Jody Michael
NFL playoff predictions

Wild Card Weekend
(A3) Cincinnati Bengals over (A6) San Diego Chargers
(A5) Kansas City Chiefs over (A4) Indianapolis Colts
(N6) New Orleans Saints over (N3) Philadelphia Eagles
(N5) San Francisco 49ers over (N4) Green Bay Packers

Divisional Round
(A1) Denver Broncos over (A5) Kansas City Chiefs
(A3) Cincinnati Bengals over (A2) New England Patriots
(N1) Seattle Seahawks over (N6) New Orleans Saints
(N5) San Francisco 49ers over (N2) Carolina Panthers

Conference Championships
(A1) Denver Broncos over (A3) Cincinnati Bengals
(N1) Seattle Seahawks over (N5) San Francisco 49ers

Super Bowl XLVIII
(A1) Denver Broncos over (N1) Seattle Seahawks

Updating my college bracket playoff idea for 2013: an explanation
16 teams earn spots in the bracket through these steps:
(1) Champions of the six major conferences earn first-round home games and are placed on the bracket where one win would place them in their conference’s affiliated major bowl. The AAC doesn’t have a major bowl affiliation, so its champion is placed during the next step.
(2) The final ten spots go to the ten remaining teams ranked highest in the computer rankings; removing the human polls eliminates any possible bias. (As is done in the current BCS rankings, six computer rankings are used, but each team’s highest and lowest ranking are removed from the formula.) Only three teams per conference can get in the playoff. The two highest remaining teams get home games; in this case, it’s #3 Alabama and #6 Missouri. They, along with the AAC champion (UCF), are placed to balance the expected semifinal opponents. Since #15 UCF is the lowest-seeded of those eight, it goes on #1 Florida State’s quadrant of the bracket, while #6 Missouri goes in #2 Auburn’s quadrant and #3 Alabama goes in #9 Baylor’s quadrant - the rankings are reversely correlated. The other eight teams (“road teams,” as their first-round games will be away games) also balance the bracket by reversely correlating the seeds: the highest-seed road team (#7 Ohio State) plays the lowest-seed home team (#15 UCF), and so on.
(3) The four quadrants are placed so that the best teams meet as late as possible (in this case, Florida State and Auburn wouldn’t meet until the championship game) and so the #1 team has the lowest-ranked semifinal opponent should the higher seed win each game (#1 Florida State would face #4 Stanford, while #2 Auburn would face #3 Alabama).
The semifinal locations are rotated among other lower bowl games to create a matchup in line with a current lower bowl’s conference affiliations should the higher seed win each game. On the left side, Florida State (ACC) and Stanford (Pac-12) could play in what is currently the Sun Bowl in El Paso. On the right side of the bracket, since both Auburn and Alabama are SEC schools, I replaced Alabama with the next-best non-SEC seed, Baylor, who could play Auburn in what is currently the Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington.
The championship game continues to be rotated among the four major bowls as currently done.
The first-round games would be two weeks after the conference championship games. The quarterfinal games would be roughly two weeks after that, at or around New Year’s Day. The semifinal games would be the nearest Saturday at least one week after New Year’s Day. The championship game would be the Thursday after the semifinals.
This not only preserves the 98-year tradition of bowl games, but enhances the incentives to win those bowl games. It lets the major conferences keep some of the advantages they demand. If any mid-majors finish the season with a high enough ranking, they would finally have an actual opportunity to reach the championship game. It ensures a home game to the winner of each major conference, preserving the appeal of winning a conference title and keeping the regular season competitive.
So these would be the first-round games we’d hypothetically be seeing on Saturday, December 21:
#20 Wisconsin at #1 Florida State#7 Ohio State at #15 UCF#13 Clemson at #4 Stanford#12 Oklahoma at #5 Michigan State#19 Northern Illinois at #2 Auburn#11 Arizona State at #6 Missouri#10 Oregon at #9 Baylor#14 Oklahoma State at #3 Alabama
You can’t tell me those games don’t look delicious. Plus, it eliminates the frustrating fight over who deserves a BCS bowl bid. Mad that, for example, Oregon somehow lost out on a BCS bid? Problem solved! Now they all have a chance.
Questions? Comments? Let me hear ‘em.

Updating my college bracket playoff idea for 2013: an explanation

16 teams earn spots in the bracket through these steps:

(1) Champions of the six major conferences earn first-round home games and are placed on the bracket where one win would place them in their conference’s affiliated major bowl. The AAC doesn’t have a major bowl affiliation, so its champion is placed during the next step.

(2) The final ten spots go to the ten remaining teams ranked highest in the computer rankings; removing the human polls eliminates any possible bias. (As is done in the current BCS rankings, six computer rankings are used, but each team’s highest and lowest ranking are removed from the formula.) Only three teams per conference can get in the playoff. The two highest remaining teams get home games; in this case, it’s #3 Alabama and #6 Missouri. They, along with the AAC champion (UCF), are placed to balance the expected semifinal opponents. Since #15 UCF is the lowest-seeded of those eight, it goes on #1 Florida State’s quadrant of the bracket, while #6 Missouri goes in #2 Auburn’s quadrant and #3 Alabama goes in #9 Baylor’s quadrant - the rankings are reversely correlated. The other eight teams (“road teams,” as their first-round games will be away games) also balance the bracket by reversely correlating the seeds: the highest-seed road team (#7 Ohio State) plays the lowest-seed home team (#15 UCF), and so on.

(3) The four quadrants are placed so that the best teams meet as late as possible (in this case, Florida State and Auburn wouldn’t meet until the championship game) and so the #1 team has the lowest-ranked semifinal opponent should the higher seed win each game (#1 Florida State would face #4 Stanford, while #2 Auburn would face #3 Alabama).

The semifinal locations are rotated among other lower bowl games to create a matchup in line with a current lower bowl’s conference affiliations should the higher seed win each game. On the left side, Florida State (ACC) and Stanford (Pac-12) could play in what is currently the Sun Bowl in El Paso. On the right side of the bracket, since both Auburn and Alabama are SEC schools, I replaced Alabama with the next-best non-SEC seed, Baylor, who could play Auburn in what is currently the Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington.

The championship game continues to be rotated among the four major bowls as currently done.

The first-round games would be two weeks after the conference championship games. The quarterfinal games would be roughly two weeks after that, at or around New Year’s Day. The semifinal games would be the nearest Saturday at least one week after New Year’s Day. The championship game would be the Thursday after the semifinals.

This not only preserves the 98-year tradition of bowl games, but enhances the incentives to win those bowl games. It lets the major conferences keep some of the advantages they demand. If any mid-majors finish the season with a high enough ranking, they would finally have an actual opportunity to reach the championship game. It ensures a home game to the winner of each major conference, preserving the appeal of winning a conference title and keeping the regular season competitive.

So these would be the first-round games we’d hypothetically be seeing on Saturday, December 21:

#20 Wisconsin at #1 Florida State
#7 Ohio State at #15 UCF
#13 Clemson at #4 Stanford
#12 Oklahoma at #5 Michigan State
#19 Northern Illinois at #2 Auburn
#11 Arizona State at #6 Missouri
#10 Oregon at #9 Baylor
#14 Oklahoma State at #3 Alabama

You can’t tell me those games don’t look delicious. Plus, it eliminates the frustrating fight over who deserves a BCS bowl bid. Mad that, for example, Oregon somehow lost out on a BCS bid? Problem solved! Now they all have a chance.

Questions? Comments? Let me hear ‘em.

vicemag:

Will PBS Deliver the Death Blow to the NFL?
The NFL is the most powerful and popular sports league in the country. At this point, it might be the most dominant institution in America, period. In its 93 years it’s grown to become both an altar of mainstream manhood and a multibillion dollar industry that puts on the most highly rated programs on TV. The NFL is so big that fantasy football, a game for grown men where you watch players compile numbers in another game, generates a billion dollars a year by itself. By now you’re likely familiar with the widely-accepted truth that all that tackling involved in the sport damages players’ brains, often horrifically—Alan Schwarz‘s New York Times reporting on that subject started way back in 2007. But if you watch the sport, you probably don’t care enough to stop watching.
PBS Frontline is going to try to make you care more.
League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis, a documentary airing tonight based on a book that was released today, is the most direct assault on the league to date. The film not only reviews the by-now-at-least-faintly-familiar evidence that football collisions are very bad for you, it exposes the NFL’s attempts to cover up the damage the sport does to young men’s brains. The league’s executives and doctors come off as myopic and foolish at best, and scheming and evil at worst—in story after story, League shows NFL players dying after losing their minds due to what most independent doctors agree is football-induced brain damage, then the NFL is shown repeatedly denying the connection between football and the broken families it has left behind.
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vicemag:

Will PBS Deliver the Death Blow to the NFL?

The NFL is the most powerful and popular sports league in the country. At this point, it might be the most dominant institution in America, period. In its 93 years it’s grown to become both an altar of mainstream manhood and a multibillion dollar industry that puts on the most highly rated programs on TV. The NFL is so big that fantasy football, a game for grown men where you watch players compile numbers in another game, generates a billion dollars a year by itself. By now you’re likely familiar with the widely-accepted truth that all that tackling involved in the sport damages players’ brains, often horrifically—Alan Schwarz‘s New York Times reporting on that subject started way back in 2007. But if you watch the sport, you probably don’t care enough to stop watching.

PBS Frontline is going to try to make you care more.

League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis, a documentary airing tonight based on a book that was released today, is the most direct assault on the league to date. The film not only reviews the by-now-at-least-faintly-familiar evidence that football collisions are very bad for you, it exposes the NFL’s attempts to cover up the damage the sport does to young men’s brains. The league’s executives and doctors come off as myopic and foolish at best, and scheming and evil at worst—in story after story, League shows NFL players dying after losing their minds due to what most independent doctors agree is football-induced brain damage, then the NFL is shown repeatedly denying the connection between football and the broken families it has left behind.

continue

Instead of proclaiming how “respectful” the name “redskin” is in a region with an indigenous population of just 0.6 percent, I am inviting you to take a road trip with me. I am asking you to step out of your gated community and roll with me Midnight Run–style to a bar on the Pine Ridge reservation among the Black Hills in the great state of South Dakota. Once there, you will walk proudly through the door, stand tall in a beautiful burgundy-and-gold Starter jacket and your famous Redskins belt buckle, and sing our shared fight song, “Hail to the Redskins.” Explain the rich history of the team to all present. Tell them about how it’s really a tribute, as your former vice-president Karl Swanson said, “derived from the Native American tradition for warriors to daub their bodies with red clay before battle.” Make it plain that you mean no disrespect, and then let’s roll the cameras and make YouTube magic.
Dave Zirin’s Enough on Grantland (via jonasdees)

Joe Banner is gonna fix our logo and uniforms with focus groups.

That’s right. FOCUS GROUPS!

And you know who the Banner consultants will seek out to populate the focus groups, right?

No, not you. If you’re reading this post… not you.

Yes. The dreaded casual fan.

You, Mr. Hardcore fan, you don’t matter in this process because, let’s be honest, you’re in the bag. You’ll eat any steaming pile of Browns-related crap put in front of you. You’ve proven this for the last fifty years. We don’t need to get your business, we have it.

No. Banner’s consultants want the hipster demographic. The guy from the Sprint commercial who wants to share every data in pixels. A billion roaming photojournalists. You know this is right: the committee selecting your new uniform is the girl playing Angry Birds in the front row behind the dugout. The guy who records a live concert with his phone instead of just enjoying the moment.

Your Brain On Football: The New Concussion Science Proves High School Football Is America’s Most Dangerous Game

thepoliticalfreakshow:

SOME BOYS JUST RUN SMOOTHER THAN others, burn premium for fuel, not unleaded. Eric Pelly is a Jaguar of a kid, all throttle and forward lean, no square edges. From the age of six, he’s played two sports a season and trained with the zeal of a walk-on grinder, the peewee Clay Matthews. Crunches and pushups while he’s watching TV, hours of lifting after he’s home from school and blitzed through his class work, then out with his boys for games of flag football that turn into tackle without the pads. At one point, in middle school, he was bigger than other kids, but topped out — cruelly — at five-eight. He moped for weeks when the doctor told him that his growth plates had shut for good, then bore down harder to craft a body that would take him where he planned to go. Here’s a straight-A student at a high school so competitive that he’s barely in the top 100 in his class, but he’s still telling his mom what he’s said since grade school: I’m going to play pro football. You just watch.

That isn’t merely the Pittsburgh talking in him, though it seems like every male in this yellow-and-black town wants to be Troy Polamalu, or hit like him. Since he was old enough to walk or, more like it, run, Eric has craved contact the way fat kids crave soft serve. At 16, playing flanker for his high school team, the perennial section champs North Allegheny, he goes up for a pass, cracks helmets with a safety and bangs his head on the turf when he lands. By the time he’s 17, he’s had a couple of concussions that his parents, Joan and Mark, know about, and maybe another couple that they don’t. “I kept him out of football as long as I could — he knew I didn’t want him to play,” says Joan, an ex-flight attendant who stopped flying long ago so she could ferry her three kids to their games. “He was always so driven, but clever, too; he could talk you into anything,” she says. “In the end, he finally wore down my resistance.”

In the fall of his junior year, Eric stumbles home after taking a shot to the jaw in a backyard football game. His friends help him in, then he slides down the wall, saying, “Mom, I got another, but don’t worry.” This concussion’s different, though: The headaches last for weeks, as does the fatigue that keeps him home on school mornings. He fights through it and goes in late, but has trouble finishing exams: His eyes seem to wobble in their sockets. “He had headaches and stuff, though he didn’t talk about it much; he was hard-nosed, always going a hundred-and-ten,” says Bill Landefeld, a friend and confidante with a concussion history himself, having wrestled in high school and college. “There are certain kids that don’t know another speed and need someone to step in and slow them down. That’s what he was missing: a coach to say stop. He’d be in the gym, lifting, while he was still concussed.”

At length, Eric recovers but gives up playing football, in part to reclaim his summers from the grind of practice. Still, he can’t shake it, that need for speed; it’s wired into the dura of his brain. So when a close friend, Jon Casile, joins a high school rugby club, Eric tags along to check it out. He falls hard for the game, finding it just the right mix of skill, force and smarts — and no cheap head shots. He likes it so well, in fact, that he makes a huge leap the summer he turns 18, earning a spot on the Pittsburgh Harlequins, a semi-pro team. “We were going against men, guys who’d played college and World Cup, but Eric was so good he fit right in,” says Casile. Fast and fearless, Eric scores in bunches and becomes a starter at outside center. At an away game, however, he gets dinged carrying the ball and subs out before the half and doesn’t return. Once home, he tells no one about the blow to his head, afraid that Joan will blow her stack and squash his playing career once and for all. Just two weeks later, he’s back on the pitch, wrestling men a hundred pounds bigger. Joan watches from the stands when he makes his trademark tackle, a low, hard takedown of a bruising forward. The forward pops up again but Eric doesn’t; he’s too woozy to stand, so his teammates carry Eric to the bench. The next thing Joan knows, her son is balled up on the ground, moaning and holding his head in vice-grip pain. An ambulance is called as she races across; Eric is barely conscious when she gets there. Still, he keeps muttering “I’m OK, Mom,” as they wait for the medics to show. “It was so ingrained in him to tell me that,” she says. “Even out of it, laying across his coach’s shoulder.”

Ten days later — after leaving the hospital and making a shockingly swift return to class — Eric goes back to his stopless life, though he clearly is not the same kid. “We ate lunch together and he wasn’t all there, said his head was really hurting bad,” says Landefeld, 23, now the front-desk manager of a Marriott hotel in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. “I met him in the hall and saw the same thing: He couldn’t focus or really follow the conversation,” says Adam Neugebauer, another close friend who’s now a graduate assistant at Tiffin University in Ohio. “He said he wanted to go to sleep but couldn’t that day. He had to work at his father’s shop after school.” That evening, eating dinner and discussing the frog pond in the yard, Eric suddenly seizes up, midsentence. His eyes roll back and his fists clench tight; he’s dead from a massive brain swell either before he hits the floor or within a couple of seconds of having done so. His mother screams at his sister Jenna to call 911, as Mark tries to revive him, but the cranial edema has crushed his brainstem and shorted out his heart and lungs. This boy, who was so fully and sleekly alive that he never stopped moving or multitasking from the moment he rolled out of bed, is killed at 18 by a pair of concussions that no one who saw them happen thought life-threatening. And then, two years later, comes a second shock of horror to a family blown sideways by grief. At a lab outside Boston, neuropathologists examining Eric’s brain have found clumps of poisoned cells, the brown-tinted markers of CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It is the disease that’s dimmed the minds of retired football icons, wrought early dementia in hockey fighters and turned the brains of punched-out boxers into mush. As it can’t yet be detected in living subjects (the clumps are too small to show on current scanners), it’s been confirmed only in deceased ex-athletes whose brains were donated for study. Those players include Mike Webster, Pittsburgh’s Hall of Fame center; Terry Long, who played be-side him on that Steelers line, and Justin Strzelczyk, Long’s mountainous linemate soon after Webster retired. To date, 75 subjects have tested positive at that lab, the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy in Bedford, Massachusetts — men who won Super Bowls and hockey brawls and paid an awful price for it by their forties. To their number, add Eric Pelly, a boy who once burned to be a Steeler and, if nothing else, died like one. He very surely will not be the last.

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thatisawesome:

Pixar animator Austin Madison created a ton of drawings based on this years sports season. These pictures are unbelievable and completely fit within the context of what happened in each match-up. Unbelievable. 

Full gallery here

Amazing. They’re all amazing.

This is the greatest headline that will ever be written.
That work of genius is from news editor Rebecca Reis. Read the full story, written by Grant Engle.

This is the greatest headline that will ever be written.

That work of genius is from news editor Rebecca Reis. Read the full story, written by Grant Engle.