Friday, October 23, 2009

Picks and Hoops

I'm sitting here watching the Magic dismantle the Hawks in their last preseason game. We were up 34 after the third quarter and honestly it wasn't even that close. Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard had a combined 4 points after the first quarter, and we were still up 21. Not because they were missing shots, but because everyone else couldn't miss. Howard passed out of the double team very well and has looked great. He scored 20 points in the third quarter alone. I don't care if it's preseason and against the Hawks, scoring 20 in a quarter is something I don't know if Dwight Howard could have done last year. He's been working on polishing his game and it definitely shows. Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson have looked great. This is my first real look at Anderson and I like what I see. He can put the ball on the floor, step back and hit the three and is much tougher than he looks. VC has looked amazing. The one thing many people didn't think about, myself included, is that last year Orlando didn't have a guy that could get you points if his shot isn't falling. Kobe, LeBron and Wade are guys that will go to the FT line 20 times if they have to because their shot isn't falling. Turkoglu was a good player but he wasn't in that mold. VC can do that. Carter was 4-12 the other night from the field, but went 12-12 from the line. That's a talent that will definitely pay dividends in the playoffs. Not to mention with Jason Williams, JJ Redick, Anderson and Marcin Gortat we can throw a whitewash of players on the court that would make the Pacers blush.

There's been a lot of discussion about the top QB's in the league lately and again I have to come to Carson Palmer's defense. His numbers haven't been great this year but the Bengals are second in the league with 18 dropped passes. TE Daniel Coates is tied for first with 5, Laveranues Coles is tied for second with 4 and Ced Benson and Chad 85 are tied for third with 3. CP's numbers would look much better without those drops and I'm willing to bet that 75% of those drops were on target passes. He led 4 straight game winning drives, not including one in the Denver game, and his offensive line is still putting the pieces together. He's being left out of top 10 rankings and I think it's impossible to find 10 better QB's than Palmer. I'd say Manning, Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger and possibly Favre are the only one's I'd definitely put above him. I think he's in the McNabb, Eli, Rivers tier of good QB's. I will hear no arguments suggesting that Jay Cutler or Kyle Orton are better QB's than Palmer.

What do you make of Marcus Jordan, son of Michael, and his dispute at UCF? If you haven't heard, UCF is sponsored by Adidas but they promised Jordan he could wear Jordan's if he committed. He committed and now they are demanding he wear Adidas sneakers. Marcus insists he's going to wear Jordans. What say you on the matter?

Onto some picks.

UK plays Louisiana Monroe this weekend, which sounds like a cakewalk until you remember UL-Monroe almost beat us a couple of years ago. Their only losses this season have been to Texas and Arizona State, but their only wins have been against cupcakes. Freshman Morgan Newton will probably get the start and should have a better game this week. UK wins by two touchdowns and gets ready for a showdown with Mississippi State.

NFL time.

Bengals over Bears- I'm picking us to win, but I don't feel very confident about it. If our pass rush looks the way it did last week after Odom went out, Cutler will pick us apart. I think Cedric Benson has had this day circled on his calendar for a while and I think we get yet another close win.

Texans over 49ers- The Texans should win but they looked good last week which means they'll struggle this week. I still think they have enough to get by San Fran.

Packers over Browns- Cleveland should just give the ball to Josh Cribbs every time. I look for him to have about 67 touches and nearly 500 total yards against Green a lopsided defeat.

Chargers over Chiefs- The Chargers remind me of those Phoeniz Suns teams a couple of years ago. When they failed in the playoffs, it seemed to be common knowledge that they'd be back next season. Last year the Suns window slammed shut and they have a nearly brand new roster. I see similar things with San Diego this year. LT and Merriman look bad and neither could be on the team next season.

Colts over Rams- Since this game will be over by the end of the first quarter, I will say that it's good to see former Wildcat Keenan Burton starting for the Rams. As one of the guys that really helped turn UK's football program around, I'll always have love for Burton and I'm glad to see him doing well.

Vikings over Steelers- Everyone is picking the Steelers and with good reason, but I need Minnesota to win here to keep the Bengals in possession of first place in the AFC North. Also, can we take Roethlisberger and Favre out of the "game manager" category? Big Ben has thrown it at least 30 times a game every game this season and Favre's workload has increased just about every week.

Patriots over Bucs- Pats win one that's closer than it should be because the Bucs play hard and the time lag will affect the older Pats more than the Bucs. I can't wait to see the outdated and random jerseys that London has to offer. I'm willing to bet there are at least a dozen Bledsoe jerseys and a Mercury Morris sprinkled in. NFL games in foreign cities never let me down.

Raiders over Jets- That's right. That Oakland D isn't bad and Jamarcus has had two solid weeks in a row!

Panthers over Bills- Trent Edwards is out and Fitzpatrick is in. I don't care about anything else. I don't even care who wins.

Falcons over Cowboys- That Falcons team is legit. They are getting overlooked because of the Saints but that offense is good, the defense is good enough and their schedule isn't too tough. They could have a very quiet 11-5 season.

Saints over Dolphins- Do you think Reggie Bush randomly leaves voicemails for Lamar Odom that consist of him just laughing and hanging up? Reggie had the best looking sister and got out of the relationship just in time while Lamar married the "aesthetically challenged one". Advantage: Reggie.

Giants over Cardinals- I like how the promo's for this game are mentioning how Warner is out for blood after the Giants benched him for Eli. Nevermind that Warner rebounded last year with a great year and that his season in New York was 5 years ago. Warner feeds on every little slight. He's like Michael Jordan.

Eagles over Redskins- I know it's just one game but it seems that Philly loses at least one game that they have absolutely no business losing every year. That has to count for something. Of course they blow out this Redskins team, but I'm still concerned if I'm a Philly fan.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Farewell to Fantasy?

My fantasy team isn't doing much better than yours. I barely won yesterday which got my record to a respectable 3-3. Regardless of how I finish, I think this may be my last year doing fantasy football. There's no strategy anymore because it's all chance and even when I win, all I can think about is how much more I would have scored if I started Orton over Warner. The final straw was when I saw Cedric Benson running toward the endzone, but wanted him to step out at the 1 yard line. I have Carson Palmer on my fantasy team and needed him to throw a TD. I'm still all about fantasy basketball though. I've made the Finals three years straight, and have won two championships and am looking to make it three this season.

Speaking of the Bengals, I'm not really too upset about the Texans game. The Texans have always played us well, even in their terrible days. Also, last season amidst our terrible year, only a couple of teams really beat the hell out of us: Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Indy and Houston. Some teams just match up well. The real shame in this is that Antwan Odom was lost for the year. Without he and Domata Peko yesterday, we had no pass rush and our great cornerbacks were rendered average. We have the Bears next week, which is a winnable game, and then a much needed bye week. I'm not worried...yet.

Speaking of horrid play, have you ever watched Terrelle Pryor play? I mean really watched him play. He's awful. He can't read a defense to save his life and his touch is terrible. I saw him overthrow a RB on a checkdown shortly before he overthrew a 6'6 receiver alone in the endzone. His passes are often nowhere near any of his receivers and I caught him on the sidelines yelling at Jim Tressel after a terrible pass. Say what you want about Jamarcus Russell, but at least he looked good in college and you won't catch him yelling at his coaches. I'm not sure who knows who his actual coach is, yet I digress. Pryor can't even get it done against the likes of Purdue in college. Combine that with the fact that OSU doesn't have a great reputation for developing QB's and the results do not look good.

UK had a great, possibly season-saving win against Auburn last week. The defense looked great and Randall Cobb was phenomenal for the second straight week. Freshman Morgan Newton got the start and showed some potential but he looked exactly like a true freshman would/should in his first career start. He was relieved at halftime by Will Fidler who didn't do much better. Final stats for UK's quarterbacks? 9/22, 75 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs. The offense only took off when it became a point to get the ball to Cobb at all costs. Of course, the foolish will say that we would have lost if Hartline was playing, but I think otherwise. Unless Newton takes off in the next couple of weeks against UL Monroe and Eastern Kentucky, I think Hartline's job is safe. As well it should be.

Nice video of the Wayne Gretzky Jr. showing his stuff on the ice. My question for you is this: how often do hockey prodigies usually pan out? LeBron has been toted as the next great thing since he was 16, as have many baseball players pegged in high school. 5 star recruits in football are almost a crap shoot as to who succeeds and who does not. How well do hockey prodigies pan out, or are prodigies at all common in hockey?

Trent Edwards suffered his annual injury and you know what that means. It's Ryan Fitzpatrick time. I agree with you about how the media is baiting TO and he's refusing it. This may be the breaking point, and I can't even blame him.

I love stories like these. There needs to be a TV show of nothing but stories like these.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Requiem for My Fantasy Team

It's still early, but I'm currently sitting at 1-5.  Last week I lost to a team that was starting 4 players on their bye week.  I am in possession of a number of Packers, so that hurt me a little (it being their bye week and all), but still...that's just sad.
Here's what my team currently looks like:

QB: Aaron Rodgers - He has put up great stats this year.  If I had him starting for me last week, I would've won.

RB: Leon Washington - I need to stop reading so many articles before the season starts.  Everyone (I'm not even talking strictly fantasy people...I'm talking about every football writer) was talking about the break-out season Leon Washington would have.  "He'll break a long run every week," they said.  "He'll be their #1 option this year," they said.  I assume those people, the ones who visit camps and talk to coaches and everything, know more than I do.  Apparently, I was wrong.  I can't sit him this week, because I have no one else to start in place of him.  I don't know how much longer I can wait for this guy to do something.

RB: Darren Sproles - LT is done.  Sproles was supposed to get more touches.  Score more touchdowns.  Blah.  Who knew the Chargers would start off as terribly as they have?  (Well...I suppose I did.  But I still drafted him.)

RB/WR: DeAngelo Williams - He started off a little slow last year, too.  I'm hoping to make the playoffs, then have Williams take over, just like he did last year.  Right now, he's not giving me much.

WR: Greg Jennings - Don't worry.  He'll pick it up.  I know he will...starting this week.

WR: Percy Harvin - Solid.  Usually good for 10 points a week.

WR/TE: Santonio Holmes - He had a monster first game.  Since then...nothing.  The Steelers running game hasn't been great, so they've been passing more.  Who has been catching all the passes?  Not Holmes.

TE: Heath Miller - He's been solid, but, due to the fact that I still think Jason Witten will have a big game, Miller hasn't seen the fantasy field yet.  With Dallas on a bye, it's time for Miller to make his case.

D/ST: Broncos - They've been great, but they had a rough week last week.

K: Matt Prater - I started the season with Bironas, but I was getting nothing.  So I picked up Prater, who had been doing well.  Now?  Nothin'.

TE: Jason Witten - As I mentioned earlier, he has been my starter this season, but he has not been great so far.  Still waiting for a big game from him.

WR: Lee Evans - With TO on the other side, it made sense that Evans would get more looks his way.  Perhaps he has gotten those looks...but the passes have not even been close.  Just a terrible pick.

RB: LenDale White - Blah.  "The Titans are good.  White is their goal line back."  He has a grand total of 19 points on the season.

WR: Steve Breaston - I kind of figured that Boldin would get traded this year, leading to Breaston being the #2 receiver in a good offense.  He hasn't had a terrible season, but he hasn't had a great season, either.  And it's looking like Boldin won't be traded, either...but I still don't feel like I can drop him.

QB: David Garrard - He had one job to do.  One.  Play a decent game during Green Bay's bye week.  After having a huge game against Tennessee the week before, he played terribly against Seattle last week (5 points).  The one week when I needed him.  I don't even know why he's still on my bench.

RB: Glen Coffee - Had a decent couple of weeks while Gore was down.  But, with Gore getting healthier and Coffee being a little banged up, I don't think he'll have any value for much longer.

WR: Austin Collie - Picked him up after the huge game he had last week.  He's on a bye this week, but I'm hoping to get something out of him.

I do not feel good about the rest of this season.

Now, for actual football:

Houston over Cincinnati - No offense, but Houston is developing a pattern of playing terribly one week and great the next.  The played terribly last week.  I think they come out with their A game this week.  (By the way, LOVED this story.  How many players would do this for their fans?)

Green Bay over Detroit - The protection will be better, and we're playing the Lions.  Should be a fun game (for me) to watch.  (Earlier this week, in this article, Rodgers said that all the sacks were his fault, because he was holding the ball too long.  At least he recognizes that and takes responsibility for it.  I don't think it's all his fault, but he does hold the ball for too long.  Of course, after he acknowledges this, he says that he's not going to change how he plays.)

Minnesota over Baltimore - Do you remember a couple of weeks ago when the Ravens looked like the best team in the league?  Yeah...I don't really, either.

New Orleans over New York Giants - This should be a good game.  Brees won't have a huge game, but the Saints will do enough to win.

Pittsburgh over Cleveland - Pittsburgh has the ability to play down to their opponents.  This game will be closer than it should be, but the Steelers should win this.  And Derek Anderson will play pretty well this week (in comparison to last week, anyway).

Carolina over Tampa Bay - The Buc's offense will look good.  The Panthers offense will look better.

Kansas City over Washington - The boos will be raining down on the Skins by the end of the first quarter.

Jacksonville over St. Louis - For the sake of my fantasy team, why couldn't this game have happened last week?

Arizona over Seattle - Blah.

Philadelphia over Oakland - Russell comes back down to earth after his stellar 8/13, 100 yard game last week.

New England over Tennessee - But if Brady doesn't hit some of those passes that he has been missing, this game could be close.

New York Jets over Buffalo - I have to say, I'm impressed with TO, and more than a little frustrated with the media.  All they do is bait him in interviews, and he has yet to say a bad word about the Bills.  Kudos.

Atlanta over Chicago - It won't be the beating the Falcons put on the 49ers last week, but I still think they'll win comfortably.

San Diego over Denver - Because Denver is due for a loss.

Last but not least...have you seen this?  This kid is 9 years old.

Some picks for the weekend

Some good games going on this weekend in the world of college and pro football. Let's make some picks, shall we?

Oklahoma goes to Texas for the Red River Shootout this year and as always it should be a great game. Part of me wants Texas to win because they were somewhat screwed out of the championship last year. Part of me wants Oklahoma to win for this reason: If OU knocks off Texas, Florida and Alabama are the undisputed #1 and #2 teams in the nation. They will likely meet in the SEC championship game. The winner goes to the Title game and the loser is sent to some other BCS bowl. My question is who would the winner play? No one wants to see Boise State/TCU/Cincinnati get slaughtered UF/Bama. USC/OSU/Virginia Tech will all likely have one loss, but play in terrible conferences. Would it be such a bad thing for Bama and Florida to rematch in the National Title game? The SEC championship game will likely be a good one so the rematch could be a classic. Would anyone be opposed to this? I want Oklahoma to win, but I think Texas will.

USC plays Notre Dame this week as well. I'm not a big fan of Chuck Weiss but I wouldn't mind seeing ND win this one. As mentioned above, USC could somehow sneak into the title race and that team doesn't deserve it this year. Jimmy Clausen is finally living up to expectations and I think ND pulls the upset at home.

UK travels to Auburn this week in what is a big game for UK. Falling to 2-4 in the SEC would pretty much bid good riddance to a chance for a bowl game this year. Auburn is 5-1 but they haven't really beat anyone and Arkansas ran all over them last week. UK is playing without Hartline which is what many UK fans have been wishing for. I really hate to say it, but part of me wants UK to struggle a bit to show fans that Hartline isn't nearly as bad as they think he is. Will Fidler and true freshman Morgan Newton are untested and throwing them on the road against a 5-1 team won't help anything. Many fans want Randall Cobb to play QB but what they don't understand is how much this hurts us in other ways.

1. He leads the team in receiving and has more yards than the #2 and #3 WR's combined. If he plays QB, who is he throwing to?

2. He's listed at 5'11, and I think that's being generous. I honestly don't know if he can see over the line consistently enough to make good reads and throws. He has a lot of batted down balls and misses open guys simply because he can't see them.

3. We would have a 5'11 190 pound guy throwing the ball, scrambling down field, possibly catching balls on trick plays and returning punts and kicks. If this were high school, we'd be fine. Instead we're in the best conference in the country. If I'm Auburn, or any UK opponent, why don't I kick/punt the ball to Cobb every time and lay him out? Even if it costs me a penalty or two, isn't it worth it?

I hope the Cats pull it out to salvage their season, but it doesn't look good this week. I'd also like to correct myself from last week. I credited Joker Phillips with running the worst fake field goal play I've ever seen. Coach Rich Brooks claims he made the call. I give my apologies to Phillips and my criticism to Brooks.

Onto the NFL picks.

Bengals over Texans- The Texans thrashed us last year, but then again who didn't? I'd really like for this game to not come down to a last second drive. I don't know how much more I can take.

Packers over Lions- I'm THIS close to getting rid of Greg Jennings. He's done nothing for my fantasy team. Didn't you try to convince me this guy was better than Chad Johnson?

Vikings over Ravens- Last week we proved the Ravens can be beaten by running right at them and throwing the ball deep on them. This week Cedric Benson, Chad Johnson and Chris Henry give way to Adrian Peterson, Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin. Similar results. Vikes win.

Giants over Saints- Both teams are off to great starts, but neither team has played against anybody. Eli plays better on the road so I'm going with New York.

Steelers over Browns- Even Jamarcus Russell laughed at Derek Anderson last week.

Panthers over Bucs- I watched some of the Bucs and they are not nearly as bad as I thought they were. They're still a terrible, terrible team, but not as bad as I would have thought.

Redskins over Chiefs- The Redskins hereby become the worst 3-3 team ever.

Jaguars over Rams- Mike Sims-Walker got suspended last week after "a late-night rendezvous with a lady friend". That's a punishable offense these days? The guy has two good games and can't even enjoy the perks. I don't like what this country has become.

Cardinals over Seahawks- Tashard Choice has one less rushing yard than the Cardinals do as a team. 3rd string RB Tashard Choice has one less rushing yard than the Cardinals do as a team. 3rd string RB Tashard Choice has one less rushing yard than the Super Bowl runner up Cardinals do as a team.

Eagles over Raiders- Jamarcus had a QB rating of 85 last week. Hate on that, hater. They showed some tape of him on NFL replay and I must say, it's really not all his fault. His blocking is terrible and his position players are average at best.

Patriots over Titans- This is it. We've finally reached Vince Young time after this game and I couldn't be happier. As bad as a QB as he was, he has a career record of 18-11 in games he started. They've got to give him a chance.

Jets over Bills- Edwards! Owens! I need their pregame meeting at the 50 yard line to be mic'd up. I wonder if they discuss techniques on how to drop catchable passes.

"I try to catch the ball with my palms, never the fingertips. What do you do Braylon?"

" Here's the secret to my success: Never look at the ball until the last second. Works 40% of the time every time."

Falcons over Bears- I recently had to argue that Carson Palmer is better than Jay Cutler. Nevermind the fact that Palmer has twice as many Pro Bowls and Cutler hasn't had a winning season in college or the NFL. Or the fact that without Palmer last year, his team went 4-11-1 and without Cutler this year, his old team is 5-0. None of that matters to stupid people.

Broncos over Chargers- Is it me or do the Chargers get a lot of primetime games and they usually suck in those games? I'm taking the Broncos.

Late addition: Surely, you've about the new rule that lets NBA players take two steps instead of one without being called for traveling. The sound you just heard was LeBron James licking his lips. Between that and the NBA using replacement referees this season, he's going to get every call he normally got AND a couple more. Disgusting. What sparked this change? Who told David Stern, "You know what David? Our stars don't get enough preferential treatment. Let's really go all out to make them feel welcome." Bad call fellas, bad call.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Captain Jack no more

When Stephen Jackson first made his trade demands, I thought about how great it would be to have him in Orlando. He'd give us a lot of the same things Turkoglu did but for cheaper and he'd be motivated to play for a good team. Then he keeps saying things to remind me that he is out of his mind. My favorite part of the article was when Jacks made it clear that, "I don't want to be a role model." Thanks goodness. Anytime you have a section on your Wikipedia page marked "Reputation", I think you're out of the running to be a role model. I demand to know why an Indiana beat writer didn't follow the team that year and write a book about it. Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson and Jamaal Tinsley's stories practically write themselves. Then you throw in Scot Pollard, who is also insane, and the wife chasing Reggie Miller. That book would have sold millions.

Speaking of Orlando, the Magic are 5-0 in the preseason and have won the past two games by a combined 56 points. Vince Carter has played better each game and Ryan Anderson is looking like a real steal. I'm not totally suckered into VC yet though. I still scowl the Trade Machine every once in a while looking for a decent deal to get Vince out of town should think go awry. Gotta have a backup plan.

Braylon Edwards looked great in his debut, which should surprise no one. I still think the Browns got the better of the deal, but I'll admit that catch he had which should have been a touchdown was one of the better catches I've ever seen. You forget how good a guy is when he's half assing it on a terrible team. In reading about the trade, I stumbled upon some interesting information. Apparently this past offseason there were serious trade talks which would have sent Edwards to Miami for Ronnie Brown. While Miami would have gotten shafted in the deal, I wish that would have happened. The Browns would have no idea how to use Ronnie Brown. Hell, they don't know how to treat the RB's they have now.

We're at week 6 in the NFL and Cedric Benson is leading the league in rushing, the Bengals are in first place with wins over all of our division foes and we just released our long snapper. Life is good. I really hate to rejoice in a man losing his job, but Brad St. Louis getting cut was bound to happen. He had at least bad snap in every game except the one against Green Bay, and they all cost us points. It was definitely time to make a move. Here's hoping the new guy works out.

There are some talks of a trade sending Terrell Owens to Chicago. I'll chip some cash of my own to make sure this happens. The moodiest QB in the league playing with the moodiest WR possibly of all time? Where do I sign up?

My baseball playoffs picks are right so far so I'm going to stick with the Dodgers over Yankees in the World Series. People are talking about how A-Rod has finally turned it around in the postseason. You buying it?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The NBA: Where Stax Jax Happens

In talking about the fines levied against him by Don Nelson and the Warriors, Stephen Jackson unleashed this fantastic quote:

"Any time somebody takes $150,000 from me, of course it's going to change," Jackson said. "If my mom took some money from me I'd still love her to death but I'd still be upset about it. And he's not my mom."

The quote was taken from this article, which says that the Warriors stripped Jackson of being a team captain after his trade demands.  What was his response after being stripped?

"Being captain was overrated to me, anyway. You don't do anything but go out before the game and talk to the refs. I don't want to do that, anyway."

I love that last part.  It kills me for some reason.
One last thing: this article says that, after being suspended last season, he and his wife spent time at the zoo.  Did he go to the zoo every day of his suspension?  I don't know...and the article doesn't say.  I like to think that he did.

Welcome back, Jackson.  We've missed you in the offseason.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Playoffs and Picks

I hear you on your "I'm done with sports....Wait, no I'm not" rant. I just went through it myself after the NBA Finals. In a way I kind of envy the Lions, Royals, Clippers, etc fans, because every year they know their team is out of playoff contention and they have options. They can choose to follow the playoffs of their respective sport and hope for some good games somewhere, or they can go on with their life. Fans (and of course I mean true fans like you, I and every Red Sox fan) live or die with the success of our teams and it can't be healthy. Yet we wouldn't dare give it up on the off chance that your Tigers win the World Series or Orlando wins the NBA Finals. One day my friend. One day.

I caught the first night of MLB playoff games but missed last nights affairs. I saw "Rodriguez's clutch home run ties Yankee's game" or something along those lines, and was really hoping it would be an obscure player like Joe Rodriguez in his first career at bat while A-Rod went 0-4. No such luck.

UK lost a tough one today against South Carolina. Mike Hartline had a great first half before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the game. I really hope he's OK because the play looked like he could have torn some ligaments. What's sad is that I have heard people chalking this up as a good thing. Say what you want about his play on the field, but you never wish injury on a player, especially your own. It's no surprise that the offense stalled as soon as Hartline went out. We did nothing for several drives before Joker Phillips went had a "Mike Vick circa Madden 2004 Epiphany", put Randall Cobb at QB and let him run it every time. Good move Joker. Too bad it couldn't make up for one of the worst play calls in recent memory. In the third quarter with UK in range for a 31 yard field goal, we decide to run a fake which is easily sniffed out. Had we made that field goal, we are down one point with plenty of time left. I'm getting less and less excited for the Joker Phillips era.

Tim Tebow has been cleared to play tonight but I don't see how they can let him. They showed some film of him in practice this week and he appeared to be out of it. If they start John Brantley, they still probably win the game. If not, a loss on the road to the #4 team without Tebow doesn't look so bad. Run the table the rest of the season and you're still in the championship game. I think Meyer has known all along if Tebow is going to play and is just trying to keep LSU guessing.

NFL Picks time.

Cleveland over Buffalo- Derek Anderson doesn't have to worry about getting balls to Braylon Edwards anymore and can focus on Mohammed Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs. They have to get Cribbs some more touches. They have no reason not too.

Dallas over Kansas City- I haven't watched any Chiefs games this season, but I hear I'm missing out. Apparently Todd Haley loves to scream at players and has the worst body language in the league. Wade Phillips has something to say about that.

Minnesota over St. Louis- The Vikes win an easy one so I leave you with this. I was watching an old Falcons-49ers game this week from the early 90's. The Falcons won on a last second TD pass. Andre Rison and his gold hair were there. A young Deion Sanders was there. Even a jacket wearing, clipboard toting fresh faced Favre was there celebrating. Know who else was there leading the post game celebration on the sidelines? MC Hammer. I can't find any video of it but Hammer appeared to be on another man's shoulders leading cheers for the Falcons. It was outstanding.

NYG over Oakland- I picked up Steve Smith in fantasy and am really enjoying the benefits. I'm almost ready to give up on Jamarcus Russell. Almost.

Philly over Tampa Bay- I expect McNabb to get light work here in an easy win for the Eagles.

Pittsburgh over Detroit- I was tempted to pick Detroit here until I remembered Matt Stafford isn't very good.

Washington over Carolina- Don't ask me why.

Cincy over Baltimore- Baltimore is the better team but Cincy has an emotional chip on its shoulder. On Thursday, our defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer found his 50 year old wife dead at their home. My thoughts are definitely with the Zimmer family. Apparently Mrs. Zimmer was very involved with the team and they will definitely be playing for her. I'll never count out a team playing on emotions.

San Fran over Atlanta- I have a soft spot for teams that would be undefeated if not for fluke plays.

Seattle over Jacksonville- Hasselbeck is expected to play so I'll go with Seattle.

Houston over Arizona- I need Arizona to win in case Houston is in playoff contention with us at the end of the year. Too bad Arizona sucks.

Denver over New England- The Pat's D is still suspect and the Bronco's are great at getting pressure. I predict a close Denver win and at least one absurd roughing the passer call in Tom Brady's favor.

Indy over Tennessee- Assuming he stays healthy and breaks every important passing record, where do you rank Peyton Manning in your all-time QBs? I really can't call it. Guys like him are part of the reason I hate statistics. 50 years from now people are going to check the numbers and determine him the greatest player ever, but we all know how shaky he is/was in big games. P.S.- We're one week closer to Vince Young time.

NYJ over Miami- I predict a big game for Braylon Edwards as he suckers in Jets fans everywhere. Browns fans can only laugh.

Crushing Defeats, MLB Playoffs, Defending Romo, and NFL Picks

That Tigers loss was devastating, and I will not bring it up again after this post.
It's losses like that that make you question why you follow sports.  The highs are terrific...but the lows are terrible.  And how many heartbreaking moments do you get before you actually see them win something?  Way too many.  When the Tigers went to the World Series, I was on a high with every win.  But, when they lost in 5 games, it felt like my heart was ripped out.  I don't remember the good times in that run...I only remember the outcome.  The farther the team goes, the bigger the heartbreak.
The Packers went 13-3 a couple of years ago and lost in overtime in the NFC Championship game to the eventual Super Bowl winner.
The Red Wings lost the Stanley Cup in 7 games last year to a very good Penguins team.
They had a good run, and made it far into the playoffs.  I should be happy about that...but all I can remember is the soul-crushing defeat at the end.
I continue to follow sports because, in spite of the devastation it can cause, I still love them.  I love the highs.  But I also just love the game.  The strategy.  The talent.  The savage beauty.  I can't get enough of it.
Do the highs balance out the lows eventually?  I doubt it...but I'll keep watching, anyway.

Speaking of heartbreaking...have you been watching these MLB playoffs?  There have been some great endings...endings that elated some fans, while crushing the spirits of others.  Matt Holliday dropping a fly ball that would've ended the game and sent the Cardinals back to St. Louis with a 1-1 series.  The Twins blowing a 2 run lead in the 9th on Alex Rodriguez's home run.  Exciting stuff.  I've been pleasantly surprised with these playoffs so far.  I'm rooting for the Angels to win it all.  And, the way they're playing, I'd say they have a pretty good shot.

You asked if I feel bad for Tony Romo.  Actually...I kind of do.  He seems like a very likable guy.  He is obviously very talented.  He's one of those guys who actually seems to feel bad after a loss, and he takes it very personally.  He knows he needs to get better at protecting the ball, and he's been working on it.  But where are the coaches in this?  When you get a quarterback with that much talent, there needs to be a coach that is really hard on him.  If you're coaches just say, "You're good.  Just do your thing," how can you ever expect to improve?
I read an article this past week (I can't remember who wrote it) that blamed Romo for the Broncos loss.  Their reasoning?  "Down 7, Romo threw a short slant into the end zone on fourth down to Sam Hurd, who was being covered by Champ Bailey, one of the best cornerbacks in the league."  (That's a paraphrase, of course.)  First off, what receiver you throw to has nothing to do with it.  So he threw to his fourth receiver on a big play.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Secondly, when can we stop referring to Champ Bailey as one of the best cornerbacks in the league?  Perhaps he was at one point, but that was a long time ago.  He's still a decent corner, but he's not nearly as good as everyone makes him out to be.
Does this mean that Romo is absolved from blame for that Broncos loss?  Absolutely not.  He didn't play well, and that's one of the reasons they lost the game.  But to pinpoint that one play as the reason they lost...that's just ignorant.

On to the NFL Picks:

Buffalo over Cleveland - Buffalo bounces back from their defeat at the hands of the Dolphins.  They start clicking on offense, just like everyone thought they would before the season.  The Browns: the cure for what ails your offense.

Dallas over Kansas City - I don't care how bad the Cowboys have looked this year.  There is no way they lose to the Chiefs.  Also, Romo will have a big day.

Minnesota over St. Louis - It may be close for the first quarter-and-a-half, but the Vikings will win by at least 14.

New York Giants over Oakland - I think this will be a closer game than most are saying, but the Giants should still win by at least 10.

Philadelphia over Tampa Bay - There's no reason why McNabb should be playing in this game.  Give him another week or two to heal (they have Oakland next week, followed by Washington on Monday Night).  Kevin Kolb can beat the Bucs this week.

Pittsburgh over Detroit - Did you hear that Jerome Bettis is from Detroit?

Carolina over Washington - DeAngelo Williams has a big game, and Delhomme only throws 1 interception.  Hooray!

Cincinnati over Baltimore - The Bengals haven't looked terrific this year, but they've done just enough to win every single game (except for the first one, when a fluke bounce lost it for them).  It will be close, but I'm just feeling a Bengals win here.

Atlanta over San Francisco - The 49ers are looking tough, but I'm just feeling a Falcons win here.  Should be a close game, though.

Jacksonville over Seattle - Just because.

Houston over Arizona - This should be a good, high-scoring game, with the Texans making a couple fewer mistakes than the Cardinals.

New England over Denver - Sorry Broncos, but the ride ends here.  Should be a close game, though.

Indianapolis over Tennessee - But it will be a closer game than most are calling for.

New York Jets over Miami - I'm still not sold on Sanchez and the Jets, but they'll be Miami.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sometimes You Fail by Jim Leyland. Foreword by Jamarcus Russell

A 3 game lead, with 4 games to go, and they still didn't make the playoffs?

This ought to cheer you up. I like looking through the old high school player rankings to see how things pan out. Today? The 2003 list of pro-style quarterbacks. #1 Kyle Wright, who busted at Miami. #6 and #7 turned out to be Jamarcus Russell and Andre` Woodson, respectively. Matt Ryan checked in at #25. Joe Flacco even made an appearance at #39. Ok, that probably didn't cheer you up from your teams epic collapse, but I feel better!

Speaking of or pal Jamarcus Russell, I heard some sad news that he's not allowed at the fairs in Oakland anymore after a tragic dunk tank accident. Really heartbreaking stuff.

While I was on Rivals I got to looking at UK's recruiting classes compared to our last two opponents, Florida and Alabama. We simply can't compete with them yet. For the upcoming year, Alabama has 20 recruits already signed, 10 of them are 4 or 5 star guys. Florida has 17 commits, with 13 of them being 4 or 5 star. Kentucky has 11 recruits. None of them are 4 or 5 star guys. Last year was no different. UK's big class consisted of three 4-star guys. Florida and Alabama both got at least three 5 star guys. Every week I think we're ready to compete with the powers of the SEC and every week we are overmatched. You can't win knowing that maybe 2 or 3 of your starters would even play for the other team. Coach Brooks has done a fine job of taking us from being laughing stocks of the league, but it's time to take the next step.

Switching gears for a minute, I know I'm in the minority but I think the Braylon Edwards trade was a bad one for the Jets.

-Edwards is known to bitch at his quarterbacks. What happens when Sanchez hits the rookie wall?

-Most on target drops, 30, since 2007 and you can't put those on his QB's.

-He has no focus. Last week he got a stupid penalty for pushing a Bengals player right after a Browns first down.

- Allegedly he is a homosexual and that's the reason the Giants didn't want him last year. Nothing wrong with that but if its true the New York media will find out and it will create unwanted distractions.

-You get the slate wiped clean with a new coach and he's dying to get rid of you after 4 games?

Cleveland on the other hand gets young talent that Mangini brought in and two decent draft picks for a guy that didn't want to be there and they get the chance to give Mohammed Massaquoi some more looks. Not a bad deal. Here's what nobody is talking about: Edwards is in New York. LeBron may be headed to NY after the season. This means Braylon Edwards has a chance to finish what he started with LeBron's posse! I think James has another son that Edwards hasn't punched. I can't wait for the sequel.

Do you feel bad for Tony Romo, even a little bit? He had some great games and was hailed as the next great thing because he was the Cowboys QB. If he was the Chiefs QB, he wouldn't have got as much hype and would have been able to progress at his own pace. He's showing what he's always been: An above average QB blessed with great talent around him and great playcalling. Now TO is gone, Roy Williams is terrible, his backs cant stay healthy and his defense looks shabby at best. Wade Phillips might be illiterate and some of the polish has come off of Jason Garrett. Any sympathy?

How do you feel about the Bobby Bowden situation? Should the old man be forced to step down or should he get to walk out on his own time?

I'll close it out with some picks for the playoffs.

Rockies vs. Phillies- I'm going with the Phillies in 4. No magic run for Colorado this year.

Twins vs. Yankees- Yankees in 3. I think they mean business this year and the Twins have to be drained. Winning a 12 inning thriller to put your divisional rival out of the playoffs has to be rough on the mind and body. Surely you heard about the Twins run to the postseason?

Cardinals vs. Dodgers- Could be one of the better series this post season. I'm going with LA in 5, but I couldn't tell you why.

Red Sox vs. Angels- I honestly don't care who wins this one. Angels in 5, I guess.


Yankees vs. Angels- Yankees in 6. I really don't know much about this Angels team. I did read something about this Yankees team having fun this year though. I haven't heard nearly enough about it. Seems like someone would say something about a team as big as the Yankees having fun this season.

Dodgers vs. Phillies- I'm going with the Dodgers here in 7. I've always had a bit of a soft spot for them and wouldn't mind seeing them do well.

World Series

Dodgers vs. Yankees- Joe Torre shows Dusty Baker and all other "laid back" managers, that it is acceptable to get off your ass every once in a while and do some coaching. Dodgers in 6.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Talking Real Sports...and some Hockey!

I agree, the Tigers do have a reasonable chance to knock off the Yankees, but doesn't the fact that the race got this close worry you a little? Detroit could have wrapped this thing up in the middle of September but dropped a few games in a row. I just can't see them beating New York but in a best of five series, almost anything is possible. I can just feel another Red Sox-Yankees ALCS coming. I hope I'm wrong.

I think I am going to try to get some hockey in this year. I finally have Versus so I'm hoping I can catch a few different teams play this year. The only ones I remember watching last year were Washington, Detroit, Columbus and Pittsburgh. I saw a black guy today with a Red Wings jacket on so I think the status quo for Black Red Wings fans has been met. Maybe I'll give the Capitals a chance.

What is it with you wishing devastating injuries on my teams? First Dwight Howard and now the Bengals. I never wished ill will on Aaron Rodgers or for Dontrelle Willis to lose his talent almost overnight and be washed up at 27? What gives? This week against the Browns will be a good sign for determining how good the Bengals really are. I said the same for the Broncos game, but now that Denver is 3-0, that loss holds a little more weight. This Cleveland team has proved itself to be awful and if we're a good team, we need to dominate. I heard if Derek Anderson doesn't work out, Vinny Testaverde is next on Mangini's list.

Stan Van Gundy has already called out Vince Carter for his effort on defense, or lack thereof. I love it. It shows that VC is not above the team and that SVG will call anyone out and at any time. There's a school of thought that Vince Carter doesn't respond well to criticism, but I call balderdash. If Vince has really grown as the leader he is made out to be, this will only fire him up. SVG's system has made solid defenders out of Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis, and I assume the same will happen for Vince Carter. One thing I've been hearing a lot of is that Orlando lost 3 starters from the team that got us to the Finals. How will we ever go on? What they fail to mention is that we replaced two of those starters, Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee, with All-Stars, Jameer Nelson and Carter. The third, Hedo Turkoglu, was destine to leave anyway. His wife was tired of Orlando and fell in love with Toronto so it's not like we gave him the boot. Nevermind the fact that KG's tendons tore away from his knee, Clevelands starting shooting guard was just arrested for carrying a gun in a guitar case and Ron Artest is completely insane.

This week in "Man, that guy used to be really good" found me watching a Packers-Vikings game from 2000. It was the Antonio Freeman crazy catch game. You may remember it. Hearing some of those names really took me back to yesteryear. Bill Schroeder, Vonnie Holliday and Ahman Green were still alive. Robert Smith, John Randle and Daunte Culpepper still ran wild in Minnesota. Speaking of Culpepper, man that guy used to be really good. He didn't have the greatest showing in that game, but just seeing he and Moss again was fantastic. Culpepper was exactly what Jamarcus Russell should be! Big guys, rocket arms and great mobility for their size. I forgot how fast Culpepper was in his prime. You'll get there one day Jamarcus. One day.

Now for a few picks.

Alabama comes to Lexington tomorrow and for the second week straight, I've got unreasonably high hopes. After last weeks performance, I think everyone is counting on another blowout but I don't think that's the case. Last year, UK lost by 3 points to #2 Bama in Tuscaloosa and that was without Randall Cobb. Alabama's offense isn't quite as explosive as Florida's so again the key will be not letting Bama get out to a quick start. I honestly think Alabama is the best team in the nation. Their offense is getting better every week and their defense might be the best in the nation. A good showing here could really lift UK's spirits for the rest of the season.

Onto the big boys.

Chicago over Detroit- Despite the Lions "success", Calvin Johnson has had a very quiet season. I think he breaks out here, but not enough to pull the upset.

Cincinnati over Cleveland- Statement game for Cincy. One game closer to the offseason for Cleveland.

Indy over Seattle- Not going to lie, Peyton Manning looks fantastic and check out the Colts next 4 games after Seattle: at Tennessee, at St. Louis, San Francisco and Houston. They could potentially be 7-0 heading into a game against the underwhelming Patriots.

New York Giants over Kansas City- New York has had Washington, Dallas, Tampa Bay and now Kansas City. Next week? Oakland. Unfair.

New England over Baltimore- Baltimore is the much better team but I'm hoping New England knocks them off so I went with them.

Washington over Tampa Bay- Eek. Two of the worst teams in the league faceoff. I don't know who wins but I know who loses: Tampa Bay.

But seriously.

Jacksonville over Tennessee- I'm really hoping the Titans lose here because the next two games have them facing the Colts and Patriots. You know what an 0-6 start means, don't you?

Time for Vince to get his party on.

Houston over Oakland- One of these days Dusty, one of these days. Pow! An errant Jamarcus Russell pass goes right to the moon!

New Orleans over NY Jets- I still don't believe in the Saint's defense so I think Sanchez has another solid day, but he's no match for Drew Brees.

Buffalo over Miami- Miami traded for Tyler Thigpen this week, which I thought was a dynamite move. He's better than Chad Henne and has 14 starts to his name. I can see him eventually winning this job. Sad news about Chad Pennington though. He's an older guy and this is a tough injury so I have to wonder if his career might be over.

San Francisco over St. Louis- The 49ers are one amazing play away from being 3-0. The Rams are light years away from being competent.

Dallas over Denver- In a way, I want Denver to keep winning, because it makes our one loss look that much better. On the other hand, I want them to lose on fluke plays every week for the remaining 13 games.

San Diego over Pittsburgh- Looking back, its amazing a team won a Super Bowl without an above average running game. The defense was that good. This year its not as good. Steelers fall to 1-3.

Minnesota over Green Bay- This will be a good one, but the rematch in Green Bay could be epic. Cedric Benson thrashed Green Bay. I'm hoping Adrian Peterson does the same.

Not gonna lie. I did a double take when I saw the headline for this story.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

MLB Playoffs, The Beginning of the NHL Season, and NFL Picks

I apologize for my absence.  It's been a busy couple of weeks at school.  Not that it has gotten any better of course...I'm just taking a short break.

The Tigers could have clinched their division with a win against Minnesota this afternoon, but they couldn't do it.  That's what we get for starting Robertson, I guess.  We have a 2 game lead with 3 to play.  We start our series against Chicago tomorrow, while Minnesota will go up against Kansas City.  We'll get in.
Once we get in, we'll have to play New York.  It will be a tough series, but, if our offense gets into a rhythm (which is entirely possible), we can take that series.  Sure, we'd  be massive underdogs...but we were massive underdogs to the Yankees the last time we made the playoffs.  The front end of our rotation (Verlander, Jackson, Porcello) is solid, and should be able to hold down the Yankee line-up enough to keep us in each game.  I'm optimistic.
Of course, if we lose, I'll be a shell of myself for the next couple of weeks.  Just be forewarned.

Hockey season is here!  You watching?  It's better if you have a rooting interest, but you don't need to pick a team right off the bat.  Catch some games, and let a team pick you.
I would suggest the Red Wings, but I don't see you going that route.
Being in this area, you should get a chance to catch a number of Blue Jackets games, and they should have an exciting team this year.  On top of Nash and Mason, Brassard will be back this year.  He was a strong contender for Rookie of the Year last season before he jacked up his shoulder in a fight.  I'm expecting good things from him.

Big up to your Bengals for taking down the Steelers last weekend.  Are the Steelers not as strong as we think they are, or are the Bengals a good team?  I'd say it's a little from both columns.  Not to take anything away from your boys, but, without a running game, the Steelers just aren't the same team.  Still, I think the Bengals are a better team than many people thought.  Of course, that means some devastating injury is coming within the next week.  You know this.  I apologize in advance.
Still, it will be hard to win the division if the Ravens keep playing like they have been.  Holy crap...that team could be terrifying.  It's still too early to make any huge judgments, but they're looking really good.  And I thought Flacco wouldn't be as good this year as he was last year.

The Broncos are also looking better than expected.  3-0.  I figured they would be a better team than anyone was saying they would be, but I didn't think they'd start the season 3-0.  They will probably fall a bit over the next month, but I still think this team can win at least 8 games (which may end up winning the division).

Let's do some NFL picks, shall we?

Chicago over Detroit - Congrats to the Lions for finally winning a game.  They're happy, as they should be.  But happiness won't stop Stafford from throwing 3 interceptions in this game.

Cincinnati over Cleveland - Do you remember that fantastic offensive match-up between these two teams a couple of years ago?  It seems like it took place forever ago.  The way both of these two teams are playing, Cincinnati should be up by at least 10 at the half (and that's a conservative estimate).

Indianapolis over Seattle - I like Seneca Wallace.  I really do.  I trade for him in Madden, and I truly believe that he's one of the better back-ups in the league.  Still, he doesn't play defense.  The Seahawks will get shredded in this game.

New York Giants over Kansas City - This game will be out of hand by the end of the half.  I feel bad that this game is in Kansas City.  I hope those poor people are able to get a refund.

Baltimore over New England - New England looked better against Atlanta than they have all season...but Brady still looks a little tenative.  That won't stop against the Ravens.  He'll miss some throws, and they'll prove to be huge.  I think Flacco will come down to earth a little in this game, but he'll do enough to win.

Washington over Tampa Bay - And for one week, the Redskins look like a good team.  Or, at the very least, a halfway decent one.  This game will be ridiculously boring.

Tennessee over Jacksonville - Just because.  It should be a close game, but I see the Titans coming out the victors in this game.  1-3 baby!

Houston over Oakland - An ugly game for the Texans, but an uglier game for the Raiders.  Russell will complete 55% of his passes, but will throw a couple of interceptions, and that will be the difference.

New Orleans over New York Jets - Two teams that I'm not quite sure what to think about.  I have a hard time believing either team is as good as they have looked.  New Orleans has looked otherworldly on offense (although they looked a little more normal last weekend), and I don't believe they can keep it up for an entire season.  I also don't believe that Mark Sanchez is as good as he has looked...mainly because I never thought he looked that good in college.  At the end of this game, one of them will be 4-0, and I believe that will be the Saints.  Should be a good game.

Miami over Buffalo - I have a good feeling about Chad Henne.  I do not have a good feeling about the Bills...which is really a shame.  I would love for them to be successful in the no-huddle offense.  It would feel like the early-to-mid-90s all over again.  Also, I have Lee Evans on my fantasy team, and he's killing me right now.

San Francisco over St. Louis - The 49ers are looking like they could be for real.  The Rams do not.  The only real weapon they have is Steven Jackson, and the 49ers have done a fantastic job at shutting down the run this year.

Denver over Dallas - I may just ride this Broncos team until they lose.  Their defense is looking good, and their offense does just enough to win.  The way the Cowboys have looked the past couple of weeks, I'd say the Broncos should be able to force a couple of turnovers, and that will swing the tide in their favor.

Pittsburgh over San Diego - This may be a really good game...or we could see another terrible coaching mismatch, with Norv Turner on the losing end.  I wouldn't be surprised either way.

Green Bay over Minnesota - I'm not looking forward to seeing Favre playing against the Packers, but this should be a good game.  I see Rodgers passing a ton early in this game, followed by a heavy dose of Ryan Grant.  It should be fun.