Trivial Opinions

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Archive for August, 2009

AFC Predictions 2009

Posted by Jack Deus on August 31, 2009

There are lots of questions going into the 2009 NFL season: Can the Steelers repeat as Super Bowl Champs? Has Tom Brady recovered enough to lead the Patriots back to the playoffs? Can Matthew Stafford lead the Lions to even a single win? How will Brett Favre and Michael Vick do on their new teams, the Vikings and Eagles? These and many other questions will factor in to how I will predict the final season standings for all 8 divisions, as well as the playoff match-ups and winners. Below are my AFC predictions. Click here for NFC predictions.

East

1. New England Patriots – Tom Brady is showing all the signs that he is back to his 2007 form, which should benefit Randy Moss and Wes Welker immensely. As long as the shoulder injury he sustained against the Redskins in the 3rd preseason game isn’t serious he will have a great chance of leading the Pats to another undefeated regular season. They have two tough tests early in the season when Baltimore comes knocking week 4 and Tennessee travels to Foxboro week 6. How they fair in those two games will give us a better idea of how far they can go.

2. Miami Dolphins – Miami got lucky last year in a few games where they surprised teams with the wildcat. Too bad for them that everyone has had the entire off-season to plan for it now and will be able to stop it with much more regularity. Chad Pennington is still a good quarterback that, despite all of the flaws people harp on about him, knows how to win games and Ronnie Brown is an excellent running back. The Dolphins will fall back to earth a bit this year, but should still be able to finish above .500.

3. Buffalo Bills – The addition of Terrell Owens will have a drastic impact on this team. He has a history of playing well the first year he gets to a team. Not only will the Bills benefit from the yards and touchdowns he will bring to the team, Lee Evans should have a better year too, not having to face off against the opposing team’s number 1 cornerback. If Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson do their part in keeping teams honest by pounding the rock well, Trent Edwards should have time to find the open Owens or Evans and the Bills may actually jump the Dolphins to number 2 in the division.

4. NY Jets – With Brett Favre as their quarterback last year, the Jets started off 8-3 and looked like they might make a run at the Super Bowl. Those dreams died about the same time as Favre’s arm and they finished the season 1-4. This year, the Jets won’t have the benefit of Favre’s fast start. They will take a lot of lumps this year with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez failing to imitate Matt Ryan‘s, or even Joe Flacco‘s success from last year. The Jets will be lucky to win 6 games this year.

North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers – Until someone proves they can knock off the defending Super Bowl champs, I can’t not put them winning their own division. Ben Roethlisberger, Willie Parker, Hines Ward, and Santonio Holmes will never have the stats to compete with the elite fantasy players at their positions, but they know how to get the job done and they know how to work as a team. It doesn’t hurt that they play in a division with putrid Cleveland and Cincinnati either.

2. Baltimore Ravens – Baltimore’s defense is what people tend to focus on when they talk about the Ravens. While it is a very good defense (3rd in the AFC last year in points allowed) it is the offense that helped the Ravens finish so well last year (4th in points scored in the AFC last year). The Ravens’ rushing attack may be even better this year than it was last year, but I don’t see how Joe Flacco avoids a sophomore slump. Also, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have to be running on fumes by now, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dip in their defensive potency this year, either.

3. Cincinnati Bengals – With Carson Palmer back the Bengals should be able to double the number of wins they had last year. Unfortunately, that will only get them to 8 wins, so unless they have another tie this year they won’t have a winning record. Chad Ochocinco will have his typical good year, and will Tweet about non-stop, but there is no way Chris Henry fills the role vacated by T.J. Houshmandzadeh when he went to Seattle.

4. Cleveland Browns – This will not be the year for young quarterbacks as Brady Quinn will struggle, just like Matthew Stafford in Detroit, Mark Sanchez in New York, and Joe Flacco in Baltimore. The bad news for Quinn is that his supporting cast is just barely better than Stafford’s so the two of them will be battling for worst team in the league.

South

1. Indianapolis ColtsPeyton Manning didn’t like losing the top-dog billing in the division last year so he will do everything he can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Marvin Harrison leaving will actually be a good thing for the Colts, because they will be able to focus on making Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez the guys to throw to. Losing Tony Dungy on the sidelines will definitely hurt the Colts, but I think Dungy had his succession plan in place and the transition should be smoother than it ought to be.

2. Tennessee Titans – Losing Albert Haynesworth to the Redskins was a big blow to the Titans defense. Teams will now be able to double up Kyle Vanden Bosch more which will make it a lot easy to run against the Titans. Not only that but Kerry Collins is going to turn 37 this year, and you have to wonder if he will be able to make it through another full season. If not, how confidant are the Titans that Vince Young will be able to take over and lead this team to some late season wins? I’d say not very.

3. Houston Texans – This could finally be the Texans’ year to finish a season with a winning record. They have a good quarterback in Matt Schaub, a Top-5 wide receiver in Andre Johnson and a Top-10 running back in Steve Slaton. This team seemed to gel last year, finishing the season 5-1, and should be able to build on that this year. Unfortunately for them they play in a division with the Colts and Titans so 9 or 10 wins is about as good as they can hope to do, which will still only get them 3rd in the division.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars – I hear a lot of people saying that Maurice Jones-Drew will benefit from not having to split carries with Fred Taylor this year, but I don’t buy it. MoJo is a much better back when he can keep his legs fresh and do what he does best, which is flair out and catch passes out of the backfield. There were three games last year where he led the Jaguars in receiving, and I just don’t see him having the energy to do that again this year if he has to carry the ball 20-25 times a game. David Garrard better hope St. Louis retread Torry Holt isn’t washed up and that Troy Williamson does better here than he did in Minnesota, because he isn’t going to be able to look towards MoJo as an outlet nearly as much as he did last year.

West

1. San Diego Chargers – The Chargers offense last year scored more points than any other team in the AFC, and were second only to New Orleans in the entire NFL. All of the key components to that offense, LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles, Philip Rivers, and Antonio Gates are all back and unless one of them gets hurt they should have no problem scoring a lot of points again this year. With the return of Shawne Merriman on defense the Chargers won’t give up nearly as many points as they did last year, which will help them wrap up this division by Thanksgiving.

2. Oakland Raiders – The Raiders defense was good at times last year, and one of their bigger problems was they were always on the field because the Raiders’ offense was so poor. This year, with Jeff Garcia breathing down his neck, JaMarcus Russell will have no choice but to get better, and his receiving core of Darrius Heyward-Bay and Jonnie Lee Higgins should provide ample deep threats to keep teams from stacking the box against Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas. Last year’s offensive shortcomings shouldn’t hurt the Raiders nearly as much this year, and finishing the season with 7 or 8 wins shouldn’t be out of the question.

3. Denver Broncos – Replacing Jay Cutler with Kyle Orton at quarterback is a huge downgrade for this team. Add in the fact that Brandon Marshall wants out and is currently suspended, and things are shaping up to be a very long season for new Head Coach Josh McDaniels. The only chance the Broncos have of staying out of the AFC West cellar is if they can manage, for the umpteenth year in a row, to plug in a new running back and have him do well.

4. Kansas City ChiefsLarry Johnson is washed up. The Chiefs wide receivers are a collection of has-beens and no names, except for Dwayne Bowe. But he currently doesn’t have anyone good to throw him the ball, since Matt Cassell just got hurt in a preseason game against the Seahawks. Even if Cassell was still healthy he isn’t nearly as good of a quarterback as his numbers last year with the Patriots make him out to be. If Cassell doesn’t return or has to play injured the whole year the Chiefs will be lucky to win half as many games this year as they did last year. Even if the injury turns out to be a minor one, the Chiefs won’t win more than 3 games this year.

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NFC Predictions 2009

Posted by Jack Deus on August 25, 2009

There are lots of questions going into the 2009 NFL season:  Can the Steelers repeat as Super Bowl Champs? Has Tom Brady recovered enough to lead the Patriots back to the playoffs? Can Matthew Stafford lead the Lions to even a single win? How will Brett Favre and Michael Vick do on their new teams, the Vikings and Eagles? These and many other questions will factor in to how I will predict the final season standings for all 8 divisions, as well as the playoff match-ups and winners. Below are my NFC predictions. Click here for my AFC predictions.

East

1. Philadelphia Eagles–  If Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook stay healthy (which is a big if) the Eagles should be very good this year. With the addition of a few rookies at skill positions (Jeremy Maclin at WR and LeSean McCoy at RB) and the addition of Michael Vick, opposing defenses will have a lot of players they have to scheme for, which will cause a lot of sleepless nights for opposing D Coordinators.

2. Dallas Cowboys – Playing in Jerry Jones’ new billion dollar baby should get the ‘Boys at least a win or two when opposing teams come in and just stare in awe at the ginormous TV above their heads, leaving the Cowboys free to rack up thousands of yards and hundreds of points. OK, maybe not, but with T.O. and Jessica Simpson out of the picture, it is finally time for Tony Romo to step up and show everyone he can finish a season, and I think he will. He still has his favorite target, Jason Witten, and T.O.’s absence should also help out Roy Williams , who should become the big-play threat he was drafted to be.

3. NY GiantsThe Giants have a serious need at WR, now that they have officially cut ties with Plaxico Burress. Last year, the Giants were 11-1 to start off the season, but finished it 1-4, including the playoff loss to the Eagles. Guess what the difference was: Plaxico Burress wasn’t with them. Unless Eli Manning can prove he is worth his huge new contract extension and turn his OK receivers into good or great receivers, the Giants will miss the playoffs this year, although they will still finish above .500.

4. Washington Redskins– It pains me to put my boys in this spot, but I have to be realistic. The Redskins defense should be a juggernaut this year, with the addition of Albert Haynesworth, but it is put up or shut up time for Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell and I just don’t see them improving enough this year for either one to save their jobs. On the bright side of that coin, Bill Cowher is only a year a way from donning the Redskins colors and hopefully putting an end to the coaching carousel that has been going around and around and around since Dan Snyder bought the team in 1999.

North

1. Minnesota Vikings– With the addition of Brett Favre and, perhaps more importantly, Percy Harvin the Vikings passing game should be better and actually force defenses to not crowd Adrian Peterson. He may have his best year yet. And for you Favre naysayers, he only plays in two potentially cold-weather games the whole season, at Green Bay on November 1 and at Chicago December 28. That is a very favorable schedule for an old arm to last the full season.

2. Chicago Bears– The Bears only finished one game behind the Vikings last year with Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman as their QBs. Say what you want about Jay Cutler being a whiner who forced his way out of Denver, he is a better quarterback than Orton and Grossman put together. RB Matt Forte and WR Devin Hester will be even better this season than they were last season, which is a very good thing for Bears fans.

3. Green Bay Packers– I just don’t see any additions to the Packers that makes me think they will improve drastically enough to pass either of the Bears or the Vikings. All three division rivals upgraded their QB spot, and even though none of the new QBs are as good as Aaron Rodgers, all three teams did improve, where it seems Green Bay stayed pretty much the same.

4. Detroit Lions The Lions will not finish 0-16 again this year. There are too many winnable games on the schedule for them to lay another goose egg. Unfortunately, their first win won’t come until after their bye week when they get St. Louis at home. If Matthew Stafford can’t lead the Lions over the Rams at home with two weeks to plan, then maybe they can pull out a win against Cleveland three weeks later, at Cincy two weeks after that, or at San Fran the second to last week of the season. For the sake of Lions fans everywhere, though, I hope the losing streak doesn’t reach week 16 when they play the 49ers.

South

1. Carolina Panthers– Until someone proves they can stop the RB tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart you can’t pick against the Panthers. Preseason injuries to Steve Smith and Stewart have me a little worried that the Panthers won’t be able to repeat as NFC South champs, but with a bye week in week 4, health shouldn’t be a big concern for them yet.

2. New Orleans SaintsDrew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and he will find a way to win a lot of the games they lost last year. Six of their 8 losses last year came by a combined total of 18 points. With the emergence of Pierre Thomas as a reliable RB threat, the Saints will also be able to do more things better suited to Reggie Bush‘s talents. Opposing defense will not like the week they look at the schedule and see New Orleans is their opponent.

3. Atlanta FalconsMatt Ryan will probably be a better QB this year than last year when he took his team to the playoffs and Michael Turner will be the same dominating force in the backfield, but opposing defenses will also have more film on these two and be better prepared when they play them. I predict Ryan  and Turner will look statistically worse than they did last year and the Falcons won’t make the playoffs because defenses won’t be surprised by them nearly as much as they were last year.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers– Questions at quarterback will doom this team all season. When Kansas State product Josh Freeman is a viable candidate for the starting QB job as a rookie you know the team is in trouble. Freeman was a decent-enough QB for the Wildcats last year, but he is not the answer for the Bucs.

West

1. Seattle SeahawksMatt Hasselbeck should be back to his dominant form. They have a receiving core with Nate Burleson and T.J Houshmandzadeh that is actually comprised of NFL caliber players. Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett form a formidable backfield. They have all of the offensive keys to get back to their rightful place on top of this weak division.

2. Arizona Cardinals– Even though they made it to the Super Bowl, I don’t see the Cardinals improving upon their 9-7 record from last year, especially since they won’t sweep Seattle like they did last year and probably won’t sweep San Francisco either. I may be eating these words if Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin both stay healthy the whole season, if Larry Fitzgerald plays at the same level as he did last year, and if Chris Wells compliments Tim Hightower in the backfield. That is a lot of ifs that need to take place.

3. San Francisco 49ersShaun Hill, Alex Smith, Damon Huard. That is the 49ers depth chart at QB. Enough said. If the 49ers can find a way to get Michael Crabtree into camp, and quick, and if Frank Gore stays healthy, the 49ers may be able to finish the season around .500, but it doesn’t look good.

4. St. Louis RamsMarc Bulger leads a team that is a far cry from “The Greatest Show on Turf” and that is assuming he stays healthy enough to lead the team at all. His receiving core consists of Donnie Avery and a bunch of scrubs, which means opposing teams will load the box and stop Steven Jackson from having a real impact on their season. If not for the upsets they pulled in weeks 6 and 7 last year the Rams would have joined the Lions as a winless team, and their prospects don’t seem much better this year.

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Movie Review-GI Joe

Posted by Jack Deus on August 12, 2009

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a typical summer action flick based off of the Hasbro toys by the same name. GI Joe is an elite military group composed of the best of the best of the best from countries all over the world. This elite team has super high-tech weapons and vehicles, the best soldiers, and unmatched training techniques and facilities. And yet there is another group out there that has even higher-tech weapons and vehicles, making their soldiers just as strong, and rendering their lack of training moot.

How well you enjoy the movie GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra will mainly depend on 2 things: the ability to turn off your brain and just enjoy an action movie for being an action movie, and your knowledge (or, preferably, lack thereof) of the GI Joe franchise.

Like most action movies (and adult films for that matter), GI Joe is basically an excuse for the director to have 90 or so minutes of visual stimulation with dialogue and acting thrown in as an afterthought to connect all the money scenes together. The most striking example of how convoluted the plot in this movie was is how many flashback scenes are needed to explain the relationships and actions of the characters. I’m not complaining about the flashback scenes, however, because I would much rather have them than stupid, forced exposition. Also, two of the better scenes in the movie were the flashback fight scenes involving young Storm Shadow and young Snake Eyes.

As far as the action goes, this movie was very good. There were lots of good fight scenes, both hand-to-hand and vehicle-to-vehicle, tons of cool weapons and gadgets, and enough things being blown up to satisfy even the biggest pyro. I won’t say much so I don’t spoil anything, but the attack on Paris was quite awesome. The only thing wrong with the Paris scene was the overuse of CGI (which could actually be said about the entire movie). A big part of the Paris scene was a car chase involving a van being chased by another van, a motorcycle, and three Joes in accelerator suits. Obviously the the accelerated Joes needed to be CGIed, but the two vans and the motorcycle did not. The director should have hired the guy who did the chase scenes for the Bourne movies, or The Italian Job (maybe he’s the same guy) to do the chase scene instead taking the lazy, cheaper?, much worse route of having the whole thing in CGI.

Money scenes loosely tied together with not good acting and mostly poor dialogue wasn’t the only part of the adult film template GI Joe stole. There was also a lot of gratuitous eye candy walking around, for both the guys and the ladies in the audience. Sienna Miller probably collected two paychecks, one for herself and one for the multiple cameos her cleavage made in the movie. Rachel Nichols had a very cheesy (and bouncy) treadmill scene. Channing Tatum has enough muscle for two guys. Even Marlon Wayans hit the gym, and hit it hard, to beef up for his role. If the movie studio hadn’t been going after the PG-13 rating, I’m sure there would have been a lot of cheesy, unnecessary nudity, too.

My review of the movie could probably stop there, and if it did I would probably give it 7 out 10, since I went into it expecting a cheesy, Saturday-morning-cartoonish action movie and that’s basically what I got. However, there is one thing I feel I need to mention, even though it didn’t affect me. I was born in 1982, so I grew up with He-Man, the Ninja Turtles, Transformers, GI Joe, and the like. My knowledge for each of these is fairly extensive, with the exception of GI Joes. For some reason I don’t remember hardly anything about the characters, probably because I was more interested in playing with the action figures than watching the TV show. That being said, just because I didn’t remember much about the GI Joe canon doesn’t mean no one else will, and it sure as heck doesn’t mean the writers/director/producers get to change it. The most obvious straying from canon is Marlon Wayans, a black guy, playing Rip Cord, a white guy. Doesn’t get much more blatant than that. Another oddity of the movie is the semi-non-sexual love triangle the movie created between Duke, The Baroness, and Cobra Commander. Yeah, you read that right.

Synopsis:GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a good, but mindless action movie with lots of cool weapons, big explosions, good (but not great, and sometimes distracting) CGI, visually pleasing actors and actresses, and unlike some movies based off of 80’s cartoons/toys it tries to mostly keep with the canon of the franchise, although there are a few noteworthy exceptions to this.

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Movie Review-Funny People

Posted by Jack Deus on August 4, 2009

Synopsis (warning, may contain spoilers)

George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is a very successful stand-up comedian turned Hollywood actor. Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) is a struggling stand-up comedian who has to work at a deli just to make enough money to sleep on his roommate and pseudo-celebrity, Mark Taylor Jackson’s (Jason Schwartzman) pull-out couch. Also living with them is Leo Koenig (Jonah Hill), a stand-up comedian who is starting to make a name for himself at the local comedy club. George decides to get back to his stand-up comedy roots, and does a set at the same club Ira and Leo frequent. George is impressed enough with Ira’s routine that he takes him under his wing and lets Ira write jokes and open for him. Early on in their relationship George tells Ira he is dying of a rare blood disorder. This obviously shocks Ira, but he sticks with George and helps him cope with the idea of dying. Looking to make up for past wrongs, George contacts his lost love, Laura (Leslie Mann), to apologize. They start a friendly relationship and when George finds out his disease has gone into remission, she is forced to choose between her lost true-love and her cheating husband, Clarke (Eric Bana) and their two kids.

Review (warning, may also contain spoilers)

Funny People definitely lived up to its name as it had a lot of very funny people in it. I’m a little biased because Adam Sandler is my favorite actor, but even besides him, the rest of the cast was very funny. More stars than you can count made a cameo, and it appeared to me writer, director, producer extraordinaire Judd Apatow made the correct decision to give them pretty much carte blanche to deliver their lines. Probably the most notable were Andy Dick and Paul Reiser delivering lines in the montage where George tells all of his Hollywood buddies he is dying, and Sarah Silverman delivering a few lines at George’s celebration when the disease goes into remission. Another very funny scene involves George having dinner with Eminem while Ira sits at the bar talking to Ray Romano.

I was very glad to see that since three of the major characters are stand-up comedians in the movie, Judd Apatow didn’t skimp on the funny stand-up scenes. I’m sure the actors doing the stand-up helped with the lines, but never-the-less they were funny.

The only thing I didn’t like about the movie was the language. I try to keep my website PG, in case little kids happen upon it. That being said, I am definitely not opposed to swearing. That being said, I am opposed to the over use of swearing. I think swearing is something that should be done with tact and precision. If used correctly swearing will emphasize a point and hardly even be noticed. The swearing in this movie was used extensively, which actually took off its edge and just got to the point where it was annoying. Whenever I’m out and hear someone drop F-bombs every third word I usually think one of two things: 1) that person is really ignorant and should consult a dictionary to expand their vocabulary, or 2) that person is trying waaaaay too hard to funny and is failing miserably (this person is usually hanging around someone who is actually funny and doesn’t need to drop F-bombs).

To sum up, I thought Funny People was a very funny dramedy, and could only have been improved if the language was toned down a bit. I give it 8 out of 10, because I won’t be able to let my kids see it until they are all grown up.

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