2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 10  

I was following a rather interesting thread on social media recently in which the original poster opined that fantasy football is pretty much all about luck. Others were quick to reply, defending the ideals of skill & knowledge. As with most things in life the answer isn’t clear cut black & white. Yes, people who know what they are doing have a better shot at success. Involvement is important…making the right trades, combing the waiver wire, starting or sitting the best players, understanding matchups. However, let’s not pretend that luck doesn’t play a huge role. Would you call owners of Patrick Mahomes and/or Derrick Henry uninformed or inept?? Of course not…but they’re probably not winning their league championship this season. At any rate, slow & steady wins the race, or atleast that’s what I’ve always heard thru the years. Zach & I both went 5-3 last week, continuing our laborious crawl back toward the .500 mark. We’ll get there…maybe. 

My Season: 28-31

Zach’s Season: 27-32

Boise State at Fresno State (-5)

At 4-4 the Broncos aren’t going to make it to the Mountain West title game, and at this point they’re just hoping for bowl eligibility. Conversely, the 7-2 Bulldogs need to keep winning if they want an opportunity to play for the conference championship. I have a feeling this will be a really entertaining game, so it’s too bad I have plans on Saturday evening and won’t be able to watch. Anyway, while I am tempted to pick an upset, The Vibes are telling me that Fresno will win by atleast a touchdown. Zach foresees a fun, high scoring, close game and likes the favorites to cover. 

My Pick: Fresno State 

Z’s Pick: Fresno State 

Tennessee at Kentucky (-2.5)

It’s Jim Beam vs. Jack Daniels!! If y’all don’t understand the reference you need to get out of the house more, but you’re probably healthier than us. At any rate, the Vols are 4-4 and playing for bowl eligibility, while the 6-2 Wildcats are in the midst of a stellar season in which the best they can hope for is a New Year’s bowl game because they play in the same division as the Georgia Bulldogs. Tennessee leads the all time series 81-26 (with nine ties), which combined with the home field should provide plenty of motivation for the favorites. I think they win easily. Zach doesn’t think Tennessee is a terrible team, but believes they’ve faced a brutal schedule that isn’t any easier this week.

My Pick: Kentucky 

Z’s Pick: Kentucky 

LSU at Alabama (-28.5)

As expected the playoff committee not only has Alabama in their Top Four…they ranked them #2, despite having one loss. I’m not surprised, and ultimately it is meaningless anyway because the winner of the SEC Championship between ‘Bama & Georgia is a lock for the playoff, while Alabama would certainly be eliminated with another loss. As for this game, the only reason it’s even appearing here is the points. So many  things factor into the discussion. I don’t care how bad LSU is playing there is no way they’d get beaten by 4+ TDs in Baton Rouge…but this game is in Tuscaloosa. ‘Bama cannot afford another misstep which adds an element of pressure. The Bayou Bengals have to have some pride left though, right?? If they could pull off a monumental upset and put the nail in the coffin of their rival’s championship aspirations it’d make their whole season. Do I think that will happen?? Absolutely not. Do I think the Tide will roll enough to cover the points?? Unfortunately I do. “Style points” are a thing, right?? I would be happy to be wrong though. The points are too much for Zach. He can buy ‘Bama winning by three TDs, but not four.

My Pick: Alabama 

Z’s Pick: LSU

San Jose State at Nevada (-10)

It’s a 10pm kickoff on Fox Sports 2, which is perfect. I’ll be home in time to watch atleast 3/4 of the action. Neither team is winning the conference but both should receive some kind of bowl bid. I am not especially knowledgeable about the Mountain West but as a night owl I’ve enjoyed their games thru the years. The odds are intriguing since the Wolfpack isn’t elite & the Spartans aren’t especially terrible, so ten points is quite a home field bump. The visitors are riding a two game winning streak, while the home team is coming off a beatdown of in-state rival UNLV. I think a touchdown will decide things one way or another, so I’m picking the underdogs to atleast cover. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: San Jose State 

Z’s Pick: San Jose State

Minnesota at Baltimore (-5.5)

The 3-4 Vikings aren’t winning the NFC North like I thought they would and just lost defensive end Danielle Hunter to a torn pectoral muscle. The Ravens are in a real battle in their division but had a bye last week. Logic dictates that Baltimore should win rather easily, but I’m not always the most logical person. The points caught my eye, and I really think Minnesota will atleast stay within a field goal. Conversely, Zach believes Baltimore has recovered from a sluggish start and is ready to roll now. 

My Pick: Minnesota 

Z’s Pick:  Baltimore 

Cleveland at Cincinnati (-3)

Not long ago the Battle of Ohio held no interest for anyone outside of the state’s borders, but both teams have emerged as legitimate playoff contenders. I predicted that the Bengals would surprise people and win the AFC North and halfway thru the season they’ve done nothing to dissuade me from that opinion. The Browns have not altered my assessment of them, although they’ve played somewhat better than I thought they might. This is where the rubber meets the road though, and if Cincinnati is to lay claim to the division title they have to defend their turf against division rivals. Zach really likes Bengals QB Joe Burrow and thinks he’ll lead his team to victory. 

My Pick: Cincinnati 

Z’s Pick: Cincinnati 

Tennessee at LA Rams (-7.5)

Wow, talk about two teams who’ve had an interesting week!! The Titans sit atop the AFC South and looked like they’d run away with the division crown after an overtime victory against the Indianapolis Colts. Unfortunately it was a costly win as they lost workhouse Derrick Henry…quite possibly the best running back in the NFL right now…to a foot injury. They’ve signed Adrian Peterson as a replacement. Peterson rushed for just over 600 yards in a committee backfield with the Detroit Lions last season, but he’s 36 years old & hasn’t played football in almost a year. Titans’ QB Ryan Tannehill now has to kick it up a notch, and fifth year RB Jeremy McNichols will get an opportunity to prove himself. As for the Rams, they’ve put all their chips in the middle of the table, trading for former Denver Broncos’ linebacker Von Miller and adding him to a defense that already had pass rushing beast Aaron Donald & defensive back Jalen Ramsey. The off-season acquisition of 33 year old QB Matthew Stafford has worked out quite well too. Just last week I would have told you that one of these teams is going to the Super Bowl, but it would’ve been the wrong team. Tennessee might still make the playoffs, but the loss of Henry is devastating. The Rams are clearly better right now, and I think they’ll win this one by double digits. Zach likes the home team as well. 

My Pick: LA Rams 

Z’s Pick: LA Rams 

Green Bay at Kansas City (-3)

Well damn…Aaron Rodgers tested positive for The Sickness. That makes this game a lot less interesting than it was just yesterday. KC has the home field too. You know who’s really pissed about this?? Fox. There goes their marquee matchup. To my complete shock & amazement Zach is sticking with his original pick despite the breaking news because “the Chiefs defense sucks”. I suppose we’re about to learn a whole lot about the future of Packers’ backup QB Jordan Love. 

My Pick: Kansas City 

Z’s Pick: Green Bay 

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 15

The college football season is over except for the playoff and of course a plethora of bowl games. Zach & I will do our annual Bowl-A-Palooza picks soon, but as always they do not count as part of our totals. We both finished the NCAA portion of our season strong, with him going 4-3 and me having my best week in awhile at 5-1. It’s all NFL all the time from here on out, and Zach is going to have to be nearly perfect to climb above .500 and take back the season lead, while I am keeping my head above water for the moment.

My Season:     47-45

Z’s Season:     40-53

 

 

 

 

 

Baltimore                     at                Kansas City (-6.5)

I have a feeling that those who will feel the biggest negative impact after the shocking release of running back Kareem Hunt are fantasy owners (like myself), while the Chiefs will be just fine. Hunt’s stupidity likely cost me a playoff spot in my dynasty league, and I am currently pondering how to proceed because his situation is far different from the infamous Ray Rice debacle. Rice was 27 years old and had a lot of miles on his legs. Hunt is four years younger, which is a big deal in the NFL. I have a feeling another team will give him a shot at redemption…perhaps as soon as next season. At any rate, KC got along just fine without him last weekend and I see no reason to expect anything less going forward. The Ravens are all the sudden right there fighting my floundering Steelers for the AFC North lead. Rookie backup QB Lamar Jackson has led the team to three straight victories, but starter Joe Flacco is reportedly healthy again, so it’ll be interesting to see how things go with all of that. Kansas City has one of the best home fields in the league, so I’m going out on a limb and picking the favorites to cover. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Kansas City

 

 

 

Denver (-5.5)                at                San Francisco

In my season preview I predicted that the Broncos would go 2-14, opining that it feels as though “they’re on the edge of the cliff” and “it might get worse before it gets better”. Denver  is currently 6-6, including a three game win streak, so they’ve certainly surpassed my expectations. The 2-10 49ers have been riddled with injuries & other calamities all season, so it is difficult to have much faith in them at this point. They do have the home field, but I don’t think it’ll make much difference. Denver might not make it all the way to the playoffs, but I think their current hot streak will continue for now. Zach expects big rushing yards for Denver in a victory.

My Pick:     Denver

Z’s Pick:     Denver

 

 

 

Carolina (-1.5)             at                Cleveland

In my season preview I said that for the Browns “winning more games than they’ve won in total over the past couple of seasons would be cause for optimism”. Mission accomplished. They are 4-7-1 and I’m pretty sure they’ll get the six victories I projected for them. Conversely, I had the Panthers going 12-4 and winning the NFC South, but they have fallen far short of those lofty expectations. At 6-6 they are four games out of the division lead and battling about a half dozen other teams for a wildcard spot. On top of that there seems to be having some shoulder issues. Cleveland has the home field, and The Vibes are whispering “upset” in my ear. Conversely, Zach thinks the Browns are the perfect opponent for Carolina to right the ship against.

My Pick:     Cleveland

Z’s Pick:     Carolina

 

 

Indianapolis                at                Houston (-4.5)

The AFC South is falling just about the way I expected it to, with the exception of the sudden ineptitude of the Jacksonville Jaguars, although not even that is a total surprise since I predicted that they wouldn’t win the division. Colts’ QB Andrew Luck seems to be getting back to his old self, even if the team’s 6-6 record might not indicate that. Meanwhile, the Texans are on a roll, having won nine in a row after an 0-3 start. I see no reason to expect that winning streak to end now, although I think Indy will put up a good fight. Zach expects a high scoring affair but thinks Houston will snag the win.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Houston

 

 

 

LA Rams (-3)               at                Chicago

The old adage is that “defense wins championships”, and this might be a good example…or not. The Rams have one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL, while the acquisition of DE/LB Khalil Mack has the folks in Chicago remembering the good ol’ days of the infamous ’85 Bears defense. The Rams are averaging about 35 points per game, while Chicago’s defense has only given up 30 or more points three times (all losses).Having said all that, what may be more interesting to watch in this game is the Bears’ offense versus the Rams’ defense. The Bears get QB Mitch Trubisky back after he’s missed the past couple of games with a shoulder injury. L.A.’s defense has a front three consisting of Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, & Ndamukong Suh, with Dante Fowler at linebacker and both Aquib Talib & Marcus Peters in the secondary. Not too shabby. I believe this will be a relatively low scoring game…something like 24-21…with the Bears getting a big upset at home. Conversely, Zach foresees a huge, multi-TD win for Los Angeles.

My Pick:     Chicago

Z’s Pick:     LA Rams

2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 18

It’s the last weekend of the NFL regular season and our final week of picks as well. After last week’s action in which I was 3-2 and Zach was 2-3 (that last second garbage TD for Philly was my favorite Christmas gift) we are all tied up for the season, which I’m sure has never happened before. So y’all know what I’m thinking?? That’s right…bonus picks!! It’ll be almost nine months before we get to do this again, so why not end 2017 with a bang?? All of these games have playoff implications, and I’ll do my best to lay it all out there as easily digestible as possible. Every NFL game will be on Sunday afternoon…no Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night games…which means that watching RedZone will be even more fun than usual. Say a little prayer for the bladder of host Scott Hanson. Yes, I realize Sunday is New Year’s Eve, but I rarely go out & do anything fun that night anyway, and anyone who is going to party won’t be getting started until long after the games are over, so the afternoon NFL lineup is really something to be excited about. Happy New Year Manoverse. May your 2018 be filled with joy, good health, & lots of fantastic football.

My Season:        51-50

Z’s Season:        51-50

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cincinnati          at      Baltimore (-9.5)

The Bengals aren’t going to the playoffs unless they buy a ticket, and this is very likely Marvin Lewis’ last game as their head coach after 15 up & down seasons in which his players spent more time in prison than the post-season. However, the Ravens’ playoff outlook is much rosier. Win & they’re in, but even if they lose this game they can still get into the playoffs if either Buffalo or Tennessee loses. The points make me a little nervous, and as a Steelers fan it’d warm my cockles to see Baltimore lose…but The Vibes are telling me they win big at home. Zach agrees on all counts. We’d both prefer to see Baltimore ousted from the playoffs, but it’s probably not going to happen.

My Pick:     Baltimore

Z’s Pick:     Baltimore

 

 

 

Jacksonville      at      Tennessee (-3.5)

The Jags have already won the division and are locked into the #3 spot in the AFC, but Tennessee has some work to do. The Titans would secure a wildcard with a victory…but a loss would mean that their only path to the playoffs would be losses by both the Los Angeles Chargers and the Buffalo Bills. That’s not necessarily far-fetched, but winning this game would certainly be a simpler solution. Jacksonville looked vulnerable in last week’s loss to San Francisco, but will that happen two weeks in a row?? Technically they have nothing to play for, but momentum heading into the post-season is important. If this game were being played in Florida it’d be a no-brainer, but playing at home with their backs against the wall might just be enough to motivate the Titans to a mildly surprising win. Conversely, Zach believes Jacksonville’s defense will come thru in the clutch and score them a close win.

My Pick:     Tennessee

Z’s Pick:     Jacksonville

 

 

 

Oakland             at      LA Chargers (-7.5)

The Raiders have had a disappointing season for sure…but a victory to end the year could certainly be good karma going into an offseason in which they’ll have the 11th pick in the draft and expectations will probably be high again for 2018. Conversely, the Chargers are still very much in the playoff hunt. They have to win this game and hope that the Titans & Bills both lose, which is a tall order. Either way they can only control what they do & how they play, and I think they’ll do just that. Zach didn’t learn a thing from the Eagles’ last second touchdown last week and is again picking the Raiders to atleast cover the points.

My Pick:     LA Chargers

Z’s Pick:     Oakland

 

 

 

New Orleans (-7)                  at      Tampa Bay

The Saints will be in the playoffs, but they’re still battling for a division title. They need a win to secure that crown. A loss coupled with a Carolina victory would make New Orleans a wildcard team. Tampa will have a Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft and has nothing to play for but pride. Is that enough?? I don’t think so…not even at home. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     New Orleans

Z’s Pick:     New Orleans

 

 

 

Carolina             at      Atlanta (-4)

The Panthers have to win and hope that the Saints lose. That’s the only way they win the NFC South…otherwise they’ll be a wildcard team. The Falcons…who represented the NFC in the Super Bowl a year ago and held a significant lead before an epic choke job…must win to secure a wildcard berth, or they could conceivably lose and still get in if Seattle also loses. I think this might be the best game of the weekend, and I’m going to pick the mild upset. Zach thinks Atlanta is just too erratic and has issues winning big games.

My Pick:     Carolina

Z’s Pick:     Carolina

 

 

 

Arizona               at      Seattle (-9)

The Cardinals are playing for pride and a .500 record. The Seahawks must win and hope for a Falcons loss to sneak into the post-season. If Seattle gets into the playoffs I think they can be a very dangerous opponent, but will they get there?? They can’t do anything about the Falcons, but they can go out & win this game. However, The Vibes are telling me the points are a bit much and it might be a lot closer than anyone expects. Zach disagrees and thinks Seattle will win easily.

My Pick:     Arizona

Z’s Pick:     Seatttle

 

 

 

Buffalo (-3)                  at      Miami

The Dolphins have been even more mediocre than I thought they’d be. Surely QB Jay Cutler will be gently pushed back into retirement after the season ends. Conversely, the Bills have been a huge surprise. I never thought they’d even be in the playoff discussion, but here they are with a chance…a very small chance. They must win this game and hope for a Ravens loss, or if Baltimore wins then losses by both Tennessee & the Chargers will do the trick. The biggest Bengals fans in the world might not be in Cincinnati on Sunday…they’ll be in Buffalo (or Bills personnel in Miami). As much as it pains me to say it, I think the road ends painfully for the Buffalo Bills this weekend. Zach believes otherwise.

My Pick:     Miami

Z’s Pick:     Buffalo

 

2015 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 2

laces-football-grassAnd we’re back. It’s another exciting week in Gridironville, as the NFL starts its season. That means I’ll be spending most of my Sunday afternoons parked in front of the TV watching RedZone, undeniably one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century. In the inaugural week of the season your humble Potentate of Profundity went 4-1, while Zach stumbled out of the gate with a 1-4 mark. I can’t believe Auburn didn’t cover!! But it’s a long season, and things just get more fun from here on out. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 
Oklahoma at Tennessee (-1)
Last week the Sooners had no problem blowing out Akron, and the Vols didn’t have too much trouble dealing with Bowling Green, but both teams oklahomamust now step up their game. I’m a little concerned that Tennessee’s defense allowed Bowling Green to score 30 points, and to be honest I thought a lot of the talking heads overrated them coming into the season. I think head coach Butch Jones, now in his third season in Rocky Top, will get them back to respectability eventually…but not this year. I ranked Oklahoma 13th in my pre-season poll, and now is when they have to step up and prove they are worthy. Zach isn’t buying the Tennessee hype either.

 

My Pick = Oklahoma
Z’s Pick = Oklahoma

 

 
Boise St. (-3) at BYU
byuThe Broncos narrowly defeated former head coach Chris Petersen’s Washington Huskies in their initial outing of 2015, while BOISE-ST-LOGOthe Cougars upset Nebraska with a Hail Mary that actually worked. However, BYU lost their starting QB in that game as well. It is really interesting that Boise is favored as a visiting team. That is rare in such a fairly even matchup. It may not be the smart call, but The Vibes are telling me that the BYU train will keep rolling for atleast another week. Zach was unimpressed by Boise St. but thinks BYU’s luck will run out pretty quick.

 

My Pick = BYU
Z’s Pick = Boise St.

 

 

Oregon at Michigan St. (-3.5)
This is obviously the marquee game of the NCAA schedule this week. It’s the Saturday Night Special on ABC. The Ducks put up 61 points (but gave up Michigan_State_Spartans42) in defeating 1-AA Eastern Washington last weekend, while the Spartans probably eased off the gas when defeating in-state opponent Western Michigan. Michigan St. has the home field, which in a game like this can be huge. I said in my pre-season preview that I thought Oregon would fall back just a bit in 2015 and not be a playoff contender. Now it’s time for that to be proven on the field. Zach thinks this will be a great game but believes that the Spartan defense will be the difference maker.

 

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

 

 

New Orleans at Arizona (-2.5)
In my NFL preview I predicted that the Saints would be surprisingly mediocre…again. I’m just not impressed with any of their running backs, and nflarizonacardinalstrading away TE Jimmie Graham was huge. Conversely, the Cardinals are looking for another double digit win season and hope to make an impact in the playoffs as long as QB Carson Palmer stays healthy. I see no reason to go against the grain (or my own predictions) this week. Once again Zach thinks defense is the key to victory and is picking the Cards to stop Drew Brees.

 

My Pick = Arizona
Z’s Pick = Arizona

 

 
Baltimore at Denver (-4.5)
I predicted that the Ravens would take a step back and miss the playoffs in 2015. The talking heads seem to mostly disagree with my assessment. I denveralso said that Peyton Manning’s decline would become more apparent this regular season but then had the Broncos winning the Super Bowl from a wildcard spot. To be honest that’s probably just wishful thinking. I’m a sucker for happy endings and seeing sports legends go out on top. As far as this game goes, Denver has the home field and I think they will indeed defend their house. As a Steelers fan Zach obviously despises the Ravens, and he’s predicting Manning will throw 5 TDs against the Baltimore defense. That’d be fine with me.

My Pick = Denver
Z’s Pick = Denver

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

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

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

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

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

Winning & Musing…..Volume 4.13

Today we bid a fond farewell to the football season and touch on a couple of other subjects.

 

 

Congratulations…I suppose…to the Baltimore Ravens, who just won one of the more memorable Super Bowls in recent memory. It wasn’t the result I would have preferred for a variety of reasons, but atleast it was an entertaining & competitive game. The 49ers have to be kicking themselves for not really showing up until after the blackout. I’m not sure what happened but I’d be willing to bet it won’t happen again if they are fortunate enough to get back to the Super Bowl. But of course ravens_preview_flattherein lies the rub. History tells us that the chances of either of these teams being as successful as they were this season next year are slim. The Ravens have a built in excuse. Not only are they losing their emotional leader Ray Lewis to retirement, but as with every other Super Bowl Champion they will become victims of their own success by losing several players who’ll seize the moment and cash in with big money contracts from other teams. Conversely the 49ers are young & shouldn’t see much turnover, plus they should be super motivated to prove that first half was just a fluke. But I’d still hesitate to bet on them making it back next season.

 

The extracurriculars surrounding the Super Bowl were predictablybr underwhelming. There wasn’t a single commercial that really burnt itself into my memory. Beyonce’s halftime show was okay I guess. I am in the minority by having the opinion that using the kiddie choir from Sandy Hook Elementary to help Jennifer Hudson sing America the Beautiful was shameless pandering.

 

warren-sapp-1668ddd46de92f78I’m still in a little bit of shock that Warren Sapp was voted intobus the Pro Football Hall of Fame ahead of Jerome Bettis & Michael Strahan. Maybe I am missing something, but to me Sapp was just another loudmouthed thug from “The U”, i.e. the Miami Hurricanes, but unlike other Miami thugs like Ray Lewis & Michael Irvin didn’t seem to have all that much of a noteworthy career. I guess the Hall of Fame voters disagree with that assessment.

 

I don’t usually pay much attention to the NBA until the playoffs begin, but the much talked about issues surrounding the LA Lakers have been difficult to ignore and highlight why I have come to dislike that team immensely. Back in the 80’s heyday of Showtime I really liked Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, and their lakersteammates, but the 21st century version of the Lakers just aren’t likeable at all. It all started with Shaquille O’Neal several years ago. Shaq was and still is an illiterate assclown. I have no idea how mushmouths like he & football talking head Shannon Sharpe get TV gigs. Surely these shows can find more articulate talent. Anyway, then of course we have Kobe Bryant, who was one of the first guys to jump directly from high school to the NBA back when that was allowed. Kobe is very talented, but he’s also selfish & arrogant. Then this year the Lakers brought in Dwight Howard, who is 27 going on 12. I am simply sick & tired of hearing about all the conflict & struggle going on with the Lakers. Grow up & shut up.

 

Oh…speaking of the NBA…..

Please please please stop with the debate about who is the greatest basketball player jordanever – Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James. This is the kind of silly crap that ESPN pontificates about when there is nothing else going on in the world of sports, but to me there’s absolutely no question. Jordan is undoubtedly the greatest player to ever grace a basketball court. Kobe & LeBron are great players and have had some success, but any argument that tries to equate them with Jordan is simply manufactured, embellished poppycock.

 

I only pay slightly more attention to college basketball than I do the NBA at this bbpoint in the year. March Madness is awesome but in the 3 or 4 months prior I primarily focus on my Marshall Thundering Herd & WV Mountaineers. However, I must say that this season has been rather interesting. Every time a team reaches #1 they get upset. There doesn’t seem to be one dominant team or even a few dominant teams. That should make for a wide open NCAA Tournament with lots of twists & turns. Sounds good to me.

 

It is rare that I find myself in the position of saying anything positive about anyone associated with the evil empire known as the New England Patriots, but in the case of Rob Gronkowski I have to make an exception. I have been amused by all the old, curmudgeonly, fuddy duddy talking heads getting their knickers in a snit because Rob Gronkowski, Jerrell Freemanof Gronkowski’s partying caught on tape. This is a young 20-something who is rich, famous, (I assume) good looking, & popular. The world is his oyster. Why are a bunch of stuffed shirts so agitated by the guy dancing (badly) with his shirt off and acting like a goofball?? Yes the Patriots pay him a lot of money. Yes his wrist is currently in a cast. Yes he was most likely intoxicated both times he has been filmed partying like it’s 1999. But the last time I checked this was a free country and employees still have the right to engage in whatever legal activities they choose when they are “off duty”, which for professional athletes is the offseason. These out of touch sports “journalists” make it sound like Gronk was caught snorting lines of coke off the naked, dead carcass of Whitney Houston. Chill the hell out people!!

 

2012 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 3

 

I’m a day or two late this week with picks, probably because I am still trying to block out the memory of last week’s debacle.  I had been hopeful that I’d get better at this whole thing as we moved forward, but the second go ‘round was definitely a step back, as I went 2-5. The 49ers & Maryland Terrapins, both underdogs that I picked to win, bailed me out a little by rewarding my confidence. However, I was way wrong on my other picks. I picked Texas A&M, Nevada, Missouri, Oklahoma St., and the Buffalo Bills all to win. All lost. Not much to say about the situation other than I’ll just have to do better this week.

Last week                            2-5

Season                                 6-8

 

 

 

Alabama (-20)                   at            Arkansas

The Tide is rolling into Fayetteville 2-0, while the Razorbacks are 1-1 and reeling from the last weekend’s upset loss in overtime to Louisiana-Monroe. I have no doubt that ‘Bama will win. I have a sneaking suspicion that they could actually compete with a good many NFL teams. However, the question becomes the spread. Does Arkansas have enough pride to not only bounce back from last week’s defeat but also defend their home turf against total annihilation?? I think they do. Alabama will win, but not by 20 points. God help me, I’m taking Arkansas.

 

 

 

Florida                                  at            Tennessee (-3)

Both teams come into this highly anticipated rivalry game at 2-0, but this is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. The Gators have dominated the series lately, winning 7 straight. I put the Vols in my pre-season Top 25 because I think it’s time for their backward slide into irrelevance to stop. This would be a great game for them to have my back. It looks like the boys in Vegas agree with my thought process, and the fact that the game is being played in Knoxville tips the cap as well. I’m going with the favorites and my pre-season vibes, which Tennessee has so far reinforced.

 

 

USC (-9)                               at            Stanford

Another matchup of two 2-0 teams, and yet another situation where the real season starts here. Southern Cal is among the favorites to compete for the national title, while Stanford is regrouping after losing QB Andrew Luck to graduation & the NFL. I see no reason why the Trojan train will be derailed at this point, even though they aren’t the home team. I think USC wins comfortably.

 

 

Notre Dame                       at            Michigan State (-6)

The Spartans enter this annual rivalry at 2-0 and with the home field advantage. The Fighting Irish have thus far been as advertised. I’m still a little bit uncomfortable with the QB situation in South Bend, but it has actually worked out quite well to this point. However, if we are really being honest the first two weeks of the season haven’t really told us all that much about either team, and this will be when we find out who’s a contender and who’s a pretender. The vibes are telling me that the Spartans will be the victors, and even though the vibes haven’t proven to be all that accurate this year I’ll still go with them.

 

 

Baltimore                            at            Philadelphia (-2)

The Ravens are among the favorites in the AFC, and a big victory over the Bengals to open the season did nothing to dissuade anyone from that notion. The Eagles had a much less impressive 2012 debut, barely getting by the lowly Cleveland Browns. The home field advantage has surprisingly made Philly slim favorites. I’m not sure I buy that, so I’ll go against the grain and, as much as it makes this Steelers fan physically ill, pick the Ravens. Ugh.

 

 

New Orleans (-3)             at            Carolina

The Saints got victimized last weekend by rookie QB Robert Griffin III’s remarkable first NFL game, which was probably the biggest surprise of the inaugural week of the 2012 season. Meanwhile, it was the same old story for the Panthers, with QB Cam Newton putting up good numbers in a loss. I’m really quite stunned that New Orleans is only a 3 point favorite. I suppose last week’s loss, combined with the huge crush the masses have on Newton and Carolina having the home field are contributing factors. I think that’s all poppycock, and even though I picked New Orleans to have a mediocre season and Carolina to make the playoffs I have to go with the Saints here.

 

 

Washington (-3.5)           at            St. Louis

The Redskins look like they have the real deal with signal caller RGIII, who, as noted above, got his NFL career off to a rousing start with a shocking victory over the New Orleans Saints. The Rams made a game of it but ultimately fell to the Detroit Lions last weekend. There is a temptation to believe that Griffin will be knocked off his pedestal and be made to look more like the rookie that he is, and that will almost certainly happen eventually. But I don’t think it’ll occur this week. Washington should get a fairly easy victory here.

 

 

 

 

2009 NFL Preview – AFC

The word for this year’s NFL season is parity. Yes…..I realize that’s not an original thought. You hear it dozens of times from all the talking heads on ESPN, CBS, Fox, and NBC…..your friendly neighborhood purveyors of NFL action. But honest to God I really believe it to be the case this year. There are a few teams (Cleveland, Kansas City, Detroit) that continue to wallow in the land of dreadful despite all the usual machinations such as new coaches and noteworthy free agent signings or trades. And there are a few elite teams (Pittsburgh and the New York Giants for example) that continue to ride the tasty wave of success with no signs of decline. But the vast majority of the league seems to be atop a high wire, where a key injury or bad move by the coach will dictate the fickle difference between 7-9 and 11-5 but no amount of tinkering will make them neither elite nor awful. It’s one of the reasons we love the NFL…..it’s unpredictable and somewhat random. That being said, here’s my take on how we might see the season unfold. As always…please, no wagering. I don’t claim to actually be good at this.

We’ll take a look at the AFC first, and then I will post a look at the NFC in a few days:

AFC EAST

Miami Dolphins 11-5

Bill Parcells is large and in charge. And his head coach Tony Sparano seems like a true disciple. That’s a good thing. There’s a sense of stability in Miami that hasn’t been present for awhile, and in the NFL stability is usually a positive trait. The big question will be whether or not The Wildcat offense is something the rest of the league has figured out, or if the Dolphins can add enough new twists to keep it  fresh.

New York Jets                      10-6

The Jets are on the right path. I have a good feeling about rookie QB Mark Sanchez. Sure he’ll have some growing pains, but he can’t be any worse than what the departed Bret Favre was the second half of last season. New coach Rex Ryan is a defensive guru, so that side of the ball should see improvement.

New England Patriots       10-6

I can’t explain it, but I just sense the magic slipping away in Foxboro. I’m not convinced that Tom Brady is as healthy as desired, and a running attack featuring a three headed monster of Laurence Maroney, BenJarvis Green, and Fred Taylor just isn’t that overwhelming. I’m not saying New England will be a bad team, but I think they are in for much more of a dogfight in their division than most folks seem to believe.

Buffalo Bills                          4-12

No, I do not think that Terrell Owens is the savior this team needs. Though he’s been quiet thus far it is likely only a matter of time before he becomes the divisive force he’s been everywhere he’s played. Unfortunately for the Bills they are not in a position of strength where they can withstand such distractions. Dallas and Philadelphia thrived despite T.O.’s antics. Buffalo will not. Plus, this division is just too tough. The Bills may be looking at 6 losses just within their own division, and then they have games against Tennessee, Atlanta, and Indianapolis. Dick Jauron is a decent coach with the misfortune of being hired by subpar teams. Time to update the resume again Dick.


AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis Colts               10-6

The Colts, much like the Patriots, have been the cream of the crop for a long time. Did you realize that Peyton Manning is 33 years old and a veteran of 11 years?? Chinks in the armor have slowly developed over the past couple of years, but they have merely downgraded Indy from elite status to extremely good. And some of these emerging concerns aren’t so much a function of this team getting worse, but a recognition of other teams’ improvement. This division used to be Indy’s for the taking, but it has gotten quite competitive. The Colts have a new coach and Marvin Harrison isn’t around for Manning to throw to anymore. However, at the end of the day I still feel like no one is up to the task of dethroning the kings just yet…..until they get to the playoffs of course.

Tennessee Titans                10-6

Speaking of dethroning, Tennessee did do exactly that last year to the Colts. But I don’t believe they can pull off another 13-3 season. The defense is always above average, but the loss of DT Albert Haynesworth in free agency will have an impact. On offense the question is whether Kerry Collins, who up until last season had the aura of career backup, can continue his magic carpet ride. And what about Vince Young?? He all the sudden became a headcase in 2008 which is what allowed Collins to emerge as a star. The running attack is solid with the fleet of foot Chris Johnson and the bruising (and apparently sober) Lendale White. Whomever ends up being the QB has a few folks to throw to now thanks to the additions of free agent WR Nate Washington and first round choice Kenny Britt.

Houston Texans                  9-7

I keep waiting on the Texans to break through, but they continue to be just so-so with occasional flashes of potential. I’m not sure Matt Schaub is the answer at QB, and another receiver is needed so defenses can’t just key on Andre Johnson. Steve Slaton proved all the talking heads who said he wasn’t feature back material wrong, but I do believe the running game would benefit from adding a big battering ram for goal line and short yardage situations. Defensively this team just seems to be missing a piece or two. Being in the same division as Indianapolis and Tennessee doesn’t help matters, but that’s out of anyone’s control. The best game plan in Houston might be to sit tight and continue to improve one player at a time until that inevitable day when Peyton Manning retires.

Jacksonville Jaguars           7-9

I think the Jags will be slightly better than last season, but not much. The team took significant steps to improve the offensive line, and I’m of the opinion that that is the vital foundation of any good football team. RB Fred Taylor absconded to New England in a desperate attempt to win a ring, so Maurice Jones-Drew (some people call him The Space Cowboy, some call him The Gangster of Love) is the man now, and that’s probably a good thing. Veteran wideout Torry Holt will bolster the receiving corps along with a seemingly rejuvenated Troy Williamson who is determined to shed the “bust” label with which he has been saddled. There are two threads on which Jacksonville’s season hangs. The first is the defense. They are usually among the league’s best, but dropped off noticeably in 2008. The other is QB David Garrard. Once upon a time Garrard had a Randall Cunningham vibe. Last year it was more like Richie Cunningham. Nothing has happened this offseason to make me believe a momentous turnaround is on the horizon.


AFC NORTH

Pittsburgh Steelers                        11-5

Full disclosure…..I am a lifelong diehard Steeler fanatic. Admittedly it is hard for me to be completely objective when talking about my team. But I’m going to give it the old college try and leave it up to the reader’s discretion as to whether I’m on point or completely delusional. The Steelers are the defending Super Bowl Champions…..but let’s look deeper. They won last year despite having what was almost unanimously regarded as the league’s toughest schedule. They won despite both star RB Willie Parker and first round draft choice Rashard Mendenhall having major injuries and having to rely on third string RB Mewelde Moore. They won despite having an offensive line that no one was expecting to be very solid. So, extrapolating some logic from those statements, one could possibly surmise that with an easier schedule, both top runners healthy, and an offensive line that gelled better than anyone expected and now has an extra year of experience the Steelers might be even better in 2009. But not even I am willing to go that far. Defending Super Bowl champions haven’t had much luck the past decade or so, and this team did suffer some personnel losses. Will Limas Sweed validate being a high draft choice last year by stepping into the 3rd receiver role vacated by Nate Washington?? Will free agent signee Keiwan Ratliff be a suitable replacement for departed cornerback Bryant McFadden?? I’m not sure about the answers to those questions right now. Plus, the target is bigger than ever and one team in particular, the hated Ravens, will be gunning for the champs. But I get the sense that Mike Tomlin won’t let his team become unfocused, so to be honest I’m not all that concerned. I am predicting another banner year for the black n’ gold.

Baltimore Ravens                           10-6

The Ravens were oh-so-close last year. It’s rare when an 11-5 record doesn’t lock up a division title. QB Joe Flacco had a surprisingly proficient rookie season and the defense was as intimidating as everyone has come to expect. I don’t expect much of a drop off this year. It will be interesting to see how the departure of defensive coordinator Rex Ryan (the new head coach of the New York Jets) affects the chemistry. My guess is not much, atleast not in any measurable dynamic. I suppose a sophomore slump is possible for Flacco, but it is unlikely. Ray Lewis isn’t getting any younger, but he’s still got a couple great years in the tank. In almost any other division in the league Baltimore would be a runaway choice to come out on top. They just have the misfortune of playing in the same division with the only defense better than theirs.

Cincinnati Bengals                          8-8

A lot of folks derisively call them The Bungles, and it is a richly deserved bad reputation. They’ve had a lot of issues both on and off the field. Carson Palmer is theoretically healthy and fully recovered from past injuries which should help tremendously. Still, questions…and doubts…abound. I personally don’t believe that Laverneous Coles is an upgrade or even an even swap for departed receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh, and when your team is relying on underachieving Cedric Benson to carry the rushing load that’s a bad sign. The team drafted an OT with the 6th overall pick in the draft, but first he held out until late in the pre-season and then he broke his foot in practice, so there goes that idea. Long removed from the Super Bowl hay days of Boomer Esiason, Chris Collinsworth, and  Icky Woods, the modern day Bengals just seem snakebitten. I really like coach Marvin Lewis, who had much success as a defensive coach in Pittsburgh, Washington, and most notably Baltimore.  But I’m not sure even the re-animated corpses of Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry combined could polish this turd. It’s a testament to the talent of Palmer (and having Oakland, Kansas City, Detroit, and Cleveland – twice, on the schedule) that I’m even predicting a .500 finish.

Cleveland Browns                          6-10

I’m a Steelers fan so I hate the Browns, but I missed them when they were gone from the league for a few years. I was glad when they were reborn. But holy cow have they been dreadful since that triumphant return. They just can’t seem to find even a glimmer of hope, a small buoy in a raging sea of mediocrity. Atleast the Bengals have Palmer. The Browns pinned all their hopes a couple years ago on Notre Dame alumnus Brady Quinn. I never thought Quinn was that good even in college, and he hasn’t been good enough to seize the reins for the Browns. If you aren’t good enough to be the clear cut starting QB for such a bad team then you aren’t good enough period. New head coach Eric Mangini is a Bill Belichick disciple, which has been proven to mean diddly squat. Former Browns coach Romeo Crennel was a Belichick guy too, and that didn’t work well at all. Mangini himself was run out of New York, although I think maybe the Jets pulled the trigger a bit prematurely. Maybe some guys are meant to be really well respected coordinators and aren’t necessarily head coach material. Being in the same division with the Steelers and Ravens is just brutal.


AFC WEST

San Diego Chargers           14-2

Predicting the best record in the NFL for San Diego is as much about the atrocious division they play in than anything else. There are probably even a handful of college teams that could beat the three other teams in this division this season. San Diego has been a rather good team the past few seasons, and I don’t expect that to change. Yes, Ladainian Tomlinson has lost a step. But that’s like saying it’d take Mike Tyson 5 rounds to knock out Michael Spinks rather than the 1 round it took him 20 years ago. So what?? Shawne Merriman should be fully healthy now, so the defense will be better than it was in 2008. Philip Rivers just signed a fat contract, which might make him lazier but instead I believe it’ll make him relaxed and more effective. Vincent Jackson needs to step up and be the go to receiver many have thought him capable of being, and big time TE Antonio Gates needs to stay healthy. I truly believe that last year’s 8-8 season was a mirage, a one time off year that can be attributed to injuries to a few key players. That is unlikely to happen two straight seasons.

Denver Broncos                  8-8

The Josh McDaniels era hasn’t exactly gotten off to a rousing start…..and they haven’t even played a game yet. McDaniels is another of the aformentioned branches on the Belichick coaching tree, one that hasn’t proven very fruitful thus far. I don’t think this guy is going to change that fact. The whole Jay Cutler debacle was an inauspicious launch for the new regime, and even though Cutler undoubtedly acted like a petulant child the blame must be shared by coach McDaniels. I understand wanting “your guy” as a new coach. I get it. But it wasn’t as if Cutler was a bad quarterback. It’s not even like the Broncos were a bad team. They were 8-5 last year and then lost the final 3 games. If they would have won the last game they would have been in the playoffs. The biggest issue was the defense, which ranked near the bottom in most categories. The coach obviously miscalculated what bringing in QB Matt Cassel, whom he had worked with in New England, would do to Cutler’s psyche. Cassel didn’t even end up with the Broncos, but that didn’t matter. The damage was done and Cutler whined his way out of Denver and into a pretty decent gig with Chicago. The Broncos?? Well…they ended up with Kyle Orton. It’s akin to having Russell Crowe lined up to star in your new movie but he drops out and you end up with Keanu Reeves. This will not end well. They did draft what most considered the top RB in the draft in Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno, and he’ll be backed up by Correll Buckhalter and Lamont Jordan. Not a flashy running attack but it should be effective. I atleast like this trifecta more than New England’s. Some pieces were added on defense thru the draft and free agency, but I don’t see any real difference makers. In 2008 the Broncos finished with a .500 record, and I’m generously predicting the same record in 2009, which begs the question…why exactly did they fire Mike Shanahan??

Oakland Raiders                 5-11

Al Davis is still alive and kicking, and that is bad news for the once mighty Raiders. Seriously, what has happened to this team?? It is one of the premiere franchises in the NFL…..infamous, successful, bold. But the aging and apparently crazy Davis has turned them into a laughing stock. The man is 80 years old. Someone needs to make him retire. I’m just not impressed by anything the Raiders have to offer. They have a new coach. Whatever. They have Jamarcus Russell as the QB of the future and brought in Jeff Garcia to be a mentor and capable backup. Sorry…..still doesn’t stir anything within my soul. Even Darren McFadden is an overhyped RB who’ll get you 2 yards but just look flashier doing it than most other backs. They didn’t draft anyone inspiring either. It’s just more of the same from a team that seems to have no direction.

Kansas City Chiefs              3-13

Speaking of no direction, that brings us to the Chiefs. All you need to know about this team is that their new head coach is apparently going to attempt to be the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator too. The man is clearly a control freak and in over his head. The jury is still out on Matt Cassel, the newly acquired starting QB. Cassel wasn’t even a starter in college at USC, where he backed up both Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. Last season he got his opportunity with the Patriots after Tom Brady went down with a knee injury. I get the fact that almost anyone is an upgrade over Brodie Croyle and Tyler Thigpen, but the fact is that we are talking about a guy who shined for only one season and that happened to be with one of the best supporting casts in football. The road to hell is paved with the short lived careers of football players who were really good for a year or two. Running back Larry Johnson has seen his production dramatically curtailed the past two seasons, and he is on the threshold of 30, the age when rushers traditionally begin a steep decline. Perennial all-pro tight end Tony Gonzalez got tired of losing and demanded a trade, so he’s now in Atlanta with the Falcons. There just isn’t much good news for the Chiefs. If Cassel proves himself more than just a one year wonder, and if Johnson has a career renaissance or possibly Jamaal Charles steps into that spot and breaks out, then maybe this team can do better than last season. But my gut instinct is that improvement will not manifest itself until next season.