Monday, December 31, 2007

NFL First Round Playoff Predictions

With 4 games on the slate, it's time to give my picks. Judging from my picks against the spread this year you probably don't want to put any weight in these picks(!), but what's the point of having a blog if you can't prognosticate? Anyway, without further ado...

Washington Redskins @ Seattle Seahawks
The Skins are one of the hottest teams in the NFL coming in, while the Seahawks have been a little up-and-down in winning an awful division. I could look at matchups, but it just feels like the Redskins will win this game. That isn't really a good reason to pick them to win, but they're playing with so much emotion, so much efficiecy offensively... I see them going into Seattle and winning.
Redskins 24, Seahawks 20

New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It's easy to see all of the offensive talent for the Giants, and to see how well they played for 3 quarters against New England and declare them the favorite. But not so fast. Too often we have seen how unpredictable Eli Manning's performance can be, especially now without Jeremy Shockey. Certainly the Giants have the firepower to potentially make a run in the NFC... but they also have the volatility to go down in round 1. I'll take the efficient Jeff Garcia to complement the stout Bucs defense as they move on.
Bucs 23, Giants 16

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Everyone seems to be on the Jaguars bandwagon right now, and it's pretty easy to see why. A dual-headed monster at RB, a sneaky good QB in David Garrard, and a very good defense. Meanwhile, the Steelers have been pretty inconsistent, and they'll be playing without Willie Parker. I'll also be hopping on the Jags Bandwagon, at least for this week.
Jaguars 27, Steelers 17

Tennessee Titans @ San Diego Chargers
The Titans only hope is to stop LDT and force Philip Rivers to beat them, which they are capable of doing. But the Chargers might be playing a little bit too well even if LDT is slowed. They've won 6 in a row, and Philip Rivers is starting to display last year's form. I don't see the Titans scoring enough points to upset San Diego.
Chargers 31, Titans 13

College Football BCS Bowl Predictions

Rose Bowl: Illinois vs. USC
It's a nice story with how Ron Zook has quickly changed around the fortunes of the Illini program. That he has gotten them into the Rose Bowl in such a short amount of time is commendable. However, they're not nearly at the talent level of USC overall. They have some playmakers offensively (Juice Williams, Rashard Mendendhall), and they'll need these guys to be very good to keep this one close. However, the overall talent disparity will be a bit too much here.
USC 35, Illinois 14

Sugar Bowl: Hawaii vs. Georgia
Obviously, this one is going to be getting comparisons to the Boise/Oklahoma game from a year ago. Hawaii is the exciting, undefeated, unconventional Mid-Major, while Georgia is the more predictable power conference team. The predictions may be apt. Last year, Oklahoma was deeper, more talented, and favored to win. This year, Georgia is deeper and more talented. Here is the thing though... if Boise St. played Oklahoma 10 times, Oklahoma probably would have won 8 or 9 of those games. I think the same this year. Hawaii can win if they very well, but I'm not betting on it.
Georgia 38, Hawaii 28

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. West Virginia
This is an interesting matchup between teams with different styles. The speed of West Virginia is something that the Sooners have not had to contend with this year. However, I think the Sooners defense will be good enough to slow them down, especially with the uncertainty with the Mountaineer's coaching.
Oklahoma 27, West Virginia 24

Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Kansas
To be perfectly honest, this game doesn't excite me all that much. Kansas is a great story to be sure, but realistically, they probably didn't deserve a BCS spot over Missouri. Virginia Tech won a bad ACC. I think Virginia Tech is the favorite, but Kansas is a bit underrated in terms of the firepower that they do have offensively. I'll take them in a mild upset.
Kansas 27, Virginia Tech 21

Championship Game: LSU vs. Ohio St.
Yawn. Another Title game appearance for Jim Tressel. What a fantastic coach he is. I thought this was a rebuilding year for the Buckeyes? Still though, it's hard to see them matching up with the speed and talent level of LSU. On both sides of the ball, I see LSU as being a faster and stronger. Maybe not quite a drubbing like last year's Title game, but I see the same result - an SEC team beating OSU.
LSU 34, Ohio St. 20

What are your picks?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 17

The final week of the season! Unfortunately, I'll basically need to run the table to reach .500. Hmmm... maybe next year. Anyway, the week 17 picks:

Patriots (-13.5) over Giants'

Rams (+6) over Cardinals

Falcons (-1) over Seahawks

Panthers (-3) over Bucs

Bengals (-3) over Dolphins

Bengals (-10) over 49ers

Lions (+4) over Packers

Jaguars (+6.5) over Texans

Vikings (-3) over Broncos

Saints (-2) over Bears

Chiefs (+6.5) over Jets

Eagles (-7.5) over Bills

Steelers (-3.5) over Ravens

Chargers (-8.5) over Raiders

Colts (+6) over Titans

Redskins (-9) over Cowboys

Last Week: 6-9
Season: 101-111-10

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Hope you have a good holiday!

Friday, December 21, 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 16

Only 2 more weeks left as we continue on with the drive to .500!

Panthers (+10.5) over Cowboys

Cardinals (-10) over Falcons

Browns (-2.5) over Bengals

Chiefs (+4.5) over Lions

Bears (+8.5) over Packers

Texans (+7) over Colts

Jaguars (-13) over Raiders

Vikings (-6.5) over Redskins

Patriots (-22) over Dolphins

Eagles (+3) over Saints

Bills (+2.5) over Giants

Ravens (+10.5) over Seahawks

Bucs (-5.5) over 49ers

Jets (+8.5) over Titans

Chargers (-8.5) over Broncos

Last Week: 5-9
Season: 95-102-10

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hobey v. Heisman: Who Has The Edge?

Hey it's stephen a back again, doing another guest post. Hopefully as time goes by I'll be more of a regular contributor, although somehow I don't think I'll ever be the main attraction here.

Admittedly I saw this idea on the web a couple of years ago (ESPN.com perhaps?) but I thought it was a great idea so hey why not. Today I'm going to take a look at past Heisman winners and how they stack up professionally against winners of the Hobey Baker Award (for those of you who don't know, the Hobey is given annually to the best player in college hockey).

2007: Heisman: Florida Soph. QB Tim Tebow (3132 yards, 29 TD, 6 Int, 22 rush TD)
Hobey: North Dakota Soph. Forward Ryan Duncan (31 G, 26 A, 17 PPG)
Obviously neither of these players are playing professionally yet, as Tebow has another year of mandatory college football left, and Duncan is in the middle of his junior season at North Dakota. Advantage: Push

2006: Heisman: Ohio St QB Troy Smith (2542 yards, 30 D, 6 Int)
Hobey: Denver Defenseman Matt Carle (11G, 42 A)
Smith is right now getting time as quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, who by the way just lost to the Dolphins. Carle on the other hand, signed with the San Jose Sharks right after his final college season, and Carle is having an NHL impact right now.
Advantage: Hobey

2005: Heisman: USC RB Reggie Bush (1740 yards, 16 TD)
Hobey: Colorado College Forward Marty Sertich (27 G, 37 A)
Bush, the 2nd pick in the NFL draft the following year, is currently out for the season with a knee injury, but many football pundits consider him to be a once in a generation back. Sertich recently signed with the Dallas Stars and is playing for their AHL afilliate in Iowa.
Advantage: Heisman

2004: Heisman: USC QB Matt Leinart (3322 yards, 33 TD, 6 Int)
Hobey: Minnesota-Duluth Forward Junior Lessard (30 G, 31 A)
Leinart is currently out for the season with a broken collarbone (must be a USC thing), but had showed decent growth as a QB in his second season with the Cardinals. Lessard is now a teammate of Sertich's with the Iowa Stars
Advantage: Heisman

2003: Heisman: Oklahoma QB Jason White (3846 yards, 40 TD, 10 Int)
Hobey: Colorado College forward Peter Sejna (36 G 46 A)
Jason White currently operates a memorabilia store in Oklahoma, whereas Sejna splits time with the St. Louis Blues and their AHL affiliate.
Advantage: Hobey

2002: Heisman: USC QB Carson Palmer (3639 yards, 32 TD, 10 Int)
Hobey: Minnesota Defenseman Jordan Leopold (20 G, 27 A)
Palmer is considered by many to be the 3rd best quarterback in the NFL behind Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, although that hasn't transferred into team success, as the Bengals will finish below .500 yet again. Leopold has played for the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche, and played for the 2006 US Olympic team.
Advantage: Heisman

2001: Heisman: Nebraska QB Eric Crouch (1510 yards, 7 TD, 1115 rush yards, 18 TD)
Hobey: Michigan St G Ryan Miller (31 Wins, .950 Save Pct., 1.32 GAA)
Crouch never played QB in the NFL, but tried to make it as a safety for the Rams. Miller meanwhile, keyed the Buffalo Sabres playoff run last spring
Advantage: Hobey

2000: Heisman: Florida St QB Chris Weinke (4167 yards, 33 TD, 11 Int)
Hobey: Boston College D Mike Mottau( 6 G, 37 A)
Weinke is 2-17 as a starting QB in the NFL and holds the record for most losses consecutively by a QB, with 15. Mottau was a 3 time AHL all-star and currently plays for the New Jersey Devils
Advantage: Hobey

It looks like the Hobey Baker Award takes the cake here, however I think this little study has shown that professional busts come in all sports. Which sport do you think has the edge?

NFC Playoff Picture

After the Vikings escaped with a win over the Chicago Bears Monday night, it appears things are slowly starting to take shape in the formerly muddled NFC playoff picture.

The only thing that we know for certain is that Dallas, Green Bay, Seattle, and Tampa Bay will all be playing into January. Beyond that, it would appear that the Giants are safe at 9-5, but I'm not so sure. They are not playing well, and they have a tough schedule coming up: AT Buffalo, vs. New England. I think it is not at all out of the realm of possibility that the Giants lose 2 and a team like the Saints can get to 9-7 and push them out.

After that, the Vikings currently hold the 6th seed at 8-6, and thus they control their own destiny. In fact, if they beat Washington next week and New Orleans loses to Philadelphia, the Vikings will clinch a playoff berth.

AT 7-7, both the Redskins and Saints could make the playoff even if they finish 8-8, but more likely they must win out to have a chance. New Orleans hosts Philly next week and goes to Chicago in Week 17, while the Redskins go to Minnesota next week before hosting Dallas in Week 17. Looking at the schedules as well as at how well the teams are playing, I have a hard time seeing Washington making it in, but the Saints could certainly sneak in there.

Elsewhere, Carolina is technically alive (I believe) at 6-8, but they would have to win out and get a lot of help if they're going to make it. So basically they are done.

What are your thoughts on how things will play out? Personally, I think the Vikings will nab the 5th seed... they have 2 winnable games next week, and I have a hard time seeing the Giants winning out. After that, it would not at all shock me to see the Saints at 9-7 and in the playoffs, but I'll go with the odds and put the Giants as my 6th seed.

How do you think it will end up?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 15

I realize I missed Thursday's game... finals have been the death of me (well, not quite, but you know what I mean) this week. Anyway, my picks as we are nearing the end of my drive to .500!

Bengals (-8) over 49ers

Ravens (-3.5) over Dolphins

Eagles (+10.5) over Cowboys

Packers (-9.5) over Rams

Colts (-10.5) over Raiders

Patriots (-23) over Jets

Cardinals (-3.5) over Saints

Redskins (+4.5) over Giants

Jaguars (+3.5) over Steelers

Lions (+10) over Chargers

Seahawks (-7.5) over Panthers

Falcons (+13.5) over Bucs

Titans (-4) over Chiefs

Vikings (-10) over Bears

Last Week: 9-6
Overall: 90-93-10

Monday, December 10, 2007

6 Finals = The Suck

^^^ see title!

Friday, December 07, 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 14

I missed the Bears/Redskins game, but here are the rest of the week 14 picks as I continue my drive for .500!

Bills (-7) over Dolphins

Rams (+6.5) over Bengals

Browns (-3) over Jets

Cowboys (-10.5) over Lions

Chiefs (+6.5) over Broncos

Raiders (+10.5) over Packers

Colts (-9) over Ravens

Jaguars (-10.5) over Panthers

Vikings (-8.5) over 49ers

Patriots (-10.5) over Steelers

Giants (+3) over Eagles

Cardinals (+7) over Seahawks

Bucs (-3) over Texans

Chargers (PK) over Titans

Saints (-4) over Falcons

Last Week: 6-9
Season: 81-87-10

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why Butler is underrated

OK, maybe it's a stretch to call a team that made the Sweet 16 last year and is currently ranked in the top 15 underrated, but I think Butler is good. Really good. Like, people know they're good, but maybe they don't know how good.

Or maybe I just like watching them play a lot and that is clouding my judgment.

No matter, trust me, they're good. They do a lot of things well that typically don't get noticed by a lot of the casual basketball fans. They are not all that athletic, they don't have high flyers, and they don't go for the spectacular play. But there are 3 things, in my mind, that they do really, really well.

- They take either high percentage of high reward shots - What I mean by this is that a lot of their shots are either layups or 3-pointers. Of course, the other part of this is that they're really good at making 3-pointers (though they probably can't continue at this 44% clip). Thus, even when they are having an off shooting night, they can usually make up for that by making a lot of 3s (just by sheer volume of shots), and getting a lot of layups (because they are so brutally efficient and good passers). That hides a lot of problems. Case in point, the Ohio St. game... they were only 9/30 from beyond the arc, but they still won the game by 19. Partly good defense, partly the fact that they got a lot of layups and still made 9 3-pointers.

- They don't turn the ball over - They have 66 turnovers in 7 games. For those math impaired, that is a little over 9 turnovers per game. That is a fantastic rate. Obviously the fact that they are maximizing the amount of possessions that they get a shot off is key. Again, this is another thing that allows them to still put points on the board when they're having off-shooting nights.

- They don't put the other team on the FT line - This year their opponents have shot less than 14 FTs per game. That's pretty good. They don't give up free points.

Obviously, they have talent at key positions and experienced players (as I have mentioned before, AJ Graves gets the most hype, but I LOVE Mike Green's game), but it is the system that allows them to excel. And these are 3 huge parts of this system. And the fact that they do these things so well is a big reason that they're going to be a big threat in March.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Heisman Trophy Prediction

Well, it's time for my rankings to be posted.

They are also up on Stiles Points, which has a nice rundown of a few bloggers picks, including mine (obviously), The Big Picture, Money Shot, Wasting Company Time, and of course the picks of Stiles himself. Really good stuff and interesting to see how the voting turned out.

Anyway, here are my top 5:

1. Tim Tebow - He's only a sophomore and his team is not in the national title hunt... two strikes against him. But the numbers are just too good to ignore. He's got a mind-boggling 51 total TDs (29 passing, 22 rushing) and nearly 4000 total yards (3132 passing, 838 rushing). Oh, and he erased any doubt that there might have been about his throwing ability, as he has completed 68.5% of his passes. The numbers are just too good for him not to be my Heisman pick.

2. Chase Daniel - He had led Missouri into the National Title Hunt (I am writing this before the Oklahoma/Missouri game). Who would have thought that would happen before the season began? He's been an extremely efficient and effective passer... nearly 4000 yards through the year, 33 TD, 9 INT, and he has completed over 70% of his passes. Not bad.

3. Darren McFadden - Perhaps the most talented player in college football. The Razorbacks have struggled at times this year, but through no fault of McFadden. He has rushed for over 1700 yards (nearly 6 YPC) and run for 15 TDs. Oh, and just for good measure he's also thrown for 4 TD passes.

4. Dennis Dixon - What could have been! If he hadn't gotten hurt then Oregon might be playing for the national title and Dixon might be the Heisman winner. Unfortunately, that did not happen, but I can't put Dixon lower than 4th. He was fantastic all year long as a dual-threat QB. The running was there as it always has been (583 yards, 9 TD), but he also became an efficient thrower, with 20 TDs, 4 INT, and completing over 2/3 of his passes.

5. Todd Reesing - If Kansas had beat Missouri he'd have a solid shot at the Heisman, but as it is he should still get some recognition for an outstanding year. In leading the resurgence of Kansas he threw for over 3200 yards, and had a fantastic 32/6 TD/INT ratio.

Who's your pick?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 13

This week did not get off to a good start (as I picked the Packers), but I will attempt to redeem myself as I continue my drive for .500.

Browns (PK) over Cardinals

Panthers (-3) over 49ers

Broncos (-3.5) over Raiders

Jaguars (+6.5) over Colts

Jets (+1) over Dolphins

Vikings (-4) over Lions

Bucs (+3.5) over Saints

Bears (+1.5) over Giants

Eagles (-3) over Seahawks

Bengals (+7) over Steelers

Chargers (-6) over Chiefs

Falcons (+3) over Rams

Texans (+3.5) over Titans

Redskins (-5.5) over Bills

Patriots (-20) over Ravens

This Week: 0-1
Season: 75-78-10

Thursday, November 29, 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread: Packers @ Cowboys

Last week I picked the Thanksgiving games and then in the hoopla of the holiday season forgot to pick the rest... so yeah. Anyway.

At the start of the year I was not sold on the Packers as legitimate contenders. The reasons were obvious... they had no running game, and I had watched Brett Favre play the past 2-3 years, when he was just as likely to make a game-changing mistake as he was to making a big play. Plus, the Packers are my least favorite team in the world. It's true.

So when they got off to the quick start, I was just assuming that they would quickly fall back down to Earth. But then a funny thing happened... they kept winning. Now they're 10-1 and facing the Cowboys in the 2nd biggest game of the year (not that I will actually, you know, get to see it).

The Cowboys are favored by 7, and maybe for good reason. They're at home, and they've had the most explosive offense in the NFC so far this year.

But I'm going to take the Packers, not only to cover, but to win this game outright. Just a feeling. Their running game is getting better and better, the defense is fantastic (great corners, good pass rush, fast LBs). Plus, the passing game is firing on all cylinders right now. Favre is avoiding the big mistakes, the receivers are making plays after the catch.

So with that said, the Packers are my pick in this game. Hopefully it lives up to the hype.

Last Week: 2-1
Season: 75-77-10

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Michael Beasley Scouting Report

I got a chance to watch Michael Beasley really closely over the weekend, which was excellent because I had obviously heard so much about him and seen the eye-popping numbers that he was putting up. Anyway, suffice to say he lived up to the hype when I watched him.

Offensively, he has the entire package. This seems fairly obviously when looking at his scoring averages, but it is completely true. He scores in a multitude of ways, and does some things that you wouldn't really expect from someone his height.

Obviously he is not a great ballhandler, but he can handle it well and is able to get past his man. For someone of his size he has a pretty solid first step. He almost seems to glide towards the basket. On one play he had the ball at the top of the key, and just blew right before his defender and had a layup before anyone could help out defensively.

He also had solid range. He can hit from the 3-point line, even when guarded. During one stretch he nailed 2 or 3 in a row from just inside the arc. Another thing I was impressed when seeing was that he drove to the hoop, but then pulled up and sunk a mid-range jumper. That's harder than it looks, and really impressive for someone of his size.

His back-to-the-basket skills are adequate at this point. I wasn't overly impressed by what I saw in that area (relatively speaking), but I suspect that he will become very good in this area with more experience.

Defensively, obviously he's helped by the fact that he is extremely athletic. But he's not always in great position and just relies on that athleticism. But again, this is another thing that I suspect will be improved with more experience. On the glass, he has great instincts going to get the rebound, and nabbing the ball at its highest point. Again, this is fairly obvious when looking at the fact that he is averaging over 15 RPG so far, but he has great instincts knowing where the ball is, and then using his superior athleticism to go and get the ball.

Anyway, that is my synopsis of Michael Beasley, likely top 3 (or more likely top 1) pick in next year's NBA Draft. Have you seen him play? Anything else you would like to add or disagree with?

Monday, November 26, 2007

College Basketball Thoughts

I was fortunately able to watch a fair amount of college basketball over the Thanksgiving break, which was excellent because there was obviously a lot of fantastic action. Plus, I got a chance to see a lot of players that I've been hoping to see. Anyway, some of my observations and thoughts:

- I love Butler this year. They do the same things that they did last year (when they got to the Sweet 16) only they're even more experienced, other than coaching. Obviously, people know about their great 3-point shooting, and that's key. But also important is that they don't turn the ball over much and they don't put teams on the line very often. Basically, they shoot 3s very well and they don't give up easy points. That is a solid formula.

- Sticking with Butler, AJ Graves is the Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year, but I think Mike Green might be their most important player. He is also a good shooter, but he is a very good defender, passer, and rebounder. Basically Graves is a better scorer, but Green does everything else a little better.

- Eric Maynor is the Preseason Player of the Year in the CAA, and he'll get a ton of publicity after his heroics against Duke last year, but don't count out Will Thomas for George Mason. You'll remember he was a sophomore on the Final Four team, which now makes him an experienced senior and one of the best posts in the country. He is a really crafty inside scorer, solid post defender, good rebounder, and a good passer out of the post.

- I'm not as optmistic about Kansas St. as I was going into the year. Obviously Michael Beasley is fantastic (more on him later in the week), but I don't like their other pieces. Bill Walker is extremely athletic and has lots of potential, but it seems to me like is still a long ways off. He can get to the rim, but he is not a really good shooter. He tends to play out of control and rely too much on his athleticism at this point... but they need him to be a #2 scorer after Beasley. It seemed like nobody was creating any shots for anyone else when I watched K State play.

- Mark Turgeon is a great coach and was a fantastic hiring for the Aggies. They shouldn't miss a beat without Billy Gillepsie.

- The difference between Ohio St. last year and USC/Kansas Sr. this year is th experience around the freshman. Last year the Buckeyes had guys like Jamar Butler, Ron Lewis, Othello Hunter, etc. which was a huge reason they made it to the Title game. USC and Kansas St. does not have that caliber of returning talent (Taj Gibson notwithstanding) surrounding the great freshmen classes.

- Is there a more underrated player than Jamont Gordon for Mississippi St? Maybe I'm just late to the party? Don't look now, but last year as a sophomore he averaged 16 PPG, and over 7 RPG and 5 APG. Not bad.

- Mercer beat USC to open their season and have lost 5 games since.

- Look out for Miami of Ohio out of the MAC. Michael Bramos and Tim Pollitz form an outstanding 1-2 duo.

- I really like BYU coming out of the Mountain West. And this is obvious after they beat Louisville and took UNC to a close game, but they're for real. Trent Plaisted is an NBA talent at center, Jonathan Tavernari is an excellent shooter with a super-quick release, and Lee Cummard can do a little bit of everything. I have a hard time seeing anyone else match up with them well in that conference.

What has caught your eye so far this year?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope your holiday is great!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Frank Caliendo on Inside the NBA

I'm not sure when exactly this was aired, but it's comedian/impersonator Frank Caliendo when he appeared on Inside the NBA with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley.

It's worth a listen if only for the amazing impersonations of Sir Charles and Bill Walton. Good stuff.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Thanksgiving

3 games on Turkey Day... I'll make my picks for those, and pick the rest later in the week.

Jets (+14) over Cowboys
Jets have been playing a little better the last couple of weeks with Kellen Clemens, and I'm not sure they're quite as bad as their 2-8 record indicates. I think Leon Washington makes a couple big plays and allows the Jets to keep it close. Obviously I still like the Cowboys to win, but I think the Jets can keep it semi-respectable.

Packers (-3.5) over Lions
Lost in the Brett Favre hoopla is the fact that the Packers defense is really good. Kitna tends to struggle and make some bad decisions when there is pressure on him, and I think that will be the case in this game. Plus, the Lions secondary is nothing to write home about... I think Favre and the passing game will go wild against the Lions.

Colts (-11.5) over Falcons
The Colts have to be better than they showed the last 2 weeks, right? Peyton Manning has been really bad, which is not a trend I expect to continue.

Last Week: 7-7-2
Season: 73-76-10

Monday, November 19, 2007

Handicapping the Heisman

Hello everyone out there in Blog land. Twins is swamped lately with homework and the like, so in his place I'm writing a little guest post. If you're a regular to this blog or to The Sports Flow, you've probably seen my (hopefully) excellent comments on their blogs. I've tried my hand at a couple of blogs, but apparently a regular gig isn't my thing. But anyways I digress. This year's college football season has been topsy turvy all around, and this has obviously impacted the Heisman race. Since I'm all about uneven numbers, I'm going to do a top 6 list.

6. Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri

Right now Daniel has a lot of hype, and with big wins over Kansas and either Oklahoma or Texas in the Big 12 championship game, Daniel can certainly shoot up to the top of the list. Daniel has thrown for 3,590 yards and 30 touchdowns with just 9 picks. As good as Daniel's stats are, I have a tough time putting him higher on the list when he isn't even the most talented player on his own team, that being Freshman wideout Jeremy Maclin

5. Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas

Many people's preseason #1, McFadden is probably the best pro prospect in college football. 5th in the nation in rushing, McFadden has shared time with Felix Jones all year. He does have 12 touchdowns but McFadden has been hurt-fairly or not- by Arkansas losing 4 games this year. Only rushing for 43 yards against Auburn and 61 against Florida International probably didn't help either

4. Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas

I know what youre thinking: a cornerback? Yes a cornerback. In fact, Talib should probably be even higher. Check out these stats: 4 touchdowns, 10.8 yards per catch, 8 interceptions, 1 sack. Not bad right? Well those arent Talib's stats. They belong to 1997 Heisman Trophy Winner Charles Woodson. Talib's are even better. Talib has 22.8 yards per catch, with 4 touchdowns, plus an interception return for a touchdown, which Woodson didn't have. Talib only has 3 picks this year, because no quarterback in his right mind will throw the ball his way. Talib dominates the game more- yes more- than Charles Woodson did in his Heisman season.

3. Dennis Dixon, QB, Oregon

Without his knee problems this season Dixon would probably be #1 on the list. Dixon's run pass ability is something to be marveled at, and the way he leads the Ducks spread offense makes him one of the great players to watch. Ironically, one of his best passing games came in the Ducks first loss, to Cal back on September 29th. Only one game has been a truly poor rushing game for Dixon, when he ran for just 8 yards against Stanford, but he threw for 374 in that game. Sadly, with Dixon's injury combining with the Ducks' exclusion from the BCS title race he will fall short of the Heisman.

2. Todd Reesing, QB, Kansas

Undoubtedly the darkhorse of the chase. Why in the world has no one talked about Todd Reesing? The Sophomore from Austin, Texas has thrown for under 3,000 yards, but he has 33 touchdowns compared to just 4 picks, good for a 156 rating. Kansas leads the nation in turnover ratio, and Reesing is a huge part of that. Just 5'11", Reesing's escapability has proven to be a valuable asset, although he only has 1 rushing touchdown on the season. He was hobbled by a sore ankle in the Iowa State game but still led the Jayhawks to a 45-7 win. With two more wins, Reesing could vault himself into serious Heisman consideration.

1. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida

A Freshman or Sophomore has never won the Heisman. Both of my top two are Sophomores. Why? Well for starters, Tebow is the only player in 1-A (No I will not call it the FBS) history to both rush and throw for 20 scores in a season. He also just moved passed, among others, Shaun Alexander on the career SEC rushing TD's list. It remains to be seen how Tebow projects as a professional, but he leads the defending champs in both rushing and passing. He's thrown more picks than Reesing, but only 2 more, and they have nearly the same amount of yards. Combine that with the pass/run threat that Tebow possesses and he is 2007's best college football player.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What are the chances...

... that Bill Belicheck said something like this to Tom Brady and Randy Moss?

"Terrell Owens had 4 TD's today... let's see if we can get Randy at least 5."

Through one half - 8 catches, 112 yards, 4 TD. Wow.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 11

Hectic week... I'm sorry. Again, just my quick picks.

Bengals (-3) over Cardinals

Browns (-3) over Ravens

Cowboys (-10.5) over Redskins

Panthers (+9.5) over Packers

Saints (+1.5) over Texans

Chiefs (+14.5) over Colts

Chargers (+3) over Jaguars

Vikings (-5) over Raiders

Patriots (-16) over Bills

Giants (-3) over Lions
(That one is for you Bryan!)

Eagles (-10) over Dolphins

Jets (+9.5) over Steelers

Bears (+5.5) over Seahawks

Rams (-3) over 49ers

Bucs (-3) over Falcons

Titans (+2) over Broncos

Last Week: 8-5-1
Season: 66-69-8

Monday, November 12, 2007

NBA 2K8 Review

A couple of weeks back I got an email asking me if I wanted to receive a copy of NBA 2K8 for XBox 360 in order to review it on this blog. Being a big fan of the 2K series, I quickly said yes. Over the past weekend I got a chance to really play it.

As expected, I was impressed. I really enjoyed NBA 2K7, and I found much the same in 2K8 but with some noticeable improvements. But first, let me mention that as always the franchise mode is very deep and fun. You can have multiple human players, which is something I absolutely love. Also, as usual there is scouting, the draft, free agents, development, etc. You can really immerse yourself into it for a very fun franchise experience.

Some of the things I noticed were some of the great graphics and animations during gameplay. The faces look excellent. The player mannerisms and unique styles are there. As a Sixers fan I played with Philadelphia for the most part, and I noticed the shooting styles of guys like Kyle Korver, Andre Iguodala, and Rodney Carney looked a lot like their real-life counterparts, which is awesome.

Another thing I noticed during gameplay was the improved post play. In past game it seemed like all you could do was back your man down and shoot a hook shot. No more. You can do fadeaways, hooks, turn and shoot, fakes, etc. It's really an improvement and an area I enjoy.

Another small thing I liked was some of the player animations. After a guy makes a basket and gets a foul called against him, they will go and high-five teammates or give them a chest bump. That added realism is a nice touch.

So all in all, I really enjoyed this game (and the soundtrack and t-shirt that I also received!)... if you are in the market for an NBA video game, much like last year I recommend the NBA 2K series. The game isn't perfect, but I think you'll have a lot of fun with NBA 2K8.




Friday, November 09, 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 10

Home for Veteran's Day... quick picks:

Lions (+1) over Cardinals

Bengals (+3.5) over Ravens

Bills (-3) over Dolphins

Falcons (+4) over Panthers

Bears (-3.5) over Raiders

Cowboys (-1.5) over Giants

Vikings (+6) over Packers

Colts (-3.5) over Chargers

Chiefs (-3) over Broncos

Rams (+11) over Saints

Browns (+10) over Steelers

Jaguars (+4) over Titans

Redskins (-3) over Eagles

Seahawks (-10) over 49ers

Last Week: 5-9
Season: 58-64-7

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

2007 College Basketball Predictions

I wanted to do detailed predictions of each conference, but, well, time is a little short these days. So with the season underway, time for me to scrap the rest of those and give my season predictions.

By the way, I am so pumped that college basketball is back. And Gardner Webb shocks Kentucky early... college basketball is the best. Anyway.

All-American Team
Tyler Hansbrough, UNC - Of course. He's on everyone's team, and for good reason. He's a junior now, playing for one of the most talented teams in the country, and he's going to put up great numbers. No brainer.
Roy Hibbert, Georgetown - With Green gone, Hibbert should get the ball more and more down low. He was getting more comfortable in the paint as last year wore along, and should be even more developed. He's got great touch around the rim.
Chris Lofton, Tennessee - He's the best shooter in college basketball, and should get a lot of shots and numbers playing for a team that likes to get up and down the floor.
OJ Mayo, USC - Yes, the freshman sensation should be pretty spectacular in his lone season for the Trojans. He's going to play tons of minutes, get tons of shots, and put up lots of numbers. Oh, and the Trojans should be a pretty good team.
Darren Collison, UCLA - Best pure PG in college basketball. He's a fantastic defender with his long arms and exceptional quickness, excellent penetrator, finisher, and he's even developed a reliable outside shot.

All-Freshman Team
OJ Mayo, USC - See above.
Michael Beasley, Kansas St. - A freakishly gifted athlete, immediately becomes the go-to-guy in the Kansas St. offense. He'll be counted on very heavily for the Wildcats.
Kevin Love, UCLA - Love this guy. He's a great rebounder, fundamentally sound on the block, great passer, and has been called the best outlet passer since Wes Unseld, which should help Darren Collison and the Bruins get up the floor quickly. He's the reason that i think the Bruins offense will be better this year even without Arron Afflalo.
Eric Gordon, Indiana - We've been hearing a ton about the guy, and for good reason... he's going to have a huge impact in the Big 10. He could be in the running for the Conference Player of the Year. He's explosive offensively, and will make a fine duo along with DJ White (and Armon Bassett is pretty good too).
Derrick Rose, Memphis - We've already seen him in a couple games... he's like the college version of Jason Kidd. Just a great all-around player.

Surprise Teams
Clemson - OK, maybe they won't be a huge surprise, but I could see them challenging for the top 3 in the ACC this year.
West Virginia - They're being picked very low, and while I can understand why (they'll be playing a vastly different style), I think they'll be OK. Huggins will bring a toughness to the team on the glass and defensively, and I think the talent and efficiency will remain on offense. I think they'll challenge for an NCAA berth.
Arizona St. - Herb Sendek is turning things around for the Sun Devils. With Jeff Pendergraph and very talented freshmen James Harden in the mix, Arizona St. will be much improved. They might not be ready for the NCAA tournament yet, but they'll be vastly improved from last year's 2-16 Pac-10 mark.


Final Four Picks

UCLA - Of course, I had to pick them. But they'll be really good. As is becoming a Howland Staple, they'll be one of the best teams in the country defensively. They have great quickness on the perimeter, versatile defenders, and lots of depth up front. They were also a very young team last year. They lose Arron Afflalo, but with the return of basically everyone else plus the addition of Kevin Love, I think UCLA will be good enough to make their 3rd straight trip to the Final Four.

Tennessee - Just really like these guys this year. They'll be really talented, deep, and tough to prepare for and beat. They have a unique up-and-down style... if you let them run on you, you will get beat. They'll also immediately add Tyler Smith, one of the best freshmen in the Big 10 last year. With experience (especially after last year's tough Sweet 16 defeat), talent, and a tough style to play against, I like the Volunteers to reach San Antonio.
Memphis - They're really, really talented. I think the addition of Derrick Rose will be enough to push them to the Final Four, especially with guys like Chris Douglas-Roberts already in place and playing well. This will be an experienced group... they should get a #1 seed playing in C-USA (better than it's been in years past, but still not up to par with the Major conferences), and this will lead them on their drive to San Antonio.

Kansas - Like the other teams in my Final Four, they lose one guy (Julian Wright), but everyone else is back, making for an experienced, deep, and talented team. Assuming Brandon Rush is back healthy, they'll be tough to beat. Led by Mario Chalmers, they'll be really good defensively. Another thing to watch out for is the emergence of Darrell Arthur, who should come into his own starting this year in Julian Wright's spot. Bill Self finally reaches the Final Four


National Championship

UCLA over Kansas
OK, shouldn't have been too hard to guess that I'd pick UCLA. But they are going to be a fun team to follow this year.

What are your choices?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Someone you should know: Rashard Mendenhall

If most people were asked who the best RB in the Big 10 is, they might say Michael Hart. Or Chris Wells. Or PJ Hill. But how many people would say Rashard Mendenhall?

That's right, Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois, who might just be the best RB in the Big 10. If you haven't heard of him before, you probably aren't alone.

But taking a quick look at the numbers, this junior should probably be in the Heisman running right now. He is currently tied for 3rd in the NCAA (with Darren McFadden) in rushing yards, with 1314 so far this year. Even more impressive is that this has come on only 192 carries, giving him a disgusting 6.8 average. Oh, and he's also got 14 rushing touchdowns. He's also got 25 catches for 226 yards and a couple of TDs through the air.

His coming out party was when Illinois beat then #5 Wisconsin back in early October. All Mendenhall did in that game was get 19 carries for 160 yards and a couple of scores. He also caught 4 passes for 33 yards and 1 TD.

So Rashard Mendenhall is not a household name yet, but maybe he should be. He's probably got the talent to be. He is one of the main reasons why Ohio St. can't afford to look ahead to the game at The Big House in Michigan... because if they do, they might be going in there a 1-loss team.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Adrian Peterson is pretty much my hero

Before the season, I said he would be the Rookie of the Year.
After the Bears game, I said he was the most explosive RB in the NFL.
That might have been selling him short.

I have watched the Vikings my entire life. There have been only two players that I get excited just when I think about what they can do on a football field... the first was Randy Moss, and now there is Adrian Peterson.

The numbers are obviously, but just a part of what makes him so special and so fun and exciting to watch. But let's start with the numbers, because then tend to be more tangible.

- He now holds the NFL single-game rushing record with 296 yards rushing in one game. He did this in his 8th NFL game.
- Everyone knew that he would be running the ball all day, and he still was able to rack up 253 yards in the 2nd half.
- Halfway through his rookie season he has 1,036 yards rushing. My simple math skills tell me that this would have him on pace for 2,072 yards for the season. The rookie record is 1,808 yards. The overall single season record is 2,105 yards.
- Peterson is the first rookie ever to have 2 200-yard rushing games in his rookie season.

More intangibly speaking, he is breathtaking to watch. The cuts, the speed, the power, the vision. It's all there.

He has the power to run the ball inside. There were concerns about his so-called upright running style in college... well, those concerns seem to be gone. He does not shy away from contact, he lowers his shoulder and goes through the defender. He is one of the strongest running backs in the League.

Then there is the speed. On one play on Sunday Shawne Merriman looked like he had him on contain to the outside, and Peterson just simply beat him to the corner. On many other plays he just outran the defense. On Sunday he had TD runs of 64 and 46 yards. He has been a big play machine. This is said about a lot of guys and it's not always necessarily true, but Peterson is truly a threat to take it all the way anytime that he touches the ball.

Best RB in the NFL? I think it might be tough to argue with that right now.

Friday, November 02, 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 9

Sorry, been a hectic week... just my picks this week, as I continue with the drive to .500.

49ers (+3.5) over Falcons

Bengals (-1) over Bills

Browns (-1.5) over Seahawks

Eagles (+3.5) over Cowboys

Broncos (+3) over Lions

Packers (+2) over Chiefs

Patriots (-5) over Colts

Jaguars (+3) over Saints

Texans (+3) over Raiders

Vikings (+7) over Chargers

Bucs (-3.5) over Cardinals

Panthers (+4) over Titans

Redskins (-3.5) over Jets

Ravens (+9) over Steelers

Last Week: 7-5
Season: 53-55-7

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2007 Big 12 Basketball Predictions

After looking at the ACC a couple days ago, it's time to weigh in on the Big 12. This is a conference that has a couple teams that appear to be above the rest (Kansas and Texas), and a whole lot of teams that are bunched together in the 3-10 area. Going to be a very interesting season in the Big 12.

Baylor - Everything is dependent on the guard play. They're led by Curtis Jerrells and Aaron Bruce, two experienced players that will carry a big load. Also look for for freshman guard LaceDarius Dunn, a top 30 prospect. The guards are good, and they'll have to be, because Baylor is extremely thin up front.

Colorado - Leading scorer Richard Roby is back, but it could be a long year for Colorado. Certainly things are on the upswing with the excellent hiring of Jeff Bzdelik, but it will take time. They are simply not talented enough at this point to be able to realistically compete every night in the Big 12.

Iowa St. - I really like Greg McDermott as a coach, especially as he did a lot with a little last year in his first season with the Cyclones. There might not be much more progress record-wise because of an inexperienced backcourt, but there is a lot of talent in the frontcourt. They're led by talented sophomore Wesley Johnson and senior Jiri Hubalek, who were both very good last year. But things should be even better this year, with the addition of top 20 recruit Criag Backins.

Kansas - They might be the most talented team in the country, and they certainly appear to be head and shoulders above the rest of the conference. Assuming Brandon Rush comes back 100%, they're certainly one of the first names mentioned in the national title contenders discussion. The trio of Mario Chalmers/Brandon Rush/Darrell Arthur might be the best trio in the country. Also, it speaks to their depth that the guy that might be their most explosive scorer, Sherron Collins, will probably be coming off the bench once Rush is back.

Kansas St. - Bob Huggins is gone, but they still have the two things that they need most to be successful this season... Michael Beasley and Bill Walker. Beasley comes into his freshman campaign already as one of the most talented players in the country, and should be a large contributor in what will likely be his only season in Manhattan. Bill Walker actually played 6 games last year, but is still technically a freshman after receiving a medical redshirt. He's extremely athletic, and provided he is 100% after his knee injury (and reports say that he is), he should compete for All-Big 12 honors.

Missouri - Mike Anderson had an excellent first season and will look to continue on with that, and I think he will. He's got one of the toughest styles in the NCAA to play against with his "40 Minutes of Hell," and it should be even tougher with a full year to put it in and have the players learn it. One player to watch is Keon Lawrence, who might lead Mizzou in scoring and could be one of the most improved players in the conference.

Nebraska - Doc Sadler is doing a solid job, but it's going to take time as this looks to be another tough year for the Cornhuskers. However, not all is bad, as star C Aleks Maric should have a little more help. Maric quietly averaged 18.5 PPG and 8.7 RPG last year. But Nebraska will go as far as their freshmen PGs will take them... and that's usually not really a great thing.

Oklahoma - Jeff Capel is going to build something solid here, but it will take time. They struggled to find offense last year, and they still might be a year away. But things are looking up, especially with the addition of freshman Blake Griffin. He joins Longar Longar in the post in what should be a formidable duo. If the backcourt is better and Griffin is as good as advertised, it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that the Sooners could challenge for an NCAA berth. However, an NIT trip appears more likely.

Oklahoma St. - They'll be a pretty inexperienced bunch, especially after losing Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry. The centerpiece is Obi Manuelo, who was having an excellent freshman campaign befor breaking his leg. Another key returner is wing man Marcus Dove, who is one of the best defensive players in the country. Other than that, a lot of it will depend on how quickly the other guys develop... I think they could be a year away.

Texas - Kevin Durant is gone, but basically everyone else returns to what should be a talented Longhorns team. The first guys everyone thinks about are DJ Augustin and AJ Abrams, two talented guards that can put up a lot of points in a hurry. But the guy I really like is Damion James... he was excellent last year playing out of position in the post, and he should have a little more time this year playing the wing, which is more natural for him. Either way, the Longhorns will again challenge for 2nd in the Big 12.

Texas A&M - They lost Acie Law and Billy Gillespie, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to take a step back. The frontcourt looks very good, with Big 12 POY candidate Joseph Jones joined by top 10 recruit DeAndre Jordan. That will be an extremely formidable frontline, maybe the best in the Big 12. The backcourt is not hurting for experience either, as key contributors Donald Sloan, Dominique Kirk, and Josh Carter all return. They really shouldn't have too much trouble adjusting for new coach Mark Turgeon, and they'll be right back in the Big Dance for the 3rd straight year.

Texas Tech - Tech is an interesting team that their might be some mixed opinions about. On the one hand, start guard Jarrius Jackson and his 20 PPG are gone. But they should have a lot more depth this year, and they'll be led by do-it-all Martin Zeno. Plus, they still have Bobby Knight, and he's pretty good. The key could be freshman PG John Roberson, who looks like he might get a chance to start. If he can perform well, Tech will be right on the Tourney bubble.


All-Conference Team
Michael Beasley, Kansas St.
Darrell Arthur, Kansas
Martin Zeno, Texas Tech
Mario Chalmers, Kansas
DJ Augustin, Texas

Player of the Year: Mario Chalmers, Kansas

Freshman of the Year: Michael Beasley, Kansas St.

Predicted Order of Finish:
1. Kansas
2. Texas
3. Texas A&M
4. Kansas St.
5. Texas Tech
6. Missouri
7. Baylor
8. Oklahoma
9. Oklahoma St.
10. Iowa St.
11. Nebraska
12. Colorado

Monday, October 29, 2007

NBA Predictions

Since the season officially starts here on Tuesday, I suppose I should give my predictions.
* will denote playoff teams other than division winners.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

ATLANTIC DIVISION
1. Boston Celtics
2. Toronto Raptors*
3. New Jersey Nets*
4. New York Knicks
5. Philadelphia 76ers

CENTRAL DIVISION
1. Chicago Bulls
2. Cleveland Cavaliers*
3. Detroit Pistons*
4. Milwaukee Bucks
5. Indiana Pacers

SOUTHEAST DIVISION
1. Washington Wizards
2. Miami Heat*
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Orlando Magic
5. Charlotte Bobcats


WESTERN CONFERENCE

NORTHWEST DIVISION
1. Denver Nuggets
2. Utah Jazz*
3. Seattle Supersonics
4. Portland Trailblazers
5. Minnesota Timberwolves

PACIFIC DIVISION
1. Phoenix Suns
2. Los Angeles Lakers*
3. Golden State Warriors
4. Sacramento Kings
5. Los Angeles Clippers

SOUTHWEST DIVISION
1. San Antonio Spurs
2. Dallas Mavericks*
3. Houston Rockets*
4. Memphis Grizzlies*
5. New Orleans Hornets


PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
(1) Bulls over (8) Nets
(2) Celtics over (7) Heat
(6) Raptors over (3) Cavs
(4) Wizards over (5) Cavs

(1) Spurs over (8) Grizzlies
(2) Mavs) over (7) Lakers
(3) Suns over (6) Jazz
(5) Rockets over (4) Nuggets

PLAYOFFS, ROUND 2
(4) Wizards over (1) Cavs
(2) Celtics over (6) Raptors

(1) Spurs over (5) Rockets
(2) Mavs over (3) Suns

CONFERENCE FINALS
(2) Celtics over (4) Wizards
(1) Spurs over (2) Mavs

NBA FINALS
Spurs over Celtics

NBA MVP: Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
Rookie of the Year: Kevin Durant, Seattle Supersonics

Thoughts?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

2007 ACC Basketball Preview

Thankfully, it is that time of year again... just about time for the college basketball season. I'll try to preview each of the major conferences in the next couple weeks, starting with the ACC.

First, what to watch for with each team:

Boston College - For the first time in a while, they won't be the experienced, fundamental team. After losing Jared Dudley and Sean Marshall BC will be very young. They're led by Tyrese Rice, a great distributor who also has tons of range.

Clemson - The last 2 years they have gotten off to fast starts before fizzling. Things should be better this year, as they return 4 starters and a lot of experience. Two keys are KC Rivers, who's an explosive scorer for them, and James Mays, a great post defender. Mays deciding not to go to the Draft was huge.

Duke - Last year wasn't quite the year we've come to expect from Duke, but they should be very good this year. They lose Josh McRoberts, but they return everyone else while adding some solid freshmen, most notably Kyle Singler. They'll be more experienced, a little quicker, and should be better offensively. They could compete in the ACC if things go right.

Florida St. - They could have a tough go of it after the loss of Al Thornton. Still, the solid perimeter trio of Toney Douglas, Jason Rich, and Isaiah Swann will keep them in games. They need freshmen big mean Solomon Adabi and Julian Vaughn to provide some production inside.

Georgia Tech - They lose the immensely talented guys Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young, but they won't be pushovers in the ACC. They don't have any stars, but they just have a solid of solid players. Wings Lewis Clinch and Anthony Morrow should contribute well in the scoring column to help complement their solid frontcourt play.

Maryland - They lost some key cogs from last year, but they should be able to make up for a lot of that with their returnees. Most notable among them is PG Greveis Vasquez, who impressed as a true freshman last year. He'll be joined in the backcourt by Eric Hayes, another guy who is very adept at handling the basketball. Up front, explosive senior James Gist will have to be big. Other than these guys, Maryland could be relying on a lot of inexperience.

Miami - They had some injuries last year, which gave a lot of different guys experience, which should pay dividends this year. Most notably returning is Jack McClinton, who averaged 16.7 PPG for the Hurricanes last year. Miami definitely has the talent and experience to compete for an NCAA Tournament berth.

North Carolina - The Heels will again be loaded. They're obviously led by Tyler Hansbrough, one of the best players in the country. But the real key here is the backcourt of Tywon Lawson and Wayne Ellington, who will be counted on heavily on both ends of the floor. If the Tar Heels can become more consistent defensively, they will compete for the national title, as shown by their #1 preseason ranking.

North Carolina State - After finishing strong last year, things appear to be bright in Sidney Lowe's second year. They lose Elgin Atsur, which leaves a hole at PG, but they return a lot of experienced talent. PF Brandon Costner is one of the best players in the ACC. Gavin Grant had to play out of position often last year, but he'll be back at SF. If they can get consistent PG play they might be able to challenge for the ACC Title.

Virginia - The loss of JR Reynolds will be tough to overcome, but they still have Sean Singletary, an explosive offensive guard. But the keys to this team are the production from Mamadi Diane, and the overall emphasis on defense. They'll have to replace Reynolds' and Jason Cain's prodction on both ends of the court, which won't be easy. They might not have as much success as they did last year, but they should be right in the middle of things for a Tournament berth.

Virginia Tech - After losing their 2 excellent guards, it could be a long year for the Hokies. They have some talent, but unfortunately most of it is really young. Their best player in wing man Deron Washington, who is one of the most athletic guys in the country. If he can provide consistent offensive production, the Hokies can be a middle-of-the-pack team in the ACC.

Wake Forest - It's going to be a very tough year for the Demon Deacons. Not only did they lose a lot of players, but they lost their coach Skip Prosser, who tragically died in the offseason. It might not be pretty at times. One guy to watch is freshman PG Jeff Teague, who should log a lot of minutes this year.


All-Conference Team
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
Brandon Costner, NC State
Deron Washington, Virginia Tech
Sean Singletary, Virginia
Tyrese Rice, Boston College

Player of the Year: Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina

Freshman of the Year: Kyle Singler, Duke

Predicted Order of Finish:
1. North Carolina
2. Duke
3. NC State
4. Clemson
5. Maryland
6. Virginia
7. Georgia Tech
8. Miami
9. Florida St.
10. Boston College
11. Virginia Tech
12. Wake Forest

Other Predictions:
Storming the Floor

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Boston College beats Virginia Tech

For much of the last few weeks I have not been all that high on Boston College, calling them very overrated and not having beaten anyone. For 54 minutes on Thursday I thought this seemed rather accurate.

Then they decided to be awesome for the last 6 minutes or so and come back to beat Virginia Tech 14-10.

Matt Ryan has been shooting up a lot of draft boards this year, but I wasn't convinced yet that he was in the class of Brian Brohm and Andre Woodson as far as the draft was concerned. Well, all the questions were answered on the final 2 drives.

Seriously Matt Ryan was awesome on the final 2 drives. Unbelievable touch, great arm strength, perfect accuracy, good decision making, good mobility in the pocket... it was a thing of beauty. And the 2 TD passes... my goodness. The first one was just an extraordinary pass... he threw it to a spot, and it was perfectly placed just beyond the reach of the defender's hands, just barely giving the receiver enough time to get a foot in. It was beautiful.

Then the game-winner... Matt Ryan scrambled, but he kept his head up and looking downfield. That's more rare than you might think. And then rolling to his left, throwing across the field and across his body... awesome. Really, that's the best word to describe Matt Ryan on the final 2 drives. He was awesome. And this was all against a great defense in Virginia Tech.

Do I think Boston College is one of the 2 best teams in the country? Probably not. But I'm a lot more likely to believe it now. And I am a lot more likely to believe in Matt Ryan's skills, both as a Heisman contender and at the next level.

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 8

After getting back to .500 last week, I struggled again, dropping me back under the .500. I'll just give my quick picks, because I also want to comment on the Boston College game tonight, and I don't have time for explanations!

Bears (-5) over Lions

Browns (-3) over Rams

Colts (-6.5) over Panthers

Patriots (-16.5) over Redskins

Saints (-3) over 49ers

Bills (+3) over Jets

Dolphins (+9.5) over Giants

Vikings (+1) over Eagles

Bengals (+3.5) over Steelers

Bucs (-4) over Jaguars

Raiders (+7.5) over Titans

Broncos (-3) over Packers

Last Week: 5-9
Season: 46-50-7

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

College Football Power Rankings - 10/24

Once again, time for my top 10.

1. LSU - They got quite a scare, but I'll put them at #1, just barely. Still really talented defensively, and they are loaded offensively.

2. Ohio St. - Like BC and Arizona St., they haven't really beaten anyone too much of note. Unlike those teams, they've looked more impressive while doing it. The defense is dominating, and Chris Wells is really, really good.

3. USC - They're a lot lower in the actual polls, but I'm willing to give them a break for the loss because of all the talent. Well, they'll have a chance to show it this weekend, heading to Eugene to take on...

4. Oregon - Is this the best offense in the country? I'm starting to think it might be. Only once this year have they scored under 30 points, and that was in their 31-24 loss to California. They've had 48 points or more in 5 games so far this year. If you haven't watched Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart play, you really need to.

5. Oklahoma - Yikes. Barely eeking out a victory against a very bad Iowa St. team. A tough game this week against the Aggies, but if they get past that the schedule sets up very nicely for them.

6. Florida - Still love the talent on this team. Tim Tebow is a legit Heisman candidate... what a playmaker. He leads the team in passing and rushing and has a combined 27 TD. Not too bad.

7. West Virginia - They seem to have gotten more on track offensively since the USF loss, which is good because the schedule is challenging the rest of the way.

8. Boston College - Maybe a little low, but I'm still not convinced... if they beat Virginia Tech on Thursday, then we can talk top 5.

9. South Florida - Tough loss but Rutgers is a good, well-coached team. They can't have a letdown this week against a suddenly rejuvenated Connecticut team.

10. Arizona St. - Their best win so far this year is at home against Oregon St. They're the Boston College of the West right now. Their next 2 games are against Cal and @ Oregon... if they pass those 2 tests, then we can talk top 5. Or maybe even top 3.

Your thoughts? What would you change?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ranking the NFL Divisions

I thought it might be interesting to try and rank the divisions. So here they are, from best to worst, with a little bit of rationale after each, because that's just how I like to operate. These were ranked based on a super secret formula (just kidding)

1. AFC South
Indy established themselves as the dominant team in the division, but the rest is pretty solid. Jacksonville has shown they can basically compete with anyone with their running game and defense. Tennessee is 4-2. Even Houston is pretty potent when they are healthy, which unfortunately hasn't always been the case this year. Top to bottom I think the AFC South stands above the rest.

2. NFC East
This is the other division that really seems to have separated itself from the rest. They have the best team in the NFC up top, and then Washington and New York have both looked solid. If Philly can play like they did last year this could easily move into the top spot.

3. AFC West
The big guns are finally starting to play like we expected them too, which puts them here. But even with them struggling, KC is playing well, and even Oakland has been competitive. If San Diego and Denver can play like I expected them to before the year this once again is an excellent division.

4. NFC North
They haven't played great but this division is a lot better than the joke it has been the past few years. The Packers are 5-1, the Lions are playing well (nice win against Tampa), the Bears are the Bears, and the Vikings are really a couple plays away from being over .500. This is not a bad division.

5. AFC North
The Steelers are coming back down to earth, and that's not good because the rest of the divison is slightly mediocre. The Ravens are just not as good as they have been the past few years, Cincy and Cleveland both have a lot of problems defensively, as they have each given up over 30 PPG.

6. AFC East
It's pretty sad that they have a team that looks so far to be one of the most dominant teams that we have seen in a long time, and it's still the 6th best division. And that might even be a little generous. The other 3 teams are just absolutely wretched.

7. NFC South
Carolina and Tampa Bay are both solid teams (though I still think the Panthers might be a little overrated), but other than that New Orleans and Atlanta have not been impressive. The Saints are picking it up somewhat, but Atlanta is looking worse and worse.

8. NFC West
Seattle has been OK so far. Other than that, there is a Cardinals team that is actually better when Kurt Warner (with injured elbow ligaments) starts, a 49ers team that is simply dreadful offensively, and a Rams team that could challenge for 0-16. Yes, this division is bad.

Your thoughts? Would you change my rankings at all?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Patriots are ridiculous

Earlier in the week I talked about the chances that the Patriots could go undefeated, and some seemed to feel that it was too soon to be asking that question.

Well, the Patriots now lead 42-7 near the end of the first half, and Tom Brady is 16/19 for 291 yards and 5 TD.

It is not too soon to talk about this team being undefeated. Wow.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 7

The drive for .500 continues! I actually had a really solid week last week, so hopefully I can continue with that momentum.

Ravens (-3) over Bills
I'm not huge on the Ravens, but the Bills have not been all that impressive. Trent Edwards will get the start again, and rookie QBs generally don't fare too well against good defenses.

Jets (+6.5) over Bengals
The Bungles are a bit of a mess right now... with Chad Pennington playing for his job, I think they'll have enough to cover.

Vikings (+9.5) over Cowboys
Of course I'm taking the Vikings here... That Adrian Peterson guy is pretty good. The Vikings offense has started to turn a little bit, as the passing game looked solid last week (even if the numbers don't exactly bear it out).

Bucs (+2) over Lions
The last time we saw the Lions, they got absolutely walloped by the Redskins... now they're 2 point favorites against Tampa? Nah don't like that. The Bucs are solid defensively, and they take care of the ball offensively. That's half the battle.

Patriots (-16.5) over Dolphins
As I have said in previous weeks, I am going to keep taking the Patriots until they prove that I shouldn't. They have some talent.

Saints (-9) over Falcons
The Falcons suck, but the Saints had one big week and all of a sudden they're 9 point favorites? Hmmm. For that reason I tried talking myself into taking the Falcons and the points, but I just can't. Word is that Byron Leftwich will be starting this week... I'm sorry, but I just can't see that ending well.

Giants (-9) over 49ers
The Giants have looked extremely potent offensively this year, while the Niners have looked extremely terrible offensively, especially with Trent Dilfer at the helm. The Giants look like the easy choice, but we'll see.

Chiefs (+2.5) over Raiders
Still not sold on the Raiders because I'm not sure that they can actually pass the ball. They are 29th in the NFL in passing YPG. Larry Johnson appears to be getting on track more (though maybe that was just because they played the Bengals?)... I'll take the Chiefs.

Bears (+5.5) over Eagles
I'm really not sure what to think here... two teams that seem to have underachieved a bit (though the Bears have been badly hurt by some injuries defensively). I'll take the Bears here, but I'm not real confident.

Steelers (-3.5) over Broncos
The Broncos have been a bit of a trainwreck, and Javon Walker will again be out. I see them struggling to move the ball consistently against a stout Pittsburgh defense.

Rams (+8.5) over Seahawks
Bulger's back, which should help out the Rams offense some. Of course, it really can't get any worse. Plus, the Seahawks haven't looked all that impressive thus far. I'll take the Rams to cover.

Texans (+1.5) over Titans
I have some concerns about Vince Young... if he's not fully healthy and full able to use his running abilities, he is simply not that good right now as a pocket passer. The Titans will have lots of problems running the football, but I'll take them here.

Redskins (-8.5) over Cardinals
Tim Rattay is the Cardinals QB. I rest my case.

Colts (-3) over Jaguars
This is a tough one because it is in Jacksonville and because the Jags typically play the Colts better than anyone else (with the Patriots being the obvious exception)... still, I like the Colts to win, and 3 points is too little of a spread to take the Jags.

Last Week: 8-3-2
Season: 41-41-7

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

NFL Power Rankings - 10/17

OK, the power rankings are back! As always, my top 10.

1. New England Patriots - As if there was any doubt. After speculating yesterday about the possibility of them going 16-0, they have to be #1.

2. Indianapolis Colts - Again, a really easy choice. The Colts and Patriots seem to be head and shoulders above the rest of the league (though watch out for the Jaguars this weekend).

3. Pittsburgh Steelers - I went over some of this yesterday, but they have playmakers offensively and they are allowing less than 10 points per game defensively. The schedule hasn't exactly been the toughest in the NFL so far, but it's hard to argue with the numbers they've put up.

4. San Diego Chargers - It sure looks to me like they have figured a lot of their problems out, and the addition of Chris Chambers will add another solid playmaker to the offense. Plus, as long as LDT keeps running like he did on Sunday, the Chargers might not even need a passing game.

5. Dallas Cowboys - OK, so the Patriots eventually ran them off the field. Still, the Cowboys are one of the most explosive offensive teams in the NFL, and still look like the best team in the NFC.

6. Jacksonville Jaguars - That decision to go with David Garrard over Byron Leftwich seems to be working out pretty well so far. Don't look now, but Garrard has a QB rating over 100 and he has yet to throw an INT this year.

7. Green Bay Packers - Yes, they have a fantastic defense. But they still have no running game and a QB with a propensity to turn the ball over. I still have a really hard time seeing these guys as a top 5 team, which is where they are ranked in most other polls.

8. Baltimore Ravens - Meh. 4-2, but I find it hard to get excited about this team because of the offense. 5 FG against the 49ers? Have to be able to get it into the endzone more.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Sort of like the Ravens Lite. Very good defense, but the offense has struggled at time. Still, as long as Garcia continues to take care of the ball and make one or two big plays a game, the Bucs will be contenders in the NFC.

10. New York Giants - The offense has looked real impressive lately. Eli Manning is getting better all the time, the receivers are legitimate threats, and the multiple threats at RB are getting the job done. They should be 6-2 heading into their bye week.

What changes would you make?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Can the Patriots be beat?

With a great QB, an abundance of offensive and defensive talent, the worst division in football, and great coaching, the Patriots have looked unbeatable thus far. Through 6 games, their closest one was a 34-17 beating of the Cleveland Browns.

All of which begs the question... can the Patriots be beat? I'm not so sure.

As I see it, there are probably 3 games that could give them trouble (more on them in a second). Their other games are: @ Miami, Washington, @ Buffalo, Philadelphia, NY Jets, Miami, @ NY Giants. I would be beyond shocked if they lost any of those games.

Here are the other 3, ranked in how likely they are to lose these games (in my opinion).

3. AT Baltimore, December 3 - If healthy, Baltimore has a great defense which can at least slow New England down, and Willis McGahee can pound the ball to keep New England off the field. Still, the defense has struggled at times, and the offense has struggled with big plays and getting the ball into the end zone. A loss here for New England seems unlikely.

2. Pittsburgh, December 9 - The Steelers are 4-1 under new coach Mike Tomlin. Offensively, they have enough weapons to keep the Patriots offense honest, with Willie Parker, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, and even Najeh Davenport at the skill position. Ben Roethlisberger is getting better and better. Defensively, the Steelers are allowing under 10 PPG. This game will be in New England, which again makes a Patriots loss unlikely, but the Steelers are the team that ended New England's last long winning streak (of course, the Pats got revenge later in the year).

3. AT Indianapolis, November 4 - Obviously this is the game that seems, at least on paper, most likely to result in a loss for the Patriots. If the Patriots are the best team in the NFL (and it certainly appears that they are), there is really no doubt that the Colts are 2nd. Plus, being that the Colts are the last team to beat the Patriots, and they have Peyton Manning at QB, they will not be intimidated by New England. On a final note, the game is in Indy. That said, I think there might be just too many offensive weapons for the Patriots. But it looks to be the game of the year, and if both teams are undefeated heading into the game, it could be the most hyped game in years. I'm not really qualified enough to say this with any certainty, but if both teams are undefeated heading into this game, it could be the most hyped regular season game ever.

That said, I think the Patriots will be undefeated this year. Watching them play, barring an injury to Tim Brady (or maybe Randy Moss), I honestly believe they are too good to be beat. They seem to be on a mission, and they have the talent and coaching to accomplish it. It certainly will be fun to watch.

What are your thoughts? Will anyone beat the Patriots? Will anyone be close?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Adrian Peterson is the most explosive RB in the NFL

He may not be the best RB in the NFL yet, because he is not a great pass catcher or blocker... but I think that Adrian Peterson is already the most explosive RB in the NFL with the ball in his hands.

He single-handedly won it for the Vikings today (with a little help from Ryan Longwell). 20 carries for 224 yards and 3 TD. He also set up the game-winning FG with a long kick return. For the game, he had nearly 360 total yards on 25 touches (20 carries, 1 reception, 4 kick returns). Wow.

Through 5 games he now has 607 yards rushing, 4 TD, and 6.3 YPC. He's also got 10 receptions for 175 yards and a receiving TD. For good measure he also has 248 yards return yards. So by my calculations, through 5 career games, Adrian Peterson has 1030 total yards.

This is why I thought Adrian Peterson would be the Rookie of the Year.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It's good to be Boston College

At the start of the college football season, Boston College was unranked. After this weekend, they will most likely rank either 2 or 3 in the polls.

In between, they have won 7 games. 6 of those have come against FBS teams with a combined record of 16-23, and the other win was against FCS UMass. They played one ranked team, Georgia Tech, who was ranked 15th at the time. Georgia Tech is now 4-3. Besides that, they have beat Wake Forest, NC State, Army, UMass, Bowling Green, and Notre Dame. They've played 2 games away from home.

So yes, it's good to be Boston College right now. They've beat 1 ranked team (who is no longer ranked), have won 2 road games, and have beat exactly 2 FBS teams that currently have a winning record. And yet they will jump from being unranked to being in the top 2, thanks to all of the upsets.

In my last poll, I ranked them 10th. If I make my poll again this week, they probably won't be that higher. They have a great QB, but they haven't proven much. Obviously it's become an increasingly difficult thing in college football to consistently win every week, but still, is Boston College one of the 2 best teams in college football? I find that hard to believe.

I'm not sure what the point of this is, except to say that I still don't agree that just because a team is undefeated does not mean they should be higher in the polls than 1-loss teams. I'd rather rank teams based on how good I think they are, not based on the fact that they haven't lost so far against a relatively easy schedule. But that's just me.

If they beat Virginia Tech next week on the road, I'll be impressed. Until then, I firmly believe they could be one of the worst top 3 teams I can remember. Which isn't their fault. But it is another developing storyline in what has been a fascinating college football season so far.

Friday, October 12, 2007

NFL Picks Against the Spread 2007: Week 6

My drive for .500 continues... just my quick picks this week:

Cardinals (-4) over Panthers

Rams (+9.5) over Ravens

Vikings (+5) over Bears

Chiefs (+3) over Bengals

Browns (-4.5) over Dolphins

Redskins (+3) over Packers

Texans (+6.5) over Jaguars

Patriots (-5.5) over Cowboys

Eagles (-3) over Jets

Chargers (-9.5) over Raiders

Saints (+6.5) over Seahawks

Titans (+3) over Bucs

Giants (-3.5) over Falcons

Last Week: 6-8
Season: 33-38-5

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday Debate: Who should be the AL Cy Young?

For the second straight Thursday Debate, let's focus on the AL Cy Young race, because there are lots of good candidates here. Much like the NL MVP race, any number of guys could reasonably win.

As mentioned a week or so ago, I like CC Sabathia to win the AL Cy Young Award. In my mind, with his peripheral numbers and league-leading amount of innings pitched, he is the best choice for this award.

But there are certainly a lot of other viable candidates. A brief rundown of them:

John Lackey - Led the league in ERA. Also had 179 K against only 52 BB.

Fausto Carmona - 2nd in the AL in ERA. Was GREAT at inducing groundballs. Sort of like a younger Chien Ming-Wang with more upside.

Johan Santana - Had a down year (relatively speaking) but still had nearly a 5:1 K:BB ratio.

Josh Beckett - Led the AL in DIPS among starters. Like Santana, a great K:BB rate.

Dan Haren - Was the leading candidate at the Break, and still had a fine year even though he tailed off a little bit. Third in the AL in ERA.

Erik Bedard - Might have been my Cy Young choice had he not gotten hurt towards the end of the year. Ridiculous K/9 rate.

Vote with your conscience.

Who should be the AL Cy Young?
CC Sabathia
Johan Santana
Fausto Carmona
Josh Beckett
Erik Bedard
Dan Haren
John Lackey
Other