The Top 10 Teams That Didn't Win a Super Bowl

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Last night, NFL Network did a ranking of the ten best teams never to win a Super Bowl (from the Super Bowl era).

NFL Network List:
1. 2007 Patriots
2. 1968 Colts
3. 1990 Bills
4. 1998 Vikings
5. 1981 Chargers
6. 2001 Rams
7. 1986 Browns
8. 1984 Dolphins
9. 1979 Oilers
10. 1983 Redskins

Using the same pythagorean+strength of schedule number that I used in ranking every Super Bowl winner, here's my list:

1. 2007 Patriots 20.1
2. 1968 Colts 17.9
3. 1969 Vikings 17.6
4. 2010 Patriots 15.4
5. 1976 Steelers 15.3
5. 1967 Raiders 15.3
7. 1970 Vikings 15.1
8. 1998 Vikings 14.9
9. 1968 Raiders 14.3
10. 1968 Chiefs 14

The Weekly Tendown January 22-28 2012(Don't Send a Community Relations Manager to do a Stathead's Job)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dear Internet:

Pitchers and catchers report in 20 days.

This is Tendown 112.  111 is here.

1. The Post Mortem
The 49ers last Super Bowl appearance was 17 years ago.  In that time, the single instant in which we had our best chance to get back was last Sunday when Eli threw an incompletion on third down deep in their own territory with 11:23 left.

As the Giants lined up to punt us the ball back, our win probability was 78%.

A 78% chance to go to the Super Bowl.

We didn't go, as you're aware.  You can find out why by reading my post previewing the game.

This isn't just to brag (although a little bit, I'm 8-2 against the spread in the playoffs) it speaks to why you shouldn't consider the Niners to be knocking on Super Bowl's door.  We had a massive turnover differential this season, as spotlighted by the five we took away from the Saints the week before.  Of the statistics you're likely to hear on pregame shows, the one with the least amount of predictive value for future games (or seasons) is turnover differential, as there's a high level of associated happenstance.  The balls that bounce your way for a game, even for a season, don't suggest they'll continue to bounce your way.  A season of turnovers turned into our defensive backs twice colliding into each other to miss an interception, turned into a quick whistle saying Bradshaw's forward progress was stopped just before we stripped him, turned into the two lost Kyle Williams punt returns.  We also were comparatively injury free this season - but when Ted Ginn went down the week before, Williams had to step in as the punt returner.  When one of those collisions between our defensive backs turned into an injury, our 4th corner had to step in and got beat on New York's 4th quarter touchdown.  Health and turnovers win you games, but you can't count on them, and you're likely to fall back to normalized levels of both next season.

What those two factors did was minimize the harm of our middling offense; in my preview piece, I said we really only have two weapons, Vernon Davis (who scored twice) and the backup running back Kendall Hunter.  We need a field stretching receiver (and a ton of them are available); Hunter needs his workload increased, either into a time share with Gore or one with Dixon with Gore leaving town, and we need to take a grown up look at Alex Smith.

At the close of the Saints game, Ted Robinson ebulliently, maybe even defiantly, shouted that no one should ever doubt Alex again.

There's been no reason to doubt Alex Smith for two seasons - he's an average to goodish quarterback; he can move a little bit and this year didn't turn the ball over at all, meaning he can win the kind of grind it out low leverage game that our defense is built for and that, given the degree that every change in 21st century football favors passing, is the last way I'd want to see my football team structured.  Alex Smith played the game of his life to beat the Saints, but that's not who he is - he's a guy who won't hurt you.

And if that's who we go with, we'll need those turnovers and we'll need that health, and we'll need everything to fall exactly into place.  You can win the Super Bowl with an average to goodish game manager quarterback, but it doesn't happen often.

Or, you could consider...

'Cause that dude's leaving Indiana.

It was a fun year, and as someone who watched Harbaugh kick my ass in the Pac 10 and has now watched him for a year as the 49er coach, I'm fully on board.  I feel better about the competence of 49er decision making than I have in 20 years (and certainly better than the decision making for my baseball team, more about that in a second). So, I don't believe we're headed back to the bottom of the league anytime soon.

But if it's another 17 years before we have a 78% chance to go back to the Super Bowl, that wouldn't surprise either.

2. The Clip Video Which Will Make You Feel Better
For the 49er fan in your life.  This will help.

Here's a good Grantland piece about the title game.  It helps a little less.

3. This Might Help Too, If You're the Vindictive Sort

I got no beef with TO, an all time great 49er.  But I think that's a minority opinion.

If you've got some TO schadenfreude, this GQ piece is a good read:

I'M IN HELL. That's what he texts back to people who ask where he is. "He's stronger than anyone I know, but he's under a lot of pressure, to put it mildly," says one of his few close friends, Matthew Hatchette, a former NFL wide receiver and frequent bowling buddy who coaches high school football in the Valley. It's enough to drive a man to dangerous lows. But all that talk about T.O.'s alleged suicide attempts, the one in 2006 and then another, just a few months ago, that surfaced when TMZ released the 911 call from his assistant? A misunderstanding, he says. 

4. Meanwhile, on the baseball side.
MLB Network did a special about the 40 greatest moments in Division Series history.

(I know, I won the Series two years ago, its too early for me to play the long suffering Giants fan card, I know).

We were featured in 6 of those moments.  Which makes sense, we've played in 5, winning twice.

Here were the six San Francisco Giants highlights from that special.

#38 1997 Game One

Edgar Renteria walked us off.  I was there.  So, not such a great start.

#34 2000 Game 3

Benny Agbayani walked us off.  This one I just saw on TV; it was two weeks after my run ended on the game show.  So, that's two that aren't good. But 2002 has to be next.  2002!

#32. 2003 Game 3

Pudge walked us off in 11 of Game 3 after Jose Cruz dropped that fly ball in the 9th.  I was there.  What about 2002?  Where did 2002 go?

23. 2000 Game 4

Bobby Jones one hit us in Game 4 of 2000.  So, not only did we skip 2002, but we're doubling back for this Mets series.  Two left - obviously, since we won the Series in 2010 and had all those one run games against the Braves, we're about to see some sweet Giants clips on this countdown.

20. 2010 Game 4

So - this was our division clinching game against the Braves - but the moment they chose was that it was Bobby Cox's last game of his career and everyone applauded.  This is our best ever NLDS moment.  Clapping for Bobby Cox.  There's one more, I was there for that too..

#2 2003 Game 4

And that was the countdown.

5. And then This Happened

There's a new game show on MLB Network - it's not for civilians, its the stats guys from each team playing each other for charity.

Or almost each team.  Our representative was the community relations guy ('cause a team with a stats guy doesn't deal Jonathan Sanchez for Melky) and in an opening round game against the Dodgers representative, well, there's the final score.

Know who tried out for the game show I was on once upon a time?  Bill Simmons.  And he wrote about it.

6. This Week In Politics...

Campaign commercials have hit Florida (You could, as of a couple of days ago, still get Romney +400, it went to +800 just a few days after I last suggested you could get some easy money, then dropped off the board when Newt got 10 million bucks to dump into South Carolina and called Obama the "food stamp president, but is now back up at +400, and it remains free money).  Newt's running on the 90s economy.

No, seriously.  The Clinton 90s economy against which Gingrich attempted to shut the government down before he was sanctioned by almost every member of his own party for ethics violations, given the largest fine in Congressional history and eventually drummed clean out of his speakership.  Newt's running on spearheading it.

I mean, you have to go straight to the American people like this to avoid the liberal bias of those Sunday talk shows.  Which last year had twice as many Republican guests as Democrats.

In Tennessee, the Tea Party wants references to slavery taken out of textbooks.  You know, the non partisan tea party, mainly libertarians, they just want small government, their rise totally unrelated to the election of a black President.

And in Arkansas, human excrement, people who I wish nothing but intense suffering every day for the rest of their lives, bashed in the skull of the family cat of a campaign manager for a Democratic congressional candidate and scrawled the word Liberal on its carcass.  You know, like the left is always doing, killing the pets of conservatives and leaving them on the porch for the kids to see.

7. You're Going to Lose Every Time
Hey public school administrators.  You still can't proselytize.  Even in South Carolina.

And to Rhode Island state representative Pete Palumbo, who went on the radio and said the 16 year old hero who stood up for her settled constitutional rights was an evil little thing, as she's predictably getting death threats from followers of the religion that is based on peace (not at all like those Muslims) - I'll refrain from completely speaking my mind and just call you a Know-Nothing Scumbag.

8. I Watch Wrestling
The Rumble is tonight - my preview is here.  I saw a couple of 4 star matches from 2011, Fujita Jr. Hayato v. Nakajima from Kensuke Office in November, Haas and Benjamin against Edwards and Lethal from ROH in November.  I've yet to start watching 2012 matches; my ranking of the Top 25 matches of 2011 is here.

I finished my third week of teaching 9 college courses in 6 different subjects for 4 different schools.  There are easier ways to not be able to afford health insurance than this.  I'm 0-3 in job interviews for full time positions, this week was a legal writing job that didn't go my way.  This doesn't count every job for which I apply, just the ones that are full time for which I get an interview.  Next man up is this week - it's a phone interview with a university, it's the best job for which I've ever interviewed in my life.  Adjunct college professor feels a little like migrant labor.  I'm standing on a streetcorner every morning hoping some passer by will need a day worker to talk about the Epic of Gilgamesh.

9. Academy Award Nominations
Take a close look.  E has a curious understanding of the word "Live".

If you listened, I made you some money at the Golden Globes (come on, I gave you both Kelsey Grammer and Matt LeBlanc, what more do you want?); SAG Awards are tonight, then Grammys, and Oscar Nominations came out this week.

The only real opportunity I see (other than taking not great odds to invest on the Oscar favorites) is Viola Davis for Best Actress; it's Streep who is favored, but Davis is more likely to win.  If you want to get in now on the rest of the favorites (except for both Supporting categories, which just aren't worth the price) go ahead; I haven't looked to see if Adele's even on the board, but maybe you can get a price investing in a sweep.

My Super Bowl pick will be up in a separate post this week, and then I'll include it in next week's Tendown - but if you've read this far - I'm taking New England.

10. What I Learned Watching Another Season of Toddlers and Tiaras.
If you ban the phrase "Get it girl!" and any variation thereof from the competitions, the parents would have absolutely nothing to say.

That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time.  If there is a next time...

Your pal,


Royal Rumble 2012 Preview/10 Best Matches in Royal Rumble History

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Survivor Series preview was here.

The Rumble is Sunday from St. Louis; there's reason to be enthusiastic.

The main reason is its the Rumble; like pizza, even a bad Rumble is enjoyable (except for here; don't eat there if they pay you; if Brodus Clay eliminates Danielson this year, ripping every ligament in both Bryan's knees in the process, it still wouldn't be as bad as that pizza).  But this year is a possibility for a really good (perhaps top ten of all time worthy, the current list is at the bottom of the post) title match, and the Rumble match itself has some booking intrigue.  I'm looking forward to the event.(I was overly optimistic)

WWE ChampionshipCM Punk © vs Dolph Ziggler:
When last we left, Punk was taking the title from Del Rio at Survivor Series; subsequent, the primary storyline has been his Austin/Vince type battle against authority figure Johnny Ace (brother of Road Warrior Animal, the lesser half of a good American mid 90s tag act in Japan).  Ziggler's a good young worker with a good act; he dropped his secondary title to Zach Ryder in order to get this upper card push, and has beaten Punk with Ace related screwjobs to get into this title match.  Ace is the guest referee here; they've thrown a returning Mick Foley into this angle on Punk's side, they've set up a returning HHH as possibly firing Ace from his leadership position - so outside interference would not surprise.  This is going to be the best match of the night with a possibility of cracking the 10 best all time Royal Rumble matches; Punk's going to keep one assumes, although if the plan remains to get the belt to Cena for his Mania match against Rock, that has to happen at some point, and if the rumored Jericho/Punk program for Mania is going to happen, that has to launch at some point.  One could see a scenario where they really heavily book the finish and Jericho costs Punk the belt, then Ziggler drops to Cena no later than the February PPV.  In fact, what the hell, that's what I'll say happens.  

Punk has the best matches in the WWF and Ziggler's the kind of act you're glad to see pushed - this is a match you look forward to seeing.(3 stars, they had 7 good minutes and then the booking kicked in, Punk kept after beating Ziggler like a half dozen times)

Smackdown Title: Daniel Bryan © vs Mark Henry vs The Big Show: Steel Cage Match
When last we left, Mark Henry was a monster heel champion feuding with the babyface Big Show while babyface Bryan Danielson (aka: the Best Wrestler in the Hemisphere) held possession of a title shot via the Money in the Bank Briefcase.  Subsequent - Show took the strap from Henry but was incapacitated postmatch leading to Danielson cashing in his briefcase and taking the title.  If you consider that's not a babyface move you'd be right, and Danielson's morphed into a chickenshit heel.  Now, he's good at it, he's getting over with it, and if you're a Bryan Danielson fan you'd much rather see him in this spot than Tyson Kidd's spot.  But as a resource, taking your best worker and giving him a gimmick where he isn't a very good wrestler is less than ideal use.  I think he keeps in a match that will be worse than almost any conceivable Bryan Danielson PPV match and probably better than any match either Henry or Show has ever been in.  There are a couple of things going on here; the speculation is Show is going to be programmed at Mania against Shaquille O Neal, which would require a Show turn at some point (does Shaq show up in the crowd and get piefaced LT style?) and Henry owes a receipt to Randy Orton before he turns face (which one assumes he does, with Danielson as a heel and presumably Show needing to turn).  Could be that Henry takes strong, Orton wins the Rumble and Orton beats him at Mania.  But I'll say they ride this Danielson thing a little longer, that he takes advantage of the Show/Henry rivarly to weasel his way toward keeping his belt.  (Didn't make 3 stars, a 9 minute mot much going on match with Danielson escaping the cage and keeping)

John Cena vs Kane
John Cena is why football is better than wrestling.  When there's a guy who can't really play but he has with the right look and a shtick that brings people who don't care about workrate into the tent; if it's football he's Tim Tebow and still loses in the playoffs if he can't hold onto the ball and complete half of his throws  If it's wrestling - you get John Cena on top for a decade.  Everytime Tebow bows his head he may as well start flashing his hand in front of his face, "hey non evangelical Christians - you can't see me!"  Kane's been brought back to draw the hardcore out of Cena - the Rock criticism of Cena (that he was just for children) became the Punk criticism of Cena (that he's a corporate puppet) has become the Kane criticism of Cena (that he denies the inner rage he must feel at the ungrateful fans who care about things like his inability to throw a punch).  Cena's either going over or getting DQ'd for being too violent, this is designed to give him some type of violent edge as they heat up the Rock program.  Unless Cena's in a program where he's with a worker he's unbearably awful.  #Tebow'sLadyParts.(Double countout, just nothing worth watching, Kane got a postmatch beatdown in to continue the program)

30-Man Royal Rumble Match
We don't know a lot about this - Miz is No. 1, Foley's supposed to be an entrant.  It's Orton's hometown; my pick's him to win - I'd be completely good with an Orton/Danielson program, even though their face/heel dynamic is backward.  Orton/Christian had a really good program last summer; I'd look forward to a series of those matches.  There are rumored nostalgia acts; Mason Ryan getting the Diesel/Kane eliminations spot makes sense.  Miz getting the Backlund ironman spot makes sense.  (Only salvaged by the Sheamus/Jericho sequence at the end.  I like a Rumble that ends with a wrestling sequence.  The rest of the match was filled with comedy and novelty acts; you maybe want to see Kofi's spot, but if the only part of the whole show you see is Sheamus/Jericho, that's plenty)

That's the show - the Rumble is the only match of the year I go in assuming 3 stars; the gimmick alone is a guarantee of a match worth watching.  Add the possibility of a 4 star match with Punk/Ziggler and a likely 3 star Smackdown title match, and now you've got a good card.  I'm in on Rumble 2012.  (I shouldn't have been.)

10 Best Matches in Royal Rumble History:
1. Angle v. Benoit ('03)
2. HHH v. Cactus ('00)
3. Jericho v. Benoit ('01)
4. 2004 Rumble Match (Benoit)
5. 1992 Rumble Match (Flair)
6. Bret v. Diesel ('95)
7. Quebecers v. Bret/Owen ('94)
8. Rockers v. Orient Express ('91)
9. Hardys v. Dudleys ('00)
10. HBK v. HHH ('04)

Past Winners:

2011 - Alberto del Rio #38

2010 - Edge #29

2009 - Randy Orton #8

2008 - John Cena #30

2007 - Undertaker #30

2006 - Rey Mysterio #2

2005 - Batista #28

2004 - Chris Benoit #1

2003 - Brock Lesnar #29

2002 - Triple H #22

2001 - Steve Austin #27

2000 - The Rock #24

1999 - Mr. McMahon #2

1998 - Steve Austin #24

1997 - Steve Austin #5

1996 - Shawn Michaels #18

1995 - Shawn Michaels #1

1994 - Bret Hart #27, Lex Luger #24

1993 - Yokozuna #27

1992 - Ric Flair #3

1991 - Hulk Hogan #24

1990 - Hulk Hogan #25

1989 - Big John Studd #27

1988 - Jim Duggan #13

Athlete of the Month: January, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The 2011 Athlete of the Year is here.

Courtney Upshaw   Courtney Upshaw #41 of the Alabama Crimson Tide accepts the MVP award after winning the Capitol One Bowl against the Michigan State Spartans at the Florida Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.

Courtney Upshaw.  Runners-up: Matt Flynn, Vince Wilfork, Victor Cruz

And once again - the race for Athlete of the Year begins.

Prime 9 - Shortstops. The 9 Greatest Shortstops of All Time

Monday, January 23, 2012

A thousand 20th century games at short was the qualification to make the MLB Network list.  That means no Davis and Dahlen on its list, so I'll add two to mine. My top 200 is here.

MLB Network List:
1. Wagner
2. Rodriguez
3. Ripken
4. Banks
5. Smith
6. Vaughan
7. Jeter
8. Larkin
9. Appling

My List:
1. Wagner
2. Rodriguez
3. Vaughan
4. Ripken
5. Banks
6. Davis
7. Boudreau
8. Larkin
9. Dahlen

Ozzie and Yount would make my list to replace the 19th century players.  Jeter had a bad glove; using my metrics he's 66 wins above replacement for his career, Yount's 75.  Ozzie had a bad bat, his OPS+ is 87; that makes him tough for me to rank him as high as MLB does.

The Weekly Tendown January 15-21 2012 (Championship Sunday Edition)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dear Internet:

How am I getting ready for the 49ers return to the NFC Championship Game?

The same way as you, of course.

Better watch your behind if its in our way.

Here's Tendown 111. 110 is here.

1. Yes, I Picked New York.  Yes.
49er interest has caused this past couple of weeks to be the most highly trafficked in the history of the blog; you'll note on the right side that my all time 49er 45 man roster is now my most read post ever (I've updated all of my all time rosters to reflect the 2011 season, so consider searching for your favorite team).  I made a ton of historical posts this week: a look at every 49er NFC Championship game; and the history of the Niners/Giants rivalry;.  But here are my predictions for today's games.

Note that against the spread I'm 7-1 so far in the playoffs.  And I went 21-3 picking the Golden Globes.  If the world were a better place, I'd have a 900 number, a nickname that included the word "Steam", and I'd be living offshore to avoid a Megaupload (does no one in this country care about due process anymore?) like seizure of my website.

I've been a Niner fan since the 1978 season; I was 7 years old; our quarterback was Steve Deberg and my favorite player was OJ Simpson.  If you read my pieces during the Giants World Series run, you'll know that while my baseball fandom largely existed inside my head, football was an experience I always shared with my family.  My favorite childhood memories are watching 49ers games with my parents and eventually my younger brothers; we sat in the same seats, we ate at the same time; my mother would get too anxious and leave the room and I'd deliver play by play.  Other than the occasional girl who would let me see her naked, the highlights of my youth all involved watching games with my family.

I'm at home today; I watched the Saints game last week at my mom's with she and my youngest brother, which was good times.  But I had to work all morning and teach two five hour classes on Monday, so today I'm home.  My Ladygal enjoys college football (although she's an SEC fan, and who has the energy for all of that) but not so much the NFL.  Meaning - it's just me today.  I'm not particularly nervous; it's an unexpected bonus at this point.  I'd enjoy the whole Super Bowl experience again (particularly against New England) since it's been over 20 years now; two more weeks of getting to think about 49er football, so thats my primary motivation today.

I picked New York - and I think they'll win, but it's like 55/45, if the field is super slow and it turns into 60 minutes of handfighting, the evidence would suggest that's a game we're suited for.  We could be headed to our sixth Super Bowl by day's end.

2. You Know Who Would Like That?

San Francisco 49ers fan Matt Kemp.

I think I heard that Aubrey Huff's an old LA Rams fan.  Perhaps some type of swap is in order.

3. Two SI pieces to read.
On Alex Smith.
On the Niners/Giants rivalry.

4. Hey, What's All that Special Teams Dancing?

It's the Tony Montana squad.

5. Okay, Here's More Songs, Just For the Hell of It.
Tony Montana.
The 49er rap.

6. Who Was Irving Gordon?

The same person wrote both Who's On First and the Nat King Cole song Unforgettable.

7. Eyes Wide Shut Is Real!

Rosie O'Donnell was on Andy Cohen's show a week ago talking about attending parties with closeted Hollywood lesbians back in the day; where one might say "hey, look, Darlene from Roseanne is gay, how about that."

What would be good is if, more broadly, there were Hollywood Secrets parties - where everyone would have something to hide, and the party is where they could be who they are.  Anderson Cooper's banging Mike Piazza.  No judgment.  President Obama's really Muslim. No judgment. Rob Lowe actually passed away in 1998.  No judgment.

Tom Cruise is there.  He's there because he and Nicole Kidman never really broke up and they are all over each other.  It's the only place where they can express their love.  Why did they divorce?  Cruise is actually Katie Holmes's beard - not that she's gay, her secret is she was never able to choose between Dawson and Pacey and just keeps flipping back and forth.  It's enough Joey Potter!  You've caused enough damage for those two boys!

8. Didn't They Impeach Clinton?

Newt Gingrich crawled his way back into the Republican nomination this week.  And why not - it turns out that not only did he ask his first wife for a divorce when she was bed ridden with cancer; but when he was caught cheating on his second wife (who had multiple sclerosis) he asked her for an open marriage.

And when asked if he'd like to comment about that last revelation, at a South Carolina debate co-sponsored by a pro-marriage organization dedicated to fighting against gay rights given how they harm the sanctity of marriage, Gingrich attacked the question as coming from the elite media always looking to stir up trouble.

And earlier in the week, he responded to Juan Williams's questioning of Newt's reference to Obama as the "food stamp President" by asserting that the concept of work is apparently foreign to Williams.

Black President gives out food stamps.
Black reporter doesn't understand work.
Ex-wives are disturbed troublemakers.
Liberal news media won't tell the truth about how good White Christian men are being deliberately held back.

That's not a particularly charitable way to view Newt's South Carolina campaign this week, but I think it's accurate.

Democrats believe Gingrich to be easy pickings in a general election given the length of his megalomaniacal record and his inability to press the conservative Christian button as hard as is necessary to get the kind of turn out Republicans need.   Hard to say that those sleazy immoral secular Democrats are ruining the country when you're as larded in Newt-ness as Gingrich as been for two decades.

But yet - here we are.  My favorite "no, it's actually a sign of his moral strength that he keeps cheating on his wives" piece this week from the right wing was from "Don't let Chaz Bono on tv because he's a terrible role model for kids" Dr. Keith Ablow.

1) Three women have met Mr. Gingrich and been so moved by his emotional energy and intellect that they decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with him.
2) Two of these women felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married.
3) One of them felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married for the second time, was not exactly her equal in the looks department and had a wife (Marianne) who wanted to make his life without her as painful as possible.
Conclusion: When three women want to sign on for life with a man who is now running for president, I worry more about whether we'll be clamoring for a third Gingrich term, not whether we'll want to let him go after one. 

I think Romney's the nominee.  But Newt makes things fun.  There's literally nothing these guys won't say.

9. Where Am I Not Moving?  Indonesia.
Where they'll lock you up for saying there's no god.

10. Good Luck, Everyone

Go Niners.

That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time.  If there is a next time...

Your pal,


2012 NFL Playoff Predictions The Conference Championships

Friday, January 20, 2012

So, let's start here.

I'm 7-1 against the spread so far in the NFL playoffs.  Only the Saints scoring that late touchdown to spoil Detroit's backdoor cover keeps me from a perfect run.

Also, in that same post I made my Golden Globe picks.  I was 11-2 picking the film categories, 10-1 picking the television categories.

If you can find anyone with a better combination than that, go read his picks.

That said, I'm just 5-3 straight up in the playoffs and had the Saints to win the whole thing, so with that as the backdrop, here are my conference championship picks in order of confidence.

New York +2.5 San Francisco
I'm a 49er fan; I expect us to lose Sunday.

Coming into the playoffs, I expressed that if there were one team other than Saints/Packers, who were solidly the two best teams in football in the regular season, who might wind up with the trophy, it was New York. You don't want to overstate momentum, but if healthy, that's a team structured to duplicate the run last years Packers team went on.

And as readers of my football predictions pieces have been exposed to since pre-season, I have been fixated on this scenario of losing the NFC Championship game for awhile, and if that, as a result, would be less preferable than going 2-14 and drafting Andrew Luck.

Other than Vernon Davis, and the change of pace Kendall Hunter, I don't know if the 49ers have offensive weapons.  I get how that sounds a week after beating the Saints in an all time great shootout finish, but when you compare the danger in a now healthy Giants backfield to a clearly slowing Gore, and the 3 headed Giants wide receiver group, every member of which might be better than any 49ers wide receiver, and an elite quarterback in Eli Manning against (sorry) a game manager in Alex Smith (yes, he's coming off the game of his  life, yes, but as I talked about with Tebow, there's no reason to believe that's suddenly who he is - Alex Smith is an average quarterback who, since he turned the ball over so little this year in managing our field goal based offense, was a good ball control type quarterback.  Sure, he could do it again, sure he could - there's a reason we're 2.5 point favorites and not two touchdown underdogs, but generally, you are who you've been and not who you've been for 3 minutes a week ago) it's just hard to say we compare favorably on the offensive side.  And on the defense, while the front seven is tremendous and even with the Giants surging pass rush you'd still rather have our group, the secondary can be exploited as the Saints did in their comeback a week ago.  Absent those five Saints turnovers (absent our enormous turnover advantage all season) we lose last week.  And turnovers...turnovers are hard to count on.

Look - we could win, it's a close call.  I am as immersed in Bay Area sports culture as I could be from the other side of the continent, and there is a full on "the good times are back" vibe going on right now that I really enjoy.  I've always said I'd rather lose the NFC Championship than the Super Bowl - but that doesn't apply anymore; I'd like this ride another two weeks, even if it ends badly (if we win, I'm picking the Niners in the Super Bowl).  If it's Sunday night and the San Francisco 49ers are going to their 6th Super Bowl - I'll be cheering as loudly as anyone and I won't be startled by the result.

But if you're picking - New York's better than we are, they match up well, our offense is more likely to be what it has been all season long than be what it was in the last few minutes of our most recent game, and I'll take the Giants both plus the number and straight up.

New England -7 Baltimore
The Patriots are better; they're probably going to win.  The number's down to 7 and I'll buy in at that number. New England's defense is kinda crummy and Baltimore should take some advantage of that - but the most likely result of the game is the Patriots win by a touchdown and they get the rematch with New York that supporters of both teams assume is coming.

Go Niners.

The History of the San Francisco 49ers vs. New York Giants Rivalry

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The San Francisco 49ers have played 35 games against the New York Giants.

We've won 18.  They've won 17.  We've played 7 times in the playoffs, we've won 4.

The Giants have never lost in the NFC Championship game.  They meet again Sunday.

Here are the 35 previous meetings.

San Francisco 49ers 14 at New York Giants 23
Sunday, November 9, 1952

A decade later he'd be a New York Giant, but in the first ever game between the Giants and Niners, YA Tittle was the 26 year old starting QB for San Francisco.  He threw 3 picks that day and New York won that matchup.

New York Giants 38 at San Francisco 49ers 21

Sunday, September 30, 1956


Four years later Tittle was joined by Perry, Johnson, and McElhenny in the Million Dollar Backfield, but we turned it over 4 times and got beat to open the season in '56.

San Francisco 49ers 27 at New York Giants 17

Sunday, December 1, 1957

A mediocre Niners team was our first ever representative in the NFL playoffs, a December win in New York helped get us there as we forced 7 Giants turnovers.

New York Giants 21 at San Francisco 49ers 19
Sunday, September 25, 1960

Three years later Candlestick was under construction, the Niners were still in Kezar and in the middle of a 13 year long playoff drought.  That didn't get any better in our season opener, as we lost to the Giants 21-19.

San Francisco 49ers 14 at New York Giants 48
Sunday, November 17, 1963

Three years later the longtime Niner Tittle was in New York throwing 4 scores against one of the all time terrible San Francisco squads the week before Kennedy was killed.  There wouldn't be a worse Niner team than this until 2004.  The QB - Lamar McHan.  The leading rusher - JD Smith.  The leading receiver - Bernie Casey.  There you go.

San Francisco 49ers 26 at New York Giants 10
Sunday, October 20, 1968

Dick Nolan took over in '68 and the slog through the 60s began to bear a little fruit; we tore through the Giants on the ground in this one; Gary Lewis went 16 for 101 and Ken Willard was 15 for 84 with a score and added four receptions.  We took a 23-3 lead into the 4th and eased into our second ever win over the Giants.

New York Giants 23 at San Francisco 49ers 17
Sunday, October 15, 1972

New York almost missed the upper tier Niner teams of the era, as we didn't play again until '72.  In the intervening years the Niners played in back to back NFC Championship games (losing, natch) but they caught  up with New York here.

And lost.

Gene Washington (see if you can find him next to his girlfriend in the above picture) caught two scores, but we lost what turned out to be the first of five straight times against the Giants.

New York Giants 26 at San Francisco 49ers 23

Sunday, December 21, 1975

Do you know who played for the '75 Niners?  Bullet Bob Hayes.

Hard to believe a team with Tom Owen as its starting quarterback lost this game to the Giants, but we did.

San Francisco 49ers 17 at New York Giants 20

Sunday, October 16, 1977

Eddie D had taken over the Niners two years later, but the losing continued - the Niners were winless when they went to New York in week 5 of '77 and left the same way, even though we held the Giants to 154 yards.  Here was Joe Pisarcik's passing numbers against us:

2 for 6.  47 yards.  1 TD.  Mysteriously, those numbers did not cause Joe Pisarcik to be revered for his high character and magical abilities to win football games.

San Francisco 49ers 10 at New York Giants 27
Sunday, September 24, 1978

The '78 team was my first ever Niners club; this game was the day before my 8th birthday and even though we were winless, I was all in with OJ Simpson  (my first ever favorite athlete) and the up and coming 49ers.  We lost an extra tight game in Houston against Earl Campbell the week prior, and this was going to be our coming out party.

Steve Deberg threw 4 picks and we got blown out.

San Francisco 49ers 16 at New York Giants 32
Sunday, October 14, 1979

Moustache Montana was on the bench watching Phil Simms throw for two scores when we lost this game in '79.

I was ready each week for things to turn around, Paul Hofer was good, averaging five yards a carry, James Owens seemed an exciting rookie kick returner.  And the losing continued - New York scored 27 in the second to win their fifth in a row and 9th of 11 against us.

New York Giants 0 at San Francisco 49ers 12
Sunday, November 23, 1980

When did Joe Montana make it clear he was the starting quarterback for the 49ers?

This game.

With Steve DeBerg still behind center, The Niners had lost 8 straight, but beat the Giants here 12-0 (the only shutout in the history of the rivalry) behind Montana's 66 yard score to Earl Cooper.  Two weeks later was the great comeback against the Saints, and the following season we won the whole thing.

New York Giants 10 at San Francisco 49ers 17
Sunday, November 29, 1981

We beat the Giants twice in '81; the first in Week 13; we forced 5 turnovers including 2 Carlton Williamson interceptions. Pretty good since Freddie Solomon was forced to take the field against 36 Giants at a time.  

New York Giants 24 at San Francisco 49ers 38
Sunday, January 3, 1982

And the second was the first round of the playoffs; Joe was 20 of 31 for 304 and scores to Young and Solomon.  The first ever playoff meeting between 49ers and Giants went to San Francisco 30 years ago.  We were penalized 14 times for 145 yards, both Freddie and Dwight had over a hundred yards receiving, Ronnie had two picks, returning one for a score.

San Francisco 49ers 31 at New York Giants 10
Monday October 8, 1984
The Giants then had to play us twice the next time we won the Super Bowl (perhaps it happens again this year?) when considering regular season and postseason, the best all around Niner team was '84, and our first ever Monday Night meeting against New York was in Week 6 of the '84 season, the week before we lost our only game of the year.  This game was never close, 28-3 at halftime following what was maybe the best moment of Skeets Nehemiah's NFL career, a 59 yard first quarter touchdown pass from Montana.  Joe threw two more (Frank/Craig) and Simms got picked twice.  It wasn't ever close.

New York Giants 10 at San Francisco 49ers 21
Saturday, December 29, 1984

Just as we did three years previous, we opened the playoffs by whipping New York.  All of the points were scored by halftime; New York didn't score an offensive touchdown.  Simms got sacked 6 times and picked twice.  We had beaten the Giants five straight times. What rivalry?  We own these guys.

San Francisco 49ers 3 at New York Giants 17
Sunday, December 29, 1985

A year later, it was San Francisco going to New York for a playoff game and the fortunes reversed.  It was the Niners who couldn't score a touchdown; Joe got sacked 4 times and intercepted once and the Niners got pushed around.

New York Giants 21 at San Francisco 49ers 17
Monday, December 1, 1986

A year later the Giants and Niners met for their second ever Monday night game, and this one went the other way. We went into halftime up 17-0 on two Rice scores and then watched it get away; New York scored 3 times in the third and the 4th turned into a war of attrition.  The "49ers aren't physical enough to play with these Giants" storyline became an official part of this rivalry when Bavaro carried our secondary twenty yards down the field.

San Francisco 49ers 3 at New York Giants 49
Sunday, January 4, 1987

We had beaten the Giants twice in both our Super Bowl seasons - this was New York's first Super Bowl, their second win of the season against us, and our bloodiest ever playoff loss.  Joe got knocked out on a second quarter Jim Burt hit, threatening his career.  We had fewer than 200 yards of total offense, and New York scored 21 points in both the second and third quarters.  We turned it over 4 times and the 49-3 final was reached by the end of the third quarter.  The Montana era Niners almost never just got their heads kicked in - this game felt like a punch to the prefrontal cortex

San Francisco 49ers 41 at New York Giants 21
Monday, October 5, 1987

The, er...rematch?...was 9 months later; the '87 Niner scab team got much needed revenge in front of 16,000 in the Meadowlands on a Monday night.  Mark Stevens threw a 39 yard TD pass to Carl Monroe (who scored a touchdown in a bigger game three years before) and also rushed for a score; the Niners scab team played well, the returning Niners then dominated the league when the stoppage ended, becoming the best 49er regular season team of all time and our most surprising non World Champion

San Francisco 49ers 20 at New York Giants 17
Sunday, September 11, 1988

A year later was a full fledged quarterback kerfuffle.  Joe was pulled at halftime of the playoff loss to the Vikings, and after theoretically injuring his elbow in week 1 he was on the bench the next week - Steve became the starting quarterback in Week 2 of the season in New York.  He was okay, 11 of 18 of 115 - but he got pulled at the half and, miraculously, Joe was healthy enough to replace him.  With 42 seconds left and the Niners down 17-13, Joe hit a streaking Rice for a 78 yard touchdown to give us the win.

New York Giants 24 at San Francisco 49ers 34
Monday, November 27, 1989

What a crazy ass Monday night game this was between two 9-2 teams.  Joe was 27 of 33 for 292 and 3 scores; LT got taken away in an ambulance, and we went into halftime up 24-10.  But New York closed on us with two second half scores to tie it at 24.  A late drive seemed to end on a missed Cofer FG - but New York lined up offsides, and he made the second kick.  A Simms pick turned into a meaningless Niner score (except, I'd guess, for those investing in the game) and we were on our way to Super Bowl number 4.

New York Giants 3 at San Francisco 49ers 7
Monday, December 3, 1990

By now the late season Niners/Giants MNF matchup was a standard part of the sports calendar.  This was the matchup of 11-1 teams that ended with Ronnie Lott and Phil Simms going nose to nose.  There weren't many penalties, there was only one turnover - this wasn't a mistake filled defensive struggle - this was the two best teams in the NFL punching each other in the neck for 60 minutes.  John Taylor's second quarter touchdown was the only one either team would get.

New York Giants 15 at San Francisco 49ers 13
Sunday, January 20, 1991

The 4th playoff meeting between the Niners and Giants was the end of the 1980s.  Joe Montana was never the starting quarterback for the 49ers again; there was no Threepeat, Ronnie Lott and Roger Craig played their last games in San Francisco and New York kicked 5 field goals to beat us in the NFC Championship game.  You may see some clips of that this week.  I've been a Niner fan with some memory of every single game since I was 7 years old; I'm now 41.  This was absolutely the worst loss we've had in those 34 years and there's not an argument to the contrary.

San Francisco 49ers 14 at New York Giants 16
Monday, September 2, 1991

The annual Niners/Giants Monday Night game opened the '91 season - Steve was now the starting quarterback, but again Matt Bahr kicked us to death, three field goals meant a 16-14 Giants win.

San Francisco 49ers 31 at New York Giants 14
Sunday, September 6, 1992

First came the '92 season opener - Young got knocked out early; Joe was still injured from the 1990 NFC Championship - but Steve Bono went 15 for 22 for 187 and 2 scores.  We got 4 sacks and 2 turnovers and Tom Rathman scored twice.

New York Giants 3 at San Francisco 49ers 44
Saturday, January 15, 1994

How you like that, New York? It wasn't 49-3, but it was close.  The Giants came to Candlestick for the divisional round of the '93 playoffs and they got hit by 5 Ricky Watters touchdowns.  How about a 44 point 49er game without a single passing touchdown?  This was that.  New York had less than 200 yards of offense and as Joe's 49er career essentially ended against the Giants; this was Phil Simms' last game.

New York Giants 6 at San Francisco 49ers 20

Sunday, October 1, 1995

The Giants team which came to town the following season was Dave Brown and Herschel Walker.  We swept them away, up 20-3 in the third in a game never really in doubt.

New York Giants 7 at San Francisco 49ers 31

Monday, November 30, 1998

It had been 7 years since the previous Niners/Giants Monday Night game (and 13 years later, there hasn't been once subsequent) when New York came to town in 1998.  466 yards of offense later we sent them on their way - a 79 yard touchdown pass from Young to Owens, a 70 yard touchdown run by Hearst - the Kent Graham Giants were outgunned all night long.

San Francisco 49ers 16 at New York Giants 13
Thursday, September 5, 2002

Four years later the 2002 season opened with the Niners visiting the Giants; three Kerry Collins interceptions and 3 Jose Cortez Field Goals gave us the 16-13 win.

New York Giants 38 at San Francisco 49ers 39

Sunday, January 5, 2003

The second biggest comeback in playoff history.

Amani Toomer caught 3 first half touchdowns; the Niners were down 38-14 with 4 minutes left in the 4th quarter (which was when my parents left my house; this may have been the last Niners game the three of us watched together).  Then Garcia hit Owens from 26 (Owens's second score of the game) plus a 2 pt conversion to Owens; then Garcia, who had 331 yards passing and 60 rushing had a 14 yard touchdown run that was recalled this past Saturday by Alex Smith's run in the way that the Owens catch and cry against the Packers seemed reborn by Vernon Davis's game winner.  A second Owens two point conversion cut the deficit to 8.  A field goal and a 68 yard touchdown drive in two minutes capped by a Tai Streets score gave us the 39-38 win saved when New York botched a potential game winning field goal at the gun.

New York Giants 24 at San Francisco 49ers 6
Sunday, November 6, 2005

When the Giants came to San Francisco 3 years later, the 49ers starting quarterback was Cody Pickett.

San Francisco 49ers 15 at New York Giants 33
Sunday, October 21, 2007

When the 49ers went to New York two years later, San Francisco's starting quarterback was Trent Dilfer.

San Francisco 49ers 17 at New York Giants 29
Sunday, October 19, 2008

And when the 49ers went back to New York the next season, the San Francisco quarterback was JT O'Sullivan.

The worst stretch in 49er history, the mid 2000s, and 3 straight losses to New York.  You're welcome, Big Blue.

New York Giants 20 at San Francisco 49ers 27
Sunday, November 13, 2011

17-17.  That was the rivalry total as of November, 2011; David Akers kicked 4 field goals and the Niners withstood a Giant rally to win 27-20

60 years of football later; they meet again.  Niners/Giants this Sunday.

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