Friday, January 29, 2010

Bengals Players Continue To Embarrass Themselves And Their Franchise

With the news that Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga was arrested for drunken driving in the suburbs of Cincinnati, OH, two things stood out to me:

Firstly, how is it possible that members of the Bengals can continue to get in trouble with the law? I would’ve thought the team would have made it a priority to draft and sign players that would keep themselves away from the police blotter. Furthermore, after all of the alcohol, vehicular and/or handgun incidents to happen in the Bengals organization over the past five years, how can players continue this kind of behavior? Can they really be so stupid?

Secondly, and perhaps more perplexingly, when you sign a $4.66M contract with $2.84M in guaranteed money, why are you still driving a Pontiac? I’m all for living within your means and no one says you have to be ostentatious but a Pontiac? Really?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shut Your Piehole! Starving Cacti Edition

The new ownership of my beloved Chicago Cubs recently studied whether the team should relocate its spring training home to Florida - and ultimately decided to stay in Mesa, Arizona, where the team has trained for the better part of the last 60 years.

Most Cubs fans and players were happy that the team is staying in Mesa - but 1960s-era second baseman Glenn Beckert thought the team made the wrong decision. Why?

"Florida produces a lot of world champions."

Now it's true that only 4 of the last 20 World Series winners trained in Arizona. It's also true that the Cubs have reportedly gone quite a long time since their last title. But come on! Does anyone really think that a team's spring training site is a determinant of their win-loss record? That's totally asinine.

Mr. Beckert, you're still loved in Chicago from your playing days. If you want to hold onto your fame - for pete's sake, SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE!

Cheers and Jeers: King of Denmark Edition

Lebron James is playing the best basketball of his career this month. Period. Yes he's had better games at various times but his current stretch is as good as he's ever had. In the month of January he's averaging 32 points, 7.7 rebounds, 8 assists all the while shooting 52% from the field. Let me repeat that...a small forward shooting 52% from the field. Add to that he's doing that almost entirely on the road. Add to that tremondous defensive plays from stealing Wade's pass to blocking Durant. Can we just give him the MVP award already?

And now for some much needed cheering and jeering....

Cheers: To Evan Turner. Somehow after breaking his back, Turner has almost immediately returned to form. What form is that? Glad you asked. Super awesome nearly triple double every night form Getting national hype as a Player of the Year candidate form. I believe Turner would be the first player to break his back and win Player of the Year in the same year.
Picture of Evan Turner fighting Venom

Cheers: To ESPN firing Paul Shirley. I'm all for free speech. Love it. But nobody has the right to be paid for peddling crap. That's the beauty of market. If someone wants to read said crap they'll do it in another forum and can pay for it there. If nobody cares about Shirley's ideas then he can die slowly of scurvy. Personally I'm more than happy pay for Shirley getting scurvy.

Cheers: To Kurt Warner's illustrious career. I'm so old I remember the super market bag boy stories about Kurt. Now a decade later Warner seems to have punched a ticket to The Hall of Fame. There's few QBs I have seen that read the field better than Kurt. (this all assumes he retires tomorrow)

Jeers: To Rasheed and Pierce. This picture confuses and angers me.

and our C&J Gal of the Week...American Olympic Hopeful Kristi Leskinen who does free style skiing. Not sure what that is but I'll watch it now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

NBA Mid-Season Report 2009-2010

Surprise Teams:
Memphis Grizzlies - Here's what I said in my NBA preview: ""interesting" doesn't always translate to "successful." I just don't think Randolph and Iverson are going to breed a winning atmosphere. Call it a hunch." Well... I was really wrong about Zach Randolph (as well as everyone else in the country other than Randolph's family). Zach Randolph at the age of 28 has finally grown up, decided to play defense, and actually contribute to winning. It's unreal. For a comparison, check this out, from Basketball, Randolph has already put together a 5.7 win-share season, which I believe means he will smash through his previous best of a 7.1 win season in 2003-2004. What's more, this would be the first time Randolph goes to the playoffs while logging substantial minutes (he sat on the bench his 1st two years while going to the playoffs). However, most important to the Grizzlies ascent is the pairing of Marc Gasol with Zach Randolph. That pairing in and of itself is what makes both of them both so effective this season. Moreover, the Grizzlies have amazing swing players in Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo. Their only problem? Absolutely no bench. But I'd still not want to play them in the playoffs. And for those who don't know, the Grizzlies started out 1-8... and are a ridiculous 23-11 since!

Disappointing team:
Washington - Even before Arenas and Crittendon got in trouble for bringing guns to work, this team was playing awful. Now, the season is certainly lost.

(I was going to say the Bulls... but they've somehow gone 11-6 since losing to Sacramento and blowing a 35-point lead in December).

Intriguing team:
Charlotte Bobcats - I don't want the Cavs to play them in the playoffs. In fact, they are the only team the Cavs have lost to twice. In addition, the Bobcats are a very difficult matchup for most any team. They have two absurdly athletic players in Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace. They have two or three amazing defensive centers in Tyson Chandler (if healthy), Nazr Mohammed, and Desagna Diop. They have some solid little guards in Felton and Augustin. They also have the enigma that is Boris Diaw, a 6-11 freak who plays just about every position. Since acquiring Jackson on 11/17/09, the Bobcats are 19-15.

Breakout players:
Channing Frye, PF/C, Phoenix - He's cooled off a bit since the beginning of the season, but he's still averaging 12.2pts, 5.7 rebs, and a ridiculous 44% from 3-point land. If you thought Frye didn't shoot 3s you're not alone - he had never attempted more than 30 in any of his previous seasons... but this year? With Steve Nash? 257 attempts in only 47 games!
Stephen Curry, G, Golden State - He's averaging 14 ppg, 4 rebs, 4.5 assists, and shooting a great 42.8% for three, and 45.5% FG. Even more impressive, is the last month, where he's averaging 17.9 ppg, and shooting 47%, w/ 1.7 steals per game.
Marc Gasol, C, Memphis - 14.9 ppg, 9.6 rebs, 1.6 blocks, 60% FG%. See above discussion on the grizz.
Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, Sacramento - 20.8ppg, 4.8rebs, 4.9assists, 1.5steals; rookie of the year; has been impressive though the Kings are still figuring out how to use him and Kevin Martin together.
Carl Landry, PF/C, Houston - 16.4ppg, 5.5rebs, 55% FG% - Rumor has it he's 6-6, though listed at 6-9. W/o Yao, Landry fills in at center at times despite being completely undersized. How he does it is beyond me, so he should be a coach after retirement.
Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee - 17.7 ppg, 3.6rebs, 6.3assists, 38% FG% (yuck!) - Has played well at times (yes, he scored 55 once) but he's also taken some lumps. Nonetheless, he's certainly exceeded all expectations.

Playoff Positioning
With the summer of 2010 fast approaching, and teams still clearing out space to go after the greatest free agency class of all time, some wacky trades will probably happen in the next month. In the meantime, the Western conference is just nuts with 2 games separating the 4th and 11th-placed teams. I've never seen a playoff race where THREE teams will be eliminated despite being in contention. It's anyone's guess as to who those teams will be.

In the East, the bigger question is how the top-4 will stack up. Who will be on what side of the bracket? While Wade's Heat have been struggling, I will still be more curious to see who draws the dangerous Bobcats.

NBA games of the Week-
last week's "Games of the Week" - The Cavs edged out the Lakers without Mo Williams powered in part by a surprising good play by Hickson and Varejao; Memphis beat Ok City in a 1-point game in a very tight defensive battle (though Durant got 30 still of course); Houston beat the Spurs by getting 23 points from BOTH PG Aaron Brooks and PG Kyle Lowry; Orlando beat Charlotte in OT through one of Jameer Nelson's better games; Denver beat Charlotte by 11 with 51 points from Billups and Affalo; the Spurs outrebounded and beat the Hawks throughly by a silly 21 point, 26-rebound performance by Duncan.

This week...
Boston @ Orlando - 1/28
Boston @ ATL - 1/29
Denver @ OkCity - 1/29
Memphis @ San Antonio - 1/29
ATL @ Orlando - 1/30
Lakers @ Boston - 1/31
Memphis @ Cleveland - 2/2
ATL @ Ok City - 2/2

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pre-Super Bowl thoughts

Let me just say that as happy as I am that Favre and Vikings lost, I am saddened by the fact that today begins the eight month media vomiting of "Will Favre play next year?" Let's all take a moment to shudder at how many useless hours of video and audio will be wasted on this douchebaggery.

Personally, I think this will be a very good superbowl. I think both teams are led by top QBs, both are very talented teams, but more importantly, I think both teams are disciplined. I am very much looking forward to it. More importantly, I'm going to be in New Orleans this weekend for my brother's bachelor party; it's going to be very excited this weekend in the Big Easy.

I do have an open question for the public (i.e. the 7 of us). What are the thoughts on the pro bowl being this weekend, and being before the super bowl. I feel like this game is a huge waste of time. What is the point? Will anyone watch?

MMBSD: Colts, Saints, Forces of Light Win

Wow. What a great, wacky, fun, insane, and ultimately apropos Championship weekend. Manning was Manning. Garcon raised the Haitian flag in support of his family who still lives there. Favre threw a back breaking INT to set up OT. A picture perfect kick sailed through the up rights to win the NFC Championship game. A jubilant Saints owner made a speech that is still trying to be deciphered. I could spend several days trying to break down the Xs and Os of either games but it comes down great QBs beat great Ds and stupid turnovers are hard to overcome. Its really a simple game. Not an easy one but a simple one.

My own comment was about how classy the Saints were about Deuce McCallister. For those that didn't know, Deuce was brought back for the playoffs. Not to play but to be a part of the team who he gave so much for. It was a classy karma inducing move and I couldn't have been happier when he was there on the podium to salute the Saint's fans.

As we near the NBA trade deadline two of the more intriguing teams (for me) are Utah and Ok City. Utah has a player they simply don't want for the long term (Boozer) but are playing fairly well at the moment (they are #2 in Hollinger's weird rankings). Do they pull the trigger anyways? Do they only do it if it's the right deal? Inquiring minds and all....

On the buyer side of the ledger are the ex-Supersonics. Kevin Durant has grown from a scorer to an efficient scorer to all around Superstar. I'm more than happy to argue all that seperates Durant from MVP consideration are wins and all that seperates Ok City from serious contender is a capable big man. Ok City has the cap they open their wallets and push themselves from playoff fodder to dangerous team nobody wants to play?


Look I've never seen Urban Meyer's health records (at least that I can legally divulge over the internet), I've never examined him, etc so it's probably not in my realm of expertise to figure what Meyer's should or should not do. However the situations seems to fluid... of retiring, to staying out indefinitely, to staying out until Fall, to only recruiting, to recruiting and coaching spring ball. Meyers seems to be mimicking a boxer who convinces himself he can take the punishment. Whether coincidental or not, Meyer's weird escapades has not negatively affected recruiting. In fact not only is the Gator's recruiting class best in the nation but it is one of the best in the last 10 years. Personally I wouldn't want to play for someone that might drop dead at any second but I suppose that's starting to show why I don't get this generation of kids.

Amanda Beard
I really don't have anything clever other than she's needed for Mondays

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mid-Term Check on the NBA 5 Superpowers

Back before the season began, I posted my theory: that the "2009-2010 NBA season has the greatest collection of FIVE teams competing in the same season." To conduct the analysis, I used the Simple Rating System ("SRS") on Basketball

I then went a step further to look at what it would take to determine if this season has the greatest collection of 6, 7, or 8 teams.

Now that the season is a little over half way complete, I thought now would be a good time to check on how the season is progressing with regards to the theory. I had guessed the top 5 teams would have been the Lakers, Magic, Cavs, Celtics, and Spurs. However, according to the SRS as of Saturday afternoon on January 23, 2010, the Hawks are actually in the top five and the Magic are #7. Also of note, is that the Nuggets are just one-hundredth of a point behind the Spurs.

2009-2010 Season (Mid-term)
5-team Average SRS: 5.652

6-team Average SRS: 5.505
7-team Avg SRS: 5.351
8-team Avg SRS: 5.206

1) Lakers = 6.60 (Kobe, Gasol, Bynum);
2) Cavs = 6.16 (LeBron, Shaq, Mo);

3) Hawks= 5.64 (J. Johnson, J. Smith, J. Crawford, Horford);

Celtics= 5.08 (KG (injured at times), Pierce, R. Allen, Rondo)
5) Spurs = 4.78 (Duncan, Ginobili (injured at times), Paker (playing through injury)
6) Nuggets = 4.77 (Carmelo, Billups, Nene)

7) Magic = 4.43 (Howard, Rashard Lewis, Nelson, Vince Carter (all sorts of injuries))

8) Jazz = 4.19 (Boozer, Deron Wiliams, Okur)

Thus, to recap all of the challenges set forth to the teams of 2009-2010:
5th-best team: beat 5.87
6th-best team: beat 5.45
7th-best team: beat 5.10
8th-best team: beat 4.84
Average SRS for 5 teams: 7.362
Average SRS for 6 teams: 7.018
Average SRS for 7 teams: 6.565
Average SRS for 8 teams: 6.203

So far... 2009-2010 has failed to beat any of the challenges!

The 5-team average SRS of 5.652 is very weak... and is slightly below-average in comparison (the average top-5 SRS was 6.048).

The 6-team average SRS of 5.505 is still below-average in comparison to all the other years (the average top-6 SRS was 5.997).

The 7-team average SRS of 5.351 is still below-average in comparison to all the other years (the average top-7 SRS was 5.646).

The 8-team average SRS of 5.351 is actually slightly ABOVE-average in comparison to all the other years (the average top-8 SRS was 5.338).

As should be clear if you've read this far... this season has failed to live up to expectations. Or rather the SRS has not proved the theory. The injuries to some of the teams have really prevented them from dominating and separating themselves from the pack. Moreover, it should be noted that the SRS is driven based off of point differential, so the Dallas Mavericks don't have a large-enough point differential to score well on the SRS.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Open Question

Call me a sucker but I really love the LeBron/Kobe puppet commercials. I think they’re hilarious and probably the best example of NBA-related marketing since Mars Blackmon declared “It’s gotta be the shoes!”

My question, however, is if people perceive an actual rivalry among the two superstars. Unquestionably, they’re the two best players in the NBA, but are they really rivals? They’ve never played against one another in an NBA Finals or competed for a scoring title. One could argue that, maybe, they fight for the annual MVP trophy but Kobe and LeBron have only finished 1-2 in the voting once (last year) and it wasn’t even close enough to say that the vote was split along the rivalry’s fault lines.

A rivalry requires either a true, mutual hatred –– think Knicks/Bulls or Knicks/Heat –– or a competitive environment with an extremely big payoff, akin to Larry Bird’s rivalry with Magic Johnson. I don’t get the sense that Kobe and LeBron hate eachother and, as we already know, they’ve only played a handful of entertaining but ultimately meaningless regular season games since LeBron entered the NBA in 2003.

My sense is that the puppet commercial is great fun…but someone might want to tell that to ESPN since they seem to market the twice-annual Lakers-Cavs games in a disingenuous way.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Peaking at College Football 2010

Yes, we're still 8+ months away from the start of the college football 2010 season. Yes, recruiting for next year is still going on. Yes, Lane Kiffin could have 4 different jobs between now and then. However that doesn't mean I can't come up with insane predictions. As such here are my predictions and caveats for teams most likely to make it to the Mythical BCS Championship (for the 2010-2011)

1. Alabama
At this point it almost seems for granted that the winner of the SEC will be given a spot in the BCS Championship game. Alabama has a big non-conference game against a soon to be rebuilding Penn State and basically the entire offense back (including heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram)

History - No team has won back to back SEC Championships in the past 12 years. Alabama has to travel to Florida during regular season. They also have to replace key defensive players (Cody, McClain, Arenas)

2. Ohio State
Coming off a Big BCS victory and returning 16 starters (including heisman hopeful Pryor) tOSU appears poised to have the needed hype train. They have an several prime time non-conference games that could also bolster their credit (notably against U of Miami) although at this point Ohio State seems poised for top 3 preseason ranking.

Will Pryor look like the QB against Oregon? Related to that Ohio State needs to replace its left tackle with no obvious choices. Road games at Wisconsin and at Iowa will be tough.

3. Boise State
Boise State, following their big win over TCU, will start the season highly ranked. They return 21 of 22 starters including heisman hopeful QB Kellen Moore. They also have two tough non-conference games against Oregon State (home) and V-Tech (Fedex Field). I have a feeling that if Boise wins both decisively that they'll be given serious thought.

There is still a lingering/omnipresent question of if non-BCS school will be given the opportunity to play in the BCS title game. The downside of playing tough non-conference games (especially on the other side of the country) is that Boise State could easily lose to a loaded V-Tech team.

4. Oregon
Oregon returns 19 of its starters including their star QB and running back (the one that didn't punch anyone). They also have only one semi-tough non-conference (at Tennessee). An undefeated season and a high preseason is usually grounds for a shot at the Championship game.

Oregon is on the road against USC, Cal, and Oregon State. Add in the normal wacky Pac 10 surprises and it might be tough sledding to go undefeated in the Pac 10.

5. Nebraska
There's always going to be a team that you don't expect in the thick of. I'm picking Nebraska (hear me out). The Big 12 Champ will be given consideration and Nebraska appears well positioned to win the title. Texas is breaking in a young/inexperienced QB and Oklahoma is losing gobs of talent on the offensive line and defense. Nebraska gets Texas in Lincoln and avoids OU. They return ten starters on offense. While they lose all universe Suoh, DT Crick will position himself as a first round pick for next year.

They play at Oklahoma State and at Washington (are they minuses? potentially?). Their offense until their bowl game was awful. Can a Big 12 North team actually win the Big 12? Can the team handle hype?

Just Missed the Cut:
Texas, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, G-Tech

NFL Final Four - Good vs. Evil !

This is going to upset some people... but it needs to be said. For most of the country, I think this week's games truly represent "good guys" versus "bad guys."

Here are the "good guys" : Colts and Saints.

Here are the "bad guys" : Jets and Vikings.

Maybe my analogy is going to far and is more of a reflection of my own rooting interests. If history has shown us anything though... there typically is one upset winner in the conference championship weekend. Stranegly enough, 2 of the last 3 years have seen both home teams move through to the Super Bowl. Prior to that... it was 8 straight years of one team getting upset!

Jets vs. Colts - I can't stand the Jets. I believe these Colts are for real. Yes, CB General Grevis of the Jets is just like the Sith lord that was half-man, half-machine (or was it 10% man, 90% machine?) However, the Colts have more than enough weapons to overcome this. Plus, Peyton Manning probably has been studying all week-long so he can read every blitz 2 seconds faster than any other QB.
Pick: Colts

Vikings vs. Saints - This is the game where anything can happen. The last thing I want to see is Brett Favre in the Super Bowl because the size of his arrogance might result in the destruction of the entire planet. What would be worse than that? If the Jets and Vikings make it through and we have to suffer through 2 weeks of stories about how Favre was on the Jets last season.

Anyways, the Saints should come through this time... assuming they can put up enough points. I know Favre 's hardly been intercepted this season, but he's probably been in one shootout (or passing) situation all season - and that was against San Fran in week 3. There were other high-scoring games... but they were usually built throughout the game. I'm assuming INTs will finally happen.

Perhaps most importantly, if quarterbacks are WWE wrestlers, Drew Brees basically survived a "retirement match" last week as Kurt Warner lost and is now contemplating it. It would only be fitting for Brees to win 2 consecutive "retirement matches" in the playoffs, force Favre to contemplate retirement, then beat Peyton Manning in a Ladder Match next week, then come back next season wearing Ultimate Warrior facepaint.

Pick: Saints

NBA games of the Week-
last week's "Games of the Week" - The Nuggets clobbered Dwight Howard (1 for 7) and destroyed the slumping Magic; the Hawks beat the Suns on a miracle 3 by Crawford; Dallas beat a slumping Boston team behind 37 Dirk pts; the Lakers beat the Magic behind a surprise 22 points from Shannon Brown.

This week...
Lakers @ Cavs - 1/21
Ok City @ Memphis - 1/22
Houston @ Spurs - 1/22
Orlando @ Charlotte - 1/23
Charlotte @ Denver - 1/25
ATL @ Spurs - 1/27

Monday, January 18, 2010

As If We Needed Another Reason to Despise the Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota is leading the Cowboys 27-3 with just two minutes left to play. They've got the ball at the Dallas 11 on a 4th-and-3. Dallas is out of timeouts. What do the Vikings do? Unbelievably, they call a fade pattern for tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. Favre hits him in the end zone for another touchdown. Final score: Minnesota 34, Dallas 3.

Dallas linebacker Keith Brookings rightly labels this stunt as classless. I'd go farther and say that this was a horrible and unnecessary example of a complete lack of sportsmanship.

Quick: name the last time a team that scored 3 points in 58 minutes went on to score 24 points in the final 120 seconds. What's that? You think there was a chance the Cowboys scored three TDs with three 2-point conversions in that time - with no timeouts? Ok, I'll give you that. Then the Vikings should have kicked the field goal. Surely, Dallas might be able to score three times - but not four!

This is the team that featured Daunte's Sex Boat Adventures...that inexplicably and conveniently sold out their historic hatred of the Packers in embracing #4...and now pulls this crap. My question: is there a more classless organization in the four major American sports?

The Vikings are an utter disgrace, and I hope with all of my heart that Brees & Co. stomp all over them next Sunday.

MMBSD: Momentum/Schomentum

Well after all the talk and historical importance of momentum, it was the favorites that seemed to take home the prize this weekend. Arizona came in off a game where their offense looked unstoppable against a Saints team that been at best treading water for a month. But it was the Saints that won out. Indy came in not playing at all over the past month and destroyed the Ravens. Dare I say the Cowboys were the NFC favorites before football started this weekend and the Vikings ran up the score on them. It's hard to say which was hotter the Jets or the Chargers going into the game so I'll generally ignore that. In any event teams everyone expected a month ago appear ready to head off to the Super Bowl. So much, this year, for the importance of being hot in December.

I will say I'm still not sure what to make of the Jets win. How much was their win a result of great D and how much was the result of copious Chargers mistakes (missed field goals, forced throws, stupid penalties) I'm unclear. That said as I'm guessing the Colts will avoid self-mutilation and as such the Jets will have to play better in order to beat to Indy.

My last thought about the weekend is about the Colts' coach (Jim Caldwell) and his relative effect. In his first season the Colts are in the AFC Championship game. If the Colts make it to the Super Bowl (let alone win) how much credit should Caldwell get? And if they do, how does that (or does it) change our opinion of Tony Dungy? Not easy questions but something that seems completely ignored.

After reaching the halfway point of the NBA it's hard to say how much we've actually learned. Yes, we learned never count out the Spurs and the Cavs early season struggles wasn't a harbinger of missing the playoffs. Beyond that its pretty unclear

It does appear that the Big 3 in the East is really the Big 4. We've also learned that each of the teams have flaws. Hawks don't match up well against inside presences, the Celtics are old and injury riddled, in Orlando Howard's offensive game has regressed and the backcourt isn't good, and the Cavs seem to have adopted a Lakersesque attitude of playing hard only well they feel like it. While I shouldn't overstate these teams flaws, it seems certain that the outright dominance (i.e. 60+ win seasons) probably will not happen.

Much like last year the storyline out West is, if not the Lakers then whom? Partially the question I think will revolve around Kobe's health. At each turn he seems to pick up a new injury and with a slew of road games ahead the Lakers may struggle. However even if they do struggle, who can beat them in May or June? The Sun, Nuggets, and Mavs all seem to have potential but if they haven't in the past, why this year? Which brings us back to the Spurs. The addition of Jefferson and Blair and the lack of depth out in LA I think mean the Spurs have legitimate chance....provided they stay healthy. A fairly large if.

The biggest wildcard to the season is trades. The NBA trade deadline is up in a month and semi-big names like Bynum, Bosh, Iguadela, Jamison, and Al Jefferson have all been mentioned. So whatever he said today can and probably will change .

I'd like to introduce you to our new Underwear Research Intern...Jennifer Metcalfe. So far she has found that underwear looks good on her. More research forthcoming....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Divisional Playoffs

Well, as usual, I learned during the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs that I have no idea what I'm talking about, as I went 1-3... onwards and upwards though!

Ravens @ Colts - The Ravens pretty much put their game away against the Patriots in all of 7 minutes of football. Before we start thinking too much of the Ravens, let's not forget that the Colts have absolutely owned them of late... winning the last seven! (including a 17-15 victory this season, a 31-3 beatdown last season, and a 15-6 victory in the 2006 playoffs. )! You'd think it would be a good matchup (good offense vs. good defense), but it seems like the Colts should be able to handle this game.
Pick: Colts

Jets @ Chargers - Yes, the Jets can run the ball and play great defense. Once again, I have to believe the Chargers will force Mark Sanchez to throw INTs as the Chargers march on to victory. Somebody please save me from the Jets.
Pick: Chargers

Cards @ Saints - This is my favorite game of the week. Two offensive powerhouses shooting it out in the dome! Plus, the Saints have played like garbage to end the season, so we really don't know what will happen... but there should be lots of scoring.
Pick: Cards

Cowboys @ Vikings - The NFC is much more interesting for me this week because I think any of these four teams can win the NFC. The Cowboys-Vikings game should be a slugfest and I honestly have no idea who will win. If Felix Jones stays healthy for the Cowboys, they should be unstoppable, but I will stay the course and pick the Vikings as I did the previous week, despite the fact that I hate Favre.
Pick: Vikings

Last week: 1-3 (I only hit the Cowboys. The Packers got screwed by that non-call on Aaron Rodgers, but it was a really awesome high-scoring game).


NBA games of the Week-
last week's "Games of the Week" - The Hawks beat the Celtics on Friday and Monday (but no KG either time, and Rasheed missed the second game). Dallas beat the Spurs thoroughly in just about every aspect, powered by Terry's 21 off the bench and 26 by Dirk. The Nuggets beat the Cavs (w/o Carmelo) despite being outrebounded 45-33 by simply forcing the Cavs into 19 turnovers. Orlando beat the Hawks by 30 points by nailing 12 3-pointers and forcing the Hawks to shoot only 39% from the field. The Spurs beat the Lakers, but Gasol didn't play and Kobe got injured during the game.

This week...
Orlando @ Denver - 1/13
Phoenix @ ATL - 1/15
Dallas @ Boston - 1/18
Orlando @ Lakers - 1/18

Kiffin Sets Fire to Bridge, Moves On to Troy

Wow. And with Lane Kiffin being named the next coach of USC, the saga moves from peculiar to insane. With a career college record of 7-6 Lane Kiffin has been given the keys to currently one of the most prized jobs in college football. I'll leave the questions of if a kid born on third base deserves the job, will do a good job, will become an even more insufferable douchebag for others. Instead what I want to briefly touch on is the timing of it all. Let's be honest here, Kiffin screwed over two distinct groups his players and the university by when he left.

While Kiffin is basically free to go to any job he wants and almost any time, his players aren't. A few kids already enrolled at UT to play for Kiffin next season will never have the chance and given NCAA regulations have huge hurdles to overcome to go to another school. I realize since the players are poor they don't have the same legal rights as Kiffin but the blatancy of the double standard seems particularly egregious.

Kiffin also screwed over the school. With less than 3 weeks until signing day the Volunteers stand to lose recruits, games, and revenue. While I don't really care about UT in particular the larger issue of coaching mobility is troubling. The more mobile a factor is the greater the bargaining leverage. As much coaching pay has increased this decade as norms of when to leave continue to erode the rate of pay increases will be even more. Which means less money for other university sports and less subsidization of university students. Again the ethics, inequity, and distribution of money appear grotesquely out of line with anything reasonable and unless the NCAA restricts when and how coaches up and leave, will only get worse....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jerry Jones Tops Himself

I didn't think it was possible for a picture to exist in which Jerry Jones wasn't the most hated person in it. Well Jerry was able to do the impossible and find someone even more hated. I tried to imagine what the two of them talked about but then I threw up a little in my mouth....

H/T Deadspin

Monday, January 11, 2010

MMBSD: End of Dominance?

As always Back Seat Driving for your Monday Morning.....

Crazy Uncle Pete Goes Pro
Who knew after all the talk about Urban Meyer retiring that it would be his West Coast counterpart that would end up leaving college football? Who knows exactlywhy Pete Carroll is taking the Seattle job. Investigations, strained relationship with the AD, ultra-competitiveness, and 7 million other reasons have all been mentioned. The BSD mind reading device is still down but the important thing is that it's hard to imagine anyone doing the job that Pete Carroll did. Let's be honest one loss seasons and Rose Bowl victories were considered disappointing seasons. It's unclear if USC's loss is other Pac 10 gains (most notably UCLA) but as recruiting is local don't be surprised.

The clincher for Carroll was that he was promised the world's largest Shwarma

The biggest thing in Mangini's one year tryout I think is the building storyline/expectation that there will be a NFL lockout in 2011. More and more teams motives and decisions seem to be influenced by a predictions of a lost season. This expectation seems to mirror a growing sense of a similiar fate to the NBA's 2011 season. I'm not sure why the owners seem to so hellbent on lockouts. One only needs to consider how the public reacted to the MLB work stoppage, factor in a disgruntled populace living with economic stagnation and massive unemployment in 2011, and the anger seems all too predictable.

Like a Panda on a slide this is going to end badly

96 Points!
I will say this much the Packers Cardinals game was an exciting game as could be imagined. Comebacks, onside kicks, missed field goals, overtime, and a little bit of offensive firepower. Ok a lot. At minimum I think this game represents a coming out party for Aaron Rodgers. It's hard to have seen Rodgers play and not think he's one of the top QBs in the NFC. I will say I was most happy for Kurt Warner. If rumors of his retirement are true, I'm glad he got to put on one last great show...

Down and Out?
It seemed apropos that in the same weekend the Eagles and the Patriots had their collective prides stomped on. Neither team was really ever in the game and in the end both left the field humiliated. Both have been totems of consistent some point nearly every year you could ask if Eagles/Patriots would win the Super Bowl without being laughed at. I'm starting to think those days are over. The Eagles are still faced with a what about Mcnabb routine and a defense that is a shell of if its former self. Without Jim Johnson I'm not sure if they can return.

Before the quick Patriots will be back line consider their recent draft history. Only 3 players from their entire 2006 and 2007 draft classes were active this weekend. Yes a time when those draft picks should be dominating the cupboard is bare. Perhaps Belichek will figure it out or this is Brady's first season back from a knee injury or this was only one game. However it's also possible (even probable) that the Patriots days of being elite are in the past.

Totally unrelated but did anyone else know Superman fought Ali in 1974?

For Safety Sake
Rachel Bilson tested out the BSD- Cleveland bomb shelter. It seems to be roomie and with copious amounts of natural light. Thanks Rachel

Friday, January 08, 2010

A Mighty Bowl Review

Most Important/Most Disappointing: The moment Colt McCoy headed to the locker room the BCS Championship Game was over. I doubt UT could have won with him but they never had a shot without him. The victory means another year of SEC is the best ever proclamations and more fuel for what's seemingly an unstoppable combination of hype, money, and demographics. The bigger question is does Alabama's win propel them to control the SEC or will the rotation of SEC Champs routine. If I was to guess my answer is yes. Saban still doesn't have a full 4 years of recruiting and the Roll Tide don't lose anyone of importance on the offensive side. Begin your countdown to who plays 'Bama in next year's BCS Championship game.

Most Enjoyable: Of course I'm biased but tOSU winning and winningly definitively over Oregon. After all the Big 10 and tOSU bashing winning the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1997 was sweet. Oh so sweet....

Craziest Bowl : Easily goes to Northwestern's loss to Auburn. Over a thousand yards of offense, tons of turnovers, lots of points, overtime, and the game ending in a fake field goal.

Worst Bowl: The Cotton Bowl....two teams that were among the most disappointing all season (Ok State and Ole Miss) put together a boring and sloppy. 12 turnovers simply isn't enjoyable.
Most Prophetic: A stout defense shutting down a high powered offense. Nebraska's victory over Arizona perfectly predicted OSU's romp over Oregon (or Iowa's win over G-Tech).

Worst Field Conditions: Outside of maybe Heinz Field I don't think I've ever seen as bad field as I did during Penn State's v. LSU's game. It was like a bombed out swamp. Can I blame Disney?
Biggest Surprise: This one is a tie between FSU over West Virginia and V-Tech over Tennessee. Florida State was only in the Gator Bowl because of Bowden so the theory going in was West Virginia should win. They didn't. I expected Monte Kiffin with an entire month to slow down V-Tech. V-Tech not only won but but routed them by putting up 33. Didn't see that coming...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Congrats to the Hawk

Andre "the Hawk" Dawson was voted into the Hall of Fame yesterday, on his 9th try. I think #9 was a little too long. This guy was probably the most feared and powerful hitter from 1985 through 1989. And he had a wonderful career with the Expos and Cubs. He was also a great fielder.
However, the more news-worthy topic is the snubs (as always with the hall of fame). Robby Alomar barely missed enshrinement. I am not disappointed. I know he will get in, but I agree that he is not a first ballot hall of famer.
Also Bert Blylven missed by about 5 votes. I truly thought this was his year. But alas, it was not. I think Bert deserves this honor. He has 2 trys left.
Guys like Jack Morris, Lee Smith, and Tim Raines keep hanging around, but are not getting high enough scores to make me think any of them will get in. In my opinion, they should not be in ever.
As always, there is plenty of rumor, tension, speculation, disappointment, and complaining for the hall of fame voting. Gotta love democracy. And you gotta hate Bud Selig.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Welcome to the 2009 NFL Playoffs!

It's time for the NFL Playoffs, one of my favorite times of the year. Let's do it!

First off, I just wanted to expand on some of my playoff rules. Most importantly for this season - we need to look at what happens when you play the same team in back-to-back weeks. Interestingly, teams that are divisional foes that have already swept the other team (i.e. a situation like the Dallas Cowboys) are 3-0 since 1980. I didn't look earlier than 1980 by the way. This means: if you already swept your opponent, and you are lucky enough to play them in back-to-back weeks, then you are likely to win again.

3-Dallas vs. 6-Philly -
Pick: Dallas

The other 7 times that we've had teams play each other in back-to-back weeks, the LOSER the first week... becomes the WINNER in the 2nd week!

4-Cincy vs. 5-Jets -
Pick: Cincy

By the way, I didn't realize this until I saw it in another article, but the Jets were 7-7 after 15 weeks. They then somehow played the Colts (who rested everyone) and the Bengals (who rested everyone). Basically, the Jets got two free wins. So... Yes, the Bengals should send the Jets back to reality and intercept Mark Sanchez three times.

4-Arizona vs. 5-Green Bay - This is also a back-to-back rematch... HOWEVER, I'm going against my own rule for only one reason... I picked the Packers to lose in the Super Bowl before the season began and I want to pick the exact same game now!
Pick: Green Bay

3-New England vs. 6-Baltimore - This is a real crapshoot I think. The Ravens played a murderous schedule this year and tended to lose to all the good teams (New England, Cincy twice, Minnesota, Indy, Green Bay). I think this means that New England should beat the Ravens again though it should be close. For the record, teams that played each other once during the season have a 58.5% winning percentage when they play in the playoffs.

Now I’m going to pick the whole playoff tree, but I’ll be back each week to pick the matchups. So, it’s time to get to what I’m seeing in my crystal ball (which never actually happens)…

1-Colts vs. 4-Cincy - While the Bengals have had a great year, I don't see them stopping the Colts at all.
Pick: Colts

2-Chargers vs. 3- Pats - This should be a dandy. The Chargers lost to the Pats in the 2007 AFC Championship and lost to the Pats in the 2006 Divisional Playoffs. Third time should be the charm!
Pick: Chargers

1-Colts vs. 2-Chargers - As I picked in my season preview... I've got the Chargers marching on. It will definitely be the most anticipated game of the year for me if the Colts and Chargers link up in th e AFC Championship game!

1-Saints vs 5-Packers - The Saints have been playing like dog poo. Lately, teams that have limped into the playoffs tend to have short stays, and sadly for the Saints, this year may be no different.
Pick: Packers

2-Vikings vs. 3-Cowboys - Well... I'm not sure what would happen in this game. Are the Cowboys still cursed if they beat the Eagles in consecutive weeks? Will Tony Romo finally play well in December? I really don't know. I'm just going to pick the Vikings and not worry about it.
Pick: Vikings

2-Vikings vs 5-Packers - Wow. It won't get any better than this... so long as Favre throws 3 INTs to his old team and gets to watch them celebrate and go to the Super Bowl!
Pick: Packers

Super Bowl
Chargers vs Packers - 2 of the best young QBs going at it in a shootout should make for an exciting Super Bowl. In the end, Norv Turner gets the monkey off his back and will hoist the trophy!
Pick: Chargers

Last Week: 10-6
Season: 165-91
Manwich: 10-7 (cowboys beat the eagles)
Upset of the Week: 8-9 (The bengals didn't even show up against the jets. that was disappointing)

-Lesson learned this week from Gilbert Arenas -
Even if the government has finished interviewing you regarding your possible firearm violations, it's probably not a good idea to joke about the incident by forming guns w/ your hands and pointing them at people afterwards.

NBA games of the Week-
last week's "Games of the Week" - The Cavs took down the Hawks on back-to-back nights; The Suns beat a Celtics team badly (but w/o KG or Pierce); the Lakers obliterated Dallas by shooting 63%; Odom got 19 rebounds and outmuscled the Lakers over the Rockets.

This week...
Boston @ ATL - 1/8
Dallas @ Spurs - 1/8
Cleveland @ Denver - 1/8
ATL @ Orland - 1/9
ATL @ Boston - 1/11
Lakers @ Spurs - 1/12

Iowa Completes Successful Big 10 Bowl Year

Another bowl game, another dominant defensive performance for a Big 10 team. This time the victim was the vaunted Georgia Tech rushing attack. Iowa, outside of one drive, completely shut down the Yellow Jackets, and won their first major bowl since 1959. The win also seals the Big 10's first winning bowl record (4-3) since 2002. Congrats Hawkeyes and the Big 10

Monday, January 04, 2010

MMBSD: Of Bowls and Playoffs

After taking some time off, spending time with family, and enjoying a quality New Year's D, it's back to some Back Seat Driving....

College Football

It truly was a great New Year's day of football. From Northwestern v. Auburn's insane over 1,000 yards and 8 turnover pickup game to PSU v. LSU's Mud Bowl wrestling contest to Bobby Bowden throwing a flaming spear to the Rose colored Mountains providing a backdrop to a budding college superstar to Tebow's record setting finale. Each had their own moment and each was enjoyable for unique reasons. I realize I'm beating a lonely drum at this point but I maintain that a playoffs would suck the meaning out of what truly is a wonderful and enjoyable day of football.

Mighty is a little embarrassed to admit he likes the BCS system

While I'm loathe to read too much into bowl games I think a few things can be divined. While not to make over-sweeping generalizations I think its clear that the entire Pac 10 conference can't play a lick of defense. Oregon State was victimized for 44 by BYU, Cal gave up 37 to Utah, Arizona gave up 33 to the previously anemic Nebraska offense, and Oregon was smoked by Ohio State's low rated passing attack. Not to take anything away from the victor's by a common thread of Pac 10 whiffing on defense seems prevalent.

The corollary to the Pac 10 being worse than expectations is how much better the Big 10 defenses were . Wisconsin roughed up Miami's highly touted QB, Penn State shut down LSU for most of the day, and Ohio State held Oregon to 27 under its scoring average with Masoli at the helm. This was primarily a function of speed and strength on the D-Line. Look for a lot of Big 10 defensive ends to be drafted this year.

Big 10 defenses helped defeat the Nazi Whale.


I'm not sure what to make of Green Bay's and Dallas' blowout victories. Both of the victories were impressive but the irony/weirdness is that both teams play the same opponents next week. Back to back games playing the same team produces weird dynamics both in the initial game (how much was Arizona holding back?) and in the follow up game (what adjustments are going to be made). Should definitely back for interesting games next week.

In a lot of ways I hope all the sound and fury about Goodell's unhappiness over teams resting players will signify nothing. Why? Exhibit A is Wes Welker. Sorry at the end of the day as much as I enjoy watching football does anyone doubt that interest and excitement for the playoffs (you know the important thing in the NFL) will be lower with more injured players?

While the Browns have elevated their level of play from historic awful to merely regular awful the question going around is what to do about Mangini. My answer continues to be fire him - for two reasons. The first is that Mangini has shown an inability to work with others. Having the front office and coach on different pages is grounds for failure. Secondly, Mangini and his staff have failed to develope anything close to a passing attack. The NFL is a QB league and any team that is 20 points below Jamarcus Russel on QB ratings needs to change coaching staffs as its not only a deficit of talent. Yes it's unfair to not give a coach two years but it was Mangini unwillingness or inability to have anything close to a functioning front office opened the door.

While a lot of hype is given to OKC young players, a team that might be as good is Memphis. Don't look now but the Grizzlies are at .500 and 7-3 in their last 10. Spurned on by great young players (namely Gay, Mayo and Gasol) the Grizzlies will make the push for the final few Western playoff spots exciting.

Very Important

To pay attention to Marissa Miller's ass. For umm National Security reasons...

Friday, January 01, 2010

Pryor, Defense Carry Conference to Redemption

It's been 3 long years for the Big 10. Cries of slow and awful have been carried so far and wide that Oregon felt that the Big 10 Champion would be a cake walk. However a smothering defense and the new improved stiff arm of justice delivered by Rose Bowl MVP TP put the Oregon Ducks in their place. The Buckeyes victory coupled with Penn State victory over LSU means a great day for the Big 10 and much needed national love. I'm not sure if TP's 340+ yards of offense is a coming out party but it's more than enough to justify a little sitting back and enjoying things....