Ten questions returns!

December 31, 2006 · Posted in Delmarva items, Personal stuff, Ten Questions · Comments Off on Ten questions returns! 

Stay tuned for a post next year (or to be more precise tomorrow.) Ten Questions return with a few new wrinkles.

Nice tease, huh?

NFL playoff picture set

December 31, 2006 · Posted in NFL News, Sports · Comments Off on NFL playoff picture set 

With San Francisco’s game-winning field goal moments ago, it solidified the NFL playoff setup.

Saturday will have two games, both on NBC (cable channel 11 locally).

At 4:30 #6 seed Kansas City (9-7), a winner over Jacksonville today, takes on AFC foe and #3 seed Indianapolis (12-4) and tangles with Peyton Manning and company after the Colts knocked off Miami to finish an 8-0 home season. The two teams did not meet this season, their last go-round was a 45-35 victory for the Chiefs in 2004. They also met in the 2003 playoffs when Indianapolis upset the favored Chiefs 38-31 – both these games were in Kansas City. A Kansas City win would send them out to San Diego to face the Chargers, but if Indianapolis takes the contest they’ll travel to their onetime home in Baltimore.

After that’s over, the 8:00 game begins the NFC playoffs as #5 seed Dallas (9-7) goes up to the Pacific Northwest to face the fourth seed Seattle (9-7). The Cowboys limp into the playoffs after losing two straight at home to eventual NFC East champion Philadelphia last week and the 2-13 Detroit Lions today. (Now why couldn’t the Lions play this well the WHOLE SEASON? Of course, now they don’t get the #1 draft pick. Oh well.) Seattle got into the postseason on a winning note by dusting off Tampa Bay down in Florida. Last season in Week 7 these two teams met in Seattle with the Seahawks winning 13-10. The winner will either face Chicago or New Orleans depending on Sunday’s result.

On Sunday the playoffs shift to the conference’s “home” networks with the early (1:00) game locally on WBOC 16. This game features a divisional rematch between AFC East foes as the #5 seeded New York Jets (10-6) make the short trip up I-95 to square off with #4 seed New England (11-5). These teams met twice this year and both won on enemy turf – last meeting was week 10 at Foxboro and the Jets prevailed 17-14. Most interesting about this game is the fact Jets coach Eric Mangini was a longtime assistant to Patriots coach Bill Belichick until New York hired him away for this season, Mangini’s first stint as an NFL head coach.

Lastly at 4:30, Fox 21 will have another game between East Coast rivals as ancient NFC East foes collide. The #6 seeded New York Giants (8-8) renew hostilities with the third seeded Philadelphia Eagles (10-6). Once again, these rivals spilt the two regular season games and both won on opponent’s home fields – most recently just two weeks ago as the Eagles throttled Eli Manning’s team 36-22. After being left for dead at 5-6 this season, Philadelphia’s won five straight including a three game run where they won consecutively against all three NFC East rivals (Washington, New York, and Dallas) on their turf. Mostly backups played as Philadelphia won over Atlanta today, while the retiring Tiki Barber extended his career by carrying the Giants to a win at Washington last night. If the Giants do win in Philadelphia, they face the Chicago Bears next week, but a Philadelphia win sends them down to the Superdome to play New Orleans.

The other thing that was set up today was next season’s opponent schedule as the final two opponents for each team were made official based on this season’s standings.

Locally, Baltimore will get home games against their three AFC North rivals (Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh); two teams from the AFC East (New England and New York Jets), two teams from the NFC West (Arizona and St. Louis), and the first-place AFC South team (Indianapolis). They’ll travel to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, and San Diego (AFC West first place team.)

Meanwhile, the Redskins will host their three NFC East rivals (Dallas, New York, Philadelphia); two teams from the NFC North (Chicago and Detroit), two teams from the AFC East (Buffalo and Miami), and the fourth place team from the NFC West (Arizona). Their road games will be at Dallas, New York (for both the Giants and the Jets), Philadelphia, Green Bay, Minnesota, New England, and Tampa Bay (4th place in the NFC South.)

Being a Lions fan, one trivia note is that they’ll get to try again next season to win at Washington, which they never have. The other oddity is that this has to be the longest streak of playing an opponent outside your division – for the seventh season in a row they’ll play Arizona because both teams finished 4th in their division. There’s only been two times (including this season) where the entire divisions played (i.e. the entire NFC North played the entire NFC West), the other five were based on both teams finishing in the same divisional slot (usually last.)

All right, now I can get back to politics and other stuff since I don’t have a horse in the NFL playoff race. In these cases I generally root for teams who have never been to the Super Bowl – that will apply only to New Orleans in this case. I suppose Indianapolis would be the other team since that city hasn’t been there (although the Colts franchise has.) However, Kansas City has waited 36 years for a repeat appearance and the Jets 37 so they’ve been starved for a long while as well.

Making life easier

December 31, 2006 · Posted in Personal stuff · 3 Comments 

This bounces off a post made by Joe Albero on Salisbury News a couple days ago. He was frustrated at the dearth of postings made at certain blog sites, and I can see his point to some extent. Sometimes it’s frustrating to me to check out a blog site and find it’s the same old thing up for several days (or weeks.) However, there is a way to work around that.

If you’ll look on the left-hand column, I have a box under the posting calendar that says “other”. Inside that box is a link for RSS 2.0, which if I understand this correctly, one can place within their home page a link that automatically updates with each posting. In my example, my Yahoo page will update if any of several blogs post anew. This will save me a bit of time, but it’s only good for about 1/3 of the blogs I read regularly. Most “Blogspot” blogs don’t have a syndication setup that I’m aware of unless it’s added by the blogger. Fellow MBA bloggers Pillage Idiot and The Voltage Gate have done this with Blogspot sites through Feedburner.

With an RSS link people can see when I add items to monoblogue, which is on a regular (if not daily) basis. Since I work outside the home and don’t access my blog from my work computer I’m not going to spend large amounts of time posting during the day.

But for other blogs I can just go to my personal “My Yahoo” page and see if any new posts have been made in the blogs I syndicate now. Obviously Joe’s Salisbury News blog is good for new content but some others I can skip now in looking at daily unless I see something new there.

Adding to my comments, I just glanced through the blogs of my 14 fellow MBA brethren and these are the last updated posts:

4 last updated yesterday (Saturday the 30th)
3 last updated Friday the 29th
2 last updated Thursday the 28th
1 last updated Wednesday the 27th

The other four are last updated on the 26th (I think that’s when Stephanie wrote in hers, no date’s shown on the post), 21st, 14th, and September 12th – I’m not sure what the story is on the “Not-So-Free State” blog. The point is that with the MBA you’ll get fresher posts with a variety of perspectives about Maryland. My fellow MBA member Crablaw pointed out a few Eastern Shore blogs he liked the other day in this post.

As a side note, I have a few post ideas up my sleeve so if my schedule allows it, there will be more frequent monoblogue posts in the next few weeks as life goes from post-election and holiday mode back to “normal”. And they’re not playoff updates either, which I’m certain drove many people nuts. But I can’t help being a sports fan and I write about things I’m interested in. Anyway, I’m back to politics after this weekend.

NFL playoff update: week 17

December 30, 2006 · Posted in NFL News, Sports · Comments Off on NFL playoff update: week 17 

Well, the Giants won tonight so I can hit the old delete feature on a couple games which are now only for pride.

The dominoes will start to fall tonight as the NFL season comes to an exciting close. With 20 teams either secured a playoff spot or still alive for the postseason, it’s amazing that currently 14 of the 16 games have a bearing on the playoff picture – the only exceptions being Cleveland at Houston (both teams are eliminated) and Seattle at Tampa Bay (Seattle is set as #4 seed in the NFC because they have a worse conference record than Philadelphia even if both finish 9-7 – 7-5 vs. 8-4 for the Eagles. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay was eliminated weeks ago.)

Tomorrow night’s matchup begins the weekend and has the potential to make many of the other games meaningless if the result is correct. Because it’s on the (cable-only) NFL Network, I’m not sure if there will also be a free TV outlet in the area. We live within the “home area” for the Redskins and the game’s a sellout. So this time I’m going in game order rather than seeding order.

New York Giants (7-8) at Washington (5-10), 8 p.m. Saturday (NFL Network).

Eli Manning brings the Giants into Washington needing to win to grab the final remaining NFC playoff spot and give the NFC East a sweep of the wildcards. They’ll be hoping to repeat their success of Week 5 where New York throttled the Redskins 19-3 in the Meadowlands. That game started a 5 game winning streak where the Giants looked like world-beaters and put them 6-2 at the midway mark.

But the Redskins will have many more fans than the ones packed into FedEx Field. The playoff fates of Green Bay, St. Louis, Carolina, and Atlanta also hang in the balance. A Giant win officially knocks out the final three teams in that group and leaves the Packers needing to win and getting help from 8 different teams to advance.

Now we’ll move on to the Sunday games.

Carolina (7-8) at New Orleans (10-5), 1 p.m.

Carolina is third in the NFC wildcard pecking order behind the Giants and Green Bay based on their current 5-6 conference record, division record vs. Atlanta, and victory over St. Louis. So they need the Giants and Packers to both lose while they win. Meanwhile, New Orleans wraps up a dream regular season where they’ve already assured themselves a week off and a home game against either Dallas, Philadelphia, or Seattle in the second round. Carolina seeks a repeat of their Week 5 win over the Saints (21-18 at Carolina.)

Detroit (2-13) at Dallas (9-6), 1 p.m. (locally on Fox 21)

If only because of the vagaries of the NFL’s schedulemaker, Detroit finds itself in the playoff mix. Not only would a Detroit win assure Philadephia the NFC East title, it’s also one of the eight games Green Bay needs to fall its way if the Giants win. So Dallas will just seek a repeat of its 20-7 victory last season over the Lions in Dallas. And I can watch to see if a Detroit fan can sneak a “Fire Millen” sign into Texas Stadium.

Jacksonville (8-7) at Kansas City (8-7), 1 p.m.

The loser in this one is definitely out, and there’s actually a pretty good chance the winner will be too when all is said and done. Both of these teams are well down the tiebreaker scenarios. Each team needs Cincinnati and Tennessee to lose, while Jacksonville needs a Jets loss and Kansas City has to see Denver go down. But play they must and will. The last time they did so was 2004, where Jacksonville won at home 22-16.

New England (10-5) at Tennessee (8-7), 1 p.m.

While the Patriots aren’t locked into the #4 seed in the AFC, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll end up there. Only if they win and Indianapolis loses would they slide up to #3 and in either case they host a playoff game next week. But Tennessee has a chance to make history should they get some help from losses by Cincinnati and Denver plus a Kansas City win…no team’s ever started 0-5 and made the playoffs. I’m sure at that point New England was thinking about the nice cake game it had at the end of the schedule, but no more. This may be a shootout like the teams’ last meeting, a 38-30 win for the Patriots back in 2003.

Oakland (2-13) at New York Jets (9-6), 1 p.m.

Like the Lions, Raider Nation has a role in the playoff hunt despite its woeful record. The question is whether they have any shot at playing spoiler against the Jets, who simply need to win to assure themselves a spot in the playoffs. If the Raiders win, it provides additional hope for teams underneath the Jets in the order. Last season these two played with the Jets winning 26-10 at home.

Pittsburgh (7-8) at Cincinnati (8-7), 1 p.m.

Pittsburgh was knocked out of the postseason sweepstakes by their loss to the Ravens last week, but can extend the same discourtesy to the Bengals with a win while avenging a 28-20 loss to Cincinnati back in Week 3. Even with a win, the Bengals will need help from either Oakland beating the Jets or a combo pack of a Denver loss and Kansas City win to make the playoffs for a second straight season.

St. Louis (7-8) at Minnesota (6-9), 1 p.m.

This game might be the next meaningless one. St. Louis is pretty much the bottom of the barrel as far as playoff hopes go, and a Giants win Saturday night snuffs out the Rams’ faint hopes. Even if they survive that, they still need losses from the Panthers and Falcons to make it (they defeated Green Bay earlier so they hold the tiebreaker over the Packers.) Last December they lost to the Vikings in the same building 27-13 so a repeat performance kills their hopes.

Meanwhile, we have an interesting anamoly in the broadcasting world. For the first time I can recall, both CBS and FOX were allowed to have doubleheader broadcasts. I couldn’t find out whether the CBS early game telecast locally would be Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (which would be my guess) but I know FOX has the Detroit-Dallas matchup starting at 1:00. Our late games are noted below with the 4:15 starts.

Arizona (5-10) at San Diego (13-2), 4:15 p.m.

Yeah, it’s pretty much a mismatch. But San Diego needs to win this to assure that they need not leave sunny California for a playoff game until they win the AFC title. This is one of those games that you’re happy that the teams only face off once every 4 years. By the way, the Chargers won in Arizona that 2002 day, 23-15.

Atlanta (7-8) at Philadelphia (9-6), 4:15 p.m. (locally on Fox 21)

While Atlanta may be out of the playoff running well before this game starts (since they need both the Giants and Carolina to lose earlier contests), the Eagles will likely know by then whether they need to win to assure themselves a NFC East crown and #3 seed. There is a scenario where these two teams could meet again next week in the same place but it also involves Dallas losing to the lowly Lions and that’s not likely. In 2005 these two opened the season against each other with Atlanta winning in the Georgia Dome 14-10. While the game’s outdoors this time, weather shouldn’t be a factor.

Buffalo (7-8) at Baltimore (12-3), 4:15 p.m. (locally on WBOC 16)

Buffalo’s loss to Tennessee last week ended their playoff hopes and Baltimore’s already locked in. The only question is how much scoreboard watching Brian Billick’s crew will do since they need San Diego to lose to Arizona to have a shot at homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Meanwhile, if things go badly for the Ravens they’ll be watching for Miami to win at Indianapolis and keep the Ravens’ possible first-round bye intact. Two seasons ago these teams met in Baltimore with the Ravens winning 20-6.

Miami (6-9) at Indianapolis (11-4), 4:15 p.m.

This game has a big stake in the AFC playoff picture. At 9-0, it looked like there was no doubt Indianapolis was looking at “home dome” advantage through the AFC playoffs. But 4 straight road losses dropped the Colts from world-beaters to just hoping for a first-round bye. Part of that is beating their onetime division rivals while the other part is hoping another former division foe (Buffalo) takes care of business in the franchise’s onetime home city. The Colts and Dolphins haven’t squared off since 2003, when the Colts won at Miami 23-17.

San Francisco (6-9) at Denver (9-6), 4:15 p.m.

Oh, this oughta be interesting. Denver’s slammed with their second straight weekend of snow and a warm-weather team comes to town. You just hope we don’t see the Super Bowl XXIV result in reverse with a huge Denver win, nor do fans of Cincinnati, Kansas City, Jacksonville, or Tennessee. Way back in the second week of 2002, these teams met under much less adverse conditions by the Bay with Denver winning 24-14. A Denver win and it’s off to a likely date with the Patriots (or possibly a Denver at Indianapolis playoff rematch for the third straight season) next weekend.

Green Bay (7-8) at Chicago (13-2), 8:15 p.m. (locally on NBC)

The draw to this is that it’s quite possibly Brett Favre’s final NFL game. But wait…there’s still a viable scenario that #4 may play another day. (Besides the fact he’s officially announced nothing about his future.) We will already know by this time whether it’s possible for Green Bay to make it with a win, but here’s the scenarios:

If the Giants win, Green Bay also has to win along with Arizona, Detroit, Miami, Minnesota, San Francisco, New Orleans, Cleveland, and Seattle. (So I guess technically all 16 games have playoff implications, don’t they?)

If the Giants lose, then Green Bay needs to win and have a St. Louis loss or a win by either Carolina or Atlanta to make it.

Theoretically the two teams (Giants and Packers) could get all the way to the “strength of schedule” tiebreaker where the Giants currently hold the edge (but playing 13-2 Chicago helps the Packers.) Crazier things have happened, but the first order of business is for Green Bay to avenge its season-opening 26-0 loss to “da Bears.”

I know where I’ll be this weekend as I’m checking off results and figuring out who’s playing where next week.

Back from my hiatus

December 27, 2006 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off on Back from my hiatus 

As you may have guessed by the lack of posts, I took a few days away from monoblogue. This was so I could visit my parents in Florida over Christmas weekend. If you were wondering about the Christmas Day tornadoes that hit Florida, thankfully the area my parents live in wasn’t affected but areas to the west and well north near the Georgia line were. We got quite a bit of rain along U.S. 27 but no real damage.

Visiting the Sunshine State did lead me to some observations though. I have very hazy and distant memories of going down to Florida with my family to visit my grandparents in the late 1970’s. I remember it being mostly open country all the way down I-75 and U.S. 27 and a little bit built up around Orlando since Disney World had been built (I was there in the pre-Epcot days, let alone all of the other stuff!) But in late 2006 the sleepy little towns along Route 27 are awash in the same commercial and retail outlets found in every other growing area in America as the region’s growth has gone well beyond the Disney complex that sits maybe 10 miles east of the I-4/U.S. 27 interchange. The podunk 4 lane highway that U.S. 27 once was has grown out to 6 lanes in each of these towns.

What I also noticed though is that there’s still a LOT of open space down there. When my parents and I went golfing on Sunday, we drove through an open area that my dad told me was an orange grove a couple years prior. Now it had paved roads, water and electric service, street lighting on one of the streets, and exactly ONE house that was in the process of being built. The rest of the lots were in place but still for sale (some by realtors, other by speculators.) It was a case where infrastructure was already in place before the dirt was turned over to build this house. (It’ll be a good-sized house – my parents were amazed when they realized the 2 story tall building placed there first was just the garage!)

I suppose in some respects Florida reminded me of what some would consider a nightmare scenario for the Eastern Shore – Routes 13 and 50 lined with Starbucks, McDonalds, and retail shops for miles and the personalities of Salisbury, Cambridge, Easton, etc. obliterated by the bland sameness of this miles-long retail strip. And, to a much smaller extent than central Florida, we do attract retirees and folks who have the means to telecommute or work from home.

But their area has a personality of its own that’s created by those that live there. My parents are fairly new to their street, but it’s in an established neighborhood where people who are native to Florida mix and mingle with those who are the Sunshine State’s version of “come-heres” as they flocked down from Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and other points up north. The key is that everyone’s friendly regardless of their original home. Native Floridians seem to have learned to accept that they’re going to be joined by those who either aren’t accustomed to or willing to follow all of the local traditions and mores, which got me to thinking about home.

At times since I’ve moved down here, I’ve heard the complaints by the “come-heres” about how they aren’t accepted by the natives. I wish some of those who are the subjects of the complaints would sit a spell in my parents’ neighborhood and see how they live and let live because it’s a good example. We seem to have lost some of that when the argument began over whether growth is good or not.

Growth is inevitable. Done properly, it can be good. We may not need a Starbucks or a McDonalds on every block, but a few won’t hurt. The key is not to limit our growth to the residential or retail sectors, because, unlike the Central Florida economy, we need to get our money from good (private sector) jobs we create, not retirement funds drawn down. But more than that, we also need to realize that our attitude of native vs. “come-here” can and should be managed as the growth is supposed to be.

Michael’s Christmas message

December 25, 2006 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off on Michael’s Christmas message 

When I did my Christmas cards, I meant to place a small note in some of them detailing what my life’s been like in 2006. Unfortunately, when I was sitting there addressing the envelopes and such I sealed the envelopes up and neglected to place the notes inside. But, because I placed my website URL on the cards, it’s quite possible they can read the note here.

Merry Christmas to one and all!

This year I finally decided to do a Christmas letter to update friends and family about my life. I think this is the first year I’ve actually felt settled into my adopted home state of Maryland. That seems about right because it took me about this long to get used to living out in Perrysburg Township. Of course then I ended up getting laid off in Ohio, made the decision that it was time to go someplace where regular work exists and the weather’s a little nicer, and wound up finding a job here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

However, that was 2004, and now it’s 2006 – soon to be 2007. Time flies when you’re having fun I guess but in life sometimes time flies even when you’re not having a good time. And this year I had a good time more often than not.

But the reason I moved here still exists and I remain gainfully employed at Iott Architecture Engineering. Even with the national slowdown in the real estate market, there still is enough of a demand for new condos that I remain busy on my projects. One is just wrapping up in the town of Crisfield. MD and the other is under construction down in Chincoteague, VA. That’s a three-phase project and I’m just starting on Phase 3. But our company has its mitts all over the Delmarva Peninsula so I’m sure there will be another project on the horizon that I’ll be placed in charge of, and it’s just as likely now to be a commercial one.

So with that income I decided to use some of it and put myself in hock for various amounts of time. The first thing to do was get myself a nicer car, and I found one I liked, a Scion tC. No boring sedan for me this time. And that car took me back up north to Pennsylvania and Ohio in August for my vacation.

A vacation for me is defined as doing things I enjoy doing. So I spent a LONG day with Danie up in Cleveland as part of it. We shopped at a cool used CD store, did lunch with her friends, stopped by the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, had dinner, and watched our Delmarva Shorebirds play up at Lake County. In fact, I went to four ballgames in four different parks in five days (Washington PA, Cleveland, Lake County, and Pittsburgh) so it turned out to be a nice trip and awesome weather.

That was just the warmup to REALLY spending money. After cooling my heels in an apartment for two years here, I bought a house. It’s certainly not the biggest or newest house on the Shore but it fits my needs and it’s a place I can call home. One asset it has is the nice frontage on a semi-busy road. It’s great for political signs, and I had plenty. In September, I was elected to serve on the Republican Central Committee here in Wicomico County so as one would expect I had pretty much a slate full of signs in my yard once I got moved in during October. Didn’t help much but I’ll keep plugging away at it for the next four years.

The other key element in my days actually began at the tail end of 2005 but blossomed and became established this year. Late last year I began a website called monoblogue. Many who know me know that one thing I enjoy doing is writing and with the advent of the internet, it created an outlet for folks like me who don’t write for a living but have plenty to say anyway. From basically nothing I’ve gone to hundreds of readers a week. I’d say that more than anything it’s helped me get settled into this area because it gives people something to know me by.

And now you know more about me, except for the fact I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy, blessed 2007!

Michael

There was one other thing that I wanted to add since the message is now online instead of in print. It’s this time of year where people are their most charitable – everyone sees the Salvation Army kettle out front of the stores or gets the toy to donate for Toys For Tots. But what about the needs that arise June 27th or October 14th? It’s great that folks are charitable now, I’d just like to see that occur and people care for their fellow man 24/7/365. Don’t shut the compassion off after today is over.

NFL playoff update: week 16

December 20, 2006 · Posted in NFL News, Sports · Comments Off on NFL playoff update: week 16 

Back at it. I’m amazed that we only lost ONE team last week in the playoff sweepstakes as the NFL continues on its apparent goal of 32 mediocre 8-8 teams. Well, ok, maybe 26 mediocre 8-8 teams, 5 others that are 9-7, and the Detroit Lions finishing their usual 3-13 while Matt Millen gets another contract extension. Anyway…

There was one team that set its playoff destiny last week and thus made it two “meaningless” games this weekend. Chicago is assured of the #1 seed in the NFC and Soldier Field will host their playoff games until either the Bears are eliminated or they advance to Super Bowl XLI. Thus, their contest with the aforementioned Lions in Detroit has no bearing on the playoff race as Chicago’s in and Detroit’s out. It’ll be a nice warm venue for the Bears fans to cheer in.

The other meaningless game is Tampa Bay at Cleveland, both the Bucs and Browns long since knocked out of contention.

In like flint:

Chicago (see above).

Jockeying for position:

San Diego (12-2 overall, 5-1 division, 10-2 conference).

Opponent: at Seattle (8-6), 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: Seattle took a 31-28 decision against their onetime AFC West foe in the 2002 season finale.

What’s at stake: A win by San Diego plus a loss by Baltimore gives the Chargers homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They still get the first round bye with the win or an Indianapolis loss, but the loss to Baltimore in Week 4 could give the Ravens the home turf if the Chargers stumble in their one of their final two games.

Indianapolis (11-3 overall, 3-2 division, 8-2 conference)

Opponent: at Houston (4-10), 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: Indianapolis rolled over the Texans 43-24 in Week 2 back home in Indiana.

What’s at stake: The Colts have to win to stay ahead of the Ravens in the battle for the first round bye. Despite having the same overall and conference record as Baltimore, Indianapolis owns the tiebreaker based on a better record against their common opponents (3-1 against Cincinnati, Tennessee, and Denver vs. Baltimore’s 2-2 against the same teams. Indianapolis also defeated future Ravens opponent Buffalo this season.) A loss puts the Colts in a position to have to play a first-round game then travel outside the RCA Dome for a second-round matchup…the Colts are just 4-3 on the road this season.

Baltimore (11-3 overall, 3-2 division, 8-2 conference)

Opponent: at Pittsburgh (7-7), 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: Ben Roethlisberger was on his back for much of this game as the Ravens bruised and cruised 27-0 just 4 weeks ago at home.

What’s at stake: Besides the joy of all but dooming the Pittsburgh playoff hopes with a win, the Ravens can keep pace with the two teams above them as they go for a first-round bye or even home field throughout the AFC playoffs. The win over San Diego could loom large.

New Orleans (9-5 overall, 4-1 division, 8-2 conference)

Opponent: at New York Giants (7-7), 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: The nomadic 2005 Saints played their first “home” game against the Giants in New Jersey and lost 27-10.

What’s at stake: While the Saints are out of the running for the #1 seed in the NFC, they can secure a first round pass by winning this game and watching Dallas lose to Philadelphia on Christmas Day.

Dallas (9-5 overall, 2-3 division, 6-4 conference)

Opponent: vs. Philadelphia (8-6), 5 p.m. Monday.

Last meeting: Week 5 saw Dallas lose at Philadelphia 38-24.

What’s at stake: Dallas is already assured at least a wild-card berth, but can win the NFC East outright with a win in front of the home folks. A loss would give Philadelphia the leg up in the division race and could set up a Dallas-Philadelphia rematch in the playoffs if the Eagles win next week.

Win and they’re in:

New England (10-4 overall, 4-2 division, 6-4 conference)

Opponent: at Jacksonville (8-6), 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: New England won last year’s playoff opener 28-3 at home.

What’s at stake: A win by the Patriots wraps up the AFC East, they’d be two games up on the Jets with one to play. It also maintains their slim chances at a first-round bye but for that they need some major help.

Seattle (8-6 overall, 3-3 division, 6-5 conference)

Opponent: vs. San Diego (12-2), 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: See San Diego above.

What’s at stake: If the Seahawks can beat the Chargers (or San Francisco loses) they win the NFC West (two games up with one to play). It’s not likely they would get a first-round playoff bye but their chances would improve with a Philadelphia win over Dallas.

Philadelphia (8-6 overall, 4-1 division, 7-3 conference)

Opponent: at Dallas (9-5), 5 p.m. Monday.

Last meeting: See Dallas above.

What’s at stake: It’s sort of hard to believe given the McNabb injury, but if Philadelphia beats Dallas they clinch a playoff berth (based on a better possible conference record than Atlanta and better possible division record than the Giants) and move into the driver’s seat for an NFC East title. A loss would place them into the “must-win” category next week for a shot at the playoffs.

A little help from their friends:

Denver (8-6 overall, 3-3 division, 7-4 conference)

Opponent: vs. Cincinnati (8-6), 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: In 2004, Denver lost to the Bengals 23-10 at Cincinnati.

What’s at stake: This is what I like to call a “sub-playoff” game, as these are the two teams sitting with the #5 and #6 seeds in the AFC. If Denver wins and gets help from Oakland beating Kansas City or either the New York Jets or Jacksonville losing, they get a spot in the postseason.

Cincinnati (8-6 overall, 4-1 division, 6-4 conference)

Opponent: at Denver (8-6), 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: See Denver above.

What’s at stake: On the flip side, if Cincinnati takes this road contest they need the hand from Tennessee beating Buffalo with either the Jets or Jaguars going down.

New York Giants (7-7 overall, 3-2 division, 6-4 conference)

Opponent: vs. New Orleans (9-5), 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: See New Orleans above.

What’s at stake: The Giants need to win to stay in the hunt, and it’s at least theoretical a win gets them into the postseason – with either of these two scenarios also occurring:

Minnesota and Atlanta lose while Philadelphia and Seattle win, or Minnesota, Atlanta, and San Francisco lose while Philadelphia wins. Either way, they need to beat New Orleans or they’re pretty much out of it.

Fading fast:

One team could survive with a loss but it would severely diminish their playoff hopes.

Jacksonville (8-6 overall, 2-4 division, 5-5 conference)

Opponent: vs. New England (10-4), 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: See New England above. A repeat of that debacle could be critical to the Jaguars postseason plans, but they can’t be knocked out because of the Denver-Cincinnati matchup.

On life support:

A loss does these teams in for all intents and purposes.

New York Jets (8-6 overall, 3-2 division, 5-5 conference)

Opponent: at Miami (4-10), 8:30 p.m. Monday.

Last meeting: In Week 6 Miami lost to the Jets 20-17 at the Meadowlands. If the Jets lose this time, they’re out if Jacksonville wins since they were blown out early on by the Jags.

Buffalo (7-7 overall, 3-3 division, 5-5 conference)

Opponent: vs. Tennessee (7-7), 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: In 2003 Buffalo lost at Tennessee 28-26. Like last week’s game against the Dolphins, loser walks.

Pittsburgh (7-7 overall, 2-2 division, 4-6 conference)

Opponent: vs. Baltimore (11-3), 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: See Baltimore above. Could this be Bill Cowher’s last home game as the Steelers coach? That question adds a little more intrigue to an already heated matchup.

Tennessee (7-7 overall, 4-2 division, 4-6 conference)

Opponent: vs. Buffalo (7-7), 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: See Buffalo above. A good “sub-playoff” matchup but I don’t think it’ll stand up to the “Music City Miracle” of a few years back.

Kansas City (7-7 overall, 3-2 division, 3-7 conference)

Opponent: at Oakland (2-12), 8 p.m. Saturday.

Last meeting: In Week 11 the Chiefs prevailed 17-13 at home. Luckily they drew a weak opponent for a must-win game.

Atlanta (7-7 overall, 3-2 division, 5-5 conference)

Opponent: vs. Carolina (7-7), 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: Atlanta won the season opener 20-6 at Carolina. What puts them on the bubble with a 7-7 record is their losses to two NFC East teams (New York and Dallas) still in contention and a worse conference record than Philadelphia (5-5 vs. 7-3).

Green Bay (6-8 overall, 3-1 division, 5-5 conference)

Opponent: vs. Minnesota (6-8), 8 p.m. Thursday.

Last meeting: In Week 10 the Packers beat the Vikings 23-17 under the Metrodome. This could be the last opportunity for Brett Favre to play at Lambeau and in front of a national audience, which is likely why the NFL Network picked this game.

San Francisco (6-8 overall, 3-2 division, 5-6 conference)

Opponent: vs. Arizona (4-10), 4:05 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: The Niners lost the opener in Arizona 34-27. They may actually have a better shot at the division than a wildcard, but they need to beat the Cardinals either way.

Carolina (6-8 overall, 3-1 division, 4-6 conference)

Opponent: at Atlanta (7-7), 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: See Atlanta above. This could put disappointed Carolina fans out of their misery.

Minnesota (6-8 overall, 2-3 division, 6-4 conference)

Opponent: at Green Bay (6-8), 8:00 p.m. Thursday.

Last meeting: See Green Bay above. I’m sure the Viking fans would love to spoil the Lambeau party since the loser’s done in the playoff race.

St. Louis (6-8 overall, 2-4 division, 4-6 conference)

Opponent: vs. Washington (5-9), 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: The Rams lost in the same locale last season to the Redskins, 24-9. They are the absolute bottom of the playoff heap and very well could get axed even if they win. But that’s what happens when you lose 4 home games.

Now, next week’s promises to be shorter because we will lose a bunch of teams.

All talk but no action

December 18, 2006 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Politics · 2 Comments 

There’s been so much talk on the local blog scene about getting rid of the “Scheme Team” (three members of Salisbury’s City Council) that I’m surprised we haven’t heard about anyone throwing their hat into the ring. Now that could be because any potential EOB’s (enemies of Barrie) would want to keep their powder dry, but gee, not even good rumors yet as to who’s running.

But after the first of the year it will certainly be getting started as the filing deadline is pretty early (January 30th to be exact.)

The thing that’s sort of crazy though is that I can’t think of any local blogger who actually lives in Salisbury. Maybe one or two do…but the point is they really can’t step in to solve the problems the city has either. (As of 2 months ago, I can’t because now I live in the county.) Local bloggers (myself included) certainly devote a lot of time to uncovering the problems that are ruining the quality of life on our slice of the Eastern Shore but none can do a whole lot about them aside from financial backing and posting reports.

Because this is a key regional election, I’m going to do like I did for Election 2006 as far as linking to websites and such goes. I may also decide to attend and report on the forums and such – after all, despite the fact I couldn’t vote in the Democrat primary I still covered those candidates as part of my overall Election 2006 coverage. It’s going to be an interesting election cycle and something tells me that, despite the fact Mayor Tilghman is not on the ballot, the 2007 election in Salisbury is going to be a LOT more intriguing than its 2005 predecessor.

Who is going to step up and be the new “Dream Team”? Stay tuned.

By the way, I checked today with Brenda Colegrove and no one has filed yet. In reading Joe’s post on Salisbury News, he says he personally knows of four people running, but there’s no names on the dotted line yet. Does Joe care to share that info?

Otherwise, the title stands for the time being.

Your monoblogue is right here!

December 17, 2006 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off on Your monoblogue is right here! 

I’m glad I was missed by Delmarva Dealings but I’m apparently alive and well blogwise. Must have been a server problem.

A question of sovereignty

December 16, 2006 · Posted in Delmarva items, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on A question of sovereignty 

The local blogger D.D. Crabb of Crabbin’ has spent quite a bit of time and posting on the efforts to create a North American Union of sorts, based on the European Union and certainly a threat to our constitutional government. Today he posts regarding an interview done by American University professor Robert Pastor, a leader of the “North American Community” crowd. Here’s the money quote:

“Our founding fathers created a system of governance that was not designed to be efficient but was designed to protect freedom. Therefore, you created checks and balances that did protect freedom but also made it difficult to move forward on important issues.”

The way Pastor states his belief is troubling. In other words, American freedom and sovereignty is less important than efficiency. Unfortunately, I can’t see Canada and Mexico as paragons of efficiency.

In Canada, we have an industrialized nation much like the U.S. and one with plentiful natural resources (particularly oil), but with them comes the baggage of their socialized health care system and their pacifism in international affairs. Mexico is also rich in oil but their crude is controlled by a state-run entity and those oil riches do not circulate down to the population at large. This is why a huge number of Mexicans live and work abroad in the United States. The Mexican government can charitably be termed as awash in corruption as opposed to described as just plain criminal. In recent elections, the leftist candidate lost by a small margin and (of course) cried fraud so Mexico is a divided country as well.

With efficient organizations, a merger tends to accentuate the efficiency – so usually this holds true with free-market conditions. Additionally, the element of competition is helpful with creating better outcomes. However, government and bureaucracy is the antithesis of efficiency. It’s my fear that a merger of this sort between the three governments would bring out the worst in each. The Canadian health care system would certainly survive and corruption endemic in Mexico would likely take root in the U.S. As opposed to being a leader in protecting freedom, this union would be neutered in that respect.

The best way to move forward on important issues is to allow the most freedom to be innovative. Looking at the European example, a North American Union (with common currency, multi-national legislature, etc.) does not appear to be a course we want to follow.

So how conservative am I?

December 14, 2006 · Posted in Personal stuff, Politics · Comments Off on So how conservative am I? 

My thanks to fellow MBA blogger Crablaw, who came across this short quiz and posted his results. Here’s how I came out:

***Your Political Profile:***

Overall: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Social Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Ethics: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Here’s the link for yourself.

I’ll bet my libertarian side pushed my “liberal” scores up a bit on Social Issues, the question on marijuana probably made that difference. It was a fun little exercise, although there are a few other quizzes out there. The most famous of them is this one, which I’ve taken before and I ended up on the border between conservative and libertarian there as well.

Saturday football returns

December 13, 2006 · Posted in NFL News, Sports · 2 Comments 

Much as I did during the tail end of the baseball season, I enjoy the run up to the NFL playoffs. To me, the week that the Saturday games return is the beginning of the final push although this season is different than seasons past where there were 2 or 3 Saturday games. Now they’re spread out farther during the weekend and start Thursday night.

What I’ll do is cover the playoff contenders and the possible outcomes after this weekend’s games.

Jockeying for position:

San Diego (11-2 overall, 4-1 division, 9-2 conference).

Opponent: home to Kansas City (7-6), 8:15 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: Kansas City won 30-27 at Arrowhead in week 7 this season.

What’s at stake: A win by San Diego plus a loss by Indianapolis assures the team who’s already clinched the AFC West a first-round bye and a home game in round 2. A loss to the Chiefs would allow either Indianapolis or Baltimore to leapfrog the Chargers into the #1 seed in the AFC. Because this is San Diego’s final AFC game (their last two games are against NFC foes Seattle and Arizona) a loss would set their conference record at 9-3. Indianapolis can win out and win the tiebreaker over San Diego (10-2 conference record vs. SD’s 9-3) while Baltimore automatically wins a tiebreaker over the Chargers because of their win over San Diego in Week 4.

Chicago (11-2 overall, 4-0 division, 9-0 conference).

Opponent: home to Tampa Bay (3-10), 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: Last season “da Bears” won in Florida by a 13-10 count. This is the first time since Tampa Bay was split out of the old NFC Central (after the 2001 season) that the Buccaneers play in Chicago.

What’s at stake: It’s pretty simple. If the Bears can handle lowly Tampa Bay and New Orleans loses to Washington, the Bears will have home field throughout the NFC playoffs. The Bears already have the first round bye and second round home game in hand.

Win and they’re in:

Indianapolis (10-3 overall, 3-2 division, 7-2 conference).

Opponent: home to Cincinnati (8-5), 8:30 p.m. Monday.

Last meeting: In 2005, Indianapolis won a 45-37 shootout with the Bengals in Cincinnati.

What’s at stake: Indianapolis has stumbled after their 9-0 start but can still secure a playoff berth by beating the Bengals. Their 11th win would be enough as only 6 teams in the AFC have fewer than 6 losses. It’s possible that by the time this game is played Monday night the Colts would be in the playoffs anyway if one of the following two scenarios happen:

Jacksonville loses to Tennessee. It would assure the Colts no worse than a tie for the top of the AFC South with Jacksonville (both with 10-6 records.) Indianapolis split the two games with Jacksonville but the Colts would have a 3-3 division record vs. the Jaguars’ 2-4 division mark.

Denver loses at Arizona. It eliminates the possibility of Indianapolis losing a 3-way tie with Denver and some other team which would have a better conference record than Indianapolis.

Baltimore (10-3 overall, 3-1 division, 7-2 conference).

Opponent: home to Cleveland (4-9), 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: In week 3, the Ravens barely beat Cleveland in front of the Dawg Pound 15-14.

What’s at stake: A win puts the Ravens in the playoffs with at least a wild card. If Cincinnati falls at Indianapolis then Baltimore wins the AFC North outright. A loss to the Browns would not only help make my day, it would put the Ravens in a slightly more precarious position to possibly miss the playoffs if other teams behind them win.

New Orleans (9-4 overall, 4-1 division, 8-1 conference).

Opponent: home to Washington (4-9), 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: The Saints marched into Washington and won 24-20 back in 2003.

What’s at stake: Probably the feel-good story of the NFL season, New Orleans can secure an NFC South title by beating the Redskins. This is because they swept second-place Atlanta in the season series and could do no worse than tying with 10-6 records. It’s also possible the Saints can get a first-round bye with losses from the other division leaders (Dallas and Seattle) and the New York Giants…but first things first.

Seattle (8-5 overall, 3-2 division, 6-4 conference).

Opponent: home to San Francisco (5-8), 8:00 p.m. Thursday.

Last meeting: In week 11, Seattle was surprised in San Francisco 20-14. That was the 49’ers last victory.

What’s at stake: It’s because of that loss in San Francisco that the NFC West is even in question. Had the Seahawks won that game they would’ve been in the playoffs already when Green Bay won last Sunday. But a win for the Seahawks at home puts them in and snaps a string of five straight Super Bowl losers not making the playoffs the next season.

A little help from their friends:

New England (9-4 overall, 4-2 division, 5-4 conference).

Opponent: home to Houston (4-9), 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: New England and Houston have met just once, a 23-20 OT win for New England at Houston in 2003. This is Houston’s first trip to New England since rejoining the NFL.

What’s at stake: A Patriot victory coupled with a New York Jets loss in Minnesota gives the Patriots another AFC East crown, their fourth straight (yawn.) However, they are currently the lowest seed among the four division leaders so it’s likely they’ll get just one home playoff game.

Dallas (8-5 overall, 2-3 division, 5-4 conference).

Opponent: at Atlanta (7-6), 8:00 p.m. Saturday.

Last meeting: The Falcons spanked the Cowboys in Texas Stadium, 27-13, during the 2003 season.

What’s at stake: This is actually the lone Saturday game on the schedule. Dallas needs a win plus losses by Minnesota against the New York Jets and either New Orleans or Carolina in their games on Sunday to assure themselves a postseason spot this week.

Muddling along:

There are several teams in the playoff hunt who cannot clinch a position nor can they be eliminated this week. These teams are:

Cincinnati (8-5 overall, 4-1 division, 6-3 conference).

Opponent: at Indianapolis (10-3), 8:30 p.m. Monday.

Last meeting: See Indianapolis above.

Jacksonville (8-5 overall, 2-3 division, 5-4 conference).

Opponent: at Tennessee (6-7), 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: In week 9, Jacksonville routed Tennessee at home 37-7.

New York Giants (7-6 overall, 3-1 division, 6-3 conference).

Opponent: home to Philadelphia (7-6), 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: Back in Week 2, the Giants took a stunner at Philly in OT 30-24.

Philadelphia (7-6 overall, 3-1 division, 6-3 conference).

Opponent: at New York Giants (7-6), 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: See New York Giants above.

Atlanta (7-6 overall, 3-2 division, 5-4 conference).

Opponent: home to Dallas (8-5), 8:00 p.m. Saturday.

Last meeting: See Dallas above.

Fading fast:

These teams are one game back of the lowest playoff teams in each conference. A loss may not eliminate them but they would be on the brink. In the AFC, wins by Cincinnati and Jacksonville would all but doom the teams below them on the ladder, while the NFC also-rans would be hurt badly by an Atlanta win. Since the Giants and Philadelphia play each other, someone will (almost certainly) get an 8th win.

New York Jets (7-6 overall, 3-2 division, 5-5 conference).

Opponent: at Minnesota (6-7), 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: Back in 2002, the Jets won at home 20-7. Teams in opposite conferences only meet every four seasons during the regular season under the NFL’s scheduling formula.

What’s at stake: This is a game between two teams in the “fading fast” category so it’s sort of a sub-playoff matchup.

Kansas City (7-6 overall, 3-1 division, 3-6 conference).

Opponent: at San Diego (11-2), 8:15 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: See San Diego (way) above.

What’s at stake: A loss by the Chiefs eliminates them in all but the most complex mathematics.

Denver (7-6 overall, 3-3 division, 7-4 conference).

Opponent: at Arizona (4-9), 4:05 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: The 2002 season finale saw Denver blow out the hapless Cards 37-7.

What’s at stake: Denver has an advantage over many others in this group as they’ve won all seven of their victories over AFC foes. Since conference record is a key tiebreaker, it’s to the Broncos’ benefit. A loss to Arizona doesn’t hurt their conference mark.

Minnesota (6-7 overall, 2-3 division, 6-4 conference).

Opponent: home to New York Jets (7-6), 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: See New York Jets above.

What’s at stake: Like Denver above, Minnesota has picked its victories well and holds an advantage in conference record over other close teams. Again, a loss doesn’t hurt their conference record but would put them two games in back of either the Giants or Philadelphia.

Carolina (6-7 overall, 3-1 division, 4-6 conference).

Opponent: home to Pittsburgh (6-7), 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: In 2002, the Steelers manhandled Carolina 30-14 in Pittsburgh.

What’s at stake: This is Carolina’s final home game and the last two are no bargain (at Atlanta, at New Orleans.) So here is a must-win for the Panthers.

On life support:

Teams in this category – if they lose, stick a fork in them because their playoff hopes are done. They’re 2 games back with 3 to play.

Buffalo (6-7 overall, 2-3 division, 4-5 conference).

Opponent: home to Miami (6-7), 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: In week 2, Buffalo knocked off the Dolphins in southern Florida 16-6. Loser walks.

Pittsburgh (6-7 overall, 2-2 division, 4-6 conference).

Opponent: at Carolina (6-7), 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: See Carolina above. This looked like a great late-season matchup in August, didn’t it?

Tennessee (6-7 overall, 3-2 division, 3-6 conference).

Opponent: home to Jacksonville (8-5), 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: See Jacksonville above. If they had half-winners on the NFL schedule, Tennessee would be a second-half playoff team…6-2 after an 0-5 start.

Miami (6-7 overall, 1-3 division, 3-6 conference).

Opponent: at Buffalo (6-7), 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: See Buffalo above. Another rotten start by the Dolphins did them in this year.

St. Louis (5-8 overall, 2-4 division, 4-6 conference).

Opponent: at Oakland (2-11), 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: 2002 saw the Rams win a battle between the defending NFC champs and the soon-to-be AFC champs 28-13. My, how times change in the NFL.

Green Bay (5-8 overall, 2-1 division, 4-5 conference).

Opponent: home to Detroit (2-11), 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Last meeting: In week 3, Green Bay won at Ford Field 31-24. Brett Favre is 15-0 against the Lions at Lambeau. It would be nice to make that 15-1. Now if that somehow happens, Lambeau might just sound like a Lions home game.

San Francisco (5-8 overall, 2-2 division, 4-6 conference).

Opponent: at Seattle (8-5), 8:00 p.m. Thursday.

Last meeting: See Seattle above. At least the Niners got this far in the playoff picture, better than last season.

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