Tuesday, 30 October 2007

2007 Big 12 Basketball Predictions

After looking at the ACC a couple days ago, it's time to weigh in on the Big 12. This is a conference that has a couple teams that appear to be above the rest (Kansas and Texas), and a whole lot of teams that are bunched together in the 3-10 area. Going to be a very interesting season in the Big 12.

Baylor - Everything is dependent on the guard play. They're led by Curtis Jerrells and Aaron Bruce, two experienced players that will carry a big load. Also look for for freshman guard LaceDarius Dunn, a top 30 prospect. The guards are good, and they'll have to be, because Baylor is extremely thin up front.

Colorado - Leading scorer Richard Roby is back, but it could be a long year for Colorado. Certainly things are on the upswing with the excellent hiring of Jeff Bzdelik, but it will take time. They are simply not talented enough at this point to be able to realistically compete every night in the Big 12.

Iowa St. - I really like Greg McDermott as a coach, especially as he did a lot with a little last year in his first season with the Cyclones. There might not be much more progress record-wise because of an inexperienced backcourt, but there is a lot of talent in the frontcourt. They're led by talented sophomore Wesley Johnson and senior Jiri Hubalek, who were both very good last year. But things should be even better this year, with the addition of top 20 recruit Criag Backins.

Kansas - They might be the most talented team in the country, and they certainly appear to be head and shoulders above the rest of the conference. Assuming Brandon Rush comes back 100%, they're certainly one of the first names mentioned in the national title contenders discussion. The trio of Mario Chalmers/Brandon Rush/Darrell Arthur might be the best trio in the country. Also, it speaks to their depth that the guy that might be their most explosive scorer, Sherron Collins, will probably be coming off the bench once Rush is back.

Kansas St. - Bob Huggins is gone, but they still have the two things that they need most to be successful this season... Michael Beasley and Bill Walker. Beasley comes into his freshman campaign already as one of the most talented players in the country, and should be a large contributor in what will likely be his only season in Manhattan. Bill Walker actually played 6 games last year, but is still technically a freshman after receiving a medical redshirt. He's extremely athletic, and provided he is 100% after his knee injury (and reports say that he is), he should compete for All-Big 12 honors.

Missouri - Mike Anderson had an excellent first season and will look to continue on with that, and I think he will. He's got one of the toughest styles in the NCAA to play against with his "40 Minutes of Hell," and it should be even tougher with a full year to put it in and have the players learn it. One player to watch is Keon Lawrence, who might lead Mizzou in scoring and could be one of the most improved players in the conference.

Nebraska - Doc Sadler is doing a solid job, but it's going to take time as this looks to be another tough year for the Cornhuskers. However, not all is bad, as star C Aleks Maric should have a little more help. Maric quietly averaged 18.5 PPG and 8.7 RPG last year. But Nebraska will go as far as their freshmen PGs will take them... and that's usually not really a great thing.

Oklahoma - Jeff Capel is going to build something solid here, but it will take time. They struggled to find offense last year, and they still might be a year away. But things are looking up, especially with the addition of freshman Blake Griffin. He joins Longar Longar in the post in what should be a formidable duo. If the backcourt is better and Griffin is as good as advertised, it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that the Sooners could challenge for an NCAA berth. However, an NIT trip appears more likely.

Oklahoma St. - They'll be a pretty inexperienced bunch, especially after losing Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry. The centerpiece is Obi Manuelo, who was having an excellent freshman campaign befor breaking his leg. Another key returner is wing man Marcus Dove, who is one of the best defensive players in the country. Other than that, a lot of it will depend on how quickly the other guys develop... I think they could be a year away.

Texas - Kevin Durant is gone, but basically everyone else returns to what should be a talented Longhorns team. The first guys everyone thinks about are DJ Augustin and AJ Abrams, two talented guards that can put up a lot of points in a hurry. But the guy I really like is Damion James... he was excellent last year playing out of position in the post, and he should have a little more time this year playing the wing, which is more natural for him. Either way, the Longhorns will again challenge for 2nd in the Big 12.

Texas A&M - They lost Acie Law and Billy Gillespie, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to take a step back. The frontcourt looks very good, with Big 12 POY candidate Joseph Jones joined by top 10 recruit DeAndre Jordan. That will be an extremely formidable frontline, maybe the best in the Big 12. The backcourt is not hurting for experience either, as key contributors Donald Sloan, Dominique Kirk, and Josh Carter all return. They really shouldn't have too much trouble adjusting for new coach Mark Turgeon, and they'll be right back in the Big Dance for the 3rd straight year.

Texas Tech - Tech is an interesting team that their might be some mixed opinions about. On the one hand, start guard Jarrius Jackson and his 20 PPG are gone. But they should have a lot more depth this year, and they'll be led by do-it-all Martin Zeno. Plus, they still have Bobby Knight, and he's pretty good. The key could be freshman PG John Roberson, who looks like he might get a chance to start. If he can perform well, Tech will be right on the Tourney bubble.

All-Conference Team
Michael Beasley, Kansas St.
Darrell Arthur, Kansas
Martin Zeno, Texas Tech
Mario Chalmers, Kansas
DJ Augustin, Texas

Player of the Year: Mario Chalmers, Kansas

Freshman of the Year: Michael Beasley, Kansas St.

Predicted Order of Finish:
1. Kansas
2. Texas
3. Texas A&M
4. Kansas St.
5. Texas Tech
6. Missouri
7. Baylor
8. Oklahoma
9. Oklahoma St.
10. Iowa St.
11. Nebraska
12. Colorado

Monday, 29 October 2007

NBA Predictions

Since the season officially starts here on Tuesday, I suppose I should give my predictions.
* will denote playoff teams other than division winners.


1. Boston Celtics
2. Toronto Raptors*
3. New Jersey Nets*
4. New York Knicks
5. Philadelphia 76ers

1. Chicago Bulls
2. Cleveland Cavaliers*
3. Detroit Pistons*
4. Milwaukee Bucks
5. Indiana Pacers

1. Washington Wizards
2. Miami Heat*
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Orlando Magic
5. Charlotte Bobcats


1. Denver Nuggets
2. Utah Jazz*
3. Seattle Supersonics
4. Portland Trailblazers
5. Minnesota Timberwolves

1. Phoenix Suns
2. Los Angeles Lakers*
3. Golden State Warriors
4. Sacramento Kings
5. Los Angeles Clippers

1. San Antonio Spurs
2. Dallas Mavericks*
3. Houston Rockets*
4. Memphis Grizzlies*
5. New Orleans Hornets

(1) Bulls over (8) Nets
(2) Celtics over (7) Heat
(6) Raptors over (3) Cavs
(4) Wizards over (5) Cavs

(1) Spurs over (8) Grizzlies
(2) Mavs) over (7) Lakers
(3) Suns over (6) Jazz
(5) Rockets over (4) Nuggets

(4) Wizards over (1) Cavs
(2) Celtics over (6) Raptors

(1) Spurs over (5) Rockets
(2) Mavs over (3) Suns

(2) Celtics over (4) Wizards
(1) Spurs over (2) Mavs

Spurs over Celtics

NBA MVP: Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
Rookie of the Year: Kevin Durant, Seattle Supersonics


Sunday, 28 October 2007

2007 ACC Basketball Preview

Thankfully, it is that time of year again... just about time for the college basketball season. I'll try to preview each of the major conferences in the next couple weeks, starting with the ACC.

First, what to watch for with each team:

Boston College - For the first time in a while, they won't be the experienced, fundamental team. After losing Jared Dudley and Sean Marshall BC will be very young. They're led by Tyrese Rice, a great distributor who also has tons of range.

Clemson - The last 2 years they have gotten off to fast starts before fizzling. Things should be better this year, as they return 4 starters and a lot of experience. Two keys are KC Rivers, who's an explosive scorer for them, and James Mays, a great post defender. Mays deciding not to go to the Draft was huge.

Duke - Last year wasn't quite the year we've come to expect from Duke, but they should be very good this year. They lose Josh McRoberts, but they return everyone else while adding some solid freshmen, most notably Kyle Singler. They'll be more experienced, a little quicker, and should be better offensively. They could compete in the ACC if things go right.

Florida St. - They could have a tough go of it after the loss of Al Thornton. Still, the solid perimeter trio of Toney Douglas, Jason Rich, and Isaiah Swann will keep them in games. They need freshmen big mean Solomon Adabi and Julian Vaughn to provide some production inside.

Georgia Tech - They lose the immensely talented guys Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young, but they won't be pushovers in the ACC. They don't have any stars, but they just have a solid of solid players. Wings Lewis Clinch and Anthony Morrow should contribute well in the scoring column to help complement their solid frontcourt play.

Maryland - They lost some key cogs from last year, but they should be able to make up for a lot of that with their returnees. Most notable among them is PG Greveis Vasquez, who impressed as a true freshman last year. He'll be joined in the backcourt by Eric Hayes, another guy who is very adept at handling the basketball. Up front, explosive senior James Gist will have to be big. Other than these guys, Maryland could be relying on a lot of inexperience.

Miami - They had some injuries last year, which gave a lot of different guys experience, which should pay dividends this year. Most notably returning is Jack McClinton, who averaged 16.7 PPG for the Hurricanes last year. Miami definitely has the talent and experience to compete for an NCAA Tournament berth.

North Carolina - The Heels will again be loaded. They're obviously led by Tyler Hansbrough, one of the best players in the country. But the real key here is the backcourt of Tywon Lawson and Wayne Ellington, who will be counted on heavily on both ends of the floor. If the Tar Heels can become more consistent defensively, they will compete for the national title, as shown by their #1 preseason ranking.

North Carolina State - After finishing strong last year, things appear to be bright in Sidney Lowe's second year. They lose Elgin Atsur, which leaves a hole at PG, but they return a lot of experienced talent. PF Brandon Costner is one of the best players in the ACC. Gavin Grant had to play out of position often last year, but he'll be back at SF. If they can get consistent PG play they might be able to challenge for the ACC Title.

Virginia - The loss of JR Reynolds will be tough to overcome, but they still have Sean Singletary, an explosive offensive guard. But the keys to this team are the production from Mamadi Diane, and the overall emphasis on defense. They'll have to replace Reynolds' and Jason Cain's prodction on both ends of the court, which won't be easy. They might not have as much success as they did last year, but they should be right in the middle of things for a Tournament berth.

Virginia Tech - After losing their 2 excellent guards, it could be a long year for the Hokies. They have some talent, but unfortunately most of it is really young. Their best player in wing man Deron Washington, who is one of the most athletic guys in the country. If he can provide consistent offensive production, the Hokies can be a middle-of-the-pack team in the ACC.

Wake Forest - It's going to be a very tough year for the Demon Deacons. Not only did they lose a lot of players, but they lost their coach Skip Prosser, who tragically died in the offseason. It might not be pretty at times. One guy to watch is freshman PG Jeff Teague, who should log a lot of minutes this year.

All-Conference Team
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
Brandon Costner, NC State
Deron Washington, Virginia Tech
Sean Singletary, Virginia
Tyrese Rice, Boston College

Player of the Year: Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina

Freshman of the Year: Kyle Singler, Duke

Predicted Order of Finish:
1. North Carolina
2. Duke
3. NC State
4. Clemson
5. Maryland
6. Virginia
7. Georgia Tech
8. Miami
9. Florida St.
10. Boston College
11. Virginia Tech
12. Wake Forest

Other Predictions:
Storming the Floor

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Boston College beats Virginia Tech

For much of the last few weeks I have not been all that high on Boston College, calling them very overrated and not having beaten anyone. For 54 minutes on Thursday I thought this seemed rather accurate.

Then they decided to be awesome for the last 6 minutes or so and come back to beat Virginia Tech 14-10.

Matt Ryan has been shooting up a lot of draft boards this year, but I wasn't convinced yet that he was in the class of Brian Brohm and Andre Woodson as far as the draft was concerned. Well, all the questions were answered on the final 2 drives.

Seriously Matt Ryan was awesome on the final 2 drives. Unbelievable touch, great arm strength, perfect accuracy, good decision making, good mobility in the pocket... it was a thing of beauty. And the 2 TD passes... my goodness. The first one was just an extraordinary pass... he threw it to a spot, and it was perfectly placed just beyond the reach of the defender's hands, just barely giving the receiver enough time to get a foot in. It was beautiful.

Then the game-winner... Matt Ryan scrambled, but he kept his head up and looking downfield. That's more rare than you might think. And then rolling to his left, throwing across the field and across his body... awesome. Really, that's the best word to describe Matt Ryan on the final 2 drives. He was awesome. And this was all against a great defense in Virginia Tech.

Do I think Boston College is one of the 2 best teams in the country? Probably not. But I'm a lot more likely to believe it now. And I am a lot more likely to believe in Matt Ryan's skills, both as a Heisman contender and at the next level.

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 8

After getting back to .500 last week, I struggled again, dropping me back under the .500. I'll just give my quick picks, because I also want to comment on the Boston College game tonight, and I don't have time for explanations!

Bears (-5) over Lions

Browns (-3) over Rams

Colts (-6.5) over Panthers

Patriots (-16.5) over Redskins

Saints (-3) over 49ers

Bills (+3) over Jets

Dolphins (+9.5) over Giants

Vikings (+1) over Eagles

Bengals (+3.5) over Steelers

Bucs (-4) over Jaguars

Raiders (+7.5) over Titans

Broncos (-3) over Packers

Last Week: 5-9
Season: 46-50-7

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

College Football Power Rankings - 10/24

Once again, time for my top 10.

1. LSU - They got quite a scare, but I'll put them at #1, just barely. Still really talented defensively, and they are loaded offensively.

2. Ohio St. - Like BC and Arizona St., they haven't really beaten anyone too much of note. Unlike those teams, they've looked more impressive while doing it. The defense is dominating, and Chris Wells is really, really good.

3. USC - They're a lot lower in the actual polls, but I'm willing to give them a break for the loss because of all the talent. Well, they'll have a chance to show it this weekend, heading to Eugene to take on...

4. Oregon - Is this the best offense in the country? I'm starting to think it might be. Only once this year have they scored under 30 points, and that was in their 31-24 loss to California. They've had 48 points or more in 5 games so far this year. If you haven't watched Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart play, you really need to.

5. Oklahoma - Yikes. Barely eeking out a victory against a very bad Iowa St. team. A tough game this week against the Aggies, but if they get past that the schedule sets up very nicely for them.

6. Florida - Still love the talent on this team. Tim Tebow is a legit Heisman candidate... what a playmaker. He leads the team in passing and rushing and has a combined 27 TD. Not too bad.

7. West Virginia - They seem to have gotten more on track offensively since the USF loss, which is good because the schedule is challenging the rest of the way.

8. Boston College - Maybe a little low, but I'm still not convinced... if they beat Virginia Tech on Thursday, then we can talk top 5.

9. South Florida - Tough loss but Rutgers is a good, well-coached team. They can't have a letdown this week against a suddenly rejuvenated Connecticut team.

10. Arizona St. - Their best win so far this year is at home against Oregon St. They're the Boston College of the West right now. Their next 2 games are against Cal and @ Oregon... if they pass those 2 tests, then we can talk top 5. Or maybe even top 3.

Your thoughts? What would you change?

Monday, 22 October 2007

Ranking the NFL Divisions

I thought it might be interesting to try and rank the divisions. So here they are, from best to worst, with a little bit of rationale after each, because that's just how I like to operate. These were ranked based on a super secret formula (just kidding)

1. AFC South
Indy established themselves as the dominant team in the division, but the rest is pretty solid. Jacksonville has shown they can basically compete with anyone with their running game and defense. Tennessee is 4-2. Even Houston is pretty potent when they are healthy, which unfortunately hasn't always been the case this year. Top to bottom I think the AFC South stands above the rest.

2. NFC East
This is the other division that really seems to have separated itself from the rest. They have the best team in the NFC up top, and then Washington and New York have both looked solid. If Philly can play like they did last year this could easily move into the top spot.

3. AFC West
The big guns are finally starting to play like we expected them too, which puts them here. But even with them struggling, KC is playing well, and even Oakland has been competitive. If San Diego and Denver can play like I expected them to before the year this once again is an excellent division.

4. NFC North
They haven't played great but this division is a lot better than the joke it has been the past few years. The Packers are 5-1, the Lions are playing well (nice win against Tampa), the Bears are the Bears, and the Vikings are really a couple plays away from being over .500. This is not a bad division.

5. AFC North
The Steelers are coming back down to earth, and that's not good because the rest of the divison is slightly mediocre. The Ravens are just not as good as they have been the past few years, Cincy and Cleveland both have a lot of problems defensively, as they have each given up over 30 PPG.

6. AFC East
It's pretty sad that they have a team that looks so far to be one of the most dominant teams that we have seen in a long time, and it's still the 6th best division. And that might even be a little generous. The other 3 teams are just absolutely wretched.

7. NFC South
Carolina and Tampa Bay are both solid teams (though I still think the Panthers might be a little overrated), but other than that New Orleans and Atlanta have not been impressive. The Saints are picking it up somewhat, but Atlanta is looking worse and worse.

8. NFC West
Seattle has been OK so far. Other than that, there is a Cardinals team that is actually better when Kurt Warner (with injured elbow ligaments) starts, a 49ers team that is simply dreadful offensively, and a Rams team that could challenge for 0-16. Yes, this division is bad.

Your thoughts? Would you change my rankings at all?

Sunday, 21 October 2007

The Patriots are ridiculous

Earlier in the week I talked about the chances that the Patriots could go undefeated, and some seemed to feel that it was too soon to be asking that question.

Well, the Patriots now lead 42-7 near the end of the first half, and Tom Brady is 16/19 for 291 yards and 5 TD.

It is not too soon to talk about this team being undefeated. Wow.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 7

The drive for .500 continues! I actually had a really solid week last week, so hopefully I can continue with that momentum.

Ravens (-3) over Bills
I'm not huge on the Ravens, but the Bills have not been all that impressive. Trent Edwards will get the start again, and rookie QBs generally don't fare too well against good defenses.

Jets (+6.5) over Bengals
The Bungles are a bit of a mess right now... with Chad Pennington playing for his job, I think they'll have enough to cover.

Vikings (+9.5) over Cowboys
Of course I'm taking the Vikings here... That Adrian Peterson guy is pretty good. The Vikings offense has started to turn a little bit, as the passing game looked solid last week (even if the numbers don't exactly bear it out).

Bucs (+2) over Lions
The last time we saw the Lions, they got absolutely walloped by the Redskins... now they're 2 point favorites against Tampa? Nah don't like that. The Bucs are solid defensively, and they take care of the ball offensively. That's half the battle.

Patriots (-16.5) over Dolphins
As I have said in previous weeks, I am going to keep taking the Patriots until they prove that I shouldn't. They have some talent.

Saints (-9) over Falcons
The Falcons suck, but the Saints had one big week and all of a sudden they're 9 point favorites? Hmmm. For that reason I tried talking myself into taking the Falcons and the points, but I just can't. Word is that Byron Leftwich will be starting this week... I'm sorry, but I just can't see that ending well.

Giants (-9) over 49ers
The Giants have looked extremely potent offensively this year, while the Niners have looked extremely terrible offensively, especially with Trent Dilfer at the helm. The Giants look like the easy choice, but we'll see.

Chiefs (+2.5) over Raiders
Still not sold on the Raiders because I'm not sure that they can actually pass the ball. They are 29th in the NFL in passing YPG. Larry Johnson appears to be getting on track more (though maybe that was just because they played the Bengals?)... I'll take the Chiefs.

Bears (+5.5) over Eagles
I'm really not sure what to think here... two teams that seem to have underachieved a bit (though the Bears have been badly hurt by some injuries defensively). I'll take the Bears here, but I'm not real confident.

Steelers (-3.5) over Broncos
The Broncos have been a bit of a trainwreck, and Javon Walker will again be out. I see them struggling to move the ball consistently against a stout Pittsburgh defense.

Rams (+8.5) over Seahawks
Bulger's back, which should help out the Rams offense some. Of course, it really can't get any worse. Plus, the Seahawks haven't looked all that impressive thus far. I'll take the Rams to cover.

Texans (+1.5) over Titans
I have some concerns about Vince Young... if he's not fully healthy and full able to use his running abilities, he is simply not that good right now as a pocket passer. The Titans will have lots of problems running the football, but I'll take them here.

Redskins (-8.5) over Cardinals
Tim Rattay is the Cardinals QB. I rest my case.

Colts (-3) over Jaguars
This is a tough one because it is in Jacksonville and because the Jags typically play the Colts better than anyone else (with the Patriots being the obvious exception)... still, I like the Colts to win, and 3 points is too little of a spread to take the Jags.

Last Week: 8-3-2
Season: 41-41-7

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

NFL Power Rankings - 10/17

OK, the power rankings are back! As always, my top 10.

1. New England Patriots - As if there was any doubt. After speculating yesterday about the possibility of them going 16-0, they have to be #1.

2. Indianapolis Colts - Again, a really easy choice. The Colts and Patriots seem to be head and shoulders above the rest of the league (though watch out for the Jaguars this weekend).

3. Pittsburgh Steelers - I went over some of this yesterday, but they have playmakers offensively and they are allowing less than 10 points per game defensively. The schedule hasn't exactly been the toughest in the NFL so far, but it's hard to argue with the numbers they've put up.

4. San Diego Chargers - It sure looks to me like they have figured a lot of their problems out, and the addition of Chris Chambers will add another solid playmaker to the offense. Plus, as long as LDT keeps running like he did on Sunday, the Chargers might not even need a passing game.

5. Dallas Cowboys - OK, so the Patriots eventually ran them off the field. Still, the Cowboys are one of the most explosive offensive teams in the NFL, and still look like the best team in the NFC.

6. Jacksonville Jaguars - That decision to go with David Garrard over Byron Leftwich seems to be working out pretty well so far. Don't look now, but Garrard has a QB rating over 100 and he has yet to throw an INT this year.

7. Green Bay Packers - Yes, they have a fantastic defense. But they still have no running game and a QB with a propensity to turn the ball over. I still have a really hard time seeing these guys as a top 5 team, which is where they are ranked in most other polls.

8. Baltimore Ravens - Meh. 4-2, but I find it hard to get excited about this team because of the offense. 5 FG against the 49ers? Have to be able to get it into the endzone more.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Sort of like the Ravens Lite. Very good defense, but the offense has struggled at time. Still, as long as Garcia continues to take care of the ball and make one or two big plays a game, the Bucs will be contenders in the NFC.

10. New York Giants - The offense has looked real impressive lately. Eli Manning is getting better all the time, the receivers are legitimate threats, and the multiple threats at RB are getting the job done. They should be 6-2 heading into their bye week.

What changes would you make?

Monday, 15 October 2007

Can the Patriots be beat?

With a great QB, an abundance of offensive and defensive talent, the worst division in football, and great coaching, the Patriots have looked unbeatable thus far. Through 6 games, their closest one was a 34-17 beating of the Cleveland Browns.

All of which begs the question... can the Patriots be beat? I'm not so sure.

As I see it, there are probably 3 games that could give them trouble (more on them in a second). Their other games are: @ Miami, Washington, @ Buffalo, Philadelphia, NY Jets, Miami, @ NY Giants. I would be beyond shocked if they lost any of those games.

Here are the other 3, ranked in how likely they are to lose these games (in my opinion).

3. AT Baltimore, December 3 - If healthy, Baltimore has a great defense which can at least slow New England down, and Willis McGahee can pound the ball to keep New England off the field. Still, the defense has struggled at times, and the offense has struggled with big plays and getting the ball into the end zone. A loss here for New England seems unlikely.

2. Pittsburgh, December 9 - The Steelers are 4-1 under new coach Mike Tomlin. Offensively, they have enough weapons to keep the Patriots offense honest, with Willie Parker, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, and even Najeh Davenport at the skill position. Ben Roethlisberger is getting better and better. Defensively, the Steelers are allowing under 10 PPG. This game will be in New England, which again makes a Patriots loss unlikely, but the Steelers are the team that ended New England's last long winning streak (of course, the Pats got revenge later in the year).

3. AT Indianapolis, November 4 - Obviously this is the game that seems, at least on paper, most likely to result in a loss for the Patriots. If the Patriots are the best team in the NFL (and it certainly appears that they are), there is really no doubt that the Colts are 2nd. Plus, being that the Colts are the last team to beat the Patriots, and they have Peyton Manning at QB, they will not be intimidated by New England. On a final note, the game is in Indy. That said, I think there might be just too many offensive weapons for the Patriots. But it looks to be the game of the year, and if both teams are undefeated heading into the game, it could be the most hyped game in years. I'm not really qualified enough to say this with any certainty, but if both teams are undefeated heading into this game, it could be the most hyped regular season game ever.

That said, I think the Patriots will be undefeated this year. Watching them play, barring an injury to Tim Brady (or maybe Randy Moss), I honestly believe they are too good to be beat. They seem to be on a mission, and they have the talent and coaching to accomplish it. It certainly will be fun to watch.

What are your thoughts? Will anyone beat the Patriots? Will anyone be close?

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Adrian Peterson is the most explosive RB in the NFL

He may not be the best RB in the NFL yet, because he is not a great pass catcher or blocker... but I think that Adrian Peterson is already the most explosive RB in the NFL with the ball in his hands.

He single-handedly won it for the Vikings today (with a little help from Ryan Longwell). 20 carries for 224 yards and 3 TD. He also set up the game-winning FG with a long kick return. For the game, he had nearly 360 total yards on 25 touches (20 carries, 1 reception, 4 kick returns). Wow.

Through 5 games he now has 607 yards rushing, 4 TD, and 6.3 YPC. He's also got 10 receptions for 175 yards and a receiving TD. For good measure he also has 248 yards return yards. So by my calculations, through 5 career games, Adrian Peterson has 1030 total yards.

This is why I thought Adrian Peterson would be the Rookie of the Year.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

It's good to be Boston College

At the start of the college football season, Boston College was unranked. After this weekend, they will most likely rank either 2 or 3 in the polls.

In between, they have won 7 games. 6 of those have come against FBS teams with a combined record of 16-23, and the other win was against FCS UMass. They played one ranked team, Georgia Tech, who was ranked 15th at the time. Georgia Tech is now 4-3. Besides that, they have beat Wake Forest, NC State, Army, UMass, Bowling Green, and Notre Dame. They've played 2 games away from home.

So yes, it's good to be Boston College right now. They've beat 1 ranked team (who is no longer ranked), have won 2 road games, and have beat exactly 2 FBS teams that currently have a winning record. And yet they will jump from being unranked to being in the top 2, thanks to all of the upsets.

In my last poll, I ranked them 10th. If I make my poll again this week, they probably won't be that higher. They have a great QB, but they haven't proven much. Obviously it's become an increasingly difficult thing in college football to consistently win every week, but still, is Boston College one of the 2 best teams in college football? I find that hard to believe.

I'm not sure what the point of this is, except to say that I still don't agree that just because a team is undefeated does not mean they should be higher in the polls than 1-loss teams. I'd rather rank teams based on how good I think they are, not based on the fact that they haven't lost so far against a relatively easy schedule. But that's just me.

If they beat Virginia Tech next week on the road, I'll be impressed. Until then, I firmly believe they could be one of the worst top 3 teams I can remember. Which isn't their fault. But it is another developing storyline in what has been a fascinating college football season so far.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 6

My drive for .500 continues... just my quick picks this week:

Cardinals (-4) over Panthers

Rams (+9.5) over Ravens

Vikings (+5) over Bears

Chiefs (+3) over Bengals

Browns (-4.5) over Dolphins

Redskins (+3) over Packers

Texans (+6.5) over Jaguars

Patriots (-5.5) over Cowboys

Eagles (-3) over Jets

Chargers (-9.5) over Raiders

Saints (+6.5) over Seahawks

Titans (+3) over Bucs

Giants (-3.5) over Falcons

Last Week: 6-8
Season: 33-38-5

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Thursday Debate: Who should be the AL Cy Young?

For the second straight Thursday Debate, let's focus on the AL Cy Young race, because there are lots of good candidates here. Much like the NL MVP race, any number of guys could reasonably win.

As mentioned a week or so ago, I like CC Sabathia to win the AL Cy Young Award. In my mind, with his peripheral numbers and league-leading amount of innings pitched, he is the best choice for this award.

But there are certainly a lot of other viable candidates. A brief rundown of them:

John Lackey - Led the league in ERA. Also had 179 K against only 52 BB.

Fausto Carmona - 2nd in the AL in ERA. Was GREAT at inducing groundballs. Sort of like a younger Chien Ming-Wang with more upside.

Johan Santana - Had a down year (relatively speaking) but still had nearly a 5:1 K:BB ratio.

Josh Beckett - Led the AL in DIPS among starters. Like Santana, a great K:BB rate.

Dan Haren - Was the leading candidate at the Break, and still had a fine year even though he tailed off a little bit. Third in the AL in ERA.

Erik Bedard - Might have been my Cy Young choice had he not gotten hurt towards the end of the year. Ridiculous K/9 rate.

Vote with your conscience.

Who should be the AL Cy Young?
CC Sabathia
Johan Santana
Fausto Carmona
Josh Beckett
Erik Bedard
Dan Haren
John Lackey

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

College Football Power Rankings - 10/10

They're back! And better than ever. Maybe. I do my rankings a little differently... I try not to weigh too much things like whether a team had one fluky loss. That doesn't mean they're worse than teams who haven't played anyone yet. You'll see what I mean.

1. LSU - Obviously a no doubter after their comeback win against Florida. Great defense, playmakers on offense. Save a potential rematch with Florida in the SEC Title game, I think they've passed their stiffest test in the regular season.

2. California - Have to give them credit... I'm still impressed by the road win at Oregon. That's a great win. They have the offensive talent to run the table.

3. Ohio St. - They haven't really played anyone yet (depending on your thoughts on Purdue), but they've looked really good doing it. They've allowed 7.2 PPG this year. And Chris Wells is really, really good.

4. South Florida - They had a little trouble with FAU, but with wins against West Virginia and at Auburn, they get a pass. I can't realistically see them running the table, but they're a very solid team.

5. USC - Yes, it was a really, really bad loss. But USC is still a very good football team. This is a team that some (not me, but some) were calling one of the most talented teams ever before the season began. That doesn't change just because they looked really bad for one game. They're still going to be in the thick of things, I think.

6. Oklahoma - Very good win over a talented Texas team. Like USC, they hit a bump in the road, but they'll be fine. If they can get by Missouri at home, it looks like smooth sailing all the way to the Big 12 title game.

7. Oregon - One of the most talented offensive teams in the country. Not many QB-RB duos that are more explosive than Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart. If they can take care of business against Washington and Washington St., they should head into a home battle with USC in 2 weeks playing for a top 5 ranking. Maybe even more.

8. Florida - They are out of the top 10 in both polls, and I just don't understand it. They go to LSU, the consensus #1 team in the country, and have them on the ropes before losing 28-24, and they're not one of the 10 best teams in the country? I disagree.

9. West Virginia - Like Oklahoma and USC, one loss is one loss. They're still a very dangerous football team.

10. South Carolina - Kentucky was really overrated, but they still beat the #8 team pretty solidly. I'm not crazy about them, but you can't argue with what they've done so far.


Boston College - It's good to be from BC right now. 3 weeks ago they were in the low-twenties. Then they beat Army, UMass, and Bowling Green at home, and suddenly they're the 4th best team in the country? (at least, according to the polls) Sorry, I don't buy it. I love Matt Ryan's game, but this is not the 4th best team in the country. Not even close.

Missouri - Great win against Nebraska... if they can go to OU and win this week, they might even be on track for the national title. Seems strange to think about.

Virginia Tech - They certainly have recovered nicely. Excellent win against Clemson.

Your thoughts? What would you change?

Monday, 8 October 2007

Fantasy Football Sleeper: Mewelde Moore

If you have an extra roster spot on your roster teams, strongly consider picking up Mewelde Moore. Right now he's the 3rd string RB for the Vikings that has been inactive for 2 of their 4 games this year. But pay no attention to that. He could be the starting RB for the Bucs pretty soon.

The Vikings and Bucs have been in talks, and it's almost too logical. Moore is a FA after this year, and he won't get much (any?) playing time behind Chester Taylor and AD. Meanwhile, the Bucs are in the middle of a playoff race, and their top 2 RBs are hurt. A deal HAS to be done. My guess is that a deal eventually does get done (with the Bucs sending a 5th rounder).

When that happens and if Moore starts, he should be a solid fantasy option. As someone that has watched every one of his games, he's solid. He's not a great RB, but he's productive. He's not a burner, but he's shifty, surprisingly tough to bring down, and he catches the ball a ton out of the backfield (which is perfect for the TB offense).

In 4 years, he has a career 4.9 YPC. Some of that is in garbage time, sure, but that's still really good. Playing mostly part-time roles, he has almost 3 catches a game for his career. He can be even more productive in that area if he gets consistent playing time.

So trust me, if you have an extra roster spot, take a look at getting Mewelde Moore. It makes too much sense for a deal not to be made, and he should be really productive if he gets playing time.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

The Chicago Cubs season could not have gone any better

Let me first say that I am not a Cubs fan. I wouldn't say my dislike is enough to call me a Cubs Hater, but I dislike them.

That said, I was rooting for them this regular season. That's because back in very early June, when the Cubs were 7 games under .500 and 6.5 GB of the Milwaukee Brewers, I made the prediction that they would win the NL Central. Joe from The Sports Flow called this "a reach", (by the way, he still hasn't paid me my $5!), but at the end of the season, it was the Cubs on top of the NL Central, making my bold prediction come true.

So I was happy about that. Then, I went back to cheering against them in the playoffs... where they were promptly swept. Life is good.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 5

The drive to .500 continues!

Cardinals (-3.5) over Rams
I have some grave doubts about how a dual QB system will work in the long-term, but for the short-term the Cardinals are clearly a better team for it. Give Kurt Warner time and he's still in the top half of QBs in the NFL. Who'da thunk it?

49ers (+3.5) over Ravens
Sorry, just not sold on this Ravens team. Also, just in case it hasn't been said, I really think they should be starting Kyle Boller instead of McNair, even when McNair is completely healthy. It's time.

Chargers (+1.5) over Broncos
A team as talented as the Chargers can't start the season 1-4, right? Right? Not even Norv Turner is this bad. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Packers (-3) over Bears
The Bears have about half their defense out with injuries, their running game is ineffective, and there are rumors that they might be thinking about switching to their 3rd QB sometime in the relatively near future. Other than that, everything is great for the Bears.

Dolphins (+5.5) over Texans
Just a feeling. I don't like the Texans with the spread this large.

Bucs (+10) over Colts
There's a chance any or all of Bob Sanders, Marvin Harrison, and Joseph Addai could be missing this game due to injury. Even if they're not, the Bucs have a very solid defense, and an efficient offense. I don't think they'll be beating the Colts, but I think they can keep this a competitive game.

Chiefs (+2) over Jaguars
Coming into the year, I assumed the Chiefs would be a terrible team. Now I'm not so sure they can't be competitive in a suddenly mediocre AFC West. Damon Huard isn't terrible, and he has two really good targets in Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe (who has looked awesome). Larry Johnson's numbers are down, but this is in part due to the fact that they've played some teams that are good against the run. Don't sleep on the Chiefs.

Patriots (-16.5) over Browns
I'm still picking the Patriots to cover every week until they prove that this is not smart. I mean seriously, they've been KILLING teams.

Saints (-3) over Panthers
The Saints in a must-win game early in the year. David Carr is starting for the Panthers. Yes, I'll take New Orleans.

Giants (-3.5) over Jets
Honestly, I don't have the slightest clue. I'm not even going to try and pretend I do.

Seahawks (+5.5) over Steelers
I've been a big fan of the Steelers all year, but I think the Seahawks are a pretty decent team as well. I know it's in Pittsburgh, but the spread seems a little high.

Falcons (+8.5) over Titans
Don't look now, but I'm not so sure the Falcons are that bad of a football team. Joey Harrington can be a decent QB (really), and they have a solid RB duo to provide some offense balance. I know Andre Johnson was hurt, but it was an impressive win last week against Houston. I like them to cover against the Titans, who are a solid but I think a wee bit overrated.

Lions (+3.5) over Redskins
The Lions impressed me last week. I know I bashed the Bears a little in here, and they are banged up defensively, but 24 4th quarter points? That's impressive. That said, I am starting Jason Campbell in multiple fantasy leagues this week... that Lions secondary is awful.

Cowboys (-10) over Bills
No one has stopped the Cowboys yet. The spread and the fact that it's in Buffalo makes me a bit weary, but I'll stick with Dallas here.

What are your picks? Or where do you differ from me?

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Thursday Debate: Who should be the NL MVP?

I touched on this a few days ago, but it's really pretty fascinating how many viable candidates there are for the NL MVP this year. Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if any of a number of guys won the award, and I think there are viable arguments to be made for about 5 players, which is extremely rare.

My vote was Hanley Ramirez, as I obviously do not subscribe to the theory that a player has to be on a winning team to be an MVP candidate, because in my mind it makes no difference how good a player's team is when looking at an individual award. Other people have vastly different opinions on this, which makes for some pretty good debate.

Also, I was forced to bring back Thursday Debate due to popular demand (and by that 2 people that I personally know said I should bring it back)... not that that's a bad thing.

But I really am interested to see what you guys think... who should be the NL MVP? And why? Please vote, and leave a reason or two in the comments. I think the results could be really interesting.

Who should be the National League MVP?
Hanley Ramirez
David Wright
Jimmy Rollins
Matt Holliday
Prince Fielder
Albert Pujols
Chipper Jones
Chase Utley
Miguel Cabrera

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

MLB Playoff Predictions

Yes, it is officially October. I'm studying for an Accounting test (which seems to be a constant thing for me!), so just my moderately quick picks for round 1. And I say this will full confidence and knowledge that the playoffs are an absolute crapshoot. Such is life.


Red Sox over Angels in 4 - I don't know, just not a huge fan of the Angels. I think the Red Sox are just a much better team. Their records were only 2 games apart, but the Sox Pythagorean record was a whopping 13 games better than the Angels. The Red Sox look like a pretty complete team.

Indians over Yankees in 5 - I've kind of been on the Yankees bandwagon all year, but I think their bullpen is a bit shaky. They have Rivera, and Joba has been lights out since being called up, but who else do they turn to? I think this will be their undoing.


Phillies over Rockies in 5 - The Rockies are a much better home team than they are road team (12 game difference). The Phillies are a better home team than they are a road team. I think this will be a big factor in the series. But let me say I am pretty excited for this matchup, especially seeing the Rockies back in the postseason. I'm actually really excited to see all of these new teams in the National League playoffs.

Cubs over Diamondbacks in 4 - I think the Cubs are a little more of a complete team. Better pitching, and the offense seemed to get a little better at the season went along. Plus, the Diamondbacks were outscored by 20 runs this season... they can't win a playoff series with a differential like that, can they? (ok, I pretty much just guaranteed they will. and i'm ok with that)

What are your picks?

Monday, 1 October 2007

My MLB Awards - American League

After giving my National League Awards yesterday, it's time for the AL, because such is the natural progression of things.

Cy Young: CC Sabathia (Cleveland Indians)
Sabathia sticks out slightly to me in a crowded AL race at the top. He had a great K:BB rate of 5.65:1, which best among AL starters. Another thing that gives him the edge in my book is that he had 241 IP, again leading the AL.
2. Dan Haren (Oakland Athletics)
Haren cooled off a lot in the 2nd half, but he still put together an excellent season. He had a solid K rate and BB rate, which gives him a slight edge over Lackey in my book.
3. John Lackey (Los Angeles Angels)
As mentioned, this was really close. Honestly, if you put him at #1, I'd be hard-pressed to agree. He's been a very, very good pitcher for a few years now.
4. Josh Beckett (Boston Red Sox)
He was always a little overrated, but this year he really pitched up to his potential. The voters will look at the wins, but the more telling stats are the 4.85: 1 K:BB rate, and the fact that he did a solid job of keeping the ball in ballpark. And the fact that he stayed healthy is nice.
5. Johan Santana (Minnesota Twins)
He was not as good as he has been over the last 3 years, but still pretty darn effective. He struck out a solid 9.66 batters per 9 innings.

Rookie of the Year: Dustin Pedroia (Boston Red Sox)
I think Pedroia was the best of a moderately underwhelming AL rookie class. But that shouldn't discount Pedroia's achievement, because he was very solid holding down 2B for the Sox. He was solid defensively at 2B, got on base at a very solid .380 clip, and even hit 39 doubles. A very solid year. (Ed. Note: I just realized I wrote the word "solid" 4 times in that description. I should proofread sometimes)
2. Jeremy Guthrie (Baltimore Orioles)
Surprisingly, even though he cooled off a little, Guthrie was the best AL Rookie pitcher in my book. He didn't strike out as many guys as Daisuke, but he has better control, which led to a solid 3.70 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.
3. Daisuke Matsuzaka (Boston Red Sox)
I think it's fair to say that Daisuke was a little bit of a disappointment. Still, he has nasty stuff and gave them almost 205 solid innings. He had a good K rate, but walked a few too many guys. That resulted in a 4.40 ERA.
4. Hideki Okajima (Boston Red Sox)
In 69 innings, struck out 63 batters, walked 17, had 27 holds (for what it's worth), and even contributed 5 saves. He was a key cog in the very solid Red Sox bullpen.
5. Rafael Perez (Cleveland Indians
Perez was just about as good as it got in terms of middle relievers. In over 60 innings, he had over a 4:1 K:BB ratio, and had a 1.78 ERA for the Tribe.

MVP: Alex Rodriguez (NY Yankees)
The easy choice. Playing 3B, all he did was lead the league in SLG, OPS, finish 4th in OBP, and even steal 24 bases just for good measure. Just a great, great player.
2. David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox)
He didn't do quite enough to overcome the fact that he doesn't play defense, but might have been the best hitter in the AL this year. He led the AL in OBP and finished 2nd in SLG. An underappreciated part of the Red Sox dominance this year was how very, very good David Ortiz was.
3. Magglio Ordonez (Detroit Tigers)
He cooled down a little bit in the 2nd half, but still hard to argue with the production. 2nd in the AL in VORP.
4. Carlos Pena (Tampa Bay Devil Rays)
Yes, it's a bit baffling to me as well. But check the numbers. He was absurdly good this year. OBP of .411, and he finished 2nd in the AL in SLG.
5. Jorge Posada (New York Yankees)
A late career resurgence for Jorge Posada. As a catcher, he finished 3rd in the AL in OBP, and smacked 63 XBH. Jorge is my choice for #5.

What are your picks?