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Friday, December 29, 2006

NFL Week 17 Picks...New Years Karma For All!


The holiday season may have slowed me down in terms of blogging, but not in terms of winning. My spreading of Christmas cheer apparently brought me some good karma as I went 5-2, so I figured I'd try some of the same this week. First off is more of some reverse karma. I hate the Steelers, so I want them to lose. On top of that, I want Bill Cowher to finally announce that hes actually retiring/being fired. Now if only Big Ben could give Bill a ride home on his motorcycle, then I would really be happy. Next up is the Dolphins. Seeing as they screwed me last week, this week I'm taking the Colts. I wouldn't be surprised if they screw me again, but I have a feeling about Indy heading into the playoffs. I know everyone is down on them right now, but maybe that's exactly where they need to be. Being the favorite wasn't a good role for them, so maybe being the underdog is just what Manning and Co. need to actually get over the top. I know they can't stop anyone from running the ball, but I don't care. As much as I hate to say it, I think all their poor play lately may have finally given this group of veterans the late season kick in the ass they have lacked the past few years. Consider them the most dangerous "wild card" in the AFC playoffs for sure. The Niners are up next, and this one is pretty simple. I like head coaches that wear suits, double digit point spreads, and I really don't like Mike Shanahan. Easy enough. That brings us to Seattle and Tampa. I know I picked Tim Rattay to lead the Bucs on a late season surge, but Seattle losing 4 in a row to end the season? Not likely. This group has too much pride to stumble into the playoffs like that. Besides, you know most of the veterans in Tampa already have their minds on days that involve 4 rounds of 18, not 4 quarters. Finally, I'm sticking with my Patriot karma that did me so well last week. Another week, and another 3 point cushion for the Pats on the road against an AFC South FRAUD. Sure they might sit some guys to help determine who they play in the first round of the playoffs (a la tanking last year to ensure playing the Jags), but anytime Tom and friends are getting points against a rookie QB, I like my chances. Road game or not. Unless I'm mistaken (and you know I'm not), the Pats are 6-1 on the road this year and just came off a road win in which they were a 3 point dog. Karma says.....they do it again. And just for good measure, look out for Pats backup Matt Cassel out-dueling Vince Young down the stretch. Don't say I didn't call it. So there you have it, my final regular season picks of the year. It hasn't been a great year by my standards, but anytime you end up on top you can't really complain. Also, as a special New Years bonus, I've thrown in some BCS Bowl predictions. I don't care too much about those games, so I've spared you my analysis, but enjoy the picks. Catch you in the 0-7 kids, and go easy on the champagne. Those bubbles go straight to the dome!

Week 17 Picks
Cincinnati Bengals (-6) vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Indianapolis Colts (-9) vs Miami Dolphins
San Francisco 49ers (+10.5) @ Denver Broncos
Seattle Seahawks (+3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New England Patriots (+3) @ Tennessee Titans

BCS Bowl Picks
Rose Bowl
Michigan Wolverines (pick) vs USC Trojans

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Boise St. Broncos (+7.5) vs Oklahoma Sooners

FedEx Orange Bowl
Louisville Cardinals (-10) vs Wake Forest Deamon Deacons

Nokia Sugar Bowl
LSU Tigers (-8.5) vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish

BCS Championship
Florida Gators (+8) vs Ohio St. Buckeyes

2006 NFL Picks Record

Last Week: 5-2-0

2006 Season: 40-33-7 (.544)

2006 Monday Night: 9-9-0 (.500)

Make sure and check back next week for my 2006 NFL Awards and the long awaited re-emergence of the College Hoops Top 10. Hey college kids get time off for the holiday to chill out, so my poll is doin' the same.

Friday, December 22, 2006

NFL Week 16 Picks...Happy Birthday Jesus!

*Well Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. Hope everyone has their shopping done, like me. Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing most of you fools suffer at the malls this weekend. But anyway, while it might not sound like it, I've decided to dish out a little holiday spirit in my picks this week. I know using a theme (big home favorites) didn't work at all for me last week (1-4-1), but I figure I can't lose using the holiday mojo. In the first game, I'm thinkin' I gotta go with the team that knows winter and snow better than any, the Buffalo Bills. Now I don't even know if snow is on tap for this one, but after spending 4 years in upstate NY I do know that the Bill fans will grip onto this holiday mojo harder than their empty skoal can. Without Christmas up there, it's just a loser hockey town with a bunch of auto workers or somethin' where it's either snowing, hailing or just flat out frozen. So they need this one, for morale if anything else. In Cleveland, as much as I'd like to spread some Christmas cheer to my boy Brand X, I'm choosing instead to send the good vibes over to Tampa QB Tim Rattay. My man got shafted when he was sat down behind Chris(tal) Simms and then Bruce Gradkowski, but now that he's back, he's gonna make Chucky Gruden wish he'd given him the reigns much sooner. I mean hell, he only has a 95.1 QB rating this year with 3 TDs and only 1 pick. In the Chicago and St. Louis games, it's more like I'm sending reverse Christmas Karma. There's no dirtier city in the NFL than Detroit, and there's no bigger FRAUD team in the league than the Washington Redskins. Lions owner Matt Millen is seriously like 16-63 in his 5 years in that dirt hole and has even their loser fans wishing someone would leave a dynamite enema under his tree. As for Washington, owner Daniel Snyder is a whiny baby and you can see in his eyes that Joe Gibbs is thinking about NASCAR more and more each Sunday. Next, I'm obviously sending positive holiday juice to my Pats. The Jags are nasty at home (6-1), but hey we are 5-3 on the road and are probably the better team. Let's just hope good ole Tommy doesn't get all sappy missing his chick around the holidays. It's more likely that Tom, Ty Warren and Asante Samuel will be pissed they didn't find a Pro Bowl invite under their tree this year. Pathetic if you ask me, but hey if it drives Tom to win a different "bowl" this year then I'm totally in favor. On Christmas itself, I'm stepping out of character and going with two teams I can't stand, the Eagles and the Dolphins. Oooooo am I turning a new leaf or going soft? Nah, it's just they both happen to be playing teams I despise more than them. I hate the Jets more than the Phins (and it couldn't hurt sending my boy Imann out some holiday Dolphin love) and I hate the T.O's more than the Eagles. So there you have it kids. Feel free to waste some of your x-mas loots on these games, because after all, isn't that what Christmas money is for? Well that and booze. Delicious booze.*

Week 16 Picks
Buffalo Bills (-4.5) vs Tennessee Titans
Tampa Bay Bucs (+3) @ Cleveland Browns
Chicago Bears (-4.5) @ Detroit Lions
St. Louis Rams (-2) vs Washington Deadskins
New England Patriots (+3) @ Jacksonville Jags

Monday Night
Miami Dolphins (-2) vs New York Jets
Philadelphia Eagles (+7) @ Dallas Cowboys

Last Week: 1-4-1

2006 Season: 44-40-7 (.523)*

*Monday Night 8-8-0

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A RESPECTABLE WEEK!!

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...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A.I Takes Off...Dais-Man Next?

NO DAIS?
The Boston Red Sox have until midnight on Thursday to sign Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, but his agent Scot Boras and the Sox front office still seem miles apart. With many media outlets reporting that the negotiations were "all but dead", Sox GM Theo Epstein and President Larry Lucchino flew out to Los Angeles on owner John Henry's private jet to help speed up the bargaining process. The problem has been lack of communication between the two parties. According to Epstein and Lucchino, the Sox made an original offer of a 3-5 year deal worth somewhere between $7-9 million per. Boras never repsonded to the offer, which is unusual, and recently has been quoted as saying that "a 26 year-old with D-Mat's stuff should command a contract worth $100 million or more. In a smug statement, Theo agreed with Boras, but added that the Sox believe that the record $51.1 mil they paid for the rights to negotiate is part of that $100 million. Cute Theo, but you're gonna have to better than that. I say, if you were dumb enough to pay Nancy Drew $70 million bones, then why stop the spending? The Sox basically became the Yankees with the record posting, so why not complete the transformation and sign this man to a deal worth close to $20 mil a season. Yea that's right. It's not my money, it's not your money. What? They're gonna raise ticket prices? They were gonna do that anyway. Sign him up boys. Whatever it takes! If he's a bust, it makes for good talk for guys like me. And if he's the man, then we win a ton of games. Sounds pretty nice to me. Here's to hopin' Theo does his best Howie Mandel impression over the next few days and gets the DEAL DONE.

Patriots Update
Last Week: Miami Dolphins 21 New England Patriots 0
Record: 9-4, 1st in AFC East, 4th in AFC

Next Week vs Houston Texans (4-9)

*This may sound weird, but I'm actually less worried about the 21-0 loss since it came at the hands of the Miami Dolphins. That's not to say I was encouraged by the shutout in South Beach, but I'm not going into full blown panic mode either. The fact is, Nick Saban and the Dolphins are very familiar with what Belichick and the Patriots like to do. They know our schemes, they know some of our signals, and thanks to some interesting audio tapes they got their hands on (the league is looking into where the Dolphins obtained these tapes seeing as the NFL only gives teams game tapes without audio), apparently they knew some of Tom Brady's audible calls at the line. That being said, it still isn't acceptable that the Pats were shutout 21-0. Tom Brady looked more like Rex Grossman, Matt Light was beaten by Jason Taylor like he was caught banging his sister (sorry Zach Thomas) and the Pats secondary looked like, well, they looked like they were a group of no name street walkers (not too far from the truth). Granted Maroney was out, but you can't tell me he's the difference between a win and a 21-0 loss. Nah, they just had a bad game. It happens you know, it's just that here in Patriot country we aren't all that used to it. So, like I said, I'm not going to panic just yet, but if the Pats are anything less than impressive next week against the lowly Texans, then I will no doubt start tossing peeps under the bus. And not that mini bus that the "special" kids ride on either.

NFL News and Notes
*Think the Houston Texans still believe they made the right decision in the draft? Not only have they had to watch Reggie Bush run wild all season, but this Sunday they learned that they didn't just make the wrong pick, they may have alienated all their fans by doing so. And it's not because they passed on Bush, but on QB Vince Young. A lot of Texan fans thought this was a no-brainer. Young grew up 7 miles from Reliant Stadium in Houston, and of course won a National title at the University of Texas. Add to that, most Texan fans have already had it with current QB David Carr and would have loved nothing better than to add their prodigal son to the hometown team. Instead, Texan GM Bob McNair and head coach Gary Kubiak decided that they would stick with Carr (and their current RB Dominick Davis) and add who they believed to be the best defensive player in the draft, DE Mario Williams. Granted it's only 13 games into this season, but right now the returns aren't looking good. While Williams is struggling to make plays, Young is 6-4 in his first 10 starts along with 4 straight wins. The kid has that "it" factor that you just can't explain. His numbers will never be great, but I'll be damned if he won't carry you to some wins all by himself. The dagger? Playing for the Titans, VY will be in Houston once every season, throwing the Texans mistake in their face for a decade+ to come.

*Chargers RB LaDanian Tomlinson set the single season touchdown record this week when he ran for 3 more against the Denver Broncos, bringing his season total to 29. I've said many times throughout the season that LT is establishing himself as one of the greatest running backs of all-time, and this only helps to validate that. I will personally be rooting for him to get to 40, although I don't see it happening. But the best part is, the guy is only 6 years in, and barring injury (trust me I just knocked on wood), we could possibly see him break this record....a few times. Freaking awesome.

*Speaking of LT, If it weren't for him, the New Orleans Saints would probably be in line to win every award the 2006 season has to offer. Drew Brees leads the NFL in passing yardage (4,033), QB rating (101.2), touchdown passes (25) and is second in completion % (66.4). Not to mention he's leading a team that owns their division at 9-4 and has an inside track to a first round bye in the playoffs despite going 3-13 only a year ago. It's safe to say that if not for LT this year, Brees would be the run away winner for the MVP. Next in the Mardi Gras parade is head coach Sean Payton. Only a year ago he was helping Bill Parcells win games in Dallas. Now, he's fresh off a stomping of his mentor, and has the whole league talking about the turn around he's helped pull off on the Bayou. He's got this thing won hands down, unless some idiots decide to chose that fat, pear-shaped loser that roams the sidelines for the Jets. Finally, there's Reggie Bush. Despite being the most hyped draft pick in Saints history and starting out slowly, Bush has more than answered all his critics. His rushing might not be what people thought, but he is on pace for 100 receptions and has been scoring TDs in bunches lately. And if it's not Bush, why not the rookie from Deleware, WR Marques Colston. Before getting hurt a few weeks back, Colston might be running away with the damn thing. Even with the two missed games, the guy has gone nutty to the tune of 59 grabs, 917 yards and 7 TDs. Gotta give it to the Saints. Not only do they bounce back from a 3-13 season, but they bounce back in a city destroyed by a flood while stomping out the best teams in the league. Props to you Big Easy, for taking one of the toughest situations ever to face an NFL team and turning it into a season for the ages.

My NFL Picks
Last Week: 4-2-0

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

*Would have been nice to cap the week with a ballsy Monday Night win, but it wasn't meant to be. Good news is, 3 other games I considered picking this week all would have been winners. Now I know what you're thinking. I bet you think there were probably 4 games on top of that that I thought about picking that I would have lost right? Wrong. I'm feelin' hot bitches!

*When someone asks you to same the best coach in NCAA basketball right now, names like coach K at Duke, Bobby Knight at Texas Tech, Jim Boeheim at 'Cuse or Roy Williams at UNC might come to mind. And while all of those guys are truly great coaches that continue to impress, I'd have to give my vote to the only one of those guys to take 3 teams to the NCAA tourney in the past decade. No, not Bill Self (Kansas, Illiinois, Tulsa). I'm talking about current UCLA head coach Ben Howland. After taking Northern Arizona to the Big Dance in the 90's, Howland moved onto Pittsburgh. What did he do there? Oh, just took a totally depleted program and built them into a top tier team in the Big East as well as the country. After his astounding success there, UCLA came calling and Big Ben couldn't resist. In just his 3rd year as coach, Howland immediately brought the Bruins back to prominence by leading them to the National title game. Still no impressed? Well then try this on for size. With UCLA heavy with underclassmen, and Pitt's main rotation consisting of older players, Howland has basically recruited and coached the #1 and #2 teams in the country right now. Gotta respect that. And how amazing would a match-up between Howland and his protege, Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, meeting for a big time game come March? Def would like to see that. As for the top 10 this week, Wichita St. and UCONN stayed unbeaten, so they make their debut. The A&M Aggies weren't as lucky, as they dropped games to LSU and UCLA, dropping them out of the polls. But they are too solid to stay out for long, so look for them to make a return sooner rather than later.*

College Basketball Top 10
1. Ohio St. (8-1) 1
2. Pittsburgh (10-0) 2
3. Florida (8-2) 3
4. UCLA (8-0) 6
5. UNC (7-1) 7
6. Wisconsin (9-1) 8
7. Alabama (8-1) 5
8. Kansas (8-2) 9
9. Wichita St. (10-0) NR
10. UCONN (8-0) NR

just missed: Texas A&M, Gonzaga, Duke, LSU, Oklahoma St.
dropped: (4) Texas A&M, (10) Marquette

A.I the Answer for the Celts?
All summer long the talk around the Hub was that Allen Iverson was destined to come to the Celtics in a trade. Well, now that A.I has asked out of Philly and cleaned out his locker, that dream might be closer to reality than ever before. Problem is, I don't think any Celtics fans are going to be happy with what the C's will have to give up in return for the Answer. Because of the way the salary cap works in the NBA, the trade will not only have to be an close to equal trade in talent, but an equal trade of money as well. What does that mean for Boston? Well, A.I makes $17 million per year, so the Celts will have to send about that much per year back to the Sixers. The rumor mill has Boston giving up Theo Ratliff, Al Jefferson, Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair to get Iverson. I say Danny boy should pull the trigger. Not because I like Iverson, but because I don't think his young core of players are ever going to be good enough to get things done. Not this year, not next year, not ever. Getting Iverson will at least make things entertaining for a bit, on and off the court. The guy is a former MVP, a 7-time All Star and he has multiple scoring titles. I'm no basketball expert, but that sounds a lot better than the mess we got goin on right now. But if you asked me if I think this deal will get done between Boston and Philly, I'd have to say hell no. Fact is, Danny Ainge seems to be the only one in the league that values his young talent, so the Sixers more than likely will go for a deal with another trading partner. And that's probably a good thing. While I'm not in love with the young talent on the C's, I'd rather try and sink or swim with the guys we got for a year or two than bring in A.I only to win a few series in the LEastern Conference playoffs. Delonte West may look like he has rampant herpes, and Gerald Green may turn the ball over more than your average JV player, but this is our team Boston fans. Or should I say your team. Make the world a better place, punch Glenn Rivers MD in the face.

Friday, December 08, 2006

NFL Week 14 Picks

*It's a shame that the headline "BUSH SAVES NEW ORLEANS" doesn't have anything to do with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but hey I voted for the other guy. As for Reggie and the Saints, they are heading to Dallas this Sunday night for the game of the week. Both teams are are 2 games up in their respective divisions at 8-4 and have won at least 2 straight. I like the Saints a lot in this match-up, not necessarily to pull the road upset, but to keep it within a TD for sure. Hell, if Reggie scored 4 last week, I bet he can expose the Dallas secondary for at least one more this week. People may have questioned a few times this year if he actually was the real deal, but after last week, everyone has stopped wondering. He may only have 368 yards rushing at 3.1 a carry, but he is on pace for almost 100 catches and 800 yards receiving. I think it's safe to say New Orleans is pretty happy with the way things are working out. As for the rest of my picks this week, I'm going with 3 road teams again. Usually not a good trend for me, but I like the karma I got going picking against both the Raiders and the Texans. I love the argument that the Raiders #1 ranked pass defense can slow the Bengals and Ocho Cinco, who's averaging 150+ yards per in his last 5. When your team sucks, teams don't need to pass on you. Fewer attempts, fewer yards, leads to the "best" pass defense. That, or the "worst" team in the NFL that's not in a dirty auto-worker hell-hole. There I said it. And in case you're wondering why I didn't pick the Pats this week, it's not because I'm losing faith. Fact is, the Pats always struggle in Miami (only 2-2 in their last 4 meetings, one win in OT), and with the way the Phins have been playing lately (4-1 in last 5), I'd be surprised if they aren't in for another close one this season.*

Week 14 Picks

San Diego Chargers (-7) vs Denver Broncos
Indianapolis Colts (-1) @ Jacksonville Jaguars
New Orleans Saints (+7) @ Dallas Cowboys
Tennessee Titans (+1) @ Houston Texans
Cincinnati Bengals (-11) vs Oakland Raiders

Monday Night
St. Louis Rams (+6.5)
vs Chicago Bears

Last Week: 2-3-1


2006 Season: 39-34-6 (.532)*

*Monday Night: 8-6-0 (.571)

Notes
Boston Red Sox: Shocker. Manny appears to be staying. Francona says he wants him, and Theo can't seem to find "fair value" out there for him, so it looks like he'll spend another season wizzin' in the Monstah. Good. I mean none of us like his attitude, but what are you gonna do? Let Manny be Manny for two more years and we might even score another ring, you never know. And while the talk of moving ManRam may have dominated the Winter Meetings, other moves the Sox actually did make have me worried sick. Mistake #1: David Jonathan Drew (apparently he's also dyslexic?) finally made it official and signed for $70 million over 5 years. I've already said how I feel about this guy (see: lazy, huge puss, etc.). I agreed with letting Johnny Damon go, but it's not looking good that we wouldn't give him 4 years $52 mil with the loot we just shelled out for Nancy Drew. Everyone who's anyone contends this guy can't play under the pressure of the Boston market, but Theo disagrees. We'll see if Mr. Epstein is right, or if this move is looked back on as the one that led to his second Gorilla suit exit. I'd bet on the latter. Moving on. Mistake #2: Julio Lugo signs for 4 years and $36 million. As a Sox fan, I still am awaiting an explanation as to why Alex Gonzalez wasn't brought back for '07 and beyond. The man played the best defensive shortstop ever seen in the Bean, and probably one of the best of all-time not to earn a Gold Glove. I don't wanna hear how he didn't provide enough offense either. Lugo himself is only a .278 career hitter and sports career highs of .295, 15 HR, 75 RBI, with none of those coming in the same season. While Gonzo is never going to hit for average, at least he has shown potential for pop with 18 HR and 77 RBI in '03 and 23/79 in '04. Give him time and I'm sure he would have become a more productive hitter in the AL to go along with that stellar D. Oh yea. And for all you thinking Julio Lugo is a young guy (Frosco likes to use the logic that "people think just if you played on the D-Rays, then you must be a young guy"), he's 31, 2 years older than Gonzo. I guess the shortstop saga is just destined to continue. Speaking of drawn out sagas... Mistake #3: We are less than a week away from the deadline to sign Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Scott Boras is sending out signals that no deal will get done. I tend not to believe a lot of things I hear in the media during negotiations like this, especially when it comes from Scott Boras, but I gotta say things aren't sounding all that encouraging. I don't know why people assumed Daisuke would take #2 starter money after the Sox bid $52 mil just to talk to him. And now with the market going insane, (Ted Lilly 4 years $40 mil, Gil Meche 5/$55 and Vicente Padilla 3/$34) Matsuzaka only has more leverage. I don't even blame the guy. When middle of the road bums like Meche, Lilly and Padilla are scoring $10+ mil per year deals, why shouldn't he get at least that? My take is, if you're going to pay all that money to talk to him, just get the deal done. I mean what's worse, making that bid and then not signing him, or overpaying? The kid looks legit, so let's get the deal done. If he sucks, then he sucks. But hey we've come this far, so let's pay the man and find out what we got. And finally Mistake #4: Moving Jonathan Papelbon to the starting rotation long before finding a solution at closer. Don't get me wrong, I think moving Pap to the rotation is a great move, but only if there's someone capable to replace him. Where's the veteran to at least help challenge Manny Del Carmen and Craig Hansen? Buzz is the Sox have a shot at Octavio Dotel if he doesn't go to KC, but also that Eric Gagne is asking for way too much money. Theo admitted this week that he has a horrible track record when it comes to the bullpen. While we're all glad he can admit when he's wrong, I'd also like to hear a new plan of action. I guess all the confusion is just par for the course up at Fenway these days, because nobody can seem to figure out what this team is doing.

Boston Bruins:
Hey, hockey may still be for bearded losers and Euro-trash, but I like to give credit where credit is due. After stumbling out of the gate at 4-7-2, the B's are 10-3-0 in their last 13 games and have pulled to within one point of a playoff spot in the East. I mean, we all know they will get booted in the first round even if they somehow make the playoffs, but hey it's nice to entertain the kids with a few marks in the W column now and then.


Boston Celtics: I'm still awaiting my copy of Glen Rivers' doctorate degree. In the meantime, things seem to be getting even worse (yea I didn't think that was possible either) for the 5-12 Boston Celtics. When Kendrick Perkins is saying "It seems like we have too many chiefs and not enough Indians", you know you've got serious issues. Not just because your players are speaking out against the team to the media, but also because their analogies are so bad they make Anna Nicole Smith look like a Rhodes Scholar. Not enough Indians? How bout, "Too many Docs, and not enough nurses?" Just a thought. Personally, I think it's more the fact that there's too many Mormons, even though there's only one. Danny and Glen both need to go, and the sooner the better. I'm not saying that alone can turn this franchise around, but there aren't too many guys in the league that are doing poorer jobs than them. Let's just hope the front office acts soon before Zeke becomes available. LARRY! PLEASE COME BACK AND SAVE US!!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Pats, Wise and the BCS

MOTOWN ALMOST TOO MUCH
Gulp. Well a win is a win right? I mean, just because one of the worst franchises in the league marches into your pad and takes you to the wire, it still counts as a dubbya right? Of course it does. Which is why after weeks like this, you simply mark it in the win column and move on. But wow did that make you sweat huh? I'd predicted a 24-0 final score, and all the "experts" had similar predictions, so needless to say it was a little much to watch the score at 21-21 in the fourth quarter. But the defense prevailed again, and with a few key picks by Asante Samuel and Mike Vrabel, all was not lost. It easily could have been though. Despite turning the ball over 5 times in a victory over the Chicago Bears, this was probably an even sloppier win. The usually potent Pats rushing attack mustered only 79 yards on 24 carries while Tom Terrific was 27-38 with 305 yards and an interception. Not bad, but not terrific. Also not helping the cause were 3 fumbles in the game, 2 of which the Patriots lost. Lucky for them, Mike Vrabel alone caused 3 Detroit turnovers (2 picks and one fumble recovery) and Asante Samuel and backup DL Mike Wright also added one each. That's been the story of late for the Pats, surviving despite their own mistakes. And while it's good to know that your team can overcome turnovers, it's not something you want to continue doing. So while it looks like the Pats can just coast into the playoffs at 9-3, they need to work on cutting down their turnovers or they will find themselves watching most of the postseason from home....again. Next week is arguably the game that always gives the Pats the most problems, and that's playing @ Miami. Miami's defense has been very good this year, and if the Pats continue to cough up the bean, it could make for yet another nightmarish adventure in south Florida.

*And just a note worth mentioning even though god for bid I hope it won't happen. With the NC State Wolfpack prying Paul Johnson away from Navy to be their head coach, it means the Midshipmen have an opening. Hmm...can I think of a guy who has achieved everything possible in the NFL and would consider following his father as Navy head coach? That's right Pats fans, none other than Bill Belichick. Hopefully Navy fills the job soon and we can all stop holding our collective breath. But, if that job stays vacant into the NFL off-season, I'm not gonna lie, I'll be a little nervous.

Patriots Update
Last Week: New England Patriots 28 Detroit Lions 21
Record: 9-3, 1st in AFC East, 4th in AFC

Next Week @ Miami Dolphins (5-7) <----sneaky bastards

NFL News and Notes
*I hate to come off as the typical Mass-hole taking pleasure in the meltdown of a New York sports team, but if I must I must. Watching the New York Giants play these days is better than when Danny Bonaduce slit his own wrists on his reality TV show. And that was amazing let me tell you. Whether they are singing in the locker room, dogging it on the field, or just flat out blowing games, these guys are fun to watch. And does any team get more personal foul calls than the G-Men? They hit guys after the whistle, they grab face masks, they hit low, you name it. And their head coach isn't much better. Always known as a disciplinarian, Tom Coughlin appears to be anything but on the sidelines. I have no idea what goes on in his practices, but the way he throws tantrums on the sideline like a 3-year-old with a severe case of diaper rash makes me feel his team is just following his example on the field. These boys are lucky they are in the NFC, cuz even at 6-6 they are still right in the playoff mix. But the real question now seems to be, can they even make it 4 more games without totally imploding? Nah. I'm predicting that by the end of the year Coughlin is as good as gone, and most of the Giant faithful will be calling for Eli's head. Woo hoo!

*I don't read newspapers from the Chicago metro area, but if the headline "Gross-Man!" wasn't used, then someone should slap Jay Mariotti like the smug little journalistic prostitute that he is. When your QB sports a rating of 1.3 in a victory, and his name has the words "gross" and "man" in it, it should make every sports editor's job a little easier. I'll tell you whose job it doesn't make easier though and that's Lovie Smith. Everyone is calling for Brian Greise to replace Rex and some are even calling for (I never thought I'd say this) last year's QB Kyle Orton. But Lovie says his team is 10-2 and he doesn't see a reason to change this far into a season. While I have to agree with team chemistry being important at this point of the season, I'd have to say having an effective QB is more important. The Bears have arguably the best defense in the league, yet they sit behind the Colts, Pats, Cowboys, Chargers and Ravens in the line for Super Bowl favorites. Why? Because Rex is awful. Lovie may be right. The Bears might be good with Rex for the rest of the regular season, but when they go one and done in the playoffs again, who is going to take most of the blame? Do yourself a favor Lovie, put in Greise now. Save your fans, and save your Super Bowl hopes.

*Seeing as I was a little too young to have been able to fully appreciate Barry Sanders, I have no problem saying that LaDanian Tomlinson is the best football player I have ever seen. I know I've said it before, but seriously, WOW. He's just a pimp. Plain and simple. Two more TDs this week puts him just 2 behind the 28 Shawn Alexander put up last year, and now it's only a matter of time before he breaks the record. Only sad part is that he will most certainly be on the cover of Madden next year. But hey, at the rate he's going, if anyone can break the Madden curse, it's LT.

My NFL Picks
Last Week: 2-3-1

2006 Season:
39-34-6 (.532)

*I have to give props to Page 2's Bill Simmons. Right after making my picks this week I read his picks and noticed he picked against the KC Chiefs. His reasoning? Well let's see. A Herm Edwards team was on a roll. Need I say more? Shouldn't I have known that Herm was eventually going to ruin a good thing against a bad team like the Browns? Yes I should have. Shame on me. I deserve all the losses I get when I make irrational picks like that. Screw you Herm.

I don't see the big deal. The number 1 and 2 teams in the polls won, so they meet for the National Title right? Oh, wait. That was in my poll. So sue me. I happen to think the BCS got the match up right. Florida won the toughest conference in the country, so they deserve a shot at Ohio St. But what message is the BCS sending? Did the swing in support for Florida come because people didn't want to see a rematch? Or was it that with their win over Arkansas, the Gators proved they were more worthy than Michigan? I say it's a combination of the Florida win, the fear of a rematch and the fact that Michigan hadn't played in a few weeks. The real question is, would Florida have jumped Michigan if USC had won? That's the real mystery here. It seems obvious to me that the voters decided that they were going to bump Florida ahead simply to avoid a rematch, which isn't how the system is supposed to work. But let's not even get into the "playoff" argument right now. Instead, let's look forward to bowl season....about a month from now. So here are the BCS match ups for the '07 bowl season. Believe me, I think all but one of these games is bogus, but seeing as we have a month to wait for them, you will also have to wait to see which one I think is legit...

BCS Championship: Ohio St. (12-0) vs Florida (11-1)

Fiesta Bowl: Boise St. (12-0) vs Oklahoma (11-2)

Rose Bowl: USC (10-2) vs Michigan (11-1)

Sugar Bowl: LSU (10-2) vs Notre Dame (10-2)

Orange Bowl: Wake Forest (11-2) vs Louisville (11-1)

I'm telling you right now. Florida didn't drop in my poll because they lost. The Gators may have fallen to Florida St. this week, but it was the loss of star F Corey Brewer to mono that led me to evict them from their #1 perch. After all, my poll is a reflection of who I think would win the NCAA tourney if it started today. They would be without him, therefore wouldn't be as good. You follow? Good. While Brewer dropped out of sight this week, Greg "Wise LeBron" Oden made his long awaited debut for Ohio St. to much acclaim. Oden dropped 14 points had 10 boards and 6 blocks in limited action, and mostly using his left hand! Due to a wrist injury that kept him out of the season to this point, Oden was forced to use his left hand for most of his moves around the basket and on free throws. That's just scary. I can't wait till he's healthy, because then his 7-1 Buckeyes will be really tough to stop. As for the rest of the top 10, I'm still in shuffle mode a bit but it's evening out. Texas A&M is for sure the team to watch this week though with match ups against UCLA and LSU, both Final Four teams from a year ago. Also, we'll see how good 'Cuse actually is as they head to their home away from Dome in MSG to tango with my mainest mens, the undefeated OK State Cowboys. Should be a great week of hoops...

College Basketball Top 10
1. Ohio St. (7-1) 2
2. Pittsburgh (8-0) 3
3. Florida (7-2) 1
4. Texas A&M (7-0) 5
5. Alabama (7-0) 7
6. UCLA (6-0) 10
7. UNC (6-1) NR
8. Wisconsin (8-1) 9
9. Kansas (7-2) 4
10. Marquette (8-1) 6

just missed: Wichita St., Butler, LSU, UCONN, Gonzaga, OK State
dropped: (8) Syracuse

Big Games This Week
12/5
Oklahoma St. vs Syracuse (Jimmy V Classic @ MSG)
Louisville vs Arizona (Jimmy V Classic @ MSG)
Texas A&M @ LSU
Gonzaga @ Washington St.

12/6
Providence @ Florida
Memphis @ Tennessee

12/7
Alabama @ Notre Dame

12/9
Wisconsin @ Marquette
Texas A&M vs UCLA (Wooden Classic @ Anaheim)
Washington @ Gonzaga
Arizona @ San Diego St (San Diego Slam)

12/10
Maryland @ Boston College
LSU vs Texas (Houston, TX)

MLB Winter Meetings
*The Texas Rangers just signed Vincente Padilla to a 3 year $34 million deal. Insanity. The 29 year old Padilla has a career line of 66-61 with a 4.06 ERA in 7 seasons, all but one in the NL. Heck, last year for the Rangers he was a mere 15-10 with a 4.50 ERA. Apparently there is ridiculous cash to be had on the free agent market if you can breathe and there is a P next to your name. That's good news for guys like Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt, who were already in line to get big dollars this winter, but even better news for middle of the rotation guys like Gil Meche and Ted Lilly. Lilly was thought to be out of his mind when he was said to be asking for 4 years and $40 million, but now that looks like a bargain! I mean hell, he does have a career mark of 59-58 with a 4.60 ERA. Damn, even Chan Ho Park thinks that contracts have gotten out of control this off-season.

*There's 3 major issues on the hot stove for Red Sox fans during these winter meetings. The perennial, "What's the deal with Manny?" The, "What's the deal with that Japanese dude we paid an ass load of money to talk to?". And lastly, "It's not true that we are really signing JD Drew is it?...Is it?". So, what's the deal with Manny? If Manny knew, then I might have a shot at guessing, but I don't think he even knows. I've heard trade rumors all over the map, so to even speculate at this point would make me dizzy. But let's just say (again) that Manny will likely be traded. I'll deal more with that when and if it actually happens. As for Japanese import Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Sox have about 9 days left to negotiate a deal or else back to Japan for the Dais-Man. They should get a deal done, but with the inflation of pitching contracts over here in the states, they may end up paying a lot more than they wanted. But it's only money right? And as for Nancy Drew? I pray every day that all the rumors aren't true, but it doesn't seem to be helping. Hey I did my part by signing the petition to try and keep that fool out of town, but it didn't seem to do much. Get used to him in the OF Sox fans, and get used to the WEEI callers constantly comparing his production/salary ratio to that of another JD that recently left for the Bronx. Boooooo Drewwwwww.

*I'm sayin it hear right now to end all speculation. If the awful rumor I heard was true, then the Red Sox have possible interest in Barry Bonds should Manny move onto greener pastures with better outfield "facilities". Should Barry come to the Bean, make no mistake about it, I will forfeit my support for the Boston Red Sox. Simply put, they will have become everything that is wrong with baseball, in essence, the Yankees. I will then use the 2007 season to chose a new team to throw my loyalties too, and I already have a few in mind but I will keep them to myself for now.

*Oh and just one final Sox note. It appears as though former beloved dirt dog Trot Nixon will end up playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates next season. As much as I felt Nixon underperformed while in Boston, I must say that he deserves a much better fate than that. He may have never lived up to lofty expectations in the Bean, but I'll be damned if that guy didn't give 100% on every play. And I know that's cliche to say, but that guy truly looked like he was having fun and he was giving it his all. I won't lie and say I'm going to miss his production, but I will miss his spirit, will to win and his constantly dirty cap. I just plead to the rest of the league...SOMEBODY PLEASE PICK HIM UP SO HE DOESN'T HAVE TO PLAY FOR THE PIRATES!! Hell, I think if that's the only offer he gets, the Sox should ask if he wants to play for Pawtucket. I'd take that over dirty, coal mining, inbreeding western PA any day. That's right, I just chose the "Bucket" over somewhere that isn't a prison, dungeon, downtown Syracuse or Guantanamo Bay.



Big Mac on Cooperstown Menu?

I didn't get to touch on this last week when the Hall of Fame class of 2007 was announced, so I figured I should hit on it this week. Plain and simple, I would vote for Mark McGwire for the Hall of Fame. Yea, I'm pretty sure he used roids, and yea I'm pretty sure he lied to Congress, but what does that mean? I look at it this way. The baseball writers knew that Mark was juicing, and chose not to expose him. So now the writers are voting for the Hall of Fame. They allowed this guy's career to flourish, but now they don't want to let him in because it looks like he was probably a cheater? Get over yourselves. You can't have it both ways. You guys chose not to out him when he was playing, and MLB chose not to test for roids while he was playing. They created the environment, and he thrived in it. I don't care for the man for what he did, but I can't say I blame him. Until the writers and the league have enough balls to admit that they were just as guilty in the steroid era as the players, then the players of the "Artificial Age" will have trouble getting in the Hall. Why? Because with each Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa plaque hung in Cooperstown, it will just be a stinging reminder to baseball purists about the era in which they let money and popularity trump "the good of the game", and I don't think they can handle that. At least not yet...


Fantasy Update
Last Week: Otis Nixon's Pubes 61 Team PAPES 81
Record: 7-6-0, 10th place

*It took 4 straight wins for me to move from 10th to 6th, but only one loss to send me right back there. I suppose if you predict your own demise often enough, it's sure to happen. Like I predicted, my team came almost all the way back, only to lose on the final week of the season and miss the playoffs, courtesy of a tiebreaker. Oh well, now I can become immersed in college hoops to the point where I go absolutely insane second guessing myself to death come March. Money in the bank!