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?