Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Little Bit of Everything

You know what I hate more than guys high fiving after missed free throws? Defensive backs high fiving after an incompletion even if he had nothing to do with the incompletion. Doesn't matter the circumstance. Whether the ball sails 10 yards over the receivers head, the WR slips, runs the wrong route or drops the ball, or there is a questionable interference call, it never fails to crack me up when the DB, usually Antonio Cromartie, high fives his buddies like his coverage had any effect on the incompletion.

Tell me you read about LeBron James and his thoughts on contraction this week. LeBron dropped another gem on us all with his, " I had no idea what the word ‘contraction’ meant before I saw it on the Internet". How did LeBron possibly tell people that Ms. LeBron was about to give birth to his children?

"Doc, this is LeBron. Something wrong with my girl, man. I think she going into con...vulsions?"

Speaking of LeBron, did you know Kanye was at "The Decision"? I found out this week and had a good laugh. It all makes perfect sense now.

LeBron: "I don't know if LeBron should do this Ye`. LeBron thinks it would hurt a lot of feelings in the Cleveland metropolitan area."

Kanye: "Do that shit."

*Kanye begins dancing maniacally and hitting the "Look at ya!" sample on his sound machine*
I like to think that's exactly how it went down.

With the recent Suns-Magic trade, it's time for another update on Super Cool Beas. Beasley is averaging 22 ppg, 6 rpg on 48% FG and 44% 3P on the season. He has scored at least 25 points in a game seven times this month. He turns 22 years old in two weeks. The 34 million dollar man
Amir Johnson is still chugging along in Toronto. He's played more than 25 minutes in a game eight times this month. 9 points, 6 boards a game and he's now losing minutes to first round pick Ed Davis. Money well spent. The Suns are in even worse shape. Since the trade for Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye has moved to PF, Hakim Warrick has moved to the bench. He hasn't hit 15 minutes in a game since the trade. 18 million bucks down the drain.

I've since lightened my stance on the roster overhaul Orlando underwent for a couple of reasons. First, I didn't expect Gilbert Arenas to openly welcome coming off the bench. After a brutal start, Gil has had some solid games. He initiates offense off the bench and has the versatility to close games out at SG. I also didn't realize that he was born in Tampa and had been trying to
come to Orlando for years. Of course, the homecoming angle was played up for Vince Carter too. GM Otis Smith is more of a father figure to him, than an old friend from Golden State allegedly. I'm still not a huge fan of the deal, but I'm more hopeful than I was on the day of the trades. Turkoglu and Richardson have been coming on lately. Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson have played very well in Rashard Lewis' absence. JJ Redick has caught fire since the trade and Dwight has really locked down. He can focus on rebounding an defense now, because with a lineup of Howard-Bass-Turkoglu-Richardson-Nelson or Howard-Turkoglu-Richardson-Arenas-Nelson, he no longer has to get the offense going. Only now, he has the moves to do so when called on. It's still early, but I do like the way this team is playing and that's more than I could say a couple of weeks ago.

You mentioned Marvin Lewis calling out Chad and starting young guys a little too late. That's th
e theme of the Marvin Lewis era. Carlos Dunlap has 8 sacks in his last seven games. Imagine how many he'd have if he started getting regular playing time before Week 8. The Bengals as a team had all of six sacks after week 8. The defensive line had two of those. The team was 2-5. Why wasn't Dunlap playing earlier? Jerome Simpson had a great game against San Diego last week, the top ranked pass defense in the league. In the past two games, Simpson has had 8 catches. In the previous three seasons, he had 1 catch. Again, what was stopping him from seeing the field before? Bernard Scott has 30 touches in the last 4 games. We won two of those games. He had 36 touches combined in the previous 11 games. We won one of those games. Lewis' reluctance to play young guys with the season out of hand is beyond me. This isn't the first time it's happened but I hope it is the last. I appreciate Marvin Lewis stringing together some solid seasons and picking up a couple of division titles, but I hope this Sunday he coaches his last game as a Bengals head coach.

This Sunday also ends the T.O. era in Cincinnati. I must admit...I enjoyed it. The drops were (11 in 13 games), but that was to be expected. I saw a guy that still has something left. I saw a guy that would actively block for a 2-10 team. He correctly pointed out how all of the Bengals problems start at the top with owner Mike Brown and the team was allegedly threatening to deactivate him for the final three games of the season if he hadn't hurt himself. I can see TO popping up somewhere just year, but I couldn't imagine where. Oakland, maybe? The team has an option on Chad that I'd like to see them pick up and then trade him if the contract allows it. This team needs to start fresh. I'd love to get Kevin Kolb and dump Palmer, but the Eagles are reportedly looking for two first round picks for him. Good luck with that, Philly. With the way Carson has
looked recently, I wouldn't be entirely opposed to bringing Palmer back next year and letting him play a full year with Simpson-Caldwell-Shipley-Gresham as his options. I'd still draft a QB early in the draft to let him sit for a year, but Palmer has showed he's not quite dead yet.

This week in extremely depressing pictures:

I'm with you on Greinke to the Brewers. I wanted Cincy to snag him and I hate that he's in the division, but I love that he went to a small market team that will appreciate him. I like what Milwaukee is doing. They have Prince Fielder for one more year and Greinke for two. They know that chance of Fielder re-signing in Milwaukee is between 0 and 0, so why not go for it all this year? The Cardinals and Reds haven't gotten that much better this offseason. Greinke and Yovani Gallardo at the top of the rotation. Weeks, Hart, Braun, McGehee and Fielder in a contract year scoring runs. A city that will show their love for a good team. Milwaukee could do big things this year.

Pick time.

Atlanta over Carolina- Atlanta had so, so many chances to win that Saints game and couldn't do it. They'll destroy the Panthers here, but that has to be disheartening for them heading into the playoffs.

Steelers over Browns- Doesn't seem like Pittsburgh has 12 wins. I knew they were having a good year but, as you mentioned, they haven't looked as good as expected since Roethlisberger came back.

Lions over Vikings- I enjoyed Joe Webb against the Eagles, but Detroit has won three in a row and Suh and company will make it a long day for Webb.

Chiefs over Raiders- At first, I thought the Chiefs would rest their guys with the division locked up but I believe they have a small chance at locking up a first round bye, if the Steelers stumble.

Dolphins over Patriots- The Dolphins are really good on the road. The Patriots have nothing to play for.

Buccaneers over Saints- I think the Saints will win, but I want the Bucs to win. Freeman, Blount and Williams are all heating up and I think they could be a tough out in the playoffs.

Bills over Jets- Jets have nothing to play for. The story about Rex Ryan and the video of his wife's feet cracked me up though.

Bengals over Ravens- Palmer has won 9 of his last 12 against Baltimore. I don't know what it is but he turns it up for Baltimore.

Broncos over Chargers- If San Diego couldn't get up to play Cincy last week with the playoffs on the line, I can't imagine Tebow will bring some effort out of them. Additional note: I would also endorse Kyle Orton as the 2011 Bengals quarterback.

Packers over Bears- Rodgers has really turned it on lately. Chicago is playing for a first round bye. This should be an outstanding game. If the NFL wanted to flex a game to primetime, this is the game. Not the Seahawks- Rams.

49ers over Cardinals- Not one Cardinals quarterback has a QB rating over 70, yet Larry Fitzgerald still cracked 1,000 yards. He'll hear none of Steve Smith or Woody Moss' complaints. By the way, I loved the link you sent to the Tennessee radio station. There is no doubt in my mind, that was Randy Moss' voice. None whatsoever.

Giants over Redskins- Do you realize Eli Manning is on pace for over 4,000 yards and 30+ touchdowns? He must be an elite quarterback! What's that you say? He's thrown 24 interceptions this year? Oh....nevermind then.

Jaguars over Texans- Feh. The Jags had a chance to end the Colts reign and gave it up.

Rams over Seahawks- Even that loud Seattle crowd can't help Charlie Whitehurst pretend to know what he' doing out there.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

NFL Picks

Well, we're getting towards the end of the season.  The Packers, rough though their year has been, control their own destiny.  With a win over the Giants this week and the Bears the following week, the Packers will be in the playoffs.

New England over Buffalo
The Bills gave the Pats a pretty tough game earlier in the season.  I don't think that will happen here.

Chicago over New York Jets
Given how the season started, I find it odd to be typing this...but I trust the Bears more than the Jets at this point.

Cleveland over Baltimore
I think the Browns have one last big upset in them.

Tennessee over Kansas City
It's not a stretch to think the Titans can win this game, seeing how they looked last week.  The Chiefs will lose.  The Chargers will win...and this division title will go down to the final week.

San Francisco over St. Louis
The Niners, currently sitting at 5-9, can win-out and make the playoffs.  How sad is that?

Miami over Detroit
I'll take the Dolphins in a 14-10 game.

Jacksonville over Washington
I'm still hoping for a Colts stumble down the stretch, and the Jags to take the division.  It starts here.

Oakland over Indianapolis
The Raiders will run all over the Colts...which is what the Jags should've done last weekend.

Houston over Denver
The Texans should win this by a wide margin.  Of course, the Texans were supposed to contend for the division this season.  Not everything falls the way it's supposed to.

San Diego over Cincinnati
I like that Marvin Lewis is calling out Ochocinco and starting some young receivers.  It's happening waaaaay too late in his tenure there, but I like it, anyway.

Green Bay over New York Giants
The fight for the wild card starts in earnest right here.  I predict a big Packers win.

Tampa Bay over Seattle
As much as I would love to see the Bucs lose this game, I just can't see it happening.  Because the Seahawks are terrible.

Philadelphia over Minnesota
The Vikings are terrible.  The Eagles are on a roll.  Why on earth would they flex this game?  It'll be over by half time.

Atlanta over New Orleans
If this game is anything like the first time these teams met this year, this should be a terrific game.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

NBA & NFL

I was wondering where you stood on the Magic trades.  As it turns out, you stand exactly where I thought you would.  I can see some of these moves working in their favor in the short run, but over the next few years?  Yeah...I don't know what happens.
Speaking of trades...
I see the Brewers got Greinke.  Good for them.  I've never had a problem with Milwaukee, and I've always liked Greinke.  When the Brewers got Sabathia for half a season, they treated him like a king.  Well, they have Greinke for a few seasons now.  He'll rule that town.  Sure, I'm excited to have him out of the Tigers division, but I'm also excited that he's going to a team that will really appreciate him.  I hope the Brewers make the playoffs in the next couple of years.

A few NFL thoughts before I get to my picks.
I hear you on the "Matty Ice" thing.  For one, it's a stupid nickname.  Just awful.  Also, announcers and writers are picking awful times to use it.  They brought it out after that Tampa game.  "Matty Ice did it again...led them back from a 10 point, fourth quarter deficit."  Okay, but that's not really what happened.  Yes, the Falcons were down 10 in the 4th.  But they somehow fail to mention that Weems had a ridiculous kickoff return for a touchdown.  So, by the time ol' Matty Ice got the ball again, they were down 3 with around 5 minutes left to play.  As a quarterback, you can't lead your team back from 10 down when the kick returner gives you 7 of those points.
Ditto the Green Bay game.  Yes, he made some nice throws down the stretch...but, due to a terrible Packers coverage unit and a personal foul penalty heaped on top of it, he only had to drive the Falcons a little over 20 yards with about a minute on the clock.
Look...I kind of like him.  He's better than I thought he was.  But he's not Joe Montana.

Now...head injuries.
I've been hearing a lot of, "Rodgers should have slid...he would have avoided that concussion."  I agree that he needs to learn how to slide, but I doubt it would have saved him.  I've seen Rodgers slide and take worse hits than that (with nary a flag thrown).  Should he have slid earlier?  Yes.  He had the first down by at least 5 yards. But I can't blame a guy for wanting more yards.  So he dove a little late and took a couple hits...one of them to his head (anyone who says he got the concussion by his head hitting the ground didn't see the play).  Was it an illegal hit?  Didn't look like it to me...but if that was Manning (or, hell, even Cutler, after that ridiculous call on Suh), you better believe it would've been penalized.
As for the rule that you can't go back in the game after any concussion symptoms, and you have to pass a series of neurological tests before you're allowed back into next week's game...
Preposterous.  Here's what we're breeding: a coach who sends a thug onto the field and goes headhunting.  Say you sign a back-up linebacker...a hard-hitter who doesn't really have a ton of talent.  What's to stop a coach from sending him on a blitz, then hitting the quarterback in the head as hard as he can.  Will he be penalized?  Absolutely.  15 yards.  He'll most likely be fined (judging from what we've seen, somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000-$50,000).  They'll deal with it.
An example.
Say you're playing the Patriots.  At some point in the first quarter, you throw this at Brady.  Boom.  Concussion.  Out for the game.  They get 15 yards.  Well, you've just knocked out their main weapon.  Instead of facing a red-hot Brady, you're facing Hoyer...for the majority of the game.  A 15 yard penalty and a $25,000 fine is nothing compared to stealing a game from the Pats in the heat of a playoff chase.
Is it right?  Absolutely not.  But you're crazy if you don't think coaches are already looking at this.
By all accounts, Rodgers was fine during the week...but the Packers are playing it safe this week (partly because they don't want to face the league saying they don't care about their players).  They're starting Matt Flynn against the Pats, in a game we have to win.  I hate these rules more every day.

Onto the picks:

Cincinnati over Cleveland:
I don't know why, but I just feel it this game.  Trouble in Cincy this week...I have a feeling they'll take out their frustrations on the Browns.
Side note: did you know that Palmer is on track to throw for more then 4,000 yards this year?  Has there ever been a more misleading statistic?

Dallas over Washington:
I kind of like this Cowboys team.  Actually, I think it's less the Cowboys and more Kitna.  Sucks that Dez Bryant went down for the year.  He was exciting to watch, and I think Kitna-to-Bryant could have been a great combination for the rest of the year

Houston over Tennessee:
Great game on Monday night...yet the Texans still found a way to lose.  Sucks for them.  I'm still trying to figure out what's going on in Tennessee.  It's like they're not even trying anymore.
Please tell me you saw this.  Basically, people think that Randy Moss called into a radio talk show and bashed Jeff Fisher on the air under the name "Woody".  I want this to be true.

Jacksonville over Indianapolis:
Please Jacksonville...make this happen.  Beat the Colts.  Jones-Drew...run for 250 yards.  Defensive line...destroy Manning.  You've done it once this year.  Do it again.  Please...knock the Colts out of the playoffs.

St. Louis over Kansas City:
With a Chiefs loss here, the Chargers are tied for first place in the division.  Raise your hand if you're surprised.  Yeah...I thought so.

Miami over Buffalo:
Yeah, they looked terrible in a win over the Jets last week.  But they still won.  I have a feeling they'll beat the Bills here.

Detroit over Tampa Bay:
Because the Packers desperately need some teams to start losing.

Arizona over Carolina:
Or Carolina over Arizona.  Who cares, really.

New Orleans over Baltimore:
Flacco went on the radio this week saying that he's an "elite quarterback".  Yeah...and I'm the King of Spain. Look...I don't hate you, but you're not as good as everyone (including yourself) says you are.  Your offensive weapons have been severely upgraded, and you're still wildly inconsistent.

Philadelphia over New York Giants:
The Giants played the Eagles extremely well in the last game...and still lost by 10.  I can see them holding down Vick early, but the Eagles will make enough big plays to win.

Atlanta over Seattle:
The Falcons have been a good, steady team.  They beat the bad teams.  The Seahawks are a terrible team.  I know it's in Seattle, but I have a hard time figuring out how the Seahawks could win this one.  Maybe if they knock out Ryan, Turner and Snelling...but even then I doubt it.

Pittsburgh over New York Jets:
Partly because I think the Steelers are better (although their offense has not looked great lately), but mostly because I want to see Sanchez slumping his shoulders on the sideline.
How isn't this a bigger story.  The Steelers went 3-1 without Roethlisberger.  Their quarterbacking was not terrible through those game.  Roethlisberger comes back, and their offense looks worse.  Sure, he makes some plays, but he also just seems "off".

Oakland over Denver:
McFadden runs for 150+ yards and at least 2 touchdowns.  Again.

Green Bay over New England:
I truly believe we can win this game.  The Pats look great...but our defense is better than you might think.  We'll force some turnovers, and Flynn will make a handful of good plays (he wasn't great last week, but he did lead a couple fairly good drives.  With an entire week of practice with the first team, I think people will be surprised by how good he looks).

Minnesota over Chicago:
Sure, some of this goes back to "the Packers really need teams to start losing".  But I also have a feeling that the Vikings will step it up in this outdoor atmosphere, and Cutler will be back (once again) to his interception throwing ways.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Otis Smith strikes again!

Maybe you've heard by now but the Orlando Magic have recently dismantled the team and started anew. Today we traded Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas and in a separate deal, Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, cash and a first round pick went to Phoenix for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark. Wow. I will say that I think we upgraded our talent in these trades, but I don't know how they will work out.

I'll start with the Lewis- Arenas deal. For all his shortcomings and how frustrating it was to watch him at times, I will miss Rashard Lewis. He had a great first two years in Orlando and hit a lot of big shots for us down the stretch. His last two years have been a disaster and that salary makes him an easy target for criticism. Still, it's not his fault Otis Smith offered him a ridiculous amount of money and that age caught up with him (He's in his 13th season). I don't know how much he has left but I do wish Sweet Lew well in Washington. As far as the Arenas part is concerned, I don't like it and I don't get it. We needed someone that could create shots for himself and others....efficiently. Gilbert does both, but neither particularly well. He creates plenty of shots for himself, but he's shooting 39% from the field. He's averaging 5 assists per game, along with 3 turnovers. I don't see how this move makes us better in any way. Add in the knee issues, the gun incident and the contract and I don't know what the hell is going on. As bad as Lewis' contract was, there was only two seasons left after this one. Gilbert's has three after this year. This appears to be a deal made because Otis Smith and Gil are old friends from Golden State. I'll get to Otis Smith later.

I like the Phoenix trade more than the Washington one, but that's akin to asking me whether I'd rather be stabbed or shot (I guess I'd choose stabbing. Shooting seems so impersonal. Yet I digress). I will miss Marcin Gortat and am glad he will get a chance to play more minutes. I watched him work his way from an unknown second rounder, to random end of the bench guy to one of the best backup centers in the league. I think he'll do great in Phoenix. I'm not a huge Pietrus fan because of his incredibly low basketball IQ, but he will be missed. He was our best perimeter defender and could easily get hot from three point land. Now we are left with a combination of Quentin Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu to guard the LeBron James and Paul Pierces of the world. Great. My ire for Vince Carter had slightly diminished this season as he did appear to be giving an effort more on defense and on attacking the basket. Still, I won't be sad to see him go. I am glad to see Jason Richardson arrive. I've enjoyed watching him since his days at Michigan State, I think you can count on him not to fold in big games and he expires after this season so he's playing for one last payday. I don't like reacquiring Turkoglu. He was already on the decline when he was still with us. He tricked Toronto into giving him 53 million and later admitted to dogging it in an attempt to get traded. He got his wish and is now in the middle of a dreadful year. Maybe being back in Orlando will get him back to his 2007 form but I'm not counting on it. Also, he had his best run with Rafer Alston running the point. Now he's playing with Jameer Nelson AND Gilbert Arenas. His best skill is his ball handling and now he's fighting two shoot first PG's for possession of the rock. Again, I just don't see how this makes us better. Earl Clark is a bum and I don't like us giving up a first rounder in this deal either.

Now for Otis Smith, who has quietly been a terrible GM for most of his tenure. He inherited Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson. His first major move was giving 118 million dollars to Rashard Lewis when no other team would give him more than 60 mil. Hiring Stan Van Gundy was a good move, but it only came after the Billy Donovan fiasco. He hedged the bets of a team fresh off of a Finals appearance to Vince Carter. He had an owner willing to spend whatever on a contender, yet ended up going over the luxury tax for JJ Redick. I like Redick, but you go over the tax to sign Lamar Odom and Ron Artest as LA did. Not for JJ Redick. He thought Chris Duhon was worth 15 million dollars. He thought Marcin Gortat and his 12 minutes a game were worth 33 million dollars. He drafted Daniel Orton without exploring the full extent of his knee injuries. He's terrible. I would have fired him after the Rashard Lewis signing because that one is unforgivable. Now he's traded for an old friend in Arenas because sometimes "good people make dumb decisions." I don't like the Arenas deal at all, but I really don't get the timing of it. That trade would have been available until the trade deadline just because Washington wants to get rid of him. Why not see how the Phoenix trade worked out first? A Nelson-Richardson-Turkoglu-Bass-Howard lineup isn't too shabby. Now we have two point guards, in Nelson and Arenas, and no backup center. I'm going to have to assume that there is another deal to be made. A starting backcourt of Nelson-Arenas is a defensive disaster. I can't see either one taking to the bench well either. Malik Allen is the current backup for Dwight Howard. With Dwight's knack for getting in foul trouble, I don't like this one bit. We're also nearing the Dwight Howard countdown as D12 can opt out after the 2011-12 season (along with Chris Paul and Deron Williams). The word is that Dwight was unhappy with his teammates and all but demanded change on the roster. I think Dwight had full approval of these deal, much like I believe LeBron approved/vetoed any deals his last two years in Cleveland. Still, if these moves don't work, Dwight doesn't have to deal with them. He can sign elsewhere. We'll be stuck with Arenas, Turkoglu and Duhon much like Cleveland is stuck with Jamison, Varejao and Mo Williams. I don't think I can take an hour special of Dwight sitting down with Bob Costas and deciding to take his talents to Oklahoma City.

Pigskin.

Browns over Bengals- I was ready to pick us for the first time in months, until the Browns announced Colt McCoy was getting the start. Our pass rush did look promising last week, but Palmer is abysmal. I'd love to see LeFevour get some snaps, but it will never happen.

Cowboys over Redskins- Not that Haynesworth hasn't been an ass, or that McNabb hasn't sucked this year but Shanahan has butchered this season with poor decision after poor decision. Rex Grossman?!?

Texans over Titans- Not only is Moss getting blanked on the catches this season, but last week he wasn't even targeted! Forget about Don Hutson passing him on the all time list of WR's, I'm considering putting Don Beebe over Moss at this point.

Jaguars over Colts- I think the Colts will win but I'd love to see the Jags get this victory and take that division.

Rams over Chiefs- I cannot trust Brodie Croyle. I will not trust Brodie Croyle.

Bills over Dolphins- You think the Bills aren't happy to play in Miami this week? Career day for Fitzpatrick. I'm thinking 180 passing yards and one, maybe two touchdowns.

Eagles over Giants- Don't know why but Mike Vick claiming he'd like to own a dog again one day cracked me up. I was shocked to see that the Giants have 9 wins.

Bucs over Lions- Tempted to pick the Lions here, but I think Freeman gets it done.

Cardinals over Panthers- Under no circumstances will I watch any part of this game.

Saints over Ravens- Does Ray Rice still play in the NFL?

Falcons over Seahawks- Can we wait until the Falcons win a playoff game before we start throwing the "Matty Ice" around?

Raiders over Broncos- Won't lie: I'll be checking for the Tebow debut. You and I are among the camp that Tebow can be a successful QB in the NFL with the right pieces around him. He doesn't have those pieces right now, but I am curious to see how he does.

Jets over Steelers- In the past two weeks I've seen the following on the bottom line: Bob Sanders out for the year, Yao Ming out for the year and Troy Polamalu could miss rest of regular season. Does ESPN even type those up anymore or just keep them on file like for whenever a President dies?

Patriots over Packers-A shame Rodgers isn't suiting up but I don't know that it would have mattered with the way New England is playing.

Bears over Vikings- I'm excited for the Joe Webb era. I'm all for young guys getting their feet wet over tired veterans getting one more shot.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jay Bruce and Picks

I've been thinking this for a while but would you ever start a Cal Ripken/Brett Favre type streak? Have they ever ended well? I know it's quite a feat to start that many games in a row and it's impressive to be that dependable for so long, but those streaks never end well. They go on a lot longer than they should and end up hurting the team, the way Favre's appears to be now and Ripken's did with those Oriole teams.

The Reds signed Jay Bruce today to a 6 year/51 million dollar deal and I couldn't be happier. The option in the 7th year gives us a chance to keep Bruce until he's 30 years old. He really turned it on during the last half of the season, plays great defense in right field and legitimately wants to be in Cincinnati. Hopefully we can lock up Votto sometime soon. On the flip side, the manager of the team is still Dusty Baker. The same Dusty Baker that dropped this gem when asked about Aroldis Chapman: "He has No. 1 starter stuff. But he has, like I said, No. 1 bullpen stuff, too." What the hell does that mean?

If you haven't already, watch Blake Griffin play whenever you can. It seems like this happens once a game.



I miss college football already. Pick time.

Bills over Browns- Jake Delhomme will not win three straight games. I won't believe it.

Packers over Lions- Kind of hard to believe this Lions team is 2-10. They have some decent pieces. They play hard. Shaun Hill/Drew Stanton haven't been terrible and Suh is an animal. Yet they are just one game up on a Panthers team that doesn't play hard or have very much talent.

Giants over Vikings-I look for Favre to take a few snaps and then take a seat to watch Tavarris Jackson get thrashed.

Steelers over Bengals- Feh.

Bucs over Redskins- I have no sympathy for the Redskins with this Haynesworth deal. None. He told you before the season he was going to be a dick this season. They didn't listen.

Falcons over Panthers- Everyone talks about what a bad break Larry Fitzgerald caught in Arizona with his quarterbacks. Steve Smith doesn't want to hear it.

Jaguars over Raiders- The Jaguars keep chugging along. I'd love to see them win that division but I don't see the Colts going away just yet.

Saints over Rams- The Rams have had a nice season and seem positioned to run the NFC West for the next couple of years, but their last 4 games are nothing nice. I think a loss here all but hands the division to....the Seahawks?!?

49ers over Seahawks- More so because I trust the Seahawks less on the road than I do Alex Smith in his first game in over a month.

Patriots over Bears- I agree with you. These Patriots are fun to watch. The Jets are overrated, but still a good team and they were dismantled by the Pats. I wouldn't be surprised to see another convincing win here by New England.

Jets over Dolphins- I remember a time when Chad Henne was considered an up and comer. Gas was a nickel a gallon and you could leave your front door unlocked during the day.

Broncos over Cardinals- Traded the two best players on his team and managed to lose 17 of his last 22 games. Josh McDaniel will be the 2011 head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Chargers over Chiefs- Only because of Cassel's appendectomy. If he was healthy, I think they all but lock up the division with a win. Brodie Croyle is scheduled to get the start which should get the Chargers one game closer to KC in the standings.

Eagles over Cowboys- I really like this Eagles team. I wonder if they'll be able to keep thriving because they live for the big play, but they keep coming up with it. They are hitting their stride and have a relatively easy schedule to close out the year. Jon Kitna is playing well but I think this game gets out of hand quickly.

Ravens over Texans- Why are people so surprised Joe Flacco had two big mistakes late in that Pittsburgh game? That's what Joe Flacco does. He has improved over his past couple of years, but when the Ravens need a play to be made, he can't make it. How he continues to get hyped is beyond me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Picks

Sorry man...getting this in late, so I don't have much of a chance to respond to your stuff.  A quick response:
Sorry the Bengals suck.
Did not catch the Heat/Cavs game, but LeBron going off for his best game of the season was a foregone conclusion.  I know at some point the Heat will put it together, and it should be a sight to behold.
Agree on the Arroyo thing.  Sure, he's been good for you all...but there are so many young pitchers waiting in the wings.  Why give Bronson more years?
Gil to Orlando?  Doubt it will happen.  For your sanity, I hope it doesn't.

My favorite new show on TV is The Walking Dead.  So far, the bulk of it has taken place in Atlanta.  Fantastic show.  Check it out if you can.  The season finale is tonight.

New Orleans over Cincinnati:
The Bengals will keep it close in the first half, but will run away with it in the second.  Palmer will pad his stats in the 4th, once the game is over.

Chicago over Detroit:
The Bears are actually looking like a real football team.  At some point, Cutler will start throwing interceptions again...but it won't be today.  And, even if it is, I don't see Stanton beating this defense.

Green Bay over San Francisco:
We're hoping for a blow-out win to wash that Falcons game out of our memories.  Also, we want to claim our third coach in four weeks.

Jacksonville over Tennessee:
I would love to see the Jags win the division this year.  It's a longshot, but they're tied for the lead right now, and they currently hold the tiebreaker over the Colts.

Kansas City over Denver:
Have you actually sat down and looked at the Chiefs schedule this year?  Ridiculous.  They're not a great team, but they should end up in the playoffs, which means they'll win 4 games next year.

Miami over Cleveland:
I like Chad Henne.  I dislike Jake Delhomme.  Easy as that.

Buffalo over Minnesota:
I realize that the Vikings won last week.  But they beat a dying Redskins team by 4 points.  Not the statement win you're looking for, Leslie.

New York Giants over Washington:
But this could really go either way.  I'm (obviously) not a fan of the Redskins, but the Giants are ridiculously inconsistent.

San Diego over Oakland:
For a couple of weeks, I had hope in Oakland.  Now they're falling back, while the Chargers are surging once again.  Sorry Raiders...maybe next year?
A pet peeve of mine: early in the season, announcers/columnists like to talk about "must-win" games.  They love to talk about, "If they don't win this game, goodbye playoffs" in Week 4.  They did it (again) with the Chargers this year.  Have we learned nothing?  They start off slow, then make a late season surge and make the playoffs.  Let's stop with the "must-win games" very early in the season.

Seattle over Carolina:
Oh, look!  The Seahawks win this week!  What a great coaching job Pete Carroll has done.

Atlanta over Tampa Bay:
It'll come down to the 4th quarter, but the Falcons will win this.  By the way, after watching that game last week, I'm starting to believe in Matt Ryan.

St. Louis over Arizona:
We all knew the Cardinals would be bad this year, but I had no idea they would be this bad.

Dallas over Indianapolis:
I like the way the Cowboys have been playing.  I don't like the way the Colts have looked.  I love seeing the terrible body language of Manning.  Bring on the slumped shoulders and throwing teammates under the bus.
A Colts note: I read an article praising Ron Rivera for the defensive game plan he put together last week.  They talked about how they rattled Manning: show a blitz in pre-snap, then fall back in coverage.  Don't show blitz in pre-snap, then bring the heat.  I'm not taking anything away from Rivera, but Bill Belichick did that years ago.  I remember when the Pats beat the Colts 20-3 in the playoffs, they used this same tactic.  "Now everyone will know how to beat Manning," I said.  "His days are over."  But no one really used that anymore. It's ridiculous.  You have a surefire way to beat Manning, and you don't use it?  Does no one watch tape?  So, my hats off to Rivera...and I hope some people actually sit up and pay attention this time.

Baltimore over Pittsburgh:
I haven't been a fan of how Pittsburgh has looked ever since Roethlisberger has been back.

New England over New York Jets:
I love watching the Pats in this post-Moss era.  They run the ball.  They have a deep threat in Branch, but a ton of guys to dump the ball off to who can make plays after the catch (Welker, Woodhead, Edelman).  They have a handful of tight ends capable of making plays.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bronson, Bengals and Picks

I've never been closer to quitting a team than I am with the Bengals. You know that I'm no bandwagon fan. I wouldn't be jumping ship to another team. I'm just tired of the incompetence. I've stuck with them through 2, 3 and 4 win seasons. I've stuck through them with the eras of Akili Smith, Scott Mitchell and Gus Frerotte. I've stuck with them though we haven't won a playoff game since I was a toddler. I endured because I thought things would change and how sweet it would be when they did. I now realize that they won't. Even when owner Mike Brown dies, he will probably keep it in the family leading to another reign of terrible ownership. Mike Brown employs no general manager. Neither do Al Davis or Jerry Jones but despite their misguided attempts, I honestly feel like they think the moves they make as acting GM are going to improve the team. Brown is just looking to keep costs low. Just note how the Bengals annually have one of the thinnest scouting departments in the league. The coaching staff needs to go, yet Brown makes no moves. Can you think of another head coach that has made it almost 8 years with a losing record and no playoff victories? I can't. Marvin Lewis stays because no respectable coach would put up with Brown's nonsense. Any coach worth a damn wouldn't put up with his owner sitting in on every meeting and having the final call on decisions he knows nothing about. I haven't forgotten about last seasons division title, but they are few and far between because sustained success won't come to Cincinnati until Mike Brown sells the team or passes away. Neither of which seem like they will ever happen, much to my chagrin.


I don't know if you caught it but the Heat-Cavaliers game/LeBron hate was astonishing. The "Akron hates you" chant got a chuckle out of me. The constant shots of Dan Gilbert looking pissed courtside crack me up. LeBron joking it up with the Cavaliers during timeouts seems strange, but whatever. One thing I've noticed is that LeBron's game doesn't seem to have evolved. For the last couple of years, he and Dwight Howard have been the main two "If that guy gets _________, watch out!" Dwight has noticeably expanded his post game and his points per game are at a career high and Orlando is tied for first in the Eastern Conference. LeBron is still an outstanding player, but I can't say that he's gotten a lot better in a couple of years. His jumper is still hot and cold. His post game is nonexistent. He's shooting 44% from the field this season which is criminal for a guy that can get to the rim like he can. Maybe none of it will matter. All he needs is that jumpshot to go down enough to keep guys honest and he's done it thus far. I can't say I'm happy to see the Heat struggling because it's still far too early to write them off, but this team just doesn't look right. Wade and LeBron look awkward playing together. Bosh needs to be force fed to get going. Without Mike Miller, there is no spacing and Udonis Haslem's injury makes a thing frontcourt even thinner. Everyone knew they would take time to build chemistry, but this team just doesn't look right. Not yet.

While we're on hoops, can the "Arenas to Orlando?" talks please die a horrible death? They keep appearing every couple of months and it makes me nervous. GM Otis Smith and Gil got close in Golden State and there have been talks for many years of him trying to bring Gil to Orlando. This current Orlando squad isn't winning a championship and adding Gilbert and is contract wouldn't help.

A basketball related pet peeve of mine: When a terrible free throw shooter goes to the line late in the game, misses the shot and the broadcasters claim the pressure got to him. If Kyle Korver goes to the line with 4 seconds left and bricks two you can play the pressure card. If Dwight Howard goes to the line with 4 seconds left and bricks two, I don't think the pressure got to him. He's just not a good free throw shooter. He's bad in the first, second and third quarter. He's not going to magically get better in the fourth.

The White Sox just gave Adam Dunn four years, 56 million dollars and the fast track to becoming the home run king. Taking him out of the field and letting him DH/play first base + a hitter's park in Chicago + Dunn having 354 homers and only being 31 years of age= 2020 Hall of Famer Adam Dunn accepting his plaque with a .242 career average, 3000 strikeouts and 707 home runs. Can't wait.

The Reds just agreed with Bronson Arroyo on a 3 year, 35 million dollar extension. I'm not a fan of this move. I was all for picking up his option for the 2011 season. I wouldn't have minded extending him for a lower price, the way we did with Scott Rolen. I know he has been a lock for 33 starts and 200 innings a year for the last 6 seasons, but he just had a career year at 33 and I think we're paying for that. How long can a guy, that never had overwhelming stuff to begin with, keep that up? Not to mention, we still have somewhat of a logjam at starting pitcher. Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Travis Wood have all proven to be capable starters. GM Walt Jocketty insists that Aroldis Chapmans place is still in the rotation. That's why I think you pick up the 2011 option and see how the young arms do, and then thank Bronson for the memories after the season and go to 2012 with the young arms. This makes me wonder if Jocketty has a trade up his sleeve. One of the young arms + Yonder Alonso could bring in a nice piece to play left field, or be the main ingredients of a deal for a star pitcher. I'd love to get in on a Justin Upton or Zach Greinke trade, but can't see either happening. I'm very interested to see what Jocketty has planned this offseason.

I'm watching the Auburn-SC game now and I love watching Cam Newton play. I haven't been legitimately excited to watch a National Title game in a while but I'm hoping for Auburn-Oregon. Oregon is a blast to watch as well, with Darron Thomas and LaMichael James running wild. And then I get to watch the Wildcats compete in the O'Charleys Soup and Salad Bowl. What a great year for college pigskin.

Picks. Let's get it done.

Saints over Bengals- Who cares?

Bears over Lions- I keep thinking the Bears are worse than their record and the Lions are better than their record. Sooner or later, I'll realize I'm wrong.

Packers over 49ers- Tough break for Frank Gore and San Fran. Still, I think Anthony Dixon will fill in admirably after Brian Westbrooks annual concussion.

Jaguars over Titans- Has any elite WR ever been contained/shut down/blanked as much as Randy Moss? I get that Moss has had a crazy year and Rusty Smith is hardly an elite quarterback, but it's a contract year but he's had 6 games this year with 2 catches or less. I know Moss has always been kind of a boom or bust type of guy, but damn.

Kansas City over Denver- The Chiefs don't lose at home. The Bronco's don't win on the road. That was easy.

Miami over Cleveland- If McCoy was playing, I'd pick Cleveland but he's doubtful. I wouldn't count on Jake Delhomme winning two straight games.

Bills over Vikings- Hated to see Steve Johnson drop that ball last week in OT. Loved seeing him blame God over Twitter for it. Hysterical.

Giants over Redskins- Eli has 6 games of at least two interceptions this year. Their best running back can't hold on to the ball. Their top receivers are injured. They'll still beat the Skins by double digits.

Chargers over Raiders- Rivers is coming off his worst game of the season...a game where he completed 83% of his passes and beat the 8th greatest player of all time by 22 points. Not a Rivers fan, but the guy is dynamite.

Colts over Cowboys- I smell a Manning 5 touchdown game coming here and those MVP talks
heating back up.

Rams over Cardinals- Bradford appears to be legit. To keep that Rams team headed in the right direction, don't they have to deal Steven Jackson? He isn't having a great year, but he's still on pace for 1500 total yards. He's 27 so I think he'll still have reasonable trade value. By the time Bradford hits his stride, he'll be closer to 30. Isn't the move to deal him for draft picks to get some receiving help?

Seahawks over Panthers- Feh.

Buccaneers over Falcons- If God really wants to make amends for greasing Steve Johnson's palms last Sunday, he'd give us Philly @ Atlanta at some time during the playoffs.

Steelers over Ravens- Kind of hard for me to believe the Ravens are 8-3. Maybe it's because they are one of the teams the Bengals beat so I can't take them seriously. Either way I expect to hear about how much these teams hate each other and how violent these games get roughly 44,000 times. James Harrison should just bring $25,000 in cash to the game with him for his inevitable fine.

Patriots over Jets- The same way I feel a 5 TD game for Manning coming, I feel a 4 interception day coming for Sanchez.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Picks and Blake Griffin

If Whitlock can beat the "Jeff George deserves another shot" point into the ground, I can beat the "You should have traded for Michael Beasley" point into the ground. Even Bill Simmons recently made the same points I made this summer which means he's a big fan of the blog. Since my last entry, Super Cool Beas (probably the best nickname/tattoo ever) has averaged 28.6 ppg and 7 rpg on 50% FG/60% 3P/ 83% FT. In the same amount of time, Amir Johnson had 19 points and 14 rebounds total. Total.

It was recently announced the Greg Oden will miss the entire season yet again. At the end of his fourth season, Oden will have played in 82 career games. The Blazers didn't work out an extension with him so where he plays (if he plays) next year is up in the air. Portland can offer him the qualifying offer of 8.7 million after the season in hopes that someone signs him to an offer sheet, which they can match or decline. Still, if you offer the QO, there's a good chance he takes it and no one bites leaving you stuck with 8.7 million dollars of Oden in street clothes. If you decline, you got no return on investment from your number 1 pick after four years. Hell, at least Michael Olowokandi stayed healthy. I feel bad for Oden and the Blazers, but they chose to build a franchise around two injury prone guys. They had to have seen this coming. Oden had the injury questions coming out of Ohio State. Brandon Roy had injury concerns about his knees going into the draft. Now he's in the first year of a max extension and is missing games with knee problems and missing the last bit of last season with more knee problems. Knees rarely get better over time. They had to think this was somewhat of a possibility, didn't they?

Picks.

Bengals over Bills- This will be a very close game and it wouldn't surprise me a bit to see the Bills win it. Still, I can absolutely see some locker room footage of a teary eyed Fitzpatrick getting the game ball and talking about how Cincy let him go. As funny as that would be, I think we win a close one.

Cowboys over Lions- Hill! Kitna! I don't buy Dallas turning it around just yet, but they do enough to beat the Lions.

Titans over Redskins- I don't really have anything interesting to say about this game but isn't there a better way to gauge a quarterback than QB rating? Vince Young has completed 57 percent of his passes and has 10 TD's to 3 interceptions this season. He is 5th in the league in QB rating with 97.6. Your old pal Peyton Manning has completed 64% of his passes, completed more passes than VY has attempted, more than doubled his yards and has 16 TD's to 4 interceptions...yet his QB rating is 93.9. There's been a revolution in baseball that resulted in more telling stats. What gives for football?

Chiefs over Cardinals- Not a great slate of games thus far.

Packers over Vikings- Please put this Vikings team out of its misery. I don't care that it's the last time that Favre and the Packers will face off. I just don't care.

Jets over Texans- After going 5 games without an interception, Mark Sanchez has thrown at least one in 4 straight games. That's more like it.

Steelers over Raiders- Could be a surprisingly good game. I see the Raiders keeping it close for 3.5 quarters and then blowing it at the end.

Ravens over Panthers- These games really couldn't get much worse.

Browns over Jaguars- Colt McCoy gives me hope that the Bengals will just blow things up and start with a new QB next season. Or even give Dan LeFevour a shot this season. I know better.

Falcons over Rams- I keep saying I don't believe in the Falcons and they keep winning. Their schedule looks very favorable over the next couple of weeks. This team could realistically win 12 games.

Saints over Seahawks- Let us not forget that the Seahawks traded a third round pick and the right to switch second round picks for Charlie Whitehurst. Third round picks are being flushed down the toilet this season.

Bucs over 49ers- Alex Smith is healthy yet Troy Smith is starting. Classic case of reverse racism.

Patriots over Colts- New England looked great last week. Maybe a little too great because I don't think they can keep that up for the rest of the year. An old fashioned late game interception by Manning gives NE the win.

Eagles over Giants- The Kevin Kolb era sure was a hoot wasn't it? I would like to fully get the "Kevin Kolb to the Bengals in 2011" movement started.

Broncos over Chargers- This could be a fun game. Rivers and Orton are leading the league in passing yards and there probably won't be a whole lot of defense played here.

Sweet Jesus.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Super Cool Beas and Kanye

Listened to the new Kanye. Liked it. My favorite tracks were probably "Hell of a Life", "Dark Fantasy" and "Devil in A New Dress". I love the production/sample on "Devil in A New Dress". It was a little shorter than I would have liked for a Kanye album and I still have to give it a second listen, but I did enjoy it. I'll get to the Cee-Lo sometime this week.

Also, do you happen to have Janelle Monae's first album? I was listening to The ArchAndroid again and I think I like it more each time I listen to it.

It just keeps getting worse for the Bengals. Not only are we on a 6 game losing streak, but now Andre Smith is out for the season with a broken bone in the same foot that he broke last season. Thank goodness foot problems usually work themselves out on men that weigh 350 pounds. Also, I told you guys that Palmer signed a 10 year extension after the 2005 season. I was incorrect. It was a 9 year extension that makes him a Bengals until 2014. My apologies.

The great thing about Derek Jeter winning a Gold Glove this year? Reading Yankee fans trying to defend this injustice and talk themselves into the ridiculous contract Jeter is about to receive. If you get a chance, find any Jeter related article from a New York based website and read the comments. Laughs by the dozen.

I tracked down those Ray Lewis-London Fletcher numbers. Check these out:

Tackles:

Ray Lewis: 1759 (14 years) (126 per season)
London Fletcher: 1480 (12 years) (123 per season)

Sacks:

Ray Lewis: 36.5 (14 seasons) (2.6 per season)
London Fletcher: 30.0 (12 seasons) (2.5 per season)

Interceptions:

Ray Lewis: 28 (14 seasons) (2 per season)
London Fletcher: 15 (12 seasons) (1.3 per season)

Forced Fumbles:

Ray Lewis: 14 (14 seasons) (1 per season)
London Fletcher: 12 (12 seasons) (1 per season)

Stuffs (tackles at or behind the line of scrimage)

Ray Lewis: 41 (14 seasons) (2.9 per season)
London Fletcher: 50 (12 seasons) (4.2 per season)
Those accolades had Ray Lewis voted as the 18th greatest player of all time, while Fletcher has made the Pro Bowl as a non-alternate just once. And that was last season as Jon Vilma was out due to the Super Bowl. Lewis has been on more competitive teams lately, but both have a Super Bowl ring so you can't even play the "He did it for a winner" card. I would have to give the "Celebrates plays made by a teammate" tally to Lewis though.

I mentioned it to you earlier, but now I have now I have some rock solid facts to support my argument. This summer I openly questioned why teams weren't going after Michael Beasley after Miami had to get rid of him to clear cap space. I begged the Suns to trade for him. They didn't listen and instead chose to give 18 million to Hakim Warrick and trade for the remaining 42 million on Hedo Turkoglu's contract. I demanded the Raptors to take a chance on Super Cool Beas. They too chose to ignore me and give 30 million to Amir Johnson. Let's compare numbers on the season.

Hakim Warrick:28 years old, 12 ppg, 5 rpg, in the first year of a 4 year, 18 million dollar contract

Hedo
Turkoglu: 31 years old, 10 ppg, 3 rpg, in the second year of a 5 year, 50 million dollar contract

Amir
Johnson: 23 years old, 9 ppg, 5 rpg, in the first year of a 5 year, 34 million dollar contract

Michael Beasley: 21 years old, 20 ppg, 5 pg, still on his rookie contract
Beasley's last three games have seen him put up 42, 35 and 25 points on 56% FG shooting. Not to mention you get him for a shade under 5 million this year, a shade over 6 million next year and could give him a qualifying offer of 8 million the year after that. The qualifying offer would make him a restricted free agent giving the Timberwolves the right to match any offer sheet he signed. Also, he's playing out of position because of Kevin Love playing power forward. Imagine what he could do running the 4 spot alongside Steve Nash in Phoenix. Nope, Phoenix would rather employ Warrick/Turkoglu for millions more.

Manny Pacquiao broke Antonio Margarito's face to no one's surprise. No, seriously. Margarito had his right orbital bone fractured. When you throw 1000 punches, as Pacman is known to do, these things happen. I'm not surprised by the outcome, but I am a little surprised Pacquiao went 12 rounds with him and won by UD instead of KO. I still think his fighting style fits right into Mayweather's strengths, but it doesn't really matter because that fight will probably never happen. What a shame.

I'm going to add this video to my list of videos that never cease to make me laugh. From Webber trying to politely ask "Why in the hell would you give Darko Milicic 20 million dollars?" to Kahn likening Darko to "Manna from Heaven" to Webber's "Good luck" at the end, it's 5 minutes of comedic gold.









PS- I don't know why everyone is on the Redskins case for the McNabb extension. Any time you have a chance to lock up a quarterback about to turn 34 years old, has played 16 games in a season once since 2003 and currently has a QB rating of 76, you have to do it. 5 years, 78 million was a steal for the Skins!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Little Football, A Little Boxing

I guess I don't need to say it, but I will: Manning is ranked way too high on that list.  #8?  That's ridiculous.  No way he's better than Barry Sanders (I do like that Sanders is ranked higher than Emmitt Smith), and no way he has made the kind of impact on the game that Hutson has.  I know lists are made to be argued with, but that Manning thing is absolutely ridiculous.  It's hard to argue with some of those (I have no qualms with the top 5 on that list).  Down a little lower on the list, ranking Aikman ahead of Young is mind-blowing.  I know Young didn't have a really long career, but there's no way Aikman should be rated higher than Young.  I don't like Ray Lewis being #18 and Nitschke all the way down at #47.  By all accounts, Nitschke was the hardest hitter of his time.  He was also pretty quick.  I know Lewis was dominant for a handful of years, but I think this is yet another case of people overvaluing Ray Lewis.  What say you?
I could go on and on about this, but I'll stop here.

I caught the first episode of 24/7: Pacquiao vs. Margarito, and I have to say this: Pacquiao did not come off well at all.  He seemed distracted by politics.  He seemed cocky.  But, worse than cocky, he seemed entitled.  He acted like the fight was already over, and he had won by a knock-out in the first round.  His trainer seemed concerned about Pacquiao's lack of focus...but the trainer also seemed distracted.  He seemed to be taken with his celebrity-like status in the Philippines.  And he also seemed like the outcome of the fight was a foregone conclusion.
Margarito, on the other hand, was extremely likable, extremely humble, and very thankful for the opportunity to fight.  He was training harder.  He knows what the fight means to him, and he also respects Pacquiao's ability.
I'm not saying Margarito is going to win, but I think he has a legitimate shot.

Before I get to the picks, I want to go on yet another rant against Manning.  I get that the Colts have injuries on offense.  But everyone has injuries on both sides of the ball.  "Manning just wins with whoever is out there. If he can win with this crew, he should win the MVP."  No, he shouldn't.  Look at who Manning is throwing to: he still has Wayne, and Garcon has been healthy for the past couple of weeks.  I get it.  Collie is out.  Clark is out.  But he still has Wayne and Garcon...those are two good receivers.  Who is Philip Rivers throwing to?  Patrick Crayton, an injured Antonio Gates, and...um...Richard Goodman, I guess.  And he's on pace to break the record for passing yards in a single season.  And no one is talking about Rivers for MVP.  Manning is not the only quarterback to have injuries to his receiving corps, and he won't be the last.  If you've watched Manning this year, you will have seen a lot more missed throws than normal.  You will see him complaining even more than normal.  Just because a quarterback has injured receivers does not mean that he should win the MVP.

Here are my picks:

Atlanta over Tampa Bay
I'm still not a big believer of the Falcons, but I'm not a believer of the Bucs, either.  Still, I do thoroughly enjoy watching Freeman.  That guy has talent.

Buffalo over Chicago
The Bears are a mess.  The Bills have been playing well the past couple of weeks.  Never have I seen so many people picking an 0-7 team over a 4-3 team.

New England over Cleveland
I'm with you...this game could be close.  But the Pats are looking good, and the Browns are starting Colt McCoy again.

Detroit over New York Jets
Yeah...I'll take the Lions.  Their defense is looking better every week.  I would actually feel better about this pick if Shaun Hill was starting...the Lions need to minimize their mistakes in order to win.  Look for Sanchez to throw a couple picks and have his shoulders slumping on the sidelines by halftime.

New Orleans over Carolina
I think the win last week over the Steelers will kick-start the Saints.  I don't think they'll be as good as they were last year, but they're a better team than they've played this year.  And the Panthers look awful.

Miami over Baltimore
I kind of like this Dolphins team.  They play hard.  They'll force some turnovers in this game, and that will be the difference.

San Diego over Houston
If Gates doesn't play (all signs are pointing that he will not), this could be a closer game than it should be.  But that Texans defense does not look good.  And that Texans offense doesn't look great, either.  For the life of me, I can't understand why everyone talks about how great Schaub is.  He never looks great to me.

Minnesota over Arizona
People have been talking about how bad Favre has been this year.  Granted, I laughed when they carted him off the field like a little baby after busting his chin open, but, before that, he actually was having a very good game.  Accurate.  Good decision-making.  His one interception came on a ball that hit Harvin in the chest and bounced straight into the arms of a defender.  Still, this Vikings team is a mess...I think Childress is trying to get fired.  It doesn't really matter though...the Cardinals are terrible.

New York Giants over Seattle
I'm with you.  I'm still not sold on the Giants, but I refuse to believe that the Seahawks are good, especially with Whitehurst out there.

Philadelphia over Indianapolis
I'm excited to see Vick back out there.  I think it'll come down to the fourth quarter, but the Eagles should win this.  Gimme a couple sacks and Manning interceptions while we're at it, as well.

Oakland over Kansas City
Because I believe in the Raiders running game.  I actually trust Cassel more than Campbell, but in a match-up of two run-heavy teams, I'll take the Raiders.

Green Bay over Dallas
Although I have to say that I'm a little nervous about everyone picking the Packers in a blow-out.  If the Cowboys decide they feel like playing, they have the talent to make trouble for anyone.  I believe the Packers will win this game (and I think their offense will finally get on track), but I'm just a little nervous about all this hype.

Cincinnati over Pittsburgh
I don't know why...but I just have a feeling.  I have a feeling that the defense will smother the Steelers.  I have a feeling that the Bengals will get their running game going.  I have a feeling that Palmer will look accurate for four quarters.

Cyphers and Picks

First things first, what do you make of this list? I'm not going to get on my high horse about how Otto Graham was shafted because I've never seen him play but I do have a couple of questions. Barry Sanders at #17 seems extremely low. As does Randy Moss at #65. As does Marshall Faulk at #70. Peyton Manning slips in just before your boy Don Hutson. No Terrell Owens at all? What say you?

Also, our old pal Dameshek is doing some decent work at NFL.com via columns and videos. Worth a look.

The past couple of games Orlando has gone with a situational starting lineup and I like it. Against the Timberwolves and Nets, Stan Van Gundy has opted to shift Rashard Lewis to SF and let Ryan Anderson start at PF. The first game was a success as Anderson answered with 19 points in 19 minutes. Last night, Anderson got a quick hook for his defensive shortcomings. Still, I like the move because it's something different. Barring injury, Orlando is just about a lock for a playoff seed so why not do some experimenting during meaningless games? I imagine SVG had Boston/LAL/Miami in mind with this move. It allows the team to go bigger to combat the big frontlines of Boston and LA. Also, Paul Pierce and Ron Artest aren't able to consistently make Rashard Lewis pay on defense with their athleticism. As for Miami, I guess the thinking is that no one is going to be able to guard LeBron either way so we might as well get a couple more rebounds with the bigger lineup. Good move SVG.

Loved this video.


Dwight Howard has looked great this year. Last night he destroyed Brook Lopez. The line for Howard: 30 points, 9-13 FG, 12-16 FT, 16 rebounds. Lopez: 10 points, 3-17 FG, 5 rebounds. The numbers don't do it justice as Lopez started 0-13 and scored 8 points in the 4th quarter after Orlando had a comfortable 15-18 point lead. In the game against Minnesota, he had 18 points, 16 boards and 8 blocks...in only 23 minutes of play. His new confidence gets a bulk of the credit but his teammates have also been getting the ball to him a lot quicker. I only hope it keeps up.

I think I'm one of the few people that enjoyed the World Series. I think part of it has to do with me still trying to rationalize the Volquez-Hamilton trade and a WS ring for Hamilton would make that a lot harder. I think another part of it is thinking that if the Giants with Cody Ross batting cleanup for them can do it, surely there is hope for the Reds. I do feel bad for the Rangers a bit though. Vlad really struggled in his first,and maybe last shot, at a WS ring. Texas gutted their system to get Cliff Lee and it seems he's all but been placed in a New York Yankees uniform already.

Brandon Webb is a free agent and I would love for the Reds to take a look at him. He's from Ashland so the appeal of playing close to home for a playoff team may be enough to get him. As he's still coming off of a shoulder injury, I imagine he could be had for a very cheap incentive based contract. With the Reds surplus of starting pitching, there would be no rush to get him to the majors either so he could start in AA or AAA and come up when he feels ready. As for Aroldis Chapman, I think he should be sent to AAA and be taught how to start for a season. There has been talk of him in the bullpen again this season, and I don't know how I feel about it. It would definitely help in 2011, but I think it hurts his chances after that. I could see him going to the bullpen in 2011 and then never really becoming a starter before his contract is up. I say put him in AAA for the entire season if you have to and let the AAA coaches who worked well with Cueto/Bailey/Wood/Leake teach him how to be a starter. If we're in the playoff race again next September, call him up as a long relief man. If not, call him up and let him get some major league starts.

Pick time.

Buccaneers over Falcons- I think I'm probably a little too high on the Bucs and not high enough on the Falcons, but so be it. I think the Bucs steal one here.

Bills over Bears- Of the 7 losses Buffalo has, only your Packers and the Jets put the beats on them and the GB game was Pre-Fitzpatrick. They've played NE, Baltimore and KC tough. I think they finally get their first win.

Patriots over Browns- NE gets the win in a game that's a lot closer than it should be.

Jets over Lions- Jets get back on track here in the battle of the most over hyped Quarterbacks in the league. Flacco should do the coin toss.

Cardinals over Vikings- As mean as it was, the Randy Moss catering story killed me. Absolutely killed me. I just pictured him saying everything in that "I didn't hit no woman/I KNOW THAT CHARLES!" voice. Still, seems strange Childress is trying to act tough by waiving Moss after he lets Favre disrespect him for 2 seasons.

Saints over Panthers- I'm still in shock that the Panthers are this bad. Williams/Stewart is a thing of the past and Steve Smith is being wasted.

Ravens over Dolphins- My man Ed Reed is back on the field and the Dolphins didn't look as good against us as they probably should have.

Chargers over Texans- Phillip Rivers might go for 500 yards here.

Giants over Seahawks- Not sold on the Giants but Charlie Whitehurst is making his first career start here. Giants win.

Raiders over Chiefs- Did I say Alex Smith? I meant the Jason Campbell for Pro Bowl campaign is under way!

Eagles over Colts- Game of the week. Peyton and the Colts are heating up and Vick is coming back to face an average Colts defense. If only they had Bob Sanders.

Packers over Cowboys-I've picked against GB two straight weeks and they've proved me wrong. Also, can we stop the "We knew Kitna would be terrible! He threw 4 picks his first start!" jokes? Three bounced off the hands of Cowboy receivers. I think Jon has a decent day but Clay Matthews is licking his chops for this one.

Steelers over Bengals- We are a horrible football team. If any changes are going to be made we have to lose a lot of games. Rebounding and finishing the year 7-9 or something like that will just convince owner Mike Brown that we are a good team. We need to go up in flames.

I leave you with this. Outstanding efforts from all involved.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

NFL Picks, NBA talk and Nolan Ryan's comeback

I finally got my first in depth look at the Miami Heat when they played Orlando this past week. As I mentioned I had caught parts of their preseason games, but nothing major. It goes without saying, but this team is going to be terrifying.

- Their defense is outstanding and it's only going to get better. No matter how weak the other three players on the court are defensively, LeBron and Wade make up for it. Those two are so long and quick that they can jump to double almost any defender and get back to their man before he gets an open shot. The offense has some work to do, but the defense should carry them until they get the kinks worked out.

-You're going to have to take charges to beat this team. Or flop. A lot. With the way Wade/Bron can drive and get the benefit of any call, your only hope is trying to draw the charge. This bodes well for a Boston team full of actors and LA because of Pau Gasol. Not so much for Orlando, meaning Dwight has to save all his fouls for Wade/James. The phantom calls for those two has begun and won't end until sometime in 2015.

-That team can score in a hurry. A 6 point lead turned to 15 after a three by James and two by Wade. Bron/Wade/Bosh all rested at the same time because of the big lead they had. As the subbing/rotations get clearer, those three will probably never be on the bench at the same time. No lead will ever be safe.

As for Orlando:

-Dwight has looked like a new man this season. He's noticeably more serious (LeBron too) and he's letting that jumper fly. He went 5/9 on jumpers longer than 10 feet in the Miami game and banked in a beautiful 17 footer against Washington. He fell in love with a little against Miami taking it a couple times with the corpse of Zyrdruans Ilgauskas guarding him, but it's hard to argue with the results he had.

-He had 19 points in the first half. He had 0 points in the second half. A good bit of that was due to limited minutes as he fouled out having played only 29 minutes. Another part of it was poor entry passes.

-VC and Shard no showed again. This is becoming a trend in "big" games. Not really a big game because it's the second game of the season but big in the sense that any game against the Celtics/Heat/Lakers could be a playoff matchup. VC got hurt after playing 14 minutes. Quentin Richardson/Nelson/Lewis all combined to go 3-25 for 14 points. I can't wait to see how Dwight gets blamed for this one.

-Again it's early, but this isn't built for a championship run. We don't have a guy that can consistently create his own shot and we need it badly. I think Carmelo is destined is for New York and Chris Paul is still out of the question. Now I hear talks that we may end up picking up the option for next year on Vince Carter. The rationale is this" Even with declining Carter's option, we are over the cap and won't be able to sign anyone from a weak free agent class. If you are over the cap and can't make a move, you might as well have VC as opposed to having no cap room and not having VC, right? It makes too much sense so now I'm openly hoping for a trade to bring in anyone that can consistently create his own shot. Except Gilbert Arenas.

That wasn't a Gilbert gun joke either. I'd be physically ill if Arenas somehow ended up on this team.

Now for the picks.

Cincinnati over Miami- Our secondary is hurting. We're down to our fourth string CB starting and a guy we traded for a week before Game 1 starting at safety. We get no pass rush which only makes the secondary's troubles worse. My concern is that with Roddy White running roughshod on Adam Jones last week (who did the best he could), why was Leon Hall not on him? Leon Hall is a damn good cornerback in his own right. He doesn't have elite speed so maybe I can understand him not starting the game on White, but why not try him after he's proved to be too much for Jones? Still, I'll ride with Cincy.

Dallas over Jacksonville- I said it might take Kitna a start to get going. I didn't know Dallas' first game was against Jacksonville. I can see a convincing win here as they run a little more and trust Kitna not to make mistakes.

Washington over Detroit- Don't you talk about first ballot Hall of Famer Matthew Stafford like that! He'll only have two picks here but next week against the Jets? Double digits could be in play.

Buffalo over Kansas City- It's not enough for Carson Palmer to suck. Now his former backup has the second highest QB rating in the league and has done it against good teams. Kill me now.

St. Louis over Carolina- Lemme tell ya something about Sam Bradford. That's a guy that has the pedigree for success. He went to a little school called Oklahoma...maybe you've heard of it?!? He's a guy that doesn't make mistakes. He does. Not. Make. Mistakes. Not on the field, not off the field. Sam Bradford is the man that your woman wants and you want to be. Bask in him.

NY Jets over Green Bay- Only because if the Jets win this, they can coast for the next month and Rex Ryan knows it. After The Pack at home, they travel to Detroit and Cleveland and then come home to play Houston and Cincinnati. I can see the 10-1 Jets getting way too much hype and Ryan playing the "Nobody believed in us!" card. Can you?

Denver over San Francisco- I'd agree with you about Nate Davis, if they hadn't waived him right before the season. They signed him back to the practice squad, but anytime you waive a guy and pretty much say "Hey, NFL teams. He's all yours!" and nobody bites after the preseason hype he built for himself, that says something. Normally I'd be all for starting the unproven guy over the proven mediocre veteran, but Troy Smith isn't an old man and hasn't really had a fair shot at the starting job. I can see him having a decent game.

Tennessee over San Diego- Phillip Rivers has 2300 passing yards and it's only Halloween! Sweet Jesus. Though I'm not a LaDainian Tomlinson fan, part of me does enjoy seeing him do well in NY just because the entire Chargers organization reeks of jerks and/or creeps to me.

Tampa Bay over Arizona- The Bucs also have somewhat of a cushy schedule in the upcoming month. After Arizona they go to Atlanta, but then have the Panthers and 49ers. I can see the cover of Raheem Morris sitting in his office palming a football with "I told you so!" over his head. Can you?

New England over Minnesota- Please play Brett Favre. Prove how much of a soldier you are even as you kill you team with awful turnovers. That's a guy that just loves playing the game. He's a gunslinger. You'd have to break his ankles to keep him out of the lineup...unless he decides he wants to play on a broken ankle.

Oakland over Seattle- I was high on Darren McFadden in college and it's good to see him playing well in the league. Once blog favorite Jason Campbell turns it on, this team is headed to the Super Bowl! Or an 8-8 record. Whatever.

Pittsburgh over New Orleans- James Harrison decides to come out of retirement just in time to put the beats on Drew Brees and the Saints.

Indianapolis over Houston- Foster won't rush for 230 again. Peyton will make a name for another previously unknown receiver. Here's to hoping it's former UK tight end Jacob Tamme. Colts win.

Am I the only one that thinks Nolan Ryan is dying to get back on the field? The way he watches the game screams "I could go 6 and a third if I needed to". I see the Giants winning Game 4 and Cliff Lee being a healthy scratch in Game 5 as Ryan calls his own number.

No plans for Halloween. You get into anything?