Sunday, December 26, 2010

Week 16 Picks

Seasons greetings everyone as we transition from Christmas to football. Though, not necessarily for everyone as the Vikings-Eagles game has been cancelled. This is the third week in a row that the Vikings will have their game switch on them, and if the trend continues into Detroit, it could lead to the first time there are games not played on the schedule, a la baseball. When they play Tuesday night, my pick is the Eagles to blow them out, in case the line changes. Here are the rest of my picks.

Home teams in CAPS

Detroit (+3.5) over MIAMI- The Lions should continue their late season run of good play leading into sleeper status for next year. Plus, I have no confidence in the Dolphins at home anymore.

Washington (+7) over JACKSONVILLE- Without Maurice Jones-Drew means that if the Redskins try to win, they will. They need to run the ball in order to make David Garrard effective, which is why everyone who had Garrard an MVP candidate over MJD confused me.

ST. LOUIS (-3) over San Francisco- Better coach and better QB at home for the Rams and whenever the Niners see opportunity, they blow it. They would be better off losing and firing Mike Singletary anyway.

BUFFALO (+7.5) over New England- The Bills play the good teams tough and at home I see the same today. Of course, they won't win, but come agonizingly close.

CHICAGO (-3) over Jets- If in the Meadowlands, I'd easily take the Jets, but the Bears play better at home. Best example; their win over the Eagles.

Baltimore (-4) over CLEVELAND- It's one thing to see the playoffs and have the Bears in your way, but I don't see the Ravens lose today to the Browns. Though, the Bengals have no chance of beating the Ravens next week.

KANSAS CITY (-4.5) over Tennessee- Chiefs can close in on the AFC West with a win here. Titans probably take it easy here and save some effort for the Colts next week. You also can bet Arrowhead will be loud.

OAKLAND (+3) over Indianapolis- The Raiders ground game will keep Peyton off the field, and I have to think the muddy field will benefit the home team. If things break right, Raiders will play for the division next Sunday.

DENVER (+3) over Houston- It's come to the point that any time you see a team looking ready to quit, just play the Texans and you'll win. Hence, Tim Tebow gets his first win as a starter.

San Diego (-8) over CINCINNATI- The Bengals didn't quit against their rivals last week, probably won't quit against the Ravens. Probably means they take it easy here against the Chargers, who need the game.

TAMPA BAY (-6.5) over Seattle- If the Bucs don't cover this game, they will lose, because the Seahawks only lose big. I think the same happens here in the longest road trip of the season.

Giants (+3) over GREEN BAY- No logic here, let's just move on.

New Orleans (+3) over ATLANTA- Statement win it would be for either team. Falcons will have home-field unless they blow next week's game with Carolina, but the Saints can reassert themselves as a team to beat.

This week: 1-1
Last week: 6-10
Season record: 113-105-6

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week 14 Picks

No extensive picks post again, this time the reason is a good one. Today is the one Sunday of the year that I must work and I'll just quickly post these picks before my shift starts.

(Home team in CAPS)

JACKSONVILLE (-4) over Oakland
Cincinnati (+8.5) over PITTSBURGH
Cleveland (PK) over BUFFALO
DETROIT (+7) over Green Bay
Atlanta (-7) over CAROLINA
Tampa Bay (-3) over WASHINGTON
St. Louis (+9) over NEW ORLEANS
Seattle (+5) over SAN FRANCISCO
CHICAGO (+3) over New England
Miami (+6) over JETS
Denver (-4) over ARIZONA
SAN DIEGO (-10) over Kansas City
DALLAS (+3.5) over Philadelphia
Baltimore (-3) over HOUSTON
Giants (no spread) over MINNESOTA- No clue now when or where they play.

This week: 0-1 (Stupid Titans backdoor cover)
Last week: 6-9-1 (Tie for not picking last Thursdays Texans-Eagles game)
Season record: 99-88-6

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fight of the Night- Scott vs Janssen

(video courtesy of

The first of the new running feature comes from last night's Blackhawks/Blues tilt which saw the lone three fights of the night. The one I chose was John Scott and Cam Janssen as the best of the three. Scott is slowly becoming one of the best fighters in the league, using his 6'8" frame as an advantage against smaller combatants. I expect that he will fight around 15 times this year when it's all said and done, dominate for two years, before no one in the league wants to challenge him and he fights around 10 times a year. You'll know when this happens about the same time the Rangers sign him to a 4 year deal worth over $3 million.

A couple fights from the past couple days I wanted to mention since I didn't post Monday or Tuesday; from Monday night, the Sean Avery-Tyler Kennedy tussle, which I was there to see in person. The other, from Sunday, is the Andre Johnson-Cortland Finnegan fight, since you don't see NFL fights like that everyday.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week 12 Picks and more

Yes, today is a day of football and there will be picks made, but seeing as there hasn't been a blog post about anything more than NFL Picks, I'd figured I would have a mini-randomness post. Thus, when you look back at this post, it won't just be how bad my picks are going to be this week.

Let's start with a giant laugh at the Miami Heat and their 9-8 record (according to Jeff Van Gundy, they will finish 61-4). And this week they play the Cavs in Cleveland. The best example for return games by a player to his former home happens to be Vince Carter. Carter has killed the Raptors whenever he gets the chance. It's easy to see why, Toronto fans loved him and all Vince did was get hurt, not play hard (by his own admission) and force his way out. LeBron needs to channel Vince, and then unchannel him the instance the clock ends at :00.

Derek Jeter must be high if he thinks he's getting six years and $150 million. The Yankees offer is fair (3yr/$45mil), though they've talk a little too tough. Unless someone offers Jeter more than that, it's on Jeter to get signed. By the way, if I was Jeter's agent, I'd talk to Boston and/or the Mets just to see if the Yankees would be spurred to make a deal and if I'm either team, I'm hoping by talking leads the Yanks to throw a 4th or 5th year to Jeter.

Working in retail means Black Friday is a tough day to work (of course, if more people read this blog, maybe I can stop working retail). The worst part about it was missing Auburn/Alabama, which seemed like a great game. My heart goes out to Boise State, who lost a heartbreaker which will keep them out of a BCS bowl, much less the BCS title game. TCU is the lone BCS buster who could be in the BCS title game, though needs a loss from Oregon or Auburn and that alone might not be enough. In other words, GET A PLAYOFF!!! I'm sure Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State this year would agree.

Finally, we go to hockey where last night's action had a couple a memorable highlights. First, Kevin Weekes calm under the intense pressure of nearly getting run over by a zamboni. Also, the best fight last night with John Scott turning Kevin Westgarth's face into a proverbial crimson mask. This has given me the impetus to have a nightly best fight of the night, so look for that every morning.

Now it's time for my picks;

(Home team in CAPS)

Minnesota (-2) over WASHINGTON
Pittsburgh (-7) over BUFFALO
Tennessee (+6) over HOUSTON
Jacksonvillie (+7.5) over GIANTS
Carolina (+10) over CLEVELAND
ATLANTA (-1.5) over Green Bay
OAKLAND (-3) over Miami
SEATTLE (+2) over Kansas City
BALTIMORE (-7.5) over Tampa Bay
Philadelphia (-3.5) over CHICAGO
St. Louis (+3.5) over DENVER
San Diego (+3) over INDIANAPOLIS
ARIZONA (+1) over San Francisco

This week: 0-3
Last week: 7-9
Season record: 87-71-5

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week 10 Picks

Busy sports day here in the local NYC-area with Rangers hockey at 12:30, Knicks basketball tonight and Seton Hall playing it's home opener. Follow South Orange Juice for all updates on that one. Oh, and we have a full slate of NFL games to watch. Here's my Week 10 picks.

(Home team in CAPS)

INDIANAPOLIS (-7) over Cincinnati- Not at Indy do I think the Bengals stay close.
Houstion (+1) over JACKSONVILLE- Both teams frustrate, so the Texans naturally win.
Tennessee (PK) over MIAMI- Titans are better and Chad Pennington won't help.
Minnesota (-1.5) over CHICAGO- Bears aren't that good. Vikings aren't that bad.
BUFFALO (-1.5) over Detroit- Best chance for the Bills to finally get a win.
CLEVELAND (+3) over Jets- Have bought into the Colt McCoy Era.
TAMPA BAY (-7) over Carolina- The Panthers are really bad.
Kansas City (-1.5) over DENVER- Dangerous for the Chiefs if they don't win.
St. Louis (+6) over SAN FRANCISCO- Can't give that much with the Niners, and Rams are good.
ARIZONA (-4) over Seattle- Road game for Seahawks. Another pathetic NFC West game.
Dallas (+14) over GIANTS- Don't think it's a blowout. Cowboys will play hard.
New England (+4.5) over PITTSBURGH- Winner is team to beat in AFC.
WASHINGTON (+3) over Philadelphia- Sneaky feeling that McNabb plays well tomorrow.

This week: 1-0
Last Week: 8-4-1
Season: 75-51-5

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Week 9 Picks

After this weekend's games, I will unleash my half-season Power Poll, so everyone has one more week to prove themselves on a day with a couple real good games, and a bunch of bad ones. Without further adieu, here's my picks.

(Home team in CAPS)

Buffalo (+3) over Chicago- Game in Toronto. Still see Cutler throwing INT's. It's like breathing.
HOUSTON (+3) over San Diego- Close pick, but with no Gates and Johnson playing, go Texans.
New Orleans (-7) over CAROLINA- Probably at my peril, but I hope the Saints play consistent.
MINNESOTA (-8) over Arizona- I know I shouldn't take them, but I don't trust the Cards, go with Peterson to run.
Tampa Bay (+10) over ATLANTA- Falcons might win, but the Bucs will keep it close. Don't give Josh Freeman a chance to win late.
DETROIT (+6) over Jets- Have to go with the Lions when Gus Johnson is announcing.
Miami (+5) over BALTIMORE- Don't trust the Ravens and love the Dolphins on the road.
CLEVELAND (+5.5) over New England- Trap game for the Pats and the Browns have covered a lot this year.
Giants (-7.5) over SEATTLE- The Seahawks have no O-line against the Giants pass rush. Don't make me regret this G-Men.
Kansas City (-1) over OAKLAND- Show me you can show up in a big game Raiders and then I'll take you seriously.
Indianapolis (+3) over PHILADELPHIA- I'm sure Andy Reid's 11-0 record after byes is a great stat, but you lost me when I saw I was getting three with Peyton Manning.
GREEN BAY (-7.5) over Dallas- The final nail in the Dallas coffin, if not here, the Giants will have the chance.
Pittsburgh (-5) over CINCINNATI- I'd be shocked if Carson Palmer plays mediocre. This game will push Palmer to his exit since everyone will watch him stink the joint.

Last week: 9-4
This season: 66-47-4

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week 8 Picks

Another week of football is about to commence and again, not a lot of time for my picks, but here they are.

(Home team in CAPS)

Denver (+2) over San Francisco- game played at Wembley Stadium, toss up.
DALLAS (-6.5) over Jacksonville- Don't ask me why.
Washington (+3) over DETROIT- Skins just win football games somehow.
Green Bay (+6.5) over JETS- Pack can hold LT, Rodgers can pass against their D.
ST. LOUIS (-3) over Carolina- Love the Rams at home.
Miami (-1) over CINCINNATI- Hate seeing this line move like it did, still have the Fins
KANSAS CITY (-7) over Buffalo- High scoring, Chiefs with a couple late scores.
SAN DIEGO (-5) over Tennessee- Understand why Miami line moved, why is SD giving more?
Tampa Bay (+3) over ARIZONA- Really like Josh Freeman, jury's out on Max Hall.
OAKLAND (-3) over Seattle- More anti-Hawks, still must prove they can win road games.
NEW ENGLAND (-6) over Minnesota- Don't care who's QB, no revenge for Moss.
NEW ORLEANS (-1) over Pittsburgh- If the Saints are still any good, it must show tonight.
INDIANAPOLIS (-5.5) over Houston- Can't expect two Texans wins over Indy.

Last week: 8-6
Season Record: 57-43-4

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week 7 Picks

Just like last week, I'm doing today's picks in a quick format, no explanations for them. Reason being, I took a trip to Princeton for the night and a longer version would kill my battery. Without further adieu, here's my picks.

(Home team in CAPS)

Pittsburgh (-3.5) over MIAMI
ATLANTA (-3) over Cincinnati
KANSAS CITY (-9.5) over Jacksonville*
Philadelphia (+3) over TENNESSEE*
Cleveland (+14) over NEW ORLEANS
BALTIMORE (-14) over Buffalo
San Francisco (-3) over CAROLINA
Washington (+3) over CHICAGO
TAMPA BAY (-3) over St. Louis
SEATTLE (-7) over Arizona
New England (+3) over SAN DIEGO
Oakland (+7.5) over DENVER
Minnesota (+3) over GREEN BAY
Giants (+3.5) over DALLAS

(*means that I switched the picks after seeing who started at QB, evident by this tweet)

Last week: 6-7-1
Season record: 49-37-4

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week 6 Picks

Quick version of the picks today with there being not enough time for me to post with my paragraphs as usual. Here they are:

(Home team in CAPS)

ST. LOUIS (+8.5) over San Diego
Kansas City (+5) over HOUSTON
Baltimore (+3) over NEW ENGLAND
TAMPA BAY (+6) over New Orleans
Atlanta (+3) over PHILADELPHIA
GIANTS (-10) over Detroit
CHICAGO (-6.5) over Seattle
Miami (+3.5) over GREEN BAY
PITTSBURGH (-14.5) over Cleveland
DENVER (+3.5) over Jets
Oakland (+7) over SAN FRANCISCO
MINNESOTA (-2) over Dallas
Indianapolis (-3.5) over WASHINGTON
Tennessee (+3) over JACKSONVILLE

Last week: 9-5
Season record: 43-30-3

Friday, October 15, 2010

LCS Preview

For time purposes, I won't have separate ALCS and NLCS previews. As such, the same format of the previous round preview will take place.

Let's start with the Yankees-Rangers, who begin their series tonight. The Yanks have the edge because Cliff Lee won't get to start the series in Texas because of his dominating performance in Game 5 against the Rays. Or so they think. The fact is, Lee would only start two games no matter what and as far as I'm concerned, Game 7 is more important than Game 5. If this series reaches seven games, the Rangers will win. So the key for the Yankees is to not let this series reach seven games, shades of the Mets in 1986 who had to avoid Mike Scott in Game 7 against Houston, including playing in the state of Texas and not having home field.

Looking past the Lee situation, you must consider that the Rangers top 6 in their lineup is nearly as dangerous as the Yankees. Andrus, Young, Hamilton, Guerrero, Cruz and Kinsler is very tricky to manuever, especially for lefties, which the Yankees have in CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. The best move (one I should have tweeted before to first guess) is Joe Girardi having Phil Hughes pitch Game 2, against Colby Lewis, giving the Yanks the advantage. There is the spector of A.J. Burnett in Game 4, but tonight's Sabathia-C.J. Wilson showdown will determine if he's used. As for my series prediction, I think Sabathia wins tonight and the Yanks win in 6 games, avoiding Lee in Game 7.

The Giants-Phillies series has one theme; pitching, pitching and more pitching. The first game has Roy Halladay against Tim Lincecum, which Fox is promoting as the best Game 1 matchup in history, which I'd argue, but haven't found better. The Giants have the best 4 pitchers left with Jonathan Sanchez, Matt Cain and Madison Baumgartner ready to go. While the Phils have Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in the next two games, their fourth starter is a question mark. The key for the Giants is the Lincecum start. If he can outpitch Halladay, the Giants have an interesting opportunity. The secret of the series, the Phightin's hitters are hitting about as good as the Giants. Despite that, I think the Phillies do enough in the first 3 games and knock off the Giants in 5 games and will face the Yankees in a rematch of last year, one that eagerly awaited.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week 5 Picks

The plan this week was to have a power poll to go along with my picks this week. That isn't going to happen, so instead it will be pushed back a week as we have another week that teams can show who's good and who's not. As for my picks, last week should have been better, since I reached a couple times when I shouldn't. This week, the picks are harder, but I do plan to get at least 10 correct today on 10/10/10.

(Home team in CAPS)

BALTIMORE (-7.5) over Denver

Can't see the Broncos winning two in a row on the road. Not against a Ravens team that will focus on the Orton and his WR's and not without any solid contribution from the ground game.

BUFFALO (-1) over Jacksonville

Perfect week for the Bills to win. Coming off a bad loss to the Jets, and should be more motivated to win. Jags coming off their biggest win of the year and will likely have a letdown. First game which if Buffalo loses, 0-16 can happen.

INDIANAPOLIS (-7.5) over Kansas City

Honestly, I don't know if the Colts are good this year. The Chiefs have yet to play a tough road game yet. Somethings going to give here. I'll take my chances with the Colts at home with Peyton Manning.

St. Louis (+3) over DETROIT

Very impressed with what I've seen from the Rams and while I'm impressed with the Lions, I think they're a little banged up to beat the Rams. Though, Calvin Johnson is an equalizer.

Atlanta (-3) over CLEVELAND

The Browns relapse back into the team they really are and I think the Falcons will learn from the scare against the Niners.

Tampa Bay (+7) over CINCINNATI

Not high on the Bengals at all, while the Bucs were closer in that Steelers game than the scoreboard indicates. Two of Batch's TD passes were up for grabs.

Chicago (+3) over CAROLINA

You're wondering, why take a team with Todd Collins starting on the road. Because I expect Julius Peppers to dominate against his former team. Helps that the other QB is a rookie.

Green Bay (-3) over WASHINGTON

The Packers should be better, plus the Redskins just won a huge game with the Eagles. Aaron Rodgers should be able to throw like Matt Schaub did a couple weeks ago.

Giants (+3) over HOUSTON

Still not too sold on the Texans yet, though it would be tougher with Andre Johnson. Giants have shown they can stop the run, when they don't play 6 DBs. Plus, everyone seems on the Texans.

ARIZONA (+7) over New Orleans

Yes, I know that this is Max Hall's first start, but if he's mediocre, he's better than Derek Anderson. Plus, I officially don't trust the Saints, who haven't covered a spread all year.

OAKLAND (+7) over San Diego

I want to see the Chargers win a game on the road before I lay a touchdown on them. Besides, the Raiders play better in the Black Hole and at the very least, keep games close.

DALLAS (-7) over Tennessee

Interesting sports day in Arlington, with the Rangers looking to close out the Rays. You can pass on the Titans and Romo will find Austin a lot today.

SAN FRANCISCO (-3.5) over Philadelphia

Here's two more cities involving teams playing baseball today. The Niners are very close to winning a game; now that they're home, there's a good chance with Kolb starting.

JETS (-4.5) over Minnesota

Once again, New York will beat Minnesota, this time the football variety. Too soon for Moss to make an impact for the Vikings and Brett Favre will get beat up tomorrow night.

Week 4 record: 8-6
Season Record: 34-25-3

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Division Series Preview

Tomorrow is the start of the Division Series and it seems like while the NL favorite is clearly the Phillies, the AL is wide open, which is a reversal of recent years when the AL's favorite was defined and the NL had four potential winners. Of course, even in those years with a prohibitive favorite (usually the 02-07 Yankees), that team usually didn't win. That's usually because the crapshoot of the MLB playoffs is this round, due to the best of five. Let's take a brief look at each series.

Philadelphia Phillies-Cincinnati Reds

This is a series which the Reds will need to overachieve to beat the best team in the majors. They also will need to forget about their series from July which the Phillies had three straight walkoff wins, including one from a seven run deficit which Cody Ransom was a key player. The Reds are also facing a Phils team that has Roy Oswalt now and have Cole Hamels almost back to being the pitcher from 2008. The only chance I can see for the Reds is if Joey Votto explodes and/or Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto can outpitch the Phillies starters. Can't see that happening. Phillies win in 4.

San Francisco Giants-Atlanta Braves

Very interesting with a team that can pitch with anyone in the Giants, but have trouble hitting, while the Braves to a lot of things good, but nothing great. Lineups are basically a wash, including the dueling Rookie of the Year candidates and have very good managers in Bobby Cox and Bruce Bochy. The Braves have to pitch with the Giants and if Derek Lowe is on, they could with Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson. I think the deciding factor is that Hudson will only start Game 3, while the Giants will have Tim Lincecum for two starts, and a hot Lincecum at that. Giants will win in 5.

Tampa Bay Rays-Texas Rangers

Texas was going to be a sexy first round team because of Cliff Lee. However, looking at the starters, the Rangers don't have Lee going in Game 4, a huge disadvantage. Also, Lee hasn't been particularly effective against the Rays this year. So the Rangers will need to hit and after David Price, they'll have their chance to hit. The toughest issue for the Rays is that with Lee and C.J. Wilson, the Rays lefties will be neutralized, so Evan Longoria and B.J. Opton will have to step up. With Lee being saved for a Game 5, I happen to think the Rangers won't be able to win starts without Lee and with the Rays at home and able to use their awful stadium to success on the basepaths, Tampa should win. Rays will win in 4.

Minnesota Twins-New York Yankees

The biggest series of the round will involve the one AL team with no concerns over pitching in the Twins. The Yanks will need Andy Pettitte to be ready soon in order to not only pitch, but also pitch well enough to steal Game 2 in Minnesota. This series will be interesting to see outdoor baseball in October in Minneapolis and to see if the Yanks lefties can hit HR's to right, like they will in NY. Francisco Liriano had a strong year this year and deserved the top spot in the rotation, while Carl Pavano and Brian Duensing have complimented well. The Yanks will hope Phil Hughes pitches well and if so, the Yanks will win. I think the Twins have a better bullpen than we thought they would have when Joe Nathan got hurt. This helps the Twins (except Brian Fuentes) because their bullpen is better and might not have the fear when they come in. The keys for the Yanks are the same, hit, hit for power am? The Yankees should still be the favorites but they need to hit better which I'm sure they they can do, but dealing with a spacious stadium will hurt the Yanks, not to mention they have struggled in general since the All-Star break; don't think they can just flip a switch. Twins will win in 5.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Revolving Recaps

Week 4 was a week which the underdogs reigned supreme, as nine of the fourteen dogs covered, with six of them winning outright. This seems like more of an indication that this season is one of those which the parity is prevalent, in the sense that separation between the best and the worst aren't that great. It will all make sense later this week when I write my first power poll, for now, here's the recaps of this week's games.

Let's start with the Jets, who had the easiest win of the week. LaDainian Tomlinson dominated today and Mark Sanchez continued his effective passing game. The Jets seem well oiled and only will get better with Santonio Holmes, Darrelle Revis and Calvin Pace about to come back. As for the Bills, keep scouting Andrew Luck, Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker.

The game of the week was in Pittsburgh with another low-scoring battle between the Steelers and the Ravens. It was a must-win for the Ravens who couldn't afford to lose to Pittsburgh with Charlie Batch at QB. What impressed me about that game was how Joe Flacco was able to be somewhat effective, which is regular effective when playing the Steelers. Pittsburgh would have won had Jeff Reed hit a couple FG's, though, but that's another subtopic this year in the NFL, bad placekicking.

New Orleans continued it's Super Bowl hangover, struggling at home with the Panthers. The Saints left points early in the game by turning the ball over in Panthers territory twice. Also, the Saints couldn't score touchdowns and the mid-week acquisition of John Carney came up huge with a 3 for 3 day kicking FG's. Carolina was able to drive late, when the Saints defense turned up the pressure and Carolina couldn't even get a field goal try off. Panthers still have things to work on, but maybe they're no longer the worst in the league and Jimmy Clausen is gaining experience.

A funny game in Lambeau as the Packers had a barnburner with the always game Lions. Detroit really needs to learn how to win road games, but as Deion Sanders said on NFL Network last night, they aren't Homecoming anymore. Calvin Johnson makes his case for the best WR in football with his TD's, while Aaron Rodgers continued his impressive play. Once the Lions were stopped in the middle of the 4th quarter, the never saw the ball.

The game I figured was due to happen, the Bengals finally lost a game to a lesser team, which is bad enough, until you realize it's their archrival Browns. Yes, Terrell Owens had a big day, with 10 catches, 222 yards and a TD, but the offense still isn't that good and it's only a matter of time the mainstream media realizes that Carson Palmer isn't a good QB anymore. As for the Browns, all of a sudden, Peyton Hillis has become an effective running back. Still can't see this team play well enough to save Eric Mangini's job, and soon I want to see Colt McCoy play at QB.

The weirdest game happened in Tennessee as the Broncos rallied to win 26-20. Mostly nondescript game until the 4th when the Broncos got the ball at the Titans 1 after a pass interference call on a throw to Jabar Gaffney. After a penalty, Kyle Orton found Correll Buckhalter for the game-winning touchdown. On the kickoff, it was shades of the 1998 AFC Championship game for the Broncos as the kick was short and the Titans couldn't handle it. Denver took over, and iced it with a field goal. Still don't know what to make of either team.

This game was slightly weirder than Niners/Falcons, which played itself more like a Greek tragedy if you're a SF fan. They started so hot, getting a 14-0 lead, then let the Falcons slowly come back to make it 14-13 late in the 4th. That when Nate Clemens picked off Matt Ryan and ran it down the field, then loses focus on the run and gets stripped by Roddy White. Falcons proceed to march down the field and kick the winning field goal. Falcons survived their trap game and will move on, while the Niners continue to plummet and this might mean the end for Mike Singletary as head coach.

Instead of the Niners leading the NFC West, there's a three way tie at 2-2. The Cardinals lost another game on the road in blowout fashion 41-10 to the Chargers. Not much to say, the Chargers are playing well at home and the Cards are thinking about starting Max Hall next week. Meanwhile, the Rams had an easy win over the Seahawks at home and found themselves in a tie for first. I've been behind the Rams all year and I must say, they have the best chance to win the division. They have the best QB in rookie Sam Bradford, Steve Spagnuolo is as good a coach as that division has and Steven Jackson is skilled enough to make defenses key on the rush. The other thing to worry about is the Seahawks home field; they can win the division by going 8-0 at home alone.

Houston went into Oakland without Arian Foster for the first half. So they turned Derrick Ward into the version from the Giants early. It was close until Foster came in and ran a touchdown from 74 yards out. He scored another to make it 31-14, before holding on 31-24 over the Raiders. The Texans showed how good they are despite the loss of Andre Johnson, while the Raiders showed that...they're still the Raiders.

The play of the day happened in Jacksonville in a wildly competitive game between the Colts and Jaguars when Josh Scobee hit a 59 yard field goal to win it for the Jags. As usual when these two teams play, it was close, a back and forth contest which the guy with the ball last wins. Usually, that guy is Peyton Manning, but not yesterday. Now we have a Jags team, who I thought was among the five worst have the same record as Indianapolis.

The most hyped matchup Sunday was Donovan McNabb's return to Philly against Michael Vick's Eagles. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Vick got hit in the ribs and left the game and now won't play next week. That meant Kevin Kolb had to play again, and to be fair, he wasn't terrible and gets a chance to show how good he is with this week's game against the Niners. Meanwhile, McNabb and the Skins started fast, particularly with the running game, which the Eagles had trouble stopping all day. The second half was disjointed, but up 5 with 4 minutes left, McNabb ran for a first down, which didn't the Eagles much time for a comeback (though they came close). The Redskins win tied them with the Eagles for first with a very NFC West like 2-2.

Another team would join that tie as the Giants thoroughly dominated the Bears, even though the score was closer. Jay Cutler was battered by the Giants defense, sans Mathius Kiwanuka, to the tune of 9 sacks and left with a concussion at halftime. Once Todd Collins came in, the offense gave up and once the Giants drove down the field for a touchdown, the game was over. Still, the Giants have to clear up some areas, but the defense is getting better. As for the Bears, they now go from 3-0 and feeling good, to now at the crossroads this year with Cutler's injury. Of course, the Bears were lucky to be 3-0 anyway.

Just now, the Pats showed us Pats football. Trailing 7-6 at halftime, New England took advantage of every single Miami mistake en route to a 41-14 win. The offense did enough as Tom Brady channelled his 01-04 days while the much maligned defense took care of business in the second half. Player of the game goes to Patrick Chung who blocked a punt and a field goal, while running an interception back for a touchdown. Very impressive. While the Patriots righted their ship, the Dolphins now have lost to their two rivals at home in back-to-back weeks and if they are to win the division, they almost certainly have to win in New York and Foxboro. Troubling for the Fish, indeed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week 4 Picks

Yes, the picks column makes a return this week after a hiatus for Week 3. More time to write this weekend, in what's shaping to be one where seasons can either be saved or fall apart.

(Home team in CAPS)

TENNESSEE (-7) over Denver

I don't think Denver travels well, evident by their loss to the Jaguars. The other thing about this game is the Titans can score in the red zone with Chris Johnson (expect versus Pittsburgh), while the Broncos have their struggles.

PITTSBURGH (-2) over Baltimore

Toughest game to pick, except I'm sure it will be under 34 points. I think Pittsburgh's defense is a little better than Baltimore's and I'm not so sure that Joe Flacco is a little bit better than Charlie Batch. Big Ben comes back to a 4-0 team.

CLEVELAND (+3) over Cincinnati

The Bengals have been on the edge the last two weeks, but they pay this week. Carson Palmer's been all kinds of bad, but the Bengals won the last two because Flacco matched Palmer's badness and the Panthers are awful. The Browns might not be awful and will be just as up for the Bengals as they were the Ravens.

Detroit (+14) over GREEN BAY

Don't know what to expect from the Packers, actually a little afraid they come home and blow out the Lions. However, Detroit's no pushover and I think they keep this close, maybe even scoring a late TD for the cover.

NEW ORLEANS (-14) over Carolina

This is more anti-Panthers than pro-Saints. I really don't know when Carolina will win, but it won't come in the Superdome. Not if Drew Brees can stand for four quarters. Saints right themselves here.

San Francisco (+7) over ATLANTA

Going with my gut, much like last week's Cowboys victory over the Texans, you have one team, who beat their top rival in emotional fashion, coming home to take on a team that just took it in the chin after being lauded a contender for a better 2010. Everyone expects the Falcons to win, but I think this is a trap game and the Niners get it done on the road for my upset special.

ST. LOUIS (+2.5) over Seattle

It's simple, the Rams aren't that bad and the Seahawks don't travel well. Even those in St. Louis have bought in since I haven't seen any blackouts for their games. Who knows, maybe the Rams can win the division?

Jets (-6.5) over BUFFALO

Okay, Jets; you just beat the Pats and Dolphins using a well-run offense and just enough defense. Let's see you avoid the trap in Buffalo before the Monday nighter with Favre and the Vikes. Prove to me that you're true contenders, don't play down to the Bills, even in Orchard Park.

Indianapolis (-8) over JACKSONVILLE

Probably my toughest pick this week since the Jags always show up for the Colts, but if David Garrard continues his putrid play, how can Jacksonville keep up with Peyton Manning, after being torched by Michael Vick last week.

Houston (-3.5) over OAKLAND

Perfect elixir for the Texans to have a date with the Raiders after the Cowboys loss. I will say though that if you're going to beat Oakland, do it early or they will hang around. Losing here would make the first two games seem like forever ago.

SAN DIEGO (-9) over Arizona

The Chargers play much better at home (though if this was in Glendale, I'd think they win) and the Cardinals haven't played well at all this year and could just as easily be 0-3. As long as the Chargers don't start slow, they'll win going away.

Washington (+6) over PHILADELPHIA

Donovan McNabb makes his long-anticipated return to Philly and will see Vick play QB like he did circa 2000-02, only with better weapons. However, I wanted to see Vick play against a better defense than the swiss cheese of Jacksonville and not-ready-for-primetime Lions. I think McNabb wills his way to revenge.

Chicago (+3.5) over GIANTS

The Giants will unveil their brand new Ring of Honor tonight, but could probably use some of those guys to play. I was all set to pick the Giants this week, since the Bears aren't that good, you can pass rush them and throw over them. Until Mathias Kiwanuka was sidelined with a bulging disc. He's been their best player on defense and most indispensable. No one else to shift from DE to DL to LB like Kiwanuka can, not complain and have success. That and the thought of our blockers against Julius Peppers make me think this isn't in the cards (hope I'm wrong).

MIAMI (+1) over New England

Always tough to play the Dolphins in Miami, especially if it's hot. The Pats historically and in the Brady years have had their issues. Unlike the Jets, the Dolphins know they have to stop their offense. Unlike the Jets, the Pats defense will allow Chad Henne to find Brandon Marshall and Co, while Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will run the rest of the time.

Week 2: 9-6-1
Last week: 8-8
Season total: 26-19-3

Friday, October 1, 2010

Beginning Of A New Day

Today, the Mets finally decided to clean house and fire both Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya. All I can say to Mets fans is congratulations. Reggie Jackson said it best when he roots for Mets success so it's more interesting. We can talk more about the future later, but this video should show you're feelings on the matter (similar for mine when Isiah first left the Knicks, please don't let him come back).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

MLB Awards

This season is probably as tough a season to decide on the awards for baseball season as any season I can remember. Every award can have two or more guys who you can make a case for, no lock candidates. Either it's because too many guys who deserve it (NL ROY, AL Cy are best examples) or no one particularly locked it up and now you search for a winner (AL ROY and MVP). However, I've come up with the eight major award winners who are most deserving.

NL Manager of the Year:

Back in the end of August, it seemed locked up, with Bud Black of the Padres as the clear winner. Since the Padres have not only come back to the pack, but now trail in the NL West and Wild Card, it's more open. The main candidates for the award alongside Black are Dusty Baker and Bobby Cox. There is a thought to give the award to Cox, since this is his last year, but I try to avoid sentimental choices and to be fair, I thought the Braves would go to the playoffs this year anyway. As for Baker and Black, it seems like a toss up and I'll go with the guy in the tougher division, so Bud Black still gets the nod. The other reason, while the Reds have been a sleeper by some, no one thought the Padres would be good this year.


Joe Maddon, Joe Girardi and Ron Gardenhire all deserve votes, but this is a battle between Terry Francona and Ron Washington. Honestly, I would probably have Washington behind Gardenhire on my ballot, with more praise for the Rangers going to Nolan Ryan and the front office. As for Francona, this was one of the best managerial jobs I can remember, and better than either of Francona's title teams. When you lose Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury for most of the year and have 3 of your regular starters pitch ineffective (particularly Josh Beckett), it's pretty tough to get to the last week of the season with a chance for a playoff spot, that's an achievement. Pains me to say as a Yankees fan, but Terry Francona gets the award.
NL Rookie of the Year:

This is probably the toughest vote of all and one just has to read Steve Henson's last column from Yahoo! Sports to see how. This is the best thing to happen to the National League is the rise of young talent that could tip the balance of power between the leagues closer to the NL's side. I've narrowed down the list to Buster Posey, Jason Heyward, and Gaby Sanchez as my top 3. With all due respect to Heyward and Sanchez, who've played almost all season, Posey has been terrific at the plate, hitting .311 with 16 HR and 64 RBI and play catcher, the toughest position on the field. If he doesn't do the job, both at the plate and behind the plate, the Giants aren't competing for a playoff spot. Buster Posey has to be the Rookie of the Year


Unlike the NL, this is a three man race between Austin Jackson, Danny Valencia and Neftali Feliz. Valencia is hurt by coming up in the middle of the season. While Feliz has been great closing games for Texas, Austin Jackson has been on the Tigers top players because of his offense and defense. Despite the lack of power, he's still has a .407 slugging pct with 34 doubles and 26 steals. Because of that, I'll pick him for the award.


This was so much more interesting when Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Carlos Gonzalez were fighting for the triple crown. Once Cargo took a big lead in batting and Pujols did the same in HR, the triple crown was over. Then, Troy Tulowitzki started to play the month of September like Babe Ruth did to add more confusion to the race. Unfortunately, the Rockies finished outside the playoff race and now it's anyone's guess as to who wins the MVP. My thoughts, I usually don't go with a guy from a team who has a second logical candidate, because they cancel each other out, so no Tulo or Cargo. You can make a case for Adrian Gonzalez, but there are better guys at his position to look at. The Giants, Braves and Phillies all don't have a player you'd say is their MVP (can't count Posey who won't qualify for the batting title). As for Pujols, he will be punished, not rewarded like years past, for the Cards finishing seconded in the Central. That team is too good to be outside looking in. Leaving us with Joey Votto, second in batting, third in HR and RBI, first in on base and slugging and thus OPS and in the all-important WAR stat (more on that in the next paragraph). He's the MVP.


This is like the NL race, only the guys who are top 3 in each leaderboard look like they won't be in the playoffs. It also includes a whole list of players who you can make a case for. The candidates: Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Josh Hamilton, Joe Mauer, Jose Bautista, Adrian Beltre and Carl Crawford. A-Rod's in there only because he could lead the league in RBI and that puts him on the list when Delmon Young isn't. Either way, both guys take away from Cano and Mauer respectively. Each guy has something over the other among those left; Bautista's HR's, Hamilton's batting and slugging, Cabrera's RBI's and OBP, Crawford's steals and Beltre's combined hitting and defense. So I go to the stat that in my eyes should be the biggest determining factor, WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Looking at that, Josh Hamilton's 8.0 WAR and the fact that the games he's missed where after the AL West race was basically over mean he's you're MVP, with Crawford coming a close second.

NL Cy Young:

The AL will have the best example of us wondering if wins for pitchers matter, but Roy Oswalt has quietly made a case himself. He's now 13-13 with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. Josh Johnson had more of a case back when his ERA was under 2 and his WHIP was under 1, but it's come back a little bit. Adam Wainwright and Ubaldo Jimenez both fall in this category for their second half struggles. Honestly, I don't see how you go against Roy Halladay. He's top 5 in wins, ERA, K's, WHIP, K/BB ratio, FIP (fielding independent pitching) and WAR, which he leads the league. As easy a choice for an award we have this year, because there are other good pitchers who could easily win this year, i.e. Johnson.

AL Cy Young:

Twenty years ago, Felix Hernandez doesn't sniff the Cy Young. CC Sabathia would easily win the award (great example when you look at Bob Welch's Cy Young season). Go back to 2004, Randy Johnson dominated the year on a 51-111 Arizona team with a 2.60 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. Still, he was 16-14 and lost to Roger Clemens. Now, I think it's time for new-school stats will officially trump over old-school ones. Keith Law wrote a great piece (anytime I link an ESPN column, it has to be great) on how there's no reason why pitchers should get full credit for wins when they only account for 30 percent of the win (would think it goes for losses). He made a very interesting point in the comments section that because a SP is five times more important that an position player, that it's fair to vote starters for MVP, changing my thinking about that (no starters, except Halladay would be considered in my book this year). Now we get to King Felix, who's 13-12, leads in ERA with a 2.27, leads in K's with 232 and his 249.2 IP lead as well. He's second in WHIP and has a WAR of 6.4. Everyone makes his biggest competition as David Price and Sabathia, I think Cliff Lee is probably second in my Cy Young because of his leading WHIP, second in FIP and according to Fangraphs, leads in WAR (just responded to this Joe Posnanski tweet which shows how WAR on Fangraphs and Baseball Reference is disputed, that hurts the stat). If you're voting for the BEST pitcher, it has to be Felix Hernandez.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week 2 Picks

I've decided to bail on the Babe of the Week segment, mainly because it doesn't bring in enough traffic and it just seems forced on my part. Today, it's just the Week 2 picks and a little commentary about the games. Here they are (Home team in CAPS):

Kansas City (+3) over CLEVELAND- I loved what I saw from the Chiefs last Monday night. I know it's a short week, but I'll take their playmakers before I lay points with Jake Delhomme. Learned my lesson from a week ago. Seneca Wallace doesn't change the equation if he plays.

GREEN BAY (-14) over Buffalo- Let's put it this way Packers, if you don't cover this game against the Bills, you probably aren't the Super Bowl contender we think you are (barring an Aaron Rodgers injury)

Baltimore (-3) over CINCINNATI- Interesting matchup, but if the Pats defense can make the Bengals look bad, try playing the Ravens. Cincy's only chance is if they can throw the ball down the field. I say they can't.

Pittsburgh (+6) over TENNESSEE- Before we say that the Titans are very good, they need to beat a defense better than the Raiders. I think the Steelers qualify. Should be a close one.

DETROIT (+7) over Philadelphia- Still don't know what to make of either team. Especially with Shaun Hill at QB. Can Michael Vick play like his 02-04 self or the inconsistent 05-06 version? I'm taking the points here and the crowd (sellout for the game).

DALLAS (-7.5) over Chicago- Everything that was said about the Packers, goes double for the Cowboys. Especially after the awful performance last week. The Bears should be someone the Cowboys can beat easily.
CAROLINA (-3.5) over Tampa Bay- Can't take the Bucs on the road, besides, the Panthers end up with 7 or 8 victories in bad seasons.
ATLANTA (-7) over Arizona- The Cardinals should of lost to the Rams. Derek Anderson is too inconsistent. I'll chalk up the Falcons lack of success last week to the Steelers defense. In the dome, Ryan and Turner will play better.

MINNESOTA (-6) over Miami- Home debut for Favre and Co. and I think they come through with a good game today. Miami didn't look good enough last week to make me think they beat the Vikings.
St. Louis (+3.5) over OAKLAND- The Rams were close last week, now they get the Raiders who were awful. Yes, it's a road game, but I think Steven Jackson has a bigger game and the Raiders lose because they think they'll win.

DENVER (-3.5) over Seattle- If the venue was reverse, so would the pick. Show me you can win on the road, Carroll and Seattle. Especially in Denver, where the Broncos always do well.

Houston (-3) over WASHINGTON- This is another game were you want some to show Week 1 wasn't a fluke. That means the Texans take care of business against a team who received a gift win, or they aren't to be picked all year.

SAN DIEGO (-7) over Jacksonville- Now let's see the Chargers at home (and not on national TV) and the Jags on the road (though, home-field advantage to them means nothing anyway). Besides, Chargers need to fool with us a little so we still think they're good.

New England (-3) over JETS- I thought the Pats played the best last week in their domination of the Bengals (forget the garbage points). I thought the Jets offense was the worst last week and to expect better after a short week is tough. Add the secondary's problems and Revis' hamstring slowing him down, the Pats will win.

INDIANAPOLIS (-5.5) over Giants- Sorry to say, but the Colts need this game, especially if the Texans win. If they lose, then they could be in trouble. I have to allow them to right the ship, even if it means picking against my favorite team.

New Orleans (-6) over SAN FRANCISCO- Someone will get the Saints, but not the Niners. They have too much to clean up to compete with the Saints, even at home. Alex Smith still sucks and I would look to get Vick if he plays well. Save your energy on the Giants pennant chase, Niner fans.

Season Record: 9-5-2

Monday, September 13, 2010

Same Old Jets

Tonight was supposed to be the start of the new era of Jets football, where the phrase "Play Like A Jet" is no longer a punchline. Rex Ryan with his swagger and breath of fresh air to change the Jets from losers into winners. New stadium that Jets fans can call their own (even though they still share with the Giants). However, after tonight, it's clear that the Jets are still a ways to go to becoming an elite team in this league. Basically, the Ravens are a glimpse at what the Jets want to be and how far they are to get there.

Let's begin with the offense, who everyone will write about in any story about this game. They were horrid and putrid. It's clear that there is a fear of throwing the ball down the field by Brian Schottenheimer, which unfortunately is the way you can beat the Ravens without Ed Reed. Watch that last drive again, not once did Mark Sanchez have a throw go beyond 10 yards. The thing to remember is that maybe this offense will be better once Santonio Holmes is back on the field. That won't help them next week against the Patriots, a team who's offense is miles ahead of the Ravens.

The Jets defense had their moments, but almost every time a stop was needed, the Jets let the Ravens get a 1st down, either through a bad play or a penalty. Partcularly Antonio Cromartie, who has some many penalties, people wonder if he makes babies the same way. The Ravens for the most part avoided where Darrelle Revis was covering and stuck with burning Cromartie and Kyle Wilson when they could.

The outlook for Baltimore is good, their front seven can makeup for deficiencies in the secondary until Reed returns and they will play better offense when they play easier defenses. Ray Rice, who was quiet tonight, will play better as the season continues. The question for them is can Flacco play well throughout. He got more comfortable as the game went on and had the confidence in his coaching staff to throw deep to Todd Heap on 1st down late in the game. They are rightly among those who are being picked for the Super Bowl.

The Jets, on the other hand, seem much further away from the Super Bowl than Rex Ryan thinks. The defense is good, but it's not unstoppable and it can't play dumb like it did tonight. They also need their offense to look like an offense and not have guys run out of bounds short on 4th downs.

As for the nightcap, the Chiefs played a spirited game with the Chargers at a newly renovated Arrowhead. Kansas City looks very improved (as much as one game can show) with playmakers all over the field now. Dexter McCluster scored on a 94 yard punt return, Jamaal Charles scored from 56 yards. Yes, Matt Cassel didn't play that well, but he didn't play poor despite 10/22 for 68 yards. The key is the special teams with McCluster and Javier Arenas running kicks and the defense made plays when they needed to make them, particularly those last two Chargers drives.

San Diego showed they were missing Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill and will need to get those guys signed before the season falls apart. Phil Rivers is always game, but once the Chiefs took away Antonio Gates, the offense struggled. The defense played well, but in the end, a loss is a loss. To be fair, the Chargers always do this, a slow start, then charge (no pun intended) to a playoff berth. Can it happen again? Not without McNeill and Jackson.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Revolving Recaps

Another new running feature on The Cycle as I will have a reaction blog post for all the action each week. For Monday night games, I'll try to have a postgame post each week as well (yes, I know my "general" sports blog is increasingly gearing toward the NFL). Let's begin with the most controversial finish of the day.

Detroit/Chicago- We have all seen the play, should Calvin Johnson's touchdown have been ruled incomplete? I was reminded of a pass from last year's opener between Oakland and San Diego when an Oakland receiver had the ball in the end zone, came down and the ball was let go and it was ruled incomplete. You need to hold the ball on your way down for the catch to count. He clearly didn't. Now, like the Tuck Rule, this sucks. If you get your feet down and parts of the body and the ball stays in control, it's a catch, no matter what the ground does. It's one thing if the ball hitting the ground was the natural progression in the catch, but if it's disjointed, it's a catch. The real shame is that Detroit played great defensively as the Bears shot themselves in the foot over and over. Add Matt Stafford's shoulder injury and the Lions continue the hard luck.

Cleveland/Tampa Bay- This was supposed to be an easy Browns victory as the game started quickly ahead 14-3. Jake Delhomme looked good early and they were stopping a terrible Bucs team. However, Browns fans learned why Delhomme sucks and Tampa won 17-14. Not much to say about this one, be glad if you didn't watch it.

Giants/Carolina- This was an interesting one, Matt Moore gave us a Delhommian effort with his INT's and the Panthers couldn't run well. This is about the Giants, who played sloppy, but you saw things that you liked. Eli Manning played terrific, despite 3 INT's, each on drops by Giants receivers. They didn't run well, but Ahmad Bradshaw still broke a big run late. Hakeem Nicks recovered from an early drop to score 3 TDs. The defense, after a mixed 1st half, shut down Carolina in the second half. The only worry is the special teams, particularly the coverage teams.

Miami/Buffalo- This was one that Miami basically had control throughout, despite the close score. One failed assignment scored the Bills lone TD, while the Dolphins just controlled the clock.

Jacksonville/Denver- Another game that wasn't much fun to watch, plus lightning delayed it. The Jags looked good in the second half, scoring on 3 of 4 second half possessions, as David Garrard threw 3 TD's on 16/21 passing. The Broncos lost because they left points off the field late in the 4th.

Tennessee/Oakland- Not much to say except a little bit of Chris Johnson for his fantasy owners, a little Vince Young who feasted against the Raiders and a little bit ineffective offensive play by the Raiders, playing into the Titans hands.

Houston/Indianapolis- The Texans for the past few years have been trendy picks, then they lose Week 1 and struggle all year. This year against their nemesis in the Colts, they ran all over them. Arian Foster is the back to stay, rushing for 231 yards and 3 TD's. His running countered Peyton Manning's godly 40/57 for 433 yards and 3 TD's. Colts also lost Bob Sanders, again, just in time for Manning Bowl II next week.

Atlanta/Pittsburgh- Defensive struggle to put it best, boring game to put it worst. Just a bunch of FG's throughout. Late in the 4th, Matt Ryan throws a terrible INT to Troy Polamalu at his own 30, only to see Jeff Reed miss the winning kick. In OT, Rashad Mendenhall doesn't give the Falcons another chance, taking a 51 yard run to the house. Steelers with this win look like they'll survive Ben Roethlisberger's suspension.

Cincinnati/New England- The story during the game was Wes Welker's impressive return from major knee surgery, scoring 2 TD's. The story after the game was Randy Moss' comments on his contract issue. Honestly, after the game wasn't the time to say this and it seems that whenever any player has something to say, he'll get killed for it. Can't blame him for his frustration on the lack of contract, but there's a time and place for that.

Green Bay/Philadelphia- A tale of two halves. The first half, the Eagles looked awful with Kevin Kolb (and by the way, the Eagles let him and Stewart Bradley play with concussions, maybe Andy Reid had a concussion). In the second half, Michael Vick looked very good against a Packers defense who wasn't prepared to face him and never had a spy for Vick's running ability. He also hit on some passes to rally the Eagles back from 20-3 down to 27-20 late. Once again, Reid's time management (burns his timeouts with 5 minutes left) and playcalling (4th and 1 Wildcat Vick run) cost them. Now, before you say that Vick should start, remember Kevin Kolb is the reason Donovan McNabb is gone. They won't just replace him after a bad half. Vick will only play if Kolb's still hurt. Then he needs to prove he can play good when teams are prepared for him to play QB and force him to become a passer.

San Francisco/Seattle- The Niners handed the Seahawks this game. They dominated the first 25 minutes and only came away with 6 points. After that, it was all Seattle as we saw the Alex Smith who we remember as a bust. The Pete Carroll Era has a booming start and the Niners must be kicking themselves for not trading for McNabb.

Arizona/St. Louis- Sam Bradford's first game was a busy one, going 32/55 for 253 yards and 1 TD with 3 INT's. Derek Anderson isn't making anyone forget about Kurt Warner, but he found a way to win the game, which is the important thing. The Rams are still a ways to go, but I like Bradford, who my mother says "looks 12". The Cardinals, however, should of won easily and kept St. Louis in it with turnovers. They both have things to work on.

Dallas/Washington- The debuts for McNabb and Mike Shanahan wasn't great offensively, but outstanding defensively. Both teams played dumb, but the Cowboys dumb plays stuck out more. For the Redskins, just the bobbled FG try and Trent Williams false start hurt them. Dallas got too many penalties, particularly on RT Alex Barron, which stalled drives. The two plays of the game, with :04 seconds left, the dumbest play call since the screen pass in Super Bowl XVIII as instead of going to halftime, have Tony Romo get it to Tashard Choice and he fumbles, allowing DeAngelo Hall score. Finally, the last play, which Barron's hold of Bryan Orakpo, nullified a Romo-to-Roy Williams (of all people) TD. Sooner of later, Wade Phillips must be fired, though the NFL wants it to be much later.

NFL Week 1 Picks and the Return of Babe of the Week

Last year, I would do my picks with a Babe of the Week. Usually, this woman was to have gone to a college for one of the teams in the biggest college football game of that week, hence the multiple use of women from G4. This year's theme is women who call, report or host football coverage. So for Week 1, I've decided that our Babe of the Week is...

...Charissa Thompson, a jack of all trades sports reporter, covering college football on Big Ten Network, NFL on Fox, NHL on Versus as their lead reporter and more.

As for my picks (Home team in CAPS):

NEW ENGLAND (-5.5) over Cincinnati
TENNESSEE (-6.5) over Oakland
Denver (+3) over JACKSONVILLE
Cleveland (+3) over TAMPA BAY
Detroit (+6.5) over CHICAGO
N.Y. GIANTS (-7.5) over Carolina
Atlanta (-1.5) over PITTSBURGH
Miami (-3) over BUFFALO
Indianapolis (-2.5) over HOUSTON
Green Bay (-3) over PHILADELPHIA
ST. LOUIS (+4) over Arizona
San Francisco (-3) over SEATTLE
WASHINGTON (+3.5) over Dallas
Baltimore (+2) over N.Y. JETS
KANSAS CITY (+5) over San Diego

NFL Record: 0-1

Thursday, September 9, 2010

NFL Preview: NFC and Super Bowl Pick

To read Part 1 about the AFC, click here.

Now it's the NFC's turn and the task of this conference is the supplant the Super Bowl champions, unlike in the AFC (no matter what Rex Ryan says). Does anyone have enough to do so? Here's the predictions.

(*-denotes Wild Card)

NFC East: 1. Giants 2. Cowboys 3. Redskins 4. Eagles

The thing that no one noticed about the Giants is they lost no one of significance (expect those who were terrible on defense). They have a very underrated passing attack, better safeties and an improved defensive line. If Bradshaw stays healthy, the run game will have success. The Cowboys have the attention, but their offensive line isn't good. No home game Super Bowl for them. The Redskins will be better with Donovan McNabb, but he doesn't stay healthy enough and the lack of weapons will keep them out of the playoffs. As for the Eagles, Kevin Kolb will struggle this year and the defense still is in need of improvement.

NFC North: 1. Packers 2. Vikings* 3. Bears 4. Lions

The Packers are the team everyone seems to be picking and I'm following right behind them. Aaron Rodgers will take his rightful place alongside Peyton, Brady and Brees as the best QB's in the league and they are capable of going far despite an average defense. Determining where the Vikings and Bears will finish was tough. Are the Vikes capable of returning in the NFC title game? Does Jay Cutler get better with Mike Martz? I opted for Minnesota over Chicago because it could get ugly if the Bears start slow. Lovie Smith is clearly on the hot seat. I would love the Lions if this was the West (either conference). The North is too tough this year, but next year...look out.

NFC South: 1. Saints 2. Falcons* 3. Panthers 4. Bucs

For once, the South could stay constant in back-to-back years. The best thing going for the Saints, that no one's talking about them and they're defending champs. Best thing that could happen to them and maybe will keep them grounded. Atlanta should return to the playoffs with Matt Ryan and Michael Turner coming back from injury. I also expect the Falcons defense to be improved with Dunta Robinson in the secondary. The Panthers are another team with uncertainty hanging over them with John Fox's job. They won't bottom out, but with QB a question mark, they probably won't be better than 8-8. Tampa is still in strong rebuild mode and they seem years away and it's likely not Raheem Morris to get the job done.

NFC West: 1. 49ers 2. Rams 3. Cardinals 4. Seahawks

It's clear that the Niners are now the best team in the West. The Cards have lost too much, particularly Kurt Warner (the downgrade from Warner to Derek Anderson is the biggest in 2010). Seattle is Pete Carroll's team now and that doesn't inspire hope (proved by Mike Williams being the number 1 WR). The Rams I think will be 2nd once Sam Bradford begins to get confidence. I wouldn't be shocked with them finishing 6-10. The Niners will go 10-6 as now Alex Smith seemingly is getting comfortable at quarterback and with talented players like Patrick Willis, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Frank Gore as well as an improved offensive line.

1st Round: Niners over Falcons, Giants over Vikings

Divisional Round: Saints over Giants, Packers over Niners

NFC Championship Game: Packers over Saints

Super Bowl: Packers over Steelers

As for tonight's pick, I have the Saints (-6) over the Vikings in the opener. I'll have the rest of Week 1 picks Saturday morning.

NFL 2010 Preview: AFC

That's right, it's time for the NFL season to begin. The offseason was dominated by the Jets, who have claimed the throne from the Redskins as offseason champs (even though the Redskins gave their case as usual). They have told us all summer that they're the team to beat and now they must show us, as well as the rest of the league. So let's begin with the season preview, starting with a look at the AFC.

(*-denotes wild card)

AFC East: 1. Patriots 2. Dolphins 3. Jets 4. Bills

The Pats offense is the reason they'll win this division. Brady has too many weapons at his disposal and even with a mediocre defense, they should win 11 games. The Jets and Dolphins are very close and probably will finished tied. I just think that Chad Henne is a more dependable QB than Mark Sanchez, has the better WR in Brandon Marshall, get Ronnie Brown back for the Wildcat and won't have every team on the schedule gunning for them, like the Jets will. Ray Lewis' comments about the Jets today show what other teams will think throughout the year. The Bills will be the worst team in football, hopefully C.J. Spiller looks good and then they draft Jake Locker next season.

AFC North: 1. Steelers 2. Ravens* 3. Bengals 4. Browns

Dixon might be the key to this pick, but as long as Troy Polamalu can have a healthy season, the Steelers will be back in the playoffs. I also think Ben Roethlisberger will have a better year once he returns to football that most think. The Ravens should finish second as I think Joe Flacco will handle having a good offense positively. Baltimore's biggest issue is a defense without Ed Reed for the beginning of the year. Cincinnati gets buzz with Terrell Owens joining them, but ultimately, it's Carson Palmer that will keep them from winning. He hasn't been a top-QB since Kimo von Oelhoffen rolled over his leg in the 2005 playoffs. The Browns should be better than last year, but this division is too tough for them to be a legitimate sleeper.

AFC South: 1. Colts 2. Texans* 3. Titans 4. Jaguars

We all know the Colts will go as Peyton Manning goes. So mark them down for 13 wins and a bye. The Texans finally make the playoffs this year and finally give the Matt Schaub-to-Andre Johnson combo more pub. The key; Neil Rackers playing good at kicker and I'm not kidding (Kris Brown's been worse than awful). The Titans play tough and have Chris Johnson, but that defense is in a little retooling mode and probably finish 8-8 again. This is the year the Jags get rid of Jack Del Rio and David Garrard. Another mediocre season and non-sellouts mean regime change will occur in Jacksonville.

AFC West: 1. Chiefs 2. Chargers 3. Raiders 4. Broncos

No, this isn't a typo, I have the Chiefs winning the weak AFC West. This is mainly an anti-San Diego pick as the losses from last year and the Vincent Jackson issue will hurt the team, plus too many years with Norv Turner has to lead to a missed playoff season. As for the Chiefs, having Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis in their natural environments as coordinators will help. Offensely, the Chiefs have talent in Jaamal Charles, Dexter McCluster and Dwayne Bowe around Matt Cassel and Eric Berry improves KC's defense on day one. I'd pick the Raiders except they're the Raiders and you can't trust them. Though, six or seven wins isn't out of the question. The Broncos will struggle early and Tim Tebow will get his chance to play.

1st Round: Ravens over Chiefs, Pats over Texans

Divisional Round: Ravens over Colts, Steelers over Pats

AFC Championship Game: Steelers over Ravens

Monday, September 6, 2010

Why College Football Needs Boise State to Win Tonight

I know I'm writing this as the game between Boise State and Virginia Tech will be underway, but I had to write this after reading Ty Duffy's piece on The Big Lead and Gregg Doyel's column on Both share the view that Boise State winning this game would be bad for the sport. Boise State only has this game with Virginia Tech and the rest of the schedule is for the most part easy. Meanwhile, every BCS team will have tougher schedules with 3 or 4 top 25 teams to play, more than likely. And you know what, I agree with them, Boise wouldn't deserve to play for a national title appearance compared to teams like a Florida or Oklahoma.

That is why I fully support Boise going to the national title game.

Fact is, we need to force the sport to go into a playoff. The best argument to having a playoff would be a non-AQ team reaching the BCS Title game because they were ranked top 5, beat a good team (top-10 preferable) and coast with an easy schedule to an undefeated season, screwing over a one-loss Big 12 or SEC team. It would have to be a one-loss team because two undefeated teams in BCS conferences would jump ahead of Boise, no question in my mind.

If Boise wins and goes unbeaten, they reach the title game if no one else is unblemished. And if they win the BCS Title game? Then you will hear from the Alabama's and the Ohio State's that they shouldn't win because of their easy schedule and weak league competition. Once again, they're right. However, all I have to say is too bad. You wanted this system (I know the ACC and SEC would accept a plus-one game, but if they wanted the other conferences to join, they could) and now when it works against you, you're upset. The past has shown teams like Auburn get jobbed of a chance for a national title, but a USC would win and not get all the conference to be upset. This should get the big six conferences upset about Boise winning and perhaps it would motivate them to change the system. Anything to change the system is fine with me.

So, I want Boise to win tonight and screw over all the teams and schools and fans and media writers that screwed them over in the past. Fairness be damned, unless it leads to a playoff, the only fair way to decide a title.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Quiet End For a Super Bowl Hero

Ralph Vacchiano tweeted this news. Here's the full story.

David Tyree has signed a one-day contract with the #NYG and will officially announce his retirement from the NFL tomorrow morning.

Now I wrote last year about how much Tyree means to me and that is just as true today. This picture still is the background of my Twitter page and will always be unless something drastic happens. Hell, there's a small chance I name my future son David Tyree Stewart. We all remember The Helmet Catch, but we tend to forget he was a great special teams player, a poor man's Steve Tasker. He also had another huge catch, scoring the touchdown that gave the Giants a 10-7 lead early in the fourth quarter of that Super Bowl. There hasn't been a more unsung hero in NFL history and the fact his career ends quietly, without another catch after his epic catch in Super Bowl XLII should only punctuate that point.

So this is goodbye, so let's honor him the right way with a YouTube tribute. This is from America's Game for the 2007 Giants.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Randomness That Doesn't Involve The Decision

The biggest sporting event of 2010 will take place today, when Spain and Netherlands will faceoff in the World Cup Final. The Dutch have quietly been the best team in the tournament, while the Spanish have hung around and reached the final. David Villa is the man I've found as the MVP of this tourney and the reason Spain is playing today. Prediction: Netherlands win 2-1 with Robin Van Persie scoring the winning goal.

The scariest story I've ever read, the Daily News reporting that Isiah Thomas could come back to the Knicks. If this was to happen, Isiah officially becomes the Freddy Kruger of sports. He killed the Knicks before, the lost draft pick this year was the sequel and a return would be in my mind, Nightmare on 33rd St III. News like this make me want to drink a Molotov cocktail.

Even worse, what does this mean for Rangers. Does Glen Sather ever leave? Did I just answer my own question?

The Ilya Kovalchuk saga continues in hiatus as almost no news has occurred since the Kings pulled out a second time. We're still waiting to see if he goes to the Devils, Kings, Russia or if there's another team out there (Rangers?) willing to make the move for the great scorer who doesn't play defense. Actually, he sounds like a fit for the Knicks. The Devils, according to Larry Brooks, have offered him 17 years/$100 million. That would be ridiculous and would in a way combine the bad contracts of Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro that the Islanders signed them to.

Two weeks until Mad Men is back on.

It's time to change the Home Run Derby. No longer do the top HR hitters participate and waters down the event. Everyone is scared of having a second half like Josh Hamilton had in 2008 which he didn't snap out of until this season. Robinson Cano was supposed to take part, but the Yankees told him not to do it and was replaced with Nick Swisher (so it's okay for Swish to do this?). He's the idea, make it either 6 or 8 contestants and the top two or three get to swing in the final and we go back to 5 outs in the final round. I don't know why they changed the final round to the full 10 outs, 5 was better and more dramatic. It's not that serious where a better HR hitter is really screwed out of victory.

Finally, it's a very sad day as longtime Yankees PA and NY Giants PA Bob Sheppard died at age 99. Let's find a place for him in heaven alongside John Facenda, Marty Glickman and Foster Hewitt, the voices of the NFL, NBA and NHL. Watch this tribute for the great man, the Voice of Yankee Stadium.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Welcome to Miami, Prince James

We just watched LeBron James announce he's joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. He did so in a made-for-TV special that was as contrived as any reality show finale. The difference, of course being that instead on watching the end for many attention-hungry individuals, we had just one who felt it was okay to screw over his hometown team in the most cruel and public way possible. Here's basically how it happened. It's worse than The Fumble, Jose Mesa and The Shot. It's worse than Game 5 of the Celtics series, but it foreshadowed the fact that LeBron quit on Cleveland.

However, I don't want to harp on the this angle or the size of LeBron's ego to go about it this way. For that, read Gregg Doyel's piece, who writes what most of us are thinking. Most people say there's no way you compare him to Jordan, Russell, Bird or Magic. And each of them are right. In fact, now he must worry about competing with Scottie Pippen because he's officially a second banana.

By signing with Wade, James has told everyone that he isn't capable of being a guy you build around to win a title. He's Ewing, Malone, Nowitzki. Nothing wrong with that to be fair, except that each of those players had to settle for being lesser than superstars, whether they wanted to or not and none of those guys left their teams in their primes (includes Dirk for resigning) to make things easier. Dr. J had a span from 1976 (when he was sold to the Sixers) to 1982 where he lost some of his luster because his teams never won. What happened? He waited until Philly added Andrew Toney, and Moses Malone and the Sixers won in 1983. LeBron tonight decided, at the young age of 25 that he can't wait for the Cavs to build the right team.

Now, don't get me wrong, it was fine for LeBron to seek a better situation (not to be a dick and put this decision on TV in a self-serving way). Chicago was perfect, he had the perfect Robin in Derrick Rose, plus Joakim Noah as a relentless defender/rebounder and with Carlos Boozer signing there, LeBron fits like a glove and the Bulls become the favorites in the East, since they have the hig-end players and prerequisite role players you need to have to win (think Horry, Fisher). The Knicks added Amare Stoudemire and actually LeBron could have been the point guard or at least until they see if Chris Paul or Tony Parker comes in. The Nets and Clippers, well, are still the Nets and Clippers (despite the Russian billionaire). He goes anywhere, he's going toe-to-toe with Kobe, Durant, Howard, Wade/Bosh and the Celtics for next year. Instead, he chooses the easy way out and joins Wade/Bosh.

If LeBron was 30 or older, you can understand, the same way you understood why Kevin Garnett had to go the Boston. He spent 12 years in a city, at least in NBA circles, similar to Cleveland (cold weather, no prospect of signing players) and all Garnett did was play hard every game he played for them. He didn't ask out until the T-Wolves shopped him before the '07 Draft. He was screwed over by his management more than LeBron was, with the Joe Smith illegal signing and not taking care of Sprewell and Cassell after the '04 West Finals run. The team was toiling in obscurity and that was the perfect time to put ego aside and win a title. LeBron isn't there yet, he's 25 and should still be trying to beat the best, not join them.

LeBron is a franchise player, a guy you go to war with and have a chance to win a title. Look at the Cavs next season and try to tell me different. He should be competing with likes of Kobe, West, Kareem historically. Instead, it's now Pippen, McHale and Sam Jones for him. It's not a bad thing for Chris Bosh, who isn't a superstar to deal with, but it is for LeBron. It cheats us of watching an all-world talent try to see if he be discussed with Jordan or at least Kobe. He settled for deferring to Dwyane Wade. Oh sure, you're going to hear out of everyone's mouths that they are sharing the team and how this will be like the '08 Olympic Team. They'll be lying.

What happens in the first close game for Miami, who gets the ball. Likely Wade, because it's his team. Then, one of two things happens; either LeBron gets mad like Pippen did when Toni Kukoc took the last shot in Game 3 of the '94 Knicks-Bulls series or accepts it, making him a complementary player. No longer can he potential join Jordan, Magic or Kareem. No longer with Duncan, Kobe or Bird. Neither Olajuwon or Shaq. The best case I'll give you is that he's Elgin Baylor (superior athlete) to Jerry West (more clutch). As far as I'm concerned, LeBron James is fighting to beat out Pippen for best sidekick in NBA history (difficult unless LeBron wins multiple rings) which is a letdown for all our expectations from him.

He wanted us to refer to him as "King James". Kings don't become subjects to others, at least not willingly. Hence, I must agree with Skip Bayless, he will forever be Prince James to me.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

NHL Free Agency Day 1 Wrap-Up

I needed to finish off the analysis of a few more NHL moves before I go with an NBA review for tomorrow. Let's start with Anton Volchenkov going to the Devils for 6 years/$25.5 mil. The thing I like about this is the Devils have rebuilt their blueline despite losing Paul Martin. This is the best Devils defense with the additions of Volchenkov and Tallinder since Scott Stevens was still playing. That's also the thing I hate about this, considering it's the Devils. They also signed Johan Hedberg, who I think is overrated, but he can play about 15 games, giving Marty Brodeur more rest in a year.

The other big contract was Dan Hamhius, who signed a 6 year/$27 mil deal with the Canucks. Vancouver has addressed their blueline with this signing and the Keith Ballard trade. This means Willie Mitchell is gone (someone teams should look at if healthy) but the Canucks have 7 defensemen, all of whom are good. They also picked up Manny Malhotra with a 3 year/$7.5 mil deal as a third line center. It was killed by Pierre McGuire, who thinks prospect Cody Hodgson should ask to be traded. I must say, I think the Canucks are the early favorites to win the West with the moves made and no more excuses for Roberto Luongo, not with that blueline in front.

The Oilers signed Kurtis Foster to a 2 year/$3.6 mil deal, which should spell the end of Sheldon Souray's time in Edmonton. He's been linked through trade to the Rangers, who resigned Vinny Prospal to another 1 year deal for less than Boogaard's cap hit. Seems like the Rangers really felt that if they had beat the Flyers in the shootout, they would go to the Stanley Cup Final. They have to make another move soon.

The Hawks finally signed someone, in Josh Scott. That's after trading Andrew Ladd to the Thrashers as Stan Bowman looks to win repeat titles, one in Chicago and one in Atlanta. I like how the Thrashers have made their team better since the Kovalchuk trade. It's been very impressive and they should be a playoff team. Signing Chris Mason at $3.7 mil over 2 years only makes them even better.

The last moves of note: Matt Cullen goes by the Minnesota Wild for over $3 mil a year for three years and also add Eric Nystrom for three years as well. The Blues resign Alex Steen and they have plenty of cap room. I'd make a run at Kovalchuk if I were them. Saku Koviu is staying in Anaheim, but the fact Bobby Ryan didn't sign an offer of 5 years at $5 mil per is alarming. Two former Hawks have moved on as Adam Burish tries to create the combo with Steve Ott that Sean Avery spectacularly failed at in Dallas, while Colin Fraser left for the Oilers. Finally, Dustin Boyd and Jordan Leopold don't listen to phone calls from Darryl Sutter trying to bring them back to Calgary, and sign with Montreal and Buffalo respectively.

Even David Kahn is Laughing

And he just gave Darko Milicic a four year deal, which will lead to Al Jefferson being traded.

It started when the Flyers signed Jody Shelley to a three year/$1.1 million per deal. This says my reaction to the move. Shelley not only filled the void that Colton Orr left as the enforcer, which Donald Brashear never did, he exceeded him by showing ability as a all-around hockey player. The Rangers decided he wasn't worth that much.

It would have been defensible until they signed Derek Boogaard for 4 years/$1.65 per. Boogaard, who's while being one of the most intimidating enforcers, has no ability to do anything other than fight. The last four years, Boogaard hasn't scored a goal, so I guess if he scores once for the Rangers, this move worked. This was the worst contract given of the day because of the length more than the money, though the money sucks. And the entire hockey world was laughing.

Then, Darryl Sutter came in and stole the thunder, by bringing back Olli Jokinen. Yes, that Olli Jokinen. The same guy who's lost the shootout for the Rangers on the last day of the regular season, missing the playoffs and letting the Flyers go to the Stanley Cup Final. The same guy who was such a disaster in Calgary that they took on the remaining two years of Ales Kotalik's deal to get rid of him, when all they needed was to let his contract lapse. Yet, they sign him and Sutter supposedly said they should have never let him go in the first place, or something to that effect, which Darren Dreger of TSN reported on the air. It inspired this tweet from Dreger. It was laugh-out-loud funny to everyone in the hockey world and yours truly.

The question of course, which was the more ridiculous move, Boogey to the Rangers or Olli to the Flames. This one I will have to put as a new poll, already next to the LeBron poll. I'm curious how this poll turns out.