Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How NOT To Convince Your Readers That You Understand Sports's Andrew Perloff is here to put on a little clinic for all the kids out there. Are you ready, aspiring young journalists? Like the title says, after reading this you will hopefully have an understanding of how NOT to be a good journalist.

Patriots won't go undefeated

Given the way I regularly demonstrate my hatred for New England, you can tell this article must really suck if I'm going to mock it even though it speaks negatively about their beloved Patriots.

The perfect season talk surrounding the Patriots will be kicked up a notch after their win over the Colts on Sunday. New England will be favored by more than a touchdown in each of its remaining seven games, so the quest for 16-0 seems reasonable.

I don't think the Pats can do it and I'll argue with any FanNation user who disagrees. Here are my key reasons.

OK, so like I was saying, pay attention, kids. When you say you're going to provide "key reasons" to back up a point, you might want them to not resemble what you're about to read. At all.

1. The Patriots will sit starters. If they go 15-0, they visit the Giants in Week 17. New York will almost certainly be playing for playoff position, and New England will have nothing at stake. As heartless as Bill Belichick is, he won't risk injuries for a record that is insignificant if they don't win the Super Bowl. Belichick has benched starters in similar situations through the years.

WRONG. WRONG. First, Belichick has (seemingly) never been as mad at other teams and willing to stop at nothing to humiliate them as he is this year. Second, he's never had a 15-0 team. Do you really think he'd pass up a chance to knock those smarmy '72 Dolphins down a peg or two? I hate the guy and I hate his team. But the reality of the situation appears to be that they're pulling out all the stops in an effort to beat the shit out of everyone. I'm 99% sure a chance to go undefeated would entice the Patriots into playing as hard against the Giants in week 17 as they did against the Colts last weekend.

2. They face the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked defenses in the NFL: Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The Colts proved you can get to Tom Brady, and they didn't need to blitz much to do it. The Ravens and Steelers will come up with creative ways to rush the passer and they'll try to rattle Randy Moss with big hits. Brady led Moss into some dangerous territory against Indy. Moss bounced off smallish Indy defenders like they were gnats. Not sure if he'll have the same luck against Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

Well, those two teams just played, and Pittsburgh hung 38 on Baltimore. So it may be time to stop thinking the Ravens are some kind of elite defensive team. The Steelers? Christ, they let the Broncos put 31 on them. These are the same Broncos that have cracked the 20 point threshold exactly two other times this season, and have finished with less than 16 points a whopping 5 times. Furthermore, look at who each team has played. The Ravens' list of opponents (minus the Steelers) resembles a SEC school's non-conference schedule. The Steelers' isn't much better. In short, BAL and PIT's defensive rankings are a crock of crap and New England would probably put 45 on either of them.

3. The target on their back is even bigger. On paper, none of these teams should beat the Patriots. But emotionally, you have to give New England's opponents an edge. How long can Belichick convince his team everyone is against him because of Spy-gate?

I'm guessing all season. Have we seen anything that would indicate otherwise in 2007 so far?

The Pats are now the evil empire. They're the new New York Yankees or Duke Blue Devils.

So, everyone hates them. Therefore they will lose a game. God, if only it were so simple. This is the definition of terrible analysis. Please, children. If you somehow make it big in the sports journalism world, and are one day trying to talk down an obviously dominant team in one of your articles, saying ANYTHING but what Andrew said here.

4. Injuries. They haven't had many. That will change. It always does.

Also, don't say this. Not in these words, anyways. Or with this complete and total lack of context or depth.

5. Strange things happen in the NFL. Not a great reason, but for my money, it's the most compelling. The Patriots were vying with the Colts for homefield last season and got shut out by the Dolphins in Week 14. Explain that. Other teams that have gone late into the season undefeated have lost games they shouldn't have. New England won't prove to be an exception.

And you might want to avoid basing your "most compelling" reason entirely on A) the fact that strange things happen in sports sometimes and B) the fact that at other times in history, teams have lost games they shouldn't have. This is not how people that get paid money to write about sports should go about their jobs.

OK, so going back to the kids and the lessons I was trying to help them learn, what did we cover today?

1. Andrew Perloff = a pile of elephant poop
2. If you want to write about specific teams, try to have at least a basic understanding of them first
3. Injuries: they usually occur during the season
4. The existence of "strange happenings" is a compelling reason to go against all reasonable logic


Jarrett said...

Don't entire football teams die in a plane crash sometimes? For my money, that will happen to the Patriots.

Tonus said...

The "nothing to play for in week 17" idea was probably a lot more compelling before Don Shula weighed in about the spying issue. I think that if New England is 15-0 going into the last game, Belichik will make every effort to win it just to stick it to Shula.

larry b said...

jarrett- Are we ready to move forward with that plan? The rooster crows at midnight, but the moon is only half full.

Tonus- good point. Shula may have just shot himself in the foot. On a more general note, your regular comments are appreciated. I think you're our only non-author regular commenter. You must be very lonely.

Tonus said...

Glad to be here! It gives me something to do while I wait for my mother to bring down some hot cocoa. Basements seem to be cold year-round.

Chris W said...

i would explain the dolphins shutting them out in week 14 thusly:

"the dolphins figured out brady's snap counts and were able to get very good jumps off the line with a defensive front that may be among the best in the NFL"

what's my prize for figuring out that ridiculously obvious point?