Thursday, September 29, 2011

Week 4 - Fumble-itis and snap counts

I really enjoyed that insane Buffalo win last weekend! I think that is one of the more memorable upsets I've picked... though I certainly had no confidence in it when the Bills were down 21-0.

I also really enjoyed the Cowboys and Redskins accusations this week that the Redskins were messing with the snap count (not allowed), and the Redskins accusations that the Cowboys are pathetic liars. Good stuff!

Manwich Matchup of the Week
Pitt @ Houston - The Texans lost a crazy shootout last week... I think this is the week that they prove they are legitimate playoff contenders!! (especially since Pitt's line is banged up)
Pick: Houston

Upset of the Week
Jets @ Ravens - The Jets are coming off a surprising loss to the Raiders... the Ravens are coming off a thrashing of the Rams where they unleased a new weapon, their 2nd-round WR, Torrie Smith, who is super-fast. Could be a decoy the rest of the season, and that alone would make him successful. I think I like the Jets in an upset this week... mainly because there are so few other upsets to pick this week!
Pick: Jets

Opening Round Playoff Game #4
Teams already eliminated: Tennessee, Indy, Cincy
Minnesota @ KC - They are both winless. The loser will be 0-4 and certainly won't make it! Who will be in more despair??? It's a tossup
Pick: Minnesota

Fantasy Football Game of Interest
New England @ Oakland -
I'm expecting a crazy shootout! Buckle up! No one plays defense in this one.
Pick: New England

Other Games
NO @ Jac - NO
Det @ Dallas - Pick: Dallas (should be an interesting game)
Bills @ Bungals - Bills
Wash @ St. Louis - St. Louis
SF @ Philly - Philly
Tenn @ Cleve - Pick: Clev
CAR @ Chi - Pick: Chi
NYG @ Ariz - NYG
Denver @ GB - GB
Miami @ SD - SD
Indy @ Tampa - Pick: Tampa
Last Week: 11-5 (hooray for respectability)
Season: 31-17
Manwich Matchup: 3-0 (The Saints beat the Texans)
Upset of the Week: 1-2 (The BIlls came through huge for me!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Week 3 - As usual... we don't know what's happening!

The Redskins, Lions, and Bills are all undefeated! It's a good thing I bet on that before the season began. Yeah, right. The stranger thing? I think I'm picking Bills, Lions, and Redskins to be 3-0...

Manwich Matchup of the Week
Houston @ New Orleans - Wow. The Saints have a brutal schedule to start (Green Bay, Chicago, now Houston). This is one of those games where if the Texans win... everyone in the nation will jump on their bandwagon. I just don't think they're ready for that kind of treatment yet.
Pick: New Orleans

Upset of the Week

New England @ Buffalo - The Patriots are coming off of a huge win against San Diego. The Bills are also 2-0... but honestly the Patriots defense hasn't been that great. Yes, they forced some turnovers against San Diego, but I think the Bills are going to surprise the Patriots.
Pick: Buffalo

Opening Round Playoff Game #3
Teams already eliminated: Tennessee, Indy
SF & Cincy - I realize the Bengals weren't too far away from winning last week, as well as the 49ers, but I have no faith in either of these teams. None.
Pick: SF

Fantasy Football Game of Interest
GB &
Chi - Well, outside of Houston & New Orleans it's pretty slim pickings this week in terms of amazing fantasy matchups, especially with both Philly & Dallas nursing injuries.
Pick: GB

Other Games
Detroit @ Minny - 3-0 for the lions!
Giants @ Eagles - Pick: Eagls
Jags @ Panthers - Pick: Panthers
Denver @ Titans - Pick: Titans
Miami @ Cleve - Pick: Browns
KC @ SD - Pick: SD
Baltimore @ St. Louis - Pick: BAltimore
Jets @ Oakland - Pick: Jets
GB @ Bears - Pick: Bears
ATL @ TB - Pick: ATL
Arizona @ Seattle - Pick: Arizona
Pitt @ Indy - Pick: Pitt
Washington @ Dallas - Pick: Washington

Last Week: 13-3 (hooray for respectability)
Season: 20-12
Manwich Matchup: 2-0 (The Pats beat my beloved Super-chargers)
Upset of the Week: 0-2 (The Cardinals looked good... then they blew it against the Redskins)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

NCAA conference realignments: A lesson in history, leading to a scary conclusion

I'm not as big into college football as other readers/writers on our blog. However, I've been extremely intrigued by the endless turmoil over the last 1.5 years.

I was reading an article on Yahoo which led me to an amazing, well-researched, historical piece on the , chronicling all of the insanity of the NCAA. Some of my favorite moments:
1) in 1939, freshman players at Pitt went on strike because they were getting paid less than their upperclassman teammates. "Embarrassed, the NCAA in 1948 enacted a “Sanity Code,” which was supposed to prohibit all concealed and indirect benefits for college athletes", but the 'Sanity code' was repelaed within a few years
2) In 1951, the NCAA hired Walter Byers as executive director. Then: " he lobbied a University of Kentucky dean—A. D. Kirwan, a former football coach and future university president—not to contest the NCAA’s dubious legal position (the association had no actual authority to penalize the university), pleading that college sports must do something to restore public support. His gambit succeeded when Kirwan reluctantly accepted a landmark precedent: the Kentucky basketball team would be suspended for the entire 1952–53 season. Its legendary coach, Adolph Rupp, fumed for a year in limbo."
3) At the 1951 NCAA convention, there was a vote of "161–7 to outlaw televised games except for a specific few licensed by the NCAA staff." At this time, they were more concerned that people would stay at home and not attend games (and di not realize how much moeny could be made from advertising on the broadcasts).
4) Then... "On June 6, 1952, NBC signed a one-year deal to pay the NCAA $1.14 million for a carefully restricted football package. Byers routed all contractual proceeds through his office. He floated the idea that, to fund an NCAA infrastructure, his organization should take a 60 percent cut; he accepted 12 percent that season. (For later contracts, as the size of television revenues grew exponentially, he backed down to 5 percent.) Proceeds from the first NBC contract were enough to rent an NCAA headquarters, in Kansas City. "
5) In 1961, Byers "negotiated the NCAA’s television package up to $3.1 million per football season—which was higher than the NFL’s figure in those early years."
6) "In 1981 a rogue consortium of 61 major football schools threatened to sign an independent contract with NBC for $180 million over four years. With a huge chunk of the NCAA’s treasury walking out the door, Byers threatened sanctions." However, Georgia and Oklahoma responded with an antitrust suit, which led to a landmark 1984 case. " NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the NCAA’s latest football contracts with television—and any future ones—as an illegal restraint of trade that harmed colleges and viewers. Overnight, the NCAA’s control of the television market for football vanished." This decision allowed the schools to each sell any games they wanted to... and perhaps more relevant to today's happenings, there was no requirement to share revenues with smaller schools.
7) Interestingly though, basketball revenue from the NCAA tourney COVERED the losses of the football revenue (because the NCAA was just taking a % cut of the football, as opposed to who knows what amount of the revenues from the NCAA tourney). "During the 1980s, income from the March Madness college basketball tournament, paid directly by the television networks to the NCAA, grew tenfold. The windfall covered—and then far exceeded—what the organization had lost from football. "
8) The touches on a lot of different topics, including the NCAA's "amateurism," and how it never has been accomplished, the fact that NFL players association gets paid $35 million per year for use of their likenesses by EA sports but college athletes themselves get paid nothing, as well as the Ed O'Bannon case, which is trying to get money paid to college athletes for use of their likenesses on jerseys, video games, etc.... but the article all culminates with one theory... the NCAA receives 95% of its revenues from the men's baksetball tournament. ... which leads to some chilling truths:
a_ "if the big sports colleges don’t need the NCAA to administer a national playoff in football, then they don’t need it to do so in basketball. In which case, they could cut out the middleman in March Madness and run the tournament themselves. Which would deprive the NCAA of close to $1 billion a year, more than 95 percent of its revenue."
b) "To alienate member colleges would be to jeopardize its own existence. Long gone are television bans and the “death penalty” sentences (commanding season-long shutdowns of offending teams) once meted out to Kentucky (1952), Southwestern Louisiana (1973), and Southern Methodist University (1987). Institutions receive mostly symbolic slaps nowadays. Real punishments fall heavily on players and on scapegoats like literacy tutors."

Which leads me to one frightening conclusion... what is stopping the 4 super conferences (I'm assuming Big East and Big 12 case to exist, or no longer get a spot at the BCS table) from breaking away from the NCAA... AND ALSO forming their own basketball tournament? Suddenly, there are millions more (or whatever it is that the NCAA keeps from that $771 million contract) for the 4 super conferences to split for themselves (ACC, Big10, Pac16, SEC16). I suppose the alternative to this scenario is that the NCAA makes a deal with the Big 4 to save itself... and continue to let the Big 4 do whatever it wants in football. What would be stopping the Big 4 from making a grab for the basketball money too? Not that I want them too, but the Big 4 could even spin it as a way for ALL of the schools to get paid MORE (with of course paying out more money to schools that go farther which, most of the time other than Butler time, is going to be a school from the Super-4).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Week 2 - I'm Really Doing picks now!

All right... a bit of a snafu last week, and that's not even counting my awful picks. Week 1 of the season is always an eye-opener as you start to get a gauge on where everyone is at.

Manwich Matchup of the Week
San Diego @ NE - I think I'm still angry about how the Pats ruined the Chargers magical 14-2 season back in like 2006. I really wish the Chargers could win, but it seems like too much to ask at this point, especially if Belichick has the Pats passing for 500 yards every game.
Pick: NE

Upset of the Week

Arizona @ Washington - The Redskins are 4.5 point favorites? I just don't get it. I'll go with Kolb and the Cardinals. Otherwise, Rex Grossman will win 2 starts in a row. Speaking of Sexy Rexy, did anyone out there have Rex Grossman (Washington), Luke McCown (Jacksonville), AND Andy Dalton (Cincy) as winning their games last week? Those were probably the 3 most questionable starters on the board and they all won!
Pick: Arizona

Opening Round Playoff Game #2
Teams already eliminated: Tennessee
Cleveland @ Indy - With the Browns choking last week against the awful Bengals, and the Colts laying a big fat egg against the Texans, I think both teams will be going for broke this week. It would seem really unlikely that either 0-2 team could make a run to the playoffs. I've got to believe in the Shurminator... he came from the future to save the Browns (or at least i hope that's what's going on).
Pick: Cleveland

Fantasy Football Game of Interest
Philly @ ATL -
Vick against his old team! Plus, Michael Turner, Roddy White and all the other Falcons. Should be a fun Sunday night game for sure.
Pick: Philly

Other Games
Chicago @ New Orleans - Saints rebound
KC @ Detroit - Go Lions!
Jacksonville @ Jets - Jets keep winning
Oakland @ Buffalo - someone gets to go 2-0... I'll go with Buffalo
Baltimore @ Tenn -
Pick: Baltimore
Seattle @ Pitt -
Pick: Pitt
GB @ CAR -
Pick: GB
Tampa @ Minnesota - Not sure why minny's favored, I'll go with Tampa
Dallas @ SF - Pick: Dallas
Houston @ Miami - Pick: Houston
Cincy @ Denver - Pick: Denver
St. Louis @ Giants - Pick: Giants (both teams really banged up sadly)

Last Week: 7-9 (yowsers!)
Season: 7-9
Manwich Matchup: 1-0 (Baltimore gave Steelers a wedgie, the coach a wedgie, and the coach's son an atomic wedgie)
Upset of the Week: 0-1 (Dallas had the Jets right where they wanted them... then they blew it)

Past Years - I'm good in the odd years, just like the San Antonio Spurs

2004 – 150-106
Manwich Matchup: 7-11
Upset Special: 7-9

2005 – 160-96
Manwich Matchup: 10-7
Upset Special: 3-14 (That’s not a misprint)

2006: 148-108
Manwich Matchup: 12-7
Upset Special: 5-12

2007 - 166-90
Manwich Matchup: 13-4
Upset Special: 8-9

2008 - 149-106-1
Manwich Matchup: 11-8
Upset Special: 1-16 (that's also not a misprint)

2009 - 165-91
Manwich Matchup: 10-7
Upset of the Week: 8-9

2010 - 159-97
Manwich: 10-8
Upset of the Week: 9-9

Friday, September 09, 2011

Week 1 of the NFL Season

I apologize for the late posting... I had Green Bay over New Orleans in the coin flip game on Thursday night... without much further ado... let's welcome the 1st week of the season!

Manwich Matchup of the Week

Pitt @ Baltimore - Since GB and New Orleans already played, and it seems cheap of me to use that as tthe Manwich game, we'll just use Pitt and Baltimore. Always a slugfest. Always injuries. Boy, I hate both of these teams. However, just for the record, both teams play the NFC West and AFC West this year, which should give each of them at least 7 wins, plus 2 wins each against the Bengals. Meaning... they are both going to the playoffs barring something crazy.
Pick: Baltimore
Upset of the Week
Dallas @ Jets - the cowboys offens is awesome... nothing like some drama for the jets to start the season!
Pick: Dallas

Opening Round Playoff Game #1
Tennessee @ Jacksonville - Not sure what to make of these teams. Tennesee has hasselbeck and a rookie qB; Jags starting a rookie Qb. who knows.
Pick: tennesseee

Fantasy Football Game of Interest
Philly @ Rams -
Vick, Bradford, some new rams WRs to pick up!
Pick: Philly

Det @ TB - TB
Buf @ KC - KC
ATL @ Chi - ATL
Indy @ Hou - Hou (should win the division sans Manning, Garrard, right?)
Cincy @ Cleve - clev
CAR @ Ariz - ariz
Minny @ SD - sd
Giants @ redskins - giants
Sea @ SF - Sea
NE @ Miami - NE
Oakland @ Denver - Oak

Next week, I'll actually take some time on this!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Congratulations MJ

I want to be the first on this blog to congratulate our resident sports enthusiastic and rage-a-holic on his wonderful wedding. Hopefully MJ will be getting some much needed R&R on his honeymoon and come back fully charged with his plethora of sports knowledge and sports rage.

Congrats Bro!

Monday, September 05, 2011

2011 NFL Preview - Back to Football, and Back to Goodell's Iron Fist

I'm excited to write yet another NFL Preview. As a warning, my previous picks are not great, by any means. In 2010, I picked Baltimore over ATL (both at least made the playoffs, and ATL was a surprise 1-seed), In 2009, I picked San Diego over Green Bay, but both lost in the divisional playoffs; in 2008, I picked Dallas over New England, and neither made the playoffs; in 2007, I picked New England over New Orleans - the Pats at least went undefeated, interestingly, New Orleans did win a couple of years later finally; in 2006, I had Indy over Giants - I actually hit the Colts, and the Giants ended up winning in 2007; in 2005, I had Carolina over Indy, but Indy lost in that crazy game to Pittsburgh, and CAR stumbled in the conference championship; and 2004 is not archived anywhere but I'm sure it was poor.

So... if past seasons are any indication, my PREDICTED super bowl losers (every year but 2008), end up ascending to win the Super Bowl the next season! It's a rather strange phenomenon that I wasn't aware of until just now.

AFC - I think the Pats, Jets, Steelers, Ravens, and Chargers are all HEAVY favorites to make the playoofs...

AFC East
3-New England - Another year, another 1st round exit. In 2010, it was their hated rivals, the Jets. In 2009, it was Baltimore who just thrashed the Patriots. In 2008, they somehow didn't make the playoffs. In 2007, they got upset by the Giants. It will be interesting to see what the Patriots do this year, because, as always, the only goal is to win the super bowl. Maybe less emphasis on the regular season? Not sure what the answer is, because there is no simple answer for their dilemma.
5-NY Jets - They are still bona fide contenders... but I still think the Pats can perform better over a season than the Jets.
Buffalo - Should be fun to watch at least, because QB Ryan Fitzpatrick played great in the 2nd half last year, as did WR Stevie Johnson
Miami - The QB situation is shaky, so I have to downgrade them to last place prediction.

AFC North
2- Baltimore - Added WR Lee Evans opposite WR Boldin which is an upgrade. Should be contenders all season.
6-Pittsburgh - Made the Super Bowl last year, and lost. In the last decade, only two teams (seattle, and Arizona) were able to make the playoffs the year after losing in the super bowl. The Steelers seem too good though... and barring injury, I'm guessing they'll grab the last spot.
Cleveland - Pro Bowl guard Steinbach is out for the season, and they are starting a rookie in his place. The defensive linemen have 2 rookies and another starter with few NFL experience. Plus a new coach means the Browns are still in transition.
Cincy - really in transition! Their surprise division title in 2009 seems like some kind of mythical fantasy.

AFC South
4-Houston - I'm getting suckered in once again, that this year, will finally be the year for the Texans! I'm banking on Manning's health being a major reason why (plus the Texans somehow got lucky and drew Indy for the 1st season)
Indy - It's a really bad division, and the other 2 teams drafted rookie QBs who may play this year, so the colts still get 2nd place.
Tennessee - I like Hasselbeck stepping in with RB Chris Johnson and their defense to edge out the Jags for the cellar.
Jacksonville - They spent lots of money in the offseason, but the QB situation is unsettled so I'm not sure what to expect.

AFC West
1-San Diego - The Chargers finished last year 1st in offensive yardage, 1st in defensive yardage, but had a -6 turnover differential (23rd) and gave up a bunch of return TDs, resulting in a disappointing 9-7 finish. That's pretty much worst-case scenario (in terms of turnovers and special teams), so I expect the Chargers to do big, BIG things this year!
KC - It was fun seeing them unexpectedly win the division then get creamated in the playoffs by Baltimore. Just remember that this year when they play more to their level.
Oakland - there are slight rumors of Oakland being a surprise team this year. They finished in the top-10 in offense and defense, surprisingly. Still couldn't tell you exactly what the WR depth chart is. They actually were 7-5 with QB Jason Campbell starting, who posted another 84 QB rating. He really is consistent, not great, but if he plays a little bit, Oakland can make things interesting.
Denver - Kyle Orton has been playing well, but this year, they have John Fox as the coach, so the offense won't be nearly as offensive (but the defense won't be nearly as porous).

NFC - I think Philly, GB, ATL, New Orleans are HEAVY favorites to make the playoffs. This leaves one wildcard for Chicago, Tampa, Giants, Cowboys, Lions; and one division title for the NFC West...

NFC East -
2 - Philly - Philly just went on a crazy shopping spree during the offeseason, picking up the best available DB Asomugha, the Giants best WR Steve Smith (who's recovering from a knee injury), among others. This team is downright scary, so long as Vick is healthy.
6-Cowboys - they can't be any worse than last year defensively, plus they finished the season 5-3. This is a team to watch, because offensively they are just flat out dangerous.
Giants - they had to rebuild the offensive line after dumping out 3 starters. They lost their top CB to injury. I smell lots of trouble here and the tailspin from that DeSean Jackson punt return TD that ruined their season last year looks to be irreversible.
Redskins - should be the worst team in the league with either John Beck or Rex Grossman at QB. It needs to be mentioned, John Beck wasn't able to enter practice the 1st day back because not even security recognized him!

NFC North -
3-GB - Still a very solid team. Earn a super bowl title and they were worthy of it.
Lions - If Stafford stay s healthy, this could be the surprise team of the year!
Bears - played over their heads for a division title... then got ousted by GB in the playoffs.
Vikings - McNabb is the QB temporarily which should provide shaky results.

NFC South-
1-NO- Should rebound from their sub-par showing during the season and loss to 7-9 Seattle in the playoffs.
5-ATL - Solid team still. Gave up too much for WR Julio Jones, but they clearly are in super bowl or bust mode.
TB - Young team built almost entirely through the draft. Division is brutal, so it's hard to say what their chances are of breaking through.
CAR - They hired Rob Chudzinski as offensive coordinator, who was the off. coordinator for the Browns in 2007. You know who else he brought with him? QB Derek Anderson, who had that one magic-in-a-bottle season! They claim they are starting #1 pick Cam Newton, but honestly, with just Jimmy Clausen standing in the way, we may not be that far away from seeing lots of 2007 Browns highlights!

NFC West - (last year, had a 7-9 champ!)
4- St. Louis - I fully expect Sam Bradford, reinvigorated by new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (who's now had offensive success at New England and St. Louis), to help lead the Rams to a division record with at least 8 wins. You heard it hear first!
Arizona - Could pull off a big surprise depending on how well Kolb plays with Fitzgerald and the other young WRs (Breaston is now gone too).
Seattle - I'm not sure why they signed WR Sidney Rice AND QB Tarvaris Jackson. T. Jackson is their starter now... and I'm not sure what to expect. He has 20 starts, with a 10-10 record. I'm not too optimistic though.
SF - New coach Jim Harbaugh (of the first borther combination in NFL coaching history), as is work cut out for him. He's planning on starting QB Alex Smith only temporarily.

AFC Playoffs
3- New England vs. 6- Pittsburgh - Well, here's something that will cure New England's playoff drought... the Steelers. The Pats own them for reasons I can't determine.
Pick: New England
4- Houston vs. 5-Jets - The Texans make the playoffs... but I don't think the run will last long.
Pick: Jets
1 -San Diego vs. 5-Jets - LT and Antonio Cromartie get to play their old team! Okay, seriously though, the Chargers can handle this task. I'm sure of it.
Pick: SD
2- Baltimore vs. 3 - New England - This game is a doozy. I'm sure the Pats will be fired up by their loss in 2009. I love revenge and payback!
Pick: New Engalnd

1-SD vs 3- New England - in the last decade, the Chargers have lost to the Pats twice in the playoffs. Because I love revenge, I think this is the year the Chargers break through!
Pick: SD

NFC Playoffs
3-GB vs 6- Cowboys - the packers will win a wildly entertaining game, forcing Tony Romo to puke in his mouth.
4-St Louis vs 5- ATL - An old NFC West showdown! ATL makes sure their run lasts more than one game this time.
1- NO vs. 5 - ATL - These divisional matchups are complete tossups. However, I picked ATL to lose in the super bowl last year, so they are destined for great things.
2-Philly vs. 3- GB - It's only fitting that the Eagles draw the Packers again. Last year's game went to the wire. I don't see why this would be any different, except with a new outcome.
2-Philly vs. 5-ATL - Vick vs his old team. This could fetch the highest ratings of any playoff game ever. No matter what the outcome, it sure will be a great game on both offense and defense.
Pick: ATL

Super Bowl
ATL over SD - If only because I've become self-aware that my picks are able to forecast the future! Honestly, you can make a case for any of NE, Jets, Steelers, Ravens, Chargers, Philly, GB, NO, or ATL winning the super bowl, and it would be completely reasonable!

Good luck to everyone and hope we have a great season!