Friday, November 10, 2006

NFL Picks-Week 10

Last Week: 6-8 Season: 81-47

Really bad week last week. Time to bounce back.

Dallas at Arizona: The Cowboys follow up last week’s brain fart with a trip to the desert to play the woeful Cardinals. The Cardinals are a bad team. But, the Cowboy circus is coming to town, so anything can happen. Give me the Rib Man and company. Pick: Dallas
Houston at Jacksonville: The Jaguars are really good at home, and are looking for revenge of an earlier loss in Houston. The Texans are woefully inconsistent, and should have beaten the Giants last week. I’m not picking against the Jags at home. Pick: Jacksonville
Baltimore at Tennessee: The Ravens are cruising along at 6-2. The Vince Youngs had a bad day last week in a thumping at the hands of Jacksonville. Steve McNair has a successful return to Tennessee. Pick: Baltimore
Buffalo at Indianapolis: The Colts went 14 games before losing last year. They go undefeated for at least 9 games this year. Pick: Indy
Cleveland at Atlanta: I’m glad we’re not getting this game sent to us. Great candidate for a Sunday afternoon nap. Pick: Atlanta
Green Bay at Minnesota: Rivals meet for the 856th time. Brett Favre has played in 800 of those games. Vikes coming off of anemic, embarrassing performance in San Francisco. They can’t have two dud games in a row. Pick: Minnesota.
Kansas City at Miami: The Dolphins woke up from the dead last week to shock the Bears in Chicago. The Chiefs have their offense rolling behind backup quarterback Damon Huard, and are a surprising 5-3. Pick: Kansas City
New York Jets at New England: Rematch of earlier game won by the Patriots. This one won’t be much different. Pick: Pats
San Diego at Cincinnati: The most memorable game between these teams was in 1981, when the Bengals braved subzero temperatures in Cincinnati to defeat the Chargers and advance to Super Bowl XVI. It’ll be a lot warmer in the ‘Nati on Sunday, and there won’t be quite as much on the line, but it’s still a big game for the Bengals, with the season on the line. Pick: Cincy
San Francisco at Detroit: Speaking of Super Bowls, the Niners beat the Bengals in Super Bowl XVI, played in Detroit, or nearby at the Pontiac Silverdome. The 49ers are a long way from the Super Bowl these days, but they do have three ugly wins. The Lions hit the win column last week, as well. Make that two in a row for Motown. Pick: Detroit
Washington at Philadelphia: Redskins got a big win last week against the Cowboys. The Iggles have been very inconsistent, and need to get a streak going. Donovan McNabb comes up big this week. Pick: Philly
Denver at Oakland: The Raiders have two wins, which are two more than many expected early in the season. The Broncos got a big road last week against the struggling Steelers. Broncos continue to roll against the hated Raiders. Pick: Denver
New Orleans at Pittsburgh: When this game was scheduled, it would not have been a surprise for one team to be 6-2, and the other to be 2-6. The surprise is that the Saints are 6-2, and the defending champion Steelers are 2-6. This has ambush written all over it. But I’m not biting on that. Saints win. Pick: New Orleans
St. Louis at Seattle: Winner is in 1st place in the NFC West. Seahawk studs Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck are listed as doubtful. It then becomes a question of which Rams team shows up. I’m guessing that the Seahawks come through at home. Pick: Seattle
Chicago at New York Giants: Both teams were looking ahead last week, as the Bears lost, and the Giants should have lost. This will still be a good game. The Giants have been looking better against better competition, and are playing at home. Pick: G-Men
Tampa Bay at Carolina: The Bucs have two wins, and one of them is over the Panthers. Lightning won’t strike twice. Pick: Carolina

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

College Picks-Weekend of November 11

There’s another big Thursday night game, so it’s another week for early picks.

Last Week: 12-8 Season: 138-62

I missed on Colorado School of Mines vs. Mesa State. It gets worse, as I picked Republicans over Democrats in both houses last night. Two years until the mother of all elections….

Texas Tech at Oklahoma: The Sand Aggies make their first trip to Norman since last year’s Big XII officiating debacle on the Plains, where Tech scored the winning touchdown on a questionable series of calls/no calls/booth reviews. Sooners take no prisoners. Pick: OU
Baylor at Oklahoma State: The Bears’ season is in a tailspin. The Cowboys are back home after being thumped by Texas. OSU can score points on anyone, except Texas. Pick: OSU
Nebraska at Texas A&M: Nebraska, for all intents and purposes, won the North last week over Missouri. The Aggies lost a close one to OU at home. The Ags bounce back here for win #9 in Fran’s make-or-break season. Pick: A&M
Texas at Kansas State: Yeah, right. Pick: Texas
Iowa State at Colorado: Worst game of the year in the Big XII Conference. One coach on the way out, the other on the way in. Cyclones have tanked the season. Pick: CU
Louisville at Rutgers: One week after winning the biggest regular-season game in school history, the Ville travels to undefeated Rutgers. Can the Ville defeat undefeated teams two weeks in a row? Yes. Will they? No. Rutgers shuts the Louisville critics up. Pick: Rutgers
Tennessee at Arkansas: The Vols had a good thing going until last week, when QB Erik Ainge was injured and Phat Phil’s Big Orange lost to the LSU Tigers. Now, they head for the hills of Arkansas, where the Hogs are having a fine season of their own. The Razorbacks continue to roll, at least for one more week. Pick: Arkansas
Ohio State at Northwestern: Buckeyes had a close call last week at Illinois, while Northwestern got their biggest win of the season to date at Iowa. Buckeyes continue to look ahead to the showdown with Michigan, but have enough to get through this one. Pick: Ohio State
Miami at Maryland: The Canes have much more important things on their mind, such as the murder of a teammate this week. No matter what, this would be the year of the Terp in this one. Fear the Turtle. Pick: Maryland
South Carolina at Florida: The Ole Ball Coach returns to the Swamp for the first time with the Gamecocks. He doesn’t have half the team at SC that Urban Meyer does at Florida. Pick: Gators
Notre Dame at Air Force: Air Force is fresh off a 43-7 pasting of Army, which could have been a lot worse. This could be a dangerous trip for the Irish. Talent prevails, though. Pick: Notre Dame
Alabama at LSU: The natives are restless in Tuscaloosa, as the Tide lost to SEC bottom-feeder Mississippi State last week. LSU saved their season last week, with a big win over Tennessee in Knoxville. LSU is a better team this year. Pick: Tigers
Wake Forest at Florida State: This is where we find out if the Deacons are for real. The ‘Noles have their worst team in 30 years, but are still dangerous at home. By the way, Bobby Bowden is a deacon, also, in a Baptist church in Tallahassee. He’s not a demon Deacon, though. FSU comes up big for the second week in a row. Pick: Seminoles
Oregon at USC: Big game at the Coliseum, the first of three this month for the Trojans, in addition to a date at the Rose Bowl with UCLA. The Men of Troy have lost one game to a team from Oregon. They won’t let it happen again. Pick: USC
N.C. State at Clemson: Another stop on the Chuck Amato death watch for the Wolfpack. Clemson finds itself as another middle-of-the pack ACC team, in a year when it was all there for the taking. Clemson has a better team this week. Pick: Clemson
Georgia at Auburn: The oldest rivalry in the South resumes. Georgia has been very disappointing this year. Auburn has the one loss to Arkansas. This might get ugly. Pick: Auburn
Minnesota at Michigan State: Minnesota is coming off a surprising blowout win over Indiana. Michigan State is playing out the string under lame duck coach John L. Smith. Flip a coin on this one. Pick: MSU
Vanderbilt at Kentucky: Cats need this one to become bowl eligible. Vandy is competitive, and will keep it close. Kentucky wins, though. Pick: UK
Wisconsin at Iowa: Hawkeyes are melting down fast. Wiscy is rolling through every team not named Michigan. Pick: Wisconsin
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Pomona-Pitzer: Battle of the Claremont Colleges. C-M-S is shooting for a winning season, while P-P has won two games all season. Pick: C-M-S

Monday, November 06, 2006

NFL Week In Review-Week 9

My take on the Cowboys-Redskins game is found elsewhere on this blog.

The New York Football Giants were nearly caught looking ahead to next week’s game with the Bears, as they scored a late touchdown to sneak past the Houston Texans, 14-10. Tiki Barber, the league’s leading rusher, finally scored his first touchdown of the season. David Carr bounced back for the Texans after last week’s benching, scoring a rushing touchdown. The Giants are in command of the NFC East with a record of 6-2.

Somewhere, Nick Buoniconti is smiling. The Miami Dolphins, winners of one previous game, defended the legacy of their 1972 undefeated team by defeating the previously undefeated Chicago Bears, 31-13. This is not the first time the Dolphins have beaten an undefeated Bears team, as they stopped the 1985 Bears juggernaut in a famous Monday Night game at the Orange Bowl. Joey Harrington is turning into a good NFL quarterback.

Harrington’s former team, the Lions, got a big win over the Atlanta Falcons, 30-14. Kevin Jones had two rushing touchdowns for Detroit. Mike Martz, the offensive coordinator, is a mad scientist, and has turned the Lions into an offensive machine. For one day, their defense cooperated, and they got their second win of the year.

The Buffalo Bills won the Snowplace Bowl, defeating the Green Bay Packers, 24-10. This game will prove to be totally irrelevant, as neither team is headed anywhere this year.

The Cincinnati Bengals are in big trouble. They are now 4-4, and trail the Baltimore Ravens by two games in the AFC North, after a 26-20 loss to the Ravens in Baltimore. The Ravens are a force to be dealt with in the AFC.

Another AFC North team in even bigger trouble are the Pittsburgh Steelers. They fell to 2-6, with a 31-20 loss to the Denver Broncos. The Steelers are headed nowhere fast. The Broncos had a big day from Javon Walker, who had over 200 total yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown. The Broncos are looking strong out West in the AFC.

Also looking good out West are the San Diego Chargers, who overcame a slow first half to defeat the Cleveland Browns, 32-25. The Chargers are now 6-2, as well.

Trent Green may not have a job when he comes back from injury. The Chiefs have now won 5 games with backup QB Damon Huard calling signals. The Chiefs won the Show Me Bowl yesterday over the St. Louis Rams, 31-17. Kansas City is in Missouri, while the Chiefs put the Rams into Misery.

Don’t you think the Jaguars would like to play all their games at home? Behind backup quarterback David Garrard, the Jags made the Titans look like a high school team, crushing them by a score of 37-7. The Jags are All-Pros at home, and dogs on the road.

Elsewhere in the Sunshine State, the New Orleans Saints won their sixth game of the year, as they thumped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-17. Marques Colston, the pride of Hofstra, caught another touchdown pass, and is the Rookie of the First Half of the Year, if there is such a thing. Sean Payton would qualify as Coach of the First Half of the Year.

Yesterday, in San Francisco, a snoozer of a game was staged. I don’t know if it was played, but there were two teams on the field doing something. The 49ers, as bad as they are, now have three wins, after defeating the Vikings 9-3 in a field goal festival. I am so glad our local Fox station decided to pick up the Cowboy game, as they were originally scheduled to show this barnburner at 3:00.

Finally, the Sunday Night game lived up to billing, as the Colts bumped their record up to 8-0, with a big win at New England. Peyton Manning had a couple of touchdown passes, and Tom Brady threw four interceptions. Most of the football world is now saying: “So what? Show me something in the playoffs.” That is where the Pats have the Colts: 3 rings to none. The Colts are the regular season’s team. It remains to be seen if it will transfer to the playoffs.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Big XII Rankings, BCS Projections, And Assorted Ramblings

It was an interesting weekend in college football. There were no major earth-shaking developments, unless you consider the money Las Vegas bookies made off of Ball State and Illinois as those squads fought hard against Michigan and Ohio State.

The Oklahoma Sooners went down to a hostile environment in College Station, and took care of business against the Aggies. Coach Bob Stoops returned to his riverboat gambling ways and made two dangerous play calls, showing confidence in his team. The first was after the Sooners had taken a 14-3 lead, and the Sooners attempted an onside kick. The Aggies recovered, but the message was sent. The second gutsy call occurred late in the game, with the Sooners trying to run out the clock in their own territory. On 4th and inches at their own 30 yard line, Stoops eschewed the punt, and called for a run. The Sooners converted the 1st down, and won the game 17-16.

A surprise is developing in Lexington, Kentucky. Fans and boosters have been calling for the head of coach Rich Brooks for, well, ever since he was hired. Brooks is best known for being the coach of the St. Louis Rams before Dick Vermeil won the Super Bowl, and for building the Oregon program before Mike Bellotti took it to another level. The Wildcats knocked off the reeling Georgia Bulldogs yesterday, giving the Wildcats their biggest win of the year, and putting them one step closer to a bowl. Brooks and staff appear to have saved their jobs, as well.

Elsewhere in the SEC, Sylvester Croom most likely saved his job as coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, with a stunning 24-16 upset over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Croom, one of the first African-Americans to play for Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant at Bama, was passed over for the Bama job in favor of Mike Shula. He has had a rough go of it at probation-riddled Mississippi State. In the meantime, the seat under coach Shula has become warm. Alabama should never lose to Mississippi State. But, USC should never lose to Oregon State, and they did. In these, the days of 85 scholarships, anything can happen, and usually does.

Discussion of the SEC would be incomplete without mentioning how LSU saved their season, as the Tigers of Less Smiles got out of Knoxville with a win over Phat Phil’s Big Orange of Tennessee. Tennessee lost quarterback Erik Ainge, which proved to be the slight difference in the game. The Vols still have games remaining against Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky, and their rebound season is far from complete. LSU is always dangerous.

The Louisville Cardinals made a statement on Thursday night at the Pizza Box with their win over West Virginia. They have an opportunity for an encore, as they visit undefeated Rutgers on Thursday night.

BCS Projections:

BCS NCG: Ohio State vs. Michigan (rematch)
Rose: Notre Dame vs. Cal
Fiesta: Texas vs. Boise State
Sugar: Florida vs. West Virginia (winner of three-way tie with Louisville and Rutgers)
Orange: Georgia Tech vs. Auburn

Big XII Rankings

1. Texas: No one in this conference can touch them.
2. Oklahoma: Have not missed a beat without Adrian Peterson.
3. Texas A&M: Following up OU loss with big home game with Nebraska.
4. Nebraska: Best of a bad bunch in the North.
5. Oklahoma State: Got spanked in Austin.
6. Missouri: Better than the dregs in the North, but not great.
7. Texas Tech: Hung half a hundred on Baylor.
8. Kansas State: Bowl eligible in Ron Prince’s first season.
9. Baylor: Struggling with injuries.
10. Kansas: A win over either of hated rivals KSU or Mizzou makes them bowl-eligible.
11. Iowa State: The death march for Dan McCarney is well underway.
12. Colorado: Dan Hawkins wishes he was still in Boise.

Don't Blame The Rib Man

I’ll review college football later, and the NFL tomorrow. This debacle in D.C. is too fresh not to address.

Tony Romo played a pretty good game. Terrell Owens cost the Rib Man a big play, though, in dropping a sure touchdown pass on what would have been a 70-yard bomb, and would have resulted in a 26-12 lead.

I’m really peeved at the Glorified Gym Teacher, or the New Jersey Con Man. That would be Bill Parcells. With a 6-5 lead in the second quarter (the most unstable of football scores), he decided to go for two, to create a three-point margin. Forget the “card”, or the tool that tells coaches to kick for one point or to go for a two-point conversion in certain situations, depending on the point spread. Don’t use the card in the first half! The Cowboys went for two, and missed. The Cowboys put themselves in a position where they were chasing those lost points for the rest of the game. Therefore, they were tied at the end of the game with a chance to win on a Mike Vanderjagt field goal. However, Vandy’s field goal was blocked by Sean Taylor, who promptly ran the ball back into Dallas territory. To add insult to injury, there was an incidental face mask penalty on the return, so Washington had an untimed down, and was in field goal range as a result of the return. Rookie kicker Nick Novak kicked a field goal, and the Redskins won the game.

This is the beginning of the end of the Big Bill era. Parcells has brought the Cowboys from the level of sucking to the level of mediocrity. However, the team does not appear to be ready to move to the level of greatness which Jerry Jones and Cowboy fans expect. I bet Jack Del Rio would leave Jacksonville to come back to the Cowboys. I wouldn’t mind seeing the return of Sean Payton, either, based on early returns from New Orleans. Heck, while talking about the Saints, let’s bring back Gary Gibbs. He can be the second ex-OU coach to be the head man in Dallas. This ship is in big trouble. Big Bill needs to go back to Jersey.