Wednesday, October 6, 2010

MLB Playoff Picks

Apologies for the gap between posts - sometimes life just gets in the way of important things like maintaining one's blog.
Enough whining - Let's wake up this near dormant blog with some picks for the 2010 MLB Playoffs!
National League
Philadelphia vs. Cincinnati
Doc Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels....need we say more.  This team is battle tested, anxious to recalim the World Series, and playing it's best ball of the year.  Cincy is a great story, but the feeling here is that Dusty Baker's boys won't be able to ovcercome the Phillies pitching (despite the sometime thrill ride known as Closer Brad Lidge).
The Pick: Phillies in 4
San Fran vs. Atlanta
Can the perennial postseason underachieving Braves give Bobby Cox (and perhaps Chipper Jones)a happy sendoff into retirement?  Though this isn't the same bunch that was around for most of those years, the feeling here is no.  Bruce Bochy's Giants can take this one, riding the clutch hitting of surprising veterans like Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff to go aloing with the young arms like Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez, not to mention the outstanding (0.90 ERA since September 1) bullpen.
The Pick: Giants in 4

American League
New York Yankees vs. Minnesota
Full disclosure: We do not like the Yankees.  Some might say we're haters.  Those who say so might be correct in that assertion.  Nevertheless, despite the fact that we will be rooting against the Yankees with every fiber of our being, we will be objective in this analysis.  This is not the same team that waltzed through the playoffs in 2009 en route to Title #27.  Derek Jeter is either in a simple prolonged slump, or is showing us the inevitable slow decline that comes with age.  Alex Rodriguez has been unable to stay fully healthy, although the team seems to play pretty well without him.  Mark Teixiera, while prodcutive with 33-108, hit 30 points below his lifetime BA.  This lineup is still dangerous, and can be a bear to pitch to, but there are vulnerabilities which a good staff can exploit.
Enter the Twins, with a fully recovered Francisco Liriano and a rejuvanated Carl Pavano, and a surprsing bullpen.  Even though 1B Justin Morneau will miss the series due to a concussion, the lineup is formidable.  Sprinkle in the relative uncertainty of the Yankee rotation beyond C.C. Sabathia, the home field edge of Target Field and you've got us absolutely giddy for an early Bronx Bomber exit!
The Pick: Twins in 5
Tampa Bay vs. Texas
The Rays return to the playoffs after missing them in '09, while the Rangers remain the only franchise in MLB never to have won a playoff series.  Not sure if Texas can buck that trend, though this group will give Tampa all it can handle.  Picking up Cliff Lee, who you might remember as being completely amazing in the 2009 playoffs, was a master stroke.  The slick lefty works quickly, doesn't walk anybody, and is on a nice run (1.94 ERA in Sept.).  The Ranger lineup, however,  is a little dinged with Josh Hamilton still nursing sore ribs, and Vlad Guerrero's sore legs.
Tampa doesn't flash a lot of power, but can create lots oin havoc (and runs) with overall team speed.  The Rays swiped 172 bases to lead the majors, and Texas pitchers getting too obsessed with baserunners can lead to big fat mistakes in the middle of the plate.
The Pick: Rays in 5
So there you have it.  Come back once the Division Series' are done and see how smart/stupid we are.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

NFL Picks - Week 6

Last week's matchups were just so awful, we decided not to even bother publishing a picks column.  Well, that's not entirely true, but there are times when we can't get to throwing up a blog post, so eventful and busy are our lives.

That said, we found a few spare moments here to put together some wisdom for Week 6.  Pull up a chair, soak in the knowledge, and enjoy.

CINCINNATI (-4.5) over Houston
Bengals are for real, apparently.  Texans play just well enough to not win each week - witness the pathetic failure to punch it in from the one against Arizona last week. We'll go with the Don't-call-us-the-Bungles-anymore at home.
Bengals 27  Texans 21

GREEN BAY (-13.5) over Detroit
Lions are frisky, and should be able to keep it interesting for a half, but Pack is coming off a bye, and playing at Lambeau.  Look for the late cover of this big number.
Packers 34  Lions 20

Baltimore (+2.5) over MINNESOTA
First challenge for Favre's Vikes.  Ravens defense has showed some vulnerability thus far, and killer schedule hasn't done them any favors.  The hunch is that they will find a way to harass #4 and slow down Peterson just enough to pull one out on the road.
Ravens 23  Vikings 21

NY Giants (+3.5) over NEW ORLEANS
Anytime Vegas wants to give you points with Big Blue, you take it, and don;t ask any questions.  Saints are very tough at home, but Jet defense did a fine job bottling up Brees just two weeks ago, so there is no reason why Jints can't repeat the feat.  IN what should be the game of the week, go with Eli and the boys.
Giants 23  Saints 21

TAMPA BAY (+3.5) over Carolina
Ew.  Bucs are slowly becoming more capable, and the erratic Panthers can't seem to put together sixty solid minutes.
Panthers 27  Buccaneers 24

Kansas City (+6.5) over WASHINGTON
Will Jim Zorn be fired by halftime?  Skins are simply not very good, while Chiefs are showing subtle signs of becoming a much better team in the second half.  Todd Haley gets his first W here.
Chiefs 24  Redskins 20

JACKSONVILLE (-9.5) over St. Louis
Jags are a mess, but nobody can lay claim to the term "Train Wreck" like the Rams.  If Jax didn't lose by 41 last week, this line would've been much higher, so count your lucky stars that you can lay less than 10 and cruise.
Jaguars 31  Rams 13

PITTSBURGH (-14.5) over Cleveland
Browns picked up first win, albeit in an ugly fashion, last week at Buffalo.  Champs have been up and down thus far, but get back Troy Polamalu, which signifies a return to normalcy.  Blowout city here.
Steelers 37  Browns 10

SEATTLE (-2.5) over Arizona
Seahawks enjoy a nice home field advantage, and a win here throws them right back into the hunt for the wide open NFC West.   Cards should have lost, or at least been taken to OT, last week, so football karma is in play here.
Seahawks 31  Cardinals 27

Philadelphia (-14.5) over OAKLAND
Wow, only 14.5?  Would not have been surprised if it was 20.  Eagles are back on track and ready to assert themselves as one of the Big Boys in the NFC.  How much longer can Oakland play JaMarcus Russell, who clearly is not ready to be an NFL QB?
Eagles 40  Raiders 13

NY JETS (-9.5) over Buffalo
Perfect time for the Jets to reassert themselves after back-to-back losses.  Bills are no match for Rex Ryan's defense, which will be in Trent Edwards' face all afternoon.  this one could, and probably will, get ugly.
Jets 37  Bills 13

NEW ENGLAND (-9.5) over Tennessee
Pats haven't really put it all together thus far, but the Titans are simply not very good.  The questions is how bad must Vince Young be if Jeff Fisher is not willing to play him now?
Patriots 27  Titans 14

Chicago (+3.5) over ATLANTA
Banged up Bears are not being given much of a chance this week, but we feel Jay Cutler will be able to have some success here and keep it close.
Falcons 20  Bears 17

SAN DIEGO (-4.5) over Denver
A couple things:
1) Chargers, coming off bye after an awful 45 minutes against Pittsburgh, will be amped up at home.
2) Broncos have to have a letdown at some point, especially after back-to-back home thrillers over Dallas and New England.
Chargers 20  Broncos 14

Best Bets: Eagles, Jaguars, Steelers
Last Week: 7-7
Overall: 43-33

Sunday, October 4, 2009

NFL Picks - Week 4

No column last week, as we were traveling and too busy, and for that we apologize. Despite the lack of blogged evidence, we went 10-6, with no Best Bets chosen. Not bad, considering.

Week 4 is upon us, and there are a couple of very interesting match-ups this week, including the ESPN-led, sure to induce vomit by kickoff due to Favre overload Vikes/Packers clash. More intriguing, at least from here, is the Saints/Jets battle of the unbeatens. It's also must win time for several teams, most notably the 0-3 Titans and the 1-2 Steelers. Losses here for either team will put them into deep divisional holes from which climbing out will be a huge challenge. On to the picks:

CHICAGO (-10.5) over Detroit
Bears are due to unload on somebody, and Lions are giddy over snapping long losing streak. Detroit might be able to hang around for awhile, but look for the Bears to pull away late and cover this double digit number.
Bears 27 Lions 13

Cincinnati (-5.5) over CLEVELAND
Bengals laying this much on the road is always a risky proposition, but the Browns are an absolute train wreck which has already quit on Eric Mangini. Throw in a decided lack of any offensive threat with a fan base that is out of patience and you've got a recipe for a blowout.
Bengals 30 Browns 10

INDIANAPOLIS (-8.5) over Seattle
Colts juist keep taking care of business, winning two big prime time games the last two weeks, now return home to face Seneca Wallace led Hawks. Too much Peyton, plus a dash of Joseph Addai/Donald Brown combo spell doom for Seattle.
Colts 27 Seahawks 13

NY Giants (-9.5) over KANSAS CITY
Arrowhead mystique really not in play these days, and Jints are way too solid away from Jersey for it to make any difference. Clearly emerging as the class of the NFC, don't look for the G-Men to slip up here.
Giants 31 Chiefs 13

WASHINGTON (-7.5) over Tampa Bay
Can't imagine the 'Skins being 8 points better than anybody right now, but the Bucs are in a state of disarray matched only by perhaps the Browns. This is a chance for the Washington fans and media to feel good about this team again, if only for a week.
Redskins 24 Buccaneers 14

Tennessee (-2.5) over JACKSONVILLE
Do or die for Titans, no doubt. Still holding to our assertion that the Jags are an awful squad, despite win last week. Look for Jeff Fisher's boys, who dominated in stretched at the Jets last week, to put together a full 60 minutes here.
Titans 30 Jaguars 10

HOUSTON (-9.5) over Oakland
Two words: JaMarcus Russel. Raiders defense is okay, and running game isn't bad, but the complete ineffectiveness at QB will continue to doom this team. Texans on a bit of a rollercoaster thus far, and this is an "up" week according to the pattern.
Texans 23 Raiders 10

NEW ENGLAND (-2.5) over Baltimore
Seems like a pretty stupid choice on the surface. Ravens are perhaps the best team in the AFC, showing a potent offense to go along with the stout defense, while Tom Brady has clearly not been the Brady of old thus far. Just a hunch that the Pats find a way to scratch out a tough win with a late FG at home, and that assumption is based on nothing factual.
Patriots 23 Ravens 20

NEW ORLEANS (-6.5) over NY Jets
Ahhh, here's the Game of the Week. High flying Saints matching up with the ball hawking, multiple looks, blitz crazy Jets defense. As is usually the case in game like these, we like to look at the other match-up, namely the New Orleans defense vs. Mark Sanchez and Co. The rookie QB has been an effective game manager so far, but at some point will be asked to take over and win a game by himself. Nawlins has some playmajers on defense which could give the Jets trouble, and the choice here is for an entertaining game ultimately going to the dome dwellers.
Saints 27 Jets 20

Buffalo (-1.5) over MIAMI
As we predicted, remember, this would be a very rough year for the Dolphins. Losing Chad Pennington just makes it tougher, and the Bills have played better than the 1-2 mark indicates (save for those disastrous 2 minutes against the Pats in week 1). Bills extend the Miami Misery another week..
Bills 27 Dolphins 16

DENVER (+3.5) over Dallas
Really not sold on the Broncos yet, mostly due to the opponents faced, but when you can grab a good defensive team getting points at home, you grab 'em. Cowboys have shown to still manage to come up small in big games, and we're betting this trend continues.
Broncos 20 Cowboys 17

SAN FRANCISCO (-10.5) over St. Louis
We believe in the Niners now, though one would be hard pressed to pick the Rams, well, ever. Even if Frank Gore sits, Frisco should roll.
49ers 31 Rams 10

San Diego (+6.5) over PITTSBURGH
Really tough to go against the Steelers at home coming off a loss, but this team is in trouble. The running game is a shambles, and the loss of Troy Polomalu seems to have rendered the defense toothless and passive. Can't see the Bolts not managing to stay close, if not winning outright.
Chargers 24 Steelers 22

Green Bay (+3.5) over MINNESOTA
Vikes escaped ugly loss with last second heroics last week thanks to Favre's heave. Never mind all of the hype surrounding #4 in purple, the real story here will be how Aaron Rogers manages to maintain his poise in a noisy house with the QB Who Wouldn't Leave standing on the otehr sideline. The play here is that the Pack will stick around, and maybe steal one here.
Packers 23 Vikings 21

Best Bets: San Fran, Buffalo, Cincinnati

Last Week: 10-6
Overall Record: 28-20

Saturday, September 19, 2009

NFL Picks - Week 2

It was a bit of an atypical Week 1 for us, as we usually do pretty well. Thanks to spectacular non-covers by the Pats and Chargers on Monday, we skidded to an 8-8 week. Some highlights from the opening games:

Denver's improbable 87 yard TD pass to beat Cincy, culminating in Brandon Stokely's goal line tightrope walk. Obviously, this guy played lots of Tecmo Bowl as a kid.

The Patriots quick strike victory over Buffalo. The decision to run the kickoff out of the end zone was actually pretty sound, but the need to figt for the extra meaningless yard nullified it.

Mark Sanchez's debut. The kid looked poised, if nothing else, but bear in mind the awful pick he threw, along with a few other ill advised tosses which could have easily been picked. The new Rex Ryan led defense will carry this team in '09.

For Week 2, it's Rivalry Week! Jets-Pats! Giants-Cowboys! Chiefs-Raiders! (Okay, only we care about that last one....)

On to the picks.

ATLANTA (-6.5) over Carolina

Panthers have become a bit of a chic pick since this line opened. We're not seeing it - Jake Delomme can play 75% better than he did a week ago and still be awful. The Falcs are home again, and have enough to grind out an ugly win.

Falcons 20 Panthers 13

Minnesota (-9.5) over DETROIT

AP, AP, and more AP. Favre will be a non-factor, meaning he'll be less likely to throw a damaging INT. Lions are better, but will have no answers for Purple Jesus.

Vikings 37 Lions 10

GREEN BAY (-9.5) over Cincinnati

Bengals reeling after ugly late loss to Denver at home, now go to Lambeau. Pack escaped with one last week, but staunch defense will have no trouble shutting down Cincy.

Packers 20 Bengals 7

Houston (+7.5) over TENNESSEE

This is not the same Titan team from 2008. Texans, a popular breakout pick by many (including this site), will be hungry and should have enough to cover this number.

Texans 23 Titans 21

KANSAS CITY (-3.5) over Oakland

Raiders might have been jobbed by reversal on that TD pass last week, and they appear to be much more disciplined thus far, but JaMarcus Russell's inaccuracy will cause problems. KC eager to please in first Arrowhead game of the Pioli/Haley regime, will take out hated AFL rivals.

Chiefs 24 Raiders 16

New England (-5.5) over NY JETS

Everybody loving the J-E-T-S Jets! JEts! Jets! after impressive opener. Couple that with New England's survival victory, and you've got plenty of concerned folks in Massachusettes. Not to worry. The Hoodie has always been able to rattle younger QB's, and Pats can look at last week as a wake-up call.

Patriots 23 Jets 14

New Orleans (+1.5) over PHILADELPHIA

Changed this one after seeing Kolb will be taking the snaps for Philly. Saints D is not stellar by any means, but Brees and CO. will be ablt to put up enough to compensate, and we're counting on some unfoirced errors by Kolb.

Saints 26 Eagles 24

WASHINGTON (-10.5) over St. Louis

Rams are absolutely dreadful. Skins bounce back in home opener, and despite the inconsistency of Jason Campbelll will be able to coast here.

Redskins 30 Rams 13

Arizona (+3.5) over JACKSONVILLE

Sorry, but the Jags are simply not very good, and do not deserve to be giving points, particularly to the defending NFC champs. We know, Western teams going East for 1:00 starts have an absolutely abysmal record, but this one is a trend bucker.

Cardinals 24 Jaguars 19

Seattle (+1.5) over SAN FRANCISCO

Still not sold on Niners, even after impressive road win at Arizona. Seahawks lloked sharp vs. Rams, which really wasn't difficult to do, but the feeling here is they will steal one on the road this week.

Seahawks 27 49ers 24

BUFFALO (-4.5) over Tampa Bay

Bills come home and reignite the hope for their beleaguered fan base. Bucs hung with Dallas for awhile last week, but gave up big play after big play en route to loss. Look for T.O. to have a good game and, hopefully, keep his yap shut afterward.

Bills 30 Bucs 16

CHICAGO (+2.5) over Pittsburgh

Upset special. Bears can't afford to fall to 0-2, and the defense should step it up big time against Champs. Cutler should enjoy seeing a Troy Polamolu-less secondary as well. Robbie Gould's leg decides it.

Bears 20 Steelers 17

Cleveland (+3.5) over DENVER

Not sold at all on the Broncos, who pulled one out of their backside last week. Browns are bad, but so is Denver, so we'll grab the points and hope for a close game.

Broncos 20 Browns 17

Baltimore (+4.5) over SAN DIEGO

Chargers, minus LDT, still a potent force as Darren Sprouls takes the ball. Ravens solid on both sides of the ball, and this seems like way too high a number to pass up.

Ravens 23 Chargers 19

NY Giants (+2.5) over DALLAS

Welcome to the Enormodome, or whatever the hell Jerry Jones is calling this monstrosity of a stadium. Hope this sucke- er, fans, enjoy getting fleeced for huge sums while enjoying obstructed views, essentially paying this man tons of money to watch his large TV. Back to the game, G-Men know how to beat this team, always play well on the road, and won't be fazed. Over/Under on punts hitting the monitor is 1.5.

Giants 24 Cowboys 20


Indianapolis (-3.5) over MIAMI

We told you that the Dolphins were the prime candidate to be this season's Let Down team, and gettign off to an 0-2 start will help cement that. Colts did just enough to win opener, and will be able to cover here despite being thin at wideout.

Colts 17 Dolphins 10

Last Week: 8-8

Best Bets: Bills, Vikings, Packers

Sunday, September 13, 2009

NFL Picks - Week 1

Not much fanfare for these picks, as history tells us nobody knows anything about Week 1.  The spreads are usually low, since Vegas has no trending data or major injuries to factor into the equation.

This year, we're playing in the ESPN Pigskin Pick 'em group put together by Bill Simmons, a group with several thousand entries.  Our goal is simply yo beat Matthew Berry.

That said, here are the Week 1 selections:
PITTSBURGH (-5.5) over Tennessee (already a loss; thanks Hines Ward!)

ATLANTA (-4.5) over Miami
Denver (+3.5) over CINCINNATI
Minnesota (-3.5) over CLEVELAND
INDIANAPOLIS (-6.5) over Jacksonville
NEW ORLEANS (-11.5) over Detroit
Dallas (-3.5) over TAMPA BAY
Philadelphia (+0.5) over CAROLINA
BALTIMORE (-8.5) over Kansas City
N.Y. Jets (+4.5) over HOUSTON
N.Y. GIANTS (-6.5) over Washington
ARIZONA (-6.5) over San Francisco
ST. LOUIS (+7.5) over Seattle
Chicago (+3.5) over GREEN BAY

NEW ENGLAND (-10.5) over Buffalo
San Diego (-6.5) over OAKLAND

Enjoy the opening weekend, everyone!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The 2009 NFL Preview!

Finally, the 2009 NFL Season is upon us. Join us, won't you, as we fearlessly attempt to forecast the season, secure in the knowledge that several significant injuries/suspensions will completely screw the crap out of these meticulously prepared choices.

In the interest of accuracy, we broke it down by taking the complete schedule, and going game-by-game, predicting who would be the winner. The won-lost records were than compiled, the standings updated, and the rest is history. Check it out:

NY Giants 13-3
Philadelphia 13-3
Dallas 10-6
Washington 9-7

Chicago 13-3
Green Bay 12-4
Minnesota 8-8
Detroit 2-14

New Orleans 12-4
Atlanta 9-7
Carolina 8-8
Tampa Bay 1-15

Arizona 8-8
Seattle 7-9
San Francisco 5-11
St. Louis 3-13

New England 12-4
NY Jets 8-8
Buffalo 4-12
Miami 4-12

Pittsburgh 14-2
Baltimore 12-4
Cincinnati 6-10
Cleveland 2-14

Indianapolis 12-4
Houston 11-5
Tennessee 9-7
Jacksonville 3-13

San Diego 13-3
Kansas City 7-9
Denver 4-12
Oakland 2-14


(6) Green Bay over (3) New Orleans
(5) Philadelphia over (4) Arizona

(1) NY Giants over (6) Green Bay
(5) Philadelphia over (2) Chicago

(5) Philadelphia over (1) NY Giants


(3) Indianapolis over (6) Houston
(4) New England over (5) Baltimore

(2) San Diego over (3) Indianapolis
(4) New England over (1) Pittsburgh

(2) San Diego over (4) New England

Super Bowl
Philadelphia over San Diego

That's right, we're picking Norv Turner and Andy Reid to each lead teams to the Super Bowl. Jeez, are we screwed.

Most jarring observations from the above:

  • Miami and Atlanta both regress, with the Dolphins seeing a more significant drop due to a tougher schedule loaded with colder outdoor games.
  • Denver dropping like a rock. Partly wishful thinking, but come on, Kyle Orton plus pouty crazypants Brandon Marshall can't offset a potentially promising running game
  • Tampa Bay, Oakland and Cleveland will be really, really bad.
  • Detroit's 2-14 will feel like 7-9
  • Brett Favre is a douche
Enjoy the season everyone.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Scare

Sitting in the pool on Sunday, as my teenaged daughter feverishly works the cell phone, texting with friends about nothing in particular, as per usual. Suddenly, she gets my attention with this exclamation:

"Oh my God! Willie Mays died!"

My heart sank a little. The Say Hey Kid has always been my favorite player of all time, even though I only got to watch the very end of his long career. The admiration for Willie was passed down from my father and older brothers, and dated back to when Mays patrolled center field at the Polo Grounds in the 50's.

Reflection set in. Hell, I thought, Mays was 78 years old, and lived a long, full life. I imagined the tributes that would be forthcoming from the likes of Bob Costas, et al., and was certain I'd DVR the majority of them.

Then a thought occurred to me. Why would a teenaged girl (the one who texted my kid) even A.) Know who Willie Mays was and B.) more importantly, care who Willie Mays was? I said this and was told that "her family is really into sports". Okay, a stretch I suppose, but when kids are basically texting anything that occurs it made sense that this would find its way into the conversation.

Minutes pass, when the familiar buzz of the cell phone siginified another text. I'm then asked if Willie Mays was "that Oxy Clean guy". Um, no, that's Billy Mays. Kind of a big difference.

Then it gets pieced together that The Say Hey Kid had presumably not died, but that Mr. "As Seen on TV" himself did. Sad? Sure, but it was nice to know that my favorite player had not shuffled off just yet.