Friday, January 18, 2008

Playoff Pick'em Conference Championships

Well, after my undefeated first week, Durden and I were together on all the games last week which resulted in a whopping 1 win (thanks Giants).

Fortunately for you guys, I'm guaranteeing we will not get 3 games wrong again this week.

Sure, the NFL and all the broadcasters have a hard on at the mere thought of Tom Brady up against Brett Favre in the Super Bowl, with a perfect season on the line. But I’m rooting for the “these two quarterbacks were traded for each other just four years ago and now they’re playing against each other in the Super Bowl” storylines.

In case there was any doubt about what the underdogs are up against this week, let’s take a look at what Vegas has to say about the games… A $100 dollar parlay on the Chargers/Giants to both win outright would win you close to $3,000. Mmhmm, sooo there's that...

San Diego Chargers @ New England Patriots -14
Philip Rivers on the perception that he has a big mouth: "I'm aware of it. I really don't get too caught up in it. It's kind of surprising, really, to be honest with you. But, again, I'm out there having a good time as I did in the backyard since I was 5 years old. Why is it that when Brett Favre acts like a child, he’s made into a national hero?” OK, I made up that last statement but it’s true!

Interestingly enough, Rivers has become the closest thing these playoffs have had to a villain, and yet could also be close to our last hope at ending New England’s run.

Unfortunately, I just don’t think they were winning this game even with LDT and Gates being healthy, which they’re not. In my opinion, their only hope is to put Cromartie on Moss without help all game long, and go after Brady. Of course, Ted Cottrell has been reluctant to blitz with Merriman and Phillips but it probably won’t matter if they don’t opt for this type of game plan.
Pick: Patriots -14

Mazzone: First Tony Romo's trip to Mexico ruins Dallas' season and now Randy Moss beating on some women will destroy the Patriots' season. That's my story and I'm sticking to it, sort of...

Way back in the first half of the season Bill Simmons mentioned how the Dolphins trading Chris Chambers to the Chargers was part of an elaborate plan to keep the Patriots from an undefeated season. We all thought he was just being his usual jackass self in not recognizing that, at the time of the trade, the Patriots had already destroyed the Chargers and still had the Dolphins left on their schedule – thus actually aiding the Patriots efforts at an undefeated regular season.

But now, now the Dolphins glorious plan is falling into place. Gates is hobbling, Tomlinson is limping, Rivers is banged up, but Chambers… Chambers is full speed and ready to dominate the AFC Championship game just as the Dolphins had hoped when they traded him.

On a more serious note, it could probably go without saying that the Chargers have little chance of escaping New England with a win. But we said the same last week and Igor Olshansky will tell you otherwise, they certainly have enough motivation (history between the teams, the Patriots being unbeaten, oh yea and a trip to the Super Bowl…kind of a big deal too) and they have the talent on both sides of the ball to get it done as well. It’s not like they don’t stack up well with the Ravens, Eagles, Colts, and Giants who have given the Pats some trouble.

I don’t truly believe the Chargers will win this game (mostly because Rivers usually sucks when he's healthy let alone with a bum knee), but being a fan of Chris Chambers, loathing the Patriots and their shot at a perfect season, and now living in San Diego, it’s pretty easy to root almost as if it we’re the Miami Football Dolphins in the championship game. So, here’s to Merriman passing around the steroids this week and to me regaining my belief in football.
Pick: SUPER Chargers +14

New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers -7.5
Oh my gawd, did you see Brett gunsling a snowball at Donald last week?!?! It was like two little…wait for it…LITTLE KIDS!!!!!

OK, this one’s gonna be a good one, because like I said last week, none of these NFC teams should be favored by more than a touchdown over each other. While I do think the Packers will win, it may be a lot to ask for Green Bay to keep carrying Brett Favre, especially if the real Favre shows up and starts throwing balls up for grabs.

Regardless though, the Giants actually have a great shot to win and this is the game you’re going to want to get your popcorn ready for. Just don’t eat TO’s because that’s not fair, man. If you guys do that, it’s really unfair. It’s really unfair, man. That’s his popcorn…man. And don’t worry Cowboy fans, rumor has it that Jessica Simpson will not be at the game, so you’ll have to blame someone else if Dallas doesn’t win this one.
Pick: Giants +7.5

Mazzone: Last week I showed you a video of a children’s cult cute little kids willingly dressed in Green Bay gear and singing about their beloved Pack. Here’s what happens if you don’t participate.

It’s going to be difficult to win in the snow, in Lambeau, without Seinfeld, and with Favre sliding around and tossing no look shovel passes like he’s a kid on the playground, but hopefully the Giants are up to the task.

I’m enjoying the Giants postseason run for a few reasons. First, I mentioned them as a possible Super Bowl team earlier in the year. Second, now that I left New Jersey for the West Coast, the Giants winning some games is much more tolerable. Especially since most Giants’ fans (up until two weeks ago) hate Eli Manning, as does the media - at least compared to Favre/Brady. I also love the aspect of every single drive from here until he wins a Super Bowl being a “defining drive in Eli Manning’s career.” At last count he’s up to 39 career defining drives and should be good for a few more this weekend. And lastly, it's nice to see the football Gods rewarding the Giants for actually giving a crap against the Patriots.

And nobody gives a crap more than Osi Umenyiora, literally. Whether that story is true or not, let’s hope he celebrates each and every sack by shitting all over Brett Favre.
Pick: Giants +7.5

Enjoy the games and believe in football.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Playoff Pick 'em Week 2

Alright, I'm coming off a 3-0-1 week in the first round and feel invincible heading into round two. Durden only missed the 'Skins game last week, but it's not his fault that Sean Taylor's ghost gave up late in the game, no one could have predicted that.

On to the games, where oddly enough our picks are identical this week so 4-0 is pretty much guaranteed! Enjoy your winnings...

Seattle Seahawks
@ Green Bay Packers -7.5
Durden: Brett Favre says he plans to return for an 18th season in 2008. "I want to continue the streak and winning," Favre told the Biloxi Sun Herald. "When I talk about the streak, it's not the consecutive starts; it's the hot streak we are on." Of course that’s all it is, Brett, we believe you. As for the game, I maintain that it’s hard to know which Seattle team will show up from week to week. However, assuming the Seahawks show up at all, the difference between these two teams is marginal. We want the points and we’re going to win!
Pick: Seahawks +7.5

Mazzone: I was figuring the Packers for a blowout in this game all week, but a couple things - completely unrelated to the actual game/matchup - changed my mind. The first is that I still absolutely love “We want the ball and we’re gonna score!” That’s the stuff legends are made of and it’s just plain fun. So it didn’t work out, Hasselbeck is still ok in my book for now and forever. Without that moment he’d have just been another above average but mostly irrelevant QB on another above average but mostly irrelevant team and I’d have no problem laying the points. As for the other thing that made me want to take the Seahawks, here you go. If you’re not from Green Bay, be ready to throw up…
Pick: Seahawks +7.5

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots -13.5
Durden: Fred Taylor initially considered turning down a Pro Bowl invitation if either Tomlinson, Addai or Parker couldn't make the trip for the Feb. 10 game -- he even said "maybe the Pro Bowl doesn't deserve Fred Taylor" -- but his wife convinced him otherwise. Boooo, Fred Taylor’s wife. That was the best 3rd person proclamation I’ve heard in a long time.

Anyway, this is the matchup I was hoping for, as I felt the Jaguars had a better shot to beat the Pats than the Steelers or Titans did. Were it not for the Jags’ meltdown last week, my wishful thinking was all I needed to pick them here. Unfortunately, that second half scared me enough to go with New England instead. I really hope I’m wrong, but the Patriots are coming off an extra week of rest and preparation for the first time all season. Worse for Jacksonville, NE won’t be forcing passes just to break records and is free to just play its game, for the first time in weeks. That concerns me more than anything.
Pick: Patriots -13.5

**Editors note: Fred Taylor is very underrated as far as being quotable - “maybe the Pro Bowl doesn’t deserve Fred Taylor” is solid, and "I didn't think I needed a shrink. I'm not a nut case. But I told them, I'll do it anyway. If it's free, it's me." Is downright spectacular.

Mazzone: Last week’s game with the Steelers was pretty much a repeat of the first matchup and while most will say the Jaguars were lucky to escape, I’m more inclined to give them credit for surviving. It’s not easy to beat a team twice on the road in a few short weeks, especially in a playoff atmosphere during a close game. Nonetheless, I’m sticking by my “playoffs are where game managers go to die” theory. Garrard almost cost them the game last week with the interceptions that let the Steelers back in the game and he only made one real big play and had a little help from the officials on that one. You can’t make mistakes and you have to make big plays to come close against the Pats. You better believe they are going to sell out on stopping MJD/Fred Taylor and force Garrard to beat them. I think this one gets ugly in a hurry unless one of two things happens. The Jags get big special teams plays from MJD, or the Pats/Brady just come out explicably slow.
Pick: Patriots -13.5

San Diego Chargers @ Indianapolis Colts -9
Durden: Not only am I deferring my wishful thinking pick to the Colts here, but the absence of Antonio Gates makes this a no-brainer for me. Indy needs to look strong in this one because they represent our (the free world’s) last hope.
Pick: Colts -9

Mazzone: Prior to the playoffs I had future bets on both these teams to win the Super Bowl, but much more significant one on the Colts (because this team is significantly better than last year's that won the Championship), so I’m partial here.

That being said, Marvin Harrison is back for the Colts, and Antonio Gates is out for the Chargers making this an easy pick for me, despite rooting for Chambers to be successful. If they played in San Diego and Gates was healthy they may have had a shot. As it stands, this one’s not even going to be close. I’m just rooting for a nice friendly scrimmage where Peyton and Marvin can get their timing down and everyone stays healthy so they can go into New England and take care of business.
Pick: Colts -9

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys -7.5
Forget whatshername for a second. It may interest Terry Bradshaw, but I really don’t care what Romo, Witten and her father do with her in Mexico. I still simply refuse to believe Tony Romo is as good as everyone else seems to think he is.

What I am curious to see, is which receiver in this game plays up his injury more. Between Plax pretending to be hurt all year and letting us all know about it, TO’s latest injury, and Terry Glenn possibly playing for the first time all year, it’s going to be a heated battle for sure. I’m sure TO is less than 100% though, so I’m looking forward to seeing how great Romo is if the Giants do an adequate job of covering Witten. So if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m taking the Giants. Really though, I just don’t think any NFC team should be favored by 7 or more in the playoffs.
Pick: Giants +7.5

As much as the pictures of Romo fumbling the snap and crying would be amusing, there isn’t any part of me that wants to see a Dallas/Seahawks rematch. At the same time I don’t think I could tolerate Romo/Favre either. The solution… Let’s Go Eli!!!!!!!!!

This week’s trendy pick makes sense on a few levels, but probably not the most important one. The Cowboys are simply the better team, not to mention they’re healthier, even with TO hobbled – we’ve seen him perform on one leg before, so this shouldn’t be a big deal. Also, the Giants are coming off essentially three playoff/grueling games with big implications in a row, do they have anything left?

Recently, I heard Julius Jones was a great change of pace back for Marion Barber. Yea, something like that. I propose calling Julius Jones the first ever game manager at the running back position. He’ll get you 3-4 yards for the most part and won’t fumble, but don’t expect much more.

So, we know the Giants can get to Romo, and we know there’s a chance TO could struggle or re-injure himself. We also know the Cowboys insist on giving Julius Jones 10-15 touches a game. Since he’s a game manager now and the playoffs are where game managers go to die, you gotta like the Giants here.

Besides, it’d be fitting for Romo’s legacy to follow up last year’s fumble with another gut-wrenching loss this season. And the media has already started second guessing and writing the obligatory “should Tony Romo have spent the week having sex with Jessica Simpson in Mexico when he could have spent the week having sex with Jessica Simpson in Dallas?” articles.
Pick: Giants +7.5

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Playoff Pick'em!

Well, I finished the season as poorly as I started, but at least I can take solace in the fact that no self respecting gambler would bet serious money on the last week of the regular season. The 5-10-1 finish was the perfect end to an embarrassing pick’em performance and pushed me under .500 season (121-124-11).

Next to me, Durden looks like a genius sitting at just under 53 percent for the year (135-110-11). A minor victory in a solid, but disappointing season that saw him finish second in both his fantasy leagues (including a 15-0 team losing in the finals), and finishing 3rd in his survivor pool.

Fortunately, for the good of our readers, we’ve decided to continue with the postseason picks, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll bet with Durden in the games we have different and make some money.

Washington Redskins @ Seattle Seahawks -3.5
Durden: Todd Collins is so old, when he was in school, there was no history class. He’s so old, that when he was born, the Dead Sea was just getting sick. And yet as long as he gets adequate protection, he’s going to lead the Redskins to a win, as they’re hitting their stride at just the right time. Of course, the Seahawks are fully capable of winning this game at home if they decide to show up, but they’re also the most consistently inconsistent team in the league. I’m sick of them getting a free pass to the playoffs every year because of their weak division, and I think the Redskins will expose them for the frauds that they are.
Pick: Redskins +3.5

Mazzone: Sean Taylor was the first player ever voted to the Pro Bowl team posthumously and now he’s been replaced. That alone doesn’t make much sense to me. Toss in that it’s Roy Williams taking his spot and I can’t help but think that’s a slap in the face. Not only is Roy Williams not too fond of covering people, but he also can’t tackle legally anymore with the institution of the Roy Williams horse collar rule a couple years ago.

Anyway, I wanted to pick the Redskins, and I still may by the time I place my bet on Saturday, but for now it’s tough not to like Seattle who’s something along the lines of 24-3 at home, including the playoffs (3-0). So, I’m going with the Seahawks in this game, but leaving the option open to posthumously vote the Redskins back in next week…and maybe even replace them with the Vikings.
Pick: Seahawks -3.5

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers +2
Durden: Remember when the Steelers were supposed to challenge the Pats for AFC supremacy? Hey Pittsburgh: enjoy those low draft picks and the first place schedule next year, with nothing but a lousy performance in the wild card round to show for it.
Pick: Jaguars -2

Mazzone: Everyone wants to see Jags/Patriots. The Jags manhandled Pittsburgh, in Pittsburgh weather, on a terrible field last time they were in town. This time the McBeams will be without Willie Parker, and the offensive line is banged up as well. Roethlisberger is already among the most hurried/hit/sacked qbs in the NFL and could be in for a long day. So obviously I’m taking the Steelers… what?!

I don’t think they’ll take too kindly to being underdogs at home. Also, the playoffs are where “game managers” at the QB position go to die, with exception of the great Trent Dilfer. So, I expect Garrard to not be able to come up with the big play when needed, or turn the ball over in a big spot. On the flipside, I like Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes for some big plays to spark the crowd and open up the running game, maybe a quadruple reverse into a forward pass or something else festive that we’ve come to expect from Pittsburgh. Ok, once I start using “on the flipside” to transition, I know it’s time to move onto another game…
Pick: Steelers +2

New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3
Is Tampa trying to draw the ire of the football gods? Between not really playing out their schedule, and trying to keep all 4 Giant fans who were interested in going from attending this Saturday’s game, it would appear that they’re not interested in positive karmic forces. Meanwhile, Burress has stopped pretending he’s hurt, and the Giants have been mostly impressive over the course of their last 5 quarters. The Bucs stops here!
Pick: Giants +3

Mazzone: This is the trendy pick for the upset special (since the Jags are favored) and it’s easy to see why. It’s the ideal matchup for the Giants because Eli can play like absolute crap and they could still win since the Bucs don’t typically put up a lot of points - especially against a defense like the Giants’. I think the Giants will pull this one out. I just haven’t decided if they squeak out a win with Eli playing poorly or if he plays great this week to get everyone’s hopes up and then shits the bed next week. Either way I think we’re looking at a couple playoff games of analysts saying “If Eli manning is ever going to be a star and lead this team he needs to step up and do it today by playing well”. Roughly games 15 and 16 of his career where he “needs to prove he’s an elite qb”.

And if that's not good enough, this video should do the trick, as Tecmo Bowl has never lied to or let anyone down...ever.
Pick: Giants +3

Tennessee Titans @ San Diego Chargers -9

I was initially inclined to give the Titans these points, but I just couldn’t ignore how underwhelming they were against the Jets and then the Colts’ backups. To make matters worse, their pass game has since lost multiple weapons (for lack of a better word) , which is the last thing an already anemic “attack” needed. Not even Albert Haynesworth putting his foot down will be enough.
Pick: Chargers -9

The discrepancy in the defensive numbers, both team and individual, with Haynesworth vs. without is astounding. He’s an absolute animal and really does make everyone around him better. And with Vince Young always winning big games this should be a piece of cake for the Titans, but the Chargers are hot at the right time and dominant at home. Neither of these QB’s should be allowed to throw it more than 15 times, but at least Rivers has several guys who will go up and make plays for him. I feel good about the Titans being one and done, the question is whether or not they keep it close enough to cover. I have visions of Vince Young sitting by himself and pouting - maybe even pulling himself out with an ‘injury’ after getting hit over and over again, so…
Pick: Chargers -9

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Week 17 Pick 'em

I gained 4 games on Durden last week and we're both looking at seasons above .500, but nothing to really get excited about.

I'd like to preface these picks by saying I don't even know who's actually going to play for most of the teams so to quote the Gin Blossoms, "don't expect too much from me and you might not be let down".

Also, anyone who bets significant money on these games is an idiot, and you're probably the same person that bets on preseason games. But, we have a job to do, so here are our week 17 picks.

New England Patriots
@ New York Giants +13.5
Durden: Regardless of what happens, it’s important that everyone remembers this.
Pick: Patriots -13.5

Mazzone: Please God, let them lose in the playoffs.
Pick: Patriots -13.5

Buffalo Bills @ Philadelphia Eagles -7.5
Too little, too late, for the Eagles. It’s too bad, because while I fully expect Dallas and Green Bay to meet in the NFC Championship game, I think Philly is playing better than the other NFC playoff teams and would’ve stood the best chance to upset that scenario. Pick: Eagles -7.5

Trent Edwards dedicated last week’s game to Kevin Everett, or at least the first two drives anyway. With that out of the way and much less pressure this week, he should be able to keep it close with the iggles.
Pick: Bills +7.5

Carolina Panthers @
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +2.5
Durden: This game is the first of several this week, where we have to guess if either team is resting its key players and/or is at all motivated. Fortunately, Jon Gruden threw us all a bone this week and made it known he’ll be resting his starters. I’ll take Matt Moore and the rest of the pesky (of late) Panthers.
Pick: Panthers -2.5

Mazzone: Even against the Bucs C-team, I just don’t feel comfortable taking the Panthers and some guy I’ve never actually seen throw an NFL pass.
Pick: Bucs +2.5

Cincinnati Bengals @ Miami Dolphins +3
Durden: Tough game for Joey Porter, a guy whose mouth and style is more suited to 7 on 1, than 11 v 11. He and Levi Jones on the field for the first time since that happened will likely be uneventful, but I’m looking forward to Porter at least talking $hit while he’s “held back.”

In other Dolphin news, Bill Parcells recently had this to say about the kind of players he wants: "If football is not their most important thing to them other than their immediate family, then I'm probably not going to be interested in them," Parcells said Friday. "That's the why I am. And I want people around me that are like that." That’s right, Bill Parcells wants players who are on a mission. Unfortunately for John Beck, it’s not THAT kind of mission.
Pick: Bengals -3

All accounts seem to have Cam Cameron not resting his starters this week, a peculiar decision, but one that should pay off with a win.
Pick: Dolphins +3

San Francisco 49ers @ Cleveland Browns -10
While I would take great pleasure in the Browns not winning a game all year, a close second might have to be them coming this close to the playoffs and having nothing to show for it, but low draft picks. I’ll root happily for them to beat up on the 49ers (who have been forced to play Chris Weinke), as I wait to root like hell for the Titans. Lastly, it appears some people are finally starting to wonder if Derek Anderson actually isn’t the best QB of all time. Good times.
Pick: Browns -10

Mazzone: I’m not going to lie, I think Derek Anderson competing with Kyle Boller in Raven camp next year would make for great tv…or at least youtube. So, I’m rooting for that. Durden’s furious reaction to the signing would just be a bonus.
Pick: Browns -10

Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers -4
I’m guessing the Lions starters are better than the Packers’ backups.
Pick: Lions +4

Mazzone: Durden tells me Aaron Rodgers is better than Brett Favre. I’m on board with that. Help get the word out!
Pick: Packers -4

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans -6.5

I hate to pick against the Jags who are playing incredibly well right now, but I think the Texans will end their season on a high note, while Jacksonville could care less about this game.
Pick: Texans -6.5

Mazzone: I said above .500 wasn’t out of the realm of possibility for my semi sleeper Texans. Well, now it is, but 8-8 in the toughest division in football wouldn’t be a bad season for this team. especially when you consider the injuries on offense throughout the year. I think they win here, but the Jags do enough to cover.
Pick: Jags +6.5

New Orleans Saints @ Chicago Bears +2.5
At this point, I feel good about my prediction that had the Saints narrowly missing the playoffs. They won’t have to worry about outside help, because they won’t even hold up their own end of the task at Chicago.
Pick: Bears +2.5

Mazzone: What if da Bears were all 14 inches tall? What’s your score of today’s game? Ok, another scenario, da Bears – they don’t make it, their plane is delayed, and the only one who shows up is Ditka.
Pick: Mini Kyle Orton +2.5

Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons -2.5
Durden: A few weeks ago, I was forced to start rooting for bad teams to win around the league once I realized the Ravens were going to try and see how many games they could lose in a row. The Seahawks are probably going to rest players in this game, but I’m pretty sure the Falcons have been without key players since August, so that could not matter much. Therefore, I’m just going to pick the Falcons, hoping that they slide past Baltimore in the draft order.
Pick: Falcons -2.5

Warrick Dunn has a year left on his contract and will play football next season, recently saying, “I can’t go out like this.” Yet, he hasn’t demanded to be released or traded, so he must be planning on at least two more years.
Pick: Seahawks +2.5

Kansas City Chiefs
@ New York Jets -6
This is my favorite game of the week, as these are two of the few teams that are as bad as the Ravens, and one will be forced to win. It’s not easy to go from 13-3, to a Top 5 draft pick, but the Ravens just might pull it off with a little luck!
Pick: Chiefs +6

Mazzone: Herman Edwards is back in a big time revenge game with all sorts of draft pick implications and he’s getting 6 points! If you are stupid enough to be a lot of money this week, this has to be the lock of the century of the week!
Pick: Chiefs +6

Minnesota Vikings @ Denver Broncos +3

Durden: In spite of the Vikings’ poor performance last week, I still refuse to pick the Broncos, as promised last week.
Pick: Vikings -3

The Broncos were a complete abomination last week, I should have heeded Durden’s advice. Vikes weren’t any better, but they still have a shot at the postseason and can’t possibly let Tarvaris throw it more than 6 times this week with how bad Denver is against the run. Problem is, even 6 times may be too much with Bailey and Bly waiting.
Pick: Vikings -3

San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders +8
Durden: Philip Rivers is bad at making friends. Pretty cavalier of him, considering his own RB can’t stand to look at him.

I did want to note that while JaMarcus Russell starting makes it easy to pick the Chargers, I think the Raiders are making the right decision. Maybe Lane Kiffin simply has the job security to do so, but I look at a team like the Eagles and wonder why they don’t just give Kolb a game.
Pick: Chargers -8

Mazzone: The Chargers kinda still need this game as a win allows them to lose to the Colts in the 2nd round, instead of having to fly across country to New England and lose in the cold weather.
Pick: Chargers -8

St. Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals -6
Durden: As Mazzone might say, “whatever.”
Pick: Cardinals -6

Mazzone: I couldn’t have said it much better myself, except I like the Rams. As much as one could like the Rams anyway. Maybe what I should say is, I don't like the Cards so it's the Rams by default. Ok, moving on...
Pick: Rams +6

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens +4
Durden: Little Ben is smart to sit this one out, as he’s never been able to play a full game vs the Ravens in his career. See Joey Porter? It is possible to be a coward without ganging up and jumping a defenseless man.
Pick: Steelers -4

The Ravens are the new Dolphins.
Pick: Steelers -4

Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins -9
Durden: I’ll have a Todd Collins, please.
Pick: Redskins -9

First the Pro Bowl, now the NFL is trying to vote Sean Taylor’s spirit into the postseason. Fortunately, the Cowboys are playing backups by choice and they’re better than the Redskins backups that they are playing because they have to.
Pick: Cowboys +9

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts +6
Durden: Go Titans!!!!!!!!!
Pick: Titans -6

No one really wants the Browns in the playoffs, and Jim Sorgi doesn’t want to be taken seriously, so I expect him to do the right thing. If the booth for this game doesn’t show me Vince Young at Texas and tell me (at least 25 times) how he lives for big games, I’m going to be really disappointed.
Pick: Titans -6

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Week 16 Pick 'em

The Miami Football Dolphins are back! Faith is restored! Believe in football! At least that's what I'm sayin' heading into week 16. Not only that, but I am among those who can now say they were screwed by Jessica Simpson. Like thousands of others, Romo's performance cost me my playoff matchup and I'm now headed to the consolation third place game. The bright side is I've elected to have Cleo Lemon, Greg Camarillo and the Miami Defense lead me into battle, so I'm pretty much assured of a win.

I gained a game on Durden last week, but this competition is all but over as he has a commanding lead
119-95-10 to 107-107-10.

Dallas Cowboys @ Carolina Panthers +10

"The real me is a southern girl with her Levis on and an open heart
Wish I could save the world, like I was super girl
The real me used to laugh all night lyin' in the grass just talking about love
But lately I've been jaded - life got so complicated..."

Pick: Mr. Jessica Simpson -10

Damn, the way everyone’s reacting to this, you’d think TO faked a suicide or a something. Hey, it takes a distraction to know one, right?
Pick: Cowboys -10

Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals +3
Mazzone: I feel pretty good about the Browns not finishing 11-5, but they should have no trouble with the Niners at home next week. So, that means the Bengals play the role of mini-spoiler this week and prevent Cleveland from clinching a playoff spot with a win. Regardless of the outcome, let's hope they come close repeating the week two 51-45 offensive explosion.
Pick: Bengals +3

Durden: Not only are the Browns and Steelers almost certainly going to the playoffs, but I can’t even take solace in the fact that they’re almost just as certainly not winning the Super Bowl. This of course, is because the *&!@%&# Patriots are likely to eliminate one or both in January, which takes some of the fun out of it.

I hate to pick the Browns to win Sunday and clinch their playoff berth, but if they don’t vs Cincy, they’ll just do it next week vs San Francisco. The inclement weather they’re expecting will hurt the Browns less than it will the Bengals, and it’s an advantage Cleveland probably won’t even need. In other news, I just realized my favorite teams have temporarily become Indy, Jacksonville and San Diego.
Pick: Browns -3

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears +8
Mazzone: So, I guess at some point I have to believe in the Packers but I'm still rooting strongly against a Green Bay/New England Super Bowl.

If I'm a Bears fan I'm trying to talk myself into this season being the result of injuries on defense, but deep down it'd be tough to ignore my complete lack of faith in the QB and RB positions. The best thing going for the Bears is that they play in the NFC, and it's possible the Packers' and Vikings' seasons were mirages.
Pick: Packers -8

Durden: After watching Kyle Orton’s “performance” (for lack of a better word), I fully expected some internet freak to come out with a “Leave Rex Grossman Alone” tape. As bad as the Sex Cannon has been in the past, he just isn’t as bad as Orton, and that was against the worst pass defense in the league. Kampman, Woodson and company are going to have a field day this Sunday.
Pick: Packers -8

Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts -7
Mazzone: If they were in any other division in football the Texans would be looking at a pretty successful season, as it stands they're going to end up in last most likely - which bodes well for next year's schedule outside the division at least.

But that's next year, this game seems easy as I don't expect either team to repeat last weeks performance where the Texans handled Denver easily and the Colts struggled mightily to move the ball in Oakland.
Pick: Colts -7

Disclaimer: the only thing you should take from us on this game is that Mazzone and I have almost always disagreed on the Texans this year, and he’s almost always been right. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to predict the Colts to let up because they’re locked into the 2 seed, but I don’t see it happening.
Pick: Colts -7

Kansas City Chiefs @ Detroit Lions -4.5
Mazzone: If you're forced to watch this one, at least you can compare Dwayne Bowe to Calvin Johnson. Johnson has been far less a factor than I thought he'd be and his inconsistency is disappointing, but I still expect him to develop into a superb wide receiver before all is said and done. Bowe on the other hand has surprised me and he looks like he could be a legit number 1 receiver as well. This one's tough to pick, but the Chiefs have the best player playing in this game (Jared Allen) and we know Herman Edwards plays to win the game, so there's that. Also, God has clearly given up on Jon Kitna and the Lions so...
Pick: Chiefs +4.5

It’s almost Christmas, but seeing as how God didn’t give the Lions the 10 wins Kitna asked for, is there any hope for the rest of us to get what we asked for? I’m skeptical, but Herm Edwards has a message for us: Get over it!
Pick: Chiefs +4.5

New York Giants @ Buffalo Bills +2.5
Mazzone: Geez, Eli and the Giants look downright pitiful nowadays. I thought the opposite would happen and they'd gel into an NFC championship contender as the season went on. Even so, I've never thought much of the Bills, and their loss in the blizzard last week leaves them with nothing to play for whereas the Giants can clinch a playoff berth with a win.
Pick: Giants -2.5

Unless the Giants are planning on beating the Patriots next week, they need to beat Buffalo in rainy conditions to control their own playoff destiny. However, they won’t just be up against the rain, as there will be a miracle man in the house. Kevin Everett returns to Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first time since his spinal cord injury, giving new meaning to walking on water.
Pick: Bills +2.5

Oakland Raiders @ Jacksonville Jaguars -13
Mazzone: Count me among the many that were impressed by the Jags convincing win last week. Save for a bad Garrard INT (he's entitled to one) the game was pretty much all Jaguars. Fred Taylor is putting together a solid season which will continue to go unnoticed by the vast majority of fans - even Reggie Williams has shown up at times. The loss of Marcus Stroud hurts their long term playoff chances, but they should have few problems with the Fargas-less Raiders this week.
Pick: Jaguars -13

Durden: This line seems high, but the Jags have been incredibly impressive since losing to the Saints in Week 9. While it doesn’t seem as if the Raiders have quit on their season, I don’t see the mixing and matching of QBs and RBs working out for them very well on the road this Sunday. I did want to point out a (very) little known fact though. Did you know that Justin Fargas is Huggy Bear’s son?? I can’t believe we don’t hear more about that.
Pick: Jaguars -13

Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints -3.5

Mazzone: Great matchup for the Eagles, there is no way McNabb doesn't have a huge game against this secondary and you know Andy Reid is going to put the ball in the air.
Pick: Eagles+3.5

Durden: The Eagles are another team that I have just not been able to figure out this year. Therefore, I’m just going to stick to my beliefs from earlier this season, which were that any success the Saints had would be a function of their schedule and that they’d tease people into thinking they were for real, before missing the playoffs.
Pick: Eagles +3.5

Atlanta Falcons @ Arizona Cardinals -10
Mazzone: Whatever.
Pick: Cardinals -10

It’s funny that the Cardinals are giving anybody 10 points, but that’s what it’s come to for the Falcons. It’s also funny that the biggest loser of the Bobby Petrino Saga may have been Brian Brohm, who is surely less likely to be drafted by the Falcons now. Of course, this might then make me the biggest loser if he falls to the Ravens and they draft him.
Pick: Cardinals -10

Baltimore Ravens @ Seattle Seahawks -10
Mazzone: Durden may win the pick 'em war, but I won the battle! His Ravens lost TPS Bowl I in a thriller, but you can't blame them for not being able to stop Cleo Lemon and Greg Camarillo. Cam Cam had worked with both of them in San Diego and it was only a matter of time before that ex-Charger triad put it all together.

The Ravens seem to have really given up after the loss to the Patriots, and now Troy Smith gets the start which should help them improve upon their draft position.
Pick: Seahawks -10

While I’ve been quick to point out the Ravens’ injuries and lack of depth, they’ve also clearly given up on their season once the Patriot game didn’t go their way. This was evident for everyone to see as they rolled over against the Dolphins in TPS Bowl I and mailed in another embarrassing performance. Brian Billick may PLAY TO TIE THE GAME, but he won’t be given the chance on Sunday. Thanks guys.
Pick: Seahawks -10

New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans -8.5
Mazzone: The Titans need this win, and they're fortunate to have the Jets on the schedule since Vince Young and company have only beaten one team with a record above .500 (Jax in week 1, 13-10). Even though the Jets are terrible, have nothing to play for, and three of the eight Titans' wins this season are by more than 8 points (Chiefs by 9 last week, the Panthers by 13 in week 8, and the Saints by 17 in week 3), 8.5 still seems a little high to me as I haven't been overly impressed with TN the past couple weeks.
Pick: Jets +8.5

Durden: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Albert Haynesworth sometimes just wins football games!
Pick: Titans -8.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ San Francisco 49ers +6

Mazzone: The Niners win last week could prove to be detrimental to New England's draft position. I'm sure Belichick put in a phone call and persuaded Shaun Hill to stop trying to play hero.
Pick: Bucs -6

Really Vegas? The 49ers are getting less than a touch? I know you should avoid betting against Shaun Hill at home, at all costs, but I’m going to roll the dice here.
Pick: Buccaneers -6

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots -22
Mazzone: As if close calls against AJ Feeley, Kyle Boller, and Chad Pennington weren't enough, we can officially put all the talk to rest about the Patriots being the greatest ever when Cleo Lemon rolls into town and beats them on their own turf.
Pick: Dolphins +22

As Mazzone wrote in his latest entry, he’s excited. First, his Dolphins finally won their first game in over a year, capped off by a play that rocked Fantasy Playoffs all across the country: Cleo Lemon to Greg Camarillo for 64 yards. Now, they’ve hired Bill Parcells to shop for someone else’s groceries, and I really can’t blame him for being far more excited about the Dolphins than he was a week ago.

However, Mazzone’s not one to stay satisfied for long and he’s fully expecting a win on Sunday, at New England. I couldn’t disagree more, considering that the Pats have been relatively dormant for several weeks now, and we all saw what happened in the first meeting. I don’t think Belichick’s forgotten Don Shula’s comments earlier this year and the Patriots are gonna “wake up” in a big way on Sunday, assuming the weather cooperates.

Finally, I’ll leave you with Vonnie Holliday’s recap of last Sunday’s epic play: "It was like watching one of those plays in slow motion, and it's the Super Bowl and the miraculous catch and all those things," Holliday said. "It was up there like that for us. Maybe not for everybody else, but for us it was up there with all those great catches -- Dwight Clark and all those guys."

Pick: Patriots -22

**Editors Note: Suck it!

Washington Redskins @ Minnesota Vikings -6.5
Mazzone: It's certainly tragic that his life was cut short, but I don't care what anyone says - Sean Taylor's spirit being voted to the Pro Bowl is freakin' lame.

Adrian Peterson continues to make his case to be the number 1 overall fantasy pick next season - let's just hope Madden keeps him off the cover.
Pick: Vikings +6.5

Unfortunately, it takes an event like this to remind us how important it is to tell our friends and family how much we care about them…before they go to a football game.
Pick: Vikings -6.5

Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers -8.5
Mazzone: Regardless of the score, I could see this being a short night for a lot of the Charger starters, with the Division already wrapped up and Merriman/Rivers/Turner already nursing injuries.
Pick: Broncos +8.5

Not much to say here, except that after last week, I refuse to take the Broncos for the rest of the season.
Pick: Chargers -8.5

Welcome Bill Parcells!

I'm not saying Bill Parcells is a bandwagoner, but come on. He joins a team that hasn't lost since December 9th, had Jason Taylor named to the pro bowl this week, and Cleo Lemon named the AFC offensive player of the week - not to mention they have an easy game coming up against one of his former teams, the lowly Patriots. Now he's going to try and take credit for all the upcoming success!

In all seriousness though, this is a pretty huge move and I couldn't be more thrilled. Parcells has had success everywhere he's gone, he even made people take the pathetic Jets seriously for a few years.

We've heard about the coaching tree including Belichick, Sean Payton, and Tom Coughlin, but more importantly wherever he's gone he's had an incredible eye for talent and turned some awful teams into Super Bowl contenders extremely quickly.
I was overly optomistic when Saban was brought to town but I hope this is different given Parcells' history and proven success at the NFL level.

A lot of people have been down on Wayne Huizenga for the last several years and most recently for his brief consideration of selling the Dolphins, but I've always been a fan of his as an owner - and his acquisition of Parcells is a great example of why.

For the most part, Huizenga stays out of the way and has little problem throwing money into the team. As evident with Parcells, and Saban previously, he's going to make a strong push to surround himself with the best football execs/coaches available. It hasn't worked out as we'd hoped over the past few years, but unlike other owners he knows he's not a knowledgable football guy and he's simply there to shell out money for the team, pursue the top football execs, and stay in the background otherwise.

Regardless of the outcome of the hiring, as a fan you have to be excited. There was seemingly very little hope for the next several seasons. Sure, you could reach and say the number 1 pick this year, combined with the development of Ginn, Beck, and the health of Ronnie Brown could theoretically help turn the team around fast, but deep down you know that's a long shot at best and likely going to take more than a couple seasons for it all to come together - if it does.

But with Parcells, someone who seemingly wasn't even on the radar and expected to go to the Falcons, all of the sudden signing and having a history of turning around awful teams and making them competitors in no more than a season or two, there's legitimate reason for hope.

I expect him to pretty much start from scratch and bring in his own coaching staff. As much as I like to see people given a chance to succeed, I also won't have any issues with Cam Cam and the rest of the coaches being shown the door considering the results this season and my desire to let Parcells do his thing.

With Parcells in charge there's at least legitimate reason for hope, and that's about as good a Christmas present as a 1-13 team and it's fans could get right now, so I'll take it.

Here's our pick for the Thursday game, rest of the games should be up tomorrow.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ St. Louis Rams +8

I’m guaranteeing that the Steelers will not cover this spread. Hopefully Mazzone doesn’t bench me if I’m wrong.
Pick: Rams +8

Has a player's career ever ended because of a false prediction? I don't know if Anthony Smith has been this bad all year, but people are certainly taking notice now. He was terrible for the second week in a row during the Steelers loss to the Jags and has thus been benched.

Despite the score line last week, the Steelers were manhandled for the second game in a row. This time at home, in the snow, by a warm weather team without one of their best players (Marcus Stroud). The Steelers are getting cold at the wrong time and it's definitely reason for concern, but I think the Rams will be a nice remedy for them.
Pick: Steelers -8

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Week 15 Pick 'em

Fresh off my successful Vegas trip (despite a brutal start) and both Durden and I coming off a 10-6 week, here are the week 15 picks.

We both lost with the Bengals last night.

Arizona Cardinals @ New Orleans Saints -4

Mazzone: Saints -4
Durden: Saints -4

Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers -13.5
Mazzone: Bucs - 13.5
Durden: Buccaneers -13.5

Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins +3.5
Mazzone: Dolphins +3.5
Durden: Ravens -3.5

Buffalo Bills @ Cleveland Browns -5.5
Mazzone: Browns -5.5
Durden: Browns -5.5

Green Bay Packers @ St. Louis Rams +10
Mazzone: Packers -10
Durden: Packers -10

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5
Mazzone: Steelers -3.5
Durden: Jaguars +3.5

New York Jets @ New England Patriots -23.5
Mazzone: Jets +23.5
Durden: The Weather +23.5

Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers +7
Mazzone: Seahawks -7
Durden: Seahawks -7

Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs +4
Mazzone: Titans -4
Durden: Titans -4

Indianapolis Colts @ Oakland Raiders +10.5
Mazzone: Colts -10.5
Durden: Colts -10.5

Detroit Lions @ San Diego Chargers -10
Mazzone: Lions +10
Durden: Chargers -10

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys -10.5
Mazzone: Cowboys -10.5
Durden: Cowboys -10.5

Washington Redskins @ New York Giants -5
Mazzone: Giants -5
Durden: Giants -5

Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings -10
Mazzone: Bears +10
Durden: Vikings -10