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Where I will show love for the Steelers, Pirates, Thundering Herd, & Mountaineers and utter contempt for the Cowboys, Yankees, Jeff Gordon, & Notre Dame.

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 8

Well…last week was definitely an improvement over the previous one, although I remain unsatisfied and determined to do better. I went 3-2, with Louisville, the Denver Broncos, & the Philadelphia Eagles all winning for me. Zach correctly picked the Dallas Cowboys over the Seattle Seahawks while we both whiffed on the Baylor/TCU game. Baylor won an entertaining Arena League-esque 61-58 battle but didn’t cover the 8½ point spread. Zach went 2-3 for the week to fall below .500 for the season:

Me = 18-20
Zach = 18-19

I’m kind of bored with the highly ranked SEC teams beating one another, atleast from a prognosticating standpoint, so those games don’t make the cut this time. They are entertaining to watch but are repetitive & monotonous to analyze. We know that the SEC champion will make it into the national playoff and I think it is inevitable that a 2nd SEC team will be there too, especially if Alabama can realistically be shoehorned in without it seeming like someone is on the take. So basically we just need to sit back and let it all shake out. There are other interesting games on the schedule and I find the question of which teams will secure the other two or three playoff spots much more thought provoking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iowa at Maryland (-4.5)
The Hawkeyes were in my pre-season Top 25 so I remain mildly invested in their success. They are 5-1 and have a genuine opportunity to break into the rankings ifiowa they continue to win as various other teams knock each other out. I haven’t paid too much attention to the Terrapins since their narrow loss to my WV Mountaineers back in September but they are 4-2, with the other loss being last week to the Ohio St. Buckeyes. Maryland gets the nominal home field advantage but I’m going to stick with my summertime vibes and pick Iowa. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Iowa
Z’s Pick = Iowa

 

 

Nevada at BYU (-10)
I love late night west coast football. I am a night owl and even though I get up fairly early for church on Sunday it is still a part of my routine to watch these games that nevadadon’t start until 10pm or after and aren’t over until atleast 1am. It doesn’t hurt that games involving Pac 12 or Mountain West teams are typically high scoring back & forth affairs with plenty of drama, comebacks, & 4th quarter heroics. I resisted putting the Cougars in my Top 25 this pre-season because whenever I do (which is usually every year) they end up breaking my heart. So of course since I left them out this time they are 4-2 and were ranked before losing two straight so far this month. Meanwhile, the Wolfpack is 3-3 and every game…win or lose…has been a battle. Nevada is a program that seems to be slightly above average with occasional brief spikes of being very good. They have been to a bowl game 9 out of the past 10 seasons. BYU understandably has the home field advantage, but 10 points is just too much. I think it’ll be closer than that. Once again Zach is in agreement.

My Pick = Nevada
Z’s Pick = Nevada

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Stanford (-3.5) at Arizona St.
Stanford was ranked in most pre-season polls, including mine. However most “experts” had them hovering right around the Top 10. I had them at #17, which after photo.stanfordtreetwo early losses (to USC & Notre Dame) is looking like a best case scenario. I said that their schedule is brutal and I was right. Conversely, I didn’t rank the Sun Devils but they are currently sitting right about where most others had them back in August. This is a huge game for both teams. They each have a realistic chance at their division crown and a spot in the Pac 12 title game, but a loss here pretty much ends those hopes. It is interesting that Stanford is favored as the visiting team. I’m not sure what that’s about since it seems to be a fairly even matchup and the home team usually gets the advantage in that scenario. I will assume that the oddsmakers know something that I don’t and go with the favorites. Zach likes Stanford’s defense and believes they will win easily.

My Pick = Stanford
Z’s Pick = Stanford

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Notre Dame at Florida St. (-11.5)
This is the big one. The playoff picture is kinda sorta beginning to take shape. We know the deal with the SEC and just have to see who beats who over the course NotreDame1of the next several weeks, We also know that if the Seminoles win this game their remaining path looks rather rather smooth, while the Irish still have a couple of potential pitfalls along the way. Those rooting for chaos & arguments about who deserves to be in the 4 team playoff should be hoping for a Florida St. loss here and a Notre Dame loss to either Arizona St. or USC next month. I’d be down with that cause it’s just how I roll. Plus the point spread is ridiculous. Zach thinks both of these teams are overrated. He’s not sure who’ll win but certainly doesn’t think it will be by double digits.

My Pick = Notre Dame
Z’s Pick = Notre Dame

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New Orleans at Detroit (-3)
10_new_orleans_saintsOur lone NFL game this week is a sleeper. Detroit is 4-2 and tied for the division lead with the Green Bay Packers but I don’t think anyone is paying much attention Detroit_Lions_Helmetbecause…well…it’s the Detroit Lions. The last time they won a playoff game I was a drunken college student, George HW Bush was in The White House, Johnny Carson was still hosting The Tonight Show, Cheers & Home Improvement were dominating the TV ratings, Michael Jackson topped the Billboard charts with Black or White, and Zach hadn’t even been born. Meanwhile, the Saints are struggling at 2-3 but surprisingly remain just a game out of first in their division. The Lions get the customary 3 point bump for being at home, but this is essentially a pick ‘em. Call it unfair if you want, but I just can’t wrap my head around Detroit being a legit playoff contender and N’awlins being a bad team. It is true that every NFL season is different and it isn’t unusual to see teams go from worst to first or fall precipitously from a lofty perch. However I am going to go with the past decade or two of history and pick this game for the Saints to turn around their season. Zach is a bit more openminded than me and is willing to put all that historical perspective stuff aside (the advantages of being young). He likes Detroit’s defense and thinks they win the game easily.

My Pick = New Orleans
Z’s Pick = Detroit

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2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 7

Last weekend was a bloodbath. There’s no other way to soft sell it. One of the keys to success in the prognostication arts is being able to predict big upsets and last week college football had more than its fair share…very few of which I saw coming. As a fan it was lots of fun to watch, but for the purpose of these picks it was viciously humbling. I ended up going 3-4. Both Zach & I picked Arizona & Virginia Tech correctly, and I was happy to see Nebraska stage a late comeback to atleast cover the points even though they didn’t win. Zach was 4-3 and picked both Mississippi St. and Notre Dame correctly. We both completely whiffed by picking LSU & Alabama. You know it’s a wacky year when both of those teams lose in the same day. So the season records look like this:

Me = 15-18
Zach = 16-16

There are several big college games again this week but I prefer to have a little variety and not pick games involving the same teams week after week. With the NFL this is somewhat unavoidable because there are only 32 teams, but the NCAA has a much bigger selection from which to choose and so we shall.

 

 

 

 

 

TCU at Baylor (-8.5)
The Horned Frogs are 4-0 and coming off a surprising upset of Oklahoma. Baylor is now a legitimate part of the national playoff conversation but they need to keep baylorwinning. I am sure TCU will put forth their best effort, but don’t believe they are an authentic Top 10 team. This game is in Waco and the home team should roll to a solid double digit victory. Zach likes the Bears’ high powered offense and expects that it’ll be hard for TCU to get revved up for another big upset so soon.

My Pick = Baylor
Z’s Pick = Baylor

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Louisville at Clemson (-10.5)
Louisville-CardinalsThe Cardinals have represented themselves rather well in their inaugural season in the ACC. They are 5-1 and currently in 2nd place in theirclemson division. I must admit I did not think they’d be that successful this season, especially after losing QB Teddy Bridgewater to the NFL. Conversely Clemson is 3-2 and hasn’t done well against stiff competition. They lost a lot of talent to the NFL and it has shown. I don’t think Louisville will win this game, but I do think they’ll play good enough to cover the points. Zach disagrees and thinks Clemson will win in a blowout.

My Pick = Louisville
Z’s Pick = Clemson

 

 

Denver (-8) at NY Jets
8 point spreads in the NFL are almost like 20 points in the collegiate ranks. Theoretically these guys are all professional athletes and no team should get shellacked denverby 2 or 3 touchdowns. However we all know that it does happen. This spread is especially insulting to the Jets since they are the home team. However, I do agree that the Broncos are a team on a mission…Super Bowl or bust…and that New York is a hot mess without a good starting QB and with a head coach who has to feel the noose tightening. I’d be surprised if the game isn’t essentially over at halftime and Peyton Manning isn’t chillin’ on the sidelines by the 4th quarter. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Denver
Z’s Pick = Denver

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Dallas at Seattle (-8)
seattle-seahawks1I know everyone is jumping on the Dallas bandwagon, but I’m not buying it. They are 4-1 but three of their wins are over teams with a dallas-cowboys-logo2combined record of 4-10. Simmer down Cowboys fans…no need to be more obnoxious than usual just yet. Philadelphia is still going to win the division. Meanwhile the defending champs are 3-1 and I think their early season loss to the San Diego Chargers will actually prove beneficial. It’s really easy for champions to become complacent but the Seahawks got a wake-up call and now seem to be back on track. I think this will be an easy win for Seattle. Zach isn’t a Cowboys fan but does believe that there is good reason for folks to have high expectations. He thinks Dallas is a solid playoff team and will atleast cover the points in this one.

My Pick = Seattle
Z’s Pick = Dallas

 

 

NY Giants at Philadelphia (-2.5)
philadelphia_eagles-3715The Giants are another team that everyone suddenly has renewed faith in, although it’s a bit more understandable in their case. They have aGiants Logo history of bouncing between being a playoff contender and a bottom dweller as effortlessly as Marty McFly travels thru time. On the flip side the Eagles are 4-1 but haven’t been quite as dominating as some (including me) expected. RB LeSean McCoy is only averaging 55 yds/game. To call that underwhelming would be like calling President Obama somewhat of a disappointment. Philly’s defense isn’t that good either, ranking 24th in the league against the run and 29th in passing defense. This is the Sunday night game and I think it’ll be a high scoring back & forth kind of contest with the home team getting the victory late in the 4th quarter. Zach agrees that it’ll be close but believes it will be the Giants that score late to seal the victory.

My Pick = Philadelphia
Z’s Pick = NY Giants

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 6

Last week both Zach & I went 3-2. We both whiffed on Carolina/Baltimore, where our disdain for the Ravens may have clouded our judgment a bit. Conversely we both correctly picked Maryland over Indiana and the Packers over the Bears. Zach was spot on in his assessment of Texas A&M/Arkansas, as the Aggies needed overtime to finish off the Razorbacks and didn’t cover the double digit spread, while I correctly chose the 49ers over the Eagles. For the season that leaves the numbers looking thusly:

Me = 12-14
Zach = 12-13

As for this week, your humble Potentate of Profundity is feeling frisky and you know what that means…bonus picks!! We’re going with all college games because a) unlike last week there are a plethora of really good matchups and b) the NFL has become inundated with sociopolitical correctness, thuggery, & general stupidity that I find exhausting and has really lessened my passion as a fan. No worries though…we’ll pick some pro games next week.

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Arizona at Oregon (-23)
First of all, as much as I loathe to admit it, I rather enjoy watching Coach Fraudriguez’s Wildcats. They beat California on a last second hail mary a couple of weeks ArizonaWildcatsago. Two previous games…against Nevada & Texas-San Antonio…weren’t decided until late in the 4th quarter. And of course the Ducks are almost always a lot of fun to watch, even when they are destroying their opponents. Both teams come into this game 4-0, though Oregon is #2 in the polls and Arizona is puzzlingly unranked. #1 Florida St. seems to have its share of doubters, so I don’t think it is out of the question that Oregon could eventually take over the top spot even if both teams continue winning. As for this game, I’d be surprised to see the Ducks lose, especially at home. However I am really uncomfortable with the spread. Oregon only beat Michigan St. by 19 a few weeks ago and I think Arizona has the potential to be even more potent offensively than the 9th ranked Spartans, a team that is averaging 50 points/game. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Arizona
Z’s Pick = Arizona

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Texas A&M at Mississippi St. (-2)
texas_am_01I have to believe that if the Aggies hadn’t almost been defeated by Arkansas last weekend that they’d be favored here despite being the road MSU Matte M-Wteam. It looks like that game has the folks in Vegas a bit spooked. The Bulldogs have snuck up on everyone who were busy heaping praise on their in-state rivals…a team we’ll get to a little later. On paper this looks like a classic trap game…a road team coming off a victory in which they struggled vs. the home team that just pulled off a huge upset over a highly ranked conference rival (LSU). Both teams still seemingly have a lot to prove. The vibes are telling me to pick the underdogs, and y’all know I am a slave to my vibes. Zach likes Mississippi St.’s defense and thinks they win easily.

My Pick = Texas A&M
Z’s Pick = Mississippi St.

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Virginia Tech (-2.5) at North Carolina
When doing the pre-season rankings I predicted that the ACC’s Coastal Division would go to Tech despite all the talking heads heaping praise on Miami, FL and Virginia_Tech_Hokies2North Carolina. Here is where the rubber meets the road on that forecast. Neither team is setting the world on fire. The Hokies are 3-2 and the Tar Heels are 2-2. However the conference schedule is just beginning. It is telling that UNC isn’t favored despite being the home team. As things so often do with Virginia Tech I suspect this will be a game decided by turnovers and special teams. They usually win those battles. Zach…I think…literally flipped a coin and picked the Hokies. Hey, it’s as legit a method as any.

My Pick = Virginia Tech
Z’s Pick = Virginia Tech

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Alabama (-6) at Ole Miss
Not only is the media shaky in its support of #1 Florida St., but they also don’t seem to have much faith in the Crimson Tide despite the fact that they are 4-0 and AlabamaCrimsonTide2haven’t really broken a sweat yet. Alabama beating my WVU Mountaineers by only 10 points instead of five touchdowns really bothered people for some reason. Meanwhile, the Rebels were recipients of much pre-season hype from everyone but me and have lived up to expectations so far. However, the total record of Mississippi’s four previous opponents is only 7-11. The combination of Ole Miss being vastly overrated and ‘Bama probably getting just a bit tired of people questioning their dominance in all likelihood means a very long day for the underdogs. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Tide rolls by 30+ points. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Alabama
Z’s Pick = Alabama

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Stanford (-2.5) at Notre Dame
Stanford_logoI am far too lazy to do any research but I’d guess it is a rarity for the Irish to be underdogs at home. Stanford is a very quiet…and deceiving…3-1. NotreDame1Their only loss was at home against rival USC by a field goal with two minutes remaining in the game. Admittedly their three wins haven’t been against elite competition either, but I still think the Cardinals (yes…I add the s because not adding the s is stupid) are a very good team that people might be overlooking in a stacked Pac 12. The Irish are 4-0 but haven’t beaten anyone yet which is probably why they are the underdogs. Oddsmakers are much more intellectually honest than pollsters. At any rate, I’ll take any opportunity I can to pick against Notre Dame as long as it makes logical sense. Zach finds Stanford boring and is all in on the Irish.

My Pick = Stanford
Z’s Pick = Notre Dame

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LSU at Auburn (-8)
Last weekend the Bayou Bengals rebounded from a tough loss at home to Mississippi St. and now stand at 4-1, although the only victory that really meant much lsu_logo-9547was the season opening win versus Wisconsin. This will be the first true away game for LSU. Meanwhile, Auburn is following up its superb 2013 season with another impressive campaign. I ranked the Tigers 24th in my pre-season rankings and still think they could end up there due to their brutal second half of the season schedule, but thus far they are a Top 5 team and in the thick of the national playoff conversation. I’m going to go way out on a limb and predict the upset. Zach concurs.

My Pick = LSU
Z’s Pick = LSU

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Nebraska at Michigan State (-8.5)
nebraskaI am looking forward to this being what pro wrestling announcer Jim Ross might call a slobberknocker. The Cornhuskers come into the gameMichigan-State 5-0 but this will undoubtedly be their toughest test to date. The Spartans fell to the 2nd ranked Oregon Ducks and have three victories over junior high teams to stand at 3-1. I’m not surprised that Michigan St. gets the home field bump, but 8 ½ points does seem a bit much. I think this is going to be a toss-up, the kind of close game that doesn’t get decided until late in the 4th quarter with special teams making the difference in some capacity. No matter who wins I don’t think it will be by more than a touchdown. Zach likes Michigan St.’s defense and doesn’t think the Spartans will have any problem covering the points.

My Pick = Nebraska
Z’s Pick = Michigan St.

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 5

Friends I have done something this week that was very difficult for a control freak to do. But before I go into that let me mention that last week I went 2-3, which wasn’t a huge shock and an outcome that I am not particularly upset about. I knew that picking against both the Alabama Crimson Tide and Seattle Seahawks was risky and unfortunately it didn’t pan out. Zach also went 2-3 although he got there in a slightly different way. So for the season so far it looks like this:

Me = 9-12
Zach = 9-11

For the first time ever I let Zach pick the games this week. It is pretty slim pickins’, especially on the college level. There aren’t even any interesting west coast games to look forward to Saturday night. However, I think he came up with a good assemblage of games from the lackluster crop from which he had to choose.

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Maryland at Indiana (-3)
The Terrapins are 3-1 but haven’t beaten anyone. Their most impressive game was a close loss to my WV Mountaineers. Conversely the Hoosiers are 2-1 but university-of-maryland-terrapinscoming off an impressive upset of Missouri in Columbia. Are they really that good?? Will there be a hangover after such a big victory?? Indiana has the slight home field advantage, but based solely on what I saw (well okay…heard on the radio…we don’t get The Big Ten Network here in Appalachia) when Maryland played WVU I’m going to pick the Terps. Zach isn’t buying the Missouri game as any kind of indicator that Indiana is actually a decent football team and thinks Maryland will roll.

My Pick = Maryland
Z’s Pick = Maryland

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Arkansas vs Texas A&M (-10.5)
texas_am_01I have to be honest…I really thought the Aggies would struggle a bit after the departure of Johnny Football, but I was wrong. Thus far they razorhave looked unstoppable in the course of going 4-0, destroying their opponents by an average margin of victory of 46 points. Meanwhile, the Razorbacks are a mildly impressive 3-1, having lost their opener to Auburn. This is a neutral site game being played at The Palace in Dallas, approximately three hours from College Station, TX and 5 hours from Fayetteville, AR. I’d be really surprised if Arkansas wins this game and I don’t think it’ll be all that competitive. Covering the spread shouldn’t be an issue for A&M. Conversely, not only does Zach believe this wil be a close game but he thinks Arkansas might actually win.

My Pick = Texas A&M
Z’s Pick = Arkansas

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Green Bay at Chicago (-3)
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is telling the good folks in Green Bay to relax after their tepid 1-2 start. He’s probably right, but let me say this to Mr. Rodgers: I have youGreen_Bay_Packers_Helmet and a couple of your teammates on some of my various fantasy teams so you better GET THE LEAD OUT!! Okay…I feel better now. The 2-1 Bears have the home field but I’m going to go with the underdogs. I predicted them to go 13-3 and make it to The Super Bowl in my NFL Preview and I can’t abandon that idea just yet. Zach also has faith that Green Bay will work out the kinks and get back on track in this contest. Don’t let us down Rodgers!!

My Pick = Green Bay
Z’s Pick = Green Bay

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Philadelphia at San Francisco (-4)
10517112-san-francisco-49ersThis should be a really good game. The Eagles are 3-0 although it hasn’t been easy. The 49ers are 1-2 and certainly don’t look like the same eaglesteam that has been to three straight NFC title games and lost the Super Bowl just two years ago. I’m a little bit surprised that ‘Frisco is favored even if they are playing at home. That being said, I don’t think any team stands a chance of going undefeated and this is probably as good of an opportunity for Philly to be knocked off their perch as any. Zach is even more surprised than me about the spread and thinks that the Eagles’ explosive offense will lead them to victory.

My Pick = San Francisco
Z’s Pick = Philadelphia

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Carolina at Baltimore (-3)
Both teams come into this game with identical 2-1 records and haven’t looked especially terrible or particularly impressive. Therefore I really can’t get a good read on CarolinaPantherseither one quite yet. I don’t think any of the off-the-field stupidity circling around Baltimore has had any kind of significant negative effect on the team’s efforts. My Steelers showed the blueprint for beating the Panthers…good old-fashioned smashmouth football. Eat the clock and keep Carolina QB Cam Newton off the field. But do the Ravens have the horses to pull that off?? I’m going to roll the dice and go with the underdogs. Zach concurs and predicts the Panthers will win by a field goal.

My Pick = Carolina
Z’s Pick = Carolina

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 4

I am so mad at myself. Sometimes something is so obviously staring one right in the face that we too easily look past it. Such was the case last week. There was a fantastic opportunity for me to go 5-0, which I think would have been the very first time in three years that has happened. I am far too lazy to research the archives in order to verify that fact. At any rate, instead I ended up going 3-2. Why?? Well, first of all, the Green Bay Packers only beat the NY Jets by 7 points. The spread was 8. That one wasn’t so much my fault as it was a Packers team who basically phoned it in and may have actually lost were it not for the inexplicable ineptitude of the Jets coaching staff. Then there was the major upset…the San Diego Chargers defeating the Seattle Seahawks. I should have seen it coming. There was no way the Seahawks were going to go undefeated. That just doesn’t happen. I am the guy who said in my NFL Preview that “Super Bowl Champions oftentimes slip a little the following season” while predicting a rather pedestrian 10-6 record for Seattle. At the same time I called the Chargers “sneaky good” and also predicted a 10-6 record as well as a playoff berth. The Seahawks had dismantled Green Bay in the opening game of the season while San Diego lost a heartbreaker to the Arizona Cardinals. Seattle-San Diego was a home game for the Chargers & a classic trap game for the Seahawks, and they fell into the trap. I should have seen it coming but I didn’t. The good news for me is that while I went 3-2 Zach went 1-4, which means our season thus far looks like this:

Me = 7-9
Zach = 7-8

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Iowa at Pitt (-6.5)
iowaI ranked Iowa 14th in my pre-season Top 25, but after a last second loss to in-state rival Iowa pittSt. they have some work to do if they’re going to fulfill that prophecy. Meanwhile, the hated Pitt Panthers have gotten off to a solid 3-0 start, including a victory at Boston College. Heinz Field isn’t much of a home advantage for the Panthers since there are usually only a few dozen people there on Saturdays, including vendors and homeless people hoping to score some scraps from discarded Primanti Brothers wrappers. Most folks in The ‘Burgh wait to spend their hard earned money on Sunday at the Steelers game. Pitt seems like they may be the real deal, but who knows?? I think this will be a close game and it is undoubtedly pivotal to both teams’ seasons. I’m going to support my own pre-season prediction by going with the Hawkeyes. Using the logic that Boston College beat USC and Pitt beat Boston College so therefore Pitt must be a legitimately good team (which actually does make sense) Zach is picking the Panthers to pound the ball with their rushing attack and win easily.

My Pick = Iowa
Z’s Pick = Pitt

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Florida at Alabama (-14.5)
Where is the love for ‘Bama?? Are we just so use to them being a top team that we don’t even feel the need to discuss themflorida gators image anymore?? Is there a bit of Tide fatigue amongst the masses?? The answer is probably yes on both counts. However, this game should receive a fair amount of attention. Florida isn’t back to its Spurrier/Urban Meyer heyday just yet, but they are 2-0. Yes it took them 3 overtimes to beat Kentucky last week. I think they may have been looking ahead just a bit. Anyway, if this game were at The Swamp it’d be really intriguing, but alas it is in Tuscaloosa. Therefore I believe there is probably not much of a doubt that Alabama will win. The question is by how much?? I am probably going to regret this, but I guess maybe I am one of the doubters. I think the Tide rolls, but by less than 14 ½ points. Zach has a man crush on Nick Saban but agrees with my assessment that this will be a close game.

My Pick = Florida
Z’s Pick = Florida

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Clemson at Florida St. (-20)
There are no shortage of folks who already have had the #1 ranked Seminoles on upset alert. They were less than clemsonimpressive in a season opening victory over Oklahoma St., a game in which the Cowboys narrowed their deficit to within a touchdown with 2 minutes remaining but ran out of time to make anything else happen. Add in the fact that Florida St.’s quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner, upstanding citizen, scholar, gentleman, & all around class act Jameis Winston is suspended for the first half of this game because he is a moron. Meanwhile, the Tigers are 1-1 after a season opening loss to Georgia followed by dismantling an overmatched junior high team last week. I honestly don’t know how Clemson is still in anyone’s Top 25. They certainly haven’t earned such accolades. However, that could change with this game. Heck, if the game were being played at Memorial Stadium in South Carolina I might actually give them a puncher’s chance to win. However, it is in Tallahassee. The point spread does concern me just a bit. Florida St. has put up only 37 points in each of its first two contests. I think Clemson will be overmatched but motivated, while I am not sure the apprehension of the doubters has reached enough of a crescendo for Florida St. to pay much attention…yet. Zach not only agrees but is boldly predicting an outright Clemson victory. That boy has a set of brass ones. He gets it from his mother’s side of the family.

My Pick = Clemson
Z’s Pick = Clemson

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Denver at Seattle (-5)
For anyone who may have been hiding out in one of those bomb shelters from the 60’s recently, this is a rematch of last denverseason’s Super Bowl. In that game the Seahawks’ defense made living legend Peyton Manning look like…well…Eli Manning and cruised to a 43-8 victory that was even more underwhelming than Bruno Mars’ halftime show. But the beauty of the NFL is that every season is new and teams can change…both for the good and the not so good…at the drop of a hat. The Broncos made notable improvements to their defense, while Seattle lost a few pieces, although I don’t think it’s had a significant impact so far. Adding intrigue to this game is the fact that the defending champions, as previously mentioned, were upset last week. Could they really lose two games in a row?? Is Denver as good as their 2-0 record indicates?? The revenge factor for the Broncos cannot be overlooked, but neither can the anger of the Seahawks after a tough loss. This is a hard game to figure out, but I’m going to roll the dice on Manning and go with the underdogs. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Denver
Z’s Pick = Denver

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Chicago at NY Jets (-2.5)
Jets-Pin-ProThe Bears spoiled the opening of their brand new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers last chicago-bears-logo13Sunday night and looked pretty good in doing it, especially in the 4th quarter. But let us not forget that they lost their season opener at home in three OTs to the Buffalo Bills. The Jets are 1-1 as well. So basically no one really knows what to expect in this game. New York gets the nominal home field advantage but I’m not sure that means much. This is the story of two quarterbacks. The Bears’ Jay Cutler is, in my opinion, overrated. The Jets’ Geno Smith…a former WV Mountaineer…has potential and occasionally shows flashes but has been disappointing to some. I look for this to be a defensive battle defined by turnovers and lots of smashmouth football. Which QB will make the least mistakes?? Which one will make a blunder at the worst possible time?? Whose running game will dominate?? This is the Monday night game so I suppose I’ll stay up past my bedtime to find out. In a flip of the proverbial coin I’m going with the Jets. Zach disagrees and is picking the Bears.

My Pick = NY Jets
Z’s Picks = Chicago

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 3

Better late than never. Simmer down. No worries. Our first game doesn’t kick off until 10pm EST Saturday night.

There are few things more frustrating than being right and still losing. However, when I began doing these picks I decided that it would be far too prosaic to just do straight win/lose, that the element of the point spread had to be incorporated to increase the complexity of the challenge. Unfortunately, as I am sure hardcore gamblers know all too well, this also means that sometimes the spread can reach up and bite one in the butt. Such was the case last week when the Denver Broncos beat the Indianapolis Colts by 7 points instead of 7 ½ points. Even more infuriating is the fact that at one point the Broncos led the game 24-7. Denver letting their foot off the gas resulted in a loss for me and a win for Zach, making me 2-3 for the week and him 3-2. I am rather competitive so this kind of ticks me off. Thanks a lot Peyton Manning. At any rate I suppose I just need to move on and hope for better things this week. The season thus far shapes up like this:

Me = 4-7
Zach = 6-4

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Nebraska (-10.5) at Fresno St.
The Huskers barely escaped what would have been a devastating loss to 1-AA (I kick it old school) McNeese St. last week. Meanwhile, the normally solid & nebraska-cornhuskersentertaining Bulldogs come into this game 0-2, having been hammered by an average of 35 points. Double digit spreads make me nervous, but I’ll go with the favorites here. Zach thinks Nebraska will win by 4 TDs.

My Pick – Nebraska
Z’s Pick – Nebraska

 

 

Nevada at Arizona (-15.5)
nevadaThe Wolfpack are one of those teams that no one likes to play. They are usually a solid bowl team and seem to play “bigger” teams tough, pulling off the occasionalcollege_arizona_90 upset. They did go 4-8 in 2013, but come into this game 2-0, including an impressive victory over the PAC 12’s Washington St. Cougars last week. The Wildcats….as much as it physically & emotionally hurts me to say it…have been pretty decent under head coach Rich Fraudriguez and come into this game 2-0 as well, although they had a difficult time defeating Texas-San Antonio last week. It is likely that Arizona holds serve on its home field this week, but the large point spread gives me pause. For that reason I’m going to pick Nevada. Zach, apparently unware of Nevada’s 2-0 record, thinks they suck and reluctantly picks Arizona, even though he hates their coach as much as I do.

My Pick – Nevada
Z’s Pick – Arizona

 

 

Miami at Buffalo (even)
Buffalo_Bills_HelmetNo result from the first week of NFL action was as shocking to me as the Dolphins upsetting the New England Patriots. But the Bills pulled off Miami_Dolphins_Helmeta pretty big surprise themselves by beating the Chicago Bears. Now look, let’s be honest…the Patriots are still winning the division. However, both of these teams (as well as the New York Jets) ae looking to make the jump up to a solid wildcard contender that wins 9 or 10 games. This game will tell us a lot about both teams. The folks in Vegas seem to think they are evenly matched, which both simplifies and complicates things. I’m going with Buffalo because of the home field advantage. Zach doesn’t believe that Miami’s victory last week was a fluke and believes they will be a serious playoff contender.

My Pick – Buffalo
Z’s Pick – Miami

 

 

Seattle (-5.5) at San Diego
The defending Super Bowl champions looked quite impressive in their season debut, soundly defeating the Green Bay Packers. Meanwhile, the Chargers lost a seattle-seahawks1heartbreaker last week to the Arizona Cardinals. As much as I’d love to go with the underdogs here I just can’t pull the trigger. I thought Seattle might ease off the throttle and fall back just a little bit this season, but so far that prediction looks like it might be wrong. Zach concurs.

My Pick – Seattle
Z’s Pick – Seattle

 

 

NY Jets at Green Bay (-8)
The Packers began the season on the receiving end of the previously mentioned beatdown at the hands of the Seahawks. The Jets took care of the Oakland Green_Bay_Packers_HelmetRaiders. I like Green Bay to rebound here, especially in the friendly confines of the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. The points are a bit much for my taste, but if Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense are firing on all cylinders it shouldn’t be a problem. Zach agrees.

My Pick – Green Bay
Z’s Pick – Green Bay

Winning & Musing…..Volume 2.14

I know that this blog has become very sportscentric lately…again. That always happens during football season and I have apologized on previous occasions. Rest assured that there is other non-sports stuff in the hopper. However, there have been some really interesting things happening in the sports world recently, things that I cannot ignore and must opine about. Unfortunately they are, for the most part, of the off-the-field variety and the kind of subject matter which makes me sometimes wish I was more like some of my friends who are blissfully ignorant of almost everything that the folks on ESPN drone on about for hours every day. But I am who I am…a guy who’d probably rid myself of every other form of entertainment on the planet before being forced to give up my ball games and sports talk shows only if my life was in peril. At any rate, sit back, relax, and indulge your humble Potentate of Profundity as I whine & moan about things that have no direct effect on my life and over which I have no control.

 

 

 

Ray Rice. Oh where to begin?? Halfhearted kudos to the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL for dismissing Rice from the team and suspending him indefinitely from the league. However, I find it strange that all of this occurred months after the initial incident happened and only after TMZ released video footage from inside the elevator where Rice knocked out his girlfriend/wife. Originally the only video we saw was Rice dragging the woman’s unconscious body out of the elevator and into a hallway. But what did people think happened inside that elevator?? Why all of this fresh fury and long overdue action from the Ravens & the NFL?? Now granted…actually watching the video is disturbing, yet I can’t help but wonder why intelligent people couldn’t use reason & logic to assess the situation in the first place and also be a bit flummoxed at folks who act like the this new video riceprovides some kind of revelatory information. We all knew that Ray Rice was a punk who hit a woman. Why is anyone surprised by what is on that video?? Rice’s release by the Ravens and laughable suspension by the NFL (which is kind of like putting a bullet in a guy that’s already dead) are too little too late and simply a PR move by people who got caught being neglectful of their duties in the first place. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell…already an assclown of epic proportions…has embarrassed himself and the league by his woefully inept handling of the situation in which he originally suspended Rice for only two games and then instituted a domestic violence policy after the fact and only because there was such public outrage about his stupidity. Allow me to join the chorus calling for Goodell’s ouster. He has already ruined the game of football with all of his silly rules in an effort to make a violent collision sport safer. Now he has made it clear that he believes it is a far more heinous offense to smoke weed or tackle a quarterback a little too hard than to smack the snot out of a female, and he has also proven to be one of those inept wimpy types that makes bad decisions and then backtracks on them after people call him out on his incompetence. That’s not leadership. I don’t know who this moron slept with or paid off to get his job, but he needs to go…not next year or next month or next week – immediately. Roger Goodell might be the single most embarrassing human being to ever draw breath. He’s disgusting.

 

Let’s talk about Janay Palmer Rice. She is Ray Rice’s wife…the one who he knocked out in that elevator. Now I’m venturing out on a very sensitive rice-wifelimb here. I do not blame the victim. A man should never strike a woman no matter what the circumstance may be, and the newly released video makes it clear that she did not hit Mr. Rice first or at all so not even that argument can be utilized. However, what I cannot wrap my mind around is the fact that this woman MARRIED Ray Rice a few weeks AFTER the incident in which he knocked her out. I cannot fathom that. I am not an expert on domestic violence and God knows I’d never claim to know all that much about women, but it saddens me to think that a person would have such a lack of self-respect, such a dearth of self-worth, & such low self-esteem that she’d marry a man after he abused her. I can, on an intellectual level, understand how a wife would stay with a husband who has become abusive. Maybe she feels trapped. Maybe she has nowhere to go. Maybe she is tied to her husband financially. Maybe she stays for the kids. All are poor excuses to remain in an abusive relationship but atleast they are reasons that kind of make sense in some way. But to make the conscious decision to go forward into a marriage where the guy is abusive before you’ve walked down the aisle?? I don’t get it. So no…I don’t think it is right to blame Janay Palmer Rice for Ray Rice’s abuse. However, I think it is fair to question her judgment & intelligence for choosing to not only continue with the relationship but to take it to the next level by marrying an abusive man.

 

I couldn’t help but wonder, in the midst of all of this Ray Rice controversy, what Pete Rose may be thinking. A strange thought?? Comparing apples to oranges?? Maybe. But here is a guy that is a legit baseball Hall-of-Famer but who has been banished from the game for over 25 years (with no end in sight) and for what?? Yes he gambled. He gambled on baseball. He gambled on his own team. He lied about it for years. Pete Rose is no saint. But pete-rose1there is no evidence that he ever bet against his team and purposefully tanked any games. Yet he is treated worse than guys who took drugs therefore indirectly affecting the outcome of games and altering baseball’s sacred record book. He is treated worse than players who are allegedly responsible for other peoples’ deaths. And until now he was treated worse than a scumbag who punched a woman in an elevator. Heck, Ray Rice may still end up getting a better deal than Rose. It would not surprise me at all if, in a year or two, Rice does some sort of teary-eyed interview (probably with Oprah) claiming to be a changed man and some NFL team (probably the Raiders or Cowboys) signs him. And when that day comes Pete Rose will likely still be waiting for his second chance.

 

What is the deal with this dude who owns the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks?? Bruce Levenson, who has been the Hawks majority owner for a decade, “self-reported” a “racially insensitive” email he sent TWO YEARS AGO and has decided to sell his stake in the team. There is a fine line between honorable and insane and I think maybe this situation skews toward the latter. Levenson stated “If you’re angry about what I wrote, you should be. I’m angry at myself, too. It was inflammatory nonsense. We all may have subtle biases and preconceptions when it comes to race, but my role as a leader is to challenge them, not to validate or accommodate those who might hold them.” This guy has apparently been watching way too much MSNBC and probably likes The View. The email in question was a discussion about attracting more fans for the team and Levenson wondered if “the black crowd school_debatescared away the whites” in racially diverse Atlanta and theorized that “there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base.” He further noted that the typical arena crowd was “70% black, the cheerleaders are black, the music is hip hop, the bars are 90% black, there are few fathers and sons at the games, & we are doing after game concerts to attract more fans and the concerts are either hip hop or gospel” and indicated that “I want some white cheerleaders and the music to be music familiar to a 40 year old white guy”. Look, are Levenson’s concerns awkwardly articulated?? Of course. But are they legitimate concerns of an owner trying to make his business as successful as possible?? I think so. The sad thing is that he will sell the team, make a boatload of cash, & go away quietly while the NBA tries to sweep all of this under the rug. However, I can’t help but think that this is a textbook opportunity for an honest discussion of cultural issues. Are white folks really that turned off by black culture, i.e. hip-hop, rap, etc.?? And if so why?? Are those feelings valid?? If I don’t like that kind of thing and choose to spend my entertainment dollars elsewhere does that make me racist?? Whenever I go into any kind of office setting where there is music playing it is almost always the all-everything pop/rock station that plays hits from the past 4 or 5 decades. It isn’t a rap station. It isn’t a country station. It isn’t a station playing classical, big band, or heavy metal. The audiences for those genres are varying degrees of narrow, so the doctor’s office or whatever kind of business it is plays music that has wider appeal and probably won’t be offensive or unpleasant to any of its employees or patrons. It seems to me that that is what Bruce Levenson, in a rather clunky manner, was trying to do. But we live in a hypersensitive society where the Thought Police are becoming more powerful every day, so instead of having an intelligent debate on the merit of these issues we’ll just make the troublemaker shut up & go away.

 

I can admit when I am wrong and I was wrong about NFL rookie defensive lineman Michael Sam. I was absolutely convinced that he’d make the St.samgarrett Louis Rams’ roster or atleast their practice squad. Mega kudos to the Rams for having the courage to cut Sam loose and face the public backlash. But of course that wasn’t the end of the saga. The suits in the NFL office (that damn Goodell again) and the liberal media just can’t seem to accept the exceedingly simple fact that maybe Michael Sam just isn’t good enough to play in the NFL. It isn’t all that unusual for a great college athlete’s talent to not transition well to the NFL or NBA. It happens all the time. Heisman Trophy winners like Matt Leinart, Jason White, Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch, Ron Dayne, Danny Wuerffel, Gino Torretta, & Andre Ware were all failures at the pro level. Naismith Award winners Jimmer Fredette, Andrew Bogut, Jameer Nelson, TJ Ford, Elton Brand, Calbert Cheaney, & Johnny Dawkins were all underwhelming in the NBA. It happens. But apparently it isn’t allowed to happen to openly gay Michael Sam!! NFL officials reportedly called teams in an effort to persuade them to sign Sam after he was released by the Rams. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says that his team’s decision to sign Sam had nothing to do with pressure from the league. Maybe he’s telling the truth. Maybe he’s a filthy liar. Either way, the idea that the NFL tried to coerce teams into signing a player who probably doesn’t have the skill or talent level to play professional football because they are more concerned with their sociopolitical ideas than the integrity of the game is reprehensible.

 

So I guess it is back to business as usual at Penn St. The NCAA handed down a stiff penalty a couple of years ago in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation debacle, including a 4 year bowl ban and a significant limiting of football scholarships for four years. Now, halfway thru that penalty the NCAA has basically said “Ehhh…never mind”. Many are applauding the decision. There are those that feel that Sandusky is in prison, legendary coach Joe Paterno is dead and stricken from the record books, & others associated with the scandal are long gone from Happy Valley, and that it is psuunfair to punish current players, coaches, & fans for sins they didn’t commit. I understand but disagree. The problem at Penn St. was systemic. The football program became bigger than everything else and protecting it became more important than protecting innocent children from a sexual predator. Fans surely didn’t molest those children and neither did they participate in the cover-up. However, they were complicit in making Penn St. football & Joe Paterno into a bigger-than-life entity whose importance in relation to other aspects of life became completely cock-eyed. I thought the program was fortunate to escape the dreaded “death penalty” and that the bowl ban and loss of scholarships (which can cripple a football team for years) was entirely reasonable and a great way to make the folks at Penn St. get their priorities in order. Players who chose to matriculate there would be going in with their eyes open and with no right to complain about not having an opportunity to play in the post-season. But now all of that is out the window. Penn St. football is back. And once again Pete Rose…who simply bet on baseball and did not molest any children…still waits for his second chance.

2014 NFL Preview & Prognostications

laces-football-grassAllow me to be bluntly honest. Not that I am usually dishonest, but I am rarely blunt. At any rate, I’m not as excited as usual to do goodevil-copythis preview. The NFL is becoming harder & harder to watch thanks to that moron Fidel Goodell. I look at professional football suits, including the league office and team front offices, kind of like I do the government. I believe they should interfere with the game as little as possible. Unfortunately nowadays, with Goodell’s “personal conduct policy” and the pathological need to make a violent collision sport “safe”, all the talking heads ever yap about (whenever they aren’t slobbering all over rookie defensive end Michael Sam, indulging Browns “backup” QB Johnny Manziel, or being offended by the Washington Redskins name) are penalties and suspensions. Defense used to win championships, but the NFL has neutered defenses to the point that they might as well not even take the field. I sincerely believe we are only a few years away from flag football. Goodell is a succubus that has almost singlehandedly ruined what was once the greatest sport and the best pro league in the world. Thanks a lot jackass. So anyway, I suppose I will move forward with this preview and I’ll watch the games. I might even enjoy myself on occasion. But it’s not the same. It never will be unless Goodell is run out office and is replaced by someone with the cahonas to reverse nearly every bad decision that has been made in the past 8 years.

 

 

 

NFC

East
Philadelphia Eagles
(10-6) 14-2
Dallas Cowboys
(8-8) 7-9
NY Giants
(7-9) 6-10
Washington Redskins
(3-13) 6-10
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly didn’t have quite the growing pains in his rookie season that I expected, and I believe Philly will be even better this year. The rest of eaglesthis division is mediocre at best. The Cowboys defense isn’t any better than it was in 2013. The Tom Coughlin era in New York will likely end in the next couple of seasons with a whimper instead of a bang. And the Redskins backup quarterback may be better than their vastly overrated starter.

 

 

North
Green Bay Packers
(8-7-1) 13-3
Detroit Lions
(7-9) 8-8
Chicago Bears
(8-8) 7-9
Minnesota Vikings
(5-10-1) 7-9
Another mediocre division. The Packers, despite losing defensive tackle BJ Raji (to injury not free agency), should run away with the crown behind QB Aaron Green_Bay_Packers_HelmetRogers and RB Eddie Lacy. The Lions may show some improvement but aren’t ready to break thru just yet. Bears QB Jay Cutler is even more overrated that RGIII in Washington. And Minnesota won’t contend until they decide to let Teddy Bridgewater take the reigns as the franchise signal caller he was drafted to be and stop pussyfooting around with Matt Cassel.

 

 

South
New Orleans Saints
(11-5) 10-6
Carolina Panthers
(12-4) 10-6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(4-12) 9-7
Atlanta Falcons
(4-12) 7-9
Now we’re starting to have some fun. Until Drew Brees shows that he just can’t do it anymore he has to be considered one of the few elite quarterbacks in the 10_new_orleans_saintsleague. I’d feel a little bit better if the Saints had a franchise RB (no…Mark Ingram, Khiri Robinson, & Pierre Thomas don’t count), but as long as TE Jimmie Graham is around to catch touchdowns from Brees and the defense is atleast solid the Saints must be considered the favorites. Carolina probably takes a bit of a step back this year since their all new receiving corps consists of Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, & rookie Kelvin Benjamin and they lost cornerstone left tackle Jordan Gross. I look for Benjamin to grow into a big time receiver, but let’s not rush things. The brief Greg Schiano era is over in Tampa and Lovie Smith…inexplicably canned by the Chicago Bears a couple of years ago…takes over a team with a solid defense, a potentially very good receiving corps, and a decent running game. I understand why the Bucs are receiving a lot of buzz. But neither Josh McCown nor Mike Glennon inspire much confidence in the quarterback position, so until they remedy that issue Tampa can’t be considered serious contenders. I look for the Falcons to bounce back a little bit from an abysmal 2013, but this is such a tough division that I still think they draw the short straw.

 

 

West
Seattle Seahawks
(13-3) 10-6
San Francisco 49ers
(12-4) 10-6
Arizona Cardinals
(10-6) 9-7
St. Louis Rams
(7-9) 3-13
Super Bowl Champions oftentimes slip a little the following season. They have a huge target on their back, spend a little too much of the offseason in celebration seattle-seahawks1mode, and tend to lose a few players to free agency who are understandably cashing in on the team’s success. Seattle is no different. However, luckily for the Seahawks their main rivals…the 49ers…are having a rough offseason with the 9 game suspension of troubled defensive tackle Aldon Smith as well as not having the services of linebacker Navorro Bowman, who tore up his knee in the NFC championship game. I like the Cardinals a lot but I’m not ready to say they are better than Seattle & ‘Frisco just yet. I might regret not venturing out on that particular limb. The Rams’ season was probably going to be forgettable anyway, but with the loss QB Sam Bradford…again…to another knee injury they are likely looking at a top 5 pick in the 2015 draft (which they’ll probably use on a quarterback to replace the disappointing Bradford).

 

 

Playoff Teams: Philadelphia, Green Bay, New Orleans, Seattle, Carolina, San Francisco
NFC Championship: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Green Bay Packers

 

 

 

AFC

East
New England Patriots
(12-4) 13-3
Buffalo Bills
(6-10) 8-8
NY Jets
(8-8) 8-8
Miami Dolphins
(8-8) 7-9
Good Lord when will the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era end?? Ateast the Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl in awhile. But they shouldn’t have any problem winning New_England_Patriots_Helmetthis division. I think the Bills are headed in the right direction and we’ll find out this season if QB EJ Manuel is the real deal. The addition of rookie WR Sammy Watkins will help. Jets coach Rex Ryan did enough last year to keep his job, but I don’t believe we’ll see any improvement this year. I am sure the Geno Smith/Michael Vick battle at QB will be the dominant story all season in The Big Apple. The Dolphins are likely to remain insignificant. Don’t be surprised if head coach Joe Philbin finds himself on the hot seat by the end of the year.

 

 

North
Cincinnati Bengals
(11-5) 10-6
Baltimore Ravens
(8-8) 9-7
Pittsburgh Steelers
(8-8) 7-9
Cleveland Browns
(4-12) 6-10
As much as it breaks my heart I have to admit that I don’t have much confidence in my Pittsburgh Steelers. A quarter of their draft picks didn’t even make the team. Cincinnati_Bengals_HelmetClearly something is amiss in the Steelers front office. I don’t think the Bengals will get very far in the playoffs but they should win the division. The Ravens are no longer a serious Super Bowl contender but they’ll be competitive. The quarterback situation in Cleveland is murky at best and I’m not at all impressed with new head coach Mike Pettine who seems ill prepared for the job.

 

 

South
Indianapolis Colts
(11-5) 12-4
Jacksonville Jaguars
(4-12) 8-8
Tennessee Titans
(7-9) 8-8
Houston Texans
(2-14) 6-10
Is Andrew Luck just an above average quarterback or is he an elite transcendent talent on par with Manning (you know which one), Brady, & Brees?? I think we’ll beIndianapolis_Colts_Helmet better equipped to ponder that question after this season. I like the direction the Jags are headed, but they need to stop this Chad Henne silliness and make rookie Blake Bortles the starting QB. Sure he’ll make some mistakes, but he’ll also grow & learn and do some good things that Henne just doesn’t have the talent to achieve. Tennessee and Houston are treading water, although if the Texans make newly acquired QB Ryan Mallet the starter sooner rather than later they might have some potential.

 

 

West
Denver Broncos
(13-3) 11-5
San Diego Chargers
(9-7) 10-6
Kansas City Chiefs
(11-5) 7-9
Oakland Raiders
(4-12) 8-8
This is probably it for Peyton Manning. The window is closing fast. The Broncos upgraded their defense a lot this offseason and the offense should be as good or broncos-4759better than 2014, so anything less than a Lombardi Trophy would be a huge disappointment. The Chargers are sneaky good and could be a scary team to face in the playoffs. I think the Chiefs fall back a bit from their surprisingly successful season of last year. The Raiders will run like the wind with Maurice Jones-Drew but it won’t be enough. Look for rookie QB Derek Carr to emerge as the starter, but head coach Dennis Allen might be the first to lose his job this year.

 

 

Playoff Teams: New England, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Denver, Baltimore, San Diego
AFC Championship: Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts

 

 

 

 

Denver Broncos 31 sbGB Packers 28

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2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 1

Football is back!! It kind of snuck up on me. I have been watching NFL pre-season games, but had no idea that real football_goalcollege games that actually count started tonight. Then when I found out that information a few days ago I wasn’t feeling well. So I am kind of under the gun here and will make this quick & dirty. That’s okay because I am still not quite up to par.

This is the third season for these picks and the second where I am going head-to-head with my nephew Zach. In 2013 I went 45-46, while Zach was 41-49 in his inaugural campaign. I am sure both of us will do better this season. We pick 5 games each week and use point spreads just to make it challenging. I do NOT condone gambling. I don’t think it is the epitome of evil or anything like that, I just believe that there are many many many other things…better things…on which folks should spend their hard earned money. These picks are just a fun way for two diehard fans to entertain ourselves and hopefully others as well. So…onto the picks. Y’all get a bonus pick this week since I am so excited for the return of football and there happens to be an unusual amount of intriguing games for the first week of the college season.

 

 

 

 
Texas A&M at South Carolina (-10.5)
gamecocks-logoThe Aggies begin life without Johnny Football. He’s the Cleveland Browns’ problem now. A&M suffered other losses as well that leaves them texas_am_01in rebuilding mode. The Gamecocks will be starting a new quarterback, but I expect big things from them under the leadership of head coach Steve Spurrier as he enters his 10th year at the helm in Columbia. Zach thinks replacing Jadeveon Clowney will be atleast as difficult for South Carolina as replacing Manziel will be for A&M. He is predicting a very close South Carolina win…close enough for A&M to cover the points.

My Pick: South Carolina
Z’s Pick: Texas A&M

 

 

 

Ohio St. (-16.5) vs. Navy
I have no doubt that the Buckeyes will win this game. Until recently they were thought to be legit national title contenders, but the loss of QB Braxton Miller to a navyshoulder injury has cooled that talk. Meanwhile I think the Midshipmen are a solid team that can hang tough and cover the spread. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Navy
Z’s Pick: Navy

 

 

 

Clemson at Georgia (-7.5)
georgiaThese look like two solid 7-9 win teams that will hang around the lower tier of the Top 25 most of the season but won’t be in the national titleclemson conversation. Georgia has the home field and their defense is probably a little bit better. Zach likes Clemson’s speed & passing game. He’s predicting big things for the Tigers.

My Pick: Georgia
Z’s Pick: Clemson

 

 

 

Florida St. (-17.5) at Oklahoma St.
The Seminoles are the pre-season #1 in most polls and return Heisman winning QB Jameis Winston. I have no doubt that Oklahoma St. will be athletic, fast, andFlorida_State_Seminoles prolific on offense…but they aren’t beating Florida St. However the point spread gives me pause. Can the defending national champions cover the points?? If they don’t will people begin to doubt them?? Zach apparently has so little interest in this game that he doesn’t even care to make a pick *lol*.

My Pick: Florida St.
Z’s Pick: none

 

 

 

Ole Miss (-10.5) vs Boise St.
boise-state1The Rebels are getting some pre-season attention. I am sure there are legitimate reasons for that, though I am far too lazy to find out what theyole miss are. I just think the SEC is too stacked for a team that has finished 21-29 over the course of the past four seasons to all the sudden be title contenders. Meanwhile everyone seems to have forgotten about Boise St. after they won “only” 8 games last season and head coach Chris Petersen left for the Washington Huskies. My vibes…unreliable as they may be…are telling me that Boise St. is better than people think and Ole Miss won’t live up to expectations. Zach isn’t at all excited about this game but thinks Ole Miss will use defense to win easily.

My Pick: Boise St.
Z’s Pick: Ole Miss

 

 

 

LSU (-4.5) at Wisconsin
I fully expect this to be one of the best games of the opening weekend. The Tigers are nominal favorites despite Wisconsin having the home field. That surprises WisconsinBadgersme. I just think that LSU having to break in a new QB is enough of a disadvantage that the Badgers’ brand of smashmouth football will prevail. It may not be pretty but it can be effective. Look for RB Melvin Gordon to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 yards and atleast a couple of touchdowns. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Wisconsin
Z’s Pick: Wisconsin

 

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2014 College Football Pre-Season Top 25

football-introducing-the-science_1The time has finally come!! After decades of mythical national champions and BCS (emphasis on the BS) silliness college football finally gets a playoff. Is the system perfect?? I don’t know…probably not. But I will reserve judgment until I see exactly how it works out. One thing we know for sure…there is no longer a race to be #1 or even the runner-up. Four teams will earn an opportunity to be in the playoff mix, so as long as a team is amongst those final four they’ll get their shot. Any “controversy” will be a debate as to which team deserves that 4th spot, and I am sure there will be a few teams staking a claim. But at the end of the day my vibe is that the argument will be rather muted & somewhat trivial and that fans will be mostly satisfied with the outcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Florida State
Last Season: 14-0
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Oklahoma St., 9/20 vs. Clemson, 10/18 vs. Notre Dame
Defending national champions. Returning Heisman winning quarterback. Former wrestling champion Ric Flair used to say “To be the man you have to beat the man”FloridaStateSeminoles1 and until a team comes along and knocks the Seminoles off their perch I think they have to be given this top spot. Two out-of-conference games against Oklahoma St. & Notre Dame as well as the always entertaining ACC clash against Clemson are all in Tallahassee. I’d be stunned if this team isn’t in that final four.

 

 

 

2 Oregon
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 9/6 vs. Michigan St., 10/11 at UCLA, 11/1 vs. Stanford
Quarterback Marcus Mariotta likely could have been a first round pick in the NFL Draft but chose to return to Eugene for a shot at the national title and a run at the Oregon-DucksHeisman Trophy. I think he has a strong chance to snag both. Head coach Mark Helfrich didn’t miss a beat after taking the helm last season when Chip Kelly moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles. The PAC 12 is one of the toughest conferences in the land, but I think we’ll see the Ducks overcome both UCLA and Stanford to once again be in the national championship conversation.

 

 

 

3 Alabama
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 11/8 at LSU, 11/29 vs. Auburn
Let’s be clear…the inaugural 4 team playoff will, come hell or high water, include the Crimson Tide. The major players in the SEC are probably going to spend the AlabamaCrimsonTide2season beating up on each other, but that’ll just endear them all to the lapdog media even more. ‘Bama must replace quarterback AJ McCarron who is now patiently awaiting the inevitable implosion of fellow signal caller Andy Dalton as a Cincinnati Bengal. I don’t think it matters who ends up with the job for the Tide. Their calling card is a tenacious defense and a virtually unstoppable running game.

 

 

 

4 South Carolina
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 8/28 vs. Texas A&M, 9/13 vs. Georgia, 10/25 at Auburn, 11/29 at Clemson
Do not be surprised if the powers-that-be contort themselves into a pretzel trying to get two SEC teams into the playoff. How does that happen?? Simple. First of all,Gamecocks the Gamecocks don’t play Alabama during the regular season. It is entirely conceivable that both teams go into the SEC title game undefeated. Maybe ‘Bama is #1 and South Carolina is a Top 10 team. South Carolina wins a close game and rightfully ascends into the top 4. The collective hard-on the masses have for Alabama means they tumble…but not much. It’s possible. You heard it here first.

 

 

 

5 UCLA
Last Season: 10-3
Key Games: 10/11 vs. Oregon, 11/22 vs. USC, 11/28 vs. Stanford
I really like the PAC 12, but in the scenario described above it could be their runner-up that gets left out in the cold. Let’s imagine this. Oregon beats the ucla_bruins2Bruins on October 11th and goes undefeated. UCLA overcomes the loss and doesn’t lose the rest of the regular season. The two meet again in the conference title game and the Ducks prevail in an epic contest. There is no way that UCLA beats out the SEC runner-up to get into the playoff.

 

 

 

6 Oklahoma
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 11/8 vs. Baylor, 12/6 vs. Oklahoma St.
The Big 12 only has ten teams and no championship game. That really hurts their chances of having a playoff team. It doesn’t help that the conference is relatively weak. oklahomaEntertaining?? Sure. But the Sooners defeating the likes of TCU, Iowa St., West Virginia, & Kansas by three or more touchdowns won’t impress anybody. It is more than possible that Oklahoma could run the table and still not even be in the playoff discussion. If they drop a game to Baylor or in-state rival Oklahoma St. then they’re toast.

 

 

 

7 Wisconsin
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 8/30 vs. LSU, 11/15 vs. Nebraska
Other pundits may be picking a different Big Ten (which now has 14 teams) team to prevail, but I think the Badgers will pound their way to the conference WisconsinBadgerschampionship behind 6ft.1 207lb. junior running back Melvin Gordon. Whether or not they win their season opening out-of-conference matchup with the LSU Tigers is irrelevant, although that game being in Madison certainly helps. A mid-November clash with Nebraska is also at home and will likely decide who represents the division in the conference title game.

 

 

 

8 Baylor
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 11/8 at Oklahoma
Senior quarterback Bryce Petty returns to lead what was a prolific and dominating offense in 2013. The Bears have the same issue as any other Big 12 contender inbaylor that they are unlikely to receive as much respect on a national scale as teams from the SEC or PAC 12. An out-of-conference schedule that includes SMU, Northwestern St., & Buffalo isn’t going to help. Basically the whole season comes down to an early November clash with the Sooners in Norman. The winner of that game probably plays in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day. The loser will end up in something depressing like the Advocare Texas Bowl.

 

 

 

9 Boise State
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 8/28 vs. Ole Miss, 10/24 vs. BYU
They’re baaaccckkk. The Broncos have long been college football’s Little Engine That Could. They have consistently been a double digit win team over the past 15 boise-state-logoyears. After a lot of rumors and flirting with other gigs in the past decade former head coach Chris Petersen moved on to Washington and has been replaced in Boise by Bryan Harsin, a former Broncos offensive coordinator who also spent some time coaching under Mack Brown at Texas. After going 8-5 in 2013 no one is really talking about Boise St., which will make it all the sweeter when they win 10 or 11 games. Their season opener is an out-of-conference contest against an Ole Miss team that seems to be getting much love this pre-season despite the fact that they play a murderous SEC schedule. I’m betting people will remember Boise St. is still around afterward.

 

 

 

10 Michigan State
Last Season: 13-1
Key Games: 9/6 at Oregon, 10/4 vs. Nebraska, 11/8 vs. Ohio St.
The Spartans all too often get lost in the Big Ten (which has 14 teams) shuffle. But if you look at their success over the past few seasons they have been remarkablyMichigan_State_Spartans consistent, winning 11+ games three out of the past four years. This is another team that wins with good old-fashioned smashmouth football and a tough defense. Even if they lose 2 out of 3 key games and finish 10-2 they could have a legitimate opportunity to be in the conference title mix.

 

 

 

11 Ohio State
Last Season: 12-2
Key Games: 11/8 at Michigan St.
Losing QB Braxton Miller for the season virtually eliminates the Buckeyes from the championship picture. They have an unimpressive & weak schedule with neither Ohio_State_BuckeyesNebraska nor Wisconsin anywhere in sight. All it will take is a loss to Michigan St. to end the dream. And let’s be honest…if they were to somehow make it to the playoff they’d get beaten like a government mule.

 

 

 

12 Nebraska
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 10/4 at Michigan St., 11/15 at Wisconsin
I fully expect a logjam at the top of the Big Ten (which has 14 teams). There will probably be 3 or 4 teams finishing somewhere around the 9-3/10-2 mark. The nebraskaCornhuskers’ out-of-conference schedule, which includes Miami, FL & Fresno St., isn’t bad. If they can split their two key games they will almost certainly be a solid Top 25 team.

 

 

 

13 Marshall
Last Season: 10-4
Key Games: all of them and none of them
Marshall is my alma mater. I know that expectations are high in my old stomping grounds in Huntington, WV. Here is what I expect. I expect an undefeated season. I herdexpect QB Rakeem Cato to be invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony though he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Arizona of actually winning. I expect that undefeated season to mean diddly squat as far as the national playoff. And I expect that if…if…the Herd screws the pooch in any game…including a C-USA championship game…they will tumble very quickly from the rankings.

 

 

 

14 Iowa
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 11/22 vs. Wisconsin, 11/28 vs. Nebraska
The Hawkeyes are another team that can always be dangerous even in a down year. Head coach Kirk Ferentz is one of those names that always gets mentioned iowafor “better” jobs, whether in the NFL or elsewhere in college. At age 59 and going into his 16th year at the helm in Iowa City it looks less & less likely that he will ever actually make the jump and will instead be one of those lifers like Bobby Bowden or Frank Beamer that sticks around for three decades. Having said that, a close examination of Iowa’s “success” under Ferentz shows that they’ve only had four double digit win seasons during his tenure. If they can split the two key games above…both of which are at home…they could add another in 2014.

 

 

 

15 Bowling Green
Last Season: 10-4
Key Games: I have no idea
Someone’s got to win the MAC, right?? Actually I like watching MAC football. Their games are usually quite entertaining. The problem is that they are all kind of just bowling greenrandom teams from Ohio (and a couple of other midwestern states). It reminds me of eating at McDonald’s…you know there are better options available and you aren’t quite sure exactly what you’re consuming, but in the moment it is sort of tasty and mostly satisfying. At any rate, the Falcons won the conference title game in 2013, upsetting a Northern Illinois team that was ranked in the Top 20. They seem to be getting some “others receiving votes” love in other polls, and since the entire Top 25 can’t be SEC, PAC 12, & Big Ten (which has 14 teams) I’ll give this team a fighting chance to win 10 or 11 games (they’ll get mauled at Wisconsin), win the conference, and earn this spot.

 

 

 

16 LSU
Last Season: 10-3
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Wisconsin, 10/4 at Auburn, 11/8 vs. Alabama, 11/27 at Texas A&M
The Bayou Bengals seem to be one of those teams that just reload and have tremendous success year after year. However, I am a bit nervous about their chances lsu_logo-9547in 2014. First of all they have to replace a quarterback, running back, & wide receiver (as well as about a half dozen other players) that were all taken in the NFL Draft. Secondly their out-of-conference schedule includes the season opener…a neutral site clash against Wisconsin. And of course the biggest issue…they play in the SEC. I realize that the wet dream of the powers-that-be is probably an all-SEC four team playoff for the national title, but that ain’t gonna happen. Someone will be on the outside looking in. If LSU can overcome all of that and still have a Top 20 team it will be a remarkable feat.

 

 

 

17 Stanford
Last Season: 11-3
Key Games: 9/6 vs. USC, 10/4 at Notre Dame, 11/1 at Oregon, 11/28 at UCLA
Stanford has the same issue as LSU. They play in a tough conference where the law of averages dictates that not everybody can be a Top 10 national photo.stanfordtreechampionship contender. The schedule is brutal. If this team can somehow get to 9 wins they will deserve a solid ranking.

 

 

 

18 Navy
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Ohio St., 11/1 vs. Notre Dame
Call me crazy, but I think the Midshipmen have a puncher’s chance in their season opening neutral site game against Ohio St. Okay okay…I’m not going to rush to navyVegas or Atlantic City and actually put money on that, but the rest of the season looks pretty decent. There is a November contest against Notre Dame that is also winnable. But even if Navy loses those two games they could still end up in this spot by going 10-2 and being very competitive (within two TDs) against the Buckeyes and Irish.

 

 

 

19 Oklahoma State
Last Season: 10-3
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Florida St., 11/22 at Baylor, 12/6 at Oklahoma
The Cowboys open their season at the Palace in Dallas against #1 Florida St. Ouch. If they pull the upset it’ll turn college football on its collective ear on the very firstoklahoma_state_cowboys_iphone_wallpaper weekend of the season. However, even though that is unlikely, the truth is that the whole season comes down to the final two games against Baylor and Oklahoma. Split those two games and this ranking looks golden. But even if Oklahoma St. loses all three of their key games they can still get here by being very competitive in those games and beating their other nine opponents into oblivion.

 

 

 

20 Central Florida
Last Season: 12-1
Key Games: 8/30 at Penn St., 9/13 at Missouri
Quick…tell me what conference UCF plays in. Now tell me three other teams in that conference. Give up?? The American Athletic Conference is the very definition 2007-UCF-Knight-headof mediocrity, comprised of refugees from C-USA and the old Big East that just didn’t have enough to offer for a more well-respected conference to invite them to play with the big boys. It is somewhat surprising that UCF finds itself in such a hot mess given that they are the 2nd largest university in the country. Let that sink in for a minute. UCF is bigger than Florida, Florida St., & Miami, FL…all of whom have had tremendous success on the gridiron. Will such success eventually occur for the Knights?? Maybe. Until that happens though they will be satisfied to win their conference and be a solid Top 20 team. I am a bit concerned that they must replace QB Blake Bortles who is now plying his trade in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. But at the end of the day I think this is a team that will overcome adversity, win 9 or 10 games, and secure another conference title.

 

 

 

21 Arizona
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 10/2 at Oregon, 10/11 vs. USC, 11/1 at UCLA,
There are a handful of other PAC 12 teams that get all the love, but don’t forget about the Wildcats. Head coach Rich Fraudriguez seems to be much more college_arizona_90comfortable in Tucson than he ever was in Ann Arbor, MI. I think lower expectations and staying off the beaten path suits him well. If Arizona can pull off just one big upset and win 9 or 10 games they are a solid choice to sneak into the rankings.

 

 

 

22 Notre Dame
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 10/4 vs. Stanford, 10/18 at Florida St., 11/29 at USC
The Fighting Irish can’t cheat as much on the football field as they apparently do in the classroom because…well…television cameras. The question is can theyNotreDameFightingIrish recover from the loss of atleast 4 players (and who knows what other shoes may drop) and meet always lofty expectations?? I assume they’ll hang around and be good enough to be a solid 8/9 win bowl team. Brian Kelly is a good coach and QB Everett Golson returns from his 2013…hiatus…which means the offense should be decent. Pulling an upset in any one of the three key games would almost assure sneaking into the final rankings.

 

 

 

23 Virginia Tech
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 9/6 at Ohio St., 10/4 at North Carolina, 10/23 vs. Miami, FL
Florida St. will win the ACC. But who will win the other division and be chum for the Seminoles in the conference title game?? Most “experts” are picking North Virginia_Tech_Hokies2Carolina or Miami to fill that role. I’m playing a hunch and going against the grain. Head coach Frank Beamer has a ton of experience and his team plays in a relatively mediocre conference. I don’t think they’ll beat Ohio St., but that isn’t where the focus should be anyway. It’s a three horse race for the Coastal Division and it’ll all come down to October contests against the Tar Heels and Hurricanes.

 

 

24 Auburn
Last Season: 12-2
Key Games: 10/4 vs. LSU, 10/25 vs. South Carolina, 11/8 vs. Texas A&M, 11/15 at Georgia, 11/29 at Alabama
An old saying tells us that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and the Tigers were very very very lucky last season. Oh they were good too…but being lucky auburntook them from going 9-3 and playing in the Cotton Bowl to going 12-1 and coming up short in the national championship. They won’t be as fortunate this season. I’m not concerned about players lost to the NFL. Teams like Auburn just reload, and QB Nick Marshall returns for his senior year as a viable Heisman candidate. But the schedule is ridiculously difficult and I don’t think this team will win more than a couple of the key games noted above.

 

 

 

25 Georgia
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Clemson, 9/13 at South Carolina
A 8/9 win season and a Top 25 ranking might not seem good enough for an upper echelon SEC team, but I say it’d be a pretty decent finish all things considered.georgia The Bulldogs must replace QB Aaron Murray, but they still have junior RB Todd Gurley, a 6ft.1 232lb. brute with 4.2/40 speed. He’ll be a legitimate Heisman candidate, but the defense will have to step up and new signal caller Hutson Mason…a senior who has sat behind Murray for four years…will have to become comfortable really quickly. I won’t be a bit surprised if 4 or 5 SEC teams end the season ranked, but logic dictates that they all can’t finish in the Top 10.