November 14, 2008

College Football Picks - Week 12

This week presents very little of interest nationally. The TT-Oklahoma showdown is next week, and both Florida and Alabama have meaningless games after clinching their respective divisions last week. So here are the couple games I'm keeping an eye on.

Maryland (+2.5) over NORTH CAROLINA - The Terps have been a different team at home this year, and UNC typically struggles on the road. Look for the Terps to bounce back from an awful showing in Blacksburg.

Notre Dame (-3.5) over NAVY - The Middies aren't quite as sharp as last year, and the Irish have improved significantly. This may be a close game, but I think the Irish will avenge last year's loss, much as I would love for Navy to win.

KENTUCKY (-4) over Vandy - After losing to Duke and everyone else, I think it's clear the Commodores don't have a shot at beating anyone but Tennessee.

Last Week: 3-3
Season: 36-29-2

Maryland-UNC Previews

I'm far too lazy to put together a real post previewing tomorrow's Terps-Tar Heels matchup. But since I came across several awesome previews written by bloggers more enterprising than I, you won't go wanting for Maryland football coverage.

  • The Audacity of Previews - Shell Games got Barack Obama to preview the game for them!  The Shell Games football previews are some of the funniest Terps-related content out there.  For more see this, this, and this.
  • All Tomorrow's Parties - Holly from (of EDSBS, Playing the Field, and formerly Ladies... fame) provides a hilarious outsider's view of what it's like to tailgate for a Maryland game.  You know the slate of games is weak when College Park is the most interesting destination for a tailgate.  She takes a few wrong steps (recommending Ratsies over Chipotle, claiming the crazy Testudo statues are all over campus when really they're all over the state), but it's a really interesting take on the way I spend half the Saturdays from September-November.  She's right about cream and seafood dishes, BTW.  We didn't do cream of crab soup, but last tailgate my lovely and talented wife made Maryland Crab Soup.  It was delicious.
  • Maryland-North Carolina Has Huge ACC Title Implications - Bleacher report picks the Terps to win based on the home field advantage.
  • Opponent Preview: Maryland - Inside Carolina gives us the bad guys' view of the Terps-Heels matchup.

November 13, 2008

Well somebody had to do it...

It appears as if I am becoming the ECB resident Uniwatch contributor. Earlier this week, the Baltimore Orioles unveiled long-anticipated changes to their jerseys, the first truly significant changes in quite some time. As a Nats fan born on the O's, I will say that I like their new duds. There are many, many updates to the jerseys, including a more ornothologically-correct bird (perched on the logo), and a few changes to the caps. I'm going to focus on the two most significant changes. Of course, by now, you've probably already heard or read no less than a dozen blog posts on this topic.

Hi, I'm Jim Palmer. I'm a total douche.

Here, Jim Palmer, schill for The Money Store and anybody else who will feed his huge ego, models the new Baltimore road jersey. And yes, O's fans, I did say BALTIMORE. Seriously Orioles, nicely done. You took the "Baltimore" out of Orioles shortly after the Senators last left town. D.C. gets a team that prominently features "DC" and "Washington" in its apparel. Time to put the "Baltimore" back in the jersey. It's nice script, although if you have any really fat players on your team, that tapered script might not look so well-proportioned. A really sharp looking jersey, and what makes it even more sharp looking...

This jersey patch appears on Baltimore's road jerseys. I LOVE THIS PATCH. Yes, I am a "true son of Maryland" according to the bio on my law firm's website because of my affiliation to Maryland state schools and love for the Terps. Many of you have questioned that love for the state because of my affinity for D.C. teams. Sorry gang... lower Montgomery County means Washingtonian. But lest you forget, the District of Columbia sits on land that formerly belonged to Maryland.

I digress... this is a really sharp looking patch that is meant to harken back to the old circular logo with the cartoon bird in the middle. I support making any use out of the Maryland state flag that you can, as we undoubtedly have the greatest state flag in the whole U.S. of A. I love that the Terps end zones feature the Calvert and Baltimore, and I love that this jersey patch features that as well. Note that on the home jerseys, the wording in the orange circle reads "Baltimore Orioles."

So O's fans... you think you have great new jerseys? You think you can mock those of us Nats fans 30 miles down I-295 for falling behind and coming out with new uniforms that might not be as sharp? You think you're above us? Well, I give you....


I suppose all the MLB teams are coming out with this hideous hat with the stars and stripes through their alternate logo to support Veterans causes. I support the movement, I do not support the hat. Like supporting the troops and opposing the war.

Anyway, nice job Orioles! And Orioles fan, enjoy!

Week 11 NFL Picks Against the Spread

Here we go. It's crunch time and all our picks would make you cash, except Russ'. Our loyal readers will know that Russell is only worth it on the college side.

Brien (28-22)

NEW ENGLAND (-3.5) over NY Jets - Don't be fooled by their record, the Jets have been beating up on the dregs of the league.

Tennessee (-3) over JACKSONVILLE - The Titans still aren't getting enough credit. And the Jaguars are still getting too much.

TAMPA BAY (-4) over Minnesota - The Bucs are really good at home.

Arizona (-2.5) over SEATTLE - The WTF line of the week

BUFFALO (-4.5) over Cleveland - The Bills have dropped 3 in a row, but they'll reverse it here. Ralph Wilson Stadium gets crazy for Monday night games, so the Bills will have a raucous crowd behind them.

Jason (26-24)
WTF, did everyone have a 4-1 week? Was last week just the most predictable? Thank God I'm beating Russell.

Baltimore (+6.5) over New York Giants - I like the Ravens' ability to stop the Brandon Jacobs, and I think they'll stay within a TD.

CINCINNATI (+9.5) over Philadelphia - Philly took a tough loss last week and Cincy isn't 2-14 bad. It'll be this close.

SAN FRANCISCO (-6) over St. Louis - The Rams are in a tailspin and Shaun Hill and Vernon Davis are playing for what could be longterm jobs.

WASHINGTON (-2.5) over Dallas - My gut tells me that Dallas wins the game, but my brain tells me that the desperate team never does.

JACKSONVILLE (+3) over Tennessee - General rule: Take the underachieving home team over the overachieving road team

Jeremy (28-22)
Damnit, a 4-1 week and I still can't shed my tie with Brien. I would love to pick the 'Skins game, but can't do it without knowing whether or not Portis will play. I do have a bad feeling about the game though.

NEW ENGLAND (-3.5) over New York Jets - With a likely game played in the rain, the equities do seem to favor the Jets running attack over the Patriots running attack. Still, let's not get too hyped about the Jets, they beat the Rams by 40. Oh, wait, the Redskins lost to the Rams? Crap, there goes that argument. Still, the Jets are snakebitten against the Pats and don't look for Favre to be the answer on the road in the rain.

New Orleans (-5) over KANSAS CITY - New Orleans is getting healthy. Arrowhead becomes a tougher place to play as we head towards late fall, but Kansas City won't be able to keep pace with the Saints attack.

ATLANTA (-5.5) over Denver - If Matt Ryan isn't unanimous for offensive ROY, they need to investigate voter fraud. And he should have fun against the Denver D. Speaking of Denver... Tatum Bell.... Tatum FREAKING Bell?!?!?!

Arizona (-2.5) over SEATTLE - Seattle is never an easy place to play, but another example of me just not knowing how Seattle can keep pace with the Cardinals attack and therefore cover or win.

JACKSONVILLE (+3) over Tennessee - The bottom line is I know the Titans aren't going to go 16-0. The issue is when they get that first loss. The Titans have had two brutal games two weeks in a row against the Pack and Bears. Jacksonville had an easy game last week against the Lions. I think this could be the '72 Dolphins champagne game. Of course, I said that two weeks ago and was wrong.

Magic 8 Ball (26-24)
Jeremy's note - I've never before, in all of last season and in the 10 weeks of this one, had the Magic 8 Ball completely contradict me on every pick.

New York Jets (+3.5) over NEW ENGLAND - "My answer is no." (Pats won't beat the spread)

KANSAS CITY (+5) over New Orleans - "Yes." (Kansas City will beat the spread)

Denver (+5.5) over ATLANTA - "No." (Atlanta won't beat the spread)

SEATTLE (+2.5) over Arizona - "My sources say yes." (Seattle will beat the spread)

Tennessee (-3) over JACKSONVILLE - "My answer is no." (Jaguars won't beat the spread)

Russell (23-27)
A slightly better week last week, sure to be followed by misery this week. I'm optimistic, aren't I?

NEW ENGLAND (-3.5) over New York Jets - The Pats beat the Jets at the Meadowlands in Cassel's first game as a starter. They deserve to be favorites.

Arizona (-2.5) over SEATTLE - The Seahawks just don't have a whole lot this year, even against the Cards who are awful on the road.

Philadelphia (-9.5) over CINCINNATI - Do I even need to explain this?

NY GIANTS (-6.5) over Baltimore - The Giants' D will be too much for Flacco and his running backs.

Dallas (-2.5) over WASHINGTON - I expect an energized Cowboys team behind the return of Romo.

Brien: ARI, BUF, NE, TB, TEN
Jeremy: ARI, ATL, JAX, NE, NO
Russell: ARI, DAL, NE, NYG, PHI

8 Ball: DEN, KC, NYJ, SEA, TEN

November 12, 2008

Arrington Strikes Back Against Evil Empire

It was never a well-kept secret, but LaVar Arrington is not happy about how he was treated by the Washington Redskins. Arrington, once the poster child for the franchise, was basically exiled in his last couple years with the Skins. Now that he found a microphone, he isn't too happy about it.

Arrington's relationship with the Skins was rocky from the start. In a typical sign of Redskins incompetence, Arrington was taken second overall in 2000, with fellow Redskin LT Chris Samuels taken immediately behind him. The Skins took Arrington before Samuels because they wanted to keep the price of an LT down. Arrington, they figured, had a shorter career span than Samuels and he had more of a downside transitioning from PSU to the NFL.

Then there was the contract issue. Arrington will swear to his grave that the contract he signed with the Skins in 2003 was not the deal he and his agents had agreed to. His agents, in fact, are still suspended from representing NFL players. The allegation is basically that the Skins pulled one over on him by switching the contract he signed with the one he agreed to. According to Arrington and others, the oversight cost him $6.5M in bonuses that he'd have earned.

Arrington's relationship with the Skins was spoiled from that point forward, so he took the only revenge he felt was sufficient. He followed Antonio Pierce and signed with the New York Giants. After an injury-plagued season there, he announced he was thinking of retiring. A motorcycle crash in June 2007 near Collington Road on Route 50 near Bowie, Maryland, sealed his fate. He hasn't played since.

So here we are. Arrington granted an interview to the Washington Times in which he called Joe Gibbs (three Lombardis) a coward for leaving the team to go back to NASCAR. He also alleged that Little Danny Snyder is scared to death of him based on a cold exchange when the two met recently.

Whose side are we on? Did Arrington, who said that politics screwed him more than anything else, get a raw deal? Did the Skins rightfully bail on a 2nd overall pick that never lived up to his talent?

November 10, 2008

NFL Point Differential Week 10

It may or may not matter, but as of Week 10, this is how badly teams have been winning and losing.

NFC East

8-1 Giants +102
6-3 Redskins +3
5-4 Cowboys -3
5-4 Eagles +71

NFC North

5-4 Bears +43
5-4 Vikings -5
4-5 Packers +31
0-9 Lions -126

NFC South

7-2 Panthers +58
6-3 Bucs +53
6-3 Falcons +35
4-5 Saints +7

NFC West

6-3 Cards +75
2-7 Niners -84
2-7 Seahawks -61
2-7 Rams -154

AFC East

6-3 Jets +65
6-3 Pats +28
5-4 Dolphins +3
5-4 Bills +3

AFC North

6-3 Steelers +58
6-3 Ravens +62
3-6 Browns -22
1-8 Bengals -111

AFC South

9-0 Titans +103
5-4 Colts -6
4-5 Jags +8
3-6 Texans -45

AFC West

5-4 Broncos -7
4-5 Chargers +26
2-7 Raiders -105
1-8 Chiefs -98

November 9, 2008

Ravens Looking Like a Contender

The Ravens have yet to beat a team with a winning record, losing close games to the Steelers and Titans and getting blown out at Indianapolis. Still, they're 6-3 with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback, and they're rounding into competitive form.

Matter of fact, they put 41 up on the road at Houston this week, despite Bill Simmons trying to curse them by putting them fourth in his latest power rankings.
blablahhblah Hey, you don't HAVE to look like Brady or Manning to win.
The fact is that Simmons is likely right. The Ravens are built to win in cold weather, with a three-headed rushing attack combining the bruising former fullback, LeRon McClain, with slashers Willis McGahee and Ray Rice. All three have own games this season pretty much on their own, and none are showing signs of slowing down at all. New fullback Lorenzo Neal has been overlooked, but Cam Cameron hasn't even needed him on the field in all rushing situations. The line, thought to be highly suspect prior to the season, has come together nicely.

People want to point to Flacco as a rookie who just seems to get it relatively quickly, but all credit goes to Cam Cameron. The "Suggs Package", where Flacco and Troy Smith are on the field at the same time has worked wonderfully so far, with Troy Smith rushing for a first down on an option play and throwing a TD on a waggle later in the game to clinch the win. Flacco is getting decent protection and Derrick Mason is running perfect routes. Flacco is making good decisions and throwing the ball accurately, but I put the credit with Cam Cameron for giving the rookie easy to control situations.

blhblblah I am naming my firstborn son or daughter Cam if we win 10 games.

Oh yeah, and they still play defense. The team sorely missed Trevor Pryce last year, and it's showing now with him present. Pryce and Haloti Ngata are eating up four linemen by themselves, much as Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams did for the Ravens' 2000 championship run. This defense is not as strong as that one - just look at the corners - but this offense is better than that one too.

The similarities are eerie, really, with a two-headed rushing attack, crushing fullback, great run defense apparently led by a ridiculous linebacking corps but secretly fueled by a dominant defensive line, and a quarterback who doesn't turn it over and takes the easy stuff. I'm not saying this team will win a championship, but this is a vacuum season much like in 2000, where no team is truly dominant. Actually, in 2000 the Titans were the team to beat, much like this year.

All that being said, we find out next week. The Ravens travel to the Meadowlands to face the reigning champion Giants. If we're going to draw comparisons to 2000, a big win over the G-Men would go a long way. If it happens, the Ravens are going to have to be taken seriously.