2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 5

We didn’t pick the Clemson game last week, but please indulge me while I give myself a rare pat on the back. In my pre-season poll I pondered the question “Could it be that the ACC is getting better just as the (Clemson) Tigers aren’t quite as elite as they have been??”. It didn’t go down exactly like I thought it would, but yeah…I called it!! No playoff for Clemson this season. Now, if only my weekly picks in these games were as accurate. Sadly both Zach (2-3) and myself (1-4) struggled again last week, so I’m going against my better judgement by chasing wins with bonus picks. Y’all are welcome, even though it may just blow up in our faces.

My Season: 11-15

Zach’s Season: 10-16

Florida International at Florida Atlantic (-10.5)

I can’t be the only one who gets these two teams mixed up, so let’s take a little climb up the learning tree. The 2-2 Florida Atlantic Owls call Boca Raton (45 miles north of Miami) home, represent Conference USA, and are coached by Willie Taggart (former head coach at Oregon & Florida St.). The 1-3 Florida International Panthers are out of Miami, also play in C-USA, and their head coach is Butch Davis (who has also coached for Miami, North Carolina, & the Cleveland Browns). I don’t think there’s much of a home field advantage to be had, and in rivalry games like this most other conventional rules can be tossed aside. So it comes down to vibes and what assumptions one can make based on what we’ve seen thus far. FAU lost to Florida & Air Force, allowing both teams to score 30+ points. FIU has only played one game against top tier competition, and that was a four TD+ loss to Texas Tech. This feels like a relatively low scoring, tight game to be decided by turnovers, penalties, & special teams. Something along the lines of 28-24, which means that I don’t like the spread at all and will take the underdogs to cover. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Florida International 

Z’s Pick: Florida International

Cincinnati (-2.5) at Notre Dame 

I had to look at those odds multiple times utilizing a few different sources. Sure, Cincy is a solid team that had two consecutive 11 win seasons before last year’s abbreviated campaign in which they logged 9 victories before narrowly losing to Georgia in the Peach Bowl. They handled a well regarded Indiana team last week. I am by no means saying that the Bearcats aren’t good. However, they’re an AAC team typically not on the same level as a program like Notre Dame. Not only that, but this game is in South Bend and the 4-0 Irish have given no one any reason to doubt them outside of being pushed into overtime by Florida St. in the season opener. Hell, they took Wisconsin’s best punch a week ago and still won by 4 TDs, so what am I missing?? Why is Cincinnati favored in this game?!?!?!?? It sounds pretty insane to me, so I’m going with the home team to score the “upset”. Conversely, Zach believes the Bearcats are for real and this is their opportunity to prove they belong in the playoff conversation. 

My Pick: Notre Dame 

Z’s Pick: Cincinnati 

Ole Miss at Alabama (-14.5)

Well, atleast we don’t have to worry about Clemson in the playoff, so it’ll be fresh to some degree. Now if only we could see the Tide lose a couple of games and fall out of contention, how cool would that be?? Unfortunately that’s probably not going to happen. ‘Bama has won four games by an average of 29 points, although it should be noted that they’ve not faced anyone with a pulse other than Florida, a game they only won by two points. The Rebels are 3-0 and have also beaten up on clearly inferior competition. In attendance will be highly touted recruit Arch Manning, Peyton & Eli’s nephew. It is my understanding that both Ole Miss & Alabama are high on his list, so it’ll be interesting to hear down the line how this game affected his decision. At any rate, if it were being played in Oxford I might be tempted to pick the upset. Enigmatic Rebels’ head coach Lane Kiffin spent a few years as ‘Bama’s offensive coordinator awhile back so obviously he’d love to snatch a shocking victory. However, with the game being contested in Tuscaloosa I just don’t see it happening. The only question is if the home team can cover the points, and I believe they will. Zach’s man crush on Nick Saban makes his choice easy. 

My Pick: Alabama

Z’s Pick: Alabama 

Arkansas at Georgia (-18.5)

I didn’t think the Razorbacks were legit, but I was wrong. They handled Texas A&M and moved into the Top 10. Unfortunately they now must travel to Athens and challenge the undefeated #2 Bulldogs. I’d be really surprised if Georgia loses, but can they cover?? The points feel a bit disrespectful. Having said that, it feels like a “go big or go home” moment, and I did pick Georgia to be a playoff team and thus far they’ve done nothing to dissuade me, so I’m counting on them to notch a three touchdown victory. Zach respects Georgia’s defense & team speed, but he doesn’t like the spread and thinks Arkansas will keep it close.

My Pick: Georgia

Z’s Pick: Arkansas 

Detroit at Chicago (-3)

Good Lord the Bears were awful a week ago. At the time of publication it is unknown whether the Bears’ starting QB will be rookie Justin Fields, Andy Dalton, or Nick Foles…but does it matter?? Conversely, the Lions are coming off a last second loss to the Baltimore Ravens in which it took the longest field goal in NFL history to beat them. Can they use that heartbreaking defeat as motivation?? If they were playing a playoff caliber team I might have doubts, but the Bears aren’t that, so I think Detroit scores the mild upset. Zach agrees on all counts. 

My Pick: Detroit 

Z’s Pick: Detroit 

Seattle at San Francisco (-3)

In my NFL Preview I predicted that the NFC West would be fun to watch, and so far they have not disappointed. This game might end up being a factor in a few months when deciding a playoff spot, and don’t think for a second these teams don’t realize that. Seattle lost to the Minnesota Vikings last weekend, while ‘Frisco was on the losing end of an unsurprising Aaron Rodgers miracle, so both clubs will be looking to rebound. I think the home field actually does make a difference, so I’m picking the Niners. Zach, on the other hand, believes potential league MVP Russell Wilson will lead his team to victory. 

My Pick: San Francisco 

Z’s Pick: Seattle 

Arizona at LA Rams (-6)

Staying in the NFC West, these are the teams I believe will be battling for the division crown at the end, so it’s a pretty big early season matchup. Both are undefeated, but obviously that’ll change for one of them. It looks like the trade for QB Matthew Stafford was a wise move for the Rams, while the Cards have developed into a seemingly complete team. This is a tossup for me, but whoever wins I think it’ll be by less than a touchdown. Zach foresees a close game but believes the home team will cover. 

My Pick: Arizona 

Z’s Pick: LA Rams 

Tampa Bay (-6.5) at New England

It’s the Brady Bowl. I’m sure the folks in Boston & Tampa are pumped, but personally I’d rather see both teams lose. That being said, I think it’s been well established by now that the “Patriot Dynasty” was more about Brady than it ever was about Belichick. The oddsmakers seem to agree since the home team is a near touchdown underdog. The Sunday Night Football folks at NBC are probably going to be disappointed because I think this one will be over rather quickly and the defending Super Bowl champs might win by 4 or 5 TDs. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Tampa Bay 

Z’s Pick: Tampa Bay 

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 16

Not only has the action already began this week in the NFL with an entertaining last second upset of the KC Chiefs by the LA Chargers, but there are actually Saturday games, which is pretty cool. For our purposes I am trying to avoid focusing exclusively on the handful of division leaders & playoff contenders, so this week we’re venturing off the beaten path a bit and showing some love for a few teams that are having a tough season, or atleast not achieving the level of success they expected. Speaking of subpar seasons…last week Zach was 0-5, while I was 2-3. Yikes. We’ll just move forward and hope for better things this time.

My Season:     49-48

Z’s Season:     40-58

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miami        `                  at                          Minnesota (-7)

One of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal football week ago was Miami’s miracle upset of the New England Patriots. Can the Dolphins keep rolling?? I suppose they’re still in the hunt for the AFC’s final wildcard, although that’ll be a tall mountain to climb. The Vikings are in much the same situation in the NFC, but it feels a lot different because expectations were so high for them coming into the season. They’ve lost three out of their last four, and just feel like a team heading in the wrong direction. I don’t know if Miami will get the outright victory, but The Vibes are telling me it will be closer than a touchdown. Zach thinks momentum is squarely with Miami and beliees they’ll get the win.

My Pick:     Miami

Z’s Pick:     Miami

 

 

 

Tennessee                  at                NY Giants (-2.5)

The Titans are in that AFC logjam for the final playoff berth, and they’re riding a two game winning streak. Last weekend Tennessee RB Derrick Henry singlehandedly torpedoed my dynasty league playoff hopes, which was a tough pill to swallow. The Giants are in the cellar of the NFC East and already strategizing about which “quarterback of the future” they’ll select in the first round of the NFL Draft. Having said that, the Giants do have the home field and Henry won’t repeat last week’s success. Zach likes Giants’ RB Saquon Barkley, but doesn’t think the team will get over the hump until they replace aging quarterback Eli Manning. He believes the Titans will score a close victory.

My Pick:     NY Giants

Z’s Pick:     Tennessee

 

 

 

Arizona                         at                          Atlanta (-8.5)

The Cardinals could be looking at the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, and the Falcons aren’t much better. No one is expecting anything from this game, which of course means it will end up being one of the best of the weekend, right?? I don’t know if Arizona can pull off an upset on the road, but I think they’ll stay within a touchdown. Zach is going out on a limb and predicting that Atlanta can cover the points.

My Pick:     Arizona

Z’s Pick:     Atlanta

 

 

 

Detroit                           at                          Buffalo (-2.5)

I’ve lost track of who is behind center for the Bills. Josh Allen?? Derek Anderson?? Matt Barkley?? Nathan Peterman?? AJ McCarron?? It’s tough to be a Pittsburgh Pirates fan every summer, but it can’t be much fun for the folks in Buffalo having to endure the mess that the Bills have become. Atleast the Lions know that Matthew Stafford is their starting QB…for all the good that’s done them the past decade. I’m not sure what we can hope for from a matchup of teams with a combined record of 9-17, but it’s December and the game is in Buffalo so I assume the home field has to mean something. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Buffalo

Z’s Pick:     Buffalo

 

 

 

Washington                           at                Jacksonville (-6.5)

I thought the Jags would fall off a bit from last year’s impressive playoff run, but wow…they’ve totally dived off the cliff. I suppose that’s another team that will be looking to draft a quarterback in the first round. Meanwhile, the Redskins have a different kind of quarterback issue. Alex Smith is lost for the season due to an injury, and his career might be over. Josh Johnson?? Mark Sanchez?? It makes the Bills’ depth chart look good in comparison. I think this will be a low scoring game with lots of running the ball, punts, & perhaps a turnover or two to make the difference, and I’m going with the Redskins to score a mild upset. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Washington

Z’s Pick:     Washington

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 17

football-introducing-the-science_1Before we move forward with this week’s picks I must correct an oversight on my part. The past couple of weeks we’ve been dealing strictly with NFL games because I indicated the college football season was over except for the bowl games. The problem is that isn’t exactly true. There are playoff games going on at the FCS, Division II, & other “lower” levels of NCAA football. We wouldn’t pick those games because neither Zach nor myself are knowledgeable at all about any of the teams involved, but I feel like it is important to recognize that those games exist. As a student at Marshall University in the early 90’s I witnessed multiple 1-AA playoff games and was privileged to be in the stadium when my Thundering Herd won the national title in 1992. There are a lot of football snobs out there that only acknowledge “big boy football” as played by the SEC, Big Ten, Notre Dame, Florida State, etc., but the football played in other divisions can be just as exciting & fun to watch, and there have been no shortage of players from lesser known smaller schools that have made an impact in the NFL. Their putrid 2016 season notwithstanding, part of me has often wished Marshall would have stayed in 1-AA/FCS. Since moving up the best they have been able to do is battle for a MAC or C-USA conference title and then play in some prosaic December bowl game that no one cares about or remembers. As a fan it was much more interesting to see my team move thru a 16 team playoff and have an opportunity to play for a championship. At any rate, I felt it important to recognize those other, often overlooked & marginalized, levels of college football. Last week both Zach & I were at our mediocre best, he at 2-3 and I at 3-2. Average seems to be our thing this season. A few NFL teams have already clinched playoff berths, but these last few weeks will see a lot of jockeying for position. Since Sunday is Christmas Day much of the action will take place the day before, which is fine with me. Merry Christmas fellow football fans. I sincerely wish all of you a most delightful holiday.

My Season:        47-46

Z’s Season:        33-60

 

 

 

 

 

Indianapolis      at      Oakland (-4)

raidersThe Raiders are already in the playoff field, while the Colts really need to win their final two games and even then face an uphill battle. I’d really Indianapolis_Colts_Helmetlove to pick Indy since I predicted that they’d win the division, but it just doesn’t feel like the chips are falling in their favor. I think Oakland is just too good. Zach has apparently been infected with my Vibes. He’s picking the upset though he doesn’t really know why. Good luck with that dude…it rarely works out well for me.

My Pick:     Oakland

Z’s Pick:     Indianapolis

 

 

Tampa Bay        at      New Orleans (-3)

tampa-bay-buccaneersThe Bucs still have an opportunity to win their division, but winning their last two games is probably necessary. Even a wildcard spot is going to be tough. Conversely, the Saints can only play spoiler and have to win out just to finish at .500. I don’t expect any surprises and neither does Zach.

My Pick:     Tampa Bay

Z’s Pick:     Tampa Bay

 

 

Minnesota                    at      Green Bay (-6.5)

After beginning the season 5-0 the Vikings have lost 7 of the last 9 games. Their defense is still formidable, but they’ve sputtered offensively and QB Sam Bradford no Green_Bay_Packers_Helmetlonger looks like a long term answer in case Teddy Bridgewater is unable to make a successful comeback. The Packers have had a roller coaster season but are riding a four game winning streak and have an outside shot at the playoffs…maybe even a division title. These are simply two teams going in opposite directions and I see no evidence the tide will turn this week. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Green Bay

Z’s Pick:     Green Bay

 

 

Denver                at      Kansas City (-4)

kc-chiefs-logoI told y’all the Chiefs were going to the playoffs, and a win here would probably secure a spot. Denver’s quarterback situation has torpedoed anybroncos-4759 chance they had of achieving the success they had last year. Peyton Manning retiring has that effect. Although it does look like they made the right choice to let Brock Osweiler walk in free agency. There will be no upset here, atleast in my opinion. Conversely, Zach thinks Denver, with their back against the wall and in a dogfight for a playoff spot, will get the job done.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Denver

 

 

Detroit                 at      Dallas (-7)

Detroit_Lions_HelmetThe Cowboys are going to win their division before the inevitable postseason crash & burn. The Lions have snuck up on everybody, but they dallas-cowboys-logo2have Green Bay hot on their trail and need to win out to secure a division title. This is your Monday night game and I am predicting an early start to Dallas’ certain demise. Zach disagrees. He predicts it’ll be a blowout for the favorites.

My Pick:     Detroit

Z’s Pick:     Dallas

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 17

I have to be honest. Choosing which games we are going to pick has become difficult. College football is, of course, over. The NFL is down to the nitty gritty. We have a good idea of which teams are definitely in the playoffs and which teams certainly will not be playoff bound. The real interest lies in the handful of teams who are fighting for just a couple of playoff spots. However, I don’t want to just keep talking about the same half dozen teams every week. That’s redundant & tedious for both myself and The Manoverse. Ah well…there are worse problems, right?? At any rate, last week Zach went 2-3, while I went 3-2. Zach’s faith in Johnny Football proved to be misguided, while we both underestimated how far the San Francisco 49ers have gone off the rails. That brings my season record to 50-41, while Zach is currently 46-45. I think it’s pretty cool that both of us are still above .500. Hey ESPN…call me!!

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Buffalo (-5.5) at Oakland
raidersNeither team is going to the playoffs. The Bills aren’t mathematically eliminated, but they are definitely fighting an uphill battle. To be fair Buffalo_Bills_Helmetthough they have shown improvement. It looks like they don’t believe QB EJ Manuel is the answer, so they’ll likely have to address that issue in the offseason. Conversely, even though they seem like they have their quarterback of the present & future with Derek Carr, the Raiders are a mess. They’ll be looking to hire a big time coach in the offseason. As far as this game goes I am going to go with the upset. Call it a gut feeling. Zach thinks Buffalo will win easily.

My Pick = Oakland
Z’s Pick = Buffalo

Detroit (-8) at Chicago
The big sports news this week is that the Bears are benching QB Jay Cutler and starting Jimmy Clausen. It’d be shocking if that is a long term answer. Will Cutler Detroit_Lions_Helmetbe with the Bears next season?? Can head coach Marc Trestman keep his job?? I have no idea. Meanwhile, the Lions are in a dogfight for both their division lead and a wildcard spot. They have a lot riding on this game and I don’t think they’ll mess it up. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Detroit
Z’s Pick = Detroit

Indianapolis at Dallas (-3)
The Colts have already clinched their division. The Cowboys lead their division and need to win atleast one more game. This is going to be a shootout. I expect the Indianapolis_Colts_HelmetPalace in Dallas to have a playoff atmosphere. However, I also expect Andrew Luck to have more bullets in his gun than Tony Romo. Zach agrees.

My Pick = Indianapolis
Z’s Pick = Indianapolis

Seattle (-7.5) at Arizona
ss1The defending champion Seahawks are still in the playoff hunt, but the Cardinals have clinched the division title. However, the Cards are azcdown to 3rd string QB Ryan Lindley. I have no doubt that Arizona will put forth their best effort, and eliminating Seattle from playoff contention would be sweet for them (and every other NFC playoff contender). I just don’t believe that a Seattle team with everything on the line will go down easily. Zach, on the other hand, is all in on the Cardinals despite their shaky quarterback situation.

My Pick = Seattle
Z’s Pick = Arizona

Denver (-3) at Cincinnati
The Bengals took care of business last week by knocking that arrogant jackass Manziel down a peg or two, but now it’s time for them to lose. Cincy is just a half denvergame in front of Pittsburgh & Baltimore in the AFC North, and both of those teams have very winnable games this week. The Broncos have already clinched their division and I suppose it’s not out of the question that they could take their foot off the gas these last couple of weeks. I hope they wait until next week versus Oakland to do that. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Denver
Z’s Pick = Denver

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 13

Okay I just have to vent…again. This college football playoff thing is a complete joke. I never in a million years thought something could be worse than the BCS, but the current system has somehow managed to make the BCS look logical & fair. As an alumnus of Marshall University and a longtime fan of the Thundering Herd I find it outrageously offensive that they have thus far been excluded from the playoff committee’s Top 25. Even some of the talking heads thought this would finally be the week that the Herd was included, but instead Minnesota…a three loss team that was defeated by Ohio St. just a few days earlier…remained in the same #25 spot they’d held previously. Three loss teams Louisville and Clemson (who lost a few days ago just like Minnesota) are both ranked ahead of 10-0 Marshall as well. To add insult to injury, last week on ESPN’s Mike & Mike former Florida St. QB Danny Kanell, whose prickishness just oozes thru the TV screen, said in reference to some highly ranked team (it may have been the Seminoles, who like Marshall have had many question the strength of their schedule) that they can only play theFU teams that are put in front of them. Oh really?? That’s exactly what Marshall has done you sanctimonious assclown, and they’ve beaten the snot out of everyone they’ve faced (unlike Florida St., which is the luckiest team I’ve ever seen and should have lost atleast 2 games already). No one is saying that Marshall should be in the playoff. That’s not the point. The issue is that the committee not even putting them in their Top 25 is ridiculous. It’s basically a bunch of arrogant elitists saying to someone they perceive as “lesser” than them “you’re not invited to our exclusive club”. D*****bags like Kanell even refer to games among the “power” conferences as “big boy football”. The problem with their logic is that the “power” 5 conferences AND the “other” 5 conferences are ALL in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision (what used to be called Division 1-A) and therefore should have equal access to the FBS National Championship. If the “have-nots” aren’t going to have that kind of access then the divisions need revised. Let the chosen ones play “big boy football” while guys like Danny Kanell lube up and pleasure themselves watching it on TV, and allow the teams in the MAC, C-USA, Mountain West, AAC, & Sun Belt to form their own division and play for a separate national title. Maybe some “lower” teams like Boise St. would try to move up to “big boy football”. Maybe some current 1-AA teams would move up into whatever this new “lower” division would be. It’s all good. The point is that we could remove all pretense and let the morons in the media focus their idolatry on their chosen few, while the little guys would still have something legit to play for.

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Anyway, sorry for the rant. Y’all are here for some picks. Last week I went 3-4, bringing my season record to 35-32. Zach was an impressive 6-1 and nailed the prediction that Alabama would defeat Mississippi St. but not cover the 7½ point spread. His season record is now 36-31. This looks like kind of a mediocre week in college football, but I think we’ve found a few noteworthy games as well as a couple of NFL matchups that should be fun. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Arizona at Utah (-4)
Neither of these teams is heading to the playoff or even the Pac 12 title game, but both are solid Top 25 teams that have had quietly successful seasons. The Utes ArizonaWildcatsget the slight home field advantage, but I think Arizona is the better team and will win this game easily. Zach likes the Wildcats by a TD.

My Pick = Arizona
Z’s Pick = Arizona

 

 

 

Louisville at Notre Dame (-3.5)
It’s awfully convenient that Louisville was never given the time of day when they were in the old Big East, but now all the sudden they are in the ACC and the playoff NotreDame1committee awards them a Top 25 spot even though they’ve lost three games (including an early season loss to now 4-6 Virginia) and have such luminaries as Murray St. and Florida International on their schedule. Oh by the way, Marshall also played Florida International and beat them by almost the same margin as Louisville did. The Irish have lost 3 out of their last 4 games and have quietly slipped out of the polls. Not even the idiotic playoff committee ranks Notre Dame. Apparently Minnesota’s victories over Eastern Illinois, Middle Tennessee, San Jose St., & Purdue (honest to God…the Gophers haven’t beaten anyone with a damn pulse…exactly what Marshall is accused of) are more impressive than Irish wins over Stanford and…well, okay…Stanford is the only decent team Notre Dame has beaten and even they are only 5-5. At any rate, I think Notre Dame is going to open up a can of epic whoopass on Louisville, and I hope it happens just to make the playoff committee look stupid. Zach has no love for Notre Dame, but he thinks they’ll win.

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

 

 

 

USC at UCLA (-3.5)
ucla_bruins2The Battle of L.A. And it may also decides who will meet Oregon in the Pac 12 title game. I suppose UCLA still has an outside shot to make USC_Trojans2the playoff if all the dominoes fall their way, but that is highly unlikely. The Bruins have the slight home field advantage, but I’m not sure that means much considering both teams are based in the same city. I’m going with UCLA if for no other reason than I ranked them 5th in my pre-season poll and they might actually get there if they keep winning, therefore making me look like a freakin’ genius. Conversely, Zach believes that the Trojans will win by three TDs.

My Pick = UCLA
Z’s Pick = USC

 

 

 

Detroit at New England (-7)
New_England_Patriots_HelmetWhen I was a kid the Detroit Lions were a joke. Occasionally they’d have a decent season, but for the most part they were mired in Detroit_Lions_Helmetmediocrity. Not even the great Barry Sanders could lead them to a Super Bowl appearance in the 90’s. But right now they are having a really good season and the folks in Vegas give them 16-1 odds to make it to The Super Bowl. We’ll have a much better idea if the Lions are legit after this game. The Patriots, whose eulogy was being written by the geniuses at ESPN about a month & a half ago, have risen up like one those horror movie killers that never really die. Trust me, there is no one on Earth who’d like to see New England crash & burn more than your humble Potentate of Profundity, but I’d be shocked if that occurred in this game. Zach likes the Patriots…but not by 7 points. He thinks the Lions will lose a close game and cover the points.

My Pick = New England
Z’s Pick = Detroit

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Arizona at Seattle (-6.5)
seattle-seahawks1The defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks have been knocked back down to mediocrity quicker & even moreso than I predicted. At thisnflarizonacardinals point it will be a struggle for them to make it to the playoffs. One of the reasons why?? The division leading Cardinals, who own the best record in the NFL. Raise your hand if you saw that coming (put your hands down…liars). However, Arizona has lost QB Carson Palmer for the season and now must rely on journeyman Drew Stanton to lead them the rest of the way. Stanton got off to a good start last week in a victory over the Detroit Lions, but can he keep it up?? If this game were being played in the desert I might say yes, but it is being played in Seattle at one of the league’s most raucous venues. If the Seahawks have any hope of defending their crown this is a must win and I think they will rise to the occasion. Zach has lost faith in Seattle’s celebrated defense and thinks it is the Cardinals who deserve that kind of respect now.

My Pick = Seattle
Z’s Pick = Arizona

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

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

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

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

2012 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 11

Last week I went 2-4-1, with Louisville & the Detroit Lions really letting me down. I am perfectly aware when I roll the dice and have come to expect that more often than not I lose those gambles, but there are times when I am actually pretty confident that a pick is as close to a lock as one can hope for in football and when I lose those it really stings. Unfortunately I have lost a lot of those this season, which is why my overall record now stands at 28-47-1. If I were a coach or being paid by anyone to do this I would have already been shown the door. Luckily I am my own boss here so I can just move forward and hope to do better this week. The college schedule is inexplicably polluted with top teams playing cupcakes, which seems weird so late in the season, and the NFL schedule is beginning to feel repetitive & tedious at this juncture, but I have cobbled together 7 games that should be entertaining enough.

 

 

 

Florida State (-31)            at            Maryland

This is one of those games where the outcome is almost a foregone conclusion, but the interesting thing is the spread. The 9-1 Seminoles will almost certainly beat the 4-6 Terrapins, but will they win by over 4 TDs?? Such large victories are not foreign to Florida St., as they have won over half of their games by more than 40 points. Meanwhile, Maryland, who I crazily ranked 15th in my pre-season Top 25, has lost a lot but they weren’t being blown out until their last two games. I am going out on a limb and predicting that Florida St. has a slightly off week and only wins by 20-28 points.

 

 

Rutgers                at            Cincinnati (-6)

It was the Bearcats that I picked to win The Big East and finish in the top 15, but even though they have an impressive 7-2 record it is their opponent this week, the Scarlet Knights, who are currently ranked in the Top 25. That could flip flop here with a Cincinnati victory. I think these are two evenly matched teams and it should be an exciting game, so when all other things are equal the home field advantage comes into play. I think Cincinnati wins & covers, and maybe next week we’ll see them ranked.

 

 

USC (-3.5)            at            UCLA

I wonder when the last time these two teams played against one another in a meaningful game?? It seems like the Bruins have been below average for a number of years, all while the Trojans have been constantly in the thick of the national championship conversation. This game could possibly decide who represents The Pac 12 in The Rose Bowl, assuming Oregon makes it to the title game. Both teams are ranked in the top 20, but one gets the feeling that USC is struggling to hold on (they’ve lost 2 out of their last 3) while UCLA is riding a 4 game winning streak. Normally I would go with the home team in a game like this, but it is quite telling that the boys in Vegas consider Southern Cal the favorite. The vibes are strong with this one, as I sense that the Trojans will seize the opportunity to save their season.

 

 

Texas Tech          at            Oklahoma State (-10)

I have really been enjoying The Big 12 this season, except for the part where my WV Mountaineers completely suck and are struggling to become bowl eligible after all the pre-season hype of a possible national title run. Anyway, these are both solid teams in the lower echelon of the Top 25, but after they clash one will obviously fall by the wayside while one remains ranked. I assume it’ll be a high scoring game and fun to watch. I am a little surprised that it’s a double digit spread, which is kind of disrespectful to a very talented Red Raider team. However, Tech has lost 2 out of their past 4 games and went to overtime to win the other two, so I suppose the odds make sense. I just have a feeling it’ll be a little bit closer than that though, so Texas Tech is the pick.

 

 

Stanford              at            Oregon (-20.5)

I have learned my lesson. The Ducks win and they win big. But after Alabama was knocked off their perch last week it is Oregon that sits in the driver’s seat while Kansas St. & Notre Dame battle for the #2 spot, so might they take their foot off the gas just a little bit?? Stanford is much more on the level of USC, who Oregon defeated by only 11 points, and Arizona St., who the Ducks beat by a mere 22 points, rather than the likes of Arizona, Washington, or Cal that were all destroyed by the boys in green by 30+ points. This’ll probably be one of those games that the oddsmakers have somehow magically pegged perfectly, meaning that either way I go I’ll be sweating it out right down to the last possession. I have too much respect for Stanford to believe that they’ll get smoked by 3 TDs, so I’ll pick them to cover the spread. I am sure I’ll regret it. So yeah…I guess I didn’t learn my lesson.

 

 

Tampa Bay (-1.5)             at            Carolina

Wow, did I ever have the Panthers figured wrong. I thought they’d be a playoff team and QB Cam Newton would continue his rise to prominence. Instead Newton is a headcase that is looking more like a bad mix of the worst of Vince Young & Donovan McNabb, and his supporting cast isn’t nearly as good as I’d thought they’d be. Conversely, the Bucs are riding rookie RB Doug Martin straight into playoff contention. Plain & simple…it’s over for Carolina, while Tampa has to keep winning to stay in contention in the ultra-competitive NFC.

 

 

Chicago                at            San Francisco (-5)

Earlier this week I thought this’d be a game featuring two backup quarterbacks. Both Bears’ signal caller and 49ers starter Alex Smith were injured last weekend, but it looks like Smith is good to go. Chicago will rely on former Redskins & Raiders QB Jason Campbell, who isn’t a bad second option. This was always going to be a defensive struggle no matter who was behind center, so I don’t think it matters all that much anyway. It’s this week Monday night game and it should be a low scoring affair with lots of handoffs & punts. I am sure the folks at ESPN are thrilled. At any rate, conventional wisdom favors the home team and the spread isn’t outrageous, so I’ll go with Frisco to pull out a yawn inspiring victory.

 

 

 

 

2012 NFL Preview & Prognostications

There’s nothing like cutting it close, right?? Just a few hours before the 2012 NFL season officially kicks off (on a Wednesday…weird) I am here with my always stellar & 100% accurate predictions. Well…okay…my vibes aren’t always all that precise, but I keep trying!! I am not really predicting anything all that wacky this year because I think we pretty much know who the haves & have nots are in professional football. There are always a few mild surprises, and of course a couple of injuries here & there can change everything in the blink of an eye, but not withstanding the unforeseeable I believe that this season will mostly adhere to conventional wisdom, but in a fun kind of way. As always I do not condone wagering, especially with my track record. Seriously, the only thing financially riskier than using my football forecast for monetary gain is trusting President Obama and his economic braintrust. Each team’s 2011 record is shown in parentheses, with my prediction for 2012 immediately following.

 

 

NFC East

*Philadelphia Eagles      

(8-8)                      12-4

*Dallas Cowboys             

(8-8)                      10-6

New York Giants             

(9-7)                      8-8

Washington Redskins    

(5-11)                    7-9

Last year the Eagles signed a bunch of big time free agents and bloviated a bit too much about being a team of destiny…then proceeded to fall flat on their face. If…if…QB Michael Vick can stay healthy in 2012 they may finally fulfill their potential. Everybody knows that another disappointing season will cost Coach Andy Reid his job and I don’t think anyone really wants to see that happen. The Cowboys will be in hot pursuit and should make the playoffs. I really like new Redskins field general Robert Griffin III but he is a rookie quarterback and I think we need to lower expectations for a couple of years. A year ago I predicted that the NY Giants wouldn’t “be nearly as good as most others seem to think they will”. They promptly went out and won their 2nd Super Bowl in 5 years. However, I will not be deterred!! Actually if you look closely at last year the Giants went 9-7, backed into the playoffs, then got hot at the right time. That is unlikely to happen again, and I think it far more probable that they will have a similar record in 2012 and fail to reach the postseason rather than actually having a dramatically better regular season this time around.

 

NFC North

*Green Bay Packers      

(15-1)                    11-5

Chicago Bears                   

(8-8)                      9-7         

Detroit Lions                     

(10-6)                    9-7

Minnesota Vikings          

(3-13)                    2-14

I just don’t see this division as being in any doubt. The Packers may have stumbled last year in the playoffs, but they are still among the elite franchises in the NFL and have the best QB in the game. Their aerial attack is so good that their defense just has to be solid, not spectacular. The Bears & the Lions will both be decent and in the midst of the playoff hunt, but I’m just not all that impressed…yet. Give the Lions another year or two. I like young Vikings QB Christian Ponder, and of course when healthy Adrian Petersen is among the best running backs in the business, but there’s really nothing else to be excited about. And if AP doesn’t recover as well as hoped for from knee surgery it could be a v-e-r-y long year for the guys in purple.

 

NFC South

*New Orleans Saints     

(13-3)                    9-7

*Carolina Panthers         

(6-10)                    9-7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(4-12)                    7-9

Atlanta Falcons                                

(10-6)                    7-9

I do not believe that a team can go through the turmoil that the Saints have experienced this offseason and not be affected. Their head coach is suspended for an entire year, and the guy they picked to fill in is suspended for the first 6 games. So for nearly half of the season they are being led by a 3rd string head coach. For most teams that would be a fatal blow, but this team has an ace in the hole…QB Drew Brees. There is a school of thought that Brees will lead this team in blitz of anger and dominate their opponents en route to glory just to prove a point and piss off Commandant Fidel Goodell. That sounds like a fun theory, but I don’t believe it’ll be quite that easy. Fortunately for fans in The Big Easy their team plays in a rather mediocre division. I do think QB Cam Newton, in his 2nd year, will surprise a lot of folks and lead his team to the playoffs. The Buccaneers will improve but when a team goes 4-12 there’s really nowhere to go but up. I like new Bucs coach Greg Schiano, but there will be an adjustment…this ain’t The Big East anymore. The surprise might be in Atlanta, where I’m just not sold on the Falcons. QB Matt Ryan will be a free agent after the 2013 season, and by then I think he’ll be ready to flee The Peach State.

 

NFC West

*San Francisco 49ers     

(13-3)                    12-4

St. Louis Rams                  

(2-14)                    8-8

Seattle Seahawks           

(7-9)                      8-8

Arizona Cardinals            

(8-8)                      5-11

Much like the NFC North this division isn’t really all that competitive. The 49ers fell just short of The Super Bowl in coach Jim Harbaugh’s inaugural season…I don’t think winning the division is at the top of their list of goals. I believe the Rams will be much improved and will rebound from last year’s horrible season. The Seahawks are relying on undersized rookie QB Russell Wilson to lead them, which may pay dividends 4 or 5 years from now, but will only result in mediocrity for now. The Cardinals are a mess. A year ago I stated that “I’m sold on new Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb” and predicted a division title. I am not sure what kind of drugs I was on that day. Needless to say I was way…way…way wrong. Is john Skelton the answer?? Hell no. The fans in the desert have to be praying that their Cards can somehow get ahold of USC quarterback Matt Barkley in next year’s draft, and I think they’ll finish in a spot that’ll allow them to do just that. Fortunately they have WR Larry Fitzgerald locked in thru 2018, so atleast they have that going for them.

AFC East

*New England Patriots

(13-3)                    11-5

Buffalo Bills                        

(6-10)                    8-8

New York Jets                  

(8-8)                      7-9

Miami Dolphins                

(6-10)                    3-13

As much as I would love to see the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era come to a devastating end, sadly I don’t think it’s quite that time just yet. The Patriots should run away with the division and be amongst the heavy favorites to contend for The Lombardi Trophy. I really like what the Bills have done with their defense, especially the addition of Mario Williams. However, I do not believe that head coach Chan Gailey nor QB Ryan Fitzpatrick are the long term answers in Buffalo. There is an old adage that says if you have two quarterbacks then you have none, and I think that is exactly the conundrum the NY Jets find themselves in. Tim Tebow, as much as one might appreciate & respect his faith, morality, and personality, is nothing more than a huge distraction in regards to the on-the-field product. Also, RB Shonn Greene, even though he runs behind possibly the best offensive line in football, has not proven that he can be an elite tailback in the NFL. Oh, and whoever winds up being the quarterback doesn’t really have much of anyone to throw to besides head case Santonio Holmes, a #2 receiver trying desperately to convince everyone he is better than he is. And then we have the Miami Dolphins. Anyone who watched HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer can verify that this team is going to be bad…very bad. I think ownership made a horrible mistake hiring Joe Philbin as the new head coach. Philbin seems like a perfectly nice man, but traditionally very nice men don’t make successful NFL coaches. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill has potential, but he has absolutely no one to throw to outside RB Reggie Bush.

 

AFC North

*Baltimore Ravens         

(12-4)                    11-5

*Pittsburgh Steelers      

(12-4)                    10-6

Cincinnati Bengals           

(9-7)                      9-7

Cleveland Browns           

(4-12)                    2-14

The Bengals did a lot better last year than I predicted, and quarterback Andy Dalton acquitted himself quite nicely. That being said, I don’t think we’ll see anything better in Cincy this season. Note to Bengals fans: “upgrading” from RB Cedric Benson to RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis is kind of like buying a Whopper instead of a Big Mac…better, but still not the steak that you really should spring for. The Browns will be even more horrible than usual. I don’t really understand giving up on QB Colt McCoy in favor of 28 year old rookie Brandon Weeden. It seems like a curious decision, but hey, it’s the Browns…they aren’t known for their smart decisions. So the division undoubtedly will come down to the Ravens and Steelers…again. The Ravens are on borrowed time because after Ray Lewis & Ed Reed are done I think the team will decline. Complicating matters in 2012 is the fact that linebacker Terrell Suggs tore an Achilles tendon last spring and will miss most or possibly all of this season. That would seem to tip things in the Steelers’ favor, but desperation can be a tremendous motivator. As a diehard Steelers fan I have some significant concerns about my team, including the uncertainty at RB (starter Rashard Mendenhall suffered a torn ACL at the end of 2011 season and may or may not be ready to return), an aging & injury riddled defense, a new offensive scheme under coordinator Todd Haley, and an unfortunate pre-season knee injury to promising 1st round pick OL David DeCastro. I do not think that the Steelers will be bad at all, but neither will they be elite.

 

AFC South

*Houston Texans            

(10-6)                    9-7

Tennessee Titans            

(9-7)                      9-7

Indianapolis Colts            

(2-14)                    6-10

Jacksonville Jaguars       

(5-11)                    4-12      

Lots of talking heads are jumping on the Texans bandwagon, and admittedly they do have a solid QB in Matt Schaub and one of the best RBs in the league in Arian Foster…not to mention big time receiver Andre Johnson. But I don’t think it’ll be a walk in the park for Houston. I really like Titans QB Jake Locker, and I think RB Chris Johnson will rebound from a subpar 2011. If Locker has a target or two step up to solidify the passing game I think the boys in Music City will be in the thick of the battle to the very end. Another quarterback I really like is Colts rookie Andrew Luck. In time I believe he will follow a similar path of success to that of his predecessor in Indy Peyton Manning. However, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and improving by just a few games would be a significant reason for optimism. The Jaguars offseason has been dominated by the holdout of RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who magically decided to end the standoff immediately following the end of the pre-season. That does not bode well. I do like rookie WR Justin Blackmon, but I’m just not sure second year signal caller Blaine Gabbert is the right man to deliver the ball. NFL owners & fans have an increasingly short attention span, and Gabbert will need to show remarkable improvement to prevent a loud clamor for his ouster. I think it is very likely that the Jags will be players in the Matt Barkley Sweepstakes.    

 

AFC West

*Denver Broncos            

(8-8)                      10-6

*Kansas City Chiefs        

(7-9)                      9-7

Oakland Raiders              

(8-8)                      8-8

San Diego Chargers        

(8-8)                      6-10

There’s a new sheriff in town in Denver, and his name is Peyton Manning. The Broncos made the playoffs last season with Tebow at the helm, so surely they will be just as good and probably better under the skilled leadership of an actual NFL quarterback. KC is getting alot of buzz these days, and I do think the two headed RB monster of Jamaal Charles & Peyton Hillis can be an effective tandem, but my question is whether or not QB Matt Cassel is the right man for the job. The Raiders just seem to be treading water…neither all that great or too awfully bad. The surprise may be the Chargers, who I picked to win The Super Bowl last year. I was way off base obviously, and am now pretty much convinced that the party is over in San Diego and head coach Norv Turner will soon be enjoying an early retirement.

 

 

 

AFC Championship                          Baltimore            vs.          New England

My six playoff teams are noted (*), and I am not even going to try to get cute with the championship selections. Football fans would love to see another Ravens-Patriots matchup, even though just like last year I would be humbly asking God if there is any way both teams could lose. I don’t think the results will be much different, and we’ll see the damn Patriots in The Super Bowl yet again.

 

NFC Championship                         Green Bay           vs.          Carolina

The predicted playoff teams are noted (*), and I think it’ll come down to the Packers (no surprise) versus the Panthers (kind of a surprise), with Green Bay taking Cam Newton to the woodshed. Don’t worry Carolina fans…his time will come, just not yet. Making it this far only to be demolished by Aaron Rodgers will be a great lesson for the young man and will benefit him tremendously in 3 or 4 years.

 

 

Super Bowl

New England  Patriots                   vs.          Green Bay Packers

As much as I hate to admit it, this one would be a classic. I daresay that it would even be a shootout. The TV folks would LOVE that. In the end though I think the Packers have too much firepower and will win the highest scoring Super Bowl of all time 42-38.

 

Winning & Musing…..Volume 7.12

Okay NBA…NOW you have my attention. As we celebrate Memorial Day summer has unofficially begun, which means baseball, basketball playoffs, and 1100 glorious miles of cars going in a circle really really fast.

 

 

Back in January of 2008 I was amongst the plethora of WV Mountaineer fans simultaneously celebrating an improbable Fiesta Bowl victory over the mighty Oklahoma Sooners while also heaping curses upon recently departed coach Rich Fraudriguez. Since Rich Fraud took several of members of his staff to Michigan with him (and just look how well that turned out) the job of leading the team into the lion’s den on that memorable January night had fallen to career assistant coach Bill Stewart. Basking in the afterglow of a huge win, the powers-that-be in Morgantown handed Stewart the full time gig the very next day without conducting any sort of thorough search process. Almost immediately there were those that pegged the hiring as a mistake, but most…including myself…turned a deaf ear to such criticism. However, slowly but surely the chorus grew and even I eventually turned on Coach Stew. Despite the fact that he won 9 games for three straight seasons, it just didn’t seem good enough, especially for a team that had been on the cusp of playing for a national championship before Fraudriguez, in what would prove to be his last game on the Mountaineers’ sideline, screwed the pooch against a lowly 4-7 Pitt team. Over those three seasons there were inexplicable losses to what we fans perceived as inferior opponents like South Florida, Cincinnati, Syracuse, and Connecticut. The team seemed to lack an edge, to not have the killer instinct that great teams possess. And so change was demanded and by 2011 Stew was forced to resign. His greatest strengths as a person were seen as being tremendous weakness for a coach. You see, Stewart was a true blue gentleman, a kind soul…the dreaded “nice guy”. Bill Stewart died last week. He dropped dead on the golf course of a heart attack. He was 59 years old. He left behind a wife and a son in high school. He didn’t seem to be overweight. To my knowledge he didn’t engage in vices like smoking, drinking, or drugs. Who knows why these things happen?? What I am pretty sure I do know is that Stew is now walking the golden streets of Heaven in continuous praise of his Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Those of us still here will continue to cheer for our team and enjoy each & every victory, but we will do so knowing that no coach can ever duplicate Stew’s unique personality and genuinely benevolent spirit. We have realized…too late…what a tremendous gift he was. Coach Stewart’s motto was “Leave No Doubt”, a mantra to which he lived up. Bill Stewart left no doubt about the kind of person he was, what his priorities were, and his love for his family, his team, his school, & his state. Maybe he wasn’t the best college football coach in the universe, and I’d be willing to bet he understood his place on the totem pole. At the same time, he was seemingly comfortable, confident, and happy with whom he was as a person. We should all be so fortunate. Godspeed Coach Stew, and thanks for being such a shining example.

 

Kudos to Scotsman Dario Franchitti for winning his 3rd Indianapolis 500. I’m tempted to be envious of a man who not only has drank the milk at the ol’ Brickyard three times but also gets to see the quite fetching Ashley Judd naked whenever he wants. But then I realize that he actually has to live with Judd and hear her ramble on & on & on like a lunatic and suddenly I feel better about my own life.

 

What is the deal with Detroit Lions DL Nick Fairley?? He was a monster at Auburn, and could form one of the most imposing lines in football alongside Ndamukong Suh, but he has now been arrested two times in two months. The first time Fairley was speeding & smoking pot. The second time he was speeding, got a DUI, and ignored the cops & wouldn’t stop. This is the kind of stupidity that ends careers prematurely, because no matter how talented you are there’s always another gifted athlete just around the corner, so at some point a team will cut a player loose after he embarrasses them too much and refuses to be a mature adult.

 

For a very brief period of time I was truly convinced that the Indiana Pacers were going to pull off the impossible, that they were going to oust the hated Miami Heat and The Whore of Akron Lebron James in the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs. The Pacers were up 2-1, Heat star Dwayne Wade was playing more like Dwayne Wayne (alert!! – obscure 80’s TV reference), and the impact of Miami’s Chris Bosh being felled by injury was greater than anyone had imagined. For a couple of days the talking heads seemed unanimously swayed that a cold front was about to end the Heat. Unfortunately for Indiana Wade woke up from his Jimmy Carter-esque malaise and all the sudden…for maybe the first time ever in the playoffs…Lebron James seemed to realize “Hey…I’m Lebron Freakin’ James!!”. So now it is on to the Eastern Conference finals, where I have to rely on the geriatric Boston Celtics to take out the garbage. Let’s just say I’m not holding my breath.

 

Just in case you were wondering…

My Pittsburgh Pirates are in 3rd place, 4 games out of the division lead. Not bad for a team that ranks near the bottom in every single hitting statistic. I think the front office has concentrated so much on pitching for the last several years that the system has failed to develop anyone with any kind of pop in their bat outside of Andrew McCutcheon. If they could somehow get ahold of a couple of guys able to hit .300-ish and drive the ball out of the park on a regular basis the Pirates might actually begin to resemble a legitimate team.

 

More kudos, this time to Kasey Kahne, for winning the annual Coca-Cola 600. As usual I was rooting for my man Tony Stewart, but he just never got it going.

 

One basketball team that is no longer actively participating in this year’s playoffs is the Los Angeles Lakers. There is much debate about what kinds of changes need to be made to get one of the NBA’s most celebrated franchises back on top. Please allow me to pontificate. First of all, Mike Brown ain’t gonna cut it as a head coach. He failed in Cleveland, and now he’s proven his mediocrity in L.A. Secondly, I don’t care how solid of a player he is, I’d get rid of Ron Artest in a heartbeat. He’s been trouble everywhere he’s landed. Dennis Rodman was an eccentric weirdo…Artest is nothing but a wacked out ghetto thug. And yes, I absolutely refuse to refer to him by the asinine name which he prefers. Next I’d jettison both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum while both still have trade value (especially the 24 year old Bynum). From what I’ve seen Gasol oftentimes doesn’t play full throttle and can’t be counted on to be the force that a 7-footer really should be. Bynum simply has shown an unwillingness to grow up, plus most of the time he makes Gasol look like a workhorse in comparison. I’d go out and grab now former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy (unless one could coax Phil Jackson out of retirement), then use Gasol & Bynum to add pieces that’d complement an aging Kobe Bryant. Of course I expect the Lakers will do absolutely none of that.

 

I’ve grown sort of weary of the whole football/concussion debate. After the unfortunate suicide of former all world linebacker Junior Seau this issue once again became a hot topic, especially after retired QB Kurt Warner said that he might not want his children to play football knowing what we all know now about the injury risks. Predictably tough, crusty, old school players of all ages attacked Warner for insulting the game that had changed his life, providing him a plethora of opportunities and presumably a certain level of financial comfort after he had once been a stockboy at a grocery store in Iowa making minimum wage. As with most things, I have tried to understand both sides of the debate and cannot understand why folks seem unwilling to meet in the middle on this one. On one hand I think it is wonderful that technology & medical science allow us to have a much better understanding of head injuries, and certainly an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. However, football is an inherently dangerous & violent sport. Players understand that and are well aware of the risk. I do not want to see the game watered down by typical PC “good intentions”. As for folks like Warner, I have no problem with him espousing his opinion and raising his children the way he sees fit. After all, it’s still a free country…for now.

 

 

Winning & Musing…..Volume 8.11

Congratulations to the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals for grinding through the l-o-n-g baseball season and making it to The World Series. To be honest I was pulling for the Detroit Tigers because I have always been a big fan of manager Jim Leyland, who I believe to be one of the genuine good guys in sports, but as long as the NY Yankees are sitting at home instead of still playing then it’s all good.

 

“Be careful what you wish for” is timeless advice that just might apply to quarterback Carson Palmer these days. Palmer won his months long pissing contest against Cincinnati Bengals’ management, only to be traded to the Oakland Raiders, a franchise not entirely unfamiliar with dysfunction. Let’s check back in a year or two and see who really came out ahead.

 

As usual I am rooting for complete chaos in college football when it comes to the flawed BCS system, but somehow things always seem to work out and end up with a legit #1 vs. #2 title game. Right now it is theoretically possible that as many as a half dozen teams could finish undefeated, which would wreak the desired havoc quite sufficiently. However, I am not holding my breath.

 

Three things I would do to improve baseball:

Shorten the season to 138 games. Each team would play the other 3 teams in their division 24 times (6 four game series) and the remaining 8 teams in their league 12 times (4 three game series). Each division would meet their counterparts in another division in the other league for one 3 game series. The season would begin in early April and be over by the first week of October.

Constriction. Reduce the league from 30 to 24 teams. The Washington Nationals would be absorbed by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Florida Marlins would fold into the Tampa Rays. The Oakland A’s & San Francisco Giants would be combined into one franchise. The California Angels would be absorbed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Houston Astros would absorb the Colorado Rockies. The Kansas City Royals would fold into the St. Louis Cardinals.

The post-season see each league’s 2nd & 3rd rated division winners match up in a Best-of-3 series. The winner would then face the top division winner in that league in a Best-of-5 League Championship Series. Then of course we’d have the traditional Best-of-7 World Series.

 

Rush Limbaugh was right and we’re seeing the proof right now. Quarterback Donovan McNabb has always been overrated, and now to complicate matters he is washed up. The 35 year old signal caller is about to lose his starting gig in Minnesota to rookie Christian Ponder after “leading” the Vikings to a dismal 1-5 start. But hey, the flaming liberals in the sports media can now turn their attention to anointing Carolina Panthers’ QB Cam Newton as their new Chosen One. Atleast he has genuine talent.

 

The NBA has already cancelled the first two weeks of the season and seems to be on the verge of eliminating games through December. I am actually a little bit excited about these developments because I am sincerely hoping that in place of games normally broadcast on Christmas Day ABC might treat us to a couple of classic holiday films like Miracle on 34th St., The Polar Express, The Santa Clause, or one of the bazillion adaptations of A Christmas Carol.

 

I am not a huge fan of open wheel racing except for the requisite impure thoughts about driver Danica Patrick and the annual tradition of watching The Indianapolis 500. There are just too many road courses and foreign influences for my tastes. But the recent death of driver Dan Wheldon was a tragic event and a reminder of just how dangerous auto sports can be. Since the accident that claimed the life of the legendary Dale Earnhardt a decade ago Nascar has taken huge leaps in safety, but I am not so sure the folks in charge of Indy cars can do the same. The machines themselves are just so small, and there is no roof on them at all. If there is a unanimous calling for reduced speeds that may help a little I guess.

 

Halfway through the college football season here is who I would invite to New York for the presentation of The Heisman Trophy:         Stanford QB Andrew Luck, Michigan QB Denard Robinson, Alabama RB Trent Richardson, Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson, and Oklahoma St. WR Justin Blackmon.

 

The recent brouhaha involving San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was laughable and a bit pathetic. Both men share equal blame…Harbaugh for being a disrespectful jackass to the person whose team he’d just defeated, and Schwartz for reacting like a pre-teen drama queen.  Grow up gentlemen.