Saturday, December 30, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 17

No time for thoughts this week, just the picks.

WASHINGTON 23 N.Y. Giants 17

St. Louis 21 MINNESOTA 16
Carolina 24 NEW ORLEANS 14
HOUSTON 27 Cleveland 20
DALLAS 30 Detroit 14
KANSAS CITY 24 Jacksonville 17
New England 23 Tennessee 13
N.Y. Jets 21 OAKLAND 6
CINCINNATI 28 Pittsburgh 20
Seattle 17 TAMPA BAY 10
PHILADELPHIA 27 Atlanta 15
BALTIMORE 22 Buffalo 14
SAN DIEGO 34 Arizona 20
DENVER 24 San Francisco 10
CHICAGO 27 Green Bay 16

Friday, December 22, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 16

NFL Picks – Week 16
Man, I’m getting worse and worse each week, and my once stellar record is going down the tubes. An ugly 6-10 mark last week has me doubting my ability to pick any game correctly, and the low level of confidence in the picks for Week 16 could sink me even further. That said, here you go:


GREEN BAY 17 Minnesota 10
I had this one picked by default, and lucked out as the Pack pulled it out with a late FG.

Kansas City 20 OAKLAND 10
Same old story for the Raiders: solid defense, zero offense. Reeling Chiefs will keep fading playoff hopes alive in what could be a stinker of a game.

Washington 21 ST. LOUIS 13
Skins looked tough on the road in beating Saints last week, should have no problem maintaining that level in another domw, against a weaker team.

Chicago 27 DETROIT 13
Bears let down late last week and allowed Bucs to force overtime before getting a Robbie Gould FG to escape. No way Lovie Smith allows that to happen again, so I look for renewed intesity by the Monsters of the Midway, and another W.

New Orleans 24 NY GIANTS 17
Saints suffered wake up call with hangonver loss at home, and look to bounce back, while Giants are a team on the brink. Hopes for January games are fading fast in Jersey, and this could be the final nail in the coffin.

Baltimore 17 PITTSBURGH 14
Steelers showing signs of life, too late of course, but Cowher would love to see his team finish on an upswing. Beating Ravens would be a sweet way to go out, but I can't see Baltimore losing steam now.

JACKSONVILLE 20 New England 16
I have no idea why, but it just seems like this is an "up" week for the up and down Jags. Pats have proven they can be had this season when faced with a tough spot, and despite the Pro Bowl snub for Tom Brady, I think Jacksonville has more to play for and will prevail.

Indianpolis 24 HOUSTON 10
Man, did Manning look good this past Monday in dismantling the Bengals or what? Texans can play tough at atimes, especially at home, but the Colts have had their lull and should be able to pick up some steam heading inot January.

ATLANTA 27 Carolina 10
Panthers look to have packed it in for the year, and crazy Falcons can move closer to playoffs with big home win. Chris Weinke will still be searching for his second win as a starter after this one.

BUFFALO 23 Tennessee 21
Surprisingly, this could be the best game of the week. Two red hot teams taht actually have playoff aspirations, whcih was unheard of just a few weeks ago. Love the Bills at home, as maybe some frigid temps could be the only thing that slows down Vince and Pacman.

CLEVELAND 30 Tampa Bay 17
Bucs staged nice comeback against soft Bear coverage last week, and almost pulled off miracle win. With a week to prepare for Tim Rattay, Romeo Crennel will have the Brownie defense ready to go, and the Dawgs will take a game that few will watch, and even less will care about.

SAN FRANCISCO 37 Arizona 28
Niners are still in the hunt, and by winning here can put more pressure on gaggin Seahawks. Cards are a bit more feisty of late, but have no answer for Frank Gore. Could be a wild one.

SEATTLE 23 San Diego 20
Mild upset here. If Seattle can't get motivated to win a game in which they have a ton more at stake than the Chargers, they should pack it up and stay home. Hawks have been way too inconsistent, but the tihkning here is SanDiego is due for some kind of letdown, and with the division clinched, it's not unlikely they could drop a non-conference matchup like this one.

Cincinnati 19 DENVER 17
Benagls need this one too badly, and will find a way to score just enough in snowy Denver. Jay Cutler has shown some very positive signs recently, but I don't think the Broncos can overcome a team as talented as Cincy.

DALLAS 27 Philadelphia 21

Boys have too much to lose, and should have enough firepower to outlast resurgent Eagles. NFL is fortunate to have a meaningful game scheduled for the holiday spotlight, and this one shuold not disappoint.

N.Y. Jets 20 Miami 13
Jets can soldify playoff spot with big divisional road win, and are playing well enough to get the job done. Despite playing a bad schedule, Eric Mangini has his team prepared every week, and if there were no New Orleans Saints his Jets would be one of the league's biggest surprise stories of 2006.

Last week: 6-10
Season total: 133-91 (59.4%)

Again with this "War on Christmas"?

Please, can we finally put this ridiculous notion to bed? Honestly, just because some cashier at Wal-Mart doesn’t wish me a “Merry Christmas”, does that mean society is falling apart and becoming virulently anti-Christian ? Somehow I doubt it. The topic was covered here last year, and I really don’t know what else to add. I suppose self-proclaimed “Culture Warrior” Bill O’Reilly needed somewhere to vent his frustrations after just about every one of his other arguments fell by the wayside.

Enough already, here’s hoping you enjoy whatever you celebrate this season. Oh, and stop the senseless persecution of the Christian minority!

Roid Rage, if by "rage" you mean "whatever"

Let me see if I understand exactly how this works…..Major League Baseball , and those who cover it, were up in arms over allegations about steroid use. After a few names were revealed as having failed tests for banned substances, the proverbial poop hit the fan, and the topic dominated the airwaves, web, etc. Rafael Palmeiro, the biggest confirmed user so far, has not played an inning since the news came out, and his career is likely over, his accomplishments and possible his Hall of Fame candidacy clouded in doubt. The debate rages on now that alleged roider Mark McGwire is on the latest Hall of Fame ballot. We won’t even go into the coverage and controversy surrounding eventual Home Run King Barry Bonds. Congress, congress, called the big boys in for a public hearing last spring, and warned the sport to clean up its act or else. Commissioner Bud Selig implemented new levels of punishment for anyone caught, as public opinion swelled in favor enough that the mighty players union had no choice but to cave. It’s not a perfect system by any means, but suffice it to say the sport is running scared and attempting to keep itself clean.

Compare this to the National Football League, which seems to somehow operate inside its own bubble. A star player, Sand Diego’s Shawne Merriman, tested positive earlier this year for a banned substance, which turned out to be a steroid. The NFL responded in kind, suspending the star four games, which amounts to one quarter of a season (comparable to a 50 gamer from MLB). A stiff penalty, no doubt, but what struck me was the muted, “so what?” reaction from the press. Here was a star player on one of the leagues better teams, nailed for steroids! It would compare to say, Roy Oswalt getting nabbed in baseball. The reaction there would have been a huge outcry, with writers clamoring that his stats be flagged with an asterisk, etc. Why the double standard? Should we just assume that football players are juicing unless we know otherwise, or is that already the public perception? The impact on the Chargers was immediately obvious, as they underwent some rough weeks on the defensive side of the ball, seemingly falling way behind each game and hoping the electric offense could bail them out, which it did on several occasions. Since Merriman’s return a few weeks back, the defense has stepped up and once again become a dominant force, and San Diego has emerged as one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl.

Look, I know that in almost every case, the cheaters are always one or two steps ahead of the testers, and the odds are pretty good that a good portion of players in both sports are not completely above board. At the very least, players who are caught should be penalized for their stupidity alone. It just is mind boggling to me how the public perceives the same infractions in each sport.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 15

Back-to-back 8-8 weeks have me spinning my wheels here, and it's time to make the move toward the top. s has been stated previously on more than one occasion, several teams have proven next to impossible to pick. based on the from-the-gut picking methos, which I am sticking with, I submit the picks for the week, with a heavy emphasis on home teams for some reason. Note a subtle format change, as the predicted score will now be the heading for the choice as the old way seemed a bit redundant. This week also marks the return of Saturday games, though now they are shown only on the rarely seen NFL Network. Seriously, at what point do we just go to a seven day NFL schedule? Does anyone else think that diluting the product somehow makes it better?

I picked Seattle, and lost, before I had the chance to post the picks. Here's what I thought when making that rotten choice:

SEATTLE 24 San Francisco 10
Hawks tough at home, and by winning here take one step closer to locking up NFC West. While they've been up and down this season, typical of a post Super Bowl letdown, this is where they can out it into gear and make a late season run in the wide open NFC.

ATLANTA 27 Dallas 24
I haver no idea why I would take the Falcons here, as they are one of the prime examples of teams which offer no consistency, thus are impossible to rely on when picking. Cowboys coming off embarrassing loss at home to Saints last week, and perhaps were exposed there. Tony Romo has come back to Earth of late, and Atlanta might have enough to pull this one out late, but it also would not surprise me if Dallas ended up winning by 20.

MINNESOTA 21 N.Y. Jets 17
Vikings a bit tougher in the dome, and Jets might have blown their season by losing to Bills last week. Something tells me the Minny D will put together a big effort and force Chad Pennington into mistakes, resulting in a W.

TENNESSEE 27 Jacksonville 22
All aboard! Despite SI cover jinx, the Vince Young love train is leaving the station with room for more folks to hop on. Jags don't travel well, and have had trouble putting together decent back-to-back games. Blowing out Colts last week has to lead to a bit of a letdown, and the young exciting Titans will seize upon that and rock to a thrilling win.

GREEN BAY 30 Detroit 17
Pack showing some signs of life, at least when facing mediocre teams. Liions are perfect cannon fodder here, and Favre and Co. have shown the ability to put up some points against teams like this. Outside of the Favre TD pass watch, there really isn;t any other reason to pay attention to this one.

CHICAGO 30 Tampa Bay 3
Let's see, an offense which can;t move the ball going up against the toughest defense in the league. Sounds like an ugly, ugly day for the Bucs. Bears would love to boost Rex Grossman's confidence, and there was never a more perfect chance to do so. You can make book on the fact that the Bear D will outscore the Bucs, easily. Also, if John Gruden instructs his punter or kicker to kick the ball anywhere near Devin Hester, he is an idiot.

NEW ORLEANS 21 Washington 16
Classic opportunity for a big letdown for the Saints after last week, but they seem to be rolling here, and Sean Payton will not let things get away with the division title in sight. Redskins have been tough, but seem to play just well enough to come up short each week, which speaks to either a talent gap, or coaching, or both. Drew Brees can enhance his MVP candidacy with another mistake free game, while the McAlister/Bush combination will give Joe Gibbs fits.

CAROLINA 23 Pittsburgh 10
The Disappointment Bowl. Two teams who should have been much better that this, but have stumbled. Hard to choose Chris Weinke, but the Steelers have been so bad on the road, and Panthers have a tiny bit more to play for, so the pick here is Carolina.

BALTIMORE 27 Cleveland 10
Ravens back on track in KC last week, and should coast at home against rookie QB. As is the case with the Bears, I would not be shocked to see the Raven D outscore the Browns offense here. With home field advantage in their sights, Baltimore will not slip up here. Anyone else looking forward to a potential Ravens/Chargers playoff matchup?

NEW ENGLAND 19 Houston 10
Maybe, just maybe, the Pats just aren't that good this year. They seem to be getting by in a mediocre division, but it looks as if they're headed for an early playoff exit. Surprisingly tough Texans can keep this close, and there is a sentence I never thought I'd type.

BUFFALO 22 Miami 16
Bills have been a tough out all season, and despite the lack of severe typical December weather in the forecast, can get past the Fins. Miami did an amazing job bottling up Tom Brady last week in shutting out the Pats, but Rich Stadium has been a traditional House of Horrors for the franchise, and the gloom and doom continues here.

ARIZONA 27 Denver 24
Wow, what the hell am I thinking with this one? Here's what: Cards have been playing much better lately, as Matt Leinart has made some nice adjustments to his game after the league seemed to catch up to him. That, coupled with the Jay Cutler experiment going on in Denver, leaves just enough wiggle room for the home team to pull off the upset. I'm still having trouble understanding why Mike Shanahan would cash in the season by starting Cutler when his team was 7-4 and headed for the playoffs. Then again, I;m just a stupid internet blogger, while he is a genius.

N.Y. GIANTS 27 Philadelphia 21
Wow, this game actually has large playoff implications, which didn;t seem possible as revently as two weeks ago. Eagles have surged with Jeff Garcia at the helm, but the defense is nowhere near the fearsome unit it once was. G-Men have returned to a more conservative approach on offense, trying to minimize mistakes by Eli Manning, and it's worked. Giants, with Tiki Barber carrying the load in a windy Meadowlands, prevail.

Kansas City 31 SAN DIEGO 24
One of only two road teams I'm picking this week is my beloved Chiefs. The rationale is simple, KC desperatley needs the game to keep any playoff hopes alive, while San Diego clinched the division last week. LDT already has the touchdown record, which should lead to him sitting out large parts of the second half no matter the score. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Chiefs lost their owner, Lamar Hunt, this week, and should be inspired to go all out and leave everything on the field. Chargers would love to have this one to maintain the edge for home field advantage, but the factors above point to Kansas City pulling one out on national TV. At least that's what I keep telling myself. I'm holding out hope that KC can run the table and win the Super Bowl as a tribute to Mr. Hunt. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Cincinnati 31 INDIANAPOLIS 24
...and here is my other road selection. Colts were absolutely horrid in losing at Jacksonville last week, as the run defense finally imploded. Make no mistake, it's been bad all year, but that was cover-your-eyes awful. Cincy is one team that can exploit that with Rudi Johnson capable of carrying the rock 30 times and pounding away at that porous front. Should that not be enough, the passing game is one of the league's best, and I honestly don;t see how INdy can keep them under 30 pts. Bengals have been much improved on defense of late, but even with a sub-par week they can still get out of here with a win.

Last week: 8-8
Season total: 127-81 (61.1%)

Friday, December 08, 2006

P.T. Barnum Continues to Be Right

I had almost forgotten it still existed until hearing a radio add the other day, but there is actually an International Star Registry. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Morons, click away!

It’s on one hand hard to imagine, yet on another easy to understand the combined levels of arrogance and stupidity associated with this group. To think for one minute that not only can a company come along and claim to “own” a celestial entity which has been around for thousands of years, is just plain dumb. Dumber still are the idiots who shell out good money to receive a nice certificate stating that such and such has been registered to them. “Oooh, what an amazing, eternal gesture, having a star registered in my name!” C’mre kid, wanna buy a bridge?

Do me a favor, save your money and buy me….well, anything else. Alcohol comes immediately to mind for some reason.

Better yet, if you’re one of those who feel that this is a good thing, have I got a deal for you. Send your $40 to me (I will beat my competitor’s prices, guaranteed!), and I will send you a nice, crisp, fresh, official electronic message signifying that the star of your choice has been renamed in your honor!

This week I’m running a special on pre-owned constellations. For the budget minded consumer, there are some soon to burn out models available for only $19.95! Currently, a twinkly little number I like to call “Bucky2544” (pictured above – isn’t it just precious?) is our Star of the Week, and can be yours for the low, low price of $14.95!

Act now, before it’s gone forever, literally!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 14

I knew I was in trouble last week, and a couple of ugly games resulted in an 8-8 week. After correctly picking the Steeler romp on Thursday (running my Thursday record to 5-0), I submit the Sunday selctions below....

PITTSBURGH over Cleveland
Steelers still awful, and beating up Bucs is not that great a feat. But, c'mon, Derek Anderson? I'm still reeling after seeing this nobody rally the Browns over my beloved Chiefs last week, and something tells me the Steelers will blitz the crap out of this guy and leave a quivering mass of jelly on the grass by about 11:30 tonight.
Pittsburgh 24 Cleveland 9

KANSAS CITY over Baltimore
Chiefs back home against tough Raven D, but since I'm a believer in Herm, I think they'll find a way to grind out a tough win. After the collapse in Cleveland last week, I just can;t see KC returning to Arrowhead and dropping this one.
Kansas City 19 Baltimore 13

Tennessee over HOUSTON
That's it, I'm finally jumping on the Vince Young bandwagon. This Titan team should be a ton of fun in 2007.
Tennessee 21 Houston 17

CAROLINA over N.Y. Giants
Panthers are another tough team to pick, and losing Jake Delhomme would seem like a recipe for disaster, but I'm banking on Coach Fox to rally around Chris Weinke and put the Giamts away for '06.
Carolina 23 NY Giants 20

CINCINNATI over Oakland
Bengals defense is red hot, and non-existent Oakland O should pose no threat at all. Cincy cruises at home despite having yet another player arrested this week.
Cincinnati 30 Oakland 13

WASHINGTON over Philadelphia
Reverse logic pick, since the whole world is suddenly in love with Jeff Garcia. I look at this and see an Eagle defense which allows a ton of yardage, suffering a letdown after a big win and a short week.
Washington 24 Philadelphia 20

Atlanta over TAMPA BAY
The only reason I would take Atlanta is that the Bucs have become perhaps the worst team in the NFL. Honestly, Jon Gruden, has it come to this? Kicking a field goal on the last play of the game, from within the 5 yd line, just to avoid the shutout? That is pathetic.
Atlanta 27 Tampa Bay 6

Indianapolis over JACKSONVILLE
Can't see Colts losing two in a row, despite facing Jags in Jax. Could be tight, but Manning and Co. will find a way.
Indianapolis 20 Jacksonville 16

DETROIT over Minnesota
Lions showed a little spunk in nearly knocking off Pats in Foxboro last week, while Vikes continue the downward slide.
Detroit 24 Minnesota 14

New England over MIAMI
Pats just do not look like one of the elite teams any more, but should still find a way to rattle and smack around Joey Harringotn. Dolphins without Ronnie Brown, which negates ground attack.
New England 28 Miami 10

SAN FRANCISCO over Green Bay
Always like the Niners better at home, while the Pack have played about one good quarter in the last two weeks. If Alex Smith can keep down the turnovers, San Fran could romp.
San Francisco 31 Green Bay 17

Seattle over ARIZONA
Hawks had no business winning in Mile High last week, and nearly blew it, so let's assume that was a wake up call which will prevent the Cardinals from pulling off an upset here.
Seattle 27 Arizona 14

N.Y. JETS over Buffalo
Perfect chance for a letdown here, as the expectations are going up, but it seems that Coach Mangini will not allow that to happen. Jets won't romp, but should be able to pick up a solid win against the resilient Bills.
N.Y. Jets 20 Buffalo 17

SAN DIEGO over Denver
Mr. Cutler, meet Mr. Merriman. Bolts are cruising to division title, while Broncos appear to have mailed in the season. Absolutely no way in hell Denver wins here. Book it.
San Diego 24 Denver 10

New Orleans over DALLAS
..and here is where the suddenly lofty expectations take a hit. Everyone loves the Cowboys now, and are openly speculating who they will meet in the NFC title game. Not so fast - Drew Brees and Reggie Bush can generate offense in a hurry, and despite defense lapses, could win a shootout in Big D.
New Orleans 34 Dallas 31

Chicago over ST. LOUIS
Here's my gameplan for Lovie Smith this week: on offense, kneel three times, then punt. Your defense should score more than enough points to take you to 11-2. Rams are in disarray, and offensive line will take a beating against this defense. Only a few untimely Rex Grossman mistakes will keep this one close.
Chicago 17 St. Louis 6

Last week: 8-8
Season total: 119-73 (61.9%)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 13

Now that's more like it! The mojo was working big time last week, to the tune of 13-3. If only I felt that confident for Week 13. Not sure why, but I have very little faith in the picks this week. That said, starting with correctly picking the Thursday night game, I'm off to a good start. Skip down to the Sunday section to see the remaining selections....

CINCINNATI over Baltimore
While I'm rooting for the Ravens, something tells me the Bengals will find a way to get done at home on (semi) national TV. After smacking down the hated Steelers last week, Baltimore could suffer a slight letdown - enough for Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and Co. to get out with the W.
Cincinnati 24 Baltimore 16

Indianapolis over TENNESSEE
Love the never say die attitude Jeff Fisher has instilled in his young Titans, and I truly believe the kids can and will hang tough against the mighty Colts. If we were using spreads, I'd be tempted to grab Tennessee, but since we're not, I'll stick with Manning and Co.
Indianapolis 27 Tennessee 16

ST. LOUIS over Arizona
Rams pulled one out last week, which might finally have them back on track. Staying at home to face the woeful Redbirds can go a long way toward maintaining the good feelings in St. Loo.
St. Louis 30 Arizona 20

CHICAGO over Minnesota
Bears, back home after 3 week road stint, and coming off a loss, are as close to a lock as you will see in the NFL this season. Vikes are so up and down anyway, and walking into this situation won't help them fix all that has gone wrong thus far.
Chicago 35 Minnesota 10

N.Y. Jets over GREEN BAY
Taking the Jets on the road at Lambeau? Yep. Unthinkable in recent years, these are not your Momma's Packers, and Coach Mangini has his team poised to potentially run the table and get a decent playoff seed. Funny thing is, they're not this good, but when you beat what the league gives you, you deserve the accolades.
N.Y. Jets 23 Green Bay 14

NEW ORLEANS over San Francisco
Saints move closer to improbable playoff berth by knocking off tough Niner squad. Drew Brees for MVP, anyone? Sean Payton should just be handed Coach of the Year now as well.
New Orleans 27 San Francisco 20

San Diego over BUFFALO
Much as I'd like to think the Bills can pull this one out, I just can;t bring myself to pick them. Bolts get Merriman back on defense to solidify what was one of the league';s top units in the first part of the year. That, plus LT, spells another win for San Diego.
San Diego 28 Buffalo 17

Kansas City over CLEVELAND
Given 10 days off to refresh Larry Johnson's legs, KC should be able to keep pace in the playoff race. Chiefs could use a laugher here after a few tight games in arow, and a date with the Ravens next week.
Kansas City 23 Cleveland 14

WASHINGTON over Atlanta
Eat it, Falcons. I will never pick you again until you show me something, anything. Skins playing for pride and '07 jobs, will prevail as we move closer to an implosion in Atlanta.
Washington 24 Atlanta 17

NEW ENGLAND over Detroit
Pats can use big win over Bears as a springboard to division title, and will not suffer a letdown at home against Detroit. Matt Millen should take notes while here on how to properly run a franchise.
New England 30 Detroit 7

MIAMI over Jacksonville
Red hot Fins look to gum up the playoff works against roller coaster Jags. Jacksonville is not the same on the road, as I've mentioned in this space, and Miami is doing its second half run, as also mentioned here. Add those together, and all signs point to Miami.
Miami 17 Jacksonville 10

OAKLAND over Houston
What a wacky team, these Raiders. Steadily more competitive, thanks solely to a defense which has played it's collective heart out, they can finally break out with a win against a Texan team which had to travel cross country after losing to Jets last week. Art Shell is still an awful coach, though.
Oakland 17 Houston 10

PITTSBURGH over Tampa Bay
The Underachiever Bowl pits two teams who had much higher expectations in September against one another. Since the Steeler loss was the uglier one a week ago, and they're back home, they get the slight edge.
Pittsburgh 24 Tampa Bay 13

N.Y. GIANTS over Dallas
I have absolutely no idea why I'm choosing the Giants. They appear to be coming apart at the seams, squabbling internally, as well as with the media, while their young quarterback seems to be regressing to the point where he looks like a scared rookie again. Cowboys come in red hot, with QB Tony Romo the toast of the league. Maybe the G-Men, who will get back Sam Madison and perhaps Umienyora, can pull it together for one week and tough one out in front of the hoe folks in what should be a cold, windy Giants Stadium.
N.Y. Giants 20 Dallas 17

Seattle over DENVER
The Jay Cutler era begins, at a strange time, this late in the season. Though the switch is entirely warranted, it is still a huge gamble by Mike Shanahan. He likely would not have had to do this if the running game was doing well, and I'm having trouble seeing how things will be much different with the kid taking the snaps. Hawks are no strangers to playing in the high altitude, and surely studied the films of Larry Johnson and Michael Bennett shredding the vaunted Bronco defense on Turkey Night.
Seattle 24 Denver 16

Carolina over PHILADELPHIA
Early NFC favorites Carolina struggling along at 6-5, but should not encounter a lot of resistance facing porous Philly defense. It just seems like the right time for the Panthers to make their annual run toward January, and this is a good place to kick it off.
Carolina 23 Philadelphia 15

Last week: 13-3
Overall: 111-65 (63.1%)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 12

Ah, early post this week due to the Turkey Day games. I'm particularly cheesed about the prime time matchup between Denver and Kansas City, which will only be seen by the approximately 27 people who have NFL Network. A good example of strong arm tactics here by the NFL, which figures it can force cable systems to put its channel on a basic level tier (a la ESPN) by stimulating fan outrage. Word is the league would eventually love to have all of the games on their channel, thus saving the literally billions of dollars currently spent on the contract with CBS, NBC and ESPN. Because, as you know, the league is barley scraping by and desperately needs an influx of extra capital.

On to the picks....


Miami over DETROIT
What, picking against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day? Yep. Despite what you may have heard, Detroit is only two games over .500 in these games all time. That, plus the fact that Miami is playing very well, and the Lions are banged up, equals a Dolphin win.
Miami 24 Detroit 10

DALLAS over Tampa Bay
Bucs can't score, and Dallas has too much riding on this game to suffer a letdown after big win over Indy last week. Romo is the real deal, especially since he is allegedly dating Jessica Simpson.
Dallas 23 Tampa Bay 7

KANSAS CITY over Denver
Cheifs looking to atone for early season loss at Mile High (that's right, I refuse to call it by it's corporate name). Broncos defense was exposed last week by mighty Chargers, and while KC won't put up 35, but will score enough to grab the win and tighten things up in the AFC West.
Kansas City 23 Denver 16

San Francisco over ST. LOUIS
Reeling Rams run into red hot Niners, led by the punishing ground attack of Frank Gore. St. Loo might just about be finished for '06, while San Fran can inject itself right into the thick of the playoff picture with win here.
San Francisco 24 St. Louis 17

MINNESOTA over Arizona
Reverse logic pick here. Vikes have invented new ways to lose each week, while Cards were finally able to get off the schnied last week and win. Minny defense, at home, should be able to shut down Zona, one would think.
Minnesota 27 Arizona 10

Carolina over WASHINGTON
Here come the Panthers. While Washington QB Jason Campbell looked decent in his debut last week, he will be tormented by Carolina's pass rush, and swarming defense. Delhomme to Smith continues to click, pacing the way to another win.
Carolina 23 Washington 7

Cincinnati over CLEVELAND
Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson have rediscovered each other quite nicely over the past few weeks, and depite Cincy's defensive lapses they will have enough to overpower Browines in the Dawg Pound.
Cincinnati 30 Cleveland 17

N.Y. JETS over Houston
Both teams very accustomed to playing close games, and that should play to form here. Texans have been a tough out all year, but the J-E-T-S should have enough to survive and move on.
N.Y. Jets 20 Houston 14

BUFFALO over Jacksonville
Upset special. Jags are not the same team on the road, and Bills have been in every game lately, win or lose. The loss of Donovan Darius will hurt Jacksonville, especially with the Losman to Evans connection heating up for the Bills.
Buffalo 22 Jacksonville 17

New Orleans over ATLANTA
Falcs continue to frustrate just about everyone, with the exception of those who bet against them each week. Drew Brees can light it up again this week, even without Marques Colston. Is the Jim Mora Jr. job watch underway yet?
New Orleans 27 Atlanta 16

BALTIMORE over Pittsburgh
Ravens are most definitely for real, folks. Steelers have been able to win two in a row despite some critical mistakes by Ben Roethlisberger, and some shaky defensive play. The difference here? Ravens make teams pay dearly for those mistakes, like good teams always do.
Baltimore 24 Pittsburgh 14

SAN DIEGO over Oakland
Unlike the recent trend, I don't see the Chargers falling way behind and needing a big second half comeback to emerge with a victory. Spotty defense might allow the Raiders to put up more points than usual, but LT and Co. look almost unstoppable right now.
San Diego 34 Oakland 16

N.Y. Giants over TENNESSEE
G-Men looking all kinds of awful of late, but something tells me they're due for a nice bounce back game this week. Titans have played like a young team on the way up, looking great one week, awful the next. This week, it's awful's turn.
N.Y. Giants 20 Tennessee 10

NEW ENGLAND over Chicago
Best game of the week, on paper anyway. Pats have beat up weaker temas this year, while losing to better ones. Bears playing third straight on the road, and that has to catch up with them at some point. The hunch here is that Brady and Bellichek come up with just enough to squeeze past Da Bears.
New England 20 Chicago 17

INDIANAPOLIS over Philadelphia
Sorry, NBC. Thought you had a primo matchup with the potentially unbeaten Colts verses McNabb and the Eagles, eh? Indy, coming back to the dome after a loss, facing the McNabb-less Eagles, sounds like a blowout to me.
Indianapolis 34 Philadelphia 17

SEATTLE over Green Bay
Man, ESPN is getting some clunkers this year. Similar to Colts, Hawks coming back home after ugly road loss, against inferior opponent, means this one will be over early, and those of us on the East coast can go to bed at a decent hour. Thanks guys!
Seattle 40 Green Bay 13

Last week: 10-6
Overall: 98-62 (61.3%)

43 Years Ago Today...

..a Nation lost its innocence.

You would think that by now, with most of the major players dead, someone like Gerald Ford (Warren Commission member) would step up and say "Yeah, we know it wasn't just Oswald, but we were afraid to start World War III, so we stuck to the tidy cover story."

I'm not holding my breath.

Barbaro Cares Not What You Think

Remember Barbaro, the immensely talented thoroughbred horse who was on the way to Triple Crown winning glory before injuring his leg last spring? Tough break for his owners, who watched tons of potential income dissolve, and for the horse himself, who was likely to be put down. Headlines were made when it was decided to try and perform delicate surgery to save the animal. In most other cases, the horse would have to be put down, but not Barbaro. You see, he is the Wonder Horse who has inspired us all. Don't believe me?

Check this out: Barbaro's Message Board

I always thought people were nuts, but this goes beyond any stupidity threshold I've ever imagined. I posted an item on this message board yesterday, but I doubt it will ever see the light of day. It was along the lines of this:

What the heck is wrong with you people? Barbaro is a freaking HORSE! Not only can he not read, but he also cannot comprehend what is read to him. If he didn't have the ability to run really fast, he'd be Alpo right now!

It takes a truly special breed of nutjob to sit down at the keyboard and compose a gushing love note to an animal that would probably kick them in the face if they got too close. An animal which is not even very high on the intelligence chain. An animal which probably eats and gets better medical care than half of the people in this country.

Get well soon, you big handsome horse!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 11

Man, this is one of the oddest NFL seasons I can remember, and I go back a long way. I guess this is what Pete Rozelle had in mind when he dreamed of parity - any team, in any given week, has the ability to look like absolute garbage, particularly after a week where it looked amazing. Picking the games has become a crap shoot of sorts, and since I don't give each game much though, that sounds like the best course to take. On the Week 11....

NEW ORLEANS over Cincinnati
Bengals were in command, at home, against SD last week and let it all slip away in the second half. Saints coming off tough road loss in Pittsburgh, and might be coming gradually back down to earth after hot start, but I'll take the home team in a close one here.
New Orleans 30 Cincinnati 24

HOUSTON over Buffalo
Texans have been a tough out of late, and Bills left it all on the field last week at Indy, narrowly missing the upset. Letdown here? You betcha.
Houston 17 Buffalo 10

New England over GREEN BAY
What's up with the Pats? Nothing a week on the road against a weak defense can't cure. Brady might be hurt, and he took some clean shots last week form the Jets, but it is impossible to fathom this team losing three in a row.
New England 27 Green Bay 16

KANSAS CITY over Oakland
Watch out, Chiefs. The Raider D continues to impress, and will look to welcome back Trent Green with a few love taps. Problem continues to be total lack of offense, and KC, in Arrowhead, will make life miserable for Aaron Brooks.
Kansas City 19 Oakland 10

BALTIMORE over Atlanta
The Falcons are the single most frustrating team in the league for both gamblers and fantasy leaguers. In all probability, they will get it together and spank the Ravens in Baltimore, just to confound everyone. I can't predict that, in good faith, so the pick here is with the hometown team.
Baltimore 23 Atlanta 12

Chicago over NY JETS
Bears erased doubts of legitimacy last week in smacking Giants. Jets coming off huge win in Foxboro, and should give Chicago all it can handle. Close game, but talent prevails.
Chicago 24 NY Jets 16

Pittsburgh over CLEVELAND
Crapshoot, but Steelers have to be good enough to beat the Brownies, right? Right?
Pittsburgh 24 Cleveland 17

CAROLINA over St. Louis
Panthers, despite sleepwalking through parts of last week's game against Tampa, look poised to start a second half run, while the 4-5 Rams seem to be going in the opposite direction.
Carolina 27 St. Louis 14

PHILADELPHIA over Tennessee
Eagles, at home, should cruise past undermanned Titans, but look for Vince Young to pull off at least one highlight reel worthy play in this one.
Philadelphia 31 Tennessee 14

TAMPA BAY over Washington
No Portis, and Jason Campbell putting down his clipboard to take the snaps spells doom for the Skins. Bucs will have to work very hard not to win here.
Tampa Bay 23 Washington 11

MIAMI over Minnesota
Dolphins suddenly hot (since the pressure is off), and Vikes are tanking. Which means Minny wins by 30, using the logic of 2006. Still can;t go that way, so I'm taking Miami.
Miami 23 Minnesota 16

Seattle over SAN FRANCISCO
Hawks might be getting back Alexander and Hasselbeck, which makes this a blowout. If only one of them returns, or if neither do, SeaHags still have enough to take care of business here.
Seattle 30 San Francisco 10

Detroit over ARIZONA
Can't pick the Cardinals at all until they show me something, and they have shown zero since blowing the Bear game. Banged up Lion D could help Zona keep it interesting, but Kitna and the Lions win a game whihc nobody will want to see.
Detroit 34 Arizona 27

DALLAS over Indianapolis
Upset special! Cowboys have the horses to pull this off, but must stick to the game plan. I would think the Colts would rather drop one at some point, since they do not like the pressure of gunning for 16-0 anyway. This one could be the game of the week, and I see it going right to the final gun.
Dallas 24 Indianapolis 21

DENVER over San Diego
....or this could be the game of the week. Great prime time matchup sees the explosive Charger offense against the top ranked Denver D. I'll go with the tough defense, at high altitude, to win, but it won't be easy.
Denver 24 San Diego 20

Jags tough at home, and Eli Manning has been in a funk of late. Swarming Jags defense will make it a long night for the younger Manning, while depleted Giants will try to hang tough.
Jacksonville 20 NY Giants 13

Last week: 7-9
Overall: 88-55 (61.5%)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Lost the Battle, Won the War?

So the first ever political endorsement made by this blog takes a dive, as you might have heard. Incumbent Joe Lieberman won convincingly over challenger Ned Lamont in the Connecticut Senate race this past week, gaining a fourth (and perhaps final) term. In hindsight, Lamont’s campaign seemed to peak during the Democratic primary, and was unable to sustain the momentum gained with the victory. Ariana Huffington pointed out that Ned seemed to begin acting like a Senator after the nomination was secured, and moved away from the one big issue which he rode to the win: Iraq. That assessment seems accurate to What?

That said, perhaps there was a larger gain from the entire Lamont run. His underdog, one issue run seemed to shine the national spotlight on the war, and those who continued to support it. The mid-term elections acted as a referendum on the War, and also to a larger extent, the Bush presidency. The results showed that America can unite against corruption, abuse of power, cronyism and lack of accountability and demand more from our elected leaders. What? Thinks the Lamont campaign had a lot to do with that.

Now, the Democrats have to prove their mettle, and make sure the only reason American voters turned the power over goes beyond them simply not being the other guy. Dems have a real chance at being agents of change in this country, and it doesn’t necessarily start with going out of their way to smite the current administration. It would be beneficial in the long term to produce legislation which will clearly show how much the President is willing to “work with” the Dems, as he humbly said he would once the votes were in. Push the core issues you campaigned on, Democrats, and make it clear where Mr. Bush will not budge. This will set the stage for the Presidential election on 2008.

It would be of great benefit to think short term as well, however. New House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has laid out a plan for the first hundred hours after being sworn in which is very aggressive. Nowhere in the To Do list was the “I” word, Impeachment, mentioned. This can be broached without looking like partisian revenge for the Clinton debacle, and there are some important things that will be uncovered if investigations are launched. With subpoena power, the Dems will now be able to hold hearings and force accountability to those who have profited from the war, and abused power. These issues should be tabled, but not abandoned.

The balls in your court, Democrats, and you have a great deal of national support. Don’t blow it – there is too much riding on it.

NFL Picks - Week 10

Finally, a decent week, 9-5! This has been a wild, unpredictable year so far, and if I were picking against spreads I would be sporting a very ugly record. As mentioned a few weeks back, there are so many teams that have been impossible to bank on, varying from great to garbage week-to-week. Hoping to get back on a roll, I humbly submit the selections for week ten:

MINNESOTA over Green Bay
Do or die time for the Vikes, who need to jump start the second half with a big home win against a team they should beat. Brett Favre has had a knack of late to throw games away late, and the Minny defense needs to take advantage.
Minnesota 27 Green Bay 13

Baltimore over TENNESSEE
Okay, I’ll admit it now: The Ravens are legit. There, I said it. They seem to be able to come up with big plays, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, when needed. It is hard to imagine a meltdown against the up and down Titans. On a side note, though, did you happen to catch the highlight from last week’s Ravens-Bengals game where Rudi Johnson ran into Ray Lewis at the goal line? We’ve been conditioned to see Lewis stand up and topple anyone who crossed his path, but Johnson churned his legs, and overpowered Lewis on his way to the end zone. The lesson? The emotional leader of the Ravens D is getting old, and they had better win now.
Baltimore 30 Tennessee 10

Texans have been a much tougher out over the past few weeks, but Jags are much tougher at home. Despite Byron Leftwich’s attempt to generate a QB controversy, the Jacksonville D will lead the way to a home win.
Jacksonville 20 Houston 7

Kansas City over MIAMI
Very wary of second half resurgence by Saban’s Dolphins, much like last year. What that says to me is Miami plays much better when the pressure is off. No way KC takes Fins lightly after last week’s upset of the Bears. Chiefs are rolling with Damon Huard at the helm, and coach Herm Edwards should be very familiar with prepping for Miami after spending years in the same division. Game should be tight, but KC playmakers will be the difference.
Kansas City 23 Miami 17

NEW ENGLAND over N.Y. Jets
Hey, I’ll be at this game! Pats, coming off loss to Indy, will be pumped. The stat has been floating around this week that they have not lost back-to-back games since 2002, and I see nothing that would point to that streak being snapped here. Jets played Pats tough a few weeks back in Meadowlands, but winning in Foxboro is too tall an order, so long as Tom Brady doesn’t toss up ill advised passes into double and triple coverage, like he did against Indy last week.
New England 24 N.Y. Jets 10

CINCINNATI over San Diego
Bengals are in must win mode now, at home, against a somewhat banged up Charger team. Put up or shut up time for Cincy, and the hunch here is they will find a way to get it done. No Shawne Merriman will allow Carson Palmer a few extra precious seconds to find his talented receiving corps. This could be the game of the week, and in retrospect I imagine NBC would have liked this to be the Sunday nighter.
Cincinnati 27 San Diego 22

DETROIT over San Francisco
Lions showed me plenty last week in dismantling the Falcons, and staying home against woeful road team should spell an easy win. Detroit has the look of a team that will give opponents fits in the second half, by the way. Niners show some life when playing in their soon-to-be-former home, but will not do much here.
Detroit 31 San Francisco 7

PHILADELPHIA over Washington
Will Philly stop the bleeding? Skins pulled off improbable win at home over hated Cowboys last week, but both of these squads have been very tough to predict of late. That said, I’ll stick with the home team, despite the one dimensional attack. Donovan McNabb is the wild card, and he will do just enough to be the difference in this one.
Philadelphia 28 Washington 21

Colts looked great in beating Pats last week to move to 8-0. It is hard to see how a team that has been so bad stopping the run can have this much success, and eventually someone will take advantage of that. This will not be the week that happens (I’m thinking it will happen in January, again). I have to say it was somewhat eerie seeing Mr. Automatic, Adam Vinatieri, miss a gimme that would have iced the game last week. It says something that the Colts were able to overcome that, but maybe there is something in the water in Indiana.
Indianapolis 34 Buffalo 16

ATLANTA over Cleveland
Now, we’re looking at an impossible game to call. Will we see the Falcs of weeks 7 and 8, who ran a simple, effective offense and seemingly scored at will? Or, will we see the bungling bunch from last week which couldn’t seem to get out of their own way? Brownies have been competitive of late, but it says here Atlanta finds a way to come out on top in the dome.
Atlanta 30 Cleveland 20

Denver over OAKLAND
Denver has seemingly found their offense, posting back-to-back 31 point efforts, while Raiders seemingly have never had one. Oakland D has been decent, but spending all that time on the field wears them out, and there is no good reason to think the obviously superior team will not be able to exploit that and roll to victory.
Denver 24 Oakland 9

New Orleans over PITTSBURGH
Man, is it ugly in Steel Town or what? Hard to fathom the defending champs are 2-6, but they are what they are, having played just bad enough to lose in each loss. Saints need this one, and winning on the road is a tall order, but something tells me Pittsburgh is done, and the Saints can get out of here with the W.
New Orleans 20 Pittsburgh 17

SEATTLE over St. Louis
Reeling Rams will be hard pressed to get back on track here, despite the Who Dat lineup fielded by Seattle. Hawks defense will have to step it up and dominate again, like it did against the Radiers last week. No shutout this time, but with the help of the raucous crowd, the pick here is Seattle.
Seattle 19 St. Louis 7

Dallas over ARIZONA
Cowboys need to bounce back after horrific finish in DC last week, and playing in Arizona is almost like a home game for them. Cardinals appear finished, but could still put together a solid effort against a hated rival. I just don’t think they’ll have enough in the tank to finish the job, and see the ‘Pokes emerging victorious.
Dallas 23 Arizona 13

N.Y. GIANTS over Chicago
Were the Bears exposed last week in Miami? It certainly seemed like it. Chicago’s schedule has been loaded with cream puffs, but now the fun really begins, as they begin a stretch of games against solid teams, starting with the injury depleted G-Men. Brian Urlacher should play, which will help Chicago, but the Giants banged up defense should have enough to harass and unnerve Rex Grossman. Should be a low scoring affair, but the pick when two good teams clash goes to the home team.
N.Y. Giants 17 Chicago 10

CAROLINA over Tampa Bay
Panthers mired at .500 after two straight losses, and desperately need this one to keep pace. John Fox’s team has a knack for coming up with big wins when needed, and should be able to pull one out against a game Buccaneer bunch. It could be ugly, but the better team should prevail here.
Carolina 23 Tampa Bay 14

Last week: 9-5
Overall: 81-46 (63.8%)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Connecticut Senate Race - The Choice Is Clear

For those of you who haven’t noticed, What? lives in the great state of Connecticut, hence the following commentary on the Senate race in that state.

The Connecticut Senate race this year has attracted national attention. Incumbent Joe Lieberman faced an unlikely challenge for his senate seat from an unknown businessman from Greenwich, Ned Lamont. Lamont’s entrance into the Democratic primary drew notice for his stance on one issue – the ongoing war in Iraq. By highlighting Lieberman’s support for the conflict, Ned forced others to look into the Senator’s support of this along with his support for several other of Bush’s policies.

As the Lamont campaign began to pick up momentum, the Lieberman camp seemed to take on an indignant attitude, almost questioning why someone would even challenge the three term Senator. As the war became more and more unpopular, Lieberman’s camp was forced to defend his stance, which was becoming harder and harder to understand.

A little history here on Senator Lieberman: He himself ran as a Washington outsider in 1988, defeating Lowell Weicker by telling voters how 18 years (Weicker’s length of service at that time) was too long, and it was time for a change. His message struck a chord with voters (who themselves might have grown tired of the incumbent), and he won the seat he holds to this day. The only potential interruption in his service took place during the 2000 presidential election, when Democratic candidate Al Gore chose Joe as his running mate. When faced with the decision of vacating his Senate seat to focus solely on the race for the White House, Lieberman declined, thereby insuring himself of a fallback in the event the Dems lost the election. You know how that turned out, obviously. He once again faced a crossroads as the Primary drew closer, finding himself trailing badly in the polls, and facing a likely shocking defeat. Unable to accept the will of the voters, Joe once again hedged his bets by filing the necessary paperwork to mount an independent campaign should he lose the Democratic race. Again, you know how that turned out. It was funny to listen to Lieberman the night he lost the primary, comparing it to halftime of a football game, and declaring his willingness to slug it out in the second half and win the game. The next day he formally entered the senate race (again), under something called the Connecticut for Lieberman party.

The obvious underlying message taken from the examples above is a simple one. Joe Lieberman is more concerned with taking care of himself then he is the people of this state. Despite being in office exactly as long as Mr. Weicker was when Joe told him it was time to step aside, Lieberman stubbornly continues to do whatever he can to maintain his seat of power. Despite being called out by the voters for siding with an unpopular president on the single most polarizing issue this country has seen since the Vietnam War, Lieberman insists he remain in office. Despite having been defeated by the voters from the very party he claimed to represent and serve faithfully, Lieberman continues to demand his seat at the table.

Lamont, in contrast, is a political neophyte, no doubt. What? looks at this as an opportunity to introduce new blood into Washington, which is sorely needed right now. What started as a one issue campaign has expanded to touch on domestic issues such as health care and social security. Lamont’s stance insists that the ridiculous amount of money spent each day in Iraq could, and should, be used to address real domestic issues. His staunch stance against special interest influence and lobbyists is another issue to which lip service is often paid this time of year, but ultimately little is done about, on either side of the aisle.

The latest polls show Lamont gaining, but still behind. A late push over the weekend, coupled with a big democratic turnout on Tuesday could help tighten things, and bring the Democratic nominee the victory.

Remember, it’s not the famous “kiss” planted on Lieberman’s cheek by George W. Bush after the State of the Union which has put his senate seat in jeopardy, nor is this an indictment of his sometime bi-partisian efforts. On the contrary, voting the issue as opposed to the standard party line can be an admirable thing to do, and is all too rare in this polarized political era. This race, however, boils down to one thing: the war, stupid. No issue is as important to the future of this country and the world at large. The lack of post war planning, the resulting desecration of the constitution by removing habeas corpus, the ultimate creation of an imperial presidency, all stem from this disaster. Mr. Lieberman is clearly on the wrong side here, and he, along with any candidate left who supports it, has to go.

If you live in another state, do your part this Tuesday, and help by removing any incumbent who is still in favor of the mess in the Gulf.

What? heartily endorses Ned Lamont for Senator.

Friday, November 03, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 9

The slump continues, after a 6-8 week. Let's try to bring things back with this stellar batch of predictions (details to follow):

Kansas City over ST. LOUIS

CHICAGO over Miami

New Orleans over TAMPA BAY

Atlanta over DETROIT

BALTIMORE over Cincinnati

WASHINGTON over Dallas

BUFFALO over Green Bay

N.Y. GIANTS over Houston

Minnesota over SAN FRANCISCO

SAN DIEGO over Cleveland

PITTSBURGH over Denver

NEW ENGLAND over Indianapolis

SEATTLE over Oakland

Last Week: 6-8
Overall: 72-41 (63.7%)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This is a joke, right?

Meat Loaf
Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose

I honestly thought this was from The Onion, or some such site. Is he serious? Yet another follow-up to the monumentally overrated, overplayed hit album from 30 years ago? Will we see Bat Out OF Hell IV: The Horse, She Is Flogged in 2021?

Up next, Steve Miller presents Further Tales From The Book Of Dreams, while Bob Seger rolls out Night Moves II: Finished Already?

Please stop.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 8

I've been wallowing in mediocrity since the Perfect Week, going .500. That's about to change.

There now exists a class of teams in this league which defy reason. Teams which look awesome one week, then crap the bed the next, or vice versa. Teams like Houston, Jacksonville, Atlanta, and my beloved Kansas City. Predicting how these teams will fare each week is an exercise in futility, and know that each time I do so I'm basically flipping a coin. Such is life in the modern NFL.

On to the choices for Week 8, the first week where thoughts aren't distracted by baseball.

KANSAS CITY over Seattle
Huard might not play, but have you seen the starting backfiled for the defending NFC Champs? QB Seneca Wallace, welcome to Arrowhead. Think about it, when the schedule came out, you're looking at this one and thinking.."Hmm, Trent Green/Larry Johnson matching up with Matt Hasselbeck/Shaun Alexander, should be a great matchup". Well, since only LJ is still on the field from that foursome, I'm taking the Chiefs.
Kansas City 22 Seattle 13

CHICAGO over San Francisco

Whatever the spread is here, it isn't high enough. Bears, fresh off bye week, are simply too much for upstart Niners. The Bear offense should even find the end zone once or twice.
Chicago 31 San Francisco 6

NEW ORLEANS over Baltimore
Sticking with what has worked, picking the Saints at home until someone knocks them off. I seriously doubt it will be the Ravens, who, surprise, have offensive problems. Wasn't Brian Billick an "offensive genius" when Modell hired him? Has any one unit on one team been consistently bad for so long?
New Orleans 21 Baltimore 10

Houston over TENNESSEE
Two teams I can't understand, and have stopped trying to. Magic 8 Ball says.......Texans. Whatever.
Houston 27 Tennessee 20

GREEN BAY over Arizona
Eww, another craptacular. Cardinals seem to have gone in the tank following collapse in the Bear game. Packers are a little more fiesty at home, and can grab one here to give more false hope to their fan base.
Green Bay 26 Arizona 17

N.Y. GIANTS over Tampa Bay
G-Men are playing best ball of the season right now, and should be able to contain suddenly frisky Bucs. Swirling winds in Giants Stadium will make sure there are no late 62 yard miracle kicks as well. Mr. Gradkowsi, meet Mr. Strahan.
N.Y. Giants 20 Tampa Bay 6

CINCINNATI over Atlanta
Bengals grabbed huge win at home last week versus Carolina, and I'm picking them here despite the injury woes. Falcons won't be tossing the ball all over the joint this week, but even their stout rushing attack won't be enough here. Hunch says Cincy...
Cincinnati 24 Atlanta 20

PHILADELPHIA over Jacksonville
Eagles glad to be home, and are catching struggling Jags at just the right time. Some think Jacksonville is better off with David Garrard at QB, and that may be true, but Philly is coming off two tough road losses, and will be well served with some home cookin'.
Philadelphia 27 Jacksonville 13

SAN DIEGO over St. Louis
Bolts bounce back after last week's late comeback failed in KC. Rams record is nice, but they haven't faced a team this tough on the road, and the defense will be tested. So long as the Chargers don't commit early, costly turnovers, they should coast.
San Diego 33 St. Louis 17

Pittsburgh over OAKLAND
Steelers, even with Batch at QB, have more than enough weapons to smoke the Raiders, who are playing better of late. Can't see Cowher's team suffering a letdown, coming off last week's defensive disaster in Atlanta.
Pittsburgh 23 Oakland 9

DENVER over Indianapolis
Game of the Week? On paper, certainly. Broncos defense has been lights out all year, and faces it's biggest test with Peyton and Co in town. The key to this game will be what the Denver offense can do, however. If they can grind it out, kill the clock and keep Manning off the field, that will be a recipe for success. I see Shanahan keeping the game plan simple to avoid letting Jake Plummer make foolish mistakes, as is his custom.
Denver 16 Indianapolis 14

N.Y. Jets over CLEVELAND
Jets, keeping up the pace in the AFC based on their soft schedule, should have enough to get by the Brownies in the Dawg Pound. Unlike previous opponents, Cleveland doesn't have the firepower to come back from the defecit the Jets will impose.
N.Y. Jets 23 Cleveland 10

CAROLINA over Dallas
After watching the effort last Monday against the Giants, it's really hard to see why there were folks in Dallas clamoring for Romo to be the starting QB. He looked jittery and indecisive, throwing some very ugly picks. Panthers, back home, will keep the Big D downward slide going. Parcells watch, anyone?
Carolina 24 Dallas 10

New England over MINNESOTA
Ordinarily teams would get trapped here, but Bellichek will not allow that. Pats seem to be hitting their stride now, and though it might not be pretty, will do enough things right to escape the Dome with a W. I'm thinking a close game here, with a late Brady TD to make it...
New England 24 Minnesota 13

Last Week: 6-7
Overall: 66-34 (66%)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Something To Think About On November 7th

I’ve had a column in my head for the past few months regarding the situation in Iraq, but have never been able to fully articulate exactly how I felt. Then I came across this letter posted on, written by Kevin Tillman. You might be familiar with Kevin’s brother Pat, the NFL player who retired to join the Army Rangers in 2002, then was killed in 2004. His death was at first attributed to the enemy, but was later revealed to be the result of friendly fire. Kevin was discharged in 2005.

There is really nothing I can add to Kevin's words to increase the impact, so I present them herewith.

After Pat’s Birthday

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we get out.
Much has happened since we handed over our voice:
Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.
Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.
Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.
Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.
Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.
Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.
Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.
Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.
Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.
Somehow torture is tolerated.
Somehow lying is tolerated.
Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.
Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.
Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.
Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.
Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.
Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.
Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.
Somehow this is tolerated.
Somehow nobody is accountable for this.
In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.
Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,
Kevin Tillman

Kenny Rogers Cheats - LaRussa Does Nothing?

Let me see if I understand this: Kenny Rogers, who is suddenly the Greatest Pitcher Who Ever Lived, is stupid enough to smear pine tar on his pitching hand during the post-season. The Post-Season, when Tommy LaSorda implores all of us to watch even though our teams have been knocked out, when FOX has 75 cameras, in such places as under the pitchers balls, up the batters nose, and uses shots so tight you can quickly determine if that mole on the players face is pre-cancerous.

The cameras catch it, the announcers talk about it, and, as expected, word reaches the clubhouses. Tony LaRussa even hears his own players coming back to the dugout muttering that the ball was "moving funny". Surely he, The Genius, will react accordingly, have the umpires check out Rogers and eject him, which would result in a huge edge for the Cardinals, right? Getting Kenny tossed in the 2nd inning would be huge for the Redbirds, and could help them steal Game 2 to take a 2-0 edge. There is no possible downside here.

Wrong. he did nothing. Rogers washed his hand, then pitched seven more lights out innings to help Detroit even the Series. It's obvious that Mr. Roaster ("the wood makes it good") must have the pine tar in other places, in addition to his smudged hand, right?

This can only mean one thing - LaRussa didn't want to rock the boat. What would be his rationale for doing nothing, you ask? Simple - one of his guys must be doing something as well. I'm guessing Jeff Suppan. As a Met fan, this theory makes even more sense. How did this guy suddenly become so unhittable, much like Rogers?

I can't wait to see FOX CrotchCam (tm) during Game 4, to see what Suppan has up his sleeve...or under his cap...or under his belt.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 7

Reality check last week, as it took the ridiculous collapse by Arizona, or the amazing comeback by Chicago, depending on your take, to salvage a 7-6 week. This week sees some truly nasty matchups (Arizona-Oakland, for instance), as well as a few potential upsets. On to the selections:

KANSAS CITY over San Diego
At first glance, this looks ot be a complete mismatch. The Chiefs are coming home after being throroughly dismantled in Pittsburgh last week, while the Bolts put up 48 points at San Fran. KC will rebound, at home, and slip past Schottenheimer’s gang. I have no reason to say so, just a hunch.
Kansas City 26 San Diego 24

Jacksonville over HOUSTON
Jags defense will set the tone, and the ball control offense will keep the game in check. Texans will not be able to keep pace, and Jacksonville should take this one rather easily.
Jacksonville 27 Houston 7

Carolina over CINCINNATI
Mild upset here, and the Panthers have proven time and time again they can win on the road against good teams. Bengals are a little vulnerable, and with some problems protecting Carson Palmer, could be in for a tough afternoon.
Carolina 20 Cincinnati 14

NY JETS over Detroit
Jets have a disturbing habit of letting teams back into games after grabbing nice leads, but it has yet to cost them. Lions defense is just not getting it done so far, and I can’t see them slowing down the Jet rushing game, which will lead to good playu action opportunities for Chad Pennington.
NY Jets 31 Detroit 19

MIAMI over Green Bay
An extra week of preparation for Joey Harrington, plus a decent defensive effort, should be enough for the disappointing Fins to get past the woeful Pack. Aaron Rodgers countdown underway yet?
Miami 23 Green Bay 10

New England over BUFFALO
Pats too tough to look past Bills, who had NE beat in Week One, only to falter late. Pats should put together one of their trademark grind-it-out games, and prevail, albeit unimpressively.
New England 19 Buffalo 6

TAMPA BAY over Philadelphia
Upset special. Bucs have shown some spark in recent weeks, with Bruce Gradkowski leading the way. Eagles travel to another tough venue after being in New Orleans last week, and I mentioned in this space last week how the defense seems to surrender a good amount of points.
Tampa Bay 27 Philadelphia 20

ATLANTA over Pittsburgh
Picking Atlanta is a total crapshoot. Which team will show up – the one that averaged over 200 yards rushing over the first few weeks, or the inepot bunch which couldn’t do squat against the Saints? The guess here says this week, Jim Mora’s bunch puts together a solid effort at home, and has enough to get by the Steelers. Despite impressive win last week over KC, there is still something a little off about Pittsburgh, and I can see them falling here.
Atlanta 23 Pittsburgh 17

CLEVELAND over Denver
Okay, this is the real Upset Special. Denver defense has been phenomenal, but the offense has been borderline inept. Dawg Pound will be in full force, and Romeo Crennel is savvy enough to have his defense fired up to shut down Jake Plummer. The pick here says that the Brownies find a way to score just enough to escape with a W.
Cleveland 12 Denver 10

Arizona over OAKLAND
Cardinals can go one of two ways after the Monday Night Meltdown: 1.) Get so angry and focused, they destroy the hapless Raiders, or 2.) Wallow in self pity and self doubt, and get knocked silly by a crappy team. I’m going with number 1 – the Arizona defense should have more than enough to shutdown the Raiders, and the Oakland fans can get a good up-close look at the player they should have taken in the first round, Matt Leinart.
Arizona 23 Oakland 3

SEATTLE over Minnesota
Gutsy win last week by Seattle, and now they’re back home. Despite lack of running game, the Hawks should be able to skate by the Vikings, who have struggled all year to be consistent on offense. This is not the week they’ll hit their stride.
Seattle 30 Minnesota 17

INDIANAPOLIS over Washington
The only way the Skins can keep this close is by taking the air out of the ball, and trying to exploit Indy’s weak rushing defense, also keeping Peyton and Co. on the sidelines. I can still see the Colts pulling it out, since Manning can exploit the injured Washington secondary. This one could be one of the best games of the week.
Indianapolis 20 Washington 17

DALLAS over NY Giants
Cowboys are a much better team at home, and the G-Men are coming off two sold defensive efforts. Dallas should have enough in the tank to sneak past Big Blue in the Monday Nighter. I’m not sure how the Tiki Barber news will affect this team, as the timing of it seems very peculiar. Why now, Tiki? The team is finally playing well, and seems to have rebounded nicely from the debacle in Seattle, and you throw this out there? Is it a contract ploy? Weird.
Dallas 20 NY Giants 17

Last week: 7-6
Overall: 60-27 (68.9%)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 6

Hey all, I’m riding high after last week’s heretofore unprecedented 14-0 week. That’s right, dear readers, your boy went undefeated in Week 5. I’m not going to gloat (too much), but that was pretty darned impressive, don’t you think? Admittedly, some of the analysis was way off the mark, and I needed some late miracles (thanks for screwing it up late, Lions, Titans, Cardinals and Cowboys!), but hey, 14-0 is 14-0, and I won’t argue with the bottom line.

A little background into the process I use when making my selections. I look at the ESPN Pigskin Pick ‘Em pool of which I am a member, the Deadspin Pants Party, each Thursday. I then look at the matchup, and go with my first instinct, despite conventional wisdom, and play those choices. The only exception is if a significant injury occurs at some point before game time, where I adjust accordingly. This week, I will take the foolish step of throwing in a final score prediction, just for the hell of it. If you play the spreads, adjust accordingly.

Obviously it’s been working pretty well so far, so let’s move on to the picks for Week 6:

DALLAS over Houston
Cowboys still reeling after late collapse in Philly last week. Texan QB David Carr can put up decent numbers if he stays upright, but Dallas has a big talent edge and should coast. Maybe they’ll even throw a ball or two to He Who Shall Not Be Named, but deep down I hope not. Seeing this team in turmoil is immensely entertaining, and the countdown for Parcells strangling a reporter is now underway. HWSNBN (now known in this space as “Me-O”) is doing a great job screaming at coaches and dissing his QB in the media, but maybe it would behoove both him and the team if he didn’t stand there like a statue when a pass isn’t aimed directly at his numbers. Even St. Troy (Aikman) called his act “tired” during the broadcast last week. When you’ve lost St. Troy, you’ve lost Dallas.
Dallas 31 Houston 16

NEW ORLEANS over Philadelphia
Despite big press clippings, Eagle D sure seems to allow lots of points. There is some serious mojo in the Superdome this year, and I’m reluctant to pick against the Saints at home until someone steps up and beats them. Besdides, Philly is due to have a slight letdown after the Dallas game last week, and each week of success brings more confidence to Drew Brees and Co. This could be the real coming out party for Reggie Bush, and I look to see him deployed all over the place to keep the Iggles off balance.
New Orleans 27 Philadelphia 23

ST. LOUIS over Seattle
Just a hunch, but this is my Upset of the Week. Rams dying to prove they’re for real despite 4-1 record, and there is no better way to prove it then by knocking off the defending conference champs. Hawks are still a bit banged up and just might struggle enough in this dome to take an L.
St. Louis 21 Seattle 19

ATLANTA over N.Y. Giants
Falcs tough at home, and I’m still not sold on the G-Men defense despite last week’s domination of Washington. John Abraham is back, and Giants have shown a severe vulnerability to a solid pass rush. Atlanta ground game gets back on track in front of home crowd, and paces the way to victory.
Atlanta 24 NY Giants 16

WASHINGTON over Tennessee
Titans should have won last week in Indy, but couldn’t hang on for sixty minutes and finish the job. Ground game looked strong, but Skins D is tougher, despite some nagging injuries. Washington was thoroughly dominated on offense last week, and should be able to take out any lingering frustrations against Tennessee.
Washington 34 Tennessee 13

Buffalo over DETROIT
Lions have to win one of these weeks, right? They were in total control last week before coughing it up twice late, leading to two defensive TD’s by the Vikings in a 26-17 loss. Bills were obliterated in Chicago, and aren’t that bad. I look for J.P. Losman to bounce back this week. Detroit fans are so preoccupied with the success of the Tigers they won’t even realize how bad their football team is until November. For goodness sake, can we just Fire Millen already?
Buffalo 30 Detroit 20

Carolina over BALTIMORE
Ravens still don’t impress, though the defense remains solid. It’s basically the same as it ever was in Baltimore, despite all the pre-season hype surrounding the arrival of Steve McNair, which was supposed to rejuvenate the offense. Panthers aren’t winning pretty either, but they’re winning, and should be able to escape with a road win.
Carolina 19 Baltimore 9

Cincinnati over TAMPA BAY
Many are picking the Bucs this week, and I just do not understand why. This is a seriously flawed and bruised team, and with the Bengals coming off a bye week after being smoked at home by the Pats, this smells like a blowout. Carson Palmer has had an extra week to study the defense, and Marvin Lewis has had an extra week to prepare for Bruce Gradowski. ‘Nuff said.
Cincinnati 34 Tampa Bay 13

San Diego over SAN FRANCISCO
Bolts are very tough on both sides of the ball, and should be able to dominate the Niners. Philip Rivers seems to be gaining confidence each week, and Schottenheimer will make sure his team isn’t caught looking ahead to division matchup with KC next week. Niners are much improved, and Alex Smith looks like the real deal, but the Chargers have just too much firepower. San Fran makes it respectable with a few late scores, so….
San Diego 37 San Francisco 20

Kansas City over PITTSBURGH
Conventional Wisdom says this is the week the Stillers finally get it together and display the form exhibited during the amazing late season run last year. Reality tells me that Ben Roethlisberger is simply not the same QB he was then, whether from the multiple injuries he’s sustained or the fact that the rest of the league has figured him out. Apparently the loss of Jerome Bettis looms larger than most people thought. KC QB Damon Huard has done nothing but manage games effectively, not turn the ball over, and put the Chiefs in position to win each week, going 2-1 in his three starts. My boys can steal one in Steeltown, and Cowher’s jaw juts out just a little more.
Kansas City 23 Pittsburgh 17

N.Y. JETS over Miami
Speaking of overrated teams, how about the Dolphins? Picked by more than one national pundit to reach the Super Bowl, they’ve looked like a team is disarray all year. The offensive line has been very offensive, and now coach Nick Saban has alienated his high priced free agent signing, Daunte Culpepper, and has put the ship in the hands of Joey Harrington. Yikes. J-E-T-S are not nearly as bad as they looked in Jacksonville last week, and have enough to keep Miami reeling.
N.Y. Jets 22 Miami 14

DENVER over Oakland
Are you kidding? I know Oakland traditionally plays the Broncos tough in the Mile High City, but this is probably one of the worst teams they’ve ever fielded. Denver offense has not been good, but the defense has been dominating, especially at home, and all signs point to this one getting really ugly, really quickly. Al Davis must be spinning in his grave over this. Wait, what?
Denver 31 Oakland 0

Chicago over ARIZONA
Bear train shows no signs of derailing yet, and can make another statement on national TV this week. Chicago has been scary dominant all year, and the Cards are no match. Matt Leinart had better have his scrambling shoes on, because he’s going to see some serious pressure. By the way, what the heck has gotten into Rex Grossman? Somebody needs to check his urine, stat.
Chicago 38 Arizona 10

Last week: 14-0 (100%, as you may have heard)
Season: 53-21 (71.6%)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Admit it: You screwed up, GOP

Watching the entire Foley scandal unfold this week has been amazing. It provides a textbook example of how not to handle a crisis or sudden revelation. Consider the steps taken by the Republican leadership, Foley himself, and the associated right wing mainstream media lackeys in the wake of this scandal being broken:

* Deny any prior knowledge
* Michael Savage: doubt the validity of the entire story (um, Foley didn’t resign for no reason, there Mikey)
* Blame the victims (damn those cute, tight butted young pages and their baiting those weak-willed gay Congressmen!)
* Foley: I’m an alcoholic! (Okay…….but so is/was Ted Kennedy)
* Drudge: It was all a prank by those rascally pages!
* Foley: Um…a priest molested me! Yep, that’s why I’m gay too.
* Bring up the 1983 Gerry Studds scandal as an example of how the Democrats did nothing, and are politicizing Foleygate. (Hmm…Foley was censured, but got reelected anyway. The point is, it was acknowledged by the leadership.)
* Somehow tie this to Bill Clinton (note: this applies to everything)
* Question the timing of the relevations, coming so close to the mid-term elections. (Obviously a devious act by the Liberal Media ™ )
* Show a graphic (on Fox) listing Foley as (D-FL) – ooops, our “mistake”!
* Denny Hastert: accept full responsibility…while blaming the Democrats and the Liberal Media ™

As is the case with most scandals, the act itself is never nearly as serious as the eventual cover-up. The funniest thing is they never seem to learn this simple fact. It’s been brought to light that the Republican leadership has been aware of this for quite some time, and did nothing about it. That is the issue here, not the fact that Foley is gay, not the fact that he is Republican. It’s the simple fact that many were aware of what was going on, and did absolutely nothing to stop it. The only one with any honor here is Foley himself, ironically, who quickly resigned once the scandal came to light rather than trying to defend what happened and keep his seat. Looking the other way to maintain power is an abuse of that power, and inevitably raises more questions. For example, if they were covering this up, what else might they be hiding? With this crowd, one can never be too sure.

The old saw that “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is invoked so often because it has never ceased to be true. With one party control, it becomes all about maintaining that power and getting reelected more than serving your constituents with honor and dignity. There is no denying that the Democrats can use this to political advantage, but so far they’ve been able to basically sit back and watch the Republicans self destruct in vain attempts to defend and deflect the issue. How this ultimately affects the election remains to be seen, but my gut tells me that this issue will not play well to the base, particularly the religious right which they covet. Karl Rove is always capable of pulling an “October Surprise” out of his ass in the coming weeks, so nobody should count their electoral chickens just yet. (“Hey, lookie here, we just found Osama!”)

Plenty of humor has come out during this scandal as well, particularly ABC News reporter Brian Ross reading the lurid instant messages on the air in a dull monotone, as shown in this clip form The Daily Show:

Grab some popcorn kiddies, I don’t think this one has been fully milked yet.