Thursday, November 26, 2009

NFL Picks Week 12

Last Week - Spread: 9-7
Last Week - Game Winner: 13-3
Overall - Spread: 48-49-1
Overall - Game Winner: 65-33

Green Bay Packers (-11.5) over Detroit Lions
Game Winner: Green Bay Packers

I’m willing to bet that Matthew Stafford’s 5 TD performance led to his “percent owned” skyrocketing across fantasy leagues everywhere. Also, Detroit’s 37 points allowed against Cleveland’s horrid offense only cements them as the official worst defense in the league. On another note, the award for biggest difference between fantasy and real life value goes to Aaron Rodgers, who somehow has managed to be a weak link despite his 19 TDs, 5 INTs and 102.6 QB rating.

Oakland Raiders (+13.5) over Dallas Cowboys
Game Winner: Dallas Cowboys

It’s mind boggling to think the Raiders have three wins, two of which have come against the Eagles and Bengals. Thank God the Bruce Gradkowski era has begun. I actually do feel terribly for Raider Nation because of three things: their horrific QB situation, having Al Davis as an owner, and a coach that beats women and is somehow still employed.

New York Giants (-6.5) over Denver Broncos
Game Winner: New York Giants

It always feels good when one of my claims is vindicated. The Broncos are not a good team. They’ll finish the season around 8-8, better than they should have to begin with. During the game, look for Tom Coughlin’s face to explode after something unfavorable happens to the Giants. I also would like to extend a special thanks to FOX for always giving a close-up of that epic Coughlin face at least eight times a game.

Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) over Houston Texans
Game Winner: Indianapolis Colts

This game comes down to one thing. All season, Indy has found ways to win, while Houston has found ways to lose. Although this one will definitely be close. 4 of the Texans losses are by a combined 20 points. By the way: Do you have any idea what Jim Caldwell looks like? He might be the least visible NFL head coach in 30 years.

Cincinnati Bengals (-14) over Cleveland Browns
Game Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

Don’t be fooled by the Browns’ offensive outburst. After a solid win against the Steelers and a terrible loss against the Raiders, the entire Bengals team is waiting to unleash its fury on the inept Browns. I would take the Bengals if this line we’re 24 points. Also, Eric Mangini wins the award for second dumbest coaching move of the season by allowing Matthew Stafford to reenter the game by calling a timeout on the last play of the game. His thinking: “Let’s give them a chance to think over their offense while we think over our defense. Meanwhile, instead of going against the rusty Daunte Culpepper, we’ll let Stafford get back in, who has already thrown 4 TDs.”

Minnesota Vikings (-11) over Chicago Bears
Game Winner: Minnesota Vikings

The most frustrating part about the Vikings is that Brett Favre is an MVP candidate. I wouldn’t be surprised if he underperformed last year on purpose, just so he could throw it in Ted Thompson’s and the media’s face that he’s still a top QB in the league.

Washington Redskins (+9.5) over Philadelphia Eagles
Game Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

The play of the Washington Redskins has put Dan Snyder in an interesting spot. Even though their record is 3-7, they have played hard and well enough that it’s hard to justify firing Jim Zorn, especially with their depleted talent on offense. But knowing Dan Snyder, I wouldn’t be surprised if after the season he offers Bill Cowher a $100 million contract to coach his team.

Miami Dolphins (-3) over Buffalo Bills
Game Winner: Miami Dolphins

The Bills used up their “our poor play got our coach fired and now we’re motivated” factor last week. Also, Perry Fewell must feel confident in his job status now thanks to Buffalo ownership meeting with Mike Shanahan for seven hours. And Miami is somehow still in the playoff hunt at 5-5.

Arizona Cardinals (+3.5) over Tennessee Titans
Game Winner: Arizona Cardinals

This is probably the first time a 4-6 team is favored over a 7-3 team. It’s also probably the first time that owner input in coaching decisions has actually worked out. It just goes to show that Jeff Fischer is by far the most overrated coach in the league. If Tennessee wants to actually make a legitimate playoff run, they need this game. Too bad Arizona is 5-0 on the road.

Seattle Seahawks (-3) over Saint Louis Rams
Game Winner: Seattle Seahawks

Does anyone actually want to watch a divisional game in the NFC West?

Atlanta Falcons (-12.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Game Winner: Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta is 4-0 at home. But the more interesting storyline is Raheem Morris taking over play calling duties for the defense. Is that really necessary when the season is already over anyway? Also, someone needs to explain the Jon Gruden firing. The team was 9-3 last season before its collapse. Then they fire the coach, hire a 33-year-old defensive backs coach and get rid of all its talent to rebuild. Am I the only one seeing some problems in the front office?

Carolina Panthers (+3) over New York Jets
Game Winner: Carolina Panthers

These two teams epitomize the importance of the QB. Both are strong in every area except QBs, and the result is a 4-6 record for both. The only difference in this game is that Jake Delhomme will throw less picks than Mark Sanchez. The more important line for this game should really be:
Interceptions (-2) vs. Touchdowns Scored

Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) over San Francisco 49ers
Game Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars

Did you know that the Jaguars are 6-4? Everyone knows that Maurice Jones-Drew is putting up a stellar numbers, but who knew it was translating to wins. Even though I’m picking the Jaguars, I really do want the 49ers to win. Let’s try and create some excitement in the NFC West.

San Diego Chargers (-13.5) over Kansas City Chiefs
Game Winner: San Diego Chargers

If New York did not have a football team, I would be a Chiefs fan. Despite their lack of talent, they play extremely hard, even though their season is already over. Coming off a great win against Pittsburgh, their confidence is high. But the first matchup this season, which was in Kansas City, ended with a 37-7 San Diego win. But if there's one game which I won't be upset if I pick it incorrectly, its this one.

Pittsburgh Steelers (+4) over Baltimore Ravens
Game Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers

Baltimore has a knack for losing close games. Last week Joe Flacco pick in the red zone and Ray Lewis’ hit on Chad Ochocinco are just two examples. But what bothers me most is Ray Lewis’ bad mouthing of Brady Quinn after his hit on Terrell Suggs. If that was dirty, then what was his hit on Chad Ochocinco? Yet I still can’t hate him, because whenever I Youtube NFL big hits, Ray Lewis is always involved. He falls into the category of athletes that I hate and like at the same time along with Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Reggie Miller.

New England Patriots (+2.5) over New Orleans Saints
Game Winner: New England Patriots

Two high-octane offenses + two mediocre defenses = a great game for fantasy owners. Even though New England is 1-3 on the road, there’s no way Bill Belichick does not lose his final opportunity to spoil a perfect season. Also, does anyone else find it amusing that Drew Brees is the man that pumps up his team before the game? He’s probably the smallest guy on the team.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How to Recognize True Fanhood

Millions of people follow sports with varying degrees of dedication. So how do you distinguish the true fans from the fake ones? Although I have previously explained this technique at baseball games (7 Ways to Recognize a Non Baseball Fan at a Baseball Game), only one person can evaluate your fanhood: yourself. Here are 20 ways to see if you are a true fan.

1. When you go on a computer, you check the normal websites: Facebook, e-mail, and (or some equivalent, but you should really be looking at ESPN).

2. You subscribe to Sports Illustrated solely for bathroom reading material.

3. You lose every Sunday in the fall and winter due to football.

4. Random college football games are better than anything else on television on a Thursday night.

5. When you turn on the television, it's already on ESPN.

6. You know O.J. Simpson for something other than, "If the glove don't fit, you must acquit."

7. You are looking forward to the summer of 2010.

8. You don't find baseball to be sufficient entertainment for the summer.

9. You know who Eric Karabell and Matthew Berry are.

10. You are familiar with the "Tuck Rule."

11. You befriend people with great season tickets to your hometown team, or you hold up a sign outside the stadium reading "selling tickets" on game day.

12. You can name 10 athletes each with the last names "Williams" and "Smith."

13. You're still waiting for a second season of "Playmakers."

14. When you're feeling down, you watch plays or games from your teams' glory days.

15. You think Marat Safin is just jealous that Andre Agassi on crystal meth is still better than him.

16. Sometimes people catch you whistling the theme song of the the NBA on NBC.

17. You wonder why Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy did not simply spend their entire careers as commentators.

18. You think that Tony Kornheiser works better with Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski than Mike Wilbon.

19. You miss Max Kellerman. Tony Reali does not suffice.

20. The phrase isn't, "the game winning touchdown." It's "the spread covering touchdown."

NFL Picks Week 11

Last Week - Spread: 6-8-1
Last Week - Winner: 9-6
Overall - Spread: 39-42-1
Overall - Winner: 52-30

Miami Dolphins (+3.5) over Carolina Panthers
Game Winner: Miami Dolphins

I can honestly say that I have intentionally not looked at the score of this game so that the integrity of my pick is not ruined. I have zero trust in Jake Delhomme. Every week the Panthers look like their season is going to turn around, they implode. And every time we write them off, they come out with an impressive performance. Their last 5 games have alternated between wins and losses. That means this week they're due for loss. On a brighter note, Jonathan Stewart fantasy owners have a meeting this week to give thanks to his emergence (finally) on the fantasy scene.

Detroit Lions (-3) over Cleveland Browns
Game Winner: Detroit Lions

You know it's a sad game when the Lions are favored, but the Browns are just that bad. They're even on pace to set a new NFL record for least points scored in a season. Even the New Orleans defense has more TD's than the Browns offense (7-5). On another note, congratulations to the Lions. It has to be an improvement that they're favored for the second time this season (-3 against the Rams).

Buffalo Bills (+8.5) over Jacksonville Jaguars
Game Winner: Buffalo Bills

One main stat points in favor of the Jaguars. Maurice Jones Drew vs. Buffalo rush defense. Last week Chris Johnson had 132 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns, and another 100 yards receiving on 9 receptions. But there's one factor in this game that cannot be accounted for in the stats: The guilt of the firing of Dick Jauron. Every Buffalo player knows Jauron was not the reason the team lost. Interim coach Perry Fewell, a candidate for other head coaching positions last off-season, will have this team fired up.

Minnesota Vikings (-11) over Seattle Seahawks
Game Winner: Minnesota Vikings

It's upsetting that Brett Favre is enjoying such great success this season, and it's even more upsetting that I'm picking them this week, but it's hard to pick against the emerging Sidney Rice and MVP candidate Adrian Peterson. Hopefully the playoffs treat them poorly.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-10.5) over Kansas City Chiefs
Game Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers

Vegas allowed last week's games to affect this game's line too much. Yes, Kansas City won...against Oakland. And Pittsburgh did lose... but there's no doubt that they'll take out their frustration on Matt Cassel. I wouldn't be surprised if Charlie Batch made an appearance due to a 35-0 halftime score.

Indianapolis Colts (-1.5) over Baltimore Ravens
Game Winner: Indianapolis Colts

It's hard to pick against an undefeated team, especially when they were completely outplayed and still managed to win last week. Also, I think it's time everyone finally jumped off the Ravens' bandwagon. They consistently prove that their defense is not the same, especially now that Terrell Suggs will miss significant time. The icing on the cake: Peyton Manning has won his last 6 in a row against Baltimore.

New York Giants (-7) over Atlanta Falcons
Game Winner: New York Giants

I'm willing to bet that Coughlin fined a minimum of 10 players for arriving 15 minutes early to team meetings (as opposed to 20) during the Giants' bye week. There's no chance that after 4 straight losses and 2 weeks of preparation the Giants let this one slip away, especially since the poor play of every NFC Wild Card contender has given the Giants new life.

Green Bay Packers (-6.5) over San Francisco 49ers
Game Winner: Green Bay Packers

These might be the two most frustrating teams in the NFL. The 49ers are everyone's "you're an underdog team with a coach who preaches hard work, so we root for you because you win games the right way" team. Then came Michael Crabtree. Green Bay, on the other hand, is proportionally the team with the best talent and least to show for it. I'll take the talent this week.

Washington Redskins (-11) over Dallas Cowboys
Game Winner: Dallas Cowboys

These teams are in completely different places. Washington is coming off an uplifting victory thanks to Kyle Orton's ankle. Dallas was dominated last week in a 10 point defeat to the Packers. Even though Washington is 0-4 on the road, last week gave them some much-needed confidence make this a game. But there's one undeniable factor: Both coach and QB are playing for their jobs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+10.5) over New Orleans Saints
Game Winner: New Orleans Saints

New Orleans is in cruise control until the playoffs. They've also failed to cover three straight lines over 10 points, while Tampa Bay has covered as the 10 point underdog two weeks in a row. Favorite injury of the week: Reggie Bush. Fantasy owners are disappointed when he gets injured. Yet why are we still surprised? This pattern has become almost as consistent as the Philadelphia Eagles' mid-season collapse.

Arizona Cardinals (-9) over Saint Louis Rams
Game Winner: Saint Louis Rams

It's a shame that Stephen Jackson suffers from Barry Sanders Syndrome: He's losing the prime of his career on a consistently horrendous team. Hopefully he doesn't retire at age 31, because he's currently setting himself up for the biggest contract extension/free agent contract of all time. Meanwhile, Arizona, despite Kurt Warner's admission on PTI, seems to be losing its schizophrenia. Hopefully I didn't just jinx them.

New England Patriots (-10) over New York Jets
Game Winner: New England Patriots

Bill Belichick has two factors in his favor this week:
1) Revenge - The loss in week 2 to an obnoxious coach and a rookie quarterback is probably eating away at Belichick.
2) A chance to reassert his dominance after last week - All doubters will be silenced. If Belichick let the door creak slightly open, he will slam it shut on the Jets.
Expect a Tennessee-type beating in which he continues to pass the ball deep into the 4th with a 50 point lead, just to shove it in Rex's face. Maybe it'll bring him to tears (again).

Cincinnati Bengals (-9) over Oakland Raiders
Game Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

It really bothers me that this is an upset pick for a lot of people. I simply don't get picking the Raiders, espcially when they do not have any upset factors, which include revenge, underachieving or a uniting factor (i.e. the death of the wife of Cincinnati Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer). Is Cincinnati really on too great a high after last week's win? Not so great that they'll let lowly Oakland beat them.

San Diego Chargers (-5) over Denver Broncos
Game Winner: San Diego Chargers

These teams are moving in completely opposite directions. Although this game has lost of the appeal of the two most hated QBs in the NFL (Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers), I'm still looking forward to Josh McDaniel's coaching ability being questioned in the post game press conference after Denver gets killed, again.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) over Chicago Bears
Game Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

When is the league finally going to recognize that Jay Cutler does not deserve the acclaim that he gets? His 17 INTs is even higher than Jake Delhomme, yet Jake gets all the criticism. It's also about time that Philli rounds into form to become the team that no one wants to face in the playoffs for the 28th year in a row.

Tennessee Titans (+4) over Houston Texans
Game Winner: Tennessee Titans

I have a man-crush on Chris Johnson. I think Madden creators will finally get it right next year to give him a 99 rating in every category relating to running. It's also remarkable how teams can't stop him, even though everyone knows he's going to get 35 touches a game. Plus, Vince Young is actually completing passes. Who knows what could happen when the QB throws it to his own team?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

5 Reasons Why Belichick Went For It

4th and 2. Patriots have the ball on their own 28 yard line, up 34-28. In all my years of watching football, never have I seen a coach go for it. But the immortal Bill Belichick contradicted every logical thought and did the unthinkable. And then he failed. Here are five possible reasons explaining this controversial decision.

He thought it gave his team the best chance to win.
As he claimed in numerous post game interviews, he took a calculated risk that would've ended the game on the spot. But really his decision stated that he did not trust his defense to stop Peyton Manning from marching the Colts 70 yards for a touchdown. So much for the Patriots' vaunted defense of old. But when I hear people like Teddy Bruschi saying that Belichick didn't show enough trust in his defense, I am seriously outraged. How old are these guys? They're professionals. They're paid to stop the other teams offense. They couldn't. Could you really blame Belichick? (Although I still would have punted the ball).

He did it because he could.
If anything, his decision was more of statement of his coaching immortality. How many coaches in the league could make that kind of call and keep his job? None. It's interesting how coaches reach a certain point where no one questions their overall abilities, even when the majority of their success was years ago. It took Denver 11 years to realize that Mike Shanahan only won with John Elway and Terrell Davis. Or how about Jeff Fisher. Career record with the Titans: 133-108. Playoff Record: 5-6. Pretty bad considering this is his 15th season coaching Tennessee.

He wanted to give a big "Eff You" to the Colts.
Winning this game with a defensive stop would not have been that exciting. Going for it on 4th and 2, a totally obnoxious and risky call, and then pulling it off, resembles a classic Madden strategy. Anyone who plays knows how frustrating it is when something like that happens. And to make matters worse for the Colts, how great would it have been for Brady to hit Kevin Faulk on a two yard out with four other receivers on the field, including Randy Moss and Wes Welker? What a nostalgic way to pull off a victory. The only thing that could have topped that conversion would have been Ty Law running out on the field during the Colts' last drive after the Pats punted, then him intercepting and bulldozing Manning on his way to the end zone. Or what if he pulled a Maurice Jones-Drew/Brian Westbrook and fell down at the 1 yard line? What could have been...

He was trying to set up an epic finish.
The Colts recent success has angered Belichick. Ever since the 2007 AFC Championship game, the Colts have dominated this matchup, and Peyton Manning has become the premiere 4th quarter comeback quarterback. I would not put it out of Belichick's realm of possible thoughts that he was anticipating a failed conversion so Brady could rekindle his old 4th quarter magic and set up the
game winning field goal after Manning punched it in for the Colts. The only thing missing was Adam Vinatieri. Was I the only one that wanted to see this game end with a missed Adam Vinatieri field goal? Always the most clutch kicker (for the Patriots).

It was unintentional.
Have you ever heard a Bill Belichick post-game interview? If yes, you are familiar with the following sequence:
1) A reporter asks a question.
2) Belichick gives a 10 word response.
3) Everyon
e in America clicks "volume up" on their remote.
So my final reason for the 4th and 2 play is pretty simple. He mumbled something to Brady during the timeout, which Brady misheard. There's a 50% chance the following scenario occurred:

Tom Brady: Coach, what are we doing on this play?
Bill Belichick: Let's go for the stop.
Tom Brady: We're going for it with a play for Faulk?
Bill Belichick: I said let's kick it to them. Do you need me to shout?
Tom Brady: O
kay. Let's stick it to them. I'll feed it to him on the out.
Jim Caldwell: Hey Peyton, what defense do you want to call?
Peyton Manning: I'm the quarterback. I play offense. You're the head coach. Shouldn't you be deciding this?
Jim Caldwell: Let's be honest. Everyone knows that you're the real coach of this team.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Week 10 NFL Picks

Last Week - Spread: 6-7
Last Week - Winner: 7-6
Overall - Spread: 33-34
Overall - Winner: 43-24

I haven't been so hot recently. Interestingly enough, the Giants losses have coincided with my bad streak picking games. Here we go for Week 10.

San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) over Chicago Bears
Game Winner: San Francisco

I can only hope that you believe me when I say that I did pick this game before it happened. Although my reasoning before was that Chicago's defense is embarrassing and San Francisco is a good team with a bad record (The Michael Crabtree effect. As soon as he signed, they started to lose).

New York Jets (-6.5) over Jacksonville Jaguars
Game Winner: New York Jets

Rex Ryan has had a bye week to prepare, predicting his team's future appearance in the playoffs. Jacksonville is the exact opposite of San Fran. A bad team with an okay record (4-4). Plus they're 1-3 on the road. Although the award for best fantasy player on a bad team would go to Maurice Jones-Drew, with Steven Jackson and Chris Johnson a close second.

Denver Broncos (-3.5) over Washington Redskins
Game Winner: Denver Broncos

Is it just me or does this line seem a bit low? A 6-2 team only giving 3.5 points to a 2-6 team playing without Clinton Portis? I know I've already stated my dislike of Denver (Bandwagon article) but they're much better than Washington. On another note, Jason Campbell's numbers are not as bad as one might think.
Completion Percentage: 66.2 TD: 9 INT: 8 QB Rating: 86.5
Not so bad for the scrutiny he gets. It's not his fault he plays in the West Coast Offense.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-7) over Cincinnati Bengals
Game Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers

Just as Denever was finally exposed as a non-elite team, so will Cincinnati. I'm not saying that either team is bad; they are solid teams. But with a healthy Troy Polamalu, an emerging Rashard Mendenhall and Big Ben playing well, this team also happens to be my Super Bowl pick. Although I have to say that Chad Ochocino's fine for "bribing" an official was awful. How does DeAngelo Hall leave an on-field fight unscathed while Chad comes away with a $20,000 fine? That was almost as bad as Andy Reid's decision to kick a field goal down 20-13 with no timeouts and 4 minutes and change left on the clock.

Tennessee Titans (-7) over Buffalo Bills
Game Winner: Tennessee Titans

Two stats make this game an easy pick: Chris Johnson is on pace for 1900 yards rushing on approximately 18 carries a game. Buffalo gives up a league worst 173.6 yards per game. But what makes me like Chris Johnson even more is Al Davis. Because of his obsession with speed at WR and RB, he choose a fast running back with the 4th overall pick: Darren McFadden. Too bad he took the wrong guy. Like always.

Minnesota Vikings (-17) over Detroit Lions
Game Winner: Minnesota Vikings

I really do feel bad for the city of Detroit. When the pride of your town is your hockey team, you know you have issues. All your general managers have ruined your teams. Joe Dumars managed to destroy one of the greatest team chemistries ever by getting rid of Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace, (I know he's back now, but he's not the same) and Antonio McDyess. Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski got rid of Miguel Cabrera. I don't care how much he's asking for. You pay him. And Matt Millen, well I don't have to say anything. And it's too bad the city of Detroit's morale will not improve after they get smacked by Adrian Peterson and the Vikings. I'd also like to make a tribute to the truck stick of the year, courtesy of Mr. Peterson.

New Orleans Saints (-14) over Saint Louis Rams
Game Winner: New Orleans Saints

Although Steven Jackson somehow continues to put up great numbers, Saint Louis is way overmatched. Fantasy wise, this is a great matchup for Jackson, who should continue with another outstanding statistical game. Although one thing that bothers me: Cleveland and Saint Louis are both terrible, yet only Eric Mangini is critcized. Because of Steve Spagnuolo's status as a first year coach, I think the media has relegated him to the category of "You're a first-year coach and your team is so terrible that we just feel bad for you. Good luck and we're all pulling for you."

Atlanta Falcons (-1.5) over Carolina Panthers
Game Winner: Atlanta Falcons

Carolina had every opportunity to turn their season around. But John Fox decided that it would be best to run the ball and trust the defense to make stops against Drew Brees. I thought it was Andy Reid out there coaching. On another note, the New Orleans receiving core continues to be the most frustrating fantasy receiving core ever. Every great offense has a couple of go to receivers. Brady has Welker and Moss, Manning has Clark and Wayne (plus Harrison circa 3 years ago) yet Brees only has one, Marques Colston. Why can't Robert Meachem or Devry Henderson just step up already?

Tampa Bay Buccanneers (+10) over Miami Dolphins
Game Winner: Miami Dolphins

I am not falling into the trap of Tampa's win last week against Green Bay. Miami has become the team that's never out of any game and never running away. Not including their 28 point victory over Buffalo, their largest game margin, defeat or victory, has been 12. But I'm somewhat pleased that Raheem Morris' desperation hail mary (switching QBs, again, to Josh Freeman) actually worked. You have to love it when coaches look smart after making desperate decisions. When Raheem says something like "We were just accelerating our plan in developing Josh," he really means, "I didn't want to become the first first-year head coach to be fired before my #1 draft pick even gets on the field."

Kansas City Chiefs (+1.5) over Oakland Raiders
Game Winner: Kansas City Chiefs

Possibly the worst game in the history of football. Yet the intensity will probably be one of a playoff game. No one wants to be labeled the worst team in the league, as the loser of this one will. However, a more intriguing matchup is number of turnovers vs. number of punts. I'll take the punts. The teams are too inept to even create turnovers, even when JaMarcus is essentially gift-wrapping the football for opposing teams.

Arizona Cardinals (-8) over Seattle Seahawks
Game Winner: Arizona Cardinals

The first matchup between these two teams ended with a 27-3 Cardinals victory. Now the game is in Arizona and the Cardinals are coming off an impressive victory at Chicago. Yet every time the Cardinals seem to show some promise, they relapse. Also, they're 1-3 at home this season, where they've been the favorite all 4 times. Watch out for the reemergence of the Cardinals schizophrenia.

Philadelphia Eagles (+1) over San Diego Chargers
Game Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

As everyone has pointed out this week, Andy Reid is the worst game clock manager of all time. Everyone who has played Madden before knows how to manage timeouts and the last 2 minutes better than he does. But San Diego's recent praise is unwarranted. They barely escaped with a victory against the Giants. Had the Giants been able to get six points after getting a 1st and goal from the 4, everyone would be clamoring for Norv Turner's head. His position in San Diego is interesing though. He's doing well enough with a terrible defense that you can't fire him, but every San Diego fan knows that he can't lead them to a Super Bowl title.

Dallas Cowboys (-3) over Green Bay Packers
Game Winner: Dallas Cowboys

Aaron Rodgers' 103.3 QB rating is deceiving, since he's approaching David Carr status in terms of sacks. Yes, his offensive line is terrible, but he's so afraid to throw an interception that he takes drive-killing sacks all the time. But I'm glad that Vegas actually chose the correct line for this game. Dallas is not that good. Yes, they're on a 4 game winning streak, but two of those wins came against Seattle and Kansas City, and the other two we're close games against Atlanta and Philadelphia. It's not as if they're blowing teams away. They're simply winning games they should be winning. Also, Tony Romo is 13-0 in his career in November. It's funny how this team seems to abide by the same formula every year. Solid record after 12 games, collapse in December, first round playoff exit. Here we go again.

Indianapolis Colts (-3) over New England Patriots
Game Winner: Indianapolis Colts

Without a doubt the game of the week. Although Tom Brady historically owns this matchup against Peyton Manning (7-3), the vaunted dynasty of the Patriots is no more. Looking down the road, it's funny how meaningless this game truly is. Either way, Lucas Oil Stadium will be the location of this rematch, since Indy's toughest opponent after this game is next week at Baltimore. Let's see if Bill Belichick actually tries to win this one or if he withholds strategies to use in the playoffs instead. If you're looking for an unexpected fact about this game, guess who the #1 and #2 ranked points against defenses are in the league?

Baltimore Ravens (-11) over Cleveland Browns
Game Winner: Baltimore Ravens

Everyone needs a pick-me-up game. The Ravens won the first matchup 34-3, when Brady Quinn was the starter. Doesn't that make the timing of Mangenious' decision all the more terrible? Although let me reiterate my support of Brady Quinn. You can't expect a young QB to thrive in under 1/2 of a season of experience, with zero weapons. In fact, you can't expect any QB to thrive without weapons, period. But back to Mangenious. I've found it interesting that of the 4 Belichick head coaches (Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels) only McDaniels has succeeded (at least for now). Compare that to the Bill Walsh Tree, who had Mike Holmgren, Jon Gruden, and Steve Mariucci just to name a few. And you know when one of your coaching descendants starts his own line of coaches (Mike Holmgren with Jim Zorn and probably others who I cannot remember), you know you were a success.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Love/Hate Relationship with College Basketball

With College Basketball now upon us and Isiah Thomas one step closer to being fired from FIU, I am officially excited. Can North Carolina reload and win another title? Can Kansas stay on top for the entire season? Is Georgia Tech now a contender in the ACC that could do some serious damage come tournament time? Here's the reason why College Basketball is simply the best: There is absolutely no answer to these questions. Unlike College Football, every game is not life or death. But that doesn't mean that every game is not important. The difference between a bad non-conference loss versus a blowout win could mean the difference between a #3 and #4 seed, which in turn means facing the #2 or #1 seeded team respectively in the tournament. This means that if Gonzaga had beaten Portland State and Utah early last season, they probably would not have been overmatched by UNC in the Sweet 16. Instead they would have faced Syracuse or Oklahoma, a much easier task.

This brings me to my other biggest reason for loving College Basketball. Well, it's everyone's favorite reason: March Madness. There is no other sporting event like it. You have to love a team like George Mason, who's biggest man, Jai Lewis, at a favorable 6'8, tried out with the New York Giants directly after the season ended. Or how about Kent State's miarculous run to the elite 8 in 2002? Guess who played on that team? Antonio Gates. Once again, unlike college football, underdog teams actually have a chance. Even this year, TCU and Boise State, both of whom will probably finish the season undefeated, cannot both play in a BCS bowl game unless one competes for the National Championship. Give the little guy a chance. One of the greatest games in recent memory was between Boise State and Oklahoma. The Statue of Liberty and Hook and Ladder (or Hook and Lateral, I'm not really sure which one it is) were classics.

But back to College Basketball. So why do I hate it? It plays with my emotions too much. Rarely does a team have consistent success. Until 2 years ago, never had all 4 #1 seeds made the Final Four. This is why betting on College Basketball may be one of the dumbest things one can possibly do. Even when a team like North Carolina plays FIU, how can you say whether they're going to win by more than 31 (that was the spread)? Yes, North Carolina is way better and they're going to win. But 31 is quite a few points to cover. It's like trying to predict when Dick Jauron will be fired. You know its only a matter of time, but otherwise its impossible to say.

Another thing that bothers me? The one and done rule. Too many players are out for themselves. A year of College Basketball is only going to make them more secure and arrogant. By instituting this rule, the NBA might as well have said "Hey, why don't you guys build up your egos for a year by dominating college basketball so that when you come to the NBA after one year only 5% of you will succeed?" Also, there's no continuity anymore. How can a coach install an offense when the personnel changes so drastically each year? But despite all this, one thing's for sure. College Basketball is way better than the NBA.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Most Likely To...

The "most likely to" game does not have to be limited to high school yearbooks. Here are some for professional athletes.

1. Most likely to spend more years in jail than years playing basketball: Stephen Jackson

2. Most likely to give advice to his children through Twitter: Chad Ochocinco

3. Most likely to spend more money on post-game press conference sunglasses than on a house in Buffalo: Terrell Owens

4. Most likely to be hired as a bodyguard after his career is over: Kendrick Perkins

5. Most likely to have children with whom your children are acquainted: Travis Henry

6. Most likely to get upset at his child for dropping out of high school: Allen Iverson ("High school? We talkin' 'bout high school? This ain't college. We talkin' bout high school!")

7. Most likely to refer to his children as "disciples": Johnny Damon

8. Most likely to have people remember their abs more than their faces: Misty May and Kerri Walsh

9. Most likely to cause his son's little league game to last 7 hours due to pitching changes: Joe Girardi

10. Most likely to name his child "Trips right double fly Z left 32 red 47, on 2": Peyton Manning

11. Most likely to become the best player whose name no one can pronounce: Nnamdi Asomugha
(11 1/2. Most likely to be remembered solely for his name and his ability in NFL Blitz: Tshimanga Biakabatuka)

12. Most likely to respond to his wife's question, "What time is it?" with "GAME TIME!" and "Are the dogs in the house?" with "WOOF WOOF WOOF!" 40 years from now : Ray Lewis

13. Most likely to have children that fail a drug test at age 2 for performance-enhanced potty training: Sammy Sosa (Check out this article)

14. Most likely to pull a Bill Gramatica during a celebration: Alex Ovechkin

15. Most likely to ask Coach K if he can suit up again after graduating: J.J. Redick

Friday, November 6, 2009

NFL Picks Week 9

Last Week - Spread: 4-9
Last Week - Winner: 9-4
Overall - Spread: 27-27
Overall - Winner: 36-18

So I got killed last week. It's alright. I haven't dipped below .500.

Jacksonville Jaguars (-6.5) over Kansas City Chiefs
Game Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags are at home and coming off a terrible loss. Although Matt Cassel fantasy owners, if they still exist will be happy to know that he may actually have a decent game against Jacksonville's terrible pass defense. When Vince Young throws only 3 incomplete passes, bells should go off.

Baltimore Ravens (-3) over Cincinnati Bengals
Game Winner: Baltimore Ravens

Chad Johnson has not forgotten that hit from Ray Lewis. Cincinnati sports the 3rd worst pass defense in the league. Joe Flacco is a great fantasy starter for this week. Although at the end of this season Marvin Lewis should thank his team for overachieving and saving his job.

Houston Texans (+9) over Indianapolis Colts
Game Winner: Indianapolis Colts

Houston may finally be losing the title of "most overrated underrated team" in the NFL. For the last 3 years either ESPN or Sports Illustrated has picked them to break out. While they may be 2 games over .500 for the first time ever, they're not that good. But without a running game and an improved Texans team, 9 points is too much to cover.

Seattle Seahawks (-11) over Detroit Lions
Game Winner: Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are pretty bad. The Lions are way worse.

Atlanta Falcons (-10) over Washington Redskins
Game Winner: Atlanta Falcons

Washington is so terrible that picking them is extremely difficult. Although I would love for Dan Snyder to explain why he brought in a coach who uses the West Coast Offense when he has a QB who's strongest asset (well, only asset) is his arm. And they have Santana Moss. And I am definitely not the first person to notice this.

Green Bay Packers (-9.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Game Winner: Green Bay Packers

Another confidence booster for Green Bay after having to play a real team last week.

Chicago Bears (-3) over Arizona Cardinals
Game Winner: Chicago Bears

The two most schizophrenic teams in the league. Therefore my pick is determined by the home team.

Miami Dolphins (+10.5) over New England Patriots
Game Winner: New England Patriots

New England is better. Just not 10.5 points better. Plus Miami always comes up with a new twist on the wildcat just for Bill to deal with. There might not be another Ronnie Brown 6 TD game, they'll rack up the rush yards.

Carolina Panthers (+13.5) over New Orleans Saints
Game Winner: New Orleans Saints

It's interesting what happens when Delhomme doesn't turn the ball over. They'll give New Orleans a run for their money.

San Francisco 49ers (-4) over Tennessee Titans
Game Winner: San Francisco 49ers

Who knew that of all people Alex Smith would give this team the spark they needed. The game with Indy was tight, and Tennessee looked better than they actually were against a terrible Jaguars team.

New York Giants (-4) over San Diego Chargers
Game Winner: New York Giants

If you're looking for a fantasy game of the week, this is it. Rivers will torch the Giants terrible pass defense, and if there's any game for the Giants ground game to get on track, this is it. But what kind of Giants fan would I be if I picked against them?

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) over Dallas Cowboys
Game Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Tony Romo is due for a 6 INT game. Dallas has beaten Seattle, Atlanta and Kansas City with Miles Austin turning into everyone's favorite "run to the computer to pick him up off the waiver wire only to realize that someone beat you to it" (although this probably happened a few weeks ago).

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) over Denver Broncos
Game Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Broncos were not exposed last week. They were simply beaten by a better team. Are they a great team? No. Are they a good team? Yes. But Pittsburgh is better. The Ravens won because their linebackers ate up the dink and dunk style of Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton. Pittsburgh will do the same.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Picking a Favorite Golfer

Like most sports fans, I routinely watch the final holes of a golf major, especially when Tiger Woods is involved. Yet during these tense moments, I do not particularly care which golfer wins. This fact became extremely apparent to me when watching Rocco Mediate and Tiger Woods battle for the 2008 U.S. Open title. I simply couldn't decide whether the underdog story of Rocco was more compelling than Tiger essentially playing with one leg. But this got me thinking: How do I go about choosing a favorite golfer? With golfers, there is no geographic or previous family fan-hood (generally) to factor into your decision. It's really more like picking a house. Is it respectable? Will other people be impressed? Is it too trendy or does it have enough of its own flavor? Is it a fixer-upper (but it has potential)? Will be I be satisfied over the long haul? These are all key questions in determining your golfer of choice. It's also important to remember that this choice is permanent. You don't buy a house without looking first. The same thing applies here. Careful research must be employed. (The only exception to all this is if you are actually related to a golfer. Then you can immediately support him, regardless). In order to do this the right way, I will determine my favorite through a process of elimination, using my own guidelines to eventually find a winner.

The Golfer's home country should match your own.

Since no golfer is associated with any particular city, this is the only geographic aspect that can be used. In my case, I am looking for an American golfer.

The Golfer must be ranked from #10-#50 in the world.

While it's fun to say you have watched Kirk Triplett (#805) rise from nothing to stardom, you must be realistic. Most likely he will never become anything you can be proud of. At the same time, picking anyone in the top ten (especially Tiger Woods) looks as if you're just jumping on the bandwagon.

The Golfer must be under 40 years of age.

Picking over 50 means you're in the Senior PGA Tour. Anywhere over 40 means the golfer is, for lack of a better term, seasoned. If he hasn't had success by now, don't count on it in the future. Also, once he reaches 50, you'll have to select a new golfer anyway. Otherwise, this is where the aspect of choice plays a large role. In fact, women and golfers share a lot of qualities: Pick someone too young and she could develop into something you don't end up liking 10 years down the road. While picking older eliminates this problem, it also means you have less time to spend with her, and there is less room for development. In other words, the older you go, the more you know what you're getting. In my case, I would go with someone in his mid to late 20's (a golfer, that is). While he is already somewhat established, he also possesses room for growth.

Lets take a second to see where I stand. The following golfers fit the previous 3 guidelines:
Sean O'Hair, Lucas Glover, Hunter Mahan, Nick Watney, Ben Curtis, Dustin Johnson.

Is the golfer normal looking?

They say don't judge a book by its cover, but I would have trouble rooting for Luis Scola or Sam Cassell when I can barely stand to look at them. Make sure he's at least presentable to the public.

The golfer must play the game in a way you find exciting.

Does he play the game aggressively? Does he consistently go for the eagle on a par 5? Or, is he more conservative, using spin, reading the greens well and being ultra-careful in club selection? Because golf is not the most thrilling sport, I would at least prefer to see some excitement when watching. I want the guy who drives the ball 300+ yards and plays aggressively.

How does the golfer interact with the media?
Some questions that fall under this category: Is he well spoken? Is he funny? Is he personable? These are extremely important aspects for me. I hate listening to Allen Iverson complain about practice, and Terrell Owens should never open his mouth (although T.O. crying in defense of Tony Romo was a classic).

The man left standing is Nick Watney. Because of Dustin's tendency to say "you know" almost as often as Tim Tebow thanks God, I'll have to pass and go with Nick. At 28 years old, Watney has only been pro for a little more than 5 years, and has a few top 10 finishes along with 1 tour win under his belt. More importantly, he's the 6th best driver (distance-wise) on the tour. He was even the #1 ranked college golfer his senior year at Fresno State. Plus he lives in Vegas. Who said golfers are boring?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NFL Picks Week 8

Last Week - Spread: 7-6
Last Week - Winner: 8-5
Overall - Spread: 23-18
Overall - Winner: 27-14

I know these picks are coming in late, but I promise they are not affected by the current scores. (Proof? I picked the Giants, and they're down 13-0 with Philadelphia driving in Giants territory)

Baltimore Ravens (-4) over Denver Broncos
Game Winner: Baltimore Ravens

Read my article on bandwagoners. This is the week the Broncos lose.

Cleveland Browns (+13.5) over Chicago Bears
Game Winner: Chicago Bears

I realize that Cleveland is terrible, but they keep covering these huge spreads. Plus Jay Cutler is due for a 4 interception game.

Houston Texans (-3.5) over Buffalo Bills
Game Winner: Houston Texans

Is it just me or is this spread way too low? Buffalo's only wins have come when the game was given to them.

Minnesota Vikings (+3) over Green Bay Packers
Game Winner: Minnesota Vikings

Brett Favre might be the story of the week, but Adrian Peterson is the player of the week.

Indianapolis Colts (-13) over San Francisco 49ers
Game Winner: Indianapolis Colts

I do not believe in the resurrection of Alex Smith. Although I gotta say that it would be quite the feel good story, especially combined with Vernon Davis finally realizing his potential.

Miami Dolphins (+3.5) over New York Jets
Game Winner: Miami Dolphins

Miami won the first one. Rex Ryan threw the kitchen sink at Chad Henne and nothing worked. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams wildcated their way to a victory.

Detroit Lions (-3) over Saint Louis Rams
Game Winner: Detroit Lions

Does anyone find it funny that Detroit is actually a favorite?

Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) over Tennessee Titans
Game Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars

The Titans may be better with Vince Young, but their defense is still awful. And I say let's wait to anoint Vince Young the king of Tennessee again until he actually has some success.

Seattle Seahawks (+10) over Dallas Cowboys
Game Winner: Dallas Cowboys

Seattle is decimated by injuries, but Dallas is giving way too many points.

San Diego Chargers (-17) over Oakland Raiders
Game Winner: San Diego Chargers

Vegas is finally making the spread more realistic. But it's still not good enough.

Arizona Cardinals (-10) over Carolina Panthers
Game Winner: Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals are actual contenders, as opposed to last year. It took a historic performance from Larry Fitzgerald to even reach the Super Bowl.

New York Giants (+3) over Philadelphia Eagles
Game Winner: New York Giants

The Giants aren't losing 3 in a row, and there's no Westbrook.

New Orleans Saints (-10) over Atlanta Falcons
Game Winner: New Orleans Saints

It's hard to pick against New Orleans right now. Although I'm tempted to take Atlanta.