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).