Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cassel, Pats Shine Through Otherwise Cloudy Weekend

Well fan-freaking-tastic...

My fantasy team crapped out again, Curlin screwed me in the Breeder's Cup, and my NFL and NCAA picks continue to look more and more like shares of Lehman Brothers...

I, my friends, am officially running bad. I even de-bearded myself to try and turn the tides! The only good news, is that while I hoover on the verge of tilt, a team so near and dear to my heart used this weekend to help bring back that lovin' feelin'...

And not a moment too soon...

Patriots Update

Watching the Pats this week, was like strappin' in next to Doc and Marty, and crankin' that Delorian up to a sweet 88 miles per hour. They win by 7, on a drive in the 4th quarter, behind a stout front 7 on defense and a quarterback playing poised, relatively mistake free football. Vintage Pats, baby. And it was great to see...

It all started with Matt Cassel. He may have won AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Denver, but it was his play this week against the Rams that actually gave me a lot more confidence in his ability. He looked confident in the pocket, he didn't make any brain dead passes, and he finally focused on getting the ball into the hands of Randy Moss and Wes Welker. He's still no Tom Brady, but he's proving to be more than just a mere "game manager". If he can continue his improvement as the season rolls along, he'll cease being a reason the Pats "can't" succeed, and quickly turn into a key reason for their success...

Then there was the defensive line. Maybe Richard Seymour and Adalius Thomas are closet Rooch Nation lovers, because I called those fools out two weeks ago, only to see them show up the last two Sundays with a massive chips firmly perched on both shoulders. This week in particular, those two led an onslaught on QB Marc Bulger, and keyed the biggest stop of the game, forcing the Rams to go 3 and out after recovering that onside kick to start the half. All the good Patriot teams of years past always had a dominant defensive line, and this unit's performance of late has to instill confidence that this year's team should also have a shot at greatness before all is said and done...

One negative in the game had to be the overall performance of alleged #1 cornerback, Ellis Hobbs. Now I'm not a hater, mind you, but there were several aspects of his Sunday display that were, let's just say, less than desirable...

First and foremost, that guy needs to start looking for the ball when he's out in coverage. I get that he wants to watch the receivers body and whatnot, but especially when you have double coverage help over the top, you really need to turn around and make a play on the ball. Not only will not turning around get you burned more often than not, but you're just begging for the refs to throw an interference flag...

Secondly, there's no way he should be run down by a kicker on his kickoff returns. I get the fact that he's a great returner (leads the NFL in return average), but anytime you get run down by a kicker, you're gonna hear it. So, Eliis. Nice return, but if you wanna dance after every big play, then you're gonna have to not get tackled by any more kickers. It's as simple as that...

...and keep an eye on Brendan Merriweather, people. With Rodney out, and a year under his belt, this kid is going to be expected to be a force out there. He's already shown drastic improvement between years 1+2, (his ability to catch, for one) and now that he'll be playing a lot more safety, we should be able to see him utilize more of his natural skill set...

And let's hope he continues to step up, because my man James "the Colonel" Sanders looks lost out there without his running mate and mentor, Rodney Harrison...

Tackle Box

You ever hear the saying "those who can't do, teach"? Well when I watched Mike Singletary flip out at his first post game press conference on Sunday afternoon, I couldn't help that the opposite statement might just be as appropriate. "Those who can do, probably shouldn't be teaching anybody"...

The guy just has too much fire in 'em to be a coach. Remember that NFL Films cut of him? With that glass cutting stare as he yells "I like this kind of party!". That's not a guy that's gonna stroke egos, baby rookies and accommodate veterans. Sure there will be plenty of guys that will be ready to run through a wall for him, but there are also gonna be plenty of guys like Vernon Davis, guys like TO. And as sad a commentary as it might be, today's coach needs to be able to baby and handle guys like that if he wants a chance to compete at the top. He simply can't have that much passion. That's a sad reality. Maybe Mike can harness his passion and make it work, a la Jon Gurden. But from the looks of his start, he might just be a little too proud, and a little too focused, to see that today's players don't exactly jive with his "old school" mentality...

I hope he succeeds, because I like where his heads at, but I get the feeling his greatest impact will be when this video clip makes it's way into a Coors Light advertisement. The Silver Bullet. Now that's my kind of party!...

And just to clarify. I never said the Titans were frauds at 6-0, I just said I wanted to see them play somebody before I crowned them the best team in the NFL. And I'm sorry, but after watching them beat the Colts at home on Monday Night, I'd still place them 3rd in my power rankings behind both the Giants and the Steelers. Tennessee has a great defense and a solid running game, but I'm just not buying that there shady passing attack will get 'er done against any sort of legit defense. Examples:

1) Last night, Kerry Collins completed 24 of 37 pass attempt. 16 of those completions went to either running backs or tight ends. The top WR on the Titans, Justin Gage, has just 13 grabs for 182 yards on the entire season...

2) Through 7 games, the Titans have yet to pass for more than 200 yards. With a 75.0 QB rating, Kerry Collins has completed just 58% of his passes while tossing 3 touchdowns and 3 picks...

Sorry, folks. I know they have a fierce running attack, and that teams have recently won it all with the combination of caretaker QBs and ill defenses, but I'm just not buying it. Kerry Collins is NOT Trent Dilfer. And this defense doesn't hold a candle to that of the Super Bowl Bucs and Ravens of years past...

Peyton Manning. The Devil? Or just doing his best impression of Elaine from Seinfeld. You decide...

..."You stole my Jesus Fish, didn't ya?!?!"...

Oh, I almost forgot. I embarrassed myself this weekend attempting to predict outcomes of football games. Here's how I did...

My Picks
Last Week: 6-8-0 (Top Picks: 3-2-0)

Overall: 64-49-3 (.565)

Top Picks: 26-18-1 (.589)

NCAA Picks
Last Week: 10-8-1

Overall: 93-62-4 (.597)

Took one on the chin this week, but that's bound to happen now and again. What worries me, is that I'm having weeks like this in week 8. Week 2 or 3 I could understand, but droppin' a dud like this nearly halfway through the season doesn't bode well for my chances from here on out...

News and Notes

Isiah Thomas once said about Larry Bird, "if he were black, he'd be just another player". Well, Zeke. In light of your latest incident, I have these words to offer for ya. "If you were white, you'd be just another fired GM". Not only has he destroyed the a whole league, crippled two NBA franchises, and cost the Knicks millions in a sexual harassment lawsuit, but now he's thrown his own daughter under the bus in some sort of botched suicide attempt...

So, to clarify. Somebody called the cops to Isiah's house. The cops report that when they arrived, they had to take a 47 year old male, who had apparently taken too much sleeping medication, to the hospital for treatment. Zeke then said that it was his 17 year old daughter that was taken to the hospital. Then, the head cop in charge of the operation called Isiah a tard, and said his officers know the difference between a 47 year old man, and a 17 year old girl. The cops aren't backing down from their story, and Zeke's family is backing him with his. AKA, this is exactly what went down that time with TO, and just like that time, we're probably never gonna learn any more information...

Well I know this. Now, it's official. There have to be pictures that exist of David Stern and James Dolan on all fours, wearing dog collars, and doing a frame by frame remake of 2girlsonecup. And those photos must be in the night stand, right next to the alleged suicide pills of a former Detroit Piston's Hall of Fame point guard...

Truly hysterical, man. Isiah's the guy, and his life is the story, that just won't seem to die. And just when you think it can't get any more twisted, somethin' like this pops up. You can't help but laugh...

While we're on the topic of the National Basketball Association, what better time to give you my prediction for the '08-'09 season.

Now, in years past I've gone to great lengths in order to provide you with a complete pre season breakdown, but as my interest in the league continues to dwindle, so goes most of my motivation. So, without further ado, I give you my expansive predictions for the wondrous romp that will be the 2008-2009 NBA season...

Western Conference Finals
New Orleans Hornets over Utah Jazz (6 games)

other contenders: LA Lakers, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets

Eastern Conference Finals
Cleveland Cavaliers over Boston Celtics (7 games)

other contenders: Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat

NBA Finals
Cleveland Cavaliers over New Orleans Hornets (7 games)

As much as I despise the NBA, there's no doubting my success in predicting the finals. Two years ago, I called San Antonio over Cleveland. And last year, even though I had the Mavs winning it all, I had them narrowly beating the Celtics in a hard fought, 7 game series. This year, I like LeBron to finally take that next step, dethroning the Celtics on his way to his first NBA Championship trophy. He will finally arrive, just in time to leave the city of Cleveland. And when you're ready to cash in, leaving on top is the ONLY way to go...

And remember, I'm not a Celtics fan just picking them because they won last year. Granted I follow and know more about the team than most of their pink hat fans circa "the day we got KG, dude", but I'm so over the NBA that I feel I'd do the word "fan" a disservice should I say that's how I feel about Glen and the Green. I still think they're good enough to give LeKing a run for his money, but with the vets a year older and James Posey in New Orleans, I think the Celts will fall just short of being able to challenge for banner 18...

Oh, and don't forget how much you loved banner #17 when the now extended Danny Ainge and Glen Rivers MD are busy bumbling around trying to rebuild this thing when the Big 3 are finally done...

The "World Series That Wasn't" just won't go away! Bud Selig and friends decided it would be a good idea to start a potential series ending game 5 in spite of ominous weather forecasts, and now they're paying the price. Game 5, which is in the 6th inning by the way, won't finish now until tonight, tomorrow, or whenever the weather finally clears up in Philly. It's yet another hopeless situation allowed to happen by a hapless, and pathetic regime, but I just don't care enough to comment any further...

Now, it's time to truly get hyped. It's college hoops season, baby, and I'm getting things started in style. In years past, I've given you a weekly top 10 to help whet your appetite. This year, while I'll still have the top 10, I'm kicking the season off with a full fledged, border line official, top 25...

(Reminder: My poll is always a reflection of which team I feel has the best chance to win the NCAA tournament if it started tomorrow. NOT necessarily the best team. It's a fine line I know. But it's a line nonetheless.)

College Hoops Preseason Top 25
1. North Carolina

Whenever you return what figure to be 2 All Americans in Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson, then you figure to be the odds on favorite to win it all. That's the case in Chapel Hill, and between their star power and their depth, they're gonna be one Hell of a tough out come tourney time...

2. Louisville

Earl Clark might be the best unknown guard in the Big East, and you always have to like your chances with Rick Pitino. They were a trendy Final Four pick going into last year's tourney, and look for that character and experience to be a main reason why they stay near the top all season long...

3. Oklahoma

Mark my words. Blake Griffin will be National Player of the Year. And while he isn't all the Sooners have to offer, his play will determine if this team is just another Big XII also-ran, or a legit threat. If he plays even 80% of what I think he's gonna bring, then I gotta think the latter statement is the more likely outcome. The kid's a beast...

4. Michigan St.

Love Tom Izzo. Love Raymar Morgan. And I love the fact this team is finally healthy again. Delvon Roe will return from injury and should team with Morgan to be the most dynamic tandem in the Big 10. And even though the Big 10 is a little down this year, their perennial slate of pre season behemoths should have them well tested once they enter the field of 65...


The Huskies are a bit of an enigma. On paper, with talent like Hasheem Thabeet and AJ Price, Jim Calhoun and friends look like one of the premier teams in the nation. Then, you actually watch them play. Unlike UCONN teams of the past, this one just doesn't seem to be able to pull out the "ugly" wins. If these Huskies can finally mature, and begin to play together, then the motto in Storrs will quickly become "National Title or Bust". As opposed to the old mantra, which was "Steal Laptops, Baby!"...

6. Texas

Rick Barnes' Longhorns are a little weak on the interior, but their depth everywhere else should give them a good shot to contend. They key is how well Turkish PG Dolgus Balbay can replace the departed DJ Augustin. If he can do a good job running the offense, and getting the ball to potential breakout star, Damion James, then the Horns will figure as a top team in the Big XII, and a serious player in this year's tourney. Their fans won't realize their good until about mid January thanks to that other team on campus, but I figure that probably won't slow them down...


Exit Kevin Love. Enter, Jrue Holiday. He's got just as fan-friendly a last name, and while he can't replace Love's inside presence, his addition to the perimeter should make the Bruin back court one of the most dangerous in the nation. Darren Collsion, Josh Shipp and Alfred Aboya have all played roles on 3 straight Final Four teams, and that experience should help key a talented squad towards yet another deep tournament run...

8. Notre Dame

Big East POY Luke Harangody returns, and PG Tory Jackson is probably one of the nation's best unknown play makers. And speaking of unknown, head coach Mike Brey is quickly earning a Jeff Fisher-like reputation of success from those of us that really follow the game. Look for the Irish to serve as the big dog in the Big East for the early part of the season while the Huskies find thier stride...

9. Gonzaga

Fresh from the Phish concert and fully recovered from his mushroom binge, forward Josh Heytvelt is back. He joins fellow returnee, Austin Daye, and draft dodging (NBA, not like Slick Willy) PG Janero Pargo to give head man, Mark Few his most talented bunch since the days of Richie Frahm and Matt Santangelo...

No relation to now confessed roider, FP Santangelo. Still the best call Keith Olberman ever made, by the way. FP Santangelo, HELLO!...Ahhhh, you had to have been there...

10. Arizona St.

Last year all you heard from the Left Coast was OJ Mayo and Kevin Love. Well there were people then and there are people now that will tell you the Pac 10's best frosh in the '07 class was Sun Devil G/F, James Harden. Whether he alone is enough to keep ASU in the top 25 all season long remains to be seen, but as one of the toughest matchups in the country, he'll be giving opponents fits for 40 minutes every time he steps on the floor. And you just gotta love head coach Herb Sendek, too...

Here are the rest of the teams, 11-25. They're not as good, so not only aren't there names in bold type, but they don't get anything written about them either. Well, except Cuse that is...

11. Pittsburgh

12. Purdue

13. Miami

14. Duke

15. Marquette

16. Tennessee

17. Wake Forest

18. LSU

19. Davidson

20. Memphis

21. USC

22. UNLV

23. Syracuse

*Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins are back. And even though Donte Green is gone to the NBA, those two combined with Johnny Flynn and Paul Harris are going to give the Orange one Hell of an explosive backcourt. They'll gain a lot of confidence and get to know each other again with their early slate of dome cupcakes, and should be ready to knock heads with the big boys when Big East play begins...

24. Florida

25. Kentucky

some others that nearly made the list. AKA - teams that I can now "justifiably" slide right into my rankings should they get out to a torrid start...

Georgetown, Baylor, Alabama, Arizona, Villanova, Xavier, Texas A+M, St. Mary's

Check back next week and I'll have more predistions on all things hoops. NBA MVP, defensive player of the year, and my 1st, 2nd and 3rd team NCAA All Americans. That's must read shit, right there...

Fantasy Update
Last Week: Dick Whitman 66 General Lee Higgins 77

Overall: 5-3-0, 5th in standings + 6th in points

Next Week vs Donald Draper (5-3-0) <----FROSCO Well, it was bound to happen. After pulling off two impressive Monday Night comebacks this season, I was finally rundown this week as I turned a 7 point Sunday Night lead into an 11 point Tuesday morning defeat. My main man from last year, Dallas Clark, was the one who did the damage, and now I find myself loser of 2 straight, and barely in position to make the playoffs... What's interesting, however, is that I lost this week, and managed a semi-respectable 66 points, all while getting just a combined 3 points from big guns Reggie Wayne and Maurice Jones-Drew. That's either a promising sign, in that my supporting cast is good. OR, it could be an ominous sign, that the guys I picked to lead my team, are going to be the ones that end up holding my squad back... This week is as good as any to figure out which way I'm going, as I clash with Frosco. We've both won the league, we've both been in 1st this season, and we're both in danger of slipping right out of what looked like comfy playoff seats. And if you don't get the Mad Men reference that's inherent in our matchup, then you just missed of the best season's of a TV show that I've ever seen in my life. I'd say you should watch it On Demand or on DVD, but you're not hip enough to get it, so I won't even bother...

And on that note, I'm gonna call it a day. Hope you made it all the way through this week's odyssey, and I'll catch you on Friday...

Be good...


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