adversity they will face in the coming weeks and in the playoffs, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.  This was a Super Bowl Preview.

But it won’t be easy for either team.  New England is now the #3 seed in the AFC and will probably have to face the Denver Broncos in the second round and potentially the Houston Texans in the AFC Championship.  New England will have to win both games on the road if everything holds form.  The 49ers are currently the second seed in the NFC but the Green Bay Packers are breathing down their neck just 1/2 game behind them thanks to the 49ers tie with the St. Louis Rams.  The 49ers also have to travel to Seattle to play a hot Seahawks team in the toughest place to play in the NFL.  A showdown with the Packers in the second round of the playoffs is looming ahead and depending how the season plays out it could very well be in Lambeau Field.

Either way the playoffs that being in a few weeks have some incredible match-ups potentially in the 2nd round and beyond.

Week 16 Picks:

Atlanta Falcons @ Detroit Lions – The Lions were just beatdown by the awful Arizona Cardinals and this week they have to take on the team with the best record in the NFC, after coming off a 34-0 shutout of the defending champs.  It’s pretty simple.

New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys – We are entering “Tony Romo Destroys His Team in Heartbreaking and Dramatic Fashion” Time, but it is one week too soon.  Cowboys pull out a victory at home against the Saints.

Tennessee Titans @ Green Bay Packers–  The Titans needed Mark Sanchez to be Mark Sanchez just to escape with a victory over the Jets.  I don’t think they will be so lucky against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs – Andrew Luck vs. Brady Quinn.  That’s all that needs to be said.

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins –

San Diego Chargers @ New York Jets – I think the whole world — now that we are still alive — is thankful that this game was flexed out of primetime.  I don’t think Chargers and Jets fans can take another primetime embarrassment.

Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles – The Redskins are fighting to keep control of the NFC East and are eyeing a showdown next week with the Cowboys.  This is a classic trap game, but the Eagles mailed it in weeks ago.  RGIII and company handle their business.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers – The Bengals and the “Red Rifle” go into Pittsburgh and defeat the Steelers making all Gingers proud.  It really is the end of the world.

St. Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tampa Bay got destroyed last week verse the Saints, but their stout run defense makes Sam Bradford beat them and he can’t.  Bucs win and stay alive.

Oakland Raiders @ Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton has been dominating the past few weeks and is single handedly saving people’s fantasy football teams, but he can’t save his own team.  Thankfully — for him — he’s playing the Raiders.

New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars – I think the Pats are a little angry about last week, Jacksonville I’m sorry.

Minnesotta Vikings @ Houston Texans – The Texans will overload the box to stop the run and dare Christian Ponder to beat them, I like those odds for the Texans.  AP will still go off for a big day.

Cleveland Browns @ Denver Broncos – The Broncos got a gift last week as the 49ers beat the Patriots and ascended the Broncos into the #2 seed with their sites set on a 1st round bye.  The Browns won’t be able to stop Peyton Manning.

Chicago Bears @ Arizona Cardinals – Let’s see…Arizona Cardinals have the worst QB position in the NFL (Sorry Jets) and they are facing a defense that is based on turnovers.  Bears end their losing streak and remain in the playoff picture.

New York Giants @ Baltimore Ravens – The Giants have been playing awful, they can’t rush the passer and Eli Manning isn’t helping either.  This seems about the time the Giants win every single game for the rest of the season. Ugh.

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks – The 49ers must go into the toughest place to play in the NFL, Seattle, and defeat a team that has scored 50+ points in back-to-back weeks after their defense was on the field for 95 (!) plays last week.  Oh yeah, it doesn’t look like Justin Smith will play either. The Seahawks might be without their top two corners and need to win to stay alive in the NFC West.  This will be a blood bath but I have to go with the team that just beat the Patriots on the road.

– Lance Cartelli

This Week in Sports

What Happened in Sports This Past Week? Well Let Me Tell You…

– After the Los Angeles Lakers fired Mike Brown, they moved quickly to hire Mike D’Antoni to a three year deal.  Previous fans of teams coached by Mike D’Antoni famously removed the “D” from his name, for his lack of coaching on the defensive end.  Don’t worry Laker fans — Mike ‘Antoni will coach Wight Howar and the rest of the Lakers in Hollywoo to eliver a ecisive NBA Championship.

– The Knicks came back in the 4th quarter to defeat the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday to remain undefeated at 6-0. After not resigning Jeremy Lin, the Knicks have been playing the best defense in the NBA.  Said star Forward Carmelo Anthony, “Once Coach ‘Antoni resigned, we realized there was 26 letters in the alphabet, so from now on you can call me D’Carmelo D’Anthony…It’s been a pleasure playing for the D’New D’York D’Knicks in D’Madison D’Square D’Garden”.  I think he’s getting carried away after finding out that “D” is an actual letter.

– The Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays consummated a blockbuster deal that allowed the Marlins to dump over $180 million in contracts. After the trade, there was a huge public uproar over the deal that decimated the Marlins roster…oh wait, there wasn’t?  People in Miami didn’t even know the Marlins were a team? Oh, well in that case…Go Heat?  Oh..Miami residents didn’t know that the Heat season started either?  They must still be at the beach or watching the new season of Dexter.

– As many as four Quarterbacks suffered concussions this past week in the NFL, including Mike Vick and Jay Cutler, who will not be able to play this week.  The only fans really disappointed by this outcome are the Fantasy Football Owners who had circled this date on their calendar because their Defenses was going against Vick and Cutler.

-The San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams tied 24-24 for the first tie game in the NFL since 2008.  Once the clock hit 0:00 in overtime and the teams and fans started to exit, a fan came running onto the field with a microphone yelling, “WHERE IS EVERYONE GOING?  THE GAME ISN’T OVER! FOOTBALL CAN’T END IN A TIE!”  It was actually Donovan McNabb who had been admitted to an insane asylum after having a mental breakdown over his last tie four years ago.

– The #1 team in the Nation, Alabama, was upset by Texas A&M on Saturday. Texas A&M was led to victory by Freshman phenom quarterback “Johnny Football”.  Wow, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Football, got really lucky that they named him that and he played Football.  It would’ve been really awkward if Johnny Football played Cricket or Bat-mitten.  Crisis Averted!

– Miguel Cabrera won the AL MVP after receiving 22 of 27 first place votes to defeat Rookie of the Year Mike Trout.  Cabrera won in large part due to becoming the first hitter since 1978 to win the Triple Crown.  At his press conference to accept the MVP, Cabrera wore three crowns and said, “As King of the American League and Ruler of the three realms of Batting Average, Runs Batted In and Home Runs, I demand that you all bow to me at once!”.  After slamming his mace into the ground, National League MVP Buster Posey busted the door down and stabbed Cabrera with the World Series Trophy.  It was a bloody day for the King of the American League, but the rightful heir to the Realms stood over the bloody corpse of the Triple Crown Winner and showed his supremacy.

– Lance Cartelli

What Can Brown Do For You? Lakers Fire Mike Brown

Well, that was fast.  It only took one death stare and 5 games into the regular season for the Los Angeles Lakers to fire their Head Coach Mike Brown.  As you all know, the Lakers won the offseason with trades for perennial All-Stars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.  They improved the depth on their bench with signings of Sixth Man Antawn Jamison and three-point specialist Jodie Meeks.  Installed the new “Princeton” offense, veering away from the Triangle Offense that has brought the Lakers six championships.  But winning the Offseason Championship doesn’t win you games, the Lakers and Mike Brown have gone 2-16 since the start of the Oklahoma City Thunder series in the Playoffs last year (including Preseason) and a change was made.

The Lakers have seen a team stacked with potential Hall-of-Famers fail before (2003-2004 Lakers when they brought on board Gary “The Glove” Payton and Karl “Mailman” Malone), so the Lakers Management (mainly the Buss’s) gave Brown the quick hook and are now in search of a coach that can lead this team to a Championship, not a promising start for the season that looked so bright just five games ago.  There will be a long line of coaches interested in the coveted Lakers coaching position, but who should take over?

  •  Mike D’Antoni – The former Phoenix Sun and New York Knick Head Coach resigned from the Knicks last year and has been out of coaching since.  D’Antoni would bring instant offense to a team that is built to run up and down the court.  D’Antoni coached Lakers Point Guard Steve Nash during his MVP run and the offense would clearly run through him.  D’Antoni mainly focuses on offense and his prior teams have lacked on the defensive side of the ball, not good when you need to stop the Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, and potentially the Heat in the Playoffs.  Also, D’Antoni just underwent knee surgery that will keep him off his feet for the next six weeks, but that may not stop him from accepting the position if offered.  Verdict:  The Lakers would be one of the most fun teams to watch on offense, but would be maddening on defense and not a team that could compete with the more athletic teams defensively in the playoffs.
  • Brian Shaw – The former reserve Guard with the Championship Lakers in their first three-peat under Phil Jackson and former Assistant Coach with Jackson, Shaw is a player favorite with the LA Diva Kobe Bryant and would re-install the Triangle Offense that Phil employed.  Bryant was upset when Shaw wasn’t under consideration to take over for Phil Jackson after he retired, because the Buss family wanted to steer away from Jackson’s legacy and the Triangle Offense.  We saw how that worked out.  Verdict:  Would be a great fit for the Lakers, but the Buss family doesn’t seem to want to go back in that direction.
  • Jerry Sloan – The Hall-of-Fame Coach has been out of Basketball since resigning from the Utah Jazz in 2011.  Sloan would bring a gritty toughness that former Jazz teams always exhibited, and would run a deadly pick & roll with Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, and Pau Gasol.  Nash would be his John Stockton and Howard/Gasol would be his Karl Malone.  An extremely dangerous team on offense and Sloan would make sure the Defense is up to par as well.  Sloan has been out of coaching waiting for an opportunity like this and doesn’t want his storied career to end with a feud with Deron Williams and resigning from the Jazz. Verdict:  I think he would be the ideal coaching candidate to utilize the talents the Lakers have on offense and to take this Defense to the next level, will it happen?
  • Phil Jackson – You know he had to be brought up for consideration. You have to think the Lakers are faxing (do people still fax?) over a blank check for Phil to name his price to return to coaching Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.  He still has a great relationship with the players and a relationship (hehe) with Jeannie Buss.  The question is does Jackson still have the desire to coach, he’s already the greatest basketball coach of all-time, does he really want to come back?  Verdict:  I think if all other options are exhausted the Lakers would be willing to pay the man whatever he wants.  The only problem is the Buss family (again) wants to take this team in a new direction away from Jackson’s philosophy.

No matter who the Lakers choose to replace Mike Brown, it will be a daunting task that not every coach is up for.  The bright lights of Hollywood and Showtime, we know Phil Jackson could do it, but can any of the other coaches?  D’Antoni faded away in the spotlight with the New York Knicks, Brian Shaw has never been a Head Coach on such a big stage, and Sloan has been tucked away in Utah for over 20 years.  There are still 77 games to get this team right, but can they do it?

– Lance Cartelli

NBA Storylines & Predictions

Just think, a year ago we were all telling jokes about how LeBron James had no rings, no killer instinct, and couldn’t put the team on his back.  Now after he won the NBA Championship, MVP, NBA Finals MVP, and an Olympic Gold Medal in the past year we are now asking what’s next?  Can LeBron take himself to MJ levels?  Can he be the greatest of all-time?  And that has to be the main storyline for the upcoming 2012-13 season.

The Miami Heat:  The Heat come into 2013 as the defending champions and all the pressure is on them to take control of the NBA like they did last year.  The big storyline is can they repeat?  If so, can they go on a historic run like Jordan did with the Bulls and win multiple titles in a row?  Miami not only has the best player in the NBA, LeBron, but they now surrounded that man with shooters all around him signing the best 3-point shooter off all-time, Ray Allen.  Last year in the Playoffs, the Heat figured out who they are and it only took them two years to do it!  The Heat run an unprecedented offense with “no positions”, it will consist of LeBron doing whatever he wants and surrounding him with shooters.  The Miami Heat are clearly the team to beat in the NBA.

Los Angeles Lakers: Arguably the next biggest storyline of the off-season was the Lakers making trades to give a three-year window to allow Kobe Bryant to at least (and hopefully surpass) Michael Jordan’s six NBA Titles.  The Lakers shocked the world by not only getting Steve Nash (the best point guard that Kobe will ever play with), they traded for the much maligned and best Center in the NBA, Dwight Howard.  The Lakers are now four-deep in their starting lineup with potential Hall-of-Famers, and the Artest formerly known as Ron, Metta World Peace will only have to be a spot up shooter and play defense.  The question is can this team gel and do they have enough in their legs to last a grueling 82 game season with a long playoff run?  Dwight Howard is the great equalizer and one of the best defenders in the NBA who can clog the middle.  The Lakers will be learning to play with each other on the run and are installing the new Princeton offense.  The Lakers will start slow but will hit their stride later in the season, don’t panic if the start off around .500.

James Harden Trade:  The Los Angeles Lakers main competition to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals to a big step when the Oklahoma City Thunder abruptly traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets.  As a small market team, the Thunder “said” they couldn’t have three max players and decided to low-ball James Harden after paying Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge  .  In the short-term, the Thunder are hurt by this trade in the Western Conference, they get a big-time scorer in Kevin Martin and a developmental two-guard with Jeremy Lamb, but that won’t replace the Sixth-Man of the Year.  In the long-term the Thunder might be better off.  Westbrook and Durant are still in their early 20’s and will eventually have to sign another contract, Sam Presti and the Thunder want to make sure that the talent they have will get better and they know in three years that the Lakers will potentially be without Nash and Bryant.

The Takeover of New York:  The New York Knicks used to own New York, despite being terrible mediocre for the past two decades, having an incompetent owner and now getting rid of a potentially great and marketable Point Guard (Jeremy Lin), who they replaced with Jason “Please Ice My Knees” Kidd and Raymond “Man Titty” Felton.  Not only that, the Knicks are now without Amar’e Stoudamire for at least six weeks and this team is in trouble in the East.  But here come the Brooklyn Nets — they’ve moved into the Barclays Center (if it’s still in one piece after Hurricane Sandy — and they have an owner who may not go to games, but has the deepest checkbook in the NBA.  The Nets signed Deron Williams to a $100 million contract, traded for Joe Johnson and the $90 million left on his contract, gave Brook Lopez a max-contract (I can’t type that with a straight face) and resigned Gerald Wallace to $40 contract (still laughing).  The Battle for New York will be a funny mediocre one!

Derrick Rose Comeback:  Despite being the top team in the Eastern Conference last year, the Chicago Bulls fought off the injury bug all season, none-worse than Derrick Rose tearing his ACL in the first round of the playoffs.  Rose has a long comeback ahead of him and the Bulls are hoping he’s back by midseason.  The Bulls are talented enough to stay afloat and potentially be a 2-4 seed while he’s out, but what will DRose be when he comes back?  Are the Bulls going to be ready to unseed the Miami Heat? Lots of questions in Chicago.

David Stern Farewell Tour:  The man with potentially the biggest ego in all of sports is finally taking his Swan Song and retiring in 2014 after thirty years of being the NBA Commissioner.  Stern has taken the NBA to unseen levels of popularity,  after the booming 90s, the NBA now has a chance to pass the Golden Age of the 90s into the Platinum Age of the 2010s.  The NBA has never had as many marketable superstars and great rivalries than it does now.  Stern will look to solidify his legacy by bringing a franchise back to Seattle after he helped the former Sonics leave to Oklahoma City.  The Dictatorship may be ending soon, but Stern still has a bunch of tricks of that sleeve of his.

Predictions:

Western Conference Playoff Teams (no particular order): Lakers, Jazz, Thunder, Denver, Clippers, Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets.

Eastern Conference Playoff Teams (no particular order): Heat, Bulls, 76ers, Celtics, Pacers, Nets, Pistons, Knicks.

NBA Finals: Miami Heat def. Los Angeles Lakers in six games.

– Lance Cartelli

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