National Football League

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Even though opposing teams both have to play in the same weather on game day, hopefully weather will not have a big effect on the games.

If weather is bad in SF though, playing surface might be an important factor. The Giants play on FieldTurf at MetLife stadium, but the Niners Candlestick Park is grass. I've seen bad weather there make for poor footing. If that's the case, might a RB like Gore actually be at a bit of a disadvantage with his running style? I think it might, but I don't recall seeing him in those kind of conditions.
 
Well, if it's a muddy mess and wet and windy, it will definitely help SF, big time.

On offense the Giants were 32nd in the league running the ball this year, and Jacobs is nursing a foot injury. The 49ers were 1st in the league on defense against the run and gave up only one rushing TD all season. You can do the math on that one.

On defense the Giants were 19th at stopping the run, while the 49ers were 8th in rushing, while Gore spent part of the middle of the season hurt (including the first game between these teams).

Having pointed that out, I see no indications that the weather or field will be a big factor, at least as of now.

I also expect Eli to attempt to throw on nearly every down, and the 49ers to play them to pass on nearly every single down. Who executes better wins the game.
 
Jul 29, 2009
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Alpe d'Huez said:
Well, if it's a muddy mess and wet and windy, it will definitely help SF, big time.

On offense the Giants were 32nd in the league running the ball this year, and Jacobs is nursing a foot injury. The 49ers were 1st in the league on defense against the run and gave up only one rushing TD all season. You can do the math on that one.

On defense the Giants were 19th at stopping the run, while the 49ers were 8th in rushing, while Gore spent part of the middle of the season hurt (including the first game between these teams).

Having pointed that out, I see no indications that the weather or field will be a big factor, at least as of now.

I also expect Eli to attempt to throw on nearly every down, and the 49ers to play them to pass on nearly every single down. Who executes better wins the game.
I think you mean Bradshaw and he's been nursing foot injuries for the last few seasons. (he also missed the first meeting btw)

The Giants rushing has been uncharacteristicly poor this season so the the burden has fallen on Eli to a greater extent but they still run a pretty balanced offence in terms of attempts. It's just that Eli's been left with far too many third and longs. The ground game has picked up in the latter half of the season which has helped and similalrly run defence has also picked up. From memory after the first few games the Gianst were almost last in run D so if they're now up to 19th they must have improved quite a bit in the latter half of the season.

This game is going to be close whatever the weather. I can see a lot of three and outs, fighting for field position etc.

I think it will be decided on whether the Giants get field goals or touchdowns when they hit the Red (Or if your Tom C) Green zone. The 49's defence has been outstanding in that area and the Giants have a history of failing to pick up 7.
 
Yes, Bradshaw has the hurt foot. My bad.

I would actually say the 49ers had just as tough of time getting into the end zone. In several games they kicked relatively short FG's because Smith couldn't get them there.

Actually, Eli's pass protection has been stellar these last several weeks, and they only gave up 28 sacks all season, 7th best in the NFL. Running the ball however, they were last in total yards, last in YPP, and last in runs over 10 yards. They were okay getting the ball into the endzone on the ground, but this is SF's strength. This is why I say the Giants won't hardly even try to run on Sunday. But it may not even matter, as I also said, unless the field gets really messy, or it's really wet and windy. A light rain and somewhat sketchy field may actually help the short passing game for both teams, as the receivers can run short timing routs that the defense can't as easily cut on and defend.

I'll give a more detailed analysis tonight or tomorrow.
 
Alpe d'Huez said:
Well, if it's a muddy mess and wet and windy, it will definitely help SF, big time.
I wanted to come back to this idea. Even if it's just a muddy mess, that should favor SF. But to make the ground game work, the team that makes it work will do it between the tackles, running more north-south so the running backs don't need to do as much cutting (and losing footing) to get upfield for yards. And to get it done that way will require the OL to dominate the DL. Forget the perimeter. Besides that, the Giants defense has pretty good speed to cover the perimeter. So if the field is a mess, I would expect SF to try and get most of their rushing yards between the tackles. The same should go for the NYG rushing offense, but the problem for the NYG OL is the SF defensive line is pretty stinking good. So, yeah, in the rushing game... advantage SF.

I thought the Geeeee-Men OL were a little banged up during the regular season, but are all back now. I don't know if that is right or not, as the NYG team website does not show a depth chart. If so, the NYG running game might get interesting.
 
Giants injury report and depth chart can be found here. 49ers can befound here. Ravens here. Patriots here. Keep in mind that the coaches put those out. So if you actually think David Bass, Ed Reid or Patrick Willis are truly "questionable" I have a bridge to sell you...

Here are some more thoughts on the AFC Championship.

The Ravens would love to have this game be a repeat of the 2009 WC game, which is maybe the worst Pats playoff game ever. But that game was a joke with all the turnovers and botched plays. In this game they are likely to try to run Rice as much as they can, Ricky Williams some too. Look for Belicheck to key on this and try to take that away from the Ravens and force Flacco to beat them. If he has a good game, he could. The Pats had a weak defense all year, often poor against the pass, but for many of those games Patrick Chung and Brandon Spikes were hurt, they are now back and played some last week. The Pats may play first to contain the run, then stunt and run some exotic blitzes to confuse Flacco. A lot has been said about the Ravens inability to move the ball for the last 3Q against the Texans, well, that's because Houston has a top defense. The Pats do not....right?

On the other side of the ball things get interesting. Look for the Patriots to run a lot of hurry up, quick strike plays. The Ravens will try to put Suggs or Johnson directly on Gronkowski to try to jam him at the line, then/or double him up on coverage. The problem with this is that the Pats may run a two TE set with Hernandez, or put Hernandez or Gronk way off the line, in the backfield or motion as they did last week. The Ravens may try to run a lot of dime and quarter packages with 6-7 DBs leaving only Lewis (and/or Suggs) in at LB, which is how the Jets beat the Pats last year. Watch this video, specifically the Jets defensive formation and coverage at 2:35, 3:02, 4:15, and 5:08 as an example. But if the Ravens can't get into coverage that quickly they'll leave gaps 8 yards off the scrimmage, and Brady will eat them alive. I'm not so sure the Ravens can play this type of defense, especially if the Pats are in the hurry up and Brady is on, and to me this is a tall order for the Ravens to stop. They'll do it some, but if it's only 2 out of 3 plays, that's not enough. They also must stop this early and disrupt the Pats early. If the Pats get out to a lead of more than a TD they may never lose it. The Ravens have to keep the game close, and out of Brady's hands as much as possible.

I'm sticking with Foxxy's prediction of 28-20 Patriots.

NFC thoughts later.
 
NFC thoughts leading into the weekend. Here's what I'm going to look for:

When the Giants have the ball they are going to try to score the first time they get the ball, the first drive, and get into some sort of rhythm. They're also going to try to establish some sort of run early, if only a little. If they can do this, and stay in that rhythm through the first few possessions, and Eli has a good game, they should win. The 49ers don't play defense however the way the Packers do. As a matter of fact, the Packers were last in defense, the 49ers were 4th (2nd in points). The 49ers also play a fairly conservative man containment, while the Packers run a series of zone blitzes. The 49ers are also are more physical than the Packers. As I said before, I expect Harbaugh and Fangio to play the Giants to pass on every single down and force them to run the ball on them. They may not run quarter packages, but expect a lot of nickles and the LB's to quickly drop into a lot of coverage. As Foxxy said, toss the takeaway ratio out the window. If the 49ers can hold the Giants to FG's, they'll be very happy.

When the 49ers have the ball look for a lot of running, and passes when and where not expected. Very similar to the Saints game, but more running. The Giants will likely double Davis up on every single play, bring the CB's up, and try to force Alex Smith to throw the ball down the field. A lot of the media out there (most based in NYC) keep saying that Alex Smith had one good game, against the Saints, unlike Eli who was great all year. Really? A look at the NFL stats find that Smith was actually ranked 9th in QB rating. Just two slots behind Eli. He was ahead of Big Ben, ahead of Rivers, and 19 spots and 20 points ahead of Rex Grossman. Say what? Well, Grossman and the Redskins twice beat the Giants this year. As recent as a month ago. How? By running a fairly conservative offense, similar to the 49ers. But while I think Smith is better than given credit for, I just don't expect a lot of consistent drives from the 49ers. I don't see it happening.

Other factors:

I'm not as sold on Eli as everyone else. I think he's rather fortunate to play for a team with such a great OL and solid defense, good receivers. He's seemed to have won a few games on luck even. I find him erratic. At times great, others poor with bad decisions. I question his arm strength and accuracy on the move and under pressure. He was coveted because of his name as much as anything and has many apologist fans. On a team like Buffalo or Arizona, he'd be no better than Ryan Fitzpatrick or Kevin Kolb.

The Giants have more experience and know how to win this time of year. I also think they have a slight edge in coaching. Probably.

The 49ers are one of the toughest teams I saw all year. Similar to the Steelers or Ravens, whom they split games with. Ray Lewis referred to Patrick Willis as the LB most like himself. I do however think the Giants are prepared for all this.

The weather and field has to favor SF, but I don't know how much. A slowish field and even light rain can actually help the receivers a little. But if it's really wet and the field is a mushy mess, it will be the great equalizer. Candlestick is a pit and always has been, so if it really is wet, and the field soaked... Remember, if both teams have to run a lot, the Giants were last in the league at running, and the 49ers were 1st at defending it, by a whopping 15 yards over the 2nd place Ravens. But the Giants may not need to be able to run the ball, at all. They may be able to walk away with 50 yards total rushing and Eli passing on nearly every down and still win.

Finally, I'm going to change my score, but not my pick. I think the 49ers will play good, but the Giants will move the ball a little more and win 20-19.
 
Jun 15, 2009
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on3m@n@rmy said:
If weather is bad in SF though, playing surface might be an important factor. The Giants play on FieldTurf at MetLife stadium, but the Niners Candlestick Park is grass.
I think it´s not, never was. Sorry. ;)
Just take SF-NO as latest example. How much was written about that NO can´t score big on grass, and then they came up w/32 pts vs. one of the better defenses, despite turning the ball over 5 times.
I agree that (bad) weather, especially strong winds impact the passing game to a certain degree. But the effect is minimal concerning the running game.

Alpe d'Huez said:
On offense the Giants were 32nd in the league running the ball this year, and Jacobs is nursing a foot injury. The 49ers were 1st in the league on defense against the run and gave up only one rushing TD all season. You can do the math on that one.
That´s what i say since years: running the ball is irrelevant. Live and die in the passing battle.

SirLes said:
The Giants rushing has been uncharacteristicly poor this season so the the burden has fallen on Eli to a greater extent but they still run a pretty balanced offence in terms of attempts. It's just that Eli's been left with far too many third and longs. The ground game has picked up in the latter half of the season which has helped
That is (next to Eli´s talent) my biggest concern w/the NYG. Coughlin is too "Norvish", meaning running too much in the wall, wasting downs, thus leading to too many 3rd and longs.
Good (play calling) coaches play to the strengths of their teams. I think Coughlin holds Gilbride back too much. We know he is a shooter. Remember the old run`n`shoot offense? :)
As i said, if Manning wasn´t under center and a more explosive play calling, i´d have no doubt NYG "destroying" the 49ers like 37-13.
Anyway, i stay w/my 24-23 NYG-Win.
Finally, when the NYG started the season 6-2, they rushed for 220 for 797 yds (3,6 Y/R). Pretty much the same as on their 3-5 struggle, finishing the regular season (191 for 630 yds; 3,3 Y/R). Both running efficiencies were close to or the worst in the NFL (4,3 Y/R). If all, they declined. In the playoffs they rushed for 5,5 Y/R (blow out vs. ATL) and 3,5 Y/R (blow out vs. GB). It just don´t matter.

Alpe d'Huez said:
The 49ers are also are more physical than the Packers.
Doubt that. I think all players play on high level. They know what´s on stake. Their is no soft/finesse vs. smash mouth football, that´s mainstream media talk only. It´s all intense violent football battles at it´s highest level of force. Just the talent level and approach is different.

Alpe d'Huez said:
I'm not as sold on Eli as everyone else. I think he's rather fortunate to play for a team with such a great OL and solid defense, good receivers. He's seemed to have won a few games on luck even. I find him erratic. At times great, others poor with bad decisions. I question his arm strength and accuracy on the move and under pressure. He was coveted because of his name as much as anything and has many apologist fans. On a team like Buffalo or Arizona, he'd be no better than Ryan Fitzpatrick or Kevin Kolb.

They may be able to walk away with 50 yards total rushing and Eli passing on nearly every down and still win.

Finally, I'm going to change my score, but not my pick. I think the 49ers will play good, but the Giants will move the ball a little more and win 20-19.
About Eli. I couldn´t have said it better. That´s exactly the way i see it. Every single word.

If they do that (running less) and Eli just executes the playbook, he should have no problem to throw for 300+ together with the usual 2-3 TD-Passes. Thus i stay w/my 24-23 pick...
 
Pretty much agree with your assessment. As I said several posts ago, the Giants probably won't be able to run the ball much at all, and the 49ers may play them to pass on every down, but it may not matter. The game is passing in today's football. Throwing on 7-8 of 10 downs is expected, so the Giants end up throwing on 9 of 10, not much difference. The game will be if the Giants can protect Eli enough to hit his receivers and move the ball. And get TD's not FGs.

As I said and I think you agree, the only way the weather is a factor is if the field is a real mess, and very wet. A somewhat slow field or light rain or mist won't change things much at all. The Saints game was played when the field was as good as it has been all year. Now, it's raining, so...

FoxxyBrown1111 said:
As i said, if Manning wasn´t under center and a more explosive play calling, i´d have no doubt NYG "destroying" the 49ers like 37-13.
Maybe they'll prove me wrong tomorrow with Eli in fire, but I don't think the Giants are that good. The Saints couldn't do that to the 49ers and they were hot. The Steelers couldn't do it, the Ravens couldn't, the Lions couldn't, the Eagles couldn't. Maybe if the Giants had Drew Brees they'd do better than the Saints and score more than last week and put 37 points up, but I doubt it (removing the turnovers).

Expert picks coming up soon...
 
The 49ers were 1st in the league on defense against the run and gave up only one rushing TD all season.
They gave up three (two in the final game vs. the Rams), but who’s counting? :)

FWIW, in the 49ers first SB season 30 years ago, there was much discussion by Bay Area sportswriters about the sloppy conditions in Candlestick. The consensus then was that it helped the 49ers passing game, because the offensive linemen could settle in to pass block, while the defensive linemen had to slip and slide to get past them. I think this is the same logic that dictates that north-south running is favored under these conditions—the idea is that the OL minimize their lateral movement. But now I see other writers claiming that it hurts the Giants passing game, because the receivers can’t make their cuts as easily. But couldn’t you argue it’s harder for the defenders to stay with them? We shall see.

In any case, I think a big key for the 49ers is Michael Crabtree. Their receiving corps has been decimated by injuries (and Braylon Edwards cut), the main men are down to Davis and Crabtree, with Gore the escape valve. After his performance against the Saints, Davis will receive plenty of attention from the Giant secondary, putting a lot of pressure, I would say, on Crabtree. He caught a TD pass against NO, but otherwise had a quiet day, four catches for just 25 yds. (and maybe three dropped passes; for a guy with less than blazing speed, that is really unforgiveable). If he doesn’t do better than that Sunday, the Giants will almost certainly win. Against NO, Davis had a whopping 60% of the 49ers passing offense. That is too unbalanced, you can win one game like that, but certainly not consistently.

For the Giants, I think their fortunes are closely tied to Eli. NO came into the game last week I think no. 6 in rushing in the NFL, and only gained I believe fifteen yards on the ground. Fifteen yards! That must be some kind of record, the ratio of passing yards to rushing yards (something like 30:1) definitely has to be a record. Yet they still barely lost, despite all those turnovers. The run to set up the pass philosophy seems obsolete these days.

The two teams have a rich playoff history. In the Montana decade, they met in the postseason five times, and four times the winner went on to win the SB. I believe the only previous time they met in a championship game, though, was in the 1990-91 season, at Candlestick, where a critical fumble by the 49ers allowed the Giants to get the ball back and drive for the winning FG. That was a low-scoring defensive battle much like what many are predicting for Sunday, though I think there will be more scoring this time.

Here’s an interesting piece of trivia I hadn’t been aware of. This will be the 8th championship game at Candlestick. That is an NFL record, for either conference. Pittsburgh’s 3 Rivers has hosted seven, but the Steelers don’t play there any more. And probably the 49ers will move to a new stadium in a few years.

Alpe, your first two suggestions, about seeding on the basis of conference record, and home field advantage, sound fine. And the last suggestion, reducing the playoff teams to four, I obviously agree with. Your other two suggestions seem problematical. In the first place, if I understand you correctly, they are only an advantage if the team with the better record (team A) wins the coin toss. In that case, it gets to receive the kickoff at the start of both halves. OK, that may be a significant advantage, but it might not be, and whether it is depends on chance factors: a) winning the coin toss; and b) there is an odd number of drives in each half (IOW, the team that gets the ball first also has it last). If you’re going to reward team A, why would you make that reward contingent on chance factors? Isn’t the whole point of revising the system to reduce the role of chance? Why not eliminate the coin toss entirely in that situation, and let team A receive both halves?

The more fundamental problem I have, though, is that if an advantage really is an advantage, it has to translate into points or potential points. Consider home field. Most people believe that is worth at least 2-3 pts, and this is actually reflected in spreads, which are affected by where the game is played. People actually believe HFA is worth points to the extent they will put their money on it.

Or consider your rule change, when team A gets the ball first both halves. That could mean a swing of two possessions (team A gets the ball one more time than team B, instead of the reverse). With stats on what % of their drives teams score, that advantage can actually be quantified, we can say how many points it’s worth on average.

Given that, what is wrong with giving a team an actual three or whatever point advantage? What’s the difference?

I can imagine two responses to this. One would be along the lines of, the three points is a real handicap that an underdog team has to overcome, while advantages in home field or rules on kicking and receiving are only potential. They don’t have to cost the underdog points. If it is determined enough it can overcome crowd noise or having a disadvantage in possessions.

In the first place, I don’t buy that logic. It implies that teams don’t try as hard as they can to win, that there is always a little extra in the tank that isn’t used unless conditions are really adverse; only then do they play their best. I don’t think that is the case. Teams do have good days and bad days, and they may find it easier to motivate themselves more for one situation than another, but I really don’t think they say, well, we’re going on the road this week, so we will play a little harder than we do when at home, because of that little extra disadvantage we have. Or, we have to play defense at the start of both halves, so we will suck it up and play a little bit harder than we otherwise would. Come on.

But even if you disagree, and believe it is the case that a team can take it up a notch when confronted with a challenge, why can’t they likewise tap into the extra to overcome a point advantage? If being on the road, or being confronted with some of your rule changes, can be overcome by an extra effort, why can’t a point advantage be as well? It gets back to my point: if an advantage really is an advantage, it’s going to help one team and hurt the other.

A second response might be that being explicit takes some of the suspense out. Three points or whatever is three points, whereas with different teams and different situations, home field or your rules may lead to unpredictable results. They could be worth more than three points, or they could be worth nothing. But that argument is just another one in support of chance factors, which supposedly we are trying to eliminate. If we are trying to reduce the possibility that 15-1 GB will be eliminated because of chance factors, why not give them a definite point advantage, rather than some rule that may or may not help them?

There may be good arguments against a point handicap, but I don’t think they’re rational. They’re psychological. Factors like homefield advantage—and maybe your proposed changes—I think are better tolerated because the fans can have their cake and eat it, too. On the one hand, they can believe they are giving the team with a better record a reward that it deserves. On the other, they can pretend that it isn’t “really” an advantage, that though we call it an advantage, the two teams really do play the game on a level field. My proposal takes the blinders off, and forces the fans to stop pretending and look at reality. If you’re going to give a team an advantage, be explicit about what its value is.

But it goes without saying that this is all just my jawing away. There is no way a change like this will ever occur, I have no illusions about that.
 
Here are the ESPN expert picks. All of them except one pick NE over Balt. It's 6-4 picking NY over SF. During the regular season the Accuscore computer beat every expert.

Here is the USA Today staff picks. I believe Davis had the best picks all year, but he still wasn't better than Accuscore.

The latest forecast for SF is starting to look like rain, maybe heavy at times - perhaps over an inch late in the day. Winds at 15mph, gusts to 25. Here's a link to the hourly forecast. Hmmm, could get a little ugly, or fun, depending on one's opinion.
 
Jun 22, 2009
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I wonder if one of you well plugged in gents here can explain this for me? It was posted elsewhere by someone who rarely posts, so that it might take ages to get an answer from him. I googled, but only found one NFL offensive coordinator, an NHL coach, and a whole bunch of actual doctors - nothing about urban myths or lore or blackmail. Or maybe it's just this guy's fantasy?

Word has it that "Dr Boudreau" has been hanging around the Giants hotel looking for players to talk to....the key word is "hanging", and that cat has black mailed some of the greatest players in sports history....oh, yall dont know who he is?....mabe if you google his name you can get an idea what I"m talkin bout.....If anyone ever catches this fool, he's history
 
Merckx index said:
They gave up three (two in the final game vs. the Rams), but who’s counting? :)
Good catch. Beat me with my own supplied link! That last game though was a throwaway for SF. Several guys didn't play. They won anyway.

Ginn is the other receiver, the 'speed' guy, and he will need to step up as well.

For the Giants, I think their fortunes are closely tied to Eli. NO came into the game last week I think no. 6 in rushing in the NFL, and only gained I believe fifteen yards on the ground. Fifteen yards! That must be some kind of record...The run to set up the pass philosophy seems obsolete these days.
Agree with all you say there.

Why not eliminate the coin toss entirely in that situation, and let team A receive both halves?
Okay. But for psychological reasons, I think the fans like the coin toss.
Given that, what is wrong with giving a team an actual three or whatever point advantage? What’s the difference?
Because it's completely artificial. That's why. And as you say, there is no way, no possible way, it will happen. Changing playoff structures, direction/end zone choice to the home team, maybe even opening and half kickoffs, those could change. The first two I list I think should be implemented next year and fans would go for it. Players too.

Amsterhammer said:
Thanks for the links. What does Accuscore say about tomorrow?
NE and SF. Good link here. It shows a 63% chance of NE winning, and a 52-48% SF over NYG
 
Amsterhammer said:
I wonder if one of you well plugged in gents here can explain this for me?
Is that the same guy that supposedly convinced Don Shula and the then Colts management to throw Superbowl III to the Jets? The bad play calls, playing Earl Morrall instead of Unitas until it was too late, even though Unitas was healthy, etc. Schula telling Bubba Smith to shut up and questioning or changing plays, etc.

Yeah, he's probably the same guy that got the ref to count too slow on the Dempsey-Tunney long count fight too.
 
Jun 22, 2009
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Alpe d'Huez said:
Yeah, he's probably the same guy that got the ref to count too slow on the Dempsey-Tunney long count fight too.
Oh, him!:p

I'm going to make like a S. Carolina Rep. voter and change my mind at the last moment. But, I have a good reason for why I'm now backing the Niners!:D

Vernon Davis capped one of the most remarkable quarters of NFL playoff football Saturday with the winning touchdown and a stream of tears. His 14-yard TD catch gave the 49ers a dramatic 36-32 victory over the Saints and his tears made him the most popular NFL player among female fans.

Soccer fans should also have a soft spot for the 49ers’ tight end; he likes our sport. Prior to the Niners 2010 game in London, Davis revealed his interest in the beautiful game and West Ham United. Here’s what he told the Metro:

Aside from the tennis, are you into any other British sports?

I’m into soccer.

Who’s your team?

West Ham United.

Really? How come?

I don’t know, I was just browsing the net and checking out all the teams and flipping through the tube watching some of the games and I thought: “I like the colour, I like the team, they’re pretty good”. So it’s West Ham baby, I just love them, they’re awesome.
http://www.thedenimkit.com/2012/01/15/v … t-ham-fan/
 
Jun 15, 2009
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Cheers to everybody. It will be another long drunken night here in germany. Enjoy the games. Hope it goes fair. Then NYG and NE easily should advance for the 2007-Rematch ;) ...
 
Jun 15, 2009
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you watch home? anyway, i´ll take one for you and one for wonderlance ;)
i mean i´ll be filled up, so enough left for everybody. hope i won´t write nonsense in the night here:D
 
Jun 22, 2009
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FoxxyBrown1111 said:
Cheers to everybody. It will be another long drunken night here in germany. Enjoy the games. Hope it goes fair. Then NYG and NE easily should advance for the 2007-Rematch ;) ...
Prost, alter.;)

RAVENS :cool:
 

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