Kaepernick and Dissent


Last season, Colin Kaepernick threw for 16 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions, yet he can’t find a job in the NFL. I know a few teams – like the Jets, Rams and Browns, for example – that need a quarterback, that are desperate for a quarterback, yet they won’t sign him. You see, he’s been blackballed.  Even when John Harbaugh tried to sign him for the Baltimore Ravens as a backup to Joe Flacco, he was overrode by their owner, Steve Bisciotti.  No one wants Colin Kaepernick.

His only sin was protesting the treatment of minorities in this country by kneeling during the national anthem.  He didn’t firebomb stores, march down Main St. with torches, loaded for bear, or injure anyone or destroy anything in his path.  His was a peaceful protest.  He was kneeling, for Gods sake.  He didn’t hurt anyone.  What he did do was anger American patriots who think the Flag and the Anthem sacred.  They consider his actions contemptible.

When did dissent become a dirty word?

This country was FOUNDED on dissent.  Remember “No taxation without representation?”  Or Thomas Paine’s Common Sense?  Or the Boston Tea Party?  Hell, all the members of that raiding party would have been rounded up and thrown in jail for destroying public property, trespassing, and any other charge, like rioting, that could be included, if done today.  President Rump would be attacking them on twitter.  Fox News and Breitbart would be calling them criminals, or worse yet, Socialists.  They would be made examples of . . . just like Colin Kaepernick.

As for the NFL, it might be selective in its employment of Mr. Kaepernick, but it has employed much worse and continues to do so.  Adam “Packman” Jones has been arrested ten time, Aldon Smith five times, yet both are still playing.  Ray Lewis, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens but now retired, was implicated in a double murder in Atlanta after the 2000 Super Bowl.  Blood was found in Mr. Lewis’s limousine, and he reached a cash settlement with the victims families.  He personally wasn’t charged because he supposedly reached a deal to testify against his friends, though they were never convicted.  (The double murder is still an open case.)  There is today a statue of Ray Lewis outside M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens home field, and eventually Ray Lewis will enter the Hall of Fame.  Double standard anyone?

Colin Kaepernick is being ostracized for the same reason Donald Rump was elected President;  people are stupid.  Common sense exists only as a book.  The mentality is, “America, love it or leave it.”  My own boss says that to me when I bring up the latest injustice, and there is great injustice in this country.  There always has been.  Instead of ignoring it and castigating anyone who dares point it out, why don’t we try addressing it for once.  Shouldn’t that be the goal?

America is supposed to be better than this, isn’t it?

 

 

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Vermont Life


Today is our last day of vacation, our last chance to really breathe in clean air, then it’s back to the corridor for us.  I have work Monday, Kathy goes back Tuesday, and the twins have schoolwork due at the start of their junior year.  In the words of the immortal Derrick Coleman, “Whoopty-Damn-Do.”

On our third night here I happened to look out the kitchen window and noticed a bear cub by the garbage shed.  I called the family down, telling them to be quiet, when another cub appeared.  Then Kathy spotted yet another cub in front of our car.  And then the Mama Bear appeared, a rather large black bear, much bigger than the one seen in Milford, CT last week.  (The pictures are on my daughters Facebook page.)  When Mama noticed the four of us in the window she started to herd her charges downhill, so we ran out to the deck.  At that point Cait made a weird noise, a sort of grunt/growl, and the cubs scurried up the nearest tree, and Mama Bear retreated into the bushes across the road. Only when Mama discerned that we weren’t a threat did she waddle across the road and call down her charges.  They were last seen heading back into the forest.  We can’t put garbage out as the bears are ripping the wooden shed apart board by board.

We are on the side of Mt. Lincoln, in the Green Mountain National Forest, at over 1925 feet – the kids phones gave us that number – level with the Sugarbush ski runs.  At night temps have been in the 50’s, great sleeping weather.  There is a small stream to provide sound (and water for the bears.)  During the day temps rise into the high sixties, and down in the Mad River Valley they reach the 70’s.  I think we hit 80 degrees once all week.

Since we’re on vacation we haven’t cooked often – back home Kathy and I share that chore – so we’ve eaten out at least once a day.  Here are the reviews:

The Mad Taco – good fresh ingredients.  Will’s pork belly taco was to die for; pork belly is bacon on steroids.  Kathy’s fish taco was also great.  Cait and I ordered burritos, which were good, but they needed a garnish or sauce of some type.  At over $50 dollars for lunch, without beer or cocktails, I found it too expensive.

The Prohibition Pig – Though we don’t usually do barbecue, we had passed this eatery while driving through Waterbury so many times it almost seemed a crime not to stop.  It was very good.  Even the kids liked it.  But the prices . . . I ordered the barbecued beef.  It was a tiny sandwich I could have finished in five bites, scrumptious but small.  It was the same with all our lunches, and sides were extra.  The beer selection was great, but throw in the tip and lunch ran upwards of $80.00.  And we were all hungry an hour later.

Sweetwater’s – In Burlington, at the Church St. marketplace, we stopped in for a bite, right across from Re Ra’s.  Just burgers and fries, but the burgers were overcooked and dry. They tasted okay, but you wanted to offer them a drink.  The sweet potato fries were good, and the Stella on tap was perfect on a warm day.  We were too full for desert.

The Big Picture –  We love this place.  Be it breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, you are never let down.  We plan on having our last dinner there tonight.  I’ve covered this place before, under Reviews.

Seems like all we’ve done is eat this trip, but that is not the case.  A trip to Middlebury to see Kathy’s cousin Melissa, who moved up here from Brooklyn some fifteen years ago, led to the discovery of Otter Creek Used Books, where I found a Journal of Thomas Merton for six bucks.  Our trip to Montpelier led to Cait dropping fifty bucks in her favorite art store, and we walked around the cute downtown area, although I mourned the loss of their third book store, which I thought their best.  (I loved the fact such a small town supported three book stores.  O well!)

Last weekend they had the Mad Marathon in Waitsfield, and this week the mountain bikers have taken over the area.  Makes me long for the days twenty years ago, when we first started coming up here, and people were scarce.  We actually had to stand in line for our coffee this morning.  Isn’t that horrible.  O, the humanity!

At the Farmer’s Market, after coffee and bagels, I sampled a gin made with juniper and raw honey from Barr Hill/Caledonia Spirits (my kind of Farmer’s Market, right.).  It was so good we bought a bottle.  Even Kathy liked it and she doesn’t like gin.  (Earlier in the week we hit the coop store, as we like to support the local farmers and businesses.  Back home the Wal-Marts and Home Depots and Big Y’s have put local businesses out of business.)

Soon everything in America will be corporate owned.  Look at how Yale-New Haven Hospital has bought up St. Raphael’s, Bridgeport, Norwalk and Greenwich Hospitals, among others.  They are also buying up private practices and medical groups, like Northeast Medical.  What ever happened to our laws against monopolies?  My guess is the wealthy thought them outdated . . . and a detriment to profits.

Even our churches are more interested in profits than prophets.

Our vacation is almost over and I am sad.  I bought lottery tickets but not the winner, or I’d probably never go back to Connecticut.  Well, maybe to visit.  People up here are friendlier, the air is cleaner, the pace is slower and money is not the main motivating factor of life.  Priorities people!

I could easily live up here.  Easily.

And life goes on.

Posted in Family, Humor, Opinion, Reviews, Ski House, Vacation, Vermont | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Team Rump and Rumpspeak


Rumpspeak is not easily translated into English.

Now it turns out that not only did Gen. Flynn, our former National Security Adviser, assure Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that the sanctions President Obama imposed for annexing Crimea would disappear under the Rump Administration, but that Flynn and Rumps son-in-law, Jared Kushner himself, met with Kislyak last December, at Rump Tower.  And Rump didn’t know about any of this?  Flynn did it on his own?  Team Rump conveniently forgot about this meeting until forced to remember it.

“Alternative Facts” can be altered at any time.

Attorney General Sally Yates notified White House Legal Council Don McGahn on January 26th that Flynn was dirty.  She was fired on January 30th.  Preet Bharara, who was assured by Rump himself that he would keep his job as US Attorney for New York, was fired after looking into Russian money laundering.  And then James Comey, who is leading the investigation into Russian interference in our election, and possible collusion by Team Rump, is suddenly fired for his actions during the election?  Hadn’t Rump previously praised him for the very same thing?  Isn’t that “Old News,” according to Rumpspeak.

Can you say Obstruction of Justice?  The saddest part of all this is that our next President will be Mike Pence, a religious nut.  O joy!

Speaking of nuts, the letter claiming that Rump has no income or debt from Russia “with few exceptions” was written by his lawyers Sheri Dillon and William Nelson, of the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.  That very law firm was named Russian Law Firm of the Year for 2016, and they employ forty lawyers in their Moscow office.  Well that eases my mind.  Doesn’t it ease yours?  Is Rump really that stupid?  Does this qualify as “Fake News?”

Please, only idiots still back this cretin.  When he finally resigns it will be in the dead of night, and he will skulk away under the cover darkness, the darkness from whence he came.  He has actually further sullied Washington, D.C, which I thought was impossible. He makes Bush the Younger look palatable.  I’d call him a real Bozo, but I have nothing against Larry Harmon.  He has given us “Alternative Facts, Fake News and Fake Media.” He has given us no legislation, and his executive orders, including the latest one authorizing a Commission on Voter Fraud, are a waste of time.  He is the fraud.

The other day he gave the Commencement Address at Falwell University, er, I mean Liberty University.  (Question:  What do you get when you cross a Rump and a Falwell?  Answer:  I’m not sure, but keep it away from your women and your money.)  Here are some choice quotes from said speech:

“This is your day and you’ve earned every minute of it. And I’m thrilled to be back at Liberty University, I’ve been here, this is now my third time, and we love setting records, right. We always set records. We have to set records, we have no choice.”

What?

“I am standing before you as President of the United States, so I’m guessing — there are some people here today who thought that . . . would really require major help from God. Do we agree? And we got it.”

So this is all God’s fault?

“I know that each of you will be a warrior for the truth, will be a warrior for our country, and for your family.”

Rump lies – largest inauguration crowd, most electoral votes since Reagan, no Russian involvement in election – the list goes on.  So much for the truth.  He avoided the Vietnam through deferments.  So much for Country, but I will give him family.  Look at how many jobs he’s given Jared Kushner alone.  Nepotism, check.

Rump needs to go, and go now.  Anyone who continues to support him is, as I said before, an asshole.  I’m sorry if I offended anyone.

Actually, I’m not.

 

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A Wealth of Ignorance


I work as a quality control inspector for a small electronics firm.  Basically, I find fault with what others do, and I thought to myself, this would be a perfect job for my mother.

Now I’ll find out if my mom reads this blog, even as I follow in her footsteps.

Newly elected President Rump continues to amaze.  I find it amazing he’s still in office. All he’s accomplished so far is to gut environmental regulations so corporations can further rape and pillage and destroy our land.  (There aren’t many species that shit where they eat, but we are obviously one of them.)  He’s done nothing else.  You knew things were going south when Rump’s pick for National Security Adviser, Gen. Flynn, turned out to have ties to foreign governments.  Rump has a real Russian problem that diversionary tactics will not eliminate.

President Rump’s tax plan, that one sheet of brilliance – really, did that take them ten minutes to put together – would further enrich the wealthiest among us.  Trickle-Down economics never works because the rich have no reason to reinvest when they already have more money than they’ll ever need.  And the elimination of the Estate Tax means we’ll have family dynasties that will last centuries.  Think of the Bush and Kennedy clans on steroids.  Or, frighteningly, the Rumps.

The largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world is going on right under our collective noses, but we’re more concerned about building a wall.

Illegal immigrants also help the one percent.  They’ll work for less, or even under the table, further enriching ownership.  Do you really want to end illegal immigration?  Then arrest anyone who employs them.  From the CEO on down, fine them and jail them.  Take away the incentive for coming to America.  But that will never happen, as business now runs this country, and cheap labor is the goal.

We are “The Corporate States of America.”

I find the wealth of ignorance in America astounding.  Decades of failing education have finally caught up with us.  How else do you explain the disdain average Americans have for those educated folks out there; you know, the liberal intellectuals.  There, I said it. President Rump would never be mistaken as an intellectual, whereas Elizabeth Warren has been condemned as one.  Poor states like Mississippi keep voting for the very people who would deny them any help whatsoever; Republicans.  Kentuckians reelected Mitch McConnell and then acted surprised when he tried to take away their healthcare.  What did they think he was going to do?  Why vote for the very people who hold you in contempt?  Are we that stupid?

President Rump held another Pep Rally last night, instead of going to the annual Correspondent’s Dinner, as is custom.  (The last President to miss this event was Reagan, who was in the hospital after having been shot.  And he still managed to call.)  Rump is too thin-skinned to take a ribbing from anyone, especially the media, whom he views as the enemy.  Rump loves his Pep Rallies.  He receives ovations and gets to point at people and wave, while giving his followers the standard rap.  When the press calls him on this demagoguery he claims “Fake News.”  He behaves like a toddler (which is where I think his development was stunted.)  He got as far from that dinner as he could get without the appearance of running away.  Notice he didn’t go golfing.

Originally, I was going to cover President Rump’s accomplishments during his first 100 days in office, but I couldn’t actually think of any..

And life goes on.

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Rump’s Middle East Chest Thump


President Rump, to prove he’s the new sheriff in town, has bombed an airfield in Syria in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime on the Syrian rebels. Rump claimed that , “Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.  No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

Where was his concern for these children when he tried to ban all Syrian refugees with his half-assed Executive Orders?  And as to his mention of God, Rump is about as religious as my cat.  But the real question here is why didn’t the bombing do more damage.  Those Tomahawk missiles are not cheap, starting at $500 thousand each for the entry-level and rising from there.  Our little attack cost America upwards of $30 million. Couldn’t we at least have taken out a squadron or two?

No, the reason so little damage was done is because Assad knew the attack was coming. Russia has troops on the ground helping Assad.  President Rump did not want to start World War III by killing any of those Russian troops, so he warned Putin.  Putin, in turn, warned his friend Assad, who moved out important hardware and troops, hence the minuscule amount of damage.  It was all for show – more Shock and Awe –  that’s why sixty tomahawks were used when ten would have sufficed.  Pure overkill.

President Rump is still in trouble.  His Muslim bans are illegal, his healthcare reform never even got off the ground, his administration is being investigated for ties to Russia and his approval ratings are at historic lows.  Yet there are still people who support this fucking clown.

According to Rump, the gassing in Syria was President Obama’s fault.  It seems Rump is good at passing the buck to everyone except the IRS.  But Rump originally urged Obama not to do anything back in 2013 when he tweeted, “What I am saying is stay out of Syria.” What changed his mind?  If it was the use of gas, Assad has done it before.  Was it a diversionary tactic?  Did someone tell him about Wag the Dog?

Concerning Syria, America has no horse in that race.  On one side is Assad, a butcher, and on the other is ISIS, terrorists all.  Sure the rebels are there, but they are more of an afterthought and have no chance of winning.  Our best bet might be to let them fight it out, then beat the hell out of the winner.  Eventually we can give Syria to the rebels, much like Britain gave Palestine to Israel.

Yes, that should work, right?

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Between the Lines


I seldom drive between the lines
I find them too constraining
Yet in a twist
They will insist
It’s all part of the training.

Don’t dare to think outside the box
It’s always what they’re braying
Do as you’re told
Don’t be so bold
And stop your damn complaining.

It all begins while we’re in school
This insipid constant framing
It’s everywhere
Under the glare
They make it entertaining.

So what you think keep to yourself
Or there’ll be some explaining
Now toe that line
Obey that sign
And stop your damn complaining.

Posted in Poetry and Prose | Tagged | 3 Comments

The Milfordonians


(To the tune of Creeque Alley.)

Jan and Chucky, were really kind of lucky,
When they left the old gang behind.
While Bart and Johnny, to save a bit of money,
Rented out a place in the sky.
And in a local bar Badly Billy sat
Soaking up the rounds, while passing ’round the hat.
Dewey and the Breeze, doing as they please,
An Angel run is just where it’s at
And no one’s missing out except the French Rat.

Goat and Ali, thought that they should marry,
And Gus he followed suit two more times.
While Sue and Mondo, knew that they would want to,
When they met in Cal, by-the-by.
In Wiggy’s Bar Badly Billy sat,
Passing up the rounds while cutting up the hat.
Dewey and the Breeze, doing as they please,
In the BK parking lot where they sat.
Now someone’s missing out with the French Rat.

Bart left Johnny, he met a girl in Cali,
And followed her on out to the coast.
Dew wed Heather, expecting better weather,
A darling little girl they’d soon boast.
And still on a stool Badly Billy sat,
Cutting up the lines while passing out the hat.
So Breeze lost Dew,  t’was no longer cool,
Waiting for the phone to ring back,
And more are missing out with the French Rat.

Breeze and K.P, married happy they’d be,
Birthing little twins in the night.
And then there’s Barty, continuing to party,
Flying coast-to-coast is his plight.
And in the bars corner Badly Billy sat,
Hoarding all the lines while sitting on the hat.
Times have changed, lives are rearranged,
A gray-haired mom and dad’s where it’s at.
And no one’s laughing now except the French Rat.
La la la la . . .

Posted in Family, Humor, Poetry and Prose | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Hatred and Anger


There seems to be a lot of pissed off people out there.

President Rump was elected due to the people’s hatred of Hillary Clinton.  The emails, Benghazi and FBI Director Comey didn’t cost her the election, they just added to the hatred already out there.  (And it must be depressing to lose a popularity contest to Donald Rump.  Poor Hillary.)

President Obama is still hated, to the point where this new Healthcare Act isn’t about taking care of poor folks, it’s more about taking Obama’s name off the masthead.  He’s still considered a Socialist/Communist Muslim Dictator for life, and even though he’s out of office and will never have to work again, people think he’s behind a shadow government.  (It’s why Rump accused him of bugging Rump Tower.  He knows Obama is still a dirty word.)

Elizabeth Warren elicits hate by the bucketful.  It seems women, especially powerful women, anger Conservatives.  Warren helped found the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau back when she was a Harvard professor, and would have been the first director of the agency but Republican opposition to her appointment squelched that idea. Republicans want to close the CFPB, as they feel it is redundant, but I can personally vouch for its effectiveness.  I first contacted the CFPB when Bank of America began screwing with my mortgage.  For those in the dark, Bank of America is one of the sleaziest financial institutions in the world, and only when the CFPB got involved were they impelled to deal with me.  They sold my mortgage a month later.  I was again forced to call the CFPB on our new mortgage holder, Cenlar, when they refused to even send me a paper bill, among other problems.  The CFPB got The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency involved, and soon Cenlar was eating out of my hand.  Without these agencies I would have been screwed.  Thank you Elizabeth Warren.

Michelle Obama, whom I consider a classy and very pretty lady, was called a gorilla on more than one occasion.  Hatred?  I think so.

Now I know my more conservative readers will argue that I pick on Melania, comparing her accent to Zsa Zsa Gabor’s, but that’s not hatred.  She does sound like Zsa Zsa.  I wouldn’t dare call her a gorilla, or infer in any way that she is ugly.  I actually feel sorry for her, being married to Rump.

As to Rump, I have been torching him since I began this blog.  He is a clown.  His record speaks for itself.  But it’s not hatred.  I don’t grow angry when discussing or writing about him, I just marvel at the folks who voted him into office.

The names Obama and Clinton cause Conservative Republicans to foam at the mouth; spittle flies through the air as they grow increasingly agitated at the mere mention of their names.  That is hatred.

During the election Rump claimed Hillary lied about the emails and Benghazi.  Now Rump lies daily:  Attendance at the inauguration, President Obama bugging Rump Tower, Rump not running his businesses from the White House, none of Rump’s people being in contact with Russia, etc.  The Jobs Report, which Rump derided as fiction when touted by President Obama, is now the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Wikileaks, hailed by Rump during the election, is now the enemy.  He also embraced the “Birther” movement, which was fabrication at it’s best.  Two-faced is Rump.

The problem is not that Rump is a clown, it’s that no one seems to care.  The hatred for Obama and Clinton overrides any sane thoughts.

The hatred and anger in this country towards immigrants, homosexuals, liberals, progressives, universities, the press and anyone who disagrees with Conservatives will continue.  Rump will eventually resign, giving way to that religious nut, Vice-President Pence.  Then things will get real ugly.

Have a nice day.

Posted in Behavior, Government, News, Opinion, Politics | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Saturday Morning Missive


We here at breezespeaks had a good play-off run, going 7-4 and putting us up 720 shekels. Sure it’s not the 9-1-1 mark of a three years ago, but it will do.  We’ve also won three of the last four Super Bowls we picked, our only loss coming when the SeaHawks threw the ball on the one yard line instead of having Lynch or Wilson run the ball.  (Still the worst call I’ve ever seen.)  But that’s old news.

Pres. Rump has started a trend.  Now Bashar al-Assad, the dictatorial butcher in Syria, has begun using Rump’s “Fake News.”  When he was confronted with pictures of people his henchmen tortured and murdered in his name, he concluded the pictures were not vetted. The pictures were supplied by our own intelligence agencies, yet Assad called them “fake news.”  He used those exact words.

Yesterday Rump claimed massive voter fraud, this time in New Hampshire, caused himself and former Senator Kelly Ayotte to lose elections there.  People were bused in, according to Rump.   What a buffoon.  Maybe, just maybe, the people in the “Live Free or Die” state saw through these scoundrels.  But that plays against the Rump narrative.

If in doubt, just trash the messenger.  Our Commander-in- Tweet posted this gem recently:  “Any negative polls are fake news.” Negative meaning any that go against Rump.  Or how about, “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom  . . . Terrible!”  (Never mind that Ivanka’s line was not selling, or that the White House shouldn’t be involved in family business.)  But this one is my favorite:  “It’s a disgrace that my full cabinet is still not in place, the longest delay in the history of this country.  Obstruction by Democrats.”  Actually, President Obama’s cabinet was not fully in place until April 28.  And as for obstruction, just what were Republicans doing for the last eight years?

What has the Rump Presidency given us so far?

Lets start with alternative fact, which basically says that what you see isn’t real.  Then there’s fake news, which again basically says that what you see isn’t real.  Then there’s the travel ban which is actually a Muslim ban and unconstitutional.  Then there is Steve Bannon, Rump’s Minister of Propaganda, who sells bigotry and hate like candy bars.  And then there’s Kellyanne Conway, busy shilling for the First Daughter’s clothing line.  And who can forget Sean Spicer, the angry Press Secretary  who gave us this gem, “I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts.”  Facts are facts and can not be disagreed with, period.

President Rump is a disgrace, and anyone who voted for him is an asshole.  His record was out there – bankruptcies, divorces, media fights, rude behavior, womanizing, avoiding taxes like the plague – but no one cared because Hillary Clinton was the Devil.  What ever became of the emails or Benghazi?   Nothing, because there was never anything there.

I hope you conservative idiots are happy.  And just wait until President Rump rewrites the tax code.  Maybe the government will supply KY Jelly with the tax forms.  If the corporations and 1% don’t have to pay up because they are the job creators, it will be the Middle Class that covers the bills.  Sorry, but you Conservative Republican assholes asked for it.  Lube up, people.

History will not be kind to America during this time.

Posted in Football, Government, News, Opinion, Politics | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Peerless Prognosticator – Super Bowl LI


“If it’s the ultimate game, how come they’re playing it again next year.”
Duane Thomas

Yes, my friends, it is Super Bowl Sunday, yet again.  So load up on beer and hot wings, or nachos and margaritas, or cocktails and cocktail weenies if that’s how you roll, but whatever your preferences, let’s get ready for some football.

This year finds the New England Patriots, in the big game for the seventh time since 2000, against the Atlanta Falcons, in the big game for the first time since 1999.  Both teams come in on streaks; The Patriot streak stands at nine, while the Falcons are at six.  During the Pats streak they have averaged 29.2 points per game, and given up only 11.6 ppg for a differential of 17.6 ppg.  The Falcons come in averaging 39 ppg over their streak, and gave up only 14.8 for a differential of 24.2 ppg.  Nod to Atlanta.

The game is being played in Houston, in a stadium with a retractable roof, so if it rains it will not matter.  The artificial turf field also helps the Falcons run and gun offense, as they are reminiscent of the Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf.  Another nod to Atlanta.

The Falcon offense is not just Matt Ryan, though his season should be good enough for the MVP Award.  Freeman and Coleman form a potent backfield, with Coleman a duel threat to catch the ball.  The receiving corps is led by Julio Jones, though Mohamad Sanu and Taylor Gabriel are both dangerous in their own ways.  The TE, Hooper, is only starting because the regular Jacob Tamme, was hurt mid-season.  The offensive line run blocks better than it pass blocks, having given up 37 sacks on the season.

On defense, the Falcons can be had.  They start four rookies; a safety, a cornerback and two linebackers, and though they’ve come together as the season progressed, they’re still rookies.  Vic Beasley led the league in sacks, but doesn’t have any during these play-offs.  As a unit, the Falcons ranked in the bottom third defensively and gave up a ton of points.

The kicking game is strong, with old vet Matt Bryant leading the way.  Another Matt, this time Bosher, averages over 46 yards per punt, and Eric Weems handles almost all the kick and punt returns.  Good hands all.

As for New England, it all starts and ends with Brady.  I can’t root for him, but he’s a damn good quarterback, one of the ten best in history.  Give him time and he will pick you apart. The running game consists of Blount up the middle, Lewis to the outside and White catching balls downfield.  They compliment each other well.  The offensive line is one of the best, as Brady was sacked only 15 times in 12 games.

The receiving corps has no Julio Jones, but what they lack in star power they make up for in abundance.  Hogan, Edelman, Mitchell and Amendola make nice targets for Brady, who can make even average receivers look very good, and the TE Bennett is a former All-Pro himself.  Sure they miss the Great Gronk, but he has been absent most of the year.

It is defensively where the Patriots hold the edge.  Granted, they haven’t faced such a high-flying offense – Atlanta scored 540 points, eighth all time in the NFL – but Pittsburgh wasn’t exactly chopped liver two weeks ago.  They had been mauling people.  The Pats boast no big names.  Trey Flowers led the team with 7 sacks, and Malcolm Butler led the team with 4 interceptions.  Those numbers don’t jump off the page, do they?  But the Pats did give up a league low of 250 points on the season (Atlanta gave up 406.)

The Pats special teams are good, though Gostkowski had an off season – and knowing Belichick, he could be unemployed next year – but he’s still a seasoned vet.  Edelman, Jones and Lewis are all threats any time they touch the ball on returns.

Basically, this game will be won on defense, which gives the nod to New England, and though the game is being played on turf, under a dome if necessary, I don’t think it will be enough to push the Falcons over the top.  Throw in injuries to Julio Jones and center Alex Mack – Jones is a turf toe away from leaving the game – and it becomes harder to go Atlanta.  Toss in the intangibles; Brady’s experience, Belichick’s coaching, and Tom Brady’s desire to force Roger Goodell to hand him the Lombardi Trophy, and I think everything points to a New England Patriot victory.  Take New England and give the measly three points.  Final score:  New England 31, Atlanta 23.

My apologies for the Green Bay pick, as I let my heart rule my head, but we still hit the Patriot-Steeler game as a double-digit victory, leaving us up 420 shekels for these playoffs.  We here at breezespeaks feel confident enough to lay 300 shekels on the Patriots, and we’re not betting with our heart, as we despise the Patriots, but they will cover the spread.

Good luck to all.

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