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Posted on: January 9, 2012 6:22 pm
 

TIMMAY and Mayweather/Pac

A couple of house keeping issues first.  Happy New Year to everyone who takes this time to read my blog. I’m sorry that I don’t update it as often as I’d like, but real life all to often gets in the way.  That said there are two “stories” that are constantly in the sports news and peoples’ reactions to both make me crazy.

 Tim Teebow

 My opinion on him as a quarterback isn’t very different from that of Mark Sanchez. I don’t think he is a viable long term starting option in the NFL.  A quarterback that cannot throw a timing pass or complete more than 55% of his attempts will not have long term success in today’s NFL. It is really that simple.  As I’ve stated countless times, Sanchez has been the benefit of playing with a great defense, having each bounce go its way and pulling off close victories once the team got to the playoffs.  I’ve said also countless times that eventually the defense wouldn’t be able to consistently carry them in today’s NFL and the bounces would balance out as is the law of averages.  This argument that all that matters is winning, is simply asinine. They weren’t winning because of Sanchez, but despite him.   Well, this season the defense took a step back and the bounces didn’t go their way and guess what happened. The “Super Bowl” Jets didn’t make the playoffs and Sanchez led the league in turnovers as he was forced to throw more and thereby excused.

 Teebow is in a similar situation which is different in two respects. 1) He is contributing a lot more toDenver’s wins than Sanchez did to the Jets. 2) Teebow is likable and polarizing in ways that Sanchez simply is not.

 It seems that every Denver game (aside from this weeks playoff game) has been won in like fashion, defense dominates, running game eats the clock, game is close in the 4<sup>th</sup> quarter and then Teebow does just enough to lead them to a win in the 4<sup>th</sup> quarter.  Now while he is getting the credit for #winning, I’d contend Broncos are winning despite him not because of him.  In games where the defense didn’t show up and he was relied upon to make plays (NE andBuffalo come to mind), he was exposed in the same manner as Sanchez.  In the long run, players who go 10 for 21 passing in a playoff game, simply don’t win.

 This brings me to the second point, while I always take great pleasure in pointing out the ridiculousness of the notion that Mark Sanchez is a franchise quarterback, it pains me to call out Teebow for the same flaws, because unlike Sanchez who demonstrated he is a jackass on the show “Hard Knocks”, Teebow handles himself with nothing but class on and off the field. (Before you get all huffy puffy and accuse me of hating on Sanchez only because he is a Jet, keep in mind that I’m a Nole through and through and hate the Gators at full capacity.)  This is the part of the Teebow story that drives me nuts.  Everyone has an opinion of him, even if they don’t watch football or have never listened to him speak. “He is crazy to think that god is willing his team to win.” “There is no place on a football field for religion.” 

 First, I remember watching the Miami Dolphins in 1993 and 1994 season.  During those two years they had one of the most “religious” teams I’ve ever seen, led by Irving Fryer and Keith Jackson.  After every touchdown, they would kneel down in the endzone and say a prayer.  As the season progressed and they had more of an influence on their teammates, it seemed like the entire offense would gather in the endzone for a post touchdown celebration prayer meeting.  Well, eventually those guys started getting vilified. 

 More recently, the in the late 90s and early 00s, Kurt Warner was the topic of conversation as he began and ended each interview thanking his “lord and savior”.  I’m sure there were also a ton of other examples along the way.  Here is the thing about Teebow and the “religious zealots” who came before him. One, they never claim that god is involved in the outcome of the football game and they are usually giving him thanks for the talents they feel he has bestowed upon them. Two, the people tearing them down are usually the ones insecure in their own beliefs and its human nature to ridicule those that think different.  Three, I’d rather see my kids grow up respecting and helping others in the same manner as Teebow, than getting into trouble like so many of our other athletes.

 The real story is whether a guy whose career passing percentage is close to 50% can ever develop into a real passer and succeed in the NFL. 

 Mayweather v. Pacman

 The fight we all want to see but probably never will.  The debate amongst sports writers for the past three years has become all to predictable. “Who is to blame for this fight not taking place?”  First, it was Mayweather. The excuses were as many as they were laughable, “he is scared”, “he won’t risk his undefeated record”, “he only fights shot fighters”, “this drug testing nonsense proves all of the above!”

 Then something interesting happened. Pac started taking fights with “shot” fighters that Mayweather had already dominated, and he struggled.  Then something else happened, Pacman’s promoter, Bob Arum realized why should he co-promote fights when he could keep everything in house and keep 100% of the profits. So, what happened? Pacman fought: Miguel Cotto (who had almost been killed in the ring in his previous fight); Joshua Clottey (who stood in the ring for 12 rounds without throwing a punch); Antonio Margarrito (who fought one unimpressive fight against a nobody in the previous 18 months); Shane Mosley (38 and who did nothing against Mayweather the previous year and also fought Sergio Mora to a draw); and JMM (a much smaller fighter who he previously beat twice and struggled to a third controversial draw). Each one of those fights put 100% of the money into Top Rank’s coffers.

 No one could blame him though. Pacman had earned the paydays. Everyone was patient, after all it was Mayweather’s fault the fight wasn’t happening. But then, something else happened. Mayweather announced plans for a May 5<sup>th</sup> 2012 fight and he announced his intentions to fight Pacman.  Bob Arum quickly put out a statement, dismissing the assertion, Pacman couldn’t risk that fight with Mayweather’s looming legal troubles. If Mayweather went to jail Arum contended, Pacman would lose the chance to fight on that date.  Then, sentencing in the Mayweather case came in and he was given a 90 day sentence scheduled to start this past Friday.  Arum was right, or was he?  Arum quickly announced that Manny would fight one of four potential opponents (all Top Rank guys) and that the fight would take place May 5.

 But fate had other plans and decided to intervene and expose Arum for the fraud I’ve been saying he is for almost three years now.  The judge in the Mayweather case decided to extend his reporting date until June, so that his planned May 5<sup>th</sup> fight could take place.  Boxing fans thought the stars and moon had aligned and they would get the most coveted fight in boxing in two or three decades. Nope, Arum said, this changed nothing, Pac would fight in June as he wouldn’t be healed from his previous fight until then.  And, that was it.  Arum was exposed and the blame has now fallen onto him and shifted from Mayweather.

 You know what though neither is to blame (and neither is Pacman who if he wanted to could demand Arum to make the fight).  You know who is to blame.  Boxing fans, and boxing fans alone.  Boxing is a business first and foremost and if you have an investment that keeps on paying, why would you ever put that investment at risk.  Top Rank can keep cashing in on the Pacman cash cow until both fighters are in their late 30s and no longer in their primes. Why can they do this?  Because when a Pacman/Clottey fight is doing 800k PPV buys at $49.95 a pop they have no incentive to do otherwise.

 If fans got sick and tired of this nonsense and simply rallied together to boycott what amounts to these boxing exhibitions, Top Rank and Golden Boy would be left with no other option than to get together and make this fight happen. It would generate over 2 million buys and probably gross 200 millions dollars with each fighter receiving 50 million a piece. And unless the result was lopsided (which after watching Manny’s last several fights, I’m not so sure Mayweather wouldn’t  “reconfigure his beautiful face”), they would be set up for a rematch. 

 But why take the road less traveled? Fans don’t demand it and therefore they will never get it.  So before you go huffing and puffing about who is to blame…you might want to first take a look in the mirror.

 Please visit my blog at www.mmtsportsblog.com, your emails are always welcome at triumphe@bellsouth.net and you can follow me on twitter @mmt0315.  

Posted on: August 23, 2011 6:19 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 6:25 pm
 

Chris Johnson and the dilema of paying top RBs

Chris Johnson wants to get paid. And by paid I don’t mean he simply wants to redo his rookie contract which grossly underpays him [he is scheduled to make $550,000 with escalators maxing 2011 out at 1.25 million]. Johnson isn’t even looking to get paid what the top player [Adrian Peterson, right around 10 million this season] at his position makes. Johnson wants to be paid like one of the top players in the NFL.  Every indication is that the Titan’s running back is seeking 50 million in guaranteed money with an annual salary of nearly 15 million dollars a year.

Johnson, is who will turn 26 years old at the start of this his 4<sup>th</sup> NFL season is without question one of the league’s top 3 running backs and one of the NFL’s most exciting players.  He is the face of the Titan’s franchise and basically the heart and soul of their offense.  He is definitely right to demand more money and despite having 2 years and all the leverage in their corner, I think the Titans should give him a bump and pay him like one of the top players at his position. 

That said, under no circumstance whatsoever should Bud Adams budge and pay CJ2K anything close to his demands.  Two reasons why. First, the least important position in the NFL is running back. Mike Shanahan proved that in Denverwhere guys like Terrell Davis [6<sup>th</sup> round pick] Olandis Gary [4<sup>th</sup> Round pick], and Mike Anderson [6<sup>th</sup> Round Pick] all rushed for 1,110 yard plus seasons while leadingDenver’s rushing attack. Denver in the 90s and early 00s changed the landscape of the NFL forever.  They proved you didn’t have to have a featured back to succeed. After Denver, teams realized that in a salary cap world, money that was previously spent on the “franchise” back was better used elsewhere. Teams that succeeded stopped spending money on the position.New England took that moto to the next level winning Super Bowls with guys like Antowain Smith and Kevin Faulk at the position. 

Here is a list of the stating running backs in the for the winning Super Bowl team over the last 10 seasons and the round they were drafted.

2011 James Starks, 6<sup>th</sup> Round
2010 Pierre Thomas, Undrafted
2009 Willie Parker, Undrafted
2008 Brandon Jacobs, 4<sup>th</sup> Round
2007 Joseph Addai, 1<sup>st</sup> Round
2006 Willie Parker, undrafted
2005 Corey Dillion, 2<sup>nd</sup> Round
2004 Antowain Smith, 1<sup>st</sup> Round 
2003 Michael Pittman, 4<sup>th</sup> Round
2002 Antowain Smith, 1<sup>st</sup> Round 

Of these backs, two were taken in the first round while 5 were taken in the 4<sup>th</sup> round or later or not drafted at all.  More importantly for the two first round guys [and Corey Dillion the second round player] none cost their team more than 1.7 million in the year they won the Super Bowl.  Last season the highest paid running backs in the NFL were in no particular order were Maurice Jones-Drew, Clinton Portis, Adrian Peterson and Steven Jackson.  None of their respective teams made the playoffs.  The bottom line is that money that should be spent on improving other areas that aren’t as deep as running back was wasted on these franchise backs.

The second reason the Titans shouldn’t cave in is because of the short shelf life of NFL running backs and the affect the pounding they take has on their careers.  It is no coincidence that as studies come out that demonstrate the decline of backs as they approach 30, more and more teams have gone with 2 back systems.  It is also no coincidence that the season after guys have had historic seasons they have either gotten hurt or dramatically declined in the following season. See, Terrell Davis [injured], Jamal Anderson [injured], Larry Johnson [injured], Clinton Portis [injured], Michael Turner [big decline in following season’s numbers and even Chris Johnson [700 less yards and nearly a yard per carry less] just to name a few.

Signing these guys to big, long term contracts is simply not good for business.  Chris Johnson is getting bad advice and trying to compare his demands to the recently signed contract of Larry Fitzgerald is simply not going to get him a new contract.  The Titan’s should learn from history and either trade him to someone that is willing to give him 8-10 million a year or offer him a more practical contract that wont handicap the team’s future.  However, as he is the face of the franchise, I’m guessing the Titans are still be willing to make him the highest paid back in league history, but the longer he waits the more likely it is that Bud Adams [heis clearly not happy with the situation]decided to dig his feet in and stay put.  In either case, under no circumstance should the Titans or any other team for that matter pay a running back a salary comparable to any of the league’s other positions.

As always you can email me at Triumphe@bellsouth.net and follow me on Twitter at mmt0315.  I’ve also recently started my own website which you can visit at www.mmtsportsblog.com there, you’ll find more frequent content, like fantasy football insight, random sports picks or anything that catches my attention in the world of sports that I feel like randomly talking about.

Category: NFL
Posted on: August 19, 2011 10:56 am
 

The "U", the death penalty and fixing the NCAA

Ok, not going to lie, I actually considered changing the blog’s name to “Lil Luke” for the foreseeable future, but decided against soiling the title and instead offer up a poem:

There was a Uni-ver-sity,
They called themselves the “U”;
Fans lined the streets with puffed out chests;
Like frontrunners often do.
But the entire time, lurking in the dark
One man caused quite the scene
With disregard for NCAA rules,
Lil Luke was this man’s name

He handed out cash --- and prostitutes
On his private yacht,
Was Christmas time throughout the year
Or so the players thought.
They did not know that one day soon
Lil Luke would go to jail
Abandon him, the players did
As though they did not care

Sitting in his cell with plenty of time,
Lil Luke decided to sing
The tales, the stories he told them all
It sounded like a dream.
And so it began, the tragic end
Of the program known as the “U”;
But don’t worry “fans” not all is lost
There is always FIU!

I’m sorry Canes fans but as an FSU alumnus I couldn’t help myself.  You will be surprised however, to see my answer to the most asked about question this week, should the “U” receive the death penalty.  I’ve gone back and forth on the issue for several days now and have reached the conclusion that despite it being appropriate in this situation (assuming the Yahoo! story is accurate), it should not be levied as the system is broken. 

Let’s face the facts. NCAA football and basketball are not big business, they are HUGE business and everyone is getting paid except the players. The universities, coaches, television networks, clothing manufactures, board of governors, conference heads, video game manufacturers, sports drink makers, memorabilia sellers and anyone who can tie themselves to these kids is getting paid, except for those kids putting the money in everyone else’s pockets.

And I know what you’re going to tell me, these kids are getting a free college education! Spare me, if you were to poll NCAA football and basketball players, they’d gladly pay their own way into school in exchange for a much larger piece of the pie.  How are you going to expect an 18 year old kid to say no to someone offering them the opportunity to party like a rock star along with a putting cash in their pockets?  You’re lying to yourself if you’re sitting there saying, “I wouldn’t take the money.”  These players aren’t stupid and they see the hypocrisy around them. As long as the system remains the same ---broken--- players will continue to take every “illegal” benefit that is placed in front of them.

Eventually, players around the country (or even better those from a much larger sample size of schools that are already making millions in the NFL) will decide its time to let the cat out of the bag and publicly voice what anyone around college athletics already knows, the majority of star players in college are getting benefits which the NCAA would determine are illegal.  You think that steroid use in baseball during the 80s and 90s was the best kept secret in sports?  Wrong, its illegal benefits in college football and basketball.  I’d venture that more than half the players currently in the NFL received benefits the NCAA would deem to be illegal.

So what is the solution?  Continue giving players scholarships.  In addition, take 20% of all monies generated by the NCAA and the individual conferences and put it into a player pool which is then divided equally amongst all players in sports which are profitable.  The other non profitable sports don’t need to receive money as others have suggested as they already receive the benefit of the scholarship and aren’t generating additional income.  Allow star players to sign endorsement deals.  This would apply to such a small minority of student athletes, but if Nike is willing to pay a Cam Newton or Tim Teebow money to be in a commercial, let them make that money.  Finally, change the safeguards and punishments.  Have each college athlete sign an agreement which acknowledges that the NCAA, conference and school will be able to recover the monies paid to the athlete in the event they are caught cheating. If a coach is found to have knowledge of the violation, ban him from coaching for several years.  It will be amazing to see how time suddenly frees up to monitor 80 athletes if they have something at stake.

In the NFL and other major sports there are rules in place to ensure that owners don’t circumvent the salary cap by finding ways to pay players off the books.  These safeguards and extremely strict penalties work because owners don’t want to get fined and potentially lose draft picks, while players don’t want to risk losing their salaries.  Will paying players completely eliminate cheating? Of course not, but when you start giving these kids something that is equitable for what they bring to the table and then add the risk of them potentially losing those very things, the incentive to cheat is dramatically reduced.  Right now, there is no incentive for student athletes to say no.

 So while the “U” made “The Program” look like a children’s movie, I just don’t think giving them the death penalty will suddenly change the landscape of college football.  It didn’t after SMU was shut down and it hasn’t as win after win has been vacated throughout the country.  The only thing that should be given the death penalty is the NCAA’s current system.

As always you can follow me on Twitter at mmt0315 or email me at triumphe@bellsouth.net.

Posted on: July 21, 2011 10:08 am
 

Fixing the Dolphins

Well, for one thanks to those of you who posted comments on my prior blog "Defending Lebron".  The comments were: funny, eye opening and passionate.  Some were insightful while others, well, keep drinking the Kool-Aid people.

With the NFL lockout coming to an end (isn't it funny they've been reporting this for nearly 128 days now?), local sports talk and the national "experts" have shifted their focus on the free agent frenzy which will be coming soon to an NFL city near you.  I keep listening to all the moves the Dolphins should make and will rethink season tickets if Jeff Ireland and company succumb to temptations and sign the wrong players.

Everyone knows the Dolphins needs are on the offensive side of the ball.  They need a quarterback, running back and wide receiver.  The problem is the names mentioned would not help the Phins, and I contend would set them back even further.  Keep in mind that currently, what’s missing from the offense is speed, speed and more speed as Brian Hartline is the fastest player on that side of the ball.  Let’s breakdown each position and see why each name linked to the Dolphins would be the wrong choice, and who the Dolphins should focus their attention on instead.

QUARTERBACK

Donovan McNabb seems to be the guy everyone has going to Miami.  The question is why?  When your team has no issue trading you to a division rival and that division rival benches you in the middle of the season for a guy named Rex Grossman what does that tell you?  It tells me that McNabb is now at the point of his career where is will backup a younger quarterback or hold the reins down until a rookie is ready to step in.  The guys who made these decisions are Andy Reid (one of the most loyal men in football) and Mike Shanhan who knows a thing or two about the offensive side of the ball.  Simply put McNabb’s best days are behind him and signing McNabb would be a desperation move the likes of which Dolphins fans have grown accustomed to over the past decade.

The guys the Dolphins should go out and get (assuming he is available, which by all accounts he should be) is Kyle Orton. Orton, will cost about the same amount of money as McNabb on an annual basis, is only 28 years old, has proven he can move an offense up and down the field and has a great relationship with Brandon Marshall from their time together in Denver.  He has never been given a team of his own and is the type of quarterback the Dolphins have been searching for since #13 retired.  He doesn't have the injury concerns of McNabb, Marc Bulger or Matt Hasselbeck nor the baggage that would come with Vince Young.  Orton is the right fit and this decision is the most important of their offseason.

RUNNING BACK

The Dolphins are set to part ways with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams and they traded up to grab Daniel Thomas who should eventually become the team's feature back.  The name swirling around town, which for the life of me I don't understand is Ahmad Bradshaw. Don't get me wrong, Bradshaw is a nice player who does bring the type of explosiveness the Dolphins could use but at 5'9 and 195lbs, he is not built to be an every down back. Also, he fumbled 7 times last season which is more than you'd like from your primary back.

I think the Dolphins should go out and sign two guys to fill multiple needs.  DeAngelo Williams and Reggie Bush.  Before you read this and tell me I'm crazy, "the Dolphins could never afford both guys", let me say, yes, they can.  Look around the NFL, even in today's two back system there isn't a real need around the league for a running back, as just about every team in the NFL currently has their tandem in place.  In fact the amount of teams in need of a running back can be counted on one hand.  Why would I prefer Williams over Bradshaw?  Easy, he doesn't fumble, has proven he can have 1,000 seasons while splitting the bulk of the carries, is more explosive and has a career average of 5.0 yards per carry despite playing on a team with ZERO passing game during his tenure.  He has proven to be a star whereas Bradshaw has too many questions.  As for Reggie Bush, he is going to come on the cheap.  Why not bring in Bush, who can be put into the roll of 3rd down back and be used as a slot receiver on 1st and 2nd down.  He would also provide a great option to fill the Ricky Williams role in the Wild Cat offense as his speed around the corner is unmatched.  One other thing about Bush, he would help the Dolphins in an area that has been a problem but always is ignored --- special teams.

WIDE RECEIVER

Brandon Marshall is great, he is a pro bowler, but he is not the type of player to sprint down the field and stretch a defense; he is a possession receiver (12.2 yards per catch for his career). And while Devon Bess is turning into a great route runner and a great slot receiver, he too does not posses the explosiveness every passing attack requires.  The name that keeps swirling around Miami is Donte Stallworth.  WHY? WHY? WHY?  In Stallworth's last 2 seasons on the field he's produced 19 total catches for 240 total yards; he's only one season with more than 60 catches, has never had a 1,000 yard season and has caught 5 or less touchdowns in 6 of his 8 seasons. He is not the playmaker the Dolphins desperately need.  Know who lives in Miami, wants to play for Miami, is that playmaker and happens to be a free agent?  Plaxico Burress.  This week Burress told Miami's Sid Rosenberg that all things being equal, Miami is the team he'd want to play for.  Burress is big target that can stretch the field and free things up for Marshall who was under constant pressure of the double teams throughout last season.  His situation with jail (from a public relations standpoint) is vastly different from lets say a Michael Vick, because Burress went to jail for stupidity not some sort of malicious crime.  OF all the decisions, the Dolphins will need to make once free agency gets under way, this one is really a no brainer.

None of the moves are complicated, nor are they the delusions of a diehard fan.  They are simply alternative choices to the names currently floating around.  Last offseason the Dolphins were able to bring in Dansby and Marshall so why would these guys be any more difficult?  With a top 5 defense returning, these moves would put Miami in the playoffs this season and because of the players ages would keep them there for the foreseeable future.

As always feel free to post your comments or email them to me at triumphe@bellsouth.net and you can follow me on twitter @mmt0315

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Category: NFL
Posted on: June 9, 2011 11:54 am
 

Defending Lebron

OK, I haven’t been around for months as fortunately my real life has been filled with work and the lack of time to dedicate to pouring my opinions on sports onto paper. 

Despite my absence from the sports blogging world, I still pay attention.  I watch each game and read each column whether filled with venom or objectivity alike.  There are few subjects however, which get my blood boiling, which require me to drop everything I’m doing and put the preverbal pen to paper to express my disbelief and disappointment in the so-called experts that cover sports.  LeBron James and the myths which surround him are one of those subjects.

While his “decision” making is questionable at best, Lebron James is not a quitter, overrated or a choke artist; he doesn’t shrink in the games biggest moments and he is certainly not responsible for the world’s fledgling economy.  Let’s take the obligatory look at the “decision”, was it one of the worst thought out ways to announce a free agency destination in the history of sports? Yes.  However, the intentions were noble, as Lebron James made more money for the Boys and Girls Club in one night than they make in an entire year.  Could he have simply written a check without the negative press?  Sure.  He has since realized the mistake and choose one of the biggest moments of his career (beatingBoston) to apologize for it.  As for the celebration the Heat had upon signing the Big 2 and Bosh, that wasn’t his choice, it was Pat Riley’s and that choice was made to excite a fan base which has previously not had something to get excited about.  Was nothing different than when the Heat signed Shaq and promised the city a title, there was no fuss then, shouldn’t be one now.

Quitters don’t score the final 25 points of the Eastern Conference Finals including 29 of the final 30 points and the game winner in OT as Lebron did against Detroit.  Quitters don’t take a team with so little talent that the minute he leaves they get the #1 pick in the draft, to the best record in the NBA for 2 consecutive seasons.  Quitters don’t randomly wake up in the middle of the night, and decide to go to the gym for a shoot around to get better and work on their games.  Quitters don’t sacrifice the spotlight and millions of dollars in salary to put themselves in a better position to win championships.  It’s funny because those same people claiming he took the easy way were clamoring for him to join their teams with equally loaded rosters in Chicago and New York --- the hypocrisy could fill another article but two guys that are the biggest culprit that come to mind are Michael Wilbon and Bill Simmons.  Quitters don’t dominate a series against the team that has owned the Eastern conference the last 4-5 years including ripping their hearts out in the 4<sup>th</sup> quarter in the decisive games of the series.  Quitters don’t dominate the leagues MVP and eliminate his team in 5 games. 

Lebron James is the MVP in the NBA today and the most valuable player in the NBA since Michael Jordan.  And you know something, he will certainly go down as the best player in NBA history when his career is done and Scottie Pippen understands that now.  Know why?  Because Lebron, at the young age of 26 years old understands something that most casual fans don’t and that the sports experts get but are currently so filled with hate that they don’t want to admit.  Lebron James will do anything to win.  It means he will defend, he will defer and when needed, he will take over the end of games like no one else in the NBA is capable of doing.  Know why Kobe Bryant is sitting on 5 rings and not 6?  Because in the last finals he played with Shaq, he decided, it was time for his coming out party, and rather then defer to the big man, he put on a ball hogging display no one had seen in the finals in nearly a decade.

According to the website 82games.com know who the most “clutch” player in basketball was in 07-08? Lebron.  08-09, he was second; 09-10 he was first in one of the most dominating seasons by an NBA player in history --- and this season even while learning a new offense he was still ranked 4<sup>th</sup>.  When looking in the playoffs, his dominance in those situations is still better thanKobe or D-Wade but the problem is unless a guy scores 30 the general view is to dismiss everything else he does. 

So here it is --- the best player in basketball will show up tonight --- he is going to put up a performance for the ages and the Miami Heat will end up winning the series in 6 games.  We will all be witnesses but then some moron will probably end up writing that Lebron didn’t pass the ball enough.  On second thought there is no defending Lebrob.

Follow me on twitter @mmt0315

Category: NBA
Posted on: November 5, 2010 1:49 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 2:02 pm
 

Week 9 NFL Predictions

Nuns selling baseball cards; 3-day media blitz over "cancer patient"; Randy Moss had his third new team, this season; Isiah Thomas has a grand plan for the Knicks; and Dexter has a new partner in crime; but first — poker (For those of you not interested skip on down to the quick hits below).

Last week, I mentioned I’d be playing a poker tournament over the weekend, which I did and for those who asked the results weren’t pretty. The field had 188 entrants and was a deep stacked event giving all entrants 15,000 in starting chips with 100/100 blinds for 30 minute levels. Here are the highlights.

8th hand of the tournament I get J/8 of clubs. A player (we’ll call him Oscar the Grouch as his breath stunk as did his attitude) raises from early position. Two people call so I come along. The flop brings a 9 high board and gives me two cards to the flush. Oscar makes a continuation bet, the other two players fold and I make a minimum raise which he flat calls. The turn brings a non-club low card which now gives me the straight draw. Oscar bets 2,000 into a 4,500 chip pot which I decide to smooth call. On the river, I hit my flush but the board paired. Oscar once again bets 2,000 and I choose to simply call for fear he might have filled up. Oscar arrogantly flips over 2 10s to which I respond, "no good, flush."

Here is where the fun started. Oscar slams the table and tells anyone who will listen, that I have no chance to win the tournament, I’m the worst player there and shouted a bunch of obscenities that are not worth repeated but were definitely not meant for women and children. 5-years ago, I probably get into a shouting match with the guy, but over time I’ve discovered it doesn’t help. Now, I simply let them have their moment and move on. Except...when 5 hands later Oscar is still on his rant, turns to me and says, "what nothing to say?" I briefly try to explain him my thinking on the hand, which just makes him more furious and garners this gem, "I’m no here for the poker lesson pal, just keep playing like a moron and I’ll bust you from the tournament." I finally tell him that I play the way I play, he is probably right, which means he is fortunate since eventually he will have all my chips. I guess that was enough to finally shut him up as he returned to his IPOD and didn’t speak again for several hours.

After the first 30 minutes I was over 55k in chips and probably once of the early chips leaders. The next hand of significance, I was holding K2 of spades on the big blind. Several players limped in and I gladly checked my option. To my happiness, I flopped a flush. Sadly another player decided to 3-bet shove my raise and hit a running full house to cut my stack in half. After 2-3 hours my table broke and I was thankfully no longer seated next to Oscar. Until...

Now 6 hours into the day and only 30 minutes or so after my table broke, Oscar and I were reunited, except now, he was seated to my immediate left (Ironically, one seat over from him was my father who also played the tournament.) Oscar came to the table as one of the tournament chips leaders, while I was sitting about 5 or 6k below the average. Each time I raised, Oscar came over the top. It was inevitable, eventually he was going to double me up OR knock me out. Right before the dinner break, I got the hand I was waiting for. I look down and see AK suited. I raise, Oscar re-raises (again) and I shove all in with my remaining 20k, to which he replies, "Well, I’m priced in so I gotta call". Oscar shows AQ and shockingly the board bricks out and Im over 100k in chips. Oscar is fuming and asking how I could shove in that spot. I wasn’t sure if he was serious.

Anyhow, we go to dinner and I’m excited, I call my dad (he got knocked out a little while earlier in 37th place) and let him know not to fret, because I was going to take the tournament down. We return from the dinner break and I look down at 6-2 suited in the small blind. The table folds around and Oscar says, "you know, you could fold." I don’t respond, and toss in the call. Flop Yahtzee - 3, 4, 5 rainbow. I check, Oscar throws in the obligatory 10k bet and I call. Turn blank 9, I check, he bets 15k and I call. River is another blank K. This time wanting to make sure I get paid, I value bet 18k. Oscar insta shoves and before I can get the word "call" outta my mouth he already is showing 6/7 for the flopped higher straight, good game to me, 32nd place when only 20 got paid.

Must I really say more? Anyhow, thanks for the well wishes and better luck next time.

QUICK HITS

1) Randy Moss - I don’t for the life of me understand why my Miami Dolphins (who are struggling to put the ball in the end zone) and a number of other teams trying to get to the Super Bowl did not claim Moss off the waivers. This myth that he is somehow a cancer (pun intended) is simply that a myth. Lets be clear about something, Moss is no Terrell Owens. He doesn’t throw teammates under the bus nor is he a me first guy on the field. By all accounts, he has always been a great teammate, works harder than anyone else during practice and is a great example to younger players (was I the only one who read about his Patriots’ teammates reactions when he was traded or Percy Harvin’s tirade when he was waived). Randy Moss’ problem with every team he’s ever played for was with management, plain and simple and the rest of the AFC is going to regret allowing him to go to the Titans;

2) How about this story? A group of nuns inherited one of those rare Honus Wagner cards which is worth more than a house and recently sold it for a cool $262,000 - Nice;

3) I swear, I sometimes need to reread stories about Isiah Thomas to make sure I’m not still drunk from the night before. I’m telling you Isiah is rapidly climbing the charts of people I’d like to go out drinking with just so I could pick their brain. (#1 and #2 on the list happen to be the former and current President as politics aside just think about how much classified information you could extract over a shot of tequila). Anyhow, this gem from Isiah, "When I look at my GM/executive record, if I'm evaluated on that, then whoever's after Donnie, if you're not talking about some of the top people in the game, I'll put my draft evaluation record up against anyone's." Really? I mean, talk about not being self-aware or more simply put, downright delusional. Thomas also said, he’d like to eventually take over for Donnie Walsh and bring Lebron James to New York in 2014. I don’t know who is crazier, Isiah or the Knicks for recently trying to rehire him;

4) RIP Sparky Anderson who passed away at age 76. Fun fact about Sparky from ESPN. He was the first manager to win the World Series in both leagues AND the only manager to be the all-time wins leader for two different franchises;

5) Congrats to the San Francisco Giants on winning their first World Series title in their "new" city. Edgar Renteria set an MLB record for longest time between series clinching hits in the World Series. Renteria had the extra innings game winning base hit when the Marlins won the World Series in 1997. As an aside, he also hit into the series ending out, when the Cardinals lost to the Red Sox;

6) I’m a Red Sox fan, but let me tell you, baseball needs Derek Jeter to stay in New York. Jeter represents everything that is good about baseball which was lacking in the last 20 years. He always played the game the "right way", was never suspected of steroids and stands to be the first Yankee ever to reach 3000 hits. Baseball needs him to retire as a Yankee, and despite hating the Yankees, I will always admire Derek Jeter;

7) How in the world does the media spend three days talking about Kevin Garnett telling Charlie Villanueva he looks like a "cancer patient"? Seriously? Who cares? The terms cancer and war are thrown around sports all the time. They should be taken in the context they are used and people need to stop being over sensitive about these things. I see an ESPN E60 coming soon;

8) Couldn’t the news of Cam Newton allegedly taking money come out AFTER he won the Heisman and AFTER Auburn won the National Title? This would’ve been great as the NCAA could then tell us 2 more things we all saw happen, never really happened. I’m telling you with each of these stories, I get closer to writing my "tell all" book;

9) Just read a report that Drew Brees has been playing on a knee which might require microfracture surgery after the season. If this is true, all I’ve gotta say is WOW.

POWER RANKINGS -

1) New England Patriots (3) - The Patriots are the only one loss team in the league and suddenly they have a pass rush. Scary. By the way, you think they weren’t aware of how angry Moss really was about his contract situation?

2) Baltimore Ravens (NR) - They sort of take this position over by default. Two of the teams I had ranked ahead of them lost (Jet and Steelers) and the Ravens beat them both.

3) Tennessee Titans (5) - I know they are coming off a loss and I am still moving them up, but the Titans just got that much better with the addition of Randy Moss. Teams will no longer be able to stack the line to stop Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt will benefit of no longer facing a double team.

4) New York Jets (2) - The things that concerned me about the Jets, err sorry, the thing that concerned my about the Jets (Mark Sanchez needing to win games for you) showed its scary self last week in the Green Bay loss. On the other hand the defense is downright scary as is their running game.

5) Pittsburgh Steelers (1) - Maybe getting dropped this far down after losing on the road in prime-time to the defending Super Bowl champions isn’t fair; but neither is James Harrison once again being fined by the NFL.

Picks

Last week: 8-5

Season: 62-55

Tampa Bay at Atlanta - This game is for first place in the NFC South and the best record in the NFC. Tampa has lost two games to two of the NFL’s elite by a combined score of 69-19. The good news for them is both those games were at home and they seem to travel well. The bad news is, its also a sign of their youth as young teams typically lose those/these types of games. Matt Ryan is starting to come into his own and the Falcons will simply be too much on offense. Buccaneers 13 Falcons 31.

Chicago at Buffalo - How much of a mirage was the Bears quick start? Their problems are pretty simple, they can’t pass protect. Anyone else feel like they are watching Jeff George at quarterback every time Jay Cutler drops back to pass? Bills continue to play hard and I think they will finally give their fans something to cheer about with their first win of the season. Bears 17 Bills 27.

New England at Cleveland - You know it’s a busy sports week, when it is now Friday and we haven’t heard a peep about Bill Belichick v. Man Genius. This game isn’t the mismatch it appears to be as the Browns have had two weeks to prepare and are playing much better than their record would indicate. They will try to control the clock and the game with Peyton Hillis, but the Pats should pull this one out in the 4th quarter. By the way, why isn’t anyone talking about Colt McCoy? He’s looked great so far. Patriots 28 Browns 24.

New York Jets at Detroit Lions - Call this one a hunch (I know, I know, I’m a hater), but I like the Lions here. The blue print has been set for beating the Jets, stop the run (the Lions defensive line is a terror), make Mark Sanchez beat you, and throw the ball on the Jets defense (the Lions offensive strength is their passing game). So call it what you will, but I smell an upset. Jets 13 Lions 19.

New Orleans at Carolina - Did anyone need a breakout game as badly as the Saints? Where was that team all season? Saints should continue to roll as the Panthers are already in play for next year mode. Saints 26 Panthers 10.

Miami at Baltimore - Tough game. Dolphins seem to play everyone close and are more focused on the road, Baltimore on the other hand has dominating defense and the type of physical offense which always seems to give the Dolphins trouble. Ravens recently have owned the Dolphins including knocking them out of the Playoffs two seasons ago. If the Dolphins happen to pull this one out I might need to reevaluate their team. Dolphins 16 Ravens 20.

San Diego at Houston - Two of the most frustrating teams in the NFL. And who knows what their coaches will do week to week in an effort to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Let me get this straight, the Texans run the ball down the Colts throats in their first meeting but decide it would be wise to get Arian Foster the ball a total of 16 times (most of which came in the second half when they were trailing)? I’m taking the Chargers simply because at this point I actually trust Norv Turner more than Gary Kubiak. Chargers 38 Texans 31.

Arizona at Minnesota - So much for the Max Hall era; and the Randy Moss era; and the Brad Childress and Brett Favre eras. By the way for those of you (and there are some and Im a bit sensitive so yes I am bringing this up) who were hating on my prognosticating skills, (HERE COMES A HUGE JINX) remember, I said the Pats would be the surprise team and win the AFC East, the Raiders would make the playoffs and the Vikings would not...and I said this all at the beginning of the season...so there!! Anyhow Cardinals 14 Vikings 24.

New York Giants at Seattle - I’ve made it a rule not to pick against the Seahawks when playing at home in front of their "12th man" but now the NFC’s hottest team comes to town and the Seahawks will be breaking in Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback. I’ve learned that certain theories remain consistent and going against the trend just isn’t smart. In reality the Seahawks should be able to run the ball against the Giants over aggressive pass rush and in the end, I like Whitehurst’s ability to make enough plays to win the game. Should be close. Giants 20 Seahawks 23.

Indianapolis at Philadelphia - Exciting matchup between the league’s first quarter MVP and midway MVP (Vick and Manning). Vick has now had several weeks to rest those sore/cracked ribs and it will be interesting to see if he really puts on the breaks when it comes to running the ball. If he does, the Eagles will be in trouble as he won’t be the same quarterback. My hunch is he won’t as how can you suddenly change the style of football you’ve played for 20+ years. Eagles are also expected Deshawn Jackson back and hopefully he continues to fearlessly run across the middle of the field after sustaining one of the most devastating hits of the season. Colts 21 Eagles 27.

Kansas City at Oakland - You think the Black Hole might be going a bit nuts for Oaklands first game of importance in nearly a decade. How much better is the NFL when the Raiders are good? Two of the best running teams in the NFL, this game might be finishes in just under 2.5 hours. I was sold on Tom Cable before the season as you could see late last year his guys never quit and continued to play for him. That picks the Pats got from them in exchange for Roland Seymore is looking less valuable each week. I like the Chiefs also and really think its time they made Jamaal Charles their features back. He reminds me of Chris Johnson. Scary. This ones a venue pick. Chiefs 22 Raiders 24.

Dallas at Green Bay - Another week and another injury for the Packers as Donald Driver will be out. But you know what, I’m expecting the Packers to get hot in the season’s second half as they did last year when they went 7-1. Jerry Jones says he is sticking with Wade Phillips until they end of the season. I’m going to guess that come Monday morning they Cowboys are being led by an "interim" coach after they get humiliated on national television. Cowboys 10 Packers 31.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati - Can we officially say that Terrell Owens is a "locker room cancer"? The guys loses every place he has ever been and makes everyone around him feel uncomfortable. I guess he and Ocho Cinco are running out of touchdown celebrations although at the rate they’ve been scoring you’d think they’d have an entire arsenal in reserve. The difference between a good and bad franchise will be on display Monday night. Steelers 35 Bengals 17.

 

As always you can email me at triumphe@bellsouth.net or follow me on twitter @mmt0315

Category: NFL
Posted on: October 29, 2010 1:12 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2010 1:15 pm
 

Week 8 NFL Predictions

I am a bit under the weather this week, so I apologize that below will not be the "never ending story" style blog you’ve all become accustomed to. The good news (for those of you keeping track at home) is I had another winning week and have now taken the season record back above .500! So lets begin with some quick hits:

1) I really find it amazing how unbelievably biased the media is when covering certain stories. So as everyone knows, the big story in the NFL these past couple of weeks has been the head to head hits all around league. Many of the "big time" football guys, like Peter King, for example, were clamoring for the league to take action to protect the players. Well, the NFL reacted and decided it wasn’t changing the rule, but they were going to enforce the rules already on the books. Naturally, the NFL was commended and Monday morning everyone celebrated the impact the new rule enforcement had on the games. I remain skeptical however. On the very first play of the week, Miami kicked off to Pittsburgh, during the return Miami’s gunner level the return guy from Pittsburgh jarring the ball loose. Replays from about 10 different angles clearly showed a vicious helmet to helmet hit on the play. It wasn’t mentioned by the announcers or anyone else for that matter. The simple truth is, there will always be helmet to helmet hits so long as players wear helmets but one week of no one leaving the field concussed has ended the outrage we saw less than 6 days ago;

2) While we’re on the Miami/Pittsburgh game, I’d like to briefly address the end of the game play where Ben Roethlisberger fumbled the ball at the 1-yard line while attempting to score the go ahead touchdown. Yes, the referees clearly got the on field call wrong and the resulting ruling on replay while right, certainly hosed the Dolphins. However, it is ludicrous for Dolphins’ fans to consistently claim the referees cost them the game. The inability to score touchdowns rather than kick field goals, get the Steelers off the field on 3rd down and drive down the field to kick the game winning field goal are the reasons the Dolphins lost, the referee’s mistake is simply an excuse;

3) I am not a big fan of Dan Le Batard. I think he is a contrarian for the simple matter of being a contrarian and I also don’t understand how a sports journalist can have such a small foundation in, well, sports knowledge. However, his ability as a wordsmith is without question and the article he wrote this week on the Miami Heat’s sacrifice was not only touching, but it also provided a little insight into how the Heat were able to fill out their roster around the "Big 3";

4) Not saying this for sure, but as of right now the Bills might have solved their quarterback problem with the NFL’s second highest rated passer in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Wouldn’t that be a luxery if the Bills didn’t have to use a top 3 pick on a quarterback that might not pan out?

5) I’m glad to see someone besides me thought Brett Favre over did the acting job that was his injured ankle at the post game news conference. Also, what exactly is the big deal if he sits at this point? The iron man record is already his and no one is coming close to beating it anyhow. Is Brett Favre on 1 leg really going to provide your team with the best chance of winning?

6) I am man enough to say that despite the Rangers trailing the Giants 2 games to none; I had the Rangers winning this series in 6 games. The fact they trail 2-0 is not the part that concerns me. I’m more concerned that they haven’t been competitive in the first 2 games. The series now moves back to Texas and to say game 3 is a must win would be an understatement!

7) Power Rankings:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week 1) - As Mike Tomlin said after the game, they will take the win and quickly exit stage left. I’m not going to punish the Steelers for winning close, anytime you can go on the road and leave with a win, you take it. Injuries are starting to become a concern, but for now they hold the top spot.

2. New York Jets (2) - Am I the only one who hates the face LaDainian Tomlinson is on the Jets? He is absolutely one of my favorite players of all-time but I simply cannot root for someone in that uniform. I guess if the Jets do win it all, him getting a ring will be the very (AND I MEAN VERY) thin silver lining. By the way, I am a huge history buff and Tomlinson’s affinity for Vince Lombardi is awesome.

3. New England Patriots (4) - I said it last week, but it is worth repeating, this team continues to remind me of the Pats teams that one multiple Super Bowls at the start of the decade. A bunch of no name players and Tom Brady. By the way, great coaches can get away with going for it on 4th and 1 late in the game and not making it because the terrible coach on the other side of the field will always be there to bail them out.

4. New York Giants (NR) - Well, G-Men you asked for some love and now you’ve gotten it. Giants are clearly the best team in the little sister NFC. Pass rush is as dominant as when they won the Super Bowl and Ahmad Bradshaw is quietly leading the NFL in rushing. If Eli Manning can cut down the bone headed plays, the Giants will have something to say about who represents the NFC in the Super Bowl.

5. Tennessee Titans (NR) - Chris Johnson is nowhere near his 2009 form and the Titans are now playing with Kerry Collins once again at quarterback. Doesn’t matter the Titans simply keep winning and now they’ve finally gotten my attention.

8) I will be playing in a 40k guarantee poker tournament tomorrow. Anyone wanting live updates can follow along on twitter, but I’ll be sure to report back next week.

Picks:

Last Week: 9-5

Season: 54-50

Upset of the Week: 1-0 Season: 6-7

Lets see if we can keep the consecutive winning weeks on track:

Miami at Cincinnati - Dolphins coming of another devastating home loss but remain perfect on the road. On the other hand the Bengals finally got the results they’ve been expecting out of Carson Palmer, only to see the defense lay an egg. I think overlooked in the Dolphins 3-3 start is just how tough their schedule has been and people do not realize how good this team actually is. Although the Dolphins seem to play not to lose, I see them winning this game fairly easily as the offense should finally get on track. Dolphins 27 Bengals 16.

Jacksonville at Dallas - The is an interesting game. If the Cowboys season hadn’t already ended, the final nails were put in the coffin immediately when Tony Romo went down and broke his clavicle. The Cowboys have gotta show some heart though don’t they? I mean the alternative is losing and having Wade Phillips replaces by a coach who won’t run the team like the players are at a country club. I think the Jaguars peaked with the Colts win and aren’t very good. Making this a venue pick. Jaguars 13 Cowboys 22.

Washington at Detroit - Lions expected to get the "Franchise" back this week, which can only be a good thing and say what you will about the Lions but they keep just about every game close. Redskins continue to play tough and find different ways to win. I think the Redskins playing another strong defensive game and winning the game by virtue of turnovers. By the way should we put out a missing person alert on McMoney? Redskins 20 Lions 14.

Buffalo at Kansas City - The Bills blew the perfect opportunity to basically end all NFL survivor pools in losing to the Ravens in "tear your heart our fashion". When exactly does forward progress stop? You mean to tell me when a guy is lifted in the air and being carried forward, he is still progressing on his own accord? Kansas City was already playing good defense and had its run game going on the backs of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, but add Matt Cassel to the mix (70% completion over last several weeks) and the Chiefs might actually win the AFC West. Love KC at home. Bills 24 Chiefs 34.

Carolina at St. Louis - Rams had a chance to really make a claim in their pathetic division but they couldn’t hold onto a later 4th quarter lead. You know what though, no one would have expected this type of start from the Rams at the beginning of the season and this is the most excitement they’ve provided their fans since Mike Martz left the team. Anyone see any reason why the Panthers should have a chance in this one? I don’t. Panthers 17 Rams 28.

Green Bay at New York Jets - Jets had two weeks to prepare for this one and come into the game rested and healthier than they’ve been the entire season. Several keys to this one: 1) Packers ability to stop the run. You know the Jets are going to try and pound the ball in an attempt to slow the pass rush and not get Mark Sanchez killed; 2) Packers ability to limit turnovers and throw the ball on the Jets secondary. Yes, we all know Aaron Rodgers is as accurate as they get but he has not taken care of the ball early this season. I see the Packers doing a better job throwing than the Jets do running and ultimately like them pulling off the road upset. Packers 31 Jets 20.

Denver "at" San Francisco - Good news 49ers fan (left out the "s" on purpose), you only have to pay for 7 regular season games, since the NFL did you the good favor of moving this one across the pond. Broncos are bad. 49ers are terrible. Bad beats terrible. Broncos 24 49ers 20.

Tennessee at San Diego - Is it redundant to say the Chargers gotta get it going at some point? I’m thinking this is the year Cinderella doesn’t find her slipper and Norv Turner’s incompetence finally costs them. I do love the irony of Phillip River’s and company struggling, while LT is on one of the NFL’s best teams, specifically after his former teammates were classless on the way out. Coin FLIP says: Titans 28 Chargers 27.

Tampa Bay at Arizona - How bad was Matt Leinart, or what in the world was wrong with him that the Cardinals simply refused to give him a chance. Its become pretty darn obvious why Cardinals players were begging Kurt Warner to come back for one more season. I like the Bucs and this will be a big test to see if the can go on the road and get a win after the emotional comeback last week. I think they show maturity beyond their years. Bucs 20 Cardinals 17.

Minnesota at New England - Between Brett Favre’s ankle, his elicit text messages and controversy with Brad Childress, we haven’t heard a thing leading up to this game about Randy Moss’ return against his old team. For anyone that says off the field distractions don’t impact a team’s on field performance, I give you the 2010 Minnesota Vikings. Billy boy loves taking not so subtle digs at opponents and former players, so look for a big game from Deion Branch, Randy Moss’ replacement. Vikings 16 Pats 38.

Seattle at Oakland - 59 points, laughing on the sideline about whether to attempt a 2-point conversion Madden style for the 60 spot, 300+ yards rushing! If these are the old Raiders, they follow that game up with a snoozer and a loss. But like I keep saying, I like Tom Cable and the team plays hard for him. Yes, I’m drinking the Kool-Aide! Seahawks 18 Raiders 23.

Pittsburgh at New Orleans - Everyone keeps asking what is wrong with the Saints? I’ll tell you, its not that complicated, Reggie Bush’s absence from the lineup. By the way is he a bit obsessed with Kim Kardashian? Just sayin. Anyhow, I think this game will be Ben Roethlisberger’s chance to show the entire country that he is back and unaffected by his off-field issues. While I don’t like the individual, he is one heck of a quarterback. Steelers 27 Saints 20.

Houston at Indianapolis - This game is going to end one of two ways and only one of two ways. A) Texans clinging to a 4 point lead with 2 minutes remaining in the game with the Colts taking over possession of the ball on their own 20-yard line. Peyton Manning drives the Colts the length of the field and has them poised for the go ahead score. 4th down 10-seconds left from the Texans 15 yard line. Manning, while dropping back to pass is hit by 3 Texans defenders as they brought the jail break blitz. SACK -Texans win, they are legit! OR B) Texans clinging to a 4 point lead with 2 minutes remaining in the game with the Colts taking over possession of the ball on their own 20-yard line. Peyton Manning drives the Colts the length of the field and has them poised for the go ahead score. 4th down 10-seconds left from the Texans 15 yard line. Manning, avoids the rush and hits Reggie Wayne on a beautiful fade route in the corner of the endzone to once again break the Texans heart. Which do you think sounds more likely? Manning on prime time game of the week, c’mon man. Texans 24 Colts 27.

As always you can email me at triumphe@bellsouth.net or follow me on twitter @mmt0315

Category: NFL
Posted on: October 22, 2010 11:38 am
Edited on: October 22, 2010 2:28 pm
 

Week 7 NFL Predictions

I keep getting asked why I don’t write about college football. The answer is simple and the solution equally simple. I cannot, will not and refuse to get excited about a sport that decides its champion by polls and computers rather than games played on the field.

 

If any other sport tried to get away with the nonsense that is college football no one would watch and things would change. College football however, has two important things going for it. The game itself, football is currently the most beloved sport in this country and more importantly people’s loyalty to their universities.

 

The latter is by far the more important of the two and is why the NCAA can continuously see poll results in which 90% of people polled prefer a playoff, yet keep things status quo. It is why no matter how bad the economy or how bad the team, college football teams around the country consistently play in front of packed houses, people’s loyalty to their schools.

 

I’m sorry but personally, I can’t do it and if more people (ok a lot more) took my attitude and stopped watching and going to games we’d actually have a playoff system in place next year. Here is my major gripe with the BCS system and the lack of a playoff outside of the obvious which is the games aren’t decided on the field.

 

Unless your team starts the season in the top 10, even going undefeated might not guarantee a chance at a national title and that is just wrong. College football is all about the polls. Wins and losses don’t matter as much as how far you climb after a win and how far you drop after a loss.

 

Think I’m wrong? 2008 Utah Utes. Remember that team? They went undefeated, 13-0 but weren’t given a chance to play for a national title. Instead, a Florida team that lost a game at home to an unranked team, played an Oklahoma team that lost at home as well. The logic was that Utah didn’t play anybody. While in most instances, I would agree that midmajors shouldn’t be in the BCS title game until there is some sort of playoff, this season was an exception. Utah had defeated more ranked teams and more top 10 teams than either Oklahoma or Florida and when given the chance against the same Alabama team that Florida struggled to beat they destroyed them in the Sugar Bowl. What hurt Utah (aside from playing in the Mountain West) was their starting position in the polls and where Florida and Oklahoma both landed after their respective losses.

 

Need more proof? How about the 2004 Auburn Tigers? They played in one of the big boy conferences, the mighty SEC. But because they started the season ranked behind USC and Oklahoma, 13-0 wasn’t enough for them to play for a national championship either as both USC and Oklahoma finished up 13-0 as well. Because both were ranked ahead of Auburn week one they were deemed the better teams several months later.

 

Which brings us to 2010. The examples I provided were a bit extreme and are probably the biggest injustices as they involve undefeated teams. Lets look at a more common problem which affects probably 10 or more schools a year. I went to Florida State. I was there in the glory days when we finished each season in the top 5 and were playing for (and winning) National Championships. 10 years later and Florida State has seen not so good times. Things however, were going to change this year.

With a new coach, one of the most experiences returning offensive lines (2nd behind Wisconsin) and a Heisman candidate at QB, the Noles were expected to contend for the ACC title. I looked at the roster and said, why not the National Title? Well, college football is why not. As I write this Florida State finds themselves sitting at #16 in the AP poll with a 6-1 record. Their only loss was to the #1 team in the country, on the road, early in the season. Among, the teams sitting ahead of them is an Alabama team who lost on the road to a 4-2 team; Ohio State who just lost on the road to a 1 loss team; undefeated Boise State who hasn’t beaten anyone of consequence and who won’t play anybody in the top 10 all season (ditto for TCU); Nebraska who lost at home to a 2 loss team; and so on.

 

Florida State started the season ranked behind all the aforementioned teams; when they lost they dropped out of the Top 25 and have had to climb back; when teams like Alabama and Ohio State lost they remained in the top 10. What does all this mean? It means that Florida State can potentially win the remainder of their games; which would include a road win over Miami, a win over Virginia Tech (Boise State’s signature win), win over Florida and over NC State; with their only loss coming to the #1 team, on the road and early in the season; and unless every one of those teams I mentioned earlier lose AGAIN, they would have ZERO chance at playing for the National Title. I’m sorry but I can’t get excited about this.

 

Also, for anyone that want’s to tell me that this is about money (BCS Bowl games) and tradition (all the other bowl games) I say nonsense. Long before everyone had an opinion on the subject (and their own solution) I wrote an article about this subject in 2003. The premise was college football could keep their bowls, have a playoff and there would be more money and more interest generated in the game. Here is how things would work:

 

1) Every conference would be required to have a conference championship game;

 

2) Worried about too many games? Well, no more games early in the season games against DII opponents and limit schools to two non-conference games a year;

 

3) 16-team playoff. The conference championship games are essentially the first round of the playoffs with the 6 winners from the Pac-10, Big East, Big 10, ACC, SEC and Big 12 get a spot. The other two spots would be reserved for the two highest ranked non BCS conference teams (that won their conference championship);

 

4) The quarterfinals would be played in the BCS Bowl game locations but would start two weeks (in December) after the completion of the conference title games. There is no need for a month and a half off. So, with 8 remaining teams there are 4 quarterfinal matchups. They would be played in the Orange, Cotton, Fiesta and Rose Bowl (the locations would rotate). The two semi-final games would be played in the Sugar and one of the four from the first round, lets just say the Fiesta; and the Championship would then be played from one of the remaining 3 locations from round one, so lets say the Orange. Each year the locations would rotate between the 5 spots as the currently do now anyhow with the +1? Are you going to sit there and tell me that this system wouldn’t generate more money? There would also be almost no controversy. Any controversy would be limited to the final spot potentially and I would gladly take that over what we have now;

 

5) As for the other bowl games. The argument against the playoff is always something along the lines of, you are taking away the smaller bowls which mean something to the teams and cities which host them. My question is why get rid of them? No one watches those games aside from die hard fans, people whose schools are playing in them OR people that bet the game. Well, what is suddenly going to change? Nothing, so under my system people will still be able to watch Wyoming battle Cal in the Taco Bell Bowl presented by Pepsi.

 

Until there is a playoff, count me as one of those who simply don’t care.

 

Quick Hits:

 

1) The hot topic in the NFL this week is player safety and concussions. I’m sorry but until you are going to get players the safest equipment possible (there are plenty of safer and more advanced helmets available than the ones used by the NFL) and stop talking about an 18-game schedule, please stop pretending that you, NFL are overtly concerned about your players. You are concerned about one thing and one thing only, your bottom line. Currently this subject is the national rage, so you decided to fine players who are playing within the rules as you’ve designed them. Makes me sick;

 

2) I’m thinking NCAA championship game is now looking like Oregon and Boise State;

 

3) Loved, loved, loved the Mad Men season finale although, I wish the plot twist (won’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen it) was more developed into the story, rather than just being thrown in our face. I hate that AMC tries to compare great shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad to the garbage that is Rubicon. I have still not found a person that is fond of that show;

 

4) My own personal website is currently being constructed (more on that later);

 

5) An example of the intensity and importance of the ASCCL (my fantasy football league) to my friends. Last night, two of my friends were at the house discussing the upcoming Miami Heat season. One of the league’s owners (who is sitting at 5-1) mentioned that he had two tickets in the lower bowl to the Heat’s season opener. The other league owner in question (also sitting at 5-1) asked what it would take to acquire one of the tickets. Owner one said, "Drew Brees". Owner 2 (who is a huge Heat fan and has a future’s bet locked in with the Heat winning the title at 10:1) immediately shot down the idea and 30 minutes of smack talk ensued;

 

6) It seems with the release of all the racist tweets Lebron has released, there is more to his comments on Larry King than people initially gave him credit for. This doesn’t change the stupidity behind "The Decision" but does give some credence to his racism charges;

 

7) Rick Reilly really should stick to writing feel good stories about random people rather than anything related to real sports. The former always gives me the chills while the latter usually has me scratching my head wondering how this guy is an award winning sports writer. The most recent example is an article committed to choosing a nickname for the Heat’s big three. Ah, he turned on a television or peeked his head into any of the studios at his network, he’d realize they are being called "The Three Kings". I’m not saying I like the nickname, but please pay attention;

8) No Michael Jordan, as great as you were, you would not score 100 points in today’s NBA;

 

9) Did anyone really think James Harrison was going to retire;

 

10) Awkward moment of the week. On Monday night football this past week, Vince Young was introduced as, "former Heisman Trophy runner up," in mid-sentence Mike Tirico caught himself and paused before awkwardly finishing the introduction. Was pretty funny;

 

11) Brett Favre’s texting skills have given fantasy players an entire new challenge next year. Start a league where every team name "pokes" fun at the Vikings quarterback. Teams could be called, "Stiff Elbow", "No Regrets" [Sterger’s last name backwards, thanks Peter King!], "Allen Thicke", "Happy Ending" etc...just think of the possibilities!

 

POWER RANKINGS:

 

1) Pittsburgh Steelers (last week #1) - Roethlisberger looked pretty good in his first game back and as he plays more should only get better. While, I understood Jerome Harrison’s frustration with being fined 75k for what looked like two within the rule hits, I’m not sure I agree with his manner in addressing his disgust. Steelers are most complete team that I’ve seen.

 

2) New York Jets (#3) - Got a bit lucky to win that game in Denver last week, but a win is a win and they were in position there at the end. They head into the bye week with the NFL’s best record and Rex Ryan has them playing well despite the circus atmosphere. Getting healthy which will only make them better.

 

3) New Orleans Saints (#4) - Showed last week that they are still the team to beat in the NFC. Chris Ivory provided a much needed spark in the running game and if the Saints can get their running game going, the play action pass will once again become a threat for Drew Brees and the offense.

 

4) New England Patriots (NR) - This Patriots team is sure starting to bring back memories of that 1st championship team and no its not because of the addition of Deion Branch. For the first time in nearly a decade you don’t really hear people outside New England talking about this team as a Super Bowl contender. In fact before the season started they weren’t even picked to make the playoffs. (I wasn’t one of those guys as I picked them to win the AFC East!) The defense, which is young keeps getting better and the passing game is back to chewing up clock with short and midrange passes.

 

5) Baltimore Ravens (#2) - Flacco continues to improve and Ray Rice is finally getting things going. Baltimore had New England on its heels down by 10 midway through the 4th quarter but couldn’t put them away. Baltimore should be fine but perhaps the funniest thing to come out of that game was Tom Brady’s quote. To put it in the proper context, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs called out Brady after the game. Essentially, Suggs and Brady were going at it all day on the field with Suggs saying Brady was talking about everything but football. Well, on his weekly radio show, Brady responded, "You know, we've played (those) guys a lot, and they've beat us one time in all the times that I've played them. They talk a lot for beating us once in nine years." I am one person hoping these teams meet again in the playoffs.

Onto the emails:

 

From Unknown (NY):

 

We get it, you like the Jets, what about giving the Giants some love.

 

Well, that was only a matter of time. The Giants are currently in a good position, but until they stop committing stupid turnovers and play more consistently they are just another team in the NFC.

 

From Jim:

 

Let me start by saying that Instant Replay is a good thing, I want every call to be correct. Throughout history the human element of officiating has been the most controversial of all. My question is this, why does the official have to make the call in 100% real time but the coach gets to wait until his assistants have had time to review it in the booth from several angles (sometimes even using a timeout to let them have time) before they make a judgment whether to throw the red beanbag or not??? I think to be fair, the coach should have to make a quick decision whether or not to have a call reviewed. It would be my opinion that a coach would have 5 seconds off the play-clock and then his rights to appeal would be null and void. What would you say to that???

 

Jim, I can’t say I agree with you at all. The point of instant replay is getting the call right. In fact I don’t buy into all this ruining the flow of the game thing either. I want to know that if I invested 3 hours of my time to watch a game, it wasn’t decided on some bad call by a referee. In fact, I wish they used instant replay more. If a coach though a penalty was the wrong call, make that reviewable. You don’t want a situation like the one which plagued baseball’s first round of the playoffs, more people talking about missed calls then the games.

 

From Spencer (Atlanta):

 

Tree,

 

Did you get a chance to read Peter King’s MMQB where he talked about pass interference penalties and how the rule should be changed? If you did what were your thoughts?

 

Spencer, I did read his MMQB and it is one of my favorite columns to read each week. I agreed with him that the rule should be changed. Make it a 15-yard penalty instead of a spot foul. I don’t like situations like the one in the Jets/Broncos game, where a team in desperation chucks the ball 50 yards downfield in hopes of drawing a penalty. No question, the referees in that game made the right call. I just don’t like the rule.

 

Thanks for all the emails, now onto the picks:

 

Last week: 8-6

 

Season: 45-45

 

Upset of the Week: 1-1 Season 5-7:

 

So finally had a winning week and almost nailed a couple of exact scores. Now lets see if I can build on it!

 

Cincinnati at Atlanta - I love the fact that Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, called out Bobby Petrino this week, calling him gutless as Bobby boy is one of my least favorite people in sports. As for the game, if you asked me a couple of weeks ago I probably would have taken the Bengals, but something is just not right with Carson Palmer and a lot of his interceptions are a result of what seems to be a lack of arm strength. Owens, who is having one of the best seasons of his career is also starting to show the reason he switches teams so much. Like Atlanta at home behind a clock controlling effort and lots of Michael Turner. Bengals 20 Falcons 27.

Washington at Chicago -While the Redskins aren’t "there" yet, the continue to play hard each and every week. The Bears cannot keep Cutler upright and ultimately that will be the difference in what should be a close game. I see this being an ugly game offensively and being a battle of the kickers. Redskins 13 Bears 9.

St. Louis at Tampa Bay - This game between two young teams will be up for game of the week considerations in a couple of seasons. I can’t say enough how impressed I’ve been with Sam Bradford (considering I thought he would be a terrible pro says how impressed I really am). He continues to display accuracy which St. Louis hasn’t seen since Kurt Warner left town. Anyhow, Buccaneers shouldn’t be overlooked playing with a very good quarterback of their own in Josh Freeman and one of the best young defenses in the NFL. I like Tampa Bay winning a close one. Rams 16 Bucs 20.

San Francisco at Carolina - Jed York must have looked at the schedule before sending his text message off to ESPN. Carolina continue’s it quarterback shuffle basically admitting they threw Jimmy Clausen in before he was ready. I don’t think it will matter as the 49ers will win their 2nd straight again behind their defense. Panthers 10 49ers 20.

Buffalo at Baltimore - This one should get ugly. Ravens are going to be headhunting after last weeks embarrassing collapse. One of my friends who happens to be a Bills fan was disgusted the Bills didn’t trade Lee Evans to the Vikings and Fred Jackson to the Packers. Not a good sign when these are the things your fan base is talking about in week 6 of the season. Bills 10 Ravens 31.

Philadelphia at Tennessee - This should be a fun hard hitting game. I’m thinking this game does one of two things for the Eagles. Either extinguishes the brewing quarterback controversy or escalates it to a level 10 controversy, you know the kinds that divide locker rooms and ruin seasons. I’m guessing the Titans, who are quietly playing very good football win this one rather easily at home, giving the Eagles a very heavy dose of Chris Johnson. Eagles 13 Titans 24.

Jacksonville at Kansas City - How in the world did the Jaguars beat the Colts? Chiefs got robbed at the end of that Texans game, but the fact their offense is starting to roll will only make this surprising team better moving forward. I always have trouble picking against them at home, but not as much when their opponent is the Jags. Jaguars 16 Chiefs 27.

Pittsburgh at Miami - This is a tough game to pick. Miami has won games at Minnesota and at Green Bay, while losing two prime time contests against the Jets and Pats. Unfortunately, I’m thinking the Phins are more the team we saw at home rather then the one that won those road games. Vikings were in the game despite 4 turnovers and the Phins couldn’t put away the Packers needing overtime to win. I see a spirited first half effort before they fall apart (again) in the second half. Steelers 24 Dolphins 20.

Cleveland at New Orleans - Saints rolled last week and Browns come into this game probably two receivers down. Expect the Saints to see a ton of Peyton Hillis and the Browns try to control the clock and keep things close. Colt McCoy was quite impressive on the road against the Steelers last week and that should at least provide Browns fans with something to cheer about. Browns 13 Saints 34.

Arizona at Seattle - So everything about my season analysis should point to Seattle. They are playing at home with probably the NFL’s biggest home field advantage; they are coming off a huge road win; and are playing a team starting an undrafted rookie free agent at quarterback. The only problem is that quarterback is Max Hall, and with every article I read about him I’m becoming more and more sold. Wait, not getting cute with this pick as Seattle is, playing at home, coming off a huge road win, and are playing a team starting an undrafted rookie free agent at quarterback. Cardinals 12 Seahawks 20.

New England at San Diego - Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. I am waiting for the Chargers to turn it on, like they are supposed to at this time of the season. What if, however, this season they don’t turn it on and their sloppy play early on actually means something? Is it too early to dump one of my Super Bowl picks? It is always hard for an east coast team to travel west, specifically after a huge emotionally draining over time win. That and the "must win" factor got me going with the Chargers. Patriots 27 Chargers 28.

Oakland at Denver - Oakland has shown some fight, which is really why I think they have the right guy in Tom Cable. The problem is they are still missing too many pieces on both sides of the ball. Denver is on the cusp of becoming a very good team and against their division rival at home what is not to like? Raiders 17 Broncos 27.

Minnesota at Green Bay - I will probably end up getting this game wrong and here is why: everything about this game points towards the Vikings. 1) They need the game; 2) Brett Favre against the Packers on national television; 3) They are healthy and the Packers are not; 4) Randy Moss owns the Packers; 5) Mike McCarthey finds ways to lose games late and this one should be close. But then, one factor and I mean one simple little thing, keeps pointing me to Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers. From everything I’ve read about this kid, he is the antithesis of Brett Favre. His teammates love him, he isn’t aloof and damn it, he is my quarterback. He handled the entire Favre situation with such class, what kind of justice would it be for him to fall to 0-3 against Favre? A part of me was actually convinced that the football gods brought Favre back to the Vikings simply so that Rodgers could even things up with him before Favre really retired. So from the heart, Vikings 21 Packers 24.

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys - I don’t know what it is, but there is something very different about this seasons Dallas Cowboys. Despite their record no one, not even Jerry Jones is panicking. Yes, the fact they have a top 5 offense and top 5 defense doesn’t mean anything when they only have 1 win; but it does mean they are playing some pretty good football on both sides of the ball. There is a teeny, tiny window for them to turn their season around and it needs to start right here at home on Monday Night Football. Many are picking the Giants and are expecting a close game. I’m not and expect a coming out party similar to the Saints last week. Giants 10 Cowboys 38.

 As always you can email me at triumphe@bellsouth.net and follow me on twitter @mmt0315.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com