Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Eloquence of Haynesworth

I'm completely with you on both the Reds and the Melo situation (sorry he's not heading to Orlando).  Not much more to say about that.

The Cards are in a bit of a tricky spot.  I think they have to re-sign him, for the sake of keeping their fans happy. If he was a little past his prime and he had a protege in waiting, that's a different situation (think Favre and Rodgers).  But they don't have anyone waiting in the wings, and they can't hype a team based around Matt Holliday and some pitchers (especially since Rasmus appears to be on his way out).

I know they have money, but the Jeter situation seems to be a much more difficult decision to make.  From the reports that I've read, he wants a massive contract extension (somewhere in the $15-$20 million a year range).  No one but the Yankees is going to pay that money, but the Yankees feel like they have to give it to him, being an icon and everything.  So the Yankees are bidding against no one to keep an aging shortstop with no range and diminishing offensive skills.  Beyond that, they can't bench him, so he's blocking the way for a young talent who could potentially.take his place.
On the other hand, they're the Yankees.  Screw them.

Not sure if you've seen this or not.  Basically, Haynesworth says that he is not Washington's slave.  Here is my favorite quote from the interview: "I guess in this world we don't have a lot of people with, like, backbones...Just because somebody pay you money don't mean they'll make you do whatever they want or whatever.  I mean, does that mean everyone is for sale?"  First off...terrible grammar.  Just awful stuff.  Second, it's a terrible argument.  You were paid to play in the middle of the line.  The defense switches from 4-3 to 3-4, and all of the sudden that $100 million isn't worth it?  You're a slave because the team switches defensive schemes?  It's not like they want him to play linebacker all of a sudden.  Lastly, this argument might hit a little harder if ol' Albert didn't have a reputation of being extremely hard to motivate.
So, if we're lucky, Haynesworth will get traded to a 4-3 team soon.  Or he'll suffer a season-ending injury.  Just get him away from me.

Now, the picks:

Tennessee over New York Giants
The Colts ran all over the Giants.  The Titans have a better running game than the Colts.  There's a possibility that the Titans could win this game without ever attempting a pass.
(While we're kind of on the subject...can everyone please shut-up about the whole, "The Colts always have a terrible running game," storyline?  They don't have a bad running game.  They just don't run very often, because Peyton doesn't get any glory when the team runs, so he calls more passes.  That's it.)

Pittsburgh over Tampa Bay
I'd love to see the Bucs win this game, and they may have a shot.  This should be a fairly low-scoring game.  So, if the Bucs can get a couple big plays, they could win this.  But if the Steelers defense is legit (which appears to be the case), they won't get those big plays.

Cincinnati over Carolina
I'm glad you brought up the Palmer thing...he's just not right.  Is he still kind of injured, or is it something else? He better get his act together fast...the Bengals don't have much room for error this season.  But they'll win this game.  Sorry Jimmy Clausen...you're going to look horrible.

Baltimore over Cleveland
Whatever.  With how the Browns have been playing, the Ravens should win this game easily.  Of course, Flacco has looked pretty bad so far this year, so anything is possible.

Houston over Dallas
Calling the Cowboys "a very, very average team" may the nicest thing anyone has said about them this year.  That defense is awful, and the offense is pretty mistake-prone.  The Texans are looking like the team they were supposed to be two years ago.  I'm excited.

San Francisco over Kansas City
I actually saw this game picked as an "upset pick".  Um...what?  Sure, the Niners are 0-2 and the Chiefs are 2-0, but does anyone believe the Chiefs are good?  They have won two games on the backs of a few big plays and terrible quarterback play.  Do I think the Niners are a good team?  No...but they're better than teh Chiefs.

Minnesota over Detroit
The Vikings will win how they used to...on the back of Adrian Peterson.  He'll have a monster game, and Favre won't make any major mistakes.  It could be a close game, but the Vikings will finally get a win this season.
A note on the Favre situation: yes, he looks like he doesn't really want to be there, but I think he'll get better as the season progresses.  It certainly doesn't help anything that he doesn't have many targets to throw to.  I've heard some talk about him retiring mid-season.  Unless he suffers an injury, I highly doubt that will happen.  He is currently sitting on 287 consecutive regular-season starts.  I think he wants to get to 300.

New England over Buffalo
Although it could be a close game...the Bills seem to give Brady some trouble.
I'm with you on the Brohm situation.  The Bills pretty much know this season is lost already...why not try out Brohm and see if they think he could be a long-term solution at that position?

Washington over St. Louis
I'm not sold on the Redskins, but they did throw up some pretty gaudy numbers on the Texans last weekend. And the Rams...well...who knows when they'll win a game?  (Actually, they may have a shot against the Seahawks next week.)

Philadelphia over Jacksonville
I was just talking about "Vick as trade-bait" the other day.  It makes perfect sense.  He played a half against a Packers team who didn't gameplan for him, and a full game against the Lions.  This week he goes against the Jags, then he has the Redskins next week.  That's three full games against non-elite defenses, so he'll look good.  Then they can trade him for maximum value.
On the other hand, Reid may think he has enough talent to win now, and roll the dice on Vick this year and see where he takes them.  I still think Kolb is the long-term answer, but why not give Vick a season to see what he can do?

Oakland over Arizona
Gradkowski!  Anderson!  NFL Fever...catch it!

San Diego over Seattle
After that stellar first week against the Niners, the Seahawks showed their true colors last weekend.  Losing 31-14 against a below-average Broncos team?  Yup...that sounds about right.  I know the Chargers like to start each season in a hole, but I can't see a scenario in which they lose this game.
To your point about Rivers.  I've seen more articles about how childish he looked in that Chiefs game (including one where a body language expert broke down his antics) then those that defend him.

Indianapolis over Denver
Remember when I said the Giants were going to beat the Colts last week?  Yeah...that didn't go so well.  So I'm taking the Colts in this one as a way to try to reverse-jinx them.

Miami over New York Jets
I like Henne more than Sanchez.  That's pretty much why I picked the Dolphins.  Both teams have good defenses, but I think Henne will do a better job against the Jets' defense than Sanchez will against the Dolphins' defense.
I actually laughed at the "Revis as Pendergrass" thing.  Well played.

Green Bay over Chicago
I've heard a number of people talk about the 2-0 Chicago Bears.  They beat the Lions (on a ridiculous call) and a below-average Cowboys team (which was another close game).  Am I missing something?  Yes, he looks a little better this year than he did last year...but he threw 4 interceptions in his first game last year.  Of course he looks better this year.  Through 2 games he has thrown 1 interception...but he has also lost a fumble and has been sacked 5 times.  And he's going up against Matthews, who already has 6 sacks.  Granted, I'm pretty biased towards the Packers, but I just don't get all the praise for the Bears so far.

And no...I did not see that Hammer/Jay-Z beef.  Exciting stuff.  Can't wait for "Devil's Nite".

It's almost October and baseball still matters!

With the Reds magic number down to 2, it's hard not to get excited about the postseason. I'm still unsure who the Reds will probably face in the playoffs, but none of the matchups look particularly appealing. I want no part of the Phillies. Halladay-Oswalt-Hamels could beat any team in the league in a best of 5 series. I guess I wouldn't mind seeing the Braves, but Tim Hudson is dynamite and Atlanta will be playing hard for Bobby Cox in his farewell tour. Part of me wants the Giants because I refuse to believe they can duplicate their 38 run, 53 hit showing over a three game series last month. The other part of me doesn't want to chance it, especially with Lincecum coming on strong. San Diego doesn't look tough on paper, but they haven't all year and have still had a great season. With the way the Reds have been playing lately, it might not matter who the opponent is. Cincy is 9-13 this month and only 1-7 against teams above .500.

Still, I'm already excited for next season and that's something I haven't been able to say in a long time. 36 million of the Reds 68 million dollar payroll is tied up in Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo and Francisco Cordero. Harang and Arroyo both have 2 million dollar buyout options. Ideally, the Reds would buy both out and save the combined 23 million owed to them in 2011. Then, the Reds re-sign Arroyo for a lower figure and let Harang walk. Too bad Arroyo already said he wouldn't restructure his deal. Still, I'd like to have him back next season. Cordero is in the last year of his contract and I seriously doubt you could give that contract away so we may have to eat it. Still, with the saved money and playoff revenue, I think the Reds could make a semi-big move this offseason. You and I have both talked about how much we'd love to add Carl Crawford to our respective squads, but I think a big money team will leave us both wanting. Option #2 for 2011 Reds left fielder? Matt Kemp. With the Dodgers owner divorcing, it appears that team is looking to cut costs after a disappointing year. Kemp has had his issues in LA and probably needs a change of scenery. Enter Yonder Alonso, the Reds first basemen who is blocked by Joey Votto. I've heard talks of moving Votto to LF or even trading Votto but I'll hear none of it. Send Alonso and another piece to LA for Kemp. Dusty Baker is a players manager, right? Let him work with Kemp on whatever it is that soured him in LA. It would also allow LA to shed the salary of James Loney in a separate deal to further attempt to cut costs. Your 2011 Reds outfield- 26 year old Kemp- 26 year old Drew Stubbs (hitting .296 over Aug-Sept)- 24 year old Jay Bruce (hitting .321 over Aug-Sept) . Done and done. I'd love to get Colby Rasmus from the Cards but I seriously doubt they deal him to their division rival.

Speaking of the Cards, what does St. Louis do with Albert Pujols? He's a free agent after next season and wants a big contract. I don't think a 300 million dollar deal would be out of the question. But the small market Cards have most of their money locked up in Holliday, Carpenter, Wainright and Albert. It seems they won't make the playoffs this year with that formula and Reds don't appear to be going away anytime soon. Do you give him the big contract and nickel-and-dime the pieces around that core? Or trade him, get a kings ransom for him but risk alienating a fan base by trading one of the greats while he still has some productive years left? What do you do?

It looks like Carmelo Anthony will be on the move in a matter of days. It seems he's headed to New Jersey in a four team deal where the Nets ultimate give up Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and draft picks for Carmelo and maybe D.J. Augustin. Let me say that while a Brook Lopez-Melo duo sounds nice, a point guard duo of Augustin/Jordan Farmar scares no one. If I'm New Jersey, I insist on Chauncey Billups. If Denver is really going to move Melo, they are committing to rebuilding around Ty Lawson and Derrick Favors and have no need for Billups. Billups isn't what he used to be, but I'd like that team a lot more if he was running point guard over Augustin or Farmar. The Bulls could have had a chance at Melo, but refused to give up Joakim Noah. I like Noah. A lot. But for all his positives, he wants a 65 million dollar contract extension. He'll never be an all star with Dwight Howard, Brook Lopez, Andrew Bogut and Al Horford in the East. He'll never be able to defend a Howard/Lopez/Bogut in the playoffs. You could find someone to give you what Noah does. Orlando's own Marcin Gortat could replace Noah's numbers for 50% of the cost. You can't find another Carmelo Anthony. I think the Bulls could regret this one.

Onto the picks.

Tennessee over NY Giants- I don't put much stock in the Titans game against the Steelers because that Pittsburgh defense is back to being elite. I think the Titans bounce back here against Eli and company.

Pittsburgh over Tampa Bay- I think Pittsburgh is going to be scary when Roethlisberger gets back. Legitimately scary.

Cincinnati over Carolina- I think Clausen will have a nice career, but I am glad he's getting his first start against us. Our defense looked great against Flacco last week and here's to hoping Carson Palmer can continue to do just enough to get the W. Good lord, he's looked terrible these first two weeks.

Baltimore over Cleveland- Cue Flacco throwing three touchdowns and the "Flacco is an elite quarterback" talks heat up again. Cue Baltimore forcing two or three turnovers and their defense being overhyped for about the third straight year. That defense was very underwhelming against Cincy last week. Palmer just couldn't take advantage of it. Neither can Seneca Wallace. You are on the clock, Colt McCoy.

Houston over Dallas- Hold the phone. So just because the Super Bowl is being held in a team's town, that doesn't automatically make them a Super Bowl contender? You mean, the Cowboys are actually a very, very average team? Go figure.

San Francisco over Kansas City- San Francisco gift wrapped that game to give to New Orleans last week, and still almost won. I think they get their first win here. Alex Smith had a good game against the Saints. I have to wonder why he doesn't run more especially when he cam pick up first downs with ease.

Minnesota over Detroit- I'm tempted to pick Detroit. Shaun Hill has led Detroit to two near victories and Minnesota has looked abysmal, much to my delight. Actually, I think I will pick Detroit.

Detroit over Minnesota- That's better.

New England over Buffalo- Buffalo just announced Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starter. What does Brian Brohm have to do to get a start? I know the Green Bay experiment didn't work out and his one start last season with Buffalo didn't end well, but why not kick the tires on him? What's the worst that could happen? Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards are exactly who you think they are.

Atlanta over New Orleans- New Orleans did not look good against San Fran and beat a bad Minnesota team. Atlanta lost a close one to the Steelers, who appear to be legit, and pulverized the Cardinals, who appear to be terrible. I think the Falcons pull off the win.

Washington over St. Louis- I'm not sold at all on the Redskins, but that division is wide open and the Rams are still cutting their teeth.

Philadelphia over Jacksonville- Am I the only one that thinks the Eagles are trying to boost Mike Vick's trade value? By trading McNabb within the division, they all but admitted they were looking to rebuild. They gave Kolb a 12 million dollar extension just to play him one half against a good Green Bay defense and Clay Matthews, who may or may not be human? Something is off about that picture, no? Granted, Andy Reid could have realized with the NFC East wide open, Vick could potentially get them in the playoffs but after the season do you really want to be the one to give 30 year old Mike Vick big money? Of course not. So you let Vick show off against the Lions, Jaguars and Redskins before you sell high on him before the Week 6 trade deadline.

Oakland over Arizona- You think Matt Leinart ever checks the Cardinals box scores and laughs aloud to himself...but then realizes he's third string behind Schaub and Dan Orlovsky and stops laughing? I'd like to think he does.

San Diego over Seattle- Why does Phillip Rivers get the same pass that Peyton Manning does? You know, the one where he can bitch at teammates/opponents/fans all he likes but gets a pass for it because he's a great competitor/father/husband/Christian? That's swell and everything, but it doesn't exclude one from jerky behavior.

Indianapolis over Denver- The Kenny McKinley story was a sad one and I think Denver definitely comes out to play hard, but I don't think it will be enough.

Miami over NY Jets- I'll admit it: Sanchez looked excellent last week. If he plays like that, maybe the Jets are who everyone thinks they are. He won't. Plus no Revis to cover Brandon Marshall leads me to pick the Dolphins. Also, why hasn't this ever been pointed out? I wish I could take credit for it and am mad at myself for not thinking of it earlier.

That's right! Revis is a doppelganger for the late, great crooner Teddy Pendergrass!!!

Green Bay over Chicago- Jay Cutler has played surprisingly well and I think he has another good game here. Won't be enough though. Pack keeps rolling.

EDIT: Please, please tell me you've heard about the potential Jay-Z- MC Hammer beef.

Friday, September 17, 2010

NFL, NFL, NFL

Unlike you, I thoroughly enjoyed the first weekend of NFL action.  Then again, my team won...although it was slightly less than impressive.  Rodgers threw two touchdowns, but he also threw two picks, only 188 yards, and was sacked twice.  After their defense looked great against Kolb, they looked terrible against Vick.  I chalk that up to the Packers not gameplanning for Vick...but still, they got gouged.  I predict much better results this week against Buffalo.  I know our offense is better than it showed against the Eagles.  I'm guessing this is just a slow start to the season.  Our schedule allows us to have a slow start, so that's good.
I've heard a lot of talk about Lynch to the Packers...and one person mentioning Fred Jackson to the Packers.  I'd rather have Jackson...but I don't see why that would happen.  Lynch has been in the doghouse in Buffalo for a few years now...why keep him and trade away Jackson?  In either case, I would welcome them.  I love Brandon Jackson (I think a lot of people are going to be impressed with him this week), and John Kuhn is is tough runner, but we need someone else in there.  Lynch would be terrific.

I read Whitlock's article.  While there were problems with it (all of which you pointed out), I think he does have a point.  Although a better point may be that these guys are overvalued because of their surrounding talent in college.  Sanchez put up some great stats in his final game at USC...but he didn't look that good.  He was throwing behind guys on a consistent basis, but they were so open that it didn't matter.  I know NFL teams watch a lot of video, but performances like that can skew their view, and make them draft someone higher than they should.

Good point on Revis.  Reminds me of the point you always make about LeBron, Wade, etc. being called "shutdown defenders".  Sure, they can be shutdown on the teams 3rd best scoring option...but what about the first?  Cromartie struggled with Boldin all night...why not move Revis over there?  Beyond that, I'll go back to the point that I have made on numerous occasions: when people talk about Revis' greatness, they leave out a lot of information.  He's not always playing man-to-man...they often play some sort of zone.  A receiver catches a ball in front of Revis, but it's not credited to Revis, because the receiver just found a hole in the zone.  Other times, a catch is said to be the fault of the safety not covering.  I think Revis is good...but not nearly as good as everyone seems to think he is.

While we're on the topic...
When did everyone agree on the fact that Stafford is a good quarterback?  In 10 starts last year, he threw 13 touchdowns and 20 interceptions (pretty close to Sanchez's 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions).  Yet, for some reason, I'm reading things like, "The Lions are going to have a tough time winning games with Stafford out."  Really?  Shaun Hill did pretty well with the Niners when he came in.  Why can't they win with Hill?  In fact, I think they have a better chance to win with Hill than they do with Stafford.
I'll save my "Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are not elite quarterbacks," rant for another day.

Onto the picks:

Tennessee over Pittsburgh
I like Dennis Dixon, but he didn't look great against the Falcons.  I doubt he'll look great here.  The Titans looked great last week.  This one should be relatively easy.

Minnesota over Miami
I really wouldn't be surprised to see Miami win this one, but I'll take Minnesota.  The Vikings rely a little more on the running game (and Peterson has a big game), and Favre shakes off a little of the rust that plagued him against the Saints.

Atlanta over Arizona
The Cardinals went from a pretty good team to damn-near unwatchable in record time.  I don't love the Falcons this year, but they're better than the Cards.

Cincinnati over Baltimore
I didn't like how the Ravens looked last week.  I know the Jets have a good defense, but Flacco just didn't look very accurate.  Rice should have a better game here, but not good enough to win.  I'm a little worried about Palmer, though...he made some terrible decisions last week.  By my count, he should've been picked-off at least three times.  I hope he gets better as the season goes on.

Kansas City over Cleveland
Blech.  I'm really only taking Kansas City because I love McCluster, and I don't trust Seneca Wallace as a starting QB.  This could easily go the other way.  Whatever.  I really don't care.

Dallas over Chicago
The Bears looked awful last week...and that was against the Lions.  I don't love the Cowboys (even less this year than in previous years), but I really think the Bears are a mess.
[Can we talk for a second about that Calvin Johnson TD-no-TD-catch?  I understand the rule, but it's really dumb.  Johnson had control of the ball, two feet, an elbow, and his butt down - and his left hand slipped out of bounds - when he placed the ball on the ground.  That's a catch.  Everyone could see that was a catch.  Absolutely ridiculous.]

Philadelphia over Detroit
It was kind of fun seeing Vick run around again last night (although I would've hated it if the Eagles would've won that game), but I just don't see any progression.  He's still fast, but he's also wildly inaccurate.  He can make plays, but he still not a great QB.  Still, he'll do enough to beat the Lions.  If Suh doesn't get a hold of him.

Green Bay over Buffalo
I imagine this game will be over at halftime.  My only regret is that it's not taking place later in the season...I would love to watch this game in the snow.  Brandon Jackson should have a great game.

Carolina over Tampa Bay
I'm tempted to take Tampa Bay here, but, in the end, the Panthers running game will just be too much for the Bucs to overcome.

Seattle over Denver
At some point, the Seahawks will fall apart...but they'll keep hope alive this week.

Oakland over St. Louis
They got killed last week, but I still think the Raiders will be a decent team.  If they lose to the Rams, I may have to reconsider.  I would like to question the coaching decision to have Sam Bradford - a rookie QB who missed most of his senior season with a shoulder injury, which he had surgery one - throwing 55 passes in his first game.  Just not smart.

Houston over Washington
Loved the Texans win over the Colts, mainly because they knocked the hell out of Manning, and I always love that.  The Redskins looked terrible last week.  This one shouldn't be close.

New England over New York Jets
The Pats looked great last week.  The Jets looked terrible (my favorite play was Dustin Keller running out of bounds after a nine yard gain on 4th and ten...that killed me).  You can talk about the Jets' defense all you want...the Pats are going to win this game.

San Diego over Jacksonville
Although I wouldn't be surprised to see the Jags take this.  The Chargers always get off to a slow start, and this season looks like more of the same.  Still, I have a feeling they'll win this.  No way Garrard looks that good two weeks in a row.

New York Giants over Indianapolis
What beat the Colts last week?  A defense that hit Manning a lot, and a killer running game.  Who fits that description?  Why, the Giants, of course.  Welcome to a 0-2 start, Peyton.  Time to start throwing people under the bus.

San Francisco over New Orleans
Yup...that's right.  I think the Niners will have fixed their communication problems on offense, and I think their defense will be fired up after a poor showing last week.  It'll be close, but I think the Niners will pull this one out in the end.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

FCC and NFL Picks

I must admit: The first weekend of the NFL was a little underwhelming. Maybe I'm just saying that because my team was trounced, but there seemed to be a lot of sloppy play and serious injuries (From Leonard Weaver's gruesome injury to Bob "Paper Mache`" Sanders to Ryan Grant-Sorry about that). It doesn't help that my fantasy team got trounced as well, thanks to Tony Romo being the only person to hit double digits in points. Thanks a lot, fellas. I am in a fantasy college football league and it's a lot more interesting than the NFL. NFL fantasy football seems based on matchups and pure luck. In college, your dominant players are pretty consistent. It's my first year, and though I'm not a huge college football follower, I could definitely see myself playing again.

Jason Whitlock has began his NFL Truths again, a column both you and I enjoy. In this past weeks edition, he claimed that USC quarterbacks (Palmer, Leinart, Sanchez) fail in the NFL because Pete Carroll surrounded with them with elite talent. Fair point, except for the fact that Palmer was there three years (one redshirt) before Carroll was. He went 6-6 in his first year under Carroll and 11-2 in his second year, after offensive coordinator Norm Chow came to town. You'd be hard pressed to say Palmer was surrounded with the talent that Leinart and, to a lesser extent, Sanchez were. He also says Palmer was "pretty good" before his knee injury, neglecting the two years after the injury where Palmer threw for at least 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns in each season. Whitlock goes on to say that Brady, Warner and Roethlisberger all went on to playoff success because they had to fight for jobs/play with middling talent in college. Of course, Brady's success had nothing to do with being a 6th rounder drafted to an 8-8 team and allowed to sit a season and develop before taking over. Warner's success had nothing to do with the fact that he too, got to sit an entire season before taking over an offense with Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. I'll give you Roethlisberger. He came onto a 6-10 team, started from game two and did exactly what they needed him to do as a rookie. Palmer sat his rookie year as well, but was drafted to a 2-14 team. Leinart actually took over for an ineffective Kurt Warner during his rookie year. Sanchez was thrown to the wolves and had a bad year but stepped up in the playoffs to his credit. To imply that Brady/Warner/Roethlisberger found success because of what they went through in college and ignoring the situations they were drafted into seems foolish to me.

After a good stretch, I really hate to do this but I must bring back the "Francisco Cordero Chronicles". Lets jump back to September 10th, shall we? Given a 3-1 lead heading into the 9th inning, Francisco goes to work blowing his 7th game of the season. He gives up 4 hits and 3 runs in 0.1 inning before Toothpick himself gets out of his seat and replaces him with Arthur Rhodes. A 7 innings, 9 strikeouts, 5 hits, one earned run outing from Homer Bailey is all for nothing. Our old pal Jonny Gomes saved the day in the 12th inning with a game winning hit. Lets pick up September 12th against the Pirates. Given a 1-0 lead going into the 9th inning, Cordero promptly gives up a walk, 3 hits and 3 runs to blow his 8th game of the season. A 7 inning, 7 strikeout, 3 hit, 0 earned run outing from Johnny Cueto is all for nothing. Fast forward to September 15th against the Diamondbacks. Given a 7-4 lead, Cordero gives up a run before Jay Bruce saves his ass, and the game, with a great catch on an Adam LaRoche ball that just about tied the game. I'm not even mad at Cordero anymore. He has shown repeatedly that he can't be trusted to consistently get guys out and close out games. I blame Baker. Dusty keeps trotting him out there and then acts genuinely surprised when he blows the game. The talk for Baker as Manager of the Year is insane to me. His contract is up after the year and I only hope he takes his talent elsewhere.

As I mentioned earlier, I really am sorry about Ryan Grant going down. Brandon Jackson should be more than a capable replacement but I think the Packers should inquire about Marshawn Lynch. He's stuck in the doghouse in Buffalo and is out to prove he's more than a third string RB. He's just a full season removed from a Pro Bowl campaign and at this point, Green Bay could get him for peanuts from Buffalo. He would also keep me from worrying about him stealing carries from my fantasy RB's Spiller and Jackson. Everybody wins.

Can Randy Moss please go for about 200 yards and 2 touchdowns on Darrelle Revis this weekend? I keep hearing about how Revis didn't miss a step and shutdown his receiver. Except for his receiver was 36 year old Derrick Mason. Congratulations. Meanwhile, Anquan Boldin had his way with Cromartie and whoever else the Jets threw at him. More congrats to Cromartie who is getting credit for a great pick when Joe Flacco threw a bad pass into triple coverage. Nevermind Cromartie getting killed all night and the numerous penalties he got, that pick more
than makes up for it!

Onto the picks.

Tennessee over Pittsburgh- The Steelers barely escaped the Falcons in Pittsburgh. I don't think they beat the Titans in Tennessee.

Minnesota over Miami- I'd love to pick Miami here but they didn't look too swell against Buffalo. I do think this could be a surprisingly good game though.

Atlanta over Arizona- Derek Anderson wasn't horrible last week, but he was going against a weak Rams team. I think the Falcons force him into some bad decisions.

Cincinnati over Baltimore- Palmer is 8-3 in his career against the Ravens. That Baltimore offense looked bad against the Jets. If we can get any type of pressure on Flacco, I think we could win this comfortably.

Kansas City over Cleveland- Matt Cassel was abysmal and the Chiefs still pulled out the win. I think they get by against Cleveland.

Dallas over Chicago- Both looked terrible last week but at least the Redskins could be a decent team. I don't think the Lions are there yet. Cowboys win.

Philadelphia over Detroit- Nobody wants to see Mike Vick succeed more than I do. He looked damn good last week and I only hope he keeps it up. I've watched enough Mike Vick to know better, but I'm still hoping.

Green Bay at Buffalo- Because this game will probably be 31-3 at halftime, maybe the Marshawn Lynch for a late round draft pick trade talks can get done during the third quarter. Lynch could even see some fourth quarter action for the Pack.

Tampa Bay over Carolina- Seems like every year there is a 2-0 team was horrible the year before. I think the Bucs are that team.

Seattle over Denver- Or Seattle. Seattle could be that 2-0 team. Whatever. Can't imagine this being an interesting game.

Oakland over St. Louis- I think McFadden has another good day and Campbell has a decent outing as Oakland's offensive line fares better against St. Louis than it did against Tennessee.

Houston over Washington- Houston looked dynamite last week. Washington didn't.

New England over New York Jets- I don't think it's close. The Patriots dominated last week in all three aspects of the game and I think they do it again this week.

San Diego over Jacksonville- The Chargers have too much talent to fall in consecutive weeks to mediocre teams...don't they?

Indianapolis over New York Giants- Apparently the quarterbacks of these teams are kin to each other. You'd think it would come up more often.

New Orleans over San Francisco- The Alex Smith Pro Bowl Train gets back on track here! Too bad, they will be down 20 points before Smith really gets cooking.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It's here! It's really here!

Don't you do it. Don't you put that Dontrelle Willis hex on Aroldis. I won't stand for it. He is getting a bit overhyped though. I've heard calls for him to start amidst our current skid. No thanks. He has two pitches right now and I wouldn't dare count on him staying under control for 5 or 6 innings. I'm starting to get a little nervous. It's not even that the Reds are losing, but the way they are doing it. They seemed content to lose the final game of the Cards series after winning the day before. They left 32 runners on base during the sweep at the hands of the Rockies. Swinging at bad balls, taking bad angles on defense, whatever. They just haven't looked good. Hopefully 7 games against the Pirates/Diamondbacks will cure what ails them.

Good points on Stubbs on being the fastest kid alive. I'm sure he's three counties away as I'm typing this. Along with the hyperbole, I think it just gives announcers something to say. Another case in point: Just today, Chris Berman said the following, "In case you are still wondering about if Drew Brees is an elite quarterback in the National Football League, just look at who he beat in the postseason." Who was questioning Drew Brees' credentials? No one. That's who. Stop talking, Berman.

Now for some picks.

Saints over Vikings- Defending champ at home? Say no more. Also, I see a lot of people picking the Vikes to finish with seven or eight wins. I don't see it. The Bears and Lions are weak and even without Sidney Rice, the Vikings have too much talent to fall that far. I think they surprise some people because their schedule gets easier during the second half of the season and Rice figures to be back.

Dolphins over Bills- Not much to say here. The Bills should have taken Jimmy Clausen. Kudos to former Wildcat Steve Johnson for getting the starting WR job alongside Lee Evans. Here's to a good season for Steve.

Bears over Lions- I really don't see it with the Lions. They will be better than they were last year...but they only won 2 games last year. Stafford threw 20 interceptions in 10 games last season. He'll have that by Christmas.

Titans over Raiders- I like the Titans this year. Seems like every couple of years they make a run. They had that great run at the end of last year and were hit hard by injuries during the first half of the season. I, too, think the Raiders could have a decent year. If the Chargers stumble, 8-8 or 9-7 could be enough to take that division.

Bengals over Patriots- Complete homer pick. I'll make no apologies for it. No Logan Mankins. Wes Welker in his first week back( By the way, I don't think the advancements in ACL surgery are being talked about enough. I thought it was amazing Palmer made it back for opening day. Welker plays a position where cuts and acceleration are vital and he figures to be back. Soon a guy will tear an ACL in October and be back by Christmas. Incredible.) Their best cornerback is out for the season and we've upgraded our passing game. I hope we can steal one here because it certainly doesn't get any easier for us.

Panthers over Giants- I think the Panthers make the playoffs this year. I like them much more than the trendy pick of the Falcons. I think the Giants will be decent, but decent won't be enough in that division.

Steelers over Falcons- Let the record show that I'm terrified of the Steelers. Not worried about the Ravens because Flacco is still their quarterback and we're 8-3 against them in our last 11 meetings, including the infamous Ryan Fitzpatrick season. The Steelers scare me though. I think Dixon can keep things afloat until Roethlisberger gets back and then they take off.

Buccaneers over Browns- I don't think the Bucs will be as bad as people think they will. I think the Browns will be worse than people they will.

Jaguars over Broncos- Orton! Garrard! The Jacksonville fans get to think about what could have been as they watch Tim Tebow on the sidelines.

Colts over Texans- As nice as it would be to see Houston finally get over the hump, I can't see it. I think the Colts get that division and the Titans get the wild card leaving Houston with another 9-7 record watching from home.

Rams over Cardinals- I went to St. Louis once. Pretty nice city.

Packers over Eagles- Like you said, the Pack is getting a little too much love. I think they'll be good, but that bandwagon got awfully full over the past couple of weeks.

49ers over Seahawks- Alex Smith for 2010 Pro Bowl. Tell a friend to tell a friend.

Cowboys over Redskins- Miles Austin just got a nice new deal and has Kim Kardashian on his arm now. Hello complacency. At least Roy Williams is there to pick up the slack.

But seriously.

Ravens over Jets- Man oh man. I don't know who to pick. The Jets will tear your head off and then your mothers head. But Ray Lewis, lemme give you three words that describe Ray Lewis: Warr. I. Or. Then there's Rex Ryan who coached the Jets to an undefeated season just last year and still found time to cure cancer. But don't forget Joe Flacco. This guy is ready to make the leap. I'm thinking he throws for 7,000 yards and 62-68 touchdowns this season. He'll be great...as long as he doesn't throw at Darrelle Revis. Revis hasn't allowed a pass to be caught on him since junior high. But he's never faced a guy like Anquan Boldin though. Just last year Boldin was thrown out of a 30 story building on a Saturday. He had three touchdowns the next day against the Panthers. Tough as nails.

Chargers over Chiefs- This is the Monday Night late game? Chargers- Chiefs is the best they can do? They are lucky that Ravens-Jets will end football as we know it and everyone will be too mentally exhausted to even watch this game.

Reds, Roots, and NFL Picks

Before I get to the NFL, allow me to weigh in on your Stubbs question.
You asked if it was racist for people to call Drew Stubbs the fastest guy to ever don a Reds uniform.  My answer?  No.  I think it's yet another case of hyperbole.  Announcers want everyone to be the best that ever played.  It's why Manning is often called the best quarterback who ever lived...completely ignoring Montana, Elway, Starr, etc.  Stubbs is fast...no doubt about that.  Faster than Deion Sanders?  Absolutely not.  But we often don't look at players in the past when talking about a talent now.  We want to be watching history.  We want to watch the fastest guy to ever wear a Reds uniform, and we want it now.
Racist?  I doubt it.  Ignorant?  Absolutely.

I like Chapman...but I'm not as excited about him as most others seem to be.  He can hit 100+ on the radar gun.  Good for him.  He won't be the first, and he won't be the last.  But, from what I've seen of him, he has more than a little Dontrelle Willis in him.  He can be good, but he can also be extremely wild.  I'm hoping he doesn't really show that side until they get through the playoffs.  I hope he can be a weapon, like Zumaya for the 2006 Tigers.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

To answer your question about The Roots: if they blow up, it's all fine with me...so long as they keep making great albums.  There are a number of bands over the years that I have loved, only to see them get big and stop making good albums.  I didn't stop liking them because other people starting liking them...I stopped liking them because their music got terrible.  A perfect example is Bright Eyes.  LOVED early Bright Eyes.  Letting Off the Happiness, A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-1997Fevers and Mirrors and Lifted are all terrific albums (Fevers and Mirrors being my favorite).  He broke into the public eye with I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning.  It too was a good album...a little more along the folk lines than his previous albums, but it was still a good album.  Then came the press.  "Conor Oberst is the next Dylan."  He started playing with bigger acts (he did a concert in support of Obama with Springsteen).  His next album, Cassadaga, was a complete mess.  It was further down the line of folk/country.  He has released a couple of albums since then under his own name, but nothing comes close to the greatness of his early records.  I think he just bought into his own hype, and his music suffered.  I still hope that he will release another great album at some point...but it seems pretty unlikely now.  It's a story that has happened far too often in music.
So, if The Roots get popular, more power to 'em.  They've been my favorite hip-hop act for years.  It's about time more people know who they are.  However, I just hope that they can maintain their edge, and that they can continue to release good albums.

Now...to the NFL picks (it's been waaaay too long since I've written that):

Saints over Vikings
I just don't see the Vikings coming into New Orleans and beating the Saints on opening night.  I think it'll be close, but the Saints will win this one.

Dolphins over Bills
The Dolphins should be much-improved this year.  I liked what I saw of Henne last year, and he should be better this year...and that was before they added Brandon Marshall to the mix.  These guys could make some noise in their division.  The Bills?  Not so much.

Lions over Bears
This is less about the Lions offense (I am in no way sold on Stafford...why are we supposed to believe he's an elite QB this year?) and more about their defense against the shaky Cutler.  So long, Lovie.

Raiders over Titans
I know I'm not the first person to say this, but I believe the Raiders could have a good year this year (and by "good", I mean 8-8).  I think the Titans will be good this year, but I think they'll lose this one...probably by a late field goal.

Patriots over Bengals
But just barely.  The Pats defense doesn't look great, but their offense looks good.  I think the Bengals will run the ball and get some big plays from their receiving corps (I love the Ochocinco/Owens/Shipley combo), but I don't think it will be enough.

Panthers over Giants
Blah blah blah Giants defense blah blah blah Eli Manning.  The Panthers look much better than they did last year, and I think Eli bombs this year.  Sorry New York...you'll have to wait another week to see a win in that stadium.

Steelers over Falcons
I don't get the hype around the Falcons.  They seem like a borderline team.  I think Dixon comes out in this game and puts on a show.

Browns over Buccaneers
And for one week, Cleveland fans can say, "That Jake Delhomme looks pretty good."

Broncos over Jaguars
It says something that there are two NFC West match-ups this week, and this game right here is the one I'm least likely to watch.

Texans over Colts
I'll jump aboard that train.  I think the Texans are ready.  Let's get Mario Williams to hit Manning early in this game, and it's all over.  You can do it, boys...I know you can.

Cardinals over Rams
The Derek Anderson Show starts for Arizona.  How many weeks before they pull him?  My money is on six.

Packers over Eagles
I'm trying not to buy into the hype here (so many people singing Green Bay's praises is making me a little nervous), but I'm extremely excited for this season.  The offense looks better than last year, and that's saying something.  I doubt our defense will be as good as it was last year, but we still have a shot to be a top-ten defensive team.  Color me excited.  To the Eagles: I think Kolb won't look great in this game, but he'll be fine.

49ers over Seahawks
This division is the Niners to lose.  Part of that is not losing to the Seahawks in Week One.  I think they'll pass this test with flying colors.  There's a chance Hasselback may not walk away from this game.

Cowboys over Redskins
But only because McNabb is hurting.  I think the Skins could surprise some people this year.  Another team that could surprise people?  The Cowboys...but in a bad way...as in, I don't think they'll be very good.

Ravens over Jets
Showdown of the two most hyped teams this offseason.  The Jets on Hard Knocks and the Ravens as the sexy Super Bowl pick.  I'd be surprised if the Jets won 9 games this year.  And yes...the Ravens have upgraded their offensive weapons (Boldin and Housh).  But I'm still not sold on Flacco,  And that Ravens defense isn't scaring anyone.  Could they be good?  Yes.  Super Bowl contenders?  Nope.

Chargers over Chiefs
I think the Chiefs will have a decent year.  I really like McCluster...I think he'll do well for them.  But they won't turn it around this year.  Even with Vincent Jackson gone from the Chargers, they'll still win this game.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pigskin is in the air!

I wouldn't be so quick to give Nate Davis the backup job. I can't imagine Singletary giving him the backup job only a couple of weeks after openly questioning his work ethic. Of course Davis probably should get the backup job just because we've seen what David Carr can do in the NFL, but NFL coaches are stubborn. See Cincinnati playing veteran free agent to be QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 12 starts in Carson Palmer's absence, instead of giving the reigns to the Jordan Palmer during the last couple of games. As for Alex Smith making the Pro Bowl, that was more of a statement on how weak the Pro Bowl is rather than on how good Alex Smith is. Look at this past year's festivities. In the AFC Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Phillip Rivers were voted in. Peyton was out for the Super Bowl. Brady and Rivers were out due to injury. Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer were picked as alternates...only they declined due to "injury". That left the AFC with Matt Schaub, Vince Young and David Garrard as the Pro Bowl QB's. Eek. Things were a little better in the NFC, but not much. Brees, Favre and Rodgers were voted in. Brees misssed the game due to the Super Bowl and Favre declined due to injury. McNabb and Romo filled in. Like you mentioned, this upcoming season figures to have some combination of Rodgers, Brees and Romo elected. You have to think one of those guys is in the Super Bowl. We'll go with Rodgers for your sake. He's out due to the Super Bowl. I can't see Brees participating after probably another late season run. If Romo doesn't make the Super Bowl, I can't imagine him playing and fielding the annual "postseason failure" questions. McNabb is already hurt and I'm not so sure he has a Pro Bowl year. If Favre makes it, there is no way he accepts the invitation. I agree that Kolb has a good chance but I think Alex Smith fits in just above Matt Ryan due to having more weapons and playing in an easier division. By no means do I think Smith is a top 3 QB in his conference, but I can see him slipping into the Pro Bowl.

Man, you said it. Basketball may be my favorite sport but there is nothing like kicking off football season. There were some good games yesterday. I loved Jacksonville State going for the win on the road against Ole Miss. Them getting the two point conversion with a true freshman QB at the helm shows me that the football gods are alive and well. Kentucky-Louisville wasn't too shabby either. Mike Hartline looked like a new man. He was extending plays by moving around, keeping his eyes downfield and he looked more confident. After two seasons of defending him, I feel like a proud father. I only hope he keeps it up. Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb looked great but the defense left something to be desired. Still, with Florida, Ole Miss, LSU and Vanderbilt looking less than stellar the Cats could catch some people off guard. Color me excited for this season.

Let me put on my Jason Whitlock hat for a second. Drew Stubbs is the topic. Solid player, pretty good baserunner and obviously very fast. We've talked about this before but the announcers won't stop heaping praise on Stubbs and his gazelle-like speed. Not too long ago Thom Brennamen said that Stubbs could very well be the fastest player ever to don a Reds uniform. What?!? Pokey Reese was pretty fast. Barry Larkin and Eric Davis were demons on thes basepaths. Hell, Deion Sanders is one of the fastest men this world has known and he suited up for the Reds. Even stole 35 bases in 79 games. There is no way Stubbs is faster than those guys, so I ask: Is this race related? Are there so few speedy White guys that one is being overly hyped? Obviously the announcers aren't doing this maliciously and Stubbs is very fast, but is it being talked about ad nauseum because of his color?

The Cardinals just took two of three from the Reds but I'm not too worried. The Cardinals needed the wins more than we did and they had to throw their best three pitchers at us to do so. Bad news- The Reds now play 17 straight games. Good news- They are against the Rockies, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Astros and Brewers. More good news- The Cardinals play 14 straight games including series against the Braves and Padres. I feel good.

Aroldis Chapman has been outstanding. A fastball that hits 100 mph routinely and has topped out at 104. A nasty slider in the high 80's. His domination of what can only be Big League Chew as he pitches is the stuff legends were made of. I bet Cy Young chewed Big League Chew. I'd say his debut was a close second to the night we traded for Ken Griffey Junior in terms of most exciting Reds related moments of my life. Here's to hoping the Chapman era far exceeds the Griffey era.

The Bengals finally cut Antonio Bryant and ate the 8 million dollars they had guaranteed him. It sucks but I think it will be for the best. Jordan Shipley and Andre Caldwell should be able to handle the slot duties. Jermaine Gresham and a healthy Reggie Kelly should help out too. If nothing else, I hope this convinces Mike Brown to scout players more thoroughly. In the past couple of years we have gotten no return on investment from second rounder WR Jerome Simpson, third round TE Chase Coffman (who was released be re-signed to the practice squad) or FA signings Laveranues Coles and Antonio Bryant, both given 28 million dollar contracts.

EDIT: I just read we cut JT O' Sullivan and claimed Dan LeFevour off waivers from the Bears. Love the move. There wasn't much difference between O'Sullivan and Jordan Palmer so keeping both was pointless. In LeFevour, we get a rookie dual threat QB. He started all four years at Central Michigan, has the most touchdowns of any FBS player ever with 149 and won 35 games in his 4 years starting, not including shredding UK for 4 touchdowns in a close loss a couple of years ago.. He was projected to go as high as the third round in this past years draft but fell to the 6th round in the draft after refusing to do some passing drills with WR's he was unfamiliar with. Whatever. We got him for nothing and it lets us work on developing a QB. The knock on him is that he didn't play out of a pro style offense in college. Here he can be developed at his own pace here and we gave up nothing for him. Good move.

I was watching "The Next Movement" video the other day. It's easily my favorite Roots song and there isn't a close second. Great song, great video. I may have asked you this before but I can't remember your answer so here it is: Would you like to see The Roots blow up? I mean they do well, but they have never went platinum. That's a crime. Would you rather have the world know their music, but have to deal with the bandwagoners that accompany any big movement or have them stay relatively unknown outside of the Jimmy Fallon faithful?

Matt Leinart getting cut cracked me up. Not the fact that he got cut, but the way it went down. He is benched for Derek Anderson, complains about it and then gets cut within a week. Hilarious. I was also humored by TJ Houshmandzadeh being cut so that Mike Williams can get another chance. The same Mike Williams who starred for Pete Carroll at USC but has 44 career catches since he was drafted in 2005. Let's recap the past week for NFC West fans. Seattle cuts one of its only decent players for a certified bust. The Rams name a rookie their starter despite a shaky line and no receiving weapons around him. The Cardinals just released the heir to the starting job to give the job to Derek Anderson. Yea, Alex Smith is making the Pro Bowl this season.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Football!

Okay...so maybe you're right on the Alex Smith thing.  But, if he struggles early, don't be surprised to see Davis in there.  Really, all Smith needs to do is not throw a bunch of interceptions.  Their running game should be solid.  They should have a good defense.  And they play in the worst division in football.  Unless Derek Anderson has another Pro Bowl year (highly unlikely), the Niners should win this division easily.
But Smith in the Pro Bowl?  That's crazy talk.  Let's think about this for a second: three quarterbacks go to the Pro Bowl every year.  Three.  Now, look at the NFC.  I think it's a safe bet that Rodgers will be going this year.  Brees is also a given.  Romo is a good possibility.  I think Kolb has a shot.  McNabb could be in the mix.  Ryan could be on that list.  Then we have Smith.  Now, the team that makes it to the Super Bowl won't have a quarterback in that game.  I hope that's Rodgers.  Which, I believe, would leave Brees, Romo, and Ryan in the Pro Bowl.  I'm sorry...I just don't see Smith cracking the top three.  But anything could happen...I'm not overly confident in any of those picks other than Rodgers and Brees.  But still, I just don't see it.

The Leftwich injury is the best thing that could have happened to Pittsburgh.  From what I've read, it seems like Leftwich will at least be out for week one, which gives Dixon a chance to start against the Falcons.  I think the Falcons could be good this year (although I'm not as convinced of that fact as many others seem to be), but I think their defense will be the biggest weakness.  Hopefully Dixon will show enough in this game to win the starting job until Roethlisberger gets back.  Which will only be 4 games.  "Hey...you didn't rape any girls, and you've been somewhat tolerable to be around.  Let's reduce that suspension."  Good call.  Way to hold strong.

I'm in two fantasy leagues this year.  One of them will be my first ever auction league.  I'm not sure how that's going to turn out, but I'll let you know.

Another series against the Cardinals for the Reds.  Here's to hoping this series goes better than the last one.  Still, I'd imagine it's hard to get too stressed out about it, seeing as how the Reds still have a 7 game lead in that division.  Still, it would be nice to put a hammer in that coffin right here.

Opening Saturday for college football is happening right now.  The opening game for the NFL is less than a week away.  I love this time of year.