Ah, the perils of being a Met fan these days. I admit to watching the entire game unfold yesterday with a huge sense of foreboding, just waiting for something to go wrong. That's what this team has done to us in 2008, save for a few glorious weeks when the team caught fire and got itself back into the NL East race. Adminttedly, after Carlos Beltran tied the game with one swing, the hope crept back in. It should have been expected, to watch the bullpen allow back-to-back homers in the 8th (just as Ryan Braun's 2 run jack put the Brewers ahead), and add a final element of urgency to the last six outs. Not agood sign, since this team seemed incapable of rising up to pressure all season.
I said out loud during the game that this team never, ever, makes it easy, either on itself or it's fans. It's been this way for well, forever. Sunday would be no different, and true to form the boys from Flushing managed to get two men on with two out with the most clutch player on the team coming up. As soon as the ball left Carols Delgado's bat, In jumped and yelled "He GOT IT!" as he smashed a missile to left center, which, died on the warning track. That was pretty much all she wrote, although I did find some optimism creeping up in the 9th after a two out walk when I quietly piped up "This is the same situation as Game 6, right?"
The bottom line is simply this team really didn't deserve to advance. As it was last year, the fate of the post-season berth was in their hands, and they let it slip away. Thye took no momentum from the heroic performance of Johan Santana on Saturday, only musterd 5 runs in three must win games, and looked like a team afraid. Can that be fixed? I don't know. Murmurings on talk radio about breaking up the core (trading Wright? Reyes? Are you nuts?) ring hollow. Throwing a ton of desperation money at Manny Ramirez and/or KRod seems almost inevitable. Not winning in 2009, with an even bigger payroll and a shiny new ballpark will further plumb the fanbase into the depths.
So, it ends again, only this time with the quite surreal ritual closing ceremonies for beloved Shea Stadium. The event was classy, but the stench of what took place hung over the whole thing, which was a risk the organization was willing to risk from the outset. Goodbye, Shea. It was time for you to go. Congratulations Phillies and Brewers.
Our condolences to any of our loyal readers who might have put down some friendly wagers based on the information contained within this column. The picks thus far have been downright nasty, dropping below the 50% threshold for the first time, well, ever.
Armed with a newfound determination to right our previous wrongs, we forge ahead with the promise, nay, the guarantee, that a 60% success rate will be achiveed. Yes we can!
Let's do this:
Cleveland (+3.5) over CINCINNATI As bad as Browns have been, it remains an indisputable fact that there is no way in Hell the Cincinnati Bengals are 3.5 points better than anybody. Browns 20 Bengals 17
Minnesota (+3.5) over TENNESSEE As much as we love the Titans, they seem like the kind of team that will be locked into tight games most of the time. Vikes are good enough to keep it close. Titans 17 Vikings 14
KANSAS CITY (+9.5) over Denver Broncos are easily the most entertaining team in the league, due as much to their porous defense as the explosive offense. Chiefs go back to their best QB, Damon Huard, who gives them best chance of putting up points. Broncos 31 Chiefs 23
NEW ORLEANS (-6.5) over San Francisco Saints are due for easy one, and having the Niners in the Dome is just the ticket. Saints 30 49ers 21
NY JETS (-2.5) over Arizona Samll line for Jet team returning home against Cards bunch due for a raod letdown. Look for a big week from Favre. Jets 27 Cardinals 20
Green Bay (+1.5) over TAMPA BAY Still not believeing in the Bucs, who needed 60+ throws frmo Brian Griese and an awful call ont he game tying drive to beat Bears last week. Big bounce back for the Pack. Packers 24 Bucs 16
Atlanta (+7.5) over CAROLINA Falcs showing lots of moxie, might just have enough to scare the up-and-down Panthers. Panthers 23 Falcons 16
Houston (+7.5) over JACKSONVILLE Jags suffer inevitable letdown after finally beating Colts. Texans nned thisw one badly to avoid 0-3 start, placing Gary Kubiak on the hot seat. Jaguars 19 Texans 16
San Diego (-7.5) over OAKLAND Chargers putting early season woes behind them, while the ongoing mess that is the Radiers simplty don't have enough firepower to keep up. It is amazing that this team is playing so wekll for coach lane Kiffin, who, incredibly, is still leading the team. This would never happen if Al Davis were still alive. Chargers 30 Raiders 16
ST. LOUIS (+8.5) over Buffalo Can the Rams actually be this bad? Maybe. Switching to Trent Green is one of those rare desperation moves which makes absolutely non sense. We imagine Marc Bulger will be back under center by halftime, taking baby steps toward leading this team to slight respectability. Bills 27 Rams 20
Washington (+11.5) over DALLAS Cowboys, right now, are the best team in the NFL, but this seems like an awfully high number in a series whcih always seems to produce a tight game. Skins have looked good since Week 1 debacle and can stick around here. Cowboys 24 Redskins 16
Philadelphia (-3.5) over CHICAGO Dominant Eagle pass rush will hit Kyle Orton hard enough to dislodge his neck beard. Can't see Bears generating nearly enoughn offense to keep this one close. Eagles 20 Bears 8
Monday Night PITTSBURGH (-7.5) over Baltimore Risky pick at this number, but Pittsburgh has aleways shown the ability to come back big after a toiugh loss, and defense will lead the way in Prime Time. Steelers 17 Ravens 7
We saw a little bit of everything last week: horrific officiating in Denver, incredibly dumbass showboating in Dallas, a seemingly lame duck coach winning by 16 points, and a team from New England putting a halt to 76,000 J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jest! fans all to ready to shovel the dirt.
As for the picks, we had an incredibly mediocre 8-7 week (thanks to the cancellation in Houston, only 15 games were on the docket).
Week 3 sees some very intriguing matchups - Pittsburgh/Philly and Dallas/Green Bay the most prominent. Some of the lines seem very wacky, and if we've learned anything, it's to go with the wacky. On to the choices:
Kansas City (+4.5) over ATLANTA As bad as KC looked at home last week vs. the Radiers, and trsut us, it was bad, we just have issues with the Falcons being 4.5 point faves over anyone. Tyler Thigpen, with a week of first team reps under his belt, starts at QB for KC. On second thought, maybe this is simply a heart pick. Atlanta 20 Kansas City 17
BUFFALO (-8.5) over Oakland Surprising Bills, at home, will in no way, shape or form allow the Radiers to even sniff 300 yards on the ground. Force JaMarcus Russel to out it up, and bad things will happen. Toss in the uncertainty surrounding Lane Kiffin, and you've got the recipe for a Buffalo Blowout. Bills 27 Raiders 10
CHICAGO (-3.5) over Tampa Bay Not loving the Bucs on the road, and thinking that Mr. Forte will pop a few big runs, allowing the Bears to move to 2-1. Bears 20 Bucs 16
TENNESSEE (-4.5) over Houston Impromptu bye week for TExans last week won't help here. Titans look tough, and should be able to cover this number in their own digs. Titans 24 Texans 13
MINNESOTA (-3.5) over Carolina Let's see, 0-2 Vikes favored over 2-0 Panthers? Yeah, that makes sense. Is Gus Frerotte that much of a difference maker? We'll see. He can't help but improve an offense that had to settle for 5 FG's last week. Panthers might be due for a bit of a letdown here. Vikings 23 Panthers 17
NEW ENGLAND (-12.5) over Miami And you thought the days of double digit Pat lines were over? Well, they likely are after this week. Matt Cassell will act as the caretaker of the offense, while 3 headed running back attack will keep Fish on their heels all afternoon. Pat D will harass Pennington all day. Patriots 30 Dolphins 13
NY GIANTS (-13.5) over Cincinnati Early season scheduling gifts just keep coming for Big Blue. No way do they letdown against hapless Bungles. Carson Palmer's feet are already shuffling... Giants 31 Bengals 10
WASHINGTON (-1.5) over Arizona Skins found some life last week, and this Cardinal team has yet to really be tested. Washington defense can bottle up the immobile Kurt Warner while Clinton Portis and Co. will grind up yards, and clock. Redskins 24 Cardinals 13
DENVER (-5.5) over New Orleans Saints have trouble stopping anyone consistently, and Broncos offense is in mid-season form (despite "assistance" from Ed Hoculi). Another shootout? Very, very likely? Broncos 37 Saints 28
Detroit (+3.5) over SAN FRANCISCO Egads, we're actually taking the Lions? On the road? Yep - they hung tough before late cosmetic scores led to Packer blowout last week, while the Niners just seem like the kind of team that will play a tight game every week. 49ers 27 Lions 24
SEATTLE (-9.5) over St. Louis Seahawks are all over the place, but the Rams are a straight up mess. Seahawks 31 Rams 16
BALTIMORE (-1.5) over Cleveland Did you hear that thump? It was the Browns, crashing back to Earth. It's gonna be a long year in Cleveland, as maybe, just maybe, this team wasn't really as good as everyone thought. Ravens 17 Browns 10
PHILADELPHIA (-2.5) over Pittsburgh Home team pick, plain and simple. Iggles looking dangerous, and you just know the defense will clamp down after allowing Dallas to rack up 40+. Status of Big Ben casts a bit of a shadow over Pitt as well. Eagles 24 Steelers 20
INDIANAPOLIS (-5.5) over Jacksonville Add Bob Sanders to the list of Indy's walking wounded, which is another huge blow - recall how the run defense was shredded in 2006 while he was out. Jags, pre-season Super Bowl pick for many a writer, drop to 0-3? It's more likely than you think. Colts 23 Jaguars 13
GREEN BAY (+2.5) over Dallas First real test for Aaron Rogers, on the big stage against the Big Bad Cowboys. WE get the feeling that this is where Dallas will stumble - Philly exposed some flaws in the defense last week which a good team like the Pack can exploit, while the tough Green Bay defense will put some heat on Romo and Co. Packers 23 Cowboys 20
NY Jets (+8.5) over SAN DIEGO Normally, a team as good as the Chargers, staring 0-3 in the face, would be an automatic pick. A few reasons why we're going the other way: 1) Chargers have had a hell of a time stopping anyone thus far, and letting Brett Favre have all kinds of time means he'll eventually find someone to throw to, 2) LT is nicked up, and losing your most synamic offensive force has to knock your effectiveness down a notch or two, 3) getting jobbed last week in Denver seems to have made the whiny Chargers even more so, if that's even possible. Shockingly, we like the Jets to win outright. Jets 27 Chargers 26
As expected, Week 1 was a mixed bag, and we came out with a 9-7 mark thanks to a Monday Night seweep. PLenty of question marks surround Week 2, as big names are either out for the year (Brady, Merriman), or haven't really found their legs yet (Peyton Manning). Best Bets have returned (we were rushed last week and simply ignored them. We can do that, since this is our blog). Let's get started:
Tennessee (+1.5) over CINCINNATI Titans might be more effective on offense with Kerry Collins. Bengals are a mess. Titans 24 Bengals 10
New Orleans (+1.5) over WASHINGTON It's gonna take awhile for the Redskins to mesh on offense, while the Saints seem intent on unleashing Reggie Bush. Could be a blowout. Saints 23 Redskins 13
CAROLINA (-3.5) over Chicago Bears a fluke last week? Maybe. A healthy Jake Delomme couplled with second straight road game for Bears spells a Panther win. Panthers 20 Bears 12
JACKSONVILLE (-6.5) over Buffalo Bills looked solid in opening day win, but facing an angry Jags team that can't afford to start 0-2 n the wilting FLA heat will prove to be too much. Jaguars 24 Bills 14
Green Bay (-2.5) over DETROIT The Aaron Rogers Era starts with a bang, and here is where he gets his first road win. Lions are a mess whcih can make some noise on offense, but we're not counting on late garbage time TD's this week. Packers 27 Lions 13
KANSAS CITY (-3.5) over Oakland Game Chiefs nearly shocked the world in Foxboro last week, and could be one of those teamsn whihc end up playing tough and coming up short every week. The home opener at Arrowhead is one they can, and should, take. Chiefs 20 Raiders 9
NY Giants (-8.5) over ST. LOUIS Giants were the best road team in the world in '07, and opponents like the woeful Rams will do nothing to diminish that standing. Ugly one here. Giants 30 Rams 13
Indianapolis (-1.5) over MINNESOTA Leap of Faith taking the Colts, but we just can't see this team starting 0-2. Vikes, pre-season Super Bowl pick for many, face a quick 2 game deficit in division. YIkes. Colts 24 Vikings 20
San Francisco (+8.5) over SEATTLE Does home field mean this much for a Seahawk team using a backup QB, a team of RB's, and backup wideouts? Really? We'll grab the plethora of points and hold our nose. Seahawks 23 49ers 21
TAMPA BAY (-8.5) over Atlanta Despite Jon Gruden's insistence on using as many QB's as possible, and the impressive debut of Matt Ryan and the new-look Falcs, we just can't drink the Kool-Aid yet. Buccaneers 28 Falcons 14
New England (+2.5) over NY JETS Jet fans (and Jet media) might be overestimating this team a wee bit, putting them in the Super Bowl before Tom Brady was even off the filed on Sunday. Pats will find a way to keep this one tight, and keep the heat on Favre all day. Patriots 23 Jets 20
ARIZONA (-6.5) over Miami Fish hung tough vs. Jets last week, but cross country travel can't be helpful here. Cardinals at 2-0 after this, can stake claim to legitimate shot at division. Really. Cardinals 19 Dolphins 10
San Diego (-2.5) over DENVER Not buying Broncs big explosion last week against befuddled Raiders. Chargers steamed after last second defeat at home vs. Panthers last week, will come out ready ro roll. Chargers 27 Broncos 16
Pittsburgh (-5.5) over CLEVELAND Tough way to open for Brownies, facing Steelers after opening vs. Cowboys, but if it expects to contend will have to find a way to beat the good teams. Not gonna happen this week. Steelers 24 Browns 13
Baltimore (+4.5) over HOUSTON Joe Flacco! He's 1-0, and showed some moxie last week - more inmportantly, his team seems to believe in him. Texans might win outright, but Raven D will keep it tight. Texans 20 Ravens 17
DALLAS (-6.5) over Philadelphia Cowboys are on a mission, and will not be folled by 38 point Eagle outburst last week. TO loves the prime time games, and this one could be a blowout. Cowboys 31 Eagles 17
Time is short this week, and analysis for Week 1 is usually pointless, so let's just roll out the selections and see how they fly...
THURSDAY We had the Giants (-3.5), honestly.
SUNDAY Detroit (-2.5) over ATLANTA (Lions 23 Falcons 10) Seattle (+.5) over BUFFALO (Seahawks 21 Bills 16) TENNESSEE (+3.5) over Jacksonville (Titans 20 Jaguars 17) N.Y. Jets (-2.5) over MIAMI (Jets 30 Dolphins 17) Kansas City (+16.5) over NEW ENGLAND (Pats 24 Chiefs 10) Tampa Bay (+3.5) over NEW ORLEANS (Saints 21 Bucs 20) St. Louis (+7.5) over PHILADELPHIA (Eagles 27 Rams 20) Houston (+6.5) over PITTSBURGH (Steelers 23 Texans 20) BALTIMORE (-.5) over Cincinnati (Ravens 17 Bengals 13) Carolina (+9.5) over SAN DIEGO (Chargers 26 Panthers 21) Arizona (-2.5) over SAN FRANCISCO (Cardinals 24 49ers 10) CLEVELAND (+3.5) over Dallas (Cowboys 20 Browns 17) INDIANAPOLIS (-9.5) over Chicago (Colts 29 Bears 7)
MONDAY GREEN BAY (-2.5) over Minnesota (Packers 19 Vikings 14) Denver (-1.5) over OAKLAND (Broncos 16 Raiders 9)