Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I'll be taking the day off, as I consider Halloween to be a major holiday. This should only happen today, New Year's Day and the day after my birthday. That's right, I'm the kind of guy that blogs on Christmas but needs all of Halloween off. I'll come back tomorrow with my thoughts on NBA's opening night, the NFL lines, and more than likely a 500 word rant about how there were no kids trick-or-treating, due to over-protective parents and irresponsible media. Yeah, it'll happen.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NBA Preview 2007

With baseball behind us and any significant football games way ahead, it is a perfect time for the start of the 2007 NBA season. Most of the preseason headlines revolved around Kobe Bryant and his quest to lose in the first round of the playoffs in a different city. As I've mentioned over and over, going to Chicago would be horrible for both parties, as the Lakers wouldn't get near the same value and Kobe would be on yet again another talentless team. And now with Phil Jackson publicly criticizing Kobe and his lack of commitment, and seems like a trade has to happen, though nothing is on the table that Jerry Buss could possibly want to sign. As far as fantasy in concerned, the idea that Kobe might not play until he's traded, or at least not play up to his abilities, has got to have owners shaking in their moonboots. Same goes for Dwayne Wade and Kevin Durant owners, who are fearing injury. So, while we're talking about fantasy, let me show you my lineup before we get to the actual NBA.

PG Chauncey Billups
SG Ray Allen
G Tony Parker
SF Kevin Garnett
PF Jermaine O'Neal
F Rasheed Wallace
C LaMarcus Aldridge
Util Stephen Jackson
BN David Lee
BN Darko Milicic
BN Raja Bell
BN Jason Williams

Yeah, as much as I want to root against Boston teams, I have Garnett and Allen, so not only do I have to become a Celtics fan this year, but I also have to root for KU alum Paul Pierce to be unproductive, forcing my two guys to add more stats. Oh well. We'll see how this year goes. Now, let's talk basketball.

We'll start at the top, with the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. Most of the crap that is being referred to as "conversation" about the Spurs revolves around the fact that they've won their championships in alternate years (2003, 2005, 2007) and that's why they won't repeat. This is about as scientific as Noah's Ark, and is believed by roughly the same amount of people. It's not like the Spurs have mailed it in during even years. They were one overtime win away from reaching the finals in 2006, you might remember. However, they are not my pick for the 2007-08 champs, but it's not their fault.

It's Dallas' fault. They just got unlucky last year, facing a bad matchup against their former coach who had Avery Johnson's number. What makes me confident in the Mavs is that I believe that Johnson knows that he got out-coached, realizes that he should have never changed lineups, and has learned from his mistakes. They were clearly the best team last year, and if it wasn't for landing Golden State in Round 1, they probably would have won it all. I don't like the Suns against Dallas because of an unhappy Shawn Marion and an aging Steve Nash going up against Dirk Nowitzki, who is going to go on a blitzkrieg this year. Dallas also has a nice mix of role players, who won't exactly light it up, but know what they have to do to make this team successful. Another reason I like them is because of Avery Johnson making this a good defensive team, which is critical in the playoffs. No other teams in the West can really compete, with the possible exception of Houston, who have the ability finally win a playoff series this year, but probably not much else.

The team to watch has got to be Seattle. I'm going to be glued to all three of their games I'll get to watch this year, watching Kevin Durant every minute, even when he's on the bench. I'm absolutely amazed by his talents, not to mention his Garnett-like intensity and love for the game. And while the SuperSonics might not be the most talented team, they are surprising deep. Their offseason moves were a desperate attempt to keep the team in Seattle, but regardless of the motive, the Sonics have acquired a plethora of role players. They could be a surprise team this year.

The reason I'm picking the Celtics in the East isn't because I have two of their top three players on my team, rather, I have two of their top three players on my team because I'm picking the Celtics. I'm sorry, but look at the East. You have Detroit, who is aging and lost to the LeBron 5 in last year's conference finals. You have Chicago, who is still too inexperienced and might be the Kobe 5 by the end of the year. They have two more superstars than the Cavs. There isn't one team in the East that could possibly play good enough defense against Boston to stop the three-headed monster. And here's the X-factor: NBA teams routinely take games off, as it is a long season, but Kevin Garnett never takes a minute off. He is the most intense player on the court during every game, an attitude that will rub off on hungry Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and it has already rubbed off on their coach. Now add the fact that this team was practicing before everybody else, they're already appearing in commercials together, and the crazy African ubuntu "unity" thing that they're making up, and you got three all-star players who are hungry, determined and who are coming together like a band of brothers, and you got the Eastern Conference champions.
What, did you think I was going to pick the Knicks?

Monday, October 29, 2007

NFL Week 8: Running With The Devil

If you're searching for a Halloween costume, go as the scariest thing a defense coordinator can imagine: Bill Belichick. Everyone was up in arms this morning about his running up of the score during Sunday's 52-7 massacre against Washington. I, for one, have no problem with it. It is real simple, if you don't want a team running up the score on you, then don't let them. If you can't stop them, then guess what, they are going to score on you. It works that way from quarters 1-3, and it doesn't cease during quarter 4. The only problem I would have is if I were a Patriots fan, fearing an unnecessary injury to Tom Brady or Randy Moss during garbage time. As it stands, my sister is killing me in my fantasy league due to Brady's 100 points a game, so I welcome it with open arms. Oh, and if the Patriots end up destroying the Colts as well, don't even think about Belichick running the ball in the second half. If it means Wes Welker getting meaningless touchdowns that propel me to a fantasy win, so be it.

On to the games...

Cleveland at St. Louis, 27-20, 24-20
Steven Jackson promised me that he would do well, and he was, before he got injured. Again. As I said last week, trade trade trade Derek Anderson. Well, unless you have no other decent quarterback. His next three games are against Seattle, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Can the Browns seriously keep playing this well? OK, they aren't playing that well, considering they might have lost to the winless Rams if Jackson stayed on. Did anyone watch this game, by the way? I had Cleveland covering the -3, and they won by 7.

Indianapolis at Carolina, 31-7, 30-14
It's still hard to believe that the Colts defense is really this good. I mean, it's the Colts! I think what is worth noting about this game was that Marvin Harrison was out, and Peyton Manning still had 255 yards, 168 of which were to Reggie Wayne. I also saw a new Manning commercial, which by my count is the 372nd different one. But let's face it, what everyone wants to see is next week's showdown against New England. And did you know that Indy is called "The Amateur Sports Capital of the World"? Just saying. I has Indy covering the -7, as did everybody else.

Detroit at Chicago, 16-7, 27-18
No really, the Bears aren't any good. Nobody (including Vegas) seems to understand this fact. And when Brain Griese is your quarterback, it is indeed a fact. I was actually impressed by both defenses, expecting a higher score than this. But another division lost for Chicago is making their already deep hole harder to get out of. Detroit, however, is 3-0 in division games, though they are giving up more points than they've scored this season. I had Detroit covering the +5, and they did.

NY Giants at Miami, 13-10, 35-17
A lot closer than most people thought this game would have been. It just goes to show that you can not predict how players will to react to the long flight, the new country, the neutral field, the London rain, and so on. I still find it funny that we sent over the worst team in the league and the "other" Manning. It was also reported that most of the fans in attendance were actually Americans, either ones who lived there and were just happy to see a game or guys rich enough to make the flight. Oh yeah, Europe loves us. I had the Giants covering the -9.5, and they only won by 3.

Oakland at Tennessee, 9-13, 17-14
Alright, let me explain: when I made this pick, Kerry Collins was thought to be starting. It all worked out though, since Tennessee failed to cover the -7 spread. Vince Young lit up LP Field with an outstanding 42 yards passing. He had 6 pass completions and 7 rushes. But you know what, he still wins these games. Don't ask how, he just goes out there and puts the Ws on the board. And that's what it's all about.

Philadelphia at Minnesota, 23-16, 17-21
This game really surprised me. Minnesota is a decent team, even better at home, and Philly has been awful. But as the song says, it just goes to show you never really can tell. The Eagles defense actually found a way to stop Adrian Peterson, a feat that seemed almost impossible. At least Brad Childress limited Chester Taylor's carries to only 6, but I fear the loss will force him to keep splitting the carries 50/50, which would be a huge mistake. Stick with Peterson, coach. I had the Vikings covering the +1, and they loss by 7.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 24-13, 30-27
I hated this, since I had Cincy covering by half a point, which they did not. Here's what T.J. Houshmandzadeh had to say about the game, "Good teams put it in the end zone. Teams like us kick field goals". And Carson Palmer about the season thus far, "I never would have guessed it. I never would have thought it". Apparently I'm the only one who thought the Bengals were no good. Time to call Bill Cowher.

Buffalo at NY Jets, 13-3, 14-20
I waaaay overestimated the Jets' offense. Apparently, so did Eric Mangini, who announced today that he will be benching Chad Pennington for Kellen Clemens. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the Jets are 1-7 since Mangini's Sopranos cameo. Plus, they only have one more game against a team with a losing record, which is December 2nd at Miami. OK, so they'll go 2-14. I had the Jets covering the -3, and they lost by 10.

Houston at San Diego, 10-35, n/a
No prediction on this one for obvious reasons. Let me say this though, I am officially on the Chargers' bandwagon. Yeah, I know, later than most. But the way they were able to focus and just lay a beat down on the Texans was extremely impressive. And the only competition they have in the AFC West is the Chiefs, who we still aren't totally sure how good they really are. And my advice to play Rosenfels wasn't that bad, since he did have a touchdown, and it was a stingy day for quarterbacks.

Jacksonville at Tampa Bay, 24-23, 10-14
Well, I started off strong. The fact that Tampa Bay lost at home to a Jags team led by Quinn Gray is just staggering. I really feel as if Jon Gruden will lose his job after this year if they can't pick themselves up. With New Orleans regaining 2006 form, they cannot afford to be losing these kind of games. Hats off to Jacksonville though. It looked as if the loss of David Gerrard would be too much, but they came through with a huge win. I had Tampa covering the -3.5, and they lost by one.

New Orleans at San Francisco, 31-10, 24-15
This one was quite obvious. The other neck-tied coach in the NFL, Mike Nolan, can't overcome his injury problems. What a disappointment they have been. And what a disappointment the Saints were, until coming back with three straight wins. They are right in the mix in the NFC South. I get the feeling that Drew Brees and Reggie Bush have decided to carry this team, realizing that they are New Orleans only hope. What a duo those two have become. I had the Saints covering the -2.5, and they for sure did.

Washington at New England, 7-52, 10-30
I knew it was going to be bad, just not this bad. There's nothing more I can say that hasn't already been said. I had New England covering the -16.5.

I went 6-5 this week, not counting tonight's game. That makes me 31-30-2. Finally over .500!


The other big story over the weekend was that Alex Rodriguez has opted out of his contract with the New York Yankees, leaving $72 million in the dust. The common consensus is that he's an egotistical jerk who thinks he is better than the game. This charge has been led by, amongst others, writers such as Peter Gammons and Buster Olney. The fact that his opting out became news during Game 4 of the World Series, which then became the deciding game, has everyone painting him as selfish. But I, for once, am ready to defend A-Rod on his leaving, and yes, his timing.

First off, let's look at A-Rod's decision just to leave. Why wouldn't he? When it comes to key players like Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, their futures are uncertain. Take away just one of these players from the Yankees' roster and they are a substantially worse club. The Yankees could have addressed this sooner, but did not.

Then you have the fact that A-Rod has made it apparent for a long time that he does not like New York. For a guy who is supposed to be so addicted to the limelight and wants everything to be about him, he doesn't seem to enjoy it all that much. This whole debate about why he let the news out when he did comes down to two words: Scott Boras. Who do you think leaked that information? Who do you think craves the spotlight more? Did A-Rod even know that is was getting released? Think about it.

Everything about the 2008 season screamed for Rodriguez to leave. The players are getting old, the manager position was in limbo, even the owners had changed. It seems as though he wants to go somewhere like San Francisco, where nobody will see his games and he can be left alone, much like Barry Bonds, the man who currently hold the record that A-Rod is chasing. And with all of that tabloid front pages, constant criticism and unrivaled prodding into his privacy, can you blame him?

2007 World Series Champions: Boston Red Sox

2004 was no fluke. Alright, even Tim McCarver could tell you that (and he did, repeatedly), but what does 2007 really mean? It means that the new dynasty has arrived. As if Boston sports wasn't doing well enough, they now can add another World Series to their ongoing list of accomplishments. And there will be more. Bostonians are no longer cursed, they are blessed. This new century is starting off remarkably close to the last one, as now the Red Sox are again the team to beat in the MLB. Sweeping the Colorado Rockies on Sunday night with a 4-3 win, the Sox used outstanding pitching, timely offense and perfect managing to gain their second championship in four years. They were dominate.

The Unknowns

Josh Beckett. David Ortiz. Manny Ramirez. J.D. Drew. Curt Schilling. Dice-K. Jonathan Papelbon.

We know these names. We know what positions they play and what their faces look like. We are familiar with their careers and their accomplishments. Then, you say these names:

Dustin Pedroia. Jacoby Ellsbury. Mike Lowell. John Lester. Kevin Youkilis. Hideki Okajima. Bobby Kielty.

Otherwise known as "Who?", these were the players that brought the Red Sox their trophy. These were the heroes of the 2007 World Series. While the Boston superstars predictably did their part, it was these no-names that pushed the Sox over the edge, and into the history books. Pedroia hit a home run in his first World Series at-bat, Kielty provided the pinch-hit homer that became the winning run in Game 4, Youkilis hit four homers in the postseason, Ellsbury hit .360 in the postseason, Lester became the first pitcher since 1950 to win the deciding game of a World Series in his first postseason start, and Okajima pitched 8.5 innings of relief without allowing a run. Mike Lowell? He's the World Series MVP.
How's that for production?

The Superstars
Beckett is becoming a postseason legend before our eyes. He pitched 30 innings this postseason with a 1.20 ERA, winning all four of his starts. Ortiz and Ramirez hit four homers each, Schilling and Papelbon were dazzling as always, and Dice-K won when it mattered. The surprise? J.D. Drew and his 11 RBIs. He increased his RBI per at-bat ratio from 13% in the regular season to 21% in the postseason. His batting average went from .270 to .314. He hit a grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS. The city of Boston was ready to let him go after his first year in a Red Sox uniform, but now he is a hero with the rest of them. His flip-flop from a bad regular season to a tremendous postseason makes him the anti-Alex Rodriguez. What more could you ask for?

The Manager
Terry Francona is the best manager in the majors. Period. Every move he made, from starting Ellsbury to bringing in Kielty, worked like a charm. He kept his guys loose, was never caught out-thinking himself, and has as much class as anyone in the league. He was the guy who brought the end of The Curse, and now he is at the forefront of the next dynasty in baseball. On the other hand, Rockies manager Clint Hurdle just about blew it. He shifted his infield the wrong ways. He went to the wrong pitchers at the wrong times. He refused to alter his lineup in a way that it demanded. He stopped having fun. Colorado got to the World Series by having fun, but from Game 1 it was apparent that the players were pressing. Still, they could have never got there without him, so in that sense he should be congratulated.

The X-Factor
The Red Sox took a page from the Rockies' book by being the loosest team I have ever witnessed. This became apparent on Sunday night, were cameras showed David Ortiz sticking bubblegum on Dice-K's hat, ending with laughter and a choreographed handshake once the Japanese pitcher figured it out. The Sox were in the most important game in their lives, and here they were playing jokes on each other. You had Papelbon's Riverdance and the bullpen drumline. And of course, there was Manny Ramirez, possibly the loosest player of all time. Other teams, take note: this is how you win championships.

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, winners of the 2007 World Series.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

NFL Week 8 Lines: Living In A Fantasy

Chris Collinsworth, one of the few NFL analysts who's worth a damn, pretty much summed up the season this week on Inside The NFL. When you look at this week's games that don't involve either Indianapolis or New England, you're going to have a hard time finding one that matters. This is the dullest season in recent memory. The real Super Bowl is the AFC Championship, and only two teams are competing for the spot. Barring injury, everything is set. Then again, isn't this what fantasy football is for? So, this week I'll give my lines and points in short, and spend a little time talking fantasy.

Cleveland at St. Louis (CLE, -3) CLE 24, STL 20
Indianapolis at Carolina (Indy, -7) Indy 30, CAR 14
Detroit at Chicago (CHI, -5) DET 27, CHI 18
NY Giants at Miami (NYG, -9.5) NYG 35, MIA 17 (note: this game is in London)
Oakland at Tennessee (TEN, -7) OAK 17, TEN 14
Philadelphia at Minnesota (PHI, -1) MIN 21, PHI 17
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (PIT, -3.5) PIT 30, CIN 27
Buffalo at NY Jets (NYJ, -3) NYJ 20, BUF 14
Houston at San Diego --- no prediction due to no call yet of where the game is.
Jacksonville at Tampa Bay (TB, -3.5) TB 14, JAC 10
New Orleans at San Francisco (NO, -2.5) NO 24, SF 15
Washington at New England (NE, -16.5) NE 30, WAS 10
Green Bay at Denver (DEN, -3) GB 27, DEN 17

Ok, now some fantasy football. If you are really desperate, it wouldn't be a bad bet to pick up Sage Rosenfels against San Diego. First off, I don't believe the Chargers are still very good. Second, many Charger players have already told the media that the wildfires out there have them distracted. I know I'm advocating taking advantage of a natural disaster for gambling purposes, but what are you going do, start Quinn Gray? Also, even though Kenny Watson had a monster day last week, don't start him against the Steelers. In fact, take Pittsburgh's Najeh Davenport.

As far as trades go, I always have one rule I try to live by if at all possible: only trade with the bottom-tier teams. You won't be able to make a trade without helping out another team, so why would you want to help out a team who is already better than you? That goes both ways, too. If your season is pretty much done, don't make borderline trades with already good teams. Just accept the fact that you suck (or that you had too many Rams on your roster). Players to get are: Maurice Jones-Drew, Larry Johnson, John Kitna, Frank Gore, Dwayne Bowe, and Donte Stallworth. Players to trade are: Shaun Alexander, Kevin Curtis, Derek Anderson, and Calvin Johnson. You have to give a little to get a little. You might be able to talk somebody into an Alexander/Parker trade straight up, but probably not Reuben Droughns for MJD.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Yo Quiero Baseball!

Apparently, the sole purpose of the World Series is to sell Taco Bell products. Either that, or to convince you to watch House. Whatever the reason, I came out of Game 2 learning only one thing: J.D. Drew cannot be stopped. Yes, you read that correctly. He's the anti-Alex Rodriguez; he tanks the regular season and is on fire in October. By Game 3, Boston fans could hear that Drew is starting while David Ortiz is on the bench, and they wouldn't even bat an eye. Try telling that to Red Sox Nation a month ago. Few things baffle the mind more than Drew showing emotion, but perhaps these (mostly) non-baseball notes from Game 2 will come close.

  • What's with the need to screw up the National Athem before each game? James Taylor couldn't have butchered that more if he were P-Diddy.
  • Fox is making a show based of Terminator.
  • Tim McCarver gave us his Keys to the Game. Colorado: score early. Boston: don't lose. He seriously gets paid for this?
  • Kevin Youkilis looks like a cross between Edward Norton in American History X and Rob Halford from Judas Priest.
  • Slogan from an E*Trade commerical: "things you can do with one finger". ---------------
  • An XBOX commercial had children singing a Poison song which is about having sex. Classic.
  • Will Clint Hurdle be the last Royal ever to make SI? That was in 1978, by the way.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury won everybody in America a free taco. I'm elated.
  • Which has the most: the amount of different beards in the WS, or branches on Shawn Kemp's family tree?
  • McCarver quote: "he strikes like a cobra in a basket". Creative.
  • J.D. Drew is 4-9 with runners in scoring position this postseason.
  • People at Fenway boo fellow fans when they fail to catch a flyball.
  • That previous sentence had five words that started with the letter "f".
  • Eric Byrnes is the long-lost brother of the Dell Guy.

And there you are. Since judging these games are useless until we see the Rockies at home, I decided to give some other useless facts. Don't judge me.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Does Buster Olney Get Paid For This?

ESPN's Buster Olney has reported that "officials familiar with Joe Girardi's job prospects" have told him that Girardi could be hired by the Dodgers if the Yankees decide to hire Don Mattingly as manager instead. Of course, the Dodgers had no comment, which isn't surprising. What did seem a little odd though, was that Girardi's agent, Steve Mandel, wouldn't comment either. I'm sorry, but any agent from Drew Rosenhaus to Jerry Maguire would have said something along the lines of "there have been talks with other clubs". The whole point is to strike fear into the Yankees, to have them panic and hire Girardi before anyone else can snag him away. The way Mandel responded, or didn't respond, makes me think that the story isn't true. And if it isn't, wouldn't Olney know that? I mean, does he get paid to spread rumors for ulterior motives? Or am I sounding to much like the "9/11 was an inside job" kind of guys? Just seems a little fishy, that's all.

World Series Game 1

From the very first pitch on Wednesday night, it was obvious that the eight day layoff which was supposed to be a gift for the Colorado Rockies turned into a major disadvantage. The Rockies' first four batters struck out. Boston's first batter, rookie Dustin Pedroia, hit it over the Green Monster. That's about all you need to know to understand what happened in Game 1. The Red Sox were never in trouble during their 13-1 rout, but the series is far from over. Actually, there is a chance that their margin of victory could actually hurt them.
Anyone who was watching last night could see the the Rockies were nervous. For over a week, this batch of inexperienced no-names were sitting at home, reading the clippings and hearing the praise. They were unbeatable for a month, on a hot streak that was unprecedented, and brimming with confidence. Now, if they were to lose Game 1 by one or two runs, it potentially could have done more harm to their psyche, as their confidence to being able to grind it out and find ways to win could have been damaged. But this was one of those "could it get any worse?" games. They know that they could not have played any worse, and that Boston could not have played any better. There was no one to point fingers at; everybody was accountable. And isn't that what has fueled this team since September? It's a team, where everybody is the MVP, and they win or lose together. I dare to say it: losing 13-1 in the World Series might have been a good thing.
Game 2 might turn out to be the most important game of the series. It by no means is a "must win" game, but the Rockies definitely need to put up a fight. Any shred of confidence they can regain heading back to Colorado will be a huge boost. They are down, but definitely not out. If anybody can go on a run, the Rockies are by far that team.

Monday, October 22, 2007

NFL Week 7: Inconsistent

Usually, when you rack up 224 yards and 3 touchdowns, you've earned a starting role on your team. But Vikings coach Brad Childress seems to be the only man not on the Adrian Peterson bandwagon. Because after destroying the Bears in Week 6, Childress limited Peterson to just twelve carries. Chester Taylor, who has been relegated to "the other guy", was granted ten carries. Stop with the 50/50 already! AP is one of the most exciting players in the league, he needs to get the ball. And if the last few weeks weren't enough, Peterson ran for a twenty yard touchdown at the end of the first quarter. What that mean is, after AP's touchdown, he was given the ball a total of eight more times, while Taylor had seven carries. Well, that's one way to lose.

Stats from around the league:

1. The top three defenses in the league gave up 78 points on Sunday, while the bottom three defenses gave up only 61. Nice to seem some parody again.
2. New England averages more points per game (39.9) than all but five teams have scored in a single game all season.
3. The only quarterbacks with a better rating than Jeff Garcia are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
4. Jared Allen is tied with Osi Umenyiora for leading the league in sacks, with eight. Allen was suspended for the first two games of the season, and Umenyiora recorded six of his sacks in one game.
5. Randy Moss has ten touchdowns in seven games. Notre Dame's entire offense has seven total touchdowns in eight games.
6. Tony Gonzales has the same amount as yards as Kevin Curtis and Kellen Winslow Jr.
7. Coming off of bye weeks since 2002, Peyton Manning is 4-1, outscoring opponents 161-109. Off of bye weeks on Monday Night Football, Manning is 1-0, that win coming at New England. His only loss is against Jacksonville, who he plays tonight.

Due to problems with the server, I did not give score predictions last week. A (+) signifies a correct line, and a (-) with signify an incorrect line.

Washington at Arizona, 21-19, -
I'm not too upset with picking Washington to cover the -8, since at that time Kurt Warner wasn't playing. What I am upset about is that this game was decided by a missed extra point. Also, what was Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt doing by having Anquan Boldin throw a pass for the game-tying two point conversion? Boldin had two scores in the game, and the Cardinals came out with Boldin in the shotgun and backup QB Tim Rattay in the slot. Joe Gibbs is a smart coach, and did not call a timeout, but rather opted to play defense against a guy who hasn't thrown a pass since high school.

Atlanta at New Orleans, 22-16, +
The Saints, who were 1-4, should not have been 8 1/2 favorites against anybody, not even the lowly Falcons. Six would have been a perfect number (three for home field and three for being slightly better), and they indeed won by six. As for Atlanta, they should be happy that they are "stuck" with Joey Harrington again. It's not his fault that the Falcons' receivers are unable to catch any pass that comes to them. It was that way with Vick, and it will always be that way until they bring in some new personnel.

Baltimore at Buffalo, 14-19, -
This wasn't that all surprising, seeing as how the Ravens were only three point favorites for a reason. What was surprising is how bad this Baltimore offense played. Buffalo has one of the worst defenses in the league, and the Ravens never got into the red zone until the 4th quarter. And trailing by five with 1:49 left in the game, on the Bills' 49 yard line, fourth and one, with a running back who had over 100 yards on the day - the Ravens threw a pass incomplete.

Minnesota at Dallas, 14-24, -
This game crushed gamblers across the country, as Dallas were 9 1/2 point favorites who won by 10. I've already discussed my anger with the Vikings, so let's turn to Dallas. If they can get to the Super Bowl, they have as good of chance to beat New England/Indianapolis as anybody. Their two leaders, the coach and the quarterback, smile more Hugh Hefner. This team is loose, which is key while preparing for Media Week. In this game, Tony Romo had five times as many completions as Tavaris Jackson, with only twice as many attempts.

New England at Miami, 49-28, +
The only team in the modern era who has scored more in their first seven games than the Patriots were the 2000 Rams. We all know what happened that year. Not much to say about this one. New England covered yet another huge spread.

San Francisco at New York Giants, 15-33, +
We are getting close to the Manning Bowl. I wonder what Papa Manning would do during that game? Would he root for his favorite, for both, or none? Anyways, just like the two-headed monster in the AFC, it seems to be the Cowboys/Giants against the field. Perhaps we need a BCS-like system in the NFL? OK, maybe not. Giants were -9, and covered.

Tampa Bay at Detroit, 16-23, +
Even though they were a one fumble away from going into overtime, fumbles are part of the game, so my seat on the Lions bandwagon is still warm. The fact that they are winning games without having to score 30 is a big deal. The finally used rookie Calvin Johnson, who had a 32 yard rush for a score. On the other side, it's still hard to figure out Tampa Bay. They're good, but not all that great. They lost to Detroit, who was only a two point favorite at home, and they got destroyed by the Colts.

Tennessee at Houston, 38-36, +
Another gambler's special, since the 1 1/2 point favorite Titans won by 2. You have to be worried if you're Jeff Fisher, because nobody should be giving up four touchdowns in the fourth quarter to Sage Rosenfels. And setting the single game record for most field goals might be nice for Rob Bironas, but the fact that eight different trips into enemy territory never resulted in a touchdown has to be worrisome as well. Good fight by Houston, but in the AFC South, they are done.

Kansas City at Oakland, 12-10, +
When you beat a team nine straight times in this league, it's a big deal. No story line was better than the fact that Priest Holmes got on the field, and he was actually productive. I would've liked to see them use Holmes more, but I understand why they didn't. Seeing him run for a first down was like watching my son graduate from college or something. It was a great game by both teams, even if Herm Edwards made his usual mistake by burning timeouts early in a close game. Why Oakland was favored, I have no idea.

New York Jets at Cincinnati, 31-38, -
This game makes me angry just thinking about it. The Jets had this game, and if nothing else, they definitely should have covered the +6 1/2, but no, they lost by seven. The Bengals shouldn't feel good about this though, because they had to rally to beat one of the worst teams in the league at home. It doesn't help that Cincinnati are themselves, one of the worst teams in the league. Good bye, Marvin Lewis.

Chicago at Philadelphia, 19-16, -
What a dismal performance by the Eagles. Donovan McNabb has a lot of work cut out for him if he wants to stay in Philly, but really, why would he? There's been talk about him actually going to Chicago, which if you think about it, isn't that bad of an idea. He's a winner, obviously, and Lovie Smith looks like a superior coach to Andy Reid right about now. Reid knows how to build a team, but if Sunday was any indication, his game planning skills have diminished greatly.

St. Louis at Seattle, 6-33, +
Yes, the Rams are bad. Simply awful. But Shaun Alexander isn't doing that great either. If you can't get 100 yards against St. Louis, then who are you going to get it against? And yes, I know he's not running behind the same offensive line, but neither is Larry Johnson, and he's starting to figure it out. You would think a fantasy team with Alexander, AP, MJD, Stephen Jackson and Drew Brees would be doing well. You would think.

Pittsburgh at Denver, 28-31, -
I cannot believe that the Steelers lost this game. Then again, you have to remember that Mike Tomlin is a first time head coach, and that Mike Shanahan has rings. I hate when coaches call a timeout before a field goal, but if you;re going to do it, do it right. Tomlin called his before Jason Elam's game winning field goal right when Denver got, nowhere close to when they were going to snap the ball. Like I said, first time head coach.

I went 7-6 this week, not counting tonight's game. That makes me 24-25-2 on the season. Hey, almost .500! It works for Kevin Youkilis.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Way To Go, Joe

12 years, 4 championships. In case you didn't major in math, that's one championship every three years. Well, Joe Torre accomplished that, and what did he get? A one year offer for a lower salary. That is Torre's way of saying "Eff you" to the New York Yankees, who are probably the most disgusting, unrewarding franchise in American sports history. And people wonder why the Yankees are hated so much? Joe Torre should win AL manager of the year for the work he did this season, but in return gets an insulting contract negotiation.

The real question here is did this come from Steinbrenner, or his sons? If it came from his sons, then the Yankees are not in good hands. With the loss of Torre, they may also lose Mariano Rivera. Plus, they need A-Rod to stay. What do you think A-Rod will take out of this? His manager, who he loved, was basically pimp-slapped by the Yankees. What is keeping him from saying, "You know what, eff you too" and going off to L.A. or Chicago? And who in their right mind wants to manage this team? A championship every three years isn't enough? No thank you.

Note to ESPN: this story is big, but it's not that big. The coverage they are giving this makes it seem like not only did Torre say no, but he also set Yankee Stadium on fire and impregnated Steinbrenner's daughter. Please, I don't need two solid hours of Buster Olney and Steve Phillips telling me that they don't know anything yet.
The NFL lines column will have to wait. Upon publishing, Blogger deleted it, and the the auto-save only saved about one paragraph. I spent nearly three hours on it, so I'm in no mood to retype it. Hopefully, it will be up before the weekend.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Night For The Living Dead

There will be no NFL rankings this week, and probably none for the rest of the year, due to the fact that it's Indianapolis and New England against the field. Seriously, what's the point? It's really a bummer that the league is turning out this way, since it makes any game where those two teams aren't involved insignificant. The only new stories on Wednesday are the contents of Kobe Bryant's locker (which has been covered), and the futures of Joe Torre and A-Rod, which are all speculation. And with no baseball games on tonight, no quality television shows since the 90's, and the 10-hour rainstorm I am enduring, I turn to Dane Cook for some advice: "There's only one October!!!!",

That's right! I'm throwing out my multi-October calender and popping in some DVDs. With Halloween just around the corner (or if you're a Mets fans, it's been going on for about a month), what better way to spend a sports-less night than with some old-fashioned horror movies. In case you are deciding to put in your "I Know What You Did Last Summer" DVD, let me help you out. For the next two weeks, these are the movies you should be watching:

1. Dracula - the original, or course.
2. Nosferatu or Vampyr - pick both if you're into the silent films. If not, I suggest Nosferatu.
3. Frankenstein - again, the original.
4. Evil Dead/Army of Darkness - for when you need to laugh and scream at the same time.
5. Halloween - obviously.
6. White Zombie - just so you can tell your friends that you actually saw it. Speaking of...
7. House of 1000 Corpses/Devil's Rejects - unless your girlfriend is with you.
8. Young Frankstein - not really scary, but it might be the funniest movie ever.
10. Transylvania 6-5000 - it has Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and Kramer. Nuff said.
11. Beetlejuice - yep.
12. Actually, any Tim Burton movie - except for Willy Wonka. I recommend Edward Scissorhands, and if you have kids, The Nightmare Before Christmas.
13. Near Dark - a vampire western.
14. The Lost Boys - anyone under 40 should already own this movie.
15. Don't watch Scream - please, don't be that guy.

That should keep you busy. So heat up some popcorn, kick back, and enjoy the shows. Well, unless you want to watch reruns of E:60, that is.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It Ain't Over Yet

Back-to-back-to-back homers is usually a good sign. Unfortunately, when Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez did it Tuesday night, they were already down by seven runs. Hanging knuckleballs and costly errors did the Red Sox in, while a seven run fifth inning and a throwback pitcher gave the Indians the 7-3 win. Cleveland now leads the series 3-1, and has one more game at home before possibly heading to the World Series. So what's the problem? That would be Josh Beckett starting on Thursday. Beckett is the only Boston pitcher to look halfway decent in this series, while C.C. Sabathia is the only Indians starter who hasn't.

Another problem for Cleveland is that when it comes to facing ALCS adversity, Terry Francona knows how to get his Red Sox to rally. I don't need to remind you what happened in 2004. Plus, if Boston were to win on Thursday, it is very unlikely for Curt Schilling to have two bad starts in a row. Remember, this Indians team is young and inexperienced. And what happens when they have to turn to Joe Borowski, possibly the game's shakiest closer? We saw on Tuesday night the determination that Boston's veterans had. The pressure felt by Cleveland will be ten fold what is felt by the Red Sox. How they respond during Game 4 is extremely important. They need to end this now.

The Rocky Mountain Way

Joe Walsh
"Rocky Mountain Way"

Spent the last year Rocky Mountain Way
Couldn't get much higher
Out to pasture
Think it's safe to say
Time to open fire
And we don't need the ladies
Crying 'cuz the storie's sad '
Cuz the Rocky Mountain Way
Is better than the way we had
Well he's tellin' us this
And he's tellin' us that
Changes it every day
Say's it doesn't matter
Bases are loaded and Casey's at bat
Playin' it play by play
Time to change the batter
And we don't need the ladies
Crying 'cuz the storie's sad, uh huh
Rocky Moutain Way
Is better than the way we had
Hey, hey, hey, hey

The Rockies must win the World Series. They must. And if all possible, I would like to have them win in four games. Because if that were to happen, it would be the greatest sports moment in my life. And I'm a Royals fan. This is the classic underdog story. Within five years, Daniel Day-Lewis will be playing Todd Helton in "Rocktoberfest: The Story of the 2007 Colorado Rockies". Kirsten Dunst will probably be playing Eric Byrnes. In ten years, I'll be on the edge of my seat watching the Rockies/Padres re-run on ESPN Classic, explaining to my son how, against all odds, men such has Troy Tulowitzki and Yorvit Torrealba led Colorado to the promised land. And I'll probably start crying.>
It wasn't until Monday night that the Rockies showed the world that they are the team to beat. Their 6-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks was their 21st win in 22 games, and they are heading to the World Series having won their first seven postseason games, a feat only matched by the 1976 Big Red Machine. Oh, and Cincinnati ended up sweeping the Yankees in the World Series that year, by the way. Time will tell if this Rockies team will have as cool as a nickname as the Reds did, but one thing is for certain: the Indians and Red Sox want no part of them. Colorado will be good and rested by the time the ALCS wraps up, but don't expect these mountain boys to get cold any time soon. The only game they've lost in the last 30 days was against Brandon Webb, a front runner for the NL Cy Young. While Cleveland and Boston has a pair of Cy Young candidates in C.C. Sabathia and Josh Beckett, the Rockies have about 20 candidates for MVP. In the days of free agency and million dollar contracts, only the 2004 Red Sox have come close to matching the idea of a "team" that Rockies manager Clint Hurdle has put together. This is their series. Have fun trying to take it from them.

Monday, October 15, 2007

NFL Week 6: No Touching

The NFL competition committee was is full effect on Sunday, as the frequencies of wide receiver screens, fake reverses, untouched quarterbacks and spiking penalties reached new heights. To show you how bad the Bengals' defense really is, just watch the amount the wide receiver screens worked against them. Good for 2 yards against any other defense, the Chiefs must have have 5-6 of them go for 5+ yards. And then you have the Patriots, who seemed oblivious to the fake reverse, and got bitten by one. With all of the 16-0 talk about New England, it seems rather silly if they're the only team in the league who can't stop that play. Staying with the Pats/Cowboys game, Dallas' defense would barely put two hands on Tom Brady before he went down. One could argue that Brady is smart enough to not risk injury, voluntarily hitting the ground before any damage could take place. But the Cowboys didn't even try to hit him. They purposely drew back and shoved Brady. This tells me that the new roughing the passer rules have made blitzing defenses scared of touching the quarterback. When DeMarcus Ware went unblocked on his way to a sure sack, Brady pump faked, Ware stopped in his tracks, Brady tucked the ball, then Ware pushed him down in the most gingerly of fashions. This isn't football, people. It is two-hand touch. I actually heard somebody on Sunday talking about how they want the XFL back. This is what we've come to, folks.

As always, the actual score in bold, by prediction in italics.

Cincinnati at Kansas City, 20-27, 13-27
The Bengals are bad. I knew that. I just didn't realize how bad they really were. Two coaches in this league, Marvin Lewis and Brian Billick, have teams beyond their speciality. Lewis' Bengals can't play defense, though his speciality is defense. Billick is supposedly a quarterback specialist who has never had a constant quarterback in Baltimore. I'm beginning to think that these coaches do nothing but hurt their teams. Cincinnati is 1-4, and now Chad Johnson is becoming a problem (welcome on board, folks), while the new-and-improved T.O. is 5-1. I had Cincinnati covering the -3. Oh well, Go Chiefs!

Houston at Jacksonville, 17-37, 7-21
The Texans really had everybody going there. Once a legit contender, now Houston has resumed its role as bottom feeder of the AFC South. You can't blame them; they weren't supposed to be ready anyways. On the other side, Jacksonville looks better every week, and David Gerrard has yet to throw a single pick. How does he expect to break Brett Favre's record doing that? Jack Del Rio is finally using Maurice Jones-Drew, and surprise, they are blowing people out. Perhaps coach Rio will save his job after all. I had J-ville covering the - 6 1/2, and they won by twenty.

Miami at Cleveland, 31-41, 14-17
Cleveland currently ranks 7th in overall offense. Huh? This was suppose to be a team that was headed by Brady Quinn by week 4, after the other two quarterbacks became too banged up to play. Now? The Browns are 3-3, with two of those losses to Pittsburgh and New England, teams who are a combined 10-1. Miami, however, is 0-6, and they host the Patriots next week. So, let's make that 0-7. With the Dolphins doing so poorly and the news that Dwayne Wade will be for a few weeks, the people of Miami must be bummin'. Wait, it's Miami. I had Cleveland winning but the Dolphins covering the + 4 1/2.

Minnesota at Chicago, 34-31, 24-22
Everybody in my picks pools had Chicago winning this one. Except for me. I was wrong on one account though; I will not be trading Adrian Peterson anymore. It's not that I expect him to have 3 TDs and 224 yards per game as much as I expect Shaun Alexander to continue to not produce. I think it's safe to say that the mighty Bears defense is done. They currently rank 27th in the league. And with no quarterback for the future and Cedric Benson turning out to be a bust, I fully expect Chicago to be one of the worst teams in the league next year. I had Minnesota covering the + 5, and they won by three.

Philadelphia at New York Jets, 16-9, 20-17
What a difference Brian Westbrook makes. In their second straight game at the Meadowlands, Philly went from a 16-3 loss to a 16-9 win. It also helps to play the Jets instead on the Giants. That means that Mangenius has still only won one game since his Sopranos cameo. With the exception of New England, the AFC East is 2-15. Those two wins: Buffalo over the Jets and the Jets over Miami. That means the only two wins these three teams have is when they had to play each other, where somebody in the division had to win. OK, maybe the Patriots will go 16-0. I had Philly covering the -3, and they did.

St. Louis at Baltimore, 22-3, 20-3
I was so close on getting this one exact. Though, picking the Ravens over the Rams isn't exactly a mind-blowing phenomenon. Scott Linehan, the game's worst coach, said of the beating: "Turnovers were the difference." Um, no Scott, you being the worst team in the league is the difference. I did pick up Steven Jackson on waivers though. Seeing as I have AP and MJD, I can hope that when Jackson comes back his play will improve, giving me some trade bait. If you were to tell me before the season that I would have Alexander, Jackson, AP and MJD, I would have bet my life on a championship. I am 2-4. Baltimore covered the - 91/2, and everybody knew it.

Tennessee at Tampa Bay, 10-13, 16-13
For once, Vince Young couldn't find a way to win. Well, it wasn't his fault. Injured in the 3rd quarter, Young watched on as Kerry Collins led the Titans to a game-tying touchdown with a little over a minute left, only to see Jeff Garcia lead the Bucs to the game-winning field goal. Can anybody smell the Madden Curse? I wrote back on August 28, "If Young goes down, the mystique of the "Madden Curse" will forever haunt future star players. I couldn't imagine anybody accepting to be on the cover after that. Which leads us to Madden '09, which will have Vinny Testaverde on the cover." At that point, Testaverde wasn't even in the league. Now, it might come true. Priceless. I had Tennessee covering the + 3, so it ends in a tie.

Washington at Green Bay, 14-17, 10-21
Green Bay didn't look too impressive. As Favre broke the all-time interception record, his Packers barely squeaked by with what i thought should've been an easy win. As far as the Redskins go, they need to win these games if they want to make the leap. With Favre, does anybody else get the feeling that Green Bay would be better off without him? The game has evolved, while Favre is still stuck in the 90's. After this year, he just needs to bow out. I had Green Bay covering the - 3, which is another tie.

Carolina at Arizona, 25-10, 14-27
Well, yeah, If I knew Tim Rattay would be playing the whole game, I would've had Carolina. What a horrible game (thanks for showing me, Fox!), with Testaverde and Rattay leading the way. I didn't watch, and I don't care about what happens. All I know is I played Kurt Warner, who got me negative fantasy points, and I lost my matchup by 5. I had Arizona covering the - 4 1/2, and of course, they did not.

New England at Dallas, 48-27, 28-21
Giving Tom Brady toys like Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth is simply unfair. If Brady breaks Peyton Manning's TD record this year, the debate of "What would happen if Brady had Manning's weapons?" will be over. Never in my life have I seen a team so dominant as the Patriots. The defense, however, needs to play better. Plus, what's with Wade Phillips celebrating every sack like he clinched a playoff berth? Take a note from across the field, Wade. Notice that Dallas was the first team to constantly double-team Moss and that Welker recorded 100+ yards and two TDs. I had New England covering the -5.

Oakland at San Diego, 14-28, 24-21
I really thought I had my upset pick on this one. Alas, LaDainian Tomlinson had 4 Tds, canceling out AP's 3 TDs as I played Tomlinson's owner this week. Needless to say, I am really excited for the NBA season to start. Norv Turner won the Norv Turner Bowl, but watch out: Phillip Rivers stinks. He threw a horrible interception on Sunday which was returned for a touchdown. The good news for the Chargers: they held the #1 rushing offense in the league to 53 yards. i had Oakland covering -10, and they lost by 14.

New Orleans at Seattle, 28-17, 10-17
Shaun Alexander, you're dead to me. Seattle stunk up the place in this one, falling behind 21-0 and never recovering. I will be fighting to pick up Drew Brees off of waivers, though I'll have to wait and see if the Saints can consistently produce. It's nice that New Orleans finally got a win, but it's too little too late. Tampa Bay is winning the NFC South, so their only hope is for a Wild Card. But with Arizona playing Tim Rattay, San Francisco playing Trent Dilfer and St. Louis playing Gus Frerotte, Seattle will win the NFC West by default. I had Seattle covering the -6 1/2, and they got creamed.

Except for tonight's game, I went 5-5-2. That makes me 17-19-2 on the season.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Yes, I'm Talking About Playoffs

If the season ended today, Ohio State would play Boston College in the BCS Championship. This is bad for two reasons: It is an insanely boring matchup and Boston doesn't need another championship. With #1 LSU and #2 Cal losing on Saturday, the title is up for grabs. However, Ohio State still has to play Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. Boston College still plays Virginia Tech and Florida State. Chances are, there will be no unbeatens at the end of the year, which is the final ingredient needed to convince whatever alien life forms that are running the BCS to create a playoff. Can you pick two teams out of LSU, Cal, Ohio State, BC, USC, Oklahoma, South Florida, Oregon, South Carolina and West Virginia? I sure as hell can't.

Over in the MLB, great things are happening. First off, Boston goes back to Cleveland tied 1-1. I actually like the Red Sox, but since they are located in the luckiest city on the planet, I have to root against them. Also, the Rockies are looking like the greatest team that has ever played. I was made aware of the fact that if Colorado played Boston, it would be the first time ever where both World Series teams were located in a state capital. Just thought you would like to know that.

I don't know anything about NASCAR, but I noticed that they raced on Saturday. Why don't they just move it there permanently? For some reason, they still feel compelled to challenge the NFL, which is quite possibly the worst idea ever. The only sport on Saturdays is college football, which shouldn't be a problem. Most teams aren't any good, and most games aren't televised. I live in Kansas City and have only been able to watch one KU game all season. I'm not a racing fan, but I get bored watching Notre Dame get slaughtered every weekend, so even I might turn it on.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

NFL Week 6 Lines: Road Warriors

Before I get to the lines, there are some things I want to mention:

1. Eric Wedge looks like Jack Parkman from Major League. With that being said...
2. The Indians should play "Wild Thing" when Joe Borowski comes out.
3. Cavemen is horrible. The whole point of the commercials is that the cavemen are still seen as stupid, even though they are lawyers and play racquetball. The show is just a regular comedy, where the main characters just happen to be cavemen. Networks can screw anything up.
4. The favorites to win the Super Bowl/World Series are Boston/Boston. I hate Boston.
5. Eric Mangini has only won one game, against Miami, since appearing on the Sopranos.
6. Reba McEntire and Barry Manilow have two of the top four albums right now. The other two are Kanye West and 50 Cent.
7. Kentucky, Illinois, Cincinnati and Kansas are ranked - in football. Those four teams have a combined total of 21 NCAA basketball championship appearances and 3 football championship appearances, the latter being all from Illinois, none of which were after 1927.
8. I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: tonight's starter for Arizona, Brandon Webb, is the only pitcher to beat Colorado since September 16.

Alright, line time.

Cincinnati at Kansas City (Cincinnati, 3)
The season ends now for one of these teams. The Bengals can't play defense and the Chiefs can't play offense. An unknown player has said of the Chiefs, "Herm Edwards has sucked the life out of that offense." Ouch. Add the fact that the newly-paid Larry Johnson runs with little to no desire, and we got problems. No one used to run as well as LJ since Forrest Gump. Sad. Cincinnati 27, Kansas City 13.

Houston at Jacksonville (Jacksonville, 6 1/2)
Jacksonville held Gump and the Chiefs to ten yards rushing last week, so that's fun. Houston currently ranks 25th in rushing. Andre Johnson might miss yet another game, which means that Matt Schaub will have to throw to Andre Davis, Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones, otherwise known as "Who?". David Garrard is the only quarterback to start every game and have zero interceptions. Who's on that Texans bandwagon now, huh? Jacksonville 21, Houston 7.

Miami at Cleveland (Cleveland, 4 1/2)
If you were to say to me before the season that Cleveland would be 4 1/2 point favorites at any time this year, I would have called you crazy. But the Montagues have been getting better every week, even playing New England better than anybody has all season. Miami's Joey Porter has said of the Brown's Kellen Winslow, "He's not a tight end, because he's not going to block anybody. If you ask me who's going to win the Joey Porter-Kellen Winslow battle: Me." To which Winslow responded, "I think Joey Porter needs a hug". Kellen Winslow might die on Sunday. Cleveland 17, Miami 14.

Minnesota at Chicago (Chicago, 5)
With the Brain Griese era now underway, faith in the Bears is at an all-time high. I don't like to wish injury on anybody, but it would be funny if Griese tore his ACL or something. How would Rex Grossman look at his teammates in the huddle? Anyways, Chicago averages 82.6 rushing yards a game, whereas Minnesota only gives up 62. Oh, and the Bears' highly touted defense is currently ranked 23rd in the league, seven spots behind New Orleans. Minnesota 24, Chicago 22.

Philadelphia at New York Jets (Philadelphia, 3)
The Eagles are one of only three road favorites this week, and for good reason. By the way, here's that clip of Mangini in the Sopranos. I don't understand why Jets fans hate Chad Pennington so much. He didn't have an interception until last week, and was completing 71% of his passes. His backup, Kellen Clemens, has two interceptions and is completing only 59% of his passes. This will be a classic matchup of fans trying to out-boo each other. Philly 20, NYJ 17.

St. Louis at Baltimore (Baltimore, 9 1/2)
The Rams might not record a single yard in this game. In case you think that Scott Linehan doesn't deserve all the criticism, consider that St. Louis is ranked 27th in both offense and defense. I don't want to hear about injuries either, since the Rams were being killed before Bulger, Jackson and Pace went out. The Ravens desperately need to gain ground in the North with Pittsburgh on a bye, especially since Cincinnati and Cleveland are favorites, so I think they come out swinging in this one. Baltimore 20, St. Louis 3.

Tennessee at Tampa Bay (Tampa Bay, 3)
This is another one of those games where Vegas says, "Hell if I know". With injuries to Michael Pittman and Cadillac Williams, the Bucs' depth chart is as shallow as Tucker Max. The Madden Curse has yet to hit Vince Young. It's hard to believe that Young has 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, but has only lost once - to Indianapolis by two. Now that he might get a Heisman after they strip it away from Reggie Bush, Young might single handedly pull a 2004 Red Sox on us. Tennessee 16, Tampa Bay 13.

Washington at Green Bay (Green Bay, 3)
Hmm, back-to-back "Hell if I know" games. While my Chiefs play on CBS (which might be over before the half), Fox will be showing the state of Kansas this game, with the exception of one city - the one I live in. Instead, I get the Carolina/Arizona game. With American Idol, canceling Family Guy twice, Fox News and now this, Rupert Murdoch needs to be considered for Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" segment. Actually, now that I think about, I'm sure he already has. As for the game, Hell if I know. But I'm taking Green Bay, who will be mad after last week, while the Skins are due for a letdown. Green Bay 21, Washington 10.

Carolina at Arizona (Arizona, 4 1/2)
The combined age of the starting quarterbacks for both teams is 79. Isn't there a good chance that Vinny Testaverde breaks in half during this game? The man snapping him the ball, Justin Hartwig (KU grad, by the way), was seven years old when Testaverde entered the league. As for Arizona, they're starting Kurt Warner, who I'm starting this week in my fantasy league. I have something in common with Carolina as far as quarterback woes, only I don't have Steve Smith. But hey, at least I'm not starting Vinny Testaverde. Arizona 27, Carolina 14.

New England at Dallas (New England, 5)
It is here: The Game. You know the Patriots are the best team in football when they're favored by 5 on the road against an undefeated team, even if it is because Dallas is coming off of the biggest meltdown in Monday Night history. Essentially, the Cowboys are being treated as a 4-1 team. This matchup was my preseason Super Bowl pick, which is about as gutsy as wearing a t-shirt that says "I Hate Bush" at a Starbucks in San Francisco. If New England wins by more than 10, then chances are they are going 16-0. I'm still waiting on Wes Welker to emerge, who since scoring the Patriots' first touchdown of the season hasn't recorded one since. New England 28, Dallas 21.

Oakland at San Diego (San Diego, 10)
I'm taking Oakland all the way in the Norv Turner Bowl. The Raiders are currently leading the league is rushing, one year after finishing 29th. And you know things are bad when the coaching matchup favors Lane Kiffin. Looking at the line, I guess everybody is in agreement that the Chargers "are back". Well, unless I missed the news that Marty Schottenheimer was rehired, I'm not convinced. You have to do more than beat a horrible Denver team to change my mind. Oakland 24, San Diego 21.

New Orleans at Seattle (Seattle, 6 1/2)
Drew Brees was taken one spot ahead of Tom Brady in my fantasy league, and that owner still has a better record than I do. I can't wait for the NBA season to start. I swear, if Shaun Alexander doesn't get at least two touchdowns in this game, I'm never going to Starbucks again. Oh wait, I never go there anyways. It could be worse though, since the players picked before my spot include Stephen Jackson (injured), Larry Johnson (might as well be injured), Joseph Addai (injured last week), Brian Westbrook (also injured last week), Travis Henry (busted for pot) and Rudi Johnson (injured). What a funny fantasy year. Really, I'm laughing. Ha. Ha. Seattle 17, New Orleans 10.

New York Giants at Atlanta (New York, 3 1/2)
This is it. This is the game where Joey Harrington goes Michael Vick on us and waves his middle finger at everybody. But not because he is mad - it will be after he throws three touchdowns and 300 yards. First, I don't think that Eli Manning is very good. Second, the Giants defense can make anybody look like Peyton Manning. Third, Harrington will be pissed about being taken out of last week's game. Fourth, Tom Coughlin. Atlanta 34, NYG 28.

Make Some Magic, Buss

For a day, everything in the sports world was alright. The Yankees were out of the playoffs, hockey season started without anybody noticing, and even the Chargers and Bears won a game. But on the morning of the NLCS, Lakers owner Jerry Buss reminded us of something: Kobe Bryant still doesn't want to be in L.A. Buss told Lakers beat writers that while he would certainly listen, he hasn't heard of any trades that would work. Kobe is 29, which means he would be coming around as a pitcher, but dead as a rock star; as a basketball player, he's a good investment. The only problem is that it's virtually impossible to trade for him. Teams would basically have to give up their whole roster, and as we have seen during the past few seasons, Kobe by himself struggles to just make the playoffs. What is Mr. Buss to do?,

The team seen as most likely to make a trade is Chicago. I don't see how. There's no reason for the Bulls to give up four of their starting five for Bryant, since the East is weak and they are good. Plus, the Bulls are young, and they will have success with their core guys for years to come. The only other way the numbers will work is to give up Ben Wallace and one or two non-core guys, which doesn't make any sense for the Lakers.

It would be funny to see the Celtics trade Paul Pierce, giving Boston a three-headed monster of KG, Ray Allen and Kobe. The only problem with that is again, it wouldn't be good for the Lakers. They need at least three very good players for Kobe. Any superstar swap will favor the other team since Kobe is going to be better than whoever the other superstar is.

The only team in the West the Lakers would trade with is probably Phoenix, since they have an unhappy Shawn Marion. But when you factor in how much these teams hate each other, you run into another problem. Buss won't sign a deal putting Nash and Kobe on the same team. Perhaps if the Suns traded Marion and Amare Stoudemire, the Lakers will listen. But would Phoenix do that? They have a good team with their own three-headed monster, though they never succeed in the playoffs. One wonders why the Suns brought Steve Kerr in. Was it to not make mistakes, or to ink a deal? If they feel hurried due to Nash's back problems, they might give up 2/3 of their superstar team for Kobe. The deal that I found to work was Marion, Stoudemire and Marcus Banks for Kobe and Odom. The problem is that Buss won't want to give up Odom in the deal, and Phoenix probably wouldn't be comfortable with Nash, Kobe and a bunch of scrubs.

I don't see any way that Kobe is traded. He makes too much money, and as Jerry Buss said himself, "It's very hard to trade somebody like him because people who have enough material to make it worthwhile are usually contenders and they don't want to make the trade". Bingo. I do have an idea, though. Check out these quotes from Colin Powell, which Bryant gave to all of his teammates this offseason:

"A dream doesn't become a reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work."
"Success is a result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence."
"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

Yeah, I know that all three basically say the same thing. Remember, Kobe didn't go to college. But maybe he should reread them and take it to heart. Maybe with some sweat, determination and hard work, Kobe Bryant can lead this Lakers team, instead of getting shipped off to some other contender. Like Miami.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

NFL Rankings: Between The Lines

Coaches are trained not to give out any information. Which is why journalists are trained to make up information. A good NFL coach knows how to give the fans what they want without giving their opponents any insider details. Could you imagine Tony Dungy saying during a post game press conference, "Well, luckily they didn't blitz Peyton, because that would have caused us problems, especially on his blind side"? Manning would be sitting beside Bob Costas pretend-laughing at Keith Olberman's jokes by Week 8. However, if John Madden has taught us anything - besides his video games showing how easy it is to coach a football team - it's that stating the obvious can sometimes give us insight.

1. New England Patriots
After covering a 16 point spread, Bill Belichick responded with this: "Got to do a better job in all three phases of the game. We can do better than that." Your 2007-08 Super Bowl champions, folks.

2. Indianapolis Colts
Tony Dungy on winning with backups: "I have been proud of our team on many, many occasions, but this is one of the best". Talk about having a short memory. They did win the whole thing last year, right? And I actually think this is a good thing.

3. Dallas Cowboys
Wade Phillips on icing the kicker with a last-second timeout: "I mean, I don't know why you wouldn't. It's unfair, but everybody is using an unfair rule against you." He doesn't like it, but almost has to do it. Can we change this frickin' rule, please? Wade, you're my new favorite coach.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Tomlin on not giving his team a week off during their bye week: "We do understand that we are beat up in some areas. A lot of the teams are. That is the nature of this football season. ... We will be smart. We will regenerate and energize ourselves. Somewhere along the line, we have to keep an eye on getting better, because we expect our opponents to do the same." I love how first-time head coaches think they have a master plan that is better than everyone else's. Let's hope that this doesn't turn his players against him.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jack Del Rio talking about not having emerging receivers: "Each week has been a little bit different. I like the way we're approaching things right now. Those are individual concerns, which are not as important to me as team concerns. I'm really more concerned about us being successful." Why would he be concerned with every little detail? I mean, as long as they win, everything should be alright. This is why I don't like Jack Del Rio.

6. Green Bay Packers
Mike McCarthy on not running the ball late in the game: "I've told you this before, you don't really sleep after games when you call games, because you think about this play and that play". Good to know that the Packers' head coach second guesses himself. Maybe - and correct me if I'm wrong - but maybe he shouldn't be calling the games. Just food for thought.

7. Washington Redskins
Joe Gibbs on the game against Green Bay next week: "It's one of the toughest places to play, and they're red hot — their quarterback, it's hard to believe the guy's 38." And it's easy to believe Gibbs is 67. His memory fails him, as the "red hot" Packers just got beat by a team led by Brian Griese at Lambeau. Somebody get the man some Ovaltine.

8. Tennessee Titans
Jeff Fisher on Vince Young: "I thought he managed the ball game well". Young threw for three picks and no touchdowns. Managed the game well? Somewhere, Rex Grossman's agent just booked a flight to Nashville.

9. New York Giants
Tom Coughlin on come-from-behind victories: "There is great confidence that comes out of that. But as I told them at the end of the game, we certainly don't need to spot the other guy a 17-7 (lead)." Coughlin is actually growing on me. Because, up until this point, I'm not sure Eli actually knew that not doing good in the first half of games was a bad thing. Now that's coaching.

10. Seattle Seahawks
Mike Holmgren on mis-managing the clock: "I could have saved 12 seconds, probably, somewhere in there. He got sacked. Look, I would like to tell you, I got really mad, like I got seeing-red mad. And so I just kind of flamed out for a second there. I came back." Wow. That is the worst comment I have ever heard from a coach, except for "We're 10-2 with Rex as our quarterback". If it weren't for Brett Favre and Shaun Alexander, would this guy have ever sniffed a Super Bowl?

11. Baltimore Ravens
Brian Billick on a struggling offense: "I hope our fans can appreciate how hard it is to win in this league." Um, no, they don't. They want to win, and they don't care how hard it is. You know, considering it's your job and all. And that your struggling players make more in an hour than most fans do in a whole year.

12. Detroit Lions
Rod Marinelli when asked if his team needs a kick in the butt: "How do you know what is a kick in the butt? What does that mean?" I love this guy. He doesn't take crap from anyone. He routinely snaps at reporters and tells them they don't know anything, which they don't. Plus, he looks like a well fed James Carville.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
John Gruden on the loss to the Colts: "They had two deep safeties and they were really deep; and their middle linebacker plays right down the middle; that's the Tampa 2, baby, and their rush is in your face in a hurry". I know it's a cliche to say that you got beaten at your own game, but Chucky, you got beaten at your own game. Maybe Dungy was getting revenge for Gruden winning the Super Bowl with his old team. That Bucs could do worse though, when you remember that they almost hired Steve Spurrier or Marvin Lewis.

14. Arizona Cardinals
Ken Whisenhunt on Matt Leinart being out for the season: “It’s a test for him mentally to stay up with the team and stay focused. We don’t want to lose ground … as far as the strides he’s made since the first game.” Yeah right. Matt Hollywood will be taking body shots off of Jessica Alba by Saturday night. He just hopes Kurt Warner doesn't do too well, because you know, he still digs football.

15. Houston Texans
Gary Kubiak on Trent Green's block: "Maybe something is done down the road about those types of plays taking place behind the line of scrimmage. I don't know, but I would like to see them just take a look at it." You mean the type of plays where a quarterback ends his career because he can't block? What would you suggest, blocking-sensitivity training? Perhaps the competition committee can make a rule that quarterbacks can't touch people without the ball, at which point they won't even need helmets or pads.

16. Carolina Panthers
John Fox on Jake Delhomme being out for the season: "Any time you lose your starting quarterback, it's a blow." Especially when your backup is David Carr. Then add to it that Carr almost had a season ending injury on Sunday, and you really got problems. With all of the quarterback problems in the NFL, Rex Grossman might be busier than Scott Boras and Senator Craig's campaign manager combined.

17. Cleveland Browns
Romeo Crennel on shutting down Randy Moss: ''Moss has been killing people. We didn't want him to kill us, so we died by the hand of somebody else.'' It's always nice to pick the way you want to die. Crennel is like the Jack Kevorkian of NFL coaches. Then you remember that his name is Romeo, and you start laughing for about an hour. Unless you're a Browns fan, that is.

18. San Diego Chargers
Since I'm not convinced that Norv Turner is an actual coach, here's Ladainian Tomlinson's take on him: “He comes in, he's got this very talented team. He's like, 'Look at all these toys'". Toys haven't been used in a worse way since Sue Johanson. Not to mention one toy can't hit his receivers and another toy refuses to hit anybody. I picture Turner's bedroom being full of doll heads, like a scene out of a bad horror movie. The title could even be "San Diego Chargers: 2007-2008".

19. Chicago Bears
Lovie Smith, with the most ironic quote ever: "It all starts with the quarterback leading our offense." I don't even need to mention why this is funny. But now that the Bears are getting good quarterback play, guess what? Their defense is playing poorly. With the Cubs getting swept and now this, I now understand why the people of Chicago are the way they are. My apologies.

20. Oakland Raiders
Here's a dual quote. First, Lane Kiffin: "Being in first place right now means absolutely nothing." Then, offensive tackle Barry Sims: "Yeah, it means we're headed in the right direction". Watching this conference is like that scene out of A Clockwork Orange where they play Beethoven in the background while showing WWII clips. Except I don't feel like murdering anybody. Well, maybe there is somebody...

21. Kansas City Chiefs
Herm Edwards! Let's backtrack, shall we: "First of all, I don't even have the Internet. I wouldn't even know how to use it." Now, back to Sunday, where Herm talks about Trent Green: "Damon has talked to him, I’m going to send an e-mail to make sure he’s OK." Jets fans are laughing at us right now the same way Raiders and Redskins fans laugh at San Diego.

22. San Francisco 49ers
Mike Nolan on the lack of offense: "Our mistakes, our errors thus far, I believe are correctable. But do I have them exactly identified yet? No." Thank God for bye weeks. But in Nolan's defense, how can he find the time to figure out his team's woes in between picking out suits?

23. Denver Broncos
Mike Shanahan on Denver fans leaving early in protest: "I would've left, too". Yes you would have. It was obvious when Shanahan went for on fourth down inside his own twenty earlier in the year that he has lost his mind. But when you consider off-season deaths and his starting running back turning into Ricky Williams, can you blame him? The real question though is when the Rockies play the Diamondbacks, who will Jake Plummer root for?

24. Philadelphia Eagles
Andy Reid was unavailable to comment this week, which speaks volumes. After all, when your team is in the dumps, just make your players answer all the questions. Nice work, Andy.

25. Atlanta Falcons
Bobby Petrino on his QB situation: "It's in our best interest and gives us our best chance to succeed to stay with Joey. He understands our offense. He knows what we want to do, what we want to execute." Which completely explains why he took out Joey Harrington in favor of Byron Leftwich on Sunday. The failure of this team is not Harrington's fault. This guy's career has had as bad of luck as Ben Affleck's.

26. Minnesota Vikings
This one came from an anonymous Vikings player about Adrian Peterson: "He came in here the next day, bowing to the porcelain gods all morning. Welcome to the NFL." I am officially putting AP on the trading block in my fantasy league. When he pulls a Pacman Jones in a couple of weeks, I'll be able to sleep at night.

27. Cincinnati Bengals
Marvin Lewis on the bye week: "The negative of the bye is that when it comes if you haven't won the week before it's two weeks until you get the opportunity to come back and play again". Actually, it's been four weeks since you've won a game, so maybe the extra time will help. Unfortunately you won't get a bye every time you lose three in a row, so that's one you're going to have to figure out for yourself.

28. Buffalo Bills
Dick Jauron on Monday Night's collapse: "That hurts." What else can you say? He might want to save that sentence for the end of the year, when Marv Levy pulls a Donald Trump and yells, "You're fired!"

29. New York Jets
Eric "The Rat" Mangini on the inconsistent Jets: "Having the Jekyll-and-Hyde approach that we've had is not going to give us the results that we're all looking for." You know that approach, when you're really good one season and really bad the next. When you go from a beloved "Mangenius" to tattle-telling on your former boss. You know, the Jekyll-and-Hyde approach.

30. New Orleans Saints
Sean Payton on yet another loss: "This was one where I think every man in the room felt like we were in a position to win and yet we still didn't." The same feeling a lot of gamblers probably have at the moment. Right after their mock funeral for last season, the Saints already need to hold one for this season. Drew Brees was let go to waivers in my fantasy league, and nobody is picking him up. Not even the guy who started Joey Harrington last week. Ouch.

31. St. Louis Rams
Scott Linehan on his job security: "I control what I control, which is doing the best I can do. If that's not good enough, then so be it." You heard the man, folks. I haven't disliked a head coach this much in a long time, and it's good to know that he may be jobless by the time January rolls around. See, Rams fans, it's not all bad.

32. Miami Dolphins
And finally, Cam Cameron on his QB situation: ''We're going to play the guy that gives us the best chance to win today.'' The Dolphins have no chance to win today. Or tomorrow. Or a month from now. Or two months. Or six months. Or a year...


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

League Championship Preview

One must wonder how long the Yankees can keep their postseason run going. The Bronx Bombers have thus far purchased their October tickets, but seem to be going towards the path of bringing in young guys through their system, or in other words - what everybody else does. Torre is probably already packing his bags, and might have to fight for the airplane window seat with Alex Rodriguez. Jorge Posada's contract is up, but is expected to stay. Mariano Rivera is up in the air, as is Andy Pettite. Roger Clemens is probably done. Even though the Yanks have good youngsters in Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, the absence of A-Rod and the Rocket is going to free up some cash. Hopefully, they will do a little bit of rebuilding within and spending outside, but it remains to be seen. But enough about New York. The league championships are set, so let's take a look.

Colorado at Arizona
You'll hear a lot this week about how good these teams are at home, and how the Rockies are hotter right now than Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I'm not sure any of those two points matter much, because now it's a whole different ball game. If pitching really does get it done in the postseason, then count Arizona in the World Series. However, the Diamondbacks' Game 1 starter, Brandon Webb, is 1-3 against Colorado this year with a 5.77 ERA. But again, does that really matter now? What might be telling is that the one win he did have, on September 28, is the only loss the Rockies have had in their last eighteen games, dating back to September 16. Plus, that game was the playoff clincher for Arizona. Everybody will be rooting for the Rockies. The stat that bothers me is that Arizona was actually outscored by their opponents this year. Can a time that scores less than their opposition actually make the World Series? I got the Rockies in 6.

Cleveland at Boston
This is the series everybody is more interested in, mostly because the West Coast teams played too late in the regular season for most people to watch. For me, this series rides on Dice-K. If he can out-pitch Fausto Carmona in Game 2, than the Red Sox should be in good position, even if C.C. Sabathia steals Game 1. Boston is deep, and they have the experience. The problem I have with Cleveland is their bullpen. Joe Borowski is as far away from a sure thing as a closer can be. Believe me, this guy was on my fantasy team, and it seemed like he blew a save every other day. Even with a three run lead against the Yankees last night, he gave up a homer. It's a little deceiving that he lead the AL in saves. His ERA in the regular season was 5.07, which led me to give up on ERA stats in my league, securing my spot in second place; the spot I always get. I'm like the Buffalo Bills of fantasy sports. Anyways, with Ortiz and Manny back in top form, I don't think J.D. Drew could even keep them out of the Series. I got Boston in 5.
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