A Handy Guide to Friday’s World Cup Draw…of DEATH!

For the first time in four years, I updated this blog millions of viewers across the globe will tune in to watch Friday’s group-placement draw for next summer’s World Cup. While this may be the best US Men’s National Team ever assembled, the fighting Klinsmanns will be placed into what is arguably the toughest World Cup field in history. More than any tournament in recent memory, the USMNT’s fate precariously hangs in the balance — failure or fortune may simply come down to the laws of physics and chance as they apply to the ping pong ball with the “United States of America” written on it.
A fortuitous draw — though there will be fewer than ever this go-round — and the US will enter the World Cup for the first time ever as the odds-on favorite to win its group.
A draw into the Group(s) of Death and the US will be the odds-on favorite to finish 32nd in the 32-team tournament. Should the United States be drawn into a group with Brazil, the Netherlands and Italy for example, then the successes under Jurgen Klinsmann will simply have earned them the right to be publicly executed in front of a global audience next July. Fun!
But in order to gauge the prospective fortunes of the US, let’s take a look at exactly what Friday’s draw entails and how we got here with a little Q&A.
So, wait, what’s happening on Friday?
Picture it as the Selection Sunday of the World Cup if the NCAA tournament committee was comprised of lunatics, children, bookies and circus animals and if the morale of entire nations rested upon their selections.
How does it work?
The 32 teams have been divided into four pots, and each of the eight World Cup groups will have one team from each pot (except for one, we’ll get to that shortly).
Is it fair?
Of course it’s not fair. Are you kidding? This is FIFA we’re talking about, the same organization that decided Qatar should host the 2024 World Cup (tentative slogan- “Qatar: If you think our heat is oppressive, wait til you see our government!”).
Like the NBA draft lottery, each team has a ping pong ball that is chosen at random to determine its placement. Also like the NBA draft, there is a fairly good chance that it is somehow rigged. But that’s not even the unfair part.
Pray tell.
Instead of ranking all 32 teams and seeding them accordingly like the NCAA selection committee does, FIFA seeds only the top eight teams and puts them in one pot so they won’t end up being placed in the same group. The other 24 teams are then divided based on geography.
Geography?
Yes, that’s why the United States is in the same pot as neighboring countries like Japan, Australia and Iran.
I’m confused.
Basically, one pot is Europe, one pot is Africa, and one pot is the United States and everybody else. When I said geography, I meant, first-grade geography. This ultimately hurts the US because they’re lumped into the same pot as many of the worst teams in the tournament, which means they won’t get to play them. Which also means we won’t get the highly anticipated Winner Gets Nuclear Capability match with Iran in the group stage.
Okay, so who else is the United States’ group?
Japan, Australia, Iran, Costa Rica, South Korea, Honduras and Mexico.
Wait. Mexico? Didn’t they only win like half of their games in the Hexagonal qualifier? And didn’t they fire their coach?
No, they won one-fifth of their games, and they fired THREE coaches. The United States saved them by beating Panama on the last day of qualifying, which earned Mexico a home-and-home playoff against New Zealand, who they beat because New Zealand’s team is comprised of hobbits and wombats. Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and and Sweden will not be playing in the World Cup. Again, this is FIFA. Nothing is fair.
So who are the seeded teams?
Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Uruguay. As you can see, FIFA’s formula for ranking teams is Wins x Domestic Chocolate Production.
Switzerland is one of the eight-best teams in the world? I thought the Swiss were snow people who despised international competition.
According to the FIFA rankings, they are the eighth best team, but like all things FIFA, these rankings are flawed. In reality, the Swiss are not nearly that good, that’s why the teams who get drawn into their group will be in great shape to advance. The Swiss are the gatekeepers to the Group of Life.
What are the other pots then?
So, Pot 1 is the seeded teams.
Pot 2 is Algeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Chile and Ecuador.
Pot 3 is the USMNT’s group.
Pot 4 is Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, England, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Russia.
Is it wrong that I giggle a little every time you say “pot”?
No. Homophones can be hilarious sometimes.
Hold up. There 7 teams in Pot 2 and 9 teams in Pot 4.
One team from the European pot will be drawn into Pot 2. It was expected that the lowest-ranked Euro team (France) would be added to Pot 2 ahead of time, but FIFA decided to instead choose from all of the Pot 4 teams at random.
This means that the Group of Death has the potential to be much more, uh, deathier. No more than two teams from Europe can be placed into the same group, so (stay with me here) the European team that gets put into Pot 2 will have to be drawn with one of the seeded teams from South America (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia) plus another Euro team from Pot 4, and that produces some absurd permutations.
Prior to that wrinkle, the most difficult potential group for the US (who are in Pot 3) was Brazil (Pot 1), the Netherlands (Pot 4) and either France or Ghana (Pot 2). Now, it’s Brazil, the Netherlands and Italy, aka the prohibitive favorite to win the World Cup, the 2010 World Cup runner up, and the 2006 World Cup champs, respectively.
So what are the chances that the US ends up in the Group(s) of Death?
Very high. It’s bad — hey I’m just trying to manage expectations. See, because the US is the best team in the worst pot, their group will automatically be one of the toughest, since there will likely be no weak team in it. Add to it the stupid regional set up, the bizarre top-8 seedings, and the lack of Cinderella (i.e. bad) teams that qualified, and you’re looking at some worrisome possibilities. There will likely be multiple groups of death this World Cup, so prepare yourselves for some disappointment on Friday.
Oh thanks now I hate the World Cup and it hasn’t even started yet. What’s the best case scenario?
A group with Switzerland, Algeria and Greece. By all rights the United States should own* those three teams (*Note: Greece is a registered asset of the European Union and cannot be bought, sold or owned by any other entity, they’ve tried.).
For a closer look at the three pots: Switzerland is far and away the preferred team from Pot 1, followed by Belgium and Colombia, though they aren’t pushovers by any means.
Algeria, Nigeria and Cameroon, in that order, are probably the teams you want from Pot 2, and Ghana, Ivory Coast, Chile and the Euro-team are the ones to avoid.
Pot 4 contains the beatable teams of Greece, Croatia and Russia, plus the perennial favorites to self-destruct, England and France, so either of them would probably be okay too. Holland and Italy would be bad news.
Well if the draw is probably going to suck, is there any other reason to tune in?
That depends. Do you enjoy bizarre celebrity cameos, globally themed musical performances and interminably delayed announcements?
I guess?
Then the World Cup draw is for you. It’s Selection Sunday if the unveiling of the brackets was preceded by 90 minutes of speeches and samba. Also, at the 2010 draw, Sepp Blatter enlisted a confused Charlize Theron to speak and do things for no reason.
Wait, who’s Sepp Blatter again?
The overtly corrupt head of FIFA. Imagine the creepy old guy at your public library if he had the resources and intentions of Lex Luthor.
I’d rather not. So how do I watch?
ESPN2, 11:30am on Friday.
Thanks, this was sort of helpful. Hey why don’t you ever blog anymore?
I have a extremely demanding job that requires-
Blah blah blah. Joe Biden has a blog. Is your job more demanding than his?
Point taken.

AFLACCOLYPSE NOW part 1: Patriots Schadenfreude

In case you haven’t heard, the Ravens are going to the HarBowl…er, HarBaughl…Super Bro-wl…They’re brothers! Anyway, I’ll have a few posts between now and Super Bowl Sunday about the scene here in Birdland (preview: inebriated and combative), but before we look at the cast of characters who will be competing in a couple weeks, let’s look back on who won’t be; more specifically, let’s laugh at the Patriots.
I had no intention of devoting an entire post to the Patriots until I saw this article, entitled, Never Forget: They Hate Us Because They Want To Be Us.” I don’t know who “el presidente” is, but I’m assuming he’s the illiterate ghost of Dan Shaughnessy. Obviously, most Pats fans would read this and cringe, much in the same way that I would cringe if a video of Philly fans beating the shit out a Laberdoodle puppy in a Cowboys jersey emerged (probably already exists). It’s stereotypical. It’s unrepresentative. It’s low-hanging fruit….but I haven’t done this in a while, and low-hanging fruit can be delicious, so let’s take this line-by-line, shall we?
First things first. Shannon Sharpe is probably top 5 most pretentious assholes on the planet.
Couldn’t proofread the very first sentence, huh? That’s not the eloquent Barstool prose I know.
Bill Belichick is Bill Belichick. He doesn’t like giving interviews when the Pats win. He doesn’t like giving interviews when the Pats lose. Same guy.
“See?? It’s asshole double jeopardy! He’s always a curmudgeonly taintmuffin. All is forgiven!”
I have no problem with the media hating on him, but this isn’t a Lebron situation where he seeks out cameras and adulation when he wins and hides when he loses. You want to call Belichick a sore loser that’s fine. But just make sure you call him a sore winner too because his attitude doesn’t change.
Uh, we do call him a sore winner. Like, every time he wins. See Exhibit A: The 9,700 SportsCenter segments about the Patriots running up the score during their undefeated regular (LOL) season.
Anyway as much as I wanted to avoid talking about the Patriots today it’s impossible. Not when the entire world is open firing on us like they are right now. See that’s the thing about being a Pats fan. Everybody wants to see you fail.
Other things about being a Pats fan: Having persecutory delusions, masturbating to Mark Wahlberg, most likely being racist.
We’ve been king of the mountain for so long that it’s only natural for the rest of the league to hate us.
This statement sounds absurd until you consider the minor topographical distinction that on top of Patriots’ mountain is another mountain that’s for teams that won a Super Bowl in the last 9 years.
For the rest of the country the only thing better than their own team winning is us not winning.
1. Who’s “us”?
2. That statement is blatantly untrue.
3. Fuck you.
I don’t blame them. If I didn’t live here I’d hate us too. Like nobody cares that the Falcons lost. Nobody cared when the Packers got bounced. The only team people care about is the Patriots.
I’ll ignore the wild narcissism of this statement and give him the fact that nobody cares that the Falcons lost.
They hate us with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns.
This means nothing. “Hate” and “heat” may sound similar with a Boston accent but that does not make them synonyms. The intensity of hatred isn’t measured in temperature. It’s measured in cubic joules or light years (if you use the metric system). Everyone knows that.
It makes days like today that much harder to endure when everybody and their grandmother is piling on.
Grandma Pino: “…and that’s what it was like seeing untold horrors as a nurse during World War Two while your grandfather was gone for two years fighting for his life and his country in the South Pacific. Anyway, did you happen to see that Patriots game?”
Horrible Pats Fan from out of nowhere: “FACK YOU GRANMDA YOU-AH HAVE NO I-DEE-AH WHAT I HAVE TO ENDURE ROOTING FOR BRADY AND WELK-AH”
When you have the Shannon Sharpes and Terrell Suggs of the world mouthing off.
That is not a sentence.
The bottomline is this.
“What is, ‘not a compound word,’ Alex.”
Idiot.
In an era where parity is king
Parity is king of the era, just like sticktoitiveness is the prince of the times and waffles are the jesters of the fortnight.
and the NFL strives for equality the Pats have been to 5 superbowls in 12 years, 7 AFC title games and 10 division titles.
Incoherent boasts about AFC East titles are the natural defense mechanism of bitter Pats fans.
If you throw out the year Brady got hurt that means Brady and the Pats have been to the Superbowl in half the seasons he’s been in the league. Before every season begins we know we have a 50% chance of being in the final game.
5 out of 11 is 50%. NO ONE DENIES THIS.
If we don’t win it all than the entire season is viewed as a gigantic waste of time. We are left stunned and depressed and questioning the existence of god.
Note: “god” is the code name for Belichick’s spy cameras.
Meanwhile other cities treat just making the playoffs like they won a world championship.
Right. That definitely happens.
Why am I saying all this?
Because you’re a disillusioned, page-view baiting, feeble-minded narcissist?
Because on days like today it’s easy to forget how lucky we are to be Pats fans. There has never been anything like this run in the NFL and there never will be again.
NEV-AH….except for that time the Niners won 5 Super Bowls in 13 years, the Steelers won 4 in 6 years, and the Redskins won 3 in 10 years and the Cowboys won 3 in 4 years and the….
You wonder why everybody hates the Pats?
Not after reading this article.
It’s because for the past decade we’ve ruled the NFL with an iron fist the likes of which this league has never seen before.
Zero Super Bowls in nine years. What a magnanimous and charitable iron fist.
Does it suck we lost? Of course it does. Would I trade places with any other fan base? Not in a billion years.
NAWT YOU, NAWT YOU AND NAWT YOU.
Because when the season starts anew we know we already can pencil ourselves in for the AFC title game.
(Pencils in “lose to Joe Flacco or Eli Manning” on calendar)
Quite simply they hate us because they want to be us and who wouldn’t?
Well…the facts are Brady hasn’t won a big game since 2005. He hasn’t won a big game since the media has deemed him the golden boy. And once again yesterday he made some uncharacteristic mistakes in big moments highlighted by his clock mismanagement at the end of the first half. Things that if other QB’s did they’d get vilified for. Football is definitely a team game. And since the Patriots have become a Brady first team we haven’t won shit.
Those aren’t my words, they’re from THIS WRITER’S own sulking post from the same day this was posted. So who wouldn’t wanna be you? For starters- you.

The Top 20 Holiday Songs Of All Time

(The following is an unedited and extended version of an article that ran in the papers I work for. If you’d like to read that abridged version, go here. Otherwise, enjoy the following kilo of uncut Colombian holiday cheer.

Need a holiday party playlist in a pinch? Good news: After literally thousands of hours of research, yours truly determined the top 20 holiday songs of all time then ranked them using a groundbreaking harmonic algorithm…Okay, these are based solely on my opinion, but I think you’ll like them.

20. “The Christmas Shoes” by NewSong – Just kidding. This is tied with “Mad World” by Gary Jules as the most depressing song of all time and it belongs nowhere near a party unless you are subtlety trying to get people to leave, or cry. What the hell were the sociopaths of NewSong thinking when they put together the lyrics to this song?

-“Hey I think I just wrote this really beautiful Christmas song!”
-“Awesome, what’s it about?”
-“This little kid whose mom’s about to die on Christmas Eve.”
-“Wait, what?”
-“Yeah yeah, and he’s at a store buying her shoes.”
“Why wouldn’t he be at home? If anything, she needs shoes less than just about anyone on the planet.”
-“No, they’re for Jesus.”
“Oh”
-“But he can’t afford them.”
“Jesus?”
-“Her son.”
“That’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.”
-“Yeah but then I come in and buy them for him, and then I realize that he had REALLY been sent by God the whole time.”
“Jesus?
-“No, the son.”
-So the Mom was never actually sick?”
-“What? No she’s dead.”
-“
Wow. Well at least she got new shoes.”
-“It was never about the shoes.
-“Oh. What’s the name of the song?
-“Christmas Shoes”

20. “We Need a Little Christmas” by The Muppets– From the underrated classic, A Muppet Family Christmas. Listen to this song and try not to smile. Seriously, try it. You can’t.

19. “Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives– Did you know Burl Ives is white? I have no idea why I thought he was black all these years but I seem to preemptively assume people’s race all the time. I thought Robert Griffin was white until like eight weeks into his last season at Baylor when I finally saw him and realized that he was, in fact, decidely nonwhite. In my defense, Rob Parker still hasn’t made that revelation just yet. This has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, does it?

18. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by Mannheim Steamroller– Listening to this song, you may think to yourself, “What is a mannheim steamroller and what does construction equipment have to do with Christmas?”, “What instruments am I listening to?”, “Are you sure this isn’t Trans-Siberian Orchestra?” All valid questions, still a great song.

17. “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms– Nothing about bells screams “rock,” and yet Bobby Helms convinced America that jingle bell rock was something that could exist in nature, so credit Helms with paving the way for future generations to make literally anything rock- jail houses, planets, even crocodiles. Bobby Helms was a pioneer and Jingle Bells was his Plymouth Rock.

16. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by Bruce Springsteen– Even Springsteen recognizes that come Christmas Time, Santa Claus is The Boss. Bruce provides an excellent rock n’ roll tune-up on the tale of Santa and his E-Street Reindeer.

15. “Oh Holy Night” by Luciano Pavarotti– It’s basically everything that “Christmas Shoes” was going for, only successful.

14. “Sleigh Ride” by Johnny Mathis– Like Burl Ives, Mathis has a voice that instantly evokes the Christmas spirit. Whether you’re hanging ornaments on the tree or storming Toys R’ Us at 5 a.m. to viciously battle for the last Furby, this cheerful tune brightens any holiday tradition.

13. “Up on the House Top” by Jackson 5 Written in 1864, by Benjamin Hanby, it is believed that this song was the first to put forth the idea that Santa and his reindeer landed on the roof of homes. It thankfully supplanted the 1863 holiday hits, “In through the Crawlspace” and “Santa’s on the Dumbwaiter Again.”

12. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by The Ronettes– The lyrics tell the rather dark tale of a child seeing Mom ostensibly cheating on Dad with a magical, obese man who snuck into the house. This song is proof that Motown can make absolutely anything sound good.

11. “Let It Snow!” by Dean Martin– Only the Rat Pack could turn an ominous weather forecast into a legendary love song. The solution to global warming is employing more meteorologists who can croon.

10. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee– What exactly is the “new old-fashioned way” to dance, besides a paradox? Is it a new interpretation of an old dance, like adding a hip new flair to the Charleston? Or is it whatever dance has most recently stopped being popular? If people start doing the Dougie around your Christmas tree, you’ll know it’s the latter.

9. “White Christmas” by The Drifters– The original Bing Crosby version may be a classic, but The Drifters’ cover featured prominently in the Home Alone scene when Kevin McCallister lip-syncs  in the mirror before dousing his face with aftershave. Advantage: Drifters.

8. “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” by Nat King Cole– Perhaps the most iconic holiday song ever written, it was ironically penned by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells in the middle of a mid-summer heat wave in 1944 as a way to try and stay cool. Huh.

7.  “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by Thurl Ravenscroft– Name another Christmas song that can get away with containing lyrics like, “Your soul is an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of rubbish imaginable.” “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” was the original diss track; “Hit Em Up” has nothing on that fire.

6. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey Far and away the most recent addition to the catalog of holiday mainstays, “All I Want for Christmas  Is You” was an instant classic and has provided the soundtrack to every drunken ugly sweater party ever since.

5. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Frank Sinatra– Like watching “Miracle on 34th Street” or hearing the phrase, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings,” this song captures the holiday zeitgeist of the mid-20th century, the golden age of Christmas in pop culture. It’s funny, ’cause there’s a 90 percent chance that Sinatra was doing blow off a cocktail waitress’s tits while recording this song.

4. “Little Drummer Boy” by Bing Crosby and David Bowie– This song and video are amazing and if you disagree I hope your house burns down on Christmas Eve.

3. Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer– The chemistry throughout the duet is so pitch-perfect that it completely overshadows the fact that this is a song about a man’s relentless attempt to date rape court a partner.

2. Christmas Eve in Sarajevo” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra– This list could have easily been comprised of nothing but Trans-Siberian Orchestra songs. Their hits, especially “C.E.i.S.” sound as if John Williams, Axl Rose and Dracula were locked in a recording studio together with an oil drum full of Four Loko and a told to compose the perfect Christmas song. There’s few places I’d rather been on Christmas Eve less than Sarajevo, so I don’t understand the title for this song, but I can only imagine this is the kind of music the Bosnians blast as they prepare for civil war, so really this song should be called “Every Day in Sarajevo.”

1. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams– No Christmas song encapsulates the joy and enthusiasm of the holiday season like Williams’ version of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Andy Williams sounds likes the lounge singer at the world’s happiest casino. If Santa has an iPod, which is probable seeing as he has a sweatshop full of elf slaves and apparently limitless resources, this is the only thing on it. Well, that and the video Slutty Claus made for him.

Honorable Mention: “Little Saint Nick” by the Beach Boys, “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt, “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses and “Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time” by Paul McCartney.

Merry Christmas everyone.

6. Speak of the devil and he shall appear.

Detroit Lions- The Lions had an encouraging 2011 season and made their first playoff appearance since 1999. Their first round playoff game, however, got ugly quick, as Drew Brees threw for 466 yards and the Saints hung 45 points on the Lions’ brutal secondary. It was a disappointing and dark time for Detroit, or as they call it in Detroit, “time”.

 Added– Sean Jones, Jacob Lacey, Reilly Reiff, Jonathan Scott, who are all, I guess, professional athletes?
Lost- Aaron Berry, Eric Wright.

  

You merely adjusted to the dark, Jim Schwartz was born in it. I’m 60% percent sure the man is legitimately psychotic. The GIF above is following a WIN. Look at this press conference– you can actually see the aggression boiling below the surface like a volcano. I guarantee that Jim Schwartz gets into a road rage altercation every single time he gets behind the wheel of a car. He’s the kind of guy who honks his driver’s horn when he’s sitting shotgun, screams at baristas for using Splenda instead of Sweet N’ Low and confiscates kids’ soccer balls when they go into his yard. Jim Schwartz has ZERO fucks to give this world.
-A comical amount of Lions got arrested this season, which is perfect. This team has completely taken over the role of villain in the NFL, which is astounding considering they play in the same division as Jay Cutler. With their savagery both on and off the field, Roger Goodell might end up suspending this entire franchise by year’s end.
-Ndomakong Suh’s favorite sideline beverage is a mixture of bacon grease, marshmallow fluff and the blood of opposing quarterbacks.
-Henry Rollins’ psychotic white supremacist character in Sons of Anarchy was base entirely on Kyle VanDen Bosch.
-Matt Stafford refuses to have sex unless there is another bro in the room with whom he can exchange mid-coital high fives and “hang ten” hand gestures.
-Jahvid Best believes he is living in a post-apocalyptic society, in part because of his 4 concussions, but more so because he lives in downtown Detroit and he always sleeps on the team bus when they go to other cities.
-Tony Scheffler was once kicked out of Disney World for cut blocking Pluto.
-Ugo Chinasa is both the fourth string defensive end, and the words that the prisoners chant when people try to escape Bane’s prison.

FANTASY ZONE

John Gruden says draft THIS GUY– Megatron, Stafford, Pettigrew, Titus Young aka this year’s popular “sleeper” pick, which means he’ll get taken six rounds too early.
Hate Draft– Every running back. They are all varying degrees of injured and terrible and eager to thieve each others’ fantasy points.
Don’t Draft-Backup QB Kellen Moore. Some interesting notes on Moore- the former Boise State star just found out about Youtube three months ago, refuses to use magic markers because of “his religious beliefs” and died his pubes blue to match the turf before every home game at Boise. Those are what scouts refer to as red flags.

 Fun With Names!

Hey aren’t you…-RB Kevin Smith. His nickname should be 2 Phat 2 Fly. At the very least, that would have been perfect in the 90s at least, although I guess it’s kinda outdated and shitty today though, which makes it the perfect nickname for Kevin Smith.
How aren’t you a porn star-TIE: WR Lance Long and LB Carmen Messina. They took home “Best Inverted Pyramid 69 by a Duo or Group” at this year’s American Porn Awards. Huge upset.
How aren’t you playing professional lacrosse – OT Gosder Cherilus. That name is white exceptionalism at its finest. Guarantee he and Vanden Bosch are best friends.
NameVPGotta go with 19th century French sailor-turned-running back Mikel Leshoure, although he’s suspended the first two games of the season for “misuse of treasure” and “scurvy profiteering.”

Over/Under– 9.5 wins.
Pino 911 Official Pick– Way over…or way under…I can’t decide. Like Jim Schwartz’ range of natural human reactions, this team only knows extremes. All I know is that this team is either going to be unbelievable and win 11 or 12 games in a brutal division, or they’re going to completely melt down and win 6 games.  It doesn’t really make a difference, because it’s gonna be amazing when the Lions either get eliminated from playoff contention in November and Schwartz punches the opposing coach, or when they win the Super and Schwartz celebrates by punching the opposing coach. Jim Schwartz is a paradox.

7. Boston’s Reckoning

This preview was way longer than I expected- I didn’t realize just how much I hated about Boston til I started writing- so let’s get right into it.

New England Patriots- The Pats comically lost again to America’s goofiest antihero, Eli Manning,  in the Super Bowl. If you told me 6 years ago that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick would have their legacy spoiled by Eli Manning, I honestly would have thought you meant that Eli Manning killed them in a drunk driving accident.
Added– Brandon Lloyd, Dunt’a Hightower, Jabar Gaffney, 17 utterly superfluous tight ends
Lost– BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Chad Johnson, Kevin Faulk, Andre Carter
-Boston fans are spoiled, tone-deaf versions of Philly fans, only replace Philly’s self-loathing with limitless arrogance and somehow more racism. Boston fans believe they’re intelligent just because they’ve got Bill Belichick and a half-dozen top-tier universities that none of them attended; they act like just because Harvard is nearby, all of Boston got smart simply via osmosis.
-Every guy in Boston over six-feet tall thinks he’s Ben Affleck  and everyone under 6 feet thinks he’s Matt Damon. In reality, they’re all Jeremy Renner in The Town.
-Even the food in Boston is overrated: Clam chowder is barely even a top-ten soup; lobsters are the stuffy, boring old brother of the crab; and when I was in Boston, all I heard was how good their bread  was. You know who else makes good bread? Everyone. Everyone, in every culture, for the last 6,000 years. Onlypeople as delusionally self-aggrandizing as Boston fans could possibly think they could take credit for bread.  And no one in Boston washes their hands before they eat. Ever.
-Bill Belichick stockpiles draft picks like he can turn them into opposing teams’ practice footage, yet he inevitably ends up playing 9 guys out of position on defense to make up for their lack of depth. Hey Bill, when Jason Campbell and Vince Young put up 300 yards against you and Elijah Wood is both your running back and nickel corner, you should probably start using those draft picks.
-Last year’s offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien, left the Patriots to take over the sinking ship at Penn State. Contrary to what you might think, O’Brien is not an alumnus of Penn State and had no prior ties to the university, or even the Big 10. Great career choice, man. That’s like our Secretary of State stepping down to become president of Libya- yeah, you might have a bigger office, but it’s in the middle of a desolate wasteland where everyone still thinks it’s 1985 and you’ll always be associated with the asshole who preceded you. If we’ve learned anything over the past two years, it’s that Penn State fans are delusional conspiracy theorists who have an alarmingly pronounced victim complex and care more about sports than actual real life. In that sense, his time in Boston prepared him well; but anyone who would voluntarily leave one of America’s signature franchises to take over at Penn State has apparently not read a newspaper in twenty years, or just two. At least the postseason ban means he doesn’t have to worry about inevitably getting smoked by an SEC team in a bowl game for another five years.
-My real beef with O’Brien though, stems from the fact that his departure opened the door for the return of Josh McDaniels, who is second only to Brad Childress as the coach least deserving of being allowed in any NFL stadium. During McDaniels time as head coach of the Broncos he traded Jay Cutler, used first round picks on Tim Tebow, Knowshon Moreno and Robert Ayers, missed the playoffs in 2009 despite starting the season 6-0 (finished 8-8), fired nearly every Broncos assistant coach and hired his jagoff younger brother, spent $3.2 million on Jarvis Green who never played a snap, traded Peyton Hillis for Brady Quinn, traded his 2010 first-round pick to take Alphonso Smith, who they traded a year later for Lions 4th string tight end Dan Gronkowski, traded Brandon Marshall for two second-round picks, which he in turn traded to get Tebow. Then he got fired. Oh and then he spent last year with the Rams, coordinating the 25th-best offense in the league. Josh McDaniels is the worst.
-Who’s a better than the fackin’ Pats this ye-ah’? NAWT YOU. 

FANTASY ZONE

John Gruden says draft THIS GUY– Brady, Gronk, Welkah, Lloyd, Hernandez.
Hate Draft– Steven Ridley, really? The Patriots are gonna start using running backs? Good luck with that.
Don’t Draft– Danny Woodhead- See Ridley, subtract 8 inches, 35 pounds, melanin.

Fun With Names

Hey aren’t you– WR Donte Stallworth. Wait that’s actually the Donte Stallworth? How on earth do you kill a man AND suck at receiving and still be in the leagues 7 years past your prime? Man Chad Johnson must have really been an asshole.
How aren’t you a porn star– OLB Tracy White
How aren’t you a professional lacrosse player– Tie- It’s a tie FB Spencer Larson/DE Chandler Jones, but seriously, how isn’t Gronk a lax bro?
NameVP– Punter Zoltan Mesko, the undefeated champion of names.

Over/Under- 12 wins.
Pino911 Official Pick- OVAH. FACKIN RIGHT.  They’ll cruise through the AFC East and come away with 13 or 14 wins in the regular season before inevitably losing to the Giants or Ravens or some other inferior team and find a way to blame it on Bobby Valentine.

8. Hot Cheetos and Takis

Yeah I have no reason whatsoever for featuring that video…just thought you should see it.

Today Madden 2013 finally hit the shelves, much to the delight of NFL nerds everywhere. Madden Day is an annual rite of football season; a sign that, indeed your calendar is correct, opening day is near, and it’s time to sever all ties with the non-football fans in your life. Madden itself has almost gotten out of hand over the years though. Have you tried playing online? Unless you devote 70 hours a week to studying playbooks and reading virtual defenses, you will get fucking smoked by some 13-year-old version of Chuck Noll. That’s why I exclusively play against the computer, learn its habits, lower the difficulty mid-game if necessary, and win by 30 every time.  Do I recognize that it’s incredibly pathetic when I pick the Packers and give Captain Mainframe the Jaguars? Is this habit born out of some desperate subconscious need for “athletic” success or confidence boosting? No, and fuck you, respectively; stop asking questions. If I can send a message to our robot overlords of tomorrow that we are not a species to be trifled with, you bet your ass I’m going to. I feel it’s my duty as a loyal member of a little team I like to call mankind. Sorry for believing in the triumph of the human spirit. What are you doing to stop the Robotpocalypse? Nothing. When the robots finally decide to turn on us, you’re going to be getting sodomized by your beloved Roomba while I’m going sitting comfortably on my couch, whistling the God Bless America and throwing my eighth TD of the game with Aaron Rodgers. Prosecution rests. On to more previews…

WITNESS THE TERROR OF PERPETUAL MEDIOCRITY!


Oakland Raiders-
The Raiders went 8-8 in their first season after Al Davis’ organs finally acknowledged what his exoskeleton and frontal cortex had known long ago. The Raiders appeared destined to win an AFC West title in the late Emperor Palpatine’s honor until they lost four of their final five games and set the NFL record for most penalties in a season.  How very Oakland of them.

Added– Mike Goodson, Matt LOLeinart
Lost– Michael Bush, Kamerion Wimbley, Stanford Routt, Jason Campbell, Kevin Bawse, Louis Murphy
– Someone in the organization watched Moneyball in the offseason, because they’ve learned that while no creature on earth can replace Al Davis’ creepiness, the organization can, in fact, replace it in the aggregate. New owner Mark Davis looks like the kind of guy who was breastfed well into junior high, and G.M. Reggie McKenzie may actually be Blake Griffin in a fat suit.
-Possibly the only good defensive player left on this team is Rolando McClain. Unfortunately, like most of Oakland, McClain will be spending much of the season in jail. The former Alabama star was found guilty of a handful of misdemeanors, including third-degree assault, menacing, reckless endangerment and discharging a firearm in the city, stemming from a drive-by shooting in Decatur, Alabama. Only in Decatur is a drive-by shooting considered a misdemeanor. He started serving 180 sentence on June 1, so who knows if he’ll even play this season once Goodell sicks his dementor claws on him.
-There are tremendously embarrassing fan videos, and then there’s this video:
1) The guy in the sombrero can’t make up his mind whether he’s a pirate, Randy Savage, or just Mexican.  2) There are 37 DUIs and paternity child support lawsuits among the people shown in that video. 3) STOP SENDING MILT E-MAILS.

FANTASY ZONE

John Gruden says draft THIS GUY– Darren McFadden. Just make sure you trade him before he gets hurt, soooo week 3?
Hate Draft– Darius Heyward-Bey
Don’t Draft– Carson Palmer. I love that Palmer is this year’s “Quarterback who everyone acknowledges is worthless except his team’s disillusioned fans who still think it’s 2005”. This is also known as the Brett Favre/Donovan McNabb Award.

Fun With Names!

Hey aren’t you…- FB Rashawn Jackson and DT Desmond Bryant. I will go ahead and guarantee that Mark Davis introduced them as Dez Bryant and DeSean Jackson and was banking on the fact that Raiders fans wouldn’t notice, which may actually work.
How aren’t you a porn star– DT Jamie Cumbie (Not even gonna elaborate).
How aren’t you playing professional lacrosse – DE Mason Brodine, there is no bro-ier lax bro name than Mason Brodine. If he added “the third” to the end of his name I guarantee he’d get drafted first overall in the MLL sight unseen.
NameVP– RB Manase Tonga . The Rock’s favorite condiment! (Note: Yes I know the Rock is not from Tonga, but that sentence would have been confusing if I used rugby star Jonah Lomu aka a famous Tongan. Take it up with them).  If Manase Tonga’s nickname isn’t HellMan or Miracle Whip he should be kicked out of the league.

Over/Under– 7
Pino 911 Official Pick– UNDER. Vegas is predicting one less win despite the Broncos replacing Tebow with an actual real life quarterback and the Chiefs’ 72 injured players from last year finally getting healthy. Hell no. Did I mention that Carson Palmer is washed up and perpetually sunburned and that Darren McFadden’s bones are made of Wheat Chex?  They could go 6-0 to start the year and I’d still bet the under.

50% Viking. 50% wrestler. 100% unemployable.

Minnesota Vikings- The Vikings were an NFL team last year, if nothing else. Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder took over in Week 7 and powered his team to a 3-13 record. Adrian Peterson blew out his knee. Jared Allen did Jared Allen-y. Uh,yeah that’s it.

Added- Matt Kalil, Jerome Simpson, John Carlson
Lost-  Visanthe Shiancoe, Steve Hutchinson, E.J. Henderson, Cedric Griffin
– Pop quiz hotshot- Who was the Vikings’ starting quarterback in week 1 last season? If you guessed jovial underachiever Donovan McNabb, you’re right! Doesn’t it seem like three years since Donovan played in the NFL? I know you could make a strong case for neither the Vikings nor Redskins being real competitors, but technically they are still professional football team. Not only did Donovan’s phone remain silent after he was released mid-season last year, but somehow, he has also yet to sign on with any networks for their pre-game shows. No athlete in history has so overtly spent the twilight of his career jockeying for an announcing gig like McNabb; in fact, you could make a rather compelling argument that his entire NFL career was all just a front so that he could reach his true goal: fake-laughing and cracking stupid jokes with Jimmy Johnson and Howie Long. In all likelihood he threw up in the final round of interviews with each network. (There’s your obligatory Philly fan McNabb joke, had to get that in or I could have had my license revoked)
-Hilariously, if you look at last year’s schedule on the Vikings site (it automatically takes you to the current schedule, apparently in hopes that you don’t bother to look at what happened last year), they left the passing leader category blank for all of the games McNabb started. The Vikings are actively trying to destroy any evidence that Donovan McNabb ever played for them. Can’t say I blame them. If you wear a McNabb Vikings jersey in Minneapolis, just know that there’s an 80% chance that the Vikings security team will find you, confiscate your jersey, and erase your memory.
                                                             bbbb

This will never, ever get old.

FANTASY ZONE

John Gruden says draft THIS GUY– Percy Harvin? Bump him up your draft board if your league awards points for soft injuries and perpetual grumpiness.
Hate Draft– Adrian Peterson. For the record, we’re a week away from the season and AP has yet to cut or get tackled in practice. I’m not saying that he’s going to ruin his body by coming back from a two-year injury to play for a horrible team just seven months later; I’m just saying that’s exactly what I’m saying.
Don’t Draft- Christian Ponder. The Ponder-Gabbert-Tannehill battle for most inept quarterback this year is going to be delicious.

Fun With Names!

Hey aren’t you– An NFL franchise? How don’t you have any solid names to make fun of? God this team sucks.
How aren’t you a porn star– LT DeMarcus Love. I’m pretty sure that is a porn star, actually. It could very well be the same person. A left tackle for the Vikings could moonlight as a porn star and literally no one ever would notice.
How aren’t you a lacrosse player– Kicker Blair Walsh. Interestingly, if your name is Blair Walsh, you are obligated to own at least one ironic NBA throwback jersey and those flip flops that have the bottle opener on the bottom.
NameVP– OT Levi Horn. I honestly thought this was the name of the Vikings mascot. Nope…real guy.

Over/Under- 6 wins

Pino911 Pick- UNDER. How on earth is this team going to win six games? They play in the NFL’s best division, their only good player had his knee turned inside-out last December, their quarterback is the laughingstock of his own family reunions and their second-best defensive player, Antoine Winfield, is 73 years old. By December they will be actively rooting for another roof collapse.

NFL Countdown: 9. A Storm Is Coming…

YES. YESYESYESYES. Nine days until America returns. Well, America never technically left, but have you seen what’s been going on since football ended last February? I’ll give you the cliff notes: NOTHING GOOD. Let’s see, a black and white French film dominated the Oscars; Whitney Houston died; politics somehow became even more polarizing; people decided it was a good idea to start shooting each other in public places; and worst of all, Eric fucking Spoelstra won a championship. Things are so bleak right now that the best thing to happen in America this year happened on MARS. But all of that changes in just nine days. In less than a fortnight, America’s sanity will return; we will go back to caring only about the NFL; the Academy will retroactively give Best Picture to Rocky IV; and everyone will be far too wrapped up in provincial athletic rivalries to care about things like shooting each other or who gets elected president.

I’ll be getting you fully engorged prepared for the NFL season by serving up a new post each day until Opening Night. I know what you’re thinking- why are you starting the countdown at 9 and not 10? Well, the season starts on a Wednesday this year because of the Democratic National Convention, a fact completely overlooked by yours truly until 30 seconds ago. Sorry, blame Obama. The fact that he forced the NFL to move its opening game is as much evidence as I need to declare him a Muslim, fundamentalist, socialist, racist whateverelseHankWilliamsJuniorthinksheis…Then again, the season now starts a day earlier, which I fully support. If Romney was smart, he’d mandate that the NFL begins in July and that helmet-to-helmet hits are not only legal but encouraged. THESE ARE THE ISSUES THAT AMERICA CARES ABOUT, MITT.

So what can you expect here this season? For starters, lots of Dark Knight Rises references. In fact, this blog will make a lot more sense if you just read it in your head using the Bane voice. I put the over/under on Gotham City Rogues/Heinz Field stadium implosion references at 19 this season, and that’s honestly being conservative. I’m sorry; it’s simply what’s going to happen.

But in the broader perspective, the weekly format is going to change a little compared with last year. Because I have a real job these days which requires me to “work on Mondays” and “write” and “devote actual time and effort”, it’s unlikely that I’ll be churning out anymore 7,000-word, hopelessly meandering posts about pretty much every single thing that happened in the NFL and America during the previous week. And that’s probably for the best. What I’m thinking, for now, is to have a different theme for each weekday (e.g. game of the week, Head Coach/Fantasy Player Who Should Be Shamed Into Retirement, weekend preview etc…). I really have no idea what those specific themes should be just yet, and they’ll probably evolve over the course of the season, but feel free to submit any suggestions.

Alright enough jibber-jabber, let’s kick this off with your team previews, starting with America’s most morally bankrupt franchise…The New Orleans Saints

Of all the Star Wars characters to choose from, OF COURSE he picked the bounty hunter.

The Saints rolled through the 2011 regular season, going 13-3 and 8-0 at home while Drew Brees broke Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a year. Their convoy through the NFC, however, came to a crashing halt when Vernon Davis went full-Tidwell on them in the divisional round, thus beginning a string of misfortune for Who Dat nation which included an FBI investigation for wiretapping and full-season suspensions for Sean Payton and Jonathan Vilma. But at least Drew Brees remembered all those nicknames at the ESPYs right guys?!
Added– Curtis Lofton, Ben Grubbs, the unadulterated scorn of Roger Goodell
Lost– Carl Nicks, Tracy Porter, Robert Meachem, Shaun Rogers, Gregg Williams, Sean Payton, Jonathan Vilma  and Mickey Loomis.
-Can we talk about how no teams’ stellar reputation is less warranted than the Saints?  ESPN acts like Brees, Sean Payton and the rest of the gang single-handedly rebuilt New Orleans after Katrina, then went around delivering teddy bears to every orphan in a 1,000-mile radius. In reality, the Saints organization is a veritable jambalaya of horrible human beings. Payton and his staff stole painkillers from the team doctor while Loomis, the G.M., covered the whole thing up. Even before the bounty scandal Gregg Williams (now with the Rams, and suspended indefinitely) was a blatant asshole who made a career out of building porous defenses that were only remotely successful because the Saints offense gave them 30 points-per-game to work with. And if Saints players seriously overlooked the whole “Hey this is the NFL, I’m probably not even going to be on this team in seven months” thing, and purposely tried to injure opponents for an extra 1,000 bucks then they are either the most shortsighted human beings on earth, or there’s some bizarre Manchurian Candidate thing going on in their locker room. Either way, if you root for the Saints, just know that you’re rooting for a contrived narrative of redemption and your whole life is a lie.
-In brighter news, in the wake of the bounty scandal, Commissioner Goodell is going to be fixated on the Saints like Sauron’s eye on Frodo. If Roman Harper so much as farts on a defenseless receiver he’s getting suspended for 5 games.
-I’m actively rooting for Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham to become a dynamic scoring trio for the sole reason that InSproGraham would be an awesome nickname. Then they could take pictures of themselves everywhere and give them weird color schemes that confuse the shit out of colorblind people like myself.

FANTASY GUIDE:
John Gruden says Draft THIS GUY– Brees, Marques Colston, InSproGraham.
Hate Draft– Every Saints receiver not named Colston. I drafted Lance Moore this year–apparently because I hate myself–and I guarantee he goes for a combined six points in the 12 games I start him, and 135 points in the 4 weeks I don’t.
Don’t Draft– Luke McCown.

Fun with names!
Hey aren’t you…-LT Charles Brown. Fun fact- Every time Charlie Brown gives up a sack, Marques Colston slaps him on the back and yells “Good grief!”  then dies laughing while Brees sighs warily. (Honorable Mention for this award goes to DE Will Smith and WR Joe Morgan)
How aren’t you a porn star– Chase Daniel, backup QB, 1998 Playmate of the Year.
How aren’t you playing professional lacrosse- DE Braylon Broughton. Every Delbarton class since 1956 has had a student named Braylon Broughton…true story.
NameVP– Gonna have to award this Olympics style for this roster:
Bronze- Brian de la Puente, which in Spanish means Brian of the Bridge. TROLLING.
Silver- Turk McBride, pretty sure that’s every characters’ name in the Expendables 3.
Gold-WR Nick Toon. FACE, HERE.

Vegas Over/Under- 10 wins.
Pino911 Official Pick- OVER. The losses of Payton, Vilma and the rest of the bounty hunter crew will give this team plenty to rally around, which, if you watch ESPN, is apparently the only way the Saints have ever won their games in the last 7 years. Let’s not forget that Hurricane Isaac is headed directly for the Gulf Coast. If that thing turns out to be a Category 5, this time might go 16-0.