Bloggerhood Etc. 1/6/14

Hope anchors the soul - Hebrews 6:19

Image via Natalie Trust

Check it out! I wrote “14” instead of “13.” Guess I’m more than ready for the New Year. 2013 is gone—and good riddance—here’s hoping for a better 2014.

Best Lessons.20 Things I Learned in Twenty-Thirteen” by Addie Zierman at How to Talk Evangelical.

Best Confession.A Kitchen Confession: I’m Broken” by Natalie Trust.

Best Letter.For Anyone Who’s Still Standing” by Evelyn Shoop at Momsicle.

Best New Beginning.Hopeful for the New Year” by Alice Callahan at Science of Mom.

Best Parody.What Do Y’all, Yinz, and Yinx Call Stretchy Office Supplies?” by Sarah Larson in The New Yorker.

Best Personal Essay.A Complicated Homecoming” by Robert Rummel-Hudson at Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords.

Best Intersection of Theological and Coffee Nerdness.Coffeedoxy and Heterodoxy” by Fr. Andrew Stephen Demick at Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy.

Best Profile.Who Am I to Judge? A Radical Pope’s First Year” by James Carroll at The New Yorker.

Most Ridiculous.Andrew Luck’s Amazing Fumble Recovery Touchdown” by James Dator at SB Nation (includes animated gif).

And the replay (via YouTube) …

Let the Luck puns commence.

NFL Playoff Predictions

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Met Life Stadium, site of SuperBowl XLVIII (Photo: Gabriel Argudo Jr. (CC BY-SA 2.0))

The regular season is over and it’s time for the NFL’s second season: the playoffs.

In the AFC, I am tempted to pick the Chargers to go all the way. Like the Ravens in 2012, Giants in 2011, and Packers in 2012, the Chargers played the Eagles in Philly’s home opener and lost to the Redskins. It seems like fate. But my gut still tells me that this is Denver’s year.

Wildcard games
Chargers (6) at Bengals (3): Chargers
Chiefs (5) at Colts (4): Colts

Divisional games
Colts (4) at Patriots (2): Colts
Chargers (6) at Broncos (1): Broncos

AFC Championship
Colts (4) at Broncos (1): Broncos

In the NFC, home-field advantage for Seattle isn’t quite as lock-solid as it seemed before their home loss to Arizona in Week 16. But I don’t see them losing another home game in the playoffs. Their first game against San Francisco will be a close one, but I think they’ll pull it out and then roll from there.

Wildcard games
Saints (6) at Eagles (3): Eagles
49ers (5) at Packers (4): 49ers

Divisional games
Eagles (3) at Panthers (2): Panthers
49ers (5) at Seahawks (1): Seahawks

NFC Championship
Panthers (2) at Seahawks (1): Seahawks

Which brings us to Super Bowl XLVIII at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey.

(New … Fricking … Jersey?! I can’t get past this.)

With a rare match-up of number-one playoff seeds.

The Seattle Seahawks vs. The Denver Broncos.

And the winner is.

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Peyton Manning gets his long awaited second Super Bowl ring and goes out on top.

That’s my prediction. And since I’m always wrong, I expect the Chargers to go all the way.

San Diego SOOP-er Chargers!!!

NFL 2013: Midseason Predictions

MetLife Stadium Exterior

Met Life Stadium, site of SuperBowl XLVIII (Photo: Gabriel Argudo Jr. (CC BY-SA 2.0))

It’s midseason–give or take–and here are my updated projections, served with a side of crow to be enjoyed later, as always.

(Key: #1 SEED, Division Champion, Wildcard.)

AFC Standings

East
New England 12-4
NY Jets 10-6
Buffalo 5-11
Miami 4-12

What the hell is happening in New York (Part One)? Rex Ryan looks to save his job for another year and some team out there loses a great defensive coordinator. Meanwhile, the circus moves to Miami and another “Dream Team” bites the dust

North
Cincinnati 11-5
Cleveland 8-8
Baltimore 7-9
Pittsburgh 4-12

The factory of sadness temporarily moves to Pittsburgh, and life in Cleveland is just a little bit less hopeless.

South
Indianapolis 12-4
Tennessee 8-8
Houston 6-10
Jacksonville 1-15

Andrew Luck and the Colts are for real. Matt Shaub and the Texas are not. (And get well soon, Coach Kubiak.)

West
DENVER 14-2
Kansas City 12-4
San Diego 9-7
Oakland 4-12

I knew KC would get better. I did not expect them to get 9-0 better. But they still have to play Denver twice and we’re talking Peyton Manning vs. Alex Smith here. Reality check time.

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NFL 2013: My Predictions

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Met Life Stadium, site of SuperBowl XLVIII (Photo: Gabriel Argudo Jr. (CC BY-SA 2.0))

For the second year, I am making a futile attempt to predict the totally unpredictable NFL season. Given the mostly lousy job I did last year, I am changing my approach a little. First, I’ve not wasted my time trying to predict the winner of each game. That took far too long and didn’t really work all that well. Instead, the records are my own estimation of about how good (or bad) each team is this year. Second, while I have attempted to be realistic in my regular season predictions—for example, I don’t have the Redskins going 14-2 and clinching the number one seed—once I get to the playoffs I’ve thrown out any illusion of objectivity and instead played out what I would like to happen.

So first, my predictions for the regular season.

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NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend

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It’s a weird feeling, missing the Redskins in the playoffs. It shows just how quickly expectations can change. But here we are, the first week since the Redskins were eliminated. The games were entertaining, frustrating, and ultimately depressing.

Game 1: Ravens 38, Broncos 35

Well there goes my AFC Superbowl pick. Once the Broncos got on that tear, and Peyton Manning got himself into the thick of the MVP discussion, I figured no one could stop them, especially at home in the playoffs. Maybe I underestimated the Ravens. Maybe the team wanted one more shot at the AFC Championship after coming so close next year. Maybe Ray Lewis’ farewell tour carried more weight in the end than Peyton Manning’s comeback tour. Whatever it was, the Broncos lost a game in overtime that they could have won in regulation. But it was damn fun to watch them slug it out.

Game 2: 49ers 45, Packers 31

A meaningless touchdown with 1:07 left made this game look closer than it was. San Francisco owned Green Bay, and Jim Harbaugh looks like a genius now for switching from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick at mid-season. This was the most depressing game for a Redskins fan to watch. Kaepernick looked like a healthy RGIII behind a far better offensive line, and it was painful to see the “what if” scenario displayed so dramatically on TV. The good news, my NFC Super Bowl pick is on a roll.

Game 3: Falcons 30, Seahawks 28

Seattle almost pulled another come-from-behind road win Sunday, but at the end they could quite pull it off. As tough a loss as it was, there was no shame in it. The Seahawks will be back next year. Along with the resurgent Rams, the Niners, and the Hawks, the NFC West may be the toughest division in football next year. As for Atlanta, they finally got the playoff win they’ve been waiting for since 2004, and get a home game against the hottest offense in the league as a reward. The Falcons were my mid-season Super Bowl pick, but I’m liking the Niners more right now.

Game 4: Patriots 41, Texans 28

In the other depressing game this weekend, well . . . they’re back. What would an AFC Championship game be without the New England Patriots. It’s become the third certainty in life, right after death and taxes. Poor Houston never stood a chance. So will the Pats make yet another Super Bowl appearance? Or will a change in kickers be enough to finally get the Ravens back to the big game as a bookend to Ray Lewis’s storied career?

I’m done making predictions. I’m just going to enjoy the games next week with no emotional investment, and keep praying for RGIII’s recovery.