Friday, December 19, 2008

Bowl Picks, Part 1

Week of December 6: 5-5
Season: 213-77

There are 34 bowls this year. This means that every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision with a winning record made it to a bowl game. If rewarding excellence is the purpose of bowl games, then some of these games are an absolute joke. What these games provide are a way to fill some hotel rooms and to give some cities some publicity on national TV. And, they provide programming for ESPN. Some of these games are glorified exhibitions between mediocre teams. Others are great matchups.

The first of three installments of bowl picks:

EagleBank Bowl, Dec. 20, Washington, D.C. Navy vs. Wake Forest. This amounts to a home game for Navy against a team that the Midshipmen upset earlier in the year. My question is: who wants to go to a bowl game at RFK Stadium in D.C. in December? That’s not exactly a garden spot. Wake Forest gets revenge. Pick: Demon Deacons

New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 20, Albuquerque. Fresno State vs. Colorado State. The first edition of this bowl that does not feature the hometown Lobos. Fresno State has been to bowl games before, while the Rams have made a major improvement this year. Pick: Fresno State

magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl, Dec. 20, St. Petersburg. Memphis vs. South Florida. The latest bowl to be played in a baseball stadium, this new bowl is sponsored by a tool that allows you to plug your phone into a computer. Ok, at least it’s not sponsored by LoJack. Who wants to watch a bowl game between Memphis and USF? Ugh. Pick: USF

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 20, Las Vegas. Arizona vs. BYU. Did you know Las Vegas got three inches of snow yesterday? This is BYU’s fourth consecutive trip to this bowl. I wonder how this bowl would do without BYU in it. Zona finally gets to a bowl in Mike Stoops’ fifth year. The Mountain West has had its way against the Pac-10 this year. That won’t change in this game. Pick: BYU

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 21, New Orleans. Southern Miss vs. Troy. Southern Miss makes a bowl game in a rebuilding year. The men of Troy, Alabama once again won the Sun Belt conference. Troy is a little better than Southern Miss. Pick: Troy

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, Dec. 23, San Diego. TCU vs. Boise State. There’s something wrong when a matchup between the 8th and 11th ranked teams in the nation occurs two days before Christmas in a bowl named for a credit union. At least it’s in San Diego. This game has greatness written all over it. Can the Broncos go 13-0? I don’t know. Pick: TCU

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24, Honolulu. Notre Dame vs. Hawaii. It’s pretty sad when Notre Dame can royally suck and still get a trip to Hawaii. Problem is, they’re playing Hawaii on their home field. It’ll feel just like a BCS bowl in one way for the Irish: they’ll lose. Pick: Hawaii.

Motor City Bowl, Dec. 26, Detroit. Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan. Yuck. There are some bad bowls out there, and this is one of them. Florida Atlantic went 6-6, played in the worst conference in college football, and still made it to a bowl. There’s something wrong with this picture. Central Michigan had it going this year in the MAC before losing to Ball State and Eastern Michigan. Pick: Central Michigan

Meineke Car Care Bowl, Dec. 27, Charlotte. West Virginia vs. North Carolina. Good matchup bound to sell lots of tickets in Charlotte. Tar Heels were one of the better teams in a dreadfully balanced ACC. West Virginia was favored to win the Big East, but ended up here. Pick: North Carolina

Champs Sports Bowl, Dec. 27, Orlando. Wisconsin vs. Florida State. Badgers nearly lost their last game to Cal Poly. Seminoles showed signs of improvement this year, but aren’t quite where they want to be. Pick: FSU

Emerald Bowl, Dec. 27, San Francisco. Miami vs. California. Canes visit the City by the Bay. Hopefully, they’ll have a good sightseeing trip, because there’s no way they’ll beat Cal out there. Pick: Cal

Independence Bowl, Dec. 28, Shreveport. Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech. How did the 6-6 Huskies get into this bowl? The former executive director of the bowl now works for NIU. This is a really lame matchup, brought about because the Big 12 and SEC each sent two teams to the BCS and didn’t have enough teams left for the Indy Bowl to pick. Somebody has to win this game. Pick: Tech

Thursday, December 18, 2008

NFL Picks, Week 16

Here are more picks from 30,000 feet. Once again, Thursday night’s game will start before I post. However, that game has an overwhelming favorite, so this week’s picks will not be adversely affected.

Last week: 9-7
Season: 142-81-1

Baltimore at Dallas (Saturday): The NFL Network brings us the last game ever at Texas Stadium. The Cowboys kissed and made up with each other, at least for one week, while beating the Giants in an ugly 20-8 game. The Ravens, on the other hand, lost a heartbreaker to the Steelers last week in Baltimore. The Cowboys have also lost a heartbreaker late in the game to Pittsburgh. The Ravens are good, but it would be totally wrong for the Cowboys to lose the last game at the Stadium With The Hole In The Roof. Pick: Dallas

Indianapolis at Jacksonville (Thursday): The Colts are the hottest team in the league. The Jaguars have given up the season. Irresistible force meets movable object. Gee, I wonder who’s going to win this game? Pick: Indy

Pittsburgh at Tennessee: Possible preview of the AFC championship game. The Titans were stunned last week by the Texans. The Steelers have pulled two exciting wins out the hat in recent weeks, over Dallas and Baltimore. Go with the home team. Pick: Titans

Miami at Kansas City: The Chiefs found another way to lose on Sunday, giving up two touchdowns to the Chargers in 82 seconds before missing a long desperation field goal try. Now, the Dolphins visit Kansas City with a chance to make the playoffs. Can the Chiefs finish someone off? Don’t bet on it. Pick: Miami

Arizona at New England: The Cardinals were atrocious last week in a 35-14 loss to Minnesota. They now face another week with nothing to gain. That’s the result of winning the awful NFC West by default. The Patriots keep plugging along and still have a chance to win the AFC East. This pick is so easy. Pick: New England

Cincinnati at Cleveland: The Mega Suck Bowl. The only way this game could be worse is if Detroit were involved. Both teams have stunk up the joint this year, though the Bengals got a win last week over the Redskins. The Browns haven’t scored a touchdown in a month, and have lost both parts of their two-headed quarterback monster. Does someone have to win this game? Do Browns’ season ticket holders have to sit in the cold to watch this game? Do they have to play this game? Do I have to pick a winner? The answer to those questions is yes. Pick: Cincy

Philadelphia at Washington: One team is going up, the other is going down. Pick: Philly

San Francisco at St. Louis: The Suck Bowl. This is not quite to the level of Mega Suck, but almost. The Rams lost last week at home to the Seattle Seabags. Ugh. The 49ers are headed nowhere as well. Pick: San Francisco

Atlanta at Minnesota: These teams could see each other again in two weeks in the first round of the playoffs. The injury bug is starting to hit the Vikings, but they’re at home. Pick: Minnesota

New Orleans at Detroit: The Saints are playing out the string, but face a test on Sunday: keeping from becoming the first team to lose to Detroit this season. The Lions are 0-14, but aren’t as bad as their record indicates. I’m going to go out on a limb here. There will be no 0-16 team in the NFL this year. Pick: Detroit

Carolina at New York Giants: The Giants have been hammered hard by injury and have lost their last two games. The Panthers have played as well as anyone in the league. This game is for home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Giants get well at home on a cold December Sunday night. Pick: Giants

New York Jets at Seattle: The Jets face a classic trap game as they go to the Northwest to play a bad team with nothing to lose. New York is 0-3 this year in previous trips to the West Coast, including losses to the putrid 49ers and Raiders. The Jets have everything to lose, as the AFC East division title is in sight. The Jets revert to form this week and become the same old Jets. They’ll find a way to lose this game. Pick: Seattle

Houston at Oakland: The Texans have come out of nowhere to win four in a row. They now head to Oakland to play the sad-sack Raiders. Make that five in a row. Pick: Houston

Buffalo at Denver: It would be fitting if Denver got a snowstorm this weekend with the Bills in town. The Bills threw a game away last week, and can’t wait for this season to be over. The Broncos have another chance to clinch the AFC West this week. They get the job done. Pick: Denver

Tampa Bay at San Diego: The Bucs lost a heartbreaking overtime game last week in Atlanta, severely impairing their playoff chances. They now have to head to the West Coast to play a mercurial Chargers team. Will the men in pewter have anything left? Who knows? Pick: San Diego

Green Bay at Chicago (Monday): Monday Night Football returns to the shore of Lake Michigan for the resumption of one of the league’s great rivalries. The Packers have nothing left to play for but pride. The Bears are trying to keep pace with the Vikings for the NFC North crown. It’ll be really cold in Chicago on Monday night. Pick: Bears