NFL Playoff Picks Wild Card Round Jan 2013
 
Well, we’ve arrived at the NFL Wild Card Round for Jan 2013.

Eagles Chuck Bednarik Penn Grad and last of the Sixty Minute Men levels Frank Gifford in November of 1960 on the Eagles path to an NFL Championship win over the Green Bay Packers.  The hit occurred fifty years ago this past November, and this was the fiftieth anniversary of the Eagles championship this past December.


Chuck Bednarik – A Short Documentary with Footage of the Famous Hit on Frank Gifford of the NY Giants.  The Eagles-Giants rivalry is the oldest in the NFL dating back to 1933.
 
By the way, there is no National Hockey League action, so if you want to watch real hockey, I suggest you make the trek up to University of New Hampshire (UNH) or Hahvahd or U Minnesota or some real hockey college (or go see the American Hockey League, featuring the New Haven Nighthawks).   Or just rent “SlapShot”, Paul Newman’s finest cinematic work. 

SLAPSHOT (1977) DIRECTED BY GEORGE ROY HILL STARRING PAUL NEWMAN – THE HANSON BROTHERS ARRIVE IN JOHNSTOWN


JOE WILLIE NAMATH THE GREATEST OF THEM ALL WITH HIS DAUGHTER JESSICA NAMATH AT THE PREMIERE OF THE HBO DOCUMENTARY “NAMATH” ABOUT AFL FOOTBALL THE PRECURSOR TO THE PASS-HAPPY LEAGUE WE NOW CALL THE NFL (WHICH USED TO BE RUNNING AND DEFENSE LEAGUE).


 
Making football playoffs all the more important, since the NBA (National BigMan Association) playoffs will not start until we are all at the beach and don’t care anymore about hoops.  Also, this year, in a novel approach, the NBA has decided it might be a good idea if the Los Angeles Lakers, who play in a city which has no water, let alone any natural lakes, actually stunk and let some of the other teams get to the Finals.   I mean, last night, the Sixers marched into the Staples Center and WHUPPED the Lakers.  And it wasn’t close.  The entire payroll of the Sixers wouldn’t pay for even one of Kobe’s regular sushi meals.

By Eric Pincus

January 2, 2013, 12:00 p.m.
The Lakers lost Tuesday night to the Philadelphia 76ers, 103-99, at Staples Center.
Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday was a difficult cover for the Lakers all night, finishing with 26 points and 10 assists in 39 minutes of play.
The 22-year old point guard from UCLA is midway through his fourth season, averaging 18.9 points and 8.9 assists for the Sixers.
Lakers guard Steve Nash said Holiday’s play gave the Sixers a big lift.
“Obviously they’re a different team with him. We beat them at their place by 20 without him,” Nash said (the margin was actually 13 points in the December meeting, 111-98). “I think he gives them obviously a very talented players but he also makes guys around him better.  He makes it more difficult for you to guard [Evan] Turner[Jason] Richardson and the other guys on the perimeter.”
The Lakers were within four points with about 32 seconds left when Metta World Peace missed a three-point shot.  Holiday took it right to the rack with a thunderous dunk to put the Sixers up 103-97, all but extinguishing the Lakers’ chances.
“He’s a terrific player,” Nash said.  “He’s an All-Star this year.”

Steve Nash and Jrue Holiday chase the ball yesterday, courtesy Lakers Now cited supra.



For some reason, the NBA now includes Oklahoma City, which by all accounts is the 505th largest metropolitan area in the United States, but has one of the 30 odd NBA franchises.  
 
This makes as much sense as when Bob Irsay moved the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis in the middle of the night, as highlighted in a recent ESPN 30-30 documentary. 
 
Ok, so here are the matchups and here are the picks:

Wild Card Round:  

Saturday Jan 5th, 2013:  Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) v. Houston Texans (12-4) 4:30 pm.  PICK: BENGALS.  Close match but Bengals finished very strong, Texans didn’t.   This is probably a very tight matchup and could go either way, but the Bengals defeated three good teams down the stretch while the Texans wilted away the #1 seed down the stretch.
 
Saturday Jan 5th, 2013:  Minnesota Vikings (10-6) v. Green Bay Packers (11-5) 8:00 pm.  PICK:  PACKERS.  The teams split the two regulars season meetings, but the Pack is back and is much stronger than their record indicates.  It will be a hard fought game but one has to like the Packers’ superior offensive capabilities and QB Aaron Rodgers, a proven winner, over the wonderful Adrian Peterson, who assaulted Eric Dickerson’s NFL rushing mark this past season.  However, if the Vikings are down by ten points or more, then their running game will not prove useful, and they will need to go to the air.  Neither team has a very tight defense, so it’s hard to see the Vikings containing the Pack.  Only Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan had higher QBRs than Aaron Rodgers this year with the Packers.  Rodgers still holds the all-time QBR mark.  However, Rodgers led the NFL in Passer Rating in 2012.  
 
Sunday, Jan 6th, 2013:  Indianapolis Colts (11-5) v. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) 1:00 pm.  PICK:RAVENS. Everyone loves Bruce Arians, but am I the only person who remembers that he once was the head coach of Temple Football, where he was 21-45 over six seasons from 1983-88?  including 1986, when Temple went 6-5, but was later forced to forfeit all six of its wins due to the use of Paul Palmer, a fantastic RB who later was shown to have signed with a player agent, and was thus ineligible to play (see, the NCAA will take away wins from any university playing football in Pennsylvania).    At any rate, the Colts are the luckiest 11-5 team in the history of the NFL–they gave up 387 points while scoring 357 points.  The Ravens look more normal–their defense is still good, though they gave up more points than usual.  Joe Flacco won’t thrill anyone, but he gets the job done.  Andrew Luck–well, he’ll need it against the likes of Ray Lewis, who had 44 tackles in just six games.  Not everyday you have to look into the eyes of a middle linebacker who has done hard time for felony murder conspiracy, knowing that fellow is hell-bent on coming after YOU.  And sending your receivers across midfield into his path.  Good LUCK.  I pick the Ravens.  
 
Sunday Jan 6th, 2013:  Seattle Seahawks (11-5) v. Washington DC Redskins (10-6) 4:30 pm.  PICK:  SEAHAWKS.  The most underrated coach in the league has to be Pete Carroll of Seattle, who not only snuck into the playoffs two years ago with a 7-9 team, but then proceeded to win the mother of all upsets by upending the Super Bowl champion Saints in the Wild Card round and then proceeded to give the Bears a contest before falling in the second round.  This year, the Seahawks allowed only 245 points–one of the very lowest totals in the NFL–while scoring 412 points.  The Redskins by contrast allowed 388 points while scoring 436 points.  Among the tough teams the Seahawks beat this year were the Cowboys, the Packers, the Patriots, the Vikings, the Bears and the 49ers, and they didn’t give a whole lot of points in beating those teams either.  The total allowed in those six games was 92 points–or @15.33 points per game to six of the highest scoring opponents with some of the best running backs and QBs in the NFL.  In fact, based on point differentials, the Seahawks should have gone 13-3, while the Redskins should have gone 9-7.  And while many enthuse over the inestimable talents of Robert Griffin III, the QB rating of Russell Wilson of Seattle was right behind RG3–Wilson had a rating of 100, RG3 102.4, Peyton Manning 105.6, and Aaron Rodgers topped out the NFL at 108.  So RG3 is the third best QB in the league, but Russell Wilson is the fourth best QB in the league–so it’s a wash there.  Marshawn Lynch ran for more than 1500 yards for Seattle and Wilson added nearly 500 yards to that total.  Not only do I pick Seattle, but the game will not actually be close.  Seattle will win comfortably, and Pete Carroll will be revealed as the genius he is.  It’s worth noting also, that while Mike Shanahan does have two Super Bowl wins, his overall record with QBs not named John Elway is 112-87 in the regular season; Shanahan has had four one and done playoff runs, including three since he last had John Elway as his QB; that Shanahan has only won one playoff game in his coaching career since the 1997 and 1998 Super Bowl runs with Elway and Elway’s retirement, that sole playoff win coming way back in 2005 with Jake “the Snake” Plummer against the powerful NE Patriots, but at home in Denver, and possessing a powerful Denver defense that year.  Denver in 2006 got off to a powerful 7-2 start, then cratered with a 2-5 finished to end up 9-7 and out of the playoffs; Mike Shanahan never got back to the playoffs again with Denver, and it took him three years to get back to the playoffs with the Redskins, and seven years overall since 2005 to get back to the promised land.   Shanahan’s playoff record post-Elway is one and done, 2000, one and done 2003, one and done, 2004, won one and lost one, 2005, and out of the money, 2006-08, and 2010-11, five seasons.  Except for the one win against the Pats in 2005, Shanahan has not won a playoff game of any importance since 1999 and 1998 with John Elway in the two Super Bowl runs.  Whereas by contrast, Pete Carroll won a critical playoff game in the face of derision, skepticism and outright ridicule, on the road, against the NFL’s premier offense, against the New Orleans Saints, in 2010, and two years later, has his team not only in the hunt, but with one of the NFL’s premier defenses, and best young offenses.  While it’s true Shanahan gets some credit for developing RG3, were their roles reversed and Carroll had RG3 and Shanahan had Wilson, I’d bet at least a gold eagle from the 1880s that Carroll would have won 14 games with RG3, while Shanahan would have missed the dance altogether with Wilson.  Based on their track records, it seems to me that it’s Carroll, not Shanahan that is the superior QB developer and teacher of young men—Shanahan has never been able to really develop a QB since Elway, which means, essentially, unless the QB is already a great QB, Shanahan can’t develop one.  RG3 is already great—Shanahan has not been the key to his development.  RG3 is like another Elway–a truly great QB who thrives in spite of, and not because of, Shanahan.  My pick is the Seahawks.
–art kyriazis, philly

DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF THE LATE TIMOTHY LING CLASS OF 1976 GOALKEEPER SCHOLAR ATHLETE BUSINESSMAN FATHER HUSBAND CLASSMATE FRIEND TIM WE WILL ALWAYS MISS YOU ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME MEMBER 1974 & 1975 UNDEFEATED SOCCER TEAMS, HAVERFORD SCHOOL

In 1974-75, my classmates at HAVERFORD SCHOOL had evolved a new kind of game to play at lunchtime using the lacrosse fields adjacent to the old Upper School.  It used a FRISBEE and the object was to advance the FRISBEE and throw it into the LACROSSE NET past the opposite.  The resulting game was aptly called CROSBEE.

It became very popular and nearly everyone was playing nearly every day.  What the internet has brought to light is that in April of 1975, I and my kid brother JOHN KYRIAZIS (who was also attending HAVERFORD SCHOOL) co-wrote and had published in SPORTS ILLUSTRED MAGAZINE a short letter about CROSBEE AND HAVERFORD SCHOOL.  The letter appeared in the section then known as “The 19th Hole”.  The letter and website follow:

April 07, 1975

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

Edited by Gay Flood
SI VAULT
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1089715/2/index.htm

CROSBEE AND GUTS
Sir:
We thoroughly enjoyed the article by J.D. Reed on Frisbee as a sport (“They Are My Life and My Wife”, Feb. 24). At the Haverford School, which we attend, Frisbee has become much more than a lunchtime amusement. Our game is called Crosbee, and there is nothing like it outside of our school. It is played four men to a side, on a 60-by-40-yard field, and the object is to throw the Frisbee into the opponent’s goal. The rules are simple: the man with theFrisbee is allowed to run, unless he is touched by an opponent, in which case possession changes. To forestall a touch, players can pass off or “down” the Frisbee by putting the disk on the ground and tapping it-Play then stops for a moment, whereupon the player can pass off or run again, although he cannot shoot from a downed position. A toss out of bounds results in loss of possession. The goalie, who mans a 6-by-6-foot lacrosse net, can come up on offense when his team has possession of the Frisbee.

A mixture of lacrosse, hockey and Frisbee, Crosbee is fast and furious. A Crosbee Intramural League has evolved, complete with Saturday schedules and playoffs.


ARTHUR KYRIAZIS
JOHN KYRIAZIS


I played lacrosse six years at Haverford, socer six years, captained an intramural hoops team that won the championship two years in a row, and prior to attending Haverford was on a football team that had been county champions two years in a row.  Yet, at Haverford, due to the incredibly great athletes we had there, I was considered only average in my athletic abilities.  I was a starter in lacrosse at Haverford for three or four years before the bigger faster guys started taking over; I was a hard worker and a team player.  I didn’t crack the starting lineup in soccer; everyone was too good.  In the winters, aside from hoops, I also played squash, and in the falls, some tennis besides soccer.  We had a lot of great tennis courts and superb old style squash courts with the old style rackets and the old style balls.
But what was terrific about sports at Haverford was that your coach was also your teacher.  In lacrosse, my coach was also my upper school  Latin teacher; in soccer, the coach was my middle school Latin teacher;   our squash supervisor was my upper school English teacher.  Our basketball preceptor was our middle school social studies teacher, later a noted attorney on Wall Street.  We forged strong bonds with our teachers on the athletic fields and in the classrooms.
Years later, when I read “The World According to Garp,” I instinctively understood exactly what John Irving was referring to with regards to the wrestling room; wrestling was like a religion at Haverford School, and yet it was conducted in a small, hot as an inferno room in an old gym which must have dated back to the 1920s.  A room where the School had gone undefeated in league matches for twenty-five years, a record of excellence that will never, ever be matched.  Wrestling at Haverford–man, that was something you WATCHED.  Our wrestlers were so, so good.  They just destroyed opponents.  Our wrestling team never lost a match in league play the whole time I attended Haverford for six straight years.
Our soccer team was undefeated my sophomore, junior and senior years.  Our football team was undefeated my seventh and eighth grade years.  Man, we were really, really good.  Our squash and golf players were the envy of not just Philadelphia, but the entire east coast.  Our squash and golf teams routinely beat COLLEGE teams in exhibition matches.  We had a squash player, Neddie Edwards, who later dueled for years with Harvard’s Mike DeSaulniers for #1 and #2 on the pro squash tour.  The number of golf pros and golf course designers who have graduated our classes is staggering.  Our annual alumni golf tournament–let’s just say you’d better practice before you show up.
Crosbee, though, was sheer fun.
We honor our great athletes at Haverford School annually with an Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner.  Tonight’s dinner will be the tenth annual such dinner, and I am proud to say that I was on the Alumni Board @ fifteen years ago when the idea for such a dinner was first proposed, and I was immediately one of the first and most ardent advocates for it to be pressed forward.  Many more worthy than me have pressed on and we now have a very distinguished group of alumni who serve on the HOF committee as well as on the selection committee.  It is so fulfilling to be at the birth of something, and to watch it grow into a full grown teenager and adult–sort of like raising your own child. This is one of my deepest and proudest accomplishments, that I in some small way, contributed to the Alumni HOF dinner at Haverford School.
It is now one of our most popular alumni events, and we have been honored and graced by many great athletes.  I especially wish to mention the late Timothy Ling 76′, who was goalie on those undefeated soccer teams, later a distinguished executive at UNOCAL who pioneered their East Asian resource exploration programs.  Mike Mayock 76′, who has served with distinction on the HOF committee for many years and also serves as once of the lynchpins of the NFL Network, as well as being the pride of BC football, and proudly, a former NY football Giant.  I once watched him drop 26 points in a 12 year old hoops game–out of 33 total scored by the team.  The 1974 and 1975 soccer teams which were recently inducted into the HOF–the entire class of 1975, as well as the class of 1974–were amazing, and role models for us, the class of 1976.
The Ancient Greeks said that proper training included a sound mind in a sound body–mens sana in corpore sana was the latin term.  To this day, the word “gymnasium” means high school in modern Greek, and “athletics” means sports.  The fact is, there is no separating the training of the mind from the training of the body.  We bond on the field, we bond in the classroom, we bond in the boardroom, we bond on the golfcourse.
This is the World According to Garp.  This is the World I Knew, and I praise the Lord for it, and thank all my dear classmates, coaches and mentors for it.
–art kyriazis
haverford school 76′
The Late, Great Timothy Ling

The Late, Great Timothy Ling

Obituaries

January 30, 2004|Elizabeth Douglass | Times Staff Writer

Timothy Hugh Ling, president and chief operating officer of Unocal Corp. and an active member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn. board, died Wednesday after an ice hockey workout in El Segundo. He was 46.

The cause of death was not immediately known, and an autopsy will be performed.

Ling spent six years at the El Segundo-based oil company, initially as its chief financial officer, then as executive vice president of Unocal’s North American operations, and finally as the No. 2 executive and a member of the board of directors.

The pianist, singer and cellist loved music so much that he knew the performers and would leave concerts “absolutely glowing,” according to Deborah Borda, president of the L.A. Philharmonic Assn. As a member of the group’s executive committee, “he was a gifted strategic thinker and had a real impact,” she said.

A native of Philadelphia, Ling won a hockey scholarship to fund his high school education at the Haverford School. In 1982, he earned a degree in geology from Cornell University.

While working as a geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, he met Kimberly De Mello, whom he married in 1987.

Ling earned an MBA from Stanford University in 1989, and hoped to create a small oil company with friends. Instead, he spent seven years as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. in Los Angeles, becoming a partner and co-writing a management book called “Real Change Leaders” before leaving for Unocal in 1997.

Despite frequent travel, Ling was a mentor to children from the urban core, helped with Boy Scouts, coached his eldest son’s ice hockey team and was active in the Young Presidents’ Organization.

In addition, Ling was a director of Maxis Communications, a Malaysian wireless service provider; a director of the American Petroleum Institute and the Domestic Petroleum Council; and a member of an advisory board for the Department of Energy. He was also on the management board for the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a member of the Haverford Leadership Council.

“He was just a huge bundle of energy,” said friend Jamie Montgomery of the investment banking firm Montgomery & Co. “He helped everyone, everywhere along the way.”

In addition to his wife, Ling is survived by their three children, Hudson, 7, Tommy, 4, and Peter, 2, all of Pacific Palisades; his parents, Gilbert and Shirley Ling of Marion, Pa.; his sister, Eva Monahan of Wynnewood, Pa.; and his brother, Dr. Mark Ling of Atlanta.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be made to the Tim Ling Memorial Fund, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Pacific Palisades, or to the Tim Ling Scholarship Fund, in care of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn.

http://articles.latimes.com/2004/jan/30/local/me-ling30

cf http://www.palisadespost.com/obituaries/content.php?id=130

Paris Hilton Saturday Night Live Show Transcript 2-5-05

Download .zip file

TINA FEY v. AMY POEHLER ON PHILLY v. BOSTON BEFORE THE SUPER BOWL EAGLES V. PATRIOTS FEBRUARY 2005 SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

FEY: A man identified as an NYU professor was detained at LaGuardia Airport Thursday after human remains were found in his luggage. However, he was let go when he told authorities the body parts were ‘teaching tools.’ Said the professor, ‘….teach that bitch to cheat on me.’

POEHLER: The Canadian government formally introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. At which point the bill insisted on being called William.

FEY: As we mentioned earlier, this Sunday is Superbowl XXXIX, between the Philadelphia Eagles of my hometown and the New England Patriots…

POEHLER: …of my hometown…Burlington, New England.

FEY: So, we thought it would be fun to have a little hometown fans Point/Counterpoint. Amy has elected to go first.

POEHLER: Thank you, Tina. [In Boston accent] If you think your Eagles are any match for our top notch New England Patriots, you’re a moron.

FEY: [In Philadelphia accent] Okay, don’t even start, alright. Cause everyone knows New England people are a bunch of losers, you’se went down there losers, and you’re goin’ home losers.

POEHLER: Give me a break. We’re unstoppable. It’s our year – first they Red Sox, now the Superbowl. Okay, you can go cry in a pile of Philly Cheese stakes, and watch that gay movie they named after your city.

FEY: Okay, rebuttal. First of all, your whole city smells like baked bean farts. Second of all, how do you’se even have time go to the Superbowl? Aren’t ya too busy getting molested by priests and cryin’ about it?

POEHLER: Good point. Point well taken. But, uh, let me just say this. Your mother’s a whore and your father holds the money.

FEY: You dirt bag!

[end of transcript]

FROM AN ACTUAL SNL SHOW 2005 BEFORE THE EAGLES PLAYED IN THE SUPER BOWL AGAINST THE PATRIOTS.

TINA FEY IS AN EAGLES FAN!!!!

Art Kyriazis/Philly South Jersey
Home of the World Champion Phillies

1) Tom “Odysseus the Wise” Izzo is Italian, which means that he’s practically greek, which means he’s practically Spartan. On the way to the final four, in round two, the Spartans of Michigan State defeated the Trojans of USC. The Spartans defeated the Trojans. Funny how that battle always comes out the same, millennium after millennium. Michigan State baffled USC throughout with their famed “Trojan Horse” defense, with Raymar “Achilles” Morgan’s ally-oop, the Kalin “Ajax” Lucas’ give and go, the “Nestor” low post kickout and the “Odysseus” trick ball play. Magic “Homer Hercules Son of Zeus” Johnson sat on the coach’s side on the bench, singing their tale of triumph in fifteen syllable heroic poetic rap to all that would listen. Plus, their fans hectored the USC Trojans during the entire match, telling them to go back to Paris when they were from. Plus there was this blind guy Ty Reesias on the sideline predicting that USC would lose. Bottom Line: the Spartans could play the Trojans a thousand times, and the Spartans would always win. History is history. It’s not true that Brad Pitt was at the game doing research for his sequel to Troy, the movie. Besides which, Tom “Socrates Plato Aristotle” Izzo is one of the smartest and greatest coaches ever in NCAA history. Plus he probably has actual Spartan blood in him and he has the wisdom of a thousand greek philosophers, and can coach some ball.

2) East Lansing is a rocking college town. And Michigan State coeds are the most beautiful in all the land.

3) What in the world is a “Tar Heel”?

4) Most schools ban smoking in all buildings. At the University of North Carolina, smoking is required in all buildings. After all, tobacco pays for everything in North Carolina. In fact, babies are given their first cigarettes at age one in North Carolina per state custom. Also, cigarettes are given away at all UNC home games to undergrads.

5) “WE ARE SPARTANS!!!!”

6) Anyone who doesn’t believe the Spartans will win, is condemned to be thrown into the bottomless pit of King Leonidas.

7) Three hundred Spartans are worth two million Persians, and four millions UNC players.

8) Thermopylae save the Western World from Freedom, along with the Three Hundred Spartans, who obedient to their country’s laws, lie dead there. The Spartans of Michigan State will save the US from another Southern NCAA champion and give us a Big Ten Champion.

9) All Spartans are superior genetically, because the defective ones are thrown off the mountain at birth. This includes Michigan States hoops players.

10) The Spartans have a detailed conditioning program that starts from age four. You should see what the Michigan State Hoops players do.

11) The Spartans never lose a battle. This is well known. Michigan State hardly ever loses a ballgame that matters.

12) Michigan State is playing a home game. The Final Four and Championshiop Game are in Detroit.

13) Detroit has an immense Greek population, and many of them are Spartans. And they have a rocking Greektown. Spartans love to party after they kill their opponents.

14) East Lansing, Michigan is the coolest place on earth, and home of the Spartans of Michigan State.

15) Michigan is a sensible place full of sensible people.

16) Michigan gave us Bob Seger, Grand Funk Railroad, Kid Rock, Iggy Pop & the Stooges, and all of Motown.

17) North Carolina has given us nothing culturally, unless you want to count segregation as a cultural institution.

18) Izzo is very nearly Rizzo, Philly’s most beloved mayor ever. Frank Rizzo was cool. Tom Izzo is cool.

19) The Big Ten actually go to class and get degrees, unlike their brethren in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

20) Michigan State has beaten a series of excellent, higher ranked teams to get to the finals, including UConn, all of which are better than UNC.

21) Michigan State has a number of experienced seniors on its roster who have played together for a while. Again, this is a big advantage in this era of players leaving after a year or two for the pros.

22) This one is for King Leonidas, and also for the auto industry and the unemployed auto workers of Michigan.

23) Gov. Granholm of Michigan told the boys, come home victorious with your shields, or dead upon them.

24) The best reason the Spartans will win—they are unfraid to lose, unafraid of death, unafraid of anything, and totally playing with house money at this point.

25) Because this is America, and we root for the UNDERDOG. So what if the TAR HEELS have amassed an army of two million and the Spartans are but three hundred? What does this matter to the SPARTANS????? Did they not fight and win the moral battle at Thermopylae? Don’t they still make movies about those guys 3,000 years later?

My money’s on the SPARTANS!!!!!

P.S. What IS a Tar Heel?

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

Collectively, the Big Five of Temple, LaSalle, Penn, Villanova and St Joes have made more than a dozen final four appearances since the NCAAs began in 1939; Villanova was in the first NCAA tourney back in 1939, and in every decade of the NCAAs, one or more of the big Five has had an impact on the tournament each and every decade the Tournament has been running, whether it was Temple getting to the Final Four twice in the fifties, St. Joe’s to the Final Four in the sixties, Villanova and Penn to the Final Four in the seventies, Villanova winning the NCAA in the 80s, Temple dominating and getting #1 rankings and seedings in the 80s and 90s and getting to the elite 8 three times, and Villanova getting #1 seeds and reaching the elite 8 in recent years, and St. Joes getting to the final four in the last decade and getting a #1 seed.

Folks, we have the best college basketball in the country, bar none. Collectively, the Big Five does better in NCAA than almost any other region or school, excepting possibly Duke, UCLA, Kentucky and a handful of other such bigtime programs–and yet Duke has only won three NCAA titles in 14 Final Four trips, etc. The Big Five is not doing so badly.

I really like the underdogs of the NCAA–Marquette in 1977 with Al McGuire, the late Jimmy Valvano and North Caroline State (who can forget the triple overtime opening round win over Pepperdine?) in 1983, Rollie Massimino and the Villanova Wildcats upending Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in 1986, and so on.

My personal favorite big five upset of all time has to be St. Joe’s beating #1 seed and #1 in the country DePaul and Mark Aguire in 1981 in the first round of the NCAA (maybe it was the 2d round).

This brings us to 2009. Villanova and Temple are in. Villanova had a very good season, but lost to Louisville in the semis of the Big East tournament. Nova’ had a good RPI and a good strength of schedule, but still, they got a #3 seed, which I thought was pretty generous for a team that really hadn’t won anything–they were third or fourth in their conference, and finished third/fourth in the tournament of their conference. Even if it’s the best conference in basketball, does finishing fourth in that conference make you the 12th best team in all of college basketball? I think a #4 seed would have been more appropriate. The NCAA worships the big east a little too much.

Next, Temple. Temple got an #11 seed, which puts them against Arizona State, a #6 seed. Now Temple actually won something–they won the A-10 Tournament. Second year in a row, in fact. Also, best player in the conference, Dionte Christmas, plays for Temple. Also, Temple has by far the toughest non-conference schedule of any A-10 team. But they beat all of those teams too, except maybe Villanova, and they gave them a tough time. Maybe if Nova’ didn’t insist on playing at the Pavilion, but at the Palestra, it would be a fair game.

Temple’s RPI is very good, and their strength of schedule is very good. In fact, if you look at most of the teams seeded from around #7-#10, Temple’s RPI and strength of schedule are BETTER than most of those 7-10 seeds. Take Michigan for example, a team that didn’t win anything, lost 13, won only 20, and was an at-large from the big 10. Michigan has a higher seed than Temple but why? Michigan’s RPI is worse, their strength of schedule much worse, and they have a much worse record than Temple.

I could pick out many more examples (UCLA?) of this, but the point is that Temple plays a big-time schedule, has been in the elite eight in three of the last twenty years, and has been ranked #1 more than once in the last twenty years, including most of 1987-88. They’re a good ballclub, and deserved at least an 8-9 seed matchup in the first round.

Frankly, i would have given Temple about the same seeding as Xavier, and higher than Dayton, a team Temple dominated during the season.

I believe Temple and Villanova will both win. Arizona State is a fine team and that game could go either way, but Temple will win this year. Villanova has a ridiculously easy first round game. Their second round matchup will be much tougher

Also, I really like the fact that the new President offered his own “bracketology” on ESPN. that was pretty cool. I don’t think we’ve had this sports minded a president since Jack Kennedy, an old football player, was going to the harvard-yale and army-navy games. A lot like Teddy Roosevelt, too.

–art kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

The NFL, FOX and other major media claim that the Arizona Cardinals have never hosted an NFC Conference Championship Game. Technically, that is correct, because the NFC and AFC only came into existence after the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, but the NFL existed and had playoffs and championships and divisional playoff games for forty years or more before that date.

Before they were the Arizona Cardinals, they were the St. Louis Cardinals, and before they were the St. Louis Cardinals, they were the Chicago Cardinals.

And in 1947, 61 years ago, on December 28, 1947, the Chicago Cardinals hosted the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFL Championhip. The box score of that game can be found at http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/194712280crd.htm. The Cardinals beat the Eagles 28-21. The Cardinals boasted Charlie Trippi at halfback and Ray Mallouf at QB.

That was a great Eagles team. It boasted Steve Van Buren, a 1000 yard rusher; Tommy Thompson at QB; Pete Pihos at end; Allie Sherman and Bill Mackrides at backup QB; and Bosh Pritchard at the other running back. It came back to win the NFL title in 1948 and 1949.

On December 19, 1948, the Eagles hosted the Chicago Cardinals in a rematch of the previous years title game, only this time at Philadelphia, and the Eagles defeated the Cardinals for the NFL title 7-0.

The Cardinals after 1948 never made the playoffs again while they were in Chicago. In 1960, they departed to St. Louis. In 1964, they had a 9-3 season, but finished second and missed the playoffs. But in 1974-75, they did finally make the playoffs again after a 26 year drought, under Don “Air” Coryell as their coach, with Jim Hart at QB and Terry Metcalf in the backfield and the outstanding Jackie Smith at tight end. Although they lost their opening round playoff games both years to the Vikings and Rams, those were two outstanding Cardinals playoff teams. Unfortunately, that was it for that team. The St. Louis Cards got in again in 1982, a strike year, but again lost the opening round playoff game.

In 1988 the Cards moved to Phoenix. In 1998, the Cards with Jake “the Snake” Plummer at QB went 9-7, made the wild card, and beat Troy Aikman and the Cowboys on the road in the wild card round, 20-7. Even though they lost to the Vikings in the Divisional Round, that would have to be counted as a very succesful season for the Cards. Unfortunately, it wasn’t repeated, and Plummer would soon make his way to Denver. It would take until this year for the Cards to again make the playoffs.

In 1925, the Chicago Cardinals won the NFL Championship, although this is disputed by some, since the Pottsville, PA Maroons had nearly the same record and defeated the Cardinals 21-7 in head to head play. There is a long ongoing controversy as to whether the Maroons or the Cardinals were the 1925 NFL Champions and I can’t get into the details of that here, except to say that both claim the championship, and the NFL record books apparently give it to Chicago’s Cardinals.

Suffice it to say that the Cardinals won at least one undisputed NFL championship on the field, and it was in December, 1947 against the Philadelphia Eagles. The same two teams played each other the next year and in December 1948, the Eagles beat the Cardinals for the NFL championship.

So actually, there’s a little bit of history between these two clubs, although you have to dust it all off to find it. And this coming weekend’s game is in fact a rematch of the 1947 and 1948 NFL championship games. It’s old school. These are two ancient franchises locking horns for the right to go to the Super Bowl. Even though the game is in Phoenix, which didn’t have an NFL franchise in 1947 or 1948, the history of the game is clearly there nonetheless. These two teams have both been in the NFL a long, long time and they have some history of losing to go along with their winning records.

Throw in the fact that Kurt Warner faced the Eagles as a St. Louis Ram in the NFC Championship Game not so long ago (2001) and the fact that Arizona was humbled and schooled 48-20 on Thanksgiving day by the Eagles, and you definitely have some rivalry issues on both sides for these clubs.

The Eagles, to justify their entire existence as a truly great team of the decade, must make it to the Super Bowl, and indeed, must win the Super Bowl.

The Cards, and Kurt Warner in particular, need to win to save face from the humiliation of thanksgiving day, though to lose in a close game would be enough.

On the whole, the synergies are such that I like the Eagles to win in a close, hard fought game.

The Eagles have the better defense, and on the whole, the better offense as well.

Warner is a very immobile QB,and will be a good target for the Eagles defensive blitz packages.

McNabb is healthy, can run his way out of trouble, and the Eagles have had success running the ball as well as passing.

I look for an Eagles win, though in many respects it’s a trap game on the road.

–art kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies
happy new year 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles continue to shock the world. Yesterday they did what no one thought was possible—they marched into the Meadowlands and defeated the defending Super Bowl New York Giants in a divisional playoff round game 23-11. The game was close, hard-hitting and was up for grabs as late as the fourth quarter. The two teams went into the halftime with Philly up 10-8 after McNabb engineered a two-minute drive for a field goal by Akers. The two teams traded field goals in the third quarter and Philly was up 13-11 when the Eagles finally put together a touchdown drive to go ahead 20-11. Then the Giants stalled out at fourth and inches and the Eagles made a big defensive stop. The Eagles went three and out but the Giants again got to their own forty and got to fourth and around two and went for it again—and the Eagles stopped them again. This time the Eagles offense converted a long pass play to DeSean Jackson and while they didn’t make the TD, they converted another Akers FG to go up 23-11 with a little over four minutes to play in the fourth quarter. This pretty much iced it. Manning on his next series threw a pick and Philly again wasted clock with another offensive possession.

The Eagles won by controlling the second half with defense, by running the football about as often as they passed, and by controlling the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense. After a while, with the Giants defense out there so long, you could see the Giants defense getting tired, as great and awesome as they are. The Eagles had a 2-1 edge in time of possession in the second half. They simply dominated the Giants in the second half.

This was a terrific win for the Eagles, one of the finest wins in the playoffs in the Andy Reid era, perhaps the finest. A win over an NFC East rival on the road in the opponents stadium as a wild card having played the week before is a tall order, but Andy Reid dialed up a good game plan and won with it. Again, the keys to the game were a sound McNabb, a healthy Westbrook, a great DeSean Jackson and an awesome Eagles defense.

We should stop for a moment and appreciate what Andy Reid has now accomplished—five NFC Championship round appearances in eight years. The chance of doing this randomly in anyone year is the chance of making the playoffs (six out of 16) or .375 (37.5%) times the chance of winning at least one more playoff games (.5 or 50%) which aggregates to .1875 or 18.75% in any single season randomly. Leaving out the combinatorics of doing it five out of eight seasons (56 ways), assuming you had to do this five straight seasons would be .1875 times itself five times would would be .00023 or .023% chance of this happening randomly. That’s 23 chances in 10,000 seasons. The odds improve a bit when you stretch it over eight seasons, but still, it’s an impressive accomplishment. Andy Reid is clearly staking his claim for the Hall of Fame among NFL Coaches.

Of course, I’ve already gone out on that limb and said the Eagles would go to the Super Bowl this year. That prediction is looking better after Arizona knocked Carolina out of the playoffs. The Eagles knocked the stuffing out of Arizona on Thanksgiving day. Not that Arizona will lay down and die at home during the NFC championship game. Kurt Warner is an experienced quarterback who has won the Super Bowl, and who has defeated the Eagles in the NFC Championship round with St. Louis back in 2001, though he had Marshall Faulk back then to do it with and a pretty good defense. But he does have a renewed Edgerrin James, who has been enjoying a renaissance in the playoffs, and the Cardinals running game has been respectable enough to give their passing game some respectability. Moreover, the Eagles may have a letdown after their emotional win over the Giants. They may underestimate the Cardinals.

A historical note: The Eagles last met the Cardinals in a playoff game in 1947, for the NFL title. The Chicago Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFL title in that game. The Eagles came back to win the NFL title in 1948 and 1949. It’s taken 61 years, but this is the Eagles time for revenge and payback. Besides, what kind of crazy person would leave a great town like Chicago for St. Louis or Arizona?

The keys to this upcoming game are that Warner is a stationary QB vulnerable to the blitz; and the Cardinals weak defense. Also the Eagles good secondary has to maintain coverage on the fleet-footed Arizona receivers. The Eagles must maintain the same kind of game plan that resulted in a blowout from Thanksgiving while making adjustments in light of Arizona’s last two big wins.

I believe the Eagles will win at Arizona, though it will not be a blowout as before. I also think that the Steelers will finally knock Baltimore out of the playoffs, though Baltimore is playing very, very well. And we will finally have an all-PA Super Bowl of Steelers v. Eagles in Tampa, where there are a lot of ex-PA people living as snowbirds.

–Art Kyriazis Philly/South Jersey
Home of the World Champion Phillies
Happy New Year 2009

The Horrible BCS

January 12, 2009

Florida defeated Oklahoma 24-14 in the BCS National Championship Game last week to win the BCS National Championship for this past 2008-2009 season. The game was pretty even for three quarters, but in the fourth quarter, Tim Tebow and the Gators pretty much took control of the game as did the Gators’ defense. I’m certainly happy for Florida and for the good people of Gator Country.

Which reminds me of a funny story. I was interviewing for some positions early in my career in the Jacksonville, Florida region. This was a while back. I was I had flown in from the North that very morning. I was pretty young and naïve. Everywhere I went, I noticed that everyone had a certain lapel pin on. Finally, my third or fourth interview through, I asked, pretty stupidly, what is that pin y’all have on?

“Why son, THIS HEAH IS A GATAH PIN. WE HEAH ARE ALL GATAHS!!!”
In other words, they all were wearing Florida Gator pins. I knew right then and there, I was toast. There was no way they were hiring a Northerner in that or any other related office. Just to complete the story, I ran into some friends of friends some years later in LA who were Gator alums, and they assured me that U Florida was one of the best universities ever, both in terms of courses and in terms of social fun, ever. Apparently a lot of celebrities and actors send their kids there. But they, too, were Gators.

I’m actually happy for Florida and the Gators. Maybe it took Steve Spurrier leaving for them to get a national championship, or maybe just a Tim Tebow to put them over the top. Whatever, they’ve now won two BCS national championships in three years, which is a signal accomplishment.

But this is about the horrible BCS, which this year served up a couple of one loss teams in Florida and Oklahoma in the BCS Bowl. This year, other schools which have a reasonable claim to the national championship include Utah, which finished undefeated, won a BCS Bowl and destroyed their BCS opponent in that Bowl. Why wasn’t Utah in the BCS Final? Frankly, they looked pretty compelling in destroying Alabama.

Then you have the USC Trojans—who did a pretty good job of destroying the Penn State Nittany Lions, and a very good Nittany Lion team at that, one which was a one point loss from being undefeated. It’s hard to believe that USC lost a game to anyone this season. Even so, watching them in the Rose Bowl, USC certainly looked like a national champion. Why wasn’t USC playing Florida in the BCS final bowl?

Then you have Texas, which defeated Ohio State in another BCS Bowl, though it was a close game and not a decisive win. Texas didn’t really make out the case for a national championship, but certainly they belong in the mix of elite teams. Why wasn’t Texas playing Florida in the BCS final bowl?

So what this controversy builds up to is the compelling need for a national playoff system in BCS/NCAA football. Why this is so difficult escapes me. The top eight ranked teams in the BCS should be eligible for the playoffs, and should be seeded in the BCS bowls; in fact, to be REALLY fair, the BCS/NCAA should put in the top sixteen teams and seed them accordingly. They certainly have enough teams. After all, if you’re ranked first, you should have a creampuff first round opponent, eh? Meanwhile, you can get some interesting 8-9 matchups, etc.

Sixteen playoff teams will result in eight bowls in the first round, four bowls in the second round, two bowls in the third round and a final championship bowl in the penultimate round. That makes fifteen bowl games over four weeks to decide a national champion. There would be plenty of advertising money and plenty of TV rights all around. As for the remainder of the bowl games, obviously there should be a pool to allow all of the bowls to be playoff/BCS bowls from year to year—but due to regional and conference matchups other bowls will still have appeal, e.g. Penn State, Notre Dame, the service academies, even if they’re not for the playoffs or national championship.

Many, many persons have spoken out for a national playoff system in NCAA/BCS football, including our President-Elect, who is in favor. The team that has been most hurt by the lack of a national playoff system in NCAA football, without any doubt, has been Penn State. Four times in NCAA history, Penn State has had an undefeated system without being ranked #1 or having an opportunity to play for the #1 ranking in a bowl game at the end of the season. By my reckoning, Joe Paterno and Penn State should have six, not two national championships. Paterno and Penn State have been shamelessly deprived of numerous national championships by both the polling systems and by the lack of a national championship playoff system, starting in 1969 and most recently in 1993.

The other team that has been systematically discriminated against even with the BCS system is Utah, which the BCS/NCAA feels for some reason can’t play football, even though Utah churns out pro quarterbacks and pro coaches with astounding regularity. I don’t even know who the Utah quarterback is, but I bet even now he’s more likely to end up on an NFL roster than Bradford the so-called cant miss prospect from Oklahoma (who looked hopelessly confused during the fourth quarter of the BCS bowl).

Meanwhile, Tebow, who the NFL scouts say won’t make it in the NFL, there’s a guy I’d certainly draft if I was GM for an NFL team. Tebow is a born leader. I’ve only ever seen one guy do that jump pass thing—the star quarterback of our prep school football team—and all he did was play for BC four years and play for the Giants until he messed up his ankle. He’s a professional sports announcer now. I say Tebow can play pro—he’s got the desire.

But the horrible BCS has to be overhauled. We need a playoff system. I’m pretty sure Tebow and Florida would still win such a system, and the final game would probably be Florida and USC. But what a game that would be.

–Art Kyriazis Philly/South Jersey
Home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies
Happy New Year 2009

The clash between Eagles head coach Andy Reid and his former assistant coach (and now Minnesota Head Coach) and good friend Brad Childress in the playoffs yesterday highlights a new trend in the NFL—the Philadelphia Eagles family of coaches in the NFL. First, there are the Buddy Ryan assistant coaches—Jon Gruden, formerly of Oakland (where he went to the Super Bowl) and now of Tampa Bay (where he also went to the Super Bowl, and narrowly missed the playoffs this year) and Jeff Fischer of Tennessee, the NFL’s longest tenured coach, who is the AFC’s top seeded team this year, a regular playoff contender, and a former Super Bowl coach and AFC champion. Former Eagles head coach and Buddy Ryan assistant coach Ray Rhodes continues to work as an assistant coach in the league. Buddy Ryan’s two sons now are assistant coaches in the league. Second, there are the ex-Eagles—such as Herm Edwards of Kansas City, and former head coach Dick Vermeil, who used to coach at St. Louis, and won a Super Bowl there. Ex-Eagle John Bunting was a college head coach at North Carolina. And then you have the Andy Reid connections–Harbaugh at Baltimore, who used to coach special teams with the Eagles, and all the connections of Reid through Green Bay as well as Philly like Childress at Minnesota and Holmgren in Seattle.

There are probably many more connections to the Eagles that could be found, but it certainly is illuminating how many coaches and assistant coaches in the NFL (and in the college ranks) now have philly ties. And we used to think this was a college hoops town with a lot of college and pro hoops coaches everywhere. Who knew we were a spawning ground for college coaches. Guess it’s a spawning ground of football coaches as well for the NFL.

–art kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies
Happy New Year 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles played another outstanding game yesterday in defeating the Minnesota Vikings 26-14 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota in a nationally televised NFL wildcard playoff game. Coming off their destruction of Dallas 44-6 the week before, the Eagles might have been expected to lower their guard somewhat, but quite to the contrary, the Eagles played well and with intensity, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Minnesota boasts Adrian Peterson, who since his rookie last year and his second year this year, was and is the finest running back in all of professional football. Peterson has gained more than 3,000 yards on the ground in those two seasons and has moves, quickness, speed and power reminiscent of all the great Hall of Fame running backs of yore. The Maxwell Club Award winner this year, Peterson is a spectacular running back who can run and score almost at will against nearly all defenses. Against the Eagles yesterday, Peterson was held to 83 yards rushing on 20 attempts. Morever, Peterson had only one breakaway run for a touchdown late in the first half for more than ten yards—a forty yard TD sprint that accounted for almost half of his rushing yards for the game. The Eagles defense didn’t stop Peterson, but they contained Peterson sufficiently that the Eagles offense could win the game. Limiting Peterson to one breakaway run, a short TD run and a long TD run, and 83 yards on the ground, was in effect, stopping the prodigious Minnesota running game. This was one giant key to the Eagles win yesterday.

A second giant key was stopping the Minnesota passing game. Asante Samuel made a spectacular interception which he returned for a defensive touchdown for the Eagles, thus demonstrating why the Eagles signed him for big free agent money in the off-season. Samuel is a big-play man in big playoff games. The defensive touchdown came at a critical juncture, when the Eagles were ahead by just two points, 9-7, and gave the Eagles some needed breathing room.

Third, the Eagles offense was steady all day. While they didn’t score touchdowns, they got into the red zone and gave David Akers the chance to kick field goals, which in the wind-free Metrodome was an easier than normal task—and Akers booted three in the first half, and another in the second half. Akers was a fourth key to the Eagles win.

The final and fifth key to the Eagles’s win was Brian Westbrook, who played well all day, and finally broke a big play open late on a screen pass call that was brilliantly executed just when Minnesota had nearly all of its men committed to the pass rush, leaving Westbrook free to run downfield for 71 yards and a game-breaking touchdown that gave the Eagles a 23-14 lead late in the game that held up.

With this win, the Eagles now get their rematch date with the New York Giants in the Meadowlands, and while the Giants have to be favorites as the home team and the defending Super Bowl champions, no one should count the Eagles out. If the Eagles win against the Giants, they would have either Carolina on the road or Arizona on the road for the NFC Championship Game, and a shot at their second Super Bowl in this decade. The Giants continue to be without Plaxico Burriss and their middle linebacker continues to be a subject of investigation in that matter.

Now, onto another more important question: how great is Andy Reid as a coach? First, Reid has made the playoffs now seven of ten seasons as Eagles coach, made the playoffs five years in a row his second through sixth seasons, and won four NFC East titles. Reid has also reached the NFC Title Game four times, and won once to get to the Super Bowl once. Reid has the third highest winning percentage of all active NFL coaches. And Reid has won seven opening round playoff games in a row in each of those seven seasons that he has made the playoffs. In other words, every year he gets a ticket to the dance, he dances a little longer than all the other teams combined.

Compare that with Dick Vermeil or Buddy Ryan. We all loved Vermeil, but Vermeil had his problems with opening round games. Buddy Ryan had terrific defenses and outstanding regular seasons, but never won a playoff game in Philly, even when he had the homefield advantage (the Redskins) or the lead on the road (the fog game in Chicago). Losing first round playoff games led to Ryan’s demise in Philadelphia.

And what of other NFL coaches? We all love Tony Dungy, but increasingly, his record reflects, whether in Tampa Bay or in Indianapolis, a record of first round playoff exits, despite having superior talent and outstanding regular season records on his ballclubs. One would have to think what an Andy Reid would do if he was coaching Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. A first round exit on the road at San Diego would not be in the cards for Andy Reid, who NEVER loses first round playoff games.

To understand how difficult it is to win seven straight opening round playoff games in a row, is, let’s look at some basic statistical or probability theory. Initially, let’s assume that winning the playoff game is just a 50-50 shot (it’s less than that, but we’ll get to that in a second). If that were the case, winning one would be 50% probability—winning two in a row 50% times 50% or 25% and so on.

To win seven in a row randomly would be a chance of .0078% or approximately a 1% chance. One in a hundred. Those are the odds randomly of winning seven games in a row of any kind. But playoff games are of a different kind—much more difficult—the odds are somewhat less than fifty per cent—so you have to think that those odds are less than 50% each time—and consequently the odds of randomly winning seven playoff games in a row are consequently somewhat less than 1%.

In any event, to win seven playoff games in a row represents a substantial deviation from the norm. A great NFL coach would win about 50% of his playoff games—Reid has won 100% of his first round playoff games, and has an overall winning record in playoff games. This is a remarkable record, and one which argues that Reid is as good a coach as a Vince Lombardi or a John Madden. In point of fact, John Madden lost plenty of playoff games before he got his Super Bowl ring, but no one disputed that John Madden was a great coach.

Again, to win one NFC east title in a row, with three other teams in the division, would be a 25% random probability. But to win four NFC East Titles in a row would be 25% times 25% times 25% times 25% or a .0039625 probability—about one-half a percent chance of randomly making the NFC East Championship four times in a row randomly. That means about four times in a thousand years, randomly. That would be the lottery ticket odds. But again, the odds are less than that-the other teams in the NFC East are good, spend a lot of money and are competitive—and second, Reid’s success is a marked deviation from the norm. Also, the NFL has a high degree of competitive balance due to the draft and free agency.

Now, what are the odds of making the playoffs seven out of ten years and five straight years? Six teams in the NFC make the playoffs each year of sixteen teams in the NFC, or 37.5% of the teams in the NFC. Making the playoffs five straight years randomly is therefore 37.5% multiplied by itself five times in a row, or a .00742 probability, or again, just about 1%.

Here Reid has substantially deviated from the norm and the odds again in making the playoffs five times in a row from 2000-2004.

But the odds of making it seven out of ten years (2000-2008) are even less—on the order of 3.83 to ten to the minus eighth, a negligible sum (I’ll leave out the combinatorics). Here, it’s not even possible that this is a random accomplishment. This is an amazingly rare accomplishment–and here Reid starts to join the company of coaches like Tom Landry, John Madden, Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, the true greats who find a way to win year after year, even after rebuilding and retooling. This year’s Eagles defense might be Reids’ best ever.

On getting to the NFC Title Game, there are a number of probability factors. First, you have to make the playoffs, and second, you have to win at least one and possibly two playoff games. Let’s take the minimal scenario, that the Eagles win the NFC East, have a bye, and have to win just one playoff game to make the NFC championship round. The chances of both of these happening four years in a row are, from above, .39% for winning the NFC East four years in a row, and 6.25% for winning four playoff games in a row to get to the NFC East finals. Multiplying those two probabilities, you get a random probability of .00024 or .024% chance of this happening randomly—about 24 times in 10,000 years. Suffice it to say that Reid is way, way better than the norm and the odds here. Thus his run from 2001-2005 was unbelievably great.

A few weeks ago, the Eagles were 80 to 1 underdogs against them making the Super Bowl. In retrospect, that’s not a bad wager. The Eagles under Andy Reid both in the regular season and the post season over the past nine years have substantially outperformed the market and the competition. They are among the best “investments” in pro football. They substantially outperform the random odds and the random prospects for any given football team. They make the playoffs far more than average, they win division titles far more than average, and when they do make the playoffs, they always win the first game of the playoffs, and sometimes additional games as well.

In winning this years 2009 first round playoff game against Minnesota, Reid in ten years as an Eagles coach is now 7-0, undefeated in seven seasons, in opening playoff rounds, and is slowly cementing himself a place in the Hall of Fame among football coaches. Owner Jeff Lurie is correct to keep Andy Reid around as long as possible. In fact, Lurie should give Reid more money to keep him put.

This is clearly Andy Reid’s best Eagles team since the 2004 Eagles that reached the Super Bowl. The main reasons for this are 1) McNabb has stayed healthy all sixteen games of the regular season and through the playoffs, along with Westbrook 2) a devastating defense helped by Asante Samuel and Brian Dawkins and 3) the amazing play of rookie wide receiver and return man DeSean Jackson, who has put up receiving numbers like TO and return numbers that are amazing. He came up big in yesterday’s playoff game, and continues to amaze all of us with his speed and football talent.

Berman on ESPN has already come out and said this Eagles team will reach the Super Bowl. Of course, he also picked the Colts in the AFC, but on this one, I think he might be right. I really like the Eagles to go to the Super Bowl. Naturally, the party may come to an end in New York next weekend, but this is truly a great Eagles team no matter what happens next weekend.

Art Kyriazis Philly/South Jersey
Home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies
Happy New Year 2009