October 27th, 2006
Last week: 6-6-1 Season: 51-43-6
Al last week: 4-8-1 Al season: 46-48-6
Jaguars @ Philly(-7)
Two teams with consistency issues coming off bad losses. A recipe for disaster, my coin says Philly.
Falcons @ Cincinnati(-3.5)
I think something is seriously wrong with the Bengals. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s just not right. Take the points.
Cardinals @ Green Bay(-4)
Arizona looked like they were still shell-shocked last week. Favre covers.
Texans @ Tennessee(-3)
Well, the Texans now have as many wins as they had all of last season. But I can’t imagine they’ll look good two weeks in a row. Titans.
Seahawks @ Kansas City(-6)
Seneca Wallace and no Alexander on the road in Arrowhead? Uhh, yeah, give the points.
Bucs @ New Jersey Giants(-9)
The Giants are pretty good, but Tampa’s been staying close to people and that’s just too many points. Plus, it’s not a divisional game.
Ravens @ New Orleans(-2)
Policy until further notice: Take the Saints at home this year.
Niners @ Chicago(-16)
Huge spread, but given how SF has been playing lately, I’d be surprised if the Bears’ D didn’t cover this by themselves.
Rams @ San Diego(-10)
Too rich for my blood; that’s just a pile of points! St. Louis.
Jets @ Cleveland(-2)
Err, how are the Browns favored? They suck. Take the points, all the way.
Colts @ Denver(-3)
Fascinating game. Will the Broncos’ great D be able to stop Manning and co.? Can the Denver offense do… anything? Vegas has no idea either, obviously, with the generic “home team by 3” spread. In general, I’m with the Broncos at home.
Steelers @ Oakland(+9)
I think with Batch, who has actually looked better lately than Big Ben, Pittsburgh covers.
Cowboys @ Carolina(-5.5)
I’m worried about this game, because it seems clear to me that the Cowboys are a train wreck, yet that’s always when they kill me. Dammit, I’m still picking the Panthers.
Patriots @ Minnesota(+2)
Vikings are showing signs of life, I’m actually going to take the points. That and I haven’t picked enough underdogs this week.
October 21st, 2006
Update on last week later…
Chargers @ Kansas City(+5)
This is a gift, I’ll gladly give five. I might have given ten.
Packers @ Miami(-5)
I’m not sure that I think the Dolphins are five points better than anybody, even if it is the hapless Packers. I’ll take the points.
Lions @ New Jersey Jest(-3.5)
Detroit on the road? No thanks.
Steelers @ Atlanta(+2.5)
I dunno, neither of these teams are clear in my head. Steelers, I guess.
Eagles @ Tampa Bay(+5)
Tampa’s showing some life lately, and Philly didn’t light it up last week or anything, but I think the Saints might actually be good. I’m going with the Eagles.
Patriots @ Buffalo(+5)
If they can’t beat the Lions, they’re done, those Bills. Pats.
Jaguars @ Houston(+9.5)
OK, they’re horrible. Jax wins, covers, humiliates the home team. I don’t think I’ll be able to watch, thankfully.
Panthers @ Bengals(-3)
Something is clearly wrong in Cinci, and the Panthers with Steve Smith seem to have the magic touch. I’ll take Carolina.
Broncos @ Cleveland(+4.5)
Man, lots and lots of home ‘dogs this week. Here’s another home dog with little hope. They might not get past midfield against the Denver D.
Cardinals @ Oakland(+3)
Man, that must smart, that game last week. But I believe my official policy this season is to not pick the Raiders, and I’m sticking to it.
Vikings @ Seattle(-6.5)
Sean Alexander still out? Then they don’t cover this.
Redskins @ Colts(-9)
You know what? I think the Colts are the better team. But I don’t think they’ll cover this. The Colts can’t stop the run, and the Redskins will run constantly and control the clock enough to keep Indy from running up the score.
Giants @ Dallas(-3.5)
Beating the crap out of Houston does not mean the Cowboys are actually good, and so far the G-men have been gold in divisional games, so I’m going with the Giants again.
October 13th, 2006
Last week: 6-6-2 Season: 40-29-5
Al last week: 7-5-2 Al season: 39-30-5
Bengals @ Tampa(+5.5)
I don’t know, I keep hearing how the Bucs really aren’t that bad. I think they are, and Cinci is coming off a bye.
Giants @ Atlanta(-3)
I think so far i’ve picked every Giants game this season wrong, so just do the opposite of what I do here and you’re set. So, Falcons off a bye, Giants off an easy-looking win… I’m thinking it’s a tie in my head, so I’ll take the points.
Titans @ Washington(-10.5)
I actually watched a fair amount of the Titans-Colts game, and the Titans didn’t look nearly as bad as they were supposed to be… but that was against the Colts run D, which (a) is weak, and (b) took the game off. Redskins cover.
Texans @ Dallas(-13)
Man, that’s a truckload of points. If the Texans had any defense whatsoever, I’d say that’s too many. However, with the T.O. factor, I’m going way out on a limb here and saying the Texans keep it just a smidge closer than this.
Carolina @ Baltimore(-3)
Toughest game on the board. The Ravens sure looked like crap last week, but a lot of teams look like crap at Denver in the regular season. The Panthers have the Steve Smith thing going, which makes them better, but they haven’t exactly been tearing it up, either. I dunno, I just can’t get too excited about the Baltimore offense. Panthers.
Bills @ Detroit(+1)
The Lions have to win one eventually… but I’m sure whenever that happens, it’ll be an upset and I won’t have picked it. Buffalo.
Seahawks @ St. Louis(+3)
A lot of people have been down on Seattle because of the utter beating they took at the hands of the Bears. But the Bears are really good! Ahh, but Alexander is still out and they’re still the Seabags on the road. Go Rams!
Eagles @ New Orleans(+3)
The Saints have been a nice story so far this season, but I think the Iggles are just better.
Dolphins @ New Jersey Jest(-2.5)
Hmm, Miami has no offense and the Jets have no defense. To borrow a line, the stoppable force meets the moveable object. Despite the beatdown last week, I’m picking the Jets again.
Chefs @ Pittsburgh(-7)
How is a team with not just the crappy record of the Steelers, but a team that’s really just looked bad, favored by a TD? Maybe they win, but not by 7.
Chargers @ San Francisco(+10)
The Bolts might not be the best team in the AFC right now, but they might be by the end of the season, and the Niners are going nowhere. Give the points.
Raiders @ Denver(-15)
Here’s how bad the Raiders are: the Broncos don’t even average 15 points a game, but that’s the spread. And you know what? There is no way I’m picking Oakland on the road.
Bears @ Arizona(+10.5)
The Bears have been lighting up bad teams like Christmas trees this year. And, hey, here’s another bad team. Chicago covers.
October 7th, 2006
Last week: 7-6-1 Season: 34-23-3
Al last week: 9-4-1 Al season: 32-25-3
Dolphins @ New England(-9.5)
That’s a lot of points, but the Dolphins are staggeringly bad. Pats.
Bucs @ New Orleans(-6.5)
Speaking of staggeringly bad, how about those Bucs? Yikes. Have to go with the Saints here.
Redskins @ New Jersey Giants(-4.5)
There’s something about both of these teams that disturbs me. Oh, yeah, it’s that I don’t trust either of them to do what I expect. There’s something about the Giants which worries me more, so I think I’ll take the points.
Bills @ Chicago(-10)
No way I’m picking against the Bears at home right now, even if it is a big spread.
Rams @ Green Bay(+3)
The Packers are really awful; St. Louis all the way.
Panthers @ Cleveland(+8)
The Browns are really bad, but I’m not ready to have Carolina give 8 on the road yet. Cleveland.
Titans @ Indy(-18)
Holy cow! Eighteen? That’s a college spread, like when Miami plays a 1-AA team. Err, well, I guess the Titans are the equivalent of a 1-AA team. I can’t give 18, though, no matter who’s involved, mostly because I think the Colts take this opportunity to hone their running game.
Vikings @ Detroit(+6.5)
In my head, I had this as Vikes by seven when I saw the matchup. Thus, thanks to that half-point, I have to take Minny.
Chefs @ Arizona(+3.5)
I don’t see how this spread is only three and a half. KC for me.
Raiders @ San Francisco(-3.5)
I also don’t see how this spread is only three and a half. Yeah, I guess the Niners aren’t very good, but that’s a far cry from “worst in the league,” which describes Oakland well. Niners.
Jets @ Jacksonville(-7)
Jax has looked a little shaky lately, and I love the fight the Jets are showing. Take the points, cross fingers.
Cowboys @ Philly(-2)
I turn off the TV or change the channel now whenever “that player” is discussed, so I have no idea what’s supposed to happen here. Aren’t Westbrook and Stallworth both nicked up? Hmm, then I have to take Dallas here.
Steelers @ San Diego(-3.5)
Yes, the Chargers blew it late last week, but the Ravens are, I think, better than the Steelers right now, and this game is a homer for the Bolts, so I’ll give the points.
Ravens @ Denver(-4)
Uhh, this seems like kind of an odd spread. I’ll take the points.
October 3rd, 2006
So, recently a couple friends of mine have asked me for my take on this year’s Michigan football team, who of course I’ve been watching intently this year. So, I’m answering blog-style.
First, I want to start off by saying that the Michigan-Notre Dame game was hands-down the best three and half hours I’ve spent in front of a television in ages. When Brady “Overrated” Quinn fumbled late and the Michigan D-linesman was chugging toward the end zone I was rooting him on enthusiastically. My wife asked why, since the game was about over and they already had a big lead, did it possibly matter? I just had to laugh. Beating up Notre Dame will never, ever get old, if only because we don’t do it enough. I still hate Lou Holtz when I see him on ESPN’s scoreboard show, but maybe that’s only because of the rocks in his mouth. (Seriously, listen to the guy talk…)
Anyway, on to the team. They have, of course, looked very strong. If they play the rest of the seaon like they played the ND game, or the second half against Wisconsin, or the first half against Minnesota, then I think there are very few teams who could hang with them. Given the quality of the rest of their schedule, only Iowa should be able to play even within 10 points of Michigan the until the annual battle with Ohio State.
The problem, of course, is that they’re Michigan, which means they’re prone to lapses and play far beneath that level, so anything can happen (see, for example, any game against Notre Dame in 87-91, the Kordell Stewart game, several games from last year including the bowl game, and so on). My buddy Karl pointed out that so far they’ve run the ball well and thrown deep well, but haven’t shown anything in the short passing game. The D-line looks great, but it’s not clear how good the linebackers and secondary really are. Rivas (the placekicker) is always an adventure, and I don’t mean that in a good way. So how good are they really?
I have to say, on offense they remind me of the 1970s Steelers: run the ball until the defense commits a safety to stopping the run, then throw deep. Henne has shown some amazingly perfect deep balls this year and Manningham seems to be problematic for college DBs right now, especially without safety help. He seems to double-move better than most college wideouts; on the TD against Notre Dame where scored on an out-and-up the corner bit so hard on the out I thought he might lose his jo…err, cleats.
Henne has completed 69 passes thus far, with 5 going to Hart and 13 to tight ends. That’s 26%. Not a lot of short throws, but maybe just enough to keep defenses honest. Frankly, I’d rather be able to run the ball on 3rd and 3 than have to pass every time, which is what they did last year. Michigan has 226 rushing attempts and 114 passing attempts so far this season. That’s a ratio I’m happy with. Do they really need a short passing game to win? I’m not sure.
I’m much more concerned about the Michigan DBs. The secondary certainly didn’t impress in the second half against the Gophers. I have to think that’s where the Michigan D is the most vulnerable. They certainly seem to get pressure on the quarterback and have been very stout against the run. I imagine Iowa’s Drew Tate will have seen the film on the Minnesota game, so I have some concerns there. And yes, if any game comes down to a late field goal, I think “be afraid” is indeed the order of the day.
So, what’s the upshot of all this? Well, yes, I can easily imagine Michigan going into the Ohio State game undefeated. But, if I’ve learned anything in my quarter-century of following Michigan football, it’s that they rarely live up to the early-season promise (in seasons where they have some). But I do think this is the most promising team since the ‘97 championship team. (That’s not too hard; frankly, my opinion was that no team starting John “batted down at the line of scrimmage” Navarre ever had all that much promise.)
Then, of course, there’s that big game in November. OSU looks like a juggernaut this year, plus the game’s in Columbus, plus the Buckeyes have really had our number since Tressel took over. All bad. The Maize and Blue were certainly ineffective stopping Troy Smith and Ted Ginn last year, something the rest of college football seems to be running into this year. Right now if OSU were to play Michigan in Columbus and I had to bet my life on it, I’d bet OSU, giving points. I have to think if they are indeed both undefeated it’ll be #1 vs. #2 or #3 and it will be the biggest non-Bowl game of the year even without the rivalry. The loser should still get a BCS bid. But we’re a long way from that kind of talk.
I just hope the Wolverines don’t screw it up vs. State this weekend. That would be so awful, and yet so like them. Coach ‘em up, Lloyd, and keep their eyes on the prize! Go Blue!
October 2nd, 2006
Courtesy of fark:
Parent criticizes book ‘Fahrenheit 451′
Mind-bending irony. No, it’s not an Onion piece. Really.