Monday, October 31, 2005

NFL bits and pieces

I heard alot of radio hosts today say that despite his 5 interceptions, Favre kept his team in it. That can't be further from the truth. There are two reasons they were in that game: (1) the defense played another good game and almost bailed out the offense, and (2) Cincinnati didn't really look like they expected GB to win, and turned it on only when they needed to. The only reason GB was in a position to score in the first place was that the refs made a horrible pass interference call on the Bengals to give them about 50 yards of field position.

I was not nearly as surprised at Tampa losing as most people were. Chris Sims is not a good quarterback and I would NEVER trust him in a big game (see Oklahoma). Tampa played an easy schedule for the first 6 weeks and their record reflects that. Look for them to come back to earth the next few weeks.

Same goes for Washington. Has a team ever put up more than 50 points one week then get shutout the next? They had some miracle wins early, don't expect that to hold as the season progresses. On the other side of the ball, I'm really starting to believe in this Giant team. They have incredible talent at all of the skill positions, and their rookie corners really play the ball well. I think they'll win the East and possibly get a bye week in the first round of the playoffs.

Jacksonville needs to quit losing games they should win. No Bulger, Holt, or Bruce and they still can't pull out a win at St. Louis. This is becoming a theme for them-win a huge game and lose the next against an inferior team (they just beat Pittsburgh on the road and Cincy at home). They probably have the easiest schedule from here on out (two with Houston, one with Tennessee, Arizona, SF, and I think they still have Baltimore and Cleveland). If they can stay mentally focused, there is no way they can't win 10 games. I'm pretty sure Indy is the only team the face with a winning record the rest of the season.

Gutty win by NE last night, but they still have too many holes to fill in their defense for them to three peat. That being said, I will never count out Brady until they finally lose. He's the best quarterback in the NFL right now, hands down (no, Manning isn't better). I'll write more on that another day.

My players of the week have to be Steve Smith on offense and Tedy Bruschi on defense. Smith is a terror, and yesterday's 200 yard game against Minnesota showed that he is an elite receiver in this league, possibly the best in the game at the moment. Teams know Delhomme is going to him yet he still gets open and makes plays. I expect him to be all pro this year, barring injury. As for Bruschi, he didn't even have to make a play yesterday to get this award. This guy had a stroke less than 10 months ago and is back playing in the NFL. Unbelievable. I don't think anybody can put into words how incredible this comeback by him is. If you saw him shuffle out of the hospital in February, you had to be praying that he gets well enough so he can enjoy playing with his children, but NFL? No way, yet there was yesterday. He has a passion for the game that has very rarely been seen in our time and should be respected by any fan of the game.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Weekend Picks

I have a few picks for the NFL games tomorrow (I would post my college picks, but many of the games have already started). All lines are current at the time of the posting.

Carolina -7.5 against Minnesota. Don't be fooled by Minnesota's come from behind win at home last week against GB. This is a team that has trouble winning on the road, especially outdoors. Carolina is coming off a bye week rested and confident after a road win. I expect this game to be a double digit win for Carolina.

SD/KC over 51. These are two of the best offenses in the NFL. KC is playing their second road game in a row, however they have an extra 2 days rest after playing last Friday night. Their offense is explosive and should be able to put up 24 points against SD. San Diego is fuming after their loss to Philly last week and should be energized by the home crowd. LT will run all over KC's defense. Look for this to be a 38-24 win for the Chargers.

As a rule, when I gamble on football, I generally only play one or two games per weekend. I played one college game, and the SD/KC over will be my only game tomorrow. The only way to make money in sports gambling is to gather as much information about the games as possible, then figure out which game provides the best money making opportunity. Most winners will only play 1-2 games per week (the more you play, the sloppier you become and start to throw money back to the casino/websites). That's probably the best tip you'll ever receive.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Looking back at my predictions

Looking back at my NFC predictions, a few things stick out. First, my thought on Minnesota and Green Bay were way off. Granted, GB has been decimated with injuries, but they are still playing way below expectations. Minnesota is just a train wreck and will need a miracle to get to 8 wins. I don't think either of those teams can rebound to win this division. I think Jeff Garcia will lead Detroit to 7 wins and the division title. If Rex Grossman can get back, Chicago might have a chance, otherwise they're done. I just don't trust a rookie quarterback, especially one that went to Purdue.

I still think Philly will take the East, however the Giants are better than I thought-Eli is a stud and will be considered one of the best in the game by the end of the year. I think Dallas is going to falter and I expect Washington to do the same, however they could both get to 9 wins.

In the Dirty South, I still think Carolina is the team to beat, and Atlanta is already 1-1 in their tough home games and should beat GB and Minn to go 3-1 in the 4 I circled. Tampa is the major surprise, however I expect them to fade later on (their wins aren't nearly as impressive as they looked at first-GB, Minn, Det, Buffalo, and Miami-not exactly world beaters). I don't think Sims will be as poised as Griese was. Say what you want about Griese, but he did give them a chance to win every game. I won't even comment on New Orleans, other than to say that they've gotten 20 years worth of bad breaks in the first 7 weeks of the season.

Out west, Seattle should win 10 games. Arizona can still rally to get to 7 or 8 wins unless the Nutty Professor puts Warner back in. SF won't win again. I don't know what to say about the Rams. They could easily win their remaining games, yet I can see them losing the rest as well. If you're a gambler, stay away (except for the overs on a 7 point teaser).

Bucks acquire Jamaal Magloire

The Bucks today traded Desmond Mason and a 2006 first round pick to the New Orleans (Oklahoma City) Hornets today for Jamaal Magloire. I love this trade for two reasons. First, the Bucks had a logjam at that position. They already have Michael Redd, Bobby Simmons, and Jiri Welsch, so one of the 4 had to go. Based on the contracts that Simmons and Redd just signed, Mason was the logical choice. He was a good presence in Milwaukee and was liked by fans both on and off the court, however most people familiar with the organization knew he was the odd man out and was going to get dealt eventually. Second, this trade solidifies the Milwaukee front court and gives it tremendous depth. Magloire is going to start, and the other starter will eventually be Bogut. This gives them two legitimate big men in the starting lineup, and bringing Joe Smith and Dan Gadzuric off the bench will add a spark to the lineup (I love Gadzuric off the bench-he's a high energy guy that can run up and down the floor for 4-5 minute stretches). With Kukoc, this gives the Bucks 5 guys 6'10'' or taller. I just thought of a third reason I like this pick-with the Bucks's horrible draft record the past 7-8 years (Redd notwithstanding) they're better off without a first round pick. We don't need another Traylor/Pryzbilla/Haslip...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Quick Packers Take

Yesterday's game versus Minnesota may have been a new low. I didn't hear any statistic about it, but was this the largest lead lost during the Brett Favre era? I

understand why Sherman went on cruise control in the second half, but that still doesn't explain some of the things that happened. It was evident that Minnesota made some adjustments at halftime to fix the problems they were having. They rotated a safety over the top of Driver to take him out of the game and on offense, they opened it up for Culpepper to run more (based on the defense GB was showing). Did the coaching staff not see this in the booth? Did they think the 17 point lead was insurmountable, and that even if the Vikings did comeback it wouldn't be enough to win? Surely they remembered their game against Carolina a few weeks ago; the game isn't over until the final whistle.

While much of the blame goes on the coaching staff, you have to fault the players for poor execution. There was poor blocking in the running game all day, and the special teams were horrible (both kicking and covering). This team is on the edge of disaster, and with the easy part of their schedule completed, it's very possible they could be 1-9.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Brewers End of Season Wrap

The Brewers recently concluded their first non-losing season since 1992 and optimism is high that they will finally have a winning record next year. I think this is entirely possible, however there are some holes that need to be filled for this to become reality.

First, they need more depth in their bullpen. Turnbow was great, however getting to him this year proved difficult (it's one reason Doug Davis was stuck on 9 wins forever). They need a guy like Scot Shields of Anaheim to come in and shut the other team down for an inning or two late in the game. Matt Wise could possibly be that guy but he's pretty old. Same with Kane Davis. Jose Capellan has probably the best opportunity to fill that role, however I think they eventually want him to start.

Second, they need to improve defensively. JJ Hardy is solid at shortstop and Bill Hall has improved dramatically, but Ricky Weeks needs some serious work. Some of the errors he had were flat out horrible, and he needs to work in the offseason to improve here. Overbay is average, and Prince won't be an upgrade defensively, so Weeks really needs to work to shore up the right side of the infield. The outfielders are OK, however they lack the range that the top defenders have.

Finally, they need to improve their timely hitting. There were too many situations this year where they had runners in scoring position and didn't bring them home. They need to focus on the little things in these situations that the winners do. If there is a runner on second with no outs, you HAVE to get the bunt down, and if unsuccessful, you need to hit to the right side of the infield. The runner has to get to third. Speaking of runners on third, you shouldn't be trying to hit a ball 500 feet (unless your name is Carlos). A sacrifice fly will suffice, and even a ground ball to short or second will get the run home. Too many Brewers are either popping up or striking out when the runner is on third.

If the Brewers improve these three areas, their record should improve next year.