2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 7

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

Me = 15-18
Zach = 16-16

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

My Pick = Baylor
Z’s Pick = Baylor

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

My Pick = Louisville
Z’s Pick = Clemson

 

 

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

My Pick = Denver
Z’s Pick = Denver

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

My Pick = Seattle
Z’s Pick = Dallas

 

 

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

My Pick = Philadelphia
Z’s Pick = NY Giants

Winning & Musing…..Volume 7.11

It’s my favorite season of the year…football season!! So I have some thoughts on the college game as well as way too early first impressions about the NFL.

 

 

Is it my imagination or has the NFL had an above average amount of serious, season ending injuries thus far?? I have no numbers to back up the supposition and am far too indolent to do the needed research, but that is my notion. Maybe it is because I have had 4 players from my dynasty fantasy league (RBs Jamaal Charles, Mikel Leshoure, & Ryan Williams plus kicker Nate Kaeding) suffer that fate, which has all but killed my chances in that league.

 

Teams that are better than I thought: Washington Redskins – maybe I underrated QB Rex Grossman a bit. Buffalo Bills – QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was underrated by e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e.

 

I assume the Miami Dolphins will still draft a quarterback in 2012, but so far Chad Henne hasn’t been all that bad.

 

Kudos to rookie QB Cam Newton, whose NFL viability some (including yours truly) have questioned. Even though the Carolina Panthers are 0-2 Newton has thrown for a ton of yards and looked very much like he can hang with the big boys. Sure he’s made the normal rookie mistakes, and those errors may have even cost his team victories, but that’s not necessarily unexpected when a young quarterback is thrown into the deep end and told to swim. The bottom line is that that Newton looks like he belongs and might become scary good if a decent team is ever built around him.

 

I detest the New England Patriots, but I have to give the devil its due…that is one heck of an offense. There isn’t a top tier receiver or running back on the roster but somehow Tom Brady still puts up Dan Marino-esque numbers. And when have we ever seen a team with two tight ends that are such lethal weapons??

 

Teams that haven’t lived up to expectations: St. Louis Rams – I may have had their breakthrough predicted a year or two too early. Philadelphia Eagles – they certainly haven’t looked like a Dream Team.

 

More kudos to the Detroit Lions, who are making believers out of those who hadn’t already jumped on the bandwagon. This is a team that went winless just three years ago and now might actually contend for a playoff spot. They’ve done it the right way, by building around a talented franchise quarterback and concentrating on constructing what one day soon might be a wicked awesome defense. Did I just say “wicked awesome”?? Yes, I did.

 

Early leaders in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes: Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, and…something I never thought I’d say…the Indianapolis Colts. How wild would it be if the Colts are in a position to grab Luck just as the storied career of Peyton Manning winds down to its inevitable conclusion??

 

I don’t even know what to say about the mess that is college football and all its conference realignment/expansion wackiness. The first thing to come to mind is “Go to Hell” to Pitt & Syracuse for leaving the Big East hanging, the SEC & ACC for having no respect at all for my WV Mountaineers, and the “leadership” in the Big East who have stood around with their thumbs up their asses watching it all happen. But beyond my own personal biases I am just sad to see such a wonderful on-the-field product fragmented by a bunch of suits with dollar signs in their eyes and no reverence for the one thing that elevates college football head & shoulders above every other sport…tradition. Do I want to see a “rivalry” between Cincinnati and Kansas St.?? No, not really. Does it make any sense for Texas A&M to abandon annual battles with Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech to play Vanderbilt or Kentucky?? Not at all. Look, I’m not dumb…I understand the business part of all this. I realize that these suits are looking mainly at population and television markets. But I am just a guy whose lone enjoyment in the dank & dreary chill of autumn is to spend my weekends watching hours & hours of football. I want that football to be competitive, entertaining, and meaningful in that unspoken yet understood way in which we know that Michigan-Ohio St., USC-Notre Dame, The Backyard Brawl, The Border War, The Red River Rivalry, The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe, The Iron Bowl, The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, and Bedlam are significant just because they are. The fact that these annual rituals are being imploded by a bunch of pointy headed bean counters that probably don’t know a Horned Frog from a Hoosier or the difference between a Golden Flash and a Golden Hurricane should embarrass the hell out of the ineffective and neutered people that supposedly run the NCAA.

 

Winning & Musing…..Volume 6.11

“Show me a good and gracious loser, and I’ll show you a failure.” – Knute Rockne

 

Dear ESPN First Take: It is not necessary to shoehorn Skip Bayless into nearly every segment. The normally enjoyable show’s increasing focus on Bayless would only be slightly annoying if it weren’t for the fact that the man is quite possibly the worst talking head in the business. The fact that he is almost 100% categorically wrong about nearly everything on which he espouses an opinion takes the emphasis on his BS from merely irritating to downright embarrassing.

 

I am not normally one that embraces the cry of racism as an excuse for anything. Those that constantly accuse conservatives of being racists because they cannot wrap their pea brains around the concept that it is possible to dislike President Obama due to his policies and not because he is black aggravate me tremendously. However, I think the continuing love/hate for Philadelphia Eagles’ QB Michael Vick is often divided among racial lines. White people will never completely let go of Vick’s checkered past and don’t embrace the fact that he paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance as much as the next guy. Conversely, the black community concentrates on Vick’s incredible athletic skill and wants to conveniently sweep his dog fighting thug days under the rug.

 

So Danica Patrick is coming to Nascar full time. Looks like Dale Jr. is going to have some stiff weekly competition for 35th place.

Baseball’s regular season is winding down, and I am betting that the post-season will be anti-climactic. While the Yankees and Red Sox get all the attention I’ll be shocked if the Philadelphia Phillies don’t cruise to a World Series title. The Phillies have been relegated to second banana even within their own city, as the NFL’s Eagles have been hogging the spotlight since the lockout ended. However, ever so quietly they have amassed nearly 90 wins with about 30 games to go. I don’t think the all-time wins record (116…set in 1906 by the Chicago Cubs & repeated in 2001 by the Seattle Mariners) is in jeopardy, but I also don’t think we’ll see a repeat of 2010 when the heavily favored Phillies lost to the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS and failed to make it to the World Series.

 

For the record, I assign virtually no validity to the outcomes of NFL preseason games.

 

It’s funny how football fans move forward so quickly. Just a few years ago the idea of having tight ends Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen on the same team would have had the masses foaming at the mouth. Now both are in fact members of the Carolina Panthers and no one seems to have noticed. Maybe it’s because they are on the Carolina Panthers.

 

Did you know that there is actually a Brent Musberger drinking game?? Look it up online…it’s hysterical. If only I were still 19 years old and a wild & crazy frat boy I’d have a whole new reason for getting completely schnockered every Saturday during the college football season. Alas I’m pretty much a skim milk, iced tea, and bottled water kind of guy these days. Oh to be young again.

 

Another small complaint for the folks in Bristol. I love watching Mike & Mike in the Morning and Pardon the Interruption. But come on…how much vacation do these guys get?? Between the four hosts of the shows…Mike Greenberg & Mike Golic for the former, Tony Kornheiser & Michael Wilbon for the latter…it seems like one of them is constantly off. If we common folks took that much time off from work we’d be fired within 6 months. If I had a great job like hosting one of those shows and getting paid to talk about sports I’m not sure I’d ever need a day off. Both shows are entertaining enough even with guest hosts, but I’d still prefer to see the first string on air atleast  95% of the year.

The 2009 Year In Review

It’s that time again, when we take a trip down memory lane and remember all the highs and lows of the past 365 days. As always, while we pause to look back we also look forward, embracing each new day with renewed optimism. Each breath is a gift from God, and whether we are perfectly satisfied with the status quo or desire some semblance of change in our lives, it is up to us…not the government nor any other entity…to make the proper decisions that will facilitate our happiness.

 

Personally 2009 was a case of a few steps forward, a step or two backward…change but not necessarily progress. Transformation is slow, but I see the hand of God working within my life. I just need to get out of the way, something that I am not as good at doing as I’d prefer. The great new job I got near the end of 2008 lasted less than 6 months, as I was fired from Verizon in March. It turns out that they don’t necessarily give a damn about their customers, only the bottom line. If that means tricking folks into buying bells and whistles that they neither want, understand, or even realize they are receiving then that’s just dandy because it’ll be 6 months before most customers actually examine their phone bill closely enough to recognize they are being screwed and call in to cancel those services. If I seem like just another bitter former employee that is unfortunate because I simply speak the truth. I am not a salesman, and I am certainly not abjectly amoral. The day those wretched souls lowered the boom on me I could not stop smiling. Do I miss the $20/hour paychecks?? Of course. But I sleep at night and I can look at myself in the mirror. Anyway, after a couple months of down time I got a new job at a 24/7 abuse and neglect hotline where I am not paid nearly as well but I am much much happier and feel like I am actually doing something positive. So all’s well that ends well, as ol’ Will Shakespeare might say. This fall I traded in Big Red, my 13 year old Buick Skylark, on a truck (still unnamed at the moment). I bought an IPhone. Those events have pretty much been the highlights and lowlights of my year. I am not all that exciting…I work, I play with my puppy, I am active in church and with Literacy Volunteers, and I watch way too much TV and waste far too many precious hours on The Internet. That’s pretty much it. I am very aware of my shortcomings and as always look at a new year as an opportunity for positive transformation.

 

We started out 2009 by swearing in a new President, and the results thus far have been inarguably subpar. Anyone who disagrees has their head stuck so far…well, somewhere…that the jaws of life may not be sufficient to set them free.

 

Speaking of our socialist leader, he was awarded The Nobel Peace Prize. No one seems to have a good explanation as to why.

 

The biggest story in 2009 continued to be the economy. I can’t add anything substantially new to the conversation, but suffice to say that I do not believe more government is the answer. The massive New Deal-esque bailout package has thus far been a flop with no signs of that changing. And no matter how much the “mainstream” media tries to twist itself into knots to paint a positive picture, the fact that there is no job growth is a sure sign that there is no economic recovery.

 

Many Americans were brought to their knees by something called Swine Flu, or if you prefer the PC term, H1N1. I’m undecided as to whether it is a genuine semi-pandemic or just unnecessary mass hysteria. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle…it is a legit disease with some rather nasty effects that affected millions, but I don’t think it really warrants comparisons with the bubonic plague.

 

Former comedian Al Franken was elected to the Senate from Minnesota. These are the same people who elected former pro wrestler Jessie Ventura Governor a few years back. Maybe we should consider selling Minnesota to Canada.

 

My Pittsburgh Steelers won their record 6th Super Bowl in extremely exciting fashion. I just wish the success had carried over into the following season. The Penguins brought yet another title to Pittsburgh by winning the Stanley Cup. Wherefore art thou Pittsburgh Pirates??

 

The war in Iraq and Afghanistan continues. No one seems to give a damn anymore.

 

Uber-successful TV drama ER ended its 15 year run. Having spent far too much of my life in hospitals and around doctors I never really made an effort to get into the show, but the few times I watched it over the years it seemed well written and acted.

 

Companies that went under in 2009 – General Motors, Lehman Brothers, Chrysler, Eddie Bauer, The Rocky Mountain News, Goody’s Clothing, and over 140 banks nationwide. I’m quite sure I am forgetting several notables.

 

The New York Yankees bought…ummm, I mean won…the World Series…again.

 

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevic became a national joke after being thrown out of office for attempting to sell the available Senate seat of now President Obama. On the bright side he finished 3rd in the Grant Goodeve Lookalike Contest.

 

King of Pop Michael Jackson died. Parents of small children everywhere are breathing easier.

 

Sonia Sotomayor was voted onto The Supreme Court, a breakthrough for Latinas. The fact that Justice Sotomayor’s qualifications were quite suspect didn’t seem to matter. It’s all about being inclusive and multicultural these days.

 

A really cool video of a Minnesota couple’s…shall we say “nontraditional”…wedding entrance became a YouTube sensation. Redemption for Minnesota?? Maybe.

 

General Motors became Government Motors and Chrysler was forced to merge with Italy’s Fiat. Ford stands alone as the only remaining free market American car company. The Obama Administration has already begun using its takeover of GM as a way to further a radical global warming (or is it climate change??) agenda.

 

I’m not sure what the top grossing movies of 2009 were or what made the critics all tingly, but I went to the theater three times. I saw The Hangover, Star Trek, and A Christmas Carol. I quite enjoyed all three.

 

A Muslim extremist masquerading as a psychiatrist infiltrated the United States Army and killed 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas. This should scare the living hell out of everyone.

 

Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Jessica Simpson all had a rather quiet 2009 by their standards, but the pop culture machine found new twits to waste valuable time on in Jon & Kate, The OctoMom, the Kardashian clan, and some guy who made the world think his 6 year old kid was in a runaway balloon when he was in the attic all along. Edward R. Murrow and Chet Huntley, wherever their souls reside these days, must cry a little every time they see Access Hollywood, Extra, and The Insider.

 

59 year old Tom Watson darn near won the British Open.

 

Pilot Sully Sullenberger became a national hero after saving the lives of 155 people on board a commercial airliner. The engines on the plane died and somehow the pilot maneuvered it so that it landed on top of the water in the Hudson River, not sinking until all the passengers had been safely rescued.

 

Conan O’Brien took over The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon took over Late Night, Jay Leno got his own show at 10pm, and David Letterman became a bitter old man who cheats on his girlfriend with members of his staff. America suddenly decided we needed more sleep and started turning off the TV earlier.

 

Tiger Woods was discovered to have been putting his balls into more than 18 holes. Idiot.

 

Microsoft, having realized that Windows Vista was a colossal flop, came out with Windows 7. I myself am still using Windows XP cause that’s how I roll.

 

Politically correct, racially sensitive types got their panties in a bunch when a white cop in Massachusetts arrested a somewhat well-known black Harvard professor who was being a jackass and deserved to be arrested. President Obama angered policemen everywhere by saying that the white cop had “acted stupidly”. Obama smoothed the whole thing over by inviting the two men involved to the White House for a Beer Summit. If only legitimately important issues were as easy to solve.

 

Paula Abdul left American Idol. Oh my God, how will I ever find the strength to go on??

 

Millions of horny teenage boys (okay okay okay…and grown men) got the opportunity to see ESPN sportsbabe Erin Andrews au naturel. Unfortunately the circumstances were so creepy that it had a negative impact on one’s enjoyment of the show. Not that big of an impact, but nevertheless an impact.

 

Speaking of creepy…Congressional ne’er-do-wells Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid got really close to ramming a universal health care measure through, even though 60% of the American people are against it. This was made clear over the summer in a series of contentious town hall meetings in which many Congressmen were confronted by angry constituents that they theoretically represent but in reality could not possibly care less about. Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana proved themselves to be filthy whores whose votes can be bought. I suppose that shouldn’t shock anyone, but the blatant disregard for morality and the will of the people never ceases to amaze.

 

Michael Vick made an uneventful return to the NFL. Good for him.

 

Not even the combined magnetism of Obrahbama was enough to snag the 2016 Olympics for the city of Chicago. I blame Steve Bartman.

 

England’s answer to American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent, produced an overnight sensation in 47 year old Susan Boyle. Because we human beings are shallow, belittling types the hosts of the show and the live audience immediately began to laugh at Ms. Boyle when she came onstage because she did not fit within the Barbie Doll parameters we all expect from our stars. Ms. Boyle shut the morons up rather quickly when she started singing, and it should have been a valuable lesson for all involved.

 

The Obama Administration showed early signs of stupidity back in April when it allowed Air Force One to fly low over Manhattan for a photo op…the same Manhattan that witnessed 9/11. You remember 9/11…when airplanes were flown into The World Trade Center?? Morons.

 

Alaska Governor and former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin took a huge political risk by resigning from office. Most assume that Palin will make a bid for The White House in 2012 or 2016 (or both), and it is my opinion that she may have made a serious error in resigning. I’m not sure she’s electable anyway, but quitting in the middle of her term just gave her enemies on the left unnecessary ammunition.

 

Part of the government bailout that bears particular attention is Clash for Clunkers. Though numbers can be twisted in such a way that the program looks like it was a rousing success, those numbers are rather specious at best. And again, the whole thing was a not-so-cleverly disguised attempt to further an environmentalist wacko agenda.

 

RIP – movie auteur John Hughes, actress Farrah Fawcett…Senator Edward Kennedy…actor Patrick Swayze…Congressman Jack Kemp…sidekick Ed McMahon…actor Karl Malden…Golden Girl Bea Arthur…guitar guru Les Paul…boxer Arturo Gatti…wrestling legend Captain Lou Albano…infomercial king Billy Mays…Vegas headliner Danny Gans…funnyman Dom Deluise…actor David Carradine…King of Pop Michael Jackson…Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboard player Billy Powell…radio voice Paul Harvey…actor Ricardo Montalban…politico Robert Novak…comic Soupy Sales…NFL QB Steve McNair…former host of MTV’s classic game show Remote Control Ken Ober…newsman Walter Cronkite…actor/singer Al Martino (Johnny Fontaine in The Godfather)…sportscaster Harry Kalas…former NBA coach Chuck Daly…baseball player and famous brother Dom Dimaggio…actress Brittany Murphy…jazz saxophonist and former NBA player Wayman Tisdale…Cincinnati Bengals WR and former WV Mountaineer Chris Henry…evangelist Oral Roberts…and impressionist Fred Travalena

2009 NFL Preview – NFC

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’ve already dissected the AFC…now it’s the NFC’s turn:

NFC EAST

New York Giants                 13-3

The Plaxico Burress debacle dominated the Giants off season. As unfortunate as that situation was, I believe that the loss of Burress and the other starting WR Amani Toomer will actually benefit the team, as the replacements…some combination of Domenick Hixon, Steve Smith, rookie Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Sinorice Moss…have the potential to be a significant upgrade (and far less of a headache than Plax). Some may say the running game suffers a bit by the departure of Derrick Ward to Tampa, but personally I think it provides clarity. I’ve seen the NFL evolve from running back tandems in my childhood to the era of one feature back and back around to tandems the past few years, but I’ve never thought a three back system is a good thing. It’s just too muddled and confusing. There’s no way to get three running backs involved successfully and keep them all happy, especially if all three really are talented enough to be the primary runner. In New York it is now clear that Brandon Jacobs is the #1 option  and Ahmad Bradshaw is his backup, albeit one who’ll see his fair share of action. That will be helpful to the offense. On the defensive side of the ball the return of defensive end Osi Umenyiora can only make an already strong defense even more imposing.

Philadelphia Eagles            10-6

I’m not a big Donovan McNabb fan. He may be one of the most overrated football players in the past half century. That being said, this is always a top level team and one that’s a legitimate threat to win every single game. The defense had a rough offseason, losing safety Brian Dawkins and CB Lito Shepperd and also enduring the sad death of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Offensively Jeremy Maclin was drafted to be a bookend WR with last year’s pleasant surprise DeSean Jackson, and some additions were made to bolster the offensive line. The Eagles made headlines of their own by signing QB Michael Vick, who is looking for a fresh start after spending the past couple of years…..away. I’m not too concerned about the defense…..Philly just seems to be one of those teams, like Pittsburgh and Baltimore, that is perennially strong on the defensive side of the ball, with age and free agency and other factors never seeming to have a significant negative impact. And the offense will be better as more weapons have been added. But for some strange reason this is a team that has a hard time reaching the pinnacle, getting to the Super Bowl only twice in the past 30 years despite making the playoffs in over half of those seasons. I see no reason why 2009 will be much different…..they will have a successful season, make the playoffs, and then fall short of the goal.

Dallas Cowboys                  10-6

One word springs to mind…..overrated. The Cowboys are the professional equal of Notre Dame, living off an overblown reputation largely earned decades ago and having a bloated sense of self worth. I’m not saying this isn’t a good team, it’s just not a great team. Jerry Jones hasn’t become the complete joke that Al Davis has, but give it a few more years and I’m sure it will happen. The Cowboys have a shiny new billion dollar stadium that has puffed up the egos of Cowboy Nation even further, but that ain’t gonna win ball games. Much like the Eagles, the Cowboys will have a solid season and then fall apart at some point in the playoffs. The offseason departures of Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones, and Jessica Simpson will be addition by subtraction, but it still won’t be enough.

Washington Redskins        7-9

There seems to be an undeniable correlation between ownership and success, or lack thereof, on the field. Jerry Jones and Al Davis are wack jobs and their teams are either God awful or heading in the wrong direction. The Rooney Family are held up as model citizens and owners, and the Steelers have won two Super Bowls in the past few years. Coincidence?? Of course not. That brings us to Daniel Snyder, a self made billionaire who epitomizes the fact that just because you have the ability to make money doesn’t mean you know diddly squat about football. He’s another one of these owners that, instead of hiring knowledgeable football gurus to run his team, thinks it’s his right and privilege to make all the decisions himself. I suppose it is technically his right and privilege, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. He has continuously tried to buy success by signing aging free agents to big money contracts, only to have those moves not pay much of a dividend on the field. 2009 does have the potential to be different, as most would agree that DE Albert Haynesworth was a quality signing. But the jury is still out on QB Jason Campbell, head coach Jim Zorn, and a receiving corps that is unimpressive to say the least. The division is super tough, and I just don’t see this team being able to get over the hump quite yet.


NFC SOUTH

New Orleans Saints           9-7

I’m not sure if the NFC South is mediocre or just the quintessential embodiment of the aforementioned parity. Picking this division really is like pinning the tail on the donkey. There is no right or wrong answer. I really like Drew Brees though, so the Saints get the nod in a virtual coin flip.

Carolina Panthers              9-7

I don’t like QB Jake Delhomme nearly as much as I like Drew Brees. That’s it, that’s the x factor, the tie breaker. The defense is always strong, and most pundits seem to not believe this team will be much different than the one who won 12 games last season. But I see that they have tough out-of-conference games against Miami, New England, and the Jets, plus they start the season against Philly, Dallas, and Atlanta. That may be 6 losses right there.

Atlanta Falcons                   8-8

One step forward, two steps back. Everyone fell in love with rookie QB Matt Ryan last season, with good reason. He was impressive. No significant changes were made in the offseason with the exception of adding future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez, and that’s what bothers me. This feels like a team to me that believes they’ve arrived, that believes last season erases a track record of mediocrity, that no further changes need to be made. But history proves otherwise. In 1998 the Falcons went 14-2 en route to the Super Bowl before falling to the Broncos…..the next season they went 5-11. In 2002 they were a playoff team…..the following season: 5-11. In 2004 the Falcons won 11 games and made it to the NFC title game where they lost to the Eagles…..the next year they were a .500 team. Achieving success isn’t foreign to the Atlanta Falcons, but sustaining success seems to be an issue.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers    8-8

There’s a new sheriff in town for the Bucs. There’s also a new QB. Pretty much everything is new. It’s rebuilding time in Tampa. The division is a tossup so maybe this team will surprise some folks, but on paper it doesn’t look promising.


NFC NORTH

Minnesota Vikings             12-4

The Vikings acquired a new QB recently, some guy whose name escapes me right now. But whoever he is, a lot of people expect him to be the final piece of the puzzle for a team who has had an above average defense for awhile now and last year added Adrian Peterson who quickly established himself as one of the top running backs in the league. I concur.

Green Bay Packers             10-6

Last season was a tumultuous one for the folks in Titletown. This offseason has been rather uneventful in comparison. Aaron Rodgers is firmly ensconced as the QB, and in 2008 he acquitted himself quite nicely. There’s no reason to believe that he won’t be even better this year. The biggest question I have is RB Ryan Grant. Is he a one year wonder?? If he proves to be legit then The Pack will be a formidable force. 3 of their first 5 opponents are Detroit, Cincinnati, and St. Louis, so there is potential for a hot start. There are tough non-divisional games against Baltimore, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Arizona. If Green Bay can manage to win 3 of those then it’s on, it’s on like Donkey Kong baby. And then of course there is the division…..6 games against Minnesota, Chicago, and Detroit. We can safely assume 2 wins against the hapless Lions, so if they can split the other 4 games that’d possibly get them to 10 wins which may be good enough for a wild card playoff appearance.

Chicago Bears                      8-8

Move on, there’s nothing to see here. Everyone is making a big deal out of the fact that the Bears significantly upgraded the QB position. Okay, I will submit to that fact. They swindled the Broncos in acquiring Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler for the ill fated Kyle Orton, and I missed exactly how this happened but somehow Rex Grossman ended up in Houston doing exactly what he was destined to do, ride the pine. But quite honestly I’m not buying the Cutler hype. He acted like a complete jackass in whining his way out of Denver, which I know has nothing much to do with his on the field ability but it still makes me question his leadership skills and mental & emotional makeup, something that is vital for the quarterback position. Bret Favre has been around long enough and achieved at a level that somewhat justifies his diva attitude. Jay Cutler hasn’t proven himself worthy of carrying Favre’s luggage, atleast not yet. And even if people a bit less neurotic than me can put all that aside, there’s still that issue that Cutler has no one to throw to in Chicago. When the Bears add a couple of meaningful pieces to the receiving corps then maybe I’ll become a believer. Until then they have an awesome defense, an above average running back in Matt Forte, an overrated QB with an attitude problem, and no one to catch the ball. I believe in the axiom that defense wins championships…..Baltimore and Pittsburgh have proven that. But Minnesota’s defense is just as good if not better than Chicago’s, and offensively there’s just no comparison. Non division games against the Steelers, the Cardinals, and the Ravens will be super tough.

Detroit Lions                        4-12

Hey, atleast they’ll not go winless again this year. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so no one expects a quick turnaround in Motown. If QB Matthew Stafford proves to be the real deal and they continue to add pieces to the offense and the defense then maybe we can expect something approaching respectability for the Lions in about 3 or 4 years. I suspect by then there will be yet another new coach and a bunch of new players, but that’s a long way away. In 2009 winning 4 games will be a welcome improvement.

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals               10-6

A year ago at this time no one was picking the Cardinals to go to the Super Bowl. Not only did they go but they darn near won the thing. Ohio State’s Beanie Wells replaces the departed Edgerrin James at running back, a risky move considering Wells’ injury history. I also don’t believe Kurt Warner is the long term answer at quarterback. Matt Leinart needs to shape up or ship out. But for now, in 2009, there is a belief that Warner can atleast keep things moving in a positive direction. Do I think the Cards will make it back to the Super Bowl?? No, I don’t. But they should be able to maintain dominance in their division and make the playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks               9-7

I’ve always believed that Seattle was better on paper than in reality, but they aren’t as bad as they played last year. The injury bug bit and bit hard in 2008. If they can avoid that this season they instantly become better. Jim Mora Jr. takes over as head coach after Mike Holmgren decided not to return, so that should freshen things up a bit. Receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh finally escaped Cincinnati and will be hungry to prove he is a legitimate #1 WR as well as see what it’s like to actually be part of a winner. It will be interesting to see who emerges as the primary running back, Julius Jones or the newly signed Edgerrin James. Even if they run a tandem it’s not a bad duo. A couple of additions were made on the defensive side of the ball, and how quickly that group gels could decide on which side of .500 the Seahawks finish. I’m optimistic they will rebound from last year’s aberration and once again be in the playoff hunt.

San Francisco 49ers          6-10

Deciding between Alex Smith and Shaun Hill in the starting quarterback competition is like going to a restaurant and having the choice of beef broth or unsalted crackers…..uninspiring, uninteresting, unappetizing, and not fulfilling in any way. After establishing themselves as one of the all time elite franchises during the glory years of Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Bill Walsh, and George Seifert the 49ers have now slipped into Bengals/Browns/Lions territory, which I find sad. They drafted WR phenom Michael Crabtree with their 1st round pick and he has subsequently held out all summer and may hold out all year and go back into the draft next year. No matter how it shakes out long term, within the framework of this season it’s a wasted choice and eerily reminiscent of something that might happen to Cincinnati and not to great teams like Pittsburgh, New England, or Indianapolis. I like Mike Singletary as a coach just as I fondly recall his fierce talent as a player, but I think the problems in San Francisco start upstairs and until those issues are resolved the coaches and players are just pawns in a perpetually losing situation.

St. Louis Rams                     5-11

Wow…what has happened to the Rams?? It wasn’t that long ago that The Greatest Show On Turf was appearing weekly at a stadium near you, but the Dick Vermeil/Kurt Warner/Torry Holt era is over and done. Even offensive tackle Orlando Pace is gone. I’m a big fan of QB Marc Bulger, who is a former West Virginia Mountaineer, and I think Steven Jackson is among the league’s best running backs when he is healthy. But beyond those two the cupboard is pretty bare and the Rams are in full on rebuild mode. Nothing happened in the offseason to give anyone any reason to believe a dramatic turnaround is imminent after last season’s 2-14 epic failure. I suspect more turnover…..perhaps a new QB or even a very quick and sudden end to Steve Spagnolo’s short tenure as coach..…will occur before this team begins to show signs of a full recovery.

Random Thoughts 11

Welcome back Bret Favre…I guess. I find it sad that he waffled so much that he became a punchline and turned people against him because of a perceived diva attitude. Now he’s back and no one outside of Minnesota gives a damn.


When someone mentions Uncle Jesse do you think Full House or do you think Dukes of Hazzard ??


If anyone out there has a pug and has considered joining a site called Pugs.com, do yourself a huge favor and skip it. The people who interact on that board on a regular basis are a bunch of arrogant, self righteous jackasses who won’t offer any real insight. Instead they’ll just act superior and belittle you with insulting replies to genuine questions.


I think Pete Rose should have his ban from baseball lifted only after his death, ensuring that his enshrinement into baseball’s Hall of Fame would be posthumous. That would permanently cast his story in a tragic light while still rightly recognizing on the field accomplishments.


The powers-that-be can classify it as a homicide if they wish, but the bottom line is that Michael Jackson’s death was the responsibility of one man…..Michael Jackson. Sure, he had more than a few enablers and sycophants who used and abused him, but at the end of the day he was a grown man who got himself hooked on painkillers and died because of that addiction.


I’m so tired of people who wallow in the victim mentality.


In case you’ve ever wondered,  no…a dirty house is not child abuse. It may be poor parenting, bad judgment, and a negative reflection on one’s values, but it is not abuse. Unless there are rats or roaches or something.


I’m no Plaxico Burress fan, but he got royally hosed by being sentenced to 2 years in prison for shooting himself.


The molten lava cakes from Domino’s are spectacular…..but you can find the same thing in your grocery store for a far more economic price.


While the death of Senator Edward Kennedy is sad just as anyone’s death is sad, thinking people will resist the urge to follow in lockstep with the drive-by media and put ol’ Teddy up on a pedestal. He was not only flawed like all human beings, but was more flawed than most. No one should ever forget that, no matter what the law officially declared, he was responsible for the tragic death of a woman 30 years ago, a crime for which his family’s money and power assured he’d never pay for.


To round out this sports heavy edition, my thoughts on Michael Vick: I’m not a fan…never have been, never will be. But that’s because he played for Virginia Tech and was a punk even then. As far as the dog fighting business…it was heinous, thug behavior that shouldn’t have been shocking to anyone who’d noticed the fact that Vick is indeed a punk. However, he has paid his debt to society. Everyone deserves a second chance. If being in prison and losing the great life he had humbled him in any way and forced him to reevaluate the meaning of his existence then that is a good thing and he needs to be given an opportunity to become that new man.