Flame Which All Others Compare

“Stay back!” the funny little jellybean yells towards nothing in particular. “The flame is mine! Don’t anyone come near! Nobody!”

Quickly scanning his surroundings, the funny little jellybean eyes a few pieces of oxygen here and there. The dirty little infestations are hovering around the premise of the sacred flame and he would not have it! Not one bit!

“Shoo! Shoo! Nasty little things like you would only let the flame wear thin!” The funny little jellybean flails his body up and down and all around, trying to smash the invisible pieces of existence into nothing. His grunts and groans echo throughout the abandoned forest, with the trees holding firm and the sky giving birth to the encompassing moon. The trees’ afros and pretty little extensions cut segments of the darkened sky into a picture of individual perception. If from here the moon looks down upon the funny little jelly bean and his rambunctious raucous and bouncy bustling, one might be familiar with this scene.

The funny little jellybean, satisfied with his pummeling of powdered puffs, retreats back to his treasure, his reason, his utmost passion beyond everything: the flame. How enlightening, how strengthening, this particular flame is. A flame so massive it could defile any material, yet so controlled that one could mock its most sensitive areas and still remain unsinged. The quivering ferocity furnished deep within the body of the flame holds steady the constant and unwavering base magnificently. A timid maroon tucked inside, surrounded by flashes of hot pink and flickers of deep orange and light purple embody the distinctness of the flame’s beauty in color. Its warmth and inviting sensation colors the funny little jellybean with its own color of hot pink. However, the most amazing of all feelings are contained in the roar of the fire’s silence, that which sends waves of coldness and hesitation though the body of our dear funny little jellybean. “Truly,” it thinks to itself, “this is the flame to compare all flames.”

“Say here, bean!” A voice echoes through the murky woods. The funny little jellybean turns its being towards the source of the hoarse voice and gasps. It cannot be! Beyond his sugary frame lay before him yet another flame! A flame whose magnificence radiates from its kindling frame, with strength to steady its turbulent uniformity. A flame which sparks and overflows with a decadence known only to royalty. It shines with a vivid blue hue, that which cuts into the image of the darkened sky with a feeling of insightful melancholy. “Must you waste your tasty tarts on this flacid flame? I am more suited for your jolly jelly!”

“W-What is this? How can this be?” The funny little jellybean looks from flame to flame. “Is there another that cannot compare? Is there another whose embers red flare?”

“I am that with which you seek! And if I be late, let me fight my way through! Let me warm your soul with my illuminous persona! Give me the chance to show how bright I may shine, how high my body may soar, with your precious embrace to power my core!”

The newcomer glistens in the darkness. A warmness that’s familiar, yet bizarre. A feeling so queer it leaves the funny little jellybean isolated and in fear. It’s something so recognizable, yet so sudden and foreboding that the funny little jellybean flutters from side to side. Its mind, or lack thereof, races like bees preying upon a garden. It cannot think, it cannot will. It sputters and spurts until it goes away. The thought of this, the thought of that, the thought of thoughts to thoughtfully distraught. Who is the flame? What is the flame? Am I flaming the flame I possess now for a flame that beckons me further? The flame is all it knows. The flame, the flame.

“How do I know?” the funny little jellybean beckons. “How do I know you are the one to which all flames flicker?”

“Do you not see? How radiantly I glow? The power that I embody? Do you not feel the spark between us? The friction that bequeaths us towards each other? I am everything which you already have, only more! I am the superior flame! All other flames use I as a comparison to their beauty!”

“It is true… you call unto me like no other. Even my own flame does not show the same compassion, the same fire, with which you embody for my affection, my attention, my companionship.”

“So you admit you belong to me! That we are destined beyond our current situations!”

“It may be so…” The funny little jellybean turns and gazes upon the flame with which he once held the utmost regard. The flame that dazzled his vision without as much as any excessive burst. The silence cut deep into his bouncehouse heart. “Do you not wish for us to be together? Are you truly the flame for me? Have I been wrong all this time?”

The first flame remains solitary; working itself with the same precision that was flowing within it throughout this entire story. Its simplicity works with its efficiency. However, it remains silent to the beckoning little jelly bean, who regards it with a look of puzzlement.

“Ha! Not a single word on its defense. I am clearly the better of the two!” The new flame laughs maliciously, spreading a line of fire from its body to the ground below.

“But are you?” the little jellybean coos almost mechanically.

“I am! Do you disagree?”

The determined little jellybean rolls over the the old flame’s side, taking in the comfort that used to compel him so. “I disagree. It may not be as powerful, it may not be as beautiful, and it may not have as sly a tongue as thee, but let it be known that this is the flame for me!”

“And for what reason?”

“The reason that I know in my heart to be true; this flame is the flame for me, if only for the fact that its the only flame I care to believe in. The only flame I care to beckon, to comfort, to caress. The only flame that I feel comfortable with! This is the flame for me because you are not the flame for me!”

“What nonsense! How could you possibly know without any determination?”

The funny little jellybean turns toward the new flame, whose body burns with heightened ferocity and disgust. The color goes from a mellow blue to a frightening neon glow, like the moon’s mighty eye within the form of a solitary flame. If not for the trees and the moon in the sky, only this new flame would be visible in the withering eyes of this fidgety little jellybean.

“I don’t know.”

Impressions from Week Eleven of the 2015 NFL Season

Not to sound like I’m piling on here, but OH MY GOD WHAT A HORRIBLE WEEK OF OFFICIATING! Has it always been this bad? Is this what people have been seeing week after week? If that’s the case, I don’t know how people can continue to not think the game’s fixed. Goodness gracious.

But controversial subject matter aside, this week somewhat shifted the power in both conferences, as teams that were once the underfoot of the NFL are suddenly becoming the teams to beat, and vice versa. A number of teams are on long winning streaks and long losing streaks. The end of the regular season should be an interesting one.

TENN @ JAX

Tennessee at Jacksonville

  • (Watched, incorrect)

To put it frankly, Tennessee just played far too conservatively in the fourth quarter. They were only up a single possession and they decided to run, run, run, when their running game was ineffective the entire game. Phil Simms or Jim Nantz, I don’t recall who, said something about coach Mularkey’s philosophy of sticking to the run throughout the entire game. This is fine and dandy… if your running game actually did something and your offensive line wasn’t awful. It just doesn’t make sense to me to run the ball when you had much more success passing it. Run it to set up some play action or something. Why run it so predictably on first and second down drive after drive?

A lot of people think that Blake Bortles is something of a work in progress. A quarterback that’s continually on the rise as an NFL starter. I… don’t see it. Sure, he’s thrown a lot of touchdowns and for a lot of yards, but a lot of it was in garbage time against teams with huge leads. His completion percentage is also well below average despite having a decent amount of weapons to his credit. To be fair, his offensive line doesn’t seem to give him a lot of time to work with. Time will tell, but I don’t see it.

It’s so weird seeing Jacksonville being included “In The Hunt” for the playoffs. What a wondrous time to be alive.

STL @ BAL

St. Louis at Baltimore

  • (Watched final Baltimore “drive,” incorrect)

Joe Flacco’s ironman streak ends after about eight seasons after he tore his ACL and MCL in this game. It was a good run, but the elite have to fall sometime.

And the hot topic for this week is St. Louis (again)! Last week, one of their players gave Teddy Bridgewater a knockout blow to the cranium as he was sliding and everyone but Jeff Fisher called him out for it. This week, Case Keenum, the starting St. Louis quarterback (for this week), suffered a very obvious concussion, but was not called out for it by Jeff Fisher. It’s almost like Jeff Fisher and staff don’t care! But that’s enough controversy, let’s get to the game recap:

I heard it was ugly and unenjoyable to watch. Glad I missed it.

WAS @ CAR

Washington at Carolina

  • (Watched one Washington drive before Halftime, correct)

Not much to say here, only that whoever picked Washington to win this looks awfully silly. Carolina’s a complete team, if not for their lack of weapons on offense for the passing game. Washington just looks inconsistent.

DEN @ CHI

Denver at Chicago

  • (Watched, incorrect)

Chicago had every opportunity to win this game. They missed open receivers in the endzone and their defense made the Denver offense punt what seemed like seven times during the game. They gained a lot of yards on the Denver defense through the air. They came close to tying it, until a questionable play call on the two-point conversion lost them the game.

Brock Osweiler had a good game. Not a great one, but good enough to rely on his defense to get the job done. There were times when I thought he faltered under pressure too quickly and other times when he was a little inaccurate. He came up big in the red zone, though. All in all, better than Manning’s played since, well, debatably 2014.

Would Jay Cutler have scored any touchdowns had he any weapons to work with? Sure, he has his tight ends, but they can’t be open all the time. He had inconsistent wide receiving threats the entire game. I’m sure he would’ve loved him some Jeffery.

DAL @ MIA

Dallas at Miami

  • (Did not watch, correct)

What’s that? Tony Romo comes back and Dallas wins? You don’t say? It’s almost like Tony Romo’s good or something. Hardy curse. Pssh.

He certainly didn’t play well to begin the game, though. Completed just over 50% of his passes (to start out) with 2 interceptions in the game. He’s shaking off rust, alright. Their defense has really stepped up, though. I would’ve expected more points from Miami on their own turf. Then again, the weather was not in their favor, which may have attributed to the lackluster games by each starting quarterback.

Miami, like Washington, looks to be an inconsistent team. One week, they’re alright, the other, they may as well be hitting a wall. They can’t seem to get anything going on either side of the ball. It’s a tragic thing, really, that seems to happen to Miami year after year. Is it too late to give Shula his job back?

OAK @ DET

Oakland at Detroit

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

I, uh, I’m not really sure what to make of this match-up.

Oakland is 0-3 against NFC North teams. That’s kinda bizarre, isn’t it? And had Chicago won on Sunday, they’d be 4-0 against AFC West teams! That’s really odd. Regardless, Detroit held Green Bay (at Lambeau Field) and Oakland (at Ford Field) to under 20 points. So… are they good now? I honestly can’t tell. And quite a few people saw this coming, too.

What happened to Oakland’s fans? Where’s all that enthusiasm around this up and coming team? Now it’s “hehe same old RAIDERS LOL!!!” And fans say the media flip flops too often. Calm down, people.

I will say this, though. Calvin Johnson is being utilized more. The defense is playing better, despite two starting corners being injured. Matt Stafford isn’t playing lights out, but good enough to win. It looks like this Detroit team is finally putting two and two together. I still think Jim Caldwell should be fired, but he’s wrapping up a “good finish” resume.

And Oakland. Yeah. I’m not really sure what’s going on here. Bad defense, according to some football commentators. Let me look at the time of possession for this game… 23:54 to 36:06. Not horrible, but Oakland could’ve had the ball longer, definitely.

NYJ @ HOU

New York at Houston

  • (Watched final New York drive, incorrect)

FitzMagic is hurting. He hasn’t played well since he injured his thumb and it’s definitely showing. You know what else is showing? New York’s defense is starting to crumble. They’re giving up way too many big plays. The team’s not what it used to be.

I had a gut feeling that Houston would win here, despite T.J. Yates starting, but I didn’t pull the trigger. And wouldn’t you know? They won. Houston is starting to look pretty good defensively. It makes me nervous to pick against them. Then again, New York is struggling and Cincinnati was, well, you know. They’ve won three in a row. And people were calling for Bill O’Brien’s head, too. Some people can’t seem to wait to jump on the “Fire _______!” bandwagon.

IND @ ATL

Indianapolis at Atlanta

  • (Watched final Atlanta drive, incorrect)

I feel really good for Matt Hasselbeck. In what very well may be his final season, he’s leading a team to victory… kinda.

This game was won by the defense. Hasselbeck, in reality, played somewhat shitty. If it wasn’t for Matt Ryan’s continuing offensive funk, Atlanta could’ve put this away by two scores. D’Qwell Jackson’s pick-six helped tremendously.

There’s not much else to say about this game. Indianapolis, against all odds, is finding ways to win. Atlanta, despite a great starting quarterback and great #1 wide receiver threat, and a good tight end in Jacob Tamme, find ways to lose 4 of the last 5 games. The grass was definitely greener on the other side of the regular season for Atlanta. And by that I mean the first five weeks of the season.

TB @ PHI

Tampa Bay at Philadelphia

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

My dilemma was not just pessimism, it seems. Tampa Bay throttled Philadelphia last Sunday, though according to those who watched the game, the Tampa Bay offense wasn’t as efficient as the stat sheet would suggest. Nevertheless, there’s one thing about the stat sheet that’s apparent: Mark Sanchez is clearly a back-up quarterback.

Props to Jameis Winston for a five touchdown performance. He’s proving himself to be a worthy #1 overall pick. And he’s just a rookie, too. It’s all uphill from here… unless he pulls an RG3. And how about Doug Martin? After a few forgettable years he’s starting to become the force he was in his rookie year. Things are finally coming together for Tampa Bay, it seems. Let’s just hope for them that Lovie Smith doesn’t fuck it up.

Speaking of fucking it up, Chip Kelly looks to have fucked up his team by trading away or releasing all of his talented players. I will say this though: ever since Jordan Hicks went down, this defense hasn’t really been the same. You could make the case that the offense’s ineptitude puts more pressure on them, and that looked to be the case against Miami last week. But 40+ points to Tampa Bay? That’s just pitiful. They need Bradford back quick if they want to close the bleeding wound. It doesn’t look good for Kelly’s job.

KC @ SD

Kansas City at San Diego

  • (Did not watch, correct)

I once made a joke that Kansas City was “the prettiest girl in the bar,” sneering at the fact that they won a game when I still wholly expected them to go 4-12 at best. Now, at 5-5, they might not be the prettiest girl at the bar, but they’ve got admirers. And a knock-out defense to boot.

Philip Rivers doesn’t have any pretty girls to pick up.

GB @ MIN

Green Bay at Minnesota

  • (Watched, incorrect)

I didn’t think it’d be a 30-13 blowout. I thought it would be much closer than that. This game was a lot like Week One when Minnesota faced San Francisco: Adrian Peterson couldn’t get going and the defense couldn’t stop the run. Teddy Bridgewater played better in this game than that game, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the awful offensive line struggles. Bridgewater was sacked more than my ex-wife (Haha, I’ve never been married).

Aaron Rodgers looked fine, if not for the pass rush and the constant drops by his receivers. Randall Cobb seems to be having a massive down year… as if the rest of the Green Bay offense. Despite this, thanks in part to Eddie Lacy’s big day, the offense roared to life against an elite Minnesota defense. At least, they were before they faced Green Bay.

SF @ SEA

San Francisco at Seattle

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Well, at least we know Blaine Gabbert is better than Jimmy Clausen. And Kaepernick. That must really sting.

In other news, I don’t think Lynch will be in Seattle after 2015. Not with how well Thomas Rawls has been playing.

CIN @ ARI

Cincinnati at Arizona

  • (Watched, correct)

HAHAHA CINCINNATI CAN’T WIN IN PRIMETIME HEORHORHORHOR!!!!!

No.

They played a hell of a lot better in this game than they did against Houston last week. They simply lost to a better team, as I’d hardly call Houston a better team than Cincinnati. Carsom Palmer, despite a shaky start, played his heart out and delivered knock-out throw after knock-out throw, as his running game was effectively disrupted.

Andy Dalton shook off his demons and played well, too. Giovani Bernard is such a useful tool, almost like Dion Lewis for New England before he was injured. As much as I feel A.J Green is overrated, he played a strong game, as well. Tyler Eifert is still a red zone threat. Overall, no problems with Cincinnati’s offense.

This was just a good game overall. If not for the officiating, I’d have no major complaints whatsoever. Two good teams duking it out with little to no major injuries.

BUF @ NE

Buffalo at New England

  • (Watched, correct)

Man, I was as frustrated watching this game as Brady was with his protection. Just blitz after blitz after blitz. Or fake blitzes. Rex Ryan had a lot of fun playing hide and seek with his rushers.

New England’s shuffling around offensive linemen like Tom Landry used to shuffle quarterbacks. It seems almost desperate. Goodness. If it wasn’t for New England’s strong secondary, this game may have tilted in Buffalo’s favor. It doesn’t help that Amendola got injured during the second half, either, leaving only Gronk as a reliable receiver, who was well covered the entire game. Buffalo seems to have the blueprint for knocking Brady off balance. An ugly offensive performance, on both sides. Strong defenses, though.

Then, we have the officiating. Oh, boy. The “inadvertent whistle.” The “Sammy Watkins giving himself up on the final play” play. The “The previous play is under review” call that came on determining whether or not a receiver in a two-minute drill made a first down or not with only a yard difference. Like it fucking matters! Everything involved with a catch. Pass interference. Holding. Anything subjective. Just… really, really bad. We need new refs.

An interesting week, a week full of “I should haves.” Teams regretting decisions and me regretting who I picked, especially during noon games. Nevertheless, it was fun and it paved the path to a more clear view of who the contenders and who the pretenders are. Next week, however, should be far more interesting.

  • Week Eleven Pick ‘Em record: 6-8
  • Overall Pick ‘Em record: 95-65

NFL Pick ‘Ems (Week One; 2015)

[Indianapolis @ Buffalo]

There seems to be chatter that Buffalo has a legitimate chance of beating Indianapolis, much in part to their terrifying front four and dual threat project at quarterback. It would be easy to pick Indianapolis in this match-up, seeing as they’re a consistently good team. However, Buffalo’s defense did make both Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning look like Geno Smith last season. Not to mention Indianapolis’s defense isn’t anything extraordinary. It will be interesting to see Tyrod Taylor at quarterback for Buffalo in his first career start after four years as a back-up to Joe Flacco. Do I think he’ll be anything special? Not likely, but we’ll see. With the uncertainty of Buffalo’s offense, I feel more inclined to favor Indianapolis in this game.

Winner: Indianapolis

[Cleveland @ New York (Jets)]

Two dismal franchises who are constantly subjected as the butt of many jokes. One of these teams can say that literally. Both have aged veteran back-ups as starting quarterbacks. Both have pretty good defenses. New York has debatably better running options and undebatably better receiving options. Mix in the fact that Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie are the starting cornerbacks for New York’s defense and it’s hard to pick against them, especially when they’re playing at home. I expect a defensive game, but who knows what will happen with these two teams.

Winner: New York

[Carolina @ Jacksonville]

Carolina’s only receiving threat is tight end Greg Olsen. With Kelvin Benjamin lost for the year, the starting wide receivers for Carolina’s offense are Ted Ginn and Philly Brown. When you combine their receiving stats from last year, it amounts to 35 receptions, 486 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Let me reiterate: Carolina’s only receiving threat is tight end Greg Olsen. Their defense, however, is quite stout… when they want to be. Last year, their defense started out awful, giving up an average 374 yards per game. After their bye week, that average dropped to 265 yards a game. If that defense continues to flourish, it should be an easy game. Who are they facing an—oh. Jacksonville? Yeah, they shouldn’t have any problems.

Winner: Carolina

[Green Bay @ Chicago]

Oh, woe is the Green Bay Packers, who lost their #1 receiver in Jordy Nelson during the preseason. How can they possibly go up against the 30th ranked defense two years running with a two-time MVP at quarterback and Pro Bowl weapons at running back and wide receiver?

Winner: Green Bay

[Kansas City @ Houston]

Now this is an interesting match-up. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding both of these teams. Houston has the benefit of J.J. Watt, but do they have any other stars on the defensive side to pick up the slack? They got Vince Wilfork in the offseason and re-signed Kareem Jackson. And what of Jadeveon Clowney? Will he be the force they expected when they drafted him #1 overall in 2014? The offensive side isn’t any more clear. They released Andre Johnson, their all-time leading receiver, and are starting veteran Brian Hoyer at quarterback. If one were to ask if the Houston Texans improved during the offseason, I’m not sure many would answer positively.

On the contrary, Kansas City looks a little more optimistic. Jeremy Maclin has looked to be a stud throughout the preseason and Alex Smith is a lot more reliable than Brian Hoyer. On defense, not much has changed. Still more Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, and the return of Derrick Johnson should provide a fierce defensive nightmare for the Houston offensive line. It’s an interesting match-up ripe with uncertainty, but I have to go against the home team.

Winner: Kansas City

[Miami @ Washington]

Miami has Ryan Tannehill, Cameron Wake, Jordan Cameron, a plethora of athletic receivers, Ndamukong Suh, Reshad Jones, Brent Grimes, and Olivier Vernon. Washington has controversy.

Winner: Miami

[Seattle @ St. Louis]

Seattle hasn’t always been at their best away, but St. Louis has shown inconsistency with their production year-in and year-out. Their defense has always been good, but never great, despite great talent amongst every position. Nick Foles is definitely an upgrade at quarterback, but will it be enough to get St. Louis past the hump? Against Seattle in their opener, who have largely retained their roster from last year (save one member), I don’t think they’ll get off to a great start.

Winner: Seattle

[Detroit @ San Diego]

Another interesting match-up. Two teams who had overall good seasons last year, though San Diego wishes Philip Rivers didn’t get injured halfway through the season. With Antonio Gates suspended for the first four games of the season, Philip Rivers has very few targets to choose from. On the flipside, can Detroit’s defense continue their surprise surge from last year? I believe this will be a close match-up, but I think Detroit’s offense will be the deciding factor in its outcome.

Winner: Detroit

[New Orleans @ Arizona]

Arizona had a lot of offseason signings both offensively and defensively, molding their team into something new, while retaining their old ways. Carson Palmer is back starting and looks to continue his winning ways. I still feel Arizona doesn’t have as many weapons as they could have, but will take advantage of what they have. New Orleans is historically less dangerous on the road, and Arizona’s defense is fairly good in its own right. Drew Brees or not, I don’t expect New Orleans to exceed twenty points. Oh, and their defense doesn’t look good either.

Winner: Arizona

[Baltimore @ Denver]

Baltimore’s preseason left much to be desired. Their defense didn’t look up to the team’s standards, giving up 21 points against Philadelphia’s starting offense in their second game. Questions are starting to arise for John Harbaugh’s former Super Bowl-winning team. However, Baltimore has a tendency to do more with less, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up finishing the season with a winning record. However, against the high-flying offense (despite a declining Peyton Manning) and pass-rushing defense of the Denver Broncos, I don’t think their season will start with a win.

Winner: Denver

[Cincinnati @ Oakland]

Is this game gonna be nationally televised? No? Okay, cool.

Winner: Cincinnati

[Tennessee @ Tampa Bay]

The #1 pick going against the #2 pick. Or more accurately, they’re going against each other’s defenses, but you can’t sell tickets that way. The coincidence is definitely uncanny, regardless. Neither of these teams have looked all that spectacular in the preseason, though I believe Tampa Bay has more playmakers on both sides of the ball. As much as I’d like to see Tennessee flourish with Marcus Mariota, I don’t think they have all the pieces in place to do so yet. Despite this, I think the game will be close, with Tampa Bay pulling out by a field goal or two.

Winner: Tampa Bay

[New York (Giants) @ Dallas]

Oh, boy! Remember last year when Odell Beckham had that amazing catch against Dallas? I wonder what he’ll do this time! Holy shit, football is awesome! Remember what the final score for that game was? Dallas winning 31-28. That shouldn’t change.

Winner: Dallas

[Philadelphia @ Atlanta]

Philadelphia, out of any other team, had the best preseason for me. Sam Bradford looks like a great pick-up and its defense looks like it can hold its own. I’ve been impressed with Chip Kelly’s alterations to this team and was at first very skeptical of his decisions. I can’t wait to see how the season plays out for them. Hopefully Bradford doesn’t tear another ACL. Atlanta is another team I thought looked good in the preseason. Their offense hasn’t skipped a beat with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones’ chemistry, and their defense looks to have improved dramatically from last year. Aside from the past two years, Atlanta has also been very good at home, so this will be a tough match-up. In the end, however, I think Philadelphia has the edge with its front seven.

Winner: Philadelphia

[Minnesota @ San Francisco]

Honest question: does anyone believe that San Francisco will finish the year with a winning record, taking into consideration all the players they lost in the offseason? This team is the very definition of uncertainty. Former head coach Jim Harbaugh is gone. Patrick Willis is gone. Justin Smith is gone. Aldon Smith is gone. Anthony Davis is gone. Chris Borland is gone. Michael Crabtree is gone. Mike Iupati is gone. Perrish Cox is gone. Frank Gore is gone. Combine all those players together and that’s a total of 21 Pro Bowl appearances. San Francisco looks like a defeated franchise right now.

And the Vikings look like a rising power.

Winner: Minnesota

(I have a link to Odell Beckham’s catch highlighted under “amazing catch,” but WordPress doesn’t want to show it for some reason.)