Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Best First Year College Basketball Coaching Hires

Now that we're in the thick of the conference schedule, I thought it would be interesting to see who [so far] have been the best college basketball coaching hires from the offseason. I picked the top 5 based on what they've done so far... this is no indication on how I think they'll do in the future. Anyway, in no order...

Kelvin Sampson (Indiana) - I was planning on having Sampson on this list anyway, but then the Hoosiers really drove the point home with their win over #2 Wisconsin. The Hoosiers aren't supremely talented right now, but Sampson has them playing excellent defense. Plus, the fact that he's gotten Eric Gordon to come to Indiana next year is a big point in his favor. Things are looking up for Indiana.

One other thing about the game... what's up with Indiana fans storming the court? I know Wisconsin's an excellent team, but Indiana was ranked and playing at home? To paraphrase Doug Gottlieb, if Bobby Knight were dead he'd be rolling in his grave right now.

Bob Huggins (Kansas St.) - The Wildcats are 5-2 in the conference, 16-6 overall, and are in contention for a Tourney bid. Of course, they don't really have any quality wins yet, and their most athletic player is hurt for the season, but that's ok for now. We'll get a good chance to see what they're made in the next two games... they play at Texas, and then at Kansas.

Jeff Capel (Oklahoma) - Capel gets a slight, slight nod over Mike Anderson of Missouri for the 5th spot. I mean, these guys are competitive and Longar Longar is their leading scorer. The same Longar Longar that scored 127 points in his first 2 seasons at OU. Plus, bonus points for his building of the VCU program (more on them later). He is in a similar situation as his predecessor Kelvin Sampson is in right now... they don't have a lot of offensive talent, but they play hard defensively. Unfortunately, their offensive talent is far too low now to make a realistic run at the Tourney, but I do like Capel as a coach.

Anthony Grant (VCU) - They finally suffered a conference loss, but at 11-1 they still lead the CAA, the same conference that produced George Mason a year ago. The pieces may have been put in place by Capel, but someone's got to coach these guys. They've got a guard-oriented attack that could pose some problems for some teams. Three guards score at least 13.9 PPG.

Tony Bennett (Washington St.) - Bennett was the natural choice to replace his father after Dick Bennett left, but they should still be commended for making the choice. Bennett has brought some offense and some excitement to Pullman in his first year. Their only 3 conferences loss have come against Oregon (in OT), @ UCLA, and @ Stanford. Not bad.

Who do you think has been the best new hire?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The O.J. Mayo Incident

Not sure if this is big news yet or not, but apparently there was a little incident involving one of the top prospects in all of high school basketball, OJ Mayo, and a referee in one of Mayo's games.

Mayo had a pretty nice dunk, then got a technical foul for taunting afterwards. After a little discussion with the referees, Mayo was given a second technical for running his mouth a bit and was ejected from the game.

As you can guess, things didn't end there. Mayo then followed the ref over to the scorer's table, and the two bumped lightly. Or at least that's what it looked like. However the referee took quite a tumble, much to the disbelief of Mayo.

You have to watch the video for yourself, but there are 2 possibilities here:

(1) The refs feet got tangled with Mayo, which could not be seen on camera
(2) The ref is the worst actor in the world.

You decide:

Monday, January 29, 2007

Pittsburgh defeats Villanova

In a fairly entertaining game, #7 Pittsburgh defeated Villanova 65-59, improving to 20-3 on the year. Some random thoughts I had on the game:

- Pittsburgh has an excellent record and a good team, but I just don't see them as a Final Four team. They are the class of the Big East, but I don't think they'll match up well against the elite of the NCAA. They are fundamentally sound, well coached, and talented, but I just don't see the Final Four in their future.

- I don't want to be all negative on Pittsburgh, because they did win, and they're very good. Two guys I really like (aside from the obvious Aaron Gray) are Levance Fields and Levon Kendall.

Fields is just a very solid PG. He's tough, he's a good shooter, and he will get up in your face defensively. He scored 20 points today, but I really like his decision-making. Only 2 assists, but one turnover. Plus, he passes the very subjective, "I think this is a guy that will take over at the end of games" test. Subjective, but important. To me at least.

Kendall is the glue guy. The numbers weren't impressive... 6 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists. But he just does a little bit of everything. He's solid at both ends and just fits in nicely with Pitt's other threats.

- For Villanova, Curtis Sumpter is still definitely not right. The numbers weren't bad... 21 points, 9 rebounds... but his shot just looks flat right now. He was 4/15 from the field, 1/5 from downtown, and frankly missed some shots badly. They need him to get healthy from the shin bruise and hamstring tightness.

- If Sumpter is healthy, I like Villanova to make the Tourney and possibly have the chance to win a game or two. They have depth inside with Sumpter, Will Sheridan, Shane Clark, and Dante Cunningham. They have a great shooter in Mike Nardi. They have a great finisher in Scottie Reynolds. And they have a great coach in Jay Wright. They are only 14-7 (and 3-5 in the conference), but I think they will make the Tourney.

What are your thoughts on the teams?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

What? No Football?

That's right, for the first Sunday in about 5 months, there was no football. Which usually just means that we're getting towards the heart of the basketball season, which is ok by me. So after a full weekend of college basketball, here's my top storylines:

- Punch Stanford's ticket to the Big Dance. It was a pretty good weekend for the Cardinal. On Thursday Stanford handled USC by 15. On Sunday, they overcame a 17 point first half deficit to beat the #3 ranked UCLA, 75-68. It helped that all of UCLA's big men were in foul trouble, which made them almost useless as far as scoring. Arron Afflalo and Darren Collison combined for 39 points, but it wasn't enough to beat Stanford and their hot shooting in the 2nd half. With a signature win like this to up their record to 14-5 (6-3 in conference), Stanford has to be looking good as far as the NCAA Tournament goes, at least at this point.

- LSU, welcome to the bubble. After their 3rd straight loss, LSU is now 13-7 overall, 2-4 in the SEC. Their non-conference victory against Texas A&M is excellent, but their other big win (against Alabama) is looking less impressive by the day. I guess they've missed Darrel Mitchell a little more than everyone thought they would.

- Maybe next year Connecticut. Another Big East loss for them drops them to 13-7 and 2-5 in the conference. But the record isn't as telling as the fact that their best win this year is against St. John's. Their 2nd best win is against either Ole Miss or South Florida, depending on your opinion of the two teams. If the regular season ended right now Connecticut wouldn't make the Big East Tournament.

- Arizona actually might not be that good. North Carolina just annihilated Arizona on Saturday. I know Marcus Williams got hurt and didn't play in the second half. But in the defense of UNC, neither Brandan Wright or Marcus Ginyard did not play at all. The Tar Heels abused Arizona on both ends of the court... offensively they shot over 50% and scored 92 points. Defensively, they forced 20 Arizona turnovers and the Wildcats were 1/23 from downtown. Arizona has not lost 4 of 5 and 5 of 7. If things don't get turned around, they could find themselves on the bubble, surprising as that may have sounded at the start of the year.

- Aaron Brooks, Player of the Year candidiate. After a huge game against an underrated WaSu club, Brooks is averaging 19 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds per game for the upstart Ducks, who are now tied atop the Pac-10 standings. Certainly the top 2 candidates are Alando Tucker and Kevin Durant, but that sound you hear might be Aaron Brooks creeping into the race.

What were your thoughts from the weekend?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Dick Bavetta vs. Charles Barkley Saga

For quotes and video, go to the Charles Barkley vs. Dick Bavetta Wrapup.

Awful Announcing has been all over this from the beginning, but I thought it'd be good to get some of the videos from this in one place. If you haven't heard anything about this... well, just watch the videos and that will explain it.

Charles Barkley challenges Dick Bavetta:

Dick Bavetta accepts Charles Barkley's challenge:

And finally, Kevin Garnett weighs in on the matter:

All I can say is I really, really hope this does take place over the All-Star Break, because it would be awesome. Maybe the best comment on all of this did not come from Charles Barkley but from Ernie Johnson, who asked Barkley:

"Answer me one question... which hamstring are you going to grab at when you fall behind and have to pull up?"

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Bill Walton Podcast

Bill Walton Podcast

Seriously, this is the craziest thing I have ever listened to. If Bill Walton is not on acid, then I have no idea how he comes up with this stuff. He jumps around from topic to topic saying ridiculous things, and really, that's what we like about him. This podcast deals with a Brazilian named Daniela's internet sex video, the NY Knicks, the Grateful Dead, crossword puzzle contests, Larry Bird, and pretty much everything in between.

So have a listen and tell me what you think... in case you don't want to listen to it all, here's some of the prime quotes:

"Whenever I get to watch the Wizards and can finally get Daniela off the screen, I can't get over how well Brendan Haywood is playing. I actually saw Brendan Haywood try to run up-and-down the court faster than his opponent the other night. Now THERE'S a novel concept."

"But the real surprise to me in New York is that despite endless research and digging on my part, I have yet to come up with any evidence whatsoever that Isiah Thomas had anything to do with the Home Depot's Bob Nardelli's severance package of $210 million. Now that sure seemed to be to have all the trappings of an Isiah Thomas deal. Unbelievable money for nothing."

"During the recent holidays we had a nice little break, and being the competitive fiend that I am, I entered an International Crossword Puzzle Contest. I was on fire, as hot as I've ever been in anything! So here I was, rolling on forever to yet another title, when I get stomped on, 'What is a 10-letter word for surge?' I was so ashamed when I couldn't come up with escalation."

And don't forget to check out/add to the Bill Walton Quote Library, for which I am gather quotes to post at the end of the season. Also check out my synopsis of a Bill Walton Chat, as well as one of the best Bill Walton quotes ever.

[Special thanks to Doug LeMoine for initially linking to the podcast which is how I found it]

Thursday, January 25, 2007

NCAA Basketball Surprises and Disappointments

With the conference season in full-swing, I'll give my teams that have been pleasant surprises so far this year and then the teams that have been disappointments.

Virginia Tech (15-5, 5-1) - It wasn't that hard to see that they would have the talent to be a good club this year, but more than a few heads were turned by the quick start the Hokies have gotten off to in the ACC. With early wins over North Carolina and at Duke, they are 5-1 in the conference and tied for the lead. They also have another solid win against Maryland, making their NCAA Tournament chances look pretty good at this point in the season.

Oklahoma St. (17-3, 3-2) - Like Va. Tech, it wasn't hard to imagine that they would be improved this season, but I'm not sure anyone thought they would be this good already. They have lost probably their two biggest tests (Kansas, Texas A&M) but have done everything else right. In the non-conference they beat ranked teams like Pittsburgh and Syracuse, and won at a very good Missouri St. team. With the offensive duo of Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry, and the defensive capabilities of Marcus Dove they are a solid and talented ballclub.

Butler (18-2, 6-1) - The surprise with Butler is that they have one of the best nonconference resumes in the NCAA. They have beaten Tennessee, Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Indiana, and Purdue, 5 good ballclubs who all have a shot at making the NCAA Tourney. They shoot the 3 ball very well and just simply do not turn the ball over very often, and that's a pretty good recipe.

Oregon (18-2, 6-2) - Not to sound like a broken record, but this is another talented team that may have underachieved in the past, so it's not a surprise that they're playing well, just that they're playing this well. They have 5 players scoring in double figures and they look like they will have serious firepower come March.

Vanderbilt (14-6, 4-2) - Their 4 SEC wins: Tennessee, Alabama, @ Kentucky, @ LSU. They are a senior-dominated team that has good balance... although an early-season loss to Furman could be a killer come Tourney Time, you have to like how the Commodores have been playing. This might be their best team since the days of Matt Freije!! (and yes, this might be the only Matt Freije reference ever in Complete Sports, so enjoy it)

Washington St. (17-3, 6-2) - This is not your parents (or at least your older brothers) WaSu squad. They've beaten Gonzaga, Arizona, USC, and lost a very tight game at UCLA. They are very balanced (11 guys play at least 8.9 minutes per game), and they are an excellent defensive team. Do not write these guys off simply because they have not been a good team in past years.

Connecticut (13-6, 2-4) - They're very young and talented, but that combo hasn't exactly produced impressive results thus far. We knew it would be a down year for the Huskies, but it's late January and their 2 best wins are at St. John's and at home against Ole Miss. Meanwhile, they have little offensive flow, and while the talent is evident, it's not turning into results. Their next 3 games are Providence, @ DePaul, and Rutgers. They MUST win at least 2 of 3 if they want to have a shot this year.

San Diego St (13-7, 2-4) - Maybe they're not as big of a disappointment nationally, but I certainly thought they'd be a lot better than this. They have some really, really talented guys in Brandon Heath, Mohamed Abukar, Lorrenzo Wade, and the rest, but it hasn't turned into great results at this point. This was a team I really thought would be able to challenge to get to the Sweet 16, and while there's still a lot of the season to be played, it's been a little disappointing so far.

Washington (12-7, 2-6) - Excellent win against Oregon, but certainly there's still work to do. Honestly, I was a little shocked when I checked their record... I know they lost a lot from last year, but they have Tourney type talent... Justin Dentmon, Spencer Hawes, Jon Brockman and the rest are all good enough to get this team to the Tourney. With solid non-conference wins against LSU and Northern Iowa and the strength of the Pac-10, a .500 conference record might be enough to get them in, but there is work to be done. The next two games are against the Pac-10 bottom feeders in Oregon St and Arizona St., making it imperative that Washington wins those games.

Alabama (15-4, 2-3) - Their overall record is nice, and even their conference record is nothing awful, but its just the way that they've lost the 3 conference games. They've gotten annihiliated in the 3 conference losses by an average of 24 points per game. More concerning is the fact that Ronald Steele doesn't appear to be 100% right now... they need him if they're going to make a Tourney run.

Who are your biggest surprises and disappointments so far?

Other material that is better than average

Because really folks, better than average is all we shoot for here. Anyway, I kind of have a headache here, so instead of, um, writing a lot of stuff out, I'll just link around. Which is probably pretty evident.

First a few different guys I know started a couple different blogs... In Beane We Trust and The Sports Flow. I'm not in the business of guaranteeing that you won't be disappointed, but I don't think you will.

For the best Joe Mauer impersonating Mean Joe Greene commercial ever, click on this link. It's pretty much awesome.

If this happens, it will replace the Joe Mauer commercial as the greatest thing ever. Seriously, I would pay to see The Chuckster race Dick Bavetta.

At some point during last year's Big East Tournament when Gerry McNamara was making seemingly every shot he took, I declared him my Personal Jesus (since been redacted since that was not likely to ever happen again in his career)... my, how the mighty have fallen [all the way down to the D-League].

Bruce Pearl: coolest coach in America?

For greater ease of use, you can always subscribe to my feed if you want. It's up to you.

That's all I got. I'll try to do better the next time.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

NBA Rundown

With the NFL playoffs, college football bowls, and everything else, I haven't written about the NBA very much this year. Which is a shame. So to rectify that, let's take a brief look at how each division race is going so far this year:

Atlantic Division
For a short while when the Nets were 20-20 the division leader was at least .500, which was nice for a change. They lost now to drop to 20-21, but they hold the slim division lead. I thought the Celtics would be able to challenge for the division crown, but the injury of Paul Pierce ended that. They've gone 2-14 with him out the lineup, and believe it or not, that's not good enough to win the Atlantic. Elsewhere, Philly is awful and the Knicks are the Knicks, so it's looks like this race is between the Nets and Raptors... don't sound so excited.

Central Division
Hey, a division in the East with more than 2 teams over .500! Washington is obviously playing well, but I think there's an extremely good chance that the 3 best teams in the East reside in the Central division. The Pistons are up top and they are the best offensive team in the division, the Cavs are in 2nd, and they have this guy named LeBron James on their team, which helps (though the key is the supporting cast). The Bulls are in 3rd, but they have the best defense in the division. Put it all together, any of them can win the division and I would bet that the Eastern Conference winner will be among these three teams. Unless DWade pulls off a miracle like last year, I don't see what other team will beat them in the playoffs.

Southeast Division
The Wizards are playing well, but they have the same problems they've had in the past. They're not getting any inside scoring and they can't play any defense whatsoever. That's generally a bad combination in the playoffs. The other competitors are Miami and Orlando... Orlando started strong but has cooled off, and Miami is being carried by Dwyane Wade. Seriously, without Shaq and Wade this would be the WORST team in the NBA... so it's vital that Shaq can come back and give them something. Anything.

Northwest Division
Utah has the 5 game division lead over Denver right now, but with AI and Carmelo playing together, I think the Nuggets could have a few tricks up their sleeve, especially if Camby can stay healthy for once. After 2 games together things seem to be going just fine with those two, though the defense could stand to be a little better.The TWolves are in 3rd place and .500 right now, but they just fired their coach. I thought that was a pretty awful move, but I'll just quote John Hollinger, because he explained my thoughts pretty clearly today:

Can anyone remember the last time a coach took a team that was expected to be lottery-bound, had them at .500 and in line for a playoff spot at the halfway point of the season in a very tough conference, and got fired anyway?

...From the lofty contract extensions they've handed out to even their most mediocre players, to the way they've axed both Flip Saunders (in February 2005) and now Casey rather than admitting the serial imperfections of the roster, to their current refusal to trade Garnett before his value declines, Minnesota's front office has existed in an alternate state of reality for some time now.

Pacific Division
This is the Suns division and no one has any real chance of winning it besides them. The Suns are 33-8, scoring 112 PPG, playing really solid defense, and [ohbytheway] have won 14 straight games. I try not to get into too much hyperbole, but they have a chance to be one of the best teams ever. Their talent is that good, their coaching is that good, and they play that well together. They started the year 1-5 and have gone 32-3 since. They have 30 of their last 32 games. They own this division and there's no need to discuss anyone else.

Southwest Division
Once again the best division in the NBA and it features [in my opinion] 3 of the 5 best teams in the Conference. Dallas might even be better than Phoenix, the Spurs are still an excellent team, and Houston with a healthy McGrady and Yao can beat anyone in the NBA in a short series. All 3 teams are real good, and along with the Suns, Lakers, and Jazz are the reason that I am really, really looking forward to this year's playoffs.

So who's the best team in the NBA? Mavs or Suns?

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Special Shoutout to My Mom

I don't know if she'll ever read this because she doesn't like sports, but my mom was commenting on how I never write about her (or any of my other family) on here... which I thought there was an obvious reason, being that I generally write about sports. But that's ok. Which means that I'm breaking stride here with a non-sports post, but it's my party and I'll cry if I want to.

I don't want to leave anyone out, so rest assured, I love you Mom and you're the best!

(I hope she doesn't object to her picture being up here!)

Super Bowl: Colts vs. Bears

Offense vs. Defense. The Super Bowl will be a matchup of opposites... the Bears won today with defense, the Colts won with offense. A quick look at each of the games:

Bears 39, Saints 14
This one was all about the Bears defense. Drew Brees helped them out a little by having a pretty poor game, but that was mostly just due to the relentlessness of the Bears defense. The front line with Ogunleye, Anderson, and the rest were tremendously effective in getting pressure on Brees and forcing him to get rid of the ball. The Bears were great covering the receivers, putting pressure on the QB, and causing plays. They went for strips, INT, and everything else and it paid off in a big way all game.

Offensively, still not a good game by Grossman. Rex Grossman had one good drive all day, and a lot of that was largely the result of throwing against a bad CB in Fred Thomas. (and as a sidenote, great play by Bernard Berrian on the TD catch). However, he didn't really need to be that good, because the running game for the Bears was very solid. Benson and Jones each got at least 19 carries, and this allowed the Bears to control the clock. Bears just outplayed the Saints, especially with the great play of the defense.

Colts 38, Patriots 34
Wait, Peyton Manning led his team on the clutch TD drive while Tom Brady threw an INT to seal the game? I wonder how the media will take this one. Regardless, just an outstanding football game all around, and basically everything I thought it would be and more.

For the first half, it looked like it would be the same old song and dance for Peyton Manning against Bill Belicheck in the playoffs... after the INT return for TD by Asante Samuel, the Patriots had a 21-3 lead and were in complete control of the game. A late Indy FG in the first half made it 21-6, but surely Brady and Belicheck wouldn't let the Pats blow an 18 point lead?

Well, in the 2nd half the Colts were simply unstoppable. Well, not literally, but almost. Here were their 2nd half possessions: TD, TD, TD, Punt, FG, Punt, TD. 32 points in 30 minutes against a Bill Belicheck coached defense. Astounding.

It was a game that featured a lot of wild things... such as 2 fumbles recovered for TDs by offensive lineman, which isn't exactly an everyday occurrence. But the weirdest thing of all was the late 4th quarter, where for once we saw the Pats let a playoff game against the Colts slip away. Brady couldn't move the chains to put the game away, forcing the Patriots to punt it back, and Peyton Manning drove them right down the field for the game-winning TD.

For all of the bad commercials over the year, it's hard not to feel good for Manning. By all accounts he's an incredibly hard worker, and so it's nice to see him climb the mountain a little more to reach the Super Bowl. Now in 2 weeks we'll see if he can reach the top.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Pittsburgh Steelers (Maybe?) Hire Mike Tomlin

As of this writing, Tomlin has not been confirmed as the new head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but various reports seem to suggest that this is the case. Of course, as Daily Norseman reports, there's also other reports that suggest that Russ Grimm is the head coach. However, judging from the quantity and quality of all of these sources, it seems more likely that Tomlin will be on the Pittsburgh sideline next season.

As a Vikings fan, this sucks.

In a 6-10 season for the Vikings, Mike Tomlin was one of the few bright spots. Despite playing his college ball with Darren Sharper, Tomlin was hired away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he was the defensive backs coach. He immediately came in and implemented a new scheme, utilized players well, and turned the Vikings into one of the best defensive units in the NFL. The run defense was historically good, and while the pass defense had its problems, the numbers suggest it maybe wasn't as bad as you might think.

Tomlin would be only the 3rd Pittsburgh Steelers coach in the last 38 years, and the 6th African-American coach in the NFL. From all I could see, he's a very bright, articulate guy that responded well to players and got the best out of them. I'm not sure he's ready to be a head coach in the NFL quite yet, but he's definitely one of the bright young coaching prospects out there.

At this point I still have a glimmer of hope that the reports might be false, because losing Tomlin is a tough pill to swallow. If the reports are true, I wish Tomlin well. I'm sure he'll do a great job in Pittsburgh.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Jeff Samardzija likes playing baseball

For the record, S-A-M-A-R-D-Z-I-J-A.

Second, as you're probably aware, Jeff Samardzija has chosen to join the Chicago Cubs and play baseball rather than enter the NFL Draft, where he most likely would have been taken somewhere in the first round.

This comes as a little bit of a surprise to me... I mean, normally guys opt for the more high profile NFL track and the whole playing right away thing rather than work their way through the Minors, as Samardzija will start in A Ball for the Cubbies.

But looking more closely, you have to think this was a pretty good decision for The Shark. Consider:

(1) MLB players don't take nearly the beating that NFL players do. Would you rather run a crossing route into the teeth of the defense or throw a ball? Same here.
(2) MLB contracts are guaranteed. Samardzija already has a 5 year, $10 million contract with bonuses making it potentially worth more. In the NFL he would probably be looking at a 5 year contract with about $6 million guaranteed, based on past amounts for draft picks.
(3) The average MLB players makes a lot more money than the average NFL player. This ties in with #2, but basically, no salary cap + not a lot of good pitchers = a lot of money for an MLB pitcher. Jason Marquis had an ERA of 6.02 and an ERA+ of 73 last year. He will make $7 million a year for the next 3 years. I rest my case.

So what do you think? Did he make the right decision deciding to play baseball rather than football?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

NFL Conference Championship Predictions

After a great round of Divisional Playoff games, we are down to 4 teams left vying for the Vince Lombardi trophy. In one matchup we have familiar foes squaring off against each other, and in the other game we have a couple of new faces to the conference title game. Here’s a quick preview of each game:

NFC – New Orleans Saints @ Chicago Bears
It’s a classic offense vs. defense matchup. The Saints have a potent, well balanced attack that will be countered by a fast, smart Bears defense. But as has been the case with the Bears this year, this game will really come down to Rex Grossman. As long as he’s average the Bears have a great shot to just rely on the defense and special teams. However, average has sometimes been a tough task for Rex this year. In over a quarter of the Bears games this year Grossman has posted a QB rating under 40… do that again, and New Orleans will be the team advancing to the Super Bowl. He put together an average performance last week, but can he do it again?

Prediction: I’m not quite sold on Grossman. The Seahawks were unable to consistently put pressure on Grossman last week, but I think the Saints will be better in that area, and when Grossman is pressured he makes lots of mistakes. I think the Bears defense will keep them in the game, but ultimately New Orleans will be one step closer to reaching the ultimate goal SAINTS 27-20.

AFC – New England Patriots @ Indianapolis Colts
Raise your hand if you’ve seen this one before. But even after all the games over the years, Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady never really gets old. Both QBs struggled a bit last week, but both teams came out victorious. Surprisingly, Peyton Manning has put together two subpar games, but the Colts defense has carried them. For the Patriots, the Chargers did all they could to hand New England the game last week, and Tom Brady took it at the end. He will need to be better this week if the Pats want to advance to the Super Bowl again.

Prediction: Past performance does not predict future results, but I think it can help. That gets me back to thinking to the game earlier this season when the Patriots were defenseless stopping the Colts aerial attack. It’s hard to go against Belicheck and Brady in the playoffs, but in the Dome in Indy, I like the Colts to finally get over the hump against the Patriots in the playoffs. COLTS 34-31.

Who are your picks for the games?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

2006 NFL Draft Redo

Hindsight is 20/20, and that's what makes it so fun. With the season in the books for most rookies, I thought it'd be interesting to take a look at what the teams would do if they could do it all over again. Would the Texans still take Mario Williams #1? Here's my 2006 NFL Draft Redo.

1. Houston Texans - Vince Young, QB Texas
Original Pick: Mario Williams, DE North Carolina State
Analysis: Mario Williams certainly showed flashes of the talent that made him the #1 pick in the draft, but I think the Texans would like a redo. On second thought, they would go with hometown hero Vince Young. With David Carr struggling this year, the multi-dimensional Young would be a good football and economic fit. He was able to lead the Titans all the way to the edge of the playoff race, and almost as important, he'd bring fans to the game in Houston.

2. New Orleans Saints - Reggie Bush, RB USC
Original Pick: Reggie Bush, RB USC
Analysis: Marques Colston was another rookie that made a splash in New Orleans, but I don't think the Saints are regretting their decision to draft Bush. He has combined with Deuce McAllister to form a dangerous RB duo, in part because Bush does a little bit of everything. He's an explosive runner, great pass catcher out of the backfield, and a good return man. Not much to dislike here.

3. Tennessee Titans - Matt Leinart, QB USC
Original Pick: Vince Young, QB Texas
Analysis: The Titans would love to get Young again, but they'll be ok with Matt Leinart. Coming to Tennessee will allow him to reunite with his college coordinator Norm Chow. Leinart obviously won't be able to make the plays Young made with his feet, but he'll be able to utilize all of the options on the Tennessee offense, and will be an excellent long-term solution.

4. N.Y. Jets - Marcus McNeill, OT Auburn
Original Pick: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT Virginia
Analysis: The Jets did well in improving the O-Line, but this time around they'll go with a different OT, Marcus McNeill of Auburn. Playing for the Chargers, McNeill was a force on the Line, even making the Pro Bowl in year 1. It's hard to go wrong with D'Brickashaw, but Marcus McNeill was certainly the better OT in his rookie year.

5. Green Bay Packers - Jay Cutler, QB Vanderbilt
Original Pick: A.J. Hawk, LB Ohio State
Analysis: Brett Favre's a year older, Aaron Rodgers still hasn't done anything to prove himself, and this leads to the Packers going with Jay Cutler, a guy who reminded a lot of folks of Brett Favre. Cutler's got a great arm, toughness, and is a leader. He'll take the QB throne from Favre in Green Bay and remain there for a long time.

6. San Francisco 49ers - Mario Williams, DE NC State
Original Pick: Vernon Davis, TE Maryland
Analysis: The 49ers keep improving their defense with the talented Mario Williams. There was a reason he was the #1 pick, because he has great physical tools. He was a little inconsistent in his rookie campaign, but as he matures that should be less of a problem, and he'll just be able to let his immense talent lead the way.

7. Oakland Raiders - Marques Colston, WR Hofstra
Original Pick: Michael Huff, DB Texas
Analysis: People thought the WR corps might be one of the Raiders strenths coming into the year, but that's not quite how things turned out. Randy Moss didn't really try hard, Jerry Porter hardly played, and the rest of the guys couldn't get going without a decent QB in there. Insert Marques Colston. the best WR in the draft class and the WR corps gets back to being ok again. Now if they could just find a QB, maybe even this guy.

8. Buffalo Bills - DeMeco Ryans, LB Alabama
Original Pick: Donte Whitner, S Ohio State
Analysis: Ryans was very, very good for the Texans as a rookie, and the Bills will be happy to snatch him up at #8. He adds a talented piece to the Bills defensive puzzle, and immediately helps their defense get closer to the top defense they were a few years ago.

9. Detroit Lions - AJ Hawk, LB Ohio St.
Original Pick: Ernie Sims, LB Florida State
Analysis: Hawk was the best LB coming into the draft and still may be the one with the most upside. After a slow start to the year for the Packers, Hawk showed all of the tools that originally made him the 5th pick in the draft. He is tough stopping the run, but he has the speed and athletic ability to get out in coverage or blitz the QB. In other words, he's going to be very good for a long, long time.

10. Arizona Cardinals - D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT Virginia
Original Pick: Matt Leinart, QB USC
Analysis: With the QBs off the board, the Cardinals look at shoring up the perpetually awful O-Line, and get a gift in D'Brickashaw. He has all the tools to be a great O-Lineman in the NFL, and provides a long term answer for a franchise that's been desperately searching for long-time answers for quite a while.

11. Denver Broncos - Laurence Maroney, RB Minnesota
Original Pick: Jay Cutler, QB Vanderbilt
Analysis: Cutler is not on the board at this point, so Denver must look elsewhere. The biggest problem with their offense is that despite the Shanahan magic, they did not have a consistent running game. For the most part, this stemmed from the fact that their RBs aren't that good. So in comes Maroney, a talented back who had an immediate impact with the Patriots. Throw him in there behind that line and the Broncos running game is much more consistent.

12. Baltimore Ravens - Haloti Ngata, DT Oregon
Original Pick: Haloti Ngata, DT Oregon
Analysis: The Ravens originally went with Ngata and they are sticking to it. His big presence on the line gives LBs Ray Lewis and Adalius Thomas room to move around and make plays, which is a big reason the Ravens defense is so good.

13. Cleveland Browns - Joseph Addai, RB LSU
Original Pick: Kamerion Wimbley, DE/OLB Florida State
Analysis: The Browns have a lot of problems offensively, and one of them is at RB, where Reuben Droughns battled injury. The injection of Joseph Addai is a huge help to both the running game and the passing game. Addai is a tough, quick runner, good receiver out of the backfield, and improved his pass blocking skills as the season went along. Addai brings another playmaker to the offense to go along with Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow.

14. Philadelphia Eagles - Kamerion Wimbley, LB Florida State
Original Pick: Broderick Bunkley, DT Florida State
Analysis: Wimbley had a very nice rookie campaign for the Browns as a tweener DE/LB pass rusher off the edge. He provides some explosiveness and youth for the Philly defense. He finished the year with 11 sacks for Cleveland and will be an impact player on the Eagles defense.

15. St. Louis Rams - Ernie Sims, LB Florida State
Original Pick: Tye Hill, Cb Clemson
Analysis: With Ernie Sims still on the board, the Rasm jump to take the athletic LB from FSU. Sims led the Lions in tackles, has good instincts defensively and has the athletic ability to get anywhere on the field.

16. Miami Dolphins - Vernon Davis, TE Maryland
Original Pick: Jason Allen, DB Tennessee
Analysis: The Dolphins are in need of offensive playmakers, so on comes the physical specimen of Vernon Davis. His numbers weren't that great this year as he was battling some injuries, but his upside and physical ability is tremendous. He becomes a weapon for the Dolphins, and soon enough becomes a focal point of the offense.

17. Minnesota Vikings - Mark Anderson, DE Alabama
Original Pick: Chad Greenway, LB Iowa
Analysis: There are more glaring needs offensively, but its hard to pass up this chance to go from a good defense to a great defense. The thing that hurt the Vikings defense last year was that they could not consistently get a pass rush... insert Anderson, who had 12 sacks with the Bears as a rookie, and suddenly the secondary doesn't have to cover quite as long, and the Vikings aren't giving up as many pass yards. With the top 3 QBs off the board, DE is the choice here.

18. Dallas Cowboys - Nick Mangold, C Ohio State
Original Pick: Bobby Carpenter, LB Ohio State
Analysis: The Cowboys O-Line began to struggle as the year went on, which leads to the pick of Mangold. He's a very solid interior lineman and should be in the NFL for a long time, locking up the middle for the Cowboys.

19. San Diego Chargers - Greg Jennings, WR Western Michigan
Original Pick: Antonio Cromartie, CB Florida State
Analysis: The Chargers don't have many needs, but anyone can always use another offensive weapon, and that's what Greg Jennings will bring. He was very solid as a rookie in Green Bay, and will be just another talented option for QB Philip Rivers to go to to make the offense even better.

20. Kansas City Chiefs - Tamba Hali, DE Penn State
Original Pick: Tamba Hali, DE Penn State
Analysis: Hali got better and better as the season wore on for the Chiefs, forming a solid DE duo for the Chiefs. With Hali falling here again, the Chiefs will take him and be happy with the up-and-coming Hali.

21. New England Patriots - Maurice Jones-Drew, RB UCLA
Original Pick: Laurence Maroney, RB Minnesota
Analysis: With Maroney off the board, the Patriots go with the best RB option on the board, and that is Maurice Jones-Drew. In his rookie year Drew showed lots of flashes of brilliance, and is capable of scoring a TD from anywhere on the field. He's also an excellent receiver out of the backfield and a Special Teams threat, and we know the Patriots love versatile players that can help in many ways.

22. San Francisco 49ers - Devin Hester, KR Miami
Original Pick: Manny Lawson, DE/OLB North Carolina State
Analysis: With the earlier pick of Williams to help the defense, they turn to Hester, who was the best Special Teams weapon in the NFL as a rookie. He can single-handedly change the course of games with returns, as well as change field position. Also, if he develops enough he might even be able to help out a little in the secondary.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Johnathon Joseph, CB South Carolina
Original Pick: Davin Joseph, G Oklahoma
Analysis: With Brian Kelly and Ronde Barber getting older, Joseph provides some youth at the CB position for the Bucs. He was very solid as a rookie for the Bengals, and will provide immediate help in the nickel for an older Bucs defense.

24. Cincinnati Bengals - Elvis Dumervil, DE Louisville
Original Pick: Johnathan Joseph, CB South Carolina
Analysis: Dumervil dropped in the real draft, but the Bengals will take him with pick 24 here. Dumervil struggled a little bit his last year in college, but was really a good pass rusher as a rookie for Denver. And a bonus for Cincy, he's not in in legal trouble!

25. Pittsburgh Steelers - Mathias Kiwanuka, DE Boston College
Original Pick: Santonio Holmes, WR Ohio State
Analysis: The Steelers could look to improve the offense, but instead they look towards the other side of the ball in an effort to keep the defense at the same level it's been at for a long time. Kiwanuka provides nice depth and another pass rusher on the Line, and an NFL can never have enough guys like that.

26. Buffalo Bills - Michael Huff, S Texas
Original Pick: John McCargo, DT North Carolina State
Analysis: There's a reason he was taken so early in the real draft... he's a very talented player and is a steal for the Bills this late in the draft. In real life the Bills took Donte Whitner early in the first round, in this fantasy world of mine Michael Huff is a fine replacement and will be a fine player for the Bills to come, as they have the making of a great young defensive core with Huff and DeMeco Ryans.

27. Carolina Panthers - DeAngelo Williams, RB Memphis
Original Pick: DeAngelo Williams, RB Memphis
Analysis: Williams did about what everyone expected for the Panthers... he showed signs of that talent that got him taken here originally, and he challenged Deshaun Foster for the starting spot. I think the Panthers would be happy to get him again.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jerious Norwood, RB Mississippi State
Original Pick: Mercedes Lewis, TE UCLA
Analysis: In real life, the Jags got Jones-Drew and he was a huge help to the offense. With him off the board, they look for another running back, and take Jerious Norwood. Norwood didn't get a ton of carries in Atlanta, but he was very good when he did get the ball. Splitting time with Fred Taylor should work out great, as Norwood becomes the RB of the future in Jacksonville.

29. NY Jets - Donte Whitner, S Ohio State
Original Pick: Nick Mangold, C Ohio State
Analysis: With Mangold gone, the Jets look to improve the defense with a very good player in Donte Whitner. Whitner was a nice player for the Bills as a rookie, and showed good cover skills and tackling ability. Everyone thought he went too early last draft, but he's an absolute steal at this point.

30. Indianapolis Colts - Manny Lawson, LB NC State
Original Pick: Joseph Addai, RB LSU
Analysis: With all of the top running backs off the board, the Colts are forced to look for defense, and that leads them to the raw but athletic Manny Lawson. Lawson's game is more of a pass-rusher type right now, but with his great abilities and Tony Dungy's defensive knowledge, he'll be a nice help to the Colts defense.

31. Seattle Seahawks - Tye Hill, CB Clemson
Original Pick: Kelly Jennings, CB Miami (FL)
Analysis: The Seahawks showed that they have some problems in the secondary, though some of that was due to the injuries back there. So to add depth they go with Tye Hill, a slightly undersized corner that has very good cover skills. He'll be a fine addition to the Seattle secondary and will have a chance to play right away.

32. N.Y. Giants - Santonio Holmes, WR Ohio State
Original Pick: Mathias Kiwanuka, DE Boston College
Analysis: With a lot of the DEs off the board, the Giants look to add another weapon for Eli Manning. Santonio Holmes showed flashes of his great talent as a rookie, and immediately becomes a dangerous 3rd WR after Toomer and Burress, as well as a good Special Teams option. Plus, with Toomer getting older and older, Holmes will be able to step in soon to be the #2 guy in the Big Apple.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


It was a busy day for me with homework and the like, which makes it a perfect day to let other do the work for me and just hand out some links.

First off, if you haven't checked out my Sports Videos blog, you should. You're just going to have to take my word for it. Latest videos include an Adrian Peterson highlight video and a Len Bias tribute video. Just try and resist the goodness of that.

Second, you should probably go to Deadspin, because they always have good stuff.

Ian has all you need to know about the Chris Webber in Detroit signing. As far as my thoughts, I think it's a good move for Detroit simply because Webber still has some skills and came cheap. However, Webber's skills have diminished, and to say he's a defensive liability is quite an understatement at this point. Interesting piece from John Hollinger about it, including the observation that in about 2 years the Pistons have turned from a defensive dominated team to a Euro style team. They'll be fun to watch.

Chan Gailey in the running for an NFL job? Sadly enough, yes he is. But then again, 28-21 as a college coach is pretty awesome, right?

Eli Manning, everybody!

In case you haven't seen it, WBRS Sports Blog has the video of Tony Allen tearing his ACL after going for a dunk well after the whistle blew. Just an unfortunate and ugly injury.

Lastly, a marketer for Carmelo Anthony sent me an email asking me if I would help promote Carmelo Anthony's Myspace page... and since he asked so nicely, I feel obliged to include a link here.

That's what I got. I'll try to be better the next time. Maybe.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Early NFL Draft Entrants

For the complete list of NFL Early Entrants, you can look here, but for fun, I'll just take a look at the biggest names that I know a little something about, separated by position.

JaMarcus Russell, LSU - regular readers will know that I'm a fan of JaMarcus Russell... he's my #1 QB prospect heading into the draft. He's got a huge arm, was pretty accurate this year, and physically is the most gifted QB in the draft. Definitely made the right move coming out now for the Draft.

Colt Brennan, Hawaii - Brennan put up super numbers this year... 58 TD, lots of yards, etc. but now we'll see if NFL teams think he's just a system QB or a legitimate prospect. He'll probably be competing with Troy Smith and Drew Stanton to be the 3rd QB taken in the Draft. That spot would have gone to Brian Brohm, but of course he decided to stay in school.

Running Back
Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma - I think Peterson is a great NFL prospect and should be a great NFL RB as long as he can stay healthy. He's fast, he's a tough inside runner, and he can make people miss. In many ways I think he's every bit the RB prospect that Reggie Bush was last year, albeit a very different style.

Darius Walker, Notre Dame - this surprised me a bit when I saw Walker was coming out. I personally am not that high on him... I didn't think he was that good running the ball, but he is an excellent receiver out of the backfield. At best, I think he'll be a Kevin Faulk type without the Special Teams skills. Which isn't bad, but I'm just a little surprised he came out with another year left of eligibility.

Michael Bush, Lousville - he must have really not wanted to go back to school, entering the Draft even after the big injury. Even so, as long as he can show he's healthy, he'll probably be a late first round back. He's got good patience and vision in the backfield and should be a solid runner.

Marshawn Lynch, California - Lynch has big play ability and will probably be the second RB off the board. He averaged over 6 YPC each of his 3 years and greatly increased his receiving totals this year as well. He finished with almost 1700 all-purpose yards this year.

Wide Receiver
Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech - I think Johnson is excellent and he will be the top WR off the board. If he fell to the Vikings at #7 I would possibly faint out of joy. He's fast, he's got great hands, great body control, great anticipation... basically, he rocks.

Ted Ginn, Ohio St. - Ginn's my #2 WR on the board. He's not a great route runner and he doesn't have the best hands ever, but he makes things happen. He's similar to Reggie Bush in that anytime he has the ball he is capable of scoring. Extra boost for being such a Special Teams threat as well. I'm a big fan.

Dwayne Jarrett, USC - Jarrett has very good hands and is a pretty good route runner. He may not be as explosive after the catch as Ginn or Johnson, but it's hard to argue with the production. 41 TD catches in 3 years.

Robert Meachem, Tennessee - not sure if this was a good year for a fringe underclassmen WR to come to the draft. Meachem is obviously talented (he put up BIG numbers for the Vols this year), but he'll be either the 5th or 6th WR off the board most likely. Still, should be an excellent 2nd round pick for some team.

Sidney Rice, South Carolina - See Meachem. Rice is very talented, but I'm not sure he'll go higher than any of the top 4. Should be a solid NFL player.

Jamaal Anderson, Alabama - I've heard a lot of talk about Anderson since he declared, and now he may even be the first DE taken in the draft. I'll admit I don't know much about him right now, though hopefully I'll learn, as he could be one of the Vikings top choices at #7.

Reggie Nelson, Florida - I was impressed everytime I watched Nelson play this year. He's a big hitter in the secondary, but more importantly he always seemed to have good instincts going to get the ball. Even if he wasn't going for the INT, he was in plays hitting WR as the ball got there, tipping balls, etc. and was one of the main reasons Florida's defense was as good as it was.

There's a lot of other good early entrant players defensively, most notably Jarvis Moss of Florida and Alan Branch of Michigan, but I really don't know much at all about them, so I won't bore you with bad generalizations.

So anyway, what guys are you most looking forward to watching?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

NFL Divisional Round Recap

Well, the final four is set, and as expected, things were pretty exciting on the way there. A brief recap of each game, only because I care [about increasing readership]:

Colts 15, Ravens 6
I hate to say it, but this was a pretty dull game. Not even just speaking in relation to the other 3 games, which were excellent, this game just wasn't really entertaining at all. Though this is quite a story for Indy... they've won 2 straight games and Peyton Manning has been positively mediocre. I know the Ravens D rocks, but Manning did not play well. Fortunately, the suddenly stout Indy D was superb. I think Benny is right... it's been a good thing for the Colts to be a little more under the radar than in years past.

Saints 27, Eagles 24
Now the Saints, they are a fun team to watch. With all due respect to LT and the like, none of them get me as interested when they have the ball as when Reggie Bush has the ball. The cutback, across field, 20 yard run was a good example of that... you just never know what's going to happen. For the Iggles, they were 5-6, lost their starting QB, and then went on to win the division and win a playoff game. Nothing to hang your head about there.

Bears 27, Seahawks 24
This was vintage Rex Grossman out there. When he has some time, he can make some great throws... the long TD pass to Berrian was a beautiful throw. However, when there's even a hint of pressure he gets antsy, loses his mechanics, throws off his back foot, is fumble-prone, and makes bad decisions. It happened today when the Seahawks were able to get pressure, and it's happened every time I've seen a team get pressure on Rex. At the end of the day a playoff win is a playoff win, but they eeked out a win at home against the worst team left in the playoffs, a team that also happened to have a banged up secondary. A meh performance in my opinion, but they won, and that's always a plus.

Patriots 24, Chargers 21
I expected this game to be awesome, and it didn't disappoint. Well, the Chargers disappointed a little by their play, but the game was close. I have ragged on Marty a lot, and I think he's not very good, and I think he maybe had a couple of errors, but this one is all on the players. They are more talented, they were put in position to make plays, and they very often did not. As for the Patriots... Deion Branch who? Adam Vinatieri who? Gostowski was perfect, Caldwell and Gaffney were brilliant, and Tom Brady just did his thing at the end of the game. You couldn't script it any better than that for the Patriots.

Overall, 3/4 with my picks for that round... I'll take it. How did you do?

Friday, January 12, 2007

NFL Playoff Predictions: AFC

Like my NFC Predictions, I'll give you 2 reasons why each team will win, and then my actual pick. So yeah, let's jump right in.

(4) New England Patriots @ (1) San Diego Chargers
Why the Patriots will win:
1) Bill Belicheck. The coaching edge here is ginormous for the Pats... Belicheck is the best coach in the NFL, Marty has a 5-12 career playoff record and a track record of coaching with two hands around his neck. The Chargers are more talented, so the Pats need another good gameplan from Belicheck to slow down LT.
2) Tom Brady. Ok, these were like the two most obvious, predictable reasons ever, but it's the truth. But still, Tom Brady is real good. He's accurate and knows where to go with the ball. One other thing that gets overlooked with him, and this will be important against the Bolts pass rush, is that he has great pocket presence. He knows when to get rid of the ball and when he has a little extra time.

Why the Chargers will win:
1) The front 7. The Chargers have a great front 7 that will be able to slow down the Pats running game and should be able to force Brady to make some quick throws. They will need to be on their game so that Brady doesn't have time to pick apart the secondary.
2) Sheer talent. Say what you want about coaching and everything else... the fact is, the Chargers are the most talented team here. Obviously there's LT, but they also have the best TE in the League, a good O-Line, and a top 3 defense. There's not much to dislike here.

Who will win: I love Brady and Belicheck... they're smart, they've got a great track record, and Brady seems to almost always play his best in big games (except last year's playoffs)... but in San Diego, with all that talent on both sides of the ball, I just can't pick against the Chargers here. This should be an absolutely fascinating game, but I've got to take the Bolts in a tight one. CHARGERS 27-24.

(3) Indianapolis Colts @ (2) Baltimore Ravens
Why the Colts will win:
1) Maybe they have this defense thing figured out. I have my doubts about if they've figured out how to stop the run (I think that had a lot to do with KC being inept offensively), but maybe they have figured something out. If so, they are a Super Bowl team.
2) Peyton Manning. We all know about his track record... but seriously, he's too good to have another bad playoff game, right? Right?

Why the Ravens will win:
1) They can put pressure on Peyton Manning. If you give Manning time, he'll pick you apart. Absolutely, no doubt about it. But if the Ravens can pressure Manning, he'll get jittery and start throwing the ball around a bit, and the opportunistic secondary for Baltimore can take advantage of that.
2) The Colts still can't stop the run. Last week the Colts loaded up the box, and the Chiefs were either not good enough or not smart enough to beat that. Can the Colts consistently put 8 in the box again and still be able to stop Steve McNair. Well, let me just say that Brian Billick is a sharper offensive mind than Herm Edwards.

Who will win: Maybe this is just bias from my preseason Super Bowl pick, but I'll take the Colts here. I'm not real confident they can shut down Jamal Lewis, but he hasn't been that great this year. And I still have a couple doubts about Air McNair. Should be a very interesting matchup. COLTS 23-20.

What are your picks?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

NFL Playoff Predictions: NFC


The 4 playoff matchups this weekend are just so very good that I need to split them up into 2 separate posts. The matchups are great, and should hopefully produce some well played, competitive games.

I'll do these previews similar to my National Championship preview... I'll give 2 reasons why each team will win, and then give my prediction. So yeah, feel free to give yours in the comments.

(4) Seattle Seahawaks @ (1) Chicago Bears
Why the Seahawks will win:
1) Rex Grossman. Let's be honest, for all of the Bears strengths (namely that they have the best defense and special teams in the NFL), Rex Grossman has been a little hit-and-miss this year.In 5 games this year his QB rating has been under 40, and three times the QB rating has been 10.2 or less (including 0 once). QB rating isn't perfect, but that's just a quick measure of how bad he has been in some games.
2) Rex Grossman. In truth, this is what needs to happen for the Seahawks to win. Rex Grossman needs to have an awful game. The offense is banged up, the defense isn't that good, and the game is in Chicago. They need Grossman to have a game like he did in the regular season finale.

Why the Bears will win:
1) The Defense. Simply put, they have the best defense in the NFL. They're fast, they're smart, they tackle well, they're talented, and they're well coached. Not much to dislike.
2) The Special Teams. Similar to the defense, they have the best Special Teams in the NFL. Robbie Gould has been reliable all year, and Devin Hester has 6 return TDs. A great all-around unit.

Who will win: I don't have a lot of faith in Rex Grossman to deliver a quality ballgame, but I have enough faith in the D. I think Grossman will be more conservative and let the defense win the game for the Bears. This year they'll be able to take care of their first playoff game at home. BEARS 20-10.

(3) Philadelphia Eagles @ (2) New Orleans Saints
Why the Eagles will win:
1) Momentum. As we saw with the Steelers, sometimes this can mean anything. The Eagles are the hottest team in the NFL, and if Jeff Garcia can keep playing mistake-free football, they might just be able to ride that momentum into the NFC Conference Championship.
2) Brian Westbrook. With all due respect to Reggie Bush, Brian Westbrook is the most multi-dimensional back that will be playing in this ballgame. He's a great receiver as he has shown throughout the year, he's a good return man, and now that he's getting carries we see he is an excellent runner. He's capable of carrying the Eagles offense.

Why the Saints will win:
1) Best offense in the NFC. They have balance and big-play ability. Drew Brees has been, in a word, awesome at the QB spot. Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush have very different games, and that's what makes them effective and so dangerous. The receivers have been a solid group this year, led by rookie Marques Colston. And the Line, led by All-Pro Jamaal Brown is solid. This offense can score quickly in many different ways.
2) Home field advantage. The Superdome will be absolutely rocking for this game.

Who will win: The Eagles have been playing great football, but I think their time has run out. Drew Brees and the offense will be clicking, and the whole Saints team will be fired up by the raucous Superdome crowd. SAINTS 34-23.

Your thoughts?

Bill Walton has outdone himself

I didn't hear this firsthand, but was told by someone else that Bill Walton made this comment during the Spurs game:

"Yesterday we celebrated Sir Isaac Newton's discovery of gravity, today, Fabricio Oberto is defying it."


Just remember, if you have any good Bill Walton quotes, you can post them in the comments section of my previous Bill Walton post, or just post them in the comments on this post. We're trying to build a Bill Walton Quote Library here!!

Other good readin'

I got kinda busy tonight, so I wasn't able to write anything, which is either a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. Fortunately, not everyone else took a day off, so here's what you should read instead (or in addition):

Awful Announcing has their review up of the Fox NCAA Football announcers... a good read, along with their ESPN review.

And speaking of the Fox guys, I found this quote from Bill Simmons' chat to be highly amusing:

I thought Fox's coverage, in general, was almost surreal. What about Eddie George and Emmitt Smith trash-talking each other during the pregame show while Chris Rose sat there with a blank look on his face? He looked like the "Airplane" stewardess taking dinner orders from the two guys speaking jive.

The other sequence I liked from the chat:

Jeannie (Philadelphia): Did you hear the Ohio State band playing the love theme from "Titanic" during halftime of Monday's game? Please tell me I'm not the only one who found the parallels between the sinking ship and the sinking Buckeyes team hilarious.

Bill Simmons: I loved it. I was delighted. I would have enjoyed it more if my ears weren't bleeding from Thom Brenneman. By the way, just got coffee … I'm about to wake up.

JR (San Diego): Tell Jeannie the answer is no because men don't watch the halftime show.

Good stuff there. Many say Bill Simmons has sorta gone from good to bad, and in some ways I agree as far as his columns... but he still puts out funnier stuff than most of the things I read. Sure, it's sometimes cluttered around stuff that doesn't make sense, but I've just come to accept that.

Moving on... as if you needed another reason to think Sean Salisbury is weird and creepy. But at least they fired Harold Reynolds [/sarcasm].

An era has passed... TO has fired his publicist. That's too bad things didn't work out.

Have fun!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

How is Bert Blyleven still not in the Hall of Fame?

Just for giggles, I'm going to give you the stats of 2 pitchers... one is in the Hall of Fame and generally regarded by sportswriters as one of the best pitchers of all time. The other is not in the Hall of Fame.

Player A: 324-292 overall record (.524 winning %), 3.19 ERA (3.57 was the League ERA over the same time period), 112 ERA+, 1.25 WHIP, 5714 K in 5386 IP, 2.04 K/BB ratio, 3.07 postseason ERA

Player B: 287-50 overall record (.534 winning %), 3.31 ERA (3.90 was the League ERA over the same time period), 118 ERA+, 1.20 WHIP, 3701 K in 4970 IP, 2.80 K/BB ratio, 2.47 postseason ERA

As you probably guessed, Player B was Bert Blyleven, who is still not in the HOF. Player A is Nolan Ryan, certainly an excellent pitcher, but also one of the most overrated pitchers of all-time.

If you look closely, I'm not sure Ryan is a better pitcher than Blyleven. When Ryan was on, he was great (strikeout record, 9 no-hitters), but he also has thrown more BB than anyone else ever. Ryan has the lower raw ERA, but he did it in a time where ERAs were generally lower, which results in a better ERA+ (ERA in relation to the League with 100 as the average) for Blyleven.

In the end, Nolan Ryan was the better strikeout pitcher and gave up less HRs than Blyleven, while Blyleven had much better control while still maintaining good strikeout dominance (higher K/BB ratio than Ryan. Both were very dominant when they were on their game... Ryan had 61 career shutouts, Blyleven had 60.

But there should be no need for this discussion. Both guys belong in the Hall. So how is Bert Blyleven, one of the top 20 or 30 pitchers EVER not in the Hall of Fame yet? Your guess is as good as mine. Bottom line, Bert Belongs.

Happy Birthday Complete Sports!

Yes, that's right, this little blog of mine has reached the 1 year milestone.

When I started this little thing with this post and my NFL divisional conference preview, I'm not sure what I expected. I know I loved sports and sometimes liked writing things, but beyond that I had no idea what I was in for.

Well, it's been fun. I'm not into Journalism and I have no aspirations of being a writer (hey, I'm an Accounting and Finance major!), so I realize my actual writing sucks, but that's ok. That said, even though I'm not a writer, I will accept an offer if you make one ESPN! I never really expected to make any money with this, but I have made a little chunk of change, which is great because it's getting paid to do something I really enjoy doing.

And truly I enjoy doing this. I mean, where else could I write my list of the 50 greatest NBA players ever, or my list of the Top 10 MLB players of all-time, or unveil my hopes to create a Bill Walton Quote Library? Where else could I write nearly 100 posts about the NBA, or 88 posts about the NFL, or 83 posts about college football? Where else could I make nearly 400 posts in a year and not look like a total nerd. Well, kinda.

But as almost any blogger will tell you, the best part about this is getting comments on my posts, or getting email from someone who happens to be reading. Because as much as I do like writing this, I probably wouldn't do it if no one read it. So thank you to all my readers and commenters, most notably the writers from WBRS Sports Blog, The Big Picture, The Sports Pulse, Sweaty Men Endeavors, Zoner Sports, Insomniac's Lounge, Pacifist Viking, and many others. Without getting too sentimental, guys like you make this enjoyable.

Anyway, for the first year, if my calculations are right, I think I got somewhere around 50,000 visitors, which is many more than I ever expected. But I was always told to dream big, so my goal is 70,000 for year 2, which is about 200 a day, which, well, we'll see. But I'm optimistic.

So anyway, thanks to any readers, and it's been fun. Hopefully I can make another post like this in a year.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Florida beats Ohio St. for National Championship

Actually, the title of this post is a little misleading. Florida didn't just beat Ohio St., they walloped them. They physically dominated them on both sides of the ball. It was as complete and dominant of a performance as I have seen all season. When I gave how a post explaining 3 reasons Florida would win (to clarify though, I did pick OSU in a close one), my first reason was because the Florida defense was very good and very fast, and my second reason was that Urban Meyer was a great coach that could put together a great gameplan. Turns out that both of those were very true, and the biggest reasons for the 41-14 shocker.

First, let's start with the Gator defense. When you say a defense is fast, usually people think of the defensive backs and the linebackers. However, the biggest source of the game-changing speed came from the Defensive Line, specially Ends Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey, who made a living in the Ohio St. backfield. Troy Smith had no time to throw the ball, the running backs had nowhere to go, and Ohio St. went nowhere offensively.

The other big factor for the Ohio St. offense was that Ted Ginn got hurt in the 1st quarter, which was an absolute killer. He showed off some of his explosiveness on the opening kickoff, and without him the Buckeyes were bogged down. Anthony Gonzalez is a solid complimentary receiver, but he's not nearly as effective when he's the guy the secondary is focusing on. Without the focus on Ginn, the WRs could not get open, so Smith didn't have anywhere to go with the ball even when he did have time, which was not all that often. Give credit to the Gators defense for playing a dominating game (82 total yards for Ohio St.), but the Buckeyes were in big trouble the moment Ginn was lost.

But even if Ginn had played, it wouldn't have changed the outcome of the game, because the Buckeyes could not slow down, let alone stop the Gators offense. This was a product of great playcalling by Urban Meyer and the fact that the Gators just dominated the line of scrimmage. One of the announcers said that Urban said that there were three things you can do to keep the defense off balance: Options, Empty sets, and unbalanced sets. Well, he was definitely right. Leak picked apart the zone, the short passing game supplemented the running game, and Florida just controlled the ball to the tune of a 2 to 1 advantage in TOP.

Florida also spread the ball around and got it in their playmakers hands. 5 guys had double digits in receiving yards, and a sixth guy caught a TD pass. Percy Harvin was used well, with 9 catches for 59 yards and 5 carries for 22 yards and score. Tim Tebow ran for 40 yards and a TD, and also threw for a TD. Leak was efficient and made good decisions. To say that Florida had everything working offensively is a gross understatement. In a word, they were awesome.

Does it make a difference if Ohio St. didn't have 51 days off? Does it make a difference if Ted Ginn doesn't get hurt early on. We'll never know. But what I do know is this... Florida played an incredible ballgame, and on this night they were the best team in the country.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A new little project of mine

One thing I really enjoy about sports is that I can watch old videos of stuff I've already seen, and it's still interesting and I'll see stuff I might have missed the first time around. Videos are cool like that.

So with that, I decided to create a new blog hopefully showcasing some of those videos... Sports Videos... unfortunately sportvideos.blogspot was taken, and so was sportvideos.blogspot, so I went with I'm still a poor college guy, which is why I went with blogger again, but that's ok.

Anyway, check it out, hopefully it can grow into something cool. If not, well at least I tried. I added some of you on the blogroll there, so if you can find it in your heart to add that blog as well on your site, I'd appreciate that. If not, that's ok. If you're interesting in exchanging links for this blog or that blog, well, you can always email me [uclabruins24 AT] and I'm usually happy to comply.

So anyway, check it out, and only one more day until the national title game!

NFL Wildcard Action

As Gus Johnson would say, "Heartbreak city."

As a Vikings fan, I can empathize with the Cowboys fans after that game. It's one thing to lose a game, it's another to lose a game you looked like you had won in heartbreaking fashion. If you say the names Gary Anderson or Nathan Poole to me, I will punch you in the face. Well, not really, because I'm more of a lover than a fighter, but I will kinda feel like crying. I don't like the Cowboys, but that's a tough pill to swallow.

Anyway, one quick note on the other game as well. I know I like to rag on announcers maybe more than I should, but let me be the first to say that I really enjoyed the Tom Hammond/Cris Collinsworth NBC crew that worked the Chiefs/Colts game. I've always thought Tom Hammond was a superb play-by-play man and had a great voice for play-by-play, all the way from the old NBA on NBC days to his calling Notre Dame football, so I enjoy listening to him call a game. In addition, I really think Cris Collinsworth may be the best NFL color man out there... which makes it too bad that he usually only calls games on the NFL Network. He's smart, he's not afraid to call out guys, and he'll admit when he was wrong. That's a rare trio.

So in other words, Tom Hammond and Cris Collinsworth was probably my favorite announcing duo of the year... too bad that that will probably be the only time I'll ever hear that duo work a game again.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

BCS National Championship Game Preview: Ohio St. vs. Florida

With the game just days away, I figured it was time to make a fool of myself with another wrong prediction. So anyway, I'll give you 3 reasons why Ohio St. will win, 3 reasons why Florida will win, and then actually tell you who will win. This will all become obvious quickly, but I like explaining myself.

(1) The Florida defense is very good and very fast. This will certainly be the best defense that the Buckeyes have played this year. They give up 13.5 PPG in the tough SEC, and they have the speed to at least have a chance at matching up with the Buckeye skill players.
(2) Urban Meyer is smart. I really look at this game sorta like Boise/Oklahoma... Ohio St. is probably the better all-around team, but with a couple of big, maybe trick plays, that can be a great equalizer. And Urban Meyer is a bright offensive mind as he has shown. I believe he'll have a few tricks up his sleeve, and with guys like Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin, the Gators have the weapons to make those plays count.
(3) They are battle tested. Florida comes into the game as underdogs against the undefeated and top-ranked Buckeyes. But they definitely won't be scared of them. With games against ranked teams like Tennessee, Auburn, LSU, and Arkansas, as well as a trip to Tallahassee, they are battle tested.

(1) Troy Smith is the best college QB in the country. I have a few doubts about Smith at the next level, but he's been pretty awesome this year, as evidenced by the Heisman trophy he won. He's versatile and athletic, so he can run if things break down. However, he's becomes much more dangerous with his arm. He's completed 67% of his passes this year with 30 TD and 5 INT. With Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, and the rest of the skill players, he should have the opportunity for big plays.
(2) Jim Tressel has big-game experience. I don't necessarily think this is a huge thing, but it helps. Tressel has 1 National Title already, so he should be well aware of how to keep the team loose coming into such an enormous game.
(3) The defense is pretty good too. For all the talk about the Gator defense, don't overlook the Buckeye defense. They're allowed a ridiculous 10.4 PPG this year, which is good. Only 3 times this year have they allowed more than 10 points in a game (twice they allowed exactly 10), so it will be no cakewalk for the Gators offensively.

In the end, I think this game will come down to the Quarterbacks, and that gives Ohio St. the edge. Troy Smith has been awesome this year, while Chris Leak has been a little inconsistent. I think Leak has the tendency to get rattled and force things when he gets pressured, something that the Buckeyes will do to him. I think Meyer can devise a good gameplan to keep things close (and look for at least one big play for Percy Harvin), but in the end, Troy Smith will bring the National Title back to Columbus. OHIO ST. 28-24.