I've always been weary of online bill pay. I'm a very untrusting person and trusting some company to withdraw money from my checking account and send it to someone else in my name always seemed like a really bad idea. Where's the accountability? Who's responsible if the payment doesn't get there?
During my cross-country move, however, I gave in. I had no idea where I would be living for about a 4-5 week period after I moved out of my condo. I couldn't let credit cards or my cell phone bill go unpaid. Billpay came free with my Bank of America account, so I started using it. I signed up for ebills from every place I could think of so that I'd automatically get emails telling me when a new bill had arrived. Everything was working perfectly until the last month.
I realize I hadn't paid my credit card bill in what seemed like a long time. Check my ebills...nothing there. But as I said before, I'm untrusting, so I logged onto my credit card's web site to look at the bill. Oh crap, it was due last week. Checked my other credit card with the same company...due date in two days.
At this point, a slight amount of panic had set in. I decided I'd use the credit card company's web site to make a payment, which can be credited immediately. I went through and did it for both cards. Then I got an email bouncing back saying that my payment couldn't be made due to lack of funds. I have never overdrawn my checking account for as long as I've had one. I couldn't figure out why this happened. I went back to the web site and noticed that I had neglected to update the checking account used for online payment at the credit card's web site. It was using an account that has been closed since early last year. Clearly this meant that the second payment would bounce as well.
For both cards, I re-submitted payments via the billpay system from BoA, knowing that they will get there too late but at least the payment will be there. I contacted the credit card company to let them know what was going on, but they are powerless to do anything until a late fee has been applied to my account, at which point I need to call up and explain this whole situation to someone else in order to have them waive the late fee and hopefully straighten everything out.
Billpay is very convenient...when it works. When it doesn't work, it creates a whole chain of problems that isn't easy to fix. I'll probably still use it, but I'm going to be far more paranoid and probably set up reminders on my calendar to remind me when certain payments are due. What a pain.
Well, I'm crushed that my beloved Patriots lost to the Colts tonight...but man, what a game. I can honestly say that these past two playoff games have been the most intense ones I can remember the Patriots being involved in. Unfortunately, it had to be to the Colts, which now have me intermittently spouting obscenities as I look at missed opportunities.
Clearly, the Patriots had the game under control heading into the third quarter. What happened after that point I can only describe as a complete defensive meltdown. We ended up missing three key contributors on defense: defensive end Richard Seymour, linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, and safety Artrell Hawkins. Since Hawkins was the backup safety (behind Rodney Harrison), that meant we had our third string safety, Rashad Baker, in a tough position. I'm a huge Pats fan and I didn't even know who baker was. Eric Alexander was in at linebacker, forcing Mike Vrabel to move back outside to his natural position, though one he hasn't played in a while, leaving the interior in inexperienced hands.
On the offense, Brady played much better than last game, but Reche Caldwell played much worse. His dropped passes clearly changed the course of the game. I'm also not sure why the Pats went away from the run that had worked so well in the first half. Did Dillon even have a carry in the second half?
I don't want to take anything away from the Colts, they clearly won the second half of the game. I would rather have had the Patriots lose to anyone but the Colts, but it wasn't meant to be. I feel just about as sick many in the Boston area do when the Yankees beat the Red Sox. Just...if it only could have been anyone but them.
But really, I need to thank the Patriots for an incredibly dramatic season. With all of the crap going on in the office, losing our top two receivers, losing most of our secondary to injury, losing Junior Seau to a freak broken arm, and not having a dependable receiving core until the last quarter of the season, the Patriots just came out and played hard. They went much deeper into the playoffs than I thought (I actually, at one point, bemoaned that they'd be in the playoffs because I thought they'd lose in the first round) and you really can't ask for much more than getting to the AFC Championship game for the fourth time in six years. The team, the coaches, and the players showed a lot of guts and determination...way more than even I expected that they had. It was great season and I'm telling everyone this right now: watch out for the Patriots next season. This was a rebuilding year; next year will be the real deal.
P.S. I'm now a Chicago Bears fan...at least for the next two weeks.
Well, it's that time of the week again. Sad to say that we have only three more games left in the season, but alas, here we are. Without delay, here are my picks for this weekend's championship games:
- New Orleans at Chicago - Chicago squeaked by last week, as did New Orleans. Both played tough teams and there is a definite home field advantage at Soldier Field. However, with the Chicago defense weakened, I think Drew Brees and the creative New Orleans offense will come out exploding with points. I doubt Grossman can have two good games in a row, and I look for him to have at least two interceptions. Prediction: Saints over Bears, 32-17.
- New England at Indianapolis - Everyone thinks this is the game of the week, possibly of the year. I agree with everyone. We have Indy, who hasn't lost at home all year, against New England, who are 8-1 on the road this year (including at San Diego, who also hadn't lost at home all season). The Patriots have actually played better on the road this year than at home, and they've also won two conference championships on the road (both at Pittsburgh). The key to this game is the Patriots offense versus the Indy defense. If the Patriots can move the ball and have some long, time-consuming possessions that end in scores, they will win. Manning and the Colts are going to get their points, guaranteed, but it was the Colts defense that won the game for them in Foxborough earlier this year. Still, I think the Patriots will come out more prepared for that defense and will win a tight one. Prediction: Patriots over Colts, 27-24.
So there you have it, my New England vs. New Orleans Super Bowl prediction. Two weeks ago, I would never have picked the Patriots for a fourth trip to the Super Bowl in the past six years, but they showed me something last week, and I'm hoping that they show Indy this week. Go Patriots!
You've all probably heard the controversy over the Patriots' post-game celebration after defeating the heavily favored Chargers this past Sunday. Fleeting shots of the field showed LaDainian Tomlinson in the face of some Patriots guys who could be heard saying, "You're better than that." After the game, Tomlinson's press conference revealed a lot of anger:
You guys know me, I'm a very classy person. I wouldn't have reacted like that, so yes, I was upset. Very upset. When you go to the middle of our field and you start doing the dance that Shawne Merriman is known for, that's disrespectful to me and I can't sit there and watch that. And so yeah, I was very upset. And just the fact the way they showed no class at all, absolutely no class, and maybe it comes from the head coach. There you have it.
The broadcast didn't show to what he was referring, but there are two videos posted on YouTube that show more of what went on after the game. We see some of the Patriots players doing the Merriman dance and Philip Rivers screaming, "that's the sorriest corner in the league" at Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs (apparently one of the people who did the Merriman dance). What's behind the hurt feelings?
The Patriots were playing angry, yes, and that was only exacerbated when one of the Chargers head butted Daniel Graham after the end of a play. It was, undoubtedly, uncharacteristic of the Patriots to show as much emotion as they did after that game, but let's keep in mind a few things.
First, they were heavy underdogs...no one expected them to win (think of the Denver Nuggets celebration after defeating the top-seeded Seattle Supersonics in the NBA playoffs). Second, the Patriots have a lot of young, and therefore emotional, players. This isn't a team of veterans anymore. Third, this was an emotional game with a lot of hard hits and hard feelings going both ways. To expect a team in this situation to not have some sort of emotional release after it's all done is ridiculous. Maybe doing the Merriman dance is rubbing a victory in the Chargers' face...but maybe Merriman doing the dance whenever he knocks down a quarterback is rubbing it in their faces.
No matter the case, I thought Tomlinson disgraced himself in front of the cameras. Classy people don't need to tell you that they're classy, you can tell from their actions and their words. Tomlinson started out by saying he was classy, and then went on to personally attack Belichick who, he may not have noticed, wasn't playing. The national media loves Tomlinson, as they do Manning, so immediately the magnifying glass was on the Patriots for being the bad guys. Why was no one pointing at Tomlinson for whining after the game? Why did he go out to confront the offending Patriots like a tough guy instead of just walking off the field? Why are there no fingers pointing at him?
Since Belichick and Brady have been together, the Patriots have been one of the classiest teams in the league. They win with grace and lose with respect. They never make excuses and they never disparage their opponents. This post-game celebration was out of character for them, and rest assured that it won't happen again under Belichick's reign, but the media is blowing it way out of proportion. Peter King had the best response to this whole situation:
I fault the Patriots because the victors should not mock the vanquished, and it appears they did too much of that.
I fault the Chargers because when you lose, you should walk away and not get into a war of words or shoving matches. You lost; take it like men.
So I went 2 and 2 with my predictions this week, and the one that I'm happily wrong on is my Patriots defeating the Chargers. Clearly, it was one of Brady's best games, but I thought everyone else on the team played an incredibly hard-fought, tough, gritty game.
Jabbar Gaffney, some receiver we picked up in the middle of the season, has now had two 100-yard receiving games...both of which just happened to be playoff games. Reche Caldwell, who played for the Chargers last year, had the big breakaway reception that led to the Patriots' winning field goal. The defense, I thought, played incredibly well against a really dangerous offense, holding them to only one score in the second half. Ellis Hobbs in particular, who forced several balls out of receivers' hands, played much bigger than his stature.
The only disappointing part of this win is that I didn't have any other Patriot fans to enjoy it with. A few phone calls back and forth to dad back on the East coast served as a mediocre replacement for the company of other fans, but a win is a win.
Next up, the Colts. The last time we met in the playoffs, the Patriots ran over Manning and the Colts. This is the second time that the Patriots will face the Colts for the AFC Championship, but this time, New England is the visiting team. We lost to Indy early this year by a touchdown, but Belichick has a great record against quarterbacks that he faces twice during the season.
The thing that both the Colts and Patriots have in common is that this year, they don't have as much talent as in previous years. However, they are both really tough, gritty teams that have overachieved after some serious setbacks during the regular season. I can't wait!
I had a request for my picks this weekend, so here they are, in all their glory:
- New England at San Diego - Okay look, San Diego is the best team in the league, hands down, without question. Add to that that New England hasn't beaten them since Tom Brady took over as quarterback (oftentimes getting blown out). Unless the Patriots can play mistake-free, get several turnovers, and force Rivers to make mistakes, I think this is where my Patriots' ride ends. Prediction: Chargers over Patriots, 41-27
- Indianapolis at Baltimore - This is a tough one to call. The Ravens have played so well this year, with their great defense and a new offense, but the Colts still have explosive offensive ability. I'm going to give the slight edge to Baltimore on this one because I think they're the more complete team.Prediction: Ravens over Colts, 27-24
- Philadelphia at New Orleans - Although Philadelphia has been fun to watch, I think New Orleans may possibly be the best team in the NFC. Plus, they've been ridiculously hard to beat at home, with the emotion of the area behind them. Prediction: Saints over Eagles, 34-21
- Seattle at Chicago - This is an interesting matchup. Grossman has reverted to his former form while the defense has sprung leaks. However, Seattle has barely sqeaked by some of the lesser competition this year. They've been hampered by injuries but still did just enough in the week NFC to make it into the playoffs. I think this will be a tight one, but I think the Chicago defense and special teams puts them over the top.Prediction: Bears over Seahawks, 24-21
So that's where I stand this week. Of course, I'll be rooting for my Patriots and look forward to the game, but I have a good sense of reality as well.
It's playoff time, baby! This weekend starts the most exciting portion of my year (yes I know, quite pathetic) and since all the football pools and fantasy games are over, I need to vent my opinions about what's going to happen in some other way...so here I am. The wild card games this weekend should be exciting, as playoff football always is...unless you're a Raiders fan and don't remember what that was like. Here's my thoughts on each of the four games this weekend, in no particular order:
- Jets at Patriots - The Jets surprised the Patriots earlier this year and as a division rival they're always tough. However, this is Brady time. He's never lost a playoff game at home, and I don't see that trend starting now. It will be a tough game, but I think the Patriots will show that they are still the team to beat in the AFC East. Prediction: Patriots over Jets, 23-17.
- Chiefs at Colts - The rebirth of this playoff rivalry from a couple of years ago should be explosive. Of course, the Chiefs have never beaten the Colts in the playoffs, though they've come close. The Chiefs backed into the playoffs at the end while the Colts also limped to the finish line. However, I just think the Colts are too tough at home. Prediction: Colts over Chiefs, 27-24.
- Cowboys at Seahawks - It's a game between two teams who aren't really sure how to win anymore. Neither of these teams is winning the Super Bowl this year, folks, so it almost doesn't matter who wins this game. I think the Cowboys will right the ship and storm into Seattle to give Parcells one more playoff victory. Prediction: Cowboys over Seahawks, 35-17.
- Giants at Eagles - I'm not really sure why we need to play this game. Everyone in the world knows that the Eagles are going to win, including Eli Manning. The Eagles are playing good, tough football while the Giants are barely playing anything resembling football. Should be a knockout in the second round. Prediction: Eagles over Giants, 24-10.
There's my predictions. Sad thing is, if things go according to them, the Patriots will end up going to San Diego to face the Chargers. I'm as big of a diehard Pats fan as anyone, but I really wish we could have a couple more warm up games before facing the best team in the league.
Was wondering when it would happen, but I got tagged by Jim. So, here's 5 things you don't know about me:
- I went to college on a drama scholarship.
- I was so shy in elementary school that I wouldn't order food at restaurants.
- I am allergic to wheat, dairy, and soy. Consequently, I make a lot of my own meals, sometimes from scratch. No quick fast food trips for me!
- I like meeting new people. I was a tour guide in Salem as a summer job during college and I really enjoyed it because of all the interesting people I met. This is different from most typical computer geeks, but I've never claimed to be typical.
- I added my middle initial (C.) to my name when writing because there's another Nicholas Zakas that lived in the next city over from me. Apparently, he's an antiques dealer (I used to get calls for him all the time). This is why I make such a stink about always using my middle initial...because I don't want your old furniture.