Friday, December 31, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 17 Picks

Carolina Panthers (+14) at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons all of a sudden, face a must-win game. They might lose the No.1 seed with a loss combined with a Bears win and/or the Saints win. Look for them to crush the Panthers at home.
Outright Win: Falcons
v/s the Spread: Falcons (-14)

Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5) at Cleveland Browns
Another must-win game for the Steelers here. A Steelers win here gives them the No.2 seed. A Steelers loss combined with a Ravens win puts them out of the top 4 seeds in the AFC.
Outright Win: Steelers
v/s the Spread: Steelers (-5.5)

Minnesota Vikings (+3) at Detroit Lions
The Vikings did have a upset win over the Eagles last week. Joe Webb looked good for a game, but will it carry over to the next game. Before we even think of that, will he even play this week, with Brett Favre back at practice? The Lions on the other hand are red-hot, with three straight wins (two of them on the road).
Outright Win: Lions
v/s the Spread: Lions (-3)

Miami Dolphins (+4.5) at New England Patriots
The Dolphins on the road against a Patriots team that has nothing to gain from a win here. Considering the Welker injury in Week 17 last year when the Patriots had nothing to play for, this seems like a text book "rest your starters" game. But, this is still a Bill Belichik coached team, with competitive Tom Brady running the offense. I will be surprised if the Pats starters are taken off before the 4th quarter.
Outright Win: Patriots
v/s the Spread: Patriots (-4.5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7.5) at New Orleans Saints
The Saints' win here will help them only if the Falcons lose. Since both teams play at the same time, there is no way the Saints will know the Falcons' game result. So they will have to play hard to win here, just in case.
Outright Win: Saints
v/s the Spread: Saints (-7.5)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 16 Picks

Carolina Panthers (+15) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The line for this game can just not be high enough. Only thing holding it this low is that Troy Palamalu might not play and he is THAT important to the Steelers team. Even without him, if the Steelers should cover this if they really want to be considered contenders this season.
Outright Win: Steelers
v/s the Spread: Steelers (-15)

Dallas Cowboys (-7) at Arizona Cardinals
This is one of those inconsequential games of Week 16. Still, the Cowboys would like to pad up their season record. More pride at stake for the Cowboys here.
Outright Win: Cowboys
v/s the Spread: Cowboys (-7)

Washington Redskins (+7) at Jacksonville Jaguars
As hard as it is to believe, the Redskins seem better with Rex Grossman at QB than with McNaab. Here again, the Jaguars are facing a must-win situation and that trumps the new QB jolt to a team.
Outright Win: Jaguars
v/s the Spread: Jaguars (-7)

Detroit Lions (+3.5) at Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins would really love to play all their games on the road. That seems to give them their best chance to win. The Lions may not be with their best option at QB. Still they are gritty enough on defense to hang with the big boys. And just might pull off their third win in a row.
Outright Win: Lions
v/s the Spread: Lions (+3.5)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 15 Picks

San Francisco 49ers (+9) at San Diego Chargers
Must win for the Chargers. Alex Smith starts for the 49ers after a big win against the Seahawks. How is this not a game where the 49ers are blown out to sink what little hopes they had of salvaging the season?
Outright Win:  Chargers 
v/s the Spread: Chargers (-9)
Cleveland Browns (+1.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals cannot be trusted to win close games, even at home. The Browns do just that. Keep games close. And if Mccoy can start for the Browns, they sure should get this.
Outright Win: Browns 
v/s the Spread: Browns (+1.5)

Washington Redskins (+6) at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys were impressive in their loss against the Eagles. The Redskins should be cake walk when compared to that.
Outright Win: Cowboys  
v/s the Spread: Cowboys (-6)

Jacksonville Jaguars (+5) at Indianapolis Colts
If the Colts lose this game, they have an incredibly uphill path to the playoffs here on. But I don't think they cover the spread here.
Outright Win: Colts 
v/s the Spread: Jaguars (+5)

Kansas City Chiefs at St Louis Rams (NL)
There's no line on this game. It is hard to imagine that questions about the health of Matt Cassel can cause so much of an issue in the heads of odd makers. Whatever the case, the Rams are a tough out at home.
Outright Win: Rams 
v/s the Spread: n/a

Houston Texans (+1.5) at Tennessee Titans
This turns out to be a meaningless AFC South battle this week. Both teams spiraling downwards. Both the coaches on the hot seat. The Texans at least seem to be playing hard for their coach.
Outright Win: Texans 
v/s the Spread: Texans (+1.5)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Driver does it old school

It took Driver till Week 13 to get his show reel for the season going, but he crashed it with one for the ages.

Maybe it was the ugly throwback uniforms for the Packers last week vs the 49ers. Donald Driver made a play like it was from 1929. After the catch, he takes the ball 40 more yards for a touchdown. In the process, he breaks two tackles (with little help from Andrew Quarless), then makes Nate Clemens of the 49ers miss another tackle on a filthy juke move. And then ploughs through four 49ers tackers dragging them into the end zone.

Sit back and enjoy.....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 14 Picks

Indianapolis Colts (-4) at Tennessee Titans
Will Manning Face make another appearance this week? Even if it does, I think the Colts have enough to take care of business against a Titans team that is in free-fall.
Outright Win: Colts
v/s the Spread:  Colts (-4)

Oakland Raiders (+4) at Jacksonville Jaguars
A West coast team playing an early game in the east coast? 'nuff said.
Outright Win: Jaguars
v/s the Spread: Jaguars (-4)
Cincinnati Bengals (+8.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers managed to scrape out a win against divisional foe Ravens last week. They have another divisional match up to look forward to this week. The Bengals may be one of the worst teams in the league, but the spread is too big to lay the points in a divisional match up.
Outright Win: Steelers
v/s the Spread: Bengals (+8.5)

Cleveland Browns (+1) at Bufallo Bills
The Bills after covering week after week, lost a bad one last week. I think they will bounce back and cover this one in spite of being the favorites. It also will help their cause if Delhomme keeps starting for the Browns.
Outright Win: Bills
v/s the Spread: Bills (-1)

New York Giants (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings
Will 'he' or won't 'he' start? Either way, its up to Adrian Peterson to take over and run the Vikings offense. The Giants might also have to do the same, with so many of their receivers on the injury list.
Outright Win: Giants
v/s the Spread: Giants (-2.5)

Atlanta Falcons (-7.5) at Carolina Panthers
One of the better teams in the league against one of, if not the, worst team(s) in the league. The Falcons will have to win in a blow out here though to keep their aura up.
Outright Win: Falcons
v/s the Spread: Falcons (-7.5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2) at Washington Redskins
The Bucs might be feisty young team. But they had a couple of injury blows this week that could hurt them real bad (especially the loss of Aquib Talib). Still, they should have enough to take care of business against the Redskins.
Outright Win: Bucs
v/s the Spread: Bucs (-2)

St Louis Rams (+9) at New Orleans Saints

Thursday, December 2, 2010

NFL Stats Can Be Deceptive: Who Said Aaron Rodgers Was Not Clutch?

This post is also on Bleacher Report.

Of late, there has been a lot of talk about how Aaron Rodgers, the QB for the Green Bay Packers, has problems finishing off "close" games. The win-loss record for the Packers since Aaron Rodgers took over, in "close" games (decided by four points or less), is currently 2-14. Yeah, it does not look good.

Normally, I am a firm believer in the truism: "Stats never lie". But on digging a little deeper into this, we get a very different perspective of that record.

Here, I am going to try classify all those 14 games in terms of what impact Aaron Rodgers had on the outcome.

Side Note: In this post, I am going to analyze only games that qualify as being "close". It is to see how Rodgers fares in crunch time situations. Not an analysis of how good or bad he is overall. There are games where he has been lights out which might have been blow outs. There are games were he has looked awful, which were big margin losses for the Packers. There were games (especially in 2009) where the O line could not keep Rodgers standing even in consecutive snaps. But here, we talk about only games decided by four points or less.

The Wins

Surprisingly, the Packers under Aaron Rodgers never had a "close" game win until this 2010 season.

1. Vs Detroit Lions (Week 4, 2010): GB Win, 28-26
To be honest, this win, although looks close, did not require any "clutch" performance from the GB offense. The defense had to hold off the Lions from coming back and winning in garbage time. Although, they did accomplish that, it ended up being closer than the Packers would have liked.

2. Vs Minnesota (Week 7, 2010): GB Win, 28-24
This was another game, where the Packers had a big lead heading into the 4th quarter, and the onus was on the defense to hold off Brett Favre from taking that lead away. The defense intercepted Favre 3 times and help put this in the bag. But a scoring drive or two for the Packers for some insurance points would have been nice.

The Cough ups

There were some "close" games where, if you had to point the finger at ONE thing for the loss, you would have to blame Rodgers. Interestingly enough, almost all these games were in the 2008 season, which was the first for Rodgers as the starter. Yes, there could be multiple reasons for the following losses, but the common pattern I see in these games is that the Packers had the ball at crunch time and the offense under Rodgers failed to score for the potential win (or tie).

NFL 2010: Week 13 Picks

Houston Texans (+8) at Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles will want to get back to winning ways after their loss at the hands of the Bears last week. The Texans defense will have a big let down after their surprising shut out of the Titans offense. They are in for a rude awakening that Mike Vick ain't no Rustee Smith.
Outright Win: Eagles
v/s the Spread: Eagles (-8)

*  updated the rest of these picks on 12/04/2010 (Saturday)

Buffalo Bills (+5.5) at Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are on a surge after the firing of Chilli. They should be able to keep to take care of business at home here. But watch out for the backside cover by the Bills. They are real good at it this season.
Outright Win: Vikings
v/s the Spread: Bills (+5.5)

Cleveland Browns (+5) at Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are way better off with Henne under center. But the Browns have taken a few steps backward with Delhomme starting in place of Colt McCoy. Browns are still good to cover the spread here with Miami missing a lot of pieces on defense and no Brandon Marshall either.
Outright Win: Dolphins
v/s the Spread: Browns (+5)

Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) at Tennessee Titans
The Titans are rushing in Collins to start this week. Even if he can play at 75% of his usual self, it will be a huge upgrade over good 'ol Rustee. The Jaguars will have to find ways to move the ball without Mike-Sims Walker.
Outright Win: Titans
v/s the Spread: Titans (-3)

Denver Broncos (+9) at Kansas City Chiefs
This is one of those revenge games of the weekend. The Broncos went ballistic against the Chiefs the last time they met. That's the best kind of bulletin board material to get the Chiefs play they hardest. Add to it the non-handshake thing too.
Outright Win: Chiefs
v/s the Spread: Chiefs (-9)

Washington Redskins (+7) at New York Giants
Usually NFC East rivalry games are expected to be close. Not this one. Expect the Giants to lay a beatdown on McNaab and his sub-par offensive line.
Outright Win: Giants
v/s the Spread: Giants (-7)

Chicago Bears (-5) at Detroit Lions

Thursday, November 25, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 12 Picks

New England Patriots (-7) at Detroit Lions
The Lions might have a chance to be in competitive game on Thanksgiving for the first time in like forever. But the Patriots should take care of business here. In spite of all things pointing at this being a "trap" game for the Patriots, I think it will not because they just had their "trap" game loss to the Browns couple weeks ago.
Outright Win: Patriots
v/s the Spread: Patriots (-7)

New Orleans Saints (-3.5) at Dallas Cowboys
I expect the Cowboys to get back to the ground where they belong during the Wade Philips days. And it is about time the Saints get back towards their 2009 season form.
Outright Win: Saints
v/s the Spread: Saints (-3.5)

Cincinnati Bengals (+9) at New York Jets
The Jets have been pulling miraculous last minute wins, one after another. Its time for them to get that dominating blow out win, which reinforces their presence as one of the elite contenders in the league. The Bengals might, as usual, score some garbage time points and cover the spread. 
Outright Win: Jets
v/s the Spread: Bengals (+9)

* updated on 11/27/2010

Minnesota Vikings (+1) at Washington Redskins
The Vikings are going to play hard for their new coach, Leslie Frasier, who they actually might like as a person. The Redskins are still searching for reasons why they had to sign McNaaab long term. Might get some answers this week.
Outright Win: Vikings
v/s the Spread: Vikings (+1)

Pittsburgh Steelers (-7) at Buffalo Bills
The Steelers looked good smothering the Raiders last week. But it was a real telling moment after Richard Seymour slapped Big Ben on his head, and none of his team mates came to his rescue. Moreover, even coach Tomlin did not have his QB's back in the post game interviews. Still, they should have enough fire power to take care of the Bills.
Outright Win: Steelers
v/s the Spread:  Steelers (-7)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 11 Picks

Chicago Bears (+2.5) at Miami Dolphins
These pesky Bears keep racking up wins in spite of their poor O line and flaky offense, mainly because their defense and special teams keeps bailing them out. In fact, against the Vikings, their O line looked good and they surprisingly converted a bunch of 3rd downs. On the surface, Miami may seem to have a QB crisis. But, they might be better off under Tyler Thigpen than the inconsistent Chad Henne. Or they might just end up using theirwild cat on all downs.
Outright Win: Miami
v/s the Spread: Miami (-2.5)

Oakland Raiders (+7) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers' O line is plagued with injuries. Losing your left tackle, for most teams, is a season threatening setback. But for these Steelers it might just be a bump in the road if their defense can get back to early season form. But for now, the Raiders might ride their hot streak and give more than what the Steelers can swallow; good enough to cover the spread here.
Outright Win: Steelers
v/s the Spread: Raiders (+7)

Houston Texans (+7) at New York Jets
The Texans defense made the Jaguars look like a potent offense. A perfect match up for the Jets offense to awaken from that deep slumber they are in. Or are hte Jets not really that good?
Outright Win: Jets
v/s the Spread: Jets (-7)

Baltimore Ravens (-10.5) at Carolina Panthers
The Ravens might be on the road. But road games don't get any easier than when you are facing the Panthers. Easy cover for the Ravens here. If they don't, it will be fair to question their legitimacy as contenders this season.
Outright Win: Ravens
v/s the Spread: Ravens (-10.5)

Washington Redskins (+7) at Tenessee Titans
McNaab will want to have a good game here to try instill some confidence into the Redskins fans, after signing that new multi-year contract. The Titans would like to have a big game out of Moss, to give their fans some fodder to chew on after his signing. The chances of the latter happening is more likely, in my opinion.
Outright Win: Titans
v/s the Spread: Titans (-7)

Detroit Lions (+6.5) at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys seemed to have got their mojo back last week. Don't let that mirage fool you. They are going to have their hands full aginst the Lions. But I don't see the Lions, on the road, come out of this with a win.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 10 Picks

Baltimore Ravens (+1) at Atlanta Falcons
Both 6-2 teams are playing this game on short rest. Baltimore is heading into this match up as the healthier team. But the Falcons are strong at home. If Roddy White can be effective (he is playing in spite of his injury), the Falcons should have this one.
Outright Win: Falcons
v/s the Spread: Falcons (-1)

Cincinnati Bengals (+7) at Indianapolis Colts
The Bengals will go only as far as Carson Palmer will take them. And as of now, I can safely say that Palmer is severely under performing. And that is an under statement. To add to this, we might soon find unhappy Ochocinco pulling a TO if he doesn't get targeted more. The Colts have their own problems, but this week playing at home, they will not require too many clutch moments from Peyton Manning (which is the only time he ever struggles on the football field).
Outright Win: Colts
v/s the Spread: Colts (-7)

Houston Texans (+1.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Texans are ice cold right now after that hot 2-0 start where they beat the Colts and the Redskins. But, as we soon found out, they are who they are: a .500 team. And so are the Jaguars. With the Houston defense ranking amongst the worst in the league, I expect this game to be close and the Jaguars might even pull this off.
Outright Win: Jaguars
v/s the Spread: Jaguars (-1.5)

Tennessee Titans (-2) at Miami Dolphins
The Titans can't wait to see how their Randy Moss experiment pans out. In all probability, they should come out satisfied with their mid-season pickup after the first game. How will the season end is a whole another story. Meanwhile the Dolphins are not too excited about Chad Henne's performances of late. They benched him for Pennington. The over/under on Henne starting again in my estimation is 2 weeks.
Outright Win: Titans
v/s the Spread: Titans (-2)

Minnesota Vikings (-1.5) at Chicago Bears
There's no doubt, Childress' days are numbered in Minnesota. I think he is just one loss away from getting fired. The worst kept secret in the league is that a lot of the Viking players are not too fond of him either. But lucky for him, they are taking on the Bears this week. The Bears haven't looked good on the field, but call them lucky or whatever, they manage to win more games than they lose. A desperate Vikings team might not let that happen.
Outright Win:  Vikings
v/s the Spread: Vikings (-1.5)

Detroit Lions (+3) at Buffalo Bills
A win less team is favored over a 2 win team that leads the NFC in scoring? That's yout 2010 NFL season in a nutshell.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 9 Picks

SF Giants!! World Champs!!
With the SF Giants winning the World Series (and how about them Giants?...and as a token of tribute using their logo for this week's NFL Picks post) this week, and among other things that's made my week busy, I am just posting my Week 9 picks here.

Arizona Cardinals (+8) at Minnesota Vikings
Outright Win: Vikings
v/s the Spread: Vikings (-8)

Chicago Bears (-3) at Buffalo Bills
Outright Win: Bills
v/s the Spread: Bills (+3)

Miami Dolphins (+5) at Baltimore Ravens
Outright Win: Ravens
v/s the Spread: Dolphins (+5)

New Orleans Saints (-6.5) at Carolina Panthers
Outright Win: Saints 
v/s the Spread: Saints (-6.5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+8.5) at Atlanta Falcons
Outright Win: Falcons
v/s the Spread: Bucs (+8.5)

New England Patriots (-4.5) at Cleveland Browns
Outright Win: Patriots 
v/s the Spread: Patriots (-4.5)

San Diego Chargers (-3) at Houston Texans
Outright Win: Chargers
v/s the Spread: Chargers (-3)

New York Jets (-4) at Detroit Lions
Outright Win: Jets
v/s the Spread: Lions (+4)

New York Giants (-7) at Seattle Seahawks
Outright Win: Giants
v/s the Spread: Seahawks (+7)

Kansas City Chiefs (+1) at Oakland Raiders
Outright Win: Chiefs
v/s the Spread: Chiefs (+1)

Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
Outright Win: Steelers
v/s the Spread: Bengals (+4.5)

Upset Special of the Week

Indianapolis Colts (+3) at Philadelphia Eagles
Outright Win: Colts
v/s the Spread: Colts (+3)

Homer Pick of the Week

Dallas Cowboys (+7.5) at Green Bay Packers
Outright Win: Packers
v/s the Spread: Packers (-7.5)

Last Week:
Outright Win Record: 7-6
v/s the Spread Record: 8-4

Year to Date:
Outright Win Record: 67-50
v/s the Spread Record: 56-54-5

Upset Picks Year to Date:
Outright Win Record: 4-4
v/s the Spread Record: 5-3

Thursday, October 28, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 8 Picks

Denver Broncos (+1) vs San Francisco 49ers
The Broncos should be able to beat a team which has Troy Smith as its QB.
Outright Win: Broncos
v/s the Spread: Broncos (+1)

Jacksonville Jaguars (+6.5) at Dallas Cowboys
The Jaguars might have caught a break with no Tony Romo this week. Still, will it be enough to pull off a win with a weak pass defense?
Outright Win: Cowboys
v/s the Spread: Jaguars (+6.5)

Washington Redskins (+2.5) at Detroit Lions
The Redskins might win ugly, but they find a way to win. The Lions might end up losing close, but they lose more than they win.
Outright Win: Redskins
v/s the Spread: Redskins (+2.5)

Carolina Panthers (+3) at St Louis Rams
The Panthers had a win last week. I don't see them winning 2 in a row. And the Rams are good at home.
Outright Win: Rams
v/s the Spread: Rams (-3)

Miami Dolphins (+1.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals' biggest problem is their QB. The Dolphins will take advantage all the offensive bungles by the Bengals. and the Dolphins are good on the road.
Outright Win: Dolphins
v/s the Spread: Dolphins (+1.5)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 7 Picks

Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons will want to rebound after getting plastered by the Eagles last week. But the Bengals will keep it close and also watch out for Carson Palmer to take his chances down field.
Outright Win: Falcons
v/s the Spread: Bengals (+3.5)

Washington Redskins (+3) at Chicago Bears
The Bears will want to take advantage of the weak Redskins defense, but the question is if the Bears O line give enough protection for Jay Cutler?
Outright Win: Bears
v/s the Spread: Redskins (+3)

Philadelphia Eagles (+3) at Tennessee Titans
The Eagles have Kolb starting at QB, while the Titans will most likely start Kerry Collins. If the Eagles can handle Chris Johnson, they are golden. But can they really do that?
Outright Win: Titans
v/s the Spread: Titans (-3)

Jacksonville Jaguars (+5.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
The Jaguars have no offense unless MJD runs amok. And I do not see that happen the Chiefs stout defense. And Matt Casel might just complete enough passes against that weak Jaguars pass defense to cover the spread
Outright Win: Chiefs
v/s the Spread: Chiefs (-5.5)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 6 Picks

Seattle Seahawks (+6.5) at Chicago Bears
Expect the Seahawks to be meek on the road. Cutler is back to start for the Bears. And they should have enough to cover a TD.
Outright Win:  Bears
v/s the Spread: Bears (-6.5)

Detroit Lions (+10) at New York Giants
The Lions have their first win of the season under their belt. People expect the Giants to dominate the Lions D by throwing the ball a lot. But that may not work against the improving Detroit secondary. The Giants will have to win this game running the ball efficiently.
Outright Win: Giants
v/s the Spread: Lions (+10)

Atlanta Falcons (+3) at Philadelphia Eagles
The Falcons might just be the best team in the NFC. But Matt Ryan seems to struggle on the road. So expect this game to stay close, even though the Falcons are going against a not so formidable Eagles Defense.
Outright Win: Falcons 
v/s the Spread: Falcons (+3)

Cleveland Browns (+13.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
Tale of two teams: The Browns are going to start rookie Colt McCoy at QB. On the other side, the Steelers get back their star QB after his suspension.
Outright Win: Steelers
v/s the Spread: Steelers (-13.5)

San Diego Chargers (-8.5) at St. Louis Rams
The Chargers should easily cover this if they do not give up points to careless turnovers and special teams mishap.
Outright Win: Chargers
v/s the Spread: Chargers (-8.5)

New Orleans Saints (-4.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Its no secret that the Saints are struggling on offense. And the Buccaneers are scrappy enough that they have just one loss, behind a solid defense and an effective young QB. I expect this game to go down to the wire, but the Saints should be able to pull this off.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Giant Celebration!

The SF Giants might have only won the NLDS. Still miles to go if they were to achieve the ultimate goal in baseball. Yet, for this team of farm grown young guns, veteran cast-aways and the playoff deprived Giants fans, it means a lot just to be in the NLCS.

One reason this team, unlike the 2003 team that got here (and went on to the World Series), is very likable to everyone. The cool heads of veterans that have been there before: Burrell, Renteria, Rowand and Uribe. The excited veterans having their first playoff run: Freddy Sanchez, Huff and Ross. The exciting rookie crop: Mad Bumgarner and Buster Posey. The utility guys: Ishikawa, Scheiroltz, the Panda (his off-year has made him just a utility guy), Torres. And the awesome pitching staff: Timmy, Matt, Jonathan Sanchez, the Beardman Wilson and the bullpen.

These diverse types of persona in the club house have gelled together very well indeed. The chemistry in the club house is real loose and self-less. The guys are just happy to pick each other up. And that is the big reason why they can never be counted out against anyone. And of course, that awesome pitching has something to do with it. It's fun to watch these guys celebrate here after their NLDS win over the Atlanta Braves:

And the Giants fans have been unbelievable. Here's a video by a fan that has gone viral of late. It is a must watch and...... “Don’t Stop Believin'!!!!!!"

Game on Phillies!! ....its time you "Fear the Beard!"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 5 Picks

Jacksonville Jaguars (-1.5) at Buffalo Bills
This could be that let down game for the Jaguars after beating the Colts last week. But hey, it's the Bills! MJD and Gerrard should be able to get it done.
Outright Win: Jaguars
v/s the Spread: Jaguars (-1.5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
Coming of the bye week, the Bucs will be prepared to take on the Bengals. Carson Palmer will try to throw a bunch of times to TO and Ochocinco, to try exploit the weak TB corners.
Outright Win:  Bengals
v/s the Spread:  Buccaneers (+6.5)

Atlanta Falcons (-3.5) at Cleveland Browns
The Falcons might just underestimate the Browns here. If they do, they are in for a surprise. The Browns are a tough out this year.
Outright Win: Falcons
v/s the Spread: Browns (+3.5)

St Louis Rams (+3.5) at Detroit Lions
The Lions had another close game against the Packers last week. If they keep this one close, they just might get their first win of the year. The Rams will take away some valuable experience for their young players from this game.
Outright Win: Lions
v/s the Spread: Rams (+3.5)

Kansas City Chiefs (+8.5) at Indianapolis Colts
I am not going to bet against the Colts in a game after a loss to their divisional rivals. They do have to take care of their run defense, especially after losing Bullit this week.
Outright Win: Colts
v/s the Spread: Colts (-8.5)

Chicago Bears (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers
Cutler is out this week because of the concussion from Sunday night. Matt Forte will have to carry the Bears on his back to give them a chance. The Panthers under Jimmy Clausen are not going to run away with the game. So Todd Collins will have a chance to win a close one at the end.
Outright Win: Bears
v/s the Spread: Bears (-2.5)

Denver Broncos (+7.5) at Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have had a tough few weeks to open the season. They cannot afford to take a breather here, with Orton, on pace for 5600+ yds throwing this season, coming to town. Ray Lewis will have the defense ready.
Outright Win: Ravens
v/s the Spread: Ravens (+7.5)

New York Giants (+3.5) at Houston Texans
The Giants Defense is coming off a high after dismantling the Bears last week. Houston will not make it as easy as they had it last week, although the Texans are without their starting Left Tackle. I expect the Texans to run a lot early in the game to counter the Giants' pass rush.

Monday, October 4, 2010

NFL Power Rankings

Here are my ranking of NFL teams after one quarter of the season.
  1. Baltimore Ravens (3-1): Their only loss was against the Bengals. But that was a Sunday game after a short week following a Monday Night win vs the Jets in New Jersey. On top of that, them beating the Steelers (albeit a Big Ben less Steeler team) on the road was as impressive as it gets.
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1): The Steelers get Big Ben back. Even if he is not up to form, it will be a definite upgrade over the trio of QBs they tried the first 4 week. Scary eh?
  3. NY Jets (3-1): The Jets' only loss: The Ravens on opening week by 1 point. And the re-emergence of the old LT.
  4. New Orleans (3-1): The Saints have looked shaky on offense. But they should get back to rythm when all their injured players start coming back.
  5. Houston Texans (3-1): Their only loss was to the desperate Cowboys, after two inspired performances (beating the Colts and then beating the Redskins in OT)
  6. New England Patriots (3-1): Their secondary on defense is real suspect. But they just have so many weapons on offense that they can hang with anyone on offense. Their only loss: at Jets.
  7. Green Bay Packers (3-1): The Packers have had their moments. But, an undisciplined MNF performance brought them their only loss. There are questions about how their defense can fare against an above average offense. Also a shaky special teams unit does not help their cause.
  8. Atlanta Falcons (3-1): Their only loss was to the Steelers in OT. But on the flip side, they are a missed FG (by Saints) and a bone-head fumble (by Nate Clemens of the 49ers) away from being 1-3

The Miracle in Baton Rouge

The LSU-Tennessee game this weekend had a crazy ending. Likes of which we haven't seen for a while. Watch how LSU pulls this one off:

Friday, October 1, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 4 Picks

Monday Night Disaster

The Packers - Bears Monday nighter lived up to it's hype only in terms of how close the game was. It was a horrible display of professional football; more so by the Packers than the Bears. The Packers committed a franchise record 18 penalties, apart from other missed chances, special teams blunders and coaching gaffes.

Mike McCarthy has taken a lot of heat for some of those mistakes, and to be honest, deservedly so. First off, five years at the helm, and he still does not have a serviceable special teams unit? He is too red-flag friendly, to the team's detriment, especially in close games like on Monday. Although he is an offense guy, being the head coach, he has to take some blame for the Packers ineptitude on defense.

Monday Night also brought to light an interesting coaches situational dilemma. With 1:44 minutes left on the clock and the Bears having first-and-goal inside the Packers five yard line, should he have let the Bears score? Football purists are generally opposed to that strategy. Their reasoning being, by intentionally letting your opponent score, you are eliminating the possibilities of forcing a turnover and/or forcing a FG mis-hap (blocked FG or missed FG).

On the contrary, the odds of those happening within the 5 yard line would be like wishing for a fluky stroke of luck. With the new age, saber-metric guys around, statistical data has more validity than ever before to drive coaches decisions, or at least back them up. Statistically (based on reported simulations), the odds of Packers getting the ball back and taking the game to OT by not letting the opponent score was estimated at about 3%. Letting the Bears score a TD to save time for another game tying drive, increased those odds to only about 10%. Still, as a coach, isn't it a no-brainer to give your team the best chance to win? But, of course, it would have woken ghosts of Mike Holmgren's decision to let the Broncos score at the end of the Super Bowl XXXIII, which the Packers went on to lose.

But after giving it a few days to marinate in my head, I have come to the conclusion that the biggest reason for such a poor showing by the Packers was the Defense and Special Teams units. A good number of those 18 penalties was by the defense. And we all know how big of a game-changer are those pass interference penalties. Not to mention those dropped INTs and inability to create turnovers even though opportunities popped up right in front of them time after time. The Bears on the other hand, were killing the Packers on special teams, including a punt return TD by Hester. That was the biggest offensive threat posed by the Bears all night long. Yeah, we could blame the incidents of the last two plus minutes of the game.But, in my opinion, the Packers squandered chances to put away the game the previous 58 minutes. The defense and special teams units should take a big chink of the blame for this.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bleeding Orange yet?

I know I am!

The San Francisco Giants are on the verge of clinching the NL West Division. It will be their first playoff appearance since 2003. As they say, it has been a marathon and looks like the Giants are going to have that strong sprint to finish it with style.

The Giants' season has had its ups and downs. Right after spring training, the make-up of the team was way different than it is now. The starting pitching rotation has been the only constant, except for Mad Bumgarner cementing the No.5 pitcher spot. The plan on offense was to have the lineup work around Pablo Sandoval, Mark Derosa, Bengie Molina and Freddy Sanchez, with some help from veterans Aaron Rowand and Juan Uribe, hoping that Travis Ishikawa and/or Nate Scheiroltz will have a break out season to help steady the ship.

The plan kept changing as the Giants kept adapting to what felt right all the way through, riding all the hot hands and streaks right through September. Aubrey Huff was their best signing of the off season, and the Buster Posey call-up was a godsend, right away upgrading the Bengie Molina spot in the batting order. Posey has also been an excellent catcher. the highlight of which being, calling 18 games in a row, where the Giants pitchers gave up 3 runs or less in each, a major league record since the 1920s. It would be a travesty if he doesn't win the Rookie of the Year award. I know its hard to imagine this kid is just a rookie.

Friday, September 24, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 3 Picks

Atlanta Falcons (+4) at New Orleans Saints
The Falcons proved with a big win over the Cardinals that they have a team that is ready to contend with the big boys of the NFL. The Saints managed to sneak out with a win Monday against the 49ers even though the Saints did not bring their game last Monday Night. But now they have to play a Falcons team after a short week. Gonna be another nail Biter.
Outright Win: Falcons
v/s the Spread: Falcons (+4)

San Francisco 49ers (-2.5) at Kansas City Chiefs

The 49ers imploded against the Seahawks week 1 and then beat themselves to give away the Monday Night game. Still in a week NFC West, they are very much in it if they can pick themselves up and play efficiently. Although the Chiefs are 2-0, they are not favored over the 0-2 49ers. It will be hard to beat the Chiefs at loud arrow head stadium though.
Outright Win: 49ers
v/s the Spread: 49ers (-2.5)

Detroit Lions (+11) at Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings need this one bad. The weak Lions secondary could very well be the spark that the dormant Vikings offense needs. Shaun Hill is a capable care-taker QB, who can have a spirited game or two. No way he can keep it going.
Outright Win: Vikings
v/s the Spread: Lions (+11)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 2 Picks

Great first week of football, uh? It had a little bit of everything. A couple of upsets (Texans bt Colts and Chiefs bt Chargers; which I called in my last week's picks, by the way). A few anemic offenses (Dallas, Washington, Falcons, Jets and Ravens etc); falling face down after all the thrash talk (Jets); a couple of choke jobs (Jake Delhomme and the 49ers as a team); a team robbed of victory because of stupid nuances / unclear interpretation of the rule book (the Calvin Johnson catch).

Week 1 also had some dreaded injury blows which always is a bummer. Of the myriads of injuries a few notable ones are Ryan Grant of the Packers, Kris Jenkins of the Jets and Bob Sanders of the Colts. The ghastly sight of Leonard Weaver's leg bending the way it shouldn't naturally and Stewart Bradley trying to stay on his feet before going down were scary moments. And a couple high profile QBs Kevin Kolb (concussion) and Matt Stafford (shoulder) were knocked out of their games (and possibly more).

But hey, football is underway and here are my Week 2 Picks:

Arizona Cardinals (+6.5) at Atlanta Falcons
I don't know what to make out of both these teams after their performances on Week1. The Cardinals did beat the Rams, but Derek Anderson looked awful. If the Rams aren't really that good, which seems to be the general consensus, it does not put the Cardinals in good light. The Falcons struggled on offense against the Steelers. Given, the Steelers D is formidable with Palamalu in there, still the Falcons could not eek out a win against the Big Ben less Steelers.
Outright Win:  Falcons
v/s the Spread:  Falcons (-6.5)

Kansas City Chiefs (+2) at Cleveland Browns
The Chiefs had an emotional win against the Chargers are now on the road. A let down is very likely. The Browns learned the hard way not to trust Jake Delhomme throwing the ball a lot. The Browns have got to trust their running game with Peyton Hillis and Harrison. Why Jerome Harrison does not get more touches than Hillis, I will never know. The last 3-4 weeks of the 2009 seasons are probably blacked out of coach Mangini's head.
Outright Win: Browns
v/s the Spread: Browns (+2)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 1 Picks

The smell of real football is in the air. Kicks off with the Super Bowl Champs, the New Orleans Saints taking on Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings. The first couple weeks are going to be hard in terms of predicting which teams are for real and which teams aren't. I'm giving it my best shot here.

For the record, with my picks in the 2009 season, I went 178-76. This year, I am going to make 2 picks for each game: a 'v/s the spread' pick and an 'outright win' pick.

Minnesota Vikings (+6.5) at New Orleans Saints
Its a rematch of the NFC Championship game from last year. In that game, in spite of the Vikings turning over the ball 5 times, the Saints needed a Favre INT and overtime to snatch a win. So, I think this game will be closer than people think.
Outright Win: Saints
v/s the Spread: Vikings (+6.5)

Miami Dolphins (-3.5) at Buffalo Bills
The Dolphins might be in for a surprise as to how good the Bills pass defense is. But, it wouldn't take long for them to realize that all they need to dominate the Bills is run the ball down their throat.
Outright Win: Dolphins
v/s the Spread: Dolphins (-3.5)

Detroit Lions (+6.5) at Chicago Bears
There was a lot of hype surrounding the Cutler-Martz marriage in Chicago. That lasted till a few snaps in the pre-season. I think we need a couple more weeks to gauge how it's going to work for the Bears. The Lions, although are expected to be bottom feeders again, now have a decent core to build upon. Especially on defense, Suh has the makings to be a perennial force to reckon with for opposing QBs. Watch out for the Lions to sneak up on the Bears.
Outright Win: Bears
v/s the Spread: Lions (+6.5)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Great Expectations: The Green Bay Packers 2010 season preview

Its been two whole seasons since Brett Favre has passed on the QB reigns to young Aaron Rodgers at Green Bay. While the way things went down was not pretty; starting with the tumultuous annual waffling of No.4 to his tactical move to get back into the NFC North Division with the Vikings a year later; the Packers now find themselves in a nice spot looking forward.

Favre was the iron man of football. His biggest attribute apart from his on-field exploits, was his tenacity to not miss a start in 16 years. The Packers knew every Sunday that he would be ready to pad up and play, whether it was a broken thumb or it was on off field family crisis.

The Packers should be encouraged by the growth of Rodgers in the last 2 years. Not only is he growing in front of our own eyes as a QB, he has also shown toughness and resilience, playing with injuries, and is yet to miss a start. It is safe to say that the Packers' decision to jettison Favre in favor of Rodgers has already been vindicated. In fact, it is general consensus that Rodgers is knocking on the elite clique of current day QBs. He might need a few playoff wins under his belt to clear all doubts.

So what else do these 2010 Packers have in store for us?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Aaron Rodgers: Nothing but net

Hope this is a preview to a long successful Packer career. But, he should work on his celebration moves though.

Go Pack Go!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Steve Carell Parody of "The Decision"

Here's another parody of LBJ's "The Decision". This time its Steve Carell doing his thing at he 2010 ESPYs. Enjoy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

"The Decision!"

Here's Bill Simmons and Michelle Beattle playing "the decision". Only this time Bill is trying to figure out which team's season tickets he's gonna buy. It's a must watch!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fear of Legacy: The Wuss-ification of the NBA

Its a done deal!

LeBron James joins Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in an attempt to form a "Super Heat" team down in South Beach. While on paper this may look flashy, could it really be a juggernaut team that could dominate the league? How did LeBron handle the whole ordeal? What does this really mean to the future and legacy of LeBron?

I am sure people have mixed feelings about all this. Here are my two cents....

The Setup

LeBron has been with the Cavaliers for seven seasons.... seven long years. He was the city's only hope to bring home a championship title (of all sports). He has not been able to take them to that promised land. Not even close. The blame for failure does not lie solely on him. He never had that strong supporting cast that could help him on that journey to promised land. Not that the Cavs didn't try to get him help. It just turned out that they were simply not good enough.

Meanwhile, it so happens, either through coordinated planning or by chance, two other guys who also needed help, Bosh and Wade, were along with LeBron set to be free agents in the summer of 2010. The trio developed a bond between them during the 2008 Olympics. It is rumored that they had a pact to join forces and play for one team.

What better chance to fulfill that pact, at least for the three of the four than when they are free agents. Due to salary cap restrictions and other limitations, it was general consensus that any team could sign only two of the three guys and for obvious basketball reasons it was thought that Bosh would team up with either Wade or LeBron. But then the Miami Heat got creative with their roster maneuvering and somehow figured that they could sign all three. And voila... that what they did!

The Choices

LeBron had many options. Heck he could pick and choose wherever he wanted to go. At some of those teams, he might have been even given the freedom to pick and choose coaches and players. But, these must have been his serious considerations:

1. Loyalty: Cleveland
LeBron grew up in Akron and he has strong roots to Ohio. He was Cleveland's home grown hero. The city and its decades of misery and disappointments with sports are well documented. LeBron was that lone shiny star of hope. If he left that city, he would be ripping their hearts out and taking them with him.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Packers LB Barnett makes a bold prediction

The NFL off-season has been loud as usual. The news out of every team has been transitioning seamlessly from the draft to the Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and now heading to training camp.

This is when most so called "experts" in the media start giving out their Super Bowl predictions. These predictions are mostly going to end up being wild guesses as it turns out every year.

This year, the Green Bay Packers are in that conversation a lot. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that they finished last season strong. Also, they have a promising starter at QB in Aaron Rodgers and a young core of players on both offense and defense. They are the "fancy" pick for most experts this year.

While I have confidence in my Packers to do well, it makes me nervous as a Packer fan to see the  expectations being raised in this fashion. I have been a firm believer in getting through as much of the season under the radar. I do think swagger on the team helps. But it makes it way easier, with fewer distractions if you do not have a target on your back.

And you know what makes me more nervous? When guys on your team start predicting stuff, that's the kind of self-imposed pressure that gives fans like me fits. Here is Nick Barnett threading on water with a bold prediction.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NFL Draft 2010: The Green Bay Packers Mock Draft

For my overview of the Packer's draft board for the NFL 2010 Draft, click here.

The NFL 2010 Draft begins in less than 48 hours. Still, you will find all team scouts and front office people running around trying to fix their draft boards. It is inevitable that the draft boards of teams will change a lot from now till the time the envelope with the pick is walked across Music City Hall and handed over to the Commissioner. Add to this all the draft day trades, its a perfect recipe for mayhem.

It might be all for naught, because a lot of the players picked in the draft are probably not going to live up to the expectations / scouting predictions. Still, as football fans, we make a big deal out of it, prematurely grading teams right after the draft based on their picks.

This post, I am giving out my prediction of who the Packers should pick round by round in this year's draft.The Packers' philosophy while drafting is usually to pick the best player available at that spot, rather than need. Here, I am assuming no draft day trades involving the Packers. Realistically though, I do hope they trade down and gather more picks in this unusually deep draft class.

Pick 1 (Round 1; Overall Pick No.23): Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State

It is unlikely that the top offensive tackles will last till No.23. For some reason, if one of the top OTs, Russell Okung (OT, Oklahoma State), Bryan Bulaga (OT, Iowa), Trent Williams (OT, Oklahoma) or Anthony Davis (OT, Rutgers) slide to No.23, the Packers will love it. As that is almost impossible considering the number of teams that are desperate to find that franchise tackle, it will be smart for the Packers to take the best available player for their defensive backfield.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

2010 NFL Season: Packers Schedule

The 2010 season NFL schedule was released by the league offices today. Here is the schedule for the Green Bay Packers.

Sunday, Sept. 12, at Philadelphia Eagles(1:15 pm PST)
Sunday, Sept. 19, Buffalo Bills at Lambeau Field (10:00 am PST)
Monday, Sept. 27, at Chicago Bears (5:30pm PST)
Sunday, Oct. 3, Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field (10:00 am PST)
Sunday, Oct. 10, at Washington Redskins (10:00 am PST)
Sunday, Oct. 17, Miami Dolphins at Lambeau Field (10:00 am PST)
Sunday, Oct. 24, Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field (5:30pm PST)
Sunday, Oct. 31 at New York Jets (10:00 am PST)
Sunday, Nov. 7, Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field (5:30pm PST)
Sunday, Nov. 14, Bye
Sunday, Nov. 21 at Minnesota Vikings (10:00 am PST)
Sunday, Nov. 28, at Atlanta Falcons (10:00 am PST)
Sunday, Dec. 5, San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field (10:00 am PST)
Sunday, Dec. 12, at Detroit Lions (10:00 am PST)
Sunday, Dec. 19, at New England Patriots (5:20pm PST)
Sunday, Dec. 26, New York Giants at Lambeau Field (1:15 pm PST)
Sunday, Jan. 2, Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field (10:00 am PST)

Some key highlights:
  • The Packers play one Monday Night game (vs Bears on Sep. 27 2010)
  • The Packers are slated for 3 Sunday Night games
  • The bye week for Green Bay is not till Nov 14th, which incidentally is the latest it has ever been for the Packers ever
  • The Packers finish off the season with 2 home games
  • They do not have a road game stretch longer than 2 games

Friday, April 16, 2010

NBA Playoffs: Round 1 Preview

Its spring time! The NBA regular season just ended and all the playoff match ups are locked up. Unlike most sports, the NBA playoff system is very generous to the teams vying to make the post-season. More than 50% (16 of 30 teams) of the teams in the league that play the regular season will make it to the playoffs. Although it seems relatively easy to get into the NBA playoffs, the 2 month long playoff schedule will be brutal for the teams that go the distance.

The Tale of Two Conferences

The last few years, it has been harder for teams in the Western conference to make the playoffs than for the teams in the East. The main reason being that the relative quality of teams in the West has been undoubtedly superior.

In the 2007-08 season, the Golden State Warriors (48-34) in the Western Conference had to sit out the playoffs after a 48 win season, while in the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks (37-45) made it with a losing season. The Warriors who missed the cut would have been a 4th seed in the Eastern Conference that year.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Packer Draft Board

I had already written about the Green Bay Packers' off-season needs. You can find it either in my blog or on Bleacher Report.

For a team like the Packers, that does not delve too much into the free agency market or get involved in high stakes trades, the draft is the only opportunity to improve their roster in the off-season. That makes the NFL draft week a critical period to fill all holes in preparation for next season. With the 2010 NFL Draft only a week away, I thought I should throw out my opinion of how the Packers should prepare their draft board.

The Order

The Packers have a fairly routine set of picks this draft. They have a total of 8 picks in the 7 rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft. They have 1 pick every round with an extra 5th round pick which was awarded to them as a complementary pick by the league (for losing Corey Williams as a free agent last year).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tiger's "Master" Plan

You can find this article on Bleacher Report too.

For an athlete, it is never a good sign when you are on the "Most Wanted" list of TMZ. That is exactly where Tiger Woods finds himself, ever since that eventful Thanksgiving night of 2009. Add to it that Tiger, by nature, is one of those sticklers pining for privacy and secrecy of his life away from the golf course, it totally cornered him into a real uncomfortable place. A place from where he had to set things straight with his family and friends. A place from where he had to openly talk about his unfaithful acts that had come to light. A place from where he had to fix his image so that he does not lose his sponsors, and in the process, a major source of his income. And worst of all, he had to address most of it, if not all, in public.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The State of the Packers

This article is also on B/R.

To some, the season might be officially over after crowning the New Orleans Saints as champs. But football ain't dormant at this time, far from it. For all the pro-football teams and their hard core fans, there is no off-season. Most teams strive at all times of the year (during the season and off-season) to try make their team better; to find missing pieces; to give them that shot in the arm that would propel them to the next level. The off-season period for these teams are predominantly spent by having scouts analyze prospective college football players they could draft. This requires a lot of man hours (more than you can even imagine) as the body of work for these college players are very limited. Apart from their on-field abilities, teams will like to get a hang of the personality or character of prospective players. After all, we are talking about 20-22 year olds, and it is obvious how flaky and unpredictable people of that demography are, let alone try predict what kind of a character they would grow into. So, scouting involves a lot of psychological and personal background analysis apart from regular football stuff. At the same time, the front office folks have it a little easier trying to evaluate free agents or trades for players on other teams. After all, these players usually have a well documented body of work for everyone to look at and also the pool of players generally available through trades or as free agents is typically minuscule compared to the myriads of prospective college players that are available to be drafted (or maybe signed up later on as undrafted free agents). This post is to look at where the Packers stand this off-season, what are their pressing needs, holes they need to fill, and other concerning off-season issues.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Who Dat? ......Drew Dat!

Forty-four seconds left on the clock in the 4th quarter. Drew Brees of the Saints takes a knee to let the clock run out. That was it! The Saints had accomplished the improbable. The 5.5 point underdogs had just slayed the juggernaut that was the Colts. Not only were the Saints fans at the stadium in South Beach going berserk, the entire "Who Dat" nation all over the country were set to embark on a never-ending streak of celebration. It truly is 'Lombardi gras' season down Bourbon street in New Orleans. As the clock was winding down to zero, the Saints players completed the ceremonial gatorade shower of coach Sean Payton and along with their friends and families started flooding on to the field. Meanwhile, the Colts players quickly disappeared into the tunnel, dejected and disappointed. In fact, Peyton Manning did not even wait around looking for Brees to congratulate him as is typical football sportsmanship etiquette.

Brees with his teary eyes and his little baby boy in his arms stood around as if in disbelief. You could imagine the surreal feeling inside him, as well as other Saints players and residents of the New Orleans Saints. The city got the ultimate shot in its arm, while still on its road to recovery since that devastating hurricane Katrina, 6 years ago. There were many heroes for the Saints in the game, none bigger than the MVP of the Super Bowl, Drew Brees. It was clinical display for Quarterbacking on his part. You might even say he "Manning'ed" Peyton Manning on this day. After the half, everytime he touched the ball, there seemed to be an imminent threat of the Saints marching down the field and scoring. Every time the Colts scored, he kept coming back and kept the pressure on Peyton until he folded. Brees is, deservedly, now a legend in "Who Dat" Nation.

Monday, February 1, 2010

"Who Dat" in Super Bowl XLIV??

The Super Bowl in Miami!

Two weeks of partying hard in South Beach; the ceremonial (and totally inconsequential) pro-bowl right in the middle; Nation-wide sports writers have only two teams to talk about, and thankfully for many, Brett Favre is not on either of those teams. Add to it all the drama and bulletin board material on media day. Too bad there doesn't seem to be any single person on either team who could deliver saucy "punch lines". Still, I would kill to be down there amidst all those festivities. Especially since I do not have a horse in the game this year, all the hype seem more attractive to me than the actual game. In fact, outside of Colts and Saints fan, most football fans probably can't wait for the draft and the next season to start.

But seriously, the Colts vs Saints match up could very well turn out to be a shootout for the ages. Or could just blow in our faces with a one-sided blowout. It is a rarity that 2 No.1 seeds make the super bowl; has not happened in ages. The Colts are essentially undefeated this year, except for those games Week 16 and Week 17 when the Colts rested most of their starters and threw away those 2 games. Peyton Manning is playing out of his mind. He seems to be picking apart anything that opposing defenses throw at him. It will be a shocker if he lays an egg in one of the 2 biggest games of his life yet, the other being his Super Bowl win a few years ago against the Bears (incidentally also in Miami). The Saints on the other hand have ridden the hot arm of Drew Brees and their imaginative offensive mind of their coach Sean Payton. They love to spread the field with multiple receivers and throw the ball all over.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Best of Coco!!

As a tribute to Conan O'Brien, here are some of his best moments at NBC. Most of them are from his Late Night show when he had way more freedom to add his crankiness to the show. His skits especially are extremely funny and to a certain extent are unscripted.

Ron Paul on Bill Maher

Heres a clip from the Bill Maher show. How in the world does a person like Dr. Ron Paul, who makes so much sense, not get much coverage or taken seriously?

Ron Paul for President!

Friday, January 22, 2010

NFL 2009: Championship Games

Some intriguing match-ups this weekend for the Championship round:

New York Jets (+7.5) at Indianapolis Colts

"Karma is a Bitch!"

The Colts hope there is no karmic backlash after they gift-wrapped their regular season game against the Jets in Week 16. The story about the Colts throwing away their chance to go 19-0 has been beaten to death by everyone. But little is said about how the Colts disrupted the Karmic balance by letting the Jets a free shot at the playoffs, in the process, shunning out teams like the Texans and the Steelers. The Jets already proved that there is possibly some truth to this, as they beat the Bengals after the Bengals threw away their regular season game in Week 17. Now the Jets have a shot at the Colts again. Only this time, the Jets are on a roll, playing great defense and soaring with confidence. The Colts now have to slay the monster created by their own actions.

In terms of football, the Colts should be very confident going into this game. Their offense is in rhythm, not bothered by that long layoff they had. Revis might be on Reggie Wayne, and so Peyton may have to deal with Dallas Clark, Garcon and Collie more than usual, which is only a minor hurdle for this offense. The Colts defense is probably the most under-rated unit left in the playoffs. They may be built small, but they are built for speed. They will not give Mark Sanchez much time all game long, and if he holds on to the ball too long, you can expect some turnovers too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Donations for Haiti

I am sure everyone wants to do his/her bit in the relief efforts at Haiti. At the same time we are all wary about the numerous scams that pretend to be raising charity for Haiti (or any calamity / relief operations for that matter). Here are a couple of reliable avenues to make donations to:

1. The Red Cross: Donations can be made through the website, or for us lazy ones, we can text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10.

2. Doctors without Borders: This is a reliable, noble and entirely reputable charity active in earthquake response.

NFL 2009 Playoffs: Divisional Round Picks

I write this while still in the 3rd stage of grief (Anger & Bargaining .....and more anger).

Arizona Cardinals (+7) at New Orleans Saints

Both these teams did not have good finishes to their regular season. But the Cardinals came out last week and exploded on offense to beat the Packers (sigh!). The Saints will want to come out of the gate this weekend at home and take advantage of the porous Cards defense. This is expected to be a high scoring game with the over/under on total score being 57. But don't be surprised if both teams go ultra-conservative after a couple of early turn overs on both sides.

The Cardinals may not have Boldin again this week, but that should not be a problem if last week was any indication. They will hope Warner is at least a shell of the player he was last week, when he executed their offense like a man possessed. The Cards also probably surprised themselves with how effective their running game with Beanie Wells was too. But they would have to be worried about how their defense was man-handled by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers almost letting the Packs come back after having a 21 point lead over them in the 3rd quarter.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dealing with my 7 stages of grief....

Ever since that Packer gut-wrenching excruciating loss at the hands of the Cardinals, I have been going through the seven stages of grief. It took me till this afternoon to realize that.

Part of the reason that pushed this incident from simple disappointment to grief, was the way the game ended. Some analysts called it the best game of the year. Some pronounced it the best game that they had ever witnessed in the playoffs...ever. To me, the roller coaster ride of the Packers going down trailing 31-10 at one point, and then making an unexpected yet exciting comeback to tie it all up and take it to overtime, was too much to handle already. And then, there was the way the game ended with the help of some missed calls by the refs (detailed in this post of mine), which directly resulted in a Packers loss. In my mind, I do not think the refs where biased against the Packers nor am I trying to implicitly suggest any "conspiracy theories" behind a Cardinals win. I guess the fact that simple incompetence on the part of refs, left a feeling of emptiness and emotional deprivation. It felt as if someone came into a room filled with people and stole a precious exhibit with a gazillion people looking.


Even though I was watching the game live, it took me a few minutes to realize that the game was over. It felt like a dagger to the heart, just when new life was given with a missed Field Goal at the end of regulation time, forcing overtime. Before I could recover from the shock I was in, most of my friends watching the game with me started taking off (bummed by what just happened). I now had to switch channels so that I do not catch replays of the traumatic play that ended the game. Got into a conversation with another friend about conspiracy theories (unrelated to football) and aliens. I started to do stuff as if it was not even football season. Soon I decided to call it a day and go to bed at 7 PM (never been to bed that early in my life). All this without realizing that I was, after all, in denial.

Stage 2: PAIN & GUILT

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

O Defense Where Art Thou?

If anybody has seen the No.2 rated Defense of the 2009 NFL regular season, please call the cops. They seem to have been abducted!!

If you had to pick one sole reason for the Packer's loss to the Cards, it would have to be the lack-luster performance by the Packers D. They let the Cardinals score at will, gaining a total of 530 yards on the day. Although Kurt Warner was spectacular, completing more TDs than incomplete passes in the game, says it all about how ineffective the Green Bay defense was. Even if you put the first two Cardinal's score on the turnovers by Green Bay, the defense did not hold up much even after that. The fact that the Cardinals punted just once the entire game says it all.

There seemed to be a mental block in the defensive approach this game. Dom Capers got too excited and was using a lot of the "psycho" formation on defense to defend the pass, where they use just one line man and have an extra linebacker along with the nickel back. Although this is a nice wrinkle to have in your arsenal, Warner tearing that defense apart, should have hinted the Packers defensive staff to get back to a more traditional formation and maybe get back to basics. Also, the Packer Defense had dominated opponents in regular season games, when they were using a lot of blitzes in their game-plan. But in this game against the Cardinals, Capers called blitzes on less than 5% of the defensive snaps.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The A-Rodg highlight reel

Aaron Rodgers of the Packers had a terrific regular season. Throwing for more than 4000 yards including 30 Touch downs and only 7 Interceptions. He is also incredibly accurate with a passer rating for the season above 100.0. The athletic passer also made plays with his feet, leading the lead in rushing yards as a QB including 4 rushing TDs.

Also, he is the only Quarterback in the history of the NFL to have passed for more than 4000 yards in the first two seasons as a starter. Now, how about that?

Here's a reel of his highlights for the 2009 season including all his 30 TDs:

Go Pack Go!!

NFL 2009: Wild Card Weekend Preview

It is finally that time of the NFL season, where more than half the teams are done, having to watch, sitting at home, the 12 best teams of the league fight it out for post-season glory. Of these 12 teams, the best 4 have earned a first round bye and will not be playing this weekend. That leaves us with 8 teams battling it out for their survival in the hunt for a chance to be in the Super Bowl. All the success through the regular season which got them here is thrown out the window here on. All their records, achievements etc thus far will be meaningless in up coming games. But most of the teams, if not all of them, will try to sustain the strategy, energy and momentum that got them here, even though it may be a fresh slate on paper.

Final seeding for the playoffs:

1. Indianapolis Colts (14-2)
2. San Diego Chargers (13-3)
3. New England Patriots (10-6)
4. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
5. New York Jets (9-7)
6. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)

1. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
2. Minnesota Vikings (12-4)
3. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
4. Arizona Cardinals (10-6)
5. Green Bay Packers (11-5)
6. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)

Amazingly, this weekend has 3 re-matches from Week 17, of which 2 are in the same venue as last week too. The four match ups this weekend are:

New York Jets (+2) at Cincinnati Bengals

This is one of the re-matches from Week 17, only this time, the game is at Cincinnati. Also, this time the Bengals will play to win. In Week 17, at New York, the Bengals did play some of their starters in the first half, but did not show any kind of urgency or resolve to play hard, letting the Jets win 37-0, helping them clinch a playoff spot.

With the Bengals planning to play all their starters, this week is bound to be different. Not only, will they have Benson in to help their running game, that sets up their passing, the Bengals will also have some defensive pieces they missed last week to contain the Jets run game. With their No.1 defense from the regular season, the Jets will be no push-overs. Revis island will make Chad OchoCinco (or Johnson.... after last week, even he does not know what his last name is now) all but invisible. But the Jets are on the road with a rookie Quarterback, Mark Sanchez, on his first playoff game. If history is any indication, that is a recipe for playoff failure. So, if the Jets run game cannot move the chains, they are going to have a hard time putting points on the board against Mike Zimmer's Bengals defense.

Another interesting story-line to this game is that the two opposing Quarterbacks, Palmer and Sanchez are both USC alums. Both of them where starting QBs at USC and were both No.1 picks in the NFL draft when they came out of school. They also are from the same high school and have known each other for years.

My Pick:
Against the spread: Bengals (-2)
Outright Win: Bengals

Philadelphia Eagles (+4) at Dallas Cowboys

This NFC East rivalry is a must-watch any weekend. Especially this weekend, being a post-season game and given that the Dallas dismantled the Eagles a week ago, posting a shutout of the much hyped about explosive Eagles offense. Dallas is coming into this game full of confidence having swept the Eagles in the regular season this year, while the Eagles have been struggling on offense since they lost their starting Center, Jamaal Jackson in the middle of the Broncos game in Week 16.

Both these teams have contrasting histories in past playoff appearances. The Cowboys have not won a playoff game since 1996. The Eagles on the other hand have never lost their first game in the playoffs any season they made it there under Andy Reid. Also, contrary to logic, it is always hard in the NFL to beat a team three times in the same season, a feat the 'boys will have to accomplish to win this game. Although all these statistics stack against the 'boys, they after all are playing at home and their defense is capable of pressuring the Eagles O line all game long. The Eagles D is good when they play with a lead, but if they are made to play from behind, they tend to struggle. Plus Romo seems to have matured into a more solid and clutch Quarterback since last year, heck, since September of 2009.

My Pick:
Against the spread: Eagles (+4)
Outright Win: Cowboys

Baltimore Ravens (+3) at New England Patriots

Who would have thought the Bill Bellichik coached Patriots will have so many lingering questions about them entering the playoffs. Their defense has been shaky all year long, while the offense has not been so far behind on inconsistency. No doubt, Tom Brady truly is the 'Comeback player of year' following his ACL reconstruction surgery that ended his season early in 2008. Still other injuries, both on offense and defense have not helped. The back-breaker of them all was Wes Welker going down in a meaningless game (for the Patriots in terms of playoff implications) in Week 17. Now, the best receiver behind Randy Moss for Brady to throw to is.....yup... Julian Edelmen, a rookie the Pats picked up in the 6th round of the 2009 NFL Draft. But the Patriots have a few other things going on for them. They have not lost a home game this regular season and their playoff home record is impeccable this decade. Well and they still have the genius game planner in Bellichik on their side. Also, they have never lost to the Ravens in their history ....ever.

The Ravens managed to control their path to the playoffs, finishing the season strong. But their once vaunted defense led by Ray Lewis has been showing indications of aging all season long. Ed Reed will be back to start here on and Ray Lewis will, no doubt, inspire them to play hard like there is no tomorrow. On offense, it seems like Joe Flacco has taken a few steps back since last year. The second year QB has been far from sharp for the second half of the season. He has not been helped by some drops by his receivers too, that cost the Ravens a game or two. In a way, this could work in favor of the Ravens as they will have to base their offense on their run game and that is the when they are the most dangerous, with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee running through tackles.

Somehow I think this game will come down to the final drive of the game.

My Pick:
Against the spread: Ravens (+3)
Outright Win: Patriots

Green Bay Packers (+1) at Arizona Cardinals

In this rematch from Week 17, the outcome of the last game should be thrown out the window. By the time the game kicked off, both teams knew they did not have much to play for and that they would be facing each other in the wild card round. Yet, both teams took contracting decisions in terms of their attitude towards the game. The Packers decided that it is still a game and that they play to win every game. They left their healthy starters in till the middle of the fourth quarter. Although they did not show much in terms of strategy, they still played hard the whole game. On the other hand, the Cardinals chose to mail it in even before the game began. The few starters they played were not in for a long time, except for the ones who had streaks and season records at stake, like Larry Fitzgerald. This very disparity in attitude helped the Packers pound out a 33-7 win over the Cards.

This week will be different. Not only will both teams play hard, but they will also have a game plan in place to execute. Both have potent passing games with Warner and Rodgers. But the Packers probably have the more balanced attack with Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson getting the chains moving on the ground. The Cardinals too do their due diligence in attempting to run Beenie Wells and Tim Hightower, but their bread and butter for success is their steady passing game when Kurt Warner is in rhythm.

The biggest match up the Cardinals will like to take advantage of is the Packers secondary. When the Cards line up in their 3 or 4 receiver sets (which they do more than 50% of their offensive snaps), the Packers will have Jarett Bush and Josh Bell on their 3rd and 4th receivers. That is where Warner will want to try and attack. Also, Warner is very effective against the blitz and if Dom Capers dials it up as he does regularly, Warner might just burn them.

The Packers will have to be wary of that on defense. They should have no problem shutting down the Cards run game with their big defensive fronts. The onus will be on the Linebackers to pressure Warner on pass rush and in coverage. They will have to disrupt his timing to throw him off. On offense, it behooves the Packers to stay as balanced as possible. But if the Packer defense allows the Cards to score fast, the Packer offense is potent enough to go on a shoot out. But that is a situation the Packs will try to avoid. The Packers O line will be key here, if they can protect Rodgers and also help in decent Blocking for the running backs, the offense should be fine for this game. Another area that can hurt the Packers is the special teams. Mason Crosby seems to have come around over the final 3 weeks of the regular season. Will he be able to sustain that through this game and maybe deeper in the playoffs? Also the Packers should be wary not to let a long punt/kick return that could kill them.

Finally, it's all about the turnovers come playoff time. The Packers lead the league in turnover differential (plus-24) for the regular season. While the Cardinals were a pedestrian (minus-7) in turnover differential, as usual, we do not know which Cardinals team will show up on that day. But for sure, the team that wins the turn over battle on Sunday will have a big edge on the game.

My Pick:
Against the spread: Packers (+1)
Outright Win: Packers

Record (without spread)
Last Week: 12-4
Final Regular season Record: 178-76