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.