November 21, 2008

Maryland-FSU Pregame Thoughts

I can't wait for the Maryland-FSU game tomorrow night. If Wake beats Boston College Saturday afternoon, the Terps can clinch a berth in the ACC Championship Game with a win.

The last time the Terps had a home game this important was November 10, 2001, when the Terrapins beat Clemson to move one step closer to their surprise ACC Championship.

That was also a sold out night game. In fact, J-Red and I somehow neglected to get tickets before the students had claimed their entire allotment. In those days, the tickets were just black ink printed on card stock, so we spent an entire day driving all over Prince George's county looking for a store that sold the same color card stock. We photocopied Jeremy's ticket onto the card stock, carefully cut out the tickets and perforated the stub with a knife. That was the only time I've committed a crime to get into a Maryland football game.

After two games of horrible, wet weather, I hope Terps fans brave the cold and come out to support the team. Although the team has been frustrating to watch at times this year, they've shown a lot of heart in tough games and are now in a position to record the best season since 2003. Attendance has been underwhelming so far this year, but if fans can't make it out to a night game against FSU with the ACC title in play, then they're not real fans.

I have no idea how good the Seminoles are, and I don't know which Maryland team will show up. All I know is I'll be there cheering on the Terps.

Testudo Times has a good scouting report on the Noles.

November 20, 2008

NFL Picks Against the Spread Week 12

There's not a lot of agreement between us this week.

Brien (31-24)

TENNESSEE (-5.5) over NY Jets - The Titans are 9-1 ATS. I'm going to keep picking them all season.

Tampa Bay (-9) over DETROIT - I hate laying this many points, but I still don't think the Bucs are getting the respect they deserve from Vegas.

BALTIMORE (-1) over Philadelphia - The Ravens bounce back from a tough loss last week.

Washington (-3) over SEATTLE - I know the Redskins have fallen off a bit in the last few weeks, and they have to make a cross-country trip, but the Seahawks are really really bad.

Minnesota (+2.5) over JACKSONVILLE - The Jags are still getting credit for how good they were last year. This year they suck. They're also only 1-4 at home.

J-Red (28-27)
I'm still hovering around mediocrity, much like the Ravens and Redskins.

BALTIMORE (-1) over Philadelphia - The Ravens want to prove they are a better than average team, but they've only beaten losing teams so far. They need this one.

SEATTLE (+3) over Washington - The Skins are depressed and a trip to Seattle is not the cure for depression. This one should be sloppy.

ARIZONA (+3) over New York Giants - This is a WTF line to me, but coming off a big win and making a big trip might be too much for the Giants D.

San Francisco (+10.5) over DALLAS - I'm not saying San Francisco wins, but I think Dallas is a little too confident that everything is hunky-dory.

Indianapolis (+3) over SAN DIEGO - San Diego is done and Indy is just finally clicking in.

Jeremy (30-25)
Just one week away from being subjected to a Lions game yet again on Thanksgiving. Seriously... while Obama is fixing the BCS, can't he do something about the travesty that is the Lions playing the early Turkey Day game every year?

TENNESSEE (-5.5) over New York Jets - Defense wins championships. You probably want to bench any of the following from your fantasy lineups on Sunday: Favre, Coles, Jones, Washington, Cotchery.

Washington (-3) over SEATTLE - If the Redskins lose this game, they might as well write off their playoff hopes. Aside from Cincy, this looks to be the next easiest of their six remaining games. Seattle is brutally bad. Although so is the 'Skins line play.

Giants (-3) over ARIZONA - Another tough trip west for an NFC East team, this time to play a far better team. But the team that I believe to be the NFL's best only giving up 3? Sign me up.

ATLANTA (-1) over Carolina - The Falcons are really, really tough to beat in the Georgia Dome. Seriously... look at these teams' respective schedules... does any division have an easier road than the NFC South? They play the NFC North and AFC West.

Indianapolis (+3) over SAN DIEGO - The Colts are this year's NFL enigma. A great win followed by an ugly win interspersed with bad losses. Yes, the Chargers looked halfway decent last week, but I just can't give PhiLLLLip or Norville the nod in this one.

Magic 8 Ball (29-26)
Just a few weeks away and still beating two out of four human prognosticators...

New York Jets (+5.5) over TENNESSEE - "Don't count on it." (Titan's won't beat the spread)

SEATTLE (+3) over Washington - "Signs point to yes." (Seahawks will beat the spread)

Giants (-3) over ARIZONA - "My answer is no." (Arizona won't beat the spread)

ATLANTA (-1) over Carolina - "My sources say yes." (Atlanta will beat the spread)

Indianapolis (+3) over SAN DIEGO - "My answer is no." (Chargers won't beat the spread)

Russell (26-29)
I just need to gain ground on Jason and the 8-Ball.

Minnesota (+2.5) over JACKSONVILLE - It's time we admit the Jags just aren't very good this year.

DENVER (-10) over Oakland - Odds are good for a blowout.

SEATTLE (+3) over Washington - Danger! Danger! Holmgren knows all of Zorn's tricks, and the return of Hasselbeck makes Seattle a much better team.

ARIZONA (+3) over NY Giants - Arizona is really good at home. Have you heard that from me before?

Green Bay (+2.5) over NEW ORLEANS - Here comes the Pack, about to repeat in the NFC North.

Russell: ARI, DEN, GB, MIN, SEA

November 19, 2008

College Football Picks - Week 13

As limited as last week's slate of games may have been, there's something for everyone this weekend. This is the last week of Big 10 action, with 3 teams still hoping for a trip to Pasadena. All 6 ACC games involve at least one team with a shot at going to the ACC Championship, and 4 of those games have spreads of 3 points or less. To top it off, we have the showdown between Texas Tech and Oklahoma. What a weekend! Hope you didn't make any other plans for Saturday. Look for me in the sea of white Thursday night.

Texas Tech (+6.5) over OKLAHOMA - Somewhat lost in the hoopla of this game is that the Sooners lost in Lubbock last year in a rather low scoring game. I think the Red Raider defense has improved more than the Oklahoma offense since last year, and an extra week isn't enough for the Sooners defense to figure out the TT offense. Coaches have been studying Leach's 5 passing plays for years and still can't stop them. I expect a close game, with the score in the 30's, and I think TT will win.

GEORGIA TECH (-3) over Miami - The Canes have really struggled against teams who are physically their equal. On defense at least, GT fits that description, and should be able to slow down the Miami offense pretty effectively. I think the option will be surprisingly successful. Paul Johnson had some extra time to prepare, and we may see some big plays like the Dwyer runs against FSU. The atmosphere of a nationally televised Thursday night game won't hurt either.

Boston College (+2) over WAKE FOREST - BC was able to end last week's game on the road at FSU with a clock-draining drive, in which they only called one play, the "read-option" from the shotgun. If their line was able to do that to FSU, I don't think Wake's D will be able to do much better. Wake's loss to NC State didn't inspire confidence either.

MARYLAND (-1) over Florida State - I'm going to keep saying this: Maryland is a much better team at home. Plus we've won the last two games at home vs. FSU, including one when they were #5 in the country. If Fridge has trouble motivating the team for this game, they have no heart.

NC State (+11) over NORTH CAROLINA - The Wolfpack has been very competitive all season, and has now won two in a row. I expect a very close game, especially with UNC deciding who to start at QB.

UTAH (-6) over Byu - If Utah wins, they are a lock for the BCS in spite of a pathetically weak schedule. This game's at home, and Utah has better wins than BYU. Utah beat Oregon State (tied for Pac-10 lead), Michigan on the road, and TCU at home. BYU got crushed by TCU, beat an awful Washington team on a questionable penalty, and crushed a UCLA team which is also awful.

Michigan State (+14.5) over PENN STATE - The Nittany Lions have not been very impressive lately.

ARIZONA (-2.5) over Oregon State - The Beavers have really struggled on the road this year, and the Wildcats are good enough to pull out the win, ending OSU's hopes for the Rose Bowl.

Last week: 2-1
Season: 38-30-2

November 18, 2008

Your Tuesday Bills-related blog post.

It's Tuesday, which means that I could blog about the mostly meaningless Bills-Browns game last night. However, I think that since it is Tuesday and we're four very long days away from the insanity that will be Byrd Stadium on Saturday night, I'll share with you a Bills-related YouTube clip from last year that will have you crying it's so tragically funny (we blogged about it 13 months ago and we're that old and the clip was so popular, it's worth reposting):

I mean, this combines the worst of TV sports journalism with a deer-in-headlights talking head with a producer who clearly thought that any black man in a wheelchair might be Kevin Everett with some horribly timed Teleprompter lines describing what is going on. Really, it's like the perfect storm of awful TV announcing mishaps. Enjoy. If you're like me, you may end up watching it three times.

November 17, 2008

ACC Football: The Path to Tampa

Can the Fridge lead the Terps to Tampa?

With 2 weeks of ACC football remaining, a shocking number of teams (9) still have a chance to make it to the ACC Championship Game in Tampa, but only 3 teams control their own destinies. Here's a breakdown of each team's path:

Maryland - The only team with only 2 losses in the Atlantic Division, the Terps control their own destiny, with FSU at home and BC on the road remaining. If BC loses to Wake, the Terps only need one victory from those two games, as they would win the 2 team tiebreaker with Wake or the 3 team tiebreaker with Wake and FSU (based on division record). If BC wins at Wake, Maryland vs. BC will be a showdown for the Championship game, regardless of Maryland's performance vs. FSU. CORRECTION: If BC wins at Wake and Maryland loses to FSU, the Terps cannot go to Tampa.

Boston College - The only other team in control of its destiny in the Atlantic, BC must win both of the last two games (at Wake and vs. Maryland) to make the title game. No other combination will work for the Eagles.

Wake Forest - The Demon Deacons must defeat BC next week to finish 5-3 in conference, and they would need Maryland to lose to both FSU and BC to go to Tampa. That would result in a 2-way tie with FSU at 5-3, and Wake's victory at FSU would break the tie. If Maryland wins either game, they win the tiebreaker over Wake.

Florida State - The Noles need the most help, but it's still possible. They have to beat the Terps, BC must beat Wake, and then the Terps must beat BC. That would leave Wake and BC with 4 losses, and FSU's victory over Maryland would break the tie at 3 losses. That is the only way FSU is the representative of the Atlantic division.

The Hurricanes are poised to return to dominance.

Miami - The only team with 2 losses in the Coastal, the Hurricanes will go to Tampa if they can win out.

Other than the option of Miami with 2 losses, this is simpler to consider by possible permutations of the 5 teams which can finish with 3 losses. All tiebreakers considered are for teams with 3 losses because either GT or Miami will finish with 3 or fewer losses. To finish with 3 losses, all teams must win out except Miami, which can afford one loss in some cases.

GT wins tiebreakers consisting of: (GT), (GT, Miami)
Miami wins tiebreakers of: (Miami), (Miami, UVA), (Miami, VT), (Miami, GT, UVA), (Miami, VT, UNC), (Miami, UVA, UNC)
VT wins tiebreakers of: (VT, GT), (VT, GT, UNC), (VT, GT, Miami), (GT, Miami, UNC, VT)
UVA wins tiebreakers of: (UVA, GT), (UVA, GT, UNC), (GT, Miami, UNC, UVA)
UNC wins tiebreakers of: (UNC, GT), (UNC, Miami), (UNC, Miami, GT)

So what does that mean in words?

Georgia Tech - The Jackets need a ton of help. GT must beat Miami to have any chance. UVA and VT must both finish with 4+ conference losses, which means at least one of them must lose next week, and then the team that lost must win the game between the VT and UVA. AND North Carolina must lose at least one of their last two games (Duke and NC State). Then GT (and possibly Miami) would finish with 3 losses, and the Jackets would be headed to Tampa.

North Carolina - The Heels must win out. Then Miami must lose at least once, and UVA and VT must finish with 4+ losses, as for GT. UNC can win the tiebreaker with Miami and GT, but can't win any tiebreaker involving UVA or VT.

Virginia Tech - The Hokies must win out as well, and they need help. If Miami loses twice, VT is the champ because they win all tiebreakers with everyone else. If Miami only loses once, the Hokies need GT in the tiebreaker, so GT must beat Miami. VT is eliminated by a Miami victory over GT.

Virginia - The Cavs must win out, and Miami must lose to GT. In addition, if Miami beats NCST, the Cavs still go to Tampa if UNC wins out also. If Miami loses both remaining games, Virginia controls its own destiny.

Miami - A victory over GT almost clinches the division, as the only tiebreaker they wouldn't win is head-to-head with UNC. A loss to GT would have the opposite effect, as the 3-team breaker with UVA and GT is the only one the Canes could win.

The last two weeks should be exciting with lots of good but not great teams... We can only wait and see.