Friday, November 03, 2006

Week 9 NFL Picks

Last Week: 7-7 Season: 75-39

Dallas at Washington: Cowboys enter Game 2 of the Tony Romo era on a one-game winning streak, after pounding the Panthers in the second half for a 35-14 win. Bill Parcells did what Joe Gibbs has not done: replace his aging veteran quarterback, as Mark Brunell is still the quarterback in Washington. The Rib Man continues to grill, and the Cowboys sweep the hated Redskins. Pick: Dallas
Houston at New York Giants: David Carr is still the quarterback of the Texans, for now. He was benched last week, but has the dreaded vote of confidence and will be starting Sunday in the Jersey swamps. The Giants have won four games in a row by double-figure margins. This one should be no different. Pick: NYG
Kansas City at St. Louis: Winner gets to paint their team colors on the standing columns at the University of Missouri, located halfway between the two cities. Just kidding. The Chiefs have won four games with backup QB Damon Huard. The Rams were manhandled last week by the Chargers. This is the NFL, which means nothing is consistent. The Rams have home dome advantage. Pick: St. Louis
Atlanta at Detroit: The Lions have shown an ability to ring up yards and points, but only have one win to show for it. The Falcons are tied for first place in the NFC South. This is a potential shootout. The Lions can’t outscore the Falcons, though. Pick: Atlanta
Cincinnati at Baltimore: Huge game in the AFC North. Ocho Cinco needs to come up big for the Bengals. The Ravens would open up a two-game lead in the division with a win. The Ravens still have a strong defense, and have the home field. Pick: Baltimore
Green Bay at Buffalo: What are they playing for here, a golden snowball? The NFL would have done well to schedule this one in late December. The Packers are showing improvement. The Bills are just plain mediocre. Pick: Green Bay
Miami at Chicago: The Dolphins are the biggest disappointment in the league this year. The Bears are the most impressive team so far. This is a mismatch. Pick: Da Bears
New Orleans at Tampa Bay: Bucs return home to face the quick-starting Saints. The Saints suffered a crushing defeat last week at the hands of the Ravens. The Bucs have been strong at home, with wins over the Panthers and Eagles. Pick: Bucs
Tennessee at Jacksonville: David Garrard is back as starting QB in Jacksonville. The Titans have improved since Vince Young became their starting QB. The Jags need a win in the worst way. They get it here. Pick: Jacksonville
Minnesota at San Francisco: The Niners are awful. The Vikings are coming off a whipping by the Patriots. I know better than to pick San Francisco. Pick: Vikings
Cleveland at San Diego: The Browns won a game last week. I hope they enjoyed it, because San Diego is a step up in competition. The Chargers cruise. Pick: San Diego
Denver at Pittsburgh: This was supposed to be a marquee game. The Steelers have been a bad team recently, losing games like last week’s game against the Raiders. The Broncos have been stout on defense, until the Colts came to town last week. The Broncos have been better all year, and get revenge for last year’s AFC championship game. Pick: Denver
Indianapolis at New England: Regular season game of the year, to this date. The Colts are still unbeaten, and the Pats only have the hiccup loss to Denver. The Patriots keep replacing skill position players year after year, and continue winning. Bill Belichick is a mad scientist. Both teams leave Gillette Stadium with one loss. Pick: Pats
Oakland at Seattle: The Monday Night extravaganza brings a team known to some (Mike Rhyner) as the Greatness to the Northwest for a matchup with former division rival Seattle. The Seahawks are still missing QB Matt Hasselbeck and RB Shaun Alexander in a huge way. The Raiders are still not very good, despite the two defensive touchdowns in last week’s win over the Steelers. Pick: Seattle

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

College Picks-Week of November 4

We’re in the homestretch, with conference championships, BCS bowls, and coaching jobs on the line. Two BCS conference jobs are already being vacated (North Carolina and Michigan State), with more on the way. We also have a de facto national championship semifinal this week, necessitating the early picks.

Who are these people out there already screaming that a team with one loss should be in the BCS national championship game over an undefeated team from the Big East? If a Big East team escapes undefeated, they will have most likely defeated two other teams with 10 wins, plus at least two other bowl teams. It’s a little early to have this argument, as I still think West Virginia, Louisville, and Rutgers will all defeat each other before it’s all said and done. Plus, Pittsburgh looms as a spoiler for either West Virginia or Louisville. The Big East has proven itself as a legitimate BCS conference. It has improved markedly, especially considering the losses of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College.

Last Week: 13-7 Season: 126-54

Picks for the week:

Oklahoma at Texas A&M: Saturday night at Kyle Field. A&M’s biggest game to date. OU got a huge road win last week at Missouri. The good fortune continues for the Sooners. Pick: OU
Oklahoma State at Texas: OSU came up huge last week at home against Nebraska. The past two years, they have rolled up big leads on Texas, only to lose. Saturday’s game in Austin shouldn’t lack for scoring, either. The Horns can outscore the Pokes, though. Pick: Texas
Missouri at Nebraska: Most likely for the championship of the Big XII North, which is similar to playing for the championship of District 20-5A. Winner has inside track to a game with Texas in Kansas City on the first weekend of December. Nebraska has shown more ineptitude, but has the home field. I can’t pick against the Huskers at home. Pick: NU
Baylor at Texas Tech: Baylor lost a game last week against A&M, and also lost QB Shawn Bell for the season due to injury. This hurts the Bears. Tech blew a lead against the hated Longhorns. Tech salvages some pride here. Pick: Tech
Kansas at Iowa State: KU bounced back with a win last week over the hapless Buffs. Iowa State was thumped by K-State, and coach Dan McCarney’s job is on the line after 12 years in Ames. The Jayhawks are a little better than the ‘Clones. Pick: KU
Kansas State at Colorado: K-State is inconsistent. The Buffs are improving, but competitive, especially for a team with one win. K-State needs one more win to become bowl eligible. They get it here. Pick: KSU
West Virginia at Louisville: The biggest game in the history of Thursday Night Football, as the Mountaineers visit the Pizza Box for a tilt with the undefeated Cardinals. The Cardinals definitely will miss star RB Michael Bush, who was injured in the first game of the year. WVU has rolled over opponents with their spread option attack, featuring RB Steve Slaton. WVU is the real deal. Pick: West Virginia
Maryland at Clemson: Clemson really shot themselves in the foot last week in Blacksburg. The Terps have bounced back from an early-season blowout at West Virginia and are now in contention for a division championship in the ACC. The Tigers bounce back here. Pick: Clemson
Penn State at Wisconsin: Don’t look now, but Wisconsin is a quiet 8-1. Orlando or Tampa will be a very nice trip for the Badgers on New Year’s Day. Badgers win again this week. Pick: Wisconsin
Virginia at Florida State: Florida State is reeling. The vultures are circling in Tallahassee, and are looking for someone’s head on a platter, preferably offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden. His father Bobby will protect him to the utter end, though, and may retire over the whole situation. Meanwhile, the ‘Noles struggle, and may not make a bowl. UVa got a win last week over N.C. State. FSU wakes up this week, and gets a win. Pick: Florida State.
TCU at UNLV: The Passin’ Rebels are in the tank, with no relief in sight, losers of seven in a row. TCU is looking for a late season spark, after a letdown in losses to BYU and Utah. Frogs win here, and it won’t be just Vegas luck. Pick: TCU
LSU at Tennessee: LSU got a raw deal from the SEC schedule makers, with road trips to Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, and an improved Arkansas in the same season. This week, they get the Big Orange. Phat Phil’s team is two points away from an undefeated season and the national championship debate. LSU has run up big margins against lesser competition, but has come up short against quality teams. This game will retain that form. Pick: Tennessee
Georgia at Kentucky: The Bulldogs continue to struggle on the offensive side of the ball. Kentucky has a reasonable shot at a bowl game, with winnable games against Vanderbilt and Louisiana-Monroe remaining. This will be closer than it ought to be, but Georgia has a bit more talent, and better coaching. Pick: Georgia
Washington at Oregon: The Huskies started well, but have now lost four in a row, including overtime losses to Cal and Arizona State. The Ducks are home, and will be more than up for their hated rival. Pick: Oregon
Tulsa at Houston: Big game in Western division of C-USA. Tulsa has been rolling through the conference for the second year in a row. There will be plenty of points scored in this one. Pick: Tulsa
Boston College at Wake Forest: Who would have thought that this game would have division, conference, and BCS implications? How much longer does the roll continue for Wake? We’ll soon find out. BC is just a little better. Pick: BC
Arkansas at South Carolina: The Hogs have rolled since their opening day blowout loss to the other USC. The Gamecocks have come up short in their big home games with Auburn and Tennessee. The third time is the charm for USC-East. Pick: Gamecocks
Arizona State at Oregon State: OSU-West got a huge, huge, huge win last week over USC. Arizona State escaped with an overtime win over Washington. The success continues for the Beavers. Pick: Oregon State
Purdue at Michigan State: How does Michigan State respond after the blowout loss to the Hoosiers and subsequent dismissal of its coaching staff? Good question. Pick: Purdue
Mesa State at Colorado School of Mines: Mesa has two wins, Mines has four. Mines is playing at home. Pick: Colorado School of Mines

Monday, October 30, 2006

NFL Week In Review-Week 8

Wow. It’s midseason, and quarterback issues are making their annual trip to the forefront, due to both injuries and poor play. 10 of the 32 teams have already started multiple quarterbacks this season. It is definitely the impact position in the National Football League.

The most high-profile quarterback change has occurred in Dallas, as Drew Bledsoe was benched in favor of the Rib Man, Tony Romo. Romo struggled in the first half, before directing the Cowboys to a second-half blowout, as Dallas defeated the Carolina Panthers 35-14. This was a season-saving win for the Cowboys. It remains to be seen if this is the beginning of great things for the Rib Man, or if it is a blip on the radar in the tradition of Cowboy backups such as Clint Longley and Jason Garrett. I picked against the Cows at my peril. I played with fire and got burned.

Another quarterback controversy is flaring in Houston, as David Carr was benched after an awful first half against the Titans, throwing an interception, taking four sacks, and losing two fumbles, including one returned for a touchdown. Sage Rosenfels threw three touchdown passes, but it was not enough, as the Texans lost to Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans, 28-22.

From first to worst? Ben Roethlisberger is having an awful season, and the Steelers are right there with him. Big Ben was sacked five times, threw four interceptions, and had two of them returned for touchdowns, as the sorry Oakland Raiders defeated the Steelers, 20-13. The Steelers have joined the race for the #1 pick in the draft. Could Ben be benched in favor of Charlie Batch?

The leader for the #1 pick in the draft is the Arizona Cardinals, who have already changed quarterbacks, and are playing rookie 1st round pick Matt Leinart. The Cardinals’ defense allowed not one, but two 100-yard rushing days, as the Green Bay Packers rode Ahman Green and Vernand Morency to a 31-14 win. I hope Edgerrin James likes all that money he’s making in Arizona, because he left a Super Bowl contender to go to the worst organization in football. They have a nice new stadium, which amounts to putting lipstick on a pig.

The Baltimore Ravens came up big, as they went down to the Big Easy and whipped the Saints, 35-22. The Saints came up with some garbage time points to make it respectable. Steve McNair is still a quality quarterback, something that has been lacking in B-more.

The Atlanta Falcons went to Cincinnati and pulled out a 29-27 win over the Bengals. Michael Vick threw for three touchdown passes, as he comes into his own as a passing quarterback. Chad Johnson had a touchdown catch, after taking the field for warm-ups with “Ocho Cinco” as the nameplate on the back of his jersey. Highlights showed an upset Carson Palmer ripping the patch off, to reveal the normal “C. Johnson” above the number 85. Is he trying out for a gig on ESPN8-The Ocho?

The Philadelphia Eagles laid the biggest egg. Their high-powered offense could only manage six points at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags were missing QB Byron Leftwich, and won with backup David Garrard. Garrard was last seen directing the Jags into the playoffs last season, as Leftwich was injured.

Don’t look now, but Damon Huard has won four games as the starter in Kansas City. The banged-up Seahawks went into Arrowhead without their two main offensive weapons, and lost to the Chiefs, 35-28. Larry Johnson scored three touchdowns for the Chiefs.

The 49ers are awful. The Bears are good. The expected rout occurred yesterday in Chicago, as the Bears crushed the Niners, 41-10. A once-proud franchise in San Francisco has gone to the dogs. This Cowboy fan doesn't mind that, at all.

Tiki Barber and the Giants won the Barber Bowl, defeating Ronde and the Bucs, 17-3. Just another day at the office for the Giants, as Tiki Barber ran between the 10 yard lines, and Brandon Jacobs scored from the goal line. The Giants lead the NFC East.

The Chargers took care of business against the Rams, winning 38-24 in San Diego. LaDainian Tomlinson had a normal day, with two rushing touchdowns and a touchdown catch.

Prior to Sunday’s game with the Colts, the Broncos had given up two touchdowns all season. The Colts went to Denver and scored 34 points, defeating the Broncos, 34-31. Peyton Manning had three touchdown passes for Indianapolis. This goes a long way toward the Colts attaining home-field advantage in the playoffs, and avoiding a trip back to Denver and a possible snow storm in January.

The sad-sack Browns got their second win of the season, defeating the Jets, 20-13. The Jets’ offense was pretty non-existent, as their lone touchdown came on a kickoff return.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Good Day To Be OSU, A Bad Day To Be USC

Schools with the initials OSU went 3-0 yesterday.

The #1-ranked Buckeyes from The Ohio State University rolled over hapless Minnesota, 44-0. Another day at the office in Columbus.

Oklahoma State knocked off Big XII North leader Nebraska 41-29. The Oklahoma Aggies are a force to be reckoned with, especially in Stillwater. Nebraska, once again, is not quite ready for prime time. The Big XII North is awful, again.

And, in the upset of the day, and possibly the season, Oregon State defeated USC, 33-31. The Beavers led by as much as 33-10, before the Trojans rallied to close to within two points. USC scored in the last 10 seconds of the game, but the Beavers denied the two-point conversion to save the win. It was definitely a goalpost game in Corvallis. Definition of goalpost game: a big win in which the home team’s fans have reason to swarm the field to tear down the goalposts.

In Columbia, the other USC also lost to an orange-clad team, as Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks lost to Phat Phil’s Big Orange of Tennessee, 31-24. Tennessee continues their rebound season.

The SEC, at the moment, is staring at a championship game between Arkansas and Florida. This year, a 3rd place game between Auburn and Tennessee would be well worth a doubleheader. Both are top ten teams, and have a chance to make a BCS bowl without making it to the championship game.

The ACC, on the other hand, is looking at either Boston College, Wake Forest, or Maryland on one side of their championship game, to play Georgia Tech. Good luck selling tickets in Jacksonville for that. Wasn’t this expansion intended to put Florida State and Miami together for a championship game every year?

BCS Bowl Projections
BCS NCG: Ohio State vs. West Virginia
Fiesta: Texas vs. Boise State
Rose: USC vs. Michigan
Sugar: Florida vs. Notre Dame
Orange: Boston College vs. Auburn

Big XII Rankings
1. Texas: Escaped with a win at Tech. Should talk with travel agent about reservations for Kansas City in the first weekend in November.
2. Oklahoma: Big win at Missouri. Even without Adrian Peterson, the best team outside of Texas.
3. Texas A&M: Saturday night at Kyle Field against OU should be quite the spectacle.
4. Oklahoma State: Big jump after big win over Nebraska.
5. Nebraska: Took two steps backward yesterday in Stillwater.
6. Missouri: Maybe they’re not all that after all.
7. Texas Tech: Just missed big upset over Texas. Have slipped a tiny bit from past years.
8. Baylor: They would own the North division.
9. Kansas State: One more win puts them into a bowl.
10. Kansas: Back in the win column after some rotten luck.
11. Iowa State: Looking more like some of the pre-McCarney teams.
12. Colorado: Long year in Boulder.