Friday, 29 September 2006

NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 4

The column that I'm sure everyone waits in anticipation for... my picks for the week against the spread for Week 4. I don't want the suspense to build, so let's just start!

Chargers (-2) over Ravens - I love the Ravens D, and I loved the Ravens picking up Steve McNair at the time... but, McNair has just not played well so far. He's skipping a lot of passes to open receivers and has just generally been inaccurate. He's like a less mobile Michael Vick with a little better arm, and Jamal Lewis isn't good enough right now to carry the entire offense. Even in Baltimore, I'll take the Chargers to win and cover.

Saints (+7) over Panthers - I do like the Panthers to win this game, but the spread seems a little high. The Saints were awesome last week. Great defense, solid offense, and good special teams. Deuce and Bush are going to win them a lot of weeks... for Carolina, they almost blew a 17-0 lead against Chris Simms and his ruptured spleen... I think they're the best in the West now with Steve Smith back, but I'll take the Saints to cover.

Texans (+3.5) over Dolphins - The Dolphins struggled mightily in beating the Titans last week. The Texans are an awful club, but I like David Carr to find Andre Johnson enough to pick the Texans to win the game outright. Something's rotten in Miami, and it's not just Daunte Culpepper.

Colts (-9) over Jets - There's lots of reasons to pick the Jets to cover... it's in NY, the Jets are playing very well right now, Chad Pennington is back, and the Colts can't stop the run or run the ball themselves... but I just have a feeling the Colts will come out and whomp the Jets.

Cowboys (-9.5) over Titans - I think TO will wind up playing and have a nice game. That, combined with the Cowboys 2-headed RB situation, and the fact that the Cowboys D should eat up Kerry Collins + whatever RB Tennessee starts this week, and I'll take Dallas to cover. I still maintain that Tennessee is the only team that will be able to challenge Oakland for the #1 pick in the draft.

Falcons (-7.5) over Cardinals - This is one I have a tough time picking. The Falcons looked so bad on Monday night, and the Cardinals have all that talent on offense. But, I think Atlanta should be able to run all over the Cardinals defense, and they should be able to put pressure on Warner, and, well, let's just say that I think Matt Leinart will be starting next week.

Vikings (+1) over Bills - So the Vikings were a fumble away from beating one of the top 2 teams in the NFC, and the Bills lost by 8 to the Jets... and the Bills are favored? Maybe in past years, when the Vikings could never win on the road, I could understand more. But the Vikings have already notched a road win, and so this shouldn't faze them. I think Pat Williams & Co. can shut down Willis McGahee, causing Losman to pass, and regardless of how decent Losman looked last week, I'll take the Vikings here.

Chiefs (-7) over 49ers - I'm not a big Damon Huard guy (but then, who is?), but I think he should be able to sufficiently hand the ball of to Larry Johnson. A lot. And that should be enough to cover the spread at home.

Rams (-6) over Lions - The Packers just beat the Lions by 7 at Ford Field. The Rams are traditionally a very good home team. Yeah, I'll take the Rams to cover.

Browns (-3) over Raiders - This is a vow from me... until the Raiders actually cover once, I will not pick them. Bad coach, bad QB, bad line, yada yada yada... Plus, I do like the Browns. Charlie Frye gets the job done, and he has some emerging targets. Browns are the pick.

Redskins (+3) over Jaguars - The Jags defense is great, but I think the Skins are a little underrated. They came in and lots of people were predicting Super Bowl, and then they played 2 poor games in a very complicated offense basically without their All-Pro running back, and now people are writing them off. At home, with a healthy Clinton Portis, I think they can beat the Jaguars. The Jags offense isn't that good right now either (well, unless Maurice Jones-Drew has something to say about it).

Bengals (-6) over Patriots - I'm sorry, but in Cincy, I don't see how New England can compete. I think they'll be ok by the end of the year when the receivers are more in sink with Brady, but right now the offense is not clicking. After 3 games, Ben Watson leads the team with 11 receptions, followed by Troy Brown and his 10. I think the Bengals will be able to bottle up the run a little bit, and then that great offense should be able to score enough to cover the spread.

Seahawks (+3.5) over Bears - This is tough without Shaun Alexander playing, but I think the Seahawks have enough weapons with Hasselbeck and the 4-WR sets. Offensively for Chicago, Rex Grossman showed he can be rattled some when pressure is put on. Plus, the running game has been non-existent for the Bears. I think the Seahawks win a pretty low-scoring game.

Eagles (-11) over Packers - The spread is pretty high, but I see a HUGE game for Donovan McNabb. Rex Grossman, Drew Brees, and Jon Kitna have passed all over Green Bay in the first 3 weeks, and McNabb is looking better than he ever has in his career. Big day for McNabb, big day for the Eagles, and a MNF win over Green Bay.

Last Week: 6-7-1
Season: 25-20-1

Thursday, 28 September 2006

Composite NFL Power Rankings

I'm not really creative enough to create my own power rankings, but I thought it might be fun to look at some of the more well-known NFL Power Rankings, and find where the teams are average placed. So I loooked up the Power Rankings for ESPN, Dr. Z, CBS Sportsline, and Fox Sports, then I went crazy in Excel to figure out the averages. I'll put them in order (and their averages) and comment afterward:

1.5 - Indianapolis Colts
2.0 - Cincinnati Bengals
2.5 - Seattle Seahawks
4.5 - Chicago Bears
5.3 - Baltimore Ravens
5.5 - San Diego Chargers
7.0 - Jacksonville Jaguars
7.8 - Denver Broncos
10.0 - Philadelphia Eagles
11.5 - New Orleans Saints
12.0 - Minnesota Vikings
12.0 - New England Patriots
12.5 - Atlanta Falcons
13.0 - Pittsburgh Steelers
13.3 - Dallas Cowboys
17.3 - St. Louis Rams
17.5 - Carolina Panthers
17.8 - New York Giants
18.3 - New York Jets
20.5 - Washington Redskins
20.8 - Buffalo Bills
22.3 - Arizona Cardinals
22.8 - Kansas City Chiefs
23.5 - Miami Dolphins
25.3 - San Francisco 49ers
25.5 - Green Bay Packers
27.8 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
28.0 - Cleveland Browns
28.3 - Detroit Lions
29.8 - Tennessee Titans
30.8 - Houstan Texans
32.0 - Oakland Raiders

  • The Indianapolis Colts got 3 of the 4 first-place votes, with the Bengals receiving the other one. In the ranking that the Bengals were #1 (Dr. Z), the Colts were actually 3rd with the Seahawks coming in 3rd.
  • Colts, Bengals, and Seahawks were the top 3 in all 4 rankings.
  • The Oakland Raiders secured the bottom spot in all 4 rankings.
  • The biggest disagreement for individual teams from the polls was with the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons. Both received a #9 vote and a #15 vote... no other teams had a range bigger than 5.
  • If you had told me before the year that the Saints would be above teams like New England and Pittsburgh and actually deserve to be there, I probably would have laughed.
  • On the same token, if you had bet me the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be below teams like the Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, and San Francisco 49ers and very much deserve to be that low, I would have lost a lot of money.
Anyway, those are just a few of my quick thoughts. If you create your own rankings or know of others I should use, just email me or leave a column, and depending on if I'm abitious enough to do this next week, I'll include that ranking as well.

What's the biggest surprises from this list?

College Football Picks: Week 5

I'll just make quick picks because I got another coming tonight (to make up for last night, where I had to study for 2 tests!), so I'll just pick the big games and post the scores I've got:

(22) Boise St. 31, Utah 27

(5) Florida 31, Alabama 13

(14) Oregon 34, Arizona St. 27

(24) Georgia Tech 13, (11) Virginia Tech 10

(1) Ohio St. 24, (13) Iowa 16

Last Week: 5-0
Season: 14-6

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Does a team from the NL Central have to go to the playoffs?

Unfortunately, according to my sources, the answer to that question is yes. What a shame.

As of sometime last week, the Cardinals led the Astros by 8.5 games in the division and appeared to have a playoff berth locked up... then they lost 7 in a row, Houston won 7 in a row, Cincy got hot, and all of a sudden we have a 3-team race.

St. Louis - 80-76, -
Houston - 79-78, 1.5 GB
Cincinnati - 78-79, 2.5 GB

Ouch. The Cardinals are 1-8 this month playing such great teams as Milwaukee (73-84) and Houston. Looks like they really want this division.

Here's the remaining schedules:

St. Louis: San Diego (1), Milwaukee (4)
Houston: @ Pittsburgh (2), @ Atlanta (3)
Cincinnati: @Florida (2), @ Pittsburgh (3)

St. Louis also may have a game that was postponed Sunday, September 17th against the Giants, although to be honest, I'm not really sure what that's all about. Anyone know if that will get played?

Based on remaining opponents, the Reds seem to have the easiest schedule, but with them being down 2.5 games with 5 games left and 2 teams ahead, chances of winning this seem to be slim and none (before Tuesday's games, they stood at 1.4%). So we can probably scratch them off.

Which would leave it between the Cards and Astros. Even though Houston has 2 left against Pittsburgh, St. Louis probably has the easier schedule because Atlanta has a better record than Milwaukee, and St. Louis is at home for their remaining games while Houston is on the road. However, Houston just won 2 on the road while St. Louis just lost 2 at home. Baseball is a funny game.

In the end, I suspect that the Cardinals lead is just a little too large. 1.5 games is a lot to make up at this point in the year, and with the Cardinals playing their last 5 at home (where they are 46-29 on the year), I suspect they can at least win 2 or 3 of these last 5, which may be enough to hold on, unless the Astros remain invincible.

Either way, this at least provides us with some type of playoff race other than the NL Wildcard (which is pretty darn solid). Can the Astros do it?

Monday, 25 September 2006

Twins Magic Number: 0

(I apologize in advance for the fanboy-esque post... I'm just a little excited right now!)

After starting the year at 25-33, who would have thought the playoffs would be in the cards for the Twins? Admittedly, probably not me. But I'll admit the hearing the words "The Twins are going to the playoffs," is music to my ears.

With the Twins 8-1 win over the Royals and the White Sox 14-1 loss to the Indians (way to go out with a bang!) the Twins are assured of at least the Wildcard. The magic number is 0.

Meanwhile, the race for the division is still on. With 6 games to play, the Twins stand 1 (one) game out from the Tigers. This is a little misleading, however, because the Tigers have the tiebreaker. So in other words, if the Twins want to avoid a first round matchup with the Bronx Bombers, they have to win 2 more games than the Tigers do in the last week. The odds are against them, but then, the odds have been against them all year.

In the clincher, the Twins followed the same formula they followed all year... young pitcher on the mound, "pirahnas" getting on base, and the mashers in the middle driving them in. Boof Bonser was once again excellent, and appears (at least in my eyes) to have a strangleholdon the #2 spot in the rotation. With 6.1 good innings, his record is now at 7-5 with an ERA of 4.15. Thank You Brian Sabean indeed!

Offensively, the Twins were patient, drawing 6 walks. But they also got the power. Justin Morneau cracked his 34th HR of the year, and is now at 129 RBI, 2nd most in the AL. Torii Hunter also hit his 30th HR, meaning that after so many years of not having a HR hitter, the Twins have 2 this year. Funny how that works. Another possible milestone for Hunter is that he is now close to reaching 100 RBI. He needs just 5 in the last 6 games to become the 3rd Twins player (Morneau, Cuddyer) to reach that mark this year. Should we resign Torii? I don't know. But it's been fun watching him play for the last month?

In the race for the batting title, Joe Mauer helped his cause with a 2/3 day, raising the average to .349. His main competitors both had good days as well - Derek Jeter went 2/4 to raise the average to .340, and Robinson Cano went 2/4, leaving his average at .342. With 6 games left, this looks like it will be a very tight race, although it is still Mauer's to lose, obviously.

But with the playoff spot clinched, there's no need to worry about the batting title, awards, or anything else. Just enjoy what a marvelous ride it's been so far, and hope that the good times continue.

One thing is for sure... it's a good time to be a Twins fan!

Sunday, 24 September 2006

NFL Week 3 Recap

Back with the ever-popular (not) NFL recap... some good games, some crappy games. But that, I suppose, is the nature of the NFL.

Dolphins 13, Titans 10 - Well, Miami sucks worse than everyone thought. They struggled through the first 2 games, but I didn't think they'd have any troubles with a bad Tennessee team. And then Tennessee was up 7-3 at half and it took a late FG from Miami to get the win. It was a regular Daunte Culpepper game... accurate, but not a lot of yards, took a few sacks. Only difference is that they played such a bad team it was enough to escape.

Colts 21, Jaguars 14 - I'm not sure we learned anything here that we didn't already know. Indy has lots of trouble running the ball right now, and the Jaguars defense is real good. The Jaguars defense held Indy to 14 points (with the other 7 coming on Special Teams), and Peyton Manning hit less than 50% of his passes. The thing we really learned is that Maurice Jones-Drew is definitely a big-play guy for this Jags offense.

Redskins 31, Texans 15 - As I thought, people were panicking way too early in Washington. Sure, it was the Texans, but once they got a relatively healthy Clinton Portis playing, it's amazing how that did wonders for the offense. For the Texans, Andre Johnson is real good, but the offense and defense continue to look rather mediocre under Gary Kubiak. And ugly 0-3 for them.

Packers 31, Lions 24 - And the Pack win Round 1 in the Battle for the Bottom of the NFC North! Brett Favre, yeah, he can still bring it. After watching Detroit these past 2 weeks and Seattle this week, I have to ask... how in the world did Detroit hold Seattle to 9 points in Week 1?

Jets 28, Bills 20 - That Mangini guy is showing some signs of being a pretty good coach, as the Jets move to 2-1. The Bills outran and outthrew the Jets, but turnovers caused this one to swing into the Jets favor. Losman threw 1 INT and fumbled 2 away (one of which was returned for a TD), and that was all she wrote. Don't look now, but the Jets are tied for the division lead.

Bengals 28, Steelers 20 - Yes, these Bengals are definitely for real. Like the Jets/Bills game, the Steelers actually outscored the Bengals, but turnovers were the difference. Make that 5 of them for the Steel Curtain. Carson Palmer was a lot better than Ben Roethlisberger on this day, and that was the story of the game.
Panthers 26, Bucs 24 - Here is something I don't understand. Last week, DeAngelo Williams was Carolina's best offensive player. This week, he got 4 carries and 0 receptions. I guess this is why I'm not a head coach. Regardless, that Panther offense is about 10 times better with Steve Smith in there, as he immediately produced a 100 yard game, as the Panters eeked out the victory in Tampa.

Bears 19, Vikings 16 - Ugh. Pass.

Ravens 15, Browns 14 - Yeah, hold off on that Ravens Super Bowl talk for just a minute here, at least until they can get some consistent offense. Jamal Lewis was ok, Steve McNair was pretty bad for 3 quarters, and the Ravens needed a late Matt Stover FG to sneak by the winless Browns without a decent RB. I'm sorry, I just can't see these guys competing with the Bengals in the North. That said, I really like the trio of Charlie Frye, Braylon Edwards, and Kellen Winslow... a nice foundation there as long as Winslow can keep his head on straight.

Seahawks 42, Giants 30 - The game was definitely a lot more of a blowout than the score would indicate. Looks like the Giants may be closer to the team we saw in the first half against Philly than the team we saw in the 2nd half. I couldn't really watch this game after about the first quarter, and it wasn't because I had something else to do. It was just ugly.

Eagles 38, 49ers 24 - If it weren't for Frank Gore fumbling at the goal line and the Eagles returning it for a TD, this game may have come down to the end (although that would have only made it 24-10 at the time). But regardless, Frank Gore came back down to earth a little bit, while the Eagles offense did not. McNabb looks great, Westbrook gained 117 yards on only 8 carries, and Reggie Brown had a big day. Good fall all around for the Iggles.

Rams 16, Cardinals 14 - Everyone seemed to anoint the Cardinals as sleepers, but someone apparently forgot to tell Kurt Warner, becuase 3 INT and 1 fumble lost later, the Cards are now 1-2. The good news for Arizona is that Edge finally got going, with 94 yards on the ground. Someone told me this earlier, and I agree... Jeff Wilkins is an extremely valuable kicker for fantasy football, because the Rams just can't get it in the endzone. I believe that's 11 FG in 3 games for Wilkins.

Broncos 17, Patriots 7 - I think this game was mostly about the Broncos defense. Champ Bailey shuts down one side of the field, but they also shut down the run (50 yards rushing), and held Brady to a low YPA. That, combined with 2 big plays from Javon Walker was enough for Denver to win this game. One good sign for NE is that Doug Gabriel established himself as a guy who can make some plays at the WR position, which is a rarity for NE these days.

And that's Week 2. The Monday nighter features Atlanta going to New Orleans... my prediction:
Falcons - 27
Saints - 13

Friday, 22 September 2006

NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 3

And back for another week of thrilling picks! Jacksonville/Indapolis is the big game on the schedule, but there's a lot of good inter-divisional matchups this week.

Redskins (-4) over Texans - The Redskins have not looked good the first 2 weeks, but I think everyone's overreacting a little bit. It's the first 2 games with a new, complex offense, and it's largely been without their best player. The Texans have a trio of Ron Dayne, Samkon Gado, and Wali Lundy at RB. David Carr is playing very well, but Gregg Williams is smart... I think he'll make the Texans run the ball a lot, and I'm not convinced they can.

Jets (+5.5) over Bills - I just find it really hard to pick Buffalo favored by this much with JP Losman as their QB. The defense has been great, and the Bills are at home, but I can't get over JP Losman here. So my pick is the Jets.

Jaguars (+7) over Colts - I still think the Colts will win the game, but 7 is a pretty big spread for as well as Jacksonville played Monday night. I think Joseph Addai will start to get more and more carries for the Colts, and they will just be better and better offensively when that happens. Plus, that Manning fellow is good. But the Jags always play the Colts tough, and I think they'll be able to keep this one close, even in Indy.

Lions (-7) over Packers - The Lions being favored by 7? I guess that shows what the oddsmakers think about the Pack. And me picking the Lions to cover about shows what I think of them as well.

Steelers (-2) over Bengals - I love the Bengals this year, and Palmer is playing great... but it's hard to see the Steelers falling to 1-2. Big Ben should be healthier and the Steelers are at home. Plus, the Bengals will be without their starting center. This is a weak vote for the Steelers, because I think this should be a well-played and competitve game.

Dolphins (-10.5) over Titans - I have very little confidence in Daunte Culpepper... he's not completely healthy, he's making dumb mistakes, taking too many sacks, etc. But, I think the Titans are the worst team in the NFL. Yes, worse than the Raiders. Even with the enormous coaching edge that anyone has over Art Shell. Vince Young should start to see more and more action, and while that's good for the long-run, it's not so good for the short-term.

Vikings (+4) over Bears - so after yesterday we know all about the Vikings and all about the Bears... but who will win the game this week? Well, I think the Bears win a tight one... but I'm still not sold on their offense, especially if Minnesota can stop the run and force Grossman to throw. Plus, I can't pick against the Vikings at home.

Panthers (-3) over Bucs - If Steve Smith plays, I like Carolina here. DeAngelo Williams established last week that he will be a huge contributor offensively, and the defense was superb. As for the Bucs, it appears I significantly overrated them, because they can't do anything offensively, and that won't change against Carolina.

Ravens (-7) over Browns - I admit... I traded for Steve McNair in Fantasy Football and am now a little worried after a couple of subpar performances. Still, the defense is so good that I think the Ravens can score enough points to cover the spread.

Giants (+3.5) over Seahawks - This is purely a gut feeling after the way the Giants finished last week... Seahawks are very talented, but Alexander hasn't been that great. If Strahan and Usi can put pressure on Hasselbeck off the edge, I like the Giants here. Eli Manning's darn good, and the whole offense is very talented. The logic in me says to go with Seahawks, but I'm going with my gut and taking the Giants.

Eagles (-6) over 49ers - The Niners are as improved as any team in football, but I think they'll be taking on any angry Eagle team, and I don't expect Andy Reid to lighten up if his team gets the lead. I see a big day for McNabb and the Eagles, as they go into SF and get a win, which is definitely not as easy as it used to be.

Rams (+4.5) over Cardinals - Ok, the Rams did not look good at all last week against the 49ers. Consider this another gut feeling.

Broncos (+7) over Patriots - Talk about winning ugly... last week the Broncos beat the Trent Green-less Chiefs 9-6 in OT while the Patriots held off the Jets for a 24-17 win. Both teams are having some of the same problems - they can't always pass the ball. For the Broncos, the problem has been Jake Plummer. For the Patriots, Tom Brady hasn't had a whole lot of guys to throw to. This week, I see the Broncos being a little better offensively because Shanahan is really smart, but I also see Brady doing just enough to win the game, but not cover the spread. Broncos are the pick.

Falcons (-4) over Saints - 2-0 is 2-0 is 2-0, but the Saints win have come against Cleveland and Green Bay. Atlana has run the ball all over the field against Carolina and Tampa Bay. I love Reggie Bush, I like The Deuce, and the Saints are a decent bunch, but I just can't see them slowing down Atlanta's run game. Like, at all. I like the Falcons to win by 10+ points.

Last Week: 10-6
Season: 19-13

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Interview with a Bears Fan

Like way back in the day (read: 2 months ago) when I interviewed a Tigers fan and vice versa, I am back at it, this time with The Zoner from Zoner Sports, who happens to be a Bears fan versus my being a Vikings fan, which made this a natural match.

Me: The question on everyone's (or at least every fantasy player's) mind - is Rex Grossman for real? He's had a great first 2 games, can he keep it up consistently? What's the difference so far this year for him?

Zoner Sports: I heard a commentator say recently that here in Chicago we tend to be so reactionary. He’s right. Before the last preseason game there was plenty of Brian Griese talk. Rex had a terrible preseason until then. Now he’s the next Peyton Manning.

But I think most Bears fans have thought Rex could be a good pro if he could get the experience and stay healthy. Last week bore that out a bit. And that’s the difference so far—health and comfort factor, as well as Ron Turner calling great games. Don’t expect 35 TD passes, but these certainly aren’t your father’s Bears.

Me: What exactly is going on with the running back situation? Are Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson just splitting carries? What do you think should happen there?

Zoner Sports: Lovie Smith has made it his practice to always play the player that the staff thinks is the better player. He did again this week by naming Danieal Manning the starter and moving Chris Harris to nickel back. Eventually, Benson will assume the load for the Bears. When that will happen is anyone’s guess. If Benson can break some long runs I wouldn’t be surprised to see it sooner rather than later. Jones will not be a Bear next year.
But for now TJ is the starter and that’s how it should be. Most teams now use 2 backs to some extent and it can work.

Me: What is the Bears biggest weakness?

Zoner Sports: Right now hardly anything. But I would say the one thing I’d like to see on Sunday is the Bears stopping the run. Ahman Green ran for 110 in Week 1 after being out for a long time. If Chester Taylor has a good game, teams will say that’s the way to attack the Bears D—to run right at them.

Me: What is your prediction for Sunday's game? Can the Vikings score on the Bears defense?

Zoner Sports: The Vikings have beat 2 teams that a lot of people thought would be in the postseason. I don’t think nationally they are getting many props just yet. The Bears have been amazing, but they played Detroit and the Pack. This is a great ‘shake out’ game for both teams. I hope it’s Bears domination, but a safer prediction is Bears 20, Vikings 13.

Me: Assuming Rex Grossman is for real, do the Vikings realistically have any chance in the division? Bears have the best defense in the NFL, and if the offense is even average, is there a chance for anyone else to win the division?

Zoner Sports: I look it at like this: If the Bears could go 11-5 last year with basically no passing game, what will they do with a healthy Rex and an additional RB in Benson, who was hurt for a lot of last year? If Rex and the offense keep playing like they have, it won’t just be the North—the entire NFC won’t have a chance.

Also, remember to check out his blog for my answers to his questions about the Vikings! Should be a great game Sunday between 2 hard-nosed defenses.

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

College Football Picks: Week 4

Normally I preview the top 5 games on Friday, but since I'm planning an interview with Zoner Sports about this weekend's Vikings/Bears matchup, this will be pushed up a day! Unfortunately, there are no great matchups like last week... heck, on paper, there looked to be about 5 games last week that projected to be better than any this week... but let's not let that derail us.

Alabama at Arkansas - Not the most riveting matchup on the field, but there's an excellent rivalry here, and these teams are basically fighting for third place in the SEC West after Auburn and LSU. Both teams eeked out wins against Vanderbilt, but that's about it. The key to this game is really how Arkansas freshman QB Mitch Mustain plays against a solid Bama defense. If he plays well, Arkansas wins. If he struggles and gets rattled, Alabama wins. I like his talent to be the difference at home. ARKANSAS 17-14.

Wisconsin at (6) Michigan - After last week, we all know what Michigan is capable of, the key is for them to bring that type of energy every week. With Chad Henne, Michael Hart, and Mario Manningham, they have the offensive talent to compete for a Big 10 title. Wisconsin won't be an easy game though. They're always a solid team, and John Stocco is one of the underrated QBs in a great Big 10. Also, freshman RB PJ Hill Jr. is performing, with 415 rushing yards after 3 games. These guys will help the Badgers put forth a good effort, but I don't see an upset happening in the Big House. MICHIGAN 31 - 17

(22) Arizona St. at (22) California - I really like Rudy Carpenter, and I think he's one of the best QBs in the country. After 3 games he's thrown for 842 yards and 9 TD. However, Cal has rebounded nicely after the Tennessee debacle, especially QB Nate Longshore. After putting up 2 straight solid games, it looks like Cal now has at least a little balance in the offense. The continued improvement of Longshore, along with the explosiveness of Marshawn Lynch is enough to hold off a talent Arizona St. offense. CALIFORNIA 38-31.

(12) Notre Dame at Michigan St. - The Spartans have won 7 of 9 in this matchup, and with Drew Stanton at QB, they have the talent to make it 8 of 10. They'll be taking on a determined Notre Dame team, who got embarrassed at home last week by Michigan. Heralded as a Heisman candidate by everyone, Brady Quinn showed he can become rattled and inaccurate on the deep ball, which is what happened last week. How does he respond? Under the tutelage of Charlie Weis, I think he comes back and plays a great game this week. With these offenses and defenses, whoever has the ball last might win. NOTRE DAME 41-38.

(24) Penn St. at (1) Ohio St. - The Nittany Lions held off to beat the Buckeyes this year, and if the Buckeyes don't pay attention, Penn St. has the talent to come in and beat them again. Penn St. has talented players offensively. Tony Hunt is a very solid RB, and they have a bevy of talented sophomore receivers. However, I think there will be too much Troy Smith in this game... he's dominating everyone through the air, and I expect that to continue. OHIO ST. 34-14.

Last Week: 3-2
Season: 9-6

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Feels like a links day!

Ok, I had to do a lot of studying for my first Accounting test Wednesday (think of me at about 5:15 CDT!), so I didn't really have time to write something cool and exciting (like I ever do anyway). Which means it's a perfect day to spread some cool links around in the hopes that it will point at least one person to a page they like!

First off, don't look now, but the Minnesota Twins are a 1/2 game behind the Detroit Tigers for the division lead. And Justin Morneau went 5/5 in the game, bumping his average up to .326, and getting his 124th RBI of the year, only 5 behind David Ortiz for the AL Lead. Yes, his MVP argument is strengthening everyday.

I think I agree with Bruins Nation in that Oklahoma is overreacting just a wee bit to the blown call. There is no doubt that it was a completely blown call, and there is absolutely no excuse for missing it both on the field and and in the replay booth... and I can even kinda agree with asking the game to be voided (though it definitely should not be), but now they're talking about canceling their game at Washington next year. I understand that Oklahoma takes their football seriously, but threatening phone calls to the replay official are a little much. Not that that's never been done before, but it's time to move on. Which is what I'll do now.

Why is Deadspin the best around? Exhibit A. Not only is the post itself funny, but the comments are absolutely hilarious.

Kevin Antcliff is back in business on the newly created Mile High Sports!

This didn't take long (and I can't say I blame Lions fans!)

Erasmus James is done for the year... great. :(

Anyway, this is just a little bit to whet your appetite... I'll be back tomorrow with a regularly scheduled post!

Monday, 18 September 2006

Assessing the Playoff and Division Races

With 2 weeks left in the MLB season, now's a good time to take a look at who's winning the divisions, who's in the Wildcard lead in each League, and who has a chance to make the playoffs.

AL East: This one is pretty much over. Yankees hold a 10 game lead with 12 games left to play. I've really been amazed at how quickly the Sox have fallen... they were leading if I recall at the All-Star break, and then they made no moves at the deadline, and then the 5-game sweep, and it's been all downhill from there. One semi-interesting note here is the Jays are only 2 games behind Boston for 2nd in the division, and they haven't been there for a while.

AL Central/Wildcard: I combine these only because it looks pretty certain that the Wildcard winner will be coming out... which leaves 2 spots open for 3 teams. As of right now, the Tigers are in the lead, the Twins are 1.5 behind, and the Sox are 6 behind. Here are the remaining schedules:

Twins: @ BOS (3), @ BAL (3), KC (4), CHI (3)
Tigers: @ CHI (2), @ BAL (1), @ KC (3), TOR (3), KC (3)
White Sox: DET (2), SEA (4), @CLE (3), @MIN (3)

The way all of these teams are playing right now, I think Chicago is the odd team out. Their pitching has been inconsistent, and they don't have quite enough offense to make up for it, which is why they're 4-6 in their last 10 and things aren't getting any better. For the division title, I think the Tigers have built up a little too big of a lead and their schedule is a little easier than the Twins. So I have the Tigers winning with the Twins taking the Wildcard.

AL West: A's lead by 6.5 games and they have 13 games left (12 games left for the Angels)... it's more possible for a comeback here than the AL East, but it would take a collossal collapse and I just don't see that happening, as the A's are pitching pretty well and playing good baseball.

NL East: The Mets just clinched Monday... so move along, nothing to see here.

NL Central: Despite a pretty mediocre team outside of Albert Pujols, the Cardinals have managed to build up a 7 game lead in the division, mostly thanks to the extreme awfulness of everyone else. 2nd place Cincy is 4 games under .500.

NL West: And finally an interesting race. It's been back-and-forth lately, but as of now it's the Dodgers that hold a 1/2 game edge in the division over the Padres. A 3rd team, the Giants, is still holding out some hope as well, 4.5 games back. I like the Padres here, because I think their pitching is a little better than the Dodgers.

NL Wildcard: This is potentially the most interesting race... the Giants and Marlins are just barely in the discussion, but they pretty much have to win out at this point. So it'll basically come down to whoevers loses the West and the Phillies. Right now the Padres hold a 1.5 game lead on the Phils. It looks like the Dodgers and Phillies have better overall pitching than the Phils, but the Phils do have Ryan Howard, who's been out of his mind since the All-Star break. Unfortunately, I don't think he'll get quite enough help, which I why I like the loser of the West (the Dodgers in my predictions here) to get the consolation prize of the Wildcard.

Agree with the picks? Disagree with the picks?