Monday, February 27, 2012

The Wire: Top 50 Characters - #10-5

We have finally reached the end of my look back at The Wire through the lens of my personal Top 50 characters. This final Top 10 sees a healthy dose of Season 1 in it. All but one of these characters was introduced in S1. While that may not seem strange, with a show like The Wire that literally added 10 guys in each season, it says a lot about my favorite moments and memories of the show. As a better look at the extreme ability of the show to replace and introduce characters, four of these ten characters are dead by the end of S4. Two more are in jail for a long time. That said, other than my ridiculous love for one character, all of these are truly brilliant characters that I would think are on any sane viewers' personal Top 20. They aren't all Top 10 for most, but they are all brilliant characters that would probably be the deepest, most complex, best written, most multi-dimensional characters in most dramas. As I mentioned when I started this, Breaking Bad is the 2nd best drama series I have ever seen. The only Breaking Bad characters that would touch this Top 10 are Walter White and Gus. Jessie would be close, and actually I might put him over my man crush character that probably shouldn't be here, but whatever. The point is, this show is fucking awesome. Watch it now. Watch it whenever. It is like reading an incredible novel, but on TV.

10.) Wee-Bey Brice

He's the guy that probably shouldn't be here. He's the one that probably should be back around #30, and would be on most people's lists. He is the one character on the Top 10 who's story is told in one season (other than brief spots in S4) and who that story doesn't end in death. Wee-Bey Brice, the Barksdale's top enforcer, was the most lovable assassin I have ever seen. What I loved about Wee-Bey was that he was a man committed, but not defined, by his deadly role in the game. When he wasn't killing, he was a charismatic partyer. When he was on the job, he was focused and efficient. Wee-Bey was the only man in "the game" to hit Omar. Stanfield had three enforcers corner Omar in an apartment and Omar was able to escape. Wee-Bey was able to go from eating chicken to a shoot-out with Omar seamlessly. That said, it was his unending peculiar charisma. The way he was so confident he could be GM of the Knicks. The way he loved his fish (real or, when in prison, plastic). The way he thought he could handle the hot sauce. The way he took on extra murders during sentencing to save friends just for some extra food. Wee-Bey was awesome. That's why he's on the list.

Memorable Quotes: "Fuck it then... for another pig sandwich and some tater salad, I'll go a few more." (0:35) "He fuck with my fish A', he didn't have to go there man." (1:40) & "

9.) Bodie Broadus

Bodie was by far the least impressive, likable character of the original pit crew. After Season 1, Poot was a far more interesting character than Bodie (Poot was probably the biggest omission from my list, but I can't really go back and do it now). It was what Bodie became in the later seasons that made my really start to enjoy him as a character. The Wire built a lot of characters to replace the old guard as a symbol that the life of a city goes on, and Bodie was really built to be the new Avon, but he just died too soon. Bodie was smart, but it took him a long time to realize it. Bodie was a true soldier, and in a weird way, a hero, but it took us a long time to realize it. With Bodie's death really was the death of the Barskdale organization. He was the last man standing, and he was, as McNulty poignantly put it, "a soldier." (1:27 - but the whole clip is great). Bodie embodied everything that made Avon great (Avon just had it to a higher degree). He toed the line perfectly between smart businessman (he was the soldier who was able to suggest the correct method of competing with the shitty product, that they should create fake competition amongst the towers) and loyal soldier. He had the calm and wit to joke and jest with Carver. He learned to play the game well. He was an arrogant SOB in Season 1 who was so caught up in The Game that the only thing he took out of DeAngelo's chess lesson was that the pawn (Bodie at the time), if he played it right and made it to the other side of the board could become the queen. He decided to forget the fact that the pawns, "got capped quick." He wanted to be Avon, and in many ways, he became just that. He was cocky, but smart (witness him immediately realizing that he was a victim of entrapment). He was nice when he needed to be and a cocky motherfucker when he needed to be. Both are evidenced in the scene when Carver comes along for his daily visit to Bodie's corner. He is soft and welcoming to McNulty's compliments, but plays with Carver, whom he feels he is smarter than. Bodie loved The Game, but he loved The Game he was bred in, the Barksdale game, when a druglord was smart and loyal and effective, but not overtly ruthless. Bodie became a brilliant character. Other than possibly Prez, I don't think any character developed as much as Bodie. I couldn't believe that I was miserable that Bodie, the same man who was such a bitch in S1, was killed. That said, he went down fighting, being the only man to stand up to the Stanfield crew and fight them, and not follow Chris and Snoop into a vacant with his tail up his ass. No, he went down fighting, which considering he was the same man not tough enough to kill his friend on orders in S1, is saying a lot.

Memorable Quotes: "The game is pretty rigged man. We like them little bitches on the chessboard." (from the first clip), "This is my corner. I ain't running nowhere." (the last clip), "Nigga kill motherfuckers just cause he can. Not cause he snitchin, not cuase its business. But cause this shit just comes natural to him... Fuck Marlo man. Fuck him, and anybody who think it right to do people this way."

8.) Proposition Joe

Proposition Joe. What to say. For a man who really had just one scene is S1, where he is the coach of the East Side Project team in teh East vs. West basketball game, and dons a suit and carries a blank clipboard to "look the part", he became such a key member of the series. He was really just a mix of Stringer and Avon. He had Avon's heart and loyalty to family and the new kids in the game. He had Stringer's business sense, as he always saw a 'proposition' in any situation, and saw that the best way to play the game was to combine the resources, to use each group's comparative advantage. Prop Joe was damn smart. That said, the only reason he is close to this high is because of the fucking brilliant lines he got. That's the key take away of Prop. The man could speak.

Memorable Quotes (there are a lot, so I'll bullet point them)

7.) Bubbles

These last seven are just out-fucking-standing. All of them. They are collectively the greatest character group I have ever seen. Bubbles starts us off because he was the sleeper. He was in every season, but he was never really a lead until S5. Had S5 never happened, and he was just a capering CI that was as charming as he was fucked-up, he probably ends up in the 20s on the list, but it was his incredible journey that he took that all led up to the speech he gave at the NA meeting about poisoning his boy. Bubbles earned that moment, earned the tears that any human (including me) would shed while watching him break down himself. This character had one large pay-off and five seasons of build up, but God Damnit if the whole thing wasn't absolutely worth it. Bubbles was instantly likable from the beginning as the jokester, the man who would charm drug dealers into letting him put hats on their head that identified their important-ness to the cops. He was the man who could sweet-talk his way into an extra $5 from McNulty or Kima for a job well done. He was the likable fiend. But over time, his incredible ability to struggle with that addiction made him a wonderful character.

It wasn't until late S1 that we saw Bubbles first attempt to lay off when he goes to an NA meeting and takes a sobriety ribbon because "he wants to be alive." He wants to live a good life, to be like his sister (comfortably living in a modest middle-class home). His look at his sister shielding her daughter from even talking to Bubbles is a killer. It shows that Bubbles truly hates himself and the position he has put himself in, and that he wants to get better, but that it is going to be really, really hard. His frequent relapses into drug use were usually masked by his increasingly entrepreneurial spirit, as he goes from stealing scrap metal to selling white t-shirts to fiends in Hamsterdam. Of course, it really was S5 that made Bubbles the character incredible. Whether it was his getting constantly beaten by the same fiend (which got so incredibly hard to watch, I will admit I fast-forwarded through some of those at times), or him slowly coming to terms with killing Sherrod, or the scene of him beautifully just sitting on a park bench, struggling to not only feel free in the world but free as a human. But the real show-stopper was that incredible speech he gave. He stood up there and basically slayed every demon he ever faced. Bubble's had some memorable scenes, but truly that moment is what defined Bubbles, 58 episodes in the making.

Memorable Quotes: "Thin line between heaven and here." (2:30), "much obliged" and that incredible scene (too much to write it down, but it is amazing)

6.) Frank Sobotka

My God. What to say. I am basically having that reaction for all of these characters in this last Top-10. Frank Sobotka might have been the best casting the show did. He was just so effective at conveying the depression and angst of a man fighting an inevitably losing fight. He was both the most honorable crook and villain, as well as the most misguided. His love for the union, for a slowly, but surely, withering part of the fabric of the American city, and his constant belief that what he was doing was for the good of everyone but him made him a man of great conviction. That said, it was his blind faith in what he was doing, and his inability to see everything else from the depth of The Greek's business as well as the personal lows that his own son was falling into, made him cold and dark. Chris Bauer played the role incredibly. Season 2 was all about the death of blue-collar America in the US City, and the embodiment of that was Frank. He saw signs all over that his way of life, the life he grew up in because of the spiraling tunnel-vision in the International Brotherhood of Stevedores, the way he taught his son to be. He saw Rotterdam port replacing his job with machines. He saw the political red tape that needed to be dealt with to get a canal dredged. He saw the area where he worked, which he loved, being turned into high-priced housing.

He was a Stevedore at heart. That was who he was, and his desire to save that way of life, to save that America, to freeze it in time, the America of industrialization and hard work. It was symbolic that he was killed by the men who represented pure capitalism (The Greek) on the show as his union's work was killed off by, what else, capitalism. That said, even after he lost everything, he did what he knew was right. He worked. Till the very last day. He was one damn hard working Polak, and an extremely beautifully constructed, complicated and deep character.

Memorable Quotes: "We were here through Bobby Kennedy, 'Tricky' Dick Nixon, Ronnie "the Union Buster" Reagan, and half a dozen other sons of bitches. We'll be here through your weak bullshit no problem." (1:05), "You know what the trouble is, Brucey. We used to make shit in this country; build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy's pocket." & "Help my union? For 25 years we've been dyin' slow down there. Fry dock's rustin', piers standin' empty. My friends and their kids like we got the cancer. No life-line got thrown all that time, nothin' from nobody, and now you wanna help us? Help me?"

5.) Wallace

Season 4 may have been about the four kids (at least that was arguably the best part), but the best child character on The Wire during its run was Wallace. He was all four of those kids rolled into one. He had the smile and innocence of Randy. He had the sympathetic situation of Dukie. He had the poise and respect of Michael. He had the haunting realization that he both wanted life on and outside The Game that was similar to Namond. He was every character combined, and he had to die for it. Wallace was the first horrible, heart-shattering death on The Wire. And not only was he the first, he was definitely the most tragic. String dying was justice in a way. Frank Sobotka dying was no less sad than his union and industry dying. Bodie dying was sad, but was a fitting end for a man who was told by a cop was a 'soldier.' Wallace dying was just a crime. And having his two friends do it was even worse. Seeing Wallace, tears streaming down his face, pleading two his buddies that he is hard, that he is "your nigga", that he deserves to die, and seeing his friends staring back with tears running down their face. That was a powerful scene.

Wallace was the only innocent man in the crooked game. He had to be a man, as he was given the task of caring for the youngn's so they could avoid a group home. He had to wake them up, give them food and drink for school, get them out of the house, and then even teach them math. But he was also a child. He was playing with action figures off to side while Poot and Bodie were debating if one of them could get HIV from oral sex. He was a man who was man enough to call Stringer directly to tell him he had spotted Brandon, but innocent enough that he was horrified at the display made of Brandon, so much that it basically set in motion the events leading to his death. Wallace fighting with the guilt of giving up a boy who would be brutally murdered was one of The Wire first great character pieces. Every shot of Wallace, every scene of him questioning what it is he was doing, why he felt that he had to do what he did. His turn into drugs, and ultimately to the police was beautifully penned. Wallace was also perfectly acted. That face. That God Damn innocent face, quivering in fear that his life was over, a life that was lived in perfect innocence. He didn't know how far The Game could go, and how much his actions would hurt him. And how could he? He didn't know how to play chess, just young checkers.

Memorable Quotes: When talking about Brandon's "His eye was blowin out, and the other one was open. And Yo D, it fucks me up. It's like he's looking out, like he sees everything, you know." (4:38 - but the whole clip is brilliant) & "I'm yo nigga yo... We boys. Ain't gotta be like this... I'm you nigga... It's us man..."

Actually, The Top 4 deserve a different post (plus, it will be really lengthy to include them here), so I'll stop here. Other than Prop-Joe and Wee-Bey, this list includes four of the most deep characters. Three of them suffered tragic deaths, all in the penultimate episode of a season (which is no coincidence - thriller/mystery novelist George Pelecanos wrote the penultimate episode of every season, which always included a death; the other two being Stringer and Prop Joe). They all had incredible moments. They were all some of the most captivating characters on TV. The other was Bubbles, who might have been the best redemption story of a drug-addict I have ever seen, real or fake. God, what an incredible show... and there's four more brilliant ones left.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Where Will Manning Go? Pt.1

Football season may be over, but what will probably be the most insane Free Agency period is about to begin. In less than three weeks Peyton Manning will be released from the Colts. He is no way healthy enough as of right now, for the Colts to pay him $28 million on March 8th and commit to him long-term. There is a good chance that he will be healthy enough to play in 2012, but that is no guarantee. Yet, for this excercise, I will assume that he will be healthy for the 2012 season.

*** Aside ***
Peyton Manning's health issues, from what I have heard, is only about his arm strength and his nerve regeneration in his arm. His neck is no longer an issue. This idea that because of him having three neck surgeries (and four procedures, but a procedure can be anything like a stress relief procedure) is suddenly going to make him one hit away from paralysis is untrue. Now that his neck is healed, he is not substantially more likely to get paralyzed (or reinjure the neck, which is more appropriate and less extreme) than any random schmo.

Manning will be released, and I am at peace with it. The Colts will likely not be a terrible franchise because I believe in the people they have brought in, and I think Andrew Luck will be really good. Will he be Peyton? Almost assuredly not. Chances are he won't be close. Will he be Eli Manning? Very easily. My love of the Colts will outlive Peyton Manning, which actually makes it easy for me to just follow Manning to whatever team he goes to. Will I have too many teams on my plate to have three different teams? Probably, but I am fine with it. I would much rather like Manning in the NFL playing somewhere else than never playing again. I can't live with the fact that Manning's last game might be lost because of a long kick-off return and a 4th quarter comeback by Mark Sanchez. I don't want my last year of Manning to be a depressing 10-6 season that Manning basically willed himself. There has to be more to the story of the greatest football player of my lifetime.

Because of this line of thinking, I am ready to look at the potential landing spots for Peyton Manning. I am sad that I was so prescient. Two years ago, I wrote that if Peyton ever were a free-agent it would create a much more fiery media circus than LeBron's rigged free-agency tour. I wrote that Manning could have his version of "The Decision" at 5AM and draw five times more than LeBron drew for his. I am pretty sure Manning will not have a version of The Decision, but either way, the media is going to be ridiculous over Manning's free agency. Here's a quick, pre-free agency, pre-draft (I believe Manning will only sign after the draft, but I could easily be wrong) rundown of all the teams in the NFL and if they would try to sign Manning.

Teams that Won't Sign Manning Because They Don't Need To

Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Giants, San Diego, Pittsburgh.  

These are the teams that employ the six best non-Peyton QBs in the NFL. They have QBs that have already received big contracts, and are already great fits in their teams. I would love some bizarre situation where Belichick releases Brady to sign Manning, but I'm not on enough drugs to think that is at all a possibility.

Teams that Won't Sign Manning But Might Have Cause To

Cincinnati, Houston, Oakland, Philadelphia, Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Carolina

These are all teams that have okay QB situations, but are either too committed, too green or two close-minded to pick Manning. Dalton and Newton had good rookie seasons and should be franchise QBs. Stafford, Romo, Cutler, Schaub and Ryan are all good enough that their teams won't really think to upgrade at QB. Vick has way too much money attached, and I don't think Reid would want to coach a new QB that offense. Oakland is already over the cap. 

Teams that Won't Sign Manning Because Manning Won't Go There
Buffalo, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Denver, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, St. Louis

These are all teams that are bad. They won't compete for a title even with Manning (yes, even Denver, a 2011 playoff team). Buffalo has money locked up with Fitzpatrick, as are Freeman and Bradford in Tampa and St. Louis. I can't see him going to Jacksonville mainly because I don't think he wants to stay in the AFC South.

The Longshots to Sign Manning

Baltimore Ravens: 40/1

The Ravens are the perfect fit on paper, but I don't think they will give up on Flacco just like that. That said, I could see it happening which is why they aren't in that pod with Dallas, Detroit and the others. The Ravens old great players (Lewis, Reed) probably have the same career window that Manning has, so that works. They have a good running back. They have good weapons outside (Boldin, Smith, Dickson). I love this situation, and think it is the best pure chance to have Manning win another ring. I just don't see them dumping Flacco.

Kansas City Chiefs: 35/1

The Chiefs just don't make much sense. They don't have the weapons outside with Bowe a UFA. They have an average o-line and an up-and-down defense with a coach who is probably entering 2011 on something of a hot-seat. Matt Cassel is still owed money. I just can't see it. I also think there are teams out there that Manning sees as better bets to win than the Chiefs.

New York Jets: 25/1

The Jets are probably not signing Manning because there is still belief in Sanchez (however misguided that should be), and then there is the Eli factor. I do not think Peyton would like to play in the same city as his brother. It does limit the chance of those two ever playing (since the next time it would happen is the 2015 season), while if he picks an NFC team they could play each year, but I don't think he would ever want to be the 2nd most loved Manning in a city. Eli Manning plays for New York's favorite team. He is NYC's favorite son right now. He's Jeter. Manning would be A-Rod, but not only A-Rod, but A-Rod playing for the Mets.

The Medium Shots to Sign Manning

Tennessee Titans: 16/1

They've come out and said it won't happen, but it does make sense. The team is good. Hell, they almost somehow, inexplicably made the playoffs last year with Chris Johnson starting off slow and Matt Hasselbeck playing a big part of the season. They have a good young defense. They have a decent o-line and a running back who might get reenergized with a great QB. They have some nice WRs in Hawkins and Washington, with Kenny Britt coming back in 2012. Also, there is the college angle. Peyton was a hero in Tennessee from his college days, and some would see this as his homecoming. The reasons why I don't think this will happen (at least compared to the ones ahead) is that this would be Manning going to a divisional rival (the Colts' biggest divisional rival since the AFC South was created). He would have to play Indy twice a year.

Washington Redskins: 15/1

The only real reason is the fact that it fits everything we know about Dan Snyder. He has the money, and Peyton is everything Snyder would ever want, except unlike those other guys that he's signed over the years (Bruce Smith, Deion, Albert Haynesworth), Manning is still really good. The issue here is Shanahan. On the one hand, Shanahan has been down this road before, winning two Super Bowls in the twilight of his career (and the Elway finish is the best case scenario for Manning's final act). Shanahan would be able to give Manning a solid run game, and that defense was underrated. But Shanahan also has an ego. He likes to control his offenses, and Manning would want control of his offense. It would be a really big change for Manning to go to a place where the coach is the offense.

San Francisco: 12/1

This might be the best fit outside of Baltimore. The comparison is furthered because the problem here was the problem there, will they shove Alex Smith aside? Alex Smith, who has been loyal to that team through 58 different offensive-coordinators finally does a great Joe Montana 1981 impression and now he gets the bench? The team has the best defense in the NFL. The team will probably go out and sign a FA WR (which they have the money for) and they already have a decent o-line. It all makes sense. Jim Harbaugh would probably go for it, but I think he's tied to Alex Smith. It isn't a very strong tie, though.

The Favorites to Sign Manning

Seattle Seahawks: 7/1

The NFC West is probably the perfect division for Manning. The 49ers are obviously the huge favorite right now (unless Manning goes somewhere in the division), but each team can probably feel that it is a winnable division. The Seahawks (and the team next) have the most to gain by getting Manning. They were decent without him. Their defense was surprisingly good. They have a good weapons in Miller and Baldwin and Sidney Rice, if healthy, is a top receiver. They play in a great city to live in (this stuff might matter, and is a big plus of all the last three cities). There is little history in that city for the NFL, so he won't have to compete with some legacy of Joe Montana. He can win over Seattle easily. It works on almost every level.

Arizona Cardinals: 6/1

If Baltimore cannot happen, I want it to be Arizona. They have everything Peyton needs. They have a beast of a WR in Fitzgerald who can be a great Marvin Harrison type player for Peyton. They have two other decent receivers (Doucet, Roberts). They have a good o-line in run blocking, and a good running back in Beanie Wells. They have a defense who can get after the passer and make turnovers, which is more effective when the teams offense is better and they can blitz more. They have a coach who has done this before, as this will basically be Kurt Warner round 2.0. They have already seen to have interest as FItzgerald was "dining" with Manning (which was probably some form of a courting dinner), and Whisenhunt has already told the press that he was unsatisfied with both his QBs. This was a team that ended the season 8-8, compiled with some close losses, with John Skelton primarily. The only reason why this might not happen is if there is too much money tied up with Kolb.

Miami Dolphins: 11/2

And the team that I think are slight favorites. They are kind of like the Cardinals of the AFC. They have a defense that would probably be better with a lead. They have a decent running game, as well as a great receiver (Marshall) and some other good weapons. Manning could really do a lot with a multi-threat like Reggie Bush. The o-line is good. Plus, we get Manning vs. Brady twice a year! He gets to live in Miami, and he can be the new Dan Marino in a city really wanting a great QB again. They have no QB they are really tied to (Henne and Moore have far less money attached than Kolb), and are in a conference that is trending downwards overall. The only reason I don't want him going to Miami is because Miami overall is a bad sports town, and the Cardinals fans have really stayed in the post-Warner years (that place was rocking late last season and is a really underrated home-field advantage). I wouldn't really like Manning in the AFC, but Miami is a place he can win with. 

I will update this when some of the Free-Agent moves are made, and after the draft if the matter isn't settled yet.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Wire: Top 50 Characters #23-11

23.) Duquan "Dukie" Weems

Dukie was probably the most pitiable, sympathetic member of the Little 4 Boys. His private life was built to be so openly awful. What a beautiful display of abject poverty, and the hidden treasures that lie in the piles of rubbish in deep Baltimore. One of the most special moments of the run of the show was when Dukie's face lights up when he gets the computer working. The one thing that ruined Dukie for me is that I saw his slide into drugs, and into working with the scrap-man as a little too quick. Dukie had the strongest moral standing of any of the kids, so his quick turn into a drug addict seemed off key. Dukie could have been so much more as a character, just as he could have been so much more as a person, but I guess that is the point.

22.) Chris Partlow

The Wee-Bey of the Stanfield crew, Partlow had about 1% more personality than Stanfield, but his stone demeanor felt more apt in his role as main enforcer. Partlow's calmness made his more human, more emotional moments seem so much more extreme. His callous beating of Michael's molester, drumming him like a mule. His quick thinking of asking each presumed foreign dealer a Baltimore related question was a stroke of genius. Partlow was a machine-like killer, but it was the mix of a calculating military general with a man ready to explode that made hm an intriguing character.

Memorable Quotes: "You ain't never want to be the last man to a party," & when he was forcing Bodie to take Stanfield's package, "Why ain't in your repertoire anymore." 

21.) Dennis "Cutty" Wise

I will say from now on until the #1 character, every single one is brilliant. Every one is brilliantly constructed, written, and acted. They are all round and dense. This is why The Wire is so brilliant. There are 21 incredible characters. Cutty was the only story of redemption gained in the run of The Wire. His transformation from inmate to returning enforcer to man without a cause, to owner and runner of a gym, to mentor. Cutty was the man of many roles, and he played them all well. His run in the gym might have been the only story on The Wire with a true happy ending. That said, it was always tough to see him try to reach out to boys like Spyder and more so Michael. Cutty was the symbol that the prison can do its intended process, that it can rehabilitate. And seeing Cutty changed by his time in prison, and reject his past and try to become a teacher a mentor so completely was wonderful. 

Memorable Quotes: "I ain't making myself clear. The Game ain't in me no more. None of it." (1:40) & "Young man, if I was talking to you, you would know." (0:45)

20.) Ziggy Sobotka

A lot of people thought he was a bad, annoying character and the worst of the Sobotka family members. I completely disagree. There was a better Sobotka, but Ziggy was such a complex character, a true Greek tragic figure. Ziggy, as Alan Sepinwall said, was a person who was just a clown. Had he gone to a normal college, he could have found a nice niche as a Frat joker. He was just misunderstood and misplaced in a world that demanded exacting work and patience from a man that had neither. Zig wanted to be his father. At least that is what he externally wanted, but it was the conflict between his desire and the fact that he just was not the person who could achieve it was the brilliance of Ziggy Sobotka. His crazy death spiral into a manic murderer, who shook and laughed in fear after offing the person who laughed at him one too many times, was just a startling storyline.

Memorable Quotes: "No, oh no. No Fucking Way. We had a deal montherfucker. You listen to me. It was my fucking ass on the line; mine. And this piddling shit, you don't play me like that. You don't!... Fuck you, you thieving Greek cunt.", with the duck, "Like I'm the only guy in South Baltimore to try to win the affections of a farm animal." & to his dad, "I remember when you all went down to picket them scabs at Covington piers... I remember when fat rick was killed dead... I remember everything, everything."

19.) D'Angelo Barsksdale

The first of four main S1 members who would be dead by S4, D'Angelo was one of the most interesting, complete characters in the show's history. He was the first man to question what the game was all about. He was the first one to think that violence does not need a place in the game. In many ways, he was the Barksdale version of Ziggy. He wanted to be Avon's protege, but he knew that this was not him, that in the end he was heading down an alley that was too dark and dangerous for him. Like Ziggy, he ended behind bars for years and years. D'Angelo was a figure who could both gain the largest of sympathy from the viewer while being someone who started the show escaping a murder charge that he was all too guilty of. His heart was what made him great. His heart was what also made him a victim, a man who wanted in and wanted out of the game at the same time.

Memorable Quotes: "This look like money to you, motherfucker. Money be green.", in the prison book-club about Gatsby, "You can change up, right? You can say you somebody new, you can give yourself a whole new story. But what came first - is who you really are. And what happened before - is what really happened. And it don't matter if some fool say he different, cause the only thing that make you different is what you do, is what you really go through." (0:42) & of course, "Where's Wallace at? Where's the boy, String?... Where's Wallace?... Where the fuck is Wallace, huh? String. String! Look at me! Where the fuck is Wallace?" (0:41)

18.) Roland "Prez(bo)" Prebylewski

No character grew as a person more than Prez. He was a hump cop that had a serious complex that he was too nerdy, too dumb to be a real police. His stunt where he cold-cocked that kid and blinded him in S1 just reassured the idea that Prez was (and here is a theme) a guy who wanted to be a cop and didn't at the same time (like Zig, and D'Angelo). Then we saw him crack a code, and a brilliant character was born. Prez was a genius who was tied to his personal heaven and hell at the same time as he was tied to inside office work. This allowed to see the brighter side of police-work, the side where he could make a difference. Of course, when he woke up from hibernation and was allowed back outside he unsuspectingly shot a cop. Which allowed him to go to school. Prez the teacher was an inspired move. He saw how he could really help Baltimore, really connect to people. His scenes with the kids were Gold. His relationship with Dukie was inspired. Prezbo became an incredible work of art.

Memorable Quote: "You trick them into thinking they aren't learning, and they do."

17.) Bunny Colvin

Bunny Colvin, the quiet star of the show's 3rd season, was a character who really grew on me. In the beginning, I found his whole idea of Hamsterdam a little too ridiculous for even The Wire, but when you see the incredible lengths he had gone in thinking that idea true, and the person of great character he was behind his idea, he became an incredibly well constructed character. It was obvious that the only reason Colvin thought of actually pulling his idea of a drug-free zone off was that he was about to retire anyway, but the idea itself worked. The saddest part of his storyline was almost everyone, from Rawls to Carcetti, saw the merit of the idea, saw that the idea of a drug-free zone made sense in every way. However, minds that challenge convention and push the edge of the envelope have no place in Baltimore. The fact that he decided to pull his idea in a more direct setting and help brash kids, and then had the heart to pull Namond away from a life of sure destruction. Colvin was really the closest thing the show had to a true hero in the sense of the word.

Memorable Quote: when introducing Hamsterdam, "Somewheres, back in the dawn of time, this district had itself a civic dilemma of epic proportion. The city council had just passed a law that forbid alcoholic consumption in public places, on the streets and on the corners. But the corner is, and it was, and it always will be the poor man's lounge. It's where a man wants to be on a hot summer's night. It's cheaper than a bar, catch a nice breeze, you watch the girls go by. But the law is the law. And the Western cops, rolling by, what were they going to do? If they arrested every dude out there tipping back a High Life, there'd be no other time for any other kind of police work. And if they looked the other way, they'd open themselves to all kinds of flaunting, all kinds of disrespect. Now, this is before my time when it happened, but somewhere back in the '50s or '60s, there was a small moment of goddamn genius by some nameless smoke hound who comes out the Cut Rate one day and on his way to the corner, he slips that just-bought pint of elderberry into a paper bag. A great moment of civic compromise. That small wrinkled-ass paper bag allowed the corner boys to have their drink in peace, and it gave us permission to go and do police work. The kind of police work that's worth the effort, that's worth actually taking a bullet for. Dozerman, he got shot last night trying to buy three vials. Three! There's never been a paper bag for drugs. Until now." (0:50)

16.) Jay Landsman

These next two might be totally way too high, but they are here just because they were consistently brilliant, not because they were all that deep. Landsman was nothing more than a consistent source of comedy for five seasons. His description of Fraemon and Bunk's style was hilarious. His ability to suck up to Rawls caused fits of laughter. His constant eating was a great idea. Mr. Overall's was the comic in the BPD. Nothing though was better than his speeches at the Police Wakes of Ray Cole and Jimmy. Jay Landsman liked nothing more than having fun, staring at nudie magazines, and staying put in a job he loved.

Memorable Quote: "Although there is some small charm to a woman being in uniform, we wear plain clothes in homicide. Which is not to say the clothes need to be plain. For you, I suggest some pantsuits, muted in color. Something to offset Detective Moreland's pinstripe lawyerly affectations and the brash, tweedy impertinence of Detective Freeman."

15.)William Rawls

Bill Rawls was a bad guy. He cared more about keeping his status than bettering the department. However, the biggest difference between him and Burrell was he didn't want to cheat. He didn't want to play games. He just wanted to get the most clearances he could. He wanted people to solve cases. Rawls demanded everything of his subordinates, and I loved him for it. His feud with and hatred for McNulty was so genuinely played that I sure thought he actually hated actor Dominic West and was playing that hatred out for real. Bill Rawls also gave one of the most real, least pandering speeches in the history of the show when he demanded McNulty to stop acting like a self-hating pissant after Kima was shot. Rawls was actually what a realistic head of a police department should be. Tough, caring and wanting fair police work.

Memorable Quote: "Listen to me, you fuck. You played a lot of cards, and, you made a lot of fucking people do a lot of things they didn't want to do... You, McNulty are a gaping asshole. We both know the, and fuck if everybody in CID didn't know it. But, I'll be also fucked if I let you sit here and think you did a single fucking thing to get a fucking cop shot. Believe it or not, not everything is about you. And the motherfucker telling you this, he fucking hates your guts. So, you know, if it was on you, I'd be the son of a bitch to tell you."(2:03 - but the whole scene is great Rawls), & after finding out about the fake serial killer, "You're not killing them yourself, McNulty? At least assure me of that." (0:29)

14.) Randy Wagstaff

Randy Wagstaff, the highest ranking member of the four kids, was the symbol of how easy innocence can be lost. He did nothing wrong but help lookout for two guys tag-teaming a girl in the bathroom. He did nothing wrong, but speak to the cops because he was afraid. He did nothing wrong, but he lost his foster mother, lost his house, and finally lost his innocence. Seeing Randy bulky and rugged in Season 5 was more heartbreaking to me than seeing Dukie take drugs (which just made me angry), or Michael turn into a killer. Seeing Randy lose that beautiful smile, that way of life was just horrible.

Memorable Quote: Yelling at Carver who let him down, "You gonna help, huh? You gonna look out for me? You gonna look out for me, Sgt. Carver? You mean it? You gonna look out for me? You promise? You got my back, huh?" (2:13)

13.) Bunk Moreland

I really had a hard time picking the order of the next two. They were clearly the 2nd and 3rd best characters from the BPD. Moreland was just so well done. He was McNulty, but was consistently charming. He was the perfect subordinate. He toed the line, did his job (and did it damn well), but didn't demand anything more or less from his job. He saw his work as his work. He knew how to play the bureaucratic game better than most. What I loved about Moreland to was his incredibly brazen, drunken attitude. McNulty was the person that we wanted a cop to be, while Moreland was the person that was what a cop is at his best. In Bunk we Trust.

Memorable Quote: "I'm just a humble mother fucker with a big ass dick... OK then. I'm not that humble," (0:24) & when chiding Omar, "Makes me a sick motherfucker how far we done fell." (3:37 - whole scene is great).

12.) Lester Freamon

Cool Lester Smooth. He was 'The Boss' of the BPD. He was the most interesting police in the world. He was a genius of a cop. He carved miniature furniture. He landed a classy stripper (believe me, not an oxymoron in this case). He believed in his work, but he believed in doing what he thought was right (not what the BPD thought was right). Lester Freamon was the guy who realized that Stanfield was dumping bodies in houses, and he was the guy who went along with McNulty's fake serial killer plan. Cool Lester Smooth. He wasn't just the black McNulty, but the black McNulty with more moves.

Memorable Quote: "You follow the drugs, you get drug addicts and drug dealers. You follow the money? You don't know where the fuck is going to take you."

11.) Spiros Vondas

I first had him a bit higher, but then I realized that he didn't have as much complexity as I first thought. He definitely fit the bill that the #2's are more important in most organizations (Stringer, Asst. Principal Donnelly, Burrell and Rawls as Deputies). Vondas was the classic gangster. He was calm. confident, calculating. He never got too hot or too cold, and mostly, he was loyal and saw potential. His fondness for Nick, viewing him as a protege and someone to mentor into the business was really the only other side he had, but that first side was good enough. He gave one half of the best dichotomy of lines in The Wire's history. The embodiment of capitalism (as The Wire showrunner David Simon called him and The Greek) was also the embodiment of the high profile gangster, the man who was high enough that however violent he was, he knew nothing would be brought back on him.

Memorable Quote: About Nick knowing his name, "He knows my name... but my name is not my name." (6:38)

The Top 10 is next, and they are all absolutely brilliant.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2011 NFL Playoffs: Looking Back at the Best Playoffs in Years

The 2011 season was God Awful for me. The Colts went 2-14. More importantly, Peyton Manning's career might be over, and his career with the Colts is almost certainly over. The Raiders blew a division title and Hue Jackson 15 minutes of fame came with a huge cost: one 1st round pick, and another 2nd. Of course, that pick could become another 1st if Palmer leads the Raiders to the AFC Title Game in 2012, which if that is the case, I guess I don't hate the trade (btw, I like getting Palmer. I think the Raiders will be a playoff team in 2012 - and if not for a ridiculous amounts of injuries to skill position guys, this was a playoff team in 2011 and a dangerous one), but I hate what it has led to. Then, the Pats got the 1st seed in the AFC again. Of course, I also had to see offense just turn the tables on defense, mainly because QBs are being protected to silly degrees. I'm sorry, but no matter how good Rodgers, Brees, Brady and Stafford are, they never should have ALL had the years they had in the same year. It was basically the steroid era of football in one season. Let's see if it continues in 2011. I'll say it now: No QB is throwing for 5,000 yards next year.

Anyway, I wrote before the playoffs started that this was a pivotal playoffs for the NFL if they didn't want to lose the defensive-fan base. Fans of defense were hanging on a thread all year. Fans of the idea that teams can be constructed in more than one way were hanging on a thread. Of course, in the end the Super Bowl pitted two teams with 4,900+ yd QBs and horrific pass defenses (at least in the regular season) but they fact that they were basically even with the defensive-oriented 49ers and Ravens? That made me smile. I mean, the Super Bowl could have easily, with changing just one play in each game (Evans holds onto the ball, and Bradshaw's forward progress was not deemed to have been stopped before fumbling), been a match up of Joe Flacco and Alex Smith at QB. In fact, I kind of wish this was the Super Bowl because that would have created some internal tension between all the people that have spent the year orgasming at Brady, Brees & Rodgers. Of course, we got a different matchup, but a very good game, and thankfully for me, Brady losing.

Here are my random thoughts on Super Bowl XLVI and the 2011 Playoffs in general:

  • This might have been the best combination of title games and Super Bowl I have ever seen. Firstly, for the first time that I can remember we had two great Title Games. 2009 had a classic in Minnesota-New Orleans, and a fun game in Jets-Colts. 2008 had two close games. But this was two great games. That day of football was incredible. I do think the Ravens-Pats game would be remembered more fondly five years from now if it goes to OT (or Evans makes the catch). The fact that it ended with that field goal miss really hurt. The NFC Title Game was just perfect. Old-school football, in one of the few remaining cathedrals of football in Candlestick. That was an epic, and I can't wait to set aside three hours and watch it again.
  • That said, the fact that the first two rounds of the playoffs gave us just two memorable games (Steelers-Broncos, Saints-49ers), and a few other interesting but ultimately forgettable games (CIN-HOU, HOU-BAL) and then a bunch of blowouts, does make the 2011 postseason a little less memorable. I am not sure if collectively it was as great a postseason as 2006. In fact, let's do a breakdown:
    • Wild Card Round (worth 3/4ths of the other rounds): 2006 {Chiefs 8 @ Colts 23; Cowboys 20 @ Seahawks 21; Jets 16 @ Patriots 37; Giants 20 @ Eagles 23} vs. 2011 {Bengals 10 @ Texans 31, Lions 28 @ Saints 45, Falcons 2 @ Giants 24, Steelers 23 @ Broncos 29}
      • I give 2006 a 8/10 (there's a curve for Wild Card weekend which almost always features some bad games). The only forgettable game was the first one. The Romo Fumble game is probably one of the 10 most famous playoff games in the past 10 years. The Jets-Pats game was closer than the score, and had the Mangini/Belichick handshake feud factor (remember, the handshake stuff started before Spygate). The Giants-Eagles game was a forgotten great game. I give 2011 a 6.5/10. It did have one classic game in the Tebow Redemption. The Bengals @ Texans game was exiting just because it was the first playoff game in Houston. The Saints game and Giants games were both extremely boring in the 2nd half.
    • Divisional Round: 2006 {Colts 15 @ Ravens 6; Eagles 24 @ Saints 27; Seahawks 24 @ Bears 27; Patriots 27 @ Chargers 24} vs. 2011 {Saints 32 @ 49ers 36; Broncos 10 @ Patriots 45; Texans 13 @ Ravens 20; Giants 37 @ Packers 20}
      • I give 2006 a 9.5. It is almost impossible to get a 10/10, and I probably give this the dinstinction of the best playoff weekend I have ever seen. My God, does it get better than that. The Colts @ Ravens game was the only one decided by more than 3 points, and it was a real slugfest of a game, a great chess match between Manning and the best defense of the past 5 years. The Saints game is still the loudest playoff atmosphere I have seen. It was the first playoff game in the Superdome since Katrina. The Bears/Seahawks game is probably the most underrated overtime playoff game of the past 10 years. The Chargers/Patriots game was an instant-classic, with Marty's final act, the "clutch" 3-int performance of Brady, and the whole LT vs. Belichick classy debate after. Man, what a weekend. I give 2011 a 6/10. There was one awful game at the most fun timeslot. There was another boring slugfest (Texans @ Ravens). Giants @ Packers was fun in a way, but the only game I would watch again is the Saints @ 49ers, which was admittedly an awesome game and probably on its own better than any of the 2006 games.
    • Conference Title Sunday: 2006 {Saints 14 @ Bears 39; Patriots 34 @ Colts 38} vs. 2011 {Ravens 20 @ Patriots 23; Giants 20 @ 49ers 17}
      • This is incredibly difficult. I'll give 2006 a 8/10. The Pats/Colts game arguably the best non-Super Bowl in at least 20 years. The Bears Saints game was a 2 point game late in the 3rd quarter. It was by no means a great game, and was really sloppy, but it was definitely more entertaining than that scoreline would indicate. The 2011 pair gets a 9.5/10 though. That was incredible. I don't either game individually was as good as the Pats/Colts game, but the Giants/49ers was damn close. That was truly an epic. Books could be written about that game.
    • Super Bowl: 2006 {Colts 29 vs. Bears 17} vs. 2011 {Giants 21 vs. Patriots 17}
      • This isn't close. I will say that 2006 featured the best 1st quarter in Super Bowl history. There were three 50+ yard plays, Hester's KO Ret TD, Wayne's long TD, Three turnovers, and a bobbled hold. All in the 1st quarter. Also it gets some bonus points for being in the rain. The 2006 game gets a 7/10. This past week gets a 9/10. Great game between two totally even teams. That was the best part about it.
    • Final Tally 2006 (8/10 * .75 + 9.5/10 + 8/10 + 7/10) = .7625 vs. 2011 (6.5/10 *.75 + 6/10 + 9.5/10 + 9/10) = .7344. 2006 wins, by a hair.
  • Anyway, now that that extremely long, pointless tangent is over, let's get back to the Super bowl.
  • Eli Manning is not better than Peyton Manning. I love Eli. He's given me two great fan moments in Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI. He's slayed my most hated dragon. He's also been a key member of two epic NFC Title Games. He's also the younger brother of my favorite QB, and what Peyton loves, we love. That said, please. He is not better than Eli. After the Super Bowl every show asked the same question about Eli, which was "Is he a Hall of Famer?". If there even needs to be a debate about that, then how the hell is "Is Eli better than Peyton?" even up for debate? Peyton Manning was recently ranked by a panel of old players, coaches, executives and journalists as the #8 NFL Player of all time (this was before the 2010 season). Peyton has more MVP's than Eli has pro-bowl appearances. This was by far Eli's best statistical season of his career (regular season), and it would be behind Peyton's 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 seasons. Basically, at this juncture, Eli's best season was comaprable to Peyton's 7th best season.
  • That said, Eli is going to be a HOFer. So is Tom Coughlin. The media I feel like only puts more importance on Super Bowls now than they used to, even though people generally are smarter when analyzing sports. People who are smart when analyzing sports realize that teams win games and players don't. Also, a QB can perform well and lose. Peyton has perfected this. Anyway, Congratulations to Eli Manning, Tom Coughlin and the rest of the Giants. Incredible Job.
  • For the fifth time in seven years, a team that did not have a first-round bye won the Super Bowl. I think the days of the bye teams dominating is long past. That said, I wouldn't try to make this into something more important than it is. This doesn't mean teams should not aim for the bye, or be afraid of resting their starters (didn't seem to hurt anyone in 2009 apart from San Diego and Cincinnati). But people should no longer get angry that weaker and weaker teams are winning Super Bowls.
  • The Giants should be good next year. I actually think they are going to follow the same formula from 2007 just a little but further. In 2008, the Giants started out 11-1 and were the best team in the NFL at that point. Around that time, Plax decided to shoot himself in the leg, and then Eli discovered that he couldn't throw in the wind in the Divisional Round against the Eagles. In 2012, I think something similar will happen. It would not surprise me to see the Giants go 13-3. Also, if I had to pick who to play the role of Plax, I'll go with Victor Cruz. He already seems to love dancing, so a night club with a gun is just two steps away.
  • That said, it would not surprise me to see the Giants not win a playoff game next year. The NFC is just loaded right now. The Packers, 49ers and Saints are due for some regression, but the Lions are still on the upswing, and the Eagles should definitely be better. The Bears get Cutler back, and when he got hurt, the Bears were a top-5 team. Also, when Peyton Manning's laces it up for the Cardinals, you have them in the mix as well. 
  • As for the AFC. It looks like a done deal for the Pats to get back right now, but I think the Ravens and Steelers will be right there. People seem to think that the Ravens are old on defense, but that age is primarily Lewis and Reed, who are both nowhere near as essential to the Ravens as they were three years ago (especially Lewis). The Texans should also be great assuming they don't have horrific injury luck again. That said, the AFC is not deep at all. Sleeper team: San Diego. I can't wait to get screwed over by them again.
  • To finish this up, Congratulations again to the Giants. They showed again how hard work and team play, as well as supreme confidence, can make any team great. Of course, it helps when that team is also talented and capable of playing great. The Giants have now saved me from two more Patriots titles and I can't thank them enough. Thanks, Big Blue.

Enjoy the offseason!!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2011 NFL Playoffs: Super Bowl XLVI - A Beautiful Game

I know what it feels like to lose a Super Bowl that was legacy defining (I guess you all knew what it felt like as well). I know what it is like when nothing goes your way in a game. For us, it was Garcon's huge drop on what would have been a 30+ yard pass up 10-3. Or Kendra's lap-dog husband muffing that onside kick. Or our coach asking our ancient kicker to attempt a 51 yard field goal. For us Colts fans, because of the events of the following 24 months since February 2010, that game hurts more and more. I don't want the Pats to win another Super Bowl in this era (maybe one around 2030 will be fine), but I hope that Pats fans feel worse about the game today than you will in February 2014 (and also that your QB is not having a public pr game with an over-his-head owner).

As for the game. It was one of the most even Super Bowl's I have ever seen, and a game where I think every unit played well. The Pats defense tightened in the red zone like they always do. The Giants defense held the Patriots to only short gains, and once the rush got going in the middle of the 3rd quarter, they effectively held the Patriots at bay. Both offenses had their moments, with the Giants starting hot and rarely having a bad drive (just too many that petered out even before field goal range), while the Pats for two straight drives looked like a machine on offense. This was a Super Bowl, but after all the hype and the buildup it was just a game of football. A good one. A beautiful one.

I like defense. By rule, this made me hate the ridiculous offensive numbers that the 2011 football season produced. That opinion might have changed had my favorite quarterback been able to get it on the fun, but it still hurt me to see three teams score 500 points, and three QBs throw for 5,000 yards and two of them smash Marino's record. I mean, nothing better exemplified this ridiculous season like Matthew Stafford throwing for 5,000 yards and 40 tds and being statistically no better than the 4th best QB in the NFL in 2011. Nothing then made me happier than the last three games of the 2011 NFL season. No team scored more than 23. No QB threw for more than 316 yards, and that QB needed 61 passes to do so. More incredibly, no team topped 400 yards of total offense. I loved it. I might have hated the outcome of the AFC Title Game, but it was good to know that defense still mattered.

And nowhere was this more true than in Super Bowl XLVI. One team scored 19 offensive points, and the other scored 17. This was probably the best game the modern pass-happy NFL can give you. Each yard was hard to come by. Eli Manning had to hit some really tight windows. Tom Brady was pressured, and when he wasn't, nothing was open downfield. The defenses weren't perfect, but a 9-6 game would have been boring. The defenses were good enough. The offenses were good enough. In all honesty, both teams were good enough. One team just got a little more breaks.

This wasn't Super Bowl XLII. That was one of the greatest teams having a bad game against a good team having a great game. This was different. This was two teams that by this point of the season were both about equal, and both played about equal, but one team just made one more play. This is the type of game that the NFL is all about. The fact that it was a Super Bowl made it all the more special. To me, this was the best, most evenly played, Super Bowl since the Rams evaded overtime by a yard. This was pure football. And honestly, it made me feel for the Pats for the first time ever.

I obviously felt nothing but glee after the last playoff game the Pats played in Indy. I felt nothing but more glee about seeing 18-0 go down in flames in the most amazing way possible. I even lapped up every bit of that beatdown the Ravens handed to them two years ago. But this, I actually felt bad. It might have been that haunting look at Robert Kraft react to the hail mary bouncing on the ground, and realizing that the season that helped him escape his personal tragedy was over. It humanized Kraft. Seeing Wes Welker, a man that I've never liked ever since his "F**k you" that he yelled after catching the game-icing pass in Super Bowl 41.5, reduced to tears because he dropped what was, in my mind, a damn hard pass humanized him. (I should say that to you all these guys have always been human, but to a Pats hater, not so much). I actually felt bad for even Brady, who I think was hurt in some way by that sack by Tuck in the 3rd quarter, as he was quite mediocre after that. He was playing lights out in the biggest game, but was undone by his body (again, I'm assuming he was injured in some way). I hate the fact that this game made me feel bad about hating the Pats so much.

This was a great exhibition of football played well. It wasn't just great offense, just great defense, it was good everything. It was the definition of a good, close, tight, well-played football game. And, if the end result is it makes me reconsider my hatred of a team that doesn't do anything but win and get silly levels of praise from people living from 7 years ago (see: "You can't bet against Belichick with two weeks to prepare"), then I'll take it. That's a fine side effective of a beautiful game.

I'll have some thoughts about the actual game a bit later.

and of course.... Bradying

Sunday, February 5, 2012

2011 NFL Playoffs: Super Bowl Pick

Well, it is here. I have avoided all the hype, and the talking heads, all the things that usually make the two-week lead-up to a Super Bowl a waste of time for me. I've tried to separate myself. Why? Because the Pats somehow won another playoff game they barely deserved. How many times have I seen that script. Baltimore did almost everything right, but at the end, their guy just couldn't hold onto the ball in the end zone for another half-second. Anyway, I'm finally over that whole ordeal. I don't know if John Harbaugh and more so Billy Cundiff are, but I am. I am ready to start talking about this game.

Super Bowl XLVI

New York Giants vs New England Patriots (-2.5)

I was really confident after Championship Sunday that the Giants would win. It wasn't like my 'confidence' about the Ravens winning. I thought they could, I knew it would be close, but I wasn't surprised. My immediate reaction to the Super Bowl was that I would be surprised if New England won. I'm not that anymore. Maybe it is the two week layoff. Maybe it me coming out of my denial that New England could easily win the Super Bowl AGAIN. Maybe it is all of these things, but I am now a lot more concerned than I was fourteen days ago.

It isn't all due to the fact that more people seem to be picking the Giants, and that is because that is a really overused line. The Patriots are still the official favorites. The picks are maybe 60/40 for the Giants, and as far as experts go, it is leaning towards New England. ESPN had 40 people pick the game, and it went 22-18 NE. SI had five people, and it was 4-1 for New England. The funniest part was that a lot of the people picking New England were saying that they loved them because no one is picking them. A lot of people are.

No, the reason I am concerned is that this isn't as clear.cut as I thought. The Patriots defense has stepped up against the better teams they have played. The Patriots offense is still very good and I don't think anyone on the Giants can really cover Wes Welker. The Giants o-line is not very good and the Patriots pass rush is actually evident this year. I still like the Giants though, but I am just not sure. I do not think the Patriots can stop the Giants enough. To me, that is a bigger mismatch than the the other side of the Pats offense and the Giants defense. The Giants defense is substantially better now than it was in the middle of the year. Michael Boley is the play-caller of the defense. He was missing a lot of the season. That pass rush is better now than what it was earlier in the season. Osi is healthy. Tuck is healthy. JPP is a beast. The pass rush isn't as good as it was in 2007, but it doesn't need to be because the Pats aren't as good in 2007, especially at the o-line. The o-line in 2007 was incredible until the Super Bowl. This o-line wasn't as good.

Anyway, I'm nowhere near as confident as I was when the two-week break started. I think this game is going to be damn close, which will be bad for my heart pressure and sanity. I think the Giants will win the game, but I won't be surprised if the Pats win. I'll just be incredibly depressed as a sports fan.

Giants  27 (NYG)  Patriots (23)

About Me

I am a man who will go by the moniker dmstorm22, or StormyD, but not really StormyD. I'll talk about sports, mainly football, sometimes TV, sometimes other random things, sometimes even bring out some lists (a lot, lot, lot of lists). Enjoy.