Monthly Archives: November 2013

Turkey Day Madness

full-thanksgiving-spread

Happy Thanksgiving, all! On a day filled with family, food, and football I’d like to take some time to say thanks for all of those things and more. The food, in particular, is something that I’m always thankful for this time of year, especially as a former wrestler who spent many a Thanksgiving sulking in another room as the rest of the family chowed down on some delicious dishes. Not no more! The home-cooked meals accompanied by spending all day cooking with family, the occasional argument (we are Italian after all), make it such a special day.

So, in honor of all the great dishes served on this feast of thanks, why don’t we fill out a good old fashioned Turkey Day Bracket. I’ve picked my top 8 favorite parts of the Thanksgiving Day feast, and worked through it to determine the champion of the spread.

Eight is a small sampling of our feast, but they’re the best of the best. Some are traditional dishes, while others tap into our Italian flare. Either way, I hope you enjoy this fun spin on things. Share your thoughts on my favorite dishes, or what you would pick as your favorite dish in the comments!

How it’s set up

Like any bracket, the competitors are seeded. Here’s how I broke things down for Turkey Day Madness:

  1. Sweet Potatoes
  2. Stuffing (with sausage)
  3. Turkey
  4. Honey Baked Ham
  5. Asparagus Casserole
  6. Assorted Pies and Cupcakes
  7. Mashed Potatoes
  8. Ravioli
  9. Corn
  10. Cranberry Sauce

For the sake of keeping the bracket looking clean the last two dishes were left out. I considered a play-in contest with 7-10, but I really just wanted to get to the feast.

With the top 8 set, let’s go to work.

The Bracket

turkey-day-bracket

So Why Sweet Potatoes?

The number one seed in this bracket easily cruises to the title of Best Thanksgiving Dish for this blogger. There are some great dishes on that bracket, but when it comes down to it, my mom’s sweet potatoes top them all for one simple reason. The juices from the sweet potatoes can be put on top of nearly every other dish and improve that dish exponentially. For a lot of people, gravy is what gets spread over everything else, but try substituting the sweet potato juice just once. Pour it right over the turkey. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, the honey baked ham, they’re all made better thanks to the succulent sweet potato juice.

I haven’t gone as far as pouring it over any pastas or deserts, but I bet they would benefit from it as well.

Juices aside, the sweet potatoes themselves are simply fantastic. They were always going to be champion of this bracket, so I really just needed to work backwards from there to fill in the rest. And just like any other Thanksgiving dish, they reheat even better the next day.

So there you have it. Like I mentioned above, share your thoughts on this bracket, or what you would choose as your own favorite dish in the comments below.

Two Die After Partial World Cup Stadium Collapse

The Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which is scheduled to host the 2014 World Cup Opening Match. (Photo credit: Sports Illustrated)

The Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which is scheduled to host the 2014 World Cup Opening Match. (Photo credit: Sports Illustrated)

I shared an article a while ago about the protests in Brazil over the outrageous overspending that was occurring surrounding the 2014 World Cup, which is supposedly going to be hosted by Brazil. In that article I advocated that the horrendous situation that was taking place (and continues to take place, by the way) would justify taking the World Cup away and giving it to the U.S.

On Wednesday, another sad, devastating example of why this is a move that should’ve been executed a long time ago. Two construction workers died in a horrific accident at the stadium in Rio that is scheduled to host the opening match of soccer’s grandest spectacle next summer. Part of the stadium collapsed when a crane slammed into a 500-ton metal structure, which then fell and cut into the outer walls of the stadium, destroying rows of seats and a crushing an LED-display that ran across the venue’s facade.

SI had more on the incident:

The accident could delay delivery of the stadium, which was practically finished before Wednesday’s collapse. FIFA has set a December deadline for all 12 World Cup venues to be ready. The World Cup begins on June 12 with Brazil playing at the Sao Paulo stadium.

Officials said there were no major structural damages to the stadium but declined to say how much the accident may affect the delivery.

”I don’t want to know about FIFA right now, we are worried about the families of the victims,” former Corinthians president Andres Sanchez told a news conference.

Sanchez said two people were confirmed dead and nobody else was injured. A fire department official had said earlier that three people had died. …

The accident happened at lunchtime, so not many of the nearly 1,700 employees working on the venue were on site when the crane collapsed on top of the metal structure, causing the deadly domino effect.

”The sound was as loud as a thunderclap or a huge explosion,” said Rodrigo Vessoni, a reporter with sports daily Lance who said he had just walked out of the stadium after interviewing Sanchez. ”There was a lot of running around, a lot of shouting. It was frightening. Chills ran through my entire body. It was unbelievable. The noise was metal grating on metal. It was a terrible thing to see.”

I’m not going to say that this could’ve been prevented if FIFA had just moved the World Cup somewhere else, but it’s tough to imagine something like this would’ve happened in, say, the U.S. Things have seemed destined to fail for some time now, and the signs just keep on raining down. It’ll be interesting to see if/how things hold up during the tournament.

Sicne FIFA doesn’t have the cojones to move the tournament, I guess we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed that things do get better and that this isn’t a sign of things to come.

Video

Les Miles Loves Thanksgiving

Bring on the feast.

Video

NFL Fantasy Football Preview: Week 13

Week 13 is the final week in the regular season for the vast majority of fantasy football leagues out there. Join Marc, Max, Seth, and I, to get the inside edge on the Week 13 waiver wire and make the final push for that last playoff spot.

NFL Week 13 Picks

Happy Thanksgiving, you’s guys! One thing I am absolutely thankful for is that Week 12 is behind us, because it was an incredibly rough one, plain and simple. Between the tie that stole a win and the 24 point comeback in New England, it was a rough ride to a 6-7 record. Thankfully, though, things didn’t go much better in Bristol. The overall stands at 110-65.

But, onward and upward we go.

Enjoy the multiple days filled with football, family, and food this week!

Byes this week: NONE! We’re done with that.

Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions, Thursday, 12:30pm

Short weeks are rough on any team, but they’re especially rough on teams that are coming off of a tie or a devastating loss to an opponent that was 6 games under .500. That’s the situation both the Pack and Lions face coming into this one. Unfortunately for Green Bay, though, the short rest means there’s a “slim to none” chance that Aaron Rodgers will be ready to come back. Matthew Stafford essentially let Mike Glennon out duel him on Sunday—I can’t see him putting together back to back performances like that, especially in an all-too-important divisional showdown. Lions win 34-23

Oakland Raiders @ Dallas Cowboys, Thursday, 4:30pm

Matt McGloin grew up (presumably) as an Eagles fan. He gets an opportunity to take down a team that he (presumably) grew up hating with an intense passion. As much as I’ll be pulling for him to do just that, the likelihood of it actually happening is—to borrow from Mike McCarthy for the second time in two game previews—slim to none. Dallas’s defense hasn’t done them any favors this year, which could make this an interesting game, but (and I can’t believe I’m about to say this) the clutchness of Tony Romo in the fourth quarter hasn’t gone unnoticed this year. He should be able to pick apart the league’s 25th ranked passing attack, which has just seven picks on the season. Cowboys win 28-20

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens, Thursday, 8:30pm

After an exceptionally rough 0-4 start, the Steelers have crawled their way back into the mix in the AFC, winning five of their last seven. If they’re hot streak continues, they could find themselves with a (knock on wood, Yinzers) home playoff game in January. Any hope of that happening relies, in part, on how they do this Thanksgiving in Baltimore. The Ravens find themselves in almost exactly the same position. Basically, this will end up as the game of the night on Thursday. It might be cliche when talking about the AFC North, but I really believe that the team that can establish the run in this one is going to be the team that comes away with the W. Baltimore has shown the ability to do that against tough defenses, when they need to. They’re also a tough team to beat at home. Ravens win 17-14

Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles, 1pm

The Eagles are coming off of a bye and officially have a brand new starting quarterback. This is Nick Foles’ ship to run, now, and if the past few weeks are any indication, it should be sailing rather high. The Cardinals come in having put together an impressive run over the course of the past month—or so say the sports media folk. The road wins have been hard to come by for Carson Palmer and the Cards—their two road wins came against the Jaguars and the Bucs, and both of those wins were not really in impressive fashion. The Eagles have hit their groove at the right time, and I like them to turn that 10-game home losing streak into a 2 game winning streak. Eagles win 34-21

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cleveland Browns, 1pm

Don’t look now, but the Jags are poised to make a run. Toss a coin on this one. (That’s what I did—except a coin wasn’t handy, so I used a flip flop.) Browns win 13-10

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts, 1pm

This year’s Colts team can be broken down into two era’s: BWI and AWI—Before Wayne’s Injury and After Wayne’s Injury. Prior to going down for the season in Indy’s incredible win over then-unbeaten Denver, the Colts were 5-2 and in the driver’s seat in the AFC South. They still are the lead dog in the division, but in the AWI era, they look like a completely different team and have made things awfully interesting. Tennessee gets a chance for revenge after a tough loss a couple of Thursday nights ago and look poised to do so—Ryan Fitzpatrick has shown that he’s more than capable at the quarterback position, and has really stepped up to the plate in Jake Locker’s multiple absences this season. Titans win 24-23

Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings, 1pm

Someone has got to step up in the NFC North and pretend to want to win this division at some point, right? While on paper the Bears should have no problem in this one, there’s one aspect that should be a major concern for Chi-town fans (and it almost cost them in that first game at home against the Vikings this year)—they’re Chicago’s defense is a far cry from the defenses we’ve come to know over the years, and their 31st-ranked rush-D is probably going to struggle mightily against one of the most prolific runners in the game.  Let’s not forget that, outside of their tie against the Packers, this Vikings team did their job against the Redskins, had the Cowboys on the ropes (on the road), and they’ve shored up their turnover problems. The Bears should be on alert heading into this one. Vikings win 28-26

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets, 1pm

Miami has been great at home this season, and that showed against a surging Panthers team that they had on the ropes last week. Going on the road has been a bit of a struggle, but this week should be a different story. They travel to New York to take on a Jets team that is officially a complete mess. In his last six games, Geno Smith has just 1 passing TD and 10 INTs. That’s not good. Miami pass rush has stepped it’s game up of late, which should mean more struggles for Smith. On the other side of the ball, Ryan Tannehill has been sort of meh, but he’s doing enough to keep the Dolphins in games and give them a shot at winning. Dolphins win 17-13

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers, 1pm

The guys in Tampa have really turned a corner after their 0-8 start (something I’m sure fans hoping for a high draft pick aren’t too pleased about). The road doesn’t get any easier for them, though, as a date with the red hot Panthers is upon them this week. The last time that these two teams hooked up, the Bucs were still getting acclimated to Greg Schiano’s way of doing things, and ever since that matchup they have been a different team—leading a game in Seattle 24-0 before an OT loss, followed by three straight wins. I expect more fight from the Bucs in this one, but the Panthers D has been nothing short of stifling in every aspect of the game. This one is less of a trap than last week’s game against the Dolphins, but Carolina better not look at this one lightly. Panthers win 30-23

New England Patriots @ Houston Texans, 1pm

Um. Yeah. About this. Pats win 42-16

Atlanta Falcons @ Buffalo Bills, 4:05pm

Is anyone actually going to watch this one? Two teams that are fighting to stay slightly above terrible. This is almost on the level of Jacksonville and Cleveland but not quite coin-flipable. Atlanta has struggled all season long on defense, especially against the run—Buffalo boasts the 7th best rushing attack in the league. Atlanta has also struggled all season, establishing their own rushing attack, which has meant that Matty Ice has had to carry the team—Buffalo actually has a decent pass defense (12th in the NFL, 229 yds per game), and how they perform could be the difference in this one. Possibly without tight end Tony Gonzalez, it’s really hard to side with Atlanta in this one. Bills win 27-24

St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers, 4:05pm

I absolutely LOVE what the Rams have done over the last two games—80 pts, just shy of 800 yards of total offense, and they’ve only committed 1 turnover while forcing 8—however, I don’t LOVE who they’ve done it against (a struggling Indy team and the schizophrenic Chicago Bears). This week is their first truly tough test over this recent stretch of success—a road matchup, within their division, and against a tough defense. The question for the 49ers will be how they handle the rookie Tavon Austin, who has been the key to St. Louis’s recent success. Their record over the last three games aside, they’ve really been able to contain opposing offenses that have been explosive over the course of the season. 49ers win 27-17

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs, 4:25pm

It seems no one’s safe these days. Every team has flaws, and they’ve been exposed in Kansas City and Denver. Both teams come in limping—Kansas City, losers of two straight, and the Broncos coming off of an epic collapse in Foxboro. Peyton Manning isn’t completely healthy, and that’s obvious. How that effects him in this one could be the difference Kansas City finally showed their ability to put up points, but their defense, which has been tops in the league all season long, has put up two dud’s of performances in the past week. I expect them to play with a huge chip on their shoulder in this one. I said weeks ago that I see these teams splitting the season series, which is why I feel I need to stick to my word and go with the home team here. Chiefs win 31-28

Cincinnati Bengals @ San Diego Chargers, 4:25pm

Don’t look now, but the Chargers are, well, charging. After a HUGE (I’m ALL into the all-caps thing right NOW) road win against a division rival, they find themselves back in the hunt for the final wild card spot in the AFC. This week they get to host a Bengals team coming off of a bye, but one that is licking a few wounds. Andy Dalton has not played well over the past three games, falling apart in two overtimes, and failing to get a real stranglehold on a weak AFC North division. The momentum of these teams is going in completely opposite directions right now. Chargers win 35-26

New York Giants @ Washington Redskins, 8:25pm

Another chance for Washington to look like a complete disaster of a team in prime time! New York will be looking to bounce back from a tough loss against the Cowboys, where their comeback bid fell just short. No matter how you sugar coat it, things are not right in DC. RGIII, the coaches, the offense, the defense, no one is on the same page, and it shows. Beyond the 3-8 record, in their last game against the 49ers, the Skins put up just 6 points and accumulated just 30 yards of offense in the second half. The defense has been equally as terribly—30.7 pts per game (31st), 382.1 yds per game (28th), 101.7 QBR against (30th), and 15 rush TDs against (32nd), among other pathetic stats. Oh, and they don’t get to hold on to whatever draft pick they would’ve had this spring, thanks to the trade to get RGIII (who, by the way, has thrown an interception in 9 of 11 games this season, 11 total). How’s all that working out? Giants win 24-20

New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks, Monday, 8:30pm

This is almost undoubtedly a preview of the NFC championship game in a couple months. And just a quick reminder about what happened the last time these two teams met:

The run that caused an earthquake. It’s incredibly tough to win in Seattle. If anyone can do it, it’d be the Saints, but I don’t know how anyone can run a successful offense in that kind of environment. It’s easily the game of the week, and one that I look forward to watching in its entirety. It all comes down to who holds their ground between the Saints offense and the Seattle defense. Seahawks win 34-31

The Browns Just Signed a Former D-III Quarterback Best Known For a Trick-Shot Video

alex tanney

These are the kinds of things that happen when you put your franchise in the hands of a 28-year-old rookie and then try to replace him with Jason Campbell. Poor Cleveland.

Today, the Browns snatched Alex Tanney off of the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad. He’ll likely fill the vacant third string spot behind Brandon Weeden and a concussed Campbell. (Don’t forget that the flash in the pan that was Brian Hoyer earned a spot on the season-ending IR list after an ugly tackle earlier this year against.)

So who is Alex Tanney? Well, I could tell you that he’s a former Division III quarterback from Monmouth University, where he was a three-time Offensive Player of the Year in the D-III’s Midwest Conference and set an NCAA record for career touchdown passes (157) and a D-III record for passing yards (14,249). I could also tell you that he was voted the Associated Press’s 2011 Little All-American. And while I could continue to spew random facts from Wikipedia onto these pages, I’d rather just show you the trick-shot video that Tanney made that went viral and earned him national recognition.

Despite the attention the video garnered, Tanney went undrafted in 2012. The Chiefs signed him that June, and he appeared in one preseason game before being placed on season-ending IR with a finger injury—he was cut the following May.

This preseason, the Cowboys signed Tanney, who appeared in five preseason games, including the entire second half of the Hall of Fame game in Canton. Tanney completed 40 of 73 passes for 423 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions throughout the preseason, but the Cowboys would eventually cut him and then resign him to their practice squad.

Have fun with that, Cleveland.

Ron Burgundy Will Guest Host SportsCenter on December 5th

ron burgundy sportscenter

The cross promotion surrounding the upcoming release of Anchorman 2 has been absolutely incredible over the past few months. From Dodge commercials to late night TV appearances, and now to the World Wide Leader in Sports.

The Big Lead broke the story.

Will Ferrell will guest-host the 6 pm SportsCenter on Thursday, December 5th, two sources exclusively tell The Big Lead. The sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the appearance has not been announced, also say that there will be some sort of Ron Burgundy element to telecast.

ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz declined comment.

Ferrell will be SportsCenter’s third celebrity guest-host in five weeks. Actor Ken Jeong and NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson both delivered bigratings, but Ferrell, an A-list actor who just so happens to have a movie coming out soon (Anchorman 2, December 20th!) is a significantly bigger star.

Set your DVRs, folks.