2013 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 8 (Kind Of)

Citizens of The Manoverse may have noticed that there were no picks last week. Your humble Potentate of Profundity ran into some computer issues at home, and my backup plan fell thru as well, so I decided to take it as a bye week. However, Zach had already emailed me his picks and he went 2-3. He picked UCLA over Stanford (oops), Clemson over Florida St. (oops), Northern Illinois over Central Michigan (thumbs up), Carolina over St. Louis (thumbs up), & Denver over Indianapolis (oops). That brings his total record thus far to 18-20. Zach doesn’t know this yet, but he’s getting a bye week this week and I’m flying solo. That’ll even things out.

 

 

 

 

Texas Tech            at       Oklahoma (-6.5)

I’ve watched both of these teams play and both struggled against my WV Mountaineers before ultimately getting the win. Tech is 7-0 oklahomabut the argument can be made that they haven’t truly been tested. Oklahoma has a loss to archrival Texas as the only blemish on their record. I don’t doubt that Tech is legitimately good, but I have to go with the home team here.

 

South Carolina       at       Missouri (-3)

Who would have ever predicted a month ago that this game would be all that meaningful?? And who could have foreseen that thesouth_carolina_gamecocks_pennant_8949big Tigers would be the Top 10 team?? No one can say that Missouri hasn’t played anyone, even if it is true that Florida & Georgia were slightly overrated. Conversely the Gamecocks had high expectations and have seen them crashing to earth after losses to Georgia and Tennessee. I think South Carolina rebounds a bit here and it’ll be Missouri being knocked off their very tenuous pedestal.

 

UCLA                    at       Oregon (-23.5)

I’m really looking forward to this game. In my pre-season Top 25 I rated the Ducks #1 and the Bruins #15. So far I’m not too far off, ucla_bruins2although Oregon is going to need a bit of help to get into the national championship. They can help themselves immensely with a victory in this game. I believe Oregon will indeed win…but not for a second do I think they will even come close to covering the spread. So UCLA is the pick.

 

Dallas                   at       Detroit (-3)

The only reason the Lions have the betting edge is because of home field advantage. They have been way too up & down for my dallas-cowboys-logo2comfort level this season, and it isn’t quite time yet for the Cowboys to crash & burn. That’ll happen in the playoffs as usual.

 

Atlanta                  at       Arizona (-2.5)

Another spread no one could have predicted just a few short weeks ago. The Falcons are off to a very poor 2-4 start, while thenflarizonacardinals Cardinals defense has carried them to a respectable 3-4 record. At some point Atlanta will surely begin to resemble the team that nearly every pundit had winning another division title and making a deep playoff run. I just don’t think it’ll be this week.

 

2013 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 7

It’s been an odd & stressful week in The Manoverse. I’ll spare you the details, but the fact that I am just finally getting around to doing this week’s PPP a few short hours before kickoff tells the story to an extent. Thank goodness we didn’t pick any Thursday or Friday games this week and obviously there’ll be no extra games like last week. Speaking of last week, I went 4-4 (thank you for the last second assist Ohio St.), as did Zach. That brings the season’s total to this point to:

Your Humble Potentate of Profundity    =             17-16

Zach       =             16-17

Thank God we aren’t trying to make a living doing this, right?? Anyway, on to this week…brief & dirty!!

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Oklahoma (-14) at Texas

TEXAS LONGHORNS.1271817676In my Pre-Season Top 25 I ranked Texas #4 and opined that “the Longhorns are finally primed to re-ascend to theoklahoma top of The Big 12 and possibly contend for a national championship.” Oops…I may have been slightly wrong about that. Texas is instead 3-2 and head coach Mack Brown is fielding questions about his job status. Meanwhile the Sooners are undefeated and just about where I thought they’d be at this point. Long story short on this one…I think Texas is a dangerous animal that’s been cornered. I’m not at all confident that they’ll win this annual renewal of The Red River Shootout, but I think they’ll be competitive and certainly won’t lose by two TDs. Zach, on the other hand, believes that Brown’s days are numbered and that Oklahoma takes this one easily. Actually he is very specific, saying that the Sooners will win by 24 points. We’ll see.

My Pick          Texas

Z’s Pick           Oklahoma

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Florida at LSU (-7)

Two Top 20 SEC teams in another highly anticipated clash. What else can be said?? I like LSU to pull this one out at home. Zach agrees.lsu_logo

My Pick          LSU

Z’s Pick           LSU

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Oregon (-14) at Washington

The Huskies are a lot better than anyone thought they’d be this season, but do they really have a shot against the #2 Ducks?? Maybe the Oregon-Ducksmore interesting question is whether or not Oregon can cover the points. They have won their five games thus far by an average of 47 points. Now I will grant that they haven’t played anyone of note, but still…that’s a high powered offense. I think Washington gets exposed here and Oregon wins easily. Zach goes so far as to say it’ll be a blowout that’ll be over in the first quarter.

My Pick          Oregon

Z’s Pick           Oregon

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Green Bay (-3) at Baltimore

The Packers haven’t exactly been world beaters this season. They are 2-2 and in 3rd place in their division. The Ravens aren’t that much better at 3-2. I find it interesting that Green_Bay_Packers_HelmetBaltimore isn’t getting the standard 3 point home field bump, especially since they have a better record. That tells me that the oddsmakers know…just like most of us…that Green Bay is a lot better than average and will start to prove it soon…probably this week. Zach concurs.

My Pick          Green Bay

Z’s Pick           Green Bay

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New Orleans at New England (-2.5)

I find this point spread baffling. Yes the Patriots have the home field. But the Saints are clearly the better team and unlike the Packers I’m not sure that New England will be 10_new_orleans_saintsbreaking out of their funk anytime soon. Now, I know what you’re saying…”But humble Potentate of Profundity…the New England Patriots are 4-1!!”. Yes…yes they are. But have you watched any of their games?? Each of those four victories has been a real uphill climb. New England is definitely not the same stellar team that we’ve watched run roughshod over the NFL for the past decade. They have issues. Conversely the New Orleans Saints look like the real deal and have plowed thru their schedule like a fat kid at an all-you-can  eat buffet. This’ll be tough & close, but in the end I think Drew Brees throws for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns en route to a double digit victory. Zach seconds that emotion.

My Pick          New Orleans

Z’s Pick           New Orleans

 

An Honest Evaluation of the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates

Monday September 23, 2013 was the perfect microcosm of the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates and my feelings about their season. The Pirates had ppjust defeated the Chicago Cubs and the talking heads on Root Sports seemed to be finishing up their coverage as usual when they made mention that they were going to remain on the air for awhile longer. I forget exactly what was said but there seemed to be some vibe of anticipation. I soon found out that if the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Washington Nationals the Pirates would clinch a wild card spot and play in the post-season for the first time in over two decades. But wait…I was confused. We are hoping that the Cardinals win?? Huh?? At the time the Pirates were only 2 games behind the Cards with five games remaining. A division title was still very much within reach. Tough yes…but more than doable. A Cardinals loss that night would have cut the lead down another half game, and yet here Pirate Nation was hoping for a Nationals loss so we could be assured atleast a 3rd place finish. After the Cards won and the wild card was clinched the Pirates’ players & coaches were shown in the locker room jumping & screaming and popping champagne bottles as if they’d just won The World Series, when in reality all they’d won was 3rd place. Not only was I left cold, I was viscerally angry. Champions don’t celebrate 3rd place.

As it turns out the Pirates ended up finishing second in the division and hosted the Cincinnati Reds in MLB’s new play-in game. I guess they officially classify it as the first round of the playoffs, but let’s be honest…it’s a play-in game and shouldn’t really be considered part of the playoffs. Even though the Pirates won that contest I have still decided that I am not a fan of this play-in game. I bet fans of the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians would agree. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig escapes being the biggest joke in professional sports only because that idiot Roger Goodell exists. I’ll be ecstatic when they both go away. The Pirates went on to lose a divisional playoff series to the Cardinals in 5 games. The two games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh saw boisterous sold-out crowds who had been starving for success on the baseball field for so long that they were deliriously happy to support their Buccos, but unfortunately the last of those sell-outs went to waste when the Pirates ran into a buzz saw named Michael Wacha, a rookie pitcher who threw a 1 hitter and pushed the series to a deciding 5th game in St. Louis. I knew then that the season was over. That Game 4 was the golden opportunity to move on and it didn’t happen. There was no way that the Cardinals were going to lose an elimination game at home with ace Adam Wainwright on the mound. Zero chance.

Pittsburgh-Pirates-ballpa-001So now the Pirates’ season is over and the question is…can it be defined as being successful?? There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball and only 1 of them is left standing holding the World Series trophy, so by definition 29 teams fall short of the goal. However, for many there are various levels of success. For the Pirates ending two decades of futility and playing post-season baseball for the first time since I was in college and Bill Clinton was in The White House should certainly qualify as a huge step in the right direction. The years of completely rebuilding over & over again look like they are done. A solid foundation is in place and now it is just a matter of doing some tweaking. I am reading a lot of things in the news and on social media about the Pirates great season and I cannot argue the point. But at the same time I do not think that they are yet on the level of really good teams like the Cardinals, Braves, Red Sox, Yankees, & Dodgers. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Pittsburgh Pirates get over the hump and win their division in 2014…but I’d be equally as unsurprised if they win 82 games and finish in 4th place, which a year ago would have been acceptable but a year from now just won’t be satisfactory. Now is the time for the front office, the players, the coaches, and the fans to decide…is this good enough?? Is it okay to have a winning record & secure a wild card but have no realistic opportunity to genuinely compete with the truly elite teams?? I mean sure, it beats finishing in the cellar, being the butt of jokes, and the season essentially being over by the All-Star break. But I guess I am a bit greedy. I want more. I sincerely believe this team can achieve more.

I think the Pirates can do better than having 36 year old AJ Burnett, with a 10-11 record and a 3.3 ERA, as the ace of their pitching staff. Gerritt Cole needs to seize that role and become the Pittsburgh equivalent of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, or Clayton Kershaw. I give the suits credit for pulling the trigger on trades that brought first baseman Justin Morneau and outfielder Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh, but both are band-aids at best. Byrd has reached the end of a 1 year contract but I wouldn’t mind seeing him stick around another season as an extra bat. Morneau, on the other hand, seems far removed from the skill & talent he had when named the American League MVP in 2006 and I am not sure he is worth the price tag or a roster spot. I think the Pirates can do better than oft-injured 34 year old pitcher Wandy Rodriguez. I think the Pirates can do better than Jose Tabata’s .282 batting average & 6 home runs. I think they can do better than players like shortstop Clint Barmes and pitcher Charlie Morton. If my information is correct then Burnett, Morneau, & Rodriguez are the highest paid players on the team and all are expendable. That isn’t a bad thing.

mccThere is a solid nucleus in place for a good long run: outfielders Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Andrew Lambo, & gcGarret Jones, infielders Neil Walker, Gaby Sanchez, & Pedro Alvarez, catchers Russell Martin (the best free agent the Pirates have signed in many years) & Tony Sanchez, and pitchers Cole, Francisco Liriano, Mark Melancon, & Jason Grilli. Jettisoning those three highest paid players that I mentioned would free up over $43 million, part of which I would use to sign a big time third baseman. Alvarez can hit the snot out of the ball but is a defensive liability so a move to first base might not be a bad idea. The jury is still out on 26 year old shortstop Jordy Mercer. He had his moments in 2013, hitting .285 with 8 home runs, but if the opportunity to upgrade presented itself I’d go for it. And of course another arm…or two…or three…would be helpful. 21 year old right hander Jameson Taillon is expected to be a stud and would be a welcome addition to the rotation in 2014.

clintAt the end of the day I realize that I am in the minority. I am glad that the losing streak is over and my favorite team is headed in a positive pedrodirection. I am happy for the players and the fans that there was playoff baseball in Pittsburgh this October. I really like Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. I realize there is good reason for much optimism. But part of me is holding back and there are two reasons. First, two decades of futility have beaten me up to the point that I need to see another year of this success to wrap my head around its validity. As mentioned, in my mind it is just as likely that the Pirates take a step backward as it is they improve in 2014. And secondly, I cannot get that September 23rd champagne celebration out of my head. I cannot overstate how much that bothered me. Is this a team that is satisfied with a wild card?? Do we really want to have to roll the dice on a one game all-or-nothing scenario again?? Or will this team add some pieces and develop the championship mentality of the best teams in sports wherein nothing but being in The World Series will do?? We’ll see.

2013 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 6

Occasionally I feel a little frisky. And when that happens citizens of The Manoverse are the winners because you get bonus picks!! Last week I rolled the dice on a couple of my choices and things didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. I didn’t think Florida would cover 13 points against Kentucky…they won by 17. I thought Ohio State would only beat Wisconsin by 1-3 points…they covered the spread, winning by 7. Both Zach & I picked Notre Dame, who fell to Oklahoma by two TDs. I did a little better with my NFL choices, where Buffalo defeated Baltimore and Seattle covered against Houston (barely…in overtime). So that made me 2-3 for the week and Zach 3-2. For the season at this point this is how it stands:

Your Humble Potentate of Profundity    =       13-12

Zach          =       12-13

None of the games this week really jumped out at me. I think that is partially because I feel like I’ve already said all I can say about several teams, and a little bit because I have a scratchy throat and am praying I don’t actually get sick in the next day or two. At any rate there are several games that I find mildly yet equally intriguing, and thus the bonus picks:

 

 

 

Ohio St. (-7)   at         Northwestern

The Buckeyes are rolling along at 5-0, although Wisconsin did give them just about everything they had last week. Meanwhile, the Wildcats,Ohio_State_Buckeyes who I projected as a Top 25 team, are doing just about as well as I expected but this will be their first serious test. As much as I would love to give the nod to the underdogs I just can’t pull that trigger. Ohio State is merely biding their time until the end of the season when they’ll play at Michigan, and then likely meet either Nebraska or Michigan (again) in the Big Ten championship. And what they are really hoping for is that either Alabama or Oregon stumble, leaving a spot open in the national title game. Zach thinks Northwestern is a good team…but Ohio State is better.

My Pick          Ohio State

Z’s Pick           Ohio State

 

 

Georgia St.    at         Alabama (-56)

Look at that spread!! There is no doubt that ‘Bama will win this game. Georgia St. is an 0-4 I-AA team that has certainly filled their coffers this10a rat road kill clipart - merged season with trips to West Virginia and now Alabama. I think Nick Saban will take this opportunity to rest a lot of his starters, atleast after the first half. And while Saban isn’t the kind of milquetoast that’ll genuinely take it easy on a lesser opponent I think he’ll play this one smart, with the main goal being not to have anyone get hurt. I am envisioning a 52-7 kind of game…which would mean the Tide wins but doesn’t cover. Zach concurs.

My Pick          Georgia State

Z’s Pick           Georgia State

 

 

Washington   at         Stanford (-7)

Stanford is 4-0 and kind of getting overlooked. The talking heads will spout off all day long about Oregon, Ohio St., Notre Dame, and the entirephoto.stanfordtree SEC, but they barely talk about the #5 team in the country. I suspect that is just fine with the folks in Palo Alto. Sometimes flying under the radar can be advantageous. Meanwhile, the Huskies have garnered a bit of attention with victories over Boise St. and Arizona. This could be the sleeper game of the weekend, but I think that Stanford will take control in the 4th quarter and win by double digits. Zach likes Stanford’s defense and thinks that’ll be the key to victory.

My Pick          Stanford

Z’s Pick           Stanford

 

 

Maryland        at         Florida St. (-15.5)

The Terrapins are looking like the Rodney Dangerfield of college football. They are 4-0 and have somewhat impressive victories over WVU,university-of-maryland-terrapins Florida Int’l, & UConn, yet are passed over by 8 one loss teams in the Top 25. Clearly they need to make a statement in Tallahassee…but will they?? The Seminoles are 4-0, haven’t been tested at all, but have only played one 1-AA cupcake. Florida St’s freshman QB Jameis Winston looks like the real deal and will probably get some Heisman love next season before bolting early to the NFL. I think Maryland is atleast as good…and probably much better…than the Boston College team that Florida St. defeated a week ago by 14 points. So while I believe that Florida St. will get the victory I think it’ll be by about 10 or so points. And once again Zach & I are in complete agreement.

My Pick          Maryland

Z’s Pick           Maryland

 

 

New England            at         Cincinnati (-2)

I am shocked that the Bengals are favored in this game. Yes they have the home field, and Tom Brady has expressed some frustration with the New_England_Patriots_Helmetyoung receivers he’s had to coddle this season, but the Patriots are 4-0 and will likely just gather steam as the season moves along…especially when tight end Rob Gronkowski and WR Danny Amendola return from injuries. The Bengals are 2-2 and just lost to the Cleveland Browns. I don’t get the spread at all, which is why I’m going against it and picking New England. Zach would rather…and I quote…watch Dancing with the Stars or Teen Mom 2 than this game”. Wow. Anyway, he also thinks the Patriots will win.

My Pick         New England

Z’s Pick           New England

 

 

Seattle (-2.5)             at         Indianapolis

seattle-seahawks1The Colts are 3-1 and recently made headlines when they traded for RB Trent Richardson. Quarterback Andrew Luck is Indianapolis_Colts_Helmetstill a youngster but seems to have a tremendous veteran-like presence and maturity. However, the Seahawks have been the hottest thing in sports for the past month and have cruised to a 4-0 start, including a slightly surprising beatdown of the San Francisco 49ers. I think Indy is the team of the future, but Seattle is the team of the here & now and should win this one pretty easily. Zach disagrees and is picking the Colts to win. Interesting!!

My Pick          Seattle

Z’s Pick           Indianapolis

 

 

New Orleans             at         Chicago (-1)

This is another spread that surprises me just a tad. The Bears are 3-1 and QB Jay Cutler seems to finally be coming into his own under the 10_new_orleans_saintstutelage of head coach and quarterback guru Marc Trestman. However, the Saints have been an absolute machine thus far. QB Drew Brees has already thrown for over 1400 yards and 10 touchdowns, a record setting pace that is being overshadowed by Peyton Manning’s phenomenal start. I see no reason to start doubting New Orleans now. Zach is a big believer in Brees and tight end Jimmie Graham and thinks New Orleans will roll to a victory.

My Pick          New Orleans

Z’s Pick          New Orleans

   

 

Detroit            at         Green Bay (-7)

Green_Bay_Packers_HelmetIf you would have told me a month ago that the Lions would be tied for first place in the division and the Packers would be Detroit_Lions_Helmet1-2 I’d have said you were nuts. But that’s exactly what has happened. Detroit has looked pretty darn good, while the Packers have not fared so well against a tough early season schedule. But as you can tell by the spread folks haven’t quite given up on Green Bay and certainly haven’t bought into Detroit quite yet. I think both perspectives are pretty fair. The Pack is far from done, and the Lions will have to win a few more games before people start believing they’re for real. That process would certainly go a long way with a big win on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field…but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’m still rooting for Detroit to have a solid season, but the cream rises to the top and I think this is the week Green Bay starts to figure things out. Zach thinks the bye week may have been helpful to Green Bay but is picking Detroit to pull the upset.

My Pick          Green Bay

Z’s Pick          Detroit