Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The best holiday of the year

Thanksgiving is really a day like no other and has become my favorite holiday.  It used to be Christmas for me.  I still love Christmas.  But now that I’m passed the age of waking up at 7 AM on Christmas, checking my stocking, waking up my parents and opening presents, I’ve began to like Thanksgiving more and more.

As a sports fan, nothing beats a day where you can sit on the couch all day watching football with family, eat copious amounts of food and not be called lazy. Thanksgiving is probably the only day when that is viewed as the norm.  So now that I’m at the age when waking up on Christmas morning isn’t the same anymore, I’d be lying if I said Thanksgiving wasn’t my favorite holiday.

Christmas Day has become an all day affair for the NBA, New Year’s Day has always been a great day for college football and more recently the NHL with the winter classic.  Easter can be a bit of a wild card for sports fans but if it falls late enough there are usually some big NHL and NBA playoff games and maybe even a final round of the Masters.  But nothing is comparable to Thanksgiving and the NFL.  Three games spread out throughout the day in what will always be the best holiday tradition for sports fans.

This year will be a little more satisfying than other Thanksgivings as I’ll get to watch the Eagles and Cowboys with my family.  My grandfather was an Eagles season ticket holder for years at Veterans Stadium and so I always enjoy watching a game with him.

The Lions and Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving and for the better part of the 2000s the Lions were the warm-up game for the Cowboys at 4:30 as the season was always over by Thanksgiving for the Lions.  That’s not the case this year as the Lions are battling for a playoff spot in the NFC and welcome into Detroit a division rival in the Chicago Bears. 

The Eagles and Cowboys are next.  Is there really a better stage to play this game on?  Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, both teams come in at 8-3 tied for first place in the NFC East.  Get your popcorn turkey ready.

Lastly the 49ers host the Seahawks as both teams are jockeying for position in a jam-packed NFC playoff picture.  It’s a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game and looks like it’s becoming one of the NFL’s best rivalries.

While the slate of games isn’t always the best on thanksgiving, the tradition will always last.  After looking at each of the three games tomorrow, it looks like we’ll have three good ones to enjoy anyway and there will also be lots of food to enjoy.  For someone like me, that’s all it takes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why four teams is not the answer for College Football

There is less than one month left in the college football season.  Early on in each week, we see the new polls released and begin to prognosticate who the four teams will be in the inaugural college football playoff.  The problem is, none of it really matters.  The four teams seem to change every week and when all is said and done teams five, six and seven will probably have a legitimate complaint for being left out.

The only team that looks like a lock to make the playoff is Florida State.  If the Seminoles can get past Miami this week, in a weak ACC, they should be playoff bound.  Oregon also looks safe as of now as well with a bye this week and then conference games against Colorado and Oregon State, but the Ducks one loss this season did come a then-unranked Arizona team.  However, two of the top five teams will face off on Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, as Alabama will host Mississippi State.   Therein lies the problem and is the reason why a four-team playoff will ultimately prove to be too small.

Mississippi State and Alabama could very well end the season as two of the nation’s best four teams.  If Alabama wins on Saturday then they’ll jump into the top four, and Mississippi State’s playoff hopes will take a hit and with a game at the end of the season at Ole Miss it’s very possible Mississippi State could miss the playoff.  If Mississippi State wins, with two losses Alabama’s chance of making the playoff is almost non-existent.  But some could easily argue Alabama could take down Oregon, Florida State or Texas Christian who are currently teams two, three and four respectively.

It’s tough for teams like Mississippi State and Alabama to run the table in a very deep SEC West division.  It’s not as tough for Florida State to go undefeated in the ACC or Oregon to win out in the Pac 12.  A four-team playoff favors the Florida States of the world who can beat up on an average schedule at best and works against the SEC teams who have big games each week just to stay in the conversation.  It’s hard to see both Alabama and Mississippi State making the playoff this year, but if the playoff were eight teams both would probably qualify.  Baylor is another team that sits on the outside looking in that beat TCU earlier in the season.  While there certainly were complaints about the BCS, there are still going to be unhappy teams this year and rightfully so.  If expanded to eight teams, it’s hard to see teams nine, 10 and 11 having the same complaints teams five, six and seven may end up having this year. 

Ultimately, it boils down to strength of schedule.  Teams with more difficult schedules have much more difficult paths to the playoffs.  Florida State had some close calls against Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and Louisville but hasn’t really been tested otherwise and of those three close games, Louisville was the only conference opponent for the Seminoles.  In order to devalue the importance of strength of schedule, the playoff needs to go to eight.