Friday, January 30, 2009


For those of you who are familiar, scroll down, for those of you who aren't: Keep It Real Friday is the weekly installment where I drop some knowledge on all of you who need knowledge dropped, and let it all out there. . . .

To the Jeff Jagodzinski faithful, move along. In the words of Anthony Soprano, "I’m gonna say a few things, I’m gonna a say some bad words and you, your just gonna have to deal with it." Jagodzinski revealed his true colors this winter, no bones about it. After getting shut out of the Orange Bowl, for the second straight year, by the same team that did you in the year before, Jags looked for the easy way out. For all intensive purposes, he got it. Here's a guy who signs a contract saying for the next five seasons, he'll be coaching Boston College football. Before the end of season number two, he's headed for the exit. And for what? To be the offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? When you break it down, how much of Boston College's recent success on the gridiron is even a direct result of Jeff Jagodzinski? His first season with Boston College was defined by three syllables, Matt Ry-an. We all know now, Matt Ryan didn't need Jeff Jagodzinski, for crying out loud as a rookie quarterback he helped win 11 games and get his team to the playoffs. Season number two? Boston College had a top five nationally ranked defense led by such standouts as B.J. Raji, Mark Herzlich, and Ron Brace, none of which were brought in by Jagodzinski and none of which were coached by Jagodzinski, that credit goes to current head coach and Jags replacement, Frank Spaziani. So remind me how he's qualified for the Tampa job? Not to mention his offensive coordinator at Boston College, Steve Logan, is widely considered a better play caller. I liked Jags at first, don't get me wrong, but to look a guy in the face and tell him you aren't just using Boston College as a platform to be back in The League, then to turn around and do just that, pitiful. Keep It Real! Your nothing but a turncoat.

Baseball was always my favorite sport. I didn't care that it took 4+ hours to watch one game. I loved that it lasted from late February to early October. I always said it is harder to hit a major league curve ball than to do anything else in sports. I love the trades, free agent signings, and every other little thing the sport adds in its offseason. However, I can see why I am in the minority on this one. They announce Hall of Fame members, and all you hear about is who didn't get in. A hitter passes a career milestone, and all you get is doubt and skepticism. On a week when the sport of Tennis is in the midst of a grand slam event, the NHL and NBA are celebrating their all-star games, and of course the NFL is preparing for the sporting event of the year, you know what the most popular stories surrounding baseball are? An ex-teammate of Barry Bonds testifying in court against him on perjury charges and a book written in part by former Yankee manager, Joe Torre, about how awful a human being his former player, Alex Rodriguez, is. Yet I ask, why?!? Why do we care about Barry Bonds, steroids, and HGH? His career is over, he's never getting in the hall, end of story. Why would you buy Joe Torre's book? So Alex Rodriguez isn't a great guy, I think we knew that when The New York Post plastered a picture of him with a stripper heading into a hotel room in Toronto. I don't need 200 pages written by SI's Tom Verducci to figure that one out for myself. All of these things are baseballs fault. The players union was too strong, you let drug use run rampant, and then tried to point fingers when it blew up in your face, making guys like Bonds and McGwire scape goats for your inability to effectively manage your league and everything involved with it. As for Joe Torre, I didn't see him take a moral high ground when he OK'd the acquisition of Manny Ramirez, known clubhouse cancer, to the Dodgers last summer, did you Joe? Baseball has become less about the product on the field and more about the circus off the field. Who can blame us for following every snap of the NFL, at least they attempt to stop problems before they are out of control. KEEP IT REAL! Baseball is finished.

I'm not going to lie. Hockey is back. There are most likely hundreds of thousands of people who have been with hockey all along, I for one, was not one of those people. I used to say the same things everyone did about hockey: No stars, the season is too long, there are too many teams, and not enough excitement. I would like to take Keep It Real Friday as the venue to say I was wrong. On Tuesday night, my brother and I went to the Bruins v. Capitals game in Boston. Lucky for me, my first professional hockey game since the Reagan administration was against two of the leagues best teams in 2009. Hockey came out for me on Tuesday night. In the greatest sports city in the world, with two top teams, with loyal fans, and of course with the games premier superstar, Alexander Ovechkin. The Boston Bruins won a 3-2 overtime thriller that was capped off with a great goal and two great saves from Bruins All-Star netminder, Tim Thomas. The game was fantastic, the fans never stopped being into it and they even cheered injuries to the other team, that's hard core. First things first: (1) Cities like Boston, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Detroit need to have teams that can compete for championships every year. (2) You need stars you love to watch and stars you love to hate. Case & Point Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. and (3) It has to have a twist, people look forward to the Super Bowl, the NBA draft, and the baseball hot stove, finally, hockey has started this outdoor new years day game, that's the thing. After a great all-star weekend and first half of the season, I look forward to the Stanley Cup playoffs, so should you. KEEP IT REAL!


I'd like to extend a "hats off" to Orlando Magic guard, Jameer Nelson. In just his fifth season in the NBA out of St. Joseph's University, the former college standout is an NBA All-Star. The 6-foot guard has averaged 17 points and nearly six assists a night for the Magic, who currently who hold the NBA's
Time to KEEP IT REAL! fourth best record. The same night Nelson is announced as an Eastern Conference reserve in the 2009 NBA All-Star game, he drops four three-pointers en route to a 99-88 victory over visiting Cleveland. Over the first half of the 2008-2009 season, Nelson has already drilled (79) three-point field goals, 15 more than he had all of last season. For a guy who has been considered undersized, I'm guessing more often than not, Jameer Nelson will forever be able to place the words: "All-Star" next to his name. Keep It Real! Nelson is official.

As always, remember to Keep It Real!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Super Prediction

The Super Bowl is just days away; I'm about as excited for this game as I was for my first root canal. If the Steelers win, they'll have a record setting (6) Super Bowl Championships. (Cough, Cough) 1 more than my beloved Dallas Cowboys. Then again, if the Cardinals win, it gets worse. Month long clips of Kurt Warner thanking God for delivering him another Super Bowl.

Newsflash: Were in the worst economic climate of the past 30 years, both Barack Obama and God have way more important things to worry about than Kurt winning a second ring.

I honestly think any Super Bowl prediction has to come with a less definitive nature than it once did. A year ago, an 18-0 New England Patriots team lost, because a third string wideout who you'll never hear from again had stick 'um on his helmet. So before you & I go guaranteeing victory, ease up.

This years Super Bowl includes not one, but two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. Both head coaches have won this game, yes as assistants, but they've won it. Pittsburgh and Arizona have both played their best football heading into this game. Arizona can hang their hat on that fourth quarter, game winning, and conference clinching drive against the Eagles. The Steelers are coming off a victory against the leagues second best defense for the third straight time this season. However, there are a few differences that need to be addressed:

While Pittsburgh relies on bone crushing defense, Kurt Warner & Co. look to light up the scoreboard early and often. Pittsburgh is the NFL's top ranked defense, led by defensive player of the year, James Harrison. In 2008, Harrison finished with 100+ tackles, 16 sacks, and 7 forced fumbles. His defense, was the only defense in the NFL, to allow less than 4,00 yards of total offense on the entire season. They are tops in fewest points allowed per game, fewest overall passing yards allowed, fewest yards overall per game, and fewest points allowed overall. Their long haired safety, Troy Polamalu, is tied for second in the league with seven interceptions. You think Harrison is hard hitter, ask Ravens running back, Willis Mcgahee, how he feels after getting drilled by Steeler defensive back, Ryan Clark, in the AFC Championship. This Steeler defense allowed over 20 points in just five of their sixteen games this season. If it's defense you like, the Steelers give you that. As for the Cardinals, they are all offense, all the time. Arizona scored 30+ points in nearly half of their games this season. Kurt Warner is in the top five in passer rating, Larry Fitzgerald is second in the league in receiving yards, and the Cardinal offense is second in the league in passing yards per game. A high-powered offense, against a fierce defense is the main difference on Sunday evening.

Steeler fans know this rodeo, Cards fans don't. I get the fact that the Super Bowl is about 75% corporate sponsorships, and in a down economy, whose got time and money to be traveling to spend a weekend in Tampa? The answer, Steeler fans. If your a Cardinal fan and you may have been able to only afford one game, wasn't that game the first round game against Atlanta? It was probably one of the very few if not the only time Arizona hosted a first round playoff game. Arizona was playing an 11-5 Falcon team that has quickly become America's darlings, and you had to think the opportunity might not present itself a year from now. There was no way you thought they'd beat Carolina in Carolina, and then beat the Giants or Eagles, so you purchased your playoff seat, a month ago. Furthermore, I can't ignore the fact that the state of Arizona is a retirement state, hence their presidential hopeful, John McCain, being 90 years old. Why is this important? Fixed income baby, retirees aren't making any more bank, can't be jet setting to Tampa to see a Super Bowl. Steeler fans on the other hand, there global. Everyone has that one friend or foe, who is in fact, a Steeler fan. For me, it's my barber, and while he isn't traveling to Tampa to see the Super Bowl, he of course knows people who are. My one friend whose a Cardinal fan . . . okay, so I lied I do not have a freind who is a Cardinal fan, because WHO IS A CARDINAL FAN? The Pittsburgh faithful would travel to the Gaza Strip if the Super Bowl was being played there. Nuff Said.

Kurt Warner is a Super Bowl quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, jury's out. Yea, Big Ben has won a Super Bowl ring, but does anyone recall his performance in said Super Bowl game? For starters, they gave the MVP to Hines Ward, when in all honesty, it should have gone to the refs who decided we didn't want a champ from the great Northwest. Roethlisberger was 9 of 21 with only 123 yards passing and finished with the worst quarterback rating in Super Bowl history, 22.6, but he's a stud right? Kurt Warner however is 52-90 for 779 yards passing in two previous Super Bowl appearances. He's taken his second left for dead franchise to the Super Bowl, has years of big game momentum behind him, and has the one thing Big Ben doesn't . . Larry Fitzgerald. No quarterback makes better use of his weapons than Kurt Warner, he's the Rambo of the NFL. Ben has to come out and beat a quarterback who is already hall bound and is still playing the underdog card. A tall task for the 26-year old quarterback who is still trying to shake off his Super Bowl demons. His big game weapon, Hines Ward, isn't going to be 100%, and Roethlisberger himself is playing just weeks removed from a concussion. Kurt Warner is unfazed, and ready for this Super Bowl.

. . . I'm getting there.

If you had asked me a week ago, Do I think the Cardinals can pull this off? I would have told you with 100% confidence, yes. If you had asked me two days ago, now that everyone is on board with Arizona, do you think they can pull this off? Yes. Now that I am announcing my Super Bowl pick and everyone is attempting to show how smart they really are by picking Arizona. I'm going to stay on board.

THE PICK: Arizona 27, Pittsburgh 24 BAM!
SUPER BOWL MVP: Larry Fitzgerald

The Lady Friends Picks:

Arizona 26 Pittsburgh 17
MVP: And I quote, "Kurt Warner in the house"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What Are The Odds?

The Las Vegas Sports Consultants have put out their odds for the Super Bowl . . . in February 2010. Before I ramble on for 2,500 words I find the fact the odds are out already, pretty amazing. In college I was lucky to have my papers finished three days after the deadline and that was with collegiate distractions. The LVSC (Las Vegas Sports Consultants) have their 2010 odds out before I've become used to writing 2009 rather than 2008, and that is in Las Vegas where distractions would be ten fold. But I digress.

It should come as no surprise that the best odds they give, are to the Patriots, Steelers, Giants, and Colts. The worst odds are reserved for the Lions, Rams, Raiders, and Cheifs. Based on what has transpired this year, a 10-1 preseason Super Bowl odds Steeler team and a 1,000,000-1 (slightly exaggerated) Arizona Cardinal team meeting for the Lombardi. Who knows where you should lay your money? Because my 4-6 playoff record isn't the worst out there, I think I'm qualified to help you out:

*Ignore the fact that I picked Jacksonville and Dallas (neither made the playoffs) to meet in the Super Bowl in August. Hey, you can't win 'em all.

New England Patriots (6-1) At 11-5, the Patriots missed the playoffs in 2008. It's strange that no one is guaranteeing a Tom Brady complete health return in 2009 and they are the top dog favorites. Most clubs might not react well losing their offensive coordinator and director of player personnel. However, they are the New England Patriots and just ripped off an 11-win season with a quarterback who hadn't started since the 12th grade.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-1) Yes, they actually could win their third Super Bowl since 2006 by March of 2010. The #1 defense in the NFL will return James Harrison and Troy Polamalu. Breakout rookie, Rashard Mendenhall, will be back after missing 2008 with a shoulder injury. They play defense and then run the ball. Any questions about who the Steelers are now?

Indianapolis Colts (8-1) What, no one is considering the fact that the Colts forgot to show up in San Diego for the playoffs? Tony Dungy has retired and Marvin Harrison was pedestrian at best in 2008. I know, they do have the reigning MVP under center but I'm sorry, the Colts are getting old. Their last five wins of 2008 were against Cleveland, Cincy, Detroit, Jacksonville, and a Titan team that had already packed it in and started preparing for the playoffs. Unimpressed. Peyton can still win games, and he's still Peyton "Friggin" Manning.

Dallas Cowboys (9-1) Nope. I'm not going to get sucked in. T.O. needs to be cut, forget that he no longer gets seperation against top flight corners, he's affecting how Tony Romo attacks a secondary, and that's an issue. They got embarassed in Philly, finished 9-7, and the only improvements they've made in the offseason was cutting a corner that played in 9 of 16 games. Their coach is a sitting duck to take the hit for the debacle that is the last three years in Valley Ranch. What?!? You think I'm buying this?!!?!?

Baltimore Ravens (11-1) They'll miss Rex Ryan but they still have Ed Reed and that means something. While the Ravens defense was able to disguise some of the rookie mistakes from quarterback, Joe Flacco, 2009 will have to be his coming out. I have a suggestion that may help this; Go out and get Cardinal wideout, Anquan Boldin. Boldin would be a great target for Flacco and give him another option alongside Todd Heap and Derrick Mason. I'm okay with this.

Carolina Panthers (12-1) You think Panther fans are still down with Jake Delhomme? When I said that the Panthers go as far as Jake Delhomme can take them in the playoffs, and then he throws five interceptions, I think you get my point. A great defense, fantastic running backs, the Panthers are being held hostage by the play of Delhomme. When the Panthers have Super Bowl expectations, you need a quarterback who can put you in a place to win, Delhomme can't do that.

Philadelphia Eagles (12-1) Twelve to one odds to win the Super Bowl huh? 1-4 in NFC Championship Games. A coach that is more over rated than Brett Favre's career. A quarterback that goes from goat to hero in three weeks and then back to goat. A running back who is beginning to show the signs of wear and tear. A defense that does everything right, until it's time to play against Larry Fitzgerald. If I put $25 bucks on the Eagles to win the Super Bowl; I want more than a $300 payout.

Tennessee Titans (12-1) You didn't buy them when they were the only NFL team remaining undefeated heading into week 11. I don't expect you to attempt to buy them when you hear they want Kerry Collins to come back in 2009 either. The question remains, what are you going to do with Vince Young? If he's the starter come September, I'd be shocked to see the Titans still getting 12-1 odds. Titans fans, hold on to your coin.

San Diego Chargers (14-1) Sign me up. $100 bucks. That's right, I like the Chargers in 2009. The Raiders and Cheifs will still suck. The Josh McDaniels era in Denver will take a moment or two to get off the ground, so yes, the Chargers could go 8-8 with an injured LaDainian and still win the AFC West. Judging by the way Phil Rivers played in the regular season and postseason, he's coming into his own. In the NFL, you need a quarterback who can make plays and a defense who holds their own. That's the Chargers.

Arizona Cardinals (15-1) No love, from the powers that be. Matt Leinart will put the clipboard (and beer bong) down and take the helm of the possible defending Super Bowl champs. The Cardinals stuff the Falcons, Panthers, and Eagles, but Las Vegas still remembers that 47-7 beatdown by the Patriots in December. The 49ers won't start off as bad as they did in 2008, making it all that much more important that the Cardinals continue their run into next season. Breaston will step into Boldin's spot, and I fully expect the Cardinals to change some of their makeup in '09. They are where they should be.

Atlanta Falcons (16-1) Vegas loves the drop off, the Falcons fit that mold. At 16-1 odds, the Falcons are where they ought to be. Two things could happen to Matt Ryan and Atlanta this next season: (1) They completely take a step back and go something like 9-7 or 8-8. (2) They make their move on Carolina. A defense that needs improving, and a more consistant threat from the tight end on offense. Their odds could be worse, but

New Orleans Saints (18-1) Exactly. Las Vegas is done trusting in Sean Payton and the Saints. They won't kill the Saints, but they won't save them either. I think the Vikings, Bears, and Packers all have a better shot at winning than the Saints do, but like a former lover, Las Vegas finds it hard to talk about their Saints (but still has a little something for them).

* None of the following are winning the Super Bowl in 2010, NONE!

Green Bay Packers (20-1) Didn't matter if Brett Favre was there or not, Ryan Grant didn't have the season like he did the season before, and the Packer defense got old in the tooth. Time to retool. I'm okay with 20-1.

Minnesota Vikings (22-1) Their defense is too good, and their running back is far too good, to go through another season with Tarvaris or Gus under center. They connect with Cassel, they shoot up the ladder, but I doubt they go out and do what it'll take to get him.

Miami Dolphins (25-1) Wow. Thats got to hurt. The Fish go out and win the AFC East in '08, then given 25-1 odds to win the Super Bowl the following season. Las Vegas might have something against The Tuna, but I don't.

Washington Redskins (25-1) Jim Zorn gets the ax folliwng the 2010 season. I'd put 6-1 odds on that. Should be worse.

New York Jets (28-1) The Jet defense immediately gets an upgrade adding Rex Ryan as their new HC. The Jet offense, the real problem, will retain their coordinator.

Chicago Bears (28-1) A defense that has lost their bite. The Kyle Orton factor, and a coach on his way out of town. 28-1 isn't a gift, it's all they are worth.

Jacksonville Jaguars (30-1) How the mighty have fallen. Start of 2008 season, they were "most likely to drop the Patriots," now you pick them, your a fool. Coach whose lost his team; The Jags are a season away from a top five draft pick.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (35-1) Fired their coach. Their famed defensive coordinator is with his son in Tennessee. A first year head coach coming in, quarterback in question. The way they finished 2008 gives little help for 2009.

Denver Broncos (35-1) Really?!? Okay, so they shouldn't have fired Mike Shanahan but got the most wanted guy, former Patriot coordinator, Josh McDaniels. They don't have a quarterback controversy. Spent the majority of the season recovering from injuries and still almost won the AFC West. I love the Broncos at 35-1, they should cleary be getting better odds.

Houston Texans (40-1)Wake me when the Texans have a legit shot at winning more than 8 games.

San Francisco 49ers (40-1) Mike Singletary knows what he's doing and the 49ers have the best shot at being this years Falcons or Dolphins.

Buffalo Bills (50-1) Their 5-0 2008 start was fradulent and they are in love with those two average quarterbacks. 50-1 suits them perfectly.

Seattle Seahawks (60-1) They'll turn it around, especially if they get big game Michael Crabtree in the draft. Keep in mind, they should have beaten the Patriots when they had Senaca Wallace under center just weeks before the season ended.

Cleveland Browns (60-1) Mangini bombed in New York, now he'll bomb away in Cleveland.

Cincinnati Bengals (75-1) Again, Marvin Lewis escapes the firing squad, How does he still have a job?

St. Louis Rams (100-1) They still have Stephen Jackson, but better get better on the offensive line.

Kansas City Chiefs (100-1) The Scott Pioli regime is coming in, you've got to wonder here. Of all the positions with all the teams this guy could have had, he chooses K.C.? He likes something. They'll be better than you think.

Oakland Raiders (100-1) No Comment. SOLD!

Detroit Lions (150-1) Can the odds get worse? How does 1,000,000-1 sound? You just hired the same guy who benched Marc Bulger for the corpse that was Trent Green as your offensive coordinator? SOLD!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Keep It Real Friday: Obamamania

Former Met, Indian, Giant, Astro, and Dodger second baseman, Jeff Kent, retired this past week. The 40-year old infielder finished his career with a batting average slightly under .300 and 377 career home runs. Kent is widely considered as "the most powerful second baseman ever," which in my mind, doesn't mean all that much. All of this still doesn't punch a ticket to Cooperstown in my humble, or not so humble, opinion. For starters, the bulk of Kent's career was played in the National League, over the past ten seasons the National League has been the inferior league when it comes to pitching. Remember those years when the NBA's New Jersey Nets were the best team in the Eastern Conference, and then they'd get throttled in the Finals by the Spurs and Lakers, well I consider Jeff Kent to be the Nets. You won't remember him in ten years, and if you hear the name you'd think he sold insurance. Secondly, I'm not going to ignore the fact that the prime of his career, 1997-2002, was spent hitting in front of Barry Lamar Bonds. The same Barry Bonds who clubbed a million home runs and walked just as much. If your going to hold power hitters of that era, the steroid era, to the same dirty standard, then you have to include Kent. Jeff Kent hit 30 homers or more in three seperate seasons, all coming while he was on the Giants, and none coming before or after he played with the Giants. He played in 150 or more games only 4 years of his 16 year career, all with the Giants. None before or after he left the city by the bay. Two things we know about steroid users, they stay healthy, and they club the pill over the wall. I'm not saying Kent was a steroid user, I'm just putting the question out there, the same way you do with McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds. Compare the career of Jeff Kent, who got major pub playing next to Bonds, to former Mariner, Brave, Padre, and Twin second baseman, Bret Boone. Bret's best years were between 2001-2004, he played in 158, 155, 159, and 148 games each of the four seasons. Those years he banged out 30+ homer seasons twice, never in his previous 9 seasons had he gone over 24. Sound familiar? Boone never committed more than 15 errors in a single season of his fourteen years. Kent committed between 16 and 21 errors SEVEN times in his career. I haven't even mentioned how Jeff Kent was hated by every teammate he ever had, and got in multiple altercations during his time in San Francisco and Los Angeles. You don't consider Bret Boone a Hall of Famer, no one does, then you can't put Jeff Kent in the hall either. KEEP IT REAL!

Really?!?!?! Allen Iverson was the guy all of us fans wanted to start the All-Star Game. Really!?!?! Love Iverson, but is he the guy who you really want to see in the ASG? Celtics guard, Rajon Rondo, is averaging 10 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds a night. Nets guard, Devin Harris, is averaging 22 points and 6 assists, every night. Both guards would be more interesting to watch than, going through another All-Star game with Iverson running the point. Sure, Iverson fills the "star" power roll, very nicely I might add, but these games are for basketball fans, not casual viewers. No slight to Iverson, but I'd much rather see Harris or Rondo running the show with Dwight Howard, LeBron, KG, and Dwayne Wade. Keep It Real, stop voting in the perennial favorite.

Aikman's right, Tony Romo has not fully grasped what being the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys means. I used to defend Romo, but when Troy Aikman, the last of the great Cowboy quarterbacks comes out and knocks him, you know it has some meat behind it. Have you ever seen Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison publicly call out a coordinator when Peyton Manning doesn't get them the ball? How about any of the Patriot offensive weapons, you think they would cross Tom Brady? Forget what he did by going to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico two years ago during an off week before the playoffs, that is in the past. Going forward Romo needs to do three things: (1) Either tell Jerry Jones that Terrell needs to be gone, or go directly to T.O. and let him know, I decide who get's what in this offense, if you don't like it, you can grab a seat on the bench. (2) Fully involve yourself in being a Dallas Cowboy; If your going to be in the news for everything under the sun, on Sundays you have to be able to come through. and (3) Get on top of your offensive lineman, the greatest quarterbacks in the world are known for getting off the mat after being sacked and tearing into their offensive lineman, you have to be "that" guy. Staubach, Aikman, and now if you want to join that class, it's more than winning 1 ring, it's winning multiple, it's leading a team, it's letting everybody know, your the boss, and your in charge of this team. Your not at Eastern Michigan anymore, this is big-time show up football. Take it from Troy, as the Cowboy quarterback he became a 3x Super Bowl Champion, left the game with a yellow jacket entering Canton. What did Troy never forget? Outside of being the president, there is no job more important than being the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Keep It Real! (slight exaggeration)

Oh you were just about to write off the defending champion, Boston Celtics, weren't you? Losing 7 of 9, looking real soft, does that to your confidence. But were you really calling the Orlando Magic the #2 seed? Torching the Suns to the tune of a 21-point victory. Beating the Heat by 15 on the road, and then following up that with a ten point win over the Magic at their place. The Celtics are 36-9 closing in on the All-Star break, they are still on that crash course with the Cavs for the Eastern Conference Title, and WOULD YOU PLEASE, stop overreacting every time they drop a game? February 5th they get their revenge against the Lakers at Boston, Cleveland returns to the TD Banknorth Garden a month later, by the time St. Patrick's day rolls around the Celtics will have added a big-man to come off the bench. BANK ON THAT! Keep It Real!

. . . . . . It's Obamamania!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quarterback Carousel

All coaching positions filled. Now it's time to play, Whose my quarterback?!?! Several NFL teams have some decisions to make, including the Super Bowl bound Arizona Cardinals. From young quarterbacks making guaranteed dollars riding the pine, to the free-agents to be, these signal callers are about to make major dollars and play major roles in the off season.

Matt Cassel The once thought to be heir-apparent to The Golden Boy, Cassel has transformed himself into the most sought after quarterback in the 2009 offseason. With major questions surrounding the health of New England's adopted son, Tom Brady, Cassel has become valuable to both the Pats and any franchise looking for a supposed front line starting quarterback. Starting under center in 2008, Cassel was able to rally the Patriots to an 11-5 regular season finish. With Cassel becoming a free agent in 2009, the New England Patriots will be forced to place the franchise tag on the 26-year old quarterback if they want to keep him in any fashion. A franchise tag will place two of the top five highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL on one roster, Cassel and Tom Brady. Knowing the way Bill Belichick does business, that won't last long. A couple things to remember: (1) The Patriots spent a third round draft pick on San Diego State quarterback, Kevin O'Connell, in the 2008 NFL Draft. Before the injury to Tom Brady, Matt Cassel was not in the plans for 2009 when he would be looking at free agency. (2) Finishing 11-5 with a quarterback who had very little NFL experience at the start of the season, has given Bill some confidence in life after Tom, I doubt he doesn't think he can duplicate his efforts with O'Connell. (3) The Patriots defense was exposed in 2008, with the draft picks that a trade including Cassel would bring; New England would be able to instantly address their long in the tooth defense. Finally, if your looking for a landing spot for Cassel, of course Minnesota would be ideal, a running game with above average receivers intact. With Brad Childress dying for a viable quarterback, I wouldn't be shocked if the Vikings gave up nothing short of a King's Ransom for young confident signal caller. Don't be shocked if the Patriots go into a second straight season with an inexperienced quarterback under center.

Kurt Warner or Matt Leinart For a time in 2008, Kurt Warner was a viable MVP candidate. Now that he has marched the Cardinals all the way to the Super Bowl, I ask you: What more are you attempting with him under center? If Warner wants, he'll easily be able to latch on to a team looking for a veteran quarterback, and they'll be willing to pay him top dollar. Why should the Cardinals? Right now, Arizona is dedicating $14 million dollars to two quarterbacks. Judging by their rushing attack in the regular season, they have more glaring needs. Warner is 37 years old, Leinart is 25. If the Cardinals are going to ever hand the keys over to the third year quarterback from USC, the time is now. The franchise could never be hotter, the entire team including Larry Fitzgerald has never played with as much confidence, and by handing the keys over to Matt Leinart now, you get a clearer picture on whether or not he is your guy for the future. By resigning Kurt Warner, who is going to demand close to what he is making now, your still on the hook for another $14 million in 2009 to the both to of them, delaying your Leinart decision another year. I can't stress how much of a good soldier Leinart has been, he must have been able to pick up on the struggles Warner went through to get to the NFL, and I'm sure he is awaiting his opportunity. With Steve Breaston, Larry Fitzgerald, and even Tim Hightower, Leinart will have some weapons to work with. Then Kurt Warner can look toward either retirement, knowing he has nothing left to accomplish and await his seat in Canton, or he could sign on with a team like Tampa, who could look to make a quarterback change or even Minnesota, a dome team with Kurt Warner, I think we've seen what that leads to by now.

Kerry Collins or Vince Young I don't think Vince Young is the answer, I'm not sure the Titans do either. Luckily, the Titans have a back up plan in place. Phil's kid, Chris Simms. Vince Young, like Matt Leinart, got outplayed for his starting position, sure an injury finally did him in, but in 2008 it was clear that Kerry Collins could lead the Titans further than Young would have. Vince hasn't been .able to enjoy the fortunes of Chris Johnson, the rookie out of East Carolina who rushed for 1,200 yards and scored 9 touchdowns. Johnson could do two things for Young's career, the rushing attack allows Vince to develop rather than have to go out and win games, like Matt Ryan was able to do this year. Secondly, it forces defense to respect the run and give his receivers one-on-one coverage, giving Young another opportunity to make some plays. All Kerry Collins had to do this season was complete 14-20 passes a game, keep the ball out of harms way, and let the defense set up some great field position. He would be entering his 15th season by the start of the 2009 season, cut him loose, and hand it over to Vince now, before his confidence is wounded anymore. I don't know how much money Collins could demand as a free agent, but I bet the Patriots, Cowboys, and the Jets could use a veteran back up who could step in at any time.

Matt Hasselbeck The oft-injured, 33-year old Seahawk, isn't Kurt Warner or Kerry Collins, he's got it left in the tank. With an above average running game and 1 or 2 targets, the nearly 4,000 yard passer in 2007, should be back. With a new head coach in line, Jim Mora, not the "Playoffs!?!?!" Jim Mora, his kid, I've got one thing to say, KEEP HASSELBECK. If your looking for a quarterback out there because you don't believe in Seneca Wallace, draft one in the late rounds, but by all means KEEP HASSELBECK. Here's a guy who has gone over the 3,000 yard milestone five times with Mike Holmgren, and ask yourself, who was catching the ball?!?!?! Koren Robinson? Sure, they had the years with Shaun Alexander, but running backs are a dime a dozen in the NFL. If you do as I told you to several weeks back, and draft Texas Tech Red Raider, Michael Crabtree, you instantly improve your pass offense. A healthy Hasselbeck, and who knows what you could have on offense. But if you decide to move in a different direction, perhaps defense, with Mora Jr. being a defensive guy, then you'll have many people looking at Hasselbeck. All offering to give up more than you'd think.

Mark Sanchez or Matt Stafford Why do we have to discuss two quarterbacks who haven't taken a snap in the NFL? Because between offensive rookie of the year, Matt Ryan, and Raven stud quarterback, Joe Flacco, the first year qb's picked up a combined 22 wins. Your probably right though, what are the odds that these two guys, Stafford and Sanchez, can duplicate their predecessors success? Both quarterbacks were standouts on top notch collegiate football programs, Sanchez at the almighty USC, and Stafford with the Georgia Bulldogs. When Matt Ryan came from oft-disrespected Boston College, and Joe Flacco from division I-AA, Delaware. Sanchez did not get the blessing from head coach Pete Carroll, who made it very public that he did not think Sanchez was pro ready. As for Stafford, while reaching his career high in passing yards (3,459) he threw the same amount of interceptions as he had the season before and was sacked two more times, holding on to the ball is not an option in The League. In my opinion, neither of these quarterbacks are worthy of a top ten selection and the dollars that come with it. Mark Sanchez and Matt Stafford aren't as much of a finished product as Ryan was, and neither show the same physical skills as Joe Flacco did. With Detroit being the only team in need of a signal caller in the top ten, it's possible they could pass as well, having the Cowboys pick later in the first round. Buyer be FULLY AWARE, stay away from Sanchez and Stafford as of right now.


Donovan F. McNabb The pride of Philly, when he wants to be. From the moment Philly fans booed him on draft day, McNabb has never won over their respect. Now 1-4 in the NFC championship games, McNabb is quickly becoming the Jim Kelly of this century. What Philadelphia is, is Donovan McNabb, what they aren't, is a team with a coach that can put them over the top. McNabb has been given one actual threat, T.O. in his prime, since then he's had to rely on Brian Westbrook, and its no wonder that when Westbrook goes down, McNabb is left holding an unloaded gun. Just like Gruden lost his job in Tampa, Reid's job in Philly has to be on the line, if it isn't, Donovan's won't be either. Fire Reid, send Donovan to a team with some weapons, like Adrian Peterson.

Round and round we go, as the quarterbacks spin on the carousel.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fitting Conclusion

On Monday morning we are left with a fitting conclusion; The season which included a playoff without the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, and Brett Favre, will continue with the Arizona Cardinals playing in their franchises first Super Bowl. Unfortunately for them, they'll be playing the Steel City Steelers, going for their record setting 6th Super Bowl victory.

The working mans city, against the retired city. The never been there franchise, against the frequently been there franchise. Pittsburgh v. Arizona seems odd at first glance. Then again both quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner have been to this rodeo before. Both head coaches raised this trophy before. Come February 1st, the Steelers and Cardinals will clash in Tampa Bay for Super Bowl XLIII and I'm going to get you prepared with five questions that need to be answered before the coin toss.

5. With what the playoffs have showed us, Where does Cardinals receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, rank among NFL wideouts? There's Larry Fitzgerald, and then everybody else. He can leap tall buildings, or 6'2" corners. He can stop a speeding bullet, or snag every over thrown ball from Kurt Warner. More powerful than a locomotive, or has better control over his body than Andre or Chad Johnson. So Larry Fitz may not be Superman, but over the past three weeks, the boy has gone out and for all intensive purposes, tortured NFL secondaries. Saving his best performance for the NFC Championship and possibly the NFC's best secondary they had to offer. In three weeks Fitzgerald has caught 23 balls for a total of 419 yards and five touchdowns. Bare in mind, Fitzgerald is the only receiver to catch three touchdown passes in the first half of an NFC Championship round game. In just his fifth NFL season, Larry Fitzgerald at the age of 25, has finally got the opportunity to show the world what his talents consist of on a national stage and show the world is what he did. Not Randy Moss, Steve Smith, or stud Houston Texan receiver, Andre Johnson, have been able to do what the 6'3", 220 lb. Larry Fitzgerald has just completed. Fitzgerald has an inch or more on every Steeler corner, take this as your official warning, Ike Taylor, DeShea Townsend, and William Gay, on February 1st, be prepared.

4. Kurt Warner is headed to his 3rd Super Bowl and Ben Roethlisberger his second, which quarterback has the edge? Warner has punched his ticket to Canton with this postseason performance. So when they get to Tampa, it is no doubt that the veteran Warner, has a leg up. Against a phenomenal Philly secondary, Kurt Warner went 21 of 28 for 279 yards passing, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. See what I'm getting at? If any quarterback knows how to use all his weapons, it's the guy who made his name as the general of the "Greatest Show On Turf." During the last three weeks, Kurt Warner has been a model of consistency. Completing 19+ passes in each of the games, throwing in excess of 220 yards every time out, and a passer rating above 90%, you guessed it, every game. Each start, Warner has completed passes to 8 different receivers, defining the term "spreading the ball out." I'd also like to add that Mr. Warner doesn't feel he is done yet, while Big Ben has been anointed as the next Terry Bradshaw in the Steel City, Warner is playing for a contract in the '09-'10 season. If he is looking to retire, I'm sure going out on top would be a priority to him. With the game and the NFC Championship on the line, down 24-25, Kurt Warner heads out on the field and drives the Arizona Cardinal offense 14 plays for 72 yards eating up seven minutes and fifty-two seconds on the game clock and then caps it off with a touchdown and two-point conversion to take a 32-25 lead. BALLGAME. No can stacking talk here, Kurt Warner is making history.

3. The Super Bowl is outdoors at Raymond James, Doesn't this benefit Pittsburgh? No doubt about it. I'm different from most fans, I want a rainy Florida day, I want it mud filled and nasty. I'm guessing so do the Steelers and their legions. The best way to take away the passing attack led by Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald, make it so they can't pass. The last time I recall Arizona playing in the crap weather, they got throttled at the hands of the Patriots, 47-7. However, if weather isn't a factor, the Pittsburgh defense will take care of that. Ranked #1 in defense against the pass, the Steelers allowed just twelve passing touchdowns all season long and only 156.9 yards passing per game. They picked the ball off twenty times, good for sixth among the NFL leaders, led by none other than All-Pro safety, Troy Polamalu. In ten regular season games, the Steeler defense allowed 14 or less en route to a 12-4 regular season finish. If your banking on Kurt Warner throwing for 300 yards against this defense, be prepared to write a few checks. While Warner will provide a difficult task for the Steeler secondary, they are up to the challenge, and if it's raining, problems will develop for the Cardinals, very early.

2. How much of an impact will the Anquan Boldin sideline tirade have on the Cardinals? Hopefully it deters talking heads from reverting back to Warners days with the Rams and about how he loves god and stacking cans at the local A&P, but I doubt it. This story has some legs, but it's Super Bowl week, the story about which player is out partying till 3 AM will have alot more. Boldin is about to get laid off at seasons end, he's the #2 receiver on a team with the NFL's #1. With the play of #3 wide out, Steve Breaston, Boldin has become situational on the Cardinals, while he is still very good, I don't find Ken Whisenhunt to be the type to put up with crap from a guy who has three or four touches a game. He's crazy to think that the Cardinals are going to go out and pay top dollar to retain his services, you don't invest money into that many guys who catch the ball, especially when an upgrade on the offensive line should be made. Anquan choosing not to celebrate with his teammates will filter through the locker room, the coaches losing respect for him will definitely make an impact, and the fact that Kurt Warner and Larry Fitz are more locked in than ever, means dooms day for Boldin. When your team is driving down the field trying to win the game and they call for Steve Breaston to be running routes over you, clearly they have issue with your game. No one will look worse here than Anquan, and it won't effect a team that has other options, better options.

1. Now that both Steeler head coach, Mike Tomlin, and Cardinal head coach, Ken Whisenhut are in the Super Bowl, who was the better coach for that Steeler job, post Bill Cowher? I like Ken Whisenhut, but any guy who can moonlight on FOX's House and coach the Steelers, is aces in my book. Upon Cowher's retirement in Pittsburgh, I thought there would never be a coach who fit their city like Cowher to Steeler Country. However, when Mike Tomlin runs out of the tunnel in that black bubble jacket, I'm proved wrong. Mike Tomlin is a defensive guy, the Pittsburgh Steelers are a defensive team. Ever since I was a little kid the Steelers did two things, play defense and rush the ball. With Defensive MVP, James Harrison heading up their defense and Willie Parker back healthy and rushing the ball, the Steelers live up to their form. Mike Tomlin knows what the Steelers are built to do and he doesn't try to do anything different than that, exactly why he fits this club. When you watch Whisenhunt's offense throw the ball 30 times a game, when you see them nail a flea-flicker from Arrington back to Warner and end up in the Fitzgeralds hands, that is who Arizona is. When you see the Steelers maintain possession for 14 minutes and 43 seconds of the third quarter in their divisional round victory over San Diego, you know that is the Pittsburgh Steelers. From Chuck Noll, to Bill Cowher, to Mike Tomlin, the Steelers are exactly who you think they are.

Check back all week, were going to start position by position to see who the winner of this Super Bowl will be: LynchyRightNow.Com

Friday, January 16, 2009

Conference Championship Picks

Despite going 0-4 in the Divisional Round, I'm still picking winners for the Conference Championships. If your looking to make some money this weekend, I'm 2-6 so far in the playoffs. Safe to say, I pick losers pretty well.

To the picks . .

NFC Championship: Philadelphia Eagles @ Arizona Cardinals Both St. Louis quarterback, Kurt Warner, and Philadelphia quarterback, Donovan McNabb, have been to the Super Bowl. Only Warner knows what it is like to win one. I'm still skeptical that the Eagles have enough fire power to beat the Cardinals at their place. In two-straight wins, the Cardinals and Kurt Warner have hung 30+ on both of their playoff opponents. Brian Westbrook at 75% may not be enough for the Eagles to do significant scoring on Arizona. Here's the kicker, for four quarters at University of Phoenix Stadium, the Atlanta Falcons were unable to hear Matt Ryan's cadence. The Falcon tackles were whipped off the edge and Matt Ryan had little to no time to throw the ball. Judging by what the Cardinals were able to do stopping both De'Angelo Williams and Michael Turner in back-to-back weeks, the Eagles will be forced to throw the ball to win. With that said, I don't trust Donovan McNabb and an injured Brian Westbrook to go out and take the NFC Championship. The Cardinals fans got up for their first playoff game in 100 years, now they get to see their team book a trip to Tampa Bay and the Super Bowl, my guess is they'll be slightly more excited. 6-2 in Arizona during the regular season, 1-0 in the postseason, I think they have locked up some form of home field advantage. Expect All-World wideout Larry Fitzgerald, to impact this game in a big way. Arizona 24 Philadelphia 13

*Because of the 0-4 showcase last weekend, my version of the sports gal is determined to give the readers a little help. Her pick: Philadelphia 30 Arizona 24

AFC Championship: Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers It's pretty difficult to beat a team three times in one season. Their first game in Pittsburgh, the Ravens were topped 23-20 in overtime. Eleven weeks after that, the Ravens were once again beat, 13-9. Can the Steelers complete the sweep, and beat the division rival Ravens for a third straight time in the 2008-2009 season? The veteran, hard hitting Raven defense led by Ed Reed hasn't had a week off since September 14th. The Steelers got to rest for 14 days before playing their first playoff game, and it showed when running back Willie Parker rushed for 146 yards over San Diego last weekend. The Steelers are going to work with a Super Bowl winning quarterback, a reigning defensive MVP, playing on their home turf. The Ravens are headed to Pittsburgh after playing two straight weeks on the road in Miami and then in Tennessee. They have a rookie quarterback under center, who is just 20 for 55 passing and is averaging just 148 yards through the air in the postseason. These playoffs have featured an 8-0 home team losing to a 0-5 east coast road team, two top seeded teams losing at their own place, and a team who just five weeks ago didn't know the rules of overtime ending up in the Conference Championship. This is where the unexpected stops: Pittsburgh 23 Baltimore 13

*Katelyn's pick: Pittsburgh 20 Baltimore 10 Every couple agrees on somethings, sometimes.

Keep It Real Boys!

The Super Bowl is on it's way, and after championship weekend we'll know whose in. As for today, you've got KEEP IT REAL FRIDAY! Eagles and Cardinals, Pacman Jones, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and why Sam Bradford spurned the Detroit Lions . . .

"They are, what we didn't think they were" The Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles are in the NFC Championship; If you had bet me that a month ago, I would have laughed at you all the way to the bank. Explain to me how the Arizona Cardinals who can't win a road game to save their lives and have about .5 impressive victories on the season, go in and win two straight playoff games, and look GREAT doing it? The Philadelphia Eagles on the other hand, oh no, wait a minute now, isn't this the same team that actually tied a game against the Bengals? Then followed that performance up with a 36-7 beat down at the hands of the Ravens just a week later? One of these two low-performing regular season teams is going to get a shot at the Lombardi Trophy. I'd guess the Cardinals were going to go out, rush the ball to open the game up, then take shots at their all-world wideout, Larry Fitzgerald. Their defense would play stingy like they did the last two games and head to Tampa. Then again I thought that Matt Ryan would rack up a playoff win against Arizona, that didn't happen. Maybe the Panthers would go for close to 300 yards rushing against a soft defense and topple the Cardinals, that didn't happen. We thought Adrian Peterson would rush for 100+ against the Eagles and give the Viking faithful a wonderful playoff win, that didn't happen. We thought the Giants would come out and put 35 on the board against whoever they opened up the playoffs with, asserting themselves as top dogs, and that didn't happen. The reality of the 2008 playoffs is, we have no idea what is going to happen. KEEP IT REAL! The Cardinals might be able to win this thing.

The Major League Baseball Hall Of Fame voting is a joke. Yea, yea, yea, so the writers finally voted in Jim Rice, after making the poor guy wait 15 years and become the poster boy for sympathy among baseball fans. I've never heard of guys whose job could be less important making it seem more important in their own eyes, never. What does a player have to do to be a unanimous first ballot Hall of Famer? This summer, standing next to Jim Rice, will be none other than Rickey Henderson. The most dominant lead off hitter in the history of major league baseball. The games all-time leader in stolen bases and runs scored, but somehow only received 94.8% of the vote from the writers association. Explain to me what that other 5.2% was thinking? Rickey needed to do more? Did he need to do more when he stole 130 stolen bases in a single season? Just like those 8 voters who didn't believe the immortal Cal Ripken Jr. was hall worthy in 2007, they don't believe Henderson is this year. What possibly do these ball players have to do to impress a bunch of guys who don't play the game, THEY WATCH IT! They screw Jim Rice for the past fourteen years, they are in the midst of screwing Bert Blyleven, that's how they shut you out. When you deserve to get in and they can't deny you, they'll be damned if they all agree on putting you in. Your job is to write, to watch a sport, and somehow you make it your job to hold the games highest honor over former players heads. Keep It Real, your job isn't that important!

Just say it Sam, you don't want any part of being a Detroit Lion. Call me bitter, I am. Sam Bradford opts to stay in school; The same day that I release my first 2009 NFL Mock Draft, which includes the Lions taking none other than Bradford, #1 overall. Sam may have dreamt of being a Sooner for his whole life, but after three straight Big XII championships, a Heisman Trophy under his arm, and a trip to the BCS National Championship game, it was time to come out, not head back to Norman. The reason he's headed back to college has nothing to do with graduating from school, winning yet another conference championship, or pulling an Archie Griffin. Nope, Sam Bradford is passing up guaranteed millions to avoid wearing the silver and blue of the Detroit Lions, and I can't blame him for that. He's pro ready and one year at Oklahoma isn't going to show us anything new. Think about it though, he ate up all the Big XII defenses had to offer, barely ever got sacked, and was the toast of the Mid-West. Yet somehow we thought if given the option between that and getting sacked five times a game on a 2 or 3 win pro team was worth it? Like Eli Manning not wanting any part of playing in San Diego, and John Elway before him not wanting any part of the Baltimore Colts, Sam Bradford wanted no part of the Detroit Lions. KEEP IT REAL!

So long, Pacman. The thing is, I'm not giving alot of respect to Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys for cutting the embattled, Pacman Jones. The reality of the situation is, they are a day late and a dollar short. Pacman doesn't need another team to take a shot on him, he needs to keep his nose clean and not to play football, but to live past the age of 30. Ordering hits, hanging out with known murderers, and staying out at strip clubs till all hours. This is what Pacman was doing while he was suspended from the NFL for an entire season. It doesn't matter if Jones has reformed, it doesn't matter if he has been going to AA meetings, the man doesn't deserve to make millions of dollars and play in the NFL. He just doesn't. Retire early at the age of 35, do some analyst work, sit on your millions, Pacman doesn't deserve to do any of that. Maybe now, after the only owner in the NFL risky enough to take a shot on Pacman, (no pun intended), has canceled his contract, maybe now Pacman will learn to live life like the rest of, by the laws. THAT is Keeping It Real!

. . . tommorow morning we'll release the picks for Championship Weekend!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Lions Select . . .

With an 0-16 record in the 2008 regular season, the Detroit Lions hold the #1 pick, in the 2009 NFL Draft. The Lions loyal fans, or what is left of them, are crossing their fingers and have just one sentiment: Please, do not draft Texas Tech All-World receiver, Michael Crabtree.

The team that has drafted the worst over the last decade, finally has the number one spot, and in my mind the best player in the draft is yet again, a wide receiver. Over the past seven drafts, no team has drafted close to as bad as the Lions have. Seven top ten picks, four of them were receivers, one flop quarterback, one offensive tackle, and one undersized linebacker. In 2009, only three of those seven former draft picks, remain with the Lions. The choices the Lions have made, make the choices Pacman's made, look good.

Were going to give them a little assistance this year. In their defense, they've fired Matt Millen, five years overdue, but he's gone. Quick Hit: When the unemployed auto-workers of Detroit are spending more time organizing a "Fire Matt Millen" parade than they are turning out Ford F-150's, we've got a problem. I'm just going to hark back on that four receivers in the first round stuff, how uninvolved is ownership when no one steps in after the first two receivers are picked in the first round? No one is saying, "Hey, do you think it's time we select a capable quarterback to throw them the ball?" Disgraceful. If it were up to me, Ford would be the only auto-company not getting a bailout, fix your football team, then we'll see about that $350 billion to fix things. (as I get in my Toyota Camry)

Without further adieu . . Mock It Up! Top 5

1. Detroit Lions: Sam Bradford QB, Oklahoma Drafting quarterbacks #1 is always risky. For every Eli, Peyton, and Carson, there is a JaMarcus Russell, Alex Smith, and Tim Couch. You have to be sure he is a winner, you have to be sure he is physically NFL ready, and you better make sure he can read a playbook three times the size of the one he had in college. With that said, Georgia QB, Matt Stafford isn't your guy. He's got a big arm, like JaMarcus Russell, his team underperformed, probably because of hype, but even still, the Capital One bowl isn't acceptable for a team expected to play in the big dance. With Sam Bradford, here's a guy you know can throw the pigskin. He's a Heisman Memorial Trophy Winner, like Palmer, he can spread the ball out, and with a wideout like Calvin Johnson, Bradford would have an instant target. My question is still, what has Matt Stafford done for you? You don't have the personnel or the trading chips like Parcells had when he took over in Miami, so you can't afford to grab a tackle #1, it just doesn't fit. Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan have both excited GM's and disappointing teams, they now believe there is a chance they will be in the hunt in 2009, but slow down Detroit, that ain't you. Sam Bradford is two pounds lighter than Ryan and the same height. He's been threw a playbook of Bob Stoops, that is very similar to a pro style spread em' out offense, this isn't a guy playing with Knowshon Moreno in the backfield. The Lions have the Cowboys first round draft pick, they can make an impact with two picks, similar to what the Falcons did drafting Sam Baker later in the first round in 2008, and drafting Matt Ryan in the top three. I'm taking the guy who has proved he can play elite college football, rather than the guy who may have potential to be an established pro quarterback.

2. St. Louis Rams: Andre Smith OT, Alabama No brainer. We didn't get to see him play in the Sugar Bowl, but come to find out, his absence is what solidifies him being the #2 pick, maybe even the #1. With Smith on the shelf due to a rumored NCAA rules violation, the Crimson Tide and John Parker Wilson gave up the most sacks they had all season, eight. While All-American caliber back, Glen Coffee, had his lowest rushing total of the season, 38 yards, and led a rushing attack that averaged just 0.9 per carry, their fewest of the season. All due respect to the Utah and their undefeated season, but 'Bama was playing without a very, very, special player, and it showed. The team selecting Smith, would be the same team that was smart enough to take Orlando Pace twelve years ago as the #1 overall, Smith would be the heir apparent to Pace, a future hall of famer. The 6'4", 340 lb. offensive tackle is big and physical, like Jake Long in 2008, and Joe Thomas in 2007, Andre Smith is your #1 tackle available in this draft. The move also protects what is left of Marc Bulger and will rejuvenate Stephen Jackson, who is still one of the leagues premier backs.

3. Kansas City Chiefs Aaron Curry LB, Wake Forest On Tuesday morning, this pick just got a whole lot more interesting. One of the architects largely responsible for the dynasty that is the New England Patriots, vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli, is signed on with the Kansas City Chiefs. The man who found Tom Brady and Matt Cassel in the bottom barrels of the NFl draft, will not be taking a quarterback with the #3 pick. Oh no, not with a defense that was ranked 31st in the NFL in total yards allowed per game. Not with a defense led by 35-year old linebacker, Donnie Edwards. Considering what he just witnessed in New England with a defense led by old, long in the tooth, veteran linebackers in 2008. He's got a 25-year old quarterback in Brodie Croyle, who when healthy, has looked good. You fans waiting for a guy like Matt Stafford or Sam Bradford, don't hold your breath. Curry is a phenomenal athlete and pro scouts love him. Voting him for the 2008 Butkus Award, given to the nations best collegiate linebacker, proves that. He's a good fit for the 3-4 defense, and I'm sure Pioli is well aware of what Aaron Curry brings to the table. This pick will be attached with the most rumours, just like picks have been in New England for the past decade. Given the success the Patriots had with rookie linebacker, Jerrod Mayo (defensive ROY), I'm confident Pioli would love a player like Curry, that is if he can't move the pick. Veteran Kansas City Chief TE, Tony Gonzalez, has already said he wants nothing to do with a rebuilding, and he is coming a career year in which he caught 96 balls for over 1,000 yards, the Chiefs may have some moves they can make.

4. Seattle Seahawks Michael Crabtree WR, Texas Tech Jim Mora Jr. era begins in Seattle. Will Matt Hasselbeck be back in 2009, and 2010? Either way, the Seahawks are in desperate need of an offensive playmaker. The only freshman to ever win the Biletnikoff Award for the nations top receiver, became the only two-time winner of that same award this past season. Michael Crabtree is, a playmaker. The two time All-American had by far the best freshman and sophomore years of any receiver in college football history. In his short time at Texas Tech he's amassed 3,127 yards and 41 touchdowns. 14, 100+ yard receiving games, including two games over 200 yards. Do you need more? He's had 231 career grabs at Texas Tech, in TWO YEARS I remind you. The 6'3" wideout will instantly improve the size and youth of the Seahawk receivers. Bobby Engram (36), Deion Branch (29), Koren Robinson (28) and Nate Burleson (27) are all smaller in height than the dominant Red Raider receiver. The 214 lb. receiver is all muscle, the same man who single handily stomped out the Texas Longhorns shot at a national championship can move with speed. Like I said in the lead, he's the best player in the entire draft. PERIOD.

5. Cleveland Browns Everette Brown DE/OLB, Florida State The Browns were only better against the run than three of four teams drafting ahead of them. The 28th ranked rush defense isn't winning you many games, and playing in a division with Pittsburgh and Baltimore, you better be able to stop the run. New head coach, Eric Mangini better attack that issue first. Brown is an outstanding pass rusher and has awesome speed off the edge, hence 13 sacks for the Seminoles in 2008. Alot of mock drafts have him dropping further in the draft, but I can't see the Browns staying in this spot and not drafting him, or Texas DE, Brian Orakpo. The idea that they would draft Ohio State CB, Malcolm Jenkins, is questionable at best, they have more urgent needs than him. In what time Brady Quinn was under center for the Browns their offense seemed to be able to move the ball, which makes correcting there defensive inabilities all that much more important. Mangini is going to have to find out what to do with Derek Anderson. Immediate need would be to draft a pass rusher who is quick enough seal off the outside to running backs. Again, the emerging play of both Baltimore and Pittsburgh makes everything more difficult as well. The Florida State defensive end added 20+ tackles for a loss this past season and has the ability to make big defensive stops. I like him more so than I do Orakpo.

If your curious why we are Mock Drafting in January, just look at the teams left in the NFL playoffs; What else are we going to do? Talk about the Cardinals? BAM!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Zero Wins, Four Losses

Some like to go undefeated, I on the other hand, choose to do it the Detroit Lion way. Winless. I thought Kerry Collins would turn back the time machine on us, wrong. I was certain the 0-5 on the East Coast, Arizona Cardinals, would get diced up by Carolina's rushing attack, wrong again. Woke up Sunday morning, for sure the defending champs would bring Donovan back to planet Earth, wrong. Finally, here was my pick to show you how smart I am, Phil Rivers would come out, dice up the Steeler secondary, and spite everyone in the NFL who didn't vote him to the Pro Bowl. Stunner, wrong again.

Now I admit, pinning my hopes on a Norv Turner coached team may not have been all that bright, in fact it was probably down right stupid. However, on the same weekend we watch Tom Coughlin, Jeff Fisher, and Jon Fox lose home playoff games after having 14 days off, anything could have happened.

Let's sign off on . . .

The Tennessee Titans whose 13-3 regular season record, meant jack come Saturday afternoon. The Titans, to be fair, outplayed the Baltimore Ravens. Tennessee rushed the ball for 116 yards, and held the Ravens to just 50 yards on 30 carries. Kerry Collins completed 25+ passes and finished just 19 yards shy of 300. While Raven rookie quarterback, Joe Flacco, completed just 11 passes for 161 yards. The Titans finished with 180 more total yards than the Baltimore Ravens. If we stopped there, what would you guess the score was? 34-17, maybe. Unfortunately for the Titans, they couldn't put the ball in the end zone against Ray Lewis and company. I watched Tennessee drive up and down the field for four quarters, they stretched out Ed Reed, who finished with just 4 tackles and 0 interceptions. Yet every time the Titans crossed the twenty, they panicked. LenDale White fumbled the ball inside the twenty, Kerry Collins threw an interception inside the twenty, and just as you thought the Titans would finish a drive off, tight end Alge Crumpler, caught a Collins pass then proceeded to get the ball knocked out of hands and the drive ended. In typical Raven fashion, one big play from Joe Flacco in the first quarter, a 48-yard bullet to Derrick Mason, would prove to be enough, oh and two timely Matt Stover field goals. No one remind first year Raven head coach, John Harbaugh, that we've already voted for coach of the year, and unfortunately it wasn't him. Maybe it should have been.

The Carolina Panthers Yes, I picked them to win this game, and they lost. May I remind you that when I published The Impact Five, I told you that Jake Delhomme would be very important in the postseason. On Saturday night, he showed you why he was so important. One touchdown and five interceptions later, you now see that in order for the Panthers to win, Jake Delhomme needs to not throw five completions to the other team. The vaunted Panther rushing attack put just 75 yards on the board while Arizona ran for 143 yards. This game was by far the most shocking off the weekend. For starters the Panthers were the NFL's only undefeated team at home this season, 8-0, and as I said in the lead off, the Cardinals were 0-5 when traveling to the East Coast this season. So yea, give me a break I didn't see an Arizona 33-13 tail kicking coming. More importantly I'd like to officially let Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, and Steve Smith know, they are no longer the NFL's best receivers, in case they didn't know already. The 6-3, wideout on Arizona, otherwise known as Larry Fitzgerald, is flat out the best. 14 catches for 267 yards in two playoff wins this postseason, Fitzgerald is solidifying himself as THE big game NFL wideout. The Cardinals played no defense, barely ran the ball, and couldn't win on the road in the regular season. The postseason however, has been a different story. The victory over Atlanta in the first round featured a defense which shut down All-Pro back, Michael Turner. Now the second round victory featured a win over an undefeated home team playing on the East Coast, something they couldn't do all season. I'm left to think that if Detroit was playing in the postseason, they might even have a win.

The New York Giants need to get bashed right now. Losing Plaxico Burress did hurt you, just come out and say it. He was way to much of a distraction and it knocked the Giants off their course. Eagles defensive coordinator, Jim Johnson, knew it would and it did. The first quarter of their loss to the Eagles featured a quarterback more frustrated by the wind than I've ever seen him. He couldn't hit open men, and when he did, his passes looked like wounded ducks. Eli couldn't connect for any big plays and turned the ball over in the worst possible spots. This loss goes on Eli, that's it. Their rushing game which was great all year long, hung 138, Eli's 15/29 with two picks couldn't win the game. What more can you say about the Eagles? This team was left for dead 6 weeks ago, and they should have been. They've won with their defense, point blank. Brian Dawkins making 10 tackles, 8 solo, he makes their defense tick. I'm not impressed with Donovan's performance, I'm never impressed with this guy. He still makes dumb calls, including the pretend call which resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike, and he goes just 22 of 40 with two interceptions. The same way this Eagles team beat Dallas, Minnesota, and now New York, is with their defense. Brian Westbrook's 46 all purpose yards doesn't do much. Eagle kicker, David "Green" Akers banged out three field goals. A first-quarter interception and 25-yard return from Asante Samuel, set up the Eagles within in the five yard line. The 2008 Eagles, no offense, no problem.

The San Diego Chargers allow me to introduce to you, a healthy Willie Parker. Now that you've seen what it is like when your All-Pro running back plays in big games (27 carries, 146 yards), here's a coach ticket back to San Diego on the first flight from Pittsburgh. Before I tout the Steelers, I want to officially take my hat off for Phil Rivers. The man is a baller, don't even say otherwise. At halftime, Steeler head coach, Mike Tomlin must have had one message, KEEP HIM ON THE SIDELINE. Rivers turned out another great game, 21 of 35 with 305 yards passing and 3 TD's. His performance down the stretch in 2008, 263 yards a game and 2 TD's on average over their final six games, including two playoff games, coupled with playing injured in the AFC championship against the Patriots at Foxboro last season, you can give him due now. I will carry the Phil Rivers flag from now on, and feel pretty comfortable doing it. When your watching super Brett throw interceptions in the Pro Bowl, remember the guy who got left off the roster. Unfortunately for Phil Rivers, the Steelers kept him on the sideline in the third quarter, and it won them the game. In the third quarter alone, the Steelers controlled the ball for 14 minutes and 43 seconds, leaving Phil just 17 seconds on offense. By the time he got another opportunity to bring his team back, they were already down by two scores. His 107 yards in the fourth quarter and two touchdowns weren't enough to bring them back. The Pittsburgh defense knows how to play at home, they control the ball and keep your offense on the sideline.

So my 2-6 record this postseason will keep me from going above .500 on the season, but we'll be back mid-week for the Conference Championship Preview. In the words of Mike Tomlin, "Ravens and Steelers, It would be big if it was a scrimmage. This is for the AFC Championship."

Friday, January 9, 2009

BAM! Keep It Real!

Keep It Real Friday is off with a bang this week. We're talking The Epicenter of Sports, the New York Yankees, and why Titans rookie running back, Chris Johnson, should stop talking out of his ***. Oh, and we'll diagnose the BCS for the 1,000,0000th time.

Breaking It Down Boston is on the brink, you know this:

The Red Sox came up short in their attempt for a third World Series title since 2004. They followed up that with a disappointing off season thus far, losing out on free-agent first baseman, Mark Teixeira, to the rival New York Yankees. Now they have taken out low-risk contracts on the likes of former Cy Young candidate, Brad Penney, former Tampa Bay outfielder, Rocco Baldelli, and future hall of famer, John Smoltz. Again, they aren't a mid-twenties power hitter entering the possible prime of his career.

After the Boston Celtics ripped off a 17th World Championship in 2008 and tore through the first several months of the season, they've dropped 6 of their last 8 games since losing to L.A. on Christmas Day, ending their previous 19-game winning streak. The likes of the Knicks, Bobcats, Warriors, and Trailblazers have all dropped the Celtics in the past two weeks. Now the obvious rumours you know about are that they will add hated NBA guard, Stephon Marbury. A team searching to get their swagger back is about to add a known cancer, perfect.

The New England Patriots had the worst injury in the league this season. All world quarterback, Tom Brady, done for 2008 and possibly his career. If it wasn't bad enough already, the Patriots win 11 games and miss the playoffs, just a year removed from their record setting 18-1 season. The Pats have gaping holes in their defense, are getting older in the tooth as the days go by, and because of the injury to Brady, are forced to put a franchise tag on their backup, Matt Cassel. That tag will force the Patriots to have two of the five highest paid quarterbacks in the league on one sideline. This is not the Pioli/Belichick way. For you Patriot fans out there, the Dolphins aren't getting worse.

Boston College football wins their division of the ACC for the second straight year, only to lose to Virginia Tech for the second straight year in the same title game. To add insult, they dropped their bowl game to a 6-6 Vanderbilt team, their first bowl loss in 9 years. Then, just this past week their head coach of only two years determines that a job as an NFL coordinator, because you know the Jets aren't hiring him, is better than his job as the head coach of the Boston College Eagles. Jagodzinski, OUT.

Boston College hoops beats the #1 team in the country, at their place. They knocked off North Carolina on Sunday night and then just two days later get beat by Harvard, yes, that Harvard. Not only did Harvard beat them, they beat them at Boston College, the only victory Harvard ever had against a ranked opponent, EVER!

I guess there is a price to pay for three super bowls, two world series trophies, the reigning baseball MVP, an NBA championship, and a partridge and a pear tree. KEEP IT REAL, the epicenter of the sports universe is struggling.

The Yankees have gone out and paid top dollar for the top free agents. I'll remind you Manny Ramirez remains unsigned. By adding Teixeira, Sabathia, and Burnett, you could be looking at the American League champs, well I'm not going that far, but you get my point. I just want everyone to understand one thing, they have a smaller payroll for the coming season, than they did last season. They outspent the Red Sox not because they have more money, but because they truly believe it is the way to get back into the contending picture. The Red Sox, under no circumstances, had to go out this season and spend that kind of money, they really didn't. They have their C.C. Sabathia, his name is Josh Beckett, they have their A.J. Burnett, his name is John Smoltz/Brad Penney, and of course they do have a first baseman who got more MVP votes than the one the Yanks just paid top dollar for, his name is Kevin Youkilis. Yes, it would have been nice to add Tex, but it didn't happen, move along and as always, Keep It Real!

Titans rookie running back, Chris Johnson claims that he, and not Matt Ryan, should be the NFL offensive rookie of the year. He calls the voting "bogus", and implies that if his peers voted for the award, he would have easily won it. Somehow, being the only rookie selected to the Pro Bowl gives him the right to call himself the rookie of the year. Chris Johnson, shut up. For starters, if it wasn't Matt Ryan, it should have been Joe Flacco. The reason I take such issue with Johnson is because he doesn't even find out what the other rookies this season have done. He's succeeded in a run first, pass second offense. An offense which was carried by the defense for the majority of the season, and an offense which he wasn't the only feature back. Johnson was the 8th leading rusher in his rookie season, it's respectable, but look at who was ahead of him, playing the same position as him. Chicago Bears rookie, Matt Forte, who rushed for more yards on an offense that has struggled for years since the trading of Thomas Jones, a pro bowl starter. Steve Slaton, a fellow AFC baller, who like Forte, racked up more yards than Chris Johnson, and plays on a team that needs to get the ball in the hands of their best player, Andre Johnson. Yet neither of them are Pro Bowl backs yet right? Chris Johnson plays in a conference which isn't heavy at the running back position, Matt Forte is playing in a conference with Michael Turner, Steven Jackson, Adrian Peterson, Clinton Portis, and DeAngelo Williams. Then you want to poll the players to see if Matt Ryan would still win rookie of the year? Go ahead, and I guarantee he'd win. Ryan stepped into the hardest position on the field, with the most to learn, the most difficult transition for a rookie, and his team got in the playoffs. You played the position which is widely known as the easiest to adapt to. Keep It Real Chris! Your a great player, but an idiot.

So the Florida Gators are National Champions, and you'll get no real argument from me. I think that they played a hell of a season, and never once doubted they wouldn't beat Oklahoma in the title game. However, to the fans and players of Utah, KEEP IT REAL! Congrats, you beat an Alabama team playing without their Outland Trophy winning offensive tackle. It's impressive, finishing your season without a blemish is equally impressive. But the truth couldn't have been said better when my buddy Joe said it:

"I wouldn't make Utah #1, they wouldn't even get a piece of the title. On Friday morning after all was said and done, if you put Utah against USC, Florida, Oklahoma, or Texas, they'd be a double-digit dog, and you know that."

Your not beating Tim Tebow and the Gators, it wouldn't happen. Maybe you'd knock off one of these Big 12 teams, but I doubt it. In no way, shape, or form are you beating the Trojans of Southern California, they are too fast, too strong, and too deep. KEEP IT REAL! Be happy with your top five ranking.

As Always, KEEP IT REAL!