So, we know everyone was watching the post-bowl-season all-star games yesterday (the East-West Shrine game and the NFLPA game), which we were delighted to see on ESPN2 and the NFL Network.
Senior Bowl next Saturday. Mere weeks until two-a-days start up again.
But for now: four teams, two conference titles on the line, one Super Bowl to be set up.
Danged if we don’t still have an Inner Circle team in the hunt.
Denver hosts one more time in today’s evening slot, south of the Patriots by 3 points in the line. There will be other players on the field besides Manning and Brady. USA Today’s sportsbabblers have even gone to the trouble of ranking the “top 15” players who matter to the AFC (as well as NFC) title game. We assume Danny Amendola will take it in stride that he’s listed as #15. But you will be shocked – shocked, I say – to learn that Manning and Brady are listed as #2 and #1, respectively.
Heck, the fourth grade at a girls school could have come up with that.
We, personally, are rooting for DeMarcus Ware to finally get his shot at a Super Bowl ring. (And what a fine opportunity it is to mention one more time that the Cowboys should never have let him go.) No matter what you’re paying Ware, it’s not enough, by definition. He’s sui generis.
Can he get to Brady and rattle him enough to make the restored health of the NE receiver corps not matter?
I’ll put it this way. If there’s anyone who can, it’s DeMarcus Ware.
Meanwhile, the word – heck, the syllable – for this evening’s game: Gronk.
Let’s just get this out of the way: the weather for the Cardinals and Panthers looks to be (a) no big deal, and (b) approximately the same as the weather for Broncos-Patriots. Both games should see temps in the 40s and partly cloudy skies. (The AFC game is a mile high, of course, which is why you go train a mile high beforehand so you’re not sucking eggs just trotting out on the field for the starting lineup.)
Another shocker: the deep thinkers at USA Today designate Carson Palmer and Cam Newton as the #2 and #1 most important players for the NFC game. That’s basically as predictable as whether Nanny Bloomberg is going to propose banning something in the next week.
But, of course, if feisty young Cam Newton can be knocked off his stride, bumfoozled, shut down, it is true that the Panthers won’t really recover from that. Which is why the Cards’ LB Luke Buechly is right up there (at “#6”), and I’m surprised to not see blitz demon Deone Bucannon in USA Today’s list at all. That’s a guy speedy and visceral enough to catch Newton, as well as other free-radical runners.
Cards are giving 3 – 3 on the road seems to be the theme this week – and the one thing we’d say is, points probably aren’t advisable for this one.
Finally, a sneak preview of what we’ll be dealing with as Dude Bowl 50 heaves onto the horizon. We all know it’s being held in the Tiny Stadium (Levi’s Stadium) in Santa Clara, CA, outside San Francisco. But it seems that San Fran is having to temporarily reverse its policy of encouraging homeless people to shoot up, panhandle, and defecate on the sidewalks in the immediate area of the “Super Bowl village” set up for visiting fans.
The fan village is in the iconic Embarcadero, which tends to look better in the movies these days than in real life. According to Bloomberg:
In recent weeks, San Francisco has dispatched workers to the scenic Embarcadero to provide them with help finding shelter somewhere besides the future site of Super Bowl City. The free fan village will feature concerts, interactive games and player appearances at the foot of Market Street across from the Ferry Building, and will be among the main images broadcast of San Francisco. …
“When a lot of cameras are going to be pointed on the city, they want to have an image of the city that does not include poverty,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director at the San Francisco-based Coalition on Homelessness. …
Homelessness in San Francisco, which has risen seven percent since 2005, is a persistent problem that’s worsened as a technology boom drawing thousands of well-paid workers has inflated housing costs to some of the highest in the U.S. The city now has the eighth-worst homeless rate in the nation and is fielding a growing number of complaints about encampments, shopping carts, feces and urine.
Starting on Jan. 30, access to the site will be controlled through four airport-style security checkpoints, including bag checks. The CBS television network will broadcast from the village, which is near a pier where 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle was shot to death last year. Police have charged a homeless immigrant in her killing.