NFL week 2: Giants lose, Packers win


The Giants lost to the Cardinals, and the Packers beat the Jets. So i’m doing 1-3 overall in my teams’ progress 😛 Well, I did say I wanted narrative…

The Packers game was a great example of how that team reacts to pressure. They were down 3-21 in the 2nd quarter. Then they just took off, with the big play a TD run by Jordy Nelson for 80 yards (!). The Jets put up a fight early on and then just couldn’t stop the Pack.

However, the Giants loss was a disappointment, of course, especially since according to the 538 analysis a team that starts 0-2 has only a 12% chance of making the playoffs. If they can win their next game that goes up to 25%, but if they lose it drops to 2%.

I’m pretty forgiving of this loss, though. Eli actually seemed more comfortable and was better protected by the O-line this time around, which had definite impact:


Manning got the Giants back in the game with a 13-play, 90-yard touchdown drive that ended with Randle making a one-handed catch of a 7-yard fade pass to the corner of the end zone. Manning hit 6 of 7 passes on the drive, including a 25-yard to Cruz on third-and-11.

Jennings fumbled the ball which was painful to watch but really looked like bad luck, not skill (slipped and hit his elbow on the ground). If not for that, the Giants would have tied the game at that moment.

The problem this game was the WR crew, especially Cruz who seems to be all talk. Shout-out to TE Donnell, though, who has been solid both games so far (and is on my fantasy team :).

The Cardinals scored half their points from FGS. That means the Giants’ defense is doing something right, right? Likewise, Eli had 277 yards. That means the o-line is doing something, right. Even the receivers were doing all right – Randall had that awesome one-handed catch, Donnell had 80 yards, even Cruz had his moments to shine.

I think the bottom line is that DESPITE all the turnovers, penalties, and problems with scoring, the Giants were still contenders to win the game, if not for some bad luck (Jennings). And that was against a team with a tough defense like the Cards.

All the pieces are in place and coming together.

Oh, and the Bears beat the 49ers at home for the first time since 1985. It’s Eagles vs Colts tonight, i’m rooting for the Colts because that helps the Giants’ standing in their division 🙂

Giants vs Cardinals on Sunday – an NFL newbie’s analysis #AZvsNYG


Given that I’m a recent convert to football, I have a lot of catching up to do. I’m reasonably solid on how downs work, I can tell the difference between a WR and a RB, and during last week’s Packers opener I learned what a safety was. Miles to go yet before I can actually comprehend what the anchors are babbling about. I watched the Packers game on Thursday, and the Broncos on Sunday, and then followed the Giants using the NFL app on my phone and watched highlights, and then read up on the Cardinals game which was later that evening. So I’m putting in the time.

The Packers play the Jets and the Giants play the Cardinals this week. Since I didn’t see or read anything about the Jets, I don’t have any data to go on, but having paid some attention to the Cardinals and the Giants separately last week I think I’m ready to go out on a limb and try to do an analysis. And no, I really don’t have any clue what the heck I am talking about. Consider this a training exercise and judge/critique accordingly.

* Against Detroit, Eli Manning had no support from his offensive line. The poor guy got sacked more often than [insert folksy humor here]. And even the 2 interceptions werent really his fault – he just didn’t have time to make the calculation about where and how to throw. And Victor Cruz was a disappointment the few times Eli did launch. Eli took the blame but one man doesn’t dictate the team’s fortunes, even the QB.

* If the Giants can’t protect Eli, then they need to rely on their RBs, preferably Rashad Jennings, to do the yeoman’s work.

* Against San Diego, the Cardinals’ defense was pretty strong, according to the recap articles. I am assuming that the Chargers’ O-line is better than the Giants’, so Arizona will have an easier time harassing Eli than they did against San Diego.

* The Giants actually did pretty well against Detroit’s O-line. Googling, it seems that Detroit’s offensive line is ranked in the top 5 (by what metric, I have no clue). Let’s just assume that Detroit’s o-line is a lot better than the Cardinals, so the Giants should be able to return the favor when Arizona has the ball.

So, the upshot here is that both teams have weak offensive lines and strong defenders (“front seven” – I just learned a new term). The game will probably be a low-scoring one, where whichever team makes the fewest mistakes/most turnovers will probably grind out a painful win. If the Giants can protect Eli, and if Cruz can get his act together, they have a real chance at tilting the balance in their favor. The Giants need to trust Rashad Jennings a bit more and let him do his thing.

I’m predicting a low scoring game, predicting under any over/under of 42 or higher. I’ll call for the Giants, 21-14 (and I’m nowhere near sophisticated enough to make score predictions using anything other than multiples of 7). That’s only 5 TDs in 4 quarters, and just for added plausible but indefensible predictive specificity, the winning TD will happen in the last 5 min of Q4. Eli Manning will suddenly find himself standing in a beam of light from the heavens and a mystical voice will tell him to tap into the energy that surrounds us, binds us.

Basically everything above is nonsense. But help me learn why. I’m putting myself out there for this reason alone 🙂

Related: my thoughts about concussions and the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal.

A football newbie chooses a team


It only took me 4 decades but I have decided to finally Like football. Why? well, partly because I want to be actually converse with most of my friends during the fall about more than the weather 🙂 But also because I am enamoured of narratives, and football is possibly the single most narrative-driven sport. There’s no way for a single player, even the QB, to carry the game on their own, it’s truly a team sport. Fortunes can literally change completely in even the final minute of play. The athleticism of football players runs the full gamut. And finally, it’s a uniquely American sport, so why not claim my birthright?


As a new fan, I had to choose my teams. Since I live in Madison, obviously the Packers and the Badgers are my default. But I also wanted one more team to root for, and so had to consider my options carefully. What do I really want as a football “convert” ? Unlike those born (or for the less spiritually-sympathetic, indoctrinated) into a fandom, I have the opportunity to choose my loyalty. It’s a big responsibility! So I approached it from the perspective of what matters most: story.

Given that most fans are so passionate about the game, your team should have the potential to excite you or break your heart. It’s the drama, the tension, the potential that makes the narrative compelling, not just the end result. A team like the Cowboys are a routine disappointment, never quite living up to their potential; a team like the Broncos routinely make the playoffs and thus fail to introduce any plot tension. What I wanted was a team that has the proven skill to go all the way, but also has fallen short. Specifically, I decided I wanted to follow a team that has won the Superbowl at least once, and also failed to reach the playoffs at least once, both in the past 5 years. I also prefered a team in the NFC conference (because it wins more Superbowls) but in a different division from the Packers (NFC North) so I get some variety in opponents.

Based on Facebook convos, the clear choice seemed to be the NY Giants. Eli Manning, two Superbowls, dismal disappointments. But I needed to be sure, so I consulted this handy chart:

Handy decision flowchart to choose your NFL team
Handy decision flowchart to choose your NFL team

So, let’s see… I do like football (as of last week). Superpower: time travel. Definitely normal style. And of the TV options given, Clint eastwood by elimination, the rest are boring. Result… Giants! It must be destiny 🙂


So. Go, Pack, Go! On, Wisconsin! And Go, Giants! I subscribed to the reddits, liked the Facebook pages, downloaded the NFL app and even started my fantasy team. I’m ready for Sunday night!

And yes, I did see highlights of the NYG game last monday.

Eli Manning on Monday night
Eli Manning on Monday night


But it’s not his fault!

I asked for this, didn’t I?

UPDATE: My thoughts on concussions and the domestic abuse scandal involving Ray Rice.

UPDATE 2 – check out my predictions for Sunday’s Arizona vs Giants game.