Well kids, it's 2008, and we can only hope that this year will bring even half as much of the drama and entertainment as '07 did. Whether it was dog fighting, roids, murder, suicide, crazy motorcycle stunts, multiple rehab stints, crotch shots, sexual harassment, or teenie bopper pregnancy, athletes and entertainers kept me on my toes over the last 12 months, and if they can keep doin' the same in '08 I'll be forever grateful. As for my sports world, it's all about the Patriots. I know, that sounds like a real "duh" statement seeing as they are 16-0, but when you're local hoops squad is on pace (27-3) for an historic season, and the Sox/Celtics/Patriots are a combined 49-3 (.942) since game 6 of the ALCS, sometimes you have to quantify your feelings.
That being said, I have to admit that I'm more nervous about these playoffs than I am actually excited about the possibly record breaking outcome. Of course I would relish in knowing that in every sports argument with any other fan (notably New York, Philly, Chicago), but I am also worried about having the fact that undefeated Pats team was knocked out in the playoffs thrown back in my face. Don't get it twisted, I'm NOT worried, and I DO have faith, but I do admit that it looks as if there's just as much to lose in these playoffs as there is to win. Call it anxious if you want to get to the root of it, but I think it's just more I'd rather not have this opportunity (to go 19-0), because losing in the playoffs is more than enough heartbreak. Never mind throwing away a once in a lifetime shot at history.
Oh well, guess I'll just have to keep wrestling with my thoughts for another week, because there's a whole other slate of games that take center stage this weekend. With that beautiful segway, I give you the first edition of my 2008 NFL Playoff Picks...
Wild Card Picks
Seattle Seahawks (-3.5) vs Washington Redskins
Startin' off the playoffs with an easy one, well at least for me. I really do appreciate what the Redskins have done down the stretch, especially in the wake of the Sean Taylor murder, but I still just don't trust that team further than I can projectile vomit after watching them play. The fact here is, Seattle is virtually impossible to beat at home (7-1 in '07), and the Skins just aren't that good on the road (4-4) to give me enough confidence to give them the W or even the cover. I appreciate what "Reign Man" Todd Collins has been able to do with his opportunity at starter, but this Seattle D, in a fiery atmosphere in the Pacific Northwest, should be able to keep him, and his wishy washy reciever corps under wraps. I like the 'Hawks to grab a few key turnovers in this one, and possibly take one to the house late to cap things off...
Jacksonville Jaguars (pick) @ Pittsburgh Steelers
About two months ago I labeled the Jaguars as the team with the best shot of taking down the Patriots, and while the Colts have also been impressive of late, I still stand by those remarks. David Garrard is a solid upgrade over Fat Albert Leftwich at QB, and Maurice Jones Drew and Fred Taylor are perfect compliments to each other in the backfield. Combine them with the usually stout Jacksonville defense (10th overall), and I think they are just better than a banged up Steelers squad. I know the Steelers have the top ranked defense in the NFL, but if you've actually seen this team play against legit competition this season, you wouldn't have thought so. Still haven't convinced you, huh? Well then how 'bout this. Just 2 weeks ago, the Jags beat a Steeler team that actually had NFL leading rusher Willie Parker by 7, and looked very impressive in coming back to do so. If they can beat 'em when they're healthy, then you gotta like their chances when their dinged up, on the road or on the freakin' moon. Eh let's face it...I hate the Steelers. Go Jags!!...
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5) vs New York Giants
Pick your poison in this one, folks. The Giants have only beaten one team with a winning record all season long. The Bucs, have only beaten too. Tampa has home field advantage, but the Giants have the best road record (7-1) this side of New England. What does all this mean? Well, it means that since all things seem to be relatively equal, I'm gonna go ahead and pick dead against the team with Eli Manning. I don't care how good he may have looked to some Giant fans in their loss to the Pats, the fact is the guy is still shaky at best. The Giant backfield is gonna run smack into that stingy Tampa D, and when Eli actually has something to lose (unlike last week), he'll show his true tard colors by tossin' a few crucial picks, or just coughin' up the pill. That's why you go out and get a "caretaker" like Jeff Garcia. He'll keep the mistakes to a minimum, make good, smart throws, and allow the running game to control the tempo. Tampa's gonna win, so Tampa's gonna cover. Next!...
San Diego Chargers (-9) vs Tennessee Titans
Vince Young, Albert "the Eye Stomper" Haynesworth and Bo Scaife are all dinged up, so I'm taking the Chargers. Granted, I'm not totally sold on the Philip Rivers and the Bolts, but since they're at home, they have LT, and the Titans are about as healthy as Pam Anderson's urinary tract, I'll take San Diego to narrowly cover and move on to the Colts in round 2. Granted, they will be promptly dropped like a Chalupa when they have to travel to Indy, but I have to think Norv Turner is gonna relish any post season win he can actually back his way in to. Oh yea, and they're gonna fire him at the end of this season anyway. It's called admitting you were wrong, cutting your losses, and going out and getting a legit coach. Only an AFC title game appearance can save his ass, but hey, that's just my opinion...
BCS Championship Game
LSU Tigers (-4) vs Ohio State Buckeyes
It's weird. I usually love LSU against anyone they play, and I usually have Ohio St. against anyone they play. In this game, however, it took all my willpower to actually take the Tigers to cover the small 4 point spread. Fact is, we don't know enough about OSU, because they haven't played anyone all year, and we probably know too much about LSU, because we've seen virtually every one of their games. When it comes down to it, I think Les Miles' and LSU will spread the ball around, and give the vaunted Buckeye defense enough problems to come away with the win, and the National Title. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that the game is being played in New Orleans either, which from what I can tell, is also in Louisiana...much like LSU...Still not enough ? Well how about the fact that Ohio State is 0-8 all time against the SEC in bowl games? Yeah, that should do it...
Last Week: 4-2-0Overall: 60-42-5 (.584)
Well, now that the pre-conference season is over, it's time to figure out what the first 10-15 games of a team's season has taught us. To most of you, the novices out there, you think you've figured out who's good to go for the Big Dance, and which teams are just big FRAUDS. For me, the self proclaimed expert, I've learned exactly what I learn virtually every year by this time...NOTHING. Sure, I've been impressed by the play of Atlantic 10 teams like Dayton (12-1) and Rhode Island (14-1), and been underwhelmed by perennial powers like Maryland (8-6), Louisville (9-4) and Gonzaga (10-4), but does any of that really mean anything this early in the season? Easy/short answer, of course it doesn't! Fact of the matter is, it's recalling these performances that will ruin your bracket in March. It's all about conference play, baby, and with those games starting up in the past week, it's time to really see what a lot of these teams are made of. Now, I know you could view what I just said as another "excuse" for not watching nearly enough college ball this year, but I swear that's actually not the case. What I do know for sure from what I actually have seen, is that there is still only one team that I think has separated itself as the top contender, and that's the Memphis Tigers. Yes, I've seen UNC and Kansas play, and they both look a little soft right now to me. Surprising, I know. You'd usually be saying that Memphis was the soft squad, but so far that's not the case. And UNC, Kansas and the rest of the top tier teams aren't really "soft", it's just how I'm comparing how they are playing, to how I feel a title-worthy team should be playing. I expect Memphis to slip up once or twice while waltzing through Conference USA, but as long as they can keep putting up quality wins, I won't be deterred as I simultaneously watch the Big Boy Conference teams stack up big win after big win as they knock each other around. Unless they're undefeated come Selection Sunday, they won't get the props they deserve. But unless they fall apart between now and then, they will still be my likely choice to cut down the nets in '08. Now guess who's number one this week?!?!...
College Hoops Top 10
1. Memphis (12-0) 1
2. North Carolina (14-0) 2
3. Kansas (13-0) 3
4. Washington St. (12-0) 4
5. Georgetown (10-1) 6
6. UCLA (13-1) 5
7. Marquette (11-1) NR
8. Indiana (1201) 7
9. Duke (10-1) NR
10. Butler (12-1) 10
just missed: Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Rhode Island
dropped: (8) Pittsburgh; (9) Texas
Now, just because I didn't touch on the unbelievably hot (27-3) Boston Celtics, Bill Parcells return to the NFL, Belichick winning Coach of the Year in a season in which he was fined $500,000 for cheating, or the lingering fallout from the Mitchell Report (remember how Roger Clemens was in there? Well I'm gonna wait until I see his 60 Minutes interview before I thoroughly re-fry his bloated old ass), doesn't mean I forgot about these things. I'm still workin' my way back into form to start the New Year, and believe me when I tell you, all those guys will get theirs from yours truly in the coming weeks. And while I don't have any actual resolutions for myself in 2008, I do have one nugget of info I learned in '07 that I wouldn't mind passing along to the rest of you. If you pop open a Heineken Light, and you think it tastes skunky, then you're right. That beer sucks, and I'd rather drink fermented cat urine. Stupid Germans. Leave the light beer to America, we're experts at watering shit down and making it taste like either water, or chicken. Hope that tip helps you over the next 12 months, and I hope you all have a happy and healthy New Year. Well, expect for everyone from Philly. As far as I'm concerned, you could all be tactically nuked, and the only people that would notice would be canned cheese distributors. OK, for real, I'm out. Peace in the middle...
I lied....vote for Chris Bosh for the NBA All-Star game, people. Or he might go insane. Oh and go see There Will Be Blood. I haven't seen it yet, but if only half of what I hear is true, then it's bound to be danker than the basement I live in...