Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Andrew Preview: NFL Week Eight

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The last two Superbowl Champions collide in a big matchup on Sunday. Night.

1. It’s been a tough week to be a quarterback. San Francisco QB Alex Smith suffered a separated shoulder in the Niners’ game against the Panthers this past Sunday. He’s expected to be out 2-3 weeks. In his place, the 49ers’ coach Mike Singletary is giving Troy Smith, the former Heisman Trophy winner, his first NFL start in three years. Also, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo suffered a broken collarbone in the Cowboys’ loss to the New York Giants Giant on Monday night. While Romo will not require surgery, he is expected to be out for 6-8 weeks. He will be replaced by former Lions QB Jon Kitna, who has not seen the field in the regular season for more than two years.

2. Lots of news coming out of the Vikings organization. First and foremost, Brett Favre may or may not play in Minnesota’s game against New England this Sunday, despite the fact that he suffered two fractures in his left ankle. At a news conference Favre said, “I would love to play, for no other reason but I’m in this, committed to this team.” Favre has started 291 consecutive regular season games. Still, he commented that “I’m very proud of the streak, but it probably should have ended a long time ago.” It remains to be seen whether Brett will be behind center on Sunday. In other Vikes news, coach Brad Childress was fined for his comments that Minnesota’s narrow loss to Green Bay was “the worst officiated game [he’s] seen.” The NFL fined Childress $35,000 for this statement. In particular, Childress criticized the call on an endzone catch by tight end Visanthe Schiancoe which was initially ruled a touchdown but overturned on review. Childress later said that “50 drunks in a bar” could have made the correct call.

3. The NCAA quickly shot down rumors that it intended to pursue an attempt to coordinate with the NFL to punish rookies who accepted extra benefits in college. The NCAA quickly said that such a proposal is “not currently under consideration.” Certain college coaches presented this proposal as a means to turn the tide against the rash of benefit violations in the NCAA, advocating suspensions and fines for violators in the NFL. The NFLPA immediately objected to the proposal, rejecting the idea of “any penalty being imposed upon a player in the NFL for conduct relating to the receipt of benefits in violation of NCAA rules while the player was in college.”

2008 Detroit Lions Memorial Winless Teams

Buffalo Bills

And then there was one. The Carolina Panthers pulled off their first win in a tight game against the similarly situated San Francisco 49ers to make it off the winless list. The Bills tried valiantly, taking the Baltimore Ravens down to the wire, but at the end of the day they still found themselves as the sole remaining team without a victory. This week they’ll try their luck against the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs.

Head of the Pack

Your statistical leaders in:

Passing

1. Phillip Rivers (San Diego) –2344 yards.
2. Kyle Orton (Denver) –2140 yards.
3. Drew Brees (New Orleans) – 2029 yards

Rushing

1. Ahmad Bradshaw (NY Giants) –708 yards.
2. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) – 684 yards
3. Chris Johnson (Tennessee) – 662 yards.

Receiving

1. Roddy White (Atlanta) – 747 yards
2. Brandon Lloyd (Denver) – 709 yards
3. Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis) – 602 yards

Sacks

1. Clay Matthews (Green Bay) – 9.0
2. Osi Umenyiora (NY Giants) – 8.0
3. DeMarcus Ware (Dallas) – 8.0

Three Big Match Ups

1. Green Bay at NY Jets, 1 P.M. EST on FOX – The NFC North is up for grabs this year, with the Packers in the thick of the race. With their victory over the archrival Vikings, the Pack catapulted themselves to a share of first place in the division. Still, they face what may be their biggest challenge of the season. The Jets will be only the second team the Packers have played this year who will enter the game with a winning record. Still, Green Bay is no stranger to playing in close matchups, with six of their seven games this season decided by four points or less. For their part, the Jets have done nothing but win since their one-point loss to the Ravens in the first week of the season. Coming off a bye and sitting at 5-1, the Jets are still only sharing the lead in the AFC East, as they fend off the Patriots. Both teams are fighting to keep up in tight division races, and it should mean a good show.

2. Pittsburgh at New Orleans, 8:20 P.M. EST on NBC – It took a controversial decision from a referee and a very close shave, but the Steelers survived their match up with Dolphins to improve to 5-1. On third down in that game, Ben Roethlisberger ran for the endzone. He lost control of the ball, but the ref on the field ruled that he had crossed the goal line prior to losing possession. Upon an official review, it was ruled that Big Ben indeed fumbled before he reached the goal line, but that it was unclear who recovered the ball in the ensuing scrum, and as such, by rule, the Steelers retained possession for a 4th down play. They kicked the field goal to win the game, amid thunderous boos from the Miami faithful. Nevertheless, the Steelers won the game and sit in first place in the AFC North. New Orleans, on the other hand, has not been so lucky. After starting 3-1, the Saints have gone 1-2 down the stretch, including a shocking thirteen-point loss to the Cleveland Browns this past week. Drew Brees is still throwing with 69.7 completion rate, but the Saints may still be fighting a Superbowl hangover. New Orleans will be desperate to boost themselves out of third place in the NFC South behind Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Expect both teams to be at their best in this matchup of the last two Superbowl Champions.

3. Houston at Indianapolis, Monday 8:30 P.M. EST on ESPN – These are not your father’s…er…big brother’s Texans. Off to their best start in years, Matt Schaub and the rest of this Houston team have had impressive wins over the rejuvenated Reskins, the red hot Chiefs, and yes, even the Colts. With a team that ranks first in Red Zone offense and after a bye week to rest and recover, the Texans will shoot for their first season sweep of the Colts ever. On their side, Indy has put up some big victories of their own, including big wins over those same Redskins and Chiefs, plus a sound trouncing of the NY Giants. Still, the Colts’ receiving corps has been severely hampered by injuries, with Austin Collie suffering an injured right thumb that will keep him out of the lineup a few more weeks, and Peyton Manning’s favorite target, Dallas Clark, out for the season. This game will go a long way in deciding an increasingly tight division race, so expect both teams to come out hungry for a victory.

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Chicken Piccata a la Andrew

Believe it or not, I’m not certain I had even heard of chicken piccata prior to last night. Nevertheless, with time, a desire to make something ambitious for dinner, and a lovely suggestion from my girlfriend, I took a whack at it yesterday evening, and I was pretty pleased with the results.

I used a recipe that Heather found from a website called The Cookbook Smasher. I did make a few adjustments, mostly based on necessity. I used a package of chicken breast tenderloins instead of chicken breasts (they’re smaller and thinner cuts of chicken) and I used pre-minced garlic and pre-chopped parsley. Here’s a photo of all my supplies:

No, Kroger is not my corporate sponsor, but they do good work.

The recipe called for me to pound the meat flat with a meat mallet. Unfortunately, I do not own a meat mallet, so I had to improvise.

It's also good for relieving stress.

Using the tools the good lord gave me.

Then, the recipe said I needed to “dredge” the chicken in flour. My last interaction with the word “dredge” was in my Contract Law class, so I decided to look up what the term means in a chicken context.

Google - Is there anything it can't do?

Apparently it means to cover the chicken entirely in flour. Heather points out that I could probably have used context clues, but with all the crazy terms there are in cooking, I just had to double check. Knowledge in hand, I dredged the chicken in the flour/salt/pepper mixture.

In an alternate version of "Scarface", Tony Montana was just making Chicken Piccata.

With most of the prep work done, it was time to start boiling the water and get the frying pan sizzling.

"Just hanging out. Being cookware. You know how we do."

Once the butter and olive oil started to simmer, it was time for the first round of cooking the chicken.


The smell of the kitchen was pretty awesome at this point.

Given that I used tenderloins instead of chicken breasts, the cooking took a little longer than expected. Still, in not too long I had a pile a lightly browned chicken.

"Dogpile on Billy!"

Then it was time to mix together the chicken broth, lemon juice, garlic, and capers for the sauce. I’m sure I have had capers sometime before, but I have definitely never cooked with them. It took me forever to find them at the grocery store. Here they are in action.

"Kinda swampy." - Heather

The recipe said to let the sauce “reduce” for eight-to-ten minutes. Again, I had no idea what this cooking term meant so I looked it up on the internet.

Yahoo Answers - Not just for teenagers with poor grammar trying to figure out whether that boy or girl from school likes them.

Apparently, to reduce a sauce just means to let it simmer down so it gets thicker because the water evaporates. Here is the “reduced” version of the sauce, in all it’s glory.

Bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble.

I reduced the sauce for about nine minutes, which gave me just enough time to take care of the pasta. Despite having some orzo on hand, I ended up going with angel hair pasta because 1. it’s my favorite kind and 2. I thought it would go well with the chicken.

If there's a nicer pasta than angel hair, I haven't found it.

Then it was time to start round two of cooking the chicken. This time, they were immersed in the sauce.

"Mmm" - Heather

They cooked much faster than expected. Before I knew it, they were almost done.

Almost ready.

The penultimate step was to put the chicken on a bed of pasta.

First batch is almost finished.

Aerial shot of the first batch on the kitchen table. Almost finished.

Joined by the second batch.

The last step was to spoon the remaining sauce over the chicken and pasta. With that, the dish was finally complete.

The final product.

Aerial shot of the final product.

And that’s the story of how I will have enough Chicken Piccata to last me the rest of the week. I very much enjoyed the end result. I thought it was very tasty with a lot of bold flavors. Big thanks to The Cookbook Smasher for the recipe and to Heather for suggesting it.

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The Andrew Preview: NFL Week Seven

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Favre will come home to Lambeau for the second time in the shadow of allegations of lewd behavior.

1. The hits just keep on coming. Week Six in the NFL included a number of devastating hits throughout the league that has led to the wringing of hands, the gnashing of teeth, and may actually lead to some action from the NFL. The front office imposed fines on three players: James Harrison of the Steelers, Brandon Meriweather of the Patriots, and Dunta Robinson of the Falcons. Harrison, upset at his $75,000 fine and threatening to retire, was excused from the Pittsburgh practice today and told to cool off. Meriweather, on the other hand, facing a $50,000 fine of his own, apologized for his hit and promised to “play within the rules” in the future. Robinson also received a $50,000 fine. The NFL warned these players and the rest of the league that continued vicious hits, particularly on unprotected receivers and those of the helmet-to-helmet variety, would result in suspensions. On Sunday night, former Patriot and renowned hard-hitter Rodney Harrison suggested that only such suspensions would curb the these sorts of tough tackles on the field.

2. Brett Favre met with the NFL this week to discuss the allegations that he made sexual advances and sent explicit pictures to former Jets employee Jenn Sterger. Favre has refused to comment on the allegations, adding only that it is a “league issue” and stating that he is focused on the upcoming game against the Packers. Sterger is reportedly refusing to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation into the story, first reported by Deadspin.com. She is currently an employee for the Versus network, and her manager indicates that she has had no discussions with Favre regarding any sort of settlement. Favre  met with the NFL’s vice president for security Milt Ahelrich on Tuesday, though no decision on the league’s part has been made thus far.

3. Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee received a one-game suspension from the team after his arrest for public intoxication this week. McAfee was swimming in a local canal in the Broad Ripple neighborhood when he was confronted by police. McAfee reportedly had a blood alcohol level of .15 and when asked how much alcohol he had consumed that night, responded “a lot cause I am drunk.” McAfee is the fourth Colts player to be arrested on alcohol-related charges this year. The Colts have a bye this week, but McAfee will miss Indy’s Monday Night game in Week Eight against the Houston Texans.

Undefeated Teams

None

Two weeks ago, the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Indianapolis Colts. With that there were no more undefeated teams left in the NFL. This was the first season that the NFL did not have a 4-0 team since 1970. This is particularly surprising as at least one NFL team has started 10-0 over the last five seasons. The ’72 Dolphins are popping the champagne early this year. Come back next week when we will start the “Head of the Pack” feature.

2008 Detroit Lions Memorial Winless Teams

Buffalo Bills
Carolina Panthers

The Lions left this list in Week Six with a resounding 44-6 win over the St. Louis Rams. The following week, the 49ers managed to scrounge up their first win, beating the Oakland Raiders 17-9. This leaves the Panthers and the Bills as the leading contenders for futility this season. The Panthers may have their best shot at a win this week as they take on those very same 49ers who could not manage a victory until one week ago. Meanwhile the Bills will likely have to keep waiting as they take on Baltimore and have a tough schedule ahead of them.

Three Big Match Ups

1. Philadelphia at Tennessee, 1 P.M. EST on FOX – Who will be playing quarterback for Philadelphia seems to be a weekly mystery this season, but thus far, it hasn’t mattered all that much. Both Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb have been impressive down the stretch for Philadelphia and their stellar play has led the Eagles to a 4-2 record, good enough for a share of first place in the NFC East. Kolb and the rest of a talented Philly squad got a big victory over the 4-1 Falcons in a game many thought would be a much closer and more competitive contest. Despite Vick’s continued recovery, Kolb is widely expected to start against the Titans. Tennessee, meanwhile, has quietly racked up a 4-2 record of its own, with a 30-3 rout of division rival Jacksonville last Monday Night. Chris Johnson has been as fearsome as ever, racking up more than one hundred yards against the Jags. Both Titans QB’s, however, have been fighting injuries. Vince Young did not practice today due to a sprained knee and ankle, nor did his backup Kerry Collins due to a hurt middle finger on his throwing hand. It’s currently unknown who will start against Philadelphia, but both quarterbacks have shown themselves to be able of leading the Titans to victory. Expect a good game between these two teams with multiple options at quarterback.

2. Pittsburgh at Miami, 1 P.M. EST on CBS – Big Ben is back in Pittsburgh, and tossed for three touchdowns in a significant victory over the division rival Browns. The competition for Roethlisberger gets stiffer this week, however, as the Steelers travel to Miami. It’s unknown at this time what the impact of the recent controversy will have on the Pittsburgh defense, and on James Harrison in particular, but at 4-1, the Steelers are sitting pretty atop the AFC North with the return of their franchise quarterback. The Dolphins are coming off a big win of their own, unseating the Green Bay Packers in overtime to pull back into contention in the supercompetitive AFC East. Chad Henne and Brandon Marshall have been connecting with regularity and giving Miami a much more explosive pass attack. With Parcells stepping back, the Fins seems to be stepping up. This should be a good matchup between two hungry teams.

3. Minnesota at Green Bay, 8:20 P.M. EST on NBC – Welcome to Brett Favre’s Homecoming take two. Favre and the Vikes were able to win both games against the Packers last year, but this is a different year with different results. Both teams have underperformed relative to expectations and badly need a win. The Vikings beat the Cowboys in the desperation bowl last week. With parity as king in the NFL this year, a win could put them a mere half-game behind the division-leading Bears. Still, who knows what type of distraction the ongoing investigation into Favre will be, and it remains to be seen what impact recent addition Randy Moss will make as he transitions to his new team. For their part, the Packers have lost two games in a row, both in overtime, and find themselves at .500. Green Bay started the season by winning three of their first four games, but this two game skid has raised some red flags in Wisconsin.  Many questions are being asked about Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy. Nothing would help silence the critics more than a big victory over the division rival Vikings and former ally Favre. Expect both teams to lay it all out on the line this week in a division where one win can mean the difference between being at the top of the head and at the bottom of the pile.

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The Andrew Preview: NFL Week Five

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The Patriots traded Moss to the Vikings for a third round draft pick.

1. The New England Patriots have traded receiver Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings, the for a third round pick. Minnesota drafted Moss out of college nearly twelve years ago. The outspoken reciever had expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of a new contract with the Pats, saying, “When you have done so much and put so much work in, it kind of feels like I am not wanted.” In Monday night’s game against the Dolphins, Moss had zero catches, a first for him as a Patriot, despite New England scoring forty-one points. Rumor has it that Moss had been angling for a trade since Week One. Favre had apparently sought out Moss as a target for some time. Many source described the Packers’ failure to acquire the receiver for two years in a row, despite Brett’s overwhelming insistence, as a very sore spot between the veteran QB and the Green Bay organization. The addition of Moss will give the Vikings the deep thread receiver they have been lacking since Sidney Rice underwent hip surgery. The Vikings had sought to make a deal with disgruntled Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson, but negotiations fell through. Reportedly, the Vikings and Moss have not yet discussed a new contract. Minnesota and New England are scheduled to play each other in a mere three weeks time.

2. In other trade news, the Buffalo Bills sent RB Marshawn Lynch to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for two undisclosed draft picks. This will leave the running game in Buffalo to backup Fred Jackson and first round draft pick C.J. Spiller. For its part, Seattle hopes the addition of Lynch will add a spark to its running game, which has been sorely lacking through the first quarter of the season. In order to make room for Lynch, the Seahawks cut Julius Jones, who had been their leading rusher the past two years. Jones had restructured his contract to take a pay cut this season, but still had only been given the ball a dozen times and gained minimal yardage. He was inactive this past Sunday against the Rams. Lynch will join Seattle’s other running back, Justin Forsett. The two were teammates and friends at Cal, with Lynch having even been a groomsman at Forsett’s wedding earlier this year.

3. The Miami Dolphins fired Special Teams coordinator John Bonamego this week after the team’s miserable failure to perform against the Patriots on Monday Night. The special teams play was particularly weak, including two blocked kicks, both of which led to touchdowns on the ensuing Patriot drives and a 103-yard kickoff return. The Dolphins also had a punt blocked against the Jets the week prior. Special Teams assistant Darren Rizzi will replace Bonamego as coordinator. Head coach Tony Sparano called the move a “hard decision” adding, “Nobody works harder than him at what he does.” The Dolphin currently rank last in the NFL in both punting and kickoff coverage.

Undefeated Teams

Kansas City Chiefs

Last season it took us until Week Fifteen until we had only one undefeated team left. This season, it only took us until Week Four. The 1972 Dolphins may be popping the champagne early this year as the Chiefs, with thirteen more games left to play and a 3-0 record, are the last undefeated team in the NFL. The Bears lost to the Giants and the Steelers lost to the Ravens, whittling us down to only one team in the NFL without a loss.

2008 Detroit Lions Memorial Winless Teams

Buffalo Bills
Carolina Panthers
Detroit Lions
San Francisco 49ers

Only one team made it out of the cellar this week as the Browns upset the Bengals to earn their first win. The Bills, Lions, and 49ers are all playing teams at .500 this week, and will hope to avoid to 2008 Lions’ fate.

Three Big Match Ups

1. Kansas City and Indianapolis, 1 P.M. EST on CBS – Who in the world would have guessed that the last undefeated in the league would be the Kansas City Chiefs? Matt Cassel’s group has scored wins in close games against the division rivals Chargers, as well as the Browns, and then pulled off a big, three-touchdown victory over the 49ers. As the sole remaining team without a loss, and bye week to rest up, expect Kansas City to come out looking to prove their mettle this week. They’ll play the team that went the longest without a loss last season. The Colts have gone a meager 2-2 in the first four weeks of the season, and have only shown flashes of the dominating team that made it to the Superbowl last year. After back-to-back resounding wins over New York and Denver, Indy lost a heartbreaker in final seconds in Jacksonville, giving them their second loss in the division. Still, the Colts are in the thick of the AFC South race, only one game back from Texans, and joining the glut of NFL teams at .500. Expect them to come out firing and remind the Chiefs why Indianapolis spent so much of last season undefeated.

2. Denver at Baltimore, 1 P.M. EST on CBS – The Broncos have been playing tight, but solid games these past few weeks. Kyle Orton appears to have come into his own this season, making last year’s Cutler-Orton trade seem a bit more even that initially thought. With a close win in a hard-fought game against Tennessee, the ponies have a tough pair of games ahead, with the Jets waiting in the wings after Denver finishes with Baltimore. Still, the Broncos showed a lot of toughness last week and will assuredly give the Ravens a run for their money. Baltimore, on the other hand, has looked stellar through the first four weeks of the season. Each of its games has been close, with the margin of victory never being greater than a touchdown. Still, with two division wins already, the Ravens are sitting pretty in the AFC North. Last week, they handed the vaunted Steelers their first loss in an exciting 17-14 showdown. The renewed Baltimore D will look to stop the Denver offense in its tracks and extend the Ravens’ dominance by another week.

3. NY Jets at Minnesota, Monday, 8:30 P.M. EST on ESPN – This one just got a little more interesting. The Jets keep making this list because they continue to play quality games against quality opponents. For all of Rex Ryan’s bluster, the Jets have so far managed to back it up, winning three of their first four games of the season and sweeping the rest of their division thus far. Despite an initial shakiness, Mark Sanchez is playing like a franchise quarterback, and he’ll have a new target this week with the return of Santonio Holmes. However, he won’t be the only one with a new star to throw to, as Randy Moss will suit up in the purple and gold for the first time since he was traded to Oakland in 2005. Moss will be playing in his second consecutive Monday night game. The Vikings looked to be in freefall, starting 0-2 until they got their first win of the season against the Lions. Now, with the addition of Moss and a bye week to rest and prepare, Minnesota looks like a much tougher game, especially at home. Expect Brett Favre to utilize his new weapon early and often in a match up that just became much more intriguing.

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