LeBron James: Better Than Anyone, Including Michael Jordan

What makes LeBron so different than any other preemptive Superstar that’s ever played in this league is the fact that he is forced to evaluate his legacy – where he is and how he needs to get better – every single summer. When Jordan played it was just, “Wow, this guy might be the best ever.” He was never forced to quantify his own legacy, never forced to make a Mt. Rushmore – LeBron is put under such blinding heat of a microscope that he has ever flinch analyzed – unlike Michael.

And Jordan could score, for sure, but could he defend as well as LeBron? I doubt it. Who else, besides LeBron, can hold the NBA MVP to 6.3% shooting in the Conference Finals like LeBron did to Derrick Rose in 2011? James rebounds more (7.3 to 6.2), he has more assists (7.9 to 6.1) – he is the most complete player the league has ever seen. He takes care of the ball, take, for example, that Michael Jordan was in the top ten in turnovers four times. LeBron never has. LeBron is efficient. He plays aggressively smart whereas Michael just played aggressive.

Speaking of aggressive, here’s a question for you.

Who is better, Trent Dilfer or Dan Marino? Steve Blake or John Stockton? Brandon Jacobs or Barry Sanders?

Why do all the guys on the front-end of the question have one or more rings while the second guy has none. And who do you think is better? Rings are not the only measure. Rings are measured by wins and winning is a team statistic. That’s why some all-time greats like Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, and Cris Carter are ring-less.

Rings, hm. LeBron has the advantage over Michael at this point, too. At 28 years old, LeBron James had 4 MVPs to Michael Jordan’s 2. LeBron held advantage with two championships over one and, accordingly, 2 Finals MVPs to one.

Also at 28 years old, LeBron is in his 11th season, whereas Jordan played a total of fifteen. That’s on Jordan that he didn’t play as many seasons. He took a hiatus in 1993-94, which is because of his gambling and Commissioner Stern asking him politely to take the year off. That, and retirement, were both Jordan’s fault in shortening his career.

At the end of a career, both these guys are headed for Springfield, so the argument of heard about Michael being in the Hall twice (player and executive) is invalid.

That doesn’t mean a whole lot, MJ being in as an executive AND having picked Kwame Brown with the number-one overall pick during his time in Washington seems ludicrous.

What doesn’t seem ludicrous is comparing them one-on-one. It’s what would inevitably happen to see who’s really better.

LeBron sounds like a daft punk song! He’s bigger, better, faster, stronger. 6-foot-8 versus 6-foot-6. 240lbs versus 195lbs. In one-on-one, there isn’t anyone to set a screen, no space to operate, no one to get your rebound. James’s size advantage and comparable quickness to Jordan gives LeBron the edge.

In their careers, Jordan certainly had the edge in coaching.

Jordan had much better coaching. Phil Jackson is an all-time great while Mike Brown plus Erik Spoelstra is just “pretty good” – at best.

A player getting past pretty good and to their best is about being efficient. Not being a volume shooter and not hogging the ball is essential if you want to win.

Michael Jordan and LeBron James have the exact same total Player Efficiency Rating – 27.9 – throughout their careers. What’s the difference between them two? LeBron will get better. Jordan’s retired. More efficient: LeBron shoots 3% better from behind the arc, despite hoisting triple the amount of threes that MJ did at this point in his career.

Let this statistic sink in. LeBron James, the past three seasons, has been in the top-5 of both points per game and field goal percentage – that’s never been done before, not even by Michael Jordan. If you have a high field goal percentage you are A) a big man that plays close to the rim B) someone who doesn’t shoot a lot c) both. If you score a lot you A) shoot too much B) don’t pass enough C) both. Why does LeBron fit none of those statements which is true for EVERY other player in the national basketball league? Why has he obliterated those standards? Because he’s that good.

LeBron and Michael Jordan are both pretty good; I think that’s fair to say, but to say that LeBron gets preferential treatment from the referees and MJ didn’t is ridiculous.

The NBA has always treated its stars specially. There was the Jordan rule that you could push a guy off to create space for a jumper – as a referee, you don’t let stars foul out. LeBron is a continuation of a rule that’s much older than either of these players, so we shouldn’t use that argument for either of these players.

These players are similar, but also very different at the same time.

Michael Jordan goes hard all the time. I concede he’s the greatest competitor ever. But sometimes he goes so hard that it wears him out and he can’t produce in crunch time. In the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers, he missed 10 of his final 11 shots – sometimes that constant energy is a downfall.

LeBron is smart, he always plays hard, but he knows when to get out in transition or body up a big guy. He can, quite literally, defend whatever position necessary. Including Point Guards, which are the smallest, fastest, most agile guys on the court – LeBron can still guard them. He said to Chris Broussard in an ESPN interview, that he prefers to “hunt in packs.” He defers defers defers to get his teammates going, evaluating the other team, and then strikes at the jugular.

You know what, don’t trust me. ESPN ran an article and an Eastern Conference Executive said “LeBron would dominate Jordan one-on-one, no question.” Then Magic Johnson called LeBron “The best that’s ever been.” Don’t want to take their words for it? How about Scottie Pippen, who played with Jordan? He said “LeBron will end up being better than Michael ever was.”

Don’t trust them? How about other players.

I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t think Chris Bosh is a hall of famer. His statue might be in a museum or a Land Before Time movie, but not in Springfield. So, therefore, Chris Bosh is worse than Dennis Rodman and I believe Scottie Pippen and Dwyane Wade are comparable complements. Say you don’t think LeBron is better, LeBron still won with Bosh as opposed to Rodman. LeBron has won with less than those Bulls teams.

Essentially, there’s a big difference between MJ and LeBron – and it’s not the years they played. Michael Jordan looked to throttle the game. He hoped to appease the basketball gods by staying in the gym long after the game ended and hustling so hard from end to end that observers might have thought he was doing suicides. Jordan might have conquered the game, but LeBron James solved it. James, between 2010 and today, has decreased the amount of shots he takes per game by 16%, and his scoring has risen 2.1 points per game. How does that happen? LeBron James owns Jordan in APG through the first ten season of their careers, 7.9 to 6.1 – almost a two per game difference. Michael Jordan might have said “There’s no I in team, but there is in win” but no one is more is a better exemplar of that statement than LeBron James. He passes, he defends every position, and he is the consummate teammate.

Chuck Daly and the “Bad Boys” Pistons beat the Bulls in three straight Eastern Conference Finals from 1988 to 1990 by implementing a strategy called the Jordan Rules. If he drove, he’d get fouled hard. If he didn’t have the ball, he was overplayed defensively. If he touched the ball – a swift double team. That strategy stifled Jordan as they beat them in 5, 6, and 7 games those three years. If it weren’t for Phil Jackson’s innovative triangle offense, Jordan may have won only two or three titles rather than six.

That’s the thing, LeBron doesn’t need an innovative new offense focused around him, he can succeed in any style of play because LeBron’s greatest asset is his mind, which is geared towards the game. Michael Jordan may have conquered basketball, but all those subject to conquest eventually rise up again whereas those who solve puzzles can succeed for years to come.

 

Sam Fortier is a 17-year old aspiring journalist from New Hampshire. You can follow him on Twitter @Sam4TR or “like” him on Facebook or add him to your circle on Google+.

Patriot Games

There are 197 days until kickoff of the 2014 NFL season, 201 too many in my opinion. And as much as I loved seeing Seattle romp over Denver towards their first Super Bowl victory (called it from Week 1, self-five!) I need my fix, man. Football and I could be characters in the newest Nicholas Sparks novel, minus one of us dying by the end. And since it’s the offseason my bias is rooted in absolutely nothing. My trash talking cannot be countered since nothing has happened yet. So let’s talk about my New England Patriots.

The folks over at Patriots.com recently prioritized the team’s current free agents entering the 2014 offseason based on their importance to the team going forward. Andy Hart ranked Aqib Talib, the team’s number one corner and most vital defensive player of the 2013 season at number one. The list includes Julian Edelman, Dane Fletcher, LeGarrette Blount, and rounds out with Brandon Spikes and Matthew Mulligan. Most of the list I agree with; the Patriots should absolutely resign a lot of these guys. But some names stuck out to me in a negative manner. And as an insightful Patriots enthusiast, I see it as my job to re-rank these players based on my opinions.

1. Aqib Talib

Absolutely. Talib was the heart and soul of the defense when both Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo were placed on the IR last season. He was one of the major contributers to the unexpected playoff run and has established himself as one of the top corners in the game. He is in the prime of his career at 28 years old, and finished 2nd on the team with four interceptions after sitting out a portion of the regular season. The absolute best talent on the defense. Resign Talib.

2. Julian Edelman

Agreed once again Mr. Hart. While Patriots fans were looking for Danny Amendola to become the new Wes Welker, Edelman stepped up as Brady’s number one target. Edelman averaged over 10 yards per catch and went over the century mark for the first time in his career (1056 yards on 105 receptions). Not only that, but he isn’t afraid to take hits on punt returns or crossing routes either. He emerged as a leader and a true team player this past season, and would leave a massive hole in the receiving core if he does not resign. The kid can play. Resign Edelman.

3. Dane Fletcher

Fletcher stepped up huge for the Patriots after Brandon Spikes, along with Mayo, had to sit out. Him and Rob Ninkovich had some of the most prominent intangibles on the field last season, specifically on special teams (15 tackles). He flocks to the ball extremely well and comes off as one of the smarter guys on the defensive side of the ball. Resign Fletcher.

4. Michael Hoomanawanui

Hooman! No really, the dude has been a consistent backup over the last two years for New England, and with Gronk as a question mark (along with an estimated 8 rookie TE draft picks) Hooman could contribute far more than some may think. I like Hooman going forward, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep him in Foxborough. I mean, I’d take Scott Chandler over him any day of the week, but this is worst case scenario stuff. See what he can do in training camp. Resign Hooman.

5. Ryan Wendell

Wendell is in no way a superstar offensive lineman, and the struggle of the Patriots pass protection as of late is not a confidence booster. The only reason I have him at #5 is because he has been a consistent starter on the always shifting o-line. He obviously has something that Belichick likes. But if he moves on, it wouldn’t be a total loss. Indifferent.

6. Austin Collie

Austin Collie was good for about one catch a game for the second half of the season, including one big one in the final drive against the Saints. He looked good running routes, and has shown potential in the past with Indianapolis. But he is just one too many of these small, slot receivers. In my opinion, Edelman, Dobson, Thompkins, Amendola, and Boyce stay. But hey, if there’s cap room why not. Which I assume there won’t be if the Patriots go out and get a guy like Emmanuel Sanders or Hakeem Nicks. Indifferent.

7. LeGarrette Blount

The beast of January is going to want too much money. Plain and simple. If we can afford him, bring him back. But he is overhyped going into the offseason and does not deserve whatever he wants after two big games. The Patriots offense won’t skip a beat if he is not resigned. Indifferent.

8. Will Svitek

A primarily back up offensive lineman needs no special attention this offseason. Svitek was bumped from his second string position when Logan Mankins went down, so clearly he is not even the 2nd choice on the o-line. I don’t expect Svitek to return. Don’t resign Svitek.

9. Danny Aiken

A longsnapper’s job is pretty simple. Snap it well. 100% of the time. Regardless of how well he does, one mistake is costly. If the snap over Ryan Allen’s head happened in the Super Bowl, it could cost the team a championship. Aiken had been good up until that point, but it’s a job that requires perfection. Find another. Don’t resign Aiken.

10. Matthew Mulligan

The third string tight end’s high point of the season was a failed hurdle over a Cleveland defender. As impressive as the play was…Mulligan’s contributions were minimal. And with DJ Williams as a factor as well, expect Hooman and Gronk back along with a handful of rookies. Mulligan is history. Don’t resign Mulligan.

11. Andre Carter

The man was basically retired when the Patriots called him. Emergency contact maybe. Don’t resign Carter.

The only player I left off of this list is linebacker Brandon Spikes. Obviously Belichick did not bench him for the playoffs because of one instant of tardiness to practice. There is a recurring issue with him and the coaching staff, and neither wants Spikes to return. Don’t expect Spikes back at all next season. Maybe the Patriots will sign a LB who can actually cover a pass. Until then, expect some younger guys to shine in training camp, since each season is a new opportunity under Coach Belichick. Especially playing in the AFC EAST.

I doubt Buffalo brings in 50K per day...

I doubt Buffalo brings in 50K per day…

 

Link to original article: http://www.patriots.com/news/blog/article-1/From-the-Hart-Prioritizing-the-Patriots-free-agents/4da27a51-7e1e-4c2f-ab3f-c26f36e6dd1b

Who’s to Blame When Idols Fall in Shame?

Growing up.

I still don’t know how to feel about it. In a little over 40 days’ time, I will make a large leap from an adolescent to an adult – at least from the perspective of the government. In my own thoughts, I still see myself as a kid.

In school, they often tell us 17-year olds on the cusp of adulthood that we will take on an enormous responsibility on the day we turn 18. On an anniversary, a day that usually connotes happiness, we will be assaulted by tasks, responsibilities, and, primarily, solace in singularity of existence, away from parents who have raised us to this point. I understand, acknowledge, and welcome my place as an independently functioning member of society as it is, but simultaneously, it will be a day of melancholic reminiscence to reflect upon a bygone childhood.

Maybe it is this certain period of vulnerability that caught me so when I read the most recent issue of ESPN the Magazine. My English teacher once told me I read sports-material “ad nauseum” but, to be quite honest, there are times I indeed feel nauseous about the subject of sports arguments. There are issues of Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Mag (to which I subscribe) that I don’t read because I’m either too busy or the material is already well-worn by podcasters, television hosts, and peer discussions. This issue, centered upon Cuba, emblazoned with oft-analyzed star YasielPuig, was one I thought I might not get to.

I left it on my bureau for a few days while I consulted Hemingway instead, wanting to drift into For Whom the Bell Tolls rather than read another prognostication about Puig’s upcoming season after a reckless driving arrest.  I sat down on a lazy Sunday morning and gave myself 10 pages to try. I sifted through Le Batard and Keating, interested but unriveted. “The Fix” by Chris Jones is usually my favorite piece of the magazine and I read him nearly every issue, but I almost didn’t that day. I had school work and brotherly obligations and practice, but I wanted to finish the magazine.

This was the best decision I made that day.

I connected to the column, entitled Idol Thoughts, in every facet. (Okay, except for the part about Jay Cutler fandom – I still don’t get that.)

Jones loves Hemingway, just like I do. The analysis of Hemingway’s Spanish-English language hybrid as “clean and pure, muscular and vulnerable” gave me words to describe things that had previously stripped me of adjectives. I am a novice in Hemingway, having only started his works since 11th grade English introduced me to The Old Man and the Sea, but to read his accounts of his pursuit of his hero Hemingway – tracing his steps in Pamplona, France, Havana – was incredible. He writes, “Hemingway was, in so many ways, a terrible man. He was a human wrecking ball, leaving damage and dead animals and finally his brains in his wake. How could I admire a man like him?”

His Hemingway is my Varitek. Jason Varitek. He was my boyhood hero. He played my favorite position for my favorite team (Catcher, Boston Red Sox). I memorized his statistics, cheered loudest when he came to bat (whether from living room or the grandstands), wrote an essay in grade school about why he was my idol. JasonVaritek#33, for a long time, was the password on my computer. I thought he could do no wrong.

When, in 2009, one of my friends told me Varitek left his wife of 13 years after an affair with a Red Sox sideline reporter, I was crushed. I know, in today’s society, cheating and other means of infidelity are not as heinous as they used to be, but for me, it was a serious flaw – an egregious passed ball – he allowed in his character as a man and role model. I was 11, at the time, and I couldn’t understand. Why wasn’t he as good a man off the diamond as he was on? He had all the characteristics to be so. He played a tough position, well, no less, and led his team with pride and fought for his teammates like brothers.

I went through similar situations as I got older with Nomar Garciaparra and his steroid use. The same stands true for not just stars, but people in my life who were heroes. Older kids in school, parents of peers, and other adults I knew in the community and their choices: affairs, divorces, drugs – people I knew and formerly respected as a child. I grew up. I grew disillusioned. Perhaps, those things are directly proportional. I said to myself, these people have done great and wonderful things for me, yet how can I admire them now?

About Hemingway, Jones writes, “So I left Papa, just like that. I left my other heroes too. Maybe that’s part of growing up.” And maybe it is. Part of maturation is to learn, and sometimes not everything learned is worth remembering. Perhaps we’re supposed to outgrow our idols and blaze our own trails.

For Jones, who forsook Hemingway after becoming an established writer, he writes, “Maybe that’s only smart, that we would betray our heroes before they get the chance to betray us, the way they almost always do.” While that sentiment is cynical, it is not unfounded. By creating demigods of mortals, we purport tarnished bronze as gold; we create standards no one could ever fulfill.

They didn’t ask us to follow them – am I making something of nothing? I don’t think so. People in the public perception are aware of this (except The Truman Show) and they know they are role models. While I don’t think they are held to an eleventh commandment because of their stardom, I believe they should attempt to at least portray a life that can be exemplary.

That question: ‘how could I admire a man like him?’ is a universal query, posed to anyone who has ever served as an idol – because everyone is imperfect and, “You’ll realize that perfection is a lot to demand, especially from a stranger.” The only thing is they don’t feel like strangers, through their works (Hemingway) and performance (Varitek), I almost feel as if I knew them, if only a little.

It’s odd, what happens when people we look up to force us to look down upon them. We may never have known them personally, shaken hands and talked, but it’s still a foggy pain to see them fall. It’s still a disappointment to see them dragged down, and a knock upon their now-hollow reputation. All because heroes are unique, my role-model is one person because of something they did, but another person might idolize someone else for entirely different reasons. Even two people who have the same role model might admire them for different reasons – that’s why it’s such a blow to find out they’ve done something wrong; it’s that personal, individualistic connection.

Jones surmises how I felt, “Then you were disappointed, or you were embarrassed, or you decided that to be your own man, you couldn’t be caught in the shadow of another. You abandoned everything but what your precious peers might think of you. You took down your posters. You closed your books. You stopped listening. You went your own way.” Something that usually connotes such a positive entity of ‘going your own way’ is broached in such a negative perspective. Jones vividly describes a final expulsion of boyhood dreams and role-models when you close your books. It could take many different forms, a teary tantrum of ripping up baseball cards or the goodwill donation of a formerly-beloved jersey – and it was loved purely not because of the jersey – but because of the name embroidered on the back.

I can connect with the sudden loss of naïveté. As I am an impending adult, I look back at my first 17 years and realize that I, too, left heroes. Varitek, Garciaparra, adults whom I formerly held in the highest of regard – their actions used to cause my reactions, what they did I emulated.

“You’ll walk shamelessly through the streets of your own particular Havana one last time, and you’ll remember who brought you there in the first place, and when, and you’ll be so grateful that they did.”

This is the perfect conclusion of Jones’ essay. While any metaphorical role-model-esque statute of Garciaparra or Varitek may not have legs, they essentially provided me the passion for where I am. Varitek made me love the game, influenced me to play Catcher, and gave me a paragon through which I could see the right way to play the game. This, in turn, led me to my life’s greatest passions: writing and sports. In the same way, those adults gave me a foundation for how to lead a happy life the right way. Though they may have lost their way, they brought me to here. In perspective, I am on the eve of the beginning of my adult life. Up until this moment we have been formed based upon whose opinions into which we give stock.

Yet, that’s just what it’s like: buying stock. Sometimes you hit a goldmine that makes you wealthy for a lifetime; other instances lead you to bankruptcy. Maybe it’s the company’s fault, maybe it’s ours. We blame them for going out of business, when maybe it’s really our fault for betting too big.

In a way, we are stock brokers. When we close our accounts and get out of Wall Street, we can reflect. The wins will be forgotten and the losses will still sting. The money lost overshadows the money made. We will think back to when we got our first dollar to invest, our first baseball card. We were just too silly and naïve to realize it then on our first trade, but there are no stocks that only rise. We will only realize that fact afterwards and, though it was a tidal wave barrage of crests and troughs, our lives wouldn’t have been the same without them.

And maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Putting Hockey on Ice

Well, from yesterday until March the 10th, there’s no NHL hockey. The standings freeze, the players workout to avoid cooling off, and the NHL owners income drops faster than a thermometer in Canada winter.

And it couldn’t be better for the fans.

For hockey, that’s weird. Usually their fans are neglected the most in the big four, what with work stoppages aplenty and television deals that aren’t, well, encompassing.

But once every four years, hockey fans get what’s most comparable to two Christmases with a Gold medal game and Stanley Cup finals. An Olympics, which showcases pure hockey with their wider rink and fighting ban, brings all United States fans together, regardless of NHL affiliation, as one. It’s a great experience to root for one team, one flag, and one country. If this Olympics is anything like the 2010 Vancouver Games, it will be one of the most exciting events of the year and will further the rivalry between our sister-country in the Great White North.

Hockey players love it too; carrying the flag of their native country is a big deal and provides the opportunity for the athletes a chance to express their nationalism. Even those who aren’t playing in the games enjoy the break that a strenuous 82-game season puts on them. They rest up and, if you’re in the playoff chase, prepare for a push or if you’re the Calgary Flames, book vacations for late April.

Fans of Olympic hockey and the NHL better enjoy it while they still can. Grumplestiltskins like Ed Snider, owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, spoke plainly about the Olympics saying, “I mean, I hate ‘em.” Tell us how you really feel, Ed. He furthered his comments by calling them, “ridiculous” and damning the Olympics for “Screwing up everything.” (Maybe he’s upset his star Claude Giroux got passed over, AGAIN, for Team Canada, but you get the point.) Ed Snider isn’t the only owner disgruntled.

The sense around the league is that the owners will collectively apply pressure to league Commish Gary Bettman in order to ban NHL players participating in the South Korean winter Olympics four years from now. USA Today and Sports Illustrated have both expressed concern over the same sentiment as well as TSN analyst Darren Dreger. That would ensure a ho-hum normalcy of the NHL season, playing on as usual. It also means amateurs would play in the Olympics, decreasing the quality of the game broadcast. It would also force fans to pick sides, whether to watch a heated rivalry game or a possible Olympic medal match.

It’s a shame because NHL fans have had to endure so much, with the KHL poaching its talent, work stoppages, and a Commissioner who is annually booed so loud at the finals that it drowns out any other audio.

Since the NHL will put its Olympic talent on ice in four years, enjoy what’s on ice now – enjoy this Olympics as much as you can.

Seattle’s Super Job

When I was younger, I used to practice football in my friend’s front yard with his dad. He’d throw, we’d catch and then, whichever one of us wasn’t the receiver, made a tackle. My friend’s dad became a fan of the phrase, “Impose your will!” when instructing me to tackle his son. It’s safe to say Seattle imposed their will on Sunday night.

For all the hype that surrounded this contest, from the first snap of the game it was clear there was only one winner. That safety, which sailed over Peyton Manning’s oblivious, Omaha-filled head, was two points, literally and metaphorically. One, the snap itself was symbolic of how the game would go: a routine task – usually completed with ease – but embarrassingly mishandled to the point of incredulity and, oh, two: giving up points, a lot of them.

Other than that one moment of painful incompetence for Denver, no spectator can say that Denver beat themselves – that takes away from the brilliant spectacle that was the Seattle Seahawks defense on Sunday night.

Led by Malcolm Smith’s Super Bowl MVP-worthy performance, they limited Peyton Manning to 280 yards – he averaged 343 yards per game during the season. Malcolm Smith had 10 tackles (four on third down to stop a conversion), forced a fumble, and had a 69-yard INT return touchdown. Kam Chancellor repeatedly deked out Manning in coverage, making him believe he would follow the crossing route only until the final moment that he pounced the other way, forcing an incompletion.

The Seahawks defense, who dubbed themselves the “Legion of Boom,” had the relentlessness of a legion and their hits certainly made a crack, if not a boom. They forced four turnovers and demolished what was termed “the greatest offense in the history of the NFL.” A demolishing serves a disservice: they limited a team that scored 38 points per game in the regular season to eight. EIGHT. They limited a team that averaged 136.8 yards rushing all season to 26 on seven rushes. TWENTY SIX. Peyton Manning’s total Quarterback Rating (QBR) this season was 115.7. The Super Bowl? 72.1 That’s a near-40% drop. The Seahawks secondary won the knock-down, drag-out battle.

The Seattle defense didn’t stop at the decimation of just the Denver Broncos; they went for Peyton’s legacy. The Seattle Seahawks let Manning break a few more records this season, his 34 completions and Demaryius Thomas’s 13 catches, but, like his regular season stats, they’re empty and hollow. They mean nothing because he couldn’t win when it mattered. His inability to succeed in crunch-time is crippling. The only thing football teams care about is winning and that meaningless stats will not change a game that was 36-0 until the final play of the third quarter. Peyton won’t be remembered for 55 passing touchdowns and 5,477 yards (both all-time records) because this Super Bowl choke will overshadow all of it. His 11-12 career postseason record will be the one stat people will fixate on. Fans don’t love you for records, they love you for victories.

“I’ll never use that word,” Peyton Manning said. He was referring to the media question of, “Is this embarrassing for you?” Peyton went on to agree: you can take nothing from Seattle’s defense like they took the ball from Denver. Seattle’s defense shut down Denver like the lights at the Super Dome last year. Peyton’s generosity of giving the ball to the other team was not lost upon Seattle and Richard Sherman even said a nice word this week when he called Peyton, “the classiest player/person he’s ever met” on Twitter because Manning asked Sherman about his ankle right after the game ended.

Manning ended the game just as he started, with his helmet on. If this were a novel, that would be symbolism. Peyton didn’t want anyone to see his face; he hid behind the facemask – the only one of the eight captains to keep his helmet on during the coin toss. Perhaps he wanted to go into the game and be on offense and wanted to remain ready, or maybe he tried to mask his disappoint. And Manning was disappointed. For a man coming off four neck surgeries, this was his most talented team he has ever played with and he royally disappointed the city of Denver, as well as himself. In fact, with this showing, Tom Brady and Joe Montana and ole Jonny Unitas distance themselves from him in “the greatest Quarterback of all-time discussion.” That performance hurt his stock, rather than aid it like many prognosticated.

No one predicted the ultimate beat-down that Seattle would instill upon Denver – not even the Broncos themselves. Neither did Vegas – the Broncos were 2.5-point favorites.

The Seattle Seahawks went out Sunday night unconcerned with numbers, or facts, or figures. They did what they knew how to do: play defense and win games. Oh, and impose their will.

 

You’re the only Hawk I Sea.

Anyone else getting real annoyed with the redundant Super Bowl logos over the past four years? Yeah, Goodell, nothing enhances the biggest game in America like the most boring logo in sports. My personal favorite was the Super Bowl XXXVI logo over the outline of the United States (yeah, biased Patriots fan here. Sue me). Now I have to listen to Beautiful Day.

I digress, the big game is tomorrow night in East Rutherford, NJ and for the first time in recent memory I feel like the two teams pitted against one another are the most deserving. I’m looking at you 2006 Chicago Bears. The Seattle Seahawks are hoisting the league’s number one defense, lead by the man that has been haunting Erin Andrews’ dreams for the past two weeks, Mr. Richard Sherman. And on the other side of the ball is the greatest offense to ever play the game of football, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

Her face says it all.

The fact that we have two number one seeds going at it, both literally a county-sized distance away from their home fields, means we’re in for one hell of a battle come Sunday. It’s gonna be chock full of hard-hitting, trash talk-spitting, legend-provoking, perfectly-legal-for-medicinal-use-only-marijuana-smoking action. Hey, I’d want to work for Pete Carroll too.

Everybody is saying that this game will come down to the wire. And since we’ve had some fantastic finishes to the end of the NFL season as of late, I’m sure this game will not disappoint. Both teams will come out flying, and expect some big plays early.

Here are my thoughts:

  • The Denver offense scored 606 points during the regular season, an NFL record
  • The Seattle Defense gave up 231 points during the regular season, 1st in the league
  • Denver’s defense ranked 22nd in points allowed this year
  • Seattle’s offense ranked 9th in points scored, 72 of those coming from Marshawn Lynch
  • TO Ratio during regular season: Seattle +20 Denver +/- 0

 

Seattle takes care of the football. Not only that, but their defense gets them the ball through takeaways. Taking care of the football is so important in the playoffs, since every mistake becomes that much more costly. Advantage Seattle. And a big advantage at that.

Clichés are clichés because they’re true. And what saying rolls around when a top defense is in the playoffs? Defense wins championships. Oh but it’s a passing league now! And most of those defenses weren’t taking on the best offense to ever play. Guess what, doesn’t matter. Seattle’s offense is good enough to capitalize on the mistakes that their defense will trigger.

Blasphemy! Peyton Manning and his offense are unstoppable! Right?

They didn’t look unstoppable against San Diego a few weeks back. They didn’t look unstoppable against Indianapolis or New England during the regular season. The beauty of football is how complex and crazy the game gets, its roots remain the same. And one of those roots is the fact that a defense that can make stops and force turnovers will win the game. Period. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

If you want to talk about offensive juggernauts, let’s talk about the greatest show on turf. One of the highest powered offenses ever. The 2001 St. Louis Rams finished the regular season with a point differential of 230, an average of 14.4 points/game. They were winning by an average of over two touchdowns per game. And come playoff time, they threw up all over their newly designed jerseys ( I still prefer the bright yellow and purple. You go Kurt Warner).

The Patriots beat the Rams by game planning for their offense. Bill Belichick made in-cuts and jamming receivers an art form in that game. His defense was able to force enough stops and play well enough to allow his offense to score 20 and win the game. I say “well enough” because that’s all it takes. An effective offense only needs one or two breaks to put the game away.

Fast forward six years. Oh, how the tables have turned. If you want unstoppable, you got it buddy. The newly formed New England Patriots scored 589 points in 2007 (then, an NFL record). An 18-0 start was one minute and “gum on the helmet” catch away from becoming the absolute best season in NFL history. But how was it tainted? Defense. Tom Coughlin’s defense pressured, hit and knocked down Tom Brady and played good enough to give Eli Manning a chance to win the game. And he capitalized.

The team that averaged a point differential of 19.7 during the season (sweet fancy Moses!) was held to 14 points. The playoffs are a different time, and we see it time and time again that high powered offenses are beaten by good defense. A well rounded team will always win the game when it matters most.

Now, this game will be unreal. The Denver offense is unreal. But history does not lie. And the Seattle defense will face its toughest challenge tomorrow night. Who will win the game? I don’t know any more than anybody else. But when a great defense meets a great offense, I’ll take the defense 9 times out of 10.

I’m picking Seattle over Denver: 24-21.

I'm the WIZ and nobody beats me!

I’m the WIZ and nobody beats me!