Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell to Coach Brooks, and more

The Urban Meyer story keeps getting deeper and deeper. Now it's being revealed his wife called 911 after Meyer complained of chest pains and his side tingling. You can never tell how healthy someone is by looking at him, but if you heard of a college coach complaining of chest pains, wouldn't you bet it was Charlie Weis or Mark Mangino? Meyer seems to be in great shape and the news is a little disheartening. I can't imagine how his family feels about him coming back. What seems strange is that he's going to see how he feels over the next few months and then decide when he comes back. Most of Florida's recruiting has been done and the season is over. Of course, the summer is going to be easy. I'd really hate to see him come back too soon and seriously jeopardize his health.

No thanks to Mike Leach at UK. He's a good coach and even has some ties to UK as he was an assistant under Hal Mumme, but I'd rather not. First, Texas Tech is not a school known for its great football teams. Leach had some success but he's surrounded by it. At Tech, he was getting the leftovers from Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M and still making due. In Kentucky the pickings are slim in the high school football world. Second, from the "fat little girlfriend" comment and locking a player in the electrical closet, I don't think UK can afford to take a chance on another Texas coach with questionable character. No word on if Leach is as partial to the booze as Bill Gillispie was. Third, UK has a coach in Joker Phillips. I'm not a big fan of the "Coach in Waiting" thing, but if you make the move, you have to honor it. Who knows how Phillips will work out, but you have to give him a chance.

If the Music City Bowl was Rich Brooks last game, I really hate that he went out like that. The team looked uninspired on the field and made questionable moves off it. Derrick Locke walked off the field with plenty of time left and was in the tunnel well before the game was close to ending. There was also some talk that he was considering going pro. A 5'9 running back coming off a major knee injury who has never had a 1,000 yard season in college? High demand for those Derrick! Morgan Newton called out the coaching staff for not letting him take more shots downfield. Uh, Morgan, that's because you overthrow enough receivers to make Jamarcus Russell blush. At the Mississippi State game, a guy in my section and I figured out that Newton doesn't move his head after the snap. Whatever direction his head is in is where the ball is going and that's that. He usually won't check the receiver behind him because he already has his mind made u. That's kind of a big problem if you're a quarterback. People are in such a rush to get rid of Brooks that they forget what he's done. They knock him for not being able to get UK to the next level and compete for a SEC title. Never mind the fact we routinely won 2-3 games before he came here. He took us from the 2-3 win seasons to 7-8 win seasons, and now its up to Joker Phillips to take us from there, should Brooks step down. I, for one, appreciate all Coach Brooks has done for Wildcat football. He took possibly the worst team in the toughest conference in the nation, to a respectable place despite being given hardly any assets when he inherited the job. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed Coach.

I love the Woodley story. He and James Harrison must have some great conversations over dinner. Yes Lamarr, the Patriots and Bengals, both division winners, are game planning to avoid an 8-7 team. You got us. The jig is up. My favorite part was the, "Once we get into the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers is a playoff team." Besides Lamarr saying, "The Steelers is a playoff team", isn't every team that makes the playoffs a playoff team? Isn't that usually how it works? Also, you need our help to even get in, so maybe you cool it with the "Once we get in..." talk. I love when athletes say things.

I'm glad you're enjoying you're class and in case you were wondering, no I haven't seen one movie you listed. Though I did watch The Hangover and Stepbrothers again over the break. I like to keep my priorities in order.

This last topic may hit near and dear to your hurt, but here it goes: Why doesn't Brett Favre get more pub as being a bad teammate? He holds teams hostage in the offseason, and I know the media blows it up, but the fact is that Favre loves it. He wants to be chased and is delighted when the media obliges. He's been aloof from teammates from quite some time. He dressed in a different room from his teammates in his later years in Green Bay and New York. Barry Bonds did the same and is blasted as being a selfish cancer. He undermines his coaches and audibles out of plays, usually into a pass, and has apparently done so for years. The Packers don't miss him. The Jets don't miss him. The Vikings have a very good shot at being the third team that he's left on bad terms. He's the white Shaq. His talent has held up better toward the tail end at their career's, but both are insecure to a fault. Each has left more than one team in less than a pleasant way and each of their previous team's had some success in the seasons following their departure. At least Shaq had a great relationship with the media to delay people finding out he's not a good person, but I don't sense Favre has that. Why doesn't he get more pub as being a team cancer?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tupac, Urban, Packers, and Horror Movies

I don't have a huge beef with Biggie.  But, since Tupac and Biggie were both partially defined by their rivalry, I figured that a side should be taken.  I don't feel that way about every rivalry, but that's how I feel about this one. When I stack up both artists, I just like Tupac better.  I like more of his songs.  Also, I'm not a huge fan of Biggie's voice, which is a major point when picking one of the two.
That's not to say I don't like Biggie at all...I just prefer Tupac.  And, if Tupac were still around today (I'm not entirely convinced that he's dead), I think he would be happy about this.

I'm conflicted on this whole Urban Meyer thing.  On the one hand, I was really freaking out when he announced that he was leaving.  Who would replace him?  I didn't want a second-rate coach coming in and throwing away a great era (I think Brantley is going to be terrific).  But, at the same time, I didn't want him putting his life on the line just to coach Florida.  After reading his statement, I was kind of depressed, but I also felt that he was making the right choice for his life.
When he announced the next day that he was taking a leave (and not retiring), I was happy that he would be coming back...but I was also worried that he was endangering his life just to come back and coach.  I love having him at Florida, but I don't want his life (and the life of his family) to be negatively impacted by his decision.  It seems like he's going to step away, and, if he feels well enough to coach next year, he'll come back.  But I'm afraid that he'll come back and coach, whether he feels good or not.  Like I said, I'm conflicted.

What's your take on this Mike Leach situation?  Would you want him at Kentucky?

The Packers clinched a playoff spot this past weekend, and I could not be happier about it.  At the same time the Packers were killing the Seahawks, the Panthers were killing the Giants.  It was a great feeling, knowing that we wouldn't have to wait for another week.  Granted, I believe we would have beat the Cardinals this weekend regardless, but it's nice having a stress-free week.  Once the playoffs start, I'll be stressed out every week.  It'll be nice to have a little break this week.

Your Bengals clinched, too.  Congrats.  I hope they're able to pull the offense together and make some noise in the playoffs.  I'll be cheering for them.

Speaking of playoffs, I love this story.  I love the idea of a member of an underperforming team who needs help to make the playoffs talking trash to teams who have clinched playoff spots.  What's the point?  There's only a slim chance that the Steelers will make the playoffs, which means there's only a slim chance that he'll be able to back up his talk.

I'm taking a winter class.  It's a pretty fun class (History of Horror Movies, 1960-1994), but it's pretty time-consuming.  I have this week off, which is great.  I'm watching the Cavs/Hawks game right now (it's shocking how bad Shaq is at free throw shooting, even after all these years), with a goal to finish the 4th season of Dexter by the end of the week.  It's looking good so far.
And, in case you're curious, here's a rundown of my class.  It's 4 hours a day.  In the first two hours, we watch a movie.  In the second two hours, we talk about the movie.  There's quite a bit of reading to do, as well.  It's not terrible, but it's pretty time consuming.
Here is a list of the movies we're watching:
1. Psycho
2. Night of the Living Dead
3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
4. Carrie
5. Halloween
6. The Fly
7. Near Dark
8. Evil Dead II
9. Candyman
10. Wes Craven's New Nightmare

You're really missing out.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tupac, Urban Meyer and Picks

My thoughts on Tupac? I like him but don't love him. Like you said, I like a good bit of his songs, but but there are a lot of "eh" ones. His ear for beats wasn't necessarily a good one and I think that contributes to the dated sound of his music you referred too. I think he his influence in the West Coast vs. East Coast beef, passion on the mic (Especially when compared to the guys rapping when he was in his prime: Jay-Z, Nas, Snoop Dogg, all good rappers but I wouldn't describe their delivery as passionate) and the early death thing help him a lot. I will say that I enjoy Tupac the actor possibly more than Tupac the rapper. Your answer leads me to another question. You said, "Still, I definitely like Tupac better than the Notorious B.I.G., and that's all that really matters." Not a fan of his at all? What's your beef with Biggie?

With all that goes on in sports, it takes quite a bit to shock me anymore. Urban Meyer resigning shocked me. In this TMZ culture, this story normally would have leaked days ago, and if it did I didn't hear about it. I'm glad to hear that his "condition" isn't life-threatening but a 45 year old stepping down from a powerhouse out of nowhere seems fishy, no? A Tebow-Meyer- Tiger Woods threesome or some recruiting scandal has to come out of this doesn't it? Why would he do it right a couple of weeks before the bowl game? This news couldn't wait two more weeks? How pissed is Charlie Strong, former defensive coordinator of the Gators who just left for Louisville? He could have taken over this team instead of the floundering Cardinals. Surely Meyer could have given him a heads up to wait it out on the Louisville job. I know you're a Gator fan and all, but I'm really hoping Charlie Weis gets the job. Here's to hoping.

Now for some picks.

UK over Clemson- The Cats faced Clemson in the Music City Bowl my first year of college. They face them again in my last year and I expect similar results. I don't know much about Clemson but I know they didn't play so well in non-conference games and lost to their only SEC opponent, South Carolina. A couple of weeks off will do the Cats good and I expect Randall Cobb to have a good game. Cats win.

Atlanta over Buffalo-I'd love for Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson to call this game. After their banner work at the SEC Championship, I'm sure the Matt Ryan-Ryan Fitzpatrick name thing would give them no trouble. My favorite part in that whole video is Lundquist mentioning Tebow is 39-5 as Florida's starting QB...and then saying this is Tebow's 40th career start.

Cincy over Kansas City- I'm a little nervous for this game but I think we handle business here. A win gets us the division and the offense looked alive last week. Larry Johnson should see a good bit of carries here.

Oakland over Cleveland- Charlie Frye is obviously not the QB of the future for the Raiders. Jamarcus Russell threw the game winning touchdown last week. Why are you not starting Russell? They can't trade/cut him after the season because the cap hit will be too large. Why not give him another chance with nothing to play for?

Green Bay over Seattle- While watching the last drive, I was thinking the same thing you said: You can't rush three against Roethlisberger in a situation like this. It seemed like he had 20 chances on that last drive, and it seemed like not once did GB get any real pressure. You can't do that against a QB like Roethlisberger. Nonetheless, GB bounces back with a win here.

Pittsburgh over Baltimore- A Baltimore loss gives us the AFC North, but I'd much rather face Baltimore for a third time than the Steelers. This game has no winner.

Miami over Houston- I'd really like to face Miami in the playoffs so I'm hoping for them to win. We stop the run well and that's almost all they do. Henne would be making his first playoff start...on the Cincy, a place that will be rocking come playoff time. C'mon Dolphins! Isn't it about time Mercury Morris come out of whatever hole he's been living in to annoy us all?

New Orleans over Tampa Bay- Of course I pick against Tampa Bay last week and they won. No such luck this week fellas.

NY Giants over Carolina- I still haven't quite given up on the Giant's playoffs chances yet.

San Fran over Detroit- I don't get San Fran. They have an average QB, good running game, two receiving threats in Crabtree and Davis, a solid D and they play in the worst division in any sport. Why are they 6-8? 6 of their 8 losses have been by a touchdown or less. I'm calling it right now: America will soon anoint the 49ers as the sleeper team of 2010.

Arizona over St. Louis- Arizona will beat the Rams just like they did the 4 other times they faced each other this season.

Indy over NY Jets- With New Orleans falling, the Colts have to lose. They can't go into the playoffs undefeated. With the Jets and Bills left it looks like they will. I still can't believe they are 14-0. Have you watched this Colts team once and said, "Man those guys are unstoppable." I haven't. I said it with the New England team from two years ago but this Colts team is very flawed.

Philly over Denver- I have nothing to say for this game so I'm going to dust off the soap box. Mike Vick won the Eagles Courageous Man of the Year award or something like that. It was a unanimous vote by his teammates, yet PETA disagreed and wrote a letter to say so. I hate PETA. Hate them. I don't like or dislike animals, but I hate PETA and wish all the bad things in life would happen to them and only them. Vick served his debt to society, he's been a model citizen this far and his teammates voted to give him a meaningless award. It's not the Nobel Peace Prize, it's an award that no one will remember next year. Just leave him alone or go die a fiery death. Your choice. Thank you.

Dallas over Washington- I agree with you and can absolutely see Dallas overlooking this game, but with the way the Skins played the Giants, I can't pick them. I just can't do it.

Minnesota over Chicago- Now things get interesting with Favre! About damn time! If anyone should be complaining, it's Adrian Peterson. He should have 25 touchdowns right now, but the Vikes throw it more on first and goal than any team I've ever seen. On the other side of the field, when Cutler throws his 30th interception, can he hold a sign with "30" on it like Wilt Chamberlain did with his 100 point game? Please?

Ron Artest tripped over a box, fell down the steps, hurt his left elbow and concussed himself. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

NFL Picks, Tupac

We had a blast in Pittsburgh last weekend.  Our seats were nosebleed, but they were still fantastic.  We could see the entire field, and I feel like we could see it pretty clearly.  The stadium was terrific.  I loved it.  The fans were great, too.  We were decked out in our Packers gear, and, while some people yelled at us a little, it was all in good fun.  Here is my favorite interaction, which happened after the game:

Steelers fan: (Screaming and pointing at us) YAAAAAAHHH!  Merry Christmas!!!!
Me:  (Looking down and mumbling) Thanks.
Steelers fan: Seriously though...good luck in the playoffs.

That killed me.
It would have been a perfect trip if we had won.  Still, we had a good time.  It was a close, competitive game.  A couple things that killed us:

- Crosby's missed 34 yard field goal.  Holy crap.  You can never look back and say, "This would've won it," because you're never quite sure how the game would have unfolded if he had made it.  Still, that was a huge miss.  I know that Heinz Field isn't the best place to kick in, but 34 yards?  C'mon have to make that.  He's been struggling this year.  He really needs to pull it together.  Fast.
- Our pass defense.  Yikes.  Part of it was execution (there's no reason Bush should ever be on the field for us again, at least not without safety help.  Or unless he's blitzing.  No more one-on-one coverage for him), but part of it was the game plan.  The Steelers got the ball deep in their own territory with 2:01 remaining in the game and 1 timeout.  Here's something we all know about Roethlisberger: he holds the ball for too long.  What do you do in a situation like that?  Why, you bring pressure.  Instead, we rushed three men for the entire drive, and hoped our coverage would hold.  It didn't.  We lost.  That really bothers me...and it's not just this game or this Packers team.  Through the years, I have watched teams get pressure the entire game and be effective with it, yet, when the game came down to the wire, they hold back and hope their coverage holds.  Why?  Why change something that had been working?  I just don't get it.
- The refs.  I hate blaming the refs, but they sometimes come up huge in big moments.  For the most part, this was a really loosely called game.  Very few flags were thrown, which was extremely nice.  Yet, on the last drive, it seemed like there was a flag on every play.  Why would you call a loose game, then clamp down in the biggest moment?  Here was the worst call: there was a sack on Roethlisberger with less than a minute to go.  The Steelers had 1 timeout left.  They would have had to burn that timeout, or let the clock run.  Five seconds after the play was over, a flag comes in from a side of the field where there were no players for either team.  Illegal contact.  First down.  Boo.

Still, all-in-all, we had a great time.  If the Packers go on and make the playoffs (which they should), I'll go back and watch the game.  If they fall apart and don't make it to the playoffs, I don't know if I'll ever be able to watch that game.  Also, with the way the Tigers season ended, I don't know how I would react if the Packers missed the playoffs.  It would be sad times in the Evely household.

Some picks:

Atlanta over Buffalo - This game will be ridiculously boring.

Cincinnati over Kansas City - It's been a rough couple of weeks for the Bengals and their fans.  This is exactly what they need.

Oakland over Cleveland - Charlie Frye comes back for revenge.  It's been kind of interesting watching these teams lately.  They've been playing harder and their games have been more competitive.  It's a bit late in the season to start that, but it's nice seeing them play better.  Still, I don't think this game will be fun to watch.

Green Bay over Seattle - I'm looking forward to this one.  Let's beat the pants off the Seahawks and watch the Giants lose at the same time.

Pittsburgh over Baltimore - These games are usually pretty good.  The Steelers came up short in overtime the last time they met.  They'll win this time.

Houston over Miami - It's the end of the season.  The Texans need to show enough so that everyone will make them their dark-horse pick for next year.  They're like the Cardinals have been for so many years.  The Dolphins have been playing well, but I can see Henne throwing a couple of picks in the second half.

New Orleans over Tampa Bay - The frustration from the Dallas game last week will come pouring out here.  Sorry Bucs.

Carolina over New York Giants - This may just be wishful thinking, but the Panthers have been playing better lately.  Their defense has come alive, and Matt Moore is looking a little better.  Also, after the monster game the Giants had last week, they're due for a letdown.

San Francisco over Detroit - Alex Smith is desperate to keep his job for next year.  Good thing the Lions are in town.

Arizona over St. Louis - Blah.

Indianapolis over New York Jets - I've picked against the Colts for a long time.  By picking them to win this game, I'm hoping they'll lose.  Of course, with Sanchez throwing interceptions left and right, it may be pretty hard for the Colts to lose this one.

Philadelphia over Denver - Philly is looking good.  The Broncos are not.  Easy pick.

Washington over Dallas - The Cowboys played a great game to beat the Saints.  The Redskins played a terrible game and got killed by the Giants.  Up until last week, the Redskins had been pretty competitive for a while.  I can see the Cowboys coming into this game with a "We got this" mentality, then losing a close one.

Minnesota over Chicago - Can we take bets on how many interceptions Cutler will throw?  I would bet he throws 4, which will bring his season total to 29.  C'mon Cutler...let's hit 30!

You asked my thoughts about Tupac.  After listening through a bunch of his stuff recently, I think I have my answer.  I love a handful of songs.  I like some songs.  I 'm indifferent about the rest.  I respect what he has done for hip-hop, but I just don't listen to him that often.  I don't think he was as influential as Public Enemy or N.W.A., but I know that he did influence a lot of artists.  He has a number of songs that sound pretty dated, and that's a little distracting.  Still, I definitely like Tupac better than the Notorious B.I.G., and that's all that really matters.
At the end of the day, though, Tupac is pretty far down the list of artists I want to listen to.
How about you?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Music talk and Charles Oakley

First things first, do yourself a favor and check out this if you haven't already. This guy pretty much has every picture Sports Illustrated has ever taken, and there are some great shots there. Like this one:

Why, yes that is Charles Oakley washing his car in purple pants with what appears to be a push broom.

My Bengals and your Packers both put up good efforts on the road this week, but both came up short. We played a good game aside from perhaps the worst 4 minute stretch I've ever seen in my life during the third quarter. It went something like this:

-We punted on a 4th and inches at SD's 40. Of course the punt went into the end zone so we had a net of 20 yards. Fantastic.
-The D actually played well and forced SD to punt. Our first play after that was picked off.
-SD's second play was a touchdown to Vincent Jackson on a blown coverage that left him almost wide open.
-We get the ball back. First play-false start. Second play-12 men on the field. Third play-Delay of game. Faced with 1st and 25 odds, we went 3 and out. Go figure.

That was the stretch that lost us the game. Other than that, the offense looked alive and we opened up the playbook and had some success. If we keep playing like that, we'll be fine.

The Packers on the other hand. Eek. I'm sorry. I know the pain of losing a game on a last second flukish play. It hurts. If it's any consolation, the pain never goes away. Ever.

I found myself watching the series premiere of "The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty". Don't ask why. Jermaine Jackson alone is worth the price of admission. He's incredibly full of himself, which is funny until it becomes sad. A 55 year old man has no business popping the collar of every, or any, shirt he owns. He also keeps a scarf around his neck for those frigid Los Angeles summers. He's the shiniest man I've ever seen and I'm pretty sure his hair is crudely formed out some form of satin or silk. He suggested opening up the Jackson Four's next tour with some of his solo work. He doesn't put on his own shoes: His wife gets that privilege. I can see him getting a show of his own after this one...and I'd watch that too.

Are you a Tupac fan? You and I have talked quite a bit of music but I don't think he's ever come up. He's like the hip hop version of The Beatles in the sense that if you tell someone you don't listen to him, it's almost grounds for a fistfight. I like him but I think I've only got two or three songs of his in my tunes. Are you a fan?

Have you watched the Lakers play this year? They are truly frightening. Everyone else is playing for second place because barring injury, no team is beating the Lakers four times in seven tries. The worst thing is, I don't know if they've hit their peak yet. They've realized that Sasha Vujacic brings nothing to the table so Shannon Brown is getting his old minutes. Artest is doing exactly what they need him to do. Bynum is healthy and producing...for now. Gasol is still criminally underrated and Kobe is Kobe. I haven't did quite a 180 degree turn on Kobe just yet. I'm at about 150. I used to hate him because I was a forever loyal Shaq fan. I'm off that bandwagon after realizing that Shaq has had beef with every team he has ever played on. I haven't forgotten about Kobe throwing teammates under the bus or whining for every call, hence me being stuck at 150. Still, I have no choice but to respect a guy that became the best at what he does because he worked hard enough for it. Watching him play is something else and I'm trying to enjoy the final years of one of the best this league has ever seen.

Again, thanks for the albums. I'm making my way through them and here are my thoughts on them thus far:

Kid Cudi- Extremely up and down. I had some songs I really liked and some that I could barely make it through. A solid debut album nonetheless.

Brother Ali- I had heard of him but never heard his music before. I really enjoyed this one. The production was great and his lyrics were a nice break from what is heard on the radio.

NASA- A couple of good songs (The Mayor, Gifted, NASA Music) but other than those, ehh. Not a bad album, I just couldn't get into it. I'll give it another listen.

Sam Cooke- I'm about halfway through it and enjoying it. All the songs are brief and get straight to the point. I am a bit worried about our old pal Sam. He has an eye for the underaged women and he's incredibly whipped. Is there any way a guy comes out today with songs along the lines of "Lovable", "I Love You" and "Win Your Love for Me", and isn't laughed at? I know it was a different era, but Sam, have some dignity friend. What a voice though. As a man with no singing abilities, I'd kill for a voice like Cooke, young Frankie Lymon or even Michael McDonald. Especially McDonald.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Some quick picks

Patriots over Bills- The Patriots are 1-5 on the road, but I think they do enough to pull out the win here.

Cardinals over Lions- You called it last week on the Cards rolling over. They bounce back here in a big way.

Titans over Dolphins- VY's hammy is healed and Chris Johnson is still going for 2,000 yards. I need a Miami win here, because I want no part of the Titans in the playoffs.

Browns over Chiefs- The Browns are 1-6 on the road. The Chiefs are 1-6 at home. Still, I can see a surprisingly good game like the Browns-Lions game a few weeks back. I've defended bad- average QB's all season starting with Jamarcus Russell and Jason Campbell. This week: Brady Quinn. I don't think he's that bad. His only 2 interceptions since he regained the starting job 5 games ago, were those bobbled balls against the Ravens. I don't know if he's a future Pro Bowler, but I think the Browns would be making a mistake to take Jimmy Clausen or any QB high in the draft this year. Also, what gives with the talks of Mangini being let go already? I'm no fan of his work, but I think if you hire a coach in any sport, you have to give him at least 3 years to get things going.

Texans over Rams- Now the Rams are a team that needs to be looking at a QB ASAP. The Texans dominate here.

Falcons- I had no idea the Jets had crept back into playoff contention. Can't have that. I see Sanchez having a 4 turnover game.

Bengals over Chargers- I have no idea how to pick this game and no outcome would surprise me. Before Chris Henry died, I had no doubt the Chargers would destroy us. Now, I have no clue. I could see a close game, SD blowing us out or Cincy coming out of the gate strong and not letting up. I can't pick against the team with the emotional chip on their shoulders so I'm going with Cincy.

Broncos over Raiders- With Charlie Frye starting, I think the Jamarcus Russell era in Oakland is officially over.

Eagles over 49ers- It's Christmas time meaning it's time the Eagles string together a great stretch of games and again trick people into believing they are Super Bowl contenders.

Packers over Steelers- This should be a great game. GB's line is playing better and Rodgers seems to be getting rid of the ball quicker which negates Pitt's biggest strength. Pitt's biggest weakness is their inability to stop the pass without Troy Polamalu. Rodgers has a good game and Greg Jennings finally gets into the end zone...before it's called back for holding. Damn Jennings. Have a blast at the game but avoid rooting openly for the Pack. Those Steelers fans are nothing nice.

Seahawks over Bucs- I had been riding the Josh Freeman train the last couple of weeks for no good reason. Fool me once, shame on you Freeman. Fool me four weeks straight, shame on me.

Bears over Ravens- I had never seen this picture before but doesn't it sum up Cutler's season in Chicago?Doesn't he look just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story holding up the deranged Easter Bunny costume? If Chicago wins, Cincy clinches the division so I'll be rooting for the Bears but I don't expect much out of them.

Vikings over Panthers- I have nothing for this game. Absolutely nothing. Vikes win.

Redskins over Giants- Jason Campbell has been looking good recently and the Skins have been playing hard. I keep waiting for this Giants team to turn it on and every week I'm left wanting.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

RIP Chris Henry

Wow. That's all I've got. I honestly can't wrap my head around the situation yet and I won't be able to for a while. I keep thinking his injuries have ended his career but he'll be OK and when he recovers he'll come out at the playoff game and get a standing ovation. It's not going to happen. This one hurts. I remember after Michael Jackson's death, you and I discussed the deaths of people that would shake us up and we both agreed that the death of any player on our favorite teams would shake us up. Done and done. Without having ever met him, I feel like I've lost a friend so I can't imagine what his teammates and especially his family are going through at this point.

Watching him develop as a player and a man was really something to see. I watched Henry bust on the scene as a rookie, and Bengal Nation was ecstatic about the potential he had. He had a good sophomore season and then his legal troubles got the best of him. It appeared he would never learn his lesson but I'm convinced he did. This interview told me all I needed to know about him changing, but he didn't just talk the talk. He gave up old friends, committed himself to football and family and even went to stay with Carson Palmer over the summer to work on his game and keep his head straight. It showed too. During "Hard Knocks" he was always toward the center of the huddle and had developed into more than just a deep threat. He was turning into a complete receiver, and even a role model for some of the younger guys on the team.

I really hate this for his family and fiance`. Homicide detectives are already investigating what might have happened, and no one will ever really know. Was she running from an abusive Chris Henry? Plausible, but I highly doubt this. With all his legal trouble, domestic violence was never among them and this woman had been with him through every arrest. Did she know he was on the truck and swerve to throw him off? Did she never realize he was on the truck and kept going oblivious to the fact Henry had fallen off? We don't know and I'm not sure if we ever will. I do know that three young children lost a father today and could potentially lose their mother if criminal charges come to fruition. The Henry family lost a young man that had turned his life around by all accounts. The NFL lost a good, young player that had potential for great things. The Bengals organization lost a brother today. I leave you with this clip of Chad Johnson talking about Henry. You may need a tissue or two.

RIP Slim, you will be missed.

Holy Crap

Chris Henry Dead at 26.

I know this guy was troubled and everything, but this is still shocking and ridiculously sad.  Details are sketchy, but it looks like he got in a fight with his fiancee.  When she got in the truck to leave, he jumped in the back, and, at some point, came flying out.  He was in the hospital last night with "life-threatening injuries", and he died this morning.

Really sad stuff.  My prayers go out to the Henry family.

And how about that Bengals team?  First Zimmer's wife dies, now Chris Henry.  Let's hope they make it through the rest of the season (and post-season) unscathed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NFL Picks and Heisman Talk

In my last attempt to console you about the Granderson trade, I've come up with this: At least this guy isn't rooting for him.

It's a bit blurry, but that is in fact our old pal Dane Cook in all his Red Sox glory. At least Curtis has that going for him. Doesn't Cook being a Sox fan make too much sense? If you had no idea where he was from, and had to guess what team he had pledged allegiance to, wouldn't the Red Sox/Celtics be your first guess?

For some strange reason I found myself watching "BASEketball" last night, and it was surprisingly funny. I remember watching it when it came out in 1998 and it has held up somewhat. A scene that I had forgotten all about was during a scene where Bob Costas and Al Michaels were calling the game.

Costas: It's hard to believe that 5 years ago this was played in backyards.
Michaels: It's also hard to believe that those cheerleaders were in grade school just 5 years ago. *Licks lips*

Cracked me up.

To no one's surprise, Brian Kelly jumped off of the Cincinnati bandwagon and onto the Notre Dame one. As soon as Kelly played the, "I'm not hear to talk about Notre Dame. I'm here to talk about Florida" card, I knew he was as good as gone. What kills me about this is that only a couple days before he held a meeting just for his players to tell them he was staying. 48 hours he called another meeting to say he was leaving. Many players walked out and I can't blame them a bit. Have you seen any interviews with the UC players? Those guys are pissed and rightfully so. It makes no sense that coaches, especially in college basketball and football, can just jump from job to job with no repercussion. Can you imagine what would happen if during Wild Card weekend, Sean Payton decided to take the Bears job to get back to his Illinois roots? People would be outraged! I don't know how to remedy it but being forced to give up the signing bonus and 25% percent of the salary earned from the previous school is a start. I mentioned to you that I was tempted to pick Cincy over Florida in their bowl game because most of the Gators may roll over during the game after losing to Bama. Now I'm definitely picking UC. Those guys have two chips on their shoulders: Proving they belong in the title talk and showing up Brian Kelly. The Bearcars will shock the Gators.

I was thrilled to find out that Orlando would be on TV both Thursday and Friday night. Thursday night they played at Utah and started off hot. They jumped to an 18 point lead in the second quarter but it was cut to 8 by halftime. We fell in love with the three and it killed us. Yet again we neglected Dwight to jack up bad shot after bad shot. After a while the bad shots and lack of hustle made me physically ill so I cut the game off. The only thing that made me feel better was coming back in time for the post game coverage with EJ, Barkley, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber. One of the first things that CWebb pointed out was that Dwight Howard is only getting 9 shots a game. He's been reading the blog! Everyone agreed that he needed more shots and Kenny Smith went a little further. He pointed out that Young Shaq didn't really have any post moves, but so few centers could exploit him, that he just bullied his way to buckets. Same thing with Dwight. Few centers can handle him one on one, and Mehmet Okur is not one of those guys. Dwight had 8 points in the first quarter, yet only 10 points on 8 shots for the rest of the game.

Of course the next night against Phoenix, Orlando would surely learn their lesson, right? Dwight roared out of the gate and didn't miss a shot all game. Naturally he only got one shot. Yep, 1-1 on the entire night, and that was in the first quarter. He went to the line 17 times, so he was getting some touches but they were much too late. By the time he got the ball, the defense was in a position to wrap him up and prevent him from getting the shot off. Channing Frye guarded Dwight on his own for most of the game because he knew he wouldn't get the ball. I credit good help defense and timely double teams by Phoenix, but Dwight isn't the only good center in the league. Other big men get doubled and still get more than 1 field goal attempt a game. Dwight is getting visibly frustrated but he isn't voicing his concerns so I will give him credit. How many "Mike Brown is stupid" related tweets would be sent out if Shaq ever got one field goal attempt in a game?

Kentucky beat Indiana today behind great games by Patrick Patterson and Eric Bledsoe. John Wall did most of his damage in the first half and cooled off but a line of 11 points, 7 boards, 8 assists and one turnover is still a good game. UK made it through a relatively tough stretch of game undefeated and now get to flex their muscles against the likes of Austin Peay, Drexel, Long Beach State and Hartford. If you need a cheap laugh concerning the John Wall mania, look no further.

Cheap laughs galore.

Now for some picks.

New Orleans over Atlanta- I too, am tempted to pick against the Saints. However, Matt Ryan and Michael Turner are questionable for the game and they weren't exactly playing lights out when they were healthy. I'll go with the Saints here.

Green Bay over Chicago- The streak continues. I have seen Matthews and he is a force. It's crazy how all three of USC's linebacker's from last year (Matthews, Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing) are all making some hay in their rookie years. I spoke to Jay Cutler and he said 20 interceptions just isn't enough. There are 4 games left and he'd like to be the first to get to 30 since Denny McLain. I was going to explain to Jay that McClain played an entirely different sport, but decided against it.

Tampa Bay over New York Jets- Josh Freeman seems to have a good game every other week. Last week he was terrible, so this week he goes for 3 touchdowns and no turnovers.

Miami over Jacksonville- The Bengals could potentially play one of these teams in the first round and I think I'd rather see Miami, so I'll go with them.

Detroit over Baltimire- I'm rooting like hell for Detroit because after Pittsburgh's loss, a Ravens loss would give Cincy the division. This is an open audition for Culpepper because he's not going to find work in Detroit. I think he has a decent game.

Seattle over Houston- The Seahawks are so excited to be playing against a team from outside of the NFC West, that they actually show up ready to play.

Indy over Denver- I was ready to pick Denver until I saw you picked against the Colts yet again. Give me Indy.

Buffalo over Kansas City- Good thing the Chiefs are only paying Cassel 63 million to sit on the bench.

Minnesota over Cincinnati- I know, I know. I'm just not impressed with the way we've been playing lately on offense. I think our D can do a respectable job on Peterson and I like our corners against Minn's WR's. Its the offense that concerns me. Our pass blocking has looked shabby lately and Palmer has been average at best. Maybe this is the game he snaps out of it. I hope so.

New England over Carolina- Is Randy Moss' beard made of actual moss? It looks a bit like felt from a distance.

Washington over Oakland- Gradkowski and Campbell both looked great last week. This week there can only be one. I'm going with Campbell.

Tennessee over St. Louis- Even in a loss last week, VY and CJ still looked good. They start another winning streak here.

Dallas over San Diego- Man I need a Dallas win here to keep San Diego out of the #2 spot. Philip Rivers is quietly having another great year. Still, I can't help but wonder where San Diego would be if they kept Brees and used that #4 pick on a guy like Sean Taylor (tragedy aside) or Roy Williams, when he was decent.

NY Giants over Philly- Never been a big Andy Reid fan but I loved him making Vick the captain for the Atlanta game and letting him score 2 TD's to boot. My favorite non-cleft chin related moment of the season.

Arizona over San Fran- I see Arizona going the opposite way and destroying San Fran in their 8th meeting of the season. I think they play again to close out the season as well.

The Heisman ceremony is on as I write, so I figured I'd cast my ballot:

1. Ndamukong Suh- If the award is for the best player in the country, he has to be it. Led his team in tackles, sacks, blocked three kicks and defended 10 passes as a DT. Of course, he'll finish 5th.
2. Toby Gerhart- Amazing numbers. 1700+ rushing yards, 26 touchdowns and his worst game this season consisted of 94 total yards. Also, isn't making a team like Stanford, not known for football prowess, 8-4 more impressive than being a cog in the Bama/Texas/Florida system that routinely wins 10 or 11 games? I say yes.
3. Mark Ingram- This award was his if he only had a decent game against Auburn. He had a really slow start due to Bama getting big leads and him being yanked in the 2nd or 3rd quarter.
4. Tim Tebow- His worst statistical year consisted of 31 total touchdowns and 12 wins. We could all be so lucky. He won't win but I still take my hat off to one of the better college players I've ever seen. He's up there with Michael Vick, Peter Warrick, Reggie Bush and a few more I'm sure I'm forgetting.
5. Colt McCoy- If he gets it this year, it's only a makeup for last year when his numbers were far superior. Every game I've seen from him has been underwhelming. I expect more of the same against Bama.

Granderson and NFL Picks

The Granderson trade has broken me.  I haven't been able to read a full article about it since the trade was finalized.  From what I've heard, we got a good package out of it...some good young players, a couple of who are able to start right away.  Still, I'm not even close to okay with this deal.  I've stated before in this space that Granderson is my favorite player.  He fit perfectly on Detroit.  I don't know how he's going to pan out in New York.  He's left handed, so playing in New York should boost his power numbers.  But he also strikes out a lot, and his average isn't great (he finished the year batting .249).  No one in Detroit cared too much about that, because everyone loved him.  In New York?  They'll boo wildly at things that were an annoyance to us.  I don't know what to hope for.  I want him to succeed, but, if he does, then he'll just be helping the Yankees.  If he fails, I'll feel terrible that such a great guy is being treat so horribly.  Either way, it's going to be a rough year.  I'm contemplating taking the year off from baseball...but I know that won't happen.

Let's hit some NFL Picks:

Atlanta over New Orleans - The Saints nearly lost to the Redskins in their last game.  The Falcons usually play them pretty close.  I'll take the upset.

Green Bay over Chicago - The offense is clicking and the defense is getting better every week.  This is a fun team to watch.  Speaking of which...have you seen Clay Matthews Jr. in action yet?  Holy crap...I love this guy.  He's a maniac.

New York Jets over Tampa Bay - With as bad as the Jets have looked this year, it's hard to believe that with a win here (and a Patriots loss), they'll be tied for the division lead.  That's ridiculous.

Jacksonville over Miami - Garrard will make some plays in the fourth quarter, and that will be the difference.

Baltimore over Detroit - Yes...I'm picking against Culpepper.

Houston over Seattle - Both of these teams are wildly inconsistent.  I can see the Texans having a huge game here and blowing out the Seahawks.

Denver over Indianapolis - I don't know why I keep picking the Colts to fall.  I'm pretty sure I've picked against them for the past 4 weeks.  Oh well...I'll do it again, I suppose.

Buffalo over Kansas City - Fitzpatrick!  Croyle!

Cincinnati over Minnesota - We may see the Bengals offense turning it up a notch to get this win.

New England over Carolina - If DeAngelo Williams was 100%, I'd be taking the Panthers here.  Also, I have to believe that the Patriots will stop this losing streak at some point.  Why not here?

Oakland over Washington - The game is in Oakland, and they've been playing pretty well lately (by "lately" I mean, "since they benched Russell").  Louis Murphy is having a pretty good run...he'll continue that here.

Tennessee over St. Louis - I would make this pick even if Kerry Collins has to start.

San Diego over Dallas - The Cowboys may be able to run all over the Chargers, but the Chargers will be able to throw all over the Cowboys.  Both teams should score in the mid-20s.

Philadelphia over New York Giants - The Giants defense just isn't what it used to be.

San Francisco over Arizona - It only makes sense that, after a huge win over the Vikings, the Cardinals come out and have an off game tonight.  That's the Cardinal way.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Marty Funkhouser, among other things

Finals week is upon us, so what better time to neglect my studies and drop my thoughts on a few things?

I'm sorry about the Granderson trade. I really am. As I mentioned earlier, at least you can attempt to find some solace in the fact that he has a legitimate chance at winning a World Series ring and now people outside of Detroit will know about him. Who knows, maybe he wilts under the pressure and is back in a Tiger uniform by the All-Star break. I really do hate the way the Yankees have taken things. Ideally, after winning a ring, you let your veterans go knowing that you have a grace period after just winning a ring. Not with New York. They keep re-signing old vets/trading for people instead of developing talent. I wish I could say that it will come back to haunt them when the old legs retire, but they'll just buy new ones. And so it goes.

If it makes you feel any better, LeBron James is still an ass. Surely you've heard about his case of dance fever against the Bulls. He was dancing while the ball was in play! There is no reason for that to be done, especially by someone of his status. This is why people had a problem with him not shaking hands with Orlando: It's OK to dance on someone's home court when you win, but as soon as you lose, you run out of the building and leave your teammates on their own. Watch out Garnett and Tomlinson, you've got some company in my All-time least favorite players. Can you imagine the backlash if Kobe was dancing on the sidelines as they beat up on the Timberwolves? I love the fact that Noah called him out on it. LeBron's response after the game?

"It's nothing against the Bulls and it's nothing against Joakim or none of those guys. It's nothing about showboating on a team. I've seen it happen all last year. I think he [Noah] was more frustrated about the way he played as an individual. He didn't help his team win."

Ugh. For a while you've been trying to find out what sports figure/team I hate and I always said I never had hate for anyone. Between Shaq and LeBron, the Cavaliers are knocking at the door. Shaq has been quiet this season so his next quip about Dwight or SVGundy will make it official.

Speaking of Dwight, he's really been playing some great ball lately. After his 25-11-5 assist, 7 block performance last night for his 24th birthday, I found myself thumbing through the points per game leaders in the NBA. What I found was appalling. A slow start has Dwight at 26th in the league with a little over 18 points per game. The appalling part is that he's only getting 9 shots a game! 9.5 to be exact. He's the only player in the top 60 to not get at least 11 shots a game. It's preposterous! Big men get less shots by nature, right? Wrong! David Lee and Andrew Bynum are getting 13 shots a game. Brook Lopez gets 14. Chris Kaman is getting 16 shots a game! If Dwight got 16 shots a game, his average would jump from about 18 to 26 a game, and that doesn't even include the increased trips to the free throw line he would get. In Shaq's sixth season, this is Dwight's 6th he was getting 19 shots a game! This season his corpse is getting 9 a game. Dwight is 4th on his own team in terms of field goal attempts a game! Maybe I'm going overboard because Orlando is in first place in the East with this system, but how can you expect a guy to get in the flow of the game when he's getting around 2 shots a quarter? In the past two seasons I counted the number of times Dwight had 20 shots in a game:

11-12-08- Oklahoma City- 12-20 FG, 30 points, 19 boards, 10 blocks. Won the game.
02-17-09- Charlotte- 16-23 FG, 45 points, 19 boards, 8 blocks. Won the game.
05-20-09- Cleveland (Playoffs)- 14-20 FG, 30 points, 13 boards. Won the game.
05-30-09- Cleveland (Playoffs) 14-21 FG, 40 points, 14 boards. Won the game.

I'm done bitching. I'll shut up now.

Your Packers and my Bengals have similar records, but seem to be on two different trajectories. The Bengals have played a cupcake schedule the past three weeks and came out 2-1. The other two games were dominated by Cincy, even if it doesn't reflect in the box score. There's been some talk of whether the Bengals are an elite team, or if they are just biding time until a first round playoff loss. I still feel good about this team for two reasons:
#1- We are winning games, but not blowing people out. I feel like we haven't tipped our hand too much and I feel like we haven't peeked yet. Our next two games at Minnesota and at San Diego are crucial. Winning both would be huge and would almost guarantee a first round bye. I'd settle for a hard fought game in Minnesota, but a win in San Diego is crucial.
#2- Every year analysts say the same things about winning in the playoffs. You have to be able to run the ball and stop the run to win games in the National Football League (Not to go all Jaworski on you). We can do both of those things. Even though Palmer has been disappointing this season, he's still the best "game manager" you could ask for with this conservative offense.

I know you have to be stoked about the Packers. In hindsight, that Tampa Bay game may have been what they needed because they are playing some good football. They will be a tough out in the playoffs and rest assured that New Orleans and Minnesota want no part of Green Bay.

I'm watching UK play UConn right now and the Cats are up 12-0. John Wall has 6 points, 3 steals and an assist in 3 and a half minutes of play. I can't say enough about him. He is the first player since I've been at UK where I watch him and think, "I must go see that guy play live." I did read something a little earlier in the week where Eric Bledsoe was asked about why he struggled when Wall left the North Carolina game due to cramps. Bledsoe said something to the effect of, "Every time I play, all I do is pass the ball to John." I know it has to be hard for Bledsoe, a top recruit in his own right, to watch Wall get all the points. I don't think it will be something to tear the team apart, but it will be worth keeping an eye on over the course of the season.

I know you can't stand Simmons voice, but do yourself a favor and check out his latest with Cousin Sal and Super Dave Osbourne aka Marty Funkhouser. Just listen to the last 15 minutes or so. Super Dave is out of his mind and it's apparent right off the bat.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Week 13 picks and Pretty Boy Floyd

I know you're not a boxing fan, but with the news of a Manny Pacquio-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight on the horizon, I figured I'd drop my thoughts on it. This is being billed as the fight that could save boxing from the current takeover of UFC/MMA. I don't know if it will be that big, but it will be a must see for boxing fans. Mayweather, or Money as friends call him, is one of the best of all time and is a boxer in every sense of the word. His defense and speed are unmatched and something that can't be simulated in sparring matches. Pacquio has been anointed the next great welterweight and has the knockout potential to bring in casual fans. I'm no boxing expert, but I have a feeling this fight will be a huge letdown. The styles just don't matchup. Most casual fans just want to see knockouts and that's not Floyd's game. His game is built around defense and precise punching. Pacquio is known for quick hands and powerful punches. Floyd is much too great of a defender to be put to sleep by a Pacquio punch. I see Floyd winning this one, quite easily, by decision and then retiring because he has no one else to fight. At the very least the "24/7" documentary chronicling each boxer's preparation should be classic.

I'm watching Orlando play Golden State and just heard the news that Greg Oden broke his left patella and is out for the season. I link the video because the whole thing is just devastating. The actual injury doesn't look bad but the looks on Oden's face, his teammates faces and the looks in the crowd are heartbreaking. He was finally turning it around and earning his keep and this happens. He seems like a good guy that just can't catch a break. Best wishes to him on a speedy recovery.

Marcin Gortat is apparently unhappy with his playing time. I'm not surprised it has come to this, and in a sense I can't blame him. On the other hand I am a bit surprised that it happened so soon. I expected this talk to come after the season. He's gotten slightly more minutes this season, but his numbers are down. SVG called him out on it and he agreed that his production and energy have been lacking. He admits that he is tired from playing for the Polish team over the summer, yet he wants more minutes. Something has to give. I don't think he'll whine about it to the point of sabotaging the team about it, but it is something to keep an eye on. All I hope for is that we don't panic and trade him before the seasons end. He could really be helpful in the playoffs, and with Dwight on a short leash with refs, he will definitely be needed.

I know you hate people wearing the gear of sports teams they don't support (I've been known to sport a Pirates hat from time to time... but I have a feeling that's not why you hate me). Does this hate apply to foreigners that presumably don't know any better? There's a guy in my class that routinely wears a Texans hat, Bills sweatshirt and Arizona Cardinals sneakers. I didn't know they made Cardinals sneakers either. Does he get a pass, or is he scorned thrice?

UK beat UNC today in a game of runs. There was no trading baskets, each team just went on their respective runs. UK played a near perfect first half. They were active on defense, didn't force bad shots and John Wall was John Wall. He really is a player that does something two or three times a game that no other player on the court could even dream of doing. He is as good as advertised. A 15 point halftime lead for the Cats got down to as little as 3 after Wall missed extended time with what appeared to be cramps. Kentucky did just enough to keep the Tarheels away and ended up winning by 2. If UK plays the way they did in the first half, they'll win the championship. If they play the way they did in the second half, they'll be lucky to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. It's that simple. Delusional fans are ready to book Final Four tickets after we barely beat a solid, but not great UNC team. Not yet my friends.

Alabama beat the hell out of Florida today. I wish I could have put it in less crude terms, but that's exactly what happened. Bama has had this rematch on their mind all year and it showed. Mark Ingram may have wrapped up the Heisman and Greg McElroy looked fantastic as he carved up UF's defense. The Gators looked a day late on defense and a dollar short on offense. They just couldn't keep up. Meanwhile Texas needed a last second field goal to beat Nebraska. Nebraska's QB completed 6/19 passes, threw 3 interceptions and the Huskers rushed for 67 yards, and yet they only lost by one. Needless to say they couldn't make the over/under high enough for the Bama-Texas title game. It could be Bama by 38 and I'd still take the over. Nick Saban and the rest of the tide have to be licking their lips to play the Longhorns. Then again, after getting screwed out of last years game, Texas definitely has something to prove. Still, I'm not sold on Mack Brown without Vince Young. Bama will win big.

Finally, the NFL picks.

Bengals over Lions- With all the talk about the Colts win streak, the Patriots slumping and the Chargers streaking, the Bengals are being forgotten about a little. I like it. Still, I'd like for us to be a little more aggressive offensively and put this one away early.

Eagles over Falcons- The Falcons are Matt Ryan-less, but that's not why they'll lose. It's about time for the Eagles to hit their "This team is a Super Bowl Contender!" streak they hit every year. Not a moment too soon because Eagles fans were just losing hope. Not yet my friends.

Bears over Rams- Did you know that Jay Cutler has thrown at least one interception in 9 of the Bears 11 games? Make it 10 but the Bears get the win.

Titans over Colts- This is the game for the Colts to throw. They don't out and out throw it but they "go conservative". Vince Young has always played well against the Colts so it wouldn't even look like they were trying to lose. Indy's schedule after this: Denver, @ Jacksonville, NY Jets and @ Buffalo. All winnable games. If they want to avoid the undefeated talk they let up here, don't show anything and let VY and the gang win. Then if they face again in the playoffs, the Titans have nothing to go on.

Bronco's over Chiefs- The Bronco's keep up the win streak and Brandon Marshall doesn't yell at anyone today. Good for you Brandon.

Patriots over Dolphins- Remember when Chad Henne was the next hot young quarterback? Remember how he's thrown 4 TD's to 6 INT's and hasn't completed 60 % of his passes in a game since his great showing against the Jets? Yea, me neither.

Steelers over Raiders- I can see this one being a lot closer than it should be, but Pittsburgh gets the win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Saints over Redskins- I think Jim Caldwell and Sean Payton must confer with each other about what is going on. Either they both have to agree to go into the playoffs 16-0, or they both must throw a game or two. The rub is that New Orleans has to win every game or risk being caught by Minnesota. It's doubtful but wouldn't two 18-0 teams meeting in the Super Bowl be amazing?

Bucs over Panthers- I think Delhomme is out, which is a good thing. Matt Moore is his backup, which is a bad thing. He's just warming up the seat for Jason Campbell this offseason, which is a good thing.

Texans over Jaguars- I have a feeling the Texans annihilate the Jags and show why they are in playoff contention. Then they fall right back to mediocrity next week.

Chargers over Browns- Yes San Diego is surging, but look at who they've played: Kansas City twice, Oakland, Denver and the Giants in the middle of losing streaks and the Eagles, in the game where Westbrook was concussed. They've played some great ball lately, but not exactly against worldbeaters.

Giants over Cowboys- I keep saying this Giants team is primed for a winning streak and this is the last week I pick them before I realize how bad they really are. I love the story about Eli Manning autographing the Cowboys locker room after the first game in the new stadium. I only wish it was Jamarcus Russell instead of Eli.

San Fran over Seattle- Surely even the 9ers/Hawks/Cards/Rams faithful are bored to tears watching their conference games.

Vikings over Cardinals- If Old Man Warner was 100%, I'd be tempted to pick the Cards. He's not, so I won't.

Packers over Ravens- Another solid Monday Night Game. The Ravens needed a gift wrapped interception from Dennis Dixon last week just to beat the bombed out and depleted Steelers. The Pack keeps rolling here, no thanks to Greg Jennings.

Ron Ron and NFL Picks

Ron Ron used to drink during halftime...and I'm not the least bit surprised.  In fact, I don't even rank this as the strangest halftime ritual I've heard this year.  That honor goes to Lamar Odom gobbling candy during halftime...a fact that was used to explain his inconsistent play.  Artest drinking Hennessy is funny.  Odom eating handfuls of candy kills me.

Let's do this.

Philadelphia over Atlanta - I believe that the Falcons will keep this game close, but, ultimately, I just don't trust Chris Redman to beat the Eagles defense.

Chicago over St. Louis - Cutler has a good game (and by "good", I mean, "throws less than 3 interceptions") and gives Bears fans a glimpse of the quarterback they thought they were getting.

Cincinnati over Detroit - The Bengals will grind out a boring, utterly unspectacular victory...and get one win closer to wrapping up their division.

Pittsburgh over Oakland - It won't  be a blow-out.

Tennessee over Indianapolis - I know...this will be the third week in a row that I've picked the Colts to lose.  But this week I can see it happening.  The Titans are looking good, and they have a lot more to play for than the Colts.

Denver over Kansas City - Do you remember the last season the Chiefs were good?  It seems like it's been forever.

New England over Miami - The Patriots are coming off a huge loss in a prime-time game.  The Dolphins are playing without their best player for the remainder of the season.  And, while I like Ricky Williams quite a bit, I just can't see him and Chad Henne beating the Pats this week.

New Orleans over Washington - I can kind of see a close game here.  The Redskins haven't been terrible lately, and the Saints look a little shaky at times.  After the performance they put on last week, I can see them having a bit of a letdown this week.  Not enough of a letdown to lose to the Redskins, but enough to make this game closer than it should be.

Carolina over Tampa Bay - You know...I've always liked Matt Moore.  I think he'll have a decent game against the Bucs defense, and the Panthers running game will help him out.  Still, this looks like a terribly boring game.

Houston over Jacksonville - The Texans will take their rage out on the Jaguars.  Even though I'm picking the Texans, I would not be surprised to see the Jags win this one.  Both of these teams are so inconsistent, it's tough to pick a winner.

San Diego over Cleveland - I wouldn't be surprised to see a final score of 45-3.

Dallas over New York Giants - This will put a stake in the Giants season, and will slow the talk of a December swoon for the Cowboys.

San Francisco over Seattle - I can see big games for Frank Gore and Alex Smith here.

Minnesota over Arizona - This could be a really good game.  It better's the Sunday night game, and there's no way I'm watching The Cleveland Show.

Green Bay over Baltimore - The Packers last game was a beating of the Lions on Thanksgiving.  The Ravens last game was a physical overtime game against the Steelers last Sunday night.  The Packers will be rested and ready for this game.  Rodgers will take advantage of a spotty secondary and a lackluster pass rush.  I'm pretty excited about this game.