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 ( 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