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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Good Stuff from Awful Announcing

As a sort of tie-in to our recent entry into the Twittersphere, we present this from the awesome (see linky on the right) Awful Announcing, via USA Today.

The Sportscaster Twitter Game


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Word About The Bird

Damn, the "submit" button was barely clicked for the Harry Kalas post when word arrievd about Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, who passed away Monday at the age of 54.

Fidrych arrived on the scene like a flash in the summer of '76. I remember one of my friends enthusiasticaly telling me about this crazy pitcher who talked to the ball. In those pre-Internet, pre-24 hour news cycle days, it was awhile before i got to see him for myself, and i wasn't disappointed. Antics aside (besides talking to the ball, which he later clarified was actually talking to himself, Fidrych groomed the mound with his hands, ran off the mound after retiring the side, and was known to shake hands with players after they made a nice play in the field), the kid could pitch, racking up 19 wins en route to the Rookie of the Year award.

More than that, Fidrych was genuine. By all accounts, he was just a cool guy who happened to have the ability to pitch at the big league level. After fate cruelly intervened with a series of debilitating injuries which forced him from the game by 1980, he remained upbeat and thankful for the time he had. Simply, he was a "character" who was just being himself.

The sports world is a little less cool today. Damn.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Goodnight, Harry

Sad news out of Washington today as Harry Kalas, longtime voice of the Philadelphia Phillies and NFL Films, passed away at the age of 73.

Though not from the Philly area, we grew up with Kalas as the golden throated voice of NFL Films. He had that classic voice which could make even the most mundane 3 yard off tackle play into a battle for the ages, make an awful 4-12 team sound like world beaters, or make a aging veteran quarterback into a warrior headed for one last battle.

Finding out later that he was a baseball play-by-play guy struck us as odd, until we heard him do a game. The man was money, pure and simple, and he will be missed.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Elway Frowns On Your Shenanigans, Jay

The Denver Bronco saga continues to provide endless hours of entertainment, if by "entertainment" you mean "whiny bitching".

Mr. Bronco himself, John Elway, expressed his disappointment over the entire Jay Cutler situation last week, and this was before yesterday's trade to the Bears.

Speaking at a fundraising event in Pueblo, Elway said, "I'm disappointed
for both sides, I look at the Denver Broncos organization as the best in the
NFL, as well as Jay Cutler as (one of) the top five quarterbacks in the

Hmm.....well said John. We can't imagine the unmitigated gall of a Quarterback who gets so frustrated about playing in a certain city that he whines his way into forcing the team to trade him elsewhere. Man, what kind of ungrateful scak of crap would pull a stunt like that?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Calhoun: "Misinterpreted"?

Nearly a week after his unhinged rant at a local rabble rouser, UCONN Coach Jim Calhoun issued a sort of apology. Not to said rabble rouser, Ken Krayeske, but to the people of Connecticut.

From the statement released Thursday:

It has become clear that my comments have been misinterpreted by some as being
insensitive to the current economic climate that those of us around our
and here in Connecticut are all facing

Exactly what was "misinterpreted" Coach? The part where you moaned that you weren't giving back one dime, or the part where you needed to retire with this cushion?

This entire story only went viral because of Calhoun's ridiculous response. Had he simply given a stock answer, something at which sports folk usually excel, the story would never have taken off. Something along the lines of "I know times are hard, but I have a job to do...." etc. This whole controversy is on him.

Trust us, we live in CT, and both Calhoun and Geno Auriema walk on water, with little to no bashing from the local lapdogs in the media, who fear a loss of access if offending the savior coaches. Seeing someone calmly ask a question which immediately showed Calhoun's prckly side was a rare sight indeed.

For his part, Krayeske accomplished his goal of bringing the issue to light, and has reaped the reward of national exposure. Let's hope if he decides to show up at any future games or press conferences, he brings a bodyguard.

Calhoun Comments Misinterpreted (
The 40 Year Plan

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fixing NFL Overtime is Simple

The NFL Rules Committee is meeting this week, and one of the items on the agenda is overtime. Specifically, should it be changed and if so, how?

The Colts-Chargers playoff game brought this issue back onto the front burner, when Peyton Manning's Colts lost the coin toss, and the MVP stood there on the bench and watched the Bolts go down the field, score a TD, and send Indy home. The standard cry of "how can a playoff game be decided by a coin flip?" echoed throughout the land. "Something needs to be done!" cried disgruntled Colt fans.

Tony Dungy, for his part, was not one of the grumblers. He simply stated that you still have to play football after the coin flip, and if his teams' inability to get one defensive stop was the reason they lost. Plain and simple.

"Sudden death is a good procedure. It’s fun and everyone knows the rules," said Rich McKay, Atlanta Falcons president and co-chairman of the NFL's Competition Committee. Apparently he forgot about Donovan McNabb, who had zero clue how the whole "we're tied after 60 minutes thing" actually worked. How many other players lacked this knowledge is unknown, but we're betting there are many others.

"I would like to see the stats change because I don’t like the fact that that the team winning the coin flip now wins 60 percent of the time, and the team winning the coin flip, 40-plus percent of the time, wins it on the first possession." McKay continued.

Based on that stat, the clamor for change is being heard. Suggested options include the following:

A college style system where by each team alternates possession from the opposing 25 yard line. (This is gimmicky and reminds us of an NHL shootout. Also, it's stupid.)

Minor tweaks to the existing sudden death system, such as moving back the kickoff line to force longer drives for the team receiving the kick. (Nice try, but not enough)

Not allowing any punts in the extra session. (Stupid, since it removes an element from the game - why not eliminate blitzing while you're at it?)

An eight minute overtime, which presumably would allow each team a chance to get at least one possession. Ties remian ties during the regular season. (Hmmm.....)

This last one has some merit. However, we see an even simpler solution which requires no major overhaul of the existing system, nor any crazy stunts. Get ready, here it comes...

Each team gets to touch the ball in an offensive manner at least once. That's it.

In our example, let's say the Colts and the Chargers are playing, but in the regular season. San Diego wins the toss, and scores a TD after a 7 minute drive. They would then kick to Indy, who would have to score a TD to stay alive. Fail and the game ends. Succeed, and we're now in Sudden Death mode, next score wins. If the 15 minute period expires and we're still tied, it remains a tie. Stratgey would be a huge factor when deciding to kick a field goal or not, knowing that a miss leaves a short field for your opponent. Teams with strong defenses might opt to kick when winning the OT coin flip in the hopes of pinning down the opponent and getting good field position for its offense. No mater what, it brings some strategy back into the game here, would be entertaining as hell, and eliminates the coin flip stat McKay uses above once and for all.

It could be hashed out as to what constitutes a "touch", but for the sake of argument let's say that in the example above, if Indy fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, the game would end. Other items like this could be hashed out by the comp committee, since they need something to do this week anyway.

For post-season games, the same rules apply, only we go beyond the 5th quarter until the game is decided.

Basically, the rule isn't overhauled, overtime doesn't become gimmicky, and the games don't get any longer. We can't see how the NFL goes wrong here.

Your move, Mr. Goodell.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

NFL Picks - Super Bowl Edition

We tried to lay low after the perfect round we had during Championship Weekend. That's right, let that settle in for a moment......perfect. Four and oh, thanks to Troy Polamolu's pick six late in the 4th, whihc brings the post-season mark to 12-8.

As promised, we will be selecting not only the game versus the points as well as the over/under, but a selection of prop bets as well in a misguided attempt to bring the season record above the .500 mark. Let's get to it...

First of all, it is refreshing to see a team that has never made it to the game play in the Super Bowl. Cardinal fans, wherever you are, rejoice and enjoy this moment. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is gunning for the a record sixth Super Bowl title, so this is all pretty much old hat for the players and fans in the Steel City.

So what happens Sunday then? The Steeler defense is as formidable a group the Cards have seen all season. Dick LeBeau's group simply cannot be run against, which might not matter since Arizona seems to have littl einterest in runngin the ball anyway. On the flip side, Pittsburgh's offense hasn't really been lighting it up, but could see some success against a Cardinal defense which has suddenly become a swarming bunch of ball hawks. The key could very well be how the "off" units (Pitt's Offense, 'Zona's Defense) perform. Let's look at it from that angle:

Steelers on offense - Big Ben is as tough as they come, and he has that uncanny, immeasurable ability to create something out of nothing, like he did on the long TD toss to Santonio Holmes against the Ravens. He also, however, tends to make some head scratching plays at times. He will have to keep those in his pocket on Sunday night. A less than 100% Hines Ward is still better than nothing at all, but the degree of his effectivemess will go a long way toward determining how successful these guys will be. The running game, normally a Steeler hallamrk, has been as spotty as ever and it's hard to predict what it can provide.

Cardinals on Defense - Eleven turnovers in three playoff games is a staggering total, and is an easy indicator when determining why this team has not only won its way here, but how. Since turnovers are often impossible to predict from game to game, we can't assume the trend will continue. Should the turnovers not come, this unit must force a few three and outs and avoid allowing long drives in the humid Florida night.

The pick:
All things seems to point to the Steelers: the experience, the better defense, the chance to make history. All solid reasons, but we just can't shake one big thing working against them - Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona's coach. As a former Steeler assistant, he kjows the Pittsburgh personnel, has spent countless hours practicing against Dick LeBeau's schemes, and has no doubt seen just about every look LeBeau can give. Toss in the crazy mojo surrounding Kurt Warner, the best ffnsive player on the field in Larry Fitzgerald, and we're going to go ahead and grab the Cardinals to not only cover, but win outright.

Cardinals (+7)
OVER 46.5
Cardinals 27 Steelers 20

On to the Prop Bets!

Since many of these bets involve multiple options (with accompanying odds), we're going to stick with only those involving two choices.

Coin Toss: Tails
Winner of Coin Toss: Steelers
How Many Times will NBC show Brenda Warner during the game: Over 2.5
Which QB will John Madden mention using his full name after kickoff: Ben Roethlisberger
First Score: Touchdown
First to score: Cardinals
Number of songs sung by Bruce Springsteen: Over 3.5
Jersey Number of player to score first TD: Under 38

Enjoy the game everybody.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Chin To KC?

An interesting blog post from Adam Schefter on indicates that Bill Cowher could be the next coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, but not until 2010, based on things said by Boomer Esiason on his WFAN radio show Friday morning. While there is no hard data to back this up, Schefter does list a few points which make sense regarding the former Steelers leader:

  • Boomer works with Cowher, and is familiar with his thinking.
  • Cowher worked in KC as an assistant to Marty Schottenheimer prior to taking the Steeler job.
  • According to Boomer, new Chief GM Scott Pioli is good friends with Cowher.
  • The pool of desired coaches Pioli would have considered (Josh Macdaniels, for one) seems to have dried up.

While most insiders believe incumbent head coach Herm Edwards is a dead man walking, we can see him sticking around at least for one year while the rebuilding process kicks in. Herm is still well liked by his players, and the young guys seem to respond to him. There's also the little matter of the last year of his contract, which will pay him $4 million, and we're sure KC would like to have him earn that dough.

Either way, we Chief fans are looking forward to the Pioli Era.

Friday, January 16, 2009

NFL Picks - Conference Championships

Where was last week's picks column, you're asking yourself? Never posted it, and it's a shame, because we had some good stuff planned. Stuff which turned to crap by around 4:30 on Sunday afternoon (Thanks Eli!).

Despite the lack of a posted picks column, we still had them done, and the results were a rather predictable 3-5 (1-3 on the games, 2-2 on the over/unders). Only the Steelers managed to come through and win at home, which up until this season was pretty much a lock during the divisional round.

So, what now? How can we possibly predict the outcomes of these rather unlikely matchups? More importantly, how can we get back to a 50% success rate with only 6 remaining things from which to pick? Simple - the Super Bowl pick will also involve all the Prop Bets (coin toss, first TD, first FG, etc.), which could result in a spectacular failure, but will be fun nontheless. On to the games at hand.

ARIZONA (+4) over Philadelphia

We understand how home field advantage has taken a bit of a beating this season, but if it does exist, the Cardinlas are a pretty solid example, going 7-2. It's notable how the home crowd responded during the opening round game against Atlanta, though that was against a batch of playoff newbies not accustomed to such things. This Eagle team has no issues travelling, haing already won twice in two pretty hostile environments (Minny and the Meadowlands). The line has been steadily moving in Philly's favor all week, creeping up to 4, and we will not hesitate to grab the points.

Nothing about the Eagles offense has impressed thus far. Think about it, the one screen pass Westbrook busted against the Vikes was pretty much the only big play they've pulled off in two games. What has them here is the defense, and we expect Jim Johnosn to have some new looks ready to throw at Kurt Warner. The X factor is Warner's ability to hang on to the ball, which he can often have issues doing. Keep an eye on Asante Samuel, who loves to go for the big play and jumps routes all the time - miscalcualting that here against the physical receiving corps of Boldin and Fitzgerald could result in big gainers for the Redbirds.

Throw out the Turkey Day debacle - Arizona had to travel cross country on a short week, while the Eagles stayed home with a pissed off Donovan McNabb ready to prove Andy Reid wrong for benching him three days earlier. Though that game jump started Philly's playoff push, it bears no relevance here other than to add more fuel to the Cardinal "nobody repects us" fire.

The pick: we like the Cardinals to continue the improbable ride, and prepare ourselves for 2 weeks of feel good stories about Kurt Warner.

Cardinals 27 Eagles 23

PITTSBURGH (-6) over Baltimore

Beating a team three times in one year can often be a chore, but the feeling here is that Pittsburgh is one team the Ravens are incapable of intimidating. Big Ben seems to get knocked around every week, but opicks himself up and manages to make just enough plays. throw in the fact that the Steelers offensive line finally showed signs of playing like a real cohesive unit last week, and that spells trouble for the Ravens. Joe Flacco has been a great story, and to call him a rookie seems improper by now - he's a "first year player" who has shown himself to be unflappable in big spots. He manages to make at least one big throw each week and will likely do so here as well.

Two significant injuries for Baltimore, Suggs and Rolle, will have an impact as well. A resurgent Steeler ground game will help chew up the clock and wear down the resilient defense. We see the Steelers gettign a lead and forcing Baltimore out of their game, which could make the game a bit more high scoring than most expect.

The pick: Pittsburgh returns to the Super Bowl in a game that might be closer than the final score indicates.

Steelers 23 Ravens 13

Last Week: 3-5
Playoff Totals: 8-8

Season Overall: 131-140 (48.3%)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Great Acceptance Speech, or Greatest Acceptance Speech?

The results are in, and congratulations are in order for Rickey Henderson and, finally, Jim Rice, on making the Baseball Hall of Fame. Henderson got the call on his first year of eligibility, while Rice made it on his last non-veterans committee chance.

We suppose this ends any chance of another Rickey comeback, though perhaps the rules will allow him to be the only active HOF member ever. This will be especially fun if he signs with, say, the Bridgeport Bluefish.

The months ahead will undoubtedly feature a debate on which hat Rickey will wear, which can't be an easy decision since he played for 9 teams over his 25 seasons. We're guessing Oakland, but one never knows with Rickey.

That mystery will pale in comarision, though, to the The Speech. As touched upon in the headline, this should be one for the ages. If you thought Phil Rizzuto's gem from a few years back was good, we're betting Rickey's will be much more entertaining, with plenty of "Rickey played hard", "Rickey just loved the game", and if we're lucky, "Today, Rickey is the greatest of All-Time", etc. Should be awesome.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

NFL Picks - Wild Card Weekend Edition

Back to the picks after a brief, near suicidal hiatus. This has been an awful year for us, and we now look to the post season as the last chance for some kind of redemption. Toward that end, we'll be playing the over/unders as well as the point spreads from here on out. Let's get this underway with the Saturday games:

Atlanta (-2.5) over ARIZONA
OVER 50.5
Love the way the Dirty Birds can run the ball, and by doing so keep the potent aerial show of Kurt Warner and Co. off the field. Also, have to like the Atlanta pass rush to put some big time heat on the immobile Warner all afternoon. Look for the Cards to post a late run to make it interesting
before the Falcons move on.

Falcons 27 Cardinals 24

Indianapolis (-1/2) over SAN DIEGO
Newly crowned MVP Peyton Manning leads the red hot Colts into SD against a Charger group which has absolutely nothing to lose. Normally, a dangerous team playing at home would be a slam dunk, but this team has plenty of flaws, all of which will be exposed by a Dungy defense and a patient Manning. All that, plus Norv Turner, equals a confident pick for the road team.

Colts 27 Chargers 21

Baltimore over MIAMI
UNDER 37.5
Dolphins are easily the story of the year, and give off a "glad to be here" vibe. Pennington and Co. overcame numerous mistakes (dropped passes, turnovers, bad penalties) to grab the AFC East and get here, but can't afford that kind of effort against the Ravens. Look for ball hawk extraordinaire Ed Reed to be on Chad's throws all afternoon, and the Joe Flacco led Baltimore offense to score just enough to get out of here with a victory.

Ravens 19 Dolphins 10

Philadelphia (-3) over MINNESOTA
Wow, four road teams picked? Really? Either we're geniuses or idiots.
Love what Philly can do in this matchup, namely, have a QB who is nimble enough to elude a solid pass rush, and have a guy like Westbrook who can give even the best LB's fits. Fired up Eagle defense will give Action Jackson all kinds of trouble, allowing the City of Brotherly Love to keep it's dream of another championship alive for at least another week.

Eagles 30 Vikings 21