Monday, December 31, 2007

Back to Bowling: 12 games in 2 days means Happy New Year

With 12 games in the next two days, I might have a chance to turn around my pitiful Bowl season record. But I doubt it.

Even though I didn't get a chance to post this weekend, what with me being all consumed with the Patriots' romp into the record books, I still managed to run my Bowl Season record to a putrid 5-10 over the weekend according to my Big Board, which now resembles my annual NCAA Tourney sheet more than ever.

Of the seven games this weekend, I went 3-4, winning with Penn State, 'Bama and Oregon State, but missing badly on UCONN, UCF, Houston and my beloved BC Eagles (how a team that racked up a school-record 11 wins and boasts a Top 10 NFL quarterback beat a mediocre Michigan State team by a mere 3 points I'll never understand.)

But with a dozen contests spanning the New Years holiday, I have a chance to redeem myself. Either that or I will tank so bad that i will give up this prognosticating bullshit forever. But definitely one of the two.

So without further adieu, I give you my six New Year's Eve picks. Feel free to line the cat box with them.

Bell Helicopter's Armed Forces Bowl
(6-6) vs. Air Force (9-3)
Fort Worth 12:30 ESPN
LINE: Cal - 4 1/2

This one is a real head scratcher, or what the real gamblers call a trap game.

Cal was one of the biggest disappointments of the season, climbing all the way to the dreaded #2 spot in the polls before shitting the bed worse by losing six of its last seven contests.

Air Force, meanwhile, is playing in its first bowl game since 2002 after a terrific season that saw the academy defeat hated rival Notre Dame (I know, who didn't?), Army and the bowl bound Utah Utes. No longer a spread option, pass-first team, the Falcons won six of its last seven games thanks to a potent rushing attack, led by two-way threat Chad Hall (1,418 yds rush, 488 yds rec) that was second in the NCAA.

Throw in the fact that Cal studs RB Justin Forsett and WR/KR DeSean Jackson are banged up, and Jackson will not start due to a rules violation, and include the disappointment factor of the Bears going from a BCS bowl to Forth Worth, and all signs point to an Air Force outright victory.
Plus it's called the friggin' ARMED FORCES BOWL!

MY PICK: Air Force 31, Cal 28

Brut Sun Bowl
(9-3) vs. Oregon (8-4)
El Paso 2:00 CBS
Line: USF -6

This review will be short and sweet, because this one looks like another no-brainer.

Although both teams also held the taboo Number 2 ranking at one point this season, USF, despite losing three in a row in bad fashion, still had a great season and is considered a team on the rise.

The Ducks potential championship season came to a crashing halt when Heisman hopeful QB Dennis Dixon got injured in a loss to Arizona on November 15th, and Oregon hasn't won since.

Look for the staunch Bull defense, led by Big East defensive Player of the Year DE George Selvie, to shut down Ducks leading rusher Jonathan Stewart and put the clamps on Brady 'don't call me Ryan" Leaf and come out of El Paso with USF's second bowl win ever, although I don't believe they will cover the number.

MY PICK: USF 24, Oregon 21

Humanitarian Bowl
Fresno St (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)
Boise 2:00 ESPN2
Line: Ga Tech -6

Maybe this is why I'm such a horrible gambler, because I can't figure out the line on this one, either. Georgia Tech is coming off a disappointing season in which it lost to nearly every rival--Virginia, Va Tech, Maryland and intrastate foe Georgia--, the latter loss resulting in the dismissal of head coach Chan Gailey after the season.

That leaves the Jackets in the unenviable position of trying to win a game 1000 miles away from home in the cold for an interim coach who will be ousted in favor of incoming skipper Paul Johnson as soon as this one is over.

Fresno, on the other hand, has played many games on the smurf turf against conference opponent Boise St, and even though they have been throttled by the Broncos here recently, at least they aren't going to be experiencing that "where the hell are we" feeling the Jackets will undergo.

Ironically both teams recently won this bowl, Tech in 2002 against Tulsa and Fresno in 2004 against Virginia. The Bulldogs will have their hands full trying to stop Yellow jacket's running back Tashard Choice, who ran for 1300 yards and 10 TDs, but either way I like Fresno and creative coach Pat Hill to keep the game close and cover the spread.

MY PICK: Tech 27, Fresno 24

I'll have to do the other games later--I am at work and have to do some actual work before we leave for the day.

Okay, I'm home now and ready to predict the next three "locks of the day". Get your leftover Christmas spending cash ready...

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Florida State (7-5) vs. Kentucky (7-5)
Nashville 4:00PM ESPN
Line: Kentucky -7 1/2

Can someone please tell me how a team that has 36 players suspended and/or ineligible for this game can even be allowed to compete in a bowl game? I mean aren't these things supposed to represent something other than shameful money grabs by institutions of higher learning and venue hosts?

Oh yeah, you're right, what the fuck was I thinking.

FSU makes the trip to the Music City minus about a third of its team thanks to a major academic scandal that found a number of players cheating on --wait for the ironic twist-- an online music class exam, among other various and sundry transgressions, and as a result of a school-instituted investigation, the Noles will play Bobby Bowden's penultimate bowl game at a major disadvantage, personnel-wise.

Not that Rich Brooks and the Wildcats are shedding any tears for the formerly formidable Noles. The Cats have their own problems to worry about, like salvaging what was once a promising season by winning its second consecutive game in Nashville after jumping out to a 5-0 record and a #14 ranking before dropping 5 of its last 7 games.

The key for the Cats is senior stud QB Andre Woodson, who despite his own late-season maladies (10 INTs in the last 8 games) will be a probable top 10 pick in the next NFL draft. ifd Woodson can control the ball and prevent FSU's depleted D from making big plays, the Cats should win easily.

Hell, just by showing up with a +36 man advantage should mean the Cats should win easily.

Even though I'm a Noles fan, I;m a realist, and reality says that a mediocre team before the loss of so many players shouldn't have a snowball's chance in Tally of winning this game.

MY PICK: Kentucky 45, FSU 24 Bowl
Indiana (7-5) vs. Oklahoma St (6-6)
Tempe 6:00PM NFL Net
Line: OSU - 4 1/2

Fitting that the first real game that no one cares about is being carried on the network that nobody watches.

Indiana has been a feel-good story, making its first trip to a bowl in 14 years just a season removed from the sudden death of former coach Terry Hoeppner from brain cancer last June. The overachieving Hoosiers havne't gone bowling since 1993, and a win for Coach Hepp would be a sweet way to honor a man known as a player's coach who fought a long battle with the disease, coming back to coach twice following surgery, until the end.

OSU had a disappointing season, with the highlight being coach Mike Gundy's now infamous post-game tirade regarding a reporter's story that his kids were too soft for D1 football. "I'm a man...I'm 40" became the stuff of YouTube legend, and as a result, the coach got more pub than his underachieving club.

But the Cowboys have played quite a few tough, tight games this season, including losses to Kansas State and Texas by a combined 5 points, as well as a few blowouts (49-17 loss to Bedlam rival Oklahoma, 45-14 loss to lowly Nebraska), but all those tough Big 12 contests should make this battle-tested club no match for the Hoosiers, which padded its win total thanks to a patsy schedule.

MY PICK: OSU 37, Indiana 21

Chic-fil-a Bowl
(8-4) vs. Clemson (9-3)
Atlanta 8:00 ESPN
Line: Clemson -2

Another one of those offensive/defensive matchups as the gritty Auburn Tigers take on the flashy Clemson Tigers in a battle to see which big cat has the bigger bite.

Auburn is always known for its grind-it-out style and ferocious defense (thus producingmany a 10-7 game over the years), but this time they might have met their matches. The Clemson cats are also sound defensively, allowing just 18 PPG, but where they have the advantage is on the offensive side of the ball.

Led by junior QB Kellen Harper (2887 yds, 27 TDs) and the twin tandem RBs of James Davis (992 yds, 9TDs) and CJ Spiller (656 yds, 2TDs), combined with receiver Aaron Kelley (1045 yds, 11 TDs), Clemson was 25th in the nation in scoring offense at 36 PPG, while offensive-challenged Auburn was a mere 85th in scoring (24PPG) and 104th in total yards/game.

So the question is, which side of the ball will have the advantage?

My money (if I was stupid enough to wager any on these things) says the Tigers team with the solid defense AND explosive offense wins out over the anemic offense/ stellar defense of those other Tigers in a fairly low-scoring, close affair.

But what do I know.

MY PICK: Clemson 17, Auburn 14

Just so you know, if I go 0-6 today, I will NOT be waking up early tomorrow to post on the first games of the day.

Happy New Year's everybody!See you in 2008!


Friday, December 28, 2007

Back to normal: another Bowl, another loss

Yesterday's result
Pac Life Holiday Bowl:
Texas 52, Az St 34 MY PICK: ASU 31, Texas 25

MY Bowl Season record: 2-6

The thing about my predictions is, when I miss, I MISS.

Not only did the Sun Devils get throttled by an uncharacteristically hungry Longhorn team, but the fact that Texas overcame one of the wackiest plays in recent bowl history and still won going away made the loss all the more painful-and perplexing.

Leading 21-0 after a first quarter blitzkrieg that saw ASU cough up the ball twice and look as hapless as the Miami Dolphins, Texas was the victim of one of the strangest plays in bowl history when an assistant coach--who just happened to be head coach Mack Brown's stepson-- touched a live Sun Devil fumble that ended up giving the ball to ASU, which then subsequently scored on the ensuing play to put ASU back in the game, 21-7.

Too bad for Devils fans that belated Christmas present didn't pay long term dividends, as Texas, behind QB Colt McCoy's 258 all-purpose yards and RB Jamaal Charles' 161 yards on the ground, routed the hapless Sun Devils in another high-scoring Holiday Bowl.

Which ended up dropping my Bowl Season record to a dismal 2-7.

Alas I've basically given up all hope of even sniffing .500 this postseason, and I've nearly decided to use the old gambler's trick of going with the opposite team that I think is going to win just so I can salvage some sort of dignity this year--or at the very least have a legitimate excuse why I suck so bad at prognosticating football games.

No matter the horrendous record, I will soldier on, and with three games on tap tonight, I still see the glass as half full, although an 0-3 tonight could force me into another 2 month semi-retirement. But I will say this: my predictions are gong to be a lot shorter from here on out.

Champs Sports Bowl
Boston College (10-3) vs. Michigan St (7-5)
5:ooPM ESPN, Orlando
Line: BC -5

Call this one the after work special. About the time everyone who isn't on vacation is cutting out for the weekend, these two schools will be squaring off for the first time in what should be another entertaining bowl game.

BC had a terrific season, climbing all the way to the taboo Number 2 ranking, led by probable top-10 NFL draft pick, QB Matt Ryan. despite the disappointment of falling to a lower-tier bowl, the Eagles should have enough offense to overcome a lackluster Spartan squad, which is just happy to be bowling after a disappointing campaign under first-year coach Mark Dantonio.

Look for Ryan to light up the porous (27PPG) MSU defense, and the Eagles to roll in their first bowl game since 1993.

MY PICK: BC 28, MSU 19

Texas Bowl
TCU (7-5) vs. Houston (8-4)
8PM NFL Network, Houston
Line: TCU - 6 1/2

looks like this game is living up to its name as two home state squads square off in a game for bragging rights in the Lone Star state.

TCU was supposed to have a big year, but early season losses to Air Force and Wyoming put a halt to any BCS dreams. Houston, meanwhile, was a pleasant surprise, finishing in the top three in C-USA in scoring, rushing yards and passing yards per game. Running back Anthony Aldridge is a beast, rushing for a near-school record 1568yards and 14 TDs, and with the Cougars scoring 36 PPG, the Horned Frogs #16 rated defense will have their work cut out for them if they want to salvage what could have been a special season.

MY PICK: Houston 27, TCU 21

Emerald Bowl
Maryland (6-6) vs. Oregon St (8-4)
830PM EST San Francisco ESPN
Line: OSU -4 1/2

In one of the many 'who cares?" bowls of the season, OSU's power running game should be too much for a weak Terrapin defense, and combined with a solid Beaver rushing defense (2nd in the NCAA), that should be enough to propel Oregon State to the win.

MY PICK: OSU 31, Maryland 21


Thursday, December 27, 2007

2007 Bowl Season: Hooray! I'm on a roll

Thanks to Central Michigan's late comeback I have started a new winning streak- 1 in a row!

Last Night's Results:
Motor City Bowl
Purdue 51, Cent. Mich 48 MY PICK: Purdue 38, CMU 35


Ah, finally, after five straight losses I get to drink the sweet nectar of victory.

Who cares if the Boilermakers spoiled a 28-point 3rd quarter comeback and a late, game-tying touchdown by the Chippewas when they kicked a game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock--I still predicted a game correctly, right down to the three point differential.

I nearly had to take the day off today to recover from my shock.

Purdue QB Curtis Painter threw for an astounding 546 yards--the 4th highest total in Bowl history-- and the two clubs combined for a staggering 99 points in regulation in what was another exciting post-season contest following this season of upheaval and unbelievable results.

The most unbelievable aspect being that I finally got off the schneid to inch my record ever so close to respectability.

The big question is, will I be able to creep towards .500 before the slew of weekend games begins tomorrow by correctly calling tonight's Holiday Bowl, traditionally one of the highest scoring, wild & woolliest affairs of the bowl season?

I'm not sure, but I'm gonna give it a shot. Wish me luck.

Tonight's Game:
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
(9-3) vs. Arizona St. (10-2)
San Diego, 8PM ESPN
Line: Texas - 2 1/2

Might as well call this one the Consolation Bowl.

Both of these clubs had national championship aspirations for this 2007 season-- Texas when it was ranked as high as #4 coming into the season, and ASU when the Sun Devils climbed all the way to that #4 perch after starting the year 8-0, only to come crashing down to earth following losses to Oregon and USC in November.

To make matters worse, ASU still had a BCS berth in its sights until that 20-point drilling the Trojans gave them at home on Thanksgiving night.

Yeah, thanks for fucking up our whole season, SC.

But both squads have no one to blame but themselves for ending up in the annual pointfest that is the Pac Life Holiday Bowl. Texas and ASU are loaded with talent, including both quarterbacks (Rudy Carpenter for ASU, Colt McCoy for Texas), Longhorns RB Jamaal Charles and Sun Devils safety Troy Nolan, who led the Pac-10 with 6 INTs this season.

Problem is, Texas was plagued by inconsistent play from McCoy (21 TDs but 18 picks) and an ineffective defense (25 PA/game.) While the Longhorns are taking a major step backwards by winding up back in San Diego after a couple of recent trips to BCS bowls, including that Rose Bowl championship game with Vince Young a few years ago, ASU is just happy to be improving under nomadic coach Dennis Erickson.

That spells trouble for Texas, who could be disinterested in winning a lower-level bowl after tasting championship glory.

MY PICK: Arizona State 31, Texas 25


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bowling for Dollars? Hardly

My knack for picking almost every game wrong is catapulting me into near legendary status, cementing my legacy as the World's Worst Gambler.

Recent Bowl Results: Bowl:
Cincy 31, So. Miss 21 MY PICK: Cincy 38, So. Miss 24
-New Mexico Bowl:
New Mexico 23, Nevada 0 MY PICK: Nevada 35, New Mexico 28
-Las Vegas Bowl:
BYU 17, UCLA 16 MY PICK: BYU 44, UCLA 21
-Hawaii Bowl:
East Carolina 41, Boise St. 38 MY PICK: Boise St


Ah, it's nice to see that as the years go by, some things never change. Britney is still going to be batshit crazy; George Bush will be a bumbling idiot; American Karaoke will continue to draw gazillions of viewers despite being and absolutely unwatchable piece of claptrap garbage...

...and I will be picking football game outcomes about as well as Pam Anderson picks spouses.

Six games into the 2007 Bowl Season and my record speaks for itself. It says "I SUCK WORSE THAN THE NEW 'ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS' MOVIE!" How bad is it? I Lost a game that I didn't even post about and never publicly stated who I thought would win.

That would be the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, which I didn't get to post about due to the insanity that is the pre-Christmas craze. But I had penciled it in on my bowl sheet as an easy Boise win, only to have the Broncos get demolished early, come back late, then lose in agonizing fashion on a last-second, hideous-looking kick by the Pirates, handing Boise its second heartbreaking loss on the Big Island in exactly one month.

So my record stands at a Miami Dolphins-esque 1-5 after six bowls, and with the onslaught of games about to begin over the next week, I could just go into hiding (again) and claim the holiday hysteria caused me to forgo the rest of the predicting for the year.

But what fun would that be? For you guys, that is?

Instead I will press on, buoyed by the knowledge that even though I am hanging my propensity for awful predictions out on a line for all to see, at least it gives my readers plenty of fodder, as well as reason to believe that no matter how bad your bowl sheet is looking, it can't be any worse than mine.

You're welcome.

On to the next wave of embarrassment!

Motor City Bowl
Central Michigan
(8-5) vs. Purdue (7-5)
7:30PM ESPN, Detroit
Line: Purdue -8 1/2

On paper this one looks like a high-scoring thriller, with both the Chippewas(easily one of the best nicknames in D1) and Boilermakers (easily one of the worst)averaging about 33 PPG, with each team possessing one of the most prolific passers in college football today.

Central Michigan's sophomore sensation Dan Lefevour threw for 3360 yards with 23 TDs and 13 INTs and also ran for over 1000 yards and 17 more scores, joining Vince Young as the only two QBs to pass for over 3000 yards and rush for over 1000 in one season.
In short, he's a freaking stud.

But Purdue has it's own stud QB in Curtis Painter. The senior also threw for 3300 yards, with 26 TDs and only 9 picks all season. Although he doesn't run like Lefevour, his veteran leadership and deep receiving corps make him just as dangerous as the double-threat Chippewa.

Purdue won the first meeting between these teams, 45-22, back in September, but since then Central has been on a roll, winning 7 of 10 games, although the news that head coach Butch Jones could be heading back to West Virginia to take over for his former mentor Rich Rodriguez could be a distraction for the club.

Purdue has had somewhat of a disappointing season, losing 5 of its last 7 games after jumping out to a 5-0 start. But Joe Tiller has guided this club to bowl games in 10 of 11 seasons, and he will be sure to have his team fired up to prevent any kind of revenge factor from sinking the Boilermakers in this one.

So who will win? The logical choice would be Purdue, with the focused coach, senior signal caller and Big 10-tested team, but we all know I never pick based on logic. I say the Chipps do let revenge guide them, and that combined with the home field advantage and the "win one for the departing coach" mindset will guide them to compete in what should be a high-scoring, close affair.

MY PICK: Purdue 37, Central Michigan 34


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bowl Scoreboard: 1-1, but still having fun

Yesterday's results:
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Fla Atlantic 44, Memphis 27

My Bowl Season Record: 1-1

Today's Games:
1PM: Bowl: Cincy vs. So. Miss
4:30PM New Mexico Bowl: Nevada vs. New Mexico
8PM: Las Vegas Bowl: BYU vs. UCLA

Well as you can see I'm back to my old self again, missing badly on my prediction that Memphis would win outright against the up & coming Howard Schnellenberger-led FAU Owls.

Despite a valiant comeback that saw the Tigers cut a 30-13 second quarter lead to 30-27 early in the third, the pesky Owls tacked on a couple more TDs against a butter-soft Memphis D to pull away and win handily.

Ah well, at least I'm back in my comfort zone.

But I can get right back on track today as we have our first multiple-bowl day of the season, with three games on tap, and all three appear to be pretty decent games, and only one has a funky name.

Let's see if I can right this ship before I tumble back into Worst Gambler in the World territory once again (lucky I don't actually waste any money on these things) Bowl:
Southern Miss (7-5) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)
Line: Cincy -11 1/2

This is one of few bowl games that looks like a mortal lock. Cincy had a great start to the season, opening 6-0, before losing 3 of its last 6 games, and are led by senior QB Ben Mauk, a transfer from Wake Forest who had a terrific season for the Bearcats (2700+ yards, 27 TDs, 6INTs). With Mauk at the helm, Cincy averaged nearly 37PPG, good for 15th in the country.

Southern Miss, meanwhile, will be playing its final game for coach Jeff Bower, who resigned under pressure last month after 17 years of leading the school. The Eagles might try and get it together and win one last time for their lame duck coach, and they do have a solid defense (23 points allowed/game), but if Cincy can put its disappointing finish behind them and Mauk can get hot, this one might not be close for Bower's finale.

MY PICK: Cincy 38, So Miss 24

New Mexico Bowl
Nevada (6-6) vs. New Mexico (8-4)
Line: New Mexico -2 1/2

On the surface this game looks like another no-brainer: a local team with a better record playing in a stadium in which it went 5-1 this season going up against a .500 club that allowed 33 PPG and has a freshman starting quarterback.

But dig a little deeper and you'll see this one isn't so obvious a choice. New Mexico starting tailback Rodney Ferguson, who ran for over 1100 yards and 13 TDs, was ruled academically ineligible last week, and he will be replaced by 5'7" junior Paul Baker, who amassed a grand total of 298 yards rushing this season with zero touchdowns.

Throw in the fact that the Lobos haven't won a bowl game since 1961, and the Wolfpack averaged over 500 yards of total offense and 36 PPG, and you can see how this one might not be as much of a clear-cut choice as it would seem to be.

So why are the Lobos favored? Good question. I believe this is what the bettors call a trap, and the combination of the home game and the better record will cause many a novice gambler to fall into it. But me being an experienced loser, err picker, I can see right through the smokescreen, and I say the underdog 'Pack will not only upset the home team and cover the number, but win the thing outright.

MY PICK: Nevada 35, New Mexico 28

Las Vegas Bowl
BYU (10-2) vs. UCLA (6-6)
Line: BYU -6 1/2

An intriguing matchup here. The underachieving Bruins, who fired coach Karl Dorell following this disappointing season, will take on the red-hot Cougars, who won 9 straight to finish the season after dropping two in a row early, including a 27-17 loss to the Bruins in the second week of the season.

Both teams have a solid defense, allowing less than 23 PPG, but BYU also boasts a dynamic offense, scoring over 30PPG, while the Bruins anemic offense barely managed to tally three TDs per contest.

So will the Bruins rally around interim and possible future head coach DeWayne Walker, restore some school pride, and defeat the Cougars for the second time this season? Or will BYU, led by dynamic QB Max Hall (3600+ yards, 26 TDs) and freshman RB Harvey Unga (1200 yards, 8TDs) exact payback against the reeling Bruins?

My guess: payback's a bitch, Bruins.



Friday, December 21, 2007

2007 Bowl Season off to a roaring start

Yesterday's Results: Utah 35, Navy 32

My 2007 Bowl Series Record: 1-0

Tonight's game:
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
(7-5) vs. Florida Atlantic (7-5)
Line: Fla Atl - 3 1/2

Well, so far so good for my season of predictions.

Although Navy choked away an early lead and blew numerous opportunities to put the Utes away in the first half (such as fumbling the ball near the goal line in the second quarter), only to cave in to the relentless Utah offensive attack in the second half, the Middies still made it enough of a game to cover the number and earn me a win.

And if they hadn't been robbed of what should have been a touchback called with a few minutes left in the game, then wasted a beautiful onsides kick in the final minute when QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada (thank you, cut & paste)threw an interception as the Middies were driving towards a potential game-tying touchdown, the Midshipmen could have won the game outright.

Still, it was an exciting opening to the 2007 bowl season, and tonight's Game 2 promises to be another wild & woolly offensive affair.

That's because neither Memphis nor FAU play a lick of defense. Both schools are ranked near the bottom of the NCAA in defense, allowing over 30 points per game, and both schools love to light up the scoreboard, posting 30 PPG.

The difference could come in the history. While the Tigers have a long tradition of football (albeit not very good football), FAU is a relative newborn in the college pigskin ranks, having started the program from scratch just seven years ago. Although the Owls have the ancient field general Howard Schnellenberger leading the way, a 7-year-old team in its first bowl game has no business winning one its first time out.

Therefore I am going to take the Tigers, who average more total yards, passing yards and rushing yards than the upstart Owls, to cover the number and win the game outright. Let's see if I can get on a little winning streak before the season really heats up.

MY PICK: Memphis 37, FAU 33


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Time to go Bowling!

Only the unparalleled rush of College Bowl Season could draw me back to the blogosphere.
Even the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

Stop me if you've heard this before: I'm sorry I haven't posted in so long, but...

Can I start again now?

I know it seems as if I stopped and started posting to this blog more times than Bill Parcells has agreed to lead an NFL team only to renege on his deal, but all I can say is that the stress &/or duress of starting a new job, coaching my son's Little League team, and blogging about the World Champion Red Sox every day for 8 months straight caused me to have a severe case of blogging backlash.

Throw in the fact that I don't make a cent to do this, and the choice to step away from the keyboard for a while was a pretty easy one.

But if there's one thing that could draw me back to the monitor like the paparazzo to Brangelina's brood, it's the onset of the college football bowl season.

Are there too many bowls? Hells yes. Over half the teams in Division 1-A, a.k.a. the Bowl Division subset, or whatever the fuck the powers that be in the NCAA are calling it now, will play in a postseason game.

Do the names of the bowls get more ridiculous every year? Thanks to unabashed corporate sponsorship run amok, you bet your sweet Poulan Bell Helicopter Tostitos Emerald Nuts ass they do.

But I'm a sucker for the pomp and pageantry that is NCAA football, and compared to the gigantic hemmorhoid the NFL season (save for the beloved Pats) has been this year, I'm am going to relish--and predict--each and every blessed bowl for the next three weeks, until the undisputed national champion is crowned on January 7th.

Unless I have another horrendous streak like I did last bowl season. then I might have to renege on this posting promise quicker than Papa Tuna fucked over the Falcons.

On to the most wonderful time of the year!

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
(8-4) vs. Navy (8-4)
Line: Utah -8

Throw out the fact that this is the most ridiculously named bowl of all 32, it also happens to be the first of them all, therefore it carries some importance.

Plus you've got two pretty decent teams, each of which is adept at mastering one side of the line of scrimmage.

Navy has become an offensive powerhouse the last couple of seasons, so much so that head coach Paul Johnson has jumped (mid)ship to try and resurrect the flagging Georgia Tech program. The Middies average over 350 rushing yards/game, led by all-name team finalist quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada.

Utah, meanwhile, has hardly suffered from Urban upheaval since coach Meyer took his spread option offense to the Gainseville Swamp. The Utes might not score as much as Navy, but the sure can defend, allowing just over 15 points per game and holding the opponent to just over 130 yards on the ground per game.

As the old saying goes, something's gotta give.

Utah is riding a 6 game bowl winning streak dating back to 1999, but Navy will be playing a de facto home game in San Diego, home to one of the largest contingents of seamen this side of the Spears sisters' bedrooms.

Even though logic says the stingy, fightin' Utes should hold down a restructuring Navy squad, I'm a sucker for offense, so I'm gonna go with the fun & runnin' Middies to plow through the Utah 'D' and win this one for new coach Ken Niumatalolo.

Plus you gotta love these freakin names!

MY PICK: Navy 28, Utah 27


Sunday, October 07, 2007

NFL Week 5 Games to Watch

While the Pats have a bye (well, they play the Browns at home), Tampa Bay will have its 3-1 record tested by Coach Dungy & the Colts

Sorry I've been gone for a bit again (I know, I promised I wouldn't do that anymore), but the 1-2 combination of a new job and coaching my son's little League team has left me precious little time for my beloved blogging.

Throw in the fact that I still have to track the Sox as the proceed in the MLB playoffs for my other blog, and you can see how it can be a little tough to keep up with this particular site.

Anyway, I'll quit with the excuses and get to the previews. As we enter Week 5 of the NFL schedule, there are a number of surprises throughout the league, namely the fact that the Saints (0-3), Bears (1-3), Chargers (1-3) and Rams (0-4) have been HUGE disappointments, while the Packers (4-0), Lions (3-1), Steelers (3-1) and Bucs have been major overachievers, making for a league rife with parity and giving more credence to the term "on any given Sunday..."

The teams that are not surprising anybody continue to be the Pats and Colts, both sitting pretty at 4-0, exactly where every expert expected them to be before the season began.

New England has been absolutely dominant, averaging 37PPG while holding its opponents to a meager 12PPG as the defense has been stifling and Tom Brady continues to utilize his new BFF, Randy Moss, like a kid who just got a Nintendo Wii for his birthday.

The rejuvenated Moss has torched the rest of the #1 receivers in the league to the tune of 505 yards (1st in NFL) and 7 TDs (1st) on 31 receptions (4th), a 16.3 YPC average that doesn't even begin to tell the story of the grace, style and effortlessness with which he makes most of those catches.

While New England should have no trouble dispatching with the upstart Browns (2-2), the Bucs will have their hands full with former coach Tony Dungy's Champion Colts.

That game is just one of five games to watch this week, although I'm not sure how much of the Browns game New Englanders are going to catch with the Sox going for a series sweep against the Angles in the ALDS this afternoon at 3:00.

1. Buccaneers (3-1) at Colts (4-0)
Jon Gruden has not only laid to rest the talk of a possible coaching change after this season by getting his upstart Bucs right in the thick of the playoff mix in the lackluster NFC.

Behind a revitalized defense that is leading the conference in yards allowed per game (291.8), points allowed (44), and bone-jarring hits, and on offense that is finally capable of putting the ball in the end zone with veteran mercenary QB Jeff Garcia at the helm, the Bucs find themselves tied for the second best record in the NFC at the quarter pole one year after finishing with a miserable 4-12 mark.

But this game will be a true test of where the Bucs are at against strong competition. So far Tampa Bay has beaten three teams that are a combined 2-9, and a trip to the RCA Dome isn't exactly a place you want to test your young defensive and offensive players.

Peyton Manning and Co. have barley missed a beat after winning the title despite losing several key players to injury and free agency, and much like the Pats as long as they have Mr. Madison Avenue and mild-mannered genius Dungy they will be able to overcome most NFL obstacles.

Still this match up of the recent Super Bowl champs, laced with the subplot that everyone believes Gruden won his title with Dungy's players in his first season in Tampa lingering in the Dome like fireworks smoke, should make for an intense early season match up, with the deciding factor possible coming in the running game, as Tampa Bay lost starting RB Cadillac Williams last week for the season to a knee injury, a devastating blow to a unit that was averaging 137 YPG, good for 8th in the NFL, one spot below the Colts.
MY PICK: Indy 28, Bucs 24

2.) Browns (2-2) at Pats (4-0)
The only thing mildly interesting about this match up is the return of former defensive coordinator and current Brons head coach Romeo Crennel to New England for the first time since he left the organization for the browner pastures of C-Town three years ago.

Crennel has avoided the hot seat this season by guiding the Browns to a surprising 2-2 start, despite the distractions of signing #1 draft pick QB Brady Quinn just days before the regular season began, and then trading incumbent starter Charlie Frye after Week 2.

Backup-turned-starter Derek Anderson has made the denizens of the Dawg Pound stop clamoring for pretty boy Brady to take the helm of the floundering franchise by leading his team to a 51-45 upset of the cross-state Bengals, and after a loss to Oakland, an impressive 27-13 victory over the hated Ravens, using former Baltimore running back Jamal Lewis as a battering ram against the vaunted Ravens defense.

None of that will matter today. New England is locked and loaded, and you can bet the farm they're not about to fall victim to the upset bug that has been plaguing contending teams throughout the NFL and college landscape this season. The pats will win and win big, and they'll be up by so many points before the start of the Sox game that everyone will be able to tune out in time to catch the opening pitch.
MY PICK: Pats 45, Browns 13

3.) San Diego (1-3) at Denver (2-2)
The reeling Chargers take their sorry sideshow of a squad into the Mile High city fresh of the embarrassing home loss to the mediocre Chiefs, but with the Broncos having trouble living up to their own preseason Super Bowl expectations and learning they may be without the services of starting running back Travis Henry for a drug suspension, this game should be up for grabs.

Which disappointing team will want it more is what this one comes down to, and something tells me the wounded pride of guys like Phillip cry me a Rivers, LaDainian Crybaby Tomlinson and Shawne Merriroid will be enough of a motivator to overcome the offensively inept Jay Cutler and the Broncos. whose two wins have come via last-second field goals.
MY PICK: Chargers 27, Broncos 17

4.) Bears (1-3) at Packers (4-0)
The Bears have gone from cream of the NFC to the bottom of the barrel in just a matter of months, but it's not the anemic offense that is totally to blame for the sudden decline. The top-rated defense of a year ago has sunk to unfathomable depths, allowing a staggering 34 4th-quarter points in a 37-14 loss to the Lions last week, that coming on the heels of a 34-10 shellacking at home by the Cowboys the week before.

The Packers, meanwhile, have been the Saints of the 2007 season, riding the rejuvenated arm of record-setting quarterback Brett Favre to its best start in a decade and playing with the poise and confidence of a team with a veteran leader and a bunch of guys who have no business being one of only four undefeated teams in the league but don't know any better.

This ancient rivalry could take an ugly turn today, as the pack express looks to steamroll the stumbling Bears out of the NFC playoff picture in early October.
MY PICK: Packers 31, Bears 19

5.) Dallas (4-0) at Buffalo (1-3)
The Cowboys look to extend their season-opening streak of scoring at least 34 points in every game when they travel to rowdy Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first Monday Night game in Buffalo since Buffalo Bill was a star vehicle for Dabney Coleman.

With former franchise savior JP Losman relegated to spectator due to injuries and ineffectiveness, Buffalo will look to young QB Trent Edwards to lead the way. the rookie signal caller out of Stanford might be motivated by his alma mater's stunning upset of USC Saturday night, but that won't help his defense stop Tony Romo, running back Marion Barber, T.O. and the rest of the Dallas offensive juggernaut.

This one could be interesting--for a half--but much like Dallas' win at Chicago two weeks ago, look for the 'Boys to salt this one away in the second half and win easily.
MY PICK: Cowboys 41, Bills 24

That's the latest from the blogosphere, and I promise I will try to get back here before Halloween rolls around.

Go Sox!


Sunday, September 23, 2007

NFL Week 3: With Videogate behind them Pats look to go 3-0

New England hosts the Bills, the Bucs are home for the disappointing Rams, and three other games to keep an eye on

1.) Buffalo (0-2) at New England (2-0)
After last Sunday night's absolute ass-kicking of the San Diego Chargers on national television, coupled with the historic fines laid down on Bill Belichick and the franchise PLUS the announcement that the league has destroyed all evidence related to the Pat's video taping scandal, I think it's safe to say New England is ready to put the embarrassing Videogate incident behind them.

At least until they face Man-snitcher and the Jets again.

Today they Pats should be distraction free when they take on the hapless Bills at Gillette. Buffalo was predicted to be a darkhorse playoff contender this season by many 'experts', but after suffering a last-second loss to Denver in Week 1, the Bills got clobbered 26-3 by the Steelers last week.

Buffalo quarterback J.P. Losman, whom many are still holding out hope will turn into a good NFL QB, has been horrid, as usual, and his days as an NFL starter are most likely numbered. In two games Lostman has thrown for 251 yards with no TDs and one pick, and those numbers don't figure to get any better as he goes up against a defense that has allowed just 28 points in two games and decimated the high-powered Chargers attack last week.

Tom Brady is having a field day now that he finally has some targets to throw to downfield who aren't smurfs or geezers. Couple that passing attack with a solid ground game anchored by Lawrence Maroney and capable backups Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris, and you have the makings of a prolific offensive unit.

We already know the defense is good (just ask Ladainian Tomlinson), we know the offense is loaded, and now that the coach has shed the remnants of the first scandal that has somewhat tainted his legacy, New England can get back to doing what they do best: destroying other NFL teams hopes & dreams.
MY PICK: Patriots 38, Buffalo 14 (hey, third time's a charm, right?)

2.) St. Louis Rams (0-2) @ Tampa Bay Bucs (1-1)
This was supposed to be the year, right? The year that new coach Scott Linehan got awoke the offensive juggernaut that used to be known as The Greatest Show on Turf and made the once superior St. Louis Rams relevant again on the STML-afflicted NFL landscape.

Not quite.

After two games the Rams are going backwards. Despite a hefty new contract, Marc Bulger has been as invisible as Whitey Bulger as the starting slinger has totalled just 535 yards and 2 TDs in losses to Carolina and San Francisco, not exactly Super Bowl-caliber teams.

To make matters worse, stud running back Stephen Jackson is already upset that he didn't touch the ball enough in the loss to San Fran, and with just 118 yards on 39 carries and no TDs in two games, you can bet there are a lot of FF geeks who are pretty pissed off that his production is down, too.

All this turmoil could make for a rough day when the rams travel down here to sunny Tampa Bay, where the teams will have a hard time believing it's the first day of fall.

Much like the Saints last week, you can bet the dome-bound Rams will not take too kindly to the stifling 88 degree heat beating down on them at Ray Jay this afternoon, but the temperature should be the least of their worries.

Tampa bay bounced back from a lackluster loss to Seattle in Week 1 with an impressive 34-10 victory of the saints last week at home. Jeff Garcia is a marked improvement over the cavalcade of weak-armed losers Chucky Gruden trotted out behind center last season as the Bucs already have more plays of over 20 yards than they had in the first 10 weeks of last season.

That the offense would be improved with the fiery veteran quarterback leading the offense was no surprise, but it was the re energized defense, which swarmed Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, et al last week that has really surprised the Bucs fans this season.

Led by ageless leaders Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber, youngsters like Barrett Ruud, who was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts last week, Jermaine Phillips, rookie safety Tanard Jackson and rookie linemen Jovan Haye and Greg White, the unit punished the Saints offense, hearkening back to the stout D corps of the 2003 Super Bowl team.

So today will be a real test to see which of these teams is for real and which one can start making excuses as to why they aren't better than advertised.

But at least the Bucs had low expectations going into the season.
MY PICK: Bucs 27, Rams 24

3.) San Diego (1-1) at Green Bay (2-0)
Before the season began this game looked like a mere blip on the Charger's way to the Super Bowl. Then San Diego got steamrolled by the Pats, and Green Bay upset the Giants at home behind the rejuvenated Brett Favre, and suddenly the trip to the not-yet-frozen tundra bodes as a tough test for the playoff-minded Bolts.

Favre passed John Elway as the all time wins leader in the NFL with the victory last week, and coach Mike McCarthy's edict to have Favre curtail his gunslinging ways, i.e. cut out the costly INTs that have plagued him the last few years, has seemed to work, Favre has thrown just two picks in 80 attempts, and if he can continue to keep himself in check, the star-less Pack could be this year's surprise team.

It may not be frozen, but the Chargers won't have an easy day in Green Bay.
MY PICK: Packers 28, Chargers 27 **UPSET SPECIAL**

4.) Detroit (2-0) at Philly (0-2)
Who woulda thunk it? This early season battle between intra-conference rivals means more to the championship-starved Eagles than it does the perennially horrible Lions?

But with Philly adjusting to the newer, slower Donovan McNabb, who inflamed the NFL community when he pulled the race card as the reason for his struggles, and Detroit off to its first 2-0 start since the Eisenhower administration, POhilly desperatley needs this game to remain relevant in the city of brotherly love as the Phillies make a late-season push for the playoffs.

Detroit, behind surprising QB Jon Kitna and stud rookie receiver Calvin Johnson, has been the surprise of the league so far, while the Eagles have looked old and unimpressive. I'm not sure the young lions are ready to win a big game in a hostile environment like this, but it should be fun to see them try.
MY PICK: Eagles 24, Lions 17

5.) Dallas Cowboys (2-0) @ Chicago Bears (1-1) SNF
This should be a classic case of what's more potent: Dallas' offense, which has scored 82 points in two games, or Chicago's defense, which has yielded just 24 points in two games despite losing its first game 14-3 to San Diego.

The Bears unit will be put the test by Tony Romo, TO & Co. tonight at Soldier Field, and it better be up to the task because the Super Bowl runners up cannot afford to drop another game this early in the season.

Then again, this is the NFC, so I guess a handful of losses really shouldn't matter.

This one promises to be an entertaining game as a national audience will get to see just how good Dallas is this season and just how bad the Rex Grossman era can truly be.
MY PICK: Bears 17, Cowboys 14


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NFL Week 2: The Results

Patriots leave Videogate behind with pasting of Chargers while the Bucs lay a beatdown on sorry Saints

New England silences critics with dominating 38-14 win over San Diego

What better way to answer a week loaded with scrutiny, criticism, and enormous expectations than by waylaying your most vocal and bitter opponent on national TV?

The Patriots took care of business and took out their frustrations over answering thousands of questions about the video taping scandal the way they always have throughout the Belichick regime, by treating an opponent like O.J.'s memorabilia dealer, and the end result left no doubt as to whether or not New England needed the aid of stolen game tapes to win their three titles.

Consider the answer a resounding "no".

With the hanging commissioner breathing down their necks, the eyes of the pigskin-loving planet trained on their Sunday Night Football contest, and a snarling bunch of crybaby Chargers ready to rip the Pats a new one, New England came out of the locker room and shoved the football down the throat of the vaunted San Diego defense, then let their own defensive unit lay the hammer on league MVP Ladainian Tomlinson (42 yds), over matched QB Phillip Rivers, the artist formerly known as Antonio Gates and Co.

The revamped defense, playing without suspended safety Rodney Harrison and lineman Richard Seymour, was led by blanketing corners Assante Samuel and Ellis 108 yards Hobbs and versatile linebackers Rosie Colvin (2 sacks, 5 tackled, INT) and Adalius Thomas (3 tackles, INT, TD); those four anchored a furious attack that limited the high-powered Bolts to a mere 201 total yards, a paltry 52 coming on the ground.

Meanwhile the much-hyped retooled offense ran like a well-oiled machine for the second week in a row, racking up an excellently distributed 400 total yards as Tom Brady was a Manning-like 25-31 for 279 yards with three TDs and one pick and New England cranked out 144 yards on the ground.

The Randy Moss experiment continues to get rave reviews as well with the reformed wideout grabbing 8 passes from Brady for 105 yards and two more slick touchdowns, bringing his two game total to 17 receptions for 288 yards (17 Y/C) and three scores, once again proving to be a fantasy geek's wet dream.

Not bad for a guy who missed the entire preseason.

That offense would thrive with Tom Terrific incorporating weapons like Moss, the invaluable Wes Welker and Dante Stallworth into the mix this year was a given; it's the defense that has been the surprise thus far with all the turmoil and uncertainty surrounding the unit coming into the season.

Samuel's holdout, Seymour's continuing health problems forcing him to the sidelines for the first six games of the season, and Harrison's embarrassing suspension for receiving HGH were all factors in pundits questioning whether this year's defense would be able to hold up to the challenge of taking a team to the Super Bowl.

After two weeks, 28 points and 428 yards allowed, I'd say those questions have been answered.

Thomas, the free-agent acquisition from the Ravens, proved that his speed, size, and versatility should be a perfect fit in Belichik's ball-hawing defense, and his interception that he returned 65 yards for a touchdown was a effective reminder that the addition of this physical freak may count just as much as that of Mr. Moss when all is said and done.

And if Rosie Colvin can come back from years of injury and ineffectiveness to play like he did Sunday--punishing the passer, roaming the field from sideline to sideline and crushing people whenever possible--this unit could really turn out to be something special.

Bottom line is that as the furor of Videogate dies down, the focus will return to what this season has been about since the beginning of training camp: how easily the Pats cruise through the regular season, and who's going to stop them on their way to their fourth title in six years?

Bucs send Saints marching back to New Orleans with a demoralizing 31-14 lossThis is why it's so hard to predict what team is going to the Super Bowl year after year--you just cannot base the estimation on what a team did the previous season.

Falling one game short of the ultimate game last year, the high-octane Saints were the chic choice to make it to the Bowl this season, what with Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Marques Colston and Deuce McAlister all having had a year to refine their already potent offensive attack.

So far, not so good.

For the second week in a row the Saints got blindsided by an opportunistic offense while its own offense struggled to move the ball down the field, only this time it wasn't the defending Super Bowl champs doing the damage, it was the backsliding Bucs, who despite the addition of Jeff Garcia looked lackluster in losing to the Seahawks last week.

Don't let the final stats fool ya; New Orleans may have finished with more total yards (343-330), passing yards (244-243) and rushing yards (99-87) than the Bucs, but much of that came in garbage time as Tampa Bay had already jumped out to a 21-0 lead by halftime, and after adding another TD to make the score 28-0 with minutes to go in their third, Chucky called off the dogs on a stifling late September day in the Bay.

Everyone here expected the veteran Garcia to provide an immediate upgrade to what was a young and anemic offense, and the fact that he's been willing to butt heads with Gruden in order to run the plays he wants to run and not just the ones Chucky thinks will work has been icing on the cake.

The fact that 57-year-old receiver Joey Galloway is still able to toast DBs and corral 4 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns as he did in this game is a miracle(of modern science?) in of itself.

But the way the aging defense has regained its Super Bowl swagger while upgrading at most of the key positions has been nothing short of amazing. Against the Saints Monte Kiffin's squad, led by a rejuvenated Derrick Brooks (perhaps still pissed that peter King left him off his Topp 500 players list), patrolled the field like Leonidis and his Spartan army.

Up front Brooks (9 tkls) and emerging stud linebacker Barrett Ruud (11 tkls, 1 fumble recovery), along with newcomers Greg White & Jovon Haye (1 sack each), walloped Bush, Brees and McAlister while Ronde Barber, Jermaine Phillips and Tanard Jackson combined for 18 tackles and kept Brees from connecting with targets Colston, David patten and deep threat Devery Henderson until the game was well in hand.

And so two weeks into this season these two teams sit at 1-1, yet one team is looking like an up-and-comer, while the other is looking like a one-and-doner.

Other games of note:

-Cleveland 51, Cincy 45
In the "WTF?!" game of the week, the offensively-challenged Browns, who jettisoned their starting quarterback following last week's season-opening loss, rolled up 554 yards of offense and hung half a hundy on the reeling Bengals.

Cincy has now allowed 883 yards and 71 points in two games, including a Coltish 337 on the ground, and lost for the first time in five trips to C-Town despite 6 touchdown passes from Carson Palmer and 209 yards and 2 TDs from Chad Johnson, who got doused with beer after jumping into the Dawg Pound following his second TD.

He's lucky they didn't pee on him.

- Green Bay 35, NY Giants 13
The surprising Packers ran their record to 2-0 for the fist time in six years as Brett Favre became the winningest quarterback in NFL history, recording his 149th win to pass John Elway in an absolute pasting of the disgraceful G-Men.

While the star-free Pack continue to win behind the gritty play of their grizzled leader, New york continues to spiral down into an ugly abyss. Although injured QB Eli Manning did play and played pretty well, the Giants defense has allowed 846 yards and 80 points in two games, and the more they lose the more likely Commander Coughlin will be made the scapegoat for this mess sooner rather than later.

-San Fran 17, St. Louis 16 the Rams continue to disappoint fans and pundits who had them pegged as a potential sleeper team
-Indy 22, Tennessee 20 another close, exciting game between these emerging division rivals, this time won by the Mannings
-Pitt 26, Buffalo 3 so much for that turnaround season by the Bills
-Houston 34, Carolina 21 the Carr-less Texans are 2-0 for the first time ever
-Jax'ville 13, ATL 9 the Vick-less Falcons are 0-2 and the question is will they ever win one?
-Detroit 20, Minny 17 Kitna helps 10-0 boast by returning from concussion to lead game-winning drive
-Dallas 37, Miami 20 think Tony Romo, T.O and Co. are glad to be out from under the thumb of the grand Tuna? 41PPG says yes
-Arizona 23, Seattle 20 the Cards use a late FG to get over unimpressive Seahawks
-Chicago 20, KC 10 Devin Hester did it again, returning a punt 73 yards for a score as the Bears toppled the weak Chiefs
-Denver 23, Oakland 20 a late Raider FG was nullified by a Denver timeout, and after Oakland missed the new kick, the Broncos marched down the field and hit the game-winner
-Baltimore 20 NY Jets 13 with two backups QBs battling it out on the field, the Ravens defeated the Jets in an ugly, uninspiring game


Sunday, September 16, 2007

NFL Week 2: Sacks, spies and videotapes

With the specter of Videogate hanging over their heads, Bill Belichick and the Pats must focus on knocking off the bloodthirsty Chargers

We enter the second week of the 2007 season with the New England Patriots occupying a familiar place on the NLF landscape: the most despised team in the league.

But this season, something's different, and I'm not just talking about the revamped receiving corps and the addition of all-everything defender Adalius Thomas.

No, this year in addition to putting together one of the best teams on paper since the Dunder Mifflin crew, the Pats, and coach Hoodie Belichick specifically, have been saddled with the worst label in all of professional sports--cheaters.

When a Patriots assistant coach was busted in the opener for videotaping defensive signals being used on the New York Jets sideline last week at the Meadowlands, the repercussions sent shockwaves rippling throughout the league and further polarized its fanbase.

Jets coach and Sopranos co-star Eric Mangini, a former Belichick assistant who dared leave the Pats fold for the dark side of the Jets before last season, apparently had inside knowledge of the Patriot's cheating ways, but he waited until the fourth meeting with his former team to expose his longtime mentor and his habit of trying to gain a competitive advantage over his opponent at all costs.

The fallout has been a shitstorm of biblical proportions heaped upon the franchise that had become the model for contemporary NFL supremacy, and especially the coach who had always rubbed people the wrong way with his surly demeanor, cryptic quotes, and hideously ugly choice of sideline garb.

After a meeting with Commissioner Roger The Hammer Goodell Belichick was slapped with a fine of $500, 000 bucks, the organization was hit with a $250K tariff and also must suffer the painful loss of a first-round draft pick next April if New England should happen to make the playoffs this year.

Which is like saying Lindsay Lohan must go back to rehab if she ever drinks again.

But the monetary admonishment and loss of a valuable draft pick pales in comparison to the public relations hit the team has taken since the news broke that New England has resorted to such bush-league tactics for much of the dynasty years. Universal respect for what the team has accomplished has turned into an "I knew they were up to something" avalanche, with players, coaches and analysts coming up with instances of examples where the Pats players on the field seemed to know too much about what the plays their opponent was trying to run.

So where do we go from here? The Patriots were already despised by many for beating up on the league for the past six seasons, for stockpiling talent the way Angelina Jolie stockpiles adopted children, and for becoming the standard bearer for the perfect franchise from the ownership to the front office to the coaching staff to the players.

Now they've got a quarterback who had a baby out of wedlock and is getting ready to tie the knot with Leo DiCaprio's leftovers; a wide receiver who was one of the most talented-yet-despised players in the league just a year ago until he found football God and decided to clean up his act for the good of the jewelry; and a coach who has proven that just having the best team and smartest coaches doesn't mean you can't resort to the ancient art of gaining a competitive advantage over your opponent by any means necessary.

My analysis? Patriots overcome the newfound adversity and ride the fuel of widespread hatred all the way to title #4.


1.) San Diego (1-0) at New England (1-0) SNF 8P NBC
Oh you think this one won't be a doozy? The two teams that slugged it out in last year's AFC Wild Card game, resulting in a late Patriots win and subsequent crying by many of the Chargers players including league MVP LaDanian Tomlinson, will meet again under the lights at Gillette for a must-see showdown tinged with revenge and redemption.

Tomlinson and other Chargers have been very vocal about the role of Videogate in that playoff victory last January, and you know he, Steroid Merriman and Phillip Rivers, who was horrible towards the end of that contest, want to exact a small measure of revenge by taking New England down in their own crib on national TV.

Too bad it ain't gonna happen. Brady and Randy Moss proved they are already on their game despite no preseason time together, and the defense, though smarting from the HGH-induced suspension of Rodney Harrison, will be up to the challenge of stopping Tomlinson and forcing Rivers into more foolhardy mistakes that will cost his team the game.
MY PICK: Videogate be damned, Pats 27, San Diego 21

2.) New Orleans (0-1) at Tampa Bay (0-1)
The saints are one of the trendy favorites to reach the Super Bowl from the weak NFC this year, but after getting torched for 41 points in the season opener against the Colts a week ago Thursday, people might want to readjust their opinions.

The Bucs, meanwhile, looked like the same old middling Bucs of four of the past five years, failing to score a touchdown in a 20-6 loss at Seattle despite upgrading the offense with QB Jeff Garcia and with the fire under Chucky Gruden's ass hotter than it has ever been. But something tells me the Bucs are going to make a game of it against their NFC South rivals in what could be the final home opener of Chucky's regime, and although they may not win, look for Tampa Bay to at least keep it close, and possible even get in the end zone.
MY PICK: New Orleans 34, Tampa Bay 24

3.) Cincinnati (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1)
The Bengals may have defeated the hated Ravens last week, but a lackluster performance where Carson Palmer only threw for 192 yards and the defense forced 6 turnovers yet the team barely squeaked out a 27-20 win wasn't exactly the impressive opening effort Super Bowl-starved fans in the Queen City were hoping for.

The Battle of Ohio has been a lopsided affair of late, and when Cleveland traded starting quarterback Charlie Frye to Seattle following their 34-7 loss to Pittsburgh in the opener, they sent the message that the time is near to hand the reigns of the franchise over to hometown hero Brady Quinn. It could be another lopsided outcome, but one thing's for sure, with the Dog Pound clamoring for Brady to guide the team and Chad Johnson ready to bust out a new TD celebration, things won't be dull in C-Town this afternoon.
MY PICK: Cincy 37, Cleveland 19

4.) Indy (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0)
These two AFC Central rivals have seen their fare share of tough battles over the last few seasons, especially last year when the Champs barely knocked off the upstart Titans at home, 14-13, in Week 5 last season, then dropped a stunning 20-17 decision to Tennessee in Week 13 when the Titans kicked a 60-yard FG with time expiring to hand the Colts their second loss of the season.

With Vince Young more comfortable in the offense and Tennesseans once again supporting a football team other than the Vols, this game will be no cakewalk for television personality Peyton Manning and his shuffled band of title seekers. In fact if I were a gambling man I'd look for Tennessee to pull off another upset today. Of course I'm a lousy gambler, but it's always fun to pretend.
MY PICK: Tennessee 24, Colts 23

5.) Minnesota (1-0) at Detroit (1-0)
Two teams vying for this season's most surprising team go head-to-head at Ford Field today and both are coming off impressive wins highlighted by outstanding performances from their number one draft picks.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries in his first game since being selected with the seventh pick back in April, and for Detroit heralded rookie receiver Calvin Johnson validated his #2 selection when he lit up an awesome Oakland defense for 4 catches for 70 yards and a touchdown in Detroit's see-saw 36-21 victory over the Raiders. Both talents will be on full display today in a game that could be one of the most exciting in the league this week.
MY PICK: Detroit 27, Minnesota 24

Other Game Predictions:

-Pittsburgh 31, Buffalo 17
-Carolina 24, Houston 13
-Jacksonville 19, Atlanta 6
-Green Bay 23, NY Giants 20
-St. Louis 28, San Fran 21
-Dallas 31, Miami 14
-Arizona 27, Seattle 24
-Baltimore 16, NY Jets 3
-Denver 34, Oakland 17
-Chicago 13, Kansas City 10
-Philly 28, Washington 17 (MNF)

Enjoy Week 2, and remember, don't take any of these picks seriously-after all, I am the World's Worst Gambler!


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Summer 2007: A quick look back

I'm baaaacck! And unlike Britney Spears I know this could be my last chance, so I don't intend to screw this up.

I know it's been a while, but I've finally decided to stop neglecting my original site after spending so much time with its newest sibling this summer, you know, my other blog (shhhh!)

Point is I guess I never really realized what a full-time obsession the Red Sox could be.

But now that summer is over, the baseball regular season is winding down, and all the good things like NFL & college football, the new Fall TV seasons and the Oscar contenders are taking hold of the public conscience, I thought I'd better get back to my eldest blogchild lest it disable itself and disown me forever.

And what would an "I'm back"/end of summer post be without a Top 10 list? You're right, it would be original and creative, but I thought it would be shit. So without further adieu here are the Top Five Best & Worst things about Summer 2007 (see, add the two Top 5s and you've got a Top 10--cut me some slack, I've been away for a couple of months)


5.) Britney's MTV Awards show appearance

This "performance" had to be the most embarrassing thing the former Mouseketeer has ever done, and that's saying something for a woman who routinely flashes her cooch in public, shaved her hair to avoid a drug test (upstairs & downstairs evidently) and attacked a throng of helpless paparazzo with a street sign.

But when a Haagen Dazs and Halcion-fueled Brit took the stage last weekend to perform her newest single, which was supposed to resurrect her flagging career, no one on Earth could have predicted the tragi-comedy that would follow. Looking like a reject from Josie & the Pussycats, Brit Brit stumbled across the stage, mumbled a few of the lyrics playing in the background, then tumbled from the pedestal of fame right into the sewer of infamy.

4.) Barry Bonds HR chase By now most of you know that Barry Bonds became major league baseball's all-time home run king when he blasted career shot #756 on August 7th, and if you don't know you must have been vacationing at Lake Cuomo all summer.

The fact that Bonds was on the verge of breaking the most hallowed record in all of sports did not bother me one bit (you say he took 'roids, I say who didn't?), but it was the incessant, non-stop coverage of the chase and everyone's reaction to the chase. Which begs the question, if every sports TV show and news outlet didn't clog the airwaves and page space with so much anti-Barry content, don't you think fewer people would have paid attention in the long run?

3.) Entourage
HBO's feel-good surprise hit was enjoying a third season filled with interesting conflicts, hilarious dialogue and witty storylines, and then HBO decided to mess with the mojo and jump onto the aggravatingly popular " mid season hiatus" bandwagon and split the season in half.

When it resumed something felt...different, like either the writers had run out of ideas or started reading their press clippings, and when the fourth season premiered a mere three weeks after the third one ended with a stale "Office"-esque episode centered on the filming of the fictional Medellin, the wife and I immediately looked at each other in agreement--one of our favorite shows had officially jumped the shark.

2.) Mike Vick is fucking sick In what has to be the worst case of an athlete gone wild since Orenthal carved up his ex-wife and her sunglasses steward, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was busted for and plead guilty to running an illegal dog fighting operation from a property he owned in rural Virginia.

Vick is now facing a potential 1-5 years in federal prison for inhumanely killing dogs that did not perform well for him, and also a possible lifetime banishment from the NFL due to gambling violations. It's safe to say no one, not even OJ, who was a has-been at the time he became a double-murderer, has fallen farther faster than the always overrated and never understated Vick, who at the recent draft in April was quoted telling ESPN "I love animals." Enjoy being a wide receiver in the slammer, you sick fuck.

1.) The Minnesota bridge collapse
As a resident of Florida, a state with approximately 15 zillion bridges, the collapse of the I-35W bridge that spanned the Mississippi River outside of Minneapolis was a senseless yet seemingly all-too-plausible tragedy that really hit home.

Every year we as Americans deal with catastrophic events that leave us both horrified and amazed at the same time--hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires & flash floods--but there's something about the sudden collapse of a structure that thousands of people utilize and take for granted every day that really causes the average citizen to step back and think "that really could have been me or someone I loved."

...and on the lighter side...


5.) Knocked Up
The wife and I might not have seen it until it was already a month old, but that didn't diminish the gut-busting power of this raunchy-yet-lovable comedy from the demented genius behind "The 40 Year Old Virgin", Judd Apatow.

In this romantic comedy with a terrific twist goofy Seth Rogen has a one-night stand with sexy Katherine Heigel, and the end result is a bun in the oven that's good for an hour and a half of "will they or won't they" banter as well as a ton of hilarious rotten marriage jokes from the indispensable Paul Ruud and Leslie Mann. Like Virgin, Knocked Up has plenty of sick humour and classic lines mixed with a smidge of tenderness, and in the end you're left saying "I can't wait for this guy's next flick to come out."

What's that? It did? Oh, Superbad? Oh, my bad.

4.) Celtics sign Kevin Garnett
After a few flirtations with the 10-time All Star and former league MVP, the Boston Celtics finally landed the Big Ticket on July 31st when it sent five players to Minnesota in exchange for the leanest, meanest, hungriest big man in the league.

Coupled with the addition of 7-time All Star sharpshooter Ray Allen and C's team captain Paul Pierce, the Celtics have put together its best troika since Bird, McHale and the Chief ruled the parquet a couple of decades ago, and in the weak Eastern Conference this trident of talented future Hall of Famers could bring the NBA title back to Benatown for the first time since 1986.

3.) Flight of the ConchordsBand meeting! Just as the Sopranos came to a perplexing conclusion and Entourage was beginning to royally suck, HBO slipped an odd little half hour comedy about a folk band from New Zealand under our noses, and wouldn't you know after a few weeks of sniffing it out it grew on me like nosehair.

Don't get me wrong, this dry brand of quirky humor is definitely not for everyone, as I had to practically bribe the wife to watch it a couple of times, but make no mistake all you non-believers will rue the day you didn't jump on the Jemaine and Bret bandwagon in the early stages, and if you don't believe Murray will get the guys an actual paying gig some day soon well then you're just a bunch of mothaflippin' idiots!

2.) NYC trip
I did a complete post of this experience right before I went on hiatus, so if you want a more detailed account of the experience just scroll down a bit. But I have to include it here because the combination of my sister's awesome wedding and the entire family gathering in New York City was an experience that will never be duplicated or imitated. Great wedding, great city, great time with the family all added up to an all-time memorable summer event.

1.) 1 month child-free
As good as Melissa & Paul's wedding was, I would be remiss if I did not place this extremely rare occurrence at the top of my summer of fun list.

For one whole month, or a full one-third of my son's summer vacation, he went to spend time with his relatives in Ohio, where he got passed around like a bottle of Ketel One at Promises Malibu, and the wife and I took full advantage of the freedom.

How did we spend our time you ask? Well if you have to ask, then...let's just say it involved a little bit of this...
...and some of this...
...still more of this...
...and then finally, this.

Well, we did a little more than that, but those pictures are not available on this site. You know what they say, when the kid's away, the dearly beloved will play.

Stay tuned for more posts--I promise it won't be two months in between.