December 4, 2008

College Football Picks - Week 15

After an impressive showing last week, it's time for conference championships.

Navy (-11) over ARMY - GO NAVY! Loving the option makes this pick even easier. Another year, another Commander-in-Chief Cup.

Alabama (+10) over FLORIDA - Too many points and too many people are underestimating a Nick Saban football team, never a good idea. Even if Harvin plays, he's not going to be 100%, and that will really help Bama's defense keep up. Plus Mt. Cody is the best NT in the SEC, and he will clog the UF running game. I don't know if it will be enough to win with Bama's offense struggling a bit lately, but Saban's a great big-game coach.

OKLAHOMA (-16.5) over Missouri - This is a rematch of last year's Big 12 championship, when Missouri was #1 or #2. This year, the Sooners are much better and Missouri is not as good. Last year, the Sooners won easily, this year it's a big blowout.

Last week: 6-1
Season: 48-35-2

NFL Picks Week 14

Brien (37-27-1)

TENNESSEE (-14) over Cleveland: The Browns rush defense sucks, and we saw last week what happens when the Titans play against a bad rush defense.

BALTIMORE (-5.5) over Washington: The Ravens look really good lately, and I think they can shut down Portis. From an emotional standpoint, this "rivalry" means 10 times more to Baltimore than it does to Washington, so with the game being played at M&T Bank Stadium, that gives the Ravens another advantage.

NY Jets (-3.5) over SAN FRANCISCO: I just don't believe in the Niners this year, even though I love Shaun Hill.

GREEN BAY (-6) over Houston: The weather will be a factor.

Tampa Bay (+3) over CAROLINA: The Panthers have been very good at home this year, but I think the Bucs are a pretty good team.

Jason (30-29-1)
Jason's on hiatus again this week. He's off thinking of ways to taunt Russell and Jeremy after his Ravens beat up on the Redskins on Sunday night.

Jeremy (35-29-1)
Damnit, another week, another game Brien gains on me. Lots of ginormous lines this week to tempt the Gods...

BALTIMORE (-5.5) over Washington - Let me just get this one off my chest first. Redskins O-line is horrid. Campbell will be intimately familiar with Scott and Ngata by the end of the night.

NEW YORK GIANTS (-5) over Philadelphia - Always a bruising battle in this game, but I'm a huge believer in the Giants.

ARIZONA (-13.5) over St. Louis - The Rams get worse as the season goes on. They've quit, it seems.

NEW ORLEANS (-3.5) over Atlanta - First to 50 wins. When that's the case, you go with Brees/Colston/Miller/Shockey/Bush.

Dallas (+3) over PITTSBURGH - With this Cowboys team and their turnaround of late, I'm tempted to take them anytime they are GETTING points.

Magic 8 Ball (33-31-1)
I hope you weren't betting with me last week. Actually, going 0-5 on a five-team teaser ought to pay out it's so unlikely.

Washington (+5.5) over BALTIMORE - "My answer is no." (Ravens won't beat the spread)

NEW YORK GIANTS (-5) over Philadelphia - "Signs point to yes." (Giants will beat the spread)

St. Louis (+13.5) over ARIZONA - "Don't count on it." (Cardinals won't beat the spread)

NEW ORLEANS (-3.5) over Atlanta - "My sources say yes." (Saints will beat the spread)

Dallas (+3) over PITTSBURGH - "My answer is no." (Steelers won't beat the spread)

Russell (30-34-1)
Must catch the 8-Ball...

BALTIMORE (-5.5) over Washington
- I think it's clear which team is better right now.

New England (-4.5) over SEATTLE
- The Pats will not be slowed by the Seahawks' defense.

Atlanta (+3.5) over NEW ORLEANS
- Fresh off a road win in SD, the Falcons look pretty good right now.

ARIZONA (-13.5) over St. Louis
- The Cards are always good at home.

TENNESSEE (-14) over Cleveland
- One of the best teams in the league vs. one of the worst.

Russell: BAL, NE, ARZ, ATL, TEN

Terps Beat Michigan - ACC Wins Challenge

The ACC improved to a perfect 10-0 in ACC/Big 10 challenges, but the result was a little closer than in past years.  The Big 10 managed 5 wins of the 11 matchups, mostly on the strength of the bottom half of their conference.

The Terps did their part to contribute to the ACC's victory, notching a win at home over Michigan.  The game was a bit closer than many Maryland fans would have preferred, but for this season, at least, the Terps will be happy with wins however they get them.  

It looks to be another up-and-down season for Maryland.  I'll be thrilled with an NCAA tournament berth, but a finish in the top half of the ACC would qualify as a successful season.  

We're likely to endure another round of "Fire Gary" sentiment at some point this season, but I'll say right now what I've said for years: it's his job until he quits.  Ignoring the fact that Gary has earned our loyalty through some rough years, there really isn't anyone waiting in the wings to take over.  I like our chances with Gary much more than starting a long-term rebuilding process with a new coach.

As for the Michigan game, here are some quick-hit thoughts:

Hey, at least I'm not as bad as Rodriguez
  • It must suck to live in the state of Michigan this year.  Look at what they've had to suffer through: the Lions don't have a win, the Wolverines football team is awful, the moribund state economy is getting even worse, their main industry is a laughingstock, the Spartans basketball team (which was supposed to be a Final Four contender) is plumeting through the standings.  I guess all I can say to our Michigan readers is this: maybe you should move.
  • Greivis put up another incredible performance, going for 23 and 12 with 6 assists.  He's clearly the go-to guy on the team, and when he's hot we'll be tough to beat.
  • The rest of the starters also looked good, with everyone except Adrian Bowie in double figures.
  • Bowie looked like he couldn't find his shot all night.  I don't know whether to credit the Michigan defense, or whether his breakout performances earlier in the season were flukes.  We really need him to be a reliable scorer this year.
  • Landon Milbourne played his best game of the year so far.  
  • Braxton Dupree didn't play, apparently for missing class.  The last thing that guy needs to do is get further on to Gary's bad side.
  • The bench only managed 11 points, which won't cut it against ACC competition.  Some of that is due to the fact that Dave Neal started, so his 12 points don't count towards the bench total, but Mosley and Gregory in particular had enough minutes to produce a lot more output.
  • I saw a lot of hustle.  The Terps (especially in the second half) fought for loose balls, jumped into passing lanes, and basically looked like they were trying hard (which they don't always do).  That's a good sign for the rest of the season.
  • The Terps ended the game with a 35-24 rebound advantage.  Historically, when Maryland teams rebound well, they win.
  • Eric Hayes is 16-16 from the free throw line this year.