Friday, January 06, 2006

Wildcard weekend

The NFL playoffs kickoff this weekend. The quality of the AFC teams is very strong. Indianapolis is the favorite to get to and win the Superbowl, as they should be. But, they could fall, and if they do, there will be several teams waiting to pick up Indy’s misplaced invitation to the superbowl. New England poses the biggest threat to the Colts, as they know how to beat them; hit the receivers at the line of scrimmage to screw up their timing and attack Peyton. The Patriots, due to their history, Broncos and Bengals all have a realistic shot at getting to the Superbowl.

The NFC is less intriguing, as I view Chicago and Seattle as the only real threats to reach the Superbowl. Frankly, I am not too enamored with the Seahawks. They had the luxury of playing in the NFC west where they played the 49ers, Cardinals and Rams twice.

Here is how I see the playoff scenario breaking down. Washington will beat Tampa Bay and the Giants will win at home versus the Panthers. New England has no problem with Jacksonville and Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh at home. The seahawks and bears beat the Giants and Redskins at home. The Colts finally take care of the Patriots and deliver Tom Brady his first playoff loss ever. Cincinnati upsets the Broncos. The Colts face the Bears in Detroit in what turns out to be a laugher as the Colts cruise over the Bears.

Money’s Trip to the Bank

Saturday January 7

WASHINGTON +2.5 at Tampa Bay (winner)
Both teams have great defenses and like to run. Washington has a better running back and a veteran quarterback giving them the edge.

NEW ENGLAND -7.5 vs. Jacksonville (winner)
I don’t think Leftwich should play in this game. In fact, I would take the points if Garrard were to start the game. This is not the same Patriots team that we have seen the last couple of years. Their defense is average and Bruschi is hurting. With that said, they still should have no problem beating Jacksonville.

Sunday January 8

NEW YORK -2.5 vs. Carolina (loser)
Both teams are flawed, but New York has the advantage of playing at home and having a healthier running back.

CINCINNATI +3 vs. Pittsburgh (loser)
I don’t get this line. I think it should be more like a pick ‘em. The Bengals may have limped into the playoffs, but they will be playing at home and have a fantastic offense.

Do you have $100 burning a hole in your wallet? I know I do. Put it down on the Bengals to win it all. Yes, I know it is a long shot (+2000), but that is what gambling is all about.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Four Corners

College football is over and pitchers and catchers don’t report for another 2 months. Now what do we do? We let the Madness begin. March Madness, that is. It is never too early to start predicting and pontificating, so here goes.

Money’s Trip to the Bank

Final Four
Duke: Easy, but painful choice. They do everything well.
Memphis: They dazzle with their high flying athletes, but they can shoot and play defense too.
UConn: Great team that will get better when their point guard Marcus Williams returns
Washington: They lost a lot of pieces from last year, but their new ones aren’t bad.

Ohio st.

Final Fourgotten
Michigan State: Four returning starters from last year’s final four team, yet they will find themselves on the outside. They cannot stop teams from scoring.
Gonzaga: 2 great things about Adam Morrison; his moustache and his scoring. Unfortunately, that about sums him up. Teams will find a way to shut him down eventually, forcing the rest of the Zags to beat them.
Oklahoma: They are not intimidating people anymore. Their swagger is gone, as well as their defensive intensity.
UCLA: They will find a way to screw up a pretty good team

Games for tonite
ILLINOIS -7.5 vs. Michigan St. (winner)
Seems like a large number, but MSU has struggled lately at Champaign and Illinois is just a whole lot better than MSU.
VILLANOVA -2.5 @ Louisville (winner)
Louisville is still dealing with some injuries and will not be able to keep up with one of the best teams in the country.
USC +1.5 @ Arizona St. (winner)
USC is a better team and finds a way to win this game.
OREGON +8 @ Cal. (loser)
Backing up my statement last week that Cal will lose their next two games at home against the Oregon schools. This is too many points to give the Ducks.

Hook mE!

Wow. What can you say? A game that finally lived up the hype. The result of the Rose Bowl between USC and Texas was not decided until Matt Leinart’s 40th pass attempt sailed over the outstretched hands of Dale Jarrett, and the Longhorns ran out on the field to celebrate a 41-38 victory over USC.
For one month, we had the “pleasure” of listening to every sports talk host dissect the Rose Bowl and who they thought would win. We enjoyed one full month of coverage from ESPN touting this USC team as the best, not just for the year, but EVER! Apparently Vince Young and the Texas Longhorns were listening too.
Vince Young felt snubbed by the Heisman voters, but vowed to let his playing on the field do the talking for him, and it did. Young accounted for 468 of the 558 total yards for the Texas offense. But equally impressive was how he did it. Nobody could tackle him. Heck, nobody could catch him. It looked as if he were jogging by defenders for most of the night. Two of his three touchdown runs resulted in him standing upright in the end zone. This was one of the most dominant single game performances ever. Sure, we have more touchdowns thrown or more yards rushed for in a single game, but not on stage like this.
After the game everyone wanted to know Young’s plan for returning next year. He spoke of speaking with his family, and coyly stated “we” as in Texas, will be back next year. Lee Corso of ESPN suggested Young should leave now and enter the draft, as GMs would be crazy to pass on him as the #1 pick. I am not sure I would go that far, but he certainly makes the draft more intriguing with him in it.
What does this mean for the 49ers? Frankly, nothing. At #6 or #7 in the draft they will miss out on the frenzy of the first three picks, most likely drafting an offensive tackle or defensive back. In hindsight, I would trade in the last victory vs. the Texans for the #3 pick in the draft. The first 3 picks will have some real value. More value than the experience the young niners had in collecting a 2 game winning streak.
In my mind, Reggie Bush still goes number 1, but Vince Young has leapfrogged Leinart and will play for the Saints (assuming he comes out) and Leinart will be reunited with his former offensive coordinator, Norm Chau in Tennessee. None of these players will make a big impact on their teams next year. Reggie Bush will be playing behind the worst offensive line in the league and Leinart and Young will find themselves on the bench for a year, if they are lucky. Who will make the biggest impact next year in the NFL? LenDale White will emerge from the group as the best rookie player next year in the NFL, benefiting most from being a later draft choice, while playing with a team with fewer holes and a better offensive line.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Tips, Tricks and Thoughts

Happy New Year!

The fantasy football season is down to its last week, but baseball is right around the corner. Here are some "not so obvious" week 17 plays.

QB: Kyle Boller Balt at clev.
Boller has been one of the best QBs the last couple of weeks, accounting for 3 touchdown in each of his last 2 games.
RB: Adrian Peterson Chi at Minn.
The Bears will rest T Jones for the playoffs so Peterson, who has already rushed for 100 and TD earlier in the season, will be a good play.
RB: Vernand Morency Hou at SF
Both Wells and Davis are hurt so Morency should get most of the touches in a wet game in SF where the running game will dominate
WR: Mark Clayton Balt at clev.
Arguably the best rookie wide receiver. He has risen recently with Boller.
WR: Troy Walter Indy vs. az
The colts have nothing to play for and Harrison and Wayne will be rested so Walters should play and produce against a weak arizona secondary.
WR: Joe Jurevicius Sea at GB
D Jax won't play so Joe gets another start against a weak GB secondary.
TE: T Heap Balt at clev
I know, another Baltimore player. I like what they are doing now.
Kicker: None
With this lineup, you don't need one.
Def: Minn
Expect one last flash from this underachieving special team on the turf.

49ERS +1 vs. Texans:
The Niners will play hard and want to win. They are young and still motivated. The Texans are just plain bad.
PITT -13.5 vs. Detroit.
This will be a blowout. Will Detroit score more than 3 points?
NEW ENGLAND-5.5 vs. Miami
The Patriots have been the best team over the last month and they continue their winning ways against Miami.
ATLANTA +3.5 vs. Carolina
The falcons, out of the playoff race, rain on the Panthers parade.

...Thanks for nothing Niners! You gave us nothing all year, and then finally gave us a little hope. You teased us with the idea that Reggie Bush would be a niner. But then, you did the unthinkable and beat the Lambs on the road, most likely landing a 4 or 5 in the draft. In the long run, this is probably a good thing for a young team. They don't know how to win, and a winning streak of 2, would be good for the young coach and team.
...I hope the rose bowl lives up to the hype. I have a hunch it won't though. Turnovers will rule this game, not Reggie Bush or Vince Young. This sounds like an obvious statement, but the teams that turns it over less will win the game. I still expect the Trojans to pull this one out.
...The Cal Bears go down to LA and sweep USC and UCLA? Watch them lose their next two games at home vs. the Oregon schools.