Sunday, 30 September 2007

My MLB Awards - National League

Time to unveil my awards for the 2007 MLB season, starting with the National League. If you disagree, please voice your opinions in the comments, because a lot of these could get some good discussion (especially concerning the MVP, which is a wide open race). Anyway, my picks for Cy Young, ROY, and MVP.

Cy Young: Jake Peavy (San Diego)
Simply been the best in the NL. The ERA and wins are there (which is what the voters look for), but the secondary numbers are great as well. He's got about a 4:1 K:BB ratio, and leads the NL in Strikeouts and WHIP. This is a really easy choice.

2. Brandon Webb (Arizona)
I think Webb is the best of the rest, though there are a lot of guys close together. Webb struck out a solid 194 batters, but the fact that he pitched a League-high 236 innings gives him the edge at #2 in my proverbial book.
3. John Smoltz (Atlanta)
Smoltz just quietly goes out and delivered another outstanding season. Seriously, people don't talk about this guy enough. All he did was have a 4:1 K:BB ratio while pitching over 200 innings. Still one of the best pitchers in the game.
4. Roy Oswalt (Houston)
Mr. Consistency. You know what you're getting with Oswalt. His BB totals were a little higher than you might like, but he still had over 200 productive innings.
5. Brad Penny (Los Angeles)
Penny was excellent, though I think the 16-4 record is a little gaudy. His K:BB rate was less than 2:1, though he did a great job of keeping the ball in the ballpark.

Rookie of the Year: Ryan Braun (Milwaukee)
This seemed like such an obvious choice a month or two ago, but not so much anymore. At this point, Troy Tulowitzki is not really a bad choice. That said, I'm sticking with Braun, who was just a bit too good at the plate.

2. Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado)
Tulowitzki shoots up because he has over 600 ABs (most among these rookies), and has hit solidly while playing SS. A solid 24 HR.
3. Hunter Pence (Houston)
If he hadn't gotten hurt, he would definitely be challenging for the Rookie of the Year crown. As it is, he has to settle for 3rd in my book. Even without really taking a lot of walks, he was still really productive at the plate. He has a solid 56 XBH.
4. Tim Lincecum (San Francisco)
Lincecum had a 4.00 ERA, which was made more impressive by some nice splits. He had a great K rate. He was about equal with Gallardo, but he had about 25 more IP than him, which puts Lincecum at 4th and Gallardo at 6th.
5. James Loney (Los Angeles)
Loney was really good. He got on base at a .384 clip, and slugged nearly .550. In a hitter's ballpark. If he had more than about 370 PAs he would be higher on this list.
Also Considered: Yovani Gallardo (Milwaukee), Peter Moylan (Atlanta)

MVP: Hanley Ramirez (Florida)
I suspect this is a choice a lot of people might disagree with. First let me say that this was a wide open race in the NL (more than I can ever really remember one being), and I think you could definitely make arguments for 5 or 6 different guys. But I am a big Hanley Ramirez guy. A few notes:
A) I place absolutely no significance in how good a player's team or teammates are. This is an individual award. I don't punish Hanley Ramirez (or any other player on a poor team) simply because the owners want a $20 million payroll.
B) A lot of Ramirez's value is derived from the fact that he is playing SS.
C) He's in the top 10 in OPS, leads the NL in VORP, gets on base, hits for power, and steals bases at a productive rate. And he plays SS. This is why he is my MVP.

2. David Wright (New York)
OK, his team choked down the stretch. But Wright had a great year. He was 4th in the NL in OBP, hit for power, and plays a decent 3B. Like Hanley, he gets a bump because of the position that he plays.
3. Albert Pujols (St. Louis)
He was not as good as he has been, and his team was not good, but he was still extremely productive. He had a poor April, but rebounded to finish in the top 2 in the NL in OBP, and slug over .570. The man OPS'ed 1.101 after the AS Break.
4. Prince Fielder (Milwaukee)
He was extremely productive, but he's just a step below these top 3 in my book. He plays QB which drops him a little lower than guys like Hanley and David Wright, and he doesn't get on base as much as Pujols. The counting stats are nice, but I think the other guys were a little more valuable.
5. Chase Utley (Philadelphia)
If he had played all season, he might very well be my MVP. He was really, really good. OBP of over .410, and he slugged over .560. All as a 2nd basemen.
6. Matt Holliday (Colorado)
I have a hard time ranking him. Someone whose baseball opinion I respect (you know who you are) said he was his NL MVP, but I have him 6th. That speaks to the wildness of this MVP race. For me, I just have a hard time getting over those home/road splits. But Holliday was quite good this year.
7. Jimmy Rollins (Philadelphia)
Jimmy Rollins is a 30 HR hitter! Seriously. He doesn't get on base at the rate that a lot of the other guys do, but he hit for good power this year (87 XBH), played solid D at SS, and stole bases at a great rate.
8. Miguel Cabrera (Florida)
I've kinda always had it in my mind that Cabrera was the best 3B in the NL but was unjustly overshadowed by David Wright, but I do think Wright was a little better this year. Still, at only age 24, Cabrera should be in quite a few more MVP races in his career.
9. Chipper Jones (Atlanta)
Chipper was actually pretty awesome this year, he just couldn't stay on the field enough, amassing only about 590 PAs. But he actually led the NL in OPS. Bet you didn't know that if you hadn't already looked it up. Just a fine, fine hitter.
10. Jake Peavy (San Diego)
I'm not necessarily opposed to giving a pitcher an MVP award... but it would have to be a really extreme example. This doesn't qualify.

What are your thoughts? Who are your award winners?

Also, by popular demand, look for a Thursday Debate on the NL MVP race later in the week.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 4

I'm back for more embarrassment... my picks. Thoughts for all games hopefully will follow sometime Friday... no time right now! That's what school does to you, I suppose. My drive for .500 continues.

Ravens (-4) over Browns

Bucs (+3) over Panthers

Bears (-3) over Lions
A competent QB does wonders.

Rams (+13) over Cowboys
At this point in the NFL season, I'm not picking anyone except the Patriots with a spread this large.

Vikings (+1.5) over Packers
Got to stick with my boys. Kelly Holcomb looks like he will start again, and he should be more comfortable in the offense in his 2nd week.

Falcons (+3) over Texans

Broncos (+9.5) over Colts

Raiders (+4) over Dolphins

Jets (-3.5) over Bills

Eagles (-3) over Giants

Cardinals (+6) over Steelers

Chiefs (+11.5) over Chargers
See: not about the Cowboys/Rams game.

Seahawks (-2) over 49ers

Patriots (-7) over Bengals
The Pats seem to be just too good for everyone else right now.

Last Week: 5-8-3
Season: 20-23-5

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

College Football Picks: Week 5

Looking at the schedule, looks like we have 2 really good games this week (one of them on Friday), and a lot of solid games. But enough with the intro... let's get to the picks!

(22) Alabama @ Florida St.
Bama is no longer undefeated, but Nick Saban still has them playing good football. However, they'll head into a tough environment in Tallahassee, though it looks to be another down year for the Seminoles. They may have changed the coaching staff, but the offense is still mediocre right now for FSU. Bobby Bowden would have never stood for this! (er, wait) Anyway, I'll take ALABAMA to add to FSU's misery in a close game.

Michigan St. @ (9) Wisconsin
Wisconsin has easily been the least impressive top 10 team this year, as they have struggled often with a schedule that has not exactly been the most daunting in the country. On the other side of the coin, the Spartans come in at 4-0 and riding a confidence high after dominating at Notre Dame (I don't care how bad they are, that's still got to be an exhilarating win for the players). I know Wisconsin plays well at home, and they're riding a 13 game winning streak, but I'm just not impressed with how they're playing. I'll take MICHIGAN ST. in an upset.

Kansas St. @ (7) Texas
Don't look now, but Kansas St. can cause some problems for Texas. They're solid defensively, and Josh Freeman is a pretty athletic QB. They also have a pretty solid rushing game. If they can control the clock and keep the Longhorn offense off the field, they'll have a great shot. I'm still taking TEXAS in this game, but it might be closer than you think.

(5) West Virginia @ (18) South Florida
Could this be the toughest game of the season for West Virginia? They've got road games against Rutgers and Cincy, as well as a home date with Louisville remaining, but USF could be the best team of that bunch. They went to Auburn and won a couple weeks ago, and stomped Butch Davis' North Carolina team a week ago. But West Virginia won't be taking South Florida lightly. Not only are the Bulls ranked, but they actually beat West Virginia in Morgantown last year, which adds another dynamic to this game. However, unlike last year, I don't think South Florida will be able to contain the West Virginia offense. I'll take WEST VIRGINIA in a high-scoring, very entertaining game.

(6) California @ (11) Oregon
The game of the week, between 2 very good teams and very good offenses out on the West Coast. Last year Cal dominated Oregon, but things might be a little different this time around. For one, I'm not sure anyone in the country is playing better than Dennis Dixon right now. He's been fantastic as a dual-threat QB. But you can't focus too much on him, because Jonathan Stewart is one of the 5 best RBs in the country. I think OREGON will be just a little too explosive for Cal to handle. Add in that Cal has looked a little sloppy lately, and I like Oregon in a shootout.

What are your picks?

Last Week: 4-1
Season: 12-3

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

NFL: The more I know the more I know that I know nothing

OK, confusing title aside, it has come to my attention that the NFL is pretty confusing. I mean, that's obvious to readers by looking at my picks each week, but it's hard to get a grasp on this League from week to week. Not that that's a bad thing. I was going to do some Power Rankings, but it seems just wholly unnecessary at this point in the year. So instead I'll just write the things that have surprised me most from each division.

AFC East - OK, bad example. This is the one division that has pretty much gone according to plan. The Patriots are really good (though probably even better than everyone thought), and the rest of the division is bad. The Patriots are 3-0, the other 3 teams are a combined 1-8. And the win was an inter-division win.

AFC North - I thought Pittsburgh would be good, but maybe not quite this dominating, as they have outscored their opponents 97-26. The other surprising thing is how atrocious the defenses of Cincinnati and Cleveland are. I mean, they've given up a combined 200 points so far. Of course, 96 of them came in one game, but still, it could be a long season for those clubs.

AFC South - Could this be the best division in football? At this point, it looks like it. Obviously, they are strong at the top with Indianapolis. But the rest of the division has looked very solid. Jacksonville is coming off of a win against Denver, Tennessee looked very impressive Monday night, and the Texans are 2-1. Not a bad start to the year for these teams.

AFC West - What has happened to this division? I thought Denver and San Diego would be 2 of the best teams in the AFC... both have looked very mediocre. What in the world has happened to those 2 teams? Denver has struggled for 2 wins against mediocre teams, and then got beat by Jacksonville. The San Diego offense has not picked up where it left off last year. Elsewhere, dormants Kansas City and Oakland have done what we've expected.

NFC East - How can the Eagles (and more specifically Donovan McNabb), look so bad over the first 2 weeks, and then score 56 in week 3? This is what I don't understand about the NFL. On a positive note for this division, the Cowboys appear to be the best team in the NFC. Of course, that could change next week... it's not really that hard to envision 0-3 St. Louis beating Dallas next week.
NFC North - The Bears have finally decided (according to reports) to go with Brian Griese as starter. I'm glad it only took them a little over a year to see that Grossman wasn't that good. Green Bay is playing great at 3-0, though I'm not sure how long an offense that consists of no running game and Brett Favre throwing 45 passes per game is going to last. But you have to give credit where it's due... this is working so far.

NFC South - Ladies and gentlemen, the worst division in the NFL! Seriously, what happened to the Saints? They look like the worst team in the NFL at this point... and they were my preseason NFC Super Bowl pick! Elsewhere, the Panthers are talented but inconsistent. Meaning the Bucs look like they may be the best team in the division. The defense is back.

NFC West - I don't really know what to make of this division, other than the fact that the Rams are a lot, lot, lot worse than I thought they would be. Everyone is else is so maddeningly inconsistent. I don't know what to think.

What has surprised you most about the NFL season so far?

Monday, 24 September 2007

College Football Power Rankings - 9/25

Not a whole lot of surprises at the top this week... for the most part, just about everything we expected to happen did. The only team from my top 13 from last week that lost was Penn St., and that wasn't entirely unexpected. Anyway, the rankings.

1. USC (1) - They once again were dominant offensively, beating Washington St. 47-14. OK, so Washington St. isn't really good, but a dominant win is always nice.

2. LSU (2) - They weren't dominant, but they were were good enough to beat a pesky South Carolina team. I know it was raining, but there has to be a little bit of concern about the passing game... Matt Flynn was just 8/19 for 70 yards. Though the solid trio of RBs made sure that wasn't going to cause any problems.

3. West Virginia (3) - Most polls that I have seen are putting the Mountaineers at 5, but I'm still big fans. They had a dominating effort against an OK East Carolina team. My boy Noel Devine finally got slowed down, but they had plenty of other options offensively to pick up the slack.

4. Oklahoma (5) - Another week, another beating. This time Tulsa was the opponent in a 62-21 romp. Also, after Miami beat Texas A&M on Thursday, it looks like Oklahoma's thorough beating of Miami may be a little more impressive than I thought.

5. Florida (4) - One week after looking so good in dismantling Tennessee, they squeak by Ole Miss. Thank goodness for Tim Tebow... 261 yards passing, 166 yards rushing, and 4 total TDs.

6. Texas (7) - Finally a dominant performance from this talented Texas offense.

7. California (6) - An impressive win over Arizona, just taking care of business. This week comes their biggest test so far of the season (yes, bigger than Tennessee), as they head to Oregon (who we might see a little later) in what should be a fantastic game.

8. Rutgers (8) - They had the week off.

9. Ohio St. (9) - In a year when the other Big 10 teams have been very inconsistent, the Buckeyes keep plugging along, this time notching a 58-7 win over Northwestern. Chris Wells needed only 12 carries to reach 100 yards in that game. The Buckeyes should have another cakewalk this week as they head to Minnesota.

10. Oregon (NR) - The offense continues to be extremely explosive, scoring 55 points on Stanford. There might not be a more entertaining duo to watch than Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart for the Ducks.


Wisconsin (10) - After another mediocre performance by the Badgers, they fall out of my top 10. They had a battle with Iowa at home, winning just 17-13. On the bright side, PJ Hill is picking up right where he left off, with 500+ yards and 7 TD after 4 games.

Boston College - Not exactly an inspiring performance against Army, but they got the job done.

Clemson - Nice win for Clemson against NC State, coached by Tom O'Brien. They were again led by Davis and Spiller, who each had over 100 yards and scored a TD.

What changes would you make to my rankings?

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Dear Chicago Bears,

Rex Grossman is going to be fine. Yes, I know that with an average QB the team would again be Super Bowl contenders, because the defense is superb, but really, Rex Grossman is a young guy that's still learning the ropes. I'm sure he's going to be just fine. Just keep giving him starts.

the rest of the NFL

Thursday, 20 September 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 3

I'm hovering around the .500 mark... that's my goal for this year, but I wouldn't mind at least getting some type of cushion. Anyway, week 3 picks.

Cardinals (+8) over Ravens
I just don't trust the Ravens offense enough to cover an 8-point spread right now. I mean, they only scored 20 against the Bengals, and they tried to give the game to the Jets last week. I like them to win, but probably not cover.

Panthers (-3.5) over Falcons
I have a really hard time picking Panthers games... they're just so inconsistent from week to week. So this reflects more on my feelings about the Falcons rather than the Panthers.

Redskins (-3.5) over Giants
The Giants suck. That's about all that there is to it. Their defense has been terrible, Eli isn't quite 100%, and their starting RB is hurt. Other than that, they've had a great start to the year.

Rams (+3.5) over Bucs
I came into the season really thinking the Rams were going to be a solid team, and they've obviously been very disappointing. Things might be even tougher without Orlando Pace, but I'll put my faith in them for one more week.

Bengals (+3.5) over Seahawks
We all know about the defensive problems the Bengals had this week, but the Seahawks haven't exactly been tearing it up offensively thus far. I mean, the Cardinals held them to 20 points. I just think the Bengals offensive will be a little too explosive.

Chargers (-5) over Packers
Brett Favre has played well so far, but let's see how he does against a good defense. I'm still a bit skeptical about the Packers offense. Things won't get too much easier for LDT going against a good Packer defense, but he shouldn't be bottled up quite as much as in the past 2 weeks.

49ers (+9) over Steelers
I've been as big of a fan as anyone of the Steelers so far, but 9 points is a large spread against a solid 49ers team is a lot. I like the Steelers to win this game, but I think the Niners are solid enough on both sides of the ball to keep things interesting.

Lions (+6) over Eagles
I like the Eagles in this one, but they are banged up a bit defensively, and McNabb has been pretty atrocious thus far. The Lions played atrociously last week, but a lot of that had to do with JT O'Sullivan playing almost a full half, and he was awful. If Kitna is healthy, I'll take the Lions to cover.

Raiders (-3) Browns
A rejuvenated LaMont Jordan should have a big game against the hapless Browns defense. I just hope that I don't have to watch this game.

Jets (-3) over Dolphins
I have absolutely no idea what to think of this game. So I'll take the home team.

Patriots (-16.5) over Bills
The spread is a little large, but with the performance of the Patriots over the past couple of weeks, it's hard to argue. And it's hard to argue picking against them, especially with how poorly JP Losman has played thus far.

Vikings (+3) over Chiefs
Kelly Holcomb looks like he'll be the starter this week for the Vikings... that is probably good news, short term. Larry Johnson won't find many holes to run against in this Vikings defense.

Colts (-6) over Texans
The Texans have been very impressive so far, but they will be without Andre Johnson this week. That should cause some problems for Matt Schaub.

Broncos (-3) over Jaguars
The Jaguars are the other team that I hate picking their games... I just don't know what is going to happen with them week-to-week. I assume we'll see a heavy dose of MJD and Fred Taylor (especially against the Broncos real good pair of corners), but who knows. Not me. I'll take the Broncos and hope they don't burn me for the 3rd straight week.

Cowboys (+3) over Bears
Not real confident about this one, especially since it is in the Windy City. But the Bears have 1 offensive TD in 2 games, and that came on a pass to a backup O-Lineman. Hope the Bears D/ST can score enough to keep up with the Cowboys.

Saints (-4) over Titans
If Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, and the rest of the Saints offense struggles for the 3rd straight week, it might officially be time for fantasy owners everywhere to worry.

Last Week: 7-9
Season: 15-15-2

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

College Football Picks: Week 4

Another week, another edition!

Iowa @ (9) Wisconsin
I don't even really feel good about predicting this game, but there aren't that many really good games this weekend. So I'll stick this in there, and not surprisingly, WISCONSIN is the pick. Dropping down to #10 in my power rankings should be motivation for them!

(21) Kentucky @ Arkansas
This is an interesting matchup as Kentucky has one of the best QBs in the country (in Andre Woodson), and Arkansas has perhaps the best RB combo in the country (with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones). Kentucky is the ranked team and coming off of a huge win, but I like ARKANSAS, especially at home. McFadden has some skills.

(10) Penn St. @ Michigan
This is one of the most intriguing games of the weekend. Michigan looked 100x better last week than they did in the first couple of weeks (granted, it was against Notre Dame), while Penn St. has breezed through so far. Which Michigan team will show up? I'll go with the mini-upset and say the good Michigan team... MICHIGAN rides Michael Hart to a nice start in the Big 10.

(22) Georgia @ (16) Alabama
What Nick Saban has done in his short time has been very impressive. I was a bit surprised to see them jump all the way to 16 in this poll, but it was a nice win over Arkansas. Still, I'm a big fan of Matthew Stafford and Mark Richt... I'll go out on a limb and take GEORGIA on the road.

(12) South Carolina @ (2) LSU
The game of the week as far as rankings are concerned, but I'm not sure South Carolina is in LSU's class just yet. I expect LSU to be much too fast defensively, and good enough offensively to win fairly easily. If Steve Spurrier can pull a rabbit out of his hat, well, I'll have even more respect for him as a coach. But I don't see it.

Last Week: 3-2
Season: 8-2

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

NFL Power Rankings

Time for some NFL Power Rankings... because obviously power rankings are all the rage right now. I'll just give my top 10.

1. New England Patriots - OK, they've convinced me to put them at #1. What a thoroughly dominating performance against a talented Chargers team.

2. Indianapolis Colts - Just something about those Titans. I never expected the Titans to be driving at the end of the game, needing just a FG to win. Football is a funny game like that. But still, they have obviously cemented themselves as a top 2 team. Bob Sanders for Defensive Player of the Year?

3. San Diego Chargers - It wasn't pretty, but no one else really sticks out as #3 right now. Plus, with all of this talent, not even Norv Turner can screw this up, right? Right?

4. Pittsburgh Steelers - They were my mini-surprise team coming into the year, and while they've been helped by a really easy schedule, they're certainly looking good so far. The average score of their games so far has been 30-5. That's not a misprint.

5. Dallas Cowboys - Quietly looking like they might be the best team in a very bad NFC team. At the very least, they have the most explosive offense in the League right now, especially with Marion Barber getting a larger and larger workload.

6. Denver Broncos - I had them at 4 last week, but after another mediocre performance they drop to 6. They have a 38-34 margin so far... that's not exactly awe-inspiring.

7. Chicago Bears - They only have 1 offensive TD in 2 weeks. I'm just saying. The defense is great, but with the offense being really mediocre and inconsistent once again, will it matter?

8. Baltimore Ravens - I still tend to think the Ravens are better right now with Kyle Boller at QB. Seriously, a Steve McNair-led offense scored 20 points against the Bengals. A Derek Anderson-led offense score 51 points against the Bengals. Something is not right there.

9. Washington Redskins - Jason Campbell is becoming better and better every week. What a throw by him at the end of the first half! But they'll have to overcome Joe Gibbs at this point, I think. I mean, a delay of game right after a spike on the 2 yard line? Are you kidding me Washington?

10. Green Bay Packers - I am a diehard Packer hater, but you have to be impressed by their start. The first game was very fluky, but beating anyone 35-13 is impressive. I'm still very skeptical about Brett Favre on a week-to-week basis, but their defense is really good.

Monday, 17 September 2007

College Football Power Rankings

I'm sort of studying for an Accounting test right now, so I might be a little brief (which could be a good thing, as brevity is the soul of wit!), but here is my top 10. Last week's ranking will be in parenthesis.

1. USC (1) - Well, if there were any doubts after a lackluster opener against Idaho, they sure got answered Saturday night. Just a dominating performance against a good Nebraska team, with the game in Lincoln to boot. Very impressive.

2. LSU (2) - They benched their starting QB and #1 WR, and then went out and beat Middle Tennessee St. 44-0. The best defense in the country.

3. West Virginia (3) - The Noel Devine watch continues... 5 carries, 136 yards. As he gets worked into the offense more and more they are just going to be even more explosive. 353 rushing yards against Maryland.

4. Florida (4) - Besides USC, the most impressive team in the country on Saturday. All year long I have said I thought their offense was going to be great and they would again challenge in the SEC, but I don't think I even knew how good they could be. They have so many playmakers... they can attack you so many different ways offensively. The Florida/LSU game in a few weeks should be amazing.

5. Oklahoma (5) - 54-3 win over Utah St. Ho hum. Sam Bradford now has 11 TD and 1 INT after 3 games.

The top 5 don't change this week... in my mind, these 5 have separated themselves at this point in the season. Things can and obviously will change, but I have been most impressed by these 5 teams.

6. California (6) - Like so many of the top teams in the country, they just attack you so many ways. Justin Forsett is thriving, and the passing game is explosive with Desean Jackson. Their matchup at Oregon in 2 weeks should be a dandy.

7. Texas (7) - A 3-point win against UCF? They gave up nearly 200 yards rushing against the Golden Knights... they might be able to do that and win now, but they have to be able to stop the run in the Big 12, especially with Oklahoma on the schedule.

8. Rutgers (9) - They just continue to impress and take care of what they need to. Sure, it was only Norfolk St. that they crushed (which they should), but looking at teams like Wisconsin, sometimes these easy wins are more impressive than they seem.

9. Ohio St. (NR) - OK, they finally get a coveted spot in my top 10. Very impressive win over a solid Washington team. Chris Wells is quickly becoming one of the top backs in the Big 10.

10. Wisconsin (8) - Letting The Citadel hang around? Wisconsin is 3-0, but it's hard to say that they've been real impressive in those 3 wins. Another mediocre game like that and they could lose... or at the very least drop out of my top 10.


Penn St. - Big 10 bashing has been pretty strong this year (and maybe for good reason), but right now they have 3 of the top 11 or 12 teams in the country.

Boston College - Very impressive win at Georgia Tech. 435 yards for Matt Ryan... Colt Brennan who?

Oregon - We'll see in a couple of weeks if they're really as good as they looked during the Michigan game.

For another solid set of rankings check out The Sports Flow.

Do you agree or disagree with mine? What would you change?

Sunday, 16 September 2007

I need a day off

Too frustrated from the Vikings game... power rankings tomorrow.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

NFL PIcks Against the Spread 2007: Week 2

Time for my week 2 picks! Yay!

Jets (+10) over Ravens
Look, the Jets are not that great, but they're not as bad as they showed last week. The Ravens are good, but I just don't see them as 10 point favorites. Plus, I'm one of the guys that thinks the Jets will be better with Kellen Clemens at QB. I still like the Ravens to win, but I think it'll be decently close.

Texans +6.5) over Panthers
I kinda like what the Texans are doing. I don't know why, but I like them in this game, very possibly to win it. Part of it is that I'm not a big believer in Jake Delhomme... he was great last week, but I'm a bit skeptical we'll see a repeat.

Bears (-12.5) over Chiefs
If the Bears somehow find a way to lose this game outright, it might knock out absolutely everyone that plays any type of Survival Football. That's not even a joke. Every game would end because everyone would be eliminated.

Bengals (-6.5) over Browns
The Browns QB options are Derek Anderson (career: 6 TD, 9 INT) and Brady Quinn, a rookie who got into camp way late. They have a lame duck coach, a bad defense, and a past-his-prime RB. Other than that, things are going great for the Browns.

Cowboys (-3.5) over Dolphins
I don't care how bad the Cowboys defense looked last week, I don't see the Dolphins scoring enough points to keep up with them. I don't see the Dolphins scoring enough points to keep up with most teams.

Broncos (-10) over Raiders
I really don't know what to think in this game. I thought the Broncos were sure bets to beat the spread last week against Buffalo, and we know how that turned out. The Lions had some success running the ball against Oakland last week, and if Detroit had success, I can only imagine what the Broncos will do.

Vikings (+3) over Lions
If the Vikings can get pressure on Jon Kitna, I think he'll make some mistakes. If last week is any indication, the Vikings will be coming after the QB a little, which could leave them susceptible to some big plays, but I think they'll get to Kitna enough. Plus, Adrian Peterson should have another big day.

Colts (-7) over Titans
The Titans have a shot because they are sneakily good at running the football, but the way that I saw the Colts play last week leads me to believe they'll win by double digits. Peyton Manning might very well be a machine.

Falcons (+10) over Jaguars
I don't think the Falcons are as bad as they looked. Seriously. Harrington will play better with more time in the system, and their running backs are solid (the Minnesota run defense is just awesome). Plus, the Jags seem to always play down to the level of their opponents.

Patriots (-3.5) over Chargers
This is another game that I really don't know what to think. Both teams are among the 3 best in the NFL. I think the Patriots will win, so that's why I'm taking them with the points. But really, I have no idea.

Saints (-3.5) over Bucs
I just think the Saints are a much better team than the Bucs. Simple as that. Drew Brees will not play that poorly again.

Packers (+1.5) over Giants
The Giants have an injured QB that may or may not play, their starting RB is injured, they hate their coach, and their defense is atrocious. Other than that I love them this year.

Bills (+9.5) over Steelers
I like the Steelers, but the Bills showed last week they're a pretty darn good football team. Losman needs to play a lot better, but they're solid defensively, solid on special teams, and Marshawn Lynch had a great debut. I think they'll keep this one fairly close.

Seahawks (-3) over Cardinals
Not that the Seahawks lit up the world in week 1, but the Cardinals were very unimpressive. Although it was good that they got the running game going. With the run-oriented Ken Whisenhunt at the helm, I am kinda glad that I didn't really take Matt Leinart, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin in any of my fantasy leagues.

Rams (-3) over 49ers
I came into the year very optimistic about the Rams, and they sure sucked last week. Now, there's news that Orlando Pace is done for the year. So why am I picking them? Probably foolishness.

Redskins (+6.5) over Eagles
This is obvious, but I really did not like what I saw from the Eagles last week. No commitment to the run game, and McNabb did not play well. On the bright side, their special teams almost literally cannot get any worse. I expect them to beat Washington, but I think it'll be a tight contest.

Last Week: 8-6-2

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

College Football Power Rankings and Picks

I'm just going to combine these into 1 this week... hope you don't mind!

First, my top 10:

1. USC - Still my #1... but if they have another mediocre performance (which they'll lose if that happens), LSU has looked mighty impressive so far. Insomniac's Lounge has LSU at #1.

2. LSU - As mentioned above, LSU has been pretty darn impressive. I didn't think Va. Tech would be able to stay too close to them, but I didn't think LSU would be able to dominate that much. This doesn't even really need to be said but their defense is awesome.

3. West Virginia - One bad half isn't going to make me drop them that much... they might have the most explosive offense in the country. Freshman Noel Devine through 2 games: 12 carries, 120 yards, 3 TD. Get him the ball!

4. Florida - I still love their offense. They've got the players for the system, and Urban Meyer is OK as a coach! Thought it will be interesting this week as they finally play a decent team, taking on the Tennessee Volunteers.

5. Oklahoma - They have been mighty impressive so far, but jumping to #3 in some polls is a little much for me. Great win, but Miami isn't that good. They should be able to coast fairly unscathed into the Texas game in early October.

6. Texas - Nice win for the Longhorns last week against a solid TCU team. Colt McCoy continued to struggle, but with some of the talent around him (Limas Sweed, Jamaal Charles, etc) I'm guessing he will snap out of it soon. Like Oklahoma, Texas should go into their game undefeated barring something very unexpected.

7. California - Struggled a bit last week, but I saw too much that I liked against Tennessee to knock them down any.

8. Wisconsin - Another team that wasn't overly impressive last week, as this game was very much in doubt all the way through. Although PJ Hill got on track with over 140 yards, so that is nice.

9. Rutgers - Maybe the best all-around team in the Big East, as their defense is better than West Virginia or Louisville's.

10. UCLA - Beat a solid BYU team... still a bit skeptical because of the coaching, but if things go well they could have an outside shot at competing for the Pac-10 Title.


Louisville - 42 points to Middle Tennessee St? Are you kidding me?

Ohio St. - Give me one more week to be convinced. If they play well against Washington, they can probably enter my top 10.

Penn St. - A very solid team that will be a top contender for the Big 10 title... just don't like them quite enough yet to put them in the top 10.

Nebraska - Nice win over Wake, but I didn't think they played all the well. They were lucky to face an inexperienced QB. Now, if things go well against USC, then we'll talk.


(10) Ohio St. @ Washington
Washington should be flying high after a solid win over Boise St. last week. The schedule gets very tough, but they will be in a close one here. I'm not sold on the Buckeye offense yet, but I like that defense at home. I'll take OHIO ST. in a pretty close one.

(9) Louisville @ Kentucky
2 of the top 5 QBs in the nation square in what should be an offensive battle. Andre Woodson could really become a household name (if he isn't already) if he leads Kentucky to an upset win, but I don't quite see it. I like LOUISVILLE in a shootout.

(21) Boston College @ (15) Georgia Tech
Life after Calvin Johnson hasn't been so bad after all. With a balanced offense and solid defensive effort, GT has pummeled Notre Dame (still impressive) and Samford (OK, not that impressive). BC is coming off a struggle against NC State, though they did pull it out. I really like the senior QB Matt Ryan for Boston College, but I like the GEORGIA TECH running game a little more.

(22) Tennessee @ (5) Florida
Should be a great matchup between two solid SEC teams. Tennessee almost pulled off the upset this year, but I don't see it this year. Not in the Swamp. This will be their first real test of the year, but I like FLORIDA to prevail.

(1) USC @ (14) Nebraska
The game of the week. This is a chance for Nebraska to show they have finally taken things to the next level, and to get the signature win that's been missing under Bill Callahan. They have a great chance, playing at home, with Sam Keller getting more and more used to the offense, facing a USC team that looked rusty in its only game 2 weeks ago. Still, even with all of those advantages, I like USC. Just too much talent on the offensive side of the ball.

I wasn't able to get my picks up last week, but I did go 5-0 in week 1. What do you think of the rankings and do you disagree with any of my picks?

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Milt Palacio Mixtape

Much thanks to Petey for sending this link my way. I guffawed throughout.

The Youtube description: "Fear His Miltness aka Captain Crunch aka The Best Player to EVER LIVE!"

As a sidenote, this is my 600th post. Yay me!

NFL Power Rankings

My hope is to do this every week, but we'll see. Anyway, here are my top 10 in the NFL after week 1.

1. New England Patriots - The Patriots are obviously in some hot water right now, but they're still #1 on my list after a thoroughly dominating performance in week 1. We saw the aerial display (helped by a great effort by the O-Line), but the defense was also solid, even without Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison.

2. Indianapolis Colts - There will be no letdown in Indy after winning the Super Bowl last year. If the defense can play like it did against New Orleans, they might be pretty close to unbeatable.

3. San Diego Chargers - They get #3, but they were clearly a step behind on Sunday even accounted for the difference in competition level. Rivers looked average, and their WRs did not look good. The defense is excellent, but they are going to need more than LDT and Gates to compete with the top 2.

4. Denver Broncos - OK, they weren't that impressive on Sunday. But I do think the Bills are the 2nd best team in the division, and Buffalo isn't an easy place to play. I'll give Denver the benefit of the doubt this week. If they have another performance like that, they're dropping.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers were one of the teams I was really high on, and they didn't disappoint (granted it was against the Browns). But the offense looked explosive with Ben Roethlisberger becoming a larger part of it. I am even more convinced that they are the best team in the AFC North.

6. Chicago Bears - Finally, an NFC team! The defense was great (though loses 2 guys to season-ending innjuries in Mike Brown and Dustin Dvorachek), and the offense sucked. We've seen that before. Rex Grossman was his same old self... bad mistakes, inconsistent throws, etc. Though it speaks to how bad that the NFC is that even with Rex, they're the best team in the NFC right now.

7. Seattle Seahawks - The Seahawks weren't all that convincing in their victory against the Bucs, but it works. At the very least, it's a good sign that Alexander was able to get the ball so much and be so effective. The passing game will come, so as long as Alexander is healthy the Seahawks will be tough.

8. Cincinnati Bengals - A nice win. I still have some questions about this team in the long-run, but they've got to be up here after a nice win against the Ravens (even with a little help from the refs). Putting up 27 against Baltimore is no small feat.

9. Baltimore Ravens - If Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis are out for the year as has been speculated, well, the Ravens will have lots of problems. They may have lots of problems anyway with a tough schedule, but they're the 3rd best team in the division without those 2 guys. Would the Ravens be better with Kyle Boller at QB instead of Steve McNair (even when healthy)? I kind of think so.

10. Dallas Cowboys - I wasn't that impressed with the Cowboys. Well, the offense was fantastic (the Giants defense sucks, but still), but not such an inspiring effort by the defense. The secondary looked atrocious. But this is a positive site... they've got an extremely balanced offense. After 1 week they certainly look like the best team in the NFC East (I'm not even going to talk about the Iggles).

Your thoughts? What would you change?

Monday, 10 September 2007

How was the new MNF Booth?

I was pretty busy tonight, so no time for a post.

Also, I unfortunately was taking a test on various parts of Business Law, meaning I didn't get to watch very much of the first MNF game... so I ask, how was the new booth with Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser, and Ron Jaworskui? Were they solid? At least better than the atrocity of last year. I'm interested in hearing how they did.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

NFL Week 1 Thoughts

Time to give my thoughts on what was a very, very solid mostly opening day action in the NFL.

Vikings 24, Falcons 3
You already know how I feel about this... this is how the Vikings are going to have to win football games this year. They played great defense (with a very good pass rush - 6 sacks - which was the achillies heel of the defense last year), and were able to run the football with success. Obviously I hope Chester Taylor isn't hurt, because the Vikings are going to need him, but Adrian Peterson made my Rookie of the Year pick look good, at least for one day.

Broncos 15, Bills 14
Obviously this isn't quite what I expected from Denver, given that I picked them to win the AFC West, but they did just barely get the job done. Statistically, Denver dominated the game. Cutler had over 3 times as many passing yards as Losman, and Denver had more than 50 yards rushing edge on Buffalo. However, Buffalo had the Special Teams edge... with a Roscoe Parrish TD, which kept the game in their favor until time expired. Which is all that matters.

Steelers 34, Browns 7
I expected the Steelers to dominate this game, though maybe not quite this much. Also as expected, the Browns QB woes will keep them from doing anything this year. Charlie Frye was abysmal (and replaced early in the game), and Derek Anderson wasn't much better, completing less than 50% of his passes. Brady Quinn, hope you're ready.

Packers 16, Eagles 13
Philly special teams, you have got to be kidding me. Two muffed punts... one that led directly to a Packer TD and the other that led to the game-winning FG (Mason Crosby is pretty good, by the way). Everyone knew the Packers defense was good, but they shut McNabb down, as he completed just 15 of 33 passes... whether that was because of the Packer defense or because McNabb just struggled, I didn't really see enough of the game to comment... anyone that watched a lot of it want to help me out here?

Panthers 27, Rams 13
This is definitely not what I expected. Marc Bulger had troubles, barely completing 50% of his passes, and Steven Jackson could not get it going either, fumbling twice. Meanwhile, after so many years of the Panthers being picked to have a chance to go to the Super Bowl, could they be flying under the radar? If they play defense and run the ball like they did today, then they are a very real threat to New Orleans in the South.

Patriots 38, Jets 14
It's always tough for me to watch Randy Moss play in another uniform, especially today, when it was just about vintage Randy Moss. Brady had lots of time in the pocket, and he made the most of it, completing 79% of his passes for nearly 300 yards and 3 TDs. I already can't wait for the AFC Playoffs.

Redskins 16, Dolphins 13 OT
Remember all that preseason talk about how Ronnie Brown hadn't won the job yet, and everyone just scoffed at it as just motivational tactics by Cam Cameron? Well, Brown didn't exactly light it up, with 11 carries for 32 yards (not that Jesse Chatman was any better). A great performance by the defense at home, and Miami doesn't have enough to get the win. It could be a long season in Miami. Their 2nd and 3rd leading receivers on the day were their starting RB and backup RB.

Titans 13, Jaguars 10
So much for that vaunted Jaguars running game. Maurice Jones-Drew had 7 carries for 32 yards, and Fred Taylor had 6 carries for 16 yards. Are you kidding me? 13 carries combined for those 2 guys? Garrard was statistically solid, but the offense has to run through the 2 good RBs. Otherwise we could be seeing this result a lot for the Jags.

Texans 20, Chiefs 3
It's really going to be a long season in Kansas City. The offense is just simply atrocious. A bad QB (whoever they throw out there), bad WRs, a slowing down Tony Gonzalez, and a mediocre O-Line. Larry Johnson isn't going to get much help. On the other side, I'm really excited to see what Andre Johnson will do this year now that there are other talented guys around him. 142 yards and TD for him in the opener.

Lions 36, Raiders 21
I thought the Raiders defense was good? Kitna had 2 INTs, but he also completed 75% of his passes for 289 yards and 3 TDs. And yeah, Calvin Johnson is pretty good. For the Raiders, they at least have to be encouraged by the resurgent LaMont Jordan. 159 total yards and a score for him.

Chargers 14, Bears 3
New year, same Rex Grossman. He was inconsistent, threw 1 INT (not entirely his fault) and had one play where the ball just slipped out of his hands. Vintage Rex Grossman right there. Also, I know the Chargers eventually wound up with 14 points, but that Bears defense is really, really good. No one holds LDT to 25 yards on 17 carries. That's ridiculous.

Seahawks 20, Bucs 6
Nothing real surprising here, as the Seahawks are just clearly the better team. The Bucs took a 6-0 lead after the 1st, but it was Seattle after that. Now a whole lot to say about it.

Cowboys 45, Giants 35
More than anything, the one thing that I took away from this game was... that both secondaries suck. Eli Manning and Tony Romo are good, but they shouldn't be throwing for a combined nearly 660 yards and 8 TDs. On a positive note, we did get a "Hefty Lefty" sighting, and that's always exciting. For my fantasy team's sake, I hope Brandon Jacobs' injury isn't serious.

So far in my picks against the spread this week I am 8-5-1... a nice start in my quest to finish above .500.

What stuck out most to you?


I'll have more complete NFL thoughts later, but for now, let me bask in the 24-3 defensive domination of Atlanta.

19 carries, 103 yards
1 reception, 60 yards, 1 TD


Thursday, 6 September 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 1

I finished under .500 last season, so this year is already off to a better start, since I went with the Colts.

Speaking of the Colts/Saints, what a disappointing start to the NFL season. That was a massacre. The Saints didn't even try throwing the ball downfield, and they couldn't run the ball either. I really thought that was going to be a great game, and it wound up being rather dull. I already feel stupid about picking the Colts to lose 4 times this year... if they play like that, who's going to beat them? Wow. Anyway, on to my week 1 picks:

Redskins (-3) over Dolphins
Sorry, not a big believer in the Dolphins this year. Old QB, mediocre running game, the receivers aren't that good, etc. I think that at home, Washington will be able to easily take care of the Dolphins.

Rams (-1) over Panthers
As I said in my NFC predictions, I really like the Rams this year. Bulger and Co. are tough offensively, especially at home on the turf. The Panthers will have a shot if they control things with their running game, but I think the difference between Bulger and Delhomme will make the difference in this game.

Seahawks (-6) over Bucs
Again, I'll take the home team that's favored. Let's see how Jeff Garcia does here now that he doesn't have Brian Westbrook for defenses to focus on. I have a feeling the results won't be as good as they were last year.

Bears (+5.5) over Chargers
I think this will be a real tight ballgame, which is why I'm taking the Bears to cover. I still think the Bolts will win it, but as long as Grossman keeps the mistakes down a little bit, the Bears defense is good enough to keep things close.

Steelers (-4.5) over Browns
In all of my "Survivor Football" things this week, the Steelers were my pick to win. I like them this year (as I have mentioned), and I'm not such a big fan of the Browns with Charlie Frye at QB, who is basically a lame duck (meaning he's on a very short leash). I don't see that ending well for Cleveland, unless Jamal Lewis is somehow very rejuvenated.

Eagles (-3) over Packers
The Packers are not so invincible as they once were, and I think the Eagles are just clearly the better team here. The Packers will struggle with the running game (especially early in the season), and I don't think Favre will be able to beat a good Eagles defense by himself, especially with Donald Driver a little banged up. I like the Eagles to win by about 2 touchdowns.

Lions (+2.5) over Raiders
This is a tough one to call. I think both teams will be improved from last year. I'll take Detroit, just because I think they have a very good chance to win this one outright.

Jets (+6.5) over Patriots
Richard Seymour is out. Rodney Harrison is out. Who knows about Randy Moss... I think the Patriots are really good, but I think the Jets will hang with them in this game. I still like the Patriots to win, but I think it'll be a fairly close ballgame.

Vikings (-3) over Falcons
Of course I'm taking the Vikings here... this will be a low scoring affair, but I like the Vikings to win by a score of 20-16, or 24-20, or something along those lines. The Vikings can slow down the Falcons rushing game, and I don't think Joey Harrington is good enough to beat teams by himself at this point.

Titans (+6.5) over Jaguars
I'm just not that sold on the Jags at this point. I could definitely see Tennessee winning this game, which makes it hard for me to pick the Jaguars with the spread this large.

Texans (+3) over Chiefs
This win the "Game I really hope isn't being shown on my local TV station" award this week. I just really, really don't like the Chiefs offense this year.

Broncos (-3) over Bills
I know this game is in Buffalo, but I was a little surprised to see the line this low. Denver is a really good, complete team. I've said most of what I've needed to say, but if Cutler progresses like how I think he will, the Broncos are going to be a very tough football team.

Cowboys (-5.5) over Giants
Not big fans of the Giants this year either... in Dallas, I like Romo to have a solid night against the Giants D. I'm not really confident about this one, but I see Dallas winning by about 7.

Ravens (+2.5) over Bengals
I kind of see this one as like a Pick'Em... and in that case, I go with the underdog. But really, I'm just not as high on Cincy as others are. They still have lots of personnel (ie character and chemistry) problems, and the defense isn't exactly rock solid.

49ers (-3) over Cardinals
I do think a lot of people are overrating the Niners a little bit, but I like them to win this game at home. I mean, it's the Cardinals!

What picks of yours are different from mine?

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

NFL Week: Playoff and Season Predictions

After giving my complete NFC Predictions and AFC Predictions, it's time for my playoff and awards predictions. Because such is the natural order of things.

(3) Denver over (6) Baltimore
(5) San Diego over (4) Pittsburgh

(1) New England over (5) San Diego
(3) Denver over (2) Indianapolis

(1) New England over (3) Denver

(3) Philadelphia over (6) Minnesota
(4) St. Louis over (5) Seattle

(1) New Orleans over (4) St. Louis
(3) Philadelphia over (2) Chicago

(1) New Orleans over (3) Philadelphia

New England over New Orleans

Looking things over, I think that, like last year, there are probably at least 3-4 teams in the AFC better (or at least on par) with the best team in the NFC. I think New Orleans is probably the best team in the NFC right now, but I think New England, Indianapolis, Denver, and San Diego are probably more complete teams than them.

MVP: Tom Brady - Finally has some offensive weapons which will help with his numbers. The fact that he'll be playing on the preseason Super Bowl favorite helps too.

Rookie of the Year: Adrian Peterson - Already been over this!

Coach of the Year: Mike Tomlin - I think he'll do very well as a head coach, making Pittsburgh a surprise team in the AFC.

One final note of housecleaning... I am bringing back my picks against the spread this year (those will all come tomorrow), but since I want to make a pick on the Thursday game, I'll do it here. I am taking Indianapolis -6 in this ballgame. It should be extremely entertaining, but I see the Colts winning by about 10 on their home turf.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

NFL Week: NFC Predictions

Yesterday I gave my AFC Predictions, so today it is time to move onto the NFC.

1. Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6
I like the Eagles a lot this year. Everyone forgets this, but Donovan McNabb was having a great year last year before he got hurt. With Brian Westbrook more developed as a runner, and Kevin Curtis added to an improving Reggie Brown in the WR spots, the offense should be solid. I like the Eagles to return to the top of the East.
2. Dallas Cowboys: 9-7
After Bill Parcells could never quite lead Dallas to take the next step, it's Wade Phillips' turn. Romo being under center all year will help, and the offense should be very solid with multiple options at RB and WR. But there is still some concerns defensively, especially in the secondary.
3. Washington Redskins: 7-9
I'm not sure what it is, but I'm just not that high on the Redskins. I like Jason Campbell and think he will eventually be a solid QB, but I don't know if he is quite ready to it. The WR corps is mediocre, and I'm just not that big on Joe Gibbs the 2nd time around. I don't know.
4. New York Giants: 5-11
I think it might be a long year in New York. They were 8-8 last year, and are now without Tiki Barber, who has been the key cog in their offense for years. I like Brandon Jacobs, but he cannot do all of the things that Tiki did. This places added pressure on Eli, and I'm not sure how that will work out. Plus, I think pretty soon the whole team is going to hate Tom Coughlin.

1. Chicago Bears: 11-5
I have some questions about (namely Rex Grossman), but they are clearly the best and most talented team in the division. The defense should again be dominant, and if Cedric Benson stays healthy, the offense should be good enough to win a lot of games.
2. Minnesota Vikings: 9-7
I went over this a couple of days ago... basically, good defense, great running game... success.
3. Green Bay Packers: 7-9
The Packers will be a solid defensive team, but I have some concerns. Brett Favre has been regressing, making worse and worse decisions as his arm gets a little worse, and that doesn't bold well. The running game will be inconsistent, meaning Favre will be throwing the ball a ton. He's liable to make a lot of mistakes.
4. Detroit Lions: 6-10
The offense should be very explosive, but the defense will struggle. I think they'll be putting a ton of points on the board (which Mike Martz offenses tend to do), but they won't be able to stop anyone. That's a problem.

1. New Orleans Saints: 11-5
I'm not huge on the Saints this year, I just don't see another team in this division that will challenge them. The offense will again be very explosive, but can the defense hold up again?
2. Carolina Panthers: 7-9
If everything goes right, the Panthers could be very dangerous. Just like last year. They have some talent on both sides of the ball, but I don't see Delhomme being able to lead them back to the playoffs.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-11
Just not big on them this year. Yes, they picked up Jeff Garcia, but how much is he really going to help? I know the Eagles did well last year, but that was like a perfect situation for him. I'm not sure how well he will do when asked to do more. I'm just not a big fan of their offensive talent, and the defense is getting older.
4. Atlanta Falcons: 5-11
Bobby Petrino will be good in the long haul, but he's in a tough spot here. New QB, new system, lots of distractions... it could be a tough first year for him.

1. St. Louis Rams: 10-6
I really like the Rams this year... I just think their offense will be so versatile. They have a great QB, lots of receiving options (Holt, Bruce, Bennett, McMichael), one of the best RBs in the game, and a very good backup RB/FB (Brian Leonard). They'll put a ton of points on the board, and their defense should be helped by the drafting of Adam Carriker, who has looked really good this preseason.
2. Seattle Seahawks: 9-7
The Seahawks are sort of like the constant in the NFC... every year they're basically the same, and every year they're contending for the division title. At least that's how it seems to me. I don't see a reason why things will be different this year.
3. San Francisco 49ers: 9-7
Like everyone else, I like the Niners this year. I love what Mike Nolan is doing, building an excellent young core for this team. A lot of this season depends on the continued development of Alex Smith... if he can become a consistently above average QB, the Niners will have a great chance at winning the division. I suspect they're still one more year away.
4. Arizona Cardinals: 6-10
New coach, good skill players, bad O-Line, bad defense... still the same old Cardinals.

Your thoughts? What would you change?

Monday, 3 September 2007

NFL Week: AFC Predictions

As we continue with NFL Week here on Complete Sports, it's time to give my predictions for the AFC Standings.

1. New England Patriots: 12-4
The Patriots went 12-4 last year, and I see a similar result this year. They upgraded some key positions, but with Richard Seymour starting the year on the PUP list, and some health concerns from Maroney, I think they will repeat last year's record. But they'll also be a lot more dangerous in the playoffs.
2. Buffalo Bills: 8-8
I really like what the Bills are doing. They upgraded their offensive line, which should help a rapidly improving JP Losman. It will also help rookie RB Marshawn Lynch, who will contribute right away. I don't think they're a playoff team yet in the very strong AFC, but if they get a couple of breaks they will be right in the middle of things.
3. New York Jets: 7-9
They had a great start to the reign of Mangini, but I see a little step back this year. Pennington has struggled a bit this preseason (for what it's worth), and there are some holes in the defense. I think they were a little over their heads last year at 10-6, and I see a little step back here.
4. Miami Dolphins: 6-10
I liked the hiring of Cam Cameron, but they're not ready to compete. Trent Green is old, the O-Line isn't that good, and Ronnie Brown has looked decidedly mediocre. I think it will be a long season in Miami.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-6
I like the Steelers a little bit more than most people this year. For one, I love Mike Tomlin and think he will be a great head coach. Two, I like their talent offensively. They will open things up a little more offensively, and Roethlisberger has some nice weapons in Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes (a fantasy sleeper). Plus, there's always Willie Parker. With Tomlin taking care of the defense and a more explosive offense, I like the Steelers.
2. Baltimore Ravens: 10-6*
The Ravens will again be contenders, but they do have a tough schedule. They play San Diego, New England, and Indianapolis back to back to back in one stretch, as well as tough division foes in Pittsburgh and Cincy. As McNair slowly starts to decline a little more, I think the Ravens will not be as good as last year, but still a solid playoff team.
3. Cincinnati Bengals: 8-8
The Bengals will again be talented offensively, but there are question marks. They'll be feeling the after effects of all of the arrests, etc. which will deplete the talent somewhat. Still, they'll have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, which gives them a chance every week. But I think they'll be right back where they were last year.
4. Cleveland Browns: 4-12
The QB situation is a mess, the coach is looking like a lame duck, and it could be another long season in Cleveland.

1. Indianapolis Colts: 12-4
The Colts still might be the best offensive team in football, but the defense has some problems. Last year, if you'll remember, they could not stop the run during the regular season. Then, for some reason, they were solid in the playoffs. I'll take the larger sample size. Still, they'll be one of the top contenders as usual.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: 9-7
They have one of the best and most physical defenses in the NFL, but there again could be ups and downs because of the QB situation. Then again, with Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor, they might not need to throw the ball. I expect them to be right in the middle of the playoff discussion, but ultimately fall a little short. Once again.
3. Tennessee Titans: 6-10
The Titans were a great story at 8-8 last year, but they were playing way over their heads. They got outscored by 76 points last year, which is a bit astounding since they managed to have a .500 record. They didn't really do much to improve, which leaves me to think they'll regress a bit to what they probably should have been last year.
4. Houston Texans: 5-11
I'm really not sure what to expect from the Texans this year. They've toiled in obscurity for so long... they finally have a new QB, but I'm not sure how big of a difference that will make this year.

1. Denver Broncos: 12-4
I really like the Broncos this year. I'm a huge Jay Cutler guy, so I think the offense will be a lot better with him at the helm. He'll be able to get the ball downfield to Javon Walker, who I think will have a really good year. They've also got a decent RB this year in Travis Henry, which should make the offense very good. Defensively, they add Dre' Bly and Simeon Rice to an already solid unit.
2. San Diego Chargers: 12-4*
I think the Chargers take a slight step back from 14-2, but they're still extremely talented. I'm not huge on Norv Turner as a head coach, but the offense shouldn't miss a beat with him in charge. If Phillip Rivers takes the next step, the offense could become unstoppable. Look for Vincent Jackson to add another threat in the passing game.
3. Oakland Raiders: 5-11
They quietly had a very good defense last year, which means I think they could surprise some people with a better offense (it can't be any worse). Culpepper looks like an upgrade over what they had last year, and I think LaMont Jordan will bounce back. The Raiders aren't going to be making the playoffs, but I think they'll be a tough club to beat.
4. Kansas City Chiefs: 4-12
Not such a big fan of the Chiefs this year. Damon Huard is really old, but he has to be the guy. I have grave concerns about Brodie Croyle ever being a good QB in the NFL. The bread and butter last year was the running game, but LJ might be a little worn down, and the O-Line is not as good as was it has been the past few years. I think the Chiefs take a big step back here.

What are your thoughts? Which predictions do you disagree with?

Up tomorrow: NFC Predictions.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

NFL Week: Why the Vikings will be better than people think

All of this week I will be focusing on the NFL and giving my previews and picks, since the season starts Thursday (with what should be a fantastic game).

But first, let me talk about my favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings, and why I think they will be a lot better than anyone expects. As in, competing for a Wildcard spot good.

First, the defense. It should be really good, and that starts everything. Last year it was historically good against the run, and mediocre against the pass for a couple of reasons. One, they had no pass rush. The D-Line simply did not get pressure on the QB. This year, Ray Edwards will be starting right away, and he has the potential for double-digit sacks. He's explosive, fast, and quick off the edge. Also contributing on the Line is Brian Robison and Erasmus James, both of which were not here last year (Robison is a rookie, James was hurt). Leslie Frazier also really likes to blitz, which will add pressure because the LBs are pretty quick.

Another problem was Fred Smoot, who is now departed. He was really bad last year. Cedric Griffin will be starting, and rookie Marcus McCauley is looking really good as a nickelback. I think they will be better at getting to the passer, which could turn this in a top 5-10 defense in the NFL.

Offensively, there are concerns, but there is talent.

Things all start with the running game, which is good. The O-Line should be improved with a year to gel... the McKinnie-Hutchinson-Birk part of the Line could be the best LT-LG-C combo in the League, at least on paper. From the RB standpoint, there is a lot of talent. Chester Taylor had over 1200 yards last year (as well as being dependable receiver), and he won't even be the most talented RB in Minnesota. That would be Adrian Peterson, my pick for the Rookie of the Year.

That just means that QB Tarvaris Jackson needs to keep defenses honest, and I really think he can do that. He's very unproven, which is why the Vikings are being rated so low (and it's hard to argue with people who say he is raw), but he has improved immensely. It was only preseason, but he was making good, quick reads. He has a strong arm, and has the mobility to make plays with his feet. There will definitely be ups-and-downs (in no small part because the WR corps is inexperienced and unproven), but I love his talent.

With the defense and running game, Tarvaris Jackson needs only to be average to make this a competitive football team. I really think he can do that. I think the Vikings will be a very tough team to play, and will be in the hunt for the Wilcard.

Am I delusional? Do I have a reason to be so optimistic? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Vikings' chances this season.

College Football Power Rankings, Week 1

I'm going to try to come up with my power rankings every week... no promises though. But anyway, here is my top 10 after the first week of action.

1. USC - Everyone thinks they're the most talented team, and there's no reason to change that after one week. A little sluggish, but a solid performance.

2. West Virginia - I liked them a lot before the season, and they didn't disappoint, scoring 62 points in a rout of Western Michigan. Slaton had 109 yards and 3 scores, Pat White had a total of 4 TDs, and freshman Noel Devine had a nice debut, with 7 carries, 44 yards, and a TD. Not bad.

3. LSU - The offense didn't look too sharp, but the defense sure did. The offense better be more polished this weekend, because they face another great defense in Virginia Tech.

4. Florida - This might be a little high because of everyone that they lost on defense, but I just think the offense will be really explosive. Urban Meyer finally has guys that really fit his system, and it showed against Western Kentucky. Tebow was nearly perfect, and the running game was effective. They'll be competing for the SEC title again.

5. Texas - 21-13 win over Arkansas St? Yikes. A lot has been said about Michigan losing to Appalacian St. (and deservedly so), but this would have been just as bad of a loss. At the very least, have to be a little concerned about the offense. 21 points? A mediocre performance by Colt McCoy? I know it was the first game and probably won't mean much in the long run, but that's ugly.

6. Wisconsin - The Badgers just went and took care of business against WaSt. In a rare occurrence for the Badgers, the passing game was ahead of the running game, as Tyler Donovan performed very well. PJ Hill only got 4 YPC, but he'll be OK.

7. Louisville - Yeah, the Louisville offense might be a bit explosive. Brohm might be the best QB in the country, they have a nice stable of RBs, and Harry Douglas and Mario Urrutia is about as good of a 1-2 combo as it gets.

8. Oklahoma - DeMarco Murray is a name you probably should know... the redshirt freshman ran for 87 yards and scored 5 TDs. Adrian Peterson who?

9. Virginia Tech - Well, they won. But not an awe-inspiring performance, but I guess that was to be expected given the emotions surrounding the game. Still, if the offense performs that poorly against LSU, they could get shut out.

10. California - Cal looked like the most explosive offense in the country on Saturday night. Longshore was very good, Forsett was great (Marshawn Lynch who?), and the WR looked really good, especially after the catch. Should be a good race in the Pac-10 this year.


UCLA - Excellent defense, and if Ben Olson can play up to his talent, the offense might be pretty solid as well.

Rutgers - Ray Rice certainly showed he'll be pretty good even with Brian Leonard gone.

Ohio St. - I thought Ohio St. was supposed to the Big 10 team to take a step back, not Michigan?

Georgia - Matthew Stafford, remember the name. Dude is one of the best QBs in the SEC.

Michigan - OK, it was a really bad loss. And Lloyd Carr should already have updated his resume, because I think he'll be gone provided Michigan doesn't run the table the rest of the way. But still, Appalacian St. is a pretty good team, maybe top 50 in all of college football. I still think Michigan will be pretty darn good this year by the time we're finished.

Hawaii - OK, I don't know if they deserve to be listed here, but I just need to mention Colt Brennan... I don't care who you're playing, when you go 34/40 for 416 yards and 6 TDs in the first half, you get my respect. Wow.

Your thoughts?