Thursday, October 25, 2007

NFL Picks - Week 8

As the season progresses, we have learned about the struggle to achieve perfection, and the associated issues therein. We realize how difficult it is in the modern NFL to finish the season with a zero in any column besides the one marked "T". With the midway point of the 2007 NFL season just about here, we here at BIMRVM wholeheartedly support the efforts of the team that will not wilt in its relentless pursuit of perfection.....

The Miami Dolphins

On to the picks for Week 8:

Indianapolis (-6.5) over CAROLINA
No way Colts get caught looking ahead to Pats, and with the way the defense is playing we look for Indy to keep rolling. (The offense isn't too shabby either, by the way)
Colts 24 Panthers 13

Pittsburgh (-4.5) over CINCINNATI
Steelers have to get their act together on the road one of these weeks, and now is the time. Bengals defense will have all kinds of problems trying to slow down Willie Parker and Co.
Steelers 34 Bengals 16

CHICAGO (-5.5) over Detroit
Bears saved season with late TD drive in Philly last week, and come home to face Lion team that has issues playing away from Ford Field. Line might be a bit high, particularly if Lions do the sensible thing and never kick the ball anywhere near Devin Hester. Nonetheless, we like the MiIdway Monsters here.
Bears 22 Lions 16

TENNESSEE (-7.5) over Oakland
Speaking of crappy road teams, how 'bout the Radiers? Titans return home and welcome back Vince Young, but the real key will be the Tennessee rush defense's ability to stymie Raider running game. After near record collapse in 4th quarter last week in Houston, look for Jeff Fisher's bunch to stay focused and finish the job at home this week.
Titans 27 Raiders 7

Cleveland (-3.5) over ST. LOUIS
Stephen Jackson returns for Rams, but he still needs blockers, doesn't he? We mentioned the Dolphins in the opener, but Rams are in the same, leaky winless boat. They'll get one soon, but not this week.
Browns 27 Rams 19

Philadelphia (-1.5) over MINNESOTA
Hard to see how the Eagles can be favored on the road, so we're going with them using the "Vegas Knows Something" theory. There is no other explanation.
Eagles 19 Vikings 17

N.Y. Giants (-9.5) over "MIAMI" (in London, England)
Honestly Roger, give this crap a rest, It's all well and good to throw the occasional pre-season game to the Eurpoean fans, but this is just stupid. As for the actual game, it is somewhat fitting that the big international showing will showcase the winless Dolphins against the surging Giants. No contest here, G-Men in a rout.
Giants 34 Dolphins 16

N.Y. JETS (-2.5) over Buffalo
Bounce back game for the Jets, now that the pressure is off and Chad Pennington has been giving a stay of execution. This might be the most boring game on the docket this week, but Jet fans will take the W.
Jets 20 Bills 13

SAN DIEGO (-10.5) over Houston
Still unsure where this game will take p,ace, but we like the resurgent Chargers no matter the building. Texans showed tons o' moxie last week in nearly pulling off the most amazing comeback ever, but will be hard pressed to slow down LT and newly acquired WR Chris Chambers.
Chargers 30 Texans 14

TAMPA BAY (-4.5) over Jacksonville
Another head scratcher, until you realize the Jags are going on the road into a hostile venue with a rookie QB. Not the best recipe for success. Bucs remain tough to beat at the pirate ship and will keep the roll going this week.
Buccaneers 23 Jaguars 10

NEW ENGLAND (-16.5) over Washington
Another ridiculous double digit spread for the Pats...and once again we'll take 'em. Skins could be one of the toughest Patriot opponents thus far, and could slow down Brady, Moss and Co., however we can't see the offense generating enough points to match them. Win here sets up showdown vs. Colts which will be hyped more than the Super Bowl.
Patriots 31 Redskins 10

New Orleans (-2.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
If Saints are truly back, they will not stumble here. Niners get Alex Smith back, but this offense hasn't been able to generate much of anything thus far and we can't see that changing anytime soon.
Saints 24 49ers 10

Green Bay (+3.5) over DENVER
The only underdog we're choosing this week is the Pack. Coming off the bye against what is still a pretty shaky Bronco team, look for Favre to shine in the prime time spotlight. On a side note, how does a non-playoff team like Denver get back-to-back prime time, national games?
Packers 27 Broncos 22

BEST BETS: Indianapolis, Tennessee, NY Giants

Last Week: 8-6
Overall: 56-47 (54.4%)

Last week: 2-1
Overall: 11-4 (73.3%)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

NFL Picks - Week 7

Nice, a return to glory in the short week! Please allow us a moment to bask in the glory of a 10-3 week, erasing the awful memory of the 4-10 abomination which preceded it.

Ahhh. That’s nice.

What a week it was, too. The Pats continue to flip off the rest of the league, and score points in buckets, 74 year old Vinny Testaverde played like he was 40 again, Adrian Peterson had a big-ass coming out party at the expense of the suddenly toothless Bear defense, Tony Gonzalez cemented his spot in Canton, and LaDanian Tomlinson stopped whining and started scoring touchdowns, to the delight of Fantasy owners nationwide.

(Also, the Chiefs are back in 1st place again. Shhhhh…….)

On to the choices:

DETROIT (-1.5) over Tampa Bay
Strange that Vegas is favoring the Lions, even though the game is in the Motor City. Lions have been pretty up and down, so this looks to be an "up" week.
Lions 19 Buccaneers 16

NEW ORLEANS (-7.5) over Atlanta
Are the Saints back? Sure looked like it last week, didn't it? If the opponent was anyone else it might be a different story, but it looks as if the Falcons have cashed it in. Byron Leftwich takes the helm for Atlanta, but it shouldn't matter, at least not yet.
Saints 34 Falcons 20

WASHINGTON (-7.5) over Arizona
Skins defense is very tough, and will feast at home against Tim Rattay-led Cards. The line seems a bit high, but the hunch here is that Washington can handle it.
Redskins 23 Cardinals 13

Baltimore (-3.5) over BUFFALO
Ravens always a close your eyes and hope for the best bet, and this could easily be the ugliest game of the week. In this case, we'll go with the stronger, big play defense, and that belongs to the Ravens.
Ravens 16 Bills 10

New England (-17.5) over MIAMI
That’s it, only 17.5? Cripes, we’d be willing to lay 25 here. Despite Pats recent struggles in this city, this team is on such a roll that it is impossible to place a ceiling on them. Dolphs look like they have a little more life with Cleo Lemon at the helm, but we feel he’ll be running for his life in the second half as opposed to putting up some cheap late scores.
Patriots 38 Dolphins 13

Tennessee (-1.5) over HOUSTON
Vice Young is listed as a "game time decision", but those of us gamblers/fantasy owners know that Jeff Fischer loves to mess with us via his injury report every week. Mark it down, Young will play, but even if he doesn't Kerry Collins can provide suitable numbers. Titans will not be able to run the ball versus stout Titan D, and the low number tells us to go with the visitors.
Titans 20 Texans 14

NY GIANTS (-10.5) over San Francisco
G-Men could be caught looking ahead to big London trip next week (side note to Roger Goodell: please stop floating the possibility of playing the Super Bowl overseas. It's stupid, nearly as much as playing a regular season game in Europe). Trent Dilfer will be a sitting duck for the Giant pass rush, and the manning-to-Burress combo will continue to click.
Giants 30 49ers 16

NY Jets (+6.5) over CINCINNATI
Jets have stunk less than Bengals have thus far. Line is too high for a team that plays defense as poorly as Cincy, and the team is this close to a full scale mutiny. Jets more relaxed on the road, and should stay close enough to cover if not win outright.
Jets 31 Bengals 28

Kansas City ( +2.5) over OAKLAND
Raiders are better than they've been in recent years, no question, and do play better in the Black Hole. However, Chiefs might be finally ready to turn the corner on offense now that Larry Johnson cracked the 100 yard mark last week (admittedly against an awful Bengal defense). Game could be tight, so we’ll take the points.
Chiefs 24 Raiders 20

DALLAS (-9.5) over Minnesota
Big bounceback for the Cowboys, despite facing All-World RB Adrian Peterson. Vikes have no other weapons, which will allow the 'Pokes to key on and contain him. Look for Dallas to take out the frustration from Patriot game here.
Cowboys 27 Vikings 14

SEATTLE (-9.5) over St. Louis
Please, please, can someone figure out the Seahawks? There is no explanation for getting blown out (and shut out) on the road in Pittsburgh, then coming home and getting torched in the first half by the Saints. Despite all that, the Rams are a welcome sight, as they are truly awful. Should Bulger and Jackson return, it could be closer, but this one has all the makings of Seattle getting its act together and taking out its collective frustrations.
Seahawks 23 Rams 9

PHILADELPHIA (-4.5) over Chicago
Eagles better at home, and you can be certain they will not kick the ball to Devin Hester, who is the Bear offense at this point. Line does seem a bit high, but honestly have the Bears shown themselves worthy of any respect recently?
Eagles 24 Bears 14

Pittsburgh (-3.5) over DENVER
Maybe Denver isn’t ready for prime time after all. Jay Cutler has had his moments, but the real surprise has been the woeful rushing defense displayed by Shanahan's bunch. Pittsburgh is not the team one would want to see when having that kind of problem. Look for the Steelers to control the line of scrimmage, the clock, and the game.
Steelers 20 Broncos 7

Monday Night
JACKSONVILLE (+3.5) over Indianapolis
Conventional wisdom tells us that the Colts are coming off a bye, and are likely the 2nd best team in the NFL right now, thus would be the smart play. Maybe, but CW also tells us that the Jags always play them tough, particularly in Florida. In what could be the best game of the week, we like the Jags to put up the first "L" on Indy.
Jaguars 27 Colts 24

BEST BETS: New England, Washington, Dallas

Last Week: 10-3
Overall: 48-41 (53.9%)

Best Bets
Last Week: 1-2
Overall: 9-3 (75%)

Manny: Too Stupid To Plunk?

How the heck nobody has drilled Manny Ramirez in the ribs multiple times by now is simply staggering to us. This guy has been preening and admiring his prodigious blasts, no matter the situation, for so long now it defies explanation that he hasn’t been knocked on his ass by an opposing pitcher.

We can somewhat understand the Indians not wanting to rock the boat right now – there is too much at stake. Plunking Manny tonight might awaken the sleeping giant, and there is no need for that when Cleveland is poised to eliminate the Sox. Next spring though? He should get decked, and there should be several teams lining up for the opportunity.

It occurs to us that there might be other valid reasons for not dusting Manny. He has been painted as such a character by the press (and teammates), that maybe, just maybe, he really has no idea what he’s doing up there after he swings the bat. He just happy that he did well! Maybe he thought the blast in Game 4 put the Sox ahead, rather than only closed the gap to 7-3?

Who knows? Maybe the pitchers know something we don’t – that Ramirez is simply not bright enough to know what he’s doing, and they in turn take pity on him. Being Manny might be enough punishment in and of itself.

Torre to Yanks: Thanks, But No Thanks

After managing to keep the team in the spotlight a full week after being eliminated, the Yankees dropped the other shoe on Thursday by announcing that Joe Torre would not be returning as Manager in 2008. Strangely, but perhaps predictably, the team statement put it all on Joe, stating that an offer was made which the skipper turned down.

On the surface, the offer seems somewhat fair: one year, $5 million, with separate $1 million bonuses for reaching each tier of the post-season, totaling $8 million if the Yankees make the World Series (make, not win it.) Should that occur, an option for a second year kicks in.

Until Torre makes a public statement, we’re left to speculate as to why he turned down the deal. Maybe he wanted a longer deal. Maybe he got the feeling that if the 2008 team started 21-29 like the 2007 team did, he’d be canned at that point. Perhaps he was simply tired of the whole ordeal that comes with managing this franchise, and the slow changing of the guard in Tampa as George The Elder fades into the sunset.

The Yankees come out of this with clean hands: they can rightfully claim that they made a fair offer which was refused, and begin the search for a replacement with no blood on their hands. Who will take the job now? Here’s a quick look at three oft-mentioned candidates:

Don Mattingly – This one baffles us. What, exactly, are Donnie Baseball’s qualifications to take the helm here? The fact that he is a “True Yankee”, whatever the hell that means today? Or, is it simply that he would be easily controlled? So, he was the hitting coach for this team? Honestly, big deal. We’re reasonably certain we could have done the same job and had similar results. Give #23 a minor league job first to get his feet wet. Anyone remember the similar infatuation with giving Bucky Dent this job a few years back? How’d that turn out?

Joe Girardi – Better. Here’s a guy who seems to be more of a student of the game (catchers often are). Besides, he’s proven himself as a big league skipper, though he pulled the unlikely exacta of being named Manager of the Year in Florida, while being fired. Girardi is a no nonsense guy, which could work well with some of the younger players, but might not play so well with the veterans, and also would not take any crap from Tampa, making his hiring that much less likely.

Tony LaRussa – Oh baby, this would be awesome. LaRussa has his head so far up his own ass that he bristles at any strategy questions thrown his way. He ran into issues with the normally benign St. Louis press – just imagine how he’d do with the New York tabloids screaming every morning. Good times! As Yankee Haters, we would love to see this happen.

Another intriguing sub-plot will be how the player retention drama plays out. Mariano Rivera has already publicly stated that the Torre situation would have an impact on his return, and the Alex Rodriguez soap opera just had another wrench tossed into the mix. Count on hearing more about this team all winter long, no matter who wins the World Series.

One last and perhaps more important thing: how is Suzyn Waldman taking this?

Monday, October 15, 2007

NFL Picks - Week 6

Never got the chance to post the Week 6 picks in time, but they were nevertheless made late Friday. (The picks are part of an ESPN Pigskin Pick 'Em pool).

Here they are, minus the commentary:

BALTIMORE -9.5 over St. Louis
Washington +3.5 over GREEN BAY
TAMPA BAY -2.5 over Tennessee
KANSAS CITY +3.5 over Cincinnati
Philadelphia -2.5 over NY JETS
JACKSONVILLE -6.5 over Houston
CHICAGO -5.5 over Minnesota
CLEVELAND -4.5 over Miami
Carolina +4.5 over ARIZONA
Oakland +10.5 over SAN DIEGO
New England -4.5 over DALLAS
SEATTLE -6.5 over New Orleans

NY Giants -3.5 over ATLANTA

BEST BETS: Chicago, Seattle, NY Giants

Last Week: 4-10
Season Total: 38-38 (50.0%)
Best Bets: 2-1 last week, 8-1 (88.9%) overall

Friday, October 5, 2007

NFL Picks - Week 5

Another stellar week (9-5) pushes the surplus up another notch. Let's stay hot and bestow these babies upon you for Week 5:

HOUSTON (-5.5) over Miami
Dolphins are crumbling to what could be the worst season since the pre-Shula days. Texans have struggled of late, but still show up every week and put out a solid effort for Coach Kubiak. Their efforts get rewarded here.
Texans 31 Dolphins 16

KANSAS CITY (+2.5) over Jacksonville
We need to say this now, since we might not get another chance all season:

The first place Kansas City Chiefs.

Wow, that was nice. Chiefs come home after tough 3 of 4 road stretch, and can keep the momentum rolling in Arrowhead against up and down Jags.
Chiefs 24 Jaguars 20

NY Jets (+3.5) over NY GIANTS
"Road" game for Jets, who need a solid effort after tough loss in Buffalo. Whihc version of the Giant D is the real one - the sorry bunch thrashed by Dallas or the 12 sack nightamre for last week versus Philly? We think the answer lies somewhere in between. Either way, Jets can steal one with this line.
Jets 20 Giants 17

NEW ORLEANS (-3.5) over Carolina
Do or die for the boys from Nawlins. Fresh off a bye week, where Coach Sean Payton constantly told the players how much the world has counted them out, back in the Dome, NO should roll. David Carr starts at QB for the inconsistent Panthers.
Saints 23 Panthers 13

NEW ENGLAND (-15.5) over Cleveland
How high will these lines go for the Pats before the season is out? 20? 25? It's beginning to look like College Football spreads with these guys - but they always cover. We can't see any reason to expect a slowdown this week against overmatched Brownies.
Patriots 41 Browns 16

Detroit (+3.5) over WASHINGTON
Lions showed tons of grit in late explosion over Bears last week, and Skins under Gibbs are strangely rusty off bye weeks. Again, maybe they don't win outright, but we like the number and are going with Kitna and the God Squad.
Redskins 24 Lions 23

TENNESSEE (-8.5) over Atlanta
Pretty large number for Vince Young and Co. to cover, but coming off the bye week we can't imagine Titans missing a beat. Falcs look to be a team that will slowly improve as the season progresses, and will be a tough out in December, but look for Titans to pull away late and make this one easy.
Titans 31 Falcons 16

Arizona (-2.5) over ST. LOUIS
Any other week, this would be an obvious trap - Cardinals coming off huge home win over Pittsburgh, due for massive letdown. But for the fact that the Rams are so banged up (Pace, Jackson, now Bulger) and just might be the worst team in the NFL right now. Folks will really start taking 'Zona seriously after it racks up another W this week.
Cardinals 24 Rams 10

Seattle (+6.5) over PITTSBURGH
Why this large number? Feels like a setup, but we just can't see Seahawks losing this one by more than 6. In fact, an outright win by Seattle would not be that big of an upset. Stillers need a bounceback win after last week, and we think they'll get it.
Steelers 24 Seahawks 20

INDIANAPOLIS (-10.5) over Tampa Bay
No way the line is this high if Cadiallac and Pettigout were healthy for TB, but Manning and Co. at home are tough to pick against. We're booking for a tight three quarters, followed by Colts pulling away late to cover.
Colts 29 Buccaneers 14

Baltimore (-3.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
Trent Dilfer starts for Niners. In what should be the ugliest game of the week, look for Ravens to prevail. Condolences to those who are forced to watch.
Ravens 12 49ers 6

San Diego (+1.5) over DENVER
Another team in a must win situation: Norv Turner's Chargers. Normally, trying to get well in the Mile High city would be a tall order, but this Bronco team could very well be 0-4 right now, and have had all kinds of issues stopping the run. So long as Bolts keep ramming LT down the Bronco's throats, they can prevail.....though watching Turner coach so far gives no indication this will occur.
Chargers 24 Broncos 17

GREEN BAY (-3.5) over Chicago
Wow. Just a few weeks ago, this line would have been, at the very least, reversed. Bears are an absolute mess right now, while Pack are the toast of the NFL. Okay, bandwagon, we'll jump on.
Packers 23 Bears 10

Dallas (-10.5) over BUFFALO
Bills looked good, and finally grabbed a W last week ( and might have found a new QB in Trent Edwards, but that's a whole 'nother story). That said, Cowboys are real solid right now, and will once again strut their stuff in front of the national TV audience.
Cowboys 27 Bills 13

BEST BETS: Patriots, Cardinals, Seahawks

Last week: 9-5

Last 3 weeks: 26-20 (56.5%)

Best Bets: 6-0 (100%)

Season Total: 34-28 (54.8%)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Baseball Playoff Preview

Division Series Edition

Say what you will about baseball, what with the ridiculous salaries, steroid controversy, etc., but you can't say this wasn't a strange year. Bud Selig's dream of parity became clearer in 2007, as there were no 100 win nor 100 loss teams in either league. Also, 7 of the 8 teams playing in the post-season were not doing the same thing last season.

We had several milestones, including Barry's 756th*, Biggio's 3,000th hit, Glavine's 300th win, and the 500th HR from Arod, Thome and Frank Thomas. I would rather not mention it, but we also saw the historic collapse of the New York Mets. There, I said it, now let's move on to the teams that are still playing ball.

National League
Phillies vs. Rockies
It is unfortunate that the two Teams of Destiny have to meet in this round, isn't it? Colorado's unlikely run to this series was just as remarkable as Philly's, no doubt. The wild win over the Padres on Monday seemed appropriate in many ways, and this is clearly a team on a roll.
For all that was made of the Mets implosion, let's not forget that the Phillies had to play lights out baseball as well to get to this spot. They're also afire, which could make this the most entertaining of the four Division Series.
The Pick: Just a hunch, but we've got a feeling the Philadelphia pitching might come back to Earth a bit, at the worst possible time. Expect some slugfests.

Rockies in 5

Cubs vs. Diamondbacks
Lost amidst all the craziness in the Eastern and Western divisions was the Cubbies - a team which overcame a pretty significant deficit themselves to get to the playoffs for the first time since the immortal gag job of 2003 (can you say Bartman?). The anonymous D-Backs somehow managed to win the West despite scoring less runs than allowed.
The Pick: D-Back kiddie Corps might be too young to feel the playoff pressure, while Cub players must carry the weight of a century of failure. Still, we like the boys from Chicago, at least at this point. Come back in 1/2 and hour and the pick might change, but for now it's...

Cubs in 5

American League

Red Sox vs. Angels
Sox built huge lead, then avoided the meltdown you were secretly expecting (c'mon Sawx fans, admit it, you were waiting for it to happen). Something feels a bit off about this Angel team though. The pitching has been spottier than usual, and the power numbers haven't been there. Boston has been somewhat in cruise control for much of the second half, but can trot out a nasty lineup to go with ace Josh Beckett.
The Pick: Like the Sox here in what could be a short series. Let's give the Angels at least one, making it.. Red Sox in 4.

Yankees vs. Indians
Seems like everyone is of the mindset that Alex Rodriguez needs to have a big series in order for the Yankees to do well. We're more concerned that the bullpen and thin starting staff can hold up against the Tribe's loaded lineup (not to mention the Sabathia-Carmona 1-2 punch on the mound). It makes for a sexier sub-plot, no doubt, to focus on ARod and his recent post-season struggles, but Yankee fans should be more concerned about Roger Clemens in Game 3, and the bullpen beyond Joba Chamberlain and Mo Rivera.
The Pick: ARod does just fine, but the Cleveland pitching makes the difference and leads the Mistake By The Lake to victory. Have fun in Anaheim/Boston/Chicago/San Francisco in '08, Alex!

Indians in 5

Monday, October 1, 2007

NFL Picks - Week 4

D'oh! Technical difficulties (thanks for that single point of failure, AT&T!) prevented the publication of the Week 4 picks in a timely fashion. You'll simply have to trust that the selections were made in advance of kickoff on Sunday, which they were.

Pithy predictive paragraphs have been omitted, since it would be pointless to do so after the fact. That said, here are (were) the picks:

Houston -2/12 over ATLANTA
NY Jets -3/12 over BUFFALO
Baltimore -4 1/2 over CLEVELAND
DALLAS - 12 1/2 over St. Louis
Chicago - 2 1/2 over DETROIT
Oakland +3 1/2 over MIAMI
Green Bay - 2 1/2 over MINNESOTA
CARLOLINA - 2 1/2 over Tampa Bay
Seattle - 1 1/2 over SAN FRANCISCO
ARIZONA +5 1/2 over Pittsburgh
INDIANAPOLIS -9 1/2 over Denver
Kansas City +12 1/2 over SAN DIEGO
NY GIANTS +2 1/2 over Philadelphia

New England -7 1/2 over CINCINNATI

BEST BETS: Dallas, Arizona, New England

Last week: 10-6
Overall: 25-23 (52.1%)
Best Bets: 3-0 (100%)