Thursday, September 24, 2009

Artest Sings the Hits!

Without further ado, to show you I was not bluffing, here is the footage of a much improved Dwight Howard. After the Finals I really wondered how committed Dwight would be to improving his offensive game. This footage shows me that he really is trying to get better and if he can hit those shots on the court, the Orlando Magic will be a tough out.

Speaking of Dwight, who would you rather have at their full potential: Dwight or LeBron? By full potential, I mean if Dwight had the offensive game of Yao Ming and hit 75% of his free throws in addition to his great rebounding and defense. For LeBron, give him the post game and ability to pull up from anywhere like Kobe. Which one of those guys is more unstoppable?

Is it the end of September already? I could tell by the great ball that the Reds have been playing lately. Technically a .500 season is still in play for us. The Redlegs are 21-9 in their last 30 games! That makes me happy. This will probably lead to Dusty Baker being back on the bench next season. That makes me sad.

Detroit is holding on to the lead but the Twins have been playing some good ball lately. Nervous yet?

Florida comes to UK this Saturday and I won't lie: I feel pretty good. Neither team looked gangbusters last week, but both got the job done. Florida has held 6 players out of practice with swine flu symptoms and I'm hoping it spreads like wildfire through the locker room. UF embarrassed UK by 58 points last year, which doesn't seem that bad when you remember that it was in the midst of that epic run by UF last year. Our offense is much better than last years and theirs is a little worse. The last time we were beat like that was in 2006, when LSU won 49-0. The next year we upset the eventual champs on our field. I don't know if I'm quite ready to pick the upset, but I will say I think it will be a close game.

Ron Artest has a song out called "I Cry for Mike", in tribute to Micheal Jackson. Seriously. I really have no words for this. I can only imagine Ron writing this like our old pal Fisticuffs. I see Ron having writers block and then looking up to a picture of Mike, and going back to crafting this classic. Ron Artest, Floyd Mayweather Jr and Milton Bradley need a television show.

Onto some picks.

Redskins over Lions- The Skins have looked terrible. The Lions have looked...terribl-er??

Packers over Rams- After being outplayed, outcoached, outhustled and outclassed by an obviously superior Bengals team, the Packers bounce back over the lowly Rams.

Vikings over 49ers- Favre may actually have to burn some calories in this one.

Patriots over Falcons- Tom Brady looks a little nervous in the pocket after a devastating injury. Who knew? Oh that's right, anyone who had ever watched someone come back from a devastating injury.

Titans over Jets- The Titans are 0-2 while the Broncos are 2-0??? Unfair.

Eagles over Chiefs- Mike Vick is back and I couldn't be happier. Maybe Kevin Kolb and Jeff Garcia are both injured by different, but equally debilitating injuries and Vick gets the start.

Giants over Bucs- Maybe firing your offensive coordinator right before the season is a bad idea.

Ravens over Browns- Romeo Crennel is at a Pizza Hut somewhere outraged. He could have led the Browns to an 0-3 record!

Texans over Jaguars- I think the Jaguars are better than an 0-3 team...but that's what they'll be after this one.

Bears over Seahawks- I don't like the Bears that much, but I like them more than the Seneca Wallace led Seahawks.

Saints over Bills-Any chance TO slips into the New Orleans locker room and halftime and tries to switch teams without being noticed?

Bengals over Steelers- That's right.

Raiders over Broncos- Jamarcus has a break out day! I predict a QB rating of over 60!

Dolphins over Chargers- The Dolphins have lost to 2 good teams and I don't think San Diego is that good.

Colts over Cardinals- The slowest QB's in the league duke it out. Drew Bledsoe is somewhere a little jealous.

Cowboys over Panthers- Good Lord, do you know how many errant passes will be up for grabs this game? I wish I could start the Panthers AND Cowboys defenses in my fantasy league.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

NFL Picks

Packers over Bengals - Sorry man. The Bengals offense may get off the ground a little, but the turnovers will kill them. Also, the Packers offense should look better this week than it did last week. One last thing: everyone is making a big deal about Ochocinco doing the Lambeau Leap if he scores a touchdown. It wouldn't be the first time that has been done by an opposing player. What happened to the other players? He was tossed back before he was able to sit on the wall.

Falcons over Panthers - I don't like Delhomme, but I don't think he's done. This should be a close game.

Vikings over Lions - Stafford goes two straight weeks without a touchdown pass.

Titans over Texans - close game.

Raiders over Chiefs - This does not mean that Russell is a good QB.

Patriots over Jets - rookie QB against the Pats.

Saints over Eagles - it will be a lower scoring game than the Saints/Lions game last week, but the Saints should still win this game.

Redskins over Rams - blech.

Cardinals over Jaguars - The Jags are going to be upset about giving Garrard that contract extension.

Bills over Bucs - close...but still terrible.

49ers over Seahawks - I don't know who the best conference is, but this has to be the worst.

Steelers over Bears - with Cutler throwing a couple of interceptions in the process.

Broncos over Browns - I believe that the Broncos are a better team than most. The Browns are just as bad as most people believe, though. This shouldn't be a good game.

Ravens over Chargers - but there's no way Flacco has as big a day as he has last week.

Cowboys over Giants - Romo won't have as massive a day as he did last week, but he'll do enough to win.

Colts over Dolphins - this is a Monday Night game?

I couldn't be happier with USC's loss.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Time for some picks

Just a few picks in the world of football, college and pro.

Louisville-Kentucky-Louisville's QB threw two interceptions against Indiana State in his first career start. In his second career start he gets to go against Micah Johnson, Trevard Lindley and the rest of a good UK defense. I don't see this game ending well, much like last years game. UK wins 35-14.

Florida-Tennessee- Its no secret that Urban Meyer has no problem proving a point to mouthy opponents. However, I have heard theories that Florida will come out and try to embarrass UT in such a way that they will exhaust themselves and make this a close game. I don't buy into that school of thought. At all. Florida 63, Tennessee 21.

On to the pro's.

Falcons over Panthers- Not because I think the Falcons are that good. I just think the Panthers are that bad.

Vikings over Lions- Between Stafford and Favre, how many times will the phrase, "He's a gunslinger!" be uttered over the course of this game? 40, 45 thousand times?

Bengals over Packers- Neither team looked that great in week one, but I can't pick against my boys just yet. The 3-4 defense is nothing new to the Bengals as every other team in our division uses it and the Packers are still working out the kinks in it....I hope.

Titans over Texans- How many people jumped off the Texans bandwagon after they were beaten at home by a rookie QB? 75 percent? 85 percent?

Raiders over Chiefs- Jamarcus Russell proves all his detractors completing over 50% of his passes in a win! Take that haters!

Patriots over Jets- This should be a fantastic game. I went against Mark Sanchez last week and he proved me wrong. The Pats D looked terrible last week but I have to believe they will be ready for a rookie QB. And if they don't? I'll just have to find myself a new fantasy team defense.

Saints over Eagles- People talk about how McNabb got injured on a late hit from the Panthers. How about the fact the game was out of hand and an injury prone 32 year old is taking on defenders and diving into the endzone? I think both teams are a little overrated because the Saints tore apart a terrible Lions team and the Eagles were handed the game by Jake Delhomme.

Redskins over Rams- Eek. Does any part of this game appeal to you? Me neither.

Jaguars over Cardinals- The Jags played a good game against Indy but came up short. They won't here as the Madden Curse continues and Larry Fitzgerald's gets a tooth knocked out which ignites a earthquake. Heartbreaking stuff.

Seahawks over 49ers- I didn't think we'd miss TJ, but then again I didn't think Lavernaeus (From here on out I'm just typing L. Coles), would drop everything thrown to him.

Bills over Bucs- There was a time when I begged for the Bengals to take Byron Leftwich over Carson Palmer. Since then Leftwich has played for four teams in four years, but has a Super Bowl ring. It's unfair, it's really unfair.

Steelers over Bears-I have no idea why people are picking New England to make it to the Super Bowl over New England. Pittsburgh is playing with this year's draft picks, and last year's draft picks, who they basically got nothing out of. Their line is better and the running game should pick up and I believe they have the easiest schedule in the league. What part of "Tom Brady coming off major knee surgery" would make you pick the Pats over Pittsburgh?

Ravens over Chargers- I originally thought the Ravens would take a step back after last year's surprise season. I think I was wrong.

Broncos over Browns- Could there be a worse 2-0 team in the history of the Western Civilization than the Broncos after this game is over? And they get the Raiders next week! Unfair!

Giants over Cowboys-Could be a great game. I don't think the Cowboys are as good as they looked last week.

Colts over Dolphins- Just because.

I saw an "Outside the Lines" special on former Lions WR Charles Rogers. Did you know he has 7 kids?!? Say what you want about Travis Henry, Darren McFadden and Shawn Kemp, but at least they were good! Can you even be mad at Rogers? Don't you have to point the finger at the mother's?

I mentioned it to you the other day, but I don't think it can be talked about enough. This story about Vince Young surprising Steve McNair's youngest boys on their schools "Dear Dad Breakfast" day is one of my favorite stories of the year. Everyone at that school, especially McNair's kids, was probably dreading that day for the bad memories it would stir up. Vince Young did the admirable thing and showed without letting anyone know. When Young makes claims that he will one day make the Hall of Fame, it's all over the news but when he does something like this, you barely hear about it. Much kudos to VY.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Arguing for Jamarcus

Despite a fluky ending that could only happen to the Bengals, there were a lot of good things that came out of that game.

-For 59:22, the defense looked fantastic. We pressured the QB, shut down the run game and had a couple of hard hits this team has been lacking the past couple of years. Even on the Stokely TD, Hall made a good play on the ball. I think he was actually trying to bat it down, but all it did was graze his fingertips and went straight up into the air. Only the Bengals.
-Carson Palmer, Ced Benson and Chad looked good, but more on him later.
-Our special teams looked much better, minus a botched FG snap. If I remember correctly, our punter ranked 34th last season in yards per punt. Yes, 34th in a 32 team league. Rookie Kevin Huber had some good looking kicks and put 5 of his 7 punts within the 20 yard line. Quan Cosby almost broke a few big gains returning punts so there is promise there. We even had a fake punt that worked like a charm...unlike the one Chicago tried against GB. Perhaps the worst execution of a fake punt ever?
-The O-line looked much improved for the majority of the game. They have a long way to go, but for a crew with one guy in the same position he was in last year, 2 guys who switched positions and another two who are new to the starting lineup, they did well.

-Dhani Jones being the last line of defense to chase Stokely on his game winning TD. Roy Williams went for an unnecessary tackle which left Stokely all alone. Apparently Roy Williams has a bad reputation in coverage. Who knew?
-The offense, outside of Palmer, Benson and Ocho, looked terrible. I counted 7 drops, but there could have been more. At least three of those were first downs, and another two would have allowed the receiver to easily get a first down.
-Laveranues Coles- 3 easy drops in his Bengal debut.
-Our offensive play calling- When Gus Johnson and Dan Fouts are correctly calling the plays before you run them, maybe it's time to switch it up.
-Refusing to switch things up from a personnel standpoint. Rookie Bernard Scott got one touch after much hype over his first training camp. Brian Leonard had just two carries, and one of those was on the fake punt. Chris Henry had just one catch. His reward for a dynamite preseason was watching Coles drop everything that came his way.

Back to 85 himself. How do you feel about this? Will/should Pack fans feel disrespected?

We talked about it briefly the other day, but I'll mention it again: I still think Jamarcus Russell will be a solid QB in this league. He played better than his numbers the other night against San Diego. He had a TD pass wrongly overturned and his interceptions weren't really his fault: One was rookie Louis Murphy's fault if I remember correctly, and the other was on a hailmary attempt at the end of the game. (Sidebar: Shouldn't there be categories for interceptions? Receiver error, tipped pass, amazing play by defender and Jake Delhomme, where the ball had no business leaving the QB's hand?) He blocked for his guy on a reverse which shows me he's willing to do what it takes to win the game. His receivers need some polish but his running game and defense looked excellent against San Diego. If they keep that up, it will allow him to turn into the Roethlisberger type for Oakland. He's a guy that has mobility for his size, he's hard to bring down, and if they can limit him to about 20-22 passes a game, they'll be in good shape. Do you want a game manager with the #1 overall pick? No, but you could certainly do a lot worse. Then there's the arm. It has no relevance on him becoming a great QB but I could watch him throw bombs all day. At the end of the SD game, he took 2 or 3 steps, flicked his wrist and the ball went 65 yards and at least a mile high. I think I saw Chad Pennington crying on the sidelines. So he's got that going for him. I have faith in him.

Enough has been said about the Kanye-Taylor Swift incident, so I'll just add this: Aren't he and Lady Gaga bound to become a couple by the end of the year? He's obviously out of his mind and she's not far behind him. I say they make it official by Thanksgiving and are broken up by Boxing Day.

I did see the ESPN Boston thing and it's a little disgusting...but it's salvageable. The only way the site can be saved is if there is a daily segment that tests Boston fans sports knowledge. Ask anybody in a Red Sox hat to name 5 players from the 2004 team and watch them fail. Ask them who Mo Vaughn was or why Bill Buckner is important to the Red Sox. I'd visit the site daily if they would make this idea happen.

PS- Did you catch any of Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame speech? If not, do yourself the favor and watch all three parts. Well worth it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Three Short Thoughts

No time for a big rundown. Three things:

1. Big win for the Packers. Their offense didn't look great, but I figure they'll come around. The defense had 4 interceptions (including Al Harris' game-clinching pick with a minute left in the game), which was nice to see. I think I aged 10 years during that game, but I'm glad it had a happy outcome.

2. Sorry about your Bengals. Tough way to lose. Really. Not much else I can say. Sorry.

3. Have you seen this? I think I'm a little nauseous.

NFL Picks

Sorry for my absence. I'll do these picks quickly, and with no explanation.

Falcons over Dolphins (I don't think either of these teams will replicate last year's success, but the Falcons are a better team than the Dolphins)

Bengals over Broncos (but just barely...I think the Broncos will be better this year than most people seem to)

Vikings over Browns (the Browns are terrible)

Jaguars over Colts (always a good game)

Saints over Lions (blow-out)

Cowboys over Bucs (should be a blow-out...but the Cowboys may find a way to make it interesting)

Eagles over Panthers

Ravens over Chiefs (I think I would pick UK over the Chiefs right now)

Texans over Jets

Redskins over Giants (Yup)

Cardinals over 49ers (blah)

Rams over Seahawks (double-blah)

Packers over Bears (with Aaron Rodgers lighting it up)

Patriots over Bills (shouldn't even be close)

Chargers over Raiders (closer than it should be)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Checking in with Dusty Baker

I agree about Oklahoma. Now that the pressure for a perfect season is off, hopefully they can let Bradford heal at his own pace instead of rushing him back. If they handle business from here on out, they will still be in the picture for a National Title at the end of the year.

I skipped around on a lot of games Saturday but watched most of the Virginia Tech-Alabama game, and what a great game it was. Many expected Bama to take a step back with a new QB and new RB's but they looked great against a good VT defense. Greg McElroy looked fine in his first start and the Mark Ingram/Roy Upchurch combo at RB will be potent this year. With the Florida's/Texas'/USC's of the world opting for cupcakes in their first game, it was good to see two top 10 teams duke it out on the first Saturday of college football.

I didn't watch the UK game because it was on ESPNU, but I did listen to it and was very pleased with what I heard. By all accounts, Hartline looked great, the running game was fine and the receiving crew has upgraded from a year ago. Losing Jeremy Jarmon to suspension and ultimately the NFL will hurt, but Micah Johnson and Trevard Lindley should hold things down on the defensive side of the ball. I think UK has another good season.

I saw the Merriman-Tequilla headline on the internet somewhere and re-read it about a half-dozen times to make sure I wasn't getting things mixed up. What an odd couple. I'm just waiting for the " Are Vince Young and Amy Winehouse breaking up?" headlines. Us Weekly is reporting Vince threw a punch at Amy...but it missed terribly and went sailing 10 feet over her head. Heartbreaking stuff.

I don't know if you heard but with the recent fires out in California, they've been looking for help anyway they can get it. California native Dusty Baker was brought in to oversee the situation and lend his expertise.

Dusty was quoted as saying, "Yep. That's a fire alright." Special thanks to Dusty for his cooperation. After all, watching things go up in flames without lifting a finger is what Dusty Baker does best.

My plans for NFL kickoff on Thursday night? While everyone else is watching Titans-Steelers with their loved ones, I'll be in the front row...of traffic school. Just think about your old pal Tyler when you're watching Polamalu take an errant Kerry Collins pass back to the house while I'm watching "Red Asphault".

Now for some weekly picks. I'll do my predictions for the season sometime soon.

Titans @ Steelers- The Steelers caught a lot of bad breaks last year and still won the Super Bowl. The Titans caught a lot of good breaks, and lost their first playoff game. Give me the Steelers.

Jaguars @ Colts- I do think the Jags will have a better season, but the Colts win this one.

Lions @ Saints- Matt Stafford's solid debut against a terrible Saints defense won't be enough. Saints win.

Cowboys @ Buccaneers- I really don't know how I feel about the Cowboys yet. I can see them either going 11-5 or 5-11. No in between. I think they get the win here though.

Eagles @ Panthers- Delhomme is out to prove the 5 interception game was a fluke. He fails. Eagles win.

Chiefs @ Ravens- Cassel! Flacco! Ravens win.

Jets @ Texans- Sanchez on the road in his NFL debut? No thanks. I'll take Houston.

Dolphins @ Falcons- Two teams that will come back to Earth this year. I'll go with the Dolphins.

Broncos @ Bengals- We get either an injured Kyle Orton or a rookie named Tom Brandstarter. We're playing in Cincinnati. If we lose this game, it's all over. Thank goodness we won't. Bengals win.

Vikings @ Browns- Favre wins as Dusty sheds a tear.

Redskins @ Giants- The Giants cut Andre` Woodson so I hope they lose. Redskins win. Simple as that.

49ers @ Cardinals- As long as Warner throws for 400+ yards and 3-4 touchdowns, I couldn't care less who wins. Arizona wins because somebody has to...or they'll tie. Whatever.

Rams @ Seahawks- Is there a more boring division in the NFL than the NFC West? Goodness gracious. Who cares? Seattle wins.

Bears @ Packers- What could be the best game of the week is on Sunday Night, where it ought to be. Rodgers and Cutler engage in the first of many good battles. Packers win.

Bills @ Patriots- Why is this the the first part of two terrible Monday Night games? The Patriots win easily.

Chargers @ Raiders- Would anyone be opposed to switching opponents here? The Bills-Raiders take the early game and the Chargers travel to New England for the late game. Problem solved. Chargers thrash the Raiders.

Football season is in the air and I couldn't be happier about it.

College Football, Fantasy Football, and...Tila Tequila?

Before I get into my fantasy football team, allow me to take a moment to talk about this opening college football weekend.
The big surprise, of course, was BYU upsetting Oklahoma. That's a pretty big deal. Still, it doesn't knock Oklahoma out of contention for the National Championship, as many are saying. They lost the first game of the season by 1 point, to a ranked team, after their starting quarterback (last year's Heisman winner) got injured in the first half. If you know anything about college football, you know that an early loss is a lot less likely to hinder your National Championship changes than a late loss. I'm not saying Oklahoma will go back to the National Championship game this year (Bradford is apparently out for at least a couple of weeks), but this loss doesn't automatically knock them out of contention.

Shawn Merriman was arrested for choking his girlfriend, Tila Tequila. My first thought? "They're dating?" I had no idea.

Andre Smith finally signed, and broke his foot 2 days later. Sorry. The Bengals O-line is looking pretty good without him, though.

Without further adieu, here is my fantasy football team.

QB: Aaron Rodgers - I had him last year, and he killed. Also, I love this guy. Going into the draft, this is the starting quarterback I wanted on my team. I couldn't be happier with this pick.

RB: DeAngelo Williams - I doubt he'll have the same year he had last year, but I had the 5th pick and he was sitting right there. I'm not super excited about this pick, but I've always liked Williams. I'm hoping for a solid year, with a lot of goal line carries.

RB: Leon Washington - A bit of a reach, but I have heard nothing but big predictions for this guy this year. The Jets should use him a little more than they last year, and he's really quick. I feel good about this one.

RB/WR: LenDale White - Goal line carries.

WR: Greg Jennings - My second round pick. Going into the draft, I wanted Rodgers and Jennings. I got them. I'm really hyped about this pick.

WR: Lee Evans - Should see a lot more single coverage, with T.O. playing on the other side. I'm looking for big yards and 10+ touchdowns.

WR/TE: Santonio Holmes - I'm not crazy about this pick, but he was sitting there late and I needed another WR. He's solid, I suppose.

TE: Jason Witten - I took him before Tony Gonzalez was off the board. I really hope that doesn't come back to bite me. I think Witten will have a bigger year than Gonzalez, though, so I'm happy with this pick.

D/ST: Chargers - Turnovers.

K: Rob Bironas - The Titans aren't a potent offense, so they seem to settle for more field goals than a lot of teams. I've had Bironas in the past, and I've never had any complaints.

The Bench.
WR: Percy Harvin - He could have a big year, or he could be a bust. If he gets injured in the first couple of weeks, I can drop him and not really feel too bad about it (I grabbed him pretty late).

RB: Darren Sproles - He may move up to a starting role within the first couple of weeks. This could be a big pick. Of course, Tomlinson could get a lot of goal line carries instead of Sproles. We'll just have to see.

WR: Steve Breaston - If Boldin gets traded this year (a very real possibility), Breaston moves into the #2 role, opposite Fitzgerald. That could lead to some really big numbers. Even if Boldin stays, Breaston is a solid #3 option, and should put up some decent numbers.

QB: David Garrard - Barring a Rodgers injury, Garrard will only play in week 5 (Green Bay's bye week). I feel good about him for one week, but I wouldn't be comfortable with him for an entire season. Also, if he has a better year than last year, he could carry some trade value.

RB: Glen Coffee - When was the last time Frank Gore stayed healthy for an entire season? I like this kid...he's quick, and seems to have good instincts.

TE: Heath Miller - Won't put up huge numbers, but he's usually pretty solid.

WR: Justin Gage - Should be solid.

I'm not crazy about this team, but I don't know what team I would be crazy about. I have some really good pieces, but I feel like there are a lot of questions marks in here. Of course, I felt the same way about my team last year, and I won the league. Here's to hoping it happens again.

Heading into their game today, the Tigers have a 6 game lead in the division and have won the last 5 games. It's looking good...

The first NFL game is this Thursday. Have any plans?