Monthly Archives: October 2010

Week 8 Predictions – My Take on NFL’s New Rule

We won't see hits like this anymore in 10 years.

As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of mixed martial arts, and particularly, the UFC. Ironically enough, I became a fan after playing the first “UFC: Undisputed” video game, and quickly latched on to the sport like I did to baseball, basketball and football as a kid, and hockey a few years back.

And those of you who know me know that when I become obsessed with a sport I take it upon myself to take in every bit of information I possibly can. I worked part-time at the Rockford Register Star back then and on our slow nights I would surf all the biggest MMA sites, learning about the history of the fighters, who were the former champions, etc.

UFC 100 featuring Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir and Georges St.Pierre vs. Thiago Alves was the first card I ever watched live. Not coincidentally, that’s also the most watched UFC pay-per-view to date. The sport is growing and I’ve grown as a fan with it. Maybe I latched on later than most of the other “die-hards,” but I still consider myself as knowledgable, or more so, than most of them.

So what does this have to do with anything relating to my NFL blog?

Well, MMA started out as very niche, and it kind of still is. But while MMA in its beginning was mostly appealing for its sense of “underground-ness” and the fact that it wasn’t accepted by the mainstream, it is vastly different now. Top UFC fighters routinely make hundreds of thousands of dollars per fight, especially when you factor in endorsement deals. While fighters in the mid-90s did so in their spare time and usually held full-time jobs as well, fighters today can train full-time in gyms that they sometimes even co-own or at the very least are geared toward their particular strength.

So how did MMA get so popular? Rule changes.

In past UFC events, everything was legal. It was considered “no holds barred, anything goes,” which was all fine and dandy for those looking for WWF-level entertainment minus the drama. But to be considered a real sport for mass consumption, things had to change. And they did.

Today’s MMA isn’t perfect. While they did away with rules such as eye gouging head butting, biting, hair pulling and shots to the groin, some of the rules they made have been considered too strict and have “pussified” the sport a bit.

For example, you can’t kick an opponent who is on the ground, and you can’t elbow him while on the ground if those elbows come directly from north to south. Most people understand these rules, although most also don’t like them.

Now, MMA and football obviously have their differences in relation to rule changes. MMA made these changes in an attempt to gain popularity. Football doesn’t need to get any more popular.

But the point of these changes is that they’re done because they’re necessary for the sport to continue without risking the lives of those who compete in them. Many call MMA barbaric, but no major organization has ever had a fatality, or even a near fatality during a fight.

The reason guys like Jack Lambert were allowed to take players heads off at will 30 or 40 years ago is because we didn’t know as much about the seriousness of concussions as we do now. James Harrison and others who have a problem with the rule argue that this is the way they were taught to play the game. Well, that may be unfortunate for the guys who play now, but a 10-year-old kid right now may be in the NFL one day, and if he learns how to tackle without launching himself into someone’s head, it makes the sport better 10 years from now.

It’s all about evolution. There won’t be a clean break from the current style of tackling to what is considered legal now, but 10 years from now, if everyone is abiding by the same rules from Pee Wee leagues on up, everyone will get used to it.

Does that mean a disadvantage to the defense? Absolutely. But does that matter when player safety is involved? No.

On to the week 7 picks:

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5)
I don’t care how close the Bills played against Baltimore. I’m picking against them until they win a game. Chiefs to win and cover.

Carolina Panthers at St. Louis Rams (-3)
I knew the Panthers would get a win eventually. And having Matt Moore and Steve Smith on the field together definitely helps. But none of that matters when the rest of the team sucks. Rams to win and cover.

Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers (-1)
The two worst teams in the two worst divisions in football. 49ers to win and cover.

Green Bay Packers at New York Jets (-6)
Here’s the week where the Packers take a leap and proclaim themselves as still being a contender. By beating a top AFC team on the road, they’ll be right back on track toward a Super Bowl berth. (I think I just invented the reverse reverse jinx. Let’s see how it works). Packers to win outright.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Dallas Cowboys (-6.5)
Now would be a good time to mention that I lost Tony Romo in fantasy football this week. While it hurts, it doesn’t kill my season. Chad Henne is a respectable backup, and I’m currently in serious trade discussions to acquire either Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger. I’m telling you all of this because I know you really, really care. Cowboys to win, Jaguars to beat points.

Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals (-2)
I’m still firmly aboard the “Dolphins are going to the playoffs” bandwagon. Dolphins to win outright.

Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions (-2.5)
Easily the strangest line of the week. I’d like Detroit here if they weren’t favored. Redskins to win outright.

Tennessee Titans at San Diego Chargers (-3.5)
I’m finally starting to buy into the fact that the Chargers aren’t going to turn their season around like they normally do. Norv Turner is a dead man walking. Also, in the Roethlisberger trade I might be making, I’ll also acquire Ryan Matthews. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. Titans to win outright.

Minnesota Vikings at New England Patriots (no line)
I don’t care if Brett Favre plays or not. The Vikings suck. Patriots to win outright.

Seattle Seahawks at Oakland Raiders (-2.5)
I’m starting to buy into the Seahawks as the best team in the crappy NFC West. Either them or the Rams. Is it 2001? Seahawks to win outright.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals (-3)
I just realized I’m picking a lot of road underdogs to win this week. Uh oh. Well, you know what? These lines are stupid. Home-field advantage is so overrated. Bucs to win outright.

Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints (no line)
See: Packers-Jets. Saints to win outright.

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-5.5)
I’m shocked this line is so high. But you know ESPN is stoked that Houston won the week one game, adding a ton of intrigue to this game. There’s no way in hell Peyton Manning loses to the Texans twice in the same season, right? Colts to win, Texans to beat points.

Records

Week 7 – 10-4 (9-5 against spread)
Overall:
56-47 (50-51-2 against spread)

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Week 7 Predictions – Precious, Little Time

I had no time to write this week seeing as how I worked 50 hours to get everything done in time to attend EIU’s Homecoming, which I’m leaving for momentarily. But I at least wanted to get my picks recorded. So here they are, if you care.

Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens (-13.5) – They couldn’t make this line high enough. Did I mention the Bills are bad? Ravens to win and cover.

Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5) – I totally jinxed the Falcons last week. Falcons to win and cover.

Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints (-13.5) – See: Bills/Ravens. Saints to win and cover.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) – This line is this high because Todd Bouman is starting for Jacksonville. Still too high. Chiefs to win and Jags to beat the spread.

Philadelphia Eagles at Tennessee Titans (-3) – Titans are the Falcons of the AFC. Titans to win and cover.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) at Miami Dolphins – Upset special. Dolphins to win outright.

San Francisco 49ers (-3) at Carolina Panthers – Do I really have to say anything about this game? No. Panthers to win outright.

St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5) – Umm…. Bucs to win, Rams to beat the points.

Washington Redskins at Chicago Bears (-3) – Why are the Bears favored? Redskins to win outright.

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) – I believe the Seahawks are the best team in this crappy division. (That opinion changes weekly). Seahawks to win, Cardinals to beat the spread.

New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers (-2) – Again, why are the Chargers favored? Patriots to win outright.

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-8.5) – No team in the AFC West should be giving this many points. Even if it were against Buffalo. Broncos to win, Raiders to beat points.

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-2.5) – Homer alert. Packers to win and cover.

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-3) – Can’t figure out why the Cowboys are favored, but I’m picking them. Cowboys to win and cover.

Record

Week 6 – 9-5 (10-3-1 against spread)
Overall:
46-43 (41-46-2 against spread)

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Week 6 Predictions – A Lack of Dominance

He's been in the news this week, so it's only fitting that his photo is attached to this post.

Downright insane things are happening in the NFL this season.

It’s my first year being a full-time gambling addict who tracks his predictions regularly, but I can’t think of a season that has played out like this in a while.

Through five weeks there isn’t one team in the NFL right now that stands out as the can’t miss Super Bowl contender.

Think of it this way: I’m setting the barometer for a truly dominant regular season team at 13-3. 2002 was the last year in which at least one team didn’t go 13-3. That year, the Tampa Bay Bucs, Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles all went 12-4.

In the seven seasons since that year, 19 teams have gone 13-3 or better, including last season, where the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers finished 13-3 and the Indianapolis Colts went 14-2. Last year also saw the Minnesota Vikings start 11-2 before eventually finishing 12-4. Take a look at the best regular season records of the past eight seasons:

2009 – Saints, Chargers (13-3), Vikings (12-4, 11-2), Colts (14-2)

2008 – Titans (13-3)

2007 – Patriots (16-0), Colts, Packers, Cowboys (13-3)

2006 – Bears, Ravens (13-3), Chargers (14-2)

2005 – Colts (14-2), Broncos, Seahawks (13-3)

2004 – Steelers (15-1), Patriots (14-2), Eagles (13-3)

2003 – Patriots (14-2), Chiefs (13-3)

2002 – 12-4 (Bucs, Packers, Eagles)

Additionally, this year saw the last undefeated team fall in week 5. During the eight year run we referred to earlier, we had at least one undefeated team through eight weeks in every year except 2002, when the Oakland Raiders lost its undefeated run in week 6. Take a look:

2009 – Week 16 (Colts)

2008 – Week 12 (Titans)

2007 – Super Bowl (Patriots)

2006 – Week 11 (Colts)

2005 – Week 15 (Colts)

2004 – Week 9 (Eagles)

2003 – Week 11 (Chiefs)

2002 – Week 6 (Raiders)

What does this all mean? It means the NFL has been ruled by regular season dominance for quite some time now. Think about it. Every year, there was at least one team that made you say “Holy crap, this team COULD go 16-0.” Or “Maybe that team’s going to lose, but I really don’t know how.”

In 2009, we had three of them. In 2008 it was the Titans and in 2007 it actually happened (Patriots). This season? That obviously wasn’t the case. Even going into week 5, the only reason the Chiefs stood alone undefeated was because they had a bye in week 4.

So 2010 is shaping up to me the season that lacks domination. We’re more than a quarter of the way through the regular season and there is no team that stands out as a Super Bowl favorite. There’s not even a team that stands out as the favorite to win its respective conference. There are maybe five teams that stand out as being really good, another five that we think are better than they’ve played so far, and ANOTHER five that have exceeded expectations thus far, and we’re still not really sure how good they are.

Why do I bring this up? Because I feel like doing power rankings for the first time this season, and I thought that was a pretty good preface.

Let me note before I begin that these rankings are based on how good I think the team is through five games. That’s all. In reverse order:

32. Buffalo Bills (0-5) – The Bills have a legitimate chance to go 0-16. I thought the home game against Jacksonville last week was a chance to get a win. They didn’t. I count two more winnable games for the Bills this season (week 10 at home against Detroit and week 14 at home against Cleveland). If they don’t win those games, and don’t pull off a shocker, it’s hello 0-16.

31. Cleveland Browns (1-4) – I know there are two other winless teams out there, but this ranking speaks to just how bad this team is. Yes, I legitimately think every team in the NFL except the Bills should beat the Browns 9 times out of 10, and that includes the next two teams on this list.

30. Carolina Panthers (0-5) – A mini-rant about how teams treat coaches. Why is it that, no matter how successful a coach is throughout their career, a few losing seasons means changing coaches could somehow be the answer? John Fox hasn’t been wildly successful by any measure, but he’s shown over his 8+ years in Carolina that he can do a lot with mediocre talent. Aside from Steve Smith and Julius Peppers (and maybe DeAngelo Williams), Fox hasn’t had a lot of talent in Carolina, but has regularly produced contenders. Now, the organization decides to get rid of Peppers, refuse to bring in a franchise quarterback, and Fox’s team goes 0-5. So it’s his fault? Look, he’s a good coach, and sometimes a lack of talent catches up with you. Does the Carolina organization really think firing Fox would help the team? I don’t. There are only a few organizations I can think of who have recognized in recent years that the coach wasn’t the problem during struggles. The Titans went 9-23 over two seasons from 2004-2005 with Jeff Fisher, but recognized that it wasn’t the coaches fault and kept him, knowing he can put together a winner with enough talent. The Steelers did the same with Bill Cowher when he went 13-19 in 1998-1999. I’m not saying Fox is as good of a coach as Fisher or Cowher, but the point is that the coach often times isn’t the problem. I don’t think it’s the problem in Carolina.

29. San Francisco 49ers (0-5) – I have a friend named Reid who is the biggest Bears fan I know amongst people my age. He knows more about the 1985 Bears than anyone I know who wasn’t alive when that season happened. He’s also more biased toward the Bears organization than anyone I know, and bets on them to win every week, no matter what, just because. Why do I bring this up? When I asked him why he thought the 49ers were so bad, he answered, completely sure of himself, with seven simple words: “Because Mike Singletary sucks as a coach.”

28. Detroit Lions (1-4) – If I weren’t a fan of an NFC North team, I’d regularly root for the Lions. I think they’re going to break the record this year for most losses in games they legitimately had a chance to win in the final five minutes.

27. Oakland Raiders (2-3) – The Raiders have two wins this season because they had a home game against the Rams and Norv Turner is retarded. Remember everyone who thought Jason Campbell was going to revitalize the quarterback position for this franchise? How’s that working out?

26. St. Louis Rams (2-3) – So I’m stuck in West-Central Illinois and the Rams are my default regional team for all broadcasts. I’ve watched way more of the Rams this season than I’m proud of. But I have to tell you, I’m impressed with what they’re doing. The defense isn’t horrible, the receivers are making plays for Sam Bradford, and Bradford can hit enough throws to get the job done. It’s a little sad/cool to think that, because the NFC West is so bad, this team can legitimately compete for a playoff spot this year.

25-24. Dallas Cowboys/Minnesota Vikings (1-3/1-3) – I combine these two teams because they are so similar. Incredibly high expectations. Incredibly low results. It may be obvious, and it may be what every stupid analyst is saying, but I really believe that the winner of this Sunday’s game will at least COMPETE for a playoff spot, the loser will have a top 10 draft pick.

23. Arizona Cardinals (3-2) – I have a goofy notion that is almost 100 percent certain to NOT come true. What if the Cardinals, under Max Hall, pull a Steelers under Ben Roethlisberger, a Rams under Kurt Warner, or even a Patriots under Tom Brady? What if he’s the next cinderella story? Wouldn’t that be cool? I think it would. Also, that’s definitely NOT going to happen.

22. Seattle Seahawks (2-2) – I’ve come to dislike the Seahawks a lot. I don’t know why. It has nothing to do with Pete Carroll, who I’ve always been indifferent toward. The Seahawks are just a miserable team to watch. Unfortunately, they MIGHT be the best team in that wretched division. That’s right… we’re at No. 22 and every NFC West team has already been listed.

21. Denver Broncos (2-3) – I can never quite figure out what the Broncos are trying to do, but I know a couple of things for certain: Their running game is likely the worst in the NFL. Their defense isn’t any good because they have no pass rush without Elvis Dumervil. Kyle Orton is a far better quarterback than any of us ever would have expected and I don’t know why.

20. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) – Can we all finally just come to grips with the fact that Carson Palmer sucks? He really just isn’t that good of a quarterback anymore.

19. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) – The AFC South is like the bizarro NFC West. Every team in this division is 3-2 right now, but I think the Jags are the worst despite their victory over the Colts. I think Jack Del Rio is a good coach and is saving his job/keeping them competitive, but the Texans, Titans and Colts will eventually surpass them and they’re still destined to no better than a 7-9 record.

18. San Diego Chargers (2-3) – I can almost guarantee that in two months this team will be 10-6 at worst. Their early season struggles are inexplicable.

17. New York Giants (3-2) – Last week’s win over the Texans makes me question if the Giants aren’t as bad as I thought or if the Texans aren’t as good as I thought. These middle-of-the-road teams are so tough to predict.

16/15. Kansas City Chiefs/Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1/3-1) – I said these rankings would be based on how good said team is right now, and I truly believe that the 14 teams that rank ahead of Kansas City and Tampa Bay on this list would beat the Chiefs and Buccaneers on most occasions. It’s about as simple as that.

14. Miami Dolphins (2-2) – I really like the Dolphins, but think they’re stuck in a division with two teams that are clearly better than them. Consequently, those are Miami’s only two losses thus far.

13. Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) – I think it’s obvious that they’re a better team with Michael Vick. But how much will they get to play with him going forward?

12. Green Bay Packers (3-2) – After Sunday’s loss to Washington, I posted on my Facebook that the Packers are the most underachieving team in NFL and that injuries are no excuse. While that may have been a bit of an overstatement (see: Vikings/Cowboys), it doesn’t discount the fact that being a Packers fan this season is incredibly frustrating, knowing that this team is squandering so much talent.

11. Chicago Bears (4-1) – I may be called biased, but I still don’t think the Bears are as good as their record. That said, they’re undoubtedly better than the other surprise one loss teams (Chiefs and Bucs), and their defense will keep them in most games. I also think Mike Martz has learned how to utilize Matt Forte perfectly.

10. Washington Redskins (3-2) – I was sold on the Redskins before the season, and wins over the Packers and Eagles show they can contend, but a loss to the Rams leaves question marks.

9. Houston Texans (3-2) – The horrible loss to the Giants is room to worry, as is the 32nd ranked pass defense, but the Texans’s offense, complete with a running game they’ve never had before, means they’ll contend in the AFC South all season.

8. New Orleans Saints (3-2) – Can you believe the Saints are in THIRD place in the NFC South right now? Their next two games are against Cleveland and Tampa Bay, though, meaning they should get back on track. Hopefully.

7. Tennessee Titans (3-2) – What can I say? I’m sold on the Titans. Betting on them +4.5 against Dallas last week was the easiest of the season.

6. New England Patriots (3-1) – I can’t wait for consecutive losses to Baltimore and San Diego in the next two weeks, followed by a slew of “The Pats are doomed after trading Moss!” headlines.

5. Indianapolis Colts (3-2) – Remember how I said there was no dominant team in the NFL this season? Disregard that after the Colts go on an 11-game winning streak.

4. New York Jets (4-1) – It’s amazing how quickly the Jets have learned to utilize Mark Sanchez and turn around their offensive game. I think there are four really good teams in the NFL this season. (I hypothesized five earlier, I think. Sue me). The Jets are one of them, followed by the next three teams.

3. Atlanta Falcons (4-1) – I wrote before the season that the Falcons had a legitimate shot at competing with the Saints for the NFC South crown. That couldn’t be more true. A statement win IN New Orleans a few weeks a go proved it, and this defense is the most underrated in football. Right now, they’re the best team in the entire NFC.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) – Not many people would have predicted the Steelers would go 3-1 without Ben Roethlisberger, but that’s what makes this team so good. The defense makes the team go, and the rest is just complimentary parts. The only problem is that there’s one defense that’s a little better right now…

1. Baltimore Ravens (4-1) – These guys. They’re the Super Bowl favorites right now, but not by much. Can you see any of these top four teams going 9-2 the rest of the season to finish 13-3? Maybe… but it’s not likely. Let the parity begin.

Picks for Week 6:

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (-3) – Falcons to win outright.

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots (-3) – Ravens to win; Patriots to beat spread.

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-13) – Steelers to win and cover.

Detroit Lions at New York Giants (-10) – Giants to win; Lions to beat spread.

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans (-4.5) – Texans to win and cover.

Miami Dolphins at Green Bay Packers (pick ’em) – Packers to win outright.

New Orleans Saints (-4.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Saints to win and cover.

San Diego Chargers (-9) at St. Louis Rams – Chargers to win; Rams to beat spread.

Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears (-7) – Bears to win; Seahawks to beat spread.

New York Jets (-3) at Denver Broncos – Jets to win and cover.

Oakland Raiders at San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) – 49ers to win; Raiders to beat spread.

Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings (-1.5) – Vikings to win and cover.

Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) at Washington Redskins – Colts to win; Redskins to beat spread.

Tennessee Titans (-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars – Titans to win and cover.

Records

Week 5 – 5-9 (7-7 against spread)
Overall:
37-38 (31-43-1 against spread)

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Week 5 Predictions – My Thoughts on the Favre-Moss Connection

 

Sorry, Vikings fans This ain't your daddy's Favre-Moss combo.

 

Before the season started, after Brett Favre finally announced he was coming back and the Vikings announced that Sidney Rice was going to miss the first six weeks of the season (at least), all the talk centered around the fact that Favre was going to be hurting without quality receivers. For some reason, Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin, Greg Camarillo and Visanthe Shiancoe just weren’t going to cut it for a guy who spent his entire career making mediocre receivers look like stars.

Um, what?

Let’s take a look at some of the top receivers Favre had throughout his career, rankings based on number of touchdown passes he threw to them.

1 – Antonio Freeman was a third round pick who made one Pro Bowl in his career. Was out of the league within two years after initially leaving Green Bay.

2 – Sterling Sharpe was probably the best receiver Favre ever played with. Five Pro Bowls (two before Favre), five 1,000+ yard seasons and his career was cut short because of injuries.

3 – Donald Driver was a seventh round pick who made three Pro Bowls with Favre. He’s more the exception that proves the rule, though, as he’s continued to thrive sans Favre.

4 – Robert Brooks was a third round pick who battled injuries throughout his career. Favre actually won a Super Bowl during the season in which Brooks missed with injury.

5 – Bubba Franks had three Pro Bowl season with Favre, and was out of the league a year after leaving Green Bay despite being only 30 years old.

6 – Javon Walker had one Pro Bowl season with Favre, but had only one productive season after leaving Green Bay and was out of the league (basically) by the age of 31.

7 – Bill Schroeder became an effective slot receiver thanks to Favre, and was out of the league within three years of leaving Green Bay.

So what does this tell us? The only guys on this list who had any success minus Favre were Sharpe and Driver. The obvious answer: Favre made his receivers. Much like Dan Marino, Favre has never played with much Hall of Fame-worthy talent around him, which is what made him such a great quarterback. It’s why so many people rank him ahead of guys like John Elway or Joe Montana on career lists. He never had a Jerry Rice to throw it to or a Terrell Davis to hand it off to. The guys who played around him who were successful, were successful BECAUSE of him. That’s been the case through his entire career.

Just look what he did for Shiancoe and Sidney Rice last season. Rice had a total of 537 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in his first two seasons in the NFL. Last season — with Favre — Rice had 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns. Granted, some of that can be chocked up to Rice maturing as a receiver (he’s only 24, after all), but you’d have to think that some, if not most of that success has to do with the fact that Favre made him better. Something Tarvaris Jackson could certainly never do.

Shiancoe had 11 touchdown receptions in SIX YEARS prior to Favre. He had 11 touchdown receptions all of last year. Favre has made a career of turning tight ends into red zone threats (Franks, Mark Chmura), and that was no different with Shiancoe.

(Note: I’m excluding Bernard Berrian from this conversation not because I’m trying to ignore the points that detract from my argument, but solely because Berrian was never 100 percent healthy last year. But let’s not forget, Berrian’s best seasons as a pro came when he had Tarvaris Jackson throwing to him (2007, 2008) and Rex Grossman (2006). The point: He’s not a bad receiver when he’s healthy).

So suddenly, Favre was in trouble because he didn’t have Rice to throw to anymore? He has a tight end he made last year, and a first round receiver who was the Offensive Rookie of the Year last year to throw to. Arguably, that’s STILL more than he had most years in Green Bay, but that’s not enough?

Week one proved many of the pundits who were saying this right. Favre looked sloppy and out of synch with his receivers. Experts screamed that the Vikings needed to trade for Vincent Jackson or Randy Moss to give Favre the help he needed… the help he hadn’t had in 19 YEARS OF PLAYING QUARTERBACK.

Here’s what nobody’s talking about, and here’s why I don’t think Moss puts the Vikings over the hump: Maybe it’s not Berrian, Rice or Shiancoe’s fault that Favre is throwing interceptions and the Vikings offense is stalling through three games, maybe it’s that Favre simply doesn’t have it anymore. And if a quarterback doesn’t have it, no wide receiver is going to fix that.

Favre succeeded with the likes of Freeman, Franks, Schroeder and Andre Rison because he could put a ball where most quarterbacks couldn’t. Put 1998 Favre with 1998 Moss and you’re talking about the type of numbers that make the 2007 Patriots look like the 2010 Bills. The 2010 Favre with the 2010 Moss? Not as appealing.

Sure, Moss still has the ability to catch a deep pass from time to time. But we don’t realize that Moss hasn’t had a 100-yard receiving game since week 10 of last season.  So what if Favre can’t get him the ball? What if Favre can’t hit that tiny slot of separation between Moss and Charles Woodson, Charles Tillman or anyone else? I don’t know if he can anymore, and that’s what three weeks of action has showed me.

Is Moss a risky acquisition for the Vikings? Absolutely not. I love the move. They gave up little in the trade, and if he under-performs, well, they weren’t going to win without him anyway, so it’s a lost season and you start anew in 2011. Anything you get out of him is a bonus. It’s like playing with the house money. So in that, it’s a no-lose situation for the Vikings.

But to expect him to somehow revitalize Favre’s season is unrealistic at this point. At best, he’ll be a good decoy to get Harvin more yards in shorter routes, or he’ll free up Rice when he returns (if he’s healthy). But if Favre can’t hit Moss, Rice or Harvin with regularity, it’s all moot.

And right now, that’s the trend that appears to be happening.

Now, on to my week 5 picks:

Atlanta Falcons (-3) at Cleveland Browns
There are a lot of lines this week that I can’t figure out. This is one of them. Side note: Someone on Twitter suggested last Saturday that if the Browns tank the rest of the season, they can fire Eric Mangini and go for a Jim Harbaugh/Andrew Luck combination by hiring Harbaugh and drafting Luck with the No. 1 pick. While I don’t know if that would work or not, I love the idea for some reason. That’s all. I’m picking the Falcons to win and cover.

Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers (-1)
This was an easy pick for the Bears to win until Jay Cutler got hurt. Todd Collins vs. Jimmy Clausen: The matchup we’ve all been waiting for! Also, I can’t believe how many Bears fans I saw flipping out on Facebook and Twitter over the thought that Packers fans would give them shit about the Giants game. Again, who cares? You still beat the Packers last week. Yes, we’re still bitter about it and we’re going to take any opportunity we have to take pot shots at you. Responding with angry, fueled statuses about how we still beat you and we should all f**k off only adds fuel to our desire to get on your nerves. I’m taking the Panthers to win and cover.

Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens (-7)
A statement win for Joe Flacco and my 2011 Super Bowl winner last week. The Broncos always play teams close, though. And I still don’t trust the Ravens’ defense to win by this many points. I’m taking the Ravens to win and the Broncos to beat the points.

Green Bay Packers (-3) at Washington Redskins
This could end up being the most competitive game of the week. I really hate this matchup for the Aaron Rodgers & Co. If the Packers are going to win this game, it’s going to be with defense. I’m picking the Packers to win and the Redskins to beat the points.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills (no line)
If the Bills don’t win this game, at home against another very bad team, they’re destined for 0-16. I’m taking the Bills outright.

Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts (-8)
This is the perfect opportunity for Peyton Manning and the Colts to prove they’re still a threat against the lone undefeated team at home. I sense a statement blowout by the Colts. I’m taking the Colts to win and cover.

New York Giants at Houston Texans (-3.5)
The Texans have a much better offensive line than the Bears. They also have Arian Foster. The Giants are not good against the run. I’m taking the Texans to win and cover.

St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions (-3)
One of the least talked about storylines of the season is the fact that the Rams are 2-2. Also, can someone look up the last time the Lions were giving points in any game? I’m taking the Rams to win outright.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5)
The two biggest enigmas of the NFL season thus far. At least to me. I don’t know how good or bad either of these teams are. I’m taking the Bengals to win and the Bucs to beat the points.

New Orleans Saints (-7) at Arizona Cardinals
The fact that the Saints are giving seven on the road shows you how bad Vegas thinks the Cardinals are. Also, they’re starting rookie Max Hall at quarterback. “Tom Brady isn’t walking through that door.” I’m taking the Saints to win and cover.

San Diego Chargers (-6.5) at Oakland Raiders
One of those division rivalry games where we could very easily see Norv Turner crap his pants. I’m taking the Chargers to win and the Raiders to beat the points.

Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys (-7)
I can’t believe how many points the Cowboys are giving here. If I had to guess on a line for this game without knowing, I’d have expected them to be giving two, maybe three at the most. The Titans are a good running football team and I’ll always take Jeff Fisher > Wade Phillips. I’m taking the Titans to win outright.

Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)
People sure are quick to write off the Eagles sans Michael Vick. Well here’s a clue for you: The 49ers are really, really bad. I’m taking the Eagles to win outright.

Minnesota Vikings at New York Jets (-4)
If Darrelle Revis is playing, the Vikings are in huge trouble. If he’s not, I still don’t like them. The Jets have one of the best rush defenses in the NFL, and you can read the first 900 words of this column to know how I feel about Favre in 2010. I’m taking the Jets to win and cover.

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Looking Back – My 2010 MLB Season Predictions

Is that Darth Vader? No. It's Terrance Mann.

In sports, people make predictions constantly. At the start of every sport season, you’ll see a barrage of “experts,” blogs, etc., taking their turns predicting how they think the season will play out. Rarely do those same people rehash on their predictions once the season is over. Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

I didn’t do all that horrible in my predictions. I had some incredible misses (Reds, Padres) and some hits (Rangers, Giants), but overall I think things evened out for the most part, so I wanted to recap.

American League

East

Predicted Finish: 1. Yankees, 2. Red Sox, 3. Rays, 4. Blue Jays, 5. Orioles.

Actual Finish: 1. Rays, 2. Yankees, 3. Red Sox, 4. Blue Jays, 5. Orioles

Analysis: This division wasn’t incredibly difficult to predict, and there weren’t many surprises. I obviously missed out on the Rays, but it was a pretty safe bet that the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox would finish in the 1-3 spots, regardless of who went where. Blue Jays at 4 and Orioles at 5 were sure things.

Central

Predicted Finish: 1. White Sox, 2. Twins, 3. Tigers, 4. Royals, 5 Indians.

Actual Finish: 1. Twins, 2. White Sox, 3. Tigers, 4. Indians, 5. Royals.

Recap: The only team whose position I picked correctly was the Tigers, but I was in the ballpark with the others. I knew it would be between the White Sox and Twins for first, and I knew it would be between the Indians and Royals for last. I simply had them flip-flopped.

West

Predicted Finish: 1. Rangers, 2. Angels, 3. Mariners, 4. Athletics.

Actual Finish: 1. Rangers, 2. Athletics, 3. Angels, 4. Mariners.

Recap: This is my proudest prediction. I correctly guessed that the Rangers would take over this division, and they did. I was surprised, however, that the Angels weren’t more competitive and the Athletics weren’t as bad. I’m also proud I didn’t buy into the Mariners hype everyone else did, but I definitely didn’t expect them to be THAT bad.

National League

East

Predicted Finish: 1. Phillies, 2. Braves, 3. Marlins, 4. Mets, 5. Nationals.

Actual Finish: 1. Phillies, 2. Braves, 3. Marlins, 4. Mets, 5. Nationals.

Recap: 100 percent accurate. But I can’t be too proud. It wasn’t rocket science that the Phillies were good, but I had to be right on how good the Braves were and how bad the Mets were, which I was.

Central

Predicted Finish: 1. Cardinals, 2. Cubs, 3. Brewers, 4. Reds, 5. Astros, 6. Pirates

Actual Finish: 1. Reds, 2. Cardinals, 3. Brewers, 4. Astros, 5. Cubs, 6. Pirates.

Recap: Here’s where things get ugly. I completely missed the Reds, and gave the Cubs way too much credit. To be fair, I think I gave the Cubs that much credit because I didn’t want to be called biased by Cubs fans, which was obviously a huge mistake.

West

Predicted Finish: 1. Giants, 2. Rockies, 3. Dodgers, 4. Padres, 5. Diamondbacks.

Actual Finish: 1. Giants, 2. Padres, 3. Rockies, 4. Dodgers, 5. Diamondbacks.

Recap: Like the Reds, I couldn’t have been more wrong about the Padres before the season. Of course, the same could be said for virtually every prognosticator out there. I rode the Giants all season and they were as good as I expected, and the Diamondbacks were as bad as everyone though.

Now, here are my preseason playoffs and awards predictions:

Playoffs

ALDS: Yankees over White Sox; Red Sox over Rangers

NLDS: Cardinals over Rockies; Giants over Phillies

ALCS: Yankees over Red Sox

NLCS: Cardinals over Giants

World Series: Yankees over Cardinals

Season Awards

MVP: AL – Mark Teixeria; NL – Albert Pujols

Cy Young: AL – Justin Verlander; NL – Roy Halladay

Rookie of the Year: AL – Scott Sizemore; NL – Jason Heyward

Awards Recap: Of all my awards predictions, the only one I completely missed on was Scott Sizemore. The opening day second baseman for the Detroit Tigers was pretty much an afterthought by June. Teixeira was a disappointment as well, but still put up big numbers, and Justin Verlander will likely still finish in the top 5 in Cy Young voting. I may very well hit a home run with Roy Halladay and Jason Heyward. Halladay seems like the runaway favorite for the award, and Heyward’s only competition for ROY is Buster Posey. As for Pujols, I still would pick him as my MVP. Sure, Joey Votto is the trendy pick, but the Cardinals have constantly been all about Pujols, and just because the Cardinals were a disappointment doesn’t mean that still isn’t true. The Cardinals with Pujols are like the Cleveland Cavaliers with LeBron James. If he leaves, the organization goes completely down the toilet. That’s why he’s still my pick for MVP.

Playoffs Recap: Preseason, I said Yankees over Cardinals, and while I may get one right, I struck out on the other. I’ll be honest, though. Partway through the season, I jumped on the bandwagon of two teams barring the White Sox falling out of contention. Those teams were the Rangers and Giants. I don’t know if the Rangers are good enough to get past the Rays or Yankees, or the Giants are good enough to get past the Phillies, but since one of my World Series teams are out, I’m allowing myself an amendment using the current playoff teams.

World Series Prediction: Texas Rangers over San Francisco Giants

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Week 4 Predictions – A Lesson in Luck and Acceptance

😥

When I decided to start writing a blog about the NFL and making predictions each week, I didn’t really know how it was going to go. I mean, I know my writing style and I knew how I was going to go about making the predictions each week, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to find a niche.

Well, three weeks in it’s pretty clear that my theme is going to become ranting about one thing or another. Last week, it was my porous luck in betting on college football. This week, it’s about the Packers-Bears game. Now, I know a lot of Bears fans that will read this are immediately going to dismiss anything that I say as me being incredible biased (which I am), but hear me out for a second, then I welcome your counter-argument.

I’m sure you’re all getting tired of the “(insert team here) beat themselves” argument by now, and I am too. But sometimes it’s just too blatantly obvious to be ignored.

Now, that’s not to discredit the Bears. Good teams take advantage of other team’s mistakes. Believe me, I know this better than anyone as a fan of perhaps the luckiest team to ever win a championship (the 2005 White Sox). But the thing is, if a bitter fan calls your team lucky, why should you feel the need to defend it? Say “damn right we’re lucky. And we’re going to ride this lucky streak all the way to a title.” Because in the end, it doesn’t matter how you got there. It only matters THAT you got there.

Everyone remembers A.J. Pierzynski’s phantom strikeout in 2005. Everyone remembers the team lucking out and missing Curt Schilling in the ALDS, Bartolo Colon in the ALCS, and getting an injured Roger Clemens in the World Series. That team was as lucky as can be in 2005. But should that matter to White Sox fans? Absolutely not. All that matters is that they are, and will forever be known as the 2005 World Series Champions.

So once 2011 rolls around, say the Bears are 11-5 and the Packers are 10-6, and the Bears win the NFC North. Some bitter Packers fans will look back at week three and how, if the Bears hadn’t gotten so damn lucky, the division title may have been different. You know how Bears fans should respond? “WHO CARES?! We’re division champions. We’ll always be known as division champions. We have a chance to win the Super Bowl. You don’t. That’s all that matters. The end.”

Hopefully that’s how most will react. Some won’t. Some will react as many did after the victory and feel the need to defend their team for its performance. You’re always going to have bitter fans of losing teams in a game like that. ALWAYS. And if the scripts were flipped, Bears fans would react similarly. You can’t blame a fan of a team to react bitterly. It’s in our nature as fans.

As a Packers fan, am I bitter as hell? You’re damn right I am. I was late Monday night and I still am Friday. I’ll be bitter until the Packers beat the Bears in week 17. The Bears got lucky. They got lucky that the coaching staff was too stupid to give Mark Tauscher any help on Julius Peppers. They got lucky the Packers had two rookies in their secondary who committed penalty after penalty. They’re lucky that some of those penalties came on dumb Jay Cutler throws. They got lucky that Charles Woodson inexplicably dropped a sure-bet interception during a critical moment. They got lucky that Mike McCarthy & Co. refused to let the Bears prance in the end zone with over minute left, instead letting them run the clock down and ending any chance of a final minute drive by a quarterback who had been lighting up the Bears’ secondary when he was given time to do so. They were lucky in many ways, took advantage of the breaks they were given and won the game. End of story. Bears fans don’t need to defend this performance. It is what it is and the Bears won. That’s all that matters.

Anyway, here are my week four picks:

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5)
Can the Steelers really go 4-0 without Ben Roethlisberger? I think the point everyone missed about Roethlisberger’s suspension is that, as good of a quarterback as he may be, that team’s defense has and always will win them games. I’m completely sold on that unit as the best in the league, and think they are going to tear Joe Flacco a new one. But if the Ravens defense can do similarly to the Charlie Batch, it could make for a very ugly affair. The over/under for this game is 34.5. Bet the under. I’m taking the Steelers to win and cover.

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-13.5)
I’m sold on the Falcons enough that I’m not downgrading the Saints much for that loss. Besides, if their kicker wasn’t horrible, nobody would be worried about them right now. Also, a rookie quarterback who looked awful last week is playing on the road in the Superdome. I’m taking the Saints to win and cover.

Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Cleveland Browns
I think this has upset written all over it. These games are historically close, regardless of how good or bad the teams are, and I just don’t like the Bengals as road favorites. I’m taking the Bengals to win and the Browns to beat the spread.

Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans (-6.5)
I honestly don’t know what to think of either of these teams. Kyle Orton is throwing the ball all over the field, but this is a potentially really bad matchup as Denver’s run defense is bad and Chris Johnson could break records Sunday. I’m taking the Titans to win and cover.

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-14.5)
I truthfully, honestly think the Lions are going to win this game. How badly the Packers played last week exposed a lot about them. And aside from that, I just think the Lions are due. And if you think I’m doing this as a reverse jinx, you also know that I read way too much of Bill Simmons. I’m taking the Lions to win outright.

New York Jets (-6) at Buffalo Bills
Another game that I think will be closer than expected. I like the Bills to be fired up at home against a division rival. I don’t like the Jets against the pass without Darrelle Revis. But the Bills are still really bad. I’m taking the Jets to win and the Bills to beat the spread.

San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons (-7)
Did I mention how totally and completely sold I am on the Falcons? Did I also mention how quickly I have jumped off the 49ers bandwagon? I’m taking the Falcons to win and cover.

Seattle Seahawks (-1) at St. Louis Rams
This line is strange in that you have to bet that the Rams are going to win or they’re not. Unless there’s a tie, of course. I’m being stubborn about the Seahawks. They’ve won a few games, but I’m still not sold on them. I like the Rams at home. I’m taking the Rams to win outright.

Houston Texans (-3.5) at Oakland Raiders
Are the Raiders really that bad again? Were the Texans exposed in any way last week against the Cowboys? My answers are yes and not really. I’m taking the Texans to win and cover.

Indianapolis Colts (-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Another game that could be closer than expected. I just hate when road teams are getting a lot of points in divisional games. I’m taking the Colts to win and the Jaguars to cover.

Arizona Cardinals at San Diego Chargers (-8)
The Cardinals are really, really bad. But so is Norv Turner. I’m taking the Chargers to win and the Cardinals to beat the spread.

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (-6)
I’m not giving up on the Redskins yet. Mike Shanahan is too smart. I also think Donovan McNabb unleashes an ultimate “eff you” game. I’m taking the Redskins to win outright.

Chicago Bears at New York Giants (-4)
The strangest line of the week. The Bears are 3-0 and the Giants have looked really, really bad all season. Sure, they’re at home, but can’t you see the Bears defense eating Eli Manning alive and Jay Cutler throwing for something like 500 yards? I can. I’m taking the Bears to win outright.

New England Patriots (-1) at Miami Dolphins
If there’s one coach in the league who seems to have Bill Belichick figured out, it’s Tony Sparano for some strange reason. Even with last week’s loss, I still am pretty high on the Dolphins. I’m taking the Dolphins to win outright.

Records

Week 3: 9-7 (5-11 against spread)
Overall: 26-21 (18-28-1 against spread)

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