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Friday, September 28, 2007

Are You Ready For A Blowout?!?!


When I started making my picks this week, I liked how a lot of them followed trends I like to use. You know, like a home team that's only a slight favorite, or a road dog getting a ton of points. Well, after all was said and done, I ended up with 4 road favorites, and a home team (the Colts) favored by almost double digits against arguably one of the best defenses in the league. Sketchy at best, I know, but I do have some logic behind my selections. The Packers are rolling, and the Vikings are offensively inept. Advantage, Pack. The Broncos are inconsistent at best, so far this year, and if they lost at home to Jacksonville, I can't say I like their chances on the road against Peyton and his plethora of weapons. Advantage, Colts. Bills suck. Advantage Jets. Falcons suck, advantage Texans. Nah, it's really more like I feel the Texans are semi-legit, and Matt Schaub wants to stick it to his old team. Besides, don't the Falcons start Joey Harrington? My final pick of the week is the surging Philadelphia Eagles over the G-Men @ Giant Stadium. I was impressed that the Giants were able to hold on last week to beat Washington with a goal line stand, but that seemed more like Gibbs and crew blowing it, than the boys in Blue winning it if you ask me. Basically, the Eagles have both an offense and a defense, and the Giants have an offense....sometimes. Advantage, Eagles. I know picking Philly to win all these games, and riding with Brian Westbrook on my fantasy squad, is bound to catch up with me, but I need these PedoPhillies to win. Some call it selling your soul to the worst sports city in the country, I call in strictly bidness. Yup, that's how I roll...

Week 4 Picks
Green Bay Packers (-2) @ Minnesota Vikings
Indianapolis Colts (-9.5) vs Denver Broncos
New York Jets (-3) @ Buffalo Bills
Houston Texans (-2.5) @ Atlanta Falcons
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) @ New York Giants


Monday Night
New England Patriots (-7.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals

*I was a little worried during the middle of the week when this game was taken off the board for a while, but now that it's back, I'm pumped and ready to roll. Again, I fail to see how a team with an average margin of victory of 26 points, is only favored by 7, but then again, I have a below .500 record this season. However, that's not gonna stop me from takin' the Pats, the points, and calling it a stone cold LOCK. More TDs for Moss, Brady and Lord knows who else. Pats roll, 41-16. Where the challenge is peeps? Where the challenge is?

Last Week: 4-2-0

Overall: 7-9-2 (.445)

FYI: I don't like choosing over/unders for my picks each week, but if you want a "sure thing", I'd take the over 46 on the Dallas/St. Louis game. Dallas can't defend the pass, St. Louis loves to pass, and the St. Louis D has little to offer in the form of resistance for Romo, TO, Witten, Barber and CO. Money in the bank...

I am a man of my word, and since I promised I would start giving you my college picks every week, here they are. I could take time to explain why I made each pick, but for both my good and yours, just assume I picked a team to win for one of the following reasons...

1) They are the better team...

2) Both teams are kind of even, but this team was at home...

3) The spread was too big, and I got slightly frightened (see: Hawaii, Texas)

And so help me God. If by posting my NCAA picks, I ruin the good karma I have going in my picks pool, I will strike down upon thee with fierce vengeance and furious anger! Haven't you seen my movies!!

NCAA Top 25 Picks
(1) USC (-20.5) @ Washington

(2) LSU (-40.5) @ Tulane

(3) Oklahoma (-22.5) @ Colorado

(4) Florida (-18) vs Auburn

(18) South Florida (+7) vs (5) West Virginia

(6) California (+6) @ (11) Oregon

Kansas St. (+14.5) @ (7) Texas

(8) Ohio St. (-23.5) @ Minnesota

(9) Wisconsin (-7.5) vs Michigan St.

(10) Rutgers (-16.5) vs Maryland

(12) Boston College vs UMASS (off)

(13) Clemson (-3) @ Georgia Tech

(14) Kentucky vs Florida Atlantic (off)

(15) Georgia (-15) vs Mississippi

(16) South Carolina (-13.5) vs Mississippi St.

(17) Virginia Tech (-18) vs North Carolina

Idaho (+25) vs (19) Hawaii

Illinois (+3) vs (21) Penn St.

(22) Alabama (+2.5) @ Florida St.

(23) Arizona St. (-14) @ Stanford

(24) Cincinnati (-14) @ San Diego St.

(25) Nebraska (-21)
vs Iowa St.

Last Week: 12-9-0

Overall: 49-31-1 (.611)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I'm Surrounded By Idiots!!!

38 Caliber Killers
Another week, another 38 points, and another blowout win for the "dynastic" New England Patriots. And yea, if you think you've already read this headline somewhere, then you're probably right. I had the headline "38 Special" all ready to go on Sunday night, but seeing as I'm apparently as creative (/ way more creative) than most major newspaper editors around the country, it's already been used, and I've been forced to alter my genius. Hey, if they need to copy me to get by, then by all means, just know that I'm onto your games, corporate America! Anyway, what I really want to talk about, is the latest smack down by the Patriots which I am calling, #3 of 19. In the short time since the Pats 3rd straight 38 point performance, I've heard countless analysts talk about how there is no way the Pats can go undefeated. In their defense, most point to the fact that the league is just too good, not that the Pats aren't good enough, but I still beg to differ (oh please let me differ!).

Teams like the Colts and Broncos have come close to perfection in recent memory, but I honestly think the Pats are better than either of those squads, and therefore have a better shot at turning the trick for the first time since the '72 Dolphins, and the first time in modern history (16 game schedule). They have the largest scoring margin through three games of any team since the 1996 Packers, who ironically enough went on to beat the Pats in the Super Bowl that year. Add to that, both Tom Brady and Randy Moss are on pace to break the record for touchdowns at their respective positions, and the defense is giving up only 11.7 points per game. Not a bad little combination they got goin' on there, huh?

Now, granted, it's only week 3, and there are still plenty of injury hurdles and "trap games" to avoid along the way, but I like their chances. Let's just put it this way. If there were ever a team since 1972 that had a truly good chance of going undefeated and winning the Super Bowl, it's this one. Don't let this opportunity pass, fellas, cuz it's time to go from "dynasty," to "best franchise of ALL TIME!" Woooooo!

Patriots Update
Overall:
3-0

Next Week @ Cincinnati Bengals (1-2) on Monday Night

Tackle Box
*I've always said that the best people Syracuse University has churned out, especially when it comes to sports, are those that don't graduate, and I'd like to take this time to thank former Orange wideout, Qadry "the Missile" Ismail, for making my point. Ismail, the younger brother of Notre Dame star Raghib "the Rocket" Ismail, now works for ESPN, and decided he should come out with a power ranking in regard to the NFL. Here's his "professional" ranking of the top 3 teams in the league:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

2. Indianapolis Colts

3. New England Patriots

Now, I'm all for being different, and I'm all for giving the defending champs the benefit of the doubt, but what the hell is his hard on for the Pittsburgh Steelers? Two home wins against Buffalo and San Fran, and a road win against the Browns. Ummmm, what? Props to Mike Tomlin for getting that team on the right page, and props to Big Ben and Willie Parker for starting out quick, but what has Ismail seen that the rest of us haven't? Oh wait, he's just another idiot with a Syracuse degree! (that sound you hear is laughter from me, Carmelo Anthony, Bob Costas, Mike Tirico and Marv Albert....wait, I guess that wasn't Marv laughing, so much as it was him telling the hooker he hired to "do that again....yes!"

*Speaking of Syracuse alumnus, Donovan McNabb had 5 incompletions on his way to 381 yards and 4 TDs Sunday against the Lions. Now, that's good 'n' all, but if he were white, he wouldn't have had any incompletions. I mean, that's what he wants me to say, right? Shut up and play ball D-Mac, because apparently, you're pretty good when you decide to do just that.

*And just to keep it all Cuse, all the time, let's hear it for the Orange football team and their win on the road against Louisville! Let's forget the fact that it looked like Louisville was playing with 8 dudes, and focus on the fact that the Cuse managed to win on the road, despite being 36.5 point underdogs! Wow! Congrats, Greg Robinson, you just bought yourself the rest of the season on the sidelines, but I wouldn't stop clearing out my Manley Fieldhouse office just yet. After all, there are some problems, like having your star QB recruit from 2 years ago now playing defense, that may be just a little too hard to overcome. / you suck at coaching, and got lucky.

My NFL Picks
Last Week:
4-2-0

Overall: 7-9-2 (.445)

*There are few things cooler than telling someone you think one team is gonna win, having them tell you that your pick doesn't make sense, and then watch the team you picked cover the spread by almost 30 points. Thank you Vince Young, and thank you Tennessee, for making me look smart, and making oh so many of my friends look like morons. Also, that win pushed me over the top, and gave me a nice winning week to get my season kick started. Look out, punks, cuz I'm comin...

And, by popular demand, I'm going to start posting my Top 25 college picks each week. Hey, I figure I'm doin so well picking those games, I might as well share the wealth. Here's a little preview of how I've been doing...

Last Week: 12-9-0

Overall: 49-31-1 (.611)

Red Sox Update
Overall: 94-62, 1st in AL East by 2 games
Status: Two game lead, 6 games to go. Kinda speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Diamonds Are Forever
*Is Milton Bradley not the craziest mother not named John Rocker in the history of baseball, or what? If you haven't seen the videos from the bizarre incident, I've posted them below, but I also have a few comments on the topic. If you ask me, and most of you do, Bradley was totally baited by umpire Mike Winters, and it's Winters that deserves to be punished. Bradley has been an absolute terror on the field in years past, and probably deserves whatever he gets, but if Winters did actually insight the argument by calling Milton a "piece of shit," then it is Winters who's at fault. Personally, if I were Bradley, I'd think about suing the over zealous ump. I mean, Bradey's now gonna miss the entire post season, and likely a little bit of next season with his torn ACL, so why not sue for lost wages, right? Either way, watching Bud Black come onto the field, tackle Bradley, and then watching Bradley writhe in pain on the ground, was arguably the funniest and most bizarre thing I've ever seen on a baseball field before.






*One more moron that deserves mentioning, is former Red Sox "Mo Vaughn replacement" (Dan Duquette's words, not mine), Jose Offerman. Offerman plead not guilty in court this week to assault for the incident in which he charged the mound, and swung his bat at the opposing pitcher. I'm sorry, Jose....have you not seen this?



Props to the dude that put that video together. There actually wasn't any live footage released, and this is pretty damn good. Not to mention the crazy techno beats....unce, unce, unce, unce, unce, unce, unce (that's me trying to write what I think techno music sounds like...wow that was a mouthful)


News and Notes
*Oh wait, I pre empted myself. Turns out, there are plenty of morons left for me to pick on, not the least of which being, Iron Mike Tyson. Tyson plead guilty this week to felony drug possession of cocaine, and may now face up to 4 years in prison. Who on earth would have thought that a convicted rapist, with a face tat and a history of biting people's ears off, would be into blowcaine? I, for one, am just shocked, and hope that Mike will soon come out with evidence to clear his name! OR get another face tat while in the joint....Yeah, the second one is definitely what I'm lookin' for. (FYI: I hear Jesus gives the ill tat, as long as he's not at a dog fight)

*And, since this appears to be the "idiot" edition of Now You Know, I have to believe that many more of them are about to be uncovered in the DEA's "Raw Deal" steroid investigation. According to published reports, the DEA has sprung into action with their steroid sting, and the results have been quite bountiful. As many as 26 laboratories have been shut down or labeled as steroid factories, 120 people arrested and over 11 million doses of steroids or HGH have been confiscated. The long and short of it is, the DEA has effectively traced the production and sale of the roids, that I like the call the "PIPES-Line," from China, to Mexico, and then into the United States. This is big news, people. I gotta think, that if that's the way the bulk of these illegal muscle builders were getting into the country, then more than a few of these "boutique" pharmacies, like the ones used by Roidney Harrison and Rick Ankiel, are going to be shut down and their owners and operators prosecuted. Then, comes the fun stuff. Those guys are gonna start singing like canaries, to avoid jail time of course, and start giving the DEA every name they can think of to help save their own ass. Result? Lots of big time athletes, from lots of big time teams, are goin' down, down, down. Trust me, if this thing is half as big as I think it is, and 1/4 as big as the DEA is claiming it is, then there may not be a single sports team in a single city that's left untouched by this whole scandal. Get ready for heroes to become tainted, records to be questioned, and hearts to be broken. It's time for pro sports to pay the piper for all their years of indiscretion, and by George, it's bound to get nasty...

Fantasy Update
Last Week: Make It Reign! 111 Her Name is Ho Ho 37
Overall: 2-1-0, 4th place, 2nd in overall points

Next Week vs Sloppy Africans (0-3)

*That was certainly the easiest win I've ever had. Now, I move onto probably the worst team I have ever faced. To make things even better, I go into this week against a team that I recently defrauded in a trade (Brian Westbrook/Donte Stallworth for Ahman Green/Hines Ward). Let's just put it this way, both Green and Ward went down with injuries this weekend, and Westbrook ran wild for 100+ yards rushing and receiving, and 3 scores. If Westbrook can play the role of LT, and I still have LT, well....let's just say I like my chances.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sox September Swoon & Week 3 Picks

The Sox are sputtering, yet nobody seems to take much notice. After all, they're already in the playoffs, right? Yeah, and if you feel good saying that to yourself, then you can't see the dog fight through the trees, my simple minded friend. You can call it the return of the curse if you like, or you can just call it what it is, a complete and epic reversal of fortune. All season long, it was the Sox that avoided injuries, and kept getting big performances from "supporting" players to carry the load. Fast forward to now, and you have Okajima, Ortiz and Ramirez all dinged up, and not to mention minor injuries to both Crisp and Youkilis. The pen is imploding, the bats have gone silent, and thanks to some questionable managerial moves by Tito Francona, the Yanks are knockin' on the AL East door, and the team looks as though even if they do make the "tournament", they're gonna get smacked harder than Matt Clement's face.

No disrespect intended to the Yanks, who have put the pressure on by going 45-21 (.682) compared to the Sox 37-29 (.561) since the All Star break, but this is basically all on the Sox if they collapse and lose the division.
That being said, it's a lot easier to stomach the Sox choke job with the way the Pats have exploded out of the gates. After totally dismantling both the Jets and Chargers to the tune of 38-14, you can virtually lock in the fact that the Pats will win by just as much at home this week against the hapless Bills. If they beat San Diego and New York by 24 each (and one of those was on the road), then what's to say they can't at least do the same against the 0-2 Bills? It may look like a big point spread now, but it won't when the score is 42-3, and Matt Gutierrez is lighting up the Buffalo practice squad. Next up, we have the Chargers, fresh off their spanking in Foxborough, traveling to Green Bay. The Packers have been solid so far this year, but this is simply a case of the AFC being better than the NFC. Ask yourself, do you think we're gonna see the SD that beat the Bears, or the one that lost to the Pats? My answer? Green Bay aint New England, and I'll just leave it at that. The Falcons are quickly becoming the "oh who are they playing this week, cuz I'll take that other team!" squad of '07. It looked like Cleveland, Oakland and KC had potential, but you Atlanta, you're the winner. So naturally, I'm taking the Panthers. I know it's the nutty NFC South, where nothing ever seems to happen as it should, but I'm just hoping this is one week Jake Delhomme and crew burn the opposing secondary, and not me. In the next game, Indy V Houston, I found myself flip flopping quite a bit. I told you before the season that the Texan D would help them win more games than most thought, and that's why I'm going with them here. I know Andre Johnson is out, but I just think 6 points is a lot to be giving a divisional rival at home. I'd feel a lot better if the number were 8+ in case of a blowout, but I think the Texans are gonna run on the smallish Indy defense, the same way Tennessee did, and keep it close. My final game of the week, is one that is sure to determine the front runner for 2007 NFC champion. I like the Cowboys a lot, but I think their suspect secondary is ripe for the picking, even by Not So Sexy Rexy and the Bears. OK, maybe Rex still sucks, but my real conern here is Tony Romo vs the vaunted Bears D. I know Romo has been solid so far this year, but he still hasn't proven he's all that great under pressure. And you better believe there's going to be a plethera of Chicago defenders in the backfield with him all year long. The Boys are prolly better suited for a long run come post season, but for this week, I like the Bears to hold court with some nasty D, and prolly a defensive or special teams touchdown.

Finally, there's the Monday night tilt between the struggling Saints, and the inconsistent Titans. I like how the Titans can run the ball, and I like how Vince Young steps up in big games, so I'm taking the road dogs, and the 4.5 points. Now, just to warn ya, I was burned on Monday night last year by the Saints in their first '07 home game (vs Atlanta), but I just feel a different vibe this time around. The pathetic Saints offense could burt out of the gate, riding high on emotion, but even if that does happen, I like the Titans to keep it close...


Week 3 Picks
San Diego Chargers (-4.5) @ Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots (-16.5) vs Buffalo Bills
Carolina Panthers (-4) @ Atlanta Falcons
Houston Texans (+7) vs Indianapolis Colts
Chicago Bears (-2.5) vs Dallas Cowboys

Monday Night
Tennessee Titans (+4.5) @ New Orleans Saints

Overall: 3-7-2 (.333)

Now, I understand that you're losing faith in my Nostradamus-like abilities after my first two weeks, but I give you this as a ray of hope. In my Top 25 College Pick 'Em pool, I lead the pack with a record of 37-22-1 (.625). So, there is some knowledge in there, somewhere. The goal now is to harness it, and guide my positive energy in the right direction. I feel big things comin' baby, big things. (note: I usually say that, and check my record out. That glass is half as full as a motha fucka!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

OJ Simpson Wants His Shit Back!


YOU STAY CLASSY, SAN DIEGO
If that wasn't an ass kicking, then I guess I've never seen one before. Wooo Eeeee. Another week, another 38-14 win and another dismantling of a team many predict to be in the playoffs. What happened on the field between the Patriots and Chargers on Sunday night wasn't a football game, it was a statement. It reads as follows:

"We are the best team in football. It's not even close. Anyone that wants a piece can bring it, and we will crush you like the stale Pall Mall's that you are. You want to call us cheaters, you want to call us arrogant? Fuel the fire, bitches, and feel the wrath."

OK, so maybe that's not a direct quote, and maybe I'm coming off as a huge "homer" here, but you get my point. San Diego was supposed to be right there with New England and Indy, yet the Pats just destroyed them. I guess you could say San Diego is overrated, but I think that's just a way of denying how good the Pats really are. That Charger D-Line is the best in football, yet they didn't touch Brady all night, and allowed Morris and Maroney to run all over them for 144 yards (4.5 yards per carry). My big question coming into the season, was whether or not the offensive line was going to give Brady enough time to properly utilize his new weapons. Well, after 2 weeks, that answer is a resounding, YES. With Brady having enough time in the pocket to sort out all of his non-marital affairs, there's no defense in football that's going to be able to hang, plain and simple.

That's not even talking about the defense, which held LT to 44 yards, and the explosive Charger offense to only 14 measly points. And did you see Adalius Thomas take that interception back for a touchdown? Holy mother of God is that guy an athletic freak. Those are plays you used to see from Vrabel and Bruschi, and it's glad to see that dimension of the defense is back in full force.

It's time to face the facts. The Pats are ill, they can't be stopped, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that if this team stays healthy, they will go 19-0. You heard me. It's not because I'm a fan, and this isn't a knee jerk reaction. I know football (though my current picks record will say otherwise), and this is the best team I've ever seen, period.

Patriots Update
Overall: 2-0, 1st in AFC East (only team in division with a win)

Next week vs Buffalo Bills (0-2)

Tackle Box
*Usually, I'd throw news about former athletes in my News and Notes section, but in the case of OJ Simpson, I think I'm just too giddy to wait. Can you blame me? This guy is just hysterical. According to audio evidence and eyewitness accounts, Orenthal rounded up some people at a wedding reception, and stormed into a man's room with guns demanding that he turn over sports memorabilia that OJ claimed was his. Now, for whatever reason. sting or otherwise, the man in the hotel room, at the Palace Station in Vegas, had an audio recorder running, and caught OJ and his gang in the act. In response to the charges of armed robbery against him, all the Juice had to say was, he thought "what happened in Vegas, stayed in Vegas". HA! What a brilliant remark! I mean it's too bad it's coming from an "alleged" double murderer, but how freaking hysterical is that? I think he actually thought that mantra was true, and he could do whatever the hell he wanted while in Sin City. Why else would he think it was chill to round up some buddies with guns, and storm into another man's hotel room? Like he said when he was originally questioned, he's "OJ Simpson," and people were sure to "recognize him" if he tried anything like that. You're right, dude! You are OJ Simpson, and yet you still tried to rob this guy! You know what it is, though. It's that this guy has no fear of getting punished. And why the hell should he! Last time I checked, he tip toed his way through a double murder charge, thanks a a jury with the common sense God gave an autistic hamster and a legal team the size of Rhode Island (and just as corrupt). So why on earth would he be scared of an insignificant "armed robbery" charge. Ooooooo, what's next, you gonna charge Robert Blake with jay walking? Please. OJ lives for this, man, and he's just gonna weasel his way out of it, so why even bother charging him.

*Did the Cleveland Browns seriously drop 51 points on the Bengals this weekend? If it really happened, someone needs to let me know, because as of right now, I'm just writing it off as some sort of acid flashback, or perhaps a reaction from all the meth I'm not doing, but for some reason should be doing...

*Apparently, Eagles WB Donovan McNabb thinks black QBs get criticized much more often than white QBs, or at the very least, the two aren't treated the same in the eyes of the media. In a post game presser after his team's 20-12 home loss to the Redskins (a game in which McNabb played like complete ass I might add), McNabb said that the way he was treated wasn't consistent with the treatment of guys like "Carson Palmer" and "Peyton Manning." Well, there's a good reason you're treated differently, and actually, there are two pretty good reasons.

First and foremost, if you performed the way you did in Indianapolis or Cincy, they wouldn't be criticizing you like they do in Philly. Not because they like black QBs any more or any less, but because the nature of those markets is to coddle their athletes, not jump all over them. Philadelphia is one of, if not the most vicious sports media market in the country, so black, or white, you're gonna hear it from them if you're not performing.

Which brings me to the fact that, hey, Donovan, you haven't been too good, or too healthy in recent memory. Sure, the fans and media should be grateful for the success you've helped the team reach in recent years, but you haven't been able to put them over the top, and more recently, you just haven't been all that good. You say Peyton Manning has it easy? I say he was ripped up and down for years for not being able to beat teams like Florida in college, and the Titans and Pats in the pros. He took the criticism and used it as motivation instead of using it as an excuse like you are.

Face it, McChoke Artist, if you want to avoid the criticism, then you're just gonna have to play better. After that, if you still think they are treating you unfair, then go to another market. It's the nature of the beast in big city markets like Philly, Boston, New York and LA. If you can't handle the heat, then you need to be out, before it totally breaks you. And from afar, it looks like D-Mac might be starting to crumble...

*And while I'm talkin' about the Monday night game, I gotta rip into the broadcast team a little. I love how Mike Tirico kept referring to Eagles defensive back William James as "the former Will Peterson." Dude, we get it, he changed his name. Address it once, and move on for crying out loud! He's not Prince. And honestly, you really think there were that many people at home saying to themselves "Wow, that William James guy looks a lot like Will Peterson. I really wish they would address that on the air." You're supposed to be a "pro's pro" Tirico, and I expect a lot more from the guy that's going to be filling Dan Patrick's shoes on ESPN Radio. Step it up, big man, do the Cuse proud. 'Cuz if you don't, I'm gonna have to start making cracks about broads you "made out with" while up in the heart of Onondaga Nation. Don't make me go there...

My NFL Picks
Last Week: 2-3-1
Overall: 3-7-2
*Nice little hole I've dug myself into, I must say. And to be honest, I don't really know how I'm gonna fix it. I feel good about the games I pick for all of 10 seconds, and even when I watch them on TV, I still can't figure out why I'm so off. Regardless, this week was a small step in the right direction, and as teams define themselves from week to week, hopefully I too will be able to adjust, and right the ship towards another winning campaign...

Red Sox Update
Overall: 90-61, 1st in AL East by 3.5 games
Status: It's amazing what a dominating start by the local football squad and their "tapegate" scandal can do for a rapidly diminishing division lead for the Sox. The Yanks are closer than they've been since late April, our two Japanese imports seem to be breaking down and the lineup is still failing to produce runs on a regular basis. Other than that, things are pretty good. I just urge everyone to stay calm. The division title is not in jeopardy (yet), and for all of you serious worriers out there, a playoff spot is virtually guaranteed with a 6 game lead on Detroit with 11 games left to play. I'm just worried this team is gonna flop once they actually do get into the playoffs, but that's a different story, for a different day, when the Sox are already 2007 AL East champs. Until then, just hold on tight, every thing's gonna be just fine.

News and Notes
*Only one note here, and of course, it's about my man T-Woods. Tiger made a mockery of the new FedEx Cup this weekend, taking the 4-event title, while only playing in 3 events. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he won 2 of those events, and finished 2nd in a 3rd, but that's just how this guy rolls. Now he gets to sit back, collect his $10 mil for winning the cup (to go along with the checks he earned in the 3 events themselves, by the way), and rightfully lay claim to the first man to win "Golf's Playoff." Right, cuz if he lost it would have been disputed that he wasn't the best...

Fantasy Update
Last Week: Drunksco 79 Make It Reign! 76
Overall: 1-1, 6th place

Next week vs her name is ho ho (0-2)

*So I didn't win, but I'm really not all that disappointed. Sure, I would have loved to win, but to have LT give me only 3 points, and still score enough points to make it interesting isn't the end of the world. Hopefully, with Chicago and New England behind him, Tomlinson can go back to dominating for me, and leading my squad to flat out massacres sooner rather than later. As for this week, I should flat out murder Jared and his hapless band of hooligans. Hell, I scored 29 fewer points this week than last week, and I still would have beaten him by 24. Knock on wood, but I'm lookin' for a blowout of epic proportions...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Nation Lynches Pats & Week 2 Rolls On

NOT SO CHEAP TRICK
The edict has been handed down, and the Patriots have been punished. So before I get to my picks this week, I have got to touch on Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots and "Cameragate." Needless to say, I'm a little torn when it comes to my favorite team and a cheating scandal, but I'm doing my best to keep an un bias view on the issue. That being said, I really don't see what the big deal is here. Did the Patriots violate a league rule? Yes. Should they be punished? Of course. Was their intent to steal signals during the game, and use that information instantaneously? No, and that's where I make my exception. Sure, you can call me naive, or a home town excuse maker, but just hear me out. Now, of course, if you could steal an opponents signals during the game and use them against them, it would be a distinct advantage, but I got some news for you.....It's already going on! Maybe the Patriots got caught using a camera to do it, but why else would each team have several coaches giving out phony signals, if they didn't think people were trying to steal them? The fact is, signal stealing is as much a part of football as it is a part of baseball. It's "frowned upon," but generally considered a part of the game, or gamesmanship if you will. Now, what the national media, and now several other NFL teams, are accusing the Pats of doing, is taping the signals, and using that information to their advantage during the game. Interesting theory, but here are some reasons that doesn't quite make sense.

-Each offensive player already has access to Polaroids of each play and situation that has already occured in the game. Therefore, if they've been listening, shouldn't they be able to match up the plays with the play calls?

-The QB, in this case Brady, only has access to his earpiece in his helmet until the play clock reaches 15 seconds. So, for the video method to work, the video guy would have to relay his info up into the booth, who would then have to match up that defensive signal with the down and distance of a former play where the same signal was used. All of that in 25 seconds, and that's assuming the defense has their personnel on the field, and their play called, right when the play clock starts.

-Those that have mentioned that it might be possible to burn the video onto a CD and watch it at halftime, obviously haven't been in an NFL locker room. There is no video equipment in there at halftime, and something like a TV would probably get noticed by someone, especially in a visitors locker room. Besides, don't you think these teams, in this case a division rival, already have plenty of tape on each other? I know, you're saying to yourself, "if they have all this tape already, then what are they doing with this extra camera to begin with?" And all I can say to that, is their just looking for another edge. Maybe one I don't quite understand, but an edge nonetheless.

Also, it's really interesting to hear all these other teams, like Green Bay and Detroit, coming forward saying they knew the Patriots were cheating, and had even caught them doing so in the past. Well, my question to you then is, why didn't you take more severe action? The only possible explanation I can think of, is that they were doing it too. I mean, why else wouldn't they report them? I don't remember teams coming out of the woodwork to accuse the Dolphins of cheating when they were caught last season using an "illegal" audiotape of Tom Brady's calls at the line of scrimmage. Why? Because the Dolphins suck, and at the risk of sounding arrogant, people are jealous of the Patriots, and want to tear them down.

Matter of fact, my sources inside the Patriots organization have told me that this practice is so rampant, that the Pats themselves removed three separate camera people from their sidelines last season, but did not report the violation to the league. Why? Because as shady and underhanded as this may be, it's an accepted practice! Let's even take this a step further. You think maybe this was an accident? No, I don't think the Patriots taped the Jets by accident, but maybe the Jets never meant to expose the Pats in this way to the NFL. Like I said, this is an accepted practice, no matter how sleazy, so shouldn't we figure that Mangini and friends were doing it too, or at least something along the same lines? So why would they want the cover blown off? Standard operating procedure, as I've been told by my people inside the organization, is to escort the guy from the other team (the camera spy) off the field, and be done with it. In this case, the Jet official, went over to the NFL official, and now we have all of this. You have to at least ask yourself, was it the Jets intent to catch the Pats in their spy game, or was it perhaps an over zealous or inexperienced security person who created this powder keg?

All that being said, it doesn't excuse the Patriots' actions, it merely diminishes the magnitude of their crime. Bill Belichick says they used the film in order to create almost a "DNA" of the coaches around the league, but that they only used the film after games and during off season training exercises. Again, call me naive, but that makes much more sense than this "magic bullet theory" whipped up by the media, and taken as fact by everyone with cable and the Internet. If it's illegal to tape the signals, then they are guilty as charged, but using them during the game, which would be a much more severe crime, just seems unlikely, and flat out inefficient.

I look at this issue the same way as dogfighting, which is to say, I wasn't surprised at all to find out it was going on. I mean there's a reason that all NFL teams have security around their practice facilities, and it's not to stop that guy from the commercials from hiding in a tackling dummy, and sniping their gear. Cheating is the norm, and while I'm not accusing every other team of doing what the Patriots did, I refuse to believe they are the sole culprits.

Ultimately, Bill Belichick was wrong to thumb his nose at the NFL, and the franchise deserves to pay some sort of price. Now in my opinion the $500,000 fine to Bill, the $250,000 to the team, and the loss of a first round draft pick is a little extreme, but I understand the sherriff/commish is all about sending messages these days. I don't think this reflects how serious he thought the crime was, as much as he wanted to continue his habit of coming down hard on any league rule breakers. So, call the Patriots rule breakers if you want, but to call them "cheaters," or to think that this has tarnished their image in any way, is just ludicrous.
___________________________________________________

Now that that's out of the way, it's down to the serious biz. Of course, by serious biz, I mean it's time again for me to front like I know what I'm talking about, and throw a couple picks your way. Naturally, amid all this speculation, I'm taking the Pats this week. Nothing gets these boys going like a little motivation, and there can't be anything much more motivating that being accused of cheating your way to a dynasty. That being said, I also may just be choosing them because I really don't wanna know what it's gonna be like if they lose the first game back after all this. Another interesting game to watch is the NFC North tilt between Detroit and Minnesota. The Lions were quick out of the gate in week 1 against Oakland, but they are the Lions, right? It's gonna be classic Motown right here when they totally kill all their momentum by dropping their home opener. The Bengals and Bears simply over match their competition this week, and while Cincy is a real big favorite on the road, the Browns are so awful, there's no way their slowin' down Caron Palmer and Co. My last pick, is the Rams at home against the 49ers. The Rams burned me twice last week, both here and in my survival pool, but I still feel good about them at home and in division. I know they took some lumps, losing Orlando Pace in a pathetic loss at home to Carolina last week, but I still like their chances this year, so I like them this week.

Week 2 Picks
Chicago Bears (-10) vs Kansas Shitty Chiefs
Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5) @ Cleveland Browns
St. Louis Rams (-3) vs San Fransisco 49ers
Minnesota Vikings (+3.5) @ Detroit Lions
New England Patriots (-3) vs San Diego Super Chargers

Monday Night
Philadelphia Eagles (-7) vs Washington Redskins

Overall: 1-5-1 (.214)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pats Hit the Ground Runnin' Like Randy Moss!

BEATDOWNS LIVE HERE
I know it's only game one, but to not be impressed by New England's straight undressing of the New York Jets over the weekend is virtually impossible. With their 38-14 drubbing of their division "rival", the Pats served notice to the rest of the league that not only are they the team to beat in '07, but that all of their new additions are going to make them almost unstoppable. Whether it was Randy Moss torching the defense for 183 yards and a score, Wes Welker matching his '06 TD total in the first game of the season, or Adalius Thomas displaying his freakish athletic ability on almost every down, it was tough to ignore that these new guys came to play, and expect to win. We're talking about a team that played without Richard Seymour and Roidney Harrison, and still made the Jets look like Syracuse Orangepeople. You see Randy Moss blow by the entire Jet defense, or Ellis Hobbs rip the special teams for an NFL record 108 yard kickoff return? How about Jarvis Green, filling in for Richard Seymour and getting 3 sacks to pace the defense? I mean seriously, what was there not to love about that performance? The o-line was great, the d-line was great, everything was great. That is, unless you think the Patriots were cheating....
That's right. I'm sure by now you've heard that the New York Jets are alleging that the Patriots had a cameraman on their sideline whose job it was to spy on the Jets play callers and steal signals. Also reported, was that the Pats had been warned about this behavior before, and that the same cameraman who was caught this time, had been caught previously and reported to the league by officials in Detroit, Buffalo and Green Bay. Could the Patriots be cheating? Of course they could be. I certainly wouldn't put it past them, that's for sure. This is the team that's constantly looking for an edge, and if they've been doing this for years without any repercussions, then you have to believe they were going to keep doing it. I don't condone the behavior, but if the league has seen it fit to let it go on in the past, then I don't see an issue with it. Now, I've also been told by a source that a league wide memo went out before the season started, warning teams of exactly this sort of practice. If that's true, and the Patriots violated the policy anyway, then I'm gonna have some serious issues. But for now, it's just a witch hunt, and for all we know, Belichick put that guy there on purpose just to mess with Mangini's head, and the tape confiscated by the NFL is really just a copy of "Da Ali G Movie". After all, Bill the genius had to know that Eric would be privy to his scam right? Stay tuned for more on this one as I'm sure we've only just scratched the surface, although hopefully not...

Patriots Update
Last Week: New England 38 New York Jets 14
Overall: 1-0

Next Week: vs San Diego Chargers (1-0) on Sunday night

Tackle Box
*You think you learn a lot of things after watching the week 1 games in the NFL, and while sometimes you find out you jumped the gun by making assumptions after only one game, there are other times where things are so obvious that they might as well be screamed from the nearest bell tower, bridge, or simply any tall, phallic structure. Here's what I learned...
-The Cleveland Browns are quickly moving into contention with the LA Clippers as the worst franchise in all of professional sports. Not only did they get blown out 34-7 at home against rival Pittsburgh, but when they made a QB change in the 2nd quarter, they didn't even make the move to Brady Quinn! Not only that, but now they've dealt week 1 starter Charlie Frye to the Seahawks, and brought in Brady Quinn mentor to be, Ken Dorsey? Guess there's a reason Cleveland is often referred to as "The Mistake By the Lake". Let the firing begin...

-It's pretty apparent that the Giants are in for one hell of a whirl wind season. It's enough that Tiki, Eli, Strahan and Coughlin are all takin' shots at each other in the media, but to injure your starting RB, DE and QB in a week one blowout loss? Never a good thing. At least it will make for good headlines in the Post for the next few months...

-Herm Edwards is still by far and away the worst coach in the NFL, but Wade Phillips is the ugliest. Guess we should have expected as much from a guy who's dad is named "Bum"....

-Rex Grossman still sucks, but it appears yet again that the Bears defense will be enough to carry them to another good record in the lowly NFC...

-Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has all but locked up Rookie of the Year honors in my mind with his 163 total yard performance in week 1 against Atlanta. And oh yea, he's only going to get more touches now that Chester Taylor is dinged up...

-Monday Night Football is so overproduced, that Chad Jackson's 12 minute TD celebration seemed right at home. They got the revamped "Are You Ready For Some Football" song, with Brian Setzer for some odd reason, they got Samuel L. Jackson doin' some sort of Ray Lewis vs Chad Johnson montage, and you have Michael Wilbon poppin' in every 10 minutes to tease Tony Kornheiser. You asked us if we were ready for football, and we said yes dammit! So give us football! We don't want all this other garbage. Good analysis, maybe a few funny bits, fine. But this is getting a little absurd...

*One last football note for the week. Last week, I said I was going to give my MVP and other predictions for the 2007, but failed to deliver. Seeing as I'm a man of my word, here they are. Enjoy

MVP: Tom Brady, Super Bowl Champion (and possible serial cheaters) New England Patriots
*Did you see his week 1 performance? He's got all the weapons he could possible need, and he was already the best decision maker in the league. This year, he'll finally have the numbers, and the voters will have no choice but to vote him MVP...

Defensive Player of the Year: Bob Sanders, Indianapolis Colts
*The Colts are a Super Bowl contender, and when I looked at all the contenders for their "difference maker" on defense, Sanders was the only one that really stood out. I think it was obvious last season that they were a totally different unit with him on the field, and I think that's going to continue to be the case this season...

Rookie of the Year: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
*Again, did you see this guy? A lot of people want to tag Peterson as "injury prone", but the injuries he suffered at Oklahoma were basically just random. Look for this guys touches to increase as the season goes on, and watch him make at least one SportsCenter worthy run a week. Good o-line, week QB = lots of rushes, yards, and TDs for AP in '07...

Coach of the Year: Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
*This isn't so much a knee jerk reaction to the Texans blowout of Kansas Shitty in week 1, as it is a prediction of things to come. Last week I said the Texans would be a team on the rise at season's end, and I think the voters will take that into consideration when making their decision. He's gonna do a lot with a little, and will be rewarded appropriately with this distinction. That's right, a Texan is going to win an award, so brace yourself...

My NFL Picks
Week 1: 1-5-1 (.214)

*Speaking of bracing yourself. If I said I was surprised that I took it on the chin this week, I'd be lying to ya. Not to make excuses, but week one is the hardest, and I always seem to bomb the first week out. Maybe that's why my post season football predictions are never right. Hmmmmm. Well, I guarantee I bounce back strong in the next two weeks or so, so stay tuned, and don't press the panic button quite yet.

Red Sox Update
Overall: 87-58, 1st in AL East by 5 games
Status: There's two more with Tampa, and then 3 at home with the Yanks. I guess it's still a pseudo race, but with both teams virtually guaranteed of a post season birth, I can't say I'm really all that concerned. I'm still pumped for the games, mind you, I just still refuse to view them as crucial for the post season. What I do view as crucial is the health of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. If these guys are good to go, then things should be straight. But if we keep chuckin' doughnuts up there on the scoreboard, at home mind you, I might start to shake a little in my custom made NIKEs.

*One final Sox note. Wily Mo Pena has hit as many home runs (7) with the Washington Nationals in 72 at bats, as David Jonathan Drew has hit with the Red Sox in 413 at bats. Holy shit, does that guy suck, or what?

Diamonds Are Forever
*Other than the impending playoffs, which now seem like a formality for Sox and Yankee fans, the only story of note in the bigs these days is the rapid rise, and possible fall, of super freak, Rick Ankiel. There's a report out there that he was busted in the same probe that nailed Patriot Roidney Harrison for buying HGH on the Internet, but Ankiel claims he used it before the league made it illegal. True or not, there goes another courageous and inspiring story down the tubes. Last time I checked, Roy "The Natural" Hobbs, the one compared to Ankiel because of his long hiatus between being a big time pitcher and a big time slugger, never used HGH, and never had to dodge questions in the media about it. Sure, he may have been shot by a hooker, but I fail to see how that was really his fault. Truth is I'm just disappointed, that true or not, another great story has been tarnished, and yet another black eye has been dealt to a game that seems to welcome them these days...

News and Notes
*Two of my favorite athletes proved yet again this weekend why they are truly once in a lifetime talents. Of course, I'm talking about homeboy #1, Tiger Woods, and homeboy #2, Roger Federer. Personally, I call them T-Money and R-Fed, but that's because they are my friends, so don't you go tryin' it. Both guys took home their respective titles this weekend, Roger the US Open (his 4th in a row) and Tiger the Mercedes Championship (to move into first in the FedEx Cup playoff). I know I say this all the time, but I'm just serving notice. Watch these guys play whenever you get the chance. They are once in a lifetime talents, and they could each be the best their sport has ever seen. I know they aren't the most popular sports out there, but these guys are more than worth the price of admission, and if you miss them in their prime like this, you're gonna be sorry.

*Michigan running back, and Syracuse native, Mike Hart has guaranteed a Michigan victory over Notre Dame this upcoming weekend. Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot that nobody gives a crap about two 0-2 teams with no aspirations of going anywhere other than the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl this year. See, Mike. If you had gone to the Cuse, you could be making meaningful guarantees like, "I guarantee coach Greg Robinson will not have a job next year". Oh, guess you could say that about your coach, Lloyd Carr. Then your just useless to me, aren't you Mikey?
Fantasy Update
Football
Week 1: Make It Reign! 105 Rock of Love 65

Next Week vs Drunksco (1-0)

*Well, my team put up an assload of points (#1 in the league), but Eli Manning got dinged up. Story of my fantasy life. However, what makes this year different, is the team surrounding Manning looks good enough to survive, and possibly thrive, if indeed the Giants QB is laid up for a month. Take into account that I really only played 9 guys this week because Eddie Kennison was injured on the Chiefs first play from scrimmage, and I still led the league in points. Matter of fact, if Eli, my leading scorer, hadn't of played at all, I still would have won my game by 11, and would have beaten all but 4 of the teams in the league this week. So, while it's not a great situation, I'm hoping I can get by this week with Tavaris Jackson, and sort out my QB situation as I see fit. As for this week's match up, of course it's against Frosco. We both come in undefeated, and despite the fact my squad might be going through some slight turmoil, I still plan on crushing him into the fine powder that he likes to.....wait a minute. Let's just say I'm going to beat his ass, OK? Time to Make It Reign, bitches!

Baseball
*Finally, I have to end on an extremely sour note. The quest for the tiny trophy is over, and it really couldn't have happened in a more appropriate way. After tying in the first round of the playoffs 10-10-4, my team was booted to the consolation bracket without any explanation. I was the higher seed, there was no tiebreaker in place, yet for some reason I am again on the outside looking it. I guess I should have expected this from a league made by a bunch of Florida St. kids. I mean honestly, it's a football school, and if their football team is this bad, imagine how awful the academics must be, right?

On a serious note. I hope that everyone takes time out today to remember that tragedy that was the terroist attacks on September 11th, 2001. Thousands of people died on that ominous day, whether they were in the Trade Center going about their normal day at work, or rescue workers trying to save those trapped inside. That day will live on forever as a reminder of the price we pay for freedom in this country, and while we have to move foward as a country, to forget those who gave their lives, would be to forget that it ever happened, and that would be a disgrace. Those people are forever in my heart, and my thoughts and prayers go out to their families on the anniversary of what must be a most difficult day...

Friday, September 07, 2007

It's Here! It's Here! 2007 NFL Week 1 Picks


Well here we are. After all the fantasy smack talk, training camp reports and expert predictions we've finally made it to the 2007 NFL season. It's really just a glorious thing, isn't it? It's kinda like when you were younger, and you waited basically 3 months for Christmas, only to rip through all your presents in 5 seconds, and be bored with all of them 10 seconds later. Only this time, you don't get bored, and it lasts for 5 delicious months. I mean is there any other sport on the planet that could possibly make you forget about the bitter cold outside, the horizontal sleet and iced over roadways the way football does? Not for my money there isn't. And now it's better than ever. Even if your home team happens to be eliminated from contention, you've still got your fantasy team to keep your spirits up. That is, unless you're Rob Slavin, the only Oakland Raider fan who's fantasy team had a worse record than the actual Raiders did, and they went 2-14. But that's an extreme circumstance, and as long as Brand X doesn't do worse than the Browns this year, I don't see it happening again any time in the near future. It's all good though, because the season has begun!

And seeing as that's the case, it's time to pad my already more than credible picks record I've compiled over the last 3 years. If you bet on football, which I don't ironically enough, and you want to rake in the casheesh, then I recommend checkin' in on a weekly basis. As usual, I only pick the match ups I like, but I make myself choose 5 games a week, and the Monday Night game, no matter what. To kick of this year's picks, I'm up to all my old tricks of picking road favorites, and divisional rivals. Now, doing that on a regular basis is usually what gets you fucked, but the right dash here and there is what makes you a true pimp. Example: Picking the defending NFC champs to lose by 7 or more on the road may seem dumb now, but it's exactly what puts you over the edge, or in essence, turns your Bug into a Bentley. So check 'em out, and feel free to mutter to yourself how stupid I am while you do. I'll be back on Tuesday to accept your apology. Let's get it on!

Week 1 Picks
Jacksonville Jaguars (-6.5) vs Tennessee Titans
St. Louis Rams (-1) vs Carolina Panthers
San Diego Chargers (-6) vs Chicago Bears
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) @ Green Bay Packers
Denver Broncos (-3) @ Buffalo Bills

Monday Night
Baltimore Ravens (+2.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals
Arizona Cardinals (+3) @ San Fransisco 49ers

Last Season: 52-39-7 (.567)

All Time: 121-77-10 (.606)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

2007 NFL Season Preview

SAY IT AIN'T SO, ROIDNEY
Ahhhh. So now the shoe is on the other foot, isn't it? It's not just thugs from other cities being accused of using roids (HGH, it's all the same to me), it's the home boy, the World Champion, the guy that gives the edge to the vaunted defense. So what happens now? As a proud member of both Red Sox and Patriot Nation, I know the fan base as a whole isn't remotely ready for something like this. We booed Bonds, we booed Merriman, two notorious roid users. So does Roidney get welcomed back with open arms? The facts are this. Harrison admitted to using HGH, and has been implicated in a steroid ring based out of Albany. I don't remember Merriman involved in an illegal drug ring. Simply put, this issue is a chance for New England fans as a whole to really define where they stand on the issue of performance enhancing drugs in sports, and players that cheat the game. Personally, my gut reaction was, the guy's a cheater, and I hope he never plays for the Patriots again. Then, when I gave it some thought, I tried to justify it by looking at guys like Shawne Merriman, that cheated, served their time, and came back to help his team win games. OK, so you do the crime, serve the time, and can come back? Eh, that doesn't really cut it for me. I'm thinkin', if you got caught, it means it wasn't your first time. And if it wasn't your first time, I can't help but think that you're just going to try and find new ways to beat the system. I am a forgive and forget type guy, don't get me wrong, but I know how these guys are wired. They want to win, at any costs. Even the "nice guys," man. I'm not saying every athlete is an asshole, but they got where they are by being fierce competitors at every aspect of their life, and if at any point they think it could get ripped from them, make no mistake they'll do anything to keep that from happening. So, after Rodney has served his 4 games, I will not welcome him back with open arms. I won't boycott the team, but I will be slightly disappointed if they do chose to keep a known cheater on their roster. Basically, you ain't got to go home, but you got to get up out of here. Peace Roidney, and don't let the glare of the next Super Bowl trophy blind you on your way out...

Patriots Update
Overall: 2-2, WON 27-20 last week vs New York Giants
Week 1 @ NY Jets (0-0)
Status: Well, well, well. From the man who brought you the guarantee that JD Drew would suck in Boston, and correctly predicted the match up and outcome of this year's NBA Finals in the pre season, I give you this. On Monday, September 3rd, 2007, the New England Patriots parted ways with wide receiver, RECHE CALDWELL. Boo ya! Boo ya! Boo ya! It feels so good to be so right, so often, baby! I'm sure Reche will catch on somewhere else in the league, mostly because he's a good player, but I just can't help myself in revelling over yet another correct prediction. As for the Pats moving forward in their quest for a 2007-2008 Super Bowl title? Well, it's funny you mention that...

Tackle Box
2007 NFL Predictions
Standings
As usual, I went through the entire 2007 NFL schedule, picking a winner and loser for each game. Here were my results, with a little explanation. Not too much explanation, mind you, but just enough to get my point across.

AFC EAST
1. New England Patriots (14-2)
2. New York Jets (10-6)
3. Miami Dolphins (6-10)
4. Buffalo Bills (3-13)

*It's pretty clear to me that the Pats are the class of the East, and while the Jets are a quality squad too, I just don't see them keeping pace. The Pats added the two biggest names in the off season in Randy Moss and Adalius Thomas, making an already good team, all the more potent, while the Jets added quality depth along their roster, but still lack the big play makers to do a lot of damage in big games. Besides, aren't we all pretty sure Chad Pennington will be hurt or replaced by week 8? The Dolphins and Bills are both afterthoughts, so for me to even waste my time on them, would be giving them too much mind. No I don't think Marshawn Lynch can step right in, no I don't think Kam Kameron is gonna make big waves right away in Miami, and no, Trent Green is not the answer, nor has he ever been That is unless the question is, "Name 3 people that have made Dick Vermeil cry." OK, so maybe a lot of people fit that criteria, but you get my point...

AFC NORTH
1. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
2. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-10)
4. Cleveland Browns (2-14)

*Much like the East, the North is a top heavy division, with Baltimore and Cincy holding court on high. I think a healthy McGahee and a great D is what gives the edge to the Ravens, but I wouldn't be surprised if Cincy can finally put it all together. Pittsburgh looks headed for a down year with their new young coach, new offensive coordinator and key departures on defense, and Cleveland looks like the worst team in the league, with possibly the worst front office to boot. Start Brady Quinn or don't start him, I don't care, but to say 2 weeks ago that he has no chance to start the season opener? Not necessary, and just a microcosm of what an awful franchise that's turned into.

AFC SOUTH
1. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)
3. Houston Texans (5-11)
4. Tennessee Titans (5-11)

*I think the added pressure of defending their Super Bowl title is going to wane on the Colts a bit, but they'll still be one of the teams to beat. In Jacksonville, I think the move to David Gerrard at QB was the right one, albeit a little late, and will prove to the be the difference for a team that's seemed to have all the pieces for years. As for Vince Young, I don't see the Madden Jinx as much as I see a plain ole sophomore slump. He's still not great at throwing the ball, and you gotta think that'll catch up with him, and the Titans here in year 2. Rounding up the division is the Texans. I don't see them making huge waves this year, but behind Matt Schaub and a young defense, look for them to be a sleeper pick goin' into '08.

AFC WEST
1. San Diego Chargers (14-2)
2. Denver Broncos (12-4)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (5-11)
4. Oakland Raiders (4-12)

*The Chargers and Broncos are clearly the next two best teams in the AFC behind the Pats, and the rest of the West is paying the price. LT and friends are back to run up the score, and if Jay Cutler and Travis Henry can steady the Denver ship on offense, both teams have good enough defenses to go toe to toe with anybody in the league. I'm not buying that Oakland has a good defense and should be better, because their defense was only good, because teams had them beat in the first 5 minutes of the game! And KC has a weak defense, offensive line issues, and no other offensive weapons this side of LJ and Tony Gonzalez. Eight in the box, double team Tony, game over.

AFC Wild Cards: Denver, Jacksonville

AFC Championship Game: New England Patriots 27 San Diego Chargers 20

*No real mystery here. The two best teams, meeting in the conference's biggest game. I give the nod to the Pats in this one on almost all fronts. They have better coaching, are more experienced, and have better skill players at virtually every position on the field except for running back. Let's just hope that this year, it doesn't take a last minute offensive fumble recovery to keep the dream alive.

NFC EAST

1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)

2. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

3. New York Giants (7-9)
4. Washington Redskins (7-9)


(Yeah, I have no idea why the standings above look the way the do, but I have an email in to Al Gore, and I've been told he's working on the problem as we speak)

*I know it's a big "if", but if Dallas and Philadelphia will find themselves at the top of the NFC East, and towards the top of the NFL. Dallas does it with it's relentless blitzing defense and big play offensive ability, while Philly does it with....well exactly the same thing. Both of those teams should remain strong, all season long, and each could feasibly get a shot at the NFC title. As for the bottom dwellers, it's really a case of opposites. I look for the Skins to be an "improving" 7-9 team, behind a maturing Jason Campbell, while I look for the G-Men to virtually implode, causing the ouster of Tom Coughlin before the year is out. Can you say Bill Cowher to the Giants? I know I can...

NFC NORTH
1. Chicago Bears (9-7)
2. Green Bay Packers (7-9)
3. Detroit Lions (6-10)
4. Minnesota Vikings (3-13)

*Quite frankly, the NFC North is by far the worst division in football. While I respect the Bears defense and running game, I think they're due for a Sexy Rexy explosion, leading to a few lost games along the way. That, and people will have a better grasp for what Lovie Smith and crew bring to the table this year. The rest of the lot is a bunch of garbage. Brett Favre still doesn't have enough weapons, and that defense is too young. You can talk all you want about the Lions offense, but their defense is still suspect, they can never stay healthy, and hey, they're the Detroit freaking Lions! They never win! I'm not so sure about the Vikings, but when it was all said and done, I only had them winning 3 games, so that worries me. They should be able to run the ball, and as long as Tavaris Jackson doesn't make too many mistakes, they might be OK. But that might goes right out the window when Jackson can't handle it, and a key injury pops up. So, more likely 3-13 and a high draft pick, than 8-8 and a shot at a wild card spot.

NFC SOUTH
1. New Orleans Saints (12-4)
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8)
3. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
4. Atlanta Falcons (2-14)

*Normally, this division is about as dangerous as Jesus at a dog fight, but thanks to some unrest on a few of the teams, it should turn into a one horse race, with New Orleans serving as this year's Secretariat. There are just too many down teams in the South this year, and out of the other 3, the only one I think has any shot of a playoff spot is the Tampa Bay Bucs. Sure they look awful on paper, and nobody really likes Jeff Garcia, but both he and Jon Gurden are proven winners, and that works for me. Add to that a healthy Cadillac Williams, and the Bucs should find themselves with a chance to win virtually every game they play.

NFC WEST
1. St. Louis Rams (11-5)
2. San Francisco 49ers (10-6)
3. Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
4. Arizona Cardinals (10-6)

*A lot of people are going to do a double take when they see all 4 West teams with 10+ wins, but I honestly feel they're all fully capable of reaching that number. The Rams have the best offense in the NFC, the 49ers have an up and coming offense and an emerging defense, the Seahawks are finally healthy again, and the Cardinals might have the most potent passing attack in the league with Leinhart, Fitzgerald and Boldin.

NFC Wild Cards: San Francisco, Dallas

NFC Championship Game: Philadelphia Eagles 31 St. Louis Rams 24

*IF you hadn't figured it out, the Rams are my sleeper pick in the NFC, I just don't have enough faith to boost them all the way to the big game. If Philly can stay healthy, which has been a problem form Westbrook and McNabb in years past, then they should be here, and should give whoever they may face a good run for their money.

Super Bowl XLII

New England Patriots 35 Philadelphia Eagles 13

*A rematch of Super Bowl thirty-nine in 2005, the Patriots will again cement their claim as a modern day dynasty, capturing their 4th world championship in 7 years. Call it being a homer, call it being a front runner, I don't care, it's just the way I see it. Is it my fault that I live 15 minutes from the best team in the NFL?

*Check back this Friday for my NFL picks of the week, and my predictions for this year's MVP, defensive player of the year and coach of the year...

Red Sox Update
Overall: 83-55 1st place in AL East by 7 games
Status: Like I said last week, even a sweep by the Yankees isn't gonna do it. The AL East race is OVA! Just as quickly as the Yanks trimmed the once 8 game lead to 5, it was back up to 7 again, thanks in no small part to a dazzling no-hitter on Saturday night by rookie Clay Buchholz. And what a way to end that thing, huh? What could have been better than Clay dropping in that nasty 12-6 curve, only to have the umpire add a little Hollywood drama to the thing by dragging out the dramatic 3rd strike as long as possible? There are just some moments in time you will never forget, and I'm gonna go ahead and say that was one of them. I'm not expecting Buchholz to be a huge part of this team's success moving forward to the post season, but it's good to know that we've got a guy waiting in the wings that has more than enough stuff to make it in this league as a top notch pitcher. Also, a weird little note. He may not be great in tagging free agents, but this is the second consecutive year that a pitcher drafted by Theo Epstein has thrown a no-hitter in the majors before his 23rd birthday. The other being Anibal Sanchez, who did it last year for the Florida Marlins. Pretty amazing if you ask me...

News and Notes
*How's that tastin' Michigan? I mean did you really just let Division I-AA Appalachian St. (pronounced "apple-atch-in") come into the "Big House" and totally wipe out your National title hopes? Talk about pathetic. It's one thing to lose too, I guess, but for coach Lloyd Carr to say his team wasn't prepared? What the hell is that? Did someone forget to tell Lloyd that he was already on the hot seat or something? How does that guy go into any game, especially this season when the stakes are so high, unprepared? Kudos to Appalachian St. for coming in and taking care of business when nobody thought they could, but this one's on the Wolverines. Say goodbye to your title hopes, say goodbye to your National ranking and say goodbye to Lloyd Carr. Who would of thought that Mike Hart would have had just as good a shot at winning a title had stayed near by and played for the hometown Syracuse Orange?

*And while we're on the subject of Division 1 football powers looking foolish on opening weekend, I have to mention the pathetic performance put forth by Charlie Weis and the Notre Dame "Fighting" Irish. After telling anyone that would listen that this was not a rebuilding year in South Bend, Charlie and friends promptly went out and used as many QB's as they did score points at home against Georgia Tech, dropping the game 33-3. In a word, embarrassing. Actually, it's exactly the type of embarrassing loss that cost Tyrone Willingham his job with the Irish. So what's to come of Charlie Weis? Well, he's taken the first step in the right direction by naming super frosh, Jimmy Clausen, as his starting QB for week 2, but could it already be too little too late? I know he's got the 10 year contract extension, but I thought Chuck was brought here to avoid these embarrassing losses and bring the program back to prominence? So far, all he's done, is improve with a group of Willingham's maturing players like Brady Quinn, Jeff Smardzjia and Maurice Stovall. Now, he's 3 years in, has his own blue chippers in there, yet still can't seem to get the program headed in the right direction. Now, I don't wanna play the race card here, but you tell me, would Tyrone Willingham still have his job after a 30 point beat down on opening weekend? I'm leanin towards, hell to the no!

*Finally, for my last note of the week, I'd be remiss if I didn't touch on the golf tournament that was played about 5 minutes from my house, the Deutsche Bank Championship. First and foremost, I'd like to congratulate Phat Mickelson for a well fought and gutsy win on the final day. I know I rip the hefty lefty a lot, but for once he actually proved his mettle as a top contender and rival to one Elderick "Tiger" Woods. With Tiger breathing down his neck on the back 9, Phil not only kept pace, but answered all the shots Woods could muster, even hitting it inside the world's #1 after Tiger had hit an apporach within 10 feet on 16. Now that's impressive. The only thing putting a damper on the event, was when Phil basically came out and ripped PGA Tour commish, Tim Finchem, saying that he would "try" and make the rest of the FedEx Cup events, but hadn't been able to work out a compromise with other events he has planned over the next few weeks. Nothing like capping a career defining victory with a little smack talk, huh Philly? I'm sure he's just worried that when he does come back for the final two events of the playoff, that Tiger will just smack him in the mouth, and take the title that is rightfully his. After all, he is the best, and the fact that Phil finally stepped up to the plate and beat him in crunch time, doesn't change that one bit. It may give some teeth to their rivalry, but if he can't correct the inconsistency and failure in the clutch that has plagued him his whole career, then this win will probably serve as an acception, and not a sign that he's finally ready to go head to head with the champ on a weekly basis.

Fantasy Update
Baseball
Last Week: LOST 6-12-6 vs I'm Better Than You
Overall: 261-216-51 (.543), 4th place 18 games back

Rd 1 of Playoffs vs Backside Hitters
(250-214-64)

*The good news is, I managed to avoid Frosco in the first round. The bad news is, not only did I get smacked in the mouth by the #1 team last week (who I will have to play again in rd 2 if I win....sweet), but in the first round, I face a team that beat me twice in the regular season. Add to that, Roger Clemens gave me a disastrous pitching performance to start the week, and my ace, Roy Halladay, faces off against none other than the BoSox in his sole start of the week. Come on boys! We came all this way, we can scrap it out! You want that tiny trophy, you need that tiny trophy, and there's nothing that you can let stand in your way! Be the trophy, become one with it's tinyness, and bring it on home!

Football
This Week: Make it Reign! (0-0) vs Rock of Love(0-0)

*Let the real fantasy season begin! Woooooooo! I made a trade in the last week to help stabilize my QB situation, trading Rex Grossman for Jason Campbell, but otherwise all has been fairly quiet. It's time to see how my boys do on the field, and pray that they can bring home the much desired title, and cash, that I crave. Let the games begin!

REMINDER. Make sure to check in on Friday, as I will be starting my annual quest to beat the odds makers in Vegas, with my 5 weekly NFL picks. Last year, I compiled a record of 52-38-7, and I plan on making many of you a bunch of money this year as well. So make sure to check that out, this Friday and every Friday, right here...