This is another one of those afternoons where I’m gonna need two screens…

 …only this time, I won’t be watching basketball!  With a week to go until the Grey Cup, the Stamps are looking to punch their ticket to Vancouver with their fourth win over Edmonton this season.  The Esks will most likely have Mike Reilly back at QB, but he’ll probably be playing with a broken foot that hasn’t had time to heal properly–making him a sitting duck for the Stamps defence.  I can’t say I’ve looked into buying tickets for the Big Game yet, but I probably will soon. ;)  Calgary 43, Edmonton 20.

How in the wide, wide world of sports did the Arizona Cardinals get to be the best team in the NFL!?  OK, I don’t think anyone’s picking them to win the Super Bowl–even though it’ll be played at their stadium–but at 9-1, the Cards have the best record in the league this season, a couple games ahead of anyone else in the NFC.  The answer is they’ve been doing it with defense (note the American spelling).  Only the Detroit Lions have allowed fewer points than AZ this season, and no one else in the National Conference even comes close.  Is it any wonder that last week’s Lions-Cardinals game ended in a 14-6 win for the home team?

That said, the Cards are about to fall back towards the pack as they travel to the Hawks Nest this week.  It’ll take a lot more than two TDs to win in Seattle, where the home side rarely loses, especially with Russell Wilson behind center.  And considering that Arizona is without its starting QB, Carson “Bad Knees” Palmer, for the rest of the season, they’ll hafta rely on Drew Stanton against the league’s third-ranked pass defense.  Did I mention that they’ll almost certainly be without Larry Fitzgerald, or that their rushing attack is the league’s second-worst?  Coming off a tough loss in Kansas City, this should be a statement game for the Seahawks.  Seattle 38, Arizona 7.

Of course, the Seattle-Arizona game kicks off at 4:05 pm Eastern Time, while the Calgary-Edmonton game starts around 4:30.  My laptop is charging as I type this.  Cuz hey, if you think you can go to a sports bar to watch the CFL Western Final in Toronto…you don’t actually live here, do you? :P

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The Seahawks’ Super Bowl defense starts now*!

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*Well technically, it starts tomorrow, but you think I’m gonna take the time to write this on game day!?

Maaaaaan, I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for the start of football season.  NFL football season, that is.  While my Stamps have been kickin’ ass and takin’ names since Canada Day, my other team, the Seattle Seahawks, begins its Super Bowl defense by hosting the Pack tomorrow.  (I was there for the last one.  Yeah, it was pretty sweet…)  Of course, we all know what happened the last time the Hawks played the Pack in prime time… ;)

Of course, there is no more Golden Tate to snatch the game-winning TD from the jaws of defeat, or rather, M.D. Jennings.  (And no more scab refs to uphold the call, either!)  Tate mighta been the biggest cap casualty of the off-season, along with half the D-line and any DB not officially inducted into the Legion of Boom.  (Bye-bye, Brandon Browner!)  The Hawks also did very little to shore up a suspect O-Line, drafting Justin Britt in the second round outta Mizzou to replace Breno “Holding Call” Giacomini.  (Don’t let the flag hit ya on the way out!)  But the team still returns the league’s top all-purpose back, its most exciting young QB and, oh yeah, the best defense in North America!  (Of course, a full season of Percy Harvin wouldn’t hurt, either…)

Hey, as that 43-8 Super Bowl score shows, defence wins championships.  And if the Broncos have any players left who aren’t suspended for violating the league’s “substance abuse policy” *wink, wink* they just might make it back to the Big Game.  Belichick and Brady might have something to say about that, though.  Ditto Andrew Luck and that owner who’s on more substances than the Denver Broncos’ bud girls (no caps).  Over in the Conference of Champions, however, the road still runs through the West–fittingly enough, the next two Super Bowls will be played in NFC West stadiums.  Now, Rams saviour Sam Bradford might be more busted up than ex-Winnipeg QB Buck Pierce after a particularly rough game of patty-cake…but the other two teams in the division have got a decent shot at Seattle.  Especially the Niners. *grrrrr*

In recent years, Seattle-San Fran has become just as fierce as a Calgary-Edmonton hockey rivalry…if the Flames repeatedly crushed the Oilers, saw them driven outta Calgary and heard the lamentations of their women after every home game.  Well, that has been known to happen, but the Niners have never piled up back-to-back-to-back first-overall picks, so bad metaphor.  In any case, San Fran figures to contend again, despite having to replace a good chunk of its secondary in the offseason.  They’ve also added a few weapons…OK, a couple weapons…OK, Stevie Johnson on offense, but they still figure to win games with their defense and Colin Kaepernick’s tattoos.  The NFC championship tilt between the Hawks and Niners went right down to the wire last year, and I would not be surprised to see a similar scenario…before the Hawks prevail to crush Denver in the Super Bowl again.

Seattle 53, Denver 7.  You heard it here first!

*James Franco voice* “Looook at all ma sheeeeet!!!”

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After the Seahawks won the Super Bowl 43-8!!!!!, there was no way I was leaving The Big Apple empty-handed.  Cuz unlike those Broncos fans who’ll be burning all their Super Bowl gear (among other things) after their loss, this is a moment that I’ll cherish forever…or at least until Seattle repeats next year.  In any case, I certainly purchased my share of merchandise, to say nothing of the freebies obtained at the stadium.  That’s right, attendees of the Super Bowl receive a gift bag–or a gift seat cushion, as it were.

156I actually bought this shirt at the Newark airport, where everything Super Bowl related was on sale Monday.  Those magnets only cost me a couple bucks–while that pint glass woulda been a lot cheaper had I picked it up at the airport instead of paying 20 bucks for it at Macy’s (roughly the same price as that program).

157This was one of the most popular items at Macy’s: the Super Bowl t-shirt with the full Seahawks roster on the back.  I actually had to scrounge through a rack of assorted items just to find one in my size!

158Funny story about the lanyard; I went to just about every merch stand on the 100 level of the stadium, and they didn’t have any.  I bought that one at the Newark airport the day after the game (it came with a pin, which is blocked in the shot).  The rubber band was a freebie I picked up at the security tent; the hat cost me 25 bucks or so at Macy’s.

159Ah, the aforementioned Super Bowl seat cushion full of stuff.  You’ve got a football-style hand pouch with three packs of hand-warmers, earmuffs, a game-day radio, faux leather coffee-cup holder, Super Bowl branded chapstick(!), a handkerchief, New Girl gloves (hey, I watch that show!), the light-up toque from the halftime show…and last but not least, a pack of tissues.  But not just any tissues–Puffs Plus with Lotion!  Cuz a nose in need deserves Puffs indeed, y’all!

(Of course, with game-day temperatures well above freezing, I didn’t actually use any of that stuff.  Not even the seat cushion–I wasn’t watching this one sitting down!)

Well, that went beyond my wildest dreams…

43 to 8!?  43 to 8 — are you kidding me?  43 to 8!  Man, even as a diehard Seahawks fan, I would not have predicted such a result.  Hell, I personally had ‘em winning 28-13, in stark contrast to several of the so-called “experts” (aka paid TV hacks) who picked Denver.  You might as well hand in your Football Prognosticators of America membership cards now, boys.  You know who you are! :P

Anyways, after spending several hours in the Newark airport due to new-fallen snow, my brain’s a little mushy right now.  I’ll compose my thoughts over the next couple days, but in the meantime, since a picture’s worth a a thousand words, here are a few shots I took of the Seahawks’ victory celebration:

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OK, so some of these were shot from the video board.  Unfortunately, everybody on the podium had their backs turned to me.

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Case in point:

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Confetti cannon… FIRE!

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108Fun fact: I attended Pete Carroll’s first game as Seahawks coach.  (Still got the program to prove it!)

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(Pretty sure that’s Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith with the trophy.)

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Jermaine Kearse–he of the third quarter TD–livin’ it up:

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Speaking of in-game heroes, there’s Percy Harvin leaving the field:

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And while he’s hard to see through the media horde, that’s Marshawn Lynch in the red sweatsuit.  I take it he didn’t have much to say. ;)

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I honestly have no idea who any of these people are:

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This could be the best $1,500* I’ve ever spent…

001*OK, so maybe I paid a little bit more than the face value of this ticket…

Did you know that I’m going to the Super Bowl?  Did I mention that already?  Seeing as the near-perfect location coincided with a near-perfect Seahawks season, it really could not have worked out any better for me.  I mean, there are only three NFL cities that Porter flies to–and I don’t expect to see a Super Bowl in Boston or Chicago anytime soon.  Besides, Pats fans would probably drive up the prices…

On the other hand, with the prospect of playing an outdoor game in cold weather for the first time ever, Super Bowl XLVIII tickets were relatively easy to come by.  Although they started off at pretty ridiculous asking prices, the bids dropped by a grand in the span of a week, driven down by a couple consecutive days of polar vortex express on the East Coast.  It actually reached a point where I realized I could afford lower-level tickets–behind the end zone, but still!

No, I won’t divulge how much I actually paid for the above ducat, but I will say the full cost of the trip was substantially less than my annual bonus…which is none of your business, either. ;)

And suffice to say I won’t be blogging for the rest of the weekend.  You’ll get a full report on Monday though…and probably Tuesday, Wednesday…maybe even Thursday.  Until then:

GO HAWKS!!!!!

New Super Bowl Prediction: Seahawks Win!

How is this different than my old Super Bowl prediction, you ask?  Well, it’s all about the opponent.  Before the beginning of the playoffs, I had Seattle beating Carolina in the NFC championship and New England in the Big Game.  Meanwhile, I’d pegged Denver to lose to the Colts in the AFC semis.  Whoops!

To be fair, the Broncos never actually played the Colts; since the Cincinnati Bengals found yet another way to lose a playoff game, the younger horses were rerouted to Foxboro and promptly routed by the Patriots.  But in finally beating Tom Brady in a meaningful contest, Peyton Manning showed that he can occasionally win the big one in somewhat inclement climes.  On that note, it’s worth noting the five-day forecast foresees the mercury at kickoff at a balmy six degrees Celsius in the Meadowlands.  I can’t even remember the last time it was that warm in Toronto!  (But hey, it’s supposed to drop five degrees by the fourth quarter…)

Of course, most of the talk over the past couple weeks was about the weather; how it affects not just Peyton Manning, but lesser passers as well, while favouring defenses and the run game.  Need we be reminded that the Seahawks had the league’s best defense and finished fourth in rushing yards?  Like the old adage goes: “Defense wins championships,” and having Beast Mode as an insurance policy, well, I’d take that to the bank.

But then again, Denver does have the league’s top-scoring offense, averaging just under 38 points per game.  You’d hafta go back some 23 years to find the last time the league’s most unstoppable force met its most immovable object, to Super Bowl XXV.  In that game, the stingy New York Giants D held the potent Buffalo Bills attack to eight points under their season average…but still needed a kick to go wide right for the win.

On the other hand, recent results indicate that the Seahawks should own this game.  After all, they’ve outscored Denver 70-20 over the past two years–albeit in the preseason.  And hey, like I misquoted Jim Mora yesterday, “Preseason?  Don’t talk about preseason–you kidding me?  Preseason!?”  That being said, the first of those two wins was Russell Wilson’s coming-out party, as he earned the starting job with a 155-yard, two-TD performance in the second half.  Incidentally, that game was also Peyton Manning’s first as a Bronco.  His line?  16-for-23 with two INTs.

That being said, I don’t see this game as an August-style blowout.  But if Seattle puts pressure on the passer, locks down receivers and establishes the run game, they should cruise to a 28-13 win.  Hey Peyton–you’re not in Nebraska anymore!

Round-trip flight: $265. Hotel, two nights: $257.60. Super Bowl ticket: $?????

I’ve been saying it for several weeks now: if the Seattle Seahawks make it to Super Bowl XLVIII, I’ll be there.  And true to my word–and thanks to some sweet sales–I’ve almost fulfilled my part of the bargain.  At the very least, I will be in New York City for Super Bowl weekend…I just don’t have a ticket to the game yet.

Alas, it seems the football gods have smiled on me again.  With the Super Bowl being about an hour’s flight from The Centre of the Known Universe, the Hawks have fielded their best squad since the last time the game was played within spitting distance.  And hey, the Hawks were in that one too–but don’t get me started on Super Bowl XL!!!!!

Let’s just say that eight years is an awfully long time.  I certainly remember where I was back then; hell, I had only just moved to Toronto a few months beforehand.  I also clearly recall looking online for Super Bowl tickets, only to find that the absolute cheapest, bloodiest of the nosebleed seats were selling for about $1,500, which was triple my credit card limit at the time.  (Hey, what can I say? It was eight years ago!)  But now, if I saw any kind of seat on sale for 15-hundred–through a reputable online ticket broker, mind you–I’d snap it up in a heartbeat.  That is, unless somebody else saw it first.

Y’see, not only is inflation a bitch, but everything’s more expensive in New York City.  And since the Jets’ and Giants’ New York also includes East Rutherford, New Jersey, the latter still applies to MetLife Stadium.  Although prices have come down as selection has increased since oh, about a month ago, we’re still looking at just under $2,500 for the cheapest tickets on StubHub.  Maaaaan, that’s roughly the cost of a European vacation, or a small island off the coast of Nunavut!

Truth be told, I’d probably still pay that much to see the game–but not if I don’t have to.  As one ticketbroker (well, ticket-brokage aggregator, to be completely accurate) tells Forbes, “With two west coast teams and the current forecast of a possibility of storms around game day and temps in the low 20′s, I think this market will be extremely soft.”  Low 20’s?  What is that, -7 Celsius?  Sounds like warm Grey Cup weather to me!  Oh, and here’s the kicker: “With that said, I think this market could dip to $1,500 if not lower if demand is not high this week.”

Lower prices in NYC than in Detroit!?  Now that’s definitely a first.  Last time I checked, you could buy a house in the Motor City for about the cost of an appetizer at Le Cirque.  (Although to be fair, I hear their Chanterelle Risotto is to die for.  So’s that crack-shack in East Detroit–as in, you will die if you set foot anywhere near it, but I digress.)  Aaaaand that’s why I’m prepared to wait it out another week or so.  Why pay twice the price when you can get the same thing for much less?  Well, only in New York, I suppose. ;)

In any case, I will definitely say that if the Hawks beat the Broncos next Sunday, that ticket will be priceless to me.  You’re welcome, MasterCard.