Tag: Sports

Tim Thomas is a Jerk

Yeesh. My headline expresses my thoughts but so does this parenthetical remark by the writer:

(Is it any wonder that the country is so politically fractured when a bunch of guys can't agree to just get together and talk sports?)

Niners Continue Looking Good, But Thursday Could Be a Real Turkey

The Niners overcame a sluggish and sloppy first half today to blow out the Arizona Cardinals 23-7 as they raised their NFL second-best record to 9-1 and rack up their eighth straight victory.

The win wasn't as easy as the score made it sound. Defense forced five turnovers before the third quarter was a wrap but special teams were uncharacteristically shaky and the offense seemed to have a hard  time finding its way until the D gave it great field position on two straight possessions after the half.

I wasn't surprised the game was harder than many expected. The Cardinals had won two straight under a really unseasoned backup QB and they were not blown out by anyone prior to today's 16-point loss.

Now the Niners have three days of rest (one day of which will hardly be a resting day as they travel east once again) before taking on the Baltimore Ravens. At 7-3, the Ravens are tied with the Steelers atop the AFC North and are 5-0 on their home turf. This game could easily provide the second blemish on the Niners' 2011 record. But this is the last of only two real contests SF faces for the rest of the season. (The other date is Week 14 when they host the Steelers.) All of their remaining games are against their own NFC West conference, and there's not a viable threat in the bunch. 

So the Niners will go at least 13-3, more likely 14-2 and quite possibly 15-1. 

Thanksgiving Day should be a barn-burner. Hope there's no turkeys in the barn.

NFL is 60%+ Predictable. Good, Bad or Indifferent?

I was perusing USA Today's weekly NFL picks this morning for the first time in a while. Back in the day when sports was a more central passion, I read not only these guys but ESPN's experts and several others as well. Every week, I'd predict all of the NFL games. Over the years, I had about a 63% success rate. Which it turns out is about the same as the vaunted experts.

Today I noticed that of USA Today's eight experts, they all agree on the outcome of nine of this weekend's 14 games. In two others, there is only one dissenting vote from the majority. The only games on which they have any larger disagreement are:

  • Rams (4) at Cardinals (4)
  • Ravens (3) at Steelers (5)
  • Bills (3) at Jets (5)
The accuracy rating of the eight-member panel ranges from a low of .638 to a high of .681. That's a five-game-correct delta for almost the first half of the season. 

What I want to know is how many times this season all eight of them picked a wrong outcome. In years past, I'd have spent a couple of hours researching that. Now I just wonder about it.

Wonder what that means.

Niners Overcome Adversity to Notch Win #5

The San Francisco 49ers took a major stride toward a return to respectability today as they overcame 15 stupid penalties, an early turnover, a hot team, a road trip and a loud, hostile stadium to beat the previously undefeated Detroit Lions 25-19.

Aside from the penalties — too many of which came on offense — the Niners played one of their better games of the season, even if not statistically. The Lions' stout defense gave them fits, but they managed to solve the fluid D enough times to pull out a come-from-behind victory. And they did it, as I predicted, by more than five points. (Hey, six is more than five!)

Quite an enjoyable if overly long regulation-time game. So both teams are now 5-1, leaving the Bears the only undefeated team in the NFL. 

Niners vs. Lions: A Feast for an Old Fan

Tomorrow morning Pacific Time, the San Francisco 49ers (4-1) and the unbeaten Detroit Lions (5-0) square off in Detroit. At this moment, at least, I intend to be in church when the game starts and to come home and watch it from my DVR after it has ended. No guarantees. The Church of the NFL may yet beckon me with temptation beyond my endurance.

I grew up a Lions fan. As a young sportswriter, I covered the Lions. I was on the sports staff of the Pontiac (now Oakland) Press the year the long-time iconic Sports Editor, Bruno Kearns, worked tirelessly to get the city of Pontiac to build the stadium that lured the Lions out of Detroit and into suburbia. From the time I left Detroit until I landed in the Bay Area in the late 70's, I was a die-hard Lions fan. And that meant supporting them through some horrible, horrible years.

But I have always believed that when you relocate, you need to adopt the local teams, so I became a 49ers loyalist and I have remained one ever since.

So for me this game is going to be wonderful no matter how it turns out. I expect a really great game, but I think the Niners might win this one by more points than most folks think.

The last time the Lions were 5-0 was in 1956. They faced the Niners for their sixth game and defeated the gang from SF. I was 11 at the time but I remember the game from the newspaper accounts.

But the Niners have won the last five meetings between these two teams, having outscored Detroit almost 2-to-1 (115 to 62).

I think the Lions depend far too heavily on the long game and the 49ers are far too good deep on D to give up many long plays for the Lions to stand a real chance in this one. There are a number of key stats I watch that all favor my Niners, most important of which are the Niners much higher-rated defense (they're 2nd through 4th in the stats categories while the Lions are in the bottom third on all three) and their better takeaway ratio (+10 to +7) even though Detroit is good enough to be tied for second in the league.
But the real reason I think the Niners are likely to win Sunday is that long winning streaks are really tough to sustain in the NFL. The Lions are a good team, a much-improved team and I think they'll give SF fits a good part of the day, trying the defense particularly. But when it's all over, I expect the Niners to win by 5+.

ESPN Commercial for World Cup is Awesome Message of Unity

I was delighted this morning when my weekly update email from my favorite news magazine, The WEEK, showed up with a story about and a llnk to a brilliant TV commercial done by ESPN to promote the upcoming FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Take a minute to watch and listen. And when it comes to the end, think, not just "FIFA World Cup" but "the world and all beings in it." Inspirational.