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Friday, December 15, 2006

NFL Week 15 Picks and the Hundred Million Dollar Man


*I'm not sure if I've done this before, but I am taking 5 home teams this week. After looking over the schedule, I noticed there were a ton of mismatches, so I decided to try and take advantage of that. While I don't feel all that great about basically taking 4 teams that are double digit favorites, I do think this is the time of the year when the "great" teams begin to show themselves. And with exception of the Cardinals (they still are who I thought they were!), I think all of the teams I picked this week do have what it takes to at least represent their conference in the Super Bowl. The Ravens have the incentive of being able to sow up a playoff spot with a win at home, not to mention they have won their last 3 at home by an average of 15+ and are facing a Cleveland squad that's fresh off a 20 point beat-down at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots, while looking awful last week, also have an opportunity to lock up a playoff spot with a home win over the lowly Texans. Like I said, the Pats have been less than impressive of late, but combine the Texans 2-5 road record with their 28th ranked defense, and you have to like Tom Terrific and Co. to bounce back big time. And if you're still worried about turnovers, well don't. The Texans are the worst in the league at causing turnovers with only 16 takeaways for the entire season. When it comes to the Saints and the Chargers, it should be pretty obvious why I'm picking them. Washington has basically mailed it in for the rest of the year, while Kansas City might as well do the same, dropping their last 2 and 3 of their last 4 on the road. Meanwhile both New Orleans and San Diego are trying to lock up first round byes. Add to that they are both at home, and I can't see these games being all that close either. Finally, I have the one in the bunch that doesn't seem to fit. That's the 4-9 Arizona Cardinals (3-4 at home) over the 7-6 Denver Broncos (4-3 on the road). At first glance you gotta like the Broncos, but not with the skid they've been on. Look, I'm not saying Denny Green and crew pull this one out, but I'll take my chances with a 'Zona team that's won their last two (Seattle, @ St. Louis) over a Denver team on a 4 game skid and in the midst of an identity crisis. Tennessee and Atlanta were also tempting home dogs to take, but for whatever reason I'm placing my trust in Matt "Hollywood" Leinart and crew. Wouldn't be shocked if that one comes back to bite me in the ass, but we'll see. And while I wanted to keep the theme going on Monday night, there's no way I'm trusting that Indy D with almost 4 points. I'd rather take my chances with Carson P. and the Chain Gang. As long as the road trip doesn't cause any of the Bengals to miss meetings with their P.O, I think they should be all set. But no matter the outcomes, I can't complain. Four out of five days with football is enough to make even on 0-6 week feel like a winner. Wait...that's loser talk. Let's try this instead. Watch out this week bitches as I go 6-0 and finally prove once and for all that I have mastered handicapping in the NFL. Boom Goes the Dynamite!*

Week 15 Picks

New England Patriots (-11) vs Houston Texans
New Orleans Saints (-9) vs Washington Redskins
Arizona Cardinals (+4) vs Denver Broncos
Baltimore Ravens (-10) vs Cleveland Browns
Chicago Bears (-13) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Monday Night
Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) @ Indianapolis Colts

Last Week:
4-2-0

2006 Season: 43-36-6 (.541)*

*Monday Night: 8-7-0 (.533)

THEO AND THE SOX ROLL THE DAIS FOR 6 YEARS, $103 MILLION

It may have taken all 30 days to do it, but on Thursday the Boston Red Sox made it official. Japanese "National Treasure" Daisuke Matsuzaka finally signed with the Sox, agreeing to a 6 year deal worth $52 million plus performance incentives that could push the value over $60 million. So, after you add in the record $51 million the Sox paid just to talk to Daisuke, essentially they will be spending $17.2 mil a year for this guy over the life of his contract. While that is an ass load of money to be giving to a guy that's never thrown a pitch in the Major Leagues, I'm going on the record to say that I am 100% in favor of the deal. Of course I would have liked to have paid less, but in a market where Vicente Padilla, Gil Meche and Ted Lilly are all getting $10+ mil a year, I am willing to take my chances spending $17+ a season on a guy that, by all accounts, has the stuff to be a front line pitcher for years to come. Besides, not only was the record posting the only way the Sox could get the Dais Man, but the $17 mil a season is probably about the same that Barry Zito (the top free agent pitcher) will fetch on the open market. So, again, I like this move. We prevent the Yankees from getting the next big foreign sensation (something they couldn't do in the cases of Hideki Irabu or Jose Contreras, for better or worse), and we add depth and youth to a position where you can never have enough of either, starting pitching. Besides, what did we have to do to get him? Spend a little cash-ish? But now that he is signed, I have a few issues I'd like to address about the man. Now, I don't claim to know anything about the Japanese. I respect their culture, I love their video games and I love watching them gamble in casinos, but I don't understand their obsessions with raw fish, Kung-Fu or Dance Dance Revolution. Oh and for the record I thought Lost in Translation sucked. But more to my point. I need two questions answered to put my mind at ease over the best import to fly into Massachusetts since since George Jung was a free man. 1) If this guy is such a "National Treasure", then why couldn't they get him a decent interpreter? I refuse to believe that after Matsuzaka took 5 minutes to answer a question that his response was "I'm looking forward to playing for the Boston Red Sox". No freaking way. I mean I'm not claiming that the interpreter was hiding stuff from us, I'm just saying this guy sucked at his job. It also didn't help when he was upstaged by a young female Japanese reporter who several times corrected him and seemed to fluently switch between English and Japanese. And 2) How do we know how smart this guy is? This is the one that really bothers me. I mean, what if his answer to "Did you do any research about the Red Sox before coming here?" actually was "I'm looking forward to playing for the Boston Red Sox." For all we know, this guy could be a complete idiot, a Shawn Kemp if you will. I'm, not saying it takes a genius to pitch, but I think we'd all feel a lot better knowing that the guy we just tossed $60 mil at knows how to form complete and coherent sentences, no matter what language he's trying to speak. Hopefully, unlike many of the Asian and Central American stars that have come over here, Daisuke will make a solid attempt to learn English. That's a move that will not only increase his appeal here in the states, but will probably make it easier for him to adjust to life in a country where we like our fish deep fried in butter and our Bill Murray movies with either a stuffed rodent, sky-scraper sized marshmallow man or "baby steps". Whether either of my questions will ever be answered, I don't know. What I do know, is I'm thrilled the front office got this deal done, and I can't wait to watch this guy pitch. Even if the "Gyro-Ball" was just a myth. So, we raise our Saki glasses to you Daisuke and say "Konichiwa". We don't know what that means, but we love to drink, and we love baseball. As long as the latter doesn't drive us to do the former...

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