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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Blog-day to meeeeee!

One year ago today - December 22, 2006 - I huddled up in the shadow of a bus stop, cracked open a laptop, and wrote the very first post in the history of Da Blog.
At right is how it looked that first day. As you can see, it didn't look much different from how it looks today. Of course, the sidebar was a lot smaller and less cluttered than it is today, but if you look around, both of the elements on it are still on the sidebar and will probably stay there for some time in the foreseeable future.
For weeks I was the only person to see Da Blog. Slowly, the audience grew, and more and more people discovered what I had to say about... well... just about anything. Once, I got excited to see even one or two people read Da Blog in a single day. Last Monday, a whopping 25 visits were registered by SiteMeter. December 10 saw an incredible 45 visits.
Okay, so that isn't really all that much, SiteMeter counts my own recent visits, and none of you vote on my polls enough to properly justify them. Still, it's a great leap forward from even the summer. I've gone from just barely topping 100 visits a month in August and September to getting 100 visits in just the past week, and two straight months of over 300 visits. December has already topped November and it isn't even over yet; the 400 mark, once unfathomable, now looks like a certainty.
I suspect a big reason for the boom has been Da Blog's increasing emphasis on sports, especially football. (Specifically, I've noticed a lot of referrals from Google searches relating to the SNF Flex Scheduling watch. I'm the number 1 hit for "who will be flexed in week 17 of sunday night football". If you've come in for the answer for that question, I'll be live-blogging the Week 16 football day from my computer tomorrow.) With the college season proper over and the NFL season winding down, expect Da Blog to de-emphasize that in the first part of the new year. I hope to get back to taking care of my other projects, such as the 100 Greatest Movies Project. Later in the year, I'll have a new way of covering the elections. And if anyone has any other non-sports interests they'd like to see represented, that would be hunky dory as well. During the past year, I also launched a web site, which will continue to grow and change in the coming year, including the addition of several new sections.
I'm going to be starting 2008 in two new classes and hope to get better focused on my classes, something my football-related projects have been distracting me from, and also work to make sure I don't find myself kicked out of any classes, and thus kicked out of the university entirely. But I also hope to spend time in the second year of Da Blog to make it as memorable as the first.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch and Playoff Watch: Week 15

NBC's Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For the last seven weeks of the season, the games are determined on 12-day notice, 6-day notice for Week 17.

Last year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. CBS and Fox were able to protect one game every week each but had to leave one week each unprotected and had to submit their protections after only four weeks.

Now, NBC lists the game it "tentatively" schedules for each night. However, the NFL is in charge of moving games to prime time.

Here are the rules from the NFL web site:

  • Begins Sunday of Week 11
  • In effect during Weeks 11-17
  • Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
  • The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET.
  • The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • No impact on Thursday, Saturday or Monday night games.
  • The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • Week 17 start time changes could be decided on 6 days notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
  • The NBC Sunday night time slot in "flex" weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
  • Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
  • NFL schedules all games.
  • Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.
  • Two other rules were established earlier: CBS and Fox each protect games in five out of six weeks, and can't protect any games Week 17 this year.
  • Three teams can appear a maximum of six games in primetime on NBC, ESPN or NFL Network (everyone else gets five; the Pats and Cowboys already have six) and no team may appear more than four times on NBC.
Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions:

Week 17 (December 30):

  • Tentative game: Kansas City @ NY Jets
  • Prospects: Awful. This has the best chance of losing its spot.
  • Other possible games/Playoff Positioning Watch:
    • AFC East: Patriots clinched.
    • AFC North: Steelers (@Baltimore) and Browns (v. San Francisco) tied. Bengals and Ravens out. Steelers hold tiebreaker by beating Browns twice.
    • AFC South: Colts clinched due to tiebreaker.
    • AFC West: Chargers clinched.
    • AFC Wild Card: The Jags (@Houston) and the loser of Steelers-Browns would get the nod if the season ended today, with the Titans (@Indianapolis) a game back; the Titans and Jags split the season series and the scenario that ends with them tied gives the Titans the divisional tiebreaker. The Texans and Bills are two back; the Bills are out after losing to both the Steelers and Browns, but the Texans have lost only to the Browns, and got swept by Tennessee. If the Titans and Steelers lose out, the Browns win at least once, and the Texans win out, the Texans would still lose on a conference tiebreaker.
    • AFC Playoff Positioning Among Division Winners: Patriots beat the Colts to cinch #1. Colts hold #2 outright. The other two division leaders, the Chargers (@Oakland) and the winner of Steelers-Browns, all have five losses each.
    • NFC East: Cowboys clinched.
    • NFC North: Packers clinched.
    • NFC South: Bucs up two on Saints and swept the season series to get the tiebreaker. The trend of last-place teams taking the South the following year continues. Good news, Falcons fans!
    • NFC West: Seahawks clinched.
    • NFC Wild Card: Giants (vs. New England on NFL Network) and Vikings (@Denver) would get the nod if the season ended today. Redskins (v. Dallas, would result in too many primetime appearances for Cowboys) and Saints (@Chicago) one back. Lions, Panthers (@Tampa Bay), and Cardinals two back. Vikings and Lions split the season series and the Lions would have a better divisional record under the scenario that ends with them tied. But for the Vikings to lose out means the Redskins get at least one win, and Washington already beat Detroit. Carolina and New Orleans split the season series and would finish with identical division records as well in the scenario that ends with them tied. Against the AFC South, it's NO 1-3, CAR 0-4; against the NFC West, NO 2-2, CAR 4-0, so Carolina wins the common-games tiebreaker. Several different scenarios are now possible if the Vikings go 0-2 and the Redskins go 1-1: Vikings-Redskins-Panthers, Vikings-Redskins-Cardinals, Vikings-Redskins-Saints (if the Saints go 1-1 and Carolina loses at least once), Vikings-Redskins-Panthers-Cardinals, and Vikings-Redskins-Saints-Cardinals. In addition to the Redskins' victory over the Vikings in this scenario, Washington also beat the Cardinals, so they would be undefeated head-to-head. Carolina and New Orleans both beat Arizona as well. As no head-to-head sweep is possible except in a Vikings-Redskins-Cardinals situation, we go to conference records: MIN 6-5 (would go to 6-6); WAS 5-5 (would also go to 6-6); CAR 6-4 (would go to 8-4); NO 6-4 (would go to 7-5); ARI 3-7 (would go to 5-7, as would, note, the Lions).
    • NFC Playoff Positioning Among Division Winners: Dallas (@Washington, would result in too many primetime appearances for Cowboys) and Green Bay (v. Detroit) are tied for the 1 spot. Both have clinched first-round byes. Tampa Bay (v. Carolina) and Seattle (@Atlanta) are similarly tied for the three spot.
    • Analysis: If NBC wants a game that matters for both teams, Bucs-Panthers is the only doable game, and even then only if the Panthers still have a shot at the playoffs. If it's not, look for another Favre lovefest (Packers-Lions). To think we used to think this was a rich weekend. If NBC just wants good teams, regardless of whether it matters for both sides, Titans-Colts is good, but that's it, and the Titans can easily be eliminated from the playoffs next week, meaning we're back to the Favre love. Oh, and the Colts come in just under the gun, so if I got something wrong in this post Titans-Colts is disqualified anyway. And if last year, when there were better games, is any indication? Then I might as well make my final prediction.

Oh, and re-reading the AA post linked to on last week's watch, I'm even more confused, and no longer certain what AA was thinking, because while Titans-Colts is listed as CBS' "protected" game, Fox's game is "GB-CHI", which obviously isn't being played at all - and was last year's NBC game Week 17! But really, Jags-Texans is the only other real dark horse, although Vikings-Broncos might get thrown in for the heck of it. Even then, though, that'll only happen if there isn't a Favre to love because he wouldn't be playing (which I doubt).

New SuperPower Rankings

Some notes:
  • I guarantee that the Lions will remind people of why people liked them so much and why they were 6-2 against the Chiefs.
  • I actually would have picked the Dolphins against the Patriots had they lost because the irony would have been irresistable. Now, though, I don't think they have a prayer.
  • The Redskins have a two-game winning streak, which poses a problem, because I told myself that if the Redskins continued their Chicago success I would say they would have an inspired run to the playoffs. But they're playing the Vikings, a team you just don't dismiss out of hand. Ultimately I'm picking the Redskins in the Upset Special.
  • How do you choose between the collapsing Cardinals and the absolute mess known as the Atlanta Falcons?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Quick note

The web site is updated with the Patriots' quest for 19-0.

That is all.