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The Heretic

Member Since 24 Dec 2004
Offline Last Active Today, 05:08 AM

Topics I've Started

2015 NFL Season preview

25 July 2015 - 11:57 PM

In this thread, I'll be posting more exhaustive previews of each team, and will post a bunch once a week. First up I have 4 teams from the AFC.

AFC

New York Jets: The Jets have moved on from the Rex era to new Coach Bowles and GM McCagnan, who should work together better than their predecessors. The roster is talented at WR, but mediocre on the line. QB Geno will return as the starter, but he must improve (stop holding the ball too long, read safeties better, maintain mechanics while on the move) if the Jets want to win more.

Luckily the Jets have a potentially great defense, with an improved secondary (3 brand new and superior replacements) and a schematic genius in Bowles. He will likely blitz more with safeties and inside linebackers than Rex did, and stick with what worked in run blitzes. They will have to generate pass rush from other sources than their problematic LB corps, but there's talent in Davis and Coples. The DL is completely outstanding with Harrison and Richardson up front, and Wilkerson inside. Rookie Williams will have to step up during Richardson's 4 game suspension. CB Darrelle Revis is back from New England, and will team up with free agent CB Cromartie to terrorize receivers.

The Jets also dramatically upgraded their WR corps with free agent Marshall, who will get open and catch tough receptions. Rookie Devin Smith will take the top off with his insane speed. RB Ridley and Stacy will help out incumbent RB Ivory with versatility. Free agent Carpenter is an upgrade on the OL, loaded with solid tackles in D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Giacomini, and a great center in Mangold. But as usual, it comes down to the QB, so they will need everyone else to step up to keep pressure off from Geno Smith. As long the offense doesn't cough up the ball, the defense will keep them in every game.

Prediction: 6-10

Indianapolis Colts: Built to win now, with league MVP frontrunner in QB Luck, and a loaded roster, (upgraded RB and WR spots), playoff experience, as well as a cake walk schedule, the Colts have high expectations for this upcoming season. However, they reloaded with veterans at the end of their careers (Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, Trent Cole). They have a solid secondary in S Adams and CB Davis, but the linebackers are pitiful (can't cover or blitz). Their defensive and offensive lines are below average up front, and DE Mathis is 34 & coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon. Coach Pagano needs to improve his play calls, schematics, and other aspects of coaching. Most important of all? Luck needs to step it up in the playoffs. He's been as bad as notorious choke artist QB Dalton, surprisingly enough.

Prediction: 13-3

Oakland Raiders: They upgraded the coach from crappy to serviceable with Jack Del Rio, and the talent level is improving. The defense has been brutal against the pass (30th in sacks and 30th in takeaways), so they have to step up. DL Edwards, Mack and Tuck must get more sacks, help out their young cornerbacks. The offensive line, solid last year, picked up C Hudson. Rookie WR Cooper, free agents RB Richardson and Helu will help the offense improve, and veteran WR Crabtree will be solid. QB Carr proved himself last season with a powerful arm and steady leadership, but he must cut down on turnovers and improve accuracy. If the Raiders cut down on turnovers, and force the other team into giveaways, they will start winning again, after 12 straight losing seasons.

Prediction: 6-10


Cincinnati Bengals: Despite having what appears to be the deepest team in the league, they have nothing to show for it other than choking in the playoffs. They have talent as well (WR A.J. Green, RB Hill & Bernard, DT Atkins, etc.), but no results in the playoffs. Is Gingerbread QB the culprit? He needs to spread the wealth more instead of chucking it to WR Green every down. They need guys like WR Jones and Eifert to recover from injuries and help draw pressure off Green. RB Hill & Bernard are a great versatile combination, and the OL is very solid. Bengals need to generate more sacks, cuz they were dead last in sack percentage. QB Luck exposed this weakness in the playoffs. Luckily the Bengals got DE Johnson back, but they need Atkins to generate more turnovers after slumping for the past two seasons. Also, the secondary show promise, although their veteran corners Hall and Pacman need to be consistent, and their young talent Kirkpatrick and Dennard need to step up. If the pass rush steps up, the Bengals will have an elite defense and surprise everyone in the playoffs. Despite having a stacked roster, they're still not very good at QB.

Prediction: 10-6

2015 NBA Playoffs Picks

16 April 2015 - 07:46 PM

Eastern Conference

Brooklyn Nets @ Atlanta Hawks

The Nets can win if C Brook Lopez keeps playing like an All-Star and overpowers C Horford, forcing the Hawks to double-team him and open up shots for the Nets' perimeter guys. However, the Hawks will win because they are a well-oiled machine where players will consistently step up and cover for one another. Moreover, they're a confident team led by a superior coach, and will be too multi-dimensional for the Nets to counteract.
Hawks in 5
Posted Image
Boston Celtics @ Cleveland Cavaliers
The Celtics can steal this series if their deep backcourt controls PG Kyrie Irving. The Celtics actually flourished after the all-star break, and are rolling right now. However, the Cavaliers will win handily because LBJ will dominate the Celtics by feeding easy buckets to C Mozgov and PF Thompson, taking pressure off playoff-rookies in Love & Irving.
Cavaliers in 5
Posted Image

Milwaukee Bucks @ Chicago Bulls
The Bucks can steal this series if F Middleton limits Butler and PG MCW destroys Rose, and their collective athleticism and length forces the tempo into their liking. However, the Bulls will win because even if PG Rose and SG Butler are shut down, they can go to Pau Gasol – he averaged 24 and 13 against the Bucks this season. The Bucks do not have enough offensive firepower to keep up with the now-versatile Bulls (Noah and Gibson up front, Dunleavy and Hinrich from outside, and the unstoppable Mirotic off the bench).
Chicago in 6

Washington Wizards @ Toronto Raptors
The Raptors can win if PG Lowry wins his matchup vs PG John Wall, and they actually play defense for a change. The Wizard will win if Wall relentlessly attacks the hoop instead of settling for the open jumper. As long the Wizards play stout defense and slow down the pace to prevent the Raptors from going off, the series won't go the distance.Posted Image
Wizards in 6

Western Conference

New Orleans Pelicans @ Golden State Warriors

The Pelicans can win if Anthony Davis completely dominates the paint and limit the Warriors to jumpshots. Yes, they're good from outside, but they're also prolific slashers. However, the Warriors will win cuz they're nigh invincible at home (39-2), and they have a stout interior defense in Bogut and DPOY favorite, Draymond Green. Expect the Splash Brothers to detonate regardless of what the Pelicans do.
Warriors in 5

Dallas Mavericks @ Houston Rockets
The Mavericks can win if SG Ellis offsets MVP candidate Harden, on offense and defense both, and both PF Nowitzki & SF Chandler are effective and productive. However, the Rockets will win because of the Beard, who hasn't led the team into the second round. As long Howard controls the paint and the combination of veterans in Prigioni & Terry step up, the Rockets will eke out a competitive 7 game victory.Posted Image
Rockets in 7

San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers will win if PG Paul consistently feeds PF Griffin inside, who can out-athlete either defender (Splitter or Duncan) and control the pace. However, the Spurs will win because they're peaking at the right time. Even though they're playing on the road, the veteran Spurs will not get rattled. Expect SF Leonard to dominate his inferior counterpart in Barnes or Crawford and lead the Three Amigos to the second round.Posted Image
Spurs in 7

Portland Trailblazers @ Memphis Grizzlies
The Blazers can win if PG Lillard and PF Aldridge dominate, and their bench steps up. However, the Grizzlies will win as long they go through their bigs in PF Randolph and C Gasol. The Grindhouse is a tough place to win. Then again - neither team is at full strength, so it could come down to whichever team's replacements steps up.Posted Image
Grizzlies by 6

Birdman: A Critique of the Superhero Genre?

05 February 2015 - 07:13 AM

Last night as I sat down to ink a page of Pantheon, I watched the latest and greatest from wunderkind director, Innaritu, Birdman. Suffice to say, I had to hit pause every now and then – between dipping the nibs in the fountain inkwell – to reflect on the just-witnessed intense scenes. At the end of the film, it all clicked – it was, indeed, a critique of the superhero genre – but at a cost.

The film works on several levels: the satirical level, the meta level, the tragic, and best of all, the self-referential absurdist level. The naked misanthropy was delicious – each character kept creating fresh delusions in the process of shattering their older delusions. Riggan (Michael Keaton) is your classic failed narcissist – shallow, self-centered, but self-hating and caustic – while being constantly plagued by the Birdman, a hilariously macho superhero he used to play in the distant past. Casting Keaton as a former superhero reinforced the ironic metatextual sentiment – and no doubt this also applied to Ed Norton as the deadly serious veteran of method acting.

Several times, some character condemns the superhero genre as some pathetic wish-fulfillment, but the film successfully drew us into the exact same trappings of the genre with spectacular magic realism. The dichotomy between entertainment and art – between the comic book superhero Birdman and the hard-boiled truth of theater - is mere artifice, a house of cards that eventually exposes theater as just another escapist fantasy.

Inarritu's attempt at the critique of the superhero genre reveals a level of maturity he did not achieve in his earlier films (21 Grams, Babel, or Biutiful) because he managed to sublimate his moral vision (which is prone to fatalism) with cinematic and narrative devices. The cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki unleashes his full talent with long takes of unbearably intense scenes. As the film barreled to a hyperrealistic climax, I'm left wondering whether this paralleled Inarritu's own sense of directing, whether Birdman is the confession that Inarritu was always already the superhero director he wanted to be.

NFL 2015 Super Bowl Picks

28 January 2015 - 05:32 PM

Going 7-3 in the playoffs is nice, but it means zippo if you get the biggest game of the year wrong. :finger:

New England Patriots @ Seattle Seahawks (+1)

This might be the closest Super Bowl game of all time – even Las Vegas casinos are clueless. The line opened at -2.5 for the Seahawks, and as of this writing, it swung to Patriots, -1.

Patriots' strongest suit is their adaptability – they can run smash-mouth with RB Blount or dissect defenses with Brady's superior passing acumen. Moreover, the Patriots will be twice as fired up after all that deflation accusations from last week. The biggest Patriots weapon, TE Gronkowski is nearly unstoppable – after he gets the ball. The Seahawks secondary is built for that – ball denial. They have the players to challenge him on the release and play him straight up prior to the pass. Safeties Chancellor & Thomas will at least minimize the Gronk, and force Brady to look elsewhere at times. After all the Seahawks are working on a historic defense (finished first in three straight seasons). They must pressure Brady at the line, force him into coverage sacks. DE Avril and Bennett are capable of destroying the Patriots' OL, while the Legion of Boom will erase the Patriots' WR corps out of existence.

The Seahawks will not survive an old-fashioned shootout with the Patriots, meaning they'll have to rely heavily on Beast Mode to control the game. The Patriots will be forced to bring their safeties closer into the box to stop RB Lynch. Although the Seahawks' WR corps are bland and nondescript, and will be completely blanketed by the superior Patriots secondary, QB Wilson will buy time scrambling until they get open or gallop for the first down, and force the Patriots' defense to sacrifice a linebacker as a spy. Best of all - Russell Wilson is equally as clutch as Brady has been.

Adding all these up spells a Seahawks victory, first back to back Super Bowl titles in a decade.

Seattle over New England, 21-20

Black Mirror

16 January 2015 - 05:55 PM

God Bless Charlie Brooker. :cheers:

Last year I started watching this wicked satire Black Mirror and immediately fell in love.

Dystopian stories where technological advances haven't the slightest impact on immutable human nature, except reveal deeper and darker layers.

This thread is meant to discuss the larger issues contained in the anthology.

If you haven't had the pleasure, go see it ASAP and let the Johnathan Swift of the 21st century work his magic. :thumb: