Friday, February 26, 2010

Baseball, Basketball, Football...and Curling?

Firstly, I would like to call everyone's attention to the immortal Brian Scalabrine, who managed to provide yet another reason why we're all happy that Doc Rivers has not cut him.

If you have any sort of explanation for that horrendous pass, please share it with me.

Anyway, to the post.

At this moment, the United States lead Finland 6-0 in the semi-finals of men's hockey at the Olympics. Before the Olympics, I never thought I'd even care. But now that they're coming to a close, I have a renewed sense of national pride and a greater appreciation of my exposure to sports about which I know very little.

Everything from Skeleton to Snowboarding shows up at the Winter Olympics. But the one sport which has caught my attention is curling. The combination of strategy and skill is extremely impressive and exciting. When the U.S. won in overtime against Switzerland (or Sweden, I can't remember), I found myself shouting strategic tips and giving Tigeresque fist pumps for every great shot (if that's even the term). For those of you who do not know curling, here are the rules.

More importantly, however, was the initial question that popped into my head after my first five minutes of curling exposure: How does one get into curling? As far as I know, American parents put either a baseball glove, soccer ball, basketball, football or tennis racket in the hands of their children. Does this mean that some parents give a rounded, smooth stone to their children? I'd assume not. I've only been able to come up with three rational explanations for how children become curlers.

1) Overcompetitive/former athlete parents have a child who is terrible at every real sport.

The parents gave their child every opportunity to succeed. Private instruction and constant practice became a staple of the child's after-school routine. But when it came time for middle school tryouts, he was cut. But he wasn't just cut in football. He was cut in every sport. He couldn't even make the cross country team, which doesn't even cut people. So the parents were left with one option. The one sport that requires minimal athletic ability, hand-eye coordination and intelligence, but simply lots of practice: curling.

2) The parents were curlers themselves.

All parents somewhat desire their children to follow in their footsteps. So for all those curler parents, nothing would be more logical than giving their child a stone and a pair of skates for Christmas. Would this ensure their child becomes a social outcast? Of course. How many of the most popular kids in high school were curlers? None? That sounds about right. But when their child wins a gold medal, it will all be worth it.

3) The child has an uncanny ability to sweep/clean.

If I were to curl, I would immediately attempt to become the guy who pushes the stone (whatever he's called). He seems to be the one requiring the most skill and receiving all the glory. So who becomes a sweeper? Logically it's those who are great at cleaning. Except instead of becoming maids, their parents take advantage and guide them towards curling.

I know this last one is a pretty weak explanation, but frankly I can't come up with anything better, so hopefully someone else has a better idea. But regardless of how these curlers get into their sport, I love their game, and I ask you to give curling a chance.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Change of URL/Title

As many have mentioned to me quite often, my old blog title was:
a) Not exactly original
b) Totally overwhelmed by ESPN's Sports Nation on google and other search engines

Therefore my new title will be Pardon the Opinion, and the next post will appear on my new URL: www.pardontheopinion.com. If you go to the old address (dmsportsnation.blogspot.com), you will be redirected to Pardon the Opinion (it looks exactly the same). Any bugs that appear should be worked out within a day or two. I apologize for the annoyance, but I figured it was time for some legitimacy. I also want to say thanks to everyone who reads this blog and I appreciate all the comments. I'll keep posting on the new site as often as possible.

-Dylan


Podcast #1

Sometimes writing isn't good enough. It doesn't always feel natural. So here's a podcast with guest hosts Theo Papageorge and Jew Bledsoe. I will apologize in advance for a few things, but I believe it brings a bit of reality into what real sports fans are thinking, as opposed to the scripted work of ESPN. Here are our unedited words (I'm not good at Garageband, so I won't bother editing out my lack of things to talk about halfway through, leading to Jew Bledsoe's save). And yes, I know Peter King works for Sports Illustrated. Momentary lapse. Deal with it.



But seriously, let me know what you think about the podcast. If the podcast is not working, you can download the file to itunes by clicking here, then "download file."

Morally ambiguous? Check.
Inappropriate language? Absolutely.
The phrases, "like," "you know," and "I mean" way too many times? Of course.
Typing sounds? Coughing? You bet.
Imprecise stat references? Yep.

Music: It Was a Good Day - Ice Cube

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tim Tebow: Love Him or Hate Him?

When Tim Tebow cried after losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship game, you had to pick a side. Were you overjoyed that the perfect Tim Tebow was crying his puffy little eyes out? Or did you actually feel for the guy? I was stuck in the middle. In college, there was every reason to hate him (for those outside of the state of Florida). He constantly preached his Christian values into a game containing very few. His speech before the National Championship game rests on the wall of The Swamp as if he's Jesus. He's an unquestioned leader, the hardest worker, and quite the physical specimen. He may be the greatest college footbal player of all time. In short, he's perfect. But this perfection only fuels the fire of hatred.

So what's to like? Well, that same perfection separates him from the competition, upholding the image of a true role model which is non-existent among most professional athletes (minus the Christian values for all other religious affiliations). He creates excitement on the football field; running over defenders, jump passes, National Championships. Now that he's moving to the NFL, he's adapting his game by changing his throwing motion, only furthering his image as a hard-worker. But his willingness to adapt does more than just improve his game; it's helping likability.

Scouts, fans and media love to pick Tebow apart. We've all heard the criticisms: he holds the ball too low, he only played out of the shotgun at Florida, and he won't be able to run over defenders in the NFL like he did in college. But amidst this criticism, Tebow has been willing to challenge it head on. As a result, something else is happening. Don't be surprised if he eventually wins over the media like he has the state of Florida. Because of our need to tear down perfection, we have placed a chip on the shoulder of a man that needs no chip. In only a few weeks, he's gone from king to underdog. Very few people believe he can actually succeed in the NFL.

All this criticism has created a monster waiting to be unleashed on critics. Will Tebow succeed? You tell me. I'm no better than anyone else at predicting these things. But regardless of whether or not he does succeed, we have turned him into a sympathetic player. It's hard not to feel for a guy who goes from receiving god-like praise to very human-like disparagement. Also, imagine the potential impact and pressure of the next few years of his life. If he does not turn into a quality NFL player, he will have experienced one of the hardest falls in recent memory. If he does, it will be just another instance of a Tim Tebow "I told you so." Regardless of what happens, I'm at least beginning to pull for his success.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Silly Tiger

I am not here to bash Tiger's speech. Anyone could cite his Buddhism reference, his inability to speak faster than a 5-year-old and his repeated apologies to his sponsors as reasons why Tiger's painfully poor attempt at contrition was a complete failure. I am here, however, to provide some solutions.

But first, I have to attack Rick Reilly for a second. During an interview on ESPN, Rick defended Tiger's speech, claiming it was sincere. Was Rick really watching the same speech that I was? Did Bill Simmons' second fiddle actually attempt to defend one of the worst apologies in the history of sports? He did indeed. (Plus, besides his idiotic decision to support Tiger, Reilly is just a terrible writer...) Anyway, Tiger had years of apologies to use as templates--most notably those from the steroids era. Yet, he still failed. So what should Tiger have done?

1) Not prepare a speech at all - America loves to forgive, so give them a chance. Instead of predetermining the placement of every swallow, breath and "emotion," why not simply go up to the podium and speak from the heart? Everyone forgave Andy Pettitte when he apologized because he came out and spoke the truth, as opposed to avoiding the topic for months, attempting to secretly go into sex rehab, intentionally leaking upbeat photos days before his speech and disabling the main camera at the 9 minute mark. But Tiger Inc. would never have allowed that, since Tiger is the most robotic celebrity we have ever seen.

2) Answer media questions - Tiger's speech gave us exactly zero information. Essentially, the following points were made.

a) I'm sorry for all the stuff I did
b) I don't know when I'm coming back to golf

Any fan with a heart knows he's sorry (or at least he would say so) and that he's probably not coming back to golf any time soon. This does not need to take 15 minutes. Let the media attack you. Answer the hard questions. You've already hit rock bottom, so you might as well be honest.

3) Get a divorce - Maybe this is a little hard on the kids, and who am I to decide that their marriage should end, but tell me that this wouldn't solve almost every problem. He wouldn't have to go into rehab, his wife would not have to deal with repairing a marriage which no sane woman would want to, and he could play golf. His cheating obviously proves he jumped into marriage before he was ready. It does not however, indicate a sex addiction (if he really does have a problem, I apologize in advance, but I highly doubt it.) It's nearly impossible to throw millions of dollars and every hot woman on earth at a man in his early 20's (when his career really took off) and expect him to resist temptation. You don't develop a high roller's lifestyle and then suddenly turn it off for marriage.

Since Tiger was born without the likability gene, golf is the only way he can regain our admiration. We only appreciate MJ because he was a great basketball player; same with Tiger. Their talent enables us to overlook the fact that MJ is one of the biggest assholes in professional sports, and Tiger has the personality of a wall. But we loved Tiger for those days of true joy, such as when he would hug his father after winning a major. That's what we want to see. That's what we miss.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Worst Deadline Deals

The NBA trade deadline is fast approaching (Thursday at 3 p.m). Since I was not old enough to comprehend trades pre-2000, here are the 10 worst trade deadline deals (MLB and NBA since they're the only sports with big deadline deals) of the past decade in reverse order.

10. In 2005, The Seattle Mariners traded Brett Boone, only a few years removed from his PED enhanced seasons to the Minnesota Twins for cash and a player to be named later. Seattle realized Boone was on the decline and got some financial relief. Minnesota got a .170 batting average, 14 games played and 3rd place in the division after thinking Boone could be the spark plug to propel them into the post-season. And of course Minnesota is now one of the most financially efficient franchises in the MLB.

9. In 2008, the Phoenix Suns traded a disgruntled Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks for Shaquille O'Neal. Steve Kerr decided it would be brilliant to put the NBA's least likely player to run the floor in the offense most likely to run the floor. And it's not as if Phoenix even needed to change their overall team strategy; the only reason why Phoenix did not defeat the Spurs in the previous season's playoffs was because of the most intelligent non-intelligent shove of all time: Robert Horry on Steve Nash. In the process of injuring Nash, Boris Diaw and Amare Stoudemire jumped off the bench, causing them to be suspended and eventually lose the series. This is why Robert Horry has 7 rings.

8, In 2009, the Boston Red Sox received Jason Bay, the Los Angeles Dodgers Manny Ramirez, and the Pirates Andy LaRoche, Bryan Morris, Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen. Doesn't it always seem like the Pirates are freeing up money, yet never using it to help their team? And why have 0.5% of Pirate prospects worked out? (I can't think of any, so I'm assuming there have been at least a few) I wouldn't be surprised if their payroll dips below $10 million.

7. In 2005, the Boston Celtics received Antoine Walker from the Atlanta Hawks for Gary Payton, Michael Stewart, Tom Gugliotta and a first round pick. Essentially, Atlanta acquired expiring contracts and a first round pick for a bench player on the "good players who you can never actually win with because they're selfish" team. Side note: what does it feel like to be Gary Payton, who was immediately dropped and then re-signed by Boston? Even though this was planned, it has to be kind of awkward. Just saying.

6. In 2005, the Golden State Warriors traded Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis' expiring contract to the Hornets for Baron Davis. I understand the need for an expiring contract to clear cap space, but you can get a little more for a potential (at the time, he was approaching Superstar status. Too bad he has no chance now that he's a Clipper) than one contract and a guy with a cool name.

5. In 2001, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Jason Schmidt and John Vander Wal to the San Francisco Giants for Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong. If you could pick any two injuries to avoid in baseball, what would they be? Tommy John Surgery and ACL tear? Well that's what happened to the Rios and Vogelsong respectively. Meanwhile, Jason Schmidt won the 2003 NL Cy Young Award. Also, see #8.

4. In 2003, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton for to the Chicago Cubs for Jose Hernandez, Matt Bruback and Bobby Hill. See #5 and #8.

3. In 2008, Dallas Sent Devin Harris and all of Rhode Island for Jason Kidd. I'm not even going to find the full details of the trade because it's so ridiculous. Too bad Mark Cuban's "win now" mentality lead to him giving up a future All-Star point guard for an aging, defensively incapable shell of his former self Jason Kidd. Yes, he's still a high quality player, but not that much better than Harris. And to make matters worse, the win-now strategy doesn't work in the Western Conference, especially when the following trade #2 happened.

2. In 2008, the Lakers traded Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, Marc Gasol, and two first round picks to Memphis for Pau Gasol. Not only did the Lakers make the Dallas trade look worthless, but they managed to get rid of problem players (I know Crittenton wasn't a problem yet), worthless players and meaningless first round picks (let's be honest, late first round picks are not valuable at all) for a superstar/missing piece for a championship.

1. In 2002, the Montreal Expos received Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew from the Cleveland Indians for Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips and Cliff Lee. Not only did all three players become great if not superstar MLB players, but the way in which it happened was especially painful. 3 years after the trade, it seemed like a good deal. Even though these prospects were on the rise, it was unlikely all of them would reach their potential. Then Grady Sizemore emerged in '05. Then Brandon Phillips in '06. The only thing the Expos/Nationals had to hold onto was the fact that Cliff Lee still sucked. And then when everyone finally forgot about the trade, Cliff Lee goes from almost cut to arguably the best pitcher in baseball in '08. This is why the Expos/Nationals will never be good.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Walk Away, Shaq

Everyone, including myself, loves Shaq. Possibly better known as The Big Twitterer, Manny Shaq-iaou, The Big Aristotle, The Big Baryshnikov, The Big Cactus, Shaqtus, Shaqovic, Diesel, Osama Bin Shaq, The Big Deporter, and his favorite scrabble word, Shaqtastic, Shaq is unquestionably one of the most dominant centers ever, a great media personality and a high quality reserve police officer and U.S. Deputy Marshall intent on tracking internet sex predators. Unfortunately, however, his act is getting old, and he is unwilling to let go.

Even though Dwight Howard has emerged as the new premiere center of the NBA, Shaq has been unwilling to fade into the background. After his recent battle with Howard over the nickname Superman (Dwight rightfully owns this nickname since he's more athletic and pulled an epic Clark Kent reenactment during the Slam Dunk contest. On another note, if David Stern ever had any incentive to offer huge monetary rewards for winning the dunk contest in order to draw in the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, now would be the time. Anyone who watched this year's contest came away almost as disappointed as when Detroit and San Antonio actually had to play an entire seven game series in the NBA finals), Shaq took a shot at Howard, saying he was "offended" to be compared to Howard, and "you tell me who the real Superman is." Frankly, Shaq should be honored to be compared to Dwight, considering Shaq's a shadow of his former self.

The real problem, though, lies in his inability to handle the superstar "grace period" well. It happens in every sport. A great player hits old age and can no longer play like he used to. Yet he still makes the big bucks and garners loads of respect for his past accomplishments. At this point, these players can go four ways:

1) Walk away when you know your game is going into the gutter, preserving your reputation to the utmost degree.
2) Play out your final years gracefully, becoming a complementary player and not overstepping your bounds just because you can.
3) Refuse to realize that you no longer help your team enough, potentially hurting your team in the process.
4) Brett Favre - i.e. destroy any goodwill you had and cement the worst part of your reputation.

Kevin Garnett yielded to Paul Pierce, accepting a veteran leadership role instead of team leading statistics. Jason Kidd no longer makes any attempt to score, simply facilitating even more and playing to his Dallas teammates' strengths as opposed to his own. Unfortunately, Shaq is teetering on Brett Favre status. It's obvious that at this point he's a zoner 3er. Shaq's contract/reputation obligates Mike Brown to demand that Shaq gets 10 or so isolation possessions a game, where no one moves and Cleveland fans pray he doesn't get fouled. Let's be honest. Cleveland is no better with Shaq at center than with Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Neither man can defend the pick and roll, and any defender with a pulse knows Big Z will pick and pop, and Shaq will give the effort of a 60 year-old man to roll to the basket, allowing for an immediate LeBron double team. Also, '08-'09 Cleveland and '09-'10 Cleveland both easily separated themselves as the #1 team in the conference, so there's no difference record-wise.

Looking back at his career, Shaq has played with Penny Hardaway, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash and LeBron James, putting him on the list of greatest luck with teammates ever. But would he even have had any titles without these guys? And how many great players have played with five teams and have been traded three times? Most players retire before they let this happen. But Shaq has put NBA GMs in an impossible situation. It would be disrespectful to just release him, plus a $20 million cap hit is not worth cutting him. Their only option is to find him a new team via trade.

Even worse, Shaq's inability to coexist with Amare Stoudemire will force Cleveland to move him if/when they acquire Amare. So not only do they have to piece together a deal right before the trade deadline to acquire a top end power forward, they have to find another deal to move Shaq, reducing the likelihood of the entire deal happening. But you know what would save Shaq's basketball reputation, media likability and Cleveland's title chances? The retirement of Shaquille O'Neal.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

All Star Game Improvements

The NBA has the the best All-Star Weekend of any sport. The 3 point contest, dunk contest, skills competition, H-O-R-S-E and game itself are all great to watch. It's only missing one thing: a 1 on 1 competition.

Here's the proposal: 16 players, each from a different team, compete to determine the best 1 on 1 player. Single elimination tournament, games to 11, and as street ball demands, half court and no three pointers; everything is worth 1 point. Also, true ballers play with street rules. So take back everything. Yes, even air balls. No cheap points. And the most important part: no refs. Call your own fouls.

But how do we make players try hard? David Stern (or someone in his office) seeds the players, 1-16. Starting with the 1st seed, each player chooses his opponent. This process would continue until the 7th seed has chosen, and all match-ups are determined. But instead of this happening in a quiet back room before the tournament begins, it happens live, at the tournament, on the court. Each player must take the microphone and call out his opponent.

So what's in it for the players? Well, like every other All-Star competition, money. What's in it for the fans? Well first, who doesn't want to watch world-class talent battle it out, not having to worry about silly team concepts such as passing and defense? Just show us your skills. Will the Kobe's and the LeBron's of the NBA participate? Of course not. But NBA players (guards, at least) have plenty of ball-handling skills and athleticism to make the competition fun nonetheless.

Even more for the fans, imagine the gambling possibilities. There could be pre-tournament Vegas odds-making, determining the odds each player has to win. Then individual match-ups. You could partake in moneyline betting, spread betting and even parlays. In essence, the works. Plus, you can go March Madness on the tourney, starting a mini pool among friends, picking each round. Each basket would have huge significance on your financial success. Tell me you wouldn't love it.

Is this all realistic? Probably not. Is it fun to imagine? Of course.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Overhauling Overtime

Imagine the following scenario: Tracy Porter drops the ball. Peyton Manning drives in for the game-tying score, leading to two Super Bowl firsts:

1) Overtime
2) The first Super Bowl coin toss that carries more significance to the game than the financial success of millions of prop gamblers.

Now imagine the backlash if the team that wins this fabled coin toss scors immediately after getting the ball, never allowing another possession (a highly possible scenario with Indianapolis' and New Orleans' high powered offenses). But luckily, Tracy Porter stepped in front of one of Peyton Manning's favorite routes, becoming the second player (the first was the immortal Mike Jones of the Saint Louis Rams, with the greatest ankle tackle of all time on Kevin Dyson at the 1 yard line in Saint Louis' 23-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans) to prevent Roger Goodell's ultimate nightmare: Super Bowl overtime.

Overtime in the regular season is an acceptable consequence; no team's season is determined by one overtime game. Even in the playoffs, justice is usually served, and the deserving team wins the game anyway (I'm sorry Minnesota fans, but it's true. 5 turnovers does not cut it). But in the Super Bowl, there's no room for maneuvering. No make-up game. No chance at redemption. Only a Super Bowl champion, and a loser ready and willing to complain for the long and miserable off-season.

Unlike the NFL, other sports allow the teams to fight for an overtime advantage. The NBA has a jump ball. Both teams in the MLB get a chance to hit. Soccer has two halves, guaranteeing at least one possession for each team. The NHL has a face-off. The NFL has nothing but the flip of a coin. The head referee might as well hold a one and two behind his back and ask a captain to pick. There's no rhyme or reason, no logic. Only pure luck.

I realize that football is a two-way game. Teams should be able to play both defense and offense. But there is an inherit advantage in NFL overtime that does not exist in other sports. No team would choose defense after the coin toss, just as no team would intentionally lose a jump ball in the NBA. Maybe defense is their team's strength, but the game is built for points to be scored. Defense may win championships, but offense wins overtime.

While it's easy to criticize overtime, here are a few solutions to the gaping hole in NFL overtime.

1. College overtime - I know. Besides field goals, special teams is eliminated, and the field is shortened. I agree that it is not a perfect solution, but the key is that there is no advantage based on chance. Unlike the NFL, only special teams, as opposed to a chance on offense, disappears. And what happens after a college football game is decided in overtime? Where's the backlash, the anger because of the rules? That's right, there is none. While it may not be perfect, it's fair. It's unreasonable to say that one team did not receive a fair opportunity to win.

2. A regular NFL game, only each team gets a maximum of 4 possessions before the game ends in a tie. The catch: Possession #1 starts with a kickoff. Just as in college, the opposing team has a chance to respond on offense (instead of punting, teams just kickoff as if they scored). If the game is still tied, each team starts with possession on their own 40 yard line. If the game is still tied, the 3rd possession starts on the opponent's 40 yard line. If a 4th possession is necessary, teams start on the opponent's 20 yard line. A tie game after this point means the game ends in a tie. With this solution, every aspect of the game is incorporated. Teams with high quality defenses level the playing field by having a little breathing room, reducing offensive advantage. Conversely, teams with strong offenses will move the ball easier down the length of the field than those without. Also, special teams comes into play. Imagine if Sean Payton kicked an onside kick to start overtime in this format, getting the ball and winning the game right then. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms would have had simultaneous heart attacks.

3. The same rules as option #2, except instead of the ball moving forward 20 yards with each successive possession, the ball moves forward the number of yards gained (including special teams) on the previous possession. Let's say Indianapolis moves the ball to their own 35 before giving up the ball (instead of punting, you just give up the ball). Their next possession would start on their own 35. While this may eliminate an aspect of special teams (punting), it adds a new aspect of strategy. Let's say Indy moves the ball to the opponent's 37 with the very first possession (of either team) of overtime. Do they kick a field goal, risking a miss and a loss of field position (a missed field goal results in a kickoff on the next possession), or keep their field position, and restart with 1st and 10 at the opponent's 37 with the hope that they stop New Orleans? An intriguing choice. But Caldwell would probably play it safe and punt, even though thats not an option.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Stick With Your Guns

A fellow named Theo Papageorge asked me which team I was picking for the Super Bowl. "The Colts, right?" His comment made me ponder: Why have I all of a sudden fallen for the trap of picking the New Orleans Saints?

I will not go through the conventional reasons for picking the Colts. We all know them. Here's why the Colts are the pick. Too many people are going with the underdog and the feel-good story that is the New Orleans Saints. It's interesting how this phenomenon happens every year.


1. The spread comes out, and everyone picks the favorite. It's their Super Bowl to lose.

2. The injury question becomes a concern, allowing doubt to creep in (Dwight Freeney).

3. People use the injury as an excuse to switch sides and pick the other team.

4. Vegas picks up on this mini-switch, adjusting the spread to allow more people to pick the underdog (The line has moved from 3.5 to 5.5).

5. People officially get behind the underdog, and find every reason to pick them.

So what we should be doing is sticking with our guns. If you liked the Colts, stick with them. Dwight Freeney's injury will not impact the game as much as we think. If you liked the Saints, the same goes. Do not let media/Vegas/popular opinion influence your pick.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

15 Interesting Super Bowl Over/Unders

1. How many times will CBS cut to the Manning family press box?
(Over/Under 3.5)
The Pick: Over

2. How many times will Hurricane Katrina be mentioned during the actual game?
(Over/Under 4.5)
The Pick: Over

3. How many current NFL players will get arrested during Super Bowl week (starting today)?
Over/Under 0.5
The Pick: Under

4. How long will it take Carrie Underwood to sing the National Anthem?
(Over/Under 1 minute, 42 seconds)
The Pick: Over

5. What will be the total number of field goal attempts?
(Over/Under 4.5)
The Pick: Under

6. How many times will Peyton Manning and Hall of Fame get mentioned in the same sentence?
(Over/Under 6.5)
The Pick: Under

7. How many times will Drew Brees and Hall of Fame get mentioned in the same sentence?
(Over Under/2.5)
The Pick: Under

8. How many times will Peyton Manning get sacked?
(Over/Under 2.5)
The Pick: Under

9. How many more times will Dwight Freeney utter some form of the phrase, "I'm going to do everything I can to play this week"?
(Over/Under 6.5)
The Pick: Over

10. How many times will Jabari Greer get mentioned as underrated during the game?
(Over/Under 2.5)
The Pick: Under

11. How many times will Tony Dungy get interviewed during the game?
(Over/Under 0.5)
The Pick: Over

12. How long will it be between the end of the first half and the start of the second half?
(Over/Under 36 minutes)
The Pick: Under

13. How many players will help to dump gatorade on the winning coach?
(Over/Under 2.5)
The Pick: Under

14. How many beer commercials will appear?
(Over/Under 6.5)
The Pick: Over

15. How many times will the camera cut to Jim Caldwell or Sean Payton during the game?
(Over/Under 11.5)
The Pick: Under