Analysis | Solution to Evan Birnholz’s Feb. 12 crossword, “Team Picture”

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The directions to this week’s meta say that we’re searching for an NFL workforce. There are 32 of them in all, so in the event you had been to randomly guess, you’d haven’t any worse than a one-in-32 probability of being right. However moderately than depart it to probability, let’s see if it we will slim it down to 1 right selection. This meta includes a couple of steps, so let’s take them one by one.

There are seven apparent theme solutions which have two units of parenthetical numbers of their clues:

  • 23A: [Revolver inventor (9) (4)] is SAMUEL COLT.
  • 34A: [Student newspaper at a Southern university (4) (5)] is THE DAILY TEXAN.
  • 44A: [Cry of encouragement at a rodeo (4) (5)] is RIDE ‘EM COWBOY.
  • 71A: [Francis of Assisi or Catherine of Siena, to Italy (5-2-3) (8)] is PATRON SAINT.
  • 98A: [Device that powers up an Android (9,4) (7)] is PHONE CHARGER.
  • 106A: [Amphibious aircraft that sounds like a vacation spot for Blackbeard’s crew (6,4) (4)] is LAKE BUCCANEER.
  • 126A: [“Iron Chef America” host (6) (4)] is ALTON BROWN.

For the reason that NFL is in your thoughts, the very first thing to note is that every of those solutions finish with a member of an NFL workforce: COLT, TEXAN, COWBOY, SAINT, CHARGER, BUCCANEER, and BROWN.

However what’s subsequent? A standard factor to strive right here is likely to be to record out the cities during which these NFL groups are primarily based in (such as you wanted to do in a previous NFL meta from 2019), however that’s a useless finish this time. The parenthetical numbers aren’t precisely useful proper now both; taking the letters within the solutions indicated by these numbers produces gibberish.

There’s a key trace hiding elsewhere within the puzzle, on the Omega Throughout (the final Throughout reply within the grid). 135A: [Picture designed for an NFL team, say] is LOGO. That clue refers back to the NFL and it’s a direct callback to the title “Crew Image,” so it will possibly’t be a coincidence. Step 2 ought to hopefully be clear: Take a look at the logos for these seven groups above. Click on the hyperlinks beneath to view them:

Los Angeles Chargers logo

Tampa Bay Buccaneers logo

We all know these seven logos are going to be necessary, however what info do you want from them? That is the place the primary set of parenthetical numbers is available in. The clues for SAMUEL COLT (9), THE DAILY TEXAN (4), and RIDE ‘EM COWBOY (4) every have one digit of their first parenthetical quantity, however the clue for PATRON SAINT has an uncommon (5-2-3) enumeration. The clues for PHONE CHARGER (9,4) and LAKE BUCCANEER (6,4) every have two numbers separated by a comma. What might this imply?

In the event you take a look at the logos, write down what you see, and you could discover that the every brand might be described by a phrase or phrase with the identical variety of letters within the first parenthetical enumeration. The truth is, every of those phrases or phrases might be discovered within the description of the respective logos in these SportsLogos.internet hyperlinks above:

  • TEXAN (4) → BULL
  • COWBOY (4) → STAR
  • SAINT (5-2-3) → FLEUR-DE-LIS
  • BROWN (6) → HELMET

Certainly now we will simply take the letters of these brand descriptions indicated by the second set of parenthetical numbers, proper? Properly, it’s not that easy. The second parenthetical quantity for THE DAILY TEXAN is (5). Since we’ve got the four-letter BULL as our brand description, we will’t take a fifth letter from that. The identical subject arises with the second enumeration for RIDE ‘EM COWBOY (5), with the brand described because the four-letter STAR.

The second parenthetical numbers work equally to the primary ones — they consult with phrase size. For every second parenthetical quantity, you should discover a solution within the grid with that phrase size and whose clue is usually a clue for the brand description:

  • HORSESHOE (4) → 1A: [Item tossed at a stake] → RING
  • BULL (5) → 21A: [Beast with horns] → ELAND
  • STAR (5) → 37D: [Night sight] → DREAM
  • FLEUR-DE-LIS (8) → 57A: [Symbol historically associated with the French monarchy] → BASTILLE
  • LIGHTNING BOLT (7) → 69A: [Flash] → INSTANT
  • PIRATE FLAG (4) → 76D: [Where you might see a skull] → RUIN
  • HELMET (4) → 132A: [Protective cover at a stadium] → DOME

In the event you’ve made it this far, the final step ought to hopefully be clear. Take the primary letters of these key solutions (RING, ELAND, DREAM, BASTILLE, INSTANT, RUIN, DOME) and also you spell out RED BIRD. That describes the brand of the meta answer for this puzzle, the ARIZONA CARDINALS.

(Word: Sure, I’m conscious that the Atlanta Falcons logo has crimson streaks in it, however I take into account that primarily a black fowl. The Cardinals brand is a extra definitive reply for the brand description RED BIRD.)

After I first received the thought for this puzzle, I didn’t got down to make it an all-NFL brand hunt for Tremendous Bowl Sunday. As a substitute I’d needed to make use of logos from a number of completely different skilled sports activities leagues, however there have been a couple of issues with that. First, I wanted logos that had been simple to explain in acquainted phrases, so if it was a reasonably complicated design with lots occurring (like, say, the Boston Celtics logo), it will be onerous to know precisely which phrase you’d need to extract from it. Second, these phrases needed to be completely different from the workforce names themselves — so one thing like BULL to explain the Chicago Bulls brand or DOLPHIN to explain the Miami Dolphins brand wouldn’t work, since they might simply yield the identical phrase. And third, even in the event you received all of the steps, it will be a way more exhausting search to look by the logos of 4 or 5 sports activities leagues to search out the ultimate meta reply, the place sticking with only one league would make it an easier, extra targeted hunt. Happily there have been simply sufficient NFL logos that might fulfill all the standards that I wanted for the meta that I didn’t have to depend on different leagues.

That was lots, so right here’s the TL; DR recap of the best way to clear up the meta:

  • Step 1: Discover the seven NFL workforce members on the ends of the theme solutions.
  • Step 2: Take a look at the logos of these seven groups.
  • Step 3: Describe every brand utilizing a phrase or phrase that matches the enumeration of the theme clues’ first parenthetical quantity(s).
  • Step 4: Discover a key reply within the grid matching the size of the second parenthetical quantity and whose clue matches the brand description.
  • Step 5: Take the primary letters of the seven key solutions to spell RED BIRD, which hints on the brand of the ARIZONA CARDINALS.

Surprisingly sufficient, although ARIZONA CARDINALS is the right meta reply, RED BIRD additionally form of individually hints at each groups in Tremendous Bowl LVII: The Chiefs with their crimson uniforms and the Eagles with their fowl brand. What, you assume this was all only a fortunate coincidence and never one thing I’ve been planning all alongside??? I’m gonna purchase a lottery ticket earlier than the psychic powers put on off!

Benefit from the large sport in the event you’re watching it.

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