October 3, 2008

College Football Picks - Week 6

Better late than never, here are this week's college football picks. Having survived upset week, I'm feeling good, and I'm not even picking SEC games.

Maryland (-13.5) over VIRGINIA - If the Terps show up, this should be no problem against a team that lost 31-3 to Duke.

GEORGIA TECH (-14) over Duke - I know Duke's better, but they still gave up 31 to Navy. And GT's better than Navy on both sides of the ball.

MIAMI (-2) over Florida State - Still no respect for the Noles against a team that can physically match up with them.

Lest we forget, the Jayhawks did win the Orange Bowl last year.

Kansas (-12.5) over IOWA STATE - The Jayhawks are still a good team, and can put lots of points.

Missouri (-10.5) over NEBRASKA - Bo's troops aren't quite ready for this test.

AIR FORCE (-5) over Navy - Navy's not the same without Paul Johnson, plus Kaipo's gimpy and may not play.

USC (-16) over Oregon - The Trojans will not repeat last week's performance.

Living up to the hype so far, this will be the first true test.

Ohio State (-1) over WISCONSIN - Pryor's the real deal, and the Badgers showed some serious incompetence last week.

Ok, one SEC game... I just can't help myself. Also my only underdog pick.
VANDY (+4.5) over Auburn - Can the Tigers actually score on offense?

Last Week: 3-3-0
Season: 16-9-1

NFL Picks Week 5

Brien (10-10-0):
Lots of road favorites on the board this week. I'm going to go against conventional wisdom and take all of them.

Indianapolis (-3) over HOUSTON - I still think the Colts are better than Vegas thinks. They just need to start showing it. Plus they're coming off a bye.
Tennessee (-2.5) over BALTIMORE - The Ravens looked good last week, but I think they'll get up for a Monday night game in Pittsburgh more than this one. I smell a letdown.
San Diego (-6.5) over MIAMI - Let's not read too much into the Dolphins win over New England.
New England (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO - See above.
Chicago (-3.5) over DETROIT - The Lions are winless straight up and winless against the spread. The Bears are coming off a win against the Eagles. How is this line so close (uh-oh, is this a trap game)?

Jason (9-11-0):

Tennessee (-2.5) over BALTIMORE - The Ravens showed a lot in their Monday Night loss to Pittsburgh, but I just can't see them being able to stay on their game for the full 60 minutes it will take to beat Tennessee.
CAROLINA (-10) over Kansas City - KC got their win for this half of the season.
NY GIANTS (-7.5) over Seattle - I hate that half-point, but I think the Giants, who already are acting like they have something to prove, really do with Plaxico out.
JACKSONVILLE (-3.5) over Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh took a beating Monday Night. I can't see them surviving another one.
PHILADELPHIA (-6) over Washington - I guess I'm going all favorites. I think the Skins are due for a big let-down.

Jeremy (10-10-0):
I absolutely love that the Redskins win over the Cowboys was the game that gave me the break-even win last week to bring me to 3-2. Tough to find home teams that I like this week:

Indianapolis (-3) over HOUSTON - This is the kind of game that could allow Indy to get really healthy really quickly, especially after a bye week.
Washingon (+6) over PHILADELPHIA - I may be drinking the Kool Aid, but this is a big spread, especially if Westbrook pulls his favorite 12:59pm scratch.
Tennessee (-2.5) over BALTIMORE - A short week for the Ravens after an excruciating loss. Looking at their roster I'm not sure how the Titans are 4-0, but they are, with some decent wins.
Cincinnati (+17.5) over DALLAS - This is an insane line that is begging for suckers like me to take. But really... an over two-TD line... that's a lot, even if it is the Bengals.
DENVER (-3.5) over Tampa Bay - I had to look high and low for a home team to take. Griese has been erratic and I think Denver will be just a little angry after last week's game.

Magic 8 Ball (12-8-0):
For a mere $100.00 to Jeremy, you can borrow me for your next trip to Vegas after my 5-0 week last week. I guess this shows that when it comes to gambling, random beats human thought.

Indianapolis (-3) over HOUSTON - "My answer is no." (Texans won't beat the spread)
PHILADELPHIA (-6) over Washington - "My sources say yes." (Eagles will beat the spread)
Tennessee (-2.5) over BALTIMORE - "My answer is no." (Ravens won't beat the spread)
DALLAS (-17.5) over Cincinnati - "Signs point to yes." (Cowboys will beat the spread)
Tampa Bay (+3.5) over DENVER - "No." (Broncos won't beat the spread)

Russell (11-9-0):
Clearly, I don't know much any more. Here are few more semi-random guesses. If only my random guesses could equal the 8 Ball...

New England (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO
- I still think the Pats are playoff bound.
ARIZONA (-1) over Buffalo
- I always like the Cards at home, and they're mad. Buffalo's struggled to beat lesser teams the last couple weeks.
Tennessee (-2.5) over BALTIMORE
- The Ravens can't cover EVERY week.
Minnesota (+3) over NEW ORLEANS
- Even Gus Frerotte can exploit the Saints' corners.
JACKSONVILLE (-3.5) over Pittsburgh - I think the Steelers have some serious issues on offense, we'll see.

Brien: IND, TEN, SD, NE, CHI
Russell: NE, ARI, TEN, MIN, JAX

September 30, 2008

I Hate Hines Ward

I think Bernie Williams and Paul O'Neill have finally been displaced. Don't get me wrong, I've hated Hines Ward for years. Tonight's Ravens loss on Monday Night Football to the Steelers probably clinched the top spot for Ward though.

blahblahblahblahblahblah Please go away soon.

It's the third quarter and Ward has been totally non-existant for the game. So have all the Steelers' offensive players, actually. On a sideline play, Ward gives one of his trademark trailing-the-play moderate shoves in the back to mild-mannered Ravens LB Jarrett Johnson. Johnson shoves back, Ward exaggerates losing his balance, and the dreaded after-the-whistle flag comes out. Momentum shifted, Santonio held onto a ball that Fabian Washington slightly tipped, and the Steelers score 14 points in literally 15 clock seconds. According to the announcers, it was Johnson's first ever personal foul.

Hines Ward beat the Ravens before he had a single catch.

The only way Bernie Williams could have topped that is by causing a bases loaded balk from the dugout with 2 outs and an 0-2 count. I swear to God the Steelers are going to hire Hines Ward after he retires just to patrol the sideline and give that shit-eating grin to any Ravens who come his way. He's not even a cheap player. It's just that cheesy grin. It pisses me off from the couch.

September 28, 2008

The Best Football Weekend in a Long Time

So let me say, I had every sports fans', and in particular, every football fans' dream weekend. And I can say this despite both of my fantasy teams going to shit (way to have Lavarenues Coles and Muhsin Muhammad on the bench dumbass... your bench damn near outscored the rest of your entire team).

But I owe this weekend to the QBs of both of my teams and their ever-increasing poise, maturity, and decision-making skills:

Jason Campbell pockets straight (a WTEM Portis-Mitchell reference for those not in the loop). This kid, who once held on to the ball for too long, who once constantly threw into double and triple coverage on his first read, and who struggled to gain an understanding of Al Saunders' offense, is now staying in the pocket like a man, going to his third and fourth reads, and absorbing huge hits.

For those of us who have been following the Redskins, you can actually see this kid just growing as a QB each week that goes by. It truly is amazing. The Giants game was a disaster. It was a debacle. It makes me wonder if maybe Jim Zorn should've worked his offense a little harder in the preseason because we've seen the splendor of what has resulted in just three short weeks after that.

Today, Campbell goes into Big D, up against a stellar defensive line with a generally overmatched offensive line, and leads the Redskins to a victory over the goddamn fucking sons of bitches Dallas Cowboys.

It's alright Cowboy fan... you'll beat us next year at Texas Stadium. Oh, wait... guess not. Well, you still have the tiebreaker over us. Oh... not that either. I hope the entire team went out with scissors and clipped some of the blue "turf" star from midfield as a trophy. There is a whole lot of glory that can be passed around and a whole lot of players and coaches who can gain acclaim for what they did today. But at the end of the day, Campbell is now, truly, THE quarterback of the Washington Redskins. And not a single turnover all year long.

Just as 'Skins fans have seen Campbell grow over the past three weeks, Terp fans have seen Chris Turner show the same kind of increasing confidence and grasp of an offense over that same span. Turner led the Terps into undoubtedly the most hostile atmosphere into the ACC, and brought them back from a sizeable halftime deficit to beat the ranked Clemson Tigers, a division foe. On the same day Wake lost to a much-maligned Navy team at home, Maryland showed that they too are very much in the hunt for the ACC title game.
Turner has evolved since being thrust back into the starting position against Middle Tennessee. His first game in 2008 as a starter for the Terps resembled much of Campbell's first game in 2008 as a starter for the 'Skins. Unable to lead the offense into a rhythm, beset by confusion in communications with his own players and coaches.
Chris has gone to work. He's shown us now glimpses of the quarterback he can be. He, like Campbell, now shows poise in the pocket, makes all of his reads even if it means taking a huge hit, and demonstrates tremendous situational awareness.
He's led the team to victories in two out of three weeks against ranked opponents. He's led the Terps back to the brink of the Top 25. He should go into Charlottesville next weekend and the Terps should be able to hang 50 on the tie-wearing pansy-ass Wahoos if he plays anything like he's played the last three weeks.
Again, much of the credit and the acclaim for the win against Clemson can go to other Terp players and coaches. But most would agree that the primary reason for the upset in Death Valley was the maturation of #10, QB1, Maryland Terrapins.

Jim Zorn Humble Pie

Okay, I'll admit it. I overreacted, along with most people, to the Redskins Week 1 humiliation up in the Meadowlands. I saw a coach who looked confused and overwhelmed. It was a simpler time then. Sarah Palin was new to us, and she had us especially sensitive to people who skipped a few rungs on the ladder to get to the top spot.

blahblahblah Left: U.S. Congressman. Right: NFL Head Coach. I shit you not.

Zorn, who had never been more than a position coach prior to this year learned REALLY quickly. I'm not saying he's the most brilliant coach in football (I think he's a little full of himself, but coming after Joe Gibbs any offense looks sharp), and he certainly doesn't handle the press well (though they probably like how he consistently throws players under the bus and displays a total lack of respect for the history of the Redskins (Cowboys/Skins = Seahawks/Raiders, calling the Skins the "maroon, black and yellow")). But he does appear to belong at the position. That's even more obvious when you look at the disasters that are Lane Kiffin, Scott Linehan and Romeo Crennel.

So I'll admit it. I was wrong about Jim Zorn being a huge mistake. I'm probably wrong about my two-year-old prediction that Cowher will be the head coach in 2009.

Now you all have to admit that I was right about Jason Campbell being the right quarterback for this team.

Alonso Wins F1 Singapore GP

One of my biggest complaints about Formula 1 is its lack of imagination. F1 seems reluctant to rock the boat or do anything that could jeopardize the riches it brings in every year. Of course, by refusing to innovate, F1 looks old and conservative while NASCAR continually improves the fan experience.

This weekend F1 ran its first ever night race on a street circuit in Singapore. Casual fans would be forgiven for wondering why this race didn't happen 10 years ago. Of course a night race is exciting. Of course street circuits look a lot cooler on television than permanent tracks. It's only F1's conservatism that made it wait until 2008 to run a night race.

By all accounts, the Singapore circuit was a phenomenal success. Worries about the lighting, rain, and the roughness of the track were shown to be overblown. The track was well-lit, the rain held off, and the bumps on the track just made the race more interesting. Hopefully F1 can build on this success to innovate even more, instead of just adding more races on Herman Tilke-designed tracks in third world countries.

Did I say how awesome the race looked under the lights? Visually, this was the coolest race in F1, even better than Monaco. In terms of the uniqueness, challenges to the drivers and the excitement of the race, it definitely earned a place near the top. I think Singapore will join Monaco as one of the signature races on the F1 calendar.

Oh yeah, Fernando Alonso (my favorite driver) won the race. Alonso has had a rough 2008 back with Renault, but a win makes things a lot better. He was frustrated with the car after qualifying 15th due to a mechanical failure, but the car looked very quick during the race. A safety car period at just the right time let him take the lead, and he was plenty quick enough to hold on for the win. F1 Fanatic has a great recap of the race.

Lewis Hamilton took a commanding 7 point lead in the drivers' championship, but with 3 races left to go, anything could happen. Unfortunately, two of my least favorite drivers (Hamilton and Felipe Massa) look to be the only two serious contenders for the title.

Today's race was a great sign for the future of Formula 1.