Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 8

Last Week: 8 - 6
On The Season: 52 - 47 - 4

The Picks Are Out!

1:00 PM Kickoff

Jacksonville @ Dallas The Cowboys are done. For the Romo-haters, your about to see just how much this offense needed him. Under backup quarterback Jon Kitna, the Cowboy offense is going to have to pump the brakes on a high-powered passing game. A much-less mobile Jon Kitna playing behind a beat up offensive line is doomsday for Cowboy fans. The 1-5 Cowboys aren't beating anyone, much less by six and a half points. Jaguars +6.5

Washington @ Detroit Despite their performance against Jay Cutler a week ago, the Redskins secondary is the leagues second worst in passing yards allowed per game. The Lions passing offense under backup Shaun Hill, they're the 7the best in the league. With starting quarterback Matt Stafford and running back Jahvid Best returning from injury this week, the Lions offense will attempt to get back on track after a bye week. The Redskins don't show up for games they SHOULD win. Lions -2.5

Miami @ Cincinnati Losses like the hack job the Dolphins took last week, those hang with a team. The Bengals on the other hand, they define the term pressing for a win. After three straight losses, against non-playoff teams from a year ago, the Bengals need to bounce back before their division gets away from them. Palmer and the passing game continue to put up some points. Not enough to beat Miami. Dolphins +1.5

Buffalo @ Kansas City The Chiefs have played great this season, especially at home. In three games at home, Kansas City is 3-0 while outscoring opponents 94-44. Their top ranked rushing game has not one, but two running backs closing in on 500 yards before the mid-point of the season. Behind running backs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, they're going to run all over Buffalo this weekend, a Bills defense that allows a league worst 173 yards per game on the ground. Chiefs -7.5

Carolina @ St. Louis I've been on this Rams team since week 2. Not a late-game loss at Tampa Bay, not playing a Carolina team coming off their first win, neither is going to phase me. Sam Bradford is the perfect quarterback to compliment running back Steven Jackson. Defenses have to stay honest, can't load up the box, and more importantly, he doesn't make mistakes. Steven Jackson is on pace for his best season since 2006 and his fourth consecutive 100-yard game. Rams -3

Denver @ San Francisco The NFL's trip to London, showcasing two teams with a combined 3-11 record. The slight twist in this story, Alex Smith out due to injury, David Carr designated in the depth chart, and former Raven quarterback / Heisman winner Troy Smith back under center. After getting throttled by the Raiders last week in one of the most embarrassing losses in recent memory, the Broncos need a trip out of the country more than ever. Three of four division games upon returning to The States, the Broncos better take this opportunity to turn things around in London. 49ers -1

Green Bay @ New York (Jets) Not many Packers are confident about this season. They haven't put it together for four quarters this season. The 4-3 Packers are still in the driver's seat, given how bad the rest of the division has played, three wins combined between the Lions and Vikings. The Jets are coming off a bye week and have ever intention on winning their division and going further. That being said, the Packer defense is solid. In each game this season they've get to give up more than 26 points. Expect a defense battle between these two teams. Packers +6

4:00 PM Kickoff

Tennessee @ San Diego The Chargers offense came on strong last week toward the end of the Patriot game, narrowly coming back to win. The league's top ranked passing offense, the leagues top ranked against the pass defense, and still they're only 2-5. Can the Titans win their fourth straight against a team that has at times looked very good?!? Jeff Fisher is going to have to make a decision between Young and Collins in a couple weeks, and it's not an easy one. The Chargers are going to get back on track this week. Chargers -3.5

Tampa Bay @ Arizona The 4-2 Bucs have been a pretty big surprise. 2ND-Year quarterback Josh Freeman has played very well thus far, and especially well in their down the stretch victory over St. Louis last weekend. If Tampa is going to make any push toward the postseason, they're doing against all the teams they are supposed to beat. This week is just like those. The Cardinal offense isn't good, flat out. Tampa should come out with a victory. Buccaneers +3

Minnesota @ New England On Halloween, against Randy Moss' old team. The Vikings and Patriots are two teams going in opposite directions. New England is 5-1, they've put things back together and despite their offensive woes in San Diego, they've been good. The Vikes on the other hand have been terrible. Favre's investigation into mis-conduct is coming to a head this week, his injuries are taking a toll on his play on the field, and more so, the guy is just becoming a bigger distraction than he's worth. No line is out yet due to the question marks around wether Favre or Jackson will be under center. However, Patriots -6.5 or I'd go as high as -9.5

Seattle @ Oakland Darren McFadden tore up the Broncos last week in their own place, now a tougher test against a Seahawk defense that doesn't give up yards like that. I like the Raiders, strictly because Seattle hasn't played great on the road, and the Raiders are a team that plays with confidence and plays a tad wreckless. Expect Oakland to romp, again. Raiders -2.5

Sunday Night

Pittsburgh @ New Orleans The Steelers are a team that tends to get pass happy, with Roethlisberger now back under center. I still love the way they were playing handing the ball off to Rashard Mendenhall and then letting their defense take over. Escaping Miami with a win was good for the Steelers team that needed to be brought back down to Earth. Headed to New Orleans on a prime stage on Sunday night should be interesting for both teams. The Saints coming off their most embarrasing lost in a couple years, the Steelers looking to take control and put themselves in the Top Dog driver's seat. I think the Saints problems are bigger than a Super Bowl hangover. Steelers +1

Monday Night

Houston @ Indianapolis I love Peyton in these type of games. Against a team that already beat him, on the a Monday Night stage when everyones wanting to see if they're any good. The Texans are flawed, they've got some injuries on defense and their offense has been pretty banged up. The Colts defense is going to have to play defense against Arian Foster, he beat them up earlier this season and teams with a running attack give their smaller defense problems. This is going to be a close, especially if the Texans can bring this game to the Colts at their pace. Texans +6

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

3 Straight Weeks

For 3 straight weeks, number one has fallen. Alabama was devastated by South Carolina in a two touchdown loss on October 9th. Ohio State suffered a 31-18 loss at the hands of Wisconsin on October 16th. October 23rd, Oklahoma gets beat 27-36 by the still undefeated Missouri Tigers. Funny how that happens, isn't it?!? With the Oregon Ducks, the 55 points-per-game Oregon Ducks, expected to be the new number one traveling to Southern California this week, don't be stunned if the crown changes hands once more.

Seven (7) remaining unbeatens. Four (4) from power conferences, the PAC-10, Big XII, Big 10, and the SEC. Two (2) Mountain West heavyweights. Then there's Boise State.

Who will fall next!?!?

#5 Michigan State (8-0) The Spartans have the fortunate Big 10 schedule which doesn't include Ohio State. However, it does include two remaining road games in hostile environments. Next weekend Michigan State travels to Iowa, against a defense allowing just over 14 points-per-game. Then on Nov. 27th, with a possible bid to the Rose Bowl hanging in the balance (provided they remain undefeated), Michigan State will have to prove something at State College of Pennsylvania in Happy Valley. The Call: The Spartans don't get out of Iowa unbeaten. Their poor play early against Northwestern was a warning sign, Sparty's luck runs out next week.

#6 Missouri (7-0) Missouri did two major things on Saturday night. {1} Their 36-27 victory over Oklahoma, the programs first since 1998, makes them a legitimate contender in the Big XII. {2} They took the veil off the Sooners, a team massively overrated with a quarterback in need of a wake-up call.
The Missouri Tigers better put their huge win in the rear view quick. As Mizzou travels to Lincoln, Nebraska this week, things are about to get real interesting in the Big XII. The Cornhuskers rebounded from their loss to Texas a week ago to hang 50+ on Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The Call: Mizzou, meet Nebraska freshman QB, Taylor Martinez. Martinez just threw for five touchdown passes with 323 yards passing and ran for another 112 yards against OSU. Mizzou better get on the track shoes before getting on the plane to Lincoln. Nebraska 34 Mizzou 31.

#3 Boise State (6-0) Not too many teams have been down this road before. For two straight seasons Boise State has posted undefeated regular seasons. Why should this season be any different?!? The Broncos have only one remaining test on their schedule, in Nevada on November 26th. Can't sleep on Nevada, the 6-1 Wolf Pack have a monster rushing attack led by the nation's 6th leading rusher, Vai Taua. Taua has for 900+ yards over the first seven games and is averaging more than six yards per carry. Between Taua and quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Nevada can move the ball up and down the field on almost anyone. Unfortunately, Boise State's defense isn't almost anyone. The Broncos are the defense which held Oregon State's stud running back Jacquizz Rodgers to just 46 yards on 18 carries. The defense that held Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams to just 44 yards on 21 carries. The Call: If you've read anything I've written or tweeted over the past month one thing is for sure, Boise State isn't losing.

#8 Utah (7-0) Utah is getting absolutely no respect now, wait till they lose. The Mountain West powerhouse, in their last season in the conference, does boast some impressive victories. An opening win against Pittsburgh who was ranked #15 at the time and a 68-27 drumming of an Iowa State team that just knocked off Texas. 3rd In points-per-game, they're the only undefeated team with a 1-loss team placed ahead of them. Not much respect for a team that has scored 30 or more points in each of their last six games. Can Utah run the table?!? Maybe. Behind quarterback Jordan Wynn, Utah is not a team to be taken lightly. The Call: Any team with Andy Dalton and Texas Christian on their schedule better be ready. The Horned Frogs have National Championship on their minds and Utah is in their way.

#4 Texas Christian (8-0) About those Horned Frogs. In the month of October, TCU is 4-0 outscoring their opponents 141-10. They've allowed the fewest points-per-game amongst any team in college football. Their senior 4-year quarterback Andy Dalton is playing mistake free mature football. Dalton has passed for 1,600 yards and thrown just five interceptions compared to the 14 touchdown passes. TCU currently has rushed for the fourth most yards in the league led by running back Ed Wesley. Wesley ran for 209 yards this weekend against Air Force. Think they put fear in their opponents yet?!? The Call: For fans of TCU, they are where they are. For three weeks the #1 has lost and TCU stayed put in the polls. No one considers them better than Boise State, which leaves them exactly where they are. They'll remain unbeaten.

#2 Oregon (7-0) Watching Oregon put up sixty points on UCLA was jaw dropping scary. They can score from any place on the field, whenever, wherever. In four of their seven games, the Ducks have hung 50+ on their opponents. Oregon running back and resident Heisman contender LaMichael James, rips off over seven yards per carry. With a mind numbing offense and a defense that gives up just under 16 points per game, who's stopping them?!?! Road trips to So. Cal this weekend and the Civil War in Corvallis, Oregon to close out the regular season, the Ducks have a couple tests left. The Call: Only Stanford has come out and tested the Ducks. Down 31-24 at halftime, the Ducks would rebound to score 28 second half points and keeping The Cardinal out of the end zone throughout the remaining two quarters. I don't see this ACTUALLY coming true, Beavers stun Ducks on December 4th.

#1 Auburn (8-0) Our new #1. With a 24-17 victory over LSU, Heisman front runner Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers made a statement. They boast three victories over top 15 ranked teams, Arkansas, South Carolina, and now LSU. With all the accolades being reigned down on Cam Newton this week, the Tigers know their looming November 26Th match up with Alabama in Tuscaloosa is 'the game.' Not only will this game pit a most likely one-loss 'Bama team against an undefeated Auburn team, it will also decide the SEC West. Sending one team to the SEC Championship against most likely South Carolina, and sending the other to a non-BCS Bowl game. Think that's pressure enough for Cam Newton?!? The Call: This seems too good to be true for Auburn. The Crimson Tide were too good, too early, for this all to be lost after their play in Columbia. Auburn won't make it out alive.

The dream matchup is still at play. You don't want Boise State v. Alabama?!?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 7

Last Week: 7-6-1
On The Season: 44-41-4

1:00 Kickoff

Cincinnati @ Atlanta The Falcons may have been exposed in Philadelphia last week. After roughing up Arizona and then escaping struggling New Orleans, San Francisco, and Cleveland with close wins, Matt Ryan and the Falcons were throttled 31-17 in Philly. Their defense gave up well over 300 yards passing as Kevin Kolb completed 23 of 29 passes. While the Bengals haven't looked great (2-3), their passing offense has looked sharp at times and the Falcons will possibly be without corner back Dunta Robinson. Take the Bengals +3.5

Washington @ Chicago Here's what I think about Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz: As a Cowboys fan, I thought Jason Garrett's refusal to run the ball was frustrating, then you watch the Martz offense. A week after running back Matt Forte ripped off 166 yards on 22 carries at Carolina, Martz gives him the ball 8 times in a 23-20 home loss to Seattle. See a pattern?!?! I like to see running backs catching the ball out of the backfield too, but they're called running backs for an reason. Jay Cutler is a mess, 17 for 39?!? Take the Skins +3

St. Louis @ Tampa Bay As somebody who was ready to anoint Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco just two years ago, I've got to be impressed with Sam Bradford week in and week out. The Rams rookie quarterback is 3-3 with two losses by two points or less. With injuries at receiver, the Rams are still allowing the rookie quarterback to drop back and throw between 30 to 50 times a game. However, in the Rams win vs. San Diego last week they found the perfect dose of run and pass, watching running back Steven Jackson rush the ball twenty-nine times for just over 100 yards. How many more road dogs can I take?!? Rams +3

San Francisco @ Carolina The Jimmy Clausen era in Carolina has gone on hiatus for the winter. With quarterback Matt Moore resuming the starting role, the Panthers need to get off the mat this week. Receiver Steve Smith is coming back from injury and this 49ers team just isn't good. Just about the only place Carolina has played well this season is in the secondary. They've recorded 9 interceptions and allowed the 5th fewest yards in the passing game of any team in the league. For 'Niners quarterback Alex Smith, that's not a good thing. Smith is leading the league in interceptions thrown. Carolina +3

Buffalo @ Baltimore The Ravens have some convincing to do after their loss in New England last week. If you're going to be a championship contender, you have to put teams away when you have the chance. These Ravens let the Patriots off the hook. They're playing the Bills this week, a team who is for all intents and purposes trying to lose. Put it on 'em! Ravens -13

Philadelphia @ Tennessee So, now I understand what Andy Reid was thinking when he originally gave this starting quarterback job to Kolb. In his two starts since the Eagles loss to Washington, Kolb has completed over twenty passes in each start and over 550 yards passing total. He's has stayed away from interceptions, just one in the two games. More importantly, he's developed a report with receiver Jeremy Maclin, who in two weeks has hauled in 13 balls for 250 yards receiving. I need more Vick just like you do, but Kevin Kolb . .Well, he ain't as bad as I thought he'd be. Eagles +3

Jacksonville @ Kansas City In their two straight losses since starting out 3-0, the Chiefs have impressed me more than they did in the wins themselves. They played both Indianapolis and Houston very tough and it looked as though they'd pull it out in both games. While San Diego, Denver, and Oakland struggle, money should be on Kansas City to pull this thing out. Getting the Jaguars at home is a perfect way to bounce back after two straight losses. Expect K.C. to roll! Chiefs -9

Pittsburgh @ Miami With Roethlisberger now back under center, tell me where the Steelers look weak?!? More to it, he's going to attack this Miami team secondary. Their rushing attack has looked fantastic, their defense is second to err, no one. Looking at their schedule, show me the losses?!? Baltimore, New England, New Orleans, & the Jets remain, I'll take the Steelers the way they've looked over each one of those teams. Running back Rashard Mendenhall is the NFL's sixth leading rusher with 495 total rushing yards scoring five touchdowns. When the running game comes to Pittsburgh, they get scary good. Master Lock Of The Week: Steelers -3

Cleveland @ New Orleans Hey now New Orleans! We'd been waiting for the Saints to finally stop messing around and get going. Nothing does that better than getting an overachieving divisional team in Tampa Bay, welcoming you to their house. Drew Brees bounced back after their rough outing in Arizona and blew out the Bucs last week. Now they get Cleveland! However it wasn't just Brees, for the first week this season, the Saints got their rushing attack going with 1st year running back Chris Ivory. Ivory went for 158 yards and made the defense respect their ground game, enough for Brees to take to the air. Don't expect Cleveland to make much noise, the Superdome has yet to see New Orleans really play well this year. Saints -13

4:15 Kickoff

Arizona @ Seattle The NFC West is completely up in the air, completely. As bad as the Cardinals looked giving up 40 points to both Atlanta and San Diego, they've also won tough games against New Orleans, St. Louis, & Oakland. The Seahawks at 3-2 are playing okay, returning back home to Seattle after their win in Chicago. In a game that could decide the NFC West and give a playoff birth to an 8-8 team, this game is huge! Seattle plays well at home and will force Arizona to pass the ball, provided they give quarterback Max Hall enough time to do that. Seahawks -6

New England @ San Diego What?!?! Wait, why are the Patriots underdogs in this game?!?! San Diego has looked awful. If not for the Dallas Cowboys and their stunning 1-4 start, San Diego's 2-4 record out of the gate, with losses to Seattle, Oakland, and St. Louis, would be under the microscope. On the flip side, the Patriots have their swagger back, believe me. Beating Baltimore after going down 20-10, that's old school New England. They took what the defense gave them and waited out Baltimore, yes that's old school Patriots. Tom is on the west coast, he's back around his family, he'll come to play and play big. Patriots +2.5

Oakland @ Denver If Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell thought Washington was dysfunctional, I'm guessing he knows what really is dysfunctional now. I actually think Campbell can play well in this league, the quarterback has just gotten a raw deal here. For the Broncos, it's a strange team. They'll get Oakland and San Francisco coming up and with a couple wins here, they can rebound and get back to 4-4. This will be a close one though, the AFC West games usually are. Raiders +8.5

Sunday Night

Minnesota @ Green Bay The Packers have suffered a ton of injuries so far. Both Minnesota and Green Bay are taking a ton of sacks, if Clay Matthews plays, this one is going to be real close. Both Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre are going to take some hits, it'll be which one can stay upright longer. I like the Packers here, especially if Favre is playing injured. E.J. Henderson played well against Dallas last week and can cause problems for the Packers offense. No run game means Green Bay is going to have to air it out, I'm not so sure that Viking defense plays as well against the pass as some thing. Rodgers pulls it out in Green Bay Packers -2.5

Monday Night

New York Giants @ Dallas I've had a week to sit on their 1-4 start, and I've changed my tune every day. The Cowboys need to relax right now. Look at their schedule and tell me they can't bounce back?!? The Giants twice in the next five games, that's the only defense they play. They get Green Bay, Detroit, and Jacksonville, all games the Cowboys can win, even if they are going on the road in two of them. The Dallas offense has looked very productive at times and if it weren't for the penalties and letting up massive plays like kick returns, this team would have won a game more or two. The Giants have been good lately, they've held the Texans to 10 points and and attacked the Bears holding them to three points. It doesn't feel good to pick against your team and judging by the way the Texas Rangers have come through, I'm sticking with the Texas till they're done Cowboys -3

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Monday, October 18, 2010

James isn't, and James is an Excuse

I'll take that action. On a neutral field, anywhere from coast to coast, against any program, I'll take Boise State. Not Stoops' Sooners, a team that will get tested in Stillwater before this is said and done. Not the Ducks, despite their record setting offensive output in 2010. Not the Tigers of Auburn, not their defense which gave up 77 points in the last two weeks. After 'Bama & the Buckeyes got theirs, I've got no doubt.

For those of you who still do . . .

The Boise State Broncos 33-30 opening weekend win over Virginia Tech means something. The fact that D-1AA James Madison University stunned those same Hokies just six nights later, means very little. [1] James Madison's win in Blacksburg was their biggest in school history, but for the Hokies it
was nothing more than a hangover loss. I'd argue that the stunning loss is a direct result of how badly Boise State put a hurting on them just up the road in Landover, MD. [2] Since then, Virginia Tech has put the loss in their rear view. A 3-0 ACC record, 1st place in the conference, and beating teams at a 41-20 clip since that loss. [3] When the Hokies wind up in the Orange Bowl at seasons end, the loss to James Madison is going to be a mere afterthought and Boise State will still boast a virtual road victory over a BCS Bowl game participant. Still going to be using James Madison as an excuse then?

When Oregon State's senior wide receiver, James Rodgers, got knocked out for the season, the Beavers weren't the only ones jaw dropping. After getting shut down vs. Boise State (2 catches, 11 yards) in a 37-24 loss, the Broncos not only had another signature win, they'd also shut down one of the best offensive weapons in the PAC-10. Two weeks later Rodgers caught seven passes for 102 yards against Arizona in a big road win for Oregon State, then suffered a knee injury that would keep the senior captain out for the remainder of the season. The impact: In his absence the Beavers do get weaker on offense immediately. This weekend in a 35-34 overtime loss in Washington just proved that, the Beavers needed James Rodgers. Each loss the the Beavers take from here on out, devalues Boise's great play against them when they were at full strength. For voters who don't do their homework and computers who don't account for a teams injuries, this is trouble for Boise State. Before dialing up Oregon States record at the end of the season, know the injury to James Rodgers is as big as any in college football.

The fact that Boise State went toe to toe against not one, but two teams from power conferences, and beat both of them is proof enough. Not only does Boise State get no respect, their like a cheating husband just waiting for the hammer to drop. When Boise State gets taken for a ride at the end of the season, you'll hear this many more times. "They only beat Virginia Tech, a team who lost to James Madison, and Oregon State, a team with 5 losses" but at least NOW YOU KNOW, James isn't and James is an excuse.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 6

Last week: 5-9-0
On the season: 37-35-3

Kansas City @ Houston If ever Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was going to have a game for himself, it'd be this week in Houston. The Texans 32nd ranked passing defense is coming off an embarrassing 34-10 home loss to the Giants. Gave up 297 yards passing to Eli Manning while watching receiver Hakeem Nicks haul in 12 passes for over 130 yards. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have yet to give up more than twenty points in a game and their rushing offense is currently the third most productive. Behind Jamaal Charles (6.5 yards per) and Thomas Jones (3.9 yards per), the Chiefs ground attack should keep Houston busy and their defense on the field. Chiefs +4.5

Seattle @ Chicago The Bears 4-1 start has surprised everyone. With Seattle, Washington, and Buffalo coming up, could the Bears jump out to 7-1? As exciting as that is, it's not all smiles in The Windy City. Linebacker Lance Briggs is out this week and given his play opposite
Brian Urlacher this season, that's a big hit to the Bears defense. Coupled with the concussion Jay Cutler suffered in that nightmare first half against Giants two weeks ago, the Bears do have some cause for concern. Just like Chicago did in Cutler's absence last week, they need to get running back Matt Forte going early. When offensive coordinator Mike Martz was forced to give the ball to the Bears talented running back, he put up 166 yards on just 22 carries. Seattle can't hang on the road, take the Bears at home. Bears -6

Miami @ Green Bay Finally it appears that we have an answer, Aaron Rodgers will be playing against Miami on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the injury bug has banged up the once favorite in the NFC Packers. With running back Ryan Grant, tight end Jermichael Finley, and now linebacker Nick Barnett all gone for the season, the Packers are reeling. Questions about the health of Clay Matthews, Ryan Pickett, and corner Sam Shields are destroying a defense that was looking fantastic in the early going. Playing with all those injuries against a Dolphins team in desperate need of a win doesn't look good. Miami has looked good on the road so far, I'll take them getting points. Dolphins +3

San Diego @ St. Louis The Rams continued with their gameplan last week against Detroit, despite losing 44-6. St. Louis is putting the ball in the hands of their rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, very often. Bradford threw another 45 attempts last week making that his fourth of five weeks with over 35 attempts. The problem going forward isn't how many times he's going to throw, but who is he going to throw to?!? With the recent injury to Mark Clayton, Bradford has his hands full. While San Diego has been good against the run, Rams running back Stephen Jackson is the best back they will have seen after this Sunday. The Rams are going to need Jackson to carry the offense with the injuries in the passing game and with the Rams all-time leading rushing title at stake, expect Jackson to really show up. Rams +8

New Orleans @ Tampa Bay The Bucs being 3-1 is a surprise. The Saints offense yet to score over 25 points, even more of a surprise. New Orleans has really struggled over the early going of the season. Close wins against the likes of a 1-3 Minnesota team, an 0-5 49ers team, and the 0-5 Panthers aren't impressing anyone. Then there was the 30-20 loss to Arizona, a team under a rookie quarterback taking his first NFL start. Without the injured Reggie Bush and going on the third week without running back Pierre Thomas, the Saints rushing offense has dropped to 31st in in the league. After what the Saints did last week in that loss to Arizona, I can't expect them to go on the road and start blowing teams out. With the Falcons and Bucs playing well, New Orleans better not keep slipping. Buccaneers +4

Baltimore @ New England The Ravens looked great last year in the postseason dismantling the Patriots in Massachusetts. Now the Patriots try to get revenge, a week after trading receiver Randy Moss to the Vikings. New England will display their newly revamped offense sans Moss. The Ravens
are going to go after the Patriot secondary, the same way the Jets did earlier this season. Their offense got off the mat last week scoring 31 points as running back Ray Rice ripped off 133 yards. When the Patriots backs have been against the wall, they've normally opened up in these games. Bottom line, Baltimore's offense hasn't been as impressive as I thought going into this season. They've got weapons all over the offense and still have just looked average. Still Ravens +2.5

Detroit @ New York (Giants) I've got to admit, I didn't buy the Giants after their victory against Chicago, but they did dismantle the Texans defense a week later. Now they've got some respect. The Lions on the other hand have impressed me every week , despite their record. After the shocking garbage loss they suffered in week 1, the Lions have kept improving despite losing their quarterback going on five games. With Shaun Hill under center, the Lions have been alright and actually are ranked 6th in the league in passing offense per game. They'll need all that against the defense the Giants bring to the table. Still, show this Lions squad more respect than making them 10 point dogs, they come to play. Lions +10

Atlanta @ Philadelphia I'm interested to see how Atlanta does going on the road against a good team. The Falcons are 4-1 but haven't beaten anyone impressively. I expect this game to go just like their loss to Pittsburgh in week 1. The Falcons have rushed the ball well but are still waiting for Matt Ryan to get better and avoid the untimely turnovers. For Philadelphia, they've got to get LeSean McCoy going, he's played well but the Eagles need for him to both catch passes out of the backfield and also move the ball through the ground game. The 3-point line here means everyone thinks Philly and Atlanta are very close to even and I'm in agreement. Eagles -3

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh Big Ben is back, the Steelers are 3-1 and coming off a bye week. I love the Steelers in this game even if Cleveland has been scrappy this season. The Steeler defense has been awesome against the run. Giving Colt McCoy his first start as an NFL quarterback on the road against this defense just seems cruel. Ben Roethlisberger may take a couple of quarters to get his legs under him but I expect the Steelers to do a ton of rushing the football and playing field position. Take the Browns +13.5, this line is very high and for teams who like the run the ball a ton of clock is going to get eaten up rather than points put up on the baord. Browns +13.5

Oakland @ San Francisco The 49ers have this week to get off the mat. They haven't won a game, have lost every way you can, and if this team starts to give up on Mike Singletary, you can kiss even the NFC West goodbye. Oakland is a team prime for a hangover game after their win against San Diego a week ago. The 49er defense is going to come up big and give them their first win. Amazing that I want to take a team that hasn't won a game and have them give 6.5, but I'm going to roll with it. 49ers -6.5

New York (Jets) @ Denver The Broncos are a strange team. They go from looking solid against the Titans and Seahawks but look awful against Baltimore. The Jets could win in Denver and really make a statement that they are disciplined enough to win on
the road against a non-hyped up game. Kyle Orton for the Broncos has played really well this season averaging over 340 yards through the air per game. Take the Broncos at home getting three points. The Jets secondary isn't fully healthy and Josh McDaniels is going to have that offense prepared to play against Rex Ryan's defense. Broncos +3

Dallas @ Minnesota How injured is Brett Favre?!? Last season when the Vikings defense and Favre were on track, they steamrolled Dallas in the postseason. They've added Randy Moss and that has to put fear in the Cowboys defense, a defense that has let up a bunch of huge plays through the air against Tennessee and Chicago in recent weeks. I love picking the Cowboys here but it's not that easy. The Cowboys aren't rushing the ball and are having a tough time blocking for Tony Romo, as seen in both of their last two losses. I'm taking the Vikings against my will. Vikings -1.5

Indianapolis @ Washington Indianapolis has way to many running backs hurt and it's putting a ton of strain on their offensive line and on their receivers. Washington on the other hand has looked terrific at home after beating Green Bay and Dallas while coming up short against the Texans in week 2. If Indy's offense struggles as much as they have against both Jacksonville and Kansas City in the last two weeks, they may have just as much trouble with the Redskins. I'm taking Washington +3, this is a team looking to put together a couple of statement victories after beating Philadelphia and Green Bay in back-to-back weeks. Redskins +3

Monday Night

Tennessee @ Jacksonville Who cares? Worst scheduling I've ever seen, there are about six more games I'd rather see in this time slot, at least! Jags +3, because I'm done with this!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Arms Up

[No, I haven't forgotten about baseball completely . . . just temporarily]

If you're going to win The Fall Classic this year, better get in that cage. The arms being displayed this October are no joke. As the LCS begins and postseason play resumes, the pitching performances thus far have been flat out dominating. With Tim Lincecum, the Giants ace who tossed 231 strikeouts in the regular season, squaring off against Roy Halladay, just the second pitcher in the history of major league baseball to throw a no-no (in his first playoff start), to open the National League Championship Series, you better get all in!

This is The Impact Four

Jonathan Sanchez, Gaints Starter - Scheduled to start Game 3 back in San Francisco, the Giants slated #3 starter Jonathan Sanchez really came on this season in his third as a fulltime starter. For the second consecutive season Sanchez increased his strikeout total by more than 20 from the previous season, totaling 205 k's in 2010. Dropping his earned run average by more than a run and making 33 starts this year, Jonathan Sanchez has really given the Giants another starter to pair with ace Tim Lincecum for years to come. His impact RIGHT NOW: If Lincecum is going to oppose Doc Halladay, who for all intents and purposes has been the best pitcher in the majors this season, Sanchez is going to have to keep the Giants afloat and get them a home win under their belt in game 3. Doing just that against a former Series MVP in the Phillies Cole Hamels won't be an easy task. Thus making the 27-year old lefty all that more important to the World Series hopes of the San Francisco Giants. [As of Wednesday night, Sanchez may get bumped up to Game 2.]

Brad Lidge, Phillies Closer - Lidge has been awfully good throughout the second half of the season. He's Charlie Manuel's closer, even when Lidge was at his worst through last season, Manuel still called on him during the Phillies run in 2009. Then when Lidge was struggling earlier this season, it was Manuel who hung with him again. After his early season struggles this year, Lidge has been as good as anyone. Converting 17 of 18 save opportunities from August on, with a stifling earned run average south of 1.00, Lidge is as important as any starter or closer remaining. His impact RIGHT NOW: With runs being at a premium in the NLCS, given the starters taking the rubber on both sides, Brad Lidge won't be able to stumble. The Phils are going to need Lidge to continue his 2010 performance and also dial back to his amazing 2008 performance where he posted seven saves in the postseason.

Andy Pettitte, Yankees Veteran Starter - If Pettitte goes Game 2, that's saying something. With Rangers ace Cliff Lee scheduled for a 5-day rest start in Game 3, the Yankees are going to have to throw that one away. Lee is 6-0 in his postseason career with an era of 1.44, deal with it. Back to Pettitte, the 15-year veteran needs to either give the Yankees a commanding 2-0 lead heading back home or avoid a 0-2 hole. More inside the numbers, the other Yankee option is to go with Phil Hughes who pitches well on the road, away from the blistering New York media. Whichever way they decide to go, Pettitte is very important. His impact RIGHT NOW: In his long career Andy Pettitte has taken the mound 41 times as a starter including five starts last season, four of which he won. His last postseason loss, 2005. Andy Pettitte is the anchor of this staff, he brings more experience than any pitcher remaining in the postseason, except for his closer.

C.J. Wilson, Rangers Starter - When we won't get to see the Rangers ace Cliff Lee till Game 3, someone is going to have to step up on their staff. In his first year as a starter, the Rangers have found something in Wilson. The 29-year old lefty had a good season posting a 3.25 earned run average and striking out 170 batters. In his first postseason start, Wilson led the Rangers to a game 2 victory pitching 6 and a third allowing no earned runs and walking only two. His impact RIGHT NOW: It was Wilson who manager Ron Washington was going to had Lee not been able to get through the early innings in Tuesdays Game 5 ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays. If Wilson can battle Sabathia and the Yankees into the late innings, it'd go a long way to getting a real jump in the ALCS.

We all know Sabathia, Lincecum, Doc, & Cliff Lee are going to tear up the LCS's, but you can bet these four are going to have their say as to who advances to the World Series.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stunned! Not really, it's the SEC.

On every given Saturday, the Southeastern Conference comes hard. They've got playmaking Heisman candidates littered throughout, they've coaches second to only each other, their stadiums ring louder than everything this side of Autzen, and it's only fitting they impact the college football landscape more than any other. Someone challenges Denard Robinson and Terrelle Pryor for the Heisman, of course he's an SEC quarterback. A team vaults Ohio State, Boise State, and Oregon to the top, of course it's an SEC team. A coach makes calls that leave you stunned, of course he's from the SEC. This Saturday was like every other in the Southeastern Conference.

It's their biggest win in school history, South Carolina was strong. Alabama got away from their rushing attack early, down 21-3 those offensive coaches on the 'Tide sideline forgot who they were. Let's give credit where it's due though. Steve Spurrier came out with a gameplan to slow down the 'Tide and the players who wanted to do just that. South Carolina took advantage of turnovers early, they responded when Alabama made their pushes back, and that crowd at Williams-Brice, woah! The quarterback Stephen Garcia is on a two game stretch where he almost beat Auburn at Jordan-Hare and did beat the best team in the country. Garcia has thrown six touchdowns in the two games, he's completed all but 9 of his 48 pass attempts, and more importantly he got that team behind him. Now in the driver's seat in the SEC East, the team which just knocked off mighty Nick Saban and Alabama can look down the road a bit at their games against Florida and Arkansas. No let down games, more Marcus Lattimore, and tough defense that halted those big-time 'Bama running backs. The Gamecocks deserve this week, they really earned it.

Ben Hill Griffin was stunned. The Mad Hatter (LSU head coach, Les Miles) called a fake-field goal with under a minute remaining down by only three points. A week removed from squeaking by the Tennessee Volunteers despite terrible clock management in the final seconds, the same head coach who was under fire all week pushed everything to the back burner and went with his gut. Scrapped the 53-yard attempt, lateraled to the kicker from the holder, and a run toward the first down marker. With that, the LSU Tigers hit the end zone just seconds later and were leaving The Swamp with the Gator fans stunned. Improved to 4-0 in the SEC and 6-0 overall, LSU just wins. Still want to keep them on the outside of the Top 10 looking in? With Auburn, Alabama, and Arkansas remaining on their schedule, the Tigers have an uphill road ahead of them. They've got two quarterbacks who play perfect compliments to each other, a defense as tough as any in the SEC, and a head coach with more moxy than brains. Hey Les Miles, whatever works right?

Why has it taken so long to recognize Auburns Cam Newton? The 6'6" junior quarterback has led Auburn to a 6-0 record. That South Carolina team who beat the former top ranked Crimson Tide just yesterday, Newton beat them. Behind only Boise State Heisman contender Kellen Moore, Newton has a mind boggling 180.7 QB passer rating, second best in the country. Cameron Newtons 9 rushing touchdowns are as many as fellow Heisman candidates Oregon's LaMichael James and Michigan's Denard Robinson. His 12 touchdown passes, more than top flight passers Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Florida State's Christian Ponder. Cameron Newton is responsible for 21 Auburn touchdowns this season, his win in Kentucky was one of the most dominant performances by a quarterback this season. 13 Of 21, 210 yards through the air, 198 yards rushing, and four rushing touchdowns. Don't worry about Newton though, he finishes the season in Tuscaloosa against Alabama. If Cam Newton wanted a final statement to give Heisman voters, that'd be the perfect time to do so.

Final Thought: Earlier this morning the Week 6 AP Poll was released. After 'Bama's loss to South Carolina then dropped to #8. Those Gamecocks moved from #19 all the way to #10. Following their victory over Florida, LSU moved from #12 to #9. Cam Newton's Auburn Tigers are the highest ranked team in the conference moving to #7 from #8. That aside, I'd take any of these four teams over each and every one of the six ranked above them on a neutral field, no question.

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 5

13-Year veteran malcontent, Randy Moss, was dealt from New England to Minnesota this week. Get past it already! As the Patriots, Steelers, Dolphins, and Seahawks enter a bye week, the slate is full. Carolina, Buffalo, Detroit and San Francisco attempt to get off the mat, Kansas City remains undefeated headed to Indianapolis, and we finish the week off with the re-introduction of Randy Moss in Minnesota, albeit against the 3-1 Jets on Monday night. Coming off an 11-3 Week 4, I'm playing with house money . . .

Get After It!

Last Week: 11-3-0
On The Season: 32-26-3

Jacksonville @ Buffalo Fred Jackson becomes the feature back in Buffalo with Marshawn Lynch being shipped to Seattle this week. Jackson was a 1,000 yard back last year with more rushing yards than Chicago's Matt Forte and Atlanta's Michael Turner. With more room in the backfield for Jackson and rookie back C.J. Spiller the Bills run game could break out this week. The Jags coming off a huge division win against the Colts last weekend, going on the road, has hangover game all over it. Ignoring them getting slammed by the Jets last week, Bills -1.5

Tampa Bay @ Cincinnati The Bengals aren't good. Both games Carson Palmer went for over 300 yards passing, defenses slipped into zone coverage schemes and played prevent. Their offense should aim to lean on running back Cedric Benson this week for the Buccaneers defense gave up nearly 150 yards to Steeler running back Rashard Mendenhall just two weeks ago. Don't be fooled by the Bucs and their first two wins, they played two teams with 1 win between them. However, Vegas is getting their legs under them and making this line high enough for me to think twice. I will. Bucs +6.5

Atlanta @ Cleveland The Falcons might just be there. After a 3-1 start and a couple of 'to the wire' wins, Atlanta is winning those games you've got to have, to both reach the playoffs and make a deep run. Then you go ahead and look at their schedule. Cleveland this week, the Kevin Kolb Eagles next week, the Bengals, and Bucs to follow. Could the the Falcons be staring at 7-1? After leading the Falcons to their first back to back winning season in franchise history last season, quarterback Matt Ryan is looking for a return to the postseason this year. Falcons -3; Please have the Browns trot out Jake Delhomme.

St. Louis @ Detroit His two losses are by four points or less, and after winning two straight, people are starting to raise a couple eyebrows at Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. Averaging close to 40 attempts a week, the Rams coaching staff is not holding the rookie back. Then there's the Lions, they've come too close for too long this season. After the injury to quarterback Matt Stafford, in a heart breaking game 1 loss to the Bears, the Lions want this one. Being said, backup quarterback Shaun Hill has impressed. More passing yards than Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler, more completions than Rivers and Brady, Shaun Hill has played well enough to win something. Things being equal, Lions -3

Kansas City @ Indianapolis You probably thought one of these teams would be undefeated at this point, just not the one that actually is. The undefeated Chiefs take their upset special to the Colts this weekend, a Colts team looking to rebound. That being said, the Chiefs offense, and mainly quarterback Matt Cassel, are going to have to put it all together without trick plays. Means more than 16 completions a game, means hand the ball off to Thomas Jones inside the twenty, it means dropping a team that can put a hurting on ever team on any given Sunday. While I don't like how the Colts played against Jacksonville last week, and I don't like giving seven points to an undefeated team, I don't buy Kansas City either. Colts -7

Green Bay @ Washington The Redskins win in Philly was more a result of the injury to Mike Vick than their actual play. On the positive side, their defense was getting to the quarterback this week. Unfortunately for Washington, the leagues 31st worst team against the pass, Green Bay can really throw the ball down field and that's despite their rushing struggles. I like the Packers going on the road in Washington, that team which loss to St. Louis and didn't look overpowering against Philadelphia is more troubling. Packers -2.5

Chicago @ Carolina The Bears looked awful on Monday night. They couldn't block anyone giving up nine sacks in the first half alone. When the Giants came out for the third quarter, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was sidelined with a concussion and backup Todd Collins was under center. As good as the Bears defense has been, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and the newly acquired former Panther Julius Peppers, they're going to have to get good field position for the offense. Running back Matt Forte is going to have to run the ball but will the Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz allow for that?!?! If the Panthers keep this one close they could be headed to their first win this season and Jimmy Clausen's first as a quarterback in the NFL. Panthers +2.5

Denver @ Baltimore It's been four weeks and we know what the preseason favorites are. The Ravens punch teams in the mouth early, they play very tough defense, and they'll keep things close enough for Joe Flacco to make some plays down the stretch. They escaped Pittsburgh with a win last week and there offense isn't nearly as dominating as we had anticipted. Now to Denver. The Broncos are a strange team, but they hang around. Ask the Titans how tough the Broncos were to finish off! They couldn't. Denver has been leaning on their pass offense and that looks like the only way you can take advantage of the Ravens defense. Don't give McDaniels points, I don't like it. Broncos +7

New York (Giants) @ Houston I think the Texans are going to really put it on that Giants defense. Their rushing offense is attacking teams as of late and as good as the Giants feel about their win against the Bears last week, the Texans aren't that soft. Injuries to the Giants backfield is going to make them pass the ball and Houston should be ready for it this week, despite their 32nd ranked pass defense. If Mario Williams is out the gameplan will go an entirely different way. I like the Texans -3

New Orleans @ Arizona Starting Max Hall this week is bad sign for Cardinals fans. The two quality offenses they've played, Atlanta and San Diego, have tuned them up for 41 points each, now they get New Orleans. Despite the Saints struggles with injuries to Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, their passing attack has looked good. After a couple near losses the Saints have got to want to start putting things together and staying on top of their game. As the defending champs show up in Arizona, start up the questions. The post-Kurt Warner era is a disaster in Arizona, a disaster. This matchup of the last two NFC champions is going to be a one-sided affair, bank it. New Orleans -7

San Diego @ Oakland The AFC West has been a strange division to watch as always. The Chiefs are undefeated, the Chargers have been inconsistent, we don't know what McDaniels and Co. are doing in Denver, and as for the Raiders well you can guess that one. On the flip side, the Raiders rushing attack and Darren McFadden have looked pretty solid this year, but he'll be out with an injury come Sunday afternoon. Phil Rivers and the San Diego offense seemed to have found their way against Arizona last week and hopefully can carry it over to Oakland this week. Chargers -6

Tennessee @ Dallas The Cowboys need to show up in back to back games to remind people of how good we thought they were coming in. With the Vikings, Packers, and Giants in three of the next four weeks the Cowboys are going to have to get this game against the Titans tommorow. It's bad news for a Titans offense that needs Chris Johnson to carry the offense in fear of the mistakes Vince Young has a tendency to make. Expect the Cowboys to hold of Tennessee and improve to 2-2, their defense is tough and played great against the Houston rush offense just two weeks ago. Cowboys -6.5

Philadelphia @ San Francisco Here's the game that San Francisco shows up. With Kevin Kolb in for the injured Michael Vick, the 49ers are going to pin their ears back and put pressure on Kolb. They've been too close for a couple weeks now and were expected to be too good to let this continue. San Francisco still has a solid defense that can cause problems for Philadelphia under Kolb. Many of the same problems that Washington caused the Eagles last week, San Francisco does the same things. This will be the worst Sunday night game we've seen in a while. 49ers -3

Monday Night

Minnesota @ New York (Jets) With a win against the Vikings who just acquired Randy Moss, the Jets would really be saying something. They've won three straight divisional games including two on the road, they're defense has looked phenomenal, and second year quarterback Mark Sanchez is really raising eyebrows by staying away from costly turnovers. As for the Vikes, Randy Moss does make them better but is three days to little time to get comfortable? The Jets have already gameplanned for Randy Moss once this season, now they'll have to add Peterson and Favre to that same gameplan. With a win against Minnesota, the Jets would clear cut be atop all contenders in the NFL. No doubt. Four points might be too many, but not for me. Jets -4

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Statements Made: Roll Tide, Roll

Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are hands down #1. The 31-6 statement-making victory in Tuscaloosa did exactly what it needed to, left no doubt. Their defense rattled the Gators into four turnovers and held them to just two field goals. The rushing attack of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson went over 100 yards rushing and added two touchdowns of their own. Saban dialed up his defense and thumped Urban Meyer for the second straight time. The SEC torch has been passed and by beating Florida handily and winning their 19th straight game, the Crimson Tide have left no questions unanswered. Next up: @ South Carolina, October 9th.

This thing they call Heisman, it is Michigan'sDenard Robinson's to lose. The 5-0 Wolverines are being led by a quarterback closing in on 1,000 yards rushing and completing close to 70% of his passes. Robinson has legged out a rushing touchdown and recorded over 100 yards rushing in each of his first five games. Impressed?!? An inter-state rivalry game this weekend with undefeated Michigan State and another ranked opponent in Iowa coming a week later, he is really going to be challenged. If saving Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez' job wasn't enough, making a real run at the Big 10 certainly will be. Past Wolverine Heisman winners Charles Woodson and Desmond Howard are about to have some company. All due respect to Kellen Moore, this is Denard Robinson's Heisman to lose.

Oregon is dangerous. The highest scoring offense in the land just put 52 on the board against a very good Standford team. Averaging 56.6 points per game, with wins against Stanford, Arizona State, and Tennessee, the Ducks have an actual National Title shot that can't be denied. Masoli who?!? With quarterback Darron Thomas leading the high flying Ducks to a 5-0 start, fans in Eugene are quickly forgetting former Duck signal caller Jeremiah Masoli. The sophomore from Houston, TX has already thrown for 13 touchdowns while leading Chip Kelly's high octane offense. Then there's LaMichael James. The 2nd year running back who in just four starts is averaging 178 yards per game and averaging exactly 8 yards per carry! In their most recent win over Stanford, James put up close to 260 yards and hit pay dirt three times! Why the exclamation points? Because their offense is phenomenal. Behind both James and Darron Thomas the Oregon Ducks look unstoppable, they'll leave a path of destruction as they rip through the PAC-10 this season.

The last two weeks have brought disaster to the Longhorns. Squads from Auburn, Nebraska, and Oklahoma have come away with big wins and remain in the top ten. As the weeks roll on and the nitty gritty arrive, what else is in store?!?

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