I filled out a NCAA men’s basketball bracket this year; and I ended up with exactly one team in the final four. My results were terrible!
What is going on: if you scroll through my blog you can see that I watched Bradley; I have season tickets for both the men’s and women’s teams and I make games faithfully. So I got interested in this team. When I did watch a game on television or on ESPN3, it was usually a Bradley road game OR another Missouri Valley Conference game. So I knew that Wichita State sometimes fades in the conference tournament and that Evansville and Northern Iowa were hot going into MVC play.
BUT: though the MVC did win its first round games (and the play-in game), the MVC is not a national powerhouse conference. So I knew next to nothing about the ACC, Pac-10, Big-12, and even the Big-10 (though I knew that Illinois was struggling). So when it came time to fill out a bracket, I mostly went by “higher seed”, with poor results.
The true basketball fan probably watched a variety of games from the power conferences and knew much more than I did.
Something similar happens with football: I have season tickets for the University of Illinois. But an Illinois game means a 90 minute drive there, game, 90 minute drive back. A real football fan watches two games during that stretch. Then when I watch a game on TV, it is usually the Illinois road game or another Big Ten game; again, I know very little about what is going on in the SEC, Pac 10 or other conference (I sometimes catch the Texas, Notre Dame and Navy game). So I might know a little more about NCAA football as there are fewer teams to keep track of, I know less about the game overall than I did before I started to watch football in person.
Something similar happened with me during my NFL game binge last year.
I can’t remember what team used to play in St. Louis. But for 2016:
Lucas Oil Stadium: Barbara will be willing to go to a few, and Tracy likes Andrew Luck so she might go to a few games too, if I give her enough notice.
Yeah, it is a bit further each way, but not excessively so.
There is a saying that I found on the internet. To paraphrase: “there are a lot of nice butts to look at. But the nicest one is the one that you get to touch”.
I am a bit that way with NFL teams too. My favorite team is the one I get to watch. The Rams have announced that they have applied to relocate to Los Angeles (as has San Diego and Oakland). Now I don’t know what will happen (will the league allow it, or will a new team come in…like say Jacksonville?) but it sure appears as if I’ll have no St. Louis team to watch in the Jones Dome next year:
Oh well…NFL is a business, period. It will be time to follow someone else. The Colts are 48 minutes further away. The Bears: roughly the same distance as St. Louis, but there is more traffic in that direction (bigger city). And, I tend to make later season games (October and beyond) due to my fall marathon and my spouse doesn’t do cold weather games outdoors.
Of course, some of these games might be solo as an NFL game from where I live is a 7-7 time commitment …though perhaps…depending on if one of my friends is in town at this time…or
Ah, it is a long way off and who knows what will happen.
Time for basketball season.
Well, given that the Colts have a really, really, really, really long shot at making the playoffs (and thereby hosting a playoff game)
Indianapolis clinches AFC South division with:
IND win + HOU loss + IND ties HOU in strength of victory tiebreaker and clinches strength of schedule tiebreaker over HOU
Note: IND ties HOU in strength of victory tiebreaker and clinches strength of schedule tiebreaker over HOU if BOTH of the following occurs:
All of the following teams win: ATL, BAL, BUF, DEN, MIA
OAK win or tie + PIT win or tie as long as both teams don’t tie
If Houston and Indianapolis end up tied in strength of victory and tied in strength of schedule, the teams would then go to the next tiebreaker, which is best combined ranking among AFC teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.
Barring an impromptu trip to, say, Cincinnati, or Minneapolis or Kansas City or even Green Bay, my football watching days are over…until next September.
I think that my football wanderlust is the result of my no longer going to Texas, my no longer being able to do multiple marathons, no political campaigns to work on and my love of the impromptu road trip.
So this season, I watched 8 college games (6 Illinois home games, 1 Baldwin Wallace home game, 1 Illinois State playoff game) and 8 NFL games.
The NFL experience was interesting. A season ticket holder sees 8 regular season home games, which means that they see 9 teams, with no team being seen twice.
I saw 10 different NFL teams: the Rams plus 5 opponents, Colts plus one opponent (one in common with the Rams) and Chiefs plus one opponent. In the process, I saw teams from every division EXCEPT the AFC East and the NFC East.
NFC west: Rams, 49’ers, Cardinals
NFC central: Lions and Bears
NFC south: Buccaneers
AFC west: Chiefs
AFC central: Browns
AFC south: Colts, Texans
So I saw more variety than a season ticket holder. And yes, in my opinion, the Cardinals were, by far, the best team I saw this year, though the Bears played very impressively *when I saw them*.
The Bears: 1-6 at home, but 5-3 on the road, with victories over the Packers, Chiefs and Rams? Hmmm. They are hard to figure out.
But I digress.
Past years to 2009 when I started watching again:
2014: 10 college (2 bowl, 1 D-3), 4 NFL (one playoff)
2013: 8 college (1 bowl), 4 NFL
2012: 7 college, 2 NFL
2011: 8 college, 3 NFL (first year of Illinois season tickets)
2010: 2 college, 2 NFL, 1 NFL exhibition (part of a Cardinals/Rams doubleheader)
2009: 1 NFL (wife took me…got me hooked again)
And no, I do not plan to stop. A note as far as bowls: I’ve seen several through the years (13 ?) but have only seen one of “my” teams 6 times: Texas once, Navy twice, Notre Dame twice, Illinois once. Most of the time I just went to..well…roadtrip. And once I just happened to be travelling through Dallas on the day of the Cotton Bowl, so I stopped and bought a 5 dollar ticket from someone!
This post is about the game itself; I’ll post about my trip and Arrowhead Stadium next.
The game itself The Browns outgained the Chiefs 368 to 258; they got 232 yards rushing…including 108 yards from their quarterback! They totally dominated the second half. But nevertheless, the game ended when the clock ran out on the Browns at the Chief 18 yard line and so they lost 17-13.
The Chiefs started out well, driving the ball 70 yards for a touchdown; they got a couple of key quarterback scrambles for first downs prior to setting up a touchdown pass:
The drive ate up half the first quarter of this very fast moving game.
After a punt the Chiefs drove it 39 yards and got a field goal to move up 10-0. I thought: “well, this is what I thought it would be.”
The teams exchanged punts and then the Browns put together a drive and got a rare pass completion. A key play is when the Brown quarterback was flagged for an illegal forward pass on a lateral attempt (ruled legal, but overturned on review). They got a field goal to put it 10-3.
Then came a key sequence: a Chief pass was tipped and intercepted..runback to the Chief 41. But two plays later, the Chiefs intercepted and it was run back to the Brown 29.
The Chiefs went backwards and had to punt; the punt pinned the Browns deep and they had to punt, and the Chiefs used the short field to piece together a touchdown drive, scoring on a medium pass. It was 17-3.
But within the last minute, the Browns used a scramble (one of many) and a short pass/run after catch to set up a 51 yard field goal attempt, which was blocked. That was to be huge.
The second half was all Browns; they opened with a 82 yard time consuming drive for a touchdown. Only 10 of the yards came by passing; it was quarterback keeping and runing.
The Chiefs offense did nothing..as they did all half.
The Browns drove it 62 yards for a field goal; key plays were a fake punt (run up the middle) and an illegal touching penalty as the Cleveland quarterback threw to an offensive lineman. That moved the Browns back from the 8 and they had to kick a field goal. It was now 17-13.
The Chiefs went nowhere and the Browns drove it to the 30, where they ran out of downs. There were 3 minutes to go; they held the Chiefs again and got the ball with 1:5x left in the game at their own 30, with no time outs. They drove it to the Chiefs 18 yard line, where the clock ran out.
The Cleveland quarterback slammed his helmet in disgust.
But: The Browns came to play and to play hard; they didn’t not go down easily.
Workout notes: 4 mile walk before breakfast; Cornstalk classic. It felt ok.
Then Breakfast with Barbara’s son Mark.
Later: drove to Kansas City, checked in and talked to my daughter. That was nice.
We are right across I-70 (via a pedestrian bridge) from Arrowhead Stadium and the hotel is starting to fill up with Chiefs fans. Weather: rainy now, but only 5-10 percent chance of rain tomorrow. But it will be cold and so I brought so many “bundle up” clothes that it took a large suitcase to hold them all.
Arrowhead opened in 1972 and has been upgraded since. It is one of the iconic NFL stadiums and I’ve always wanted to see a game here. They are playing the Browns and the Chiefs are favored by 12.5. BUT, earlier in the season, they lost to a very bad Bears team so anything is possible.
My seat is under the overhang in the lower deck (top row of the lower deck..so I can stand whenever I want to).
Yes, I got a workout in prior to the game: a nice 4 mile run on the treadmill. Mile 1 was 11:05 and I finished the 4 miles in 37:22; 6.7 from 10 to 20 minutes, then 6.8 for mile 3 then 6.9-7-7.1-7.2 for the final mile. I had the usual 0.5 incline correction.
The game Both teams came in tied for “first” in their division with a 6-7 record; the winner would have a 1 game lead with 2 games to play. The summary: early mistakes by the Texans (interception, fumble) and a punt return kept the Colts in the game early. But the Texans back up quarterback, plus a decent running game helped the Texans rally from 10-0 down in the second quarter to win 16-10; the Colts only managed 190 yards of total offense.
The Texans started with a nice drive but the Colts got an interception at the 11 to stop it.
The Texans got the ball back, drove and the Colts got a strip fumble, which they converted to a touchdown on a short pass early in the second quarter. Another stop and then an excellent punt return (the first of a few) set the Colts up for a field goal.
The rest of the 2nd’ quarter saw the Texans drive for a long missed field goal and a made field goal. Prior to the made field goal, the Texan quarterback (himself a backup) went down with a non-contact knee injury. But the Texans were to gain 155 yards rushing and the backup (third string) managed the game well.
The third quarter saw the Colts not do much. They were pinned deep and had to punt, and a decent return set up a Texans field goal, which cut it to 10-6.
The fourth quarter saw the Texans generate a 90 yard drive to go up 13-10; the Texans cashed in on a Colt fumble with return to lead 16-10 with just under 2 minutes to go.
Then on the final possession, the Colts threw a very puzzling “where is he throwing” interception with 1:40 left on the clock. That ended the game as the Colts had no more time outs.
Originally, I was supposed to take Barbara and Jacob to the game. But we decided it would be fun if Jacob’s roommate Bryan went along. So I got my own set, almost catty-corner from them. They were on the Colts sideline, near the Window end zone, whereas I was on the Texans sideline, near the “upper deck” end zone.
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