Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pack Playoff! Football Edition

I'm taking a break from vintage packs this week to honor the Colts-Patriots matchup with a football edition of Pack Playoff.Two packs of 2007 football cards face off to see who is the champ. The Indy-New England game isn't technically a playoff but it should feel like one. Our matchup isn't quite as good, as it features two bottom of the barrel products. This is more a Falcons-49ers showdown but it should be more fun than that game.

Upper Deck First Edition football will take on Topps Total in this battle of lightweights. You want good packs, you go buy 'em. The Colts will be represented by the old veteran Topps as they were an original NFL team, while upstart Upper Deck will proxy for the AFL Boston Patriots. We'll play four quarters with each card or design element representing one drive from the team. Here's the coin toss............. heads. Topps wins the toss and elects to receive.

First Quarter

Topps ball, wrapper design:
Topps has LT as their Total spokesman, shown here in a closeup with the Vader shield on his helmet. LT is nice and all, but the red is really dark and not very eye catching. Topps has the insert ratios on the back which is always nice. A good drive, but they stall in the red zone and settle for a field goal.

Topps 3, Upper Deck 0

Upper Deck ball, wrapper design:
Upper Deck features an action shot of Emmitt Smith on their wrapper. LT is nice, but he hasn't won a playoff game yet. Emmitt has championships coming out of his ears! He can't even lose a dance contest. Smith should run for president, he'd win in a landslide and couldn't do worse than the other clowns running. The wrapper has a classic looking design and stands out more than the Total wrapper. UD takes the ball to the 1 yard line, but are denied the endzone when I discover there are no insert ratios on the back.

Topps 3, Upper Deck 3

Topps ball, front design:
How to describe this mess... Green borders with curved neon lights and shockwaves in the corners. They don't even put the team name on the front. This looks like 1991 Fleer football got an extreme makeover. Ugly is still ugly however, no matter how you dress it up. Interception returned to the 10 yard line.

Topps 3, Upper Deck 3

Upper Deck ball, front design:
This is what Upper Decks base set should look line. The silver borders look good and there's no goddamn unreadable foil name. It's not a that great a design to begin with but thanks to the interception, they don't have far to go. Upper deck punches the ball in the endzone with their fullback.

Topps 3, Upper Deck 10

Topps ball, back design:
Topps is at least consistent, the back is as awful as the front. Too busy, the stats suck and you have to hunt for the card number. At least they remembered the team name this time. Topps muffs the kickoff, Upper Deck's ball on the Topps 18.

Topps 3, Upper Deck 10

Upper Deck ball, back design:
This is what a card back is supposed to look like. Big name, card number in the top left corner, concise bio, full career stats, plus it has the team logo as well as a small head shot that isn't swiped from the front. Very, very nice. Upper Deck lofts a beautiful pass to a wide open receiver in the corner of the end zone for the TD. The holder screws up the snap on the extra point, but the kicker picks it up and flattens a lineman on the way to paydirt for 2.

END OF QUARTER ONE: Upper Deck 18, Topps 3

Second Quarter

Topps ball, Card 1: Barry Cofield, Fred Robbins, William Joseph
Reeling from Upper Deck's onslaught, Topps counters with three Giants D-Tackles who have combined for 20 tackles and two sacks this year. Three and out.

Upper Deck 18,
Topps 3

Upper Deck ball, Card 1: Alge Crumpler
He's not having a great year, but Alge's my favorite player on my favorite team. Upper Deck caps a long drive with a 7 yard touchdown pass to their big tight end.

Upper Deck 25, Topps 3

Topps ball, Card 2: Tye Hill, Fakhir Brown
Two defensive backs with zero interceptions this year. The Topps offense is being completely shut down by Upper Deck's front four. Punt.

Upper Deck 25, Topps 3

Upper Deck ball, Card 2: Steve Smith
A great receiver on a terrible team, and he's still putting up decent numbers. He's got David Carr and Vinnie Testeverde throwing to him and he's still on pace for a thousand yards and a dozen touchdowns. Upper Deck goes for the kill with a long bomb on first down and hits it with a long TD strike. They go for two to rub it in but fail on the conversion.

Upper Deck 31, Topps 3

Topps ball, Card 3: Jason Witten
Topps finally stops trying to be cute and comes up with a single player card. Witten's a good tight end, but TE's don't normally top Beckett's Hot List. Topps engineers a long drive that stalls at the 45. Punt.

Upper Deck 31,
Topps 3

Upper Deck ball, Card 3: Braylon Edwards
Braylon is finally coming into his own and is averaging almost 100 years and over a touchdown a game. If he can keep this up, he'll finally live up to that #3 overall pick the Browns spent on him. Upper Deck runs the ball to kill the clock and takes a knee instead of attempting a 52 yard field goal.

END OF FIRST HALF: Upper Deck 31, Topps 3

Holy crap, what a slaughter. I don't think anyone saw this coming, except maybe someone who cracked open a box of Total. I won't be offended if you switch over to the Topps Chrome-Playoff Contenders matchup over on CBS. You never know though, Topps might have a Frank Reich up their sleeves. On to the second half!

Third Quarter

Upper Deck ball, Card 4: Jay Cutler
Upper Deck opens the half strong with a good young quarterback. No one's forgotten John Elway in Denver yet, but he's not doing too badly for having less than a full season of starts under his belt. Upper Deck runs the ball down Topps' throat and come out of the drive with a 32 yard field goal.

Upper Deck 34, Topps 3

Topps ball, Card 4: Tim Carter, Leigh Bodden, Kenny Wright
The coach gave a fire and brimstone speech in the locker room, the assistants have made their adjustments and the players are all geeked up. And Topps comes out with... another triple player card. Hey, Leigh Bodden's on my fantasy team! He better get an interception, Larry Fitzgerald's done crap for me today. Topps' drive stalls at midfield, they pooch a punt into the corner and stick UD deep in their own territory.

Upper Deck 34, Topps 3

Upper Deck ball, Card 5: Tony Gonzalez
Upper Deck is not letting up on the gas at all. Here's another star card, this time future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. Another long grueling drive from UD results in points on the board as a 28 yarder goes through the uprights.

Upper Deck 37,
Topps 3

Topps ball, Card 5: Mark Bulger
Finally, Topps delivers with a good card. He's hurt, has no offensive line and the team sucks, but Bulger is still a decent card of a QB. Topps finally puts together a decent drive and scores on a TD pass to the back of the end zone.

Upper Deck 37, Topps 10

Upper Deck ball, Card 6: Deuce McAllister
Out for the season and Reggie Bush is 4-1 in games Deuce hasn't started. Not good for Deuce. Topps' defense gets an emotional boost from the success of the offense and stuff Upper Deck's rushing attack. First punt of the day for UD.

Upper Deck 37,
Topps 10

Topps ball, Card 6: Walter Jones, Chris Spencer, Chris Gray
Topps gets the ball back from Upper Deck after stopping them and they counter with... three offensive lineman. NFL success begins with the o-line, but football card success most assuredly does not. Topps' vaunted line lets through a jailbreak and their QB gets slaughered and coughs up the ball. A big fat defensive lineman rumbles it back for a 72 yard TD. Oh the humanity.

END OF QUARTER THREE: Upper Deck 44, Topps 10

It's the start of the final quarter, the stands are emptying and Michael Eisner is looking extremely sour in the owner's box. The coach for Topps better be getting his resumé together. Don't leave now though, maybe some rookies will take the field for garbage time.

Topps ball, Card 7: Champ Bailey 1st Edition parallel
Topps has run out of base cards and enters the Insert phase of the pack. Maybe a miraculous comeback is in order? Champ Bailey is a superstar defender, a Georgia Bulldog, and a 1st Edition insert to boot! Touchdown all the way! What are the odds for this card? One in... two?!? Topps has spent years trying to position first edition as a rarity and they turn it into an 18-per-box parallel for a crappy football product? You gotta be kidding me. The Topps QB lofts a beautiful 48 yard touchdown pass only to have it overturned on by a flag due to offensive pass interference. They cough up a fumble on the very next play. Upper Deck ball deep in Topps territory.

Upper Deck ball, Card 7: Willie Parker
Upper Deck don't need no stinking inserts. Willie Parker is rushing for over 100 yards a game for the 5-2 Steelers. The Upper Deck running back blows through a wide open hole and dives into the end zone.

Upper Deck 51, Topps 10

Topps ball, Card 8: Kerry Rhodes, Erik Coleman Gold parallel
A three per box parallel of two safeties. The exits are jammed, the mezzanine level is on fire and the Totals' head coach is being escorted from the stadium at gunpoint by security. Not for his own safety either. Three and out, negative yardage on the drive.

Upper Deck ball, Card 8: Mark Bulger
The only decent card in the pack for Topps is mirrored by Upper Deck. To add insult to injury the photo is much better on the UD card. Upper Deck keeps the ball on the ground to run out the clock, but the Topps defense is exhausted and provides no resistance. The tailback waltzes into the endzone through a huge hole.

Upper Deck 57, Topps 10

The game is pretty much over and the rookies are all in the game. Let's end this quickly for mercy's sake.

Topps ball, Card 9: Darius Walker RC
Rookie running backs are the best bet to have an immediate impact on the team that drafted them. Too bad this one was cut from the team in July. Topps is forced to punt on first down when their QB hides inside the instant replay monitor and refuses to come out, screaming "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" over and over.

Does the score really matter at this point

Upper Deck ball, Card 9. Calvin Johnson RC
Ok, this isn't fair now. The Topps defense late hits the UD quarterback on a kneel down play on first down with 36 seconds left. The irate QB audibles a hail mary on the next play and hits his rookie receiver for a 68 yard touchdown. They go for two and make it. They then on side kick.

Chicago Bears 73, Washington Redskins 0

Topps ball, Card 10: Jason Hill RC
One catch in 9 games. Upper Deck recovers the on side.

Georgia Tech 222, Cumberland 0

Upper Deck ball, Card 10: Chris Houston RC
It's a Falcons rookie card, but I just can't pile on Topps anymore. Upper Deck takes a knee and time expires.

FINAL SCORE: Upper Deck 65, Topps 10

What a horrific slaughter. Topps has a gripe in pointing out that I am comparing pulls from a single pack of a 200 card set with 100 veterans to a 550 card set that squeezes in 900 players. That doesn't make up for the hideous design and rainbow of useless parallels. Dollar packs are supposed to appeal to kids and casual collectors, right? Which of these packs do you think that demographic would be happy to open?

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