Friday, January 31, 2014

Super Thoughts

So after all of the talk, much of it embarrassing, the temperature Sunday will be near 50 in the afternoon and in the mid-30s for kickoff of the first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl.


TigerBlog doesn't want to know how much time was spent in the last two weeks analyzing the probability of a snowstorm and then an overkill discussion of whether this would help the Broncos, the Seahawks, the television ratings, all of it. And for all of that, it'll be cold in February in New Jersey.

No, it won't be like it's been the last two weeks, when it's been ridiculous. It'll be a normal kind of cold for this time of year.

Now if it's really windy, then that might be an issue. That's not supposed to be the case.

TB did a search for "Super Bowl Weather" and came up with 1,220,000,000 responses in 0.25 seconds. That's in the billions, people.

He didn't go through all of them, though he did stumble upon a great headline from the Allentown Morning Call: "Super Bowl Weather: Boring With A Chance Of Football."

In fact, because it's been so cold around here, it'll feel like it's 60 rather than the mid-30s.

Oh well. Super Bowl talk has been dominated by two things - the weather and Richard Sherman. The first will be a non-factor. The second?

That part may be up to Peyton Manning. Whether it's fair or not, it seems that a great deal of Manning's ultimate legacy is riding on what happens Sunday.

Manning is clearly one of the all-time great quarterbacks, maybe the best ever, yet he has a reputation of being an underachiever in the postseason. Consider these two players' postseason stats

Quarterback A - 22 postseason games, 538 for 840, 64% completions, 6,309 yards, 36 touchdowns, 22 interceptions
Quarterback B - 26 postseason games, 590 for 950, 62.1% completions, 6,424 yards, 43 touchdowns, 22 interceptions

Those are relatively comparable numbers. Quarterback A is Manning. Quarterback B is his nemesis, Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback who has a reputation for being one of the all-time great postseason players.

Brady has won three Super Bowls. Manning has won one (it's not like he's never won one). Brady also hasn't won a Super Bowl since his team was caught stealing other team's signals and plays in the Super Bowl. And Brady quarterbacked what had been at the time the No. 1 offense in league history with an 18-0 team and put up just 14 points in the Super Bowl while losing to Eli Manning and the Giants.

But Brady? He's Mr. Clutch. Manning (Peyton)? He's a choker.

TigerBlog likes Peyton Manning and will be rooting for the Broncos largely for that reason. Though he loves the fact that Eli has won twice as many Super Bowls as Peyton, he still would like to see Peyton tie for family lead.

TB's sense is that most people who aren't fans of one team or another will root for the Broncos instead of the Seahawks because Manning comes across as so likeable. And against the Seahawks, either because they don't like Pete Carroll or because of Sherman.

It makes TB wonder if there is a racial component to all of this. Will people root for Manning and against Sherman because of race?

Maybe some will. TB suspects the overall majority of people won't. It's a shame that race gets injected into the discussion, because what TB objects to is Sherman's antics, not his skin color.

There have been plenty of black athletes who have been nearly universally embraced by white fans. Ironically enough, the one who might have been at the top of that list was O.J. Simpson. Michael Jordan surely was. Tiger Woods. Today the most popular athlete in the world is probably LeBron James. TB loves Kevin Durant's game, on and off the court.

Yes, in some cases everything is about race. TB hopes that's only a small percentage. Maybe he's being naive?

Because it's the Super Bowl, TB recently received the standard department email on how any kind of gambling on the big game is against NCAA rules and could result in serious punishments. He'll get the same email when the NCAA basketball tournament begins.

TB knows how much money will be wagered on this game. He will not be wagering any of it. He will, though, offer this prediction.

Seattle has the No. 1 defense. Denver has the No. 1 offense. He read somewhere that this is the sixth time this has happened in a Super Bowl and the defenses are 4-1 in the first five. Still, he'll go with Denver.

TB's prediction: Denver 31, Seattle 21.

The big game is Sunday, by which time Princeton will have completed its trip to Harvard and Dartmouth in men's basketball (and men's hockey, for that matter). By the time kickoff rolls around, there will be a better sense of what to expect the rest of the way in the men's basketball race.

Harvard is the preseason favorite. Princeton was picked fourth. The two were clearly the best teams during the non-conference portion of the season, but Princeton was tripped up at the Palestra by Penn three weeks ago in its league opener.

As a result, Harvard is 2-0, Penn is 1-0, Princeton is 0-1. Columbia swept Cornell and is also 2-0. Brown and Yale split and are 1-1. Dartmouth is 0-2, along with Cornell.

Stunningly, these teams have played one or two league games each. The rest of college basketball has either played 10 or more league games or is closing in on double figures.

Anyway, the sprint begins tonight, with 13 league games in 40 days. And the biggest one could be tonight's.

A Harvard win puts Princeton two games back of the Crimson in the loss column. A win sends a huge message. Then there's the Penn factor. Can Penn beat Harvard tomorrow night, or was its win over Princeton going to be the highlight of its season?

TigerBlog can't imagine that even if Princeton loses tonight that it's out of the race. There's just too much time left. Still, digging a big early hole is not a good way to go.

And if Harvard wins tonight, then Princeton cannot win the league if it doesn't 1) beat Harvard in the rematch and 2) have someone else beat the Crimson along the way.

Harvard's gym is small, but it will be packed and get loud. Princeton always has a decent turnout of fans there as well.

Harvard lost to Florida Atlantic 10 days ago but came back to thump Dartmouth 80-50 last weekend. The Crimson have lost three times, to Colorado, UConn and FAU, who is 7-14 overall and tied for 12th in Conference USA.

Princeton has had three weeks, first semester exams and a win over Division III Kean to stew over its loss to Penn. Tonight is the one that has been circled on the calendar.

It's not make or break, but it is as close as it gets to that in the second game of a 14-game schedule.

No comments: